Born into an acting family, Timothy West is a British character actor who has appeared in some of Britain's most prestigious TV series. His career began on the stage with the Piccadilly Theatre and The Royal Shakespeare Company, where he became well known for his portrayals of Shylock, Falstaff, King Lear and Macbeth. As he made a name for himself on the stage in the 1960s, he acted in small film parts and on TV series, appearing in his first recurring role on the crime drama "Big Breadwinner Hog." He had the rare opportunity to play a lead role in the historical miniseries "Edward the King," a part that snagged him a BAFTA nomination. He then appeared as Josiah Bounderby in the Dickens adaptation "Hard Times" and earned further critical acclaim in Dostoyevsky's "Crime and Punishment," one of several roles which led to a 1980 Best Actor BAFTA nomination. He also specialized in playing historical figures, having portrayed Winston Churchill, Mikhail Gorbachev, and Joseph Stalin, among others. West became known to a new generation of viewers in the '80s and '90s through work in shows such as the satirical series "Brass," in which he starred as a cold-hearted self-made businessman. He continued acting into his seventies both on the stage and screen.