James Ellis 1931-2014Bookmark and Share

Saturday, 8 March 2014 - Reported by Marcus
The actor James Ellis has died at the age of 82.

Ellis played Peter Warmsly, the archaeologist in charge of the dig in the 1989 Doctor Who story Battlefield.

He was best known for the role of Bert Lynch in the hit Sixties BBC TV police series Z-Cars, appearing in 565 episodes between 1962 and 1978.

Born in Belfast, the actor began his career with the Ulster Group Theatre in 1952. He got his big break in television in 1961 when he was cast as Dandy Jordan in the BBC television production of Stewart Love's Randy Dandy. Subsequent roles included Philip in The Sugar Cube before winning the role of Bert Lynch, where his character rose from the rank of PC to Inspector over the series run. He also played Paddy Reilly in the 1984 zoo vet series One By One (created by Anthony Read who, coincidentally, wrote for Z-Cars in 1962). From 1982, he portrayed Norman Martin, the violent and troubled father in BBC Northern Ireland's series of Billy plays. Sir Kenneth Branagh, who was just out of drama school, played his son Billy.

Ellis also appeared in Eternal Law, Casualty, Heartbeat, Playing the Field, Sunburn, Ballykissangel, Big Bad World, Birds of a Feather, The Precious Blood, Oliver's Travels, The Detectives, Lovejoy, Perfect Scoundrels, In Sickness And In Health, So You Think You've Got Troubles, Woof!, All Creatures Great And Small, Hammer House Of Mystery And Suspense, Boys From The Blackstuff, ITV Playhouse, The Long March, Till Death Us Do Part and The Adventures Of Robin Hood.

As well as being an actor, Ellis was also a writer of poems and prose and a translator. The BBC broadcast a selection of his adaptations from French in 2007. He was awarded an honorary doctorate from Queen's University in 2008 for services to the performing arts.

He died from a stroke in Lincoln Hospital early today. In line with his wishes, he will be buried in his home city of Belfast.