Farewell To A Familiar Acting Face
Freddie Jones, British character actor and the father of actor Toby Jones, has just died this week at the age of 91. Here’s the BBC’s tribute to him…
Tributes have been paid to the British actor Freddie Jones, known to millions as Sandy Thomas in Emmerdale, following his death at the age of 91.
His agent Lesley Duff said he died on 9 July after a short illness.
She remembered Jones – the father of fellow actor Toby – as “a much loved and admired actor, known for his triumphs in theatre, film and TV.”
His many feature films include the David Lynch films Dune, Wild at Heart and The Elephant Man.
In the latter he played Bytes, the circus ringmaster who cruelly exploits the physically deformed John Merrick.
He also appeared in such horror films as Frankenstein Must be Destroyed and The Satanic Rites of Dracula as well as 1983 sci-fi Krull.
Jones was most recently known for playing Woolpack regular Sandy in Emmerdale, a role he played for 13 years.
He made his final appearance on the ITV soap last year after saying he could no longer justify staying.
“The company generously offered me another 12 months,” he told the Radio Times.
“But I just thought, ‘I have no idea what I’m going to do in another bloody year!'”
Jones started out as a laboratory assistant before turning his love of amateur theatre into a professional career.
After working in repertory theatre and television, he made his film debut in Peter Brook’s Marat/Sade in 1967.
Katherine Dow Blyton – Harriet Finch in Emmerdale – said she felt “so lucky” to have worked with him.
Jones was married for more than 50 years to actress Jennie Heslewood, with whom he had three sons.
Both Toby and Caspar followed him into the acting profession, while Rupert became a director.
In 2009 Freddie and Toby Jones appeared together on The Film Programme to discuss the art of being a character actor.
Speaking to broadcaster Matthew Sweet, Jones senior said the secret of making an impression was “not leaving it on the page, but lifting it up and flying it a bit”.
He also revealed he had initially turned down The Elephant Man because he found it “over-larded with mawkish sentimentality”.
“It didn’t need it,” he said of the film’s script, which went on to be nominated for an Oscar and a Bafta. “The man [John Merrick] was a living tragedy.”