Fawlty Towers and Doctor Who actor Louis Mahoney has died aged 81

By Rhona Shennan
Wednesday, 1st July 2020, 10:22 am
Updated Wednesday, 1st July 2020, 10:22 am
Louis Mahoney starred in many beloved British shows like Fawlty Towers and Doctor Who (Photo: Evening Standard/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Louis Mahoney, who appeared in iconic television shows like Fawlty Towers and Doctor Who, has died at the age of 81.

News of the actor's passing has prompted many to post tributes online remembering Mahoney as a brilliant performer and passionate activist.

‘A lifelong activist’

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Mahoney was a Gambian-born British actor who originally moved to England to study to be a doctor, but quickly abandoned his aspirations of a medical career when he discovered his love of acting.

Mahoney’s TV credits include the likes of Doctor Who - in one of the programme’s most iconic episodes, Blink - Fawlty Towers; The Professionals; Yes, Prime Minister; The Bill; Holby City and Miss Marple.

Earlier this year, Mahoney was seen in BBC One’s The Split as Bishop Tony.

His film credits include The Plague of Zombies (1966), Omen III: The Final Conflict (1981), White Mischief (1987) and Shooting Dogs (2005).

Mahoney was also a regular performer on stage. He was one of the first black actors in the Royal Shakespeare Company in the 1960s, and helped found Performers Against Racism in the 1980s, to campaign against the apartheid in South Africa.

Mahoney also worked with the Equity union to improve the representation of non-white actors on British TV and was its Vice President between 1994 and 1996.

A statement from his agents, Waring and McKenna, said, “It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of our wonderful client, Louis Mahoney. Louis paved the way for many actors who followed: a lifelong activist and champion of antiracism. His warmth and good humour will be sorely missed. A celebration of his life will follow.”

Online tributes

News of the actor’s passing has prompted many to express their condolences on Twitter.

Writer and producer Jack Thorne tweeted, “Louis Mahoney was one of those actors who could carry a whole world through his eyes. Perhaps because he led such an extraordinary life. Worked with him on @kibwetaveres’s film Jonah (where he played Daniel Kaluuya’s older self) and he was so magnificent.”

The Equity actor’s union wrote, “We are saddened to learn of the death of former vice president Louis Mahoney. Louis was a passionate activist on behalf of @EquityUK and led the union’s fight against racism and aparthied for many years.”

Emmerdale actor Bhasker Patel tweeted, “Always enjoyed #LouisMahoney’s guidance when needed from day one entering our ACTING profession. Thank you for your tremendous work and knowledge supporting us all.”