Kenneth Colley

Kenneth Colley is an English film and television actor whose career spans 50 years. He came to wider prominence through his role as Admiral Piett in the Star Wars films The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi.


Unlike the other ill-fated Imperial officers who appeared alongside him in The Empire Strikes Back, Colley was the only actor to play an Imperial officer in more than one Star Wars film. Colley reprised his role as Piett in the Cartoon Network animated special Lego Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Out in September 2012. Coincidentally, Colley and David Prowse had a part in the 1977 fantasy film Jabberwocky.
Colley was born in Manchester, Lancashire. One of his early appearances on British television was as Noah Riley in the hard-hitting 1970s police drama The Sweeney, the episode entitled Trap. He played Jesus in The Life of Brian, having also appeared in the earlier Monty Python-related production Ripping Yarns episode "The Testing of Eric Olthwaite" alongside Michael Palin. As a Shakespearean actor he played the Duke of Vienna in the BBC Television Shakespeare production of Measure for Measure in 1979.
Colley also played an important role in the 1982 Clint Eastwood film Firefox, where he played a Soviet colonel tasked with the protection of the Firefox and its secrets. He went on to play SS-Standartenführer Paul Blobel in the Second World War drama War and Remembrance.
Colley worked extensively with British director Ken Russell from the early 1970s to the early 1990s as part of a repertory of actors who appeared across Russell's television and film work. He played the role of Modest Tchaikovsky in the 1971 film The Music Lovers. He went on to play the role of LeGrand in Russell's controversial masterpiece The Devils; he played the journalist Krenek in the biopic Mahler in 1974; the composer Frédéric Chopin in Lisztomania; Mr Brunt in Russell's adaptation of The Rainbow by D. H. Lawrence. His last role for Russell was as Captain Dreyfus in the film Prisoner of Honor, which dealt with the Dreyfus affair.
He has directed one film to date, Greetings, a 2007 horror film starring Kirsty Cox, Henry Dunn and Ben Shockley.

Personal life

Colley lives in Hythe, Kent.
According to comments which Terry Gilliam made in the DVD audio commentaries for both films, Colley has a stammer in real life. When he had a role in a film, however, he could recite the lines perfectly. Stuttering is a character trait, however, in his role as the Accordion Man in the 1978 BBC television drama, Pennies from Heaven.



1964Seventy Deadly PillsCovent Garden porter
1967The JokersDe Winter
1967How I Won the War2nd Replacement
1968The Blood Beast TerrorJames
1970PerformanceTony Farrell
1970The Music LoversModeste Tchaikovsky
1971The DevilsLegrand
1972The Triple EchoProvo Corporal
1974Fall of EaglesFather Gapon
1974JuggernautDetective Brown
1975Slade in FlameTony Devlin
1975LisztomaniaFrédéric Chopin
1977Jabberwocky1st Fanatic
1979Measure For Measure'Duke of Vienna'
1979Monty Python's Life of BrianJesus
1980The Empire Strikes BackAdmiral Piett
1981Peter and PaulTheodotus
1982FirefoxColonel Kontarsky
1982Giro CityMartin
1983The Scarlet and the BlackCaptain Hirsch
1983Return of the JediAdmiral Piett
1984Return to WaterlooThe Traveller
1987The Whistle BlowerBill Pickett
1988A Summer StoryJim
1989The RainbowMr. Brunt
1990The Plot to Kill HitlerField Marshal Wilhelm Keitel
1990I Hired a Contract Killer'The Killer'
1990The Last IslandNick
1992La Vie de BohèmeBalayeur de rues
1996El último viaje de Robert RylandsArchdale
1996Brassed OffGreasley
1997Shadow RunLarcombe
1999Hold Back the NightUncle Bob
1999Holding OnPhil
2013Scar TissueWeaver


1974The Nine TailorsPotty PeakeTV mini-series, Series 1 Episode 3, Lord Peter Wimsey
1975The SweeneyNoah RileyTV series, Series 2 Episode 6, Trap
1977Ripping YarnsArthur the Robber1 episode, The Testing of Eric Outhwaite
1978Les MisérablesPolice PrefectTV film
1978Pennies from HeavenThe Accordion Man6 episodes, TV mini-series
1979Measure for MeasureDukeBBC Shakespeare series
1985'Adolf EichmannTV film
1985'King Victor Emmanuel III of ItalyTV mini-series
1982I Remember NelsonAdmiral Lord Nelson
1986Return to Treasure IslandBen Gunn10 episodes, credited as Ken Colley
1988War and RemembranceSS-Standartenführer Paul Blobel2 episodes, TV mini-series
1990Agatha Christie's PoirotMathew Davenheim1 episode, "The Disappearance of Mr. Davenheim"
1991Inspector MorseDCI Patrick DawsonEpisode 16 Second Time Around
1991Prisoner of HonourCaptain Alfred DreyfusTV film
1993Unnatural CausesInspector Gerry RecklessTV film
1994-5Moving StoryKen Uttley13 episodes
1995Solomon & ShebaNathanTV film
2001Midsomer MurdersLloyd Kirby1 episode, The Electric Vendetta
2002Relic HunterProfessor Lamenza1 episode, Faux Fox
2003EastEndersBrian3 episodes
2005Like Father Like SonRawsthorne2 episodes
2006Foyle's WarBrian Jones1 episode, Bad Blood
2009Casualty 1909Dr. Frederick Smith3 episodes
2012Admiral PiettTV film
2013VeraRonald DevreuxSeries 3, Episode 3 Young Gods
2013MisfitsOld RudySeries 5, Episode 4
2016Peaky BlindersVicente ChangrettaSeries 3, Episodes 2 & 3