Freddie Jones, who has died aged 91, was the best sort of old-fashioned actor, a comic tragedian, eccentric and full-hearted, with something of both Donald Wolfit and Dickens’ Vincent Crummles about him. Indeed, his most famous stage role was that of Ronald Harwood’s affectionate near-portrait of Wolfit in The Dresser (1980), an old ham called “Sir” who faces disaster in the mirror while preparing to play King Lear. And he memorably embodied the extravagant Crummles in a television Nicholas Nickleby of 1977.
If Jones sometimes emulated Wolfit, his real hero was Wilfrid Lawson, a bibulous character actor who could break your heart on the instant, and he always welcomed the comparison. Yet, to the general public, he was never a name in lights,