Open main menu

Robert Emrys James (1 September 1928 – 5 February 1989) was a Welsh Shakespearean actor. He also performed in many theatre and TV parts between 1960 and 1989, and was an Associate Artist of the Royal Shakespeare Company. He was born in Machynlleth, the son of a railwayman,[1] and attended the University of Wales, Aberystwyth.


Selected theatre workEdit

After training at RADA,[2] in 1953 James joined Peter Hall and John Barton's Oxford Playhouse-based Elizabethan Theatre Company. In 1956 he played his first season at Stratford, taking the roles of Guildernstern, Salerio in The Merchant of Venice and Claudio in Measure for Measure. Seasons at the Bristol Old Vic and the Old Vic, London, followed.[3]

Notable roles at the RSC included Sir Hugh Evans in The Merry Wives of Windsor, 1968; Gower in Pericles, 1969; Feste in Twelfth Night, 1969; The Boss in Günter Grass' The Plebeians Rehearse the Uprising, 1970; The Cardinal in John Webster's The Duchess of Malfi, 1971; Shylock in The Merchant of Venice, 1971; Iago in Othello, 1971; the title role in King John, 1974; Mephistopheles in Christopher Marlowe's Doctor Faustus, 1974; Chorus in Henry V, 1975; the title role in Henry IV, Parts 1 and 2, 1975–76; York in Henry VI, parts I, II and III, 1977–78; Jaques in As You Like It, 1977; Edgar in Strindberg's The Dance of Death, 1978; Cassius in Julius Caesar, 1983; Malvolio in Twelfth Night, 1984; and Sir Giles Overreach in Philip Massinger's A New Way to Pay Old Debts, 1984.

In 1981, he played Lopakhin in The Cherry Orchard at Chichester Festival Theatre.[4]

Selected TV and filmsEdit

  • Z-Cars (1963, TV Series) - Cyclist
  • Moulded in Earth (1965, TV Series) - Edwin Peele
  • Talking to a Stranger (1966, TV Series) - Gordon Lester
  • Seven of One (1973, TV Series) - Reverend Simmonds
  • Softly Softly (1973, TV Series) - Jack Hodder
  • Wessex Tales (1973, TV Movie) - David Lloyd George
  • BBC Play of the Month (1973, TV Series) - Doolittle / Dr. Pangloss
  • Fall of Eagles (1974, TV Mini-Series) - Count Taaffe
  • Days of Hope (1975, TV Mini-Series) - Thomas Jones
  • The Man in The Iron Mask (1977) - Percerin
  • Testament of Youth (1979, TV Series) - Mr Brittain
  • Hammer House of Horror (1980, TV Series) - Dr. Harris
  • Hamlet, Prince of Denmark (1980, TV Movie) - Player King
  • Doctor Who (1981, TV Series:State of Decay) - Aukon / Anthony O'Connor
  • Open All Hours (1981, TV Series) - Eli Bickerdyke
  • Antony and Cleopatra (BBC, 1981, TV Movie) - Valerian's Father
  • Dragonslayer (1981) - Valerian's Father
  • Giro City (1982) - Tommy Williams
  • Dombey & Son (TV Mini-Series) - Captain Cuttle
  • Eureka (1983) - Judge
  • Anna of the Five Towns (1985, TV Mini-Series) - Ephraim Tellwright
  • God's Chosen Carpark (1986, TV Movie) - Nathaniel Box
  • The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (1987, TV Series)
  • The Diary of Anne Frank (1987, TV Series) - Otto Frank
  • Out of Love (1988, TV Series) - Emrys Price

Family lifeEdit

In 1958 he married the novelist Sian James, whom he had met while they were both students at the University of Wales. The couple set up home, firstly in London then in Warwickshire, when James began his lasting association with the RSC at Stratford. They had four children: William, Owen, Jo and Anna.[5]

Further readingEdit

  • Davies, David Wyn (2007). A Mach Lad. Machynlleth: Machynlleth and District Civil Society. OCLC 231882992.


  1. ^ Drama Quarterly Review. British Theatre Association (147): 25. 1983. ISSN 0012-5946. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  2. ^ "Students' distinguished performances". The Times. London (52900): 10. 7 April 1954.
  3. ^ Trowbridge, Simon (2010). "Emrys James". The Company: A biographical dictionary of the Royal Shakespeare Company. Oxford, England: Editions Albert Creed. ISBN 978-0-9559830-2-3.
  4. ^ Wardle, Irving (7 May 1981). "The Cherry Orchard Chichester". The Times (60921): 13.
  5. ^ Jones, Catherine (30 November 2001). "A long life in words". Western Mail. Cardiff: Western Mail and Echo Ltd: 13.

External linksEdit