Philip Richard James, professionally known as Philip York, died suddenly from a heart attack in Paris on Sunday January 27th 2019. Philip was 67 years old. He was with his partner of 41 years, Jan Waters, his daughter, Lucy Hayes and his son, Ben James when he died. Philip was a devoted family man and a fine actor with a lifetime of varied and extensive achievements in theatre, television and film.
Philip was born in Broxbourne, Hertfordshire and later went to Worthing High School and attended the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama In London. He was immensely popular and maintained many deep friendships throughout his professional career. He spent his early years working in the theatre and it was at Watford Palace Theatre that he met his life partner in productions of Pygmalion and The Merchant of Venice. These two shows, directed by Stephen Hollis, went out on tour to the Far East, and one evening, on a beach in Penang, Philip and Jan formed a relationship that was to last all his life. Their daughter, Lucy, was born a year later and their son, Ben just two years afterwards. This close-knit family unit was the mainstay of Philip’s life…he was a loving, supportive husband and devotedly caring father. Only last year, Philip and Jan decided to get married after 40 years of living together…quietly confirming their life long commitment to each other.
Philip’s parents, Brian Richard James and Sheila Lucienne Walford had two other children. Philip’s older brother, James Warwick lives in Massachusetts and his younger sister, Sue Hollingworth in Devon. His mother, popularly known as Wendy because, like Peter Pan, she never really grew up, still lives in North Devon near his sister Sue. Philip’s daughter, Lucy, married Duncan Hayes and gave Philip and Jan two beautiful grandchildren, Maisie and Aubrey.
Philip had notable theatre successes over his life…he was a long term member of Alan Ayckbourn’s company in Scarborough and played in 23 productions at The Orange Tree Theatre in Richmond, Surrey. He had an extraordinarily successful run with his one man show Maxwell, playing the Trafalgar Studios in London on four separate occasions and in most regional theatres over the course of several years. Philip joined The National Theatre in London, the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford, and in his early days worked with his beloved Jan Waters for Toby Robertson and Jane McCulloch at The Prospect Theatre Company. His television and film appearances were many and varied…Lillie, Eastenders, The Bill, A Touch of Frost and Heartbeat, to name but a few. His latest film appearance was as Father in the short film, Silent Child, which received an Oscar last year.
He loved working on his allotment in Chiswick…a place where he grew fruit and vegetables, thought philosophical thoughts, had a glass of wine in his potting shed and found peace away from the bustle and demands of everyday life. He was an avid tennis player and loved the solitude of salt and fresh water fishing whenever he could. He will be remembered and celebrated by everyone who made contact with his generous and gentle soul. The date and place of memorial will be announced by his family within the next few weeks.
*This obituary was contributed by Philip's brother, James Warwick.