Thursday, August 03, 2017

A Special Memory

More years ago than I care to reckon up,  as a barely 10 year old,  my mother allowed me to spend Sundays watching TV. This was a rare occurrence because as far as my mother was concerned, Sundays were for going to mass, eating Sunday lunch, going for a long walk,  tea, a bath, washing my hair  - and bed.  TV did not figure in that timetable at all.

But this was different - this was the BBC's production of Shakespeare's history plays  in one long sequence - 15 episodes.  I watched the first  and was lost. For all those 15 episodes, my mother and I shared this experience and I was totally engrossed in the drama, the language, the acting.  It was only years later that I realised how much I had absorbed of Shakespeare's power - and how many of the stage and screen's later great actors I had watched on that rather blurry black and white screen.

One of those actors I have always remembered - have never been able to forget  - was the man who played Henry V - and that was Robert Hardy.   Later he became well known as Siegfried in    James Herriot's  All Creatures Great and Small.  He played  Churchill several times and  was known to a new and wider audience when he appeared as Cornelius Fudge in Harry Potter and the Order of The Phoenix.   But to me he was always the very first Prince Hal I'd every seen - dynamic  and powerful and, in spite of a strange 'pudding basin' haircut, mesmerising and unforgettable.

So I was truly sad to learn today that Robert Hardy has died at the age of 91. Such important memories went with him. And he will always be Prince Hal to me.

RIP Robert Hardy.

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