Guest Actor Biography
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Anthony Ainley

Sunley, Noon Doomsday

by Stephen La Riviere and Pete Stampede

Born 20 August 1937, Anthony Ainley (whose father Richard, and grandfather Henry, were both noted Shakespearean actors) joined RADA to take up acting after working as an insurance clerk. One of his earliest appearances was in The Avengers, followed by a host of others including Doomwatch, "No Room For Error" (1971), Out of the Unknown, "Welcome Home" (1971), Elizabeth R, "The Marriage Game" (1971) and Spyder's Web (1972).

In 1973 he became a semi-regular in the third season of Upstairs Downstairs playing a character called Sir Charles Gilmour alongside other Avengers stalwarts including David Langton ("The Mauritius Penny," "November Five" and "The 50,000 Breakfast"), Christopher Benjamin—for once appearing to play a serious role ("How To Succeed....At Murder," "Never, Never Say Die" and "Split!") and Bernard Archard ("The Master Minds"). Other roles include The Pallisers (1974), Warship (1975), Nicholas Nickleby (1977) Secret Army, "Lisa, Codename Yvette" (1977) and Lillie (1978).

In 1980 he took over from the late Roger Delgado as The Master in Doctor Who, widely considered to be his most famous role, which he played until 1989, appearing with four of the Doctors as well as starring alongside Kate O'Mara ("Stay Tuned") in "The Mark of the Rani" (1985). Film credits include A Man For All Seasons and The Land that Time Forgot.

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Page last modified: 5 May 2017.

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