Robert Hardy

Hardy as Cornelius Fudge in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Timothy Sydney Robert Hardy

(1925-10-29)29 October 1925
Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, England
Died3 August 2017(2017-08-03) (aged 91)
Alma materMagdalen College, Oxford
Years active1949[1][2]–2017
Elizabeth Fox
Sally Pearson

Timothy Sydney Robert Hardy CBE FSA (29 October 1925 – 3 August 2017) was an English actor who had a long career in theatre, film and television. He began his career as a classical actor and later earned widespread recognition for roles such as Siegfried Farnon in the BBC television series All Creatures Great and Small, Cornelius Fudge in the Harry Potter film series and Winston Churchill in several productions, beginning with the Southern Television series Winston Churchill: The Wilderness Years. He was nominated for the BAFTA for Best Actor for All Creatures Great and Small in 1980 and Winston Churchill: The Wilderness Years in 1982. Aside from acting, Hardy was an acknowledged expert on the medieval English longbow and wrote two books on the subject.

Early life

Hardy was born in Cheltenham in 1925 to Henry Harrison Hardy, MBE,[3] of Old Farm, Bishop's Cleeve, Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire, and Edith Jocelyn, daughter of Rev. Sydney Dugdale, rector of Whitchurch, Shropshire, a member of a landed gentry family of Wroxall Abbey, Wroxall, Warwickshire.[4][5] Henry Hardy was the headmaster of Cheltenham College and later of Shrewsbury School, and a Major in the Rifle Brigade.[6][7]

Hardy was educated at Rugby School and Magdalen College, Oxford, where his studies were interrupted by service in the Royal Air Force during World War II. He trained as a pilot, receiving part of his instruction in the British Flying Training School Program in Terrell, Texas.[citation needed] Although he visited Los Angeles[8] when on leave from flight training at Terrell, his later acting career never gained a foothold in Hollywood.[1] After service in the RAF, he returned to gain a BA (Hons) in English.[9] On BBC Radio 4's Desert Island Discs he described the degree he obtained as "shabby", although he treasured the time spent studying under C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien.[2]


Hardy began his career as a classical actor.[10] In 1959, he appeared as The King of France in All's Well That Ends Well in April 1959, directed by Tyrone Guthrie at Stratford-upon-Avon, with Vanessa Redgrave and Diana Rigg indicated as supporting extras. He subsequently appeared as Sicinius opposite Laurence Olivier in Coriolanus at Stratford-upon-Avon, directed by Peter Hall.[11] In this production, Ian Holm featured as a "Third Aufidious Servant", Vanessa Redgrave as Valeria, and Diana Rigg as a "Roman Citizen". Albert Finney featured as a "First Roman Citizen". Hardy then appeared in Shakespeare's Henry V on stage and in television's An Age of Kings (1960), and subsequently played Coriolanus in The Spread of the Eagle (BBC, 1963) and Sir Toby Belch for the BBC Television Shakespeare production of Twelfth Night in 1980. Over the years, Hardy played a range of parts on television and film. His first continuing role in a TV series was as businessman Alec Stewart in the award-winning oil company drama The Troubleshooters for the BBC, which he played from 1966 to 1970. He won further acclaim for his portrayal of the mentally-unhinged Abwehr Sgt. Gratz in LWT's 1969 war drama Manhunt. In 1975, Hardy portrayed Albert, Prince Consort in the award-winning 13-hour serial Edward the Seventh (known as Edward the King to the American audience),[1] which he regarded as one of his best performances. "I thought I'd done a good job there, although I believe the Royal Family didn't like it all. There are always people who don't like what one does."[12]

He was seen as the irascible senior veterinary surgeon Siegfried Farnon in the long-running All Creatures Great and Small (1978–90), an adaptation of James Herriot's semi-autobiographical books.[13] Hardy also made an appearance in the 1986–88 ITV comedy series Hot Metal, in which he played the dual roles of newspaper proprietor Twiggy Rathbone (who bore more than a passing resemblance to Rupert Murdoch) and his editor, Russell Spam.[14] In 1993 Hardy appeared in an episode of Inspector Morse, playing Andrew Baydon in "Twilight of the Gods". In 1994, he played Arthur Brooke in the BBC production of Middlemarch. In 2002, he played the role of pompous and eccentric Professor Neddy Welch in a WTTV/WGBH Boston co-production of Lucky Jim, adapted from the novel by Kingsley Amis. It aired originally as part of the Masterpiece series on PBS in the U.S. and starred Stephen Tompkinson in the title role of Jim Dixon, a luckless lecturer at a provincial British university.[15]

