Simon Ward, the actor who played Bishop Gardiner in historical drama The Tudors, has died aged 70 following a long illness.
Prior to his work on The Tudors, Ward was a regular in the BBC legal drama Judge John Deed, starring as Sir Monty Everard alongside Martin Shaw.
Earlier in his career he played James Herriot in the ’70s film version of All Creatures Great and Small, which later became a popular BBC TV series starring Christopher Timothy.
Ward’s agents, Shepherd Management, said he had died “peacefully” on Friday with his wife and daughters by his side.
Born in Beckenham, Kent, Ward joined the National Youth Theatre at the age of 13, spending eight years there before going on to train at RADA.
His big break in the theatre came in 1967 when he played the lead in Joe Orton’s play Loot.
In 1972 he took the title role of Winston Churchill in Young Winston, a role which brought him international acclaim and led to appearances in Hollywood films such as The Three Musketeers and Supergirl.
Alastair Whatley, one of the last directors to work with Ward – on a stage version of The Madness of King George III – remembered the actor’s tireless attitude to performing:
“Already in declining health Simon took on the one of the most challenging roles written in recent years and furthermore agreed to tour with the production all over England to venues often rather off the beaten track,” said Whatley.
Ward is survived by his wife Alexandra and three daughters actress Sophie Ward, Claudia and Kitty, who is married to the comedian Michael McIntyre.