West (CBE) is an English film, stage and television actor. He was born in Bradford, Yorkshire of the Earl De La Warr family, and educated at the John Lyon School, a boys' independent school in Harrow-on-the-Hill in London.
West is married to the actress Prunella Scales and, with her, prominently supports the British Labour Party. The couple are both patron's of the Lace Market Theatre in Nottingham.
West's craggy looks ensured a career as a character actor rather than a leading man. He began his career as an Assistant Stage Manager at the Wimbledon Theatre in 1956, and followed this with several seasons of repertory theatre.
Having spent years as a familiar face who never quite became a household name, his big chance came with the major television series, Edward the Seventh (1975), in which he played the title role and his real-life sons, Samuel and Joseph, played the sons of King Edward VII as children.
Other major roles have included parts in the films Nicholas and Alexandra (1972), The Thirty-Nine Steps (1978) and Cry Freedom (1987).
In 2001, West played the older Maurice in Iris, while his actor son, Samuel West, played young Maurice.
In 2002 he made a guest appearance in the BBC Radio 4 series The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes.
In 2004, he toured Australia with the Carl Rosa Company as Director of the production of HMS Pinafore, also singing the role of Sir Joseph Porter.
He is president of the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, and a supporter of the charity Cancer Research UK.