Geoffrey Palmer

Geoffrey Palmer Biography

Geoffrey Palmer as Admiral Roebuck

Geoffrey Palmer was a renowned British actor who became a household name thanks to his wide range of performances on stage, television, and in movies. Born in London, England, on 4 June 1927, he grew up in the capital and attended Highgate School during his formative years.

After completing his national service in the Royal Marines, Geoffrey Palmer decided to pursue a career in acting, and he began working as an unpaid trainee assistant stage manager.

Palmer’s early television appearances included several roles in episodes of The Army Game, The Baron, and Cathy Come Home. He gained widespread recognition for his performances in John Osborne’s West of Suez and major productions at the Royal Court and the National Theatre Company. However, after starring in Eden End, he decided to leave the stage behind and concentrate on a career in front of the cameras.


In the 1970s, Geoffrey Palmer landed two BBC sitcom roles that brought him widespread attention: the hapless brother-in-law of Reggie Perrin in The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin and the phlegmatic dentist Ben Parkinson in Butterflies. He also played Doctor Price in the Fawlty Towers episode The Kipper and the Corpse. In 1986, he appeared as Donald Fairchild in the first series of the ITV sitcom Executive Stress, alongside Penelope Keith.

However, Geoffrey Palmer’s most significant contribution to British television was his starring role opposite Judi Dench for over a decade in the BBC sitcom As Time Goes By. He also starred alongside Dench in the James Bond film Tomorrow Never Dies as Admiral Roebuck, and Mrs Brown, playing Sir Henry Ponsonby to Dench’s Queen Victoria.

Geoffrey Palmer’s talents extended beyond acting, and he was a sought-after voice-over artist. He worked on numerous commercials, including the ‘Slam in the Lamb’ ads for the Meat & Livestock Commission and the Audi commercials. As a narrator, he lent his voice to BBC series Grumpy Old Men and Grumpy Old Holidays and narrated the audiobook version of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, released in 2005 as a podcast by Penguin Books.

Outside of his acting career, Geoffrey Palmer enjoyed fly fishing and was a devoted family man. He married Sally Green in 1963, and they had a daughter, Harriet, and a son, Charles, a television director.

Geoffrey Palmer’s contributions to British drama were recognized in the New Year’s Honours List published on 31 December 2004, when he was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE), and with it becoming Sir Geoffrey Palmer.

Geoffrey Palmer died at his home on 5 November 2020, following a short illness. He was 93.