Callow in London, October 2009
Simon Phillip Hugh Callow
15 June 1949
|Occupation||Actor, director, writer, musician|
Sebastian Fox (m. 2016)
Callow was born in Streatham, London, the son of Yvonne Mary (née Guise), a secretary, and Neil Francis Callow, a businessman. His father was of English and French descent and his mother was of Danish and German ancestry. He was brought up Roman Catholic. Callow was educated at the London Oratory School and then went on to study at Queen's University Belfast ('Queen's') in Northern Ireland where he was active in the Northern Ireland civil-rights movement, before giving up his degree course to go into acting at the Drama Centre London.
Callow's immersion in the theatre began after he wrote a fan letter to Sir Laurence Olivier, the Artistic Director of the National Theatre, and received a response suggesting he join their box office staff. It was while watching actors rehearse that he realised he wanted to act.
Callow made his stage debut in 1973, appearing in The Thrie Estates at the Assembly Rooms Theatre, Edinburgh. In the early 1970s, he joined the Gay Sweatshop theatre company and performed in Martin Sherman's critically acclaimed Passing By. In 1977, he took various parts in the Joint Stock Theatre Company's production of Epsom Downs and in 1979, he starred in Snoo Wilson's The Soul of the White Ant at the Soho Poly.
Callow appeared as Verlaine in Total Eclipse (1982), Lord Foppington in The Relapse (1983) and the title role in Faust (1988) at the Lyric Hammersmith, where he also directed The Infernal Machine (with Maggie Smith) in 1986. In 1985, he played Molina in The Kiss of the Spiderwoman at the Bush Theatre, London. He created the role of Mozart in the premiere of Peter Shaffer's Amadeus at the National Theatre (1979), also appearing in the 1983 BBC radio production with its original cast. He later wrote of having "discovered Mozart quite early: the operas, the symphonies, the concertos, the wind serenades were all very much part of my musical landscape when I was asked to play the part of the composer in Peter Shaffer's Amadeus; possibly this was one of the reasons I got the job." He also appeared at the National Theatre as Orlando in As You Like It (1979) and Fulganzio in Galileo (1980).
He made his first film appearance, as Schikaneder, in Amadeus in 1984 (having played Mozart in the original stage production). The following year, he appeared as the Reverend Mr. Beebe in A Room with a View, a role which was meant to be supporting but ended up driving much of the action in the film. His first television role was in Carry On Laughing episode "Orgy and Bess", in 1975, but it was apparently cut from the final print. He starred in several series of the Channel 4 situation comedy Chance in a Million, as Tom Chance, an eccentric individual to whom coincidences happened regularly. Roles like this and his part in Four Weddings and a Funeral brought him a wider audience than his many critically acclaimed stage appearances.
At the same time, Callow was successful both as a director and as a writer. His Being An Actor (1984) was a critique of 'director dominated' theatre, in addition to containing autobiographical sections relating to his early career as an actor. At a time when subsidised theatre in the United Kingdom was under severe pressure from the Thatcher government, the work's original appearance caused a minor controversy. In 1992, he directed the play Shades by Sharman MacDonald and the musical My Fair Lady featuring costumes designed by Jasper Conran. In 1995, he directed a stage version of the classic French film Les Enfants du Paradis for the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC). The production was not a success.
Among opera productions directed by Callow are a Così fan tutte in Lucerne, Die Fledermaus for Scottish Opera in 1988, Il tritico for the Broomhill Trust, Kent in August 1995, Menotti's The Consul at Holland Park Opera, London in 1999 and Le roi malgré lui by Chabrier at Grange Park Opera in 2003. He also directed Carmen Jones at the Old Vic, London in 1991, with Wilhelmenia Fernandez in the title role.
One of Callow's best-known books is Love Is Where It Falls, an analysis of his eleven-year relationship with Peggy Ramsay (1980–91), a prominent British theatrical agent from the 1960s to the 1980s. He has also written extensively about Charles Dickens, whom he has played several times: in a one-man show, The Mystery of Charles Dickens by Peter Ackroyd; in the films Hans Christian Andersen: My Life as a Fairytale and Christmas Carol: The Movie; and on television several times including An Audience with Charles Dickens (BBC, 1996) and in "The Unquiet Dead", a 2005 episode of the BBC science-fiction series Doctor Who. He returned to Doctor Who for the 2011 season finale, again taking the role of Dickens.
