Early fascination with theater was sparked by his parents, who took him to see Peter Pan at the Manchester Opera House when he was 3.
Originally wanted to become a journalist.
Made his professional stage debut in 1961 without any formal dramatic training in a production of A Man for All Seasons at the Belgrade Theatre in Coventry; later made his TV acting debut in 1964 in an episode of the British series Kipling.
Knighted by Margaret Thatcher in 1990 and later quoted in the Los Angeles Times as saying: "I think I get far more respect than I deserve in Hollywood, because of the 'Sir.' They think, 'Oh my God, who is this guy? Is he related to the Queen'?"