Ian Gelder obituary


The actor Ian Gelder, who has died of most cancers aged 74, was a notable supporting participant on the Nationwide Theatre and the Royal Shakespeare Firm, within the West Finish and in main fringe theatres for many years earlier than discovering tv fame as Kevan Lannister, brother of the scary patriarch Tywin (Charles Dance), who deliberate a Shakespearean energy seize in Sport of Thrones (2011-16). He additionally exercised the devious aspect of his appearing character because the villainous Mr Dekker in Russell T Davies’s Physician Who spin-off, Torchwood, throughout 5 episodes in 2009.

Gelder could possibly be louche and outrageous: because the leery-eyed Ed in Joe Orton’s Entertaining Mr Sloane in a 1993 revival by Jeremy Sams, which featured his future life accomplice, Ben Daniels, as the item of his warped affections; or as a paunchy, leather-clad biker in a 1981 Birmingham Rep revival of Michel Tremblay’s Hosanna, bitching away together with his accomplice, a drag queen performed by Jim Hooper.

Principally, although, his default modus operandi was that of a nuanced ethical rectitude and deftly conveyed appeal. Barely constructed and gracefully appointed, he was as eminently watchable as he was unfailingly audible.

He may even make one thing substantial of an primarily boring character, notably so, twice, within the position of Titus Andronicus’s brother Marcus in Shakespeare’s goriest play – first with the RSC in 2003 (David Bradley as Titus); then at Shakespeare’s Globe in 2014 (William Houston within the lead) – emanating a contradictory, moderating presence in a world of untamed extra.

There was all the time one thing managed and stealthy about his appearing, all the time a pleasure to behold. He by no means spoke about it a lot, he simply received on with the job. One in every of his most important associations was with the mordant, sensible playwright Peter Nichols, whose youthful self in fictional disguise he performed twice – within the lovely, autobiographical household memoir Neglect-Me-Not-Lane (1971), on the Greenwich theatre and the Apollo on Shaftesbury Avenue; and because the callow personal Steven Flowers within the wonderful Privates on Parade (1977), becoming a member of Denis Quilley, Joe Melia and Nigel Hawthorne in a army live performance get together in south-east Asia for the RSC in Stratford-upon-Avon and the Aldwych, the place it ran for greater than 200 performances.

The youngest little one of Raymond White, an engineer and electronics purchaser, and Clare (nee Gelder), an workplace supervisor for an antiques supplier, and a eager participant in beginner dramatics when the household moved to Wokingham, Berkshire, within the early Sixties, Ian took his mom’s maiden title on changing into an actor.

She concerned the entire household within the actions of the Wokingham Gamers – Raymond did the lighting – and it quickly grew to become obvious that Ian had discovered his vocation. After attending Forest grammar college in close by Winnersh, he received a spot on the Bristol Outdated Vic theatre college, the place his contemporaries included Jeremy Irons, Tim Pigott-Smith and Christopher Biggins.

Gelder as Mr Bryant alongside Linda Bassett (Mrs Bryant) in Roots at the Donmar Warehouse, London, 2013.
Gelder as Mr Bryant alongside Linda Bassett (Mrs Bryant) in Roots on the Donmar Warehouse, London, 2013. {Photograph}: Stephen Cummiskey/Donmar Warehouse

On graduating, he performed Antonio in The Service provider of Venice on a British Council tour and, both aspect of Neglect-Me-Not-Lane, carried out in seasons on the Northcott in Exeter, the Younger Vic in London and the RSC in Stratford (Silvius in As You Like It and Talbot in Terry Palms’ manufacturing of Henry VI, with Emrys James and Helen Mirren).

He was a daily in small roles on tv from 1972, showing as Prince Alfred in 5 episodes of Edward the Seventh (1975), starring Annette Crosbie and Timothy West; and as Rumpole of the Bailey’s son, Nick, a sociology professor in Miami described by his father (Leo McKern) as “the brains of the household”. Christine Edzard’s outstanding six-hour movie of Little Dorrit (1987) was forged to the nines manner down the listing, from Derek Jacobi, Joan Greenwood and Alec Guinness to Robert Morley and Alan Bennett; Gelder was the Rev Samuel Barnacle.

Within the mid-80s, he was a daily main participant with the energetic Cambridge Theatre Firm, then led by the director Invoice Pryde, and performed Lockwood, the storyteller in Wuthering Heights; the aristocratic fortune hunter, Archer, in George Farquhar’s nice Restoration comedy The Beaux’ Stratagem; and a number of roles within the full five-play cycle of George Bernard Shaw’s Again to Methuselah, a futuristic fantasia as soon as described by the biographer and critic Michael Holroyd as a masterpiece of wishful considering.

Gelder was all the time a well-liked firm member, not least in Nancy Meckler’s touring Shared Expertise – as a frosty Karenin melting in deep wells of need and ache in Anna Karenina (1997), and as a puzzled, anxious and eventually bereft Fielding in A Passage to India (2003). Additionally with Nicholas Hytner’s Nationwide Theatre (2004-05) – in David Hare’s Iraq battle evaluation, Stuff Occurs (as Paul Wolfowitz); Hytner’s splendid manufacturing of Philip Pullman’s His Darkish Supplies, tailored by Nicholas Wright; and as a deft double of noble politician (“saucy” Worcester) and nation bumpkin pot boy within the epic panoply of Henry IV, led by Michael Gambon’s Falstaff.

In a positive, meticulous revival of Arnold Wesker’s Roots by James Macdonald on the Donmar Warehouse in 2013, Gelder discovered methods of chopping straight via to our feelings as Beatie Bryant’s father, and for Michael Attenborough on the Almeida in the identical 12 months was a notably loyal and stoic Kent reverse Jonathan Pryce’s coiled and livid King Lear. Once more, he made goodness compelling.

In 2015 he produced an electrifying efficiency on the Southwark Playhouse because the predatory British film-maker James Whale in Gods and Monsters (a extra intense adaptation than even Ian McKellen’s main movie breakthrough in 1998), frolicking with a bare-buttocked younger gardener in Hollywood and beautifully speaking, stated Paul Taylor within the Unbiased, “the waspish, fastidious wit and the dread of psychological disintegration” after a current stroke.

There was extra “remembrance of flings previous” (David Jays within the Guardian) in One thing within the Air (2022), a lyrical brief play for 2 previous males in a care residence – Gelder was partnered by Christopher Godwin – written and co-directed by Peter Gill on the Jermyn Avenue theatre.

He and Ben entered right into a civil partnership in 2008. For the final 5 years they lived in a cottage in East Sussex, with a lovingly cultivated backyard.

He’s survived by Ben and by his brother, Keith.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here