Callow appeared with Saeed Jaffrey in 1994 British television series Little Napoleons. In 1996, Callow directed Cantabile in three musical pieces (Commuting, The Waiter's Revenge, Ricercare No. 4) composed by his friend Stephen Oliver. Ricercare No. 4 was commissioned by Callow especially for Cantabile. He voice-acted the sly and traitorous Wolfgang in Shoebox Zoo. In 2004, he appeared on a Comic Relief episode of Little Britain for charity causes. In 2006, he wrote a piece for the BBC1 programme This Week bemoaning the lack of characters in modern politics. He has starred as Count Fosco, the villain of Wilkie Collins's novel The Woman in White, in film (1997) and on stage (2005, in the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical in the West End).
In December 2004, he hosted the London Gay Men's Chorus Christmas Show, Make the Yuletide Gay at the Barbican Centre in London. He is currently one of the patrons of the Michael Chekhov Studio London. Callow narrated the audiobook of Robert Fagles' 2006 translation of Virgil's The Aeneid.
In July 2006, the London Oratory School Schola announced Callow as one of their new patrons. In November 2007, he threatened to resign the post over controversy surrounding the Terrence Higgins Trust (an AIDS charity of which Callow is also a patron). Other patrons of the Catholic choir are Princess Michael of Kent and the leading Scottish composer James MacMillan. He reprised his role as Wolfgang in Shoebox Zoo and voice-acted the wild and action-seeking Hunter as well.
From 11 July to 3 August 2008, Callow appeared at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival in Canada in There Reigns Love, a performance of the sonnets of William Shakespeare and also in 2008, he appeared at the Edinburgh Festival performing "Dr Marigold" and "Mr Chops" by Charles Dickens, adapted and directed by Patrick Garland; repeating them from December 2009 to January 2010 at the Riverside Studios and on tour in 2011.
Between March and August 2009, he starred as Pozzo in Sean Mathias's production of Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett opposite Sir Ian McKellen (Estragon), Sir Patrick Stewart (Vladimir) and also Ronald Pickup (Lucky). The tour opened in Malvern before travelling to Milton Keynes, Brighton, Bath, Norwich, Edinburgh and Newcastle; its run at the Theatre Royal, Haymarket was extended due to demand.
In November 2009, "Mini Stories", a recording by the Caput Ensemble of Haflidi Hallgrimsson's settings of the surreal poetry of Daniil Kharms, featuring Callow as the narrator was released by Hyperion records.
From June to November 2010, he appeared in a national tour of a new one-man play, Shakespeare: the Man from Stratford, written by Jonathan Bate, directed by Tom Cairns and produced by the Ambassador Theatre Group. The play was renamed Being Shakespeare for its West End debut at the Trafalgar Studios where it opened on 15 June 2011. It was revived at the same theatre in March 2012, prior to a run in New York City and Chicago. In March 2014, it returned to the West End, this time at the Harold Pinter Theatre.
In October 2014, Callow appeared in a comedy sketch made for Channel 4's The Feeling Nuts Comedy Night to raise awareness of testicular cancer. The same year he played the recurring role of the fictional Duke of Sandringham in the Starz period TV series, Outlander.
Callow has also written biographies of Oscar Wilde, Charles Laughton and Orson Welles. He is currently at work on the fourth volume of his life of Welles. He has also written an anthology of Shakespeare passages, Shakespeare on Love, and contributed to Cambridge's Actors on Shakespeare series. Callow was also the reader of The Twits and The Witches in the Puffin Roald Dahl Audio Books Collection (ISBN 978-0-140-92255-4) and has done audio versions of several abridged P.G. Wodehouse books that feature, among others, the fictional character Jeeves. They include Very Good, Jeeves and Aunts Aren't Gentlemen. A devotee of classical music, he has contributed articles to Gramophone magazine.
Callow was listed 28th in The Independent's 2007 listing of the most influential gay men and women in the UK. In 1999, he was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for his services to acting. He was one of the first actors to declare his homosexuality publicly, doing so in his 1984 book Being An Actor.
