The actor Robert Hardy, star of TV series All Creatures Great and Small, has died aged 91, his family has said.
Hardy, they said, had a “tremendous life” and “a giant career in theatre, television and film spanning more than 70 years”.
He was also known for numerous portrayals of Winston Churchill.
In more recent years, he appeared as Cornelius Fudge, the Minister for Magic, in four of the Harry Potter films.
- Obituary: Robert Hardy
- Hardy on Desert Island Discs
His children Emma, Justine and Paul said in a statement: “Dad is also remembered as a meticulous linguist, a fine artist, a lover of music and a champion of literature, as well a highly respected historian, and a leading specialist on the longbow.
“He was an essential part of the team that raised the great Tudor warship The Mary Rose.
“Gruff, elegant, twinkly, and always dignified, he is celebrated by all who knew him and loved him, and everyone who enjoyed his work.”
Hardy started his acting career after World War Two with the Shakespeare Memorial Company in Stratford, later the RSC.
He went on to become a household name in the BBC’s All Creatures Great and Small, in which he played senior vet Siegfried Farnon.
He played Churchill seven times, including in Winston Churchill: The Wilderness Years, for which he won a Bafta in 1982.
Hardy believed actors were born rather than made, telling the BBC’s Desert Island Discs his ambitions were formed when he appeared as a page boy at a wedding.
“I walked down the aisle with my head held high and as I went, every eye was turned towards me and something inside me said, ‘that’s it, get every eye on you’.”
Hardy died at Denville Hall, a retirement home for actors in the outskirts of London.
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