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Death of Daniel Thorndike, former Blackadder actor and sone of Dr Syn author Russell.

The Marsh actor son of Dr Syn author Russell Thorndike has died.

Daniel Thorndike, 96, who lived in Romney Marsh for nearly 40 years, passed away at the Conquest Hospital Hastings on Tuesday, his family has announced.

Daniel had carved out a successful acting career, appearing in TV shows such as Blackadder, The Avengers and A Bit of Fry and Laurie.

Daniel Thorndike as Nathaniel Whiteadder in the classic Blackadder episode. Picture: BBC
Daniel Thorndike as Nathaniel Whiteadder in the classic Blackadder episode. Picture: BBC

He was also in the Crossroads soap opera in the 1960s and had a long stage career, often playing in Shakespeare plays at the National Theatre in London.

His daughter Nina Thorndike, 68, of Wittesham, told Kent Online: “He was a good supporting actor who had a long career and was almost never out of work.

"Apart from television appearances he had a very good career in theatre.

“He was most famous as Lord Whiteadder, in Blackadder II even thought it was just one episode.

“The best part I personally remember him for is in a very moving stage performance of Gloucester in King Lear in Surrey the 1970s.

"He was so convincing that in the scene where the character has his eyes taken out I wept.”

In television Daniel was Lord Whiteadder in an episode of the classic comedy Blackadder II, the second series set in the Elizabethan era, broadcast in 1986.

Daniel Thorndike in the Sleeping Beauty pantomime in Lydd in 2004.
Daniel Thorndike in the Sleeping Beauty pantomime in Lydd in 2004.

He was in two episodes on the comedy series A Bit of Fry and Laurie, in 1990, and in a 1963 episode of the spy series The Avengers with Patrick Macnee and Honor Blackman.

He was in the motel soap opera Crossroads, as William Fothergill in its first year, 1964. In and in one episode that yearhe appeared with his daughter Nina, when she was 15.

She became an actress and is now a drama teacher at Benenden School.

Daniel’s theatre career put him onstage alongside the greats such as Sir Lawrence Olivier, Sr Ralph Richardson and Sir John Gielgud.

And during the 2000s, when he was in his 80s, he appeared in several Romney Marsh pantomimes, for example in Sleeping Beauty in Lydd in 2004 and in Cinderella II in the town the following year.

He kept up his love of Shakespeare, appearing in the Merchant of Venice in Tenterden in 2003.

Daniel Thorndike in a villainous the pantomime Cinderella II in Lydd in 2005.
Daniel Thorndike in a villainous the pantomime Cinderella II in Lydd in 2005.


Daniel Thorndike, born on March 10, 1920, was the eldest of five children. Two of them, brother Dickon and sister Georgia, survive him.

His father Russell remains a household name as the writer of the Dr Syn novels about the Romney Marsh smuggler.

Daniel was part of an acting dynasty as Russell also appeared on stage and screen but the family’s most famous actor was Daniel’s aunt, Dame Sybil Thorndike.

She toured internationally in Shakespearean productions and was in films such as The Prince and the Showgirl in 1957.

Daniel lived in Brookland from 1971 until the mid-1990s and then in Church Road, New Romney, from then until 2010.

His last six years were at the Whitegates Retirement Home near Hastings.

Daniel married Janet Lindsay at Catterick Camp in Yorkshire, in 1946.

He had been a soldier but was classed as medically unfit for the front line after he was run over by a motorcycle at the start of the Second World War.

He saw no action and was confined to administrative duties.

Janet died in 2000 and Daniel leaves two children, Nina and Bruce, 66, two grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

Daniel Thorndike's funeral is from 2.45pm at Hastings Crematorium on Wednesday, May 3. The service will be followed by a wake at the Barn Theatre in Smallhythe near Tenterden


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