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Peter Norman Bulmer Howell (25 October 1919 – 20 April 2015) was an English actor.[1]

Peter Howell
Peter Norman Bulmer Howell

25 October 1919
Died20 April 2015 (2015-04-21) (aged 95)
Northwood, England, UK
Years active1952-2004
Spouse(s)Susan Cheshire (1957–1992, her death)

Born in London, he was educated at Winchester College and began studying law at Christ Church, Oxford, but left in 1939 after being called up for military service in World War II. He served as a second-lieutenant in the Rifle Brigade, but was invalided out with dysentery during the North Africa Campaign in 1943. Shortly after, he made his professional stage debut with the Old Vic company. His West End plays included The Affair, The Doctor's Dilemma, Little Boxes, and Conduct Unbecoming.[1]

Howell's most recognised role was as Dr. Peter Harrison in television hospital drama series Emergency – Ward 10 from 1958 to 1964, making brief returns to the series in 1966 and for the show's final episode in 1967. He made guest appearances in The Avengers, The Prisoner, the Doctor Who serial The Mutants and Yes Minister.[1][2] He played the prison governor in the 1979 film Scum.[3][4]

On BBC Radio 4, Howell played Saruman in the 1981 adaptation of The Lord of the Rings and had a recurring role as the Right Reverend Cyril Hood, Bishop of Felpersham, in the long-running drama The Archers from 1987 to 2006.[5][1] He also played the role of Sir William Lucas in the 1980 BBC adaptation of Jane Austen's novel Pride & Prejudice, a miniseries also featuring Elizabeth Garvie and David Rintoul.[6]

Howell married Susan Cheshire in 1957, and they remained together until her death in 1992. They had three daughters, Polly, Tamara and Camilla, and a son, Benji. He was a close friend of fellow actor Sir Ian McKellen, who was godfather to his daughter Tamara.[7][8]

Howell was an active member of the Labour Party who campaigned for a number of social issues. He was also a longtime member of the Marylebone Cricket Club, and opposed their planned 1968-69 England cricket tour of apartheid-era South Africa, which was eventually cancelled. He helped to raise funds for the building of Watermans Arts Centre near his home in Chiswick, west London.[1]

Howell died at Denville Hall, a home for retired actors in Northwood, London, on 20 April 2015 after a short illness, aged 95.[9][10]


Year Title Role Notes
1960 Tarzan the Magnificent Dr. Blake
1960 Watch Your Stern Admiral's Secretary
1960 No Kidding Father of Angus
1961 The Hellfire Club William Pitt - Earl of Chatham
1961 Raising the Wind Prof. Lumb
1961 Death and the Sky Above Carlton
1963 Incident at Midnight Inspector Macready
1964 The Devil-Ship Pirates The Vicar
1979 Scum Governor
1984 John Wycliffe: The Morning Star Dr. John Wycliffe
1985 A.D. Atticus TV Mini-Series, 2 episodes, Uncredited
1987 Bellman and True The Bellman
1993 Shadowlands College President
1994 Princess Caraboo Clerk of the Court
1996 The Innocent Sleep Sir Frank
2004 The Libertine Bishop (final film role)


  1. ^ a b c d e Hayward, Anthony (10 May 2015). "Peter Howell obituary" – via The Guardian.
  2. ^ "Peter Howell - Movies and Filmography - AllMovie".
  3. ^ "Scum (1979)".
  4. ^ "Equal Opportunities (1982)".
  5. ^ "The Lord of the Rings - BBC Radio 4 FM - 30 August 1981 - BBC Genome".
  6. ^ "Pride and Prejudice (1980) - Cyril Coke - Cast and Crew - AllMovie".
  7. ^ RIP actor Peter Howell Archived 2015-04-22 at
  8. ^ Stern/CompuWeb, Keith. "Ian McKellen - Writings - Tribute - PETER HOWELL (1919-2015)".
  9. ^ RIP actor Peter Howell Archived 2015-04-22 at
  10. ^ Stern/CompuWeb, Keith. "Ian McKellen - Writings - Tribute - PETER HOWELL (1919-2015)".

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