He served as a corporal instructor in small arms and field training in the Royal Marines.
He was awarded the O.B.E. (Officer of the order of the British Empire) in the 2005 Queen's New Years Honours List for his services to Drama.
He played Frank Middlemass's son in As Time Goes By (1992) even though he is actually only eight years younger than him.
Frequent co-star of close friend, Dame Judi Dench.
Father of director Charlie Palmer (they worked together on Agatha Christie's Poirot: The Clocks (2009)) and ex-father-in-law of Claire Skinner.
He is the only actor to appear in all of the top three of the British Film Institute's 100 Greatest British Television Programmes: Fawlty Towers (1975), The Wednesday Play: Cathy Come Home (1966) and Doctor Who (1963).
He is one of 33 performers who have acted in both the 20th Century and 21st Century Doctor Who TV Series.
His elder brother is a dentist.
He was educated as a public school day boy in London.
He has acted in both the Eon James Bond franchise and Doctor Who franchise (three roles).
He was considered for the roles of Dr. Armstrong and Sir Percy Heseltine in Lifeforce (1985).
Alan Bennett, who worked with Palmer on Screen Two: The Insurance Man (1986), calls him in his diary, "A splendid actor with an absolutely deadpan face... an English Walter Matthau".