Paul Eddington profile

Best known for his performances as Jim Hacker and Jerry Leadbetter

Paul Eddington

Paul Eddington delighted TV audiences with two well-loved characters - downtrodden Jerry Leadbetter and politician Jim Hacker. Read about his life and career...

The pacifist

Paul was born in London in 1927. His acting career began in 1941 with the Entertainers National Service Association. However, he was asked to leave when it was discovered that he was a Quaker and a conscientious objector.

Jobbing actor

Paul appeared in repertory theatre for many years, and met his actress wife Patricia there. One of his greatest stage successes was the first production of Alan Bennett's Forty Years On, opposite Sir John Gielgud. He first became known to a wider TV audience as Will Scarlet in The Adventures of Robin Hood.

Comedy talent

Paul discovered a hidden talent for comedy when the horn on a costume helmet he was wearing got caught on stage scenery, making the audience laugh. The next time he held the helmet instead of wearing it so as not to repeat the calamity - but it got caught again. His fellow cast members swore he did it on purpose.

The Good Life

Fame came knocking for Paul in middle age when he starred as hen-pecked husband Jerry Leadbetter in The Good Life, but he only got the part after it was rejected by Peter Bowles, future star of To the Manor Born.

Political ambition

Later, Paul shone in the witty political comedy Yes, Minister and its sequel Yes, Prime Minister. He played the incompetent MP Jim Hacker, alongside Nigel Hawthorne and Derek Fowlds. Margaret Thatcher was a big fan of the show.

Curtain call

Having been ill for some time, Paul made his last West End appearance in 1994, alongside Good Life co-star Richard Briers. The pair played mental patients in the tragic comedy Home. Paul died a year later, aged 68, after a long and brave battle - since the early 1970s - against a rare form of skin cancer.

Fond memories

Paul was well liked by everyone. Penelope Keith, his screen wife in The Good Life, said: "I remember the professionalism and the jollity and ready wit of a very fine actor." Sir Nigel Hawthorne, his co-star in Yes, Minister, said: "He was very un-starry. He liked success but he did not flash it around." In an interview shortly before his death, Paul said he would like to be remembered as someone who "did very little harm".