In an interview, Callow stated:
I'm not really an activist, although I am aware that there are some political acts one can do that actually make a difference and I think my coming out as a gay man was probably one of the most valuable things I've done in my life. I don't think any actor had done so voluntarily and I think it helped to change the culture.
|1984||Amadeus||Emanuel Schikaneder / Papageno|
|1985||The Good Father||Mark Varda|
|1985||A Room with a View||The Reverend Mr. Beebe||Nominated – BAFTA Film Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role|
|1990||Postcards from the Edge||Simon Asquith|
|1990||Mr. & Mrs. Bridge||Dr. Alex Sauer|
|1991||The Ballad of the Sad Cafe||Director|
Nominated – Golden Berlin Bear
|1991||Howards End||Music and Meaning Lecturer||Cameo|
|1992||Soft Top Hard Shoulder||Eddie Cherdowski|
|1994||Four Weddings and a Funeral||Gareth||Nominated – BAFTA Film Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role|
|1994||Street Fighter||A.N. Official|
|1995||England, My England||Charles II|
|1995||Jefferson in Paris||Richard Cosway|
|1995||Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls||Vincent Cadby|
|1996||James and the Giant Peach||Mr. Grasshopper||Voice|
|1998||The Scarlet Tunic||Captain Fairfax|
|1998||Bedrooms and Hallways||Keith|
|1998||Shakespeare in Love||Sir Edmund Tilney||Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture|
|1999||Around the World in 80 Days||Phileas Fogg||Voice|
|2001||No Man's Land||Colonel Soft|
|2001||Christmas Carol: The Movie||Ebenezer Scrooge|
|2002||Thunderpants||Sir John Osgood|
|2002||Merci Docteur Rey||Bob|
|2003||Bright Young Things||King of Anatolia|
|2004||George and the Dragon||King Edgar|
|2004||The Phantom of the Opera||Andre|
|2005||Rag Tale||Fat Boy Rourke|
|2005||The Civilization of Maxwell Bright||Mr. Wroth|
|2005||Bob the Butler||Mr. Butler|
|2007||Chemical Wedding||Professor Haddo / Aleister Crowley|
|2007||Arn - The Knight Templar||Father Henry|
|2011||No Ordinary Trifle||Guy Witherspoon|
|2012||Acts of Godfrey||Godfrey|
|2014||Magician: The Astonishing Life and Work of Orson Welles||Himself|
|2016||Viceroy's House||Cyril Radcliffe|
|2017||Victoria & Abdul||Giacomo Puccini|
|2017||The Man Who Invented Christmas||John Leech|
|2018||Blue Iguana||Uncle Martin|
|1975||Get Some In!||Wally|
|1976||The Sweeney||Detective Sergeant|
|The Man of Destiny
|1984||Chance in a Million||Tom Chance|
|1986||Dead Head||Hugo Silver|
|1986||David Copperfield||Mr Micawber|
|1987||Inspector Morse||Theodore Kemp||Episode: "The Wolvercote Tongue"|
|1990||Old Flames||Nathaniel Quass|
|1993||Femme Fatale||Vicar Ronnie|
|1994||Little Napoleons||Edward Feathers|
|1996||An Audience With Charles Dickens||Charles Dickens|
|1995||El pasajero clandestino||Major Owens|
|1997||The Woman in White||Count Fosco|
|1998||Trial & Retribution II||Rupert Halliday|
|2000||The Mystery of Charles Dickens||Charles Dickens||Television film|
|2001||Don't Eat the Neighbours||Fox & Bear|
|2002||NOVA: Galileo's Battle for the Heavens||Galileo||Documentary|
|2003||Angels in America||Prior Walter ancestor 2||Miniseries|
|2004||Shoebox Zoo||Wolfgang the Wolf
Hunter the Horse
|2004||Agatha Christie's Marple||Colonel Terence Melchett||Episode: "The Body in the Library"|
|2005, 2011||Doctor Who||Charles Dickens||Episodes: "The Unquiet Dead", "The Wedding of River Song"|
|2006||Midsomer Murders||Dr. Richard Wellow||Episode: "Dead Letters"|
|2007||Roman Mysteries||Pliny the Elder||Episodes: "The Secrets of Vesuvius"|
|2007||How Gay Sex Changed the World||Himself|
|2007||Trick or Treat||Himself||1 episode|
|2008||The Mr. Men Show||Narrator|
|2009||Lewis||Vernon Oxe||Episode: "Counter Culture Blues"|
|2009||The Sarah Jane Adventures||Tree Blathereen||Voice|
Episode: "The Gift"
|2011||This is Jinsy||Threcker||Episode: "Nameworm"|
|2011||Popstar to Operastar||Himself|
|2011||Jamie's Dream School||Himself|
|2013||Agatha Christie's Poirot||Dr. Heinrich Lutz||Episode: "The Labours of Hercules"|
|2014–2016||Outlander||The Duke of Sandringham||5 episodes in seasons 1 and 2|
|2014||Plebs||Victor||Episode: "The Candidate"|
|2014||The Feeling Nuts Comedy Night||Himself|
|2015||Ant & Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway||Guest in The End of The Show Show||Season 12, episode 2|
|2016||Galavant||Edwin the Fortuneteller||Episode "World's Best Kiss"|
|2016||The Rebel||Henry Palmer||Lead character|
|2017||Midsomer Murders||Vernon De Harthog||Episode: "The Curse of the Ninth"|
|2018||Death in Paradise||Larry South||Series 7, episode 3|
|2018||A Christmas Carol||Narrator/Actor||BBC4|
|2018||The Dead Room||Aubrey Judd||BBC4|
A Room with a View is a 1985 British romance film directed by James Ivory, screenplay written by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, and produced by Ismail Merchant, of E. M. Forster's novel of the same name (1908). The film closely follows the novel by use of chapter titles to distinguish thematic segments. Set in England and Italy, it is about a young woman named Lucy Honeychurch in the restrictive and repressed culture of Edwardian England, and her developing love for a free-spirited young man, George Emerson. It stars Helena Bonham Carter as Lucy and Julian Sands as George, and features Maggie Smith, Denholm Elliott, Daniel Day-Lewis, Judi Dench and Simon Callow in supporting roles.
