26th May 1923
Game of Thrones actor Roy Dotrice was born
Probably Guernsey’s most famous son, Roy Dotrice was born in 1923. He died in October 2007, aged ninety-four, having been awarded an OBE for services to drama in 2008. His father, Louis, had been a baker.
When war broke out and German forces invaded the Channel Islands, Dotrice escaped in a small motorboat with his mother, brother, and some friends. They made it safely to the British south coast.
As soon as he was 16, and therefore old enough to sign up, he joined the RAF, where he served as a wireless operator and air gunner. He was shot down, taken prisoner and sent to a German prisoner of war camp in 1942. He remained there until the end of the war.
The acting life
It was in the camp that he was bitten by the acting bug. He initially played female roles, but when the war was over he embarked upon a career in theatre, television and film. Dotrice trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts (Rada) and earned £4 a week playing at the Stockport Hippodrome.
In 1955, he founded the Guernsey Rep, and both acted and directed there for two years.
He was cast to play the part of Grand Maester Pycelle in the US TV series, Game of Thrones. However, he had to withdraw on the grounds of ill-health before filming could begin and replaced by Julian Glover. He later played the part of Hallyne the Pyromancer in the same series.
Double world record holder
He is well known to Game of Thrones fans as the narrator of the first three audiobooks of the series. This work earned him a place in the Guinness Book of Records for playing the most characters in a single story – in this case, 224.
This wasn’t his first world record, though. He had previously been listed for his theatre work: specifically, his 1,782 appearances over nine years as diarist John Aubrey, in the play Brief Lives.
He played Leopold Mozart in the 1984 film Amadeus, and appeared in TV series including Babylon 5, Angel and Life Begins. His daughter Michelle found fame opposite Michael Crawford in the series Some Mothers Do Have ’Em. She played Frank Spencer’s wife, Betty, in the BBC comedy.
Image of Roy Dotrice by soldier2005 (Michelle & Roy Dotrice) CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons.