Nicholas Selby

Nicholas Selby (born James Ivor Selby, 13 September 1925 – 14 September 2010) was a British film, television and theatre actor. He appeared in more than one hundred television dramas on the BBC and ITV during the course of his career, including Our Friends in the North, Poldark and House of Cards. Selby was also a long-standing member of the Royal Shakespeare Company.

Nicholas Selby
Bertie Wooster (Hugh Laurie), his Uncle George Wooster, Lord Yaxley, (Nicholas Selby) and the uncle's long-lost barmaid love Maud Wilberforce (Paula Jacobs) (Jeeves and Wooster - The Purity of the Turf).png
Hugh Laurie (left), Paula Jacobs (centre) and Nicholas Selby in Jeeves and Wooster (episode 3, 1990)
James Ivor Selby

(1925-09-13)September 13, 1925
Holborn, London, England
DiedSeptember 14, 2010(2010-09-14) (aged 85)
London, England
Years active1970-1999
Spouse(s)Kathleen Rayner
(m. 19??; died 2007)

Selby was born in Holborn, London on 13 September 1925.[1] He served in the British Army during World War II, making his stage debut in Dangerous Corner at Preston, Lancashire, for the forces' entertainment organisation ENSA.[1] In 1948 he enrolled at the Central School of Speech and Drama, receiving commendation for his student performance in Mary Hayley Bell's Men in Shadow.[2] There then followed seasons in repertory at Liverpool, Birmingham, Coventry, York, Hornchurch and Cambridge. His first professional West End appearance was in 1959, in William Douglas-Home's Aunt Edwina, followed by his creation of the hit-man Ben in the London premiere of Harold Pinter's The Dumb Waiter at the Hampstead Theatre Club in January 1960. In 1963 Selby made his first appearances for the Royal Shakespeare Company, as Casca in Julius Caesar, the Bishop of Winchester in The Wars of The Roses and Antonio in The Tempest.[3] His association with the company lasted for ten years, until he followed Peter Hall to the new National Theatre in London in 1976. In his first season there he appeared as Menander in Tamburlaine and the Captain in Tales from the Vienna Woods.[4][5] He was van Swieten in the inaugural production Amadeus and the parliamentary Speaker in The Madness of George III.[1] His last stage role was as Dilly Knox in Breaking the Code in 1987.[1]

Selby died in London on 14 September 2010, at the age of 85.[6] He was predeceased by his wife, Kathleen Rayner, for whom he had been caring during her ill-health for many years, and was survived by their daughter, Alison, and two grandchildren.[1]


Year Title Role Notes
1968 A Midsummer Night's Dream Egeus
1971 Macbeth Duncan
1980 Schiele in Prison The Judge
1985 Mata Hari Von Jagow
1992 Christopher Columbus: The Discovery Monsignor Camos
1994 The Madness of King George Speaker
1998 Stiff Upper Lips Don 1


  1. ^ a b c d e Coveney, Michael (4 May 2011). "Nicholas Selby Obituary". The Guardian. p. 39.
  2. ^ "Students' Matinée". The Times. 7 June 1950. p. 9.
  3. ^ "First three plays for Stratford". The Times. 22 March 1963. p. 16.
  4. ^ "Paul Scofield joins National Theatre". The Times. 1 December 1976. p. 12.
  5. ^ Herbert, Ian (1981). Who's Who in the Theatre. 1 (17 ed.). Detroit: Gale Infotec. p. 609. OCLC 7596050.
  6. ^ "Although he died in September 2010, the news of his death emerged only last month." Coveney (2011:39)

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