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British sitcom legend Geoffrey Palmer dead at 93: Butterflies and As Time Goes By star dies at home

Actor Geoffrey Palmer, known for his roles in such sitcoms as Butterflies, As Time Goes By and The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin, has died aged 93.

The veteran star – known for his hangdog features and distinctive voice – passed away peacefully at home.

He had parts in some of Britain’s best-loved series and was once a staple on screens watched by millions of fans.

Younger viewers will remember his turn in the 2014 Paddington film where he played Head Geographer.

His agent said simply in a statement: ‘We regret to sadly announce that the actor Geoffrey Palmer died peacefully at home yesterday aged 93’.

Geoffrey Palmer and his wife Sally at the The Dr Who Christmas Episode premiere in 2007, after his role in the show

Geoffrey starred with frequent collaborator Dame Judi Dench in the TV hit As Time Goes By, one of many future team-ups

Geoffrey starred with frequent collaborator Dame Judi Dench in the TV hit As Time Goes By, one of many future team-ups

He was also known for his role in Butterflies alongside Wendy Craig and Nicholas Lyndhurst as well as Andrew Hall

He was also known for his role in Butterflies alongside Wendy Craig and Nicholas Lyndhurst as well as Andrew Hall

The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin starring Leonard Rossiter as Reginald Perrin and Geoffrey Palmer as Jimmy Anderson

The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin starring Leonard Rossiter as Reginald Perrin and Geoffrey Palmer as Jimmy Anderson

The veteran star died peacefully at home and had parts in some of Britain's best-loved series spanning decades

The veteran star died peacefully at home and had parts in some of Britain’s best-loved series spanning decades

The announcement prompted an outpouring of grief from other stars of the stage and screen.

Inside No 9 actor and writer Reece Shearsmith tweeted: “RIP Geoffrey Palmer.

“An immaculate singular actor, always brilliant in everything, but my favourite was always Ben Parkinson in ‘Butterflies’.”

Actor and comedian Eddie Izzard said: ‘Very sad to hear that Geoffrey Palmer has left us. I was very excited to meet him once and then had the honour to act with him in the film Lost Christmas.

‘His work will stay with us and through that he can live on forever. Good work Sir. Rest in peace’

Actress Frances Barber paid tribute to him and recalled an anecdote about his voiceover work for Audi. 

Palmer starring in Executive Stress in 1986 as the character of Donald Fairchild as his star continued to rise in showbiz

Palmer starring in Executive Stress in 1986 as the character of Donald Fairchild as his star continued to rise in showbiz

Reece Shearsmith, Eddie Izzard, Frances Barber and Gyles Brandreth all paid tribute to the acting great after his death

Reece Shearsmith, Eddie Izzard, Frances Barber and Gyles Brandreth all paid tribute to the acting great after his death

She said: ‘I filmed ZOO in Rotterdam with Geoffrey Palmer in the 80’s. I will never forget his famously hang dog lugubrious face every morning saying ‘I’ve no idea what’s going on’… he was just lovely. RIP.

‘Geoffrey Palmer years later during a radio play told me he’d just received a residuals cheque for Vorsprung durch technik. “I just called my agent & said they’ve put too many 0’s on the cheque”. After lunch he said “Apparently they haven’t”. His face didn’t change.’

And Gyles Brandreth said: ‘RIP Geoffrey Palmer – such a wonderful actor, such a lovely guy. Brilliant at his craft & just the best company: wickedly funny … he did everything he did so well. Thanks for all the happy memories Geoffrey: we’ll cherish them as time goes by.’

Palmer’s most famous acting parts saw him star alongside another treasure of the screen Dame Judi Dench. 

As Time Goes By saw him as Lionel Hardcastle alongside Dame Judi’s Jean Mary Hardcastle in the BBC One romantic sitcom between 1992 and 2005.

And speaking in 2018, she said the actor was the ‘naughtiest man I have ever worked with’.

As she presented him with the Oldie Of The Year title during an awards ceremony for The Oldie magazine, she added: ‘I wish wish wish that this was the awards for ‘most promising newcomer’ or maybe even ‘the naughtiest man I ever had the pleasure to work with’, but it’s not.’

‘I’m going to quote Bernard Shaw as he said about Ellen Terry ‘she never seemed old to me’. Well, nor you to me,’ Dame Judi said.  

Geoffrey Palmer as Vice Admiral Hamling and David Suchet as Hercule Poirot in The Clocks back in 2010

Geoffrey Palmer as Vice Admiral Hamling and David Suchet as Hercule Poirot in The Clocks back in 2010

Geoffrey Palmer as Matthew Copley Barnes in the Inspector Morse series episode The Infernal Serpent back in 1990

Geoffrey Palmer as Matthew Copley Barnes in the Inspector Morse series episode The Infernal Serpent back in 1990

An early black and white publicity shot from December 1951 of Geoffrey Palmer showed him in the early stages of his career

An early black and white publicity shot from December 1951 of Geoffrey Palmer showed him in the early stages of his career

Palmer and Dame Judi also starred together in James Bond film Tomorrow Never Dies, which was released in 1997. 

He would reunite with her again in the Madness of Kind George to much acclaim.

But his early life had little in it to suggest he would one day become such a famous face on British television screens.

He was born in London in 1927 and did national service with the Royal Marines and trained recruits. 

Palmer had at first qualified as an accountant and has considered a life working with money.

But he always had a hankering for the stage and his girlfriend persuaded him to sign up with a local dramatic society.  

It was to start an incredible career in the limelight that saw him travel the globe acting.

His features often saw him play intolerant characters, but he insisted ‘I’m not grumpy, I just look this way’.  

He was a keen fisherman and in an interview last year with the Oldie said he took a day casting his line over a plum part in a movie.

Palmer told them last year: ‘Once I was offered a super part in a film – but the date clashed with fishing in Scotland.

‘My son Charlie said, “Dad, you’ve been working for sixty years – do the fishing.” So I did. And the film wasn’t any good, anyway.’    

He is survived by his wife Sally Green, with whom he had a daughter and a son. 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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