26th May 1923

Game of Thrones actor Roy Dotrice was born

Probably Guernsey’s most famous son, Roy Dotrice was born in 1923. He died in October 2007, aged ninety-four, having been awarded an OBE for services to drama in 2008. His father, Louis, had been a baker.

Roy Dotrice

When war broke out and German forces invaded the Channel Islands, Dotrice escaped in a small motorboat with his mother, brother, and some friends. They made it safely to the British south coast.

As soon as he was 16, and therefore old enough to sign up, he joined the RAF, where he served as a wireless operator and air gunner. He was shot down, taken prisoner and sent to a German prisoner of war camp in 1942. He remained there until the end of the war.

The acting life

It was in the camp that he was bitten by the acting bug. He initially played female roles, but when the war was over he embarked upon a career in theatre, television and film. Dotrice trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts (Rada) and earned £4 a week playing at the Stockport Hippodrome.

In 1955, he founded the Guernsey Rep, and both acted and directed there for two years.

He was cast to play the part of Grand Maester Pycelle in the US TV series, Game of Thrones. However, he had to withdraw on the grounds of ill-health before filming could begin and replaced by Julian Glover. He later played the part of Hallyne the Pyromancer in the same series.

Double world record holder

He is well known to Game of Thrones fans as the narrator of the first three audiobooks of the series. This work earned him a place in the Guinness Book of Records for playing the most characters in a single story – in this case, 224.

This wasn’t his first world record, though. He had previously been listed for his theatre work: specifically, his 1,782 appearances over nine years as diarist John Aubrey, in the play Brief Lives.

He played Leopold Mozart in the 1984 film Amadeus, and appeared in TV series including Babylon 5, Angel and Life Begins. His daughter Michelle found fame opposite Michael Crawford in the series Some Mothers Do Have ’Em. She played Frank Spencer’s wife, Betty, in the BBC comedy.

Image of Roy Dotrice by soldier2005 (Michelle & Roy Dotrice) CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

 

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Other events that occured in May

Priaulx Library opens for the first time 1st
Horse racing returns to L’Ancresse race course 2nd
Guernsey deportee, nurse Gladys Skillett was born
“Twink” goes missing on its way to Guernsey 3rd
Role of Chief Minister of Guernsey abolished 4th
Guernsey Airport opened for business 5th
Alderney debated in the House of Commons 6th
Songs of Praise comes from Guernsey 7th
Final issue of Deutsche Guernsey-Zeitung was published 8th
Guernsey was liberated from German occupation 9th
A Guernsey retiree’s £1m offer attracts 57,000 requests 10th
A liberation celebration ended in disaster 11th
Guernsey plays Tottenham Hotspur 12th
Guernsey’s telephone wars broke out 13th
British papers reported Dame of Sark’s deportation 14th
The States of Guernsey bought Aurigny 15th
Alderney was liberated at the end of the second world war 16th
Herm goes back on the market 17th
A mainland murder with a Guernsey connection 18th
Guernsey declared a State of Emergency 19th
Wartime diplomat Wilfred Gallienne born in Guernsey 20th
Hauteville House is bequeathed to the City of Paris 21st
Guernsey poet and painter Denys Corbet was born 22nd
John Doyle was appointed Lieutenant-Governor 23rd
The Imperial Hotel opened for the first time 24th
Elizabeth College is founded in St Peter Port 25th
Game of Thrones actor Roy Dotrice was born 26th
Head of Guernsey CID is shot in St Peter Port 27th
Work started on the Victoria Tower
Guernsey’s first paid constables were hired 28th
Guernsey woman advised to leave for her safety 29th
Occupation stories occupy the mainland papers 30th
“Overdose” verdict in Guernsey farmer’s death inquiry 31st