Roy Marsden

Roy Marsden
Born Roy Anthony Mould
(1941-06-25) 25 June 1941
Stepney, London, England, UK
Occupation Actor
Years active 1964-present
Spouse(s) Polly Hemingway (?-?) (divorced) 2 children

Roy Marsden (born Roy Anthony Mould;[1] 25 June 1941) is an English actor, who is probably best known for his portrayal of Adam Dalgliesh in the Anglia Television dramatisations of P. D. James's detective novels.


Marsden attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) and spent four terms there. He attempted to unionise the students but was thwarted. After one argument he poured a bottle of ink down the front of the director's suit. Marsden recalled, "Two weeks later, he phoned me up and asked if I'd got a job or an agent. I said no, so he arranged for me to start work at a theatre in Nottingham, and who should be the student assistant manager there but Anthony Hopkins. I persuaded him to go to RADA."


In the early 1960s, Marsden worked with the Royal Shakespeare Company and began to accumulate an extensive list of theatrical credits that include everything from Anton Chekhov and Henrik Ibsen to contemporary Soviet playwright Alexander Vampilov. His preference was for the alternative experimental theatres of Glasgow, Edinburgh, Cambridge and Birmingham over London's commercial theatre.

Appearances include Crispen in The Friends, 1970; Casca and Lucilius in Julius Caesar, 1972; Paul Schippel in Schippel, 1974; Heinrich Krey in The Plumber's Progress, 1975. He also played Long John Silver in Treasure Island at London's Mermaid Theatre around Christmas for two years and Henry Higgins in Pygmalion at the Albery Theatre. In 2008, Marsden appeared in two productions, Murder on Air and Happy Jack at the Theatre Royal, Windsor.


His prominent television roles include George Osborne in a 1967 adaptation of Vanity Fair and the title role of Arthur Chipping in 1987's Goodbye Mr. Chips. Marsden has also appeared as a guest in The New Avengers, Space: 1999, Only Fools and Horses ("Little Problems"), Foyle's War and Tales of the Unexpected.

Marsden starred in Yorkshire Television's 19781980 Cold War espionage series The Sandbaggers. He played Neil Burnside, the dour and fiercely protective head of the covert operations section of British Intelligence, whose character spent as much time infighting with his superiors in Whitehall and his own department as it did battling the KGB. The show ran for three series and 20 episodes.

In 1982, Yorkshire Television cast him in Airline, a series in which he played Jack Ruskin, a scrappy World War II pilot trying to start his own post-war airline against establishment opposition. It also starred his wife, Polly Hemingway, who was pregnant with their first child during most of the filming. In an interview Marsden said "It was one of the most enjoyable programmes I ever made. Learning to fly those old DC-3s was terrific. And I enjoyed playing Ruskin enormously because he had hope. Of course, he was a pain up the tushie most of the time, but then you'd see that youthful desire to actually get out and triumph against enormous odds. I identified with that character the most."

Marsden's portrayal of Adam Dalgliesh in Anglia TV's P.D. James series spanned fifteen years. The series began as adaptations played out in serials of five or six one-hour episodes each, which were, unusually for the time, recorded on outside broadcast videotape as opposed to film:

After producer John Rosenberg died in early 1991 (during the transmission run of Devices and Desires), the format of the adaptations changed. Initially, Anglia followed the trend made popular by the Inspector Morse series, condensing the next two adaptations into two-hour filmed TV films.

The final two adaptations were filmed in three one-hour episodes:

The Dalgliesh role was taken by Martin Shaw when the BBC took over the rights to James's novels and produced its own series.

In 1993, Marsden appeared in The Last Vampyre: a feature-length episode of Sherlock Holmes (1984 TV series).

In 2006, Marsden played Ted Cartwright, a veterinarian, in "Bad Blood" Episode 2 of the fourth season of Foyle's War.

In 2007, Marsden presented a nine-part crime documentary series Roy Marsden's Casebook for ITV West. He also appeared in a 2007 episode of Doctor Who as Mr Stoker, a medical consultant.

In 2008, he appeared in ITV series The Palace as King Richard's Private Secretary, Sir Iain Ratalick.

In 2009 Marsden reprised his Only Fools and Horses role as one of the Driscoll brothers in the spin-off series, The Green Green Grass. He also appeared in the television film Margaret (2009) as Norman Tebbit.

In 2010 Marsden appeared in an episode of New Tricks.

In 2011 Marsden appeared in an episode of Silent Witness.

He played Commander Haydock in the 2016 adaptation of Agatha Christie's N or M?, a three-episode part of BBC's Partners in Crime serial.


His film credits include Toomorrow (1970), a small part as a SS officer in The Eagle Has Landed (1976), The Squeeze (1977), and as Oberon in Dungeons & Dragons: Wrath of the Dragon God (2005).


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