Ronald Alfred Pickup (born 7 June 1940) is an English actor who has been active in television and film since 1964.
Early life and training
Pickup was born in Chester, living in St Chads Road, Cheshire, the son of Daisy (née Williams) and Eric Pickup, who was a lecturer. Pickup was educated at the King's School, Chester, trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) in London, and became an Associate Member of RADA.
His television work began with an episode during the first series of Doctor Who (as a physician in part 4 of The Reign of Terror) in 1964, for which he was paid £30. In 1973, he starred in the BBC drama series The Dragon's Opponent, playing a World War II bomb disposal expert. In 1982 Pickup had the starring role as composer Giuseppe Verdi in the acclaimed The Life of Verdi, written and directed by Renato Castellani.
In 1983 he appeared opposite Penelope Keith in Moving and as Friedrich Nietzsche in Wagner; existing in several versions Wagner has also been released as a film. Pickup portrayed Jan Tyranowski in the TV movie Pope John Paul II in 1984, and Prince Yakimov, a hapless, down-at-heel Russo-British aristocrat, opposite Emma Thompson and Kenneth Branagh in the BBC serial Fortunes of War (1987) based on a novel cycle by Olivia Manning. He was the voice of Aslan in the BBC adaptation of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (1988) and subsequent Chronicles of Narnia serials derived from the books by C.S. Lewis. Pickup starred in the short lived sit-com Not with a Bang which was broadcast in 1990, and appeared opposite Michael Caine in Jekyll & Hyde the same year.
Ronald Pickup is also an accomplished stage actor. He worked with Laurence Olivier at the Royal National Theatre, most notably in Three Sisters and Long Day's Journey into Night. He was nominated for a 1998 Laurence Olivier Theatre Award for Best Performance in a Supporting Role of 1997 for his performance in Amy's View.
In 1973 he appeared as a forger in The Day of the Jackal. The following year he was seen in Ken Russell's film Mahler, and also appeared in Joseph Andrews in 1977. Pickup played one of the Prussian Agents conspiring to blow up the Houses of Parliament in The Thirty Nine Steps (1978). This version was directed by Don Sharp and starred Robert Powell as Hannay, Karen Dotrice as Alex, John Mills as Colonel Scudder. Pickup played Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury in the BBC Television Shakespeare version of Henry VIII (1979). He played Lt. Harford in Zulu Dawn (1979), Igor Stravinsky in Nijinsky (1980), Prince John in Ivanhoe (1982), and a government official in the James Bond film Never Say Never Again (1983) opposite Sean Connery. He portrayed Portuguese governor, Don Hontar in The Mission (1986) which starred Jeremy Irons as Father Gabriel. In 1989 he played Captain Lancaster, a very strict teacher in Danny, the Champion of the World, and also appeared as a state advocate in A Dry White Season the same year.
Pickup is married to Lans Traverse and father to actress Rachel Pickup and Simon Pickup with whom he has starred in several productions including Midsomer Murders.