United Kingdom

Notting Hill actor Tony Armatrading, brother of Joan, dies aged 59 following cancer battle

Stage and screen star Tony Armatrading has died aged 59 following a battle with cancer, close friends confirmed on Monday. 

The actor, best known for his roles in Hollywood blockbuster The Saint and popular romantic comedy Notting Hill, was the younger brother of celebrated singer-songwriter Joan Armatrading.  

The news was announced by fellow actor Tim Bentinck in a tribute shared alongside a photograph of Armatrading, taken with devoted wife Suzan Crowley and their pet dog Dash shortly before his death.   

Farewell: Stage and screen star Tony Armatrading has died aged 59 following a battle with cancer, close friends confirmed on Monday 

Captioning the image, he tweeted: 'Very sad news. My dearest friend Tony Armatrading died of cancer an hour ago. 

'I had the privilege of being his best man, and loved him dearly. He was a wonderful actor, and a true friend. This pic of him with Suzy and Dash taken last night.' 

Born in Birmingham on November 30th 1961, Armatrading began his career a a member of the  Birmingham Repertory Theatre stage crew, becoming Head Flyman at the age of 17. 

Success: The actor memorably featured alongside Hugh Grant in 1999 romantic comedy Notting Hill, playing a security guard on the set of a period drama visited by Grant's character 

Fond memories: Fans paid tribute to the actor after his death was confirmed on Monday

Popular: Armatrading featured in a series of TV shows, among them detective drama A Touch Of Frost 

He went on to join the stage crew at the National Theatre's Lyttelton auditorium, and after obtaining his Equity card appeared in a Royal National Theatre production of Measure for Measure, playing The Messenger. 

The actor enjoyed further success while touring the United Kingdom as Jelly Roll Morton, one of the founding fathers of jazz, in Jelly Roll Soul, before taking a series of roles with the Royal Shakespeare Company. 

Working with stars including Imelda Staunton, Jeremy Irons, Pete Postlethwaite and Sean Bean, Armatrading featured in productions of Hamlet and Romeo and Juliet, as well as restorations of Fair Maid of The West and The Rover during three successful seasons at the RSC. 

Starring role: The actor also took a prominent role in 1998 miniseries Colour Blind, in which he played the black husband of a privileged white woman in industrial Tyneside during World War I

Family: Armatrading was the younger brother of celebrated singer-songwriter Joan Armatrading

His TV work included various appearances in teen show Grange Hill, Channel 4 soap Brookside, long running police drama The Bill and A Touch Of Frost, in which he starred alongside David Jason. 

He also took a starring role in 1998 miniseries Colour Blind, an adaptation of Catherine Cookson's controversial novel in which he played the black husband of a privileged white woman in industrial Tyneside during World War I. 

Film credits include a role as a customs officer in 1997 blockbuster The Saint and perhaps more memorably as the security guard in 1999 classic Notting Hill.

Stage success: Armatrading with Danny Sapani in a production of Big White Fog at London's Almeida Theatre in 2007

Fans of the film will remember the moment he allows Hugh Grant's hapless William Thacker onto the country set of a big budget period drama starring love interest Anna Scott, played by Julia Roberts.

After relocating to Los Angeles in 2000, Armatrading featured in shows including Prison Break, NCIS and Monk. 

He also loaned his voice to Star Wars character Xalek in a number of video games based on the science-fiction franchise, among them Star Wars: The Old Republic - Knights of the Fallen Empire.

His final role came in 2020, with an appearance on the rebooted TV series Hawaii Five-O. 

 Old times: Born in Birmingham on November 30th, 1961, Armatrading began his career a a member of the Birmingham Repertory Theatre stage crew

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