Born in Manilla in the Philippines, he was the son of a trader operating across the South China Sea and as an infant, travelled extensively with his parents. He was sent to a Preparatory School in 1916 and completed his schooling at Haileybury Public School. It was expected that he would go onto Oxford University and into a career in the petroleum industry but auditioned and won a scholarship at The Central School of Speech and Drama after seeing an advertisement in The Times.
An officer in the London Irish Rifles, he returned to acting after demobilisation - although initially undertaking stage work, he appeared in more television and film roles during the 1960s.
His other credits include Doomwatch, When the Boat Comes In, Crown Court and Yes, Prime Minister.