Dorchester, Dorset, England
He studied French and Physical Education at Birmingham University before he became a member of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts and the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1968. He played Bosola in the 1971 RSC production of John Webster's The Duchess of Malfi.
In 1982 he won a Laurence Olivier Award for Best Comedy Performance for his role in the musical Poppy.
In 1998 he played Carry On actor Sid James in the Royal National Theatre's production of Terry Johnson's stage play Cleo, Camping, Emmanuelle and Dick, which was a behind-the-scenes look of the love affair between James and his co-star Barbara Windsor. From October 2006 to April 2007 he played Herr Schultz in the West End production of Cabaret.
A first collaboration with David Leland for the film Made in Britain (directed by Alan Clarke and starring Tim Roth) in 1981 has led to his notable role as Hubert Mansell, the embittered father of Emily Lloyd in Wish You Were Here in 1987.
Other movie successes included White Hunter, Black Heart (with Clint Eastwood), Henry V (with Kenneth Branagh), Topsy-Turvy (with Jim Broadbent), Clockwise (with John Cleese), The Thief Lord (as Conte) and The Affair of the Necklace (with Hilary Swank).
On television, his most notable production has probably been Our Friends in the North (1996), in which he played corrupt building contractor John Edwards, a character closely based on the real-life figure of John Poulson. In December 2006 he made an appearance in the Sky One television adaption of Terry Pratchett's Hogfather. He also had a semi-regular role as Bobby Hollamby in Bad Girls from 2000 to 2003. Also starred in the second series of Wild At Heart