19 February 2010 10:46 AM, PST | The Guardian - TV News | See recent The Guardian - TV News news »

Prolific actor and director who made the much-loved film The Railway Children

As an actor Lionel Jeffries, who has died aged 83, was a master of comic unease. This was perhaps fuelled by the personal unease he felt in a sex-and-violence era which overtook the gentler sensibilities he sometimes brought to his acting. But he was able to bring these sensibilities fully to bear in his scriptwriting and film directing, particularly in his much-loved adaptation of the classic children's novel The Railway Children. With the latter, he left an indelible mark on the British film industry and generations of teary-eyed viewers.

The son of two devoted workers for the Salvation Army, Jeffries disliked personal publicity and was a zealot when preparing a role (he ran two miles every morning before appearing in the musical Hello Dolly! after an absence from the London stage of 26 years). He deplored permissivism, and was not »

- Dennis Barker

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