Peter Sellers' ex-wife Britt Ekland says he was 'very tormented soul'

Former Bond girl Britt Ekland, 77, says ex-husband Peter Sellers was a ‘very tormented soul’ and deeply controlling in a new documentary marking the 40th anniversary of his death

  • Peter Sellers’s ex-wife Britt Ekland has claimed he was a ‘very tormented soul’ 
  • The former Bond girl was married to the British comic actor from 1964 to 1968 
  • She believed Sellers ‘obviously suffered from or was bipolar, severely bipolar’ 

Peter Sellers’ ex-wife Britt Ekland has claimed the comedy actor was a ‘very tormented soul’ and deeply controlling.

The Swedish actress and former Bond girl, now 77, who was married to the British comic actor from 1964 to 1968, has talked for the first time about their fights and his controlling ways in a new documentary marking the 40th anniversary of his death.

She believed Sellers – who suffered from serious ill health as well as alcohol and cocaine dependency – ‘obviously suffered from or was bipolar, severely bipolar’ but was unable to receive medical treatment partly because of his value to studios.

Sellers, who died in 1980, was most famous for his comic role as Inspector Jacques Clouseau in The Pink Panther film series and his seminal 1960s BBC radio comedy The Goon Show.


Peter Sellers’ ex-wife Britt Ekland (pictured left in 2018) has claimed the comedy actor was a ‘very tormented soul’ and deeply controlling. The couple together, right, in 1965

The former Bond girl, now 77, who was married to the British comic actor (pictured together) from 1964 to 1968, has talked for the first time about their fights and his controlling ways in a new documentary marking the 40th anniversary of his death

Speaking in the BBC documentary Peter Sellers: A State Of Comic Ecstasy, airing on May 9, Ekland recalled how the actor would choose what she would wear and threaten her with divorce ‘every Friday night’ before offering a make-up lunch on Monday.

‘He obviously suffered from or was bipolar, severely bipolar. He was a very tormented soul who should have had more help. But instead he was unable [to] because he was such a valuable asset,’ Ekland says, according to The Observer.

Recalling his controlling ways, she added: ‘He decided what I was going to wear. He just pre-decided everything without ever asking me.’ 

In the documentary, Ekland explains that when looking back on her diaries from that period of her life, she sees the repeated use of the Swedish word for ‘fight’.

Sellers (pictured on the couple’s wedding day), who died in 1980, was most famous for his comic role as Inspector Clouseau in The Pink Panther film series and his seminal 1960s BBC radio comedy The Goon Show

Speaking in the BBC documentary, Peter Sellers: A State Of Comic Ecstasy, airing on May 9, Ekland recalled how the actor would choose what she would wear (pictured together in 1965)

Remembering an argument in Rome after being harassed by paparazzi, she said: ‘He just went on and on… This continued all night and he took my radio and smashed it. In the end he called our agent and said, “Come and pick her up”. I knew that this time I could never go back.’

Ekland and Sellers, who had one child together – Victoria – in January 1965, met after he saw a photograph of her in a newspaper and realised they were both staying at the Dorchester in London.

The actress was in London to co-star in a Richard Attenborough film called Guns At Batasi. 

Sellers said about their first encounter: ‘I was knocked over, absolutely stunned. I couldn’t believe it. She was so great. She wore a simple dress and her hair was like sunlight. Unbelievable.’ 

Swedish actress Ekland and Sellers, who had one child together, Victoria, in January 1965, met after he saw a photograph of her in a newspaper and realised they were both staying at the Dorchester in London (pictured together in 1964)

Ekland, who went on to star in The Man With The Golden Gun, recalls how after their marriage, Sellers’s actions got her fired from the 1964 film Guns at Batasi. Pictured at their Beverly Hills home together

Smitten Sellers bombarded the woman 16 years his junior with flowers and expensive little gifts and — just 10 days later — they were walking down the aisle. 

They were married at Guildford Register Office, where more than 1,000 people lined the streets outside to catch a glimpse of the newlyweds.

Ekland, who went on to star in The Man With The Golden Gun, recalls how after their marriage, Sellers’ actions got her fired from the 1964 film Guns at Batasi.

He asked his wife to spend some time with him in California over her weekend off, but when she arrived he had arranged for a doctor to see her, who apparently said: ‘She’s suffering strain and stress. You can’t possibly go back to filming’.

When asked in the documentary if she was ill, Ekland said she was as ‘fit as a fiddle’ but didn’t have the option to say she was going back to work, and was subsequently fired from the film.

The couple divorced in 1968, with Ekland citing Sellers’s psychological cruelty. Sellers went on to marry twice more.

Ekland was previously believed to have told Will Sellers, the comic icon’s grandson by the son of his first wife Anne, that she wouldn’t be involved in the BBC programme.

John O’Rourke, the documentary’s producer-director, explained:  ‘She’s always quite private about this chapter of her life because she had her first child, Victoria, with Sellers … She hasn’t gone into huge amounts of detail. 

‘She mentioned bipolar disorder. Obviously Britt’s not a medical professional. But she did live with him for four years.’  

Peter Sellers: A State Of Comic Ecstasy, airs on BBC Two on May 9.  

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