Nigel Hawthorne was born in Coventry in 1929, but moved with his family to South Africa soon afterwards. An authoritarian upbringing and brutal schooling left Hawthorne lonely and lacking in confidence. After appearing in a Cape Town theatre production, Hawthorne was convinced he would find happiness on the British stage, and aged 22, left for England with 12 pounds in his pocket. His first foray into British theatre was not a success. He had little luck getting parts and finally took the role of understudy to Leslie Phillips for a West End comedy. In 19 months, Hawthorne did not appear on stage once and finally returned abashed to South Africa. There he appeared in the first overseas production of Beyond the Fringe and, in 1963, decided to chance his theatrical hand on British soil once more. He returned to the UK to pursue his ambition. With roles ranging from a two-liner in an early episode of Dad's Army on television to Shakespeare's Falstaff and Macbeth on stage, Hawthorne earned the reputation of a solid character actor. In 1977 this led to him being cast as Sir Humphrey Appleby in the internationally popular TV series Yes Minister and Yes Prime Minister, winning him BAFTA awards. He also made his mark in the film world. His first leading role as George III in The Madness of King George earning him an Oscar nomination for best actor. He died on 26 December at his Hertfordshire home from a heart attack but had been fighting cancer for the last 18 months of his life, he was survived by his long time partner theatre manager Trevor Bentham.