Bates, famous for his role in "Women in Love," died in a London clinic Saturday night with his son and brother at his side, the BBC reported.
"As he grew older, he became an even better actor with much greater depth and breadth," said actor and Labor MP Glenda Jackson. "I just thought that, apart from being a really first-rate actor, he was the most delightful person."
Born in Derbyshire, England, in 1934, Bates served in the Royal Air Force and later made his acting debut in 1956 with the English Stage Company at the Royal Court Theater, after which he was in constant demand as an actor, the BBC said.
His film career began with "The Entertainer" in 1960, quickly followed by "Whistle Down the Wind," "The Caretaker," "Far From the Madding Crowd," and "The Go-Between."
Bates was knighted in the New Year Honors of 2003.
His wife and a second son are deceased.