Robert Hardy/

The great joy of acting is getting into the part, which is why I enjoy playing people who actually lived

Actor Robert Hardy was perhaps best known for playing slightly gruff roles – becoming a household name as vet Siegfried Farnon in TV’s All Creatures Great and Small and as
Minister of Magic Cornelius Fudge in the Harry Potter films. In addition to these famous roles, he was also noted for his many stage and screen portrayals of Winston Churchill.

Born in Cheltenham, the sixth child of a headmaster, Hardy went to university at Oxford where he was was tutored by two very famous authors – JRR Tolkien, who wrote Lord of the Rings and Narnia creator CS Lewis. Film star Richard Burton was among the friends he made there.

Hardy began a career in the theatre after a stint in the RAF, with many roles in TV period dramas in the Sixties and Seventies. Hardy was also a keen historian and acclaimed expert on the medieval longbow. His knowledge of historic warfare helped piece together the history of many artefacts discovered with the raising of sunken Tudor battleship, the Mary Rose.

The actor said it took a certain amount of talent, together with luck and a “spine of steel” to carve out a career on stage and screen. He acted until he was in his late eighties and had been performing in a play based on the life of Churchill, when he bowed out from his long and acclaimed career.