The Ulster Unionist Party’s Culture & Arts spokesperson, Michael McGimpsey MLA has paid tribute to the actor James Ellis who dies at the weekend.
Mr McGimpsey said:
“James Ellis was a pillar of the artistic community nationwide for a generation.
“He began his rise to prominence at the Group Theatre in the 1950s, directed Sam Thompson’s play Over the Bridge in 1960, achieved national acclaim as Bert Lynch in Z Cars and in Graham Reid’s Billy plays in the 1980s and starred in many more productions.
“He showed great versatility and a capacity for gritty realistic portrayal of working class characters and his talent encompassed the full dramatic range.
“He was one of the first actors to bring the Ulster accent to a UK wide audience and although he achieved a great deal of fame and recognition, he never forgot his roots and remained a son of Belfast who loved to return to Northern Ireland.
“He remained a down to earth and likeable man who was as popular with the ordinary people of Northern Ireland as he was with members of the acting profession.
“He will be sadly missed.”