Obituary: Jonathan Battersby

Former president of the Life Insurance Association and skilful stage and TV actor

Born: 1953 in London.

Died: 22 May, 2010, in London, aged 57.

IN A career that embraced both finance and the theatre Jonathan Battersby demonstrated a keen ability to excel at both. He was a much admired investment adviser with various financial institutions and, after being a long time and active member of the Life Insurance Association, (formerly the Personal Finance Society) he served as its president for two years from 2003.

Andrew Bedford, a past president of the LIA, has paid tribute to Battersby's work with the association. "While in office at the LIA Jonathan worked to enhance and support the life insurance, pensions and investment industry and profession.

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"Jonathan was a great ambassador for all that is good and will be sadly missed."

In 1978 Battersby came north to live in Scotland and spent much of his professional life here working in finance and pursuing a successful career on stage and television. He was seen regularly in Scottish theatres, especially the Pitlochry Festival Theatre.

As one colleague at Pitlochry said of him: "Jonathan will be remembered fondly by all those who worked with him. A lovely, charming man and a very good actor."

Battersby also made many appearances at the repertory theatres in Dundee and Perth and at the Royal Lyceum Edinburgh.

Jonathan Battersby – always known affectionately as JB – graduated from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London in 1972 with the Emile Littler Award for the best comedy performances by a final year student.

After several appearances in repertory theatres he joined Sir Peter Hall's National Theatre in 1976. There he worked in a wide variety of plays (with such eminent actors as Sir John Gielgud, Paul Scofield and Albert Finney) in a variety of productions including Volpone, Tamburlaine The Great and Julius Caesar.

Battersby came to Scotland in 1978 for a season at the Pitlochry Theatre and was a popular and valued colleague. He had fond memories of that first appearance and retained a strong affection for the theatre and the audiences at Pitlochry.

That year he made a strong impression in Ben Travers's A Cup of Kindness directed by Andrew McKinnon. Battersby's performance demonstrated his sure sense of comedy timing.

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In 1981 Battersby left the theatre and began work in the financial industry, initially with the Save & Prosper Group as a sales associate, advising the company's clients on financial planning.

In 1987 he joined Edinburgh-based independent financial adviser Waverly Fund Management and after becoming managing director in 1989, he established his own business – Jonathan Battersby & Company – a year later.

The firm, operating from offices in Tranent in East Lothian, focused on providing comprehensive financial planning to a wide variety of clients.

In 2004 Battersby resumed his acting career. At Pitlochry he is remembered with special affection. A spokesman recalled that he was always "full of charm and bonhomie". "Jonathan was a skilful, generous actor, who will probably be best remembered by our audiences for his outstanding performance as Vic Parks, the bank robber-turned-chat show host, in Alan Ayckbourn's play Man Of The Moment."

Other Pitlochry performances included a memorable and very superior Lord Provost in Tony Cownie's updated version of The Government Inspector in 2004.

Also that year he was in Lend Me a Tenor in which he – "handsomely played" according to Joyce McMillan in The Scotsman – the local grandee Saunders in Benjamin Twist's "skilful and good-hearted production".

At the Byre Theatre in St Andrews he played Dr Baugh in Cat on a Hot tin Roof and Bill in Zinnie Harris' Further than the Furthest Thing. One critic wrote: "Battersby cuts a commanding, yet vulnerable leader whose descent into tragedy and death becomes a harrowing metaphor for the demise of a society which cannot adapt."

Battersby was also seen in many television dramas made in Scotland: most notably in two episodes of Taggart and as Tom Clifton in Take the High Road.

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He also played Dr Prentice in Emmerdale. Recently Battersby appeared in the second story of the current series of Dr Who, playing Winder in The Beast Below. His wonderfully rich voice ensured he was in much demand for voice-overs and he provided a wonderfully sensitive narration for BBC TV's Churchill's War in 1989.

Battersby, who had an excellent singing voice and much enjoyed informally performing numbers by the Rolling Stones, showed much fortitude after he was diagnosed with cancer. In an interview he was quoted as saying: "If you're not living on the edge, you're taking up too much room."

Jonathan Battersby died at Trinity Hospice in London, and is survived by his son Hugo.