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Sidney Edmond Jocelyn Ackland CBE (born 29 February 1928), known as Joss Ackland, is an Englishmarker actor who has appeared in more than 130 films in his career. He has appeared extensively on television, notably as C. S. Lewis in Shadowlands (1985).


Early life

Ackland was born in North Kensingtonmarker, Londonmarker, the son of Ruth Izod and Sydney Norman Ackland. He was trained at the Central School of Speech and Drama. Ackland and his wife, the former Rosemary Kirkcaldy, were married on 18 August 1951 when Ackland was 23 and she 22. She was an actress and Ackland wooed her when they appeared onstage together in Pitlochrymarker. The couple struggled initially as Ackland's acting career was in its infancy. They moved to Kenyamarker, where Ackland had decided to try his luck managing a tea plantation before moving to Cape Townmarker, South Africa after six months when they decided it was too dangerous. Though they both obtained steady acting jobs in South Africa, after two years, they returned to England in 1957.


Ackland joined the Old Vicmarker, appearing alongside such luminaries as Maggie Smith, Judi Dench and Tom Courtenay. Ackland's career advanced with parts in The Sicilian, Lethal Weapon 2, The Hunt For Red October and White Mischief. He has since kept busy with work and features in Passion of Mind with Demi Moore and the 2-part TV miniseries Hogfather based on Terry Pratchett's Discworld novel of the same name.

His stage roles included creating the role of Juan Perón in Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical Evita opposite Elaine Paige.

Ackland appears in the Pet Shop Boys' 1987 film It Couldn't Happen Here, and in the video for their version of the song Always on My Mind, which was taken from the film. Several years later, he claimed in an interview with the Radio Times that he appeared with the band purely because his grandchildren liked their music.

Ackland, in an 2001 interview with the BBC, admitting to being forced to make "awful films" due to being a workaholic, mentioning by name Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey and the Pet Shop Boys music video, while lambasting former co-star Demi Moore as "not very bright or talented".

In 2007 Ackland narrated and provided the voice for the Robert Garofalo biography /film and documentary on notorious Occultist Aleister Crowley, titled In Search of The Great Beast 666 that was released on DVD.

Personal life

Ackland and his wife were married for 51 years. They had seven children and, as of May 2006, 32 grandchildren. Despite his filming taking him to far-flung locations, Ackland said they never spent a night apart. In 1963, their house in Barnesmarker caught fire. Rosemary Ackland managed to save their five children but broke her back when jumping from the bedroom window to safety. She was told she would lose the baby she was carrying and would never walk again. She managed to confound the doctors, and both gave birth and returned to walking, after 2 years in Stoke Mandeville Hospital.

Their eldest son, Paul, died of a heroin overdose in 1982, aged 29. In 2000, Rosemary Ackland learned she had motor neurone disease. The last two years of her life saw the degenerative effects of this disease manifest, but she maintained her humorous disposition and continued writing a diary, just as she had done for decades. Rosemary Ackland died on 25 July 2002.

In the years since her death, Ackland has read and edited the diaries for a forthcoming publication. My Better Half and Me by Joss and Rosemary Ackland will be published by Ebury Press on 20 August 2009.

Ackland lives near Clovelly in Devon.



  1. Joss Ackland Biography (1928-).
  2. "Joss Ackland admits 'awful' films."

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