A graduate of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, Peter Yates was a stage actor before working as an assistant director for Tony Richardson.
Peter Yates made his first film Summer Holiday (1963) with Cliff Richard and later One Way Pendulum (1964), before directing the crime thriller Robbery, a fictionalised version of the Great Train Robbery, in 1967. This led to his first American film, the groundbreaking Bullitt, the following year.
He earned four Oscar nominations - one for Best Director and a second for Best Producer for the film Breaking Away in 1979, and another two (Director and Producer) for The Dresser, an adaptation of the popular stage play, in 1983. The Dresser was also entered into the 34th Berlin International Film Festival.