Oliver Cotton

Oliver Charles Cotton (born 20 June 1944) is an English actor, comedian and playwright, known for his prolific work on stage, TV and film. He remains best known for his role as Cesare Borgia in the BBC's 1981 drama series The Borgias.[1]

Oliver Cotton
Born20 June 1944 (1944-06-20) (age 76)
London, England
OccupationActor, comedian, playwright

Early lifeEdit

Cotton was born in London on 20 June 1944, the son of Ester and Robert Norman Cotton.[2] He trained at the Drama Centre, London.


Cotton worked extensively at the National Theatre Company during the period when Sir Laurence Olivier was its artistic director. Cotton played leading roles in many productions including The Royal Hunt of the Sun, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, Much Ado in About Nothing, As You Like It, Peter Brook’s Oedipus, In His Own Write and many others.

At the Royal Court in London, Cotton has played leads in many productions including The Local Stigmatic, The Duchess of Malfi, Man is Man, The Tutor by Bertholt Brecht, Lear and Bingo by Edward Bond. He was a founder member of Joint Stock appearing in the company's inaugural production The Speakers by Heathcote Williams.

For the Royal Shakespeare Company he has played leading roles in Granville Barker's The Marrying of Ann Leete, Henry VI, Edward IV, Richard III, The Plain Dealer, Some Americans Abroad by Richard Nelson, and as the Mayor in Brand by Ibsen in 2003.[3]

In the West End he has starred in The Homecoming by Harold Pinter, Children of A Lesser God by Mark Medoff, Benefactors by Michael Frayn, An Ideal Husband by Oscar Wilde, Life x 3 by Yasmina Reza (RNT transfer), "Passion Play" (by Peter Nichols). He also played King Lear at the Southwark Playhouse and performed as Malvolio in a (historically correct all-male) production Twelfth Night at the reconstruction of Shakespeare's Globe. At the Old Vic, under the directorship of Kevin Spacey, he appeared as Seth Lord in The Philadelphia Story, as Northumberland in Richard II, and as Dr Finache in A Flea in Her Ear. In 2010 he played Henry IV in Shakespeare's Henry IV at the Globe Theatre. At Chichester he has appeared as Jim Casy in The Grapes Of Wrath in 2009 and as Arturo Santaniello in The Syndicate. In 2012, he played Victor Velasco in a major tour of Barefoot in the Park. In 2013 he played Jim in Passion Play by Peter Nichols at the Duke of York's Theatre – and in 2014 starred as Billy in his own play Daytona at the Theatre Royal Haymarket.

His numerous TV appearances have included The Borgias (Cesare Borgia), David Copperfield, The Year of The French, The Party, Room at the Bottom, Redemption, Poirot, The Camomile Lawn, Westbeach, Sharpes Battle, Rhodes, All Quiet on the Preston Front, Innocents, Judge John Deed, Inspector Lynley, Waking The Dead, Murder Investigation Team, Beastly Games, Margaret, Money, Ripper Street and Lovejoy.

His films include Here We Go Round The Mulberry Bush, The Day Christ Died, Oliver Twist, Firefox, The Sicilian, Eleni, Hiding Out, Christopher Columbus, Son of the Pink Panther, The Innocent Sleep, Phoenix Blue, The Opium War, Beowulf, Baby Blue, The Dancer Upstairs, Shanghai Knights, Bone Hunter, Rain Dogs, Colour Me Kubrick, Pope Joan, The Dark Knight Rises, Tooting Broadway, A Long Time Coming.


For the stage his writing includes: The Enoch Show (Royal Court), Scrabble (National Theatre), Wet Weather Cover (King's Head & Arts Theatre), Daytona, Dessert, Sans Souci. His TV and film scripts include: A Touch of Frost, Diamond Geezer, Trace, The Intruder, Singing for Stalin, Sofa, Wet Weather Cover the Movie, Peeping Through and The English Game.


Year Title Role Notes
1968 Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush Curtis
1982 Firefox Dmitri Priabin
1985 Eleni Katis
1987 The Sicilian Cmdr. Roccofino
1987 Hiding Out Killer
1992 Christopher Columbus: The Discovery Harana
1993 Son of the Pink Panther King Haroak
1996 The Innocent Sleep Lusano
1997 Queen: Made in Heaven Man
1997 Yapian zhanzheng
1999 Beowulf Hrothgar
2001 Baby Blue Ron Wood
2002 The Dancer Upstairs Merino
2003 Shanghai Knights Jack the Ripper
2003 The Bone Hunter Regulus
2004 Raindogs Duke
2004 Steamboy Robert Stephenson Voice
2005 Colour Me Kubrick PC Metcalf Uncredited
2009 Pope Joan Arsenius
2012 The Dark Knight Rises 2 Star Air Force General
2013 Gangs of Tooting Broadway Marcus
2015 North v South Brian Galloway
2017 Pylon The Chairman
Year Title Role Notes
1970–1973 Z-Cars Chick Randall / Robert Durley / John North 4 episodes
1975 Space: 1999 Spearman 1 episode
1981 The Borgias Cesare Borgia 10 episodes
1982 Oliver Twist Monks TV movie
1983 Bergerac Jacques Laronde 1 episode
1986 Lovejoy Frobel 1 episode
1986 Robin of Sherwood Lord Owen of Clun 1 episode
1986 C.A.T.S. Eyes Stefan Johns 1 episode
1989 Boon Raoul Gomez 1 episode
1990 Agatha Christie's Poirot Gregorie Rolf 1 episode
1992 The Camomile Lawn Max 3 episodes
1993 West beach Alan Cromer 10 episodes
1995 Sharpe's Battle Loup TV movie
1997 Heartbeat Harry Adams 1 episode
2001 The Bill DI Hubbard 1 episode
2001 Judge John Deed Maurice Phillips QC 1 episode
2003 Casualty Dr. Chris Cassidy 1 episode
2004 Waking the Dead Sir Charles Stewart 1 episode
2004 Dalziel and Pascoe Keith Henshaw 1 episode
2005 Midsomer Murders Michael Maybury 1 episode
2009 Margaret Michael Heseltine TV movie
2014 Penny Dreadful Father Matthews 1 episode
2014 New Tricks Hugh Dryden 1 episode

Video gamesEdit


  1. ^ "TV REVIEW; 'THE BORGIAS,' A NEW SERIES ON CABLE", New York Times, 2 October 1985. Accessed 15 October 2015
  2. ^ Oliver Cotton Biography (1944–). Filmreference.com (20 June 1944). Retrieved on 2020-02-07.
  3. ^ Philip Fisher "Brand", British Theatre Review

External linksEdit