Edward Petherbridge: Poet of silence and stillness

Edward Petherbridge in The Exorcism

This fansite is dedicated to my favourite actor Edward Petherbridge, who is known across the globe for his definitive portrayal of Dorothy Sayers' fictional detective Lord Peter Wimsey.


Edward Petherbridge is a well-known figure on the London stage, having built up a reputation as a subtle, sophisticated actor, his slim, elegant presence and cultured voice much in demand for classical roles.

 In 1987, he took on the role of Lord Peter Wimsey in the 1987 television series, encompassing the three Dorothy Sayers novels "Strong Poison", "Have his Carcase" and "Gaudy Night", the most "literary" of her detective works. The role had been essayed earlier by Ian Carmichael,  an adept at depicting the bumbling young innocent abroad in a corrupt world. Carmichael's interpretation, although competent, couldn't really compare with Petherbridge's virtuoso  performance, which humanised and at the same time added layers of romance to the character. Sayers aficionados consider Edward Petherbridge the definitive Lord Peter Wimsey.   

But EP is not just a consummate actor, he is also a writer, poet, singer, dancer, mime, sculptor and painter - very much a Renaissance man.  On this website, I've tried to present to my fellow fans various facets of  Edward Petherbridge's fascinating persona -- through reviews, interviews, quotations and snippets. Plus photographs and screenshots, of course!


The site structure is simple - the menu to the left brings you to listings of EP's Stage, Screen and Radio/Audio performances. The lists are clickable, each link going deeper into performance details, plot summaries, cast, reviews, galleries, etc. 


A selection of writings/reviews about EP:

Poet of stillness: From a Washington Post review: Here, as in "Hamlet," where he (Edward Petherbridge) plays both the Ghost and the Player King, he proves to be an actor without dross. Slender and pale with a sharp, clean profile, Petherbridge is already slightly stylized, one of those streamlined models, like Fred Astaire, who make ordinary mortals look slightly lumpish. His acting has a similar clean and simple grace -- like a dancer, he has "line." Petherbridge's austerity isn't cold; it focuses and displays a deep warmth. Eccentricity has a home here, as well as humor and compassion, and everyday human appetites. .... Petherbridge raises his eyes to stare out over the audience with the expression of a man who has just realized precisely what that unfamiliar pain in his left chest is. It's a small moment, almost nothing. Like the playwright, this actor is a poet of stillness.  - Lloyd Rose's review of Krapp's Last Tape, The Washington Post, June 19, 1998


A poet of silence: Edward Petherbridge and the Pyladean tradition, by Kathleen Riley: "A good example of the precision, economy and depth of Petherbridge’s line can be seen in the 1987 television adaptation of Dorothy L. Sayers’s Have His Carcase in which he plays Lord Peter Wimsey. In the story, Lord Peter has just re-entered the ballroom of the Hotel Resplendent in Wilvercombe. He pauses at the top of the steps, and there is a supreme moment of stillness as he catches sight of Harriet Vane dancing with one of the hotel’s professional partners. His bodily attitude, the slight inclination of his head, the way he puts his hands in his pockets, his half-smile and the focus of his eyes are all eloquent of quiet suffering beneath a surface of urbane composure. They are also the manifestation of a technique — the actor’s and the character’s — so well honed and assimilated as not to be obvious or distracting.

From a review of Strange Interlude in the Eugene O'Neill newsletter

Edward Petherbridge stole the show as Charles Marsden, conveying all the repressions of the prissy penman (legs crossed, arms crossed, hands held together when one wasn't picking at the immaculate fingernails of the other) and mining every vitriolic vein in the lines with which he needles others and responds with bitchy wit to every real or supposed affront.


Review of Krapp’s Last Tape; Haunted by Hope and Regret on Eternal Playback

Here is an actor of poise made for small gestures, who can make the turning of a page seem an act of consequence, who offers the idea in two or three small, shambling steps that maybe this is a tired old man who sits around listening to a tape recorder a lot because his feet are killing him. 


Pomp and Force of Circumstance, celebrating the Queen's Golden Jubilee.

Petherbridge and his wife Emily Richard … raid everything from ancient chronicles to tabloid gossip through ravishing poetry and hilarious anecdote - from Canute commanding the waves to Queen Elizabeth II meeting Marilyn Monroe. 

Lots more reviews on the individual play / movie pages



I have also added bits and pieces that I believe Wimsey-lovers will appreciate.   Happy browsing - and so glad you dropped in for a visit! 

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Last updated 17 July, 2010 

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