Obituary: Roger Lloyd Pack

The BBC's Lizo Mzimba looks back at the life of Roger Lloyd Pack

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Roger Lloyd Pack, who has died aged 69, was best known as the gormless Trigger in the BBC One comedy Only Fools and Horses.

Possessed of a rubbery face, which he used to great effect, he was sometimes difficult to cast but never became typecast.

But it was his depth as an actor that enabled him to make much of the minor roles in which he often found himself.

And he reached out to an international audience when he played Barty Crouch Snr in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.

Born in Islington, north London on 8 February, 1944, his father, Charles Lloyd-Pack, was an actor whose face was well-known to aficionados of Hammer horror films, in which he played a bevy of minor parts.

Roger's early education took place at home where his mother, in an effort to boost the family's precarious finances, set up a kindergarten for local children.

Start Quote

I remember it with great affection - we worked hard but it was fun”

End Quote Roger Lloyd Pack on his stage debut

He went on to what he described as a "snobby little prep school run by a sadistic couple" where caning formed a large part of the curriculum.

But things improved when he went to Bedales, a co-educational school in Hampshire where, apart from some homesickness, he enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere.

'Family business'

As a child he'd performed little shows at home using glove puppets but Bedales, which had a small theatre, gave him the opportunity to develop his repertoire.

With his father having been an actor, he said he felt he was going into the family business. "I thought, this is magic and what I want to do."

Inspired by his drama teacher, Rachel Carey-Field, he paid more attention to acting than to his studies, although he did achieve three A-levels.

His parents had hopes he would go to university but instead he successfully auditioned for the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (Rada).

He made his stage debut in Northampton in a production of The Shoemaker's Holiday by the Elizabethan playwright Thomas Dekker.

Start Quote

It's both a blessing and a curse”

End Quote Roger Lloyd Pack on his role as Trigger

"I remember it with great affection - we worked hard but it was fun."

'Wayward youth'

He went on to play a multitude of parts in a string of productions across the UK but seemed destined to never make the limelight.

"I was an immature, emotionally wayward youth, not ready for acting," he recalled.

"Casting directors would say to me, 'Oh, you'll be all right when you're 40,' which is quite discouraging when you're 23."

He made his screen debut playing a bit part in The Magus, a 1968 film based on the John Fowles novel.

Roger Lloyd Pack and Trevor Peacock in The Vicar of Dibley The flatulent Owen Newitt in The Vicar of Dibley

Throughout the following three decades, he played small roles in a number of films including The Go-Between, 1984 and Vanity Fair.

He was also becoming a familiar, if fleeting, face on television, where he first appeared as "the man with bloodhounds" in a 1965 episode of The Avengers.

His breakthrough came in 1981, when he was cast as Colin "Trigger" Ball - Only Fools' dim but amiable roadsweeper, who was always painfully slow on the uptake.

Start Quote

It's extraordinary to me as an actor to find oneself in a sitcom that's been successful”

End Quote Roger Lloyd Pack

Lloyd Pack's appearance in the cast was purely fortuitous.

Sense of timing

Executive producer Ray Butt caught a glimpse of him at a play where he had gone to observe potential Del Boy actor Billy Murray.

Initially seen as a supporting character, Trigger appeared in almost every episode of the long-running series, becoming very popular with the audience.

Lloyd Pack's expressive face and sense of timing was best seen in his reaction in the famous scene where David Jason falls through an open bar hatch.

Never were his malleable features put to better use, with expressions veering from puzzlement to dawning comprehension.

Maggie Smith and Roger Lloyd Pack in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire Harry Potter brought him to an international audience

He also got some of the series' most memorable lines. In the episode Heroes and Villains, Trigger was given an award for saving the council money.

"I happened to mention one day that I've had the same broom for the last 20 years," he proclaimed. "They were very impressed and said 'have a medal'."

Holding the broom aloft, he proudly declared: "This old broom has had 17 new heads and 14 new handles in its time."

"How can it be the same broom then?" asked Sid, the cafe owner, at which Trigger produced a battered photograph of him and the broom and asked: "What more proof do you need?"

The last regular episode of Only Fools and Horses ran in 1991 - although the series has never been away from TV screens for long. The role, according to Lloyd Pack, was "both a blessing and a curse".

He went back to playing bit parts over the following three years before The Vicar of Dibley came along.

His character, Owen Newitt, a farmer with a personal hygiene problem, flirted unsuccessfully with Dawn French's vicar through the series 13-year run.

Start Quote

He's as safe as a virgin on a date with Rod Stewart”

End Quote Owen Newitt in The Vicar of Dibley

His work rate was prodigious during this period, with appearances on TV and film.

These included the role of John Lumic in the 2006 Doctor Who stories Rise of the Cybermen and The Age of Steel.

He did not neglect the stage either, playing in a variety of productions from pantomime to Pinter.

Roger Lloyd-Pack in Blood & Peaches The villainous look became a speciality

He reached a wider audience in 2005 in the film Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.

His appearance as Barty Crouch Snr, head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, saw him alongside a roll call of great British actors.

In the film, David Tennant, who had played alongside him as The Doctor in Rise of the Cybermen, played Lloyd Pack's son, Crouch Jnr.

In 2011 he appeared as Inspector Mendel in the film version of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy and a year later returned to the stage as the Duke of Buckingham in a production of Richard III at the Globe Theatre.

Away from the limelight, he was a passionate supporter of Tottenham Hotspur and of the Labour Party.

However, in 2013 he fell out with Labour and declared himself in favour of a new party of the left.

Roger Lloyd Pack married Sheila Ball in 1968. They had a daughter, the actress Emily Lloyd, but it was a difficult relationship and he walked out after just four years.

He later lived with the poet and dramatist Jehane Markham for 25 years before marrying her in 2000.

He had first met her when she was 12 and he was 17. The couple have three sons.

Lloyd Pack remained bemused about the success he gained as a result of Only Fools and Horses.

'It's extraordinary to me as an actor to find oneself in a sitcom that's been successful and goes on being successful. Usually things date, but I can't go anywhere without anyone going on about it."

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