Death Of Well Known Local Actor Peter Howell

Sir Ian McKellen joins tributes to long-time Chiswick resident


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Friends and colleagues have paid tribute to former Chiswick resident and well known actor Peter Howell, who has died last week aged 96. He was one of the driving forces behind the founding of the Waterman’s Theatre in Brentford.

Veteran actor Ian McKellen, who was godfather to one of his daughters, paid tribute to Peter Howell on his web site recalling that he was well remembered for the role of Dr Peter Harrison in 107 episodes of the UK soap Emergency Ward 10 (1957 onwards.)

Ian McKellen with Peter Howell

He also featured in the Yes Minister series in 1982 and played the role of Sir William Lucas in the 19980 BBC mini series 'Pride and Prejudice'. He also made guest appearances in The Avengers, The Prisoner, and Doctor Who and appeared alongside Johnny Depp in The Libertine as well as numerous appearances in television series and in theatre.

Sir Ian recalled that members of the public often believed he was a real doctor because of his role in Emergency Ward 10.

"He used to get letters from fans asking for advice on professional healthcare, which of course he wasn't qualified to give. Later he was Saruman in the BBC radio version of Lord of the Rings (1981) with Ian Holm as Frodo Baggins and Michael Hordern as Gandalf) and was very supportive when I was much later recruited to Middle-earth."

He said the two had bonded over politics. "Peter was a staunch Labour party supporter, the sort of dedicated party member who diligently attends constituency meetings, organises committees and stirs up sluggish voters at Election time.

"His life was dedicated to making the world a fairer place: fairer in both senses. He was appalled at social injustice and he loved the beauty of the arts. So he supported our union Equity at every turn and typically, almost single-handedly, he raised the funds to build a Thamesside theatre near his home in west London, Watermans Arts Centre. So he has a worthy memorial."

Mr Howell lived in Glebe Street, Chiswick, for many years and had been living at a care home in Rickmansworth for the past few years.

Peter Howell had a long association with St Nicholas Church in Chiswick and his funeral will take place there- details will be announced.

April 25, 2015