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Stiff Upper Lips Cast and Credits


Photo of Prunella ScalesAunt Agnes
Prunella Scales

As a highly distinguished stage and screen actress, Prunella Scales has played many characters counted as British national institutions-everyone from Queen Victoria to Sybil Fawlty of the famous Fawlty Towers. In Stiff Upper Lips, she takes on another plum role-that of Aunt Agnes, the archetypal maiden aunt. "She's very anxious for her niece Emily to marry Mr. Trilling as so as possible. Having failed to get Emily off with her nephew's Cambridge friend, she takes them all on a trip to Italy. Subsequently finding that Italy is much too foreign, she says 'Let's go somewhere more English,' and off they go to India where she meets Cedric's great uncle Horace, with whom she falls madly in love."

Scales last worked with Peter Ustinov over 27 years ago, in his play The Unknown Soldier and His Wife. Scales's other credits include theater (An Evening with Queen Victoria, Long Day's Journey into Night), British television (A Question of Attribution, The Rector's Wife), and film work (Howards End, An Awfully Big Adventure).

Scales makes no distinction between comedy and drama, observing: "It's like somebody once said to Chekhov at the Moscow Arts Theater, 'Anton, how do you want me to play this part?' And he said, "As well as possible.'"

Photo of Georgina CatesEmily
Georgina Cates

In Stiff Upper Lips, Georgina Cates plays the role of Emily, a young woman repressed by Edwardian conventions. "She is trying very hard to be a proper period girl," says Georgiana, "but she really isn't one. The problem is she doesn't want to just hold hands and be very proper and drink tea. . . I can't imagine her being a very easy person to please. She is getting a bit desperate-or rather Aunt Agnes is. Cedric is a last resort in every way."

In her early twenties and already an acting veteran, Cates has starred in films (An Awfully Big Adventure, Frankie Starlight) on the stage (Baby Love, Mr. Director, Loving), and on British television (Shadowy Third).

Photo of Samuel WestEdward
Samuel West

The scion of the Timothy West/Prunella Scales acting dynasty, Samuel West plays Edward, scion of the Ivory aristocratic dynasty. In the words of the actor, Edward, "is blessed with the brains of a cabbage." Edward may be dim, but West took pains to make him plausible. "We must care enough about him not to want to see him die in a gardening accident," says West. "He can't just be an upperclass twit; he has to be goodhearted and we have to believe his feelings."

Only 30 years old, West has had major roles in several movies (Howards End, Frankie and Johnny), starred on British television (Heavy Weather, Over Here), and performed in many theatre productions (Arcadia, The Importance of Being Earnest).

Photo of Robert PortalCedric
Robert Portal

Robert takes on the role of Cedric Trilling, Edward's repressed chum from Cambridge who is given to great pomposity and endless quoting from the works of Homer. "The title of the film sums him up entirely," says Portal. Having graduated from Lamda in 1991, he has worked consistently on stage at the Royal Shakespeare Company (Love's Labour's Lost, Venus Observed), and on British television (Julia Jekyll and Harriet Hyde, Bye Bye Baby). He has also won the Hobbs Radio Award.

Photo of Sean PertweeGeorge
Sean Pertwee

One of England's most in-demand young actors, Sean Pertwee does a turn as George, the local rabbit catcher who becomes the Ivory's servant-and Emily's lover-after rescuing her from drowning. He has been featured in many recent hit movies (London Kills Me, Leon the Pig Farmer), on the small screen (Clarissa, The Changeling, Cadfael), and on stage at the Royal Shakespeare Company (Titus Andronicus, Hyde Park).

Sir Peter Ustinov

Sir Peter plays Cedric's great-uncle, a tea-plantation owner in India driven mad by the heat, the dust and his lust for Aunt Agnes. "I've met this sort of character so often in my life," says Ustinov. "I've longed to put them on screen. He's like an entertainment officer on board a troop ship in a howling gale, zigzagging across the Atlantic to avoid the Germans."

In his storied and extensive career, this knighted actor has found time to direct films, plays and operas, make records and pen 23 plays, nine screenplays and 13 books. He won Best Supporting Actor Oscars for Spartacus and Topaki, and has given notable performances in Quo Vadis, We're No Angels, Billy Budd, Death on the Nile, Evil Under the Sun, and Lorenzo's Oil. In his rare spare moments, Ustinov tours the world with his incomparable one-man show. "I'm not good at pottering," he says. "I feel better working."

Hudson Junior
Frank Finlay

Frank admits that Sir Anthony Hopkins performance as Stevens in Merchant Ivory's Remains of the Day influenced his performance in one important respect: "I copied his flattened hairstyle." Their paths then diverged, although an on-set butler did advise Frank on, "which side to pour tea from and what time of day to wear a gray waistcoat rather than black."

Frank has had many successful years at the Royal Shakespeare Company and the National Theatre, and enjoyed runs in Amadeus and Beyond a Reasonable Doubt. On British television, he has scored successes in the title role of Casanova and most recently Common as Muck. He has also appeared in such films as Othello, Inspector Clouseau, The Three Musketeers, and The Ploughman's Lunch.

Brian Glover

Brian takes the role of Eric, a working-class rabbit skinner who knows his place and is proud of it. He is horrified by the prospect of his son, George, rising up the social ladder through his relationship with Emily.

A former wrestler and teacher, Glover has been a highly respected member of the acting profession since 1969. He has subsequently been featured in films (Leon the Pig Farmer, Alien 3), on British television (Coronation Street, Rumble), and at the National Theatre (Much Ado About Nothing, The Iceman Cometh).

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HurdlersDavid Artus
Kevin Furlong

Don 1Nicholas Selby

Don 2John Boswall

Station MasterJon Croft

Hudson SeniorAnna Livia Ryan

EricBrian Glover

His Butler's VoiceGeoffrey Palmer

Dr. HenryDavid Ashton

Mr. TweebRichard Braine

American HusbandMac McDonald

American WifeKate Harper

Sitar PlayerRajendra Varman

Tea ServerMiss Swati

Stall HolderTigmanshu Dhulia

Indian BoyBaron Baretto

Indian GirlSindu Tolani

Defence LawyerShri Vallabh Vyas

Prosecution LawyerJohn Winter


DirectorGary Sinyor

ProducersJeremy Bolt
Gary Sinyor

WritersPaul Simpkin
Gary Sinyor

Co-ProducersKeith Richardson
& Bobby Bedi

Co-Executive ProducersAndrew Cohen
Babs Thomas
Stephen Margolis

Executive ProducerNigel Savage

Associate ProducerRicky Posner

Director of PhotographySimon Archer

EditorPeter Hollywood

Production DesignerMike Grant

ComposersDavid A. Hughes
John Murphy

SoundDanny Hambrook

Costume DesignerStephanie Collie

Casting DirectorEmma Style


Stiff Upper Lips is from Miramax Films Cavalier Features and Impact Pictures. It is an Ivory Hall production in association with Yorkshire Films International, Kaleidoscope India Pvt. Ltd., Filmania S.L. and The Isle of Man Film Commission.

Masterpiece Theatre has been presented on PBS by WGBH Boston for 30 years. Rebecca Eaton is series executive producer. Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Russell Baker is series host. Masterpiece Theatre is closed captioned for deaf and hard-of-hearing viewers by The Caption Center at WGBH.

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