Much-loved performer and father of Toby Jones was stalwart of British TV as well as a regular in David Lynch films

Freddie Jones, the versatile actor who was a regular on British screens for more than five decades, has died aged 91, it has been announced. Jones was perhaps best known for his role as Sandy Thomas in the long-running soap Emmerdale. He was also the father of the actor Toby Jones.

Joness agent, Lesley Duff, confirmed the news in a statement, saying: It is with great sadness that I can confirm the death of Freddie Jones. He passed away on the evening of 9 July after a short illness. Freddie was a much loved and admired actor. He will be greatly missed by all who had the pleasure of knowing him and most especially his family.

Born in Stoke-on-Trent in 1927, Jones initially worked as a lab assistant at the British Ceramic Research Association before deciding to switch careers. After studying acting at Rose Bruford college, he broke into TV in the early 60s with roles in Z-Cars and The Victorians. By the end of the decade he was active in films, having been cast in Peter Brooks Marat/Sade and John Schlesingers Thomas Hardy adaptation Far from the Madding Crowd.

Distinguished career Jones with John Hurt in The Elephant Man. Photograph: Allstar/Brooksfilm/Studiocanal

Jones went on to make memorable appearances in Hammer horror films: in 1969 he appeared in Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed as the homicidal creature with another mans brain transplanted into his body and in 1973 he played a scientist who meets an unfortunate end in The Satanic Rites of Dracula. He also was regularly cast by David Lynch, playing the sadistic freak-show operator Bytes in The Elephant Man (1980), the assassin Thufir Hawat in Dune (1984) and barfly George Kovich in Wild at Heart (1990).

He also worked steadily on TV, with roles including the Thatcherite headmaster Scruton in The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole (1985) and The Growing Pains of Adrian Mole (1987), and elder Tobias in Mr Wroes Virgins (1993). In the 1995 TV film Cold Comfort Farm, starring Kate Beckinsale, he played farmhand Adam Lambsbreath.

In 2005 he was cast in Emmerdale as the former sailor Sandy Thomas, who arrived on his estranged sons wedding day. Jones filmed over 500 episodes of the soap, eventually leaving in 2018.

Jones married Jennifer Heselwood in 1965, and they had three children: Toby, Rupert and Caspar.



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