The film received universal critical acclaim and was a box-office success. At the 59th Academy Awards, it was nominated for eight Academy Awards (including Best Picture), and won three: Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Art Direction, and Best Costume Design. It also won five British Academy Film Awards and a Golden Globe. In 1999, the British Film Institute placed A Room with a View 73rd on its list of the Top 100 British films of the 20th century.Bedrooms and Hallways
Bedrooms and Hallways is a 1998 comedy-drama film about homosexuality. It was written by Robert Farrar and directed by Rose Troche, starring Kevin McKidd, James Purefoy, Tom Hollander, Julie Graham, Simon Callow and Hugo Weaving.Chance in a Million
Chance in a Million is a British sitcom broadcast between 1984 and 1986, produced by Thames Television for Channel 4.
The series was co-written by Andrew Norriss and Richard Fegen and starred Simon Callow and Brenda Blethyn.
The producer and director of the series was Michael Mills.Citizen Kane trailer
The Citizen Kane trailer was a four-minute, self-contained, "making of" promotional featurette by Orson Welles and the Mercury Theatre, released in 1940 to promote the film Citizen Kane. Unlike other standard theatrical trailers of the era, it did not feature a single second of footage of the actual film itself, but was a wholly original pseudo-documentary piece. It is considered by numerous film scholars such as Simon Callow, Joseph McBride and Jonathan Rosenbaum to be a standalone short film, rather than a conventional "trailer", and to represent an important stage in the development of Welles's directorial style.England, My England
England, My England is a 1995 British historical film directed by Tony Palmer and starring Michael Ball, Simon Callow, Lucy Speed and Robert Stephens. It depicts the life of the composer Henry Purcell, seen through the eyes of a playwright in the 1960s who is trying to write a play about him. It was written by John Osborne and Charles Wood.Epsom Downs (play)
Epsom Downs is a 1977 play by Howard Brenton. Taking its name from the racecourse at which it is set, the play presents a panorama of race-goers, horse-owners, bookies, jockeys, etc. on Derby Day 1977, giving it the feel of a modern city comedy.The play was commissioned by Joint Stock, a company which works with the writer on researching and devising their plays, but who leave the final writing of the script to the author. It was first performed at The Roundhouse on 8 August 1977, the director was Max Stafford-Clark and the cast, each of whom played multiple roles (the play has almost 50 characters), was: Gillian Barge, Simon Callow, Paul Freeman, Bob Hamilton, Cecily Hobbs, Will Knightley, David Rintoul, Tony Rohr, and Jane Wood.
Writing in The Guardian, Michael Billington described Epsom Downs as Brenton's “most accessible and simply enjoyable play”.The play was revived at the Salisbury Playhouse in 2012.Great West End Theatres
Great West End Theatres is a documentary series detailing the history, architecture and theatrical anecdotes of the 40 West End Theatres of London (as covered by the monthly Society of London Theatre list), released individually as All-Region DVDs and also as digital downloads and the first 10 episodes were broadcast from 3 August 2013 in the UK by the BSkyB digital satellite channel Sky Arts 2 and were chosen as "Pick of the Day" by the London edition of Time Out magazine.
