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Last Updated: Monday, 19 April, 2004, 10:37 GMT 11:37 UK
Bill Nighy's Bafta-winning career
Bill Nighy with his Bafta for State of Play
Bill Nighy has won both a film and television Bafta this year
Actor Bill Nighy has won his second Bafta of 2004, for his performance in BBC drama State of Play. BBC News Online looks at his work on stage and screen.

It was only a matter of time before the public cottoned on to the talents of Bill Nighy.

Films such as Love Actually and the BBC drama State of Play have established Nighy and his scowling charm firmly in the nation's psyche.

But if the last couple of years have seen his profile bloom, his late-flowering has been thanks to a slow burn rather than a meteoric rise.

For the last three decades, the boy from Surrey has rarely been out of work since his first film role as a delivery boy in Joan Collins' steamy 1970 film The Bitch.

His unmistakable twitch and distinctive tone have ensured a succession of TV, stage and radio roles, but 2004 has so far been "his" year for notching up screen accolades.

Nighy's part as ageing rocker Billy Mack in the hit film Love Actually - which landed him a Bafta film award and an Evening Standard Peter Sellers comedy award - helped him achieve the acclaim he deserves.

Bill Nighy in Love Actually
Nighy played a drug-addled rocker in Love Actually

Nighy was born in Caterham in 1949 and left school at 15 without any qualifications.

The son of a car dealer and a nurse, he had aspirations to become an author and began work on The Field magazine as a messenger boy.

But at 17 he ran away to Paris, in the footsteps of Ernest Hemingway, to write a novel.

When he failed to set the Parisian literary scene alight, he ended up begging on the streets before returning to the UK and a place at the Guildford School of Drama and Dance.

It was a decision that would eventually lead to roles as diverse as a starring part in the sexually-explicit Men's Room in 1991, to playing Sam Gamgee in the BBC's groundbreaking radio adaptation of Lord of the Rings.

Private life

In the last few years, Nighy has appeared in a rapid succession of British films and TV shows, including his award-winning role as a sinister, but charming news editor in State of Play, for which he won his latest award.

His recent film roles in Underworld, alongside Kate Beckinsale and zombie movie Shaun of the Dead have been successful at the box office.

And Nighy is about to add to his film credentials with playing alien planet designer Slartibartfast in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, as well as providing the voice of hippie rabbit Dylan in The Magic Roundabout Movie.

His latest television appearance was on the BBC on Sunday night in the costume drama He Knew He Was Right.

But if Nighy's professional life has been fulfilling, his private life has certainly not suffered for it.

Married to the actress Diana Quick, star of Brideshead Revisited, since 1981, they have a 19-year-old daughter, Mary, who is also contemplating a career in acting.


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