Hardy played both Winston Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt, each on more than one occasion. He played Churchill most notably in Winston Churchill: The Wilderness Years (1981), for which he was nominated for a BAFTA award, but also in The Sittaford Mystery, Bomber Harris and War and Remembrance. On 20 August 2010, he read Churchill's famous wartime address "Never was so much owed by so many to so few" at a ceremony to mark the 70th anniversary of the speech.[16] He played Roosevelt in the BBC serial, Bertie and Elizabeth, and in the French TV mini-series, Le Grand Charles, about the life of Charles de Gaulle [17].[citation needed] He also played Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, in Elizabeth R and took the role of Sir John Middleton in the 1995 film version of Sense and Sensibility.[1]

His big screen roles included Professor Krempe in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein and Minister for Magic Cornelius Fudge in the ''Harry Potter films.[13]

His voice performance as Robin Hood in Tale Spinners For Children, an LP from the 1960s, is considered one of the best Robin Hood renditions.[18] His voice was also the voice of D'Artagnan in The Three Musketeers and of Frédéric Chopin, in The Story of Chopin.


Hardy was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 1981 Birthday Honours.[19]

Personal life

His first marriage, in 1952, was to Elizabeth Fox, the daughter of Sir Lionel Fox; they had a son, Paul.[1] This marriage ended in 1956. In 1961 he married Sally Pearson, the daughter of the baronet Sir Neville Pearson and Dame Gladys Cooper as well as a half-sister of John Buckmaster and a sister-in-law of Robert Morley. From this marriage, which ended in 1986, Hardy had two other children,[1] one of whom is Justine Hardy, a journalist, activist and psychotherapist who founded Healing Kashmir.[20][21]

He was a close friend of actor Richard Burton, whom he met at Oxford University.[19] He shared some memories of their wartime friendship and read extracts from Burton's newly published diaries at the Cheltenham Literature Festival in 2012.[22]

While playing Henry V, Hardy developed an interest in medieval warfare, and in 1963 he wrote and presented an acclaimed television documentary on the subject of the Battle of Agincourt.[23] He also wrote two books on the subject of the longbow, Longbow: A Social and Military History[24] and The Great Warbow: From Hastings to the Mary Rose with Matthew Strickland.[25] He was one of the experts consulted by the archaeologist responsible for raising the Mary Rose. He was Master of the Worshipful Company of Bowyers of the City of London from 1988 to 1990. In 1996 he was elected a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries.[26]

In February 2013, Hardy withdrew from his scheduled performance as Winston Churchill in Peter Morgan's play, The Audience, after suffering cracked ribs as the result of a fall.[27]

Hardy died on 3 August 2017, aged 91, at Denville Hall, a home for retired actors.[13]

TV and filmography


Year Title Role Notes
1958 Torpedo Run Lieutenant Redley
1962 A Question of Fact Colin Gardiner with Ursula Jeans
1965 The Spy Who Came In from the Cold Dick Carlton
1967 How I Won the War British General
Berserk! Detective Supt. Brooks
1971 10 Rillington Place Malcolm Morris
1972 Young Winston Prep School Headmaster
Demons of the Mind Zorn
1973 Psychomania Chief Inspector Hesseltine
Escape to Nowhere Chief of M.I.5's assistant
Gawain and the Green Knight Sir Bertilak
Yellow Dog Alexander
Dark Places Edward Foster/Andrew Marr
1974 The Slap Robert
1984 The Shooting Party Lord Bob Lilburn
1988 Paris by Night Adam Gillvray
1994 Mary Shelley's Frankenstein Professor Krempe
1995 A Feast at Midnight Headmaster
Sense and Sensibility Sir John Middleton
1997 Mrs. Dalloway Sir William Bradshaw
1998 The Tichborne Claimant Lord Rivers
The Barber of Siberia Forsten
An Ideal Husband Lord Caversham
2002 Thunderpants Doctor
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets Cornelius Fudge
The Gathering The Bishop
2004 Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban Cornelius Fudge
Making Waves Father Parry
2005 Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire Cornelius Fudge
Lassie Judge Murray
2007 Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix Cornelius Fudge
2008 Framed Provost
2009 Old Harry Old Harry
2015 Joseph's Reel Old Joseph Short film
2017 Snapshot Wedding Donald Pre-production
In Familia Ashton Leonard



