Cyril Shaps

Cyril Leonard Shaps (13 October 1923 – 1 January 2003) was an English actor of radio, television and film, with a successful career spanning over seven decades.[1]

Cyril Shaps
Cyril Shaps.jpg
Shaps in the Doctor Who serial The Tomb of the Cybermen (1967)
Cyril Leonard Shaps

(1923-10-13)13 October 1923
London, England
Died1 January 2003(2003-01-01) (aged 79)
Alma materRoyal Academy of Dramatic Art
OccupationFilm, television and radio actor
Years active1955–2002
Spouse(s)Anita Shaps (1950–2002; her death)

Early radioEdit

Shaps was born in the East End of London to Polish-Jewish parents; his father was a tailor.[1] Shaps was a child broadcaster, at the London School of Broadcasting providing voices for radio commercials from the age of 12. He was educated at Central Foundation Boys' School, then took an office job with the London Ambulance Service. Following service as a warrant officer in the Royal Army Educational Corps during World War II, he was trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) and then worked for two years as an announcer, producer and scriptwriter for Radio Netherlands.[1] His short stature and round face then led to a steady flow of character roles in film and television in a career spanning nearly 50 years.


Shaps's film appearances included bit parts in Lawrence of Arabia (1962), as the officer's club bartender, To Sir, with Love (1967), as Mr Pinkus, and the James Bond film The Spy Who Loved Me (1977), as Dr Bechmann. In The Madness of King George (1994), he portrayed Dr Pepys, a royal physician obsessed with the colour of the king's stool. In 2002, at the age of 79, Shaps performed his last film roles: as a pew opener in The Importance of Being Earnest, and as concentration camp victim Mr. Grun in The Pianist.[2]


In TV, his work ranged from science fiction (including appearances in the Doctor Who serials The Tomb of the Cybermen The Ambassadors of Death, Planet of the Spiders and The Androids of Tara[3]), to classic literature (such as the BBC's 1990s serialisations of Charles Dickens's Martin Chuzzlewit and Our Mutual Friend) to detective series (with appearances in The Saint, Lovejoy, and Sherlock Holmes and the Leading Lady—as Emperor Franz Joseph—in 1991).[4] He appeared in the first episode of the sitcom The Young Ones, playing a neighbour.[5] He appeared in two Jim Henson Company television films: Gulliver's Travels (1996) as an elderly madman, and Jack and the Beanstalk: The Real Story (2001) as the "Bent Little Man". He supplied the voice of Professor Rudolf Popkiss in the second series of Supercar, broadcast in 1962.[6] He also voiced the characters of Mr. Gruber in The Adventures of Paddington Bear, and Great Grandfather Frost in one episode of Animated Tales of the World.

Other notable workEdit

Other series featuring Shaps were Quatermass II, Danger Man, The Mask of Janus, The Spies, Dixon of Dock Green, Z-Cars, The Saint, Out of the Unknown, Alexander the Greatest, The Rat Catchers, Man in a Suitcase, Randall and Hopkirk, Department S, The Liver Birds, When the Boat Comes In, Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em, The Onedin Line, The Persuaders!, Porridge, The Sweeney, Jesus of Nazareth, Wilde Alliance, Holocaust (miniseries), Private Schulz, The Young Ones, Hammer House of Mystery and Suspense, The Bill, Dark Season, Midsomer Murders and Doctors.[7][2]

Shaps' radio work included a stint with the BBC Drama Repertory Company in the early 1950s.[6] Broadcast parts (his characters often being old men or priests) included Firs in The Cherry Orchard, Justice Shallow in Henry the Fourth, Friar Lawrence in Romeo and Juliet, Polonius in Hamlet and Canon Chasuble in The Importance of Being Earnest.

Personal life and deathEdit

Shaps and his wife Anita were married from 1950 until her death in 2002; they had two sons, Michael and Simon, and a daughter, Sarah.

Shaps died in Harrow, London on New Year's Day 2003, aged 79, and was survived by his children.

Selected filmographyEdit

Doctor WhoEdit

1967 The Tomb of the Cybermen – John Viner

1970 The Ambassadors of Death – Lennox

1974 Planet of the Spiders – Professor Clegg

1978 The Androids of Tara – Archimandrite


  1. ^ a b c Michael Freedland (18 January 2003). "Obituary: Cyril Shaps". the Guardian.
  2. ^ a b "Cyril Shaps". BFI.
  3. ^ "BBC One – Doctor Who, Season 16, The Androids of Tara – The Fourth Dimension". BBC.
  4. ^ "Cyril Shaps – Movies and Filmography". AllMovie.
  5. ^ "Demolition (1982)". BFI.
  6. ^ a b "Cyril Shaps". The Independent. 24 January 2003.
  7. ^ "Cyril Shaps".

External linksEdit