M, #9624, b. 30 October 1945, d. 9 November 2011
Last Edited: 4 Sep 2012
the Telegraph newspaper http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/obituaries/culture-obituaries/theatre-obituaries/8926727/Richard-Morant.html
Photograph by ITV / Rex Features
- Birth*: Richard Morant was born on 30 October 1945.1
- Death*: He died on 9 November 2011 at age 66.1
- Obituary: The obituary of Richard Morant was was published on 30 November 2011. Richard Morant, the actor, who has died aged 66, was memorably cast as Flashman in the BBC adaptation of the Thomas Hughes novel Tom Brown's Schooldays (1971); the squalid Camden house he shared with Bruce Robinson when he was a young actor directly inspired the film Withnail and I (1987).
As the dastardly school bully with a penchant for toasting small boys in front of the fire, Morant cut a terrifyingly sadistic figure. Yet with his dark good looks and dandyish Regency costumes, he was also disturbingly attractive. The series won him many young female admirers and his Flashman became the yardstick against which other performances are judged.
One of five children, Richard Morant was born on October 30 1945 at Shipston-on-Stour, Warwickshire, into a theatrical family. His father was the Shakespearean actor Philip Morant; his uncle and aunt were the actors Bill and Linden Travers; the actress Penelope Wilton was a cousin.
He studied at the Central School of Speech and Drama in London, sharing a chaotic house in Camden with David Dundas, Bruce Robinson and Michael Feast – a venue for riotous parties and the inspiration for some of the material Robinson later incorporated into the cult film Withnail and I.
On graduation, Morant joined the Prospect Theatre and appeared in touring productions of Richard II, Edward II and Twelfth Night. He landed the part of Flashman after taking a small role in Battle of Britain (1969). Later, Ken Russell cast him as Max, Alma Mahler's lover in Mahler (1974), and the following year he was the kindly Dr Dwight Enys in the BBC costume drama Poldark.
Morant appeared in several other BBC serials, including the Walter Scott adaptations Woodstock (1973, as the future Charles II), and The Talisman (1980, as Conrade of Montserrat).
He played Robespierre in The Scarlet Pimpernel (1982); Brian Epstein in the television drama John and Yoko (1985); and the bridegroom in The Company of Wolves (1985). Later he played Bunter, Lord Peter Wimsey's valet, in the BBC's productions of Strong Poison, Have His Carcase and Gaudy Night, with Edward Petherbridge as Dorothy Sayers's well-born sleuth. In 1988 he played Theodore Dyke Acland in the television miniseries Jack the Ripper and subsequently made guest appearances in such series as New Tricks and Midsomer Murders.
As well as his acting Morant also ran a highly successful sideline as a dealer in Asian carpets and textiles. In 1975 he set up the Richard Morant Gallery in Notting Hill, which specialises in antique and modern decorative carpets, textiles and embroidery, including pieces of his own design, hand-made in Turkey.
A generous, self-deprecating man with an infectious laugh, Richard Morant had a crisp, cultured voice that was often in demand for voice-overs, radio, and audio books, including several novels by Julian Barnes and Snobs by Julian Fellowes. When a friend remarked that he had not enjoyed recent episodes of Downton Abbey, Morant replied, laughing heartily, that yes, it was awful - and what was more awful was that he wasn't in it.
Richard Morant married, in 1969, Melissa Fairbanks, the daughter of Douglas Fairbanks Jr, with whom he had a son and a daughter. The marriage was dissolved and he married secondly, in 1982, Valerie Buchanan, with whom he had another son and daughter. His wife and children survive him.2