Actor Geoffrey Hutchings, who was last seen in the West End in 2009 in the stage adaptation of The Shawshank Redemption, has passed away at the age of 71. He died suddenly in hospital on Thursday (1 July 2010) after a contracting a suspected viral infection.

Born in Dorchester in 1939, Hutchings studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA). He launched his early career with the Royal Shakespeare Company, where his credits included The Merry Wives of Windsor, Julius Caesar, Indians, The Duchess of Malfi, ‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore, Cymbeline, The Comedy of Errors, Antony & Cleopatra, Henry V, All’s Well That Ends Well, Twelfth Night, The Winter’s Tale, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Poppy, for which he won an Olivier Award for Best Comedy Performance in 1982.

Off stage, Hutchings became a familiar screen face thanks to British films such as Wish You Were Here, Clockwise, On the Black Hill, Longitude, Mike Bassett – England Manager, Topsy Turvy and The Bench and myriad television series including Our Friends in the North, Bad Girls, Brass, Maigret, Monsignor Reynard, Duck Patrol, Benidorm (which was due to begin reshooting shortly) and Grandma’s House (to be aired this summer).

Despite his television success, Hutchings continued to return to the stage regularly, with credits at the Royal Court, National and in the West End including No Strings, Jacobowsky and the Colonel, Three Men on a Horse (for which he was nominated for another Olivier), The Shaughraun, Mother Courage, Whistleblowers, Serjeant Musgrave’s Dance, Show Boat and Absolute Turkey.

In more recent years, he appeared at the National in Luther, The Riot, Flight and the premiere of Terry Johnson’s Cleo, Camping, Emmanuelle and Dick, in which he played the Carry On actor Sid James; in the West End See U Next Tuesday, Endgame (with Michael Gambon and Lee Evans), Epitaph for George Dillon (with Joseph Fiennes), Rufus Norris’ Olivier Award-winning revival of Cabaret and The Shawshank Redemption.