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Robert Lindsay (born 13 December 1949) is an English actor who is best known for his television work, especially his roles in Citizen Smith, My Family, and Hornblower.

Early life

Lindsay was born Robert Lindsay Stevenson in Ilkestonmarker, Derbyshiremarker, the son of Norman and Joyce Stevenson. After leaving school, Lindsay enrolled in the drama department of a technical college in Nottinghammarker, and intended to become a drama teacher. However, friends at Nottingham Playhousemarker encouraged him to apply to Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA), and in 1968 he was accepted there with the aid of a government grant. After he graduated, he took a job as a dialect coach for a repertory company in Essex, and then joined a regional theatre group.

Lindsay first came to prominence as the cockney layabout Jakey Smith in ITV comedy series Get Some In!, and he appeared in the fourth series of the BBC sitcom The Good Life. He was then given the starring role as incompetent revolutionary Wolfie Smith in the BBC sitcom Citizen Smith. He followed this with roles in a number of the BBC Television Shakespeare productions, including Benedick in Much Ado About Nothing, and as Edmund in King Lear opposite Lord Olivier in 1984. Also, it should be noted that he took part in an obscure Radio 4 show, What Are You Talking About?, in the early 1980s between Television Shakespeare productions, in an attempt to establish a comedy career.

Stage career

Lindsay enjoyed a successful stage career, especially during the 1980s, including lead roles in several significant Shakespearean productions. He starred in the 1984 revival of Me and My Girl in London and on Broadwaymarker, netting a Laurence Olivier Award and a Tony Award in the category of Best Actor in a Musical (against competition that included Colm Wilkinson and Terrence Mann in Les Mis in both cases). He won another Olivier Award in the same category in 1997, for his portrayal of Fagin in the revival of Oliver!. He starred in a production of The Entertainer at the Old Vicmarker in 2007

1970s–1990s

Lindsay became famous in the UK in his role as incompetent revolutionary Wolfie Smith in the BBC sitcom Citizen Smith. Earlier, a young Lindsay appeared on The Good Life in the 1977 series 4 episode entitled Our Speaker Today. Lindsay's success on Broadwaymarker and in the West Endmarker led to the starring role in the film Bert Rigby, You're a Fool, although it was not a commercial success. Robert then took the role as tom in the low budget adult comedy adventures of a taxi driver, this was a big success. However, he continued to enjoy success on television, and in 1991 played the leading role in Alan Bleasdale's dark comedy serial G.B.H., for which he won a BAFTA for his performance. He also starred in the surreal Channel 4 sitcom Nightingales, and appeared in the films Fierce Creatures and Divorcing Jack. In 1998 he was cast in the recurring role of Captain Pellew in the ITV mini-series Hornblower, based on the novels of C.S. Forester. He was also the original choice for the lead role in the drama Cracker, but turned the part down as he didn't want to become too associated with heavyweight, darker drama characters. He later appeared as Fagin in the 1999 ITV Oliver Twist miniseries.

2000s

Lindsay has become familiar to a new generation of viewers as Ben Harper in the popular BBC sitcom My Family since 2000.

In October 2005 he starred in a ITV drama series Jericho, about a Scotland Yardmarker detective investigating murder and kidnapping in London's Sohomarker in the 1950s. In January and February 2006, he appeared as Sneath in two loosely linked Stephen Poliakoff dramas, Friends and Crocodiles and Gideon's Daughter, shown on BBC One. He was the only actor to appear in both productions.

He has also portrayed Prime Minister Tony Blair in the Channel 4 satires A Very Social Secretary and The Trial of Tony Blair. In 2003, he made a guest appearance in an episode in Absolutely Fabulous and also provided his voice as the narrator for the BBC documentary series Seven Wonders of the Industrial World.

Lindsay appeared in the 8th Ricky Gervais Video Podcast, where Gervais announced Lindsay would be starring in the second series of Extras. He appeared in the last episode of the second series playing an egotistical, pushy version of himself. He also appeared in the romantic comedy Wimbledon, as the tennis club manager who hires Peter Colt and played the protagonist, Maddox, from the Radio 4 comedy Electric Ink by Alistair Beaton in 2009.

Lindsay sings the recorded version of Derby County Football Club's song "Steve Bloomer's Watchin", played and sung by the fans at the beginning of every home game, and usually at the start of the second half and after a good win.

Personal life

In 1974 Lindsay married Cheryl Hall, who was later to appear alongside him in Citizen Smith. They divorced in 1980, when he started a long term relationship with the actress Diana Weston, with whom he has a daughter, Sydney Laura Stevenson (born Hammersmithmarker, Londonmarker, 2 April 1988), who co-starred with him in three episodes of My Family. Since acting as Admiral Pellew in the Hornblower series, Lindsay has become good friends with the real Pellew family.

He then left Weston for actress/presenter Rosemarie Ford. The couple have two sons, both born in Hillingdonmarker, London: Samuel Lindsay Stevenson (born 18 November 1999) and James Lindsay Stevenson (born 8 April 2003). The couple married on 31 December 2006.

Lindsay researched his family tree in the third series of Who Do You Think You Are?, airing on 13 September 2006. He travelled to his hometown and to Turkeymarker, where his grandfather Raymond Dunmore had taken part in the Gallipoli campaign during World War I.

Politics

Lindsay has always been known for his left-wing politics. He describes himself as a staunch socialist, and has marched in the past in support of miners. He vehemently opposed Prime Minister Tony Blair's decisions to go to war in Afghanistan and Iraq, and now feels disillusioned with mainstream politics: "You see those images of Iraq and Afghanistan and Lebanon, don't you? And I suspect somewhere, when he goes home at night and the kids are in bed, he must go, Jesus, what have I done?"."

Notes

  1. http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2007/jan/13/broadcasting.arts


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