British character actor Freddie Jones has died

British character actor Freddie Jones has passed away. He had a lengthy career in theatre, television, and cinema productions over almost sixty years.

Born Frederick Charles Jones on 12 September 1927, he was raised in Dresden, Stoke-on-Trent, On leaving school, he went to work at Creda, the home appliances store, and then for ten years as a lab assistant at a chemical factory in Tamworth, where he immersed himself in amateur dramatics.

Trained at the Rose Bruford College, Freddie Jones made a breakthrough cast in the Harold Pinter-directed revival of The Birthday Party in 1963. He married Jennifer Jones (née Heslewood) in 1965, the marriage producing three sons, the eldest being the actor Toby Jones. He became famous for his award-winning role as Claudius in the 1968 British TV series The Caesars.

His many genre appearances include Hammer’s Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed (in which his pathos is superb, 1969), The Man Who Haunted Himself (1970), Goodbye Gemini (1970), Assault aka In the Devil’s Garden (1970), Ringo Starr’s vanity project Son of Dracula (1973), The Satanic Rites of Dracula (also for Hammer, 1973), Vampira aka Old Dracula (1974), The Elephant Man (1980), Krull (1983), Firestarter (1984) and Dune (1984).

The Elephant Man, 1980. Image: Allstar/Brooksfilm/StudioCanal

Elsewhere, Jones was irascible Victorian general Sir George Uproar, in kids’ TV comedy series The Ghosts of Motley Hall (1976-78). He also read some of the Spine Chillers for a 1980 BBC children’s supernatural television series of the same name produced by the Jackanory team. In 1995, he was Fortunato in a TV Tales of Mystery & Imagination version of Poe’s ‘The Cask of Amontillado’.

Most British TV viewers will know Freddie Jones as Sandy Thomas from the soap opera Emmerdale, in which he appeared in a whopping 776 episodes (!) before he gracefully retired in 2018.

The makers of the programme said in a statement: “Everyone at Emmerdale is deeply sad to hear about the death of one of the show’s most brilliant actors and favourite human beings, Freddie Jones […] he brought his unique, energetic, infectious, twinkle to every scene he was in.”

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