Friday, 09 January 2015


…is an actor & director who made his name in TV’s Forsyte Saga & in West End stage roles. He appeared in the film Titanic & in 2000 received an OBE. He lives between London & Los Angeles with his wife, actor Rosalind Ayres.

What are you working on at the moment?
I’ve just completed a script for BBC Radio and I’m preparing for a live stand-up of Just William and Just Jeeves.

When are you at your happiest?
When my wife Ros and I are having breakfast with our two grandchildren, Amber and Ben.

What is your greatest fear?
Professionally my greatest fear would be not to be able to learn my lines, and personally, not being able to be there for my family.

What is your earliest memory?
My father coming home from the war to our home in South Norwood. I would have been two and can remember him in his uniform. He was a captain, and apparently I said to my mother, ‘Must I do what that man tells me?’

What do you most dislike about yourself?
Being over-obsessive.

Who has been your greatest influence?
My wife, Ros. She’s taught me a tremendous amount – patience, kindness, tolerance, compassion. All of those things.

What is your most treasured possession?
When The Lady asked my dear old friend Michael York this question he said his wedding ring, and in a way because of what it represents, I would say the same thing. But I would also like to add my health and my memory.

What trait do you most deplore in others?
There was an actor, who shall be nameless, I did a film with when I was much younger. He used to start so many of his sentences with ‘Oh Martin, as you know, I…’ For instance, ‘As you know, I have a golf handicap of eight.’ He was an I-specialist, because he assumed I would know everything about him, so I do deplore I-specialists.

What do you most dislike about your appearance?
Small ears, low forehead, baggy eyes…

What is your favourite book?
For all time, David Copperfield by Charles Dickens.

What is your favourite film?
Any film of David Lean’s, with a particular emphasis on Lawrence Of Arabia and The Bridge On The River Kwai and Great Expectations.


And your favourite record or piece of music?

Lucy Parham playing Schumann’s Kinderszenen and Beethoven’s Romance in F because I heard it in my car on the day Ros and I met.

What is your favourite meal?
Pizza: American, with extra pepperoni, extra mushroom and soft egg on top.

Who would you most like to come to dinner?
Oscar Wilde, Ros, my sons Toby (a composer), and Oliver (a barrister), along with our grandchildren. In other words, the family.

What is the nastiest thing anyone has ever said to you?
When I was training at Rada a tutor said to me, ‘I don’t have good news for you, you may have the possibility to become a photographic model, but not an actor.’

Do you believe in aliens?
In terms of aliens, I can’t believe we are wholly alone. I would like to believe in warm-hearted, good, humane aliens.

What is your secret vice?
Bounty bars and a TV programme called Cowboy Builders.

Do you write thank-you notes?
Yes. I occasionally send that old-fashioned thing a postcard, but much less now. The email is like a thank-you letter.

What phrase do you most overuse?
‘Say again?’

What single thing would improve the quality of your life?
A reliable handyman: as anyone in our family would tell you, I am not a good handyman. I have put up shelves but I’ve had to size the books in a canny way to make them look level.

Tell us one thing people might not know about you…
I was a very good cricketer. I played in my school XI.

What would you like your epitaph to read?
Well, everybody’s probably told you the funny ones: ‘Lord, he is thin’, because the stonemason had left no room to put the ‘e’ for ‘Lord, he is thine’, but maybe something like: ‘Well, he did his best’.

Martin Jarvis is in Just William: Martin Jarvis & Richard Sisson on 25 January at Kings Place, London N1: 020-7520 1490,

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