Tim McInnerny profile

We all know him as the blundering Lord Percy and weaselly Captain Darling in Blackadder. But did you know that Tim McInnerny has also played one of the most iconic stage roles in the history of the West End? Get the goods on McInnerny, one of our most talented and chameleon-like character actors, with our eye-opening profile.

Blackadder II

A very serious actor

Born in 1956, Tim McInnerny has long been the subject of two popular misconceptions. The first being that his name is McInnery, and the second being that he's mainly a comedy actor. In actual fact, he's generally played straight, serious parts all his life – but being such a chameleonic and versatile actor you might not actually have recognised him outside of Blackadder. As he himself said of that series: "Blackadder was such good fun, but it was just six weeks' work once every two years." When he wasn't being Lord Percy or Captain Darling, Tim was turning up in such gritty 80s dramas as A Very British Coup, which tackled left-wing politics, and Edge of Darkness, a dark conspiracy thriller. He's played serious roles ever since, in everything from Spooks to Marple – although he did have a memorable comic turn in Notting Hill, which we'll come to later…

Blackadder back and forth

Other than Rowan Atkinson and Tony Robinson, Tim was the only actor to appear in all four series of Blackadder. But why, having played Percy in Blackadders I and II, did he only make a cameo appearance in the third series before returning to a major role (Captain Darling) in the fourth?

Well, he was originally asked to be the foolish, foppish Prince Regent in Blackadder the Third, but – having played Lord Percy in the first two series – he was worried about being typecast as a blundering buffoon. So, as he was still keen on being in the show, he was instead given the much smaller role of Le Comte de Frou-Frou. He was eventually lured back as a full-time member of the team by the promise of playing the devious, and very un-Percy-like, character of Darling in Blackadder Goes Forth.

All singing, all dancing

As well as being a great comic actor and a very serious thesp, Tim – being incurably versatile – has also dabbled in the music world.

In 2001 he appeared alongside fellow actor Ioan Gruffudd in the video of Westlife's charity single Uptown Girl. But a far more surprising context for Tim was the angsty video for Kate Bush's 1989 song This Woman's Work – in which the one-time Lord Percy can be seen brooding in a dark room while Kate Bush prances and croons around him.

And here's another bit of interesting music-and-Tim trivia: in 1990 he donned tights and layered on the make-up to play the transvestite Frank-N-Furter in a West End production of The Rocky Horror Show. We can imagine that quite well, actually.

Tim the stuntman

While Tim is perhaps proudest of the many serious roles he's played, his most fondly remembered project is actually the romantic comedy Notting Hill, in which he played Hugh Grant's best friend.

Was it because the director forged such a close-knit, family-like atmosphere on set? Or perhaps because he got to work alongside screen goddess Julia Roberts (who was really down to earth, apparently)? Well yes, but the biggest buzz came from shooting the film's climax, in which Tim's character drives at breakneck speed through London with Hugh Grant in the back seat. "I actually did the driving and the screaming in the car is real because everyone was terrified," he confesses. "After it was done, the film's lead stunt man came over and told me to give him a call if the acting didn't pan out!"

Tim the traveller

For Tim, one of the best things about acting is the travelling it allows him to do. He's been a passionate traveller since his teenage years, despite a rather nasty incident that befell him in the gap year he took before going to university.

While hitchhiking through Bologna at around 4am one morning, he was attacked by local policemen who, just for the fun of it, pretended they were going to rob him and stuck a gun in his stomach. "I was in floods of tears," he remembers, "and they walked off laughing." Still, the experience didn't cure him of the travelling bug, and he looks forward to any production that takes him abroad. And what, according to him, should ever actor take on shoots with them? "The iPod. Having your own music while you're away filming really does help keep you sane…"