The West End is a cyclical place, where existing productions are continually moved out to make room for new shows. This revolving door system is what keeps the West End in good health. It is true of the many actors who perform on the stage there too, with cast changes regularly taking place to keep productions fresh. New faces are always showing up in the West End, creating the bright young stars of tomorrow, but unfortunately, the cyclical effect means that we sometimes lose an already established star of the stage.
It was with sad hearts today that we learned of the death of British actor Roger Lloyd-Pack. He had been suffering with pancreatic cancer, and on Wednesday night, the 69 year old stage and screen star passed away at home surrounded by his family.
Roger Lloyd-Pack was a versatile actor who never really escaped his role in BBC sitcom Only Fools and Horses. He played dim-witted road sweeper Colin ‘Trigger’ Ball in the beloved TV program which aired from 1981 to 2003. He thought of his role as both a blessing and a curse; the character was hugely popular with audiences and long after the show had ended, he would still hear shouts of ‘Trigger!’ everywhere he went.
He was born in Islington, North London in 1944, and his father Charles Lloyd-Pack was also an actor who regularly starred in Hammer House of Horror films. Only Fools and Horses was probably his most recognised role, but he had a long and impressive career which saw him appear on TV, film and stage. He studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA), one of the oldest and most prestigious drama schools in the UK, which has produced some of the acting world’s most talented and highly respected actors. In addition to Roger Lloyd-Pack, other RADA alumni include Sir Anthony Hopkins, John Hurt, Peter O’Toole, Ralph Fiennes and Sir Kenneth Brannagh, as well as more stars of recent years, Gemma Arterton, Tom Hiddleston, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Alan Rickman, Alex Kingston and Michael Sheen.
He went on to play many other TV roles aside from Trigger in Only Fools and Horses, most notably appearing alongside Dawn French as farmer Owen Newitt in The Vicar of Dibley and also as evil villain John Lumic in a Cyberman-themed 2-part episode of Doctor Who opposite David Tennant and Billie Piper. He had previously worked with Tennant on the 2005 Harry Potter film, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. In what is perhaps his most recognisable film appearance, he played Ministry of Magic employee Barty Crouch Sr. with Tennant playing his son.
His first stage role was as Osip in the 1984 production of Chekov’s Wild Honey. Since then, he has also played Kafka in the Alan Bennett play Kafka’s Dick and Ash in Dealer’s Choice by Patrick Marber, as well as other on-stage performances in Art, The Last Laugh, The Caretaker and The Royal Hunt of the Sun. His most recent stage roles were in classic works of Shakespeare at the Globe Theatre in their all-male productions of Richard III and Twelfth Night. He starred as the Duke of Buckingham in 2012’s Richard III opposite Mark Rylance in the title role, while appearing onstage with Stephen Fry (Malvolio) in Twelfth Night as Sir Andrew Aguecheek in 2013. In September of that same year, he was part of a line-up which included Sir Derek Jacobi and Samuel West for The Utter: Jazz Collective, in which he performed readings of WH Auden poetry.
The twice-married actor is survived by his four children, including actress Emily Lloyd.
He provided many classic moments of comedy as Trigger, with some of the most memorable being his twenty year old broom and always calling Nicholas Lyndhurst’s character Rodney ‘Dave’. And who can forget Del Boy falling though the open bar hatch? Lloyd-Pack’s reaction is almost as amusing as the moment itself. Still, he was so much more than his Only Fools and Horses role. An accomplished stage actor, he will be sorely missed from the West End and it’s a shame that he never got to fulfil his desire to play the title roles in Uncle Vanya and King Lear. RIP Roger Lloyd-Pack.
By Julie Robinson (@missjulie25)
Thursday 16th January 2014