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Martin Jarvis (actor)

Martin Jarvis
Born (1941-08-04) 4 August 1941
Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, England, United Kingdom
Occupation Actor/Voice Actor
Years active 1964-Present

Martin Jarvis, OBE (born 4 August 1941) is an English actor. After a varied career in film and television, he became particularly noted for his voice-acting for radio and audio books.


  • Early life 1
  • Acting 2
  • Radio work 3
  • Television work 4
  • Voiceover work 5
  • Personal life 6
  • TV and filmography 7
  • References 8
  • External links 9

Early life

Jarvis was born in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, the son of Denys Harry Jarvis and Margot Lillian Scottney, and grew up in South Norwood and Sanderstead, South Croydon.

Jarvis was educated at Whitgift School, an independent school in Croydon in south London, and at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.


Jarvis trained at RADA, where he won the Vanbrugh Award and the Silver Medal.[1] He has acted in many stage productions in London and abroad, most recently acting alongside Diana Rigg and Natascha McElhone in Joanna Murray-Smith's Honour at London's Wyndham's Theatre until May 2006.

He read Charles Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities for the Chivers Audio Books production on cassette, later released on CD by Barnes and Noble Audio Classics.

Radio work

Jarvis has had a long association with the BBC, particularly BBC Radio 4. In the 1980s Michael Frayn's columns for the Guardian and the Observer, described by some as models of the comic essay, were adapted and performed in many voices for BBC Radio 4 by Jarvis. He performs regularly in radio dramas and readings, both comic and serious. In David Mamet's Mind Your Pantheon he played the actor Strabo. He is probably best known for his long series of readings of Richmal Crompton's Just William stories, which show his characteristic and flexible reading voices. He has also narrated the Billy Bunter series, by Frank Richards. As a result of this extensive work Jarvis is satirised by the radio show Dead Ringers by Mark Perry, highlighting his seeming ubiquity on Radio 4 programmes and as a guest in Dictionary Corner on Countdown.

In America, Jarvis and his wife Rosalind Ayres perform frequently in audio drama with the L.A. Theater Works and Hollywood Theater of the Ear.

In 2011, he appeared in a Radio 4 production of Rattigan's In Praise of Love.

Television work

Jarvis's first television appearance was in 1965 in the BBC science fiction series Doctor Who, as Hilio, captain of the butterfly-like Menoptra, in The Web Planet.[2] He became a familiar face on television when he played Jon in the BBC's landmark 1967 adaptation of The Forsyte Saga, the lead in a BBC serialisation of Nicholas Nickleby (1968), Uriah Heep in the 1974 BBC version of David Copperfield and the male lead in the sitcom Rings on Their Fingers (1978–80) with Diane Keen. In 1993 he starred with Ewan McGregor and Rachel Weisz in the BBC adaptation of Scarlet and Black. He also appeared in the 2002 BBC children's miniseries Bootleg.

Jarvis has made several guest appearances in Doctor Who, first appearing as Hilio in The Web Planet in 1965, then as the scientist Dr. Butler in Invasion of the Dinosaurs, and his favorite role as the beleaguered governor of the planet Varos in Vengeance on Varos in 1985. He has also appeared in "Jubilee", a Doctor Who spin off audio drama by Big Finish Productions alongside his wife.

His appearances on American television include such series as Murder, She Wrote, Walker, Texas Ranger, and, more recently, Stargate Atlantis and Numb3rs.

Jarvis has also voiced various characters in animated series such as The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy (where he voiced Nergal, replacing David Warner) and The Life and Times of Juniper Lee. An interesting note is that in the former's case, he inherits the role of the character Nergal from his Titanic co-star David Warner. In 2000, he voiced John Dread in the TV series Max Steel. He has also voiced all the characters in the children's stop-motion animated series Huxley Pig and narrated "The Tempest" in Shakespeare: The Animated Tales.

Jarvis was the subject of BBC television's This Is Your Life in 1999.

Martin appeared in ITV 1's The Bill in July 2008. In March 2010, it was announced that he would appear in the BBC soap opera EastEnders playing journalist Harvey Freeman.[3]

Martin appeared in a 2014 episode of Law & Order: UK as Eric Chandler, a man arrested and charged with murder.

Voiceover work

Jarvis did the voiceovers for the 2010 BBC series Just William. He is the narrator of the 2011 audiobook of The Selfish Giant by Oscar Wilde. In 2007, Jarvis has voiced in video gaming for the first time and plays the role of The Chronicler in the Spyro the Dragon video game series. He also provided the voice of Admiral Zaal'Koris vas Qwib Qwib in Mass Effect 2 (2010) and Mass Effect 3 (2012). He also voiced Alfred Pennyworth in the 2011 video game Batman: Arkham City and reprised his role in the 2013 video game Batman: Arkham Origins. Also in 2011, Jarvis also performed a voice-over part for the MMORPG Star Wars: The Old Republic.

Jarvis has also lent his voice to audiobooks on Sir P.G. Wodehouse's works and has won the Audie Award for the same. Further work in 2011 includes the audiobook for the Wilbur Smith novel 'The Leopard Hunts in Darkness'.

Jarvis appeared in Disney's Wreck-It Ralph as Saitine, one of the video game villains who attends the Bad Anon self-help groups with Ralph (John C. Reilly).

In 2014, Jarvis reprised his role as Alfred Pennyworth in the DC Universe animated movie Batman: Assault on Arkham, and again in 2015 for the final installment in the Batman: Arkham series of video games, Batman: Arkham Knight.

Personal life

He married Rosalind Ayres on 23 November 1974 in Ealing and has two sons by a previous marriage. He met Ayres when playing in Hamlet together, where she played Ophelia. Together with his wife, Jarvis runs the radio production company "Jarvis & Ayres Productions",[2] frequently used by Radio 4.

He was awarded the OBE in 2000. He has also published a book of memoirs titled Acting Strangely: A Funny Kind of Life (ISBN 0413728501 hardback, ISBN 0-413-74550-3 paperback).

He has houses in London and Los Angeles.

TV and filmography


  1. ^ "CV for Martin Jarvis" (PDF). Amanda Howard Associates. Retrieved 2014-03-11. 
  2. ^ a b "BBC Drama: Much Ado About Nothing".  
  3. ^ Green, Kris (1 March 2010). "'"Martin Jarvis joins 'EastEnders.  

External links

  • Martin Jarvis at the Internet Movie Database
  • Q & A September 2007Guardian
  • May 2004The Times
  • The Actor's Compendium
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