Presented by Sir Donald Sinden and described by The Stage newspaper as "Promises to be the most definitive guide to Theatreland", it features many of the West End's star actors, actresses and practitioners discussing the theatres that they are associated with, such as Anthony Andrews, Steven Berkoff, Simon Callow, Charles Dance, Roy Hudd, Gillian Lynne, Sir Cameron Mackintosh, Sir Ian McKellen, Martin Shaw and Samuel West.
Directed and narrated by Marc Sinden, written and researched by Shaun McKenna, it is produced by Jo Gilbert for Great Productions.In their review of the series, the British Theatre Guide said "This film is as close as one can get to standing on the stage taking an ovation. This series is beautifully filmed and gets the balance exactly right between classy camera work, history, reminiscence and gossip."The Daily Telegraph, in its review, stated the "lovely documentary series is made by the director Marc Sinden. Its star, and – it transpires – the best documentary frontman of all time, is his actor-father: Sir Donald Sinden, 90 years old next month. Sir Donald has been let loose, offering anecdotes and memories apparently as they occur to him and the effect is enchanting beyond belief. It is also, at times, incredibly funny. One has the sense of a lifetime spent in this world, being poured out for our delight like glasses of vintage champagne. Great West End Theatres is financed privately, in order that artistic control can be maintained and this shows in every loving, angle-free moment. More money is now in the process of being raised from investors. It seems to me rather important that the series should be completed: this is popular history at its best."Hampstead (film)
Hampstead is a 2017 British drama film directed by Joel Hopkins and written by Robert Festinger. It is based on the life of Harry Hallowes who successfully claimed ownership of a half-acre plot of Hampstead Heath. The film stars Diane Keaton, Brendan Gleeson, James Norton, Lesley Manville, Jason Watkins and Simon Callow. The film was released on 23 June 2017, by Entertainment One Films.I Fagiolini
I Fagiolini is a British vocal ensemble specialising in early music and contemporary music. Founded by Robert Hollingworth at Oxford in 1986, the group won the UK Early Music Network’s Young Artists’ Competition in 1988 and a Royal Philharmonic Society Award in 2006. It has an international reputation for presenting music in unusual ways, especially for featuring in John La Bouchardière's production and film The Full Monteverdi, worldwide. I Fagiolini has recorded some 15 CDs, mostly for Chandos Records, as well as a DVD of Orazio Vecchi's L'Amfiparnaso with Simon Callow.
The group has recorded the recently found Striggio 40-part mass (1566), released in March 2011. The CD won the Early Music category in the 2011 Gramophone Awards and a Diapason d'Or de l'Année.Jacques and his Master
Jacques and his Master is a play written in 1971 by Milan Kundera, which he subtitles "A Homage to Diderot in Three Acts". It was translated by Simon Callow in 1986 and directed by him in 1987.James and the Giant Peach (film)
James and the Giant Peach is a 1996 British-American musical fantasy film directed by Henry Selick, based on the 1961 novel of the same name by Roald Dahl. It was produced by Tim Burton and Denise Di Novi, and starred Paul Terry as James. The film is a combination of live action and stop-motion animation. Co-stars Joanna Lumley and Miriam Margolyes played James's aunts in the live-action segments, and Simon Callow, Richard Dreyfuss, Susan Sarandon, Jane Leeves, David Thewlis, and Margolyes voiced his insect friends in the animation sequences.Les Misérables (radio series)
Les Misérables is a seven-part radio series broadcast July 23 – September 3, 1937 (Fridays at 10 p.m. ET), on the Mutual Network. Orson Welles adapted Victor Hugo's novel, directed the series and starred as Jean Valjean. The 22-year-old Welles developed the idea of telling stories with first-person narration on the series, which was his first job as a writer-director for radio.Marking the radio debut of the Mercury Theatre, Welles's Les Misérables was described by biographer Simon Callow as "one of his earliest, finest and most serious achievements on radio". The production costarred Martin Gabel as Javert, Alice Frost as Fantine, and Virginia Nicolson, Welles's first wife, as the adult Cosette. The supporting cast included Ray Collins, Agnes Moorehead, Everett Sloane, Betty Garde, Hiram Sherman, Frank Readick, Richard Widmark, Richard Wilson and William Alland.Manifesto (1988 film)
Manifesto is a 1988 American comedy drama film directed by Dušan Makavejev and starring Camilla Søeberg, Alfred Molina and Simon Callow. It is based on the novella Pour une nuit d'amour by Émile Zola. The screenplay concerns an attempt by revolutionaries to assassinate an autocratic central European monarch.Mindhorn
Mindhorn is a British 2016 independent comedy film directed by Sean Foley, written by Julian Barratt and Simon Farnaby, and produced by Steve Coogan and Ridley Scott. It stars Barratt, Farnaby, Essie Davis, Russell Tovey and Andrea Riseborough, with cameo appearances by Kenneth Branagh and Simon Callow as themselves. Barratt plays Richard Thorncroft, a faded television actor drawn into negotiations with a criminal who believes his character Detective Mindhorn is real.Popstar to Operastar
Popstar to Operastar was a British television programme in which current pop stars were trained to sing opera. The show began airing on ITV on 15 January 2010 at 9pm. The show was repeated on TV3 Ireland on Saturday evening. The programme was produced by Renegade Pictures.