  1. ^ a b c d e f Coveney, Michael (3 August 2017). "Robert Hardy obituary". The Guardian.
  2. ^ a b c "Robert Hardy". Desert Island Discs. 20 November 2011. BBC Radio 4. Retrieved 18 January 2014.
  3. ^ The Schoolmasters' Yearbook and Educational Directory, Year Book Press, 1922, p. 13
  4. ^ Armorial Families: A Directory of Gentlemen of Coat-Armour, sixth edition, A. C. Fox-Davies, T. C. & E. C. Jack, 1910, p. 484
  5. ^ Visitation of England and Wales vol. 2, ed. Joseph Jackson Howard and Frederick Arthur Crisp, 1894, p. 107
  6. ^ Robert Hardy Biography (1925–)
  7. ^ Birmingham Daily Post, Saturday, 27 December 1958, p. 5, "Obituary- Maj. H. H. Hardy"
  8. ^ "ROBERT HARDY'S PATH TO 'MIDDLEMARCH'". Los Angeles Times. 10 April 1994. Retrieved 12 October 2023.
  9. ^ Cocks, Claire (19 May 2011). "A word & whisky with Robert Hardy". The Oxford Student. Retrieved 14 October 2012.
  10. ^ McFarlane, Brian (2021). "Hardy, (Timothy Sydney) Robert (1925–2017)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/odnb/9780198614128.013.90000380251. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  11. ^ "ROB WILTON THEATRICALIA Stratford 1955–60". Retrieved 10 June 2012.
  12. ^ All Memories Great & Small, Oliver Crocker (2016; MIWK)
  13. ^ a b c "Harry Potter actor Robert Hardy dies at 91". BBC News. 3 August 2017. Retrieved 3 August 2017.
  14. ^ "Hot Metal – ITV Sitcom". British Comedy Guide. Retrieved 4 August 2017.
  15. ^ Bradford, Richard (19 April 2003). "Filming Lucky Jim". Spectator archive. Retrieved 4 August 2017.
  16. ^ Lawless, Jill. "70 years on from WWII, Britain remembers 'the few'". Associated Press. Retrieved 20 August 2010.
  17. ^ Robert Hardy at IMDb Edit this at Wikidata
  18. ^ "Tale Spinners for Children: Robin Hood" UAC 11001: "Starring Robert Hardy as Robin Hood with the Famous Theater Company and the Hollywood Studio Orchestra"; cf. also Arts Reformation.
  19. ^ a b "Obituary: Robert Hardy". BBC News. 3 August 2017. Retrieved 3 August 2017.
  20. ^ Meneses, Geeta Alvares (2009). "A Humane Being" (PDF). Libas International: 74. Archived from the original (PDF) on 23 December 2016 – via Justine Hardy website.
  21. ^ "Kashmiris have felt isolated during conflict". The Times of India. 27 January 2010. Retrieved 20 December 2016.
  22. ^ Thomas, Aled (4 August 2017). "Harry Potter actor Robert Hardy dies aged 91". GloucestershireLive.
  23. ^ "The Picardy Affair". BBC. Retrieved 4 August 2017.
  24. ^ Longbow: A Social and Military History
  25. ^ Sutton Publishing 2005. ISBN 0-7509-3167-1 ISBN 978-0750931670
  26. ^ "List of Fellows – H". Society of Antiquaries of London. Archived from the original on 3 October 2010. Retrieved 9 May 2010.
  27. ^ "Robert Hardy withdraws from Churchill role in Helen Mirren play". BBC News. BBC. 26 February 2013. Retrieved 26 February 2013.