John Nettleton, the great “Sir Arnold” Dies

John Nettleton was a prolific character actor for more than half a century, but gained his greatest recognition on screen as the cold, calculating Sir Arnold Robinson in the TV sitcom Yes Minister.

The biting political satire Yes Minister cast Sir Arnold to type as a scheming bureaucrat who manipulates Jim Hacker through his permanent undersecretary, Sir Humphrey Appleby.

Nettleton’s stage career began with Shakespeare performances in Stratford-upon-Avon, followed by West End roles and plays with the National Theatre company.

Nettleton was born in Sydenham, south London, and trained at Rada, before joining the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre company and breaking into the West End. He spent five years at the Aldwych Theatre, London, in supporting roles that included the surgeon Mr. Mannoury in The Devils.

With the National Theatre company, he played Jaques in As You Like It, and was at his comic best in Anyone for Denis?.

Nettleton and his wife toured with Raymond Briggs’s anti-nuclear story When the Wind Blows and later played the magistrate in Alan Bennett’s Wind in the Willows adaptation.

Nettleton appeared on television throughout the 1950s, but his first screen role was as Charles, a principled business executive whose wife walks out on him in 1966.

After appearing in Yes Minister, he was cast in a string of sitcoms, including The Happy Apple and Brass. He also had a guest role in Victoria Wood: As Seen on TV.

Nettleton played a shady government figure in Fairly Secret Army and an anti-pornography Conservative MP in The New Statesman.

Here he is advising the civil service on wage increase! In one of his most lovely roles as Sir Arnold Robinson.