Nicky Henson, star of Fawlty Towers and Downton Abbey, dies aged 74

Dec 17, 2019
Henson, pictured left in September this year, passed away after a 19-year battle with cancer. Source: Getty.

British actor Nicky Henson, best known for starring in a classic episode of sitcom Fawlty Towers in the 1970s, has passed away at the age of 74.

A close friend confirmed the news on social media on Monday, revealing that Henson had lost his battle with cancer, 19-years after he was first diagnosed.

“After an illness which started twenty years ago, and which was born with great fortitude and good humour, my oldest and dearest friend, my mate Nicky Henson, has gone,” friend Ian Oglivy wrote on Facebook yesterday.

Tributes then flooded in for Nicky, who also appeared in hugely popular British TV shows such as Eastenders, Coronation Street, Inspector Morse and The Bill.

One fan wrote: “Oh dear God, no. I am so sorry. I adored him on screen and off. Funniest man alive (outside of yourself) and a fantastic raconteur. We should do a huge tribute to him in print ASAP. He deserves it.”

Another said: “Oh, how very sad to hear this news. He put up a very brave fight for years with the love and support of friends and family. A very sad loss but a rich, gloriously inspirational and full life journey.”

While another commented: “So sad. A lovely actor. One of my earliest theatre memories is crying with laughter when he starred in Charley’s Aunt at The Young Vic.”


Henson was best known for his role as Mr Johnson in an episode of John Cleese’s Fawlty Towers, titled ‘The Psychiatrist’, in Cleese’s character Basil Fawlty becomes hell-bent on catching the hotel guest breaking the rules by having a woman in his room.

He also made several appearances as Charles Grigg in series four of ITV series Downton Abbey, who was one half of The Cheerful Charlies comedy duo that Mr Carson performed in before embarking on a career of servitude. Grigg appears in the first episode of season four and threatens to expose Carson’s past as a performer if he doesn’t provide him with a place to stay and hide after getting in trouble with the law.

As well as TV credits, Henson also landed roles in several movies including 2005’s Syriana which also starred George Clooney, and Vera Drake (2004) in which he played a doctor.

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Were you a fan of Fawlty Towers? Do you remember Nicky's character in Downton Abbey?

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