With the show being a singing competition, it featured appropriate judges: (Mexican tenor) Rolando Villazón, (Welsh mezzo-soprano) Katherine Jenkins, (pop singer) Meat Loaf and Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen. Villazón and Jenkins also mentored the contestants giving them the songs to sing during the live shows. Meat Loaf and Bowen were critic-judges, who talked about their performances. However, after the first series, it was announced that Meat Loaf and Bowen would not be returning as judges. Their replacements were confirmed to be actor and opera-director, Simon Callow and classical singer/violinist, Vanessa-Mae. The presenters of the show were confirmed to be Alan Titchmarsh and Myleene Klass with the non-operatic "Dies Irae" from Verdi's Requiem as the theme tune. However, for the second series, Titchmarsh did not return to the show. The winner of the first series was Darius Campbell and winner of the second series was Joe McElderry.
The first episode of series 2 brought in 5.98 million viewers bringing the show its highest ratings to date. Each week the results show featured a guest performance, normally an operastar singing to promote their upcoming album. For every vote cast, money was donated to the Nordoff-Robbins charity. The winner also received a payment for a charity of their choice.The Ballad of the Sad Café (film)
The Ballad of the Sad Café is a 1991 Merchant Ivory film, produced by Ismail Merchant and directed by Simon Callow, starring Vanessa Redgrave and Keith Carradine. Michael Hirst adapted the Edward Albee play, which in turn was based on a novella in a collection of short stories of the same title by Carson McCullers. The film was entered into the 41st Berlin International Film Festival.The Good Father
The Good Father is a 1985 British film directed by Mike Newell and starring Anthony Hopkins, Jim Broadbent, Harriet Walter, Fanny Viner, Simon Callow, Joanne Whalley, and Michael Byrne. It is loosely based on Peter Prince's novel of the same name. It marked the first credited appearance in a feature film of Stephen Fry. The film was produced for British television but received a theatrical release in the US.The Unquiet Dead
"The Unquiet Dead" is the third episode of the first series of the British science-fiction television programme Doctor Who, first broadcast on 9 April 2005 on BBC One. It was written by Mark Gatiss and directed by Euros Lyn.
In the episode, the alien time traveller the Ninth Doctor (Christopher Eccleston) and his companion Rose Tyler (Billie Piper) travel to Victorian Cardiff on Christmas Eve, 1869 where there have been sightings of strange gas-like creatures. The Doctor and Rose team up with Charles Dickens (Simon Callow) to investigate Mr Sneed (Alan David), a man who runs a funeral parlour where it seems that corpses have come to life. It is revealed that the gaseous Gelth (voiced by Zoe Thorne) have entered Cardiff through a Rift, and wish to survive by taking over the corpses.
"The Unquiet Dead" is the first episode of the revival to be set in the past, and was intended to show the series' range. The original brief and script included a focus on mediums and was grimmer in tone, but it evolved into a story about zombies and became more of a "romp". Callow, who had researched Dickens as well as portraying him on multiple occasions, accepted the guest starring role in "The Unquiet Dead" because he felt the historical figure was written accurately. The episode also features a guest appearance by actress Eve Myles; Myles would go on to play Gwen Cooper in the Doctor Who spin-off series Torchwood from 2006. As contemporary Cardiff, location of the Doctor Who production, did not have enough Victorian architecture, location work for the episode was filmed in Swansea and Monmouth in September 2004 and Penarth in September and October, though one location scene was shot in Cardiff in September. Studio work was recorded at the Unit Q2 warehouse in Newport in September and October.
Computer-generated imagery (CGI) was used as the main visual effect for the Gelth. "The Unquiet Dead" was seen by 8.86 million viewers in the United Kingdom on first broadcast. It attracted generally positive reception, although some reviewers criticised some plot points and lack of moral dilemma.
Awards for Simon Callow