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Belfast actor James Greene dies at age 89

Former UTV continuity announcer had busy career on stage and screen


Veteran: Belfast-born actor James Greene

Veteran: Belfast-born actor James Greene


Veteran: Belfast-born actor James Greene

Belfast-born veteran actor James Greene has died at the age of 89 after a short illness.

Greene was best known for roles in Doctor Who, Downton Abbey and Birds Of A Feather, as well as numerous stage productions in Belfast, Dublin and London.

Confirming the news of his death yesterday, Greene's agent said: "His stage work included John Crowley's production of Playboy Of The Western World at the Old Vic and he was a particularly memorable Monsignor in the 2001 revival of The Sanctuary Lamp at the Abbey Theatre, Dublin.

"He was a great ambassador for his native Northern Ireland, where he was a continuity announcer for Ulster Television from 1959 to 1965."

Born in Belfast on May 19, 1931, Greene was a staple of TV and film for many years, often playing lawyers, clergymen, army officers, and latterly judges.

He was a regular face on the screen with credits including The Crown, Call The Midwife, Merlin and Midsomer Murders.

Other shows he worked on included Little Britain, Poirot, Casualty and Inspector Morse.

Greene's feature film credits included roles in 2009's Sherlock Holmes, 2003's Johnny English alongside Rowan Atkinson, and From Hell in 2001.

Despite moving to England, in the early 1980s he made a return to the Belfast stage in two Lyric productions: Stewart Parker's Kingdom Come and Jennifer Johnston's Indian Summer, both of which saw him in strong central roles.

On the small screen he secured regular cast appearances as Mr Trimble in Chocky and Reverend Bartlet in Mapp & Lucia.

Another clerical role was as Father Peter in Graham Reid's TV play You, Me And Marley in 1992, which was set in west Belfast.

Other television work included guest appearances in popular crime dramas such as Poirot and The Inspector Alleyn Mysteries.

A feature film role came in writer Michael Hastings' Oscar-nominated Tom And Viv, a biographical account of TS Elliot's relationship with Vivienne Haigh Wood starring Willem Dafoe and Miranda Richardson.

Greene also appeared as opthalmic optician Dr Goddard in the two-part police drama Second Sight starring Clive Owen.

More small screen recognition came as Arnold in the three-season comedy drama series William And Mary, appearing in all 18 episodes from 2003-2005.

His later screen work included a number of rewarding television credits.

In 2012 he was Old Ian in six episodes of Julia Davis' Hunderby, and during a two-season run in The Life And Adventures Of Nick Nickleby he played Mr Cobbey.

Another extended television role was his John Hubble, long serving head of science at Greybridge School in David Walliams' sitcom Big School.

Guest appearances included the abbot in Doctor Who's The Bells Of Saint John in 2013, as Andrew Haldane in Shetland, and as a priest in Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall in 2015.

The best of his television work came two years later as murder victim Bob Franklin in director Bruce Goodison's psychological thriller Born To Kill, broadcast by Channel 4.

His final on screen appearance was as Gordon Andrews in Cuckoo in 2019.

Belfast Telegraph