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Friday, 28 January, 2000, 14:16 GMT
Tony Doyle: One of Ireland's finest

Tony Doyle Tony Doyle as Brian Quigley in Ballykissangel


No one would have called him the most handsome of leading men, but Tony Doyle's reputation as an actor of distinction was second to none, both popularly and within the profession itself.

His portrayal of Brian Quigley, the wheeler dealer with an eye for a quick punt and a heart of gold, in BBC One's well-loved series Ballykissangel brought him great fame and a host of awards.

But beyond that, the man described by his colleagues as "a true gentleman", "a real professional" and by others simply as "Doyler" played, to much acclaim, in a host of character roles in programmes like Taggart, Band of Gold and Peak Practice.

The highly praised actor died in a London hospital early on Friday morning.



I feel like a very old racehorse who's suddenly found himself on his feet so long that he starts winning
Tony Doyle
Tony Doyle grew up in Roscommon in the Irish Republic and was educated at University College, Dublin. Following his graduation, he acted on the thriving Dublin fringe during the mid 1960s.

When a play in which he was appearing, The Scattering, transferred to London, Tony Doyle followed, and stayed.

As later in his career, Tony Doyle divided his time between stage and television and developed his craft in the type of one-off TV dramas which were, in those days, still common on British screens.

His, now established, reputation in supporting roles led to him being offered his first big part as the crooked police officer, John Deakin, in the BBC's hard-hitting crime drama, Between the Lines.

In 1995, the same production team offered him the role of Brian Quigley in Ballykissangel, a piece of quirky Irish whimsy. Initially, he was not impressed with the offer.

"I wasn't particularly interested in it," he recently admitted to the Irish Times.


Tony Doyle in 1998's Amongst Women
"In fact I didn't fancy it at all. It was the perseverance of the director, with who I'd worked before, that finally got me involved."

His decision to take the part was a wise one. Ballykissangel became a hit show, filling BBC One's primetime Sunday night slot for five years.

Audiences were delighted by Quigley and his get-rich schemes, which often involved the whole population of the fictional Wicklow village.

More recently, Tony Doyle played the bitter and distant father whose past as an IRA gunman returns to haunt him, in Amongst Women.

Many critics commented that his performance, as the domineering head of a household of women in the stifling atmosphere of post-World War II Ireland, was frighteningly close to the real thing.

Last year, the part earned Tony Doyle the first ever Irish Film and Television Academy Award for best leading performance.

Though modest about his success - he recently said "I feel like a very old racehorse who's suddenly found himself on his feet so long that he starts winning" - the range of Tony Doyle's abilities both in comic and deeply tragic roles will assure his reputation as one of the finest Irish actors of his age.

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28 Jan 00 |  Northern Ireland
Ballykissangel star Doyle dies

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