Paul Eddington

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Paul Eddington CBE

as Jim Hacker
Born(1927-06-18)18 June 1927
London, England
Died4 November 1995(1995-11-04) (aged 68)
London, England
Cause of deathLymphoma
OccupationActor
Years active1940s - 1995
Spouse(s)Patricia Scott
(m. 1952 - 1995, his death)
 
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Paul Eddington CBE

as Jim Hacker
Born(1927-06-18)18 June 1927
London, England
Died4 November 1995(1995-11-04) (aged 68)
London, England
Cause of deathLymphoma
OccupationActor
Years active1940s - 1995
Spouse(s)Patricia Scott
(m. 1952 - 1995, his death)

Paul Eddington, CBE (18 June 1927 - 4 November 1995) was an English actor best known for his appearances in popular television sitcoms of the 1970s and 80s: The Good Life, Yes Minister and Yes, Prime Minister.

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Early life

Eddington was born to Albert Clark Eddington and Frances Mary (née Roberts). A Quaker, he attended Sibford School, Sibford Ferris, Oxfordshire.

Career

He began his acting career with Entertainments National Service Association (ENSA) during the Second World War, but was asked to leave when it became known that he was a pacifist and a conscientious objector. Eddington worked for a repertory theatre company in Sheffield, and made his first TV appearance in 1956 as a regular cast member of The Adventures of Robin Hood. Initially he played minor characters, but in the fourth season during 1959-60 he played Will Scarlet. He also had roles in episodes of The Avengers (1963), The Prisoner (1967) and the final episode of The Champions (1969). He also had a supporting role in Hammer Films' The Devil Rides Out (1968) and appeared as a "straight man" (substituting for regular stooge Henry McGee) in a 1976 episode of The Benny Hill Show.

Rise to fame

Although he was an actor all his life, Eddington was in his late forties before he became a household name thanks to The Good Life (Good Neighbors in the USA), first screened by the BBC in 1975.[1] It tells the story of a suburban couple who decide to give up work and become self-sufficient in their suburban backyard. Eddington was cast as neighbour Jerry Leadbetter, with Penelope Keith as his wife, Margo. Originally intended as bit parts, the Leadbetters quickly became essential foils for the two "stars".

Eddington's fame grew further when he played the title role of Jim Hacker in the hit comedy series Yes Minister (first screened in 1980) and Yes, Prime Minister (1986-88) - said to have been former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's favourite TV programme. He was shortlisted for the BAFTA award for Best Light Entertainment Performance four times for the series, though he lost out to his co-star Nigel Hawthorne on each occasion.

While recording Yes, Prime Minister, Eddington was diagnosed as having cutaneous T cell lymphoma, a type of haematological cancer that affects the skin, but he continued performing. For years he kept his illness a secret from all but his friends and co-stars. His last roles were in the TV dramatisation of The Camomile Lawn (1992), and as the voice of Badger in The Adventures of Mole.

During 1987, Eddington appeared as Sir Joseph Porter in H.M.S. Pinafore in Australia.[2]

Awards and honours

Eddington was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 1987 and in 1992, won the Critics' Circle Theatre Award for Best Actor, for his performance in No Man's Land.

Final years

Eddington's autobiography, So Far, So Good, was published by Hodder & Stoughton in 1995. On October 30, 1995, Eddington made a moving appearance in the television series Face to Face, discussing his life, career and disease with Jeremy Isaacs.[3] On that show, Eddington said, "A journalist once asked me what I would like my epitaph to be and I said I think I would like it to be 'He did very little harm'. And that's not easy. Most people seem to me to do a great deal of harm. If I could be remembered as having done very little, that would suit me."

He died in Southwark,[4] London, and was survived by his wife, Patricia Scott, and their three sons and daughter.[5] BBC1 aired a half-hour tribute to him on 15 July 2001 called Paul Eddington: A Life Well Lived.

Selected filmography

References

Further reading

External links