Nicholas Anthony Phillip Clay
18 September 1946
|Died||25 May 2000 (aged 53)|
London, England, UK
|Resting place||Saint Peter's Churchyard, Sibton|
Born in Streatham, London, on 18 September 1946, Clay was the son of a professional soldier in the British Army's Royal Engineers. The family settled in Kent, where Clay became interested in acting, performing at the Little Medway Theatre Club.
He had roles on TV in episodes of Ask Mr. Pastry (1961), ITV Television Playhouse, The Pocket Lancer (1961), and Tales of Mystery. He made his film debut with These Are the Damned (1962) and could be seen in Dixon of Dock Green, William, Sergeant Cork, and Drama 61-67. He studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA).
Clay had the starring role of Charles Darwin in The Darwin Adventure (1972) and was in William: The Life, Works and Times of William Shakespeare (1972). He was cast in several of Laurence Olivier's Old Vic productions and during the 1970s came to be regarded as one of British theatre's most promising actors. At the National Theatre he played Aumerle in Richard II, Giovanni in Tis Pity She's a Whore (directed by Roland Joffe), Nugget in Equus, a Jumper in Jumpers (directed by Peter Wood), Rocca in Saturday Sunday Monday (directed by Franco Zeffirelli), Young Seward in Macbeth (directed by Michael Blakemore) and Acaste in The Misanthrope. Blakemore also directed him in the part of Young Inna in Arturo Ui at Nottingham Playhouse, where Clay acted several roles in Jonathan Miller's production of King Lear. He played was Hastings in Clifford Williams's world tour of She Stoops to Conquer. The Misanthrope led Clay to the United States, where he also played this role on Broadway in 1975. On the West End stage, Clay was Maurice in Flint (Criterion Theatre) and Trigorin in The Seagull (Cambridge Theatre).
He appeared in In This House of Brede (1975) with Diana Rigg and played Alan in the 1976 version of The Picture of Dorian Gray, alongside Peter Firth. Clay was in Terror of Frankenstein (1977) then did Saturday Sunday Monday (1978) with Laurence Olivier.
In 1981 he gave his most widely seen screen performance, as Lancelot in the 1981 film Excalibur. He followed it playing the title role in The Search for Alexander the Great (1981). He appeared in Just Jaeckin's film version of D.H. Lawrence's Lady Chatterley's Lover (1981), playing Mellors, and in Agatha Christie's Evil Under the Sun (1982), the latter reuniting him with Diana Rigg, his co-star in The Misanthrope. Director of Evil Guy Hamilton said "I was looking for someone like Stewart Granger or Michael Rennie - handsome, dashing, physical, romantic. Nick has it all. A fine sense of timing, the right looks and a good physique." 
For TV Clay was in The Agatha Christie Hour (1982), in an adaptation of "In a Glass Darkly" then Russian Night... 1941 (1983), The Hound of the Baskervilles (1983) and The Last Days of Pompeii (1984).
Clay continued working regularly on stage and appeared in a number of made-for-television films and miniseries. In 1984 he played Mike Preston in the Hammer House of Mystery and Suspense episode "Child's Play". He did Das Martyrium des heiligen Sebastian (1984) in Germany and The Corsican Brothers (1985) for TV. Clay was Doctor Percy Trevelyan in an episode of The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes entitled "The Resident Patient".
Clay had support parts in Sleeping Beauty (1987), Lionheart (1987) and Poor Little Rich Girl: The Barbara Hutton Story (1987). He also appeared in the UK ITV series Gentlemen and Players in 1988-89.
Later appearances included The New Adventures of Robin Hood, Zorro, Kavanagh QC, Shine on Harvey Moon, The Odyssey, Shanghai 1937, Bugs, Highlander, Psychos and playing Lord Leo in the 1998 TV miniseries Merlin starring Sam Neill. His final screen appearance was in Roger Ashton-Griffiths' short film And Beyond. Later theatre work included Design for Living (1995).
In the latter years Clay taught drama at the Actors' Centre and the Academy of Live and Performing Arts, and also worked in association with the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, generally in the role of promoting the organisation, or providing advice to acting students.
Clay died in London on 25 May 2000 at the age of 53 years old from the effects of cancer of the liver. His body was buried in the graveyard of St. Peter's Church, in the village of Sibton in the county of Suffolk.
|1971||The Night Digger aka The Road Builder||Billy Jarvis|
|1972||The Darwin Adventure||Charles Darwin|
|1977||Terror of Frankenstein||Henry Clerval|
|1979||Zulu Dawn||Lt. Raw|
|1981||Lady Chatterley's Lover||Oliver Mellors|
|1982||Evil Under the Sun||Patrick Redfern|
|1987||Sleeping Beauty||The Prince|
|1987||Lionheart||Charles De Montfort|
|1978||Will Shakespeare||Earl of Southampton||Television miniseries|
|1981||The Search for Alexander the Great||Alexander the Great||TV miniseries|
|1983||The Hound of the Baskervilles||Jack Stapleton||TV movie|
|1984||The Last Days of Pompeii||Glaucus||TV miniseries|
|1985||The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes||Percy Trevelyan||Episode: "The Resident Patient"|
|1987||Poor Little Rich Girl: The Barbara Hutton Story||Prince Alexis Mdivani||TV movie|
|1988||Gentlemen and Players||Mike Savage|
|1991||Zorro||Viscount Armand de Jussac||2 episodes|
|1992||Virtual Murder||Dr. John Cornelius|
|1995||Shine on Harvey Moon||Squadron Leader Cunningham||4 episodes|
|1997||The Odyssey||Menelaus||TV miniseries|
|The New Adventures of Robin Hood||Sheriff of Nottingham||2 episodes|
|1998||Merlin||Lord Leo||TV miniseries|
|1999||Psychos||Dr. Angus Harvey||6 episodes|