Jerome Willis, the actor who portrayed Captain Rexton Podly in Gerry Anderson’s 1994 live action series Space Precinct, died on January 11th at the age of 85. An accomplished stage actor, particularly in Shakespearian roles, Willis was also a skilled film and TV performer, familiar to viewers who might not have remembered his name in series such as Freewheelers, Within These Walls and The Sandbaggers. His years of experience enabled him to create an interesting character in Space Precinct despite the difficulties of performing under full-face make up.
Fans of classic television will remember Jerome Willis from his excellent performances in many series over the years. These include three episodes of The Avengers (lntercrime, How to Succeed…At Murder and The Rotters) Professor Nero in the 1971 season of children’s adventure series Freewheelers, and a regular role as the Deputy Governor from 1974 to 78 in the prison drama Within These Walls.
Probably his best known television roles are as Stevens, the polluting businessman in the 1973 Doctor Who story The Green Death, and as Matthew Peale, Deputy Head of the Special Intelligence Service, in the 1978-80 spy series The Sandbaggers.
After appearing in all 24 episodes of Space Precinct, Willis went on to appear on screen regularly in series such as Midsomer Murders, A Touch Of Frost and the 2006 cinema release Perfume: The Story Of A Murderer. In 2004 he even reprised his Green Death role of Stevens in the Mark Gatiss-written Global Conspiracy, made for the story’s DVD release.
A highly popular figure within the acting profession, Jerome Willis was from a music family, and music remained his passion outside of acting. He is survived by his wife Dilys and four daughters, as well as two of his four sisters.