Book of condolence opens for Jimmy Ellis

Published Monday, 10 March 2014
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A book of condolence has opened at Belfast's City Hall for actor Jimmy Ellis who died on Saturday, aged 82.

Book of condolence opens for Jimmy Ellis
Jimmy Ellis died on Saturday. (© QUB)

The Deputy Lord Mayor, Alderman Christopher Stalford, was joined by council party leaders to sign the book in memory of the Belfast-born actor best known for his roles in Z-Cars and The Billy Trilogy.

Alderman Stalford said: "I'm saddened to hear of the death of Jimmy Ellis who was an inspiration to many actors from Northern Ireland and has left behind a great acting legacy. My thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends at this sad time."

Lord Mayor Máirtín Ó Muilleoir, who is currently in New York but had asked that arrangements be made in his absence, added: "Jimmy Ellis walked the beat for Belfast and was a giant of stage and screen. He loved the city which shaped him and will be sadly missed".

Ellis died from a stroke in Lincoln Hospital in England, just a week short of his 83rd birthday.

He became a familiar face through his role in the police drama Z-Cars, which was a household favourite from 1962 to 1978.

He also played alongside a young Kenneth Branagh in BBC Northern Ireland's 'Billy' plays, as well as starring in programmes such as Doctor Who, In Sickness And In Health, Ballykissangel and Only Fools And Horses.

Following his death, Sir Kenneth paid tribute to actor.

He said: "I was blessed to begin my career working with him, and I will never forget his generosity to me.

"He was a highly intelligent, funny, and kind man and a tremendous actor."

Belfast playwright Martin Lynch added: "His presence was just extraordinary when he walked on the stage; he knew were everybody was, he knew how to run the stage.

"The man was completely consummate in terms of his handling of the whole theatrical experience as an actor."

In 2008 Ellis was awarded an honorary doctorate from Queen's University, where he had been a student, for services to the performing arts. He was praised for his "lifetime's commitment to honesty and integrity of performance".

He also studied at Belfast's Methodist College and at the Bristol Old Vic.

He began his acting career at Belfast's Group Theatre in 1952.

© UTV News
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