The brother of British leading man Mark Dignam, Basil Dignam spent most of his time before the cameras in small but pivotal roles. From 1952's Murder in the Cathedral onward, Dignam, a former lumberjack, popped up frequently as barristers, politicians and military officers. His aura of brusque professionalism made Dignam a valuable foil in British comedies of the 1950s and 1960s, notably several of the Carry On series. Habitues of the Shock Theatre TV programs of the early 1960s may recall Dignam as "The Admiral" in 1960's Gorgo, while Shakespeare scholars will remember the actor for his portrayal of Polonius in the 1969 Nicol Williamson version of Hamlet. Basil Dignam was the husband of actress Mona Washbourne.