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Michael Jayston death: Only Fools and Horses and Doctor Who actor dies, aged 88

Michael Jayston, an actor known for his appearances in Only Fools and Horses and Doctor Who, has died aged 88 after “a short illness”.

The British actor is known for playing James, the father of Raquel Turner (Tessa Peake-Jones) in the Only Fools and Horses episode “Time on Our Hands”.

In the 1996 episode of the classic sitcom, Del Boy (Sir David Jason) and Rodney Trotter (Nicholas Lyndhurst) get their big break at an auction.

A statement from M&M Famous Faces announced his death on Monday.

Written on behalf of Jayston’s family, the announcement reads: “It is with great sadness, that I have been asked by his family to share the news, Michael Jayston sadly passed away this morning after a short illness.

“Those who knew Michael will know he was full of love, laughs and happiness. He adored meeting his fans all over the world.

“His family and friends would appreciate privacy at this time.”

Michael Jayston (Getty Images)
Michael Jayston (Getty Images)

As well as starring in Only Fools and Horses, Jayston also played a main role in the historical film Nicholas and Alexandra about the last days of the Tsars in Russia and the relationship between Nicholas II of Russia and his wife (played by Janet Suzman).

Other viewers will recognise Jayston from his role as the Valeyard in 14 episodes of Doctor Who in the 23rd season, which aired in 1986.

Collectively titled “The Trial of the Time Lord”, the season featured Jayston as the prosecutor at the Sixth Doctor’s (Colin Baker) trial, who hoped to have the Doctor executed, thereby removing the sole witness to their near destruction of life on Earth.

Michael Jayston in ‘Doctor Who’ (BBC)
Michael Jayston in ‘Doctor Who’ (BBC)

Born in Nottingham in 1935, Jayston trained at Guildhall School of Drama before beginning his stage career in 1962.

One of his most notable theatre roles was his portrayal of Captain Von Trapp in the 1981 stage revival of The Sound of Music at London’s Apollo Victoria alongside Petula Clark’s singing nun, Maria.

On screen, Jayston played a wide range of roles, including three Shakespeare productions: he played Macbeth in Macbeth (1970), Gratiano in The Merchant of Venice (1973) and Edmund in King Lear (1975).

Jayston also worked regularly as a voice artist, and recorded most of John le Carré‘s novels in audiobook format.

More recent years saw the actor appear in programmes such as Tracy Beaker Returns as Mr Spooner (2010) and a 2014 episode of Midsomer Murders as Reverend Arthur Gould.

Jayston married three times and had two children. His third wife, Ann Smithson, survives him.