Ronald Pickup, 'The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel' and 'The Crown' Actor, Dies at Age 80

Ronald Pickup, the prolific British actor whose break came in an early episode of Doctor Who, has passed away at the age of 80.

The actor's agent told the BBC that Pickup, known for his roles in The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Darkest Hour, and The Crown, had died following "a long illness."

Pickup played Norman Cousins, an older lothario, in the 2011 sleeper hit The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and its 2015 sequel, The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. In both films, he joined a fine ensemble cast that included Dame Judi Dench, Dame Maggie Smith, Bill Nighy, and Dev Patel.

A year later, in 2016, he portrayed the Archbishop of Canterbury, Geoffrey Fisher, in four episodes of The Crown; then in 2017 he played Winston Churchill's predecessor as British Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain, in the Gary Oldman-led biopic Darkest Hour.

During an acting career that stretched out over more than 50 years, Pickup appeared in other movies including 1973's The Day of the Jackal, 1983's Bond film Never Say Never Again, and 2010's Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time. On TV, he made guest appearances in Lark Rise to Candleford, Doc Martin, Waking the Dead, Inspector Morse, and Coronation Street, among many other series.

He was also a distinguished stage actor who trod the boards opposite Dench in a 1998 West End revival of David Hare's Amy's View, and with Sir Ian McKellen and Sir Patrick Stewart in a 2009 West End revival of Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot.

His first ever screen role came in the 1964 Doctor Who serial "The Reign of Terror," in which he played an unnamed physician. According to The Independent, he was paid £30 ($41) for the small role which helped to launch his busy career.

Playing tribute to Pickup on Twitter, London's National Theatre wrote: "We're very sad to hear that Ronald Pickup has died. Ronald was an exceptional actor and had a long history with the NT, starting with 1964's The Royal Hunt of the Sun. He went on to feature in 36 of our productions, and was a regular at The Old Vic under Laurence Olivier."

Pickup is survived by his wife, Lans Traverse, and their two children. Rest in Peace, Ronald Pickup, and thank you for your contribution.