BREAKING NEWS: Downton Abbey star dies in Northampton before debut performance on Derngate stage
The star of a play debuting at Northampton's Royal & Derngate Theatre this Monday has died.
Tim Pigott-Smith, OBE, aged 70, was found dead at a private address in Northampton.
He was billed to star as the lead role in Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman, debuting at Northampton's Royal & Derngate Theatre on Monday (April 10).
An ambulance was called to an address in Woolmonger Street, off Kingswell Street, Northampton, at around 9.45am today (April 7) after a caller reported that a man had collapsed.
The death has been confirmed by HM coroner Anne Pember.
In an interview with the Chronicle & Echo this week about his upcoming role, Mr Pigott-Smith said: "I have been very lucky with the career that I have had, and the parts I have been asked to play.
“It is just a privilege to be a part of this show. I think it has the most wonderful quality."
He was well known for starring in the 1984 British serial drama The Jewel in the Crown, which The Guardian described as a 'high-water mark of 1980s British TV'.
He appeared in dozens of British television shows over his 50-year career, including Doctor Who, Midsomer Murders and Silent Witness. He also played Sir Philip Tapsell in ITV's Downton Abbey.
He said: "I have to mention Jewel in the Crown as a favourite, as well as a TV series called The Lost Boys which was all about the life of James Barrie and his inspiration for creating Peter Pan.
“I was talking to people who own the DVD of Jewel in the Crown and they say that it still holds up. I haven’t seen it since we did it. It is a great piece and I read so much, I read all the time while I was out there."Mr Pigott-Smith was awarded an OBE for his services to acting in the 2017 New Year's honours list.
He said: “It was absolutely wonderful to get the OBE. It started off with a really informal letter and had to re-read it a couple of times before eventually, I said to Pam [his wife], 'I think they want to offer me an OBE'.
“But it was announced in the New Year’s honours and went down at the beginning of the month to pick it up. Prince William was the person to give me the honour. It is a very personal occasion and the whole atmosphere was so feel good. It was a wonderful day.”
Death of a Salesman was set to run in Northampton from April 10 until April 29 before touring across the country.
It is not known if the play will still debut this Monday.