Open main menu

Peter Nigel Terry (15 August 1945 – 30 April 2015) was an English stage and film actor probably best known by film audiences for his portrayal of King Arthur in John Boorman's Excalibur (1981). Terry primarily dedicated himself to the classical stage. When he extended himself into film and TV outings, it was mostly for historical or period roles.

Nigel Terry
Peter Nigel Terry

(1945-08-15)15 August 1945
Bristol, England
Died30 April 2015(2015-04-30) (aged 69)
Newquay, Cornwall, England
Years active1967–2014

Early lifeEdit

Terry was born on 15 August 1945[1] in Bristol, the son of Frank Albert Terry OBE, DFC,[2] a pilot in the Royal Air Force, and his wife, Doreen.[1] He was the first baby born in Bristol after the end of World War II.[3] The family soon moved to Truro, Cornwall where his father worked as a probation officer.[2] 'Nigs' attended Truro School in Truro, where he developed an interest in acting and became skilled at drawing and painting.[3]

His parents encouraged him to go on the stage and after working briefly in forestry and as a petrol pump attendant he joined the National Youth Theatre.[4][5] In 1963, he enrolled at London’s Central School of Speech and Drama, working both on stage and behind the scenes.[3] He joined the Oxford Meadow Players in 1966, working initially as assistant stage manager.[3]



After training with repertory companies like the Oxford Meadow Players and Bristol Old Vic, Terry appeared in many productions with the Royal Shakespeare Company, the Round House Theatre and the Royal Court Theatre. Among his roles was Bosola in the 1989 Royal Shakespeare Company production of John Webster's The Duchess of Malfi. The same year, he played Pericles in David Thacker's production of Pericles, Prince of Tyre.


In addition to Excalibur,[6] he appeared in about 20 films, most notably The Lion in Winter in 1968 with Katharine Hepburn, Peter O'Toole and Sir Anthony Hopkins, and Derek Jarman's Caravaggio in 1986, wherein he played the title character. Terry also appeared in Troy in 2004 playing the Trojan high priest.[7]


An early television appearance was as the agoraphobic Harry Mandrake in the Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) episode "Somebody Just Walked Over My Grave" (1970).

His main US and British television appearances include Covington Cross, a series set in medieval times. He also appeared in Casualty as Denny, as General Cobb in the Doctor Who episode "The Doctor's Daughter" and as Gabriel Piton in Highlander: The Series. He also played Sam Jacobs in a two-part Waking the Dead episode called "Anger Management". He appeared in Pie in the Sky series 3 episode 23 'Irish Stew' as Byron de Goris. He also appeared in an episode of "Foyle's War".

Personal lifeEdit

After thirty years of living in London he returned to reside in Cornwall in 1993.[8]

He died in Newquay, Cornwall of emphysema on 30 April 2015.[9] In the absence of any surviving close family, his 'final act' was organized by his close friends Maggie Steed and David Horovitch in Truro on 19 May 2015, attended by fellow actors and personal friends.

Selected filmographyEdit


  1. ^ a b England & Wales, Birth Index: 1916–2005 [d0atabase online]
  2. ^ a b Supplement to The London Gazette, 31 December 1976
  3. ^ a b c d Director of Publicity. Avco Embassy Pictures Corp. Press release for "Lion in Winter"
  4. ^ Films and Filming Magazine, Volume 21, Hanson Books, 1985
  5. ^ Wilkes, Angela. "Terry gives more than his Pound of Flesh", The Stage, 2 October 1986, p. 6
  6. ^ Canby, Vincent (10 April 1981). "Boorman's 'Excalibur'". The New York Times. Retrieved 10 November 2012.
  7. ^ "Nigel Terry". Internet Movie Database (IMDB). Retrieved 18 July 2018.
  8. ^ Jarman, Derek. "Smiling in Slow Motion". Great Britain: Century, 2000, pg. 285
  9. ^ Coveney, Michael (3 May 2015). "Nigel Terry obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved 4 May 2015.

External linksEdit