MCM: Robert Hardy


We were saddened to hear of Robert Hardy’s passing on August 3, 2017, at the age of 91. He had a long, glorious life in historical costume TV and movies, and we’re very sorry to have not gotten around to featuring him in our Man Candy Monday already. He was a classically trained actor, having studied at Oxford (where he became friends with fellow actor Richard Burton), and he learned from many of his roles. To play Henry V in the 1960s, Hardy studied the longbow, becoming quite an expert, writing two books on the topic, and he later served as a consultant for great Tudor warship, the Mary Rose. The chief executive of the Mary Rose Trust, Helen Bonser-Wilton, said in the Portsmouth News last week:

“I remember within 24 hours of discovering what we initially thought was a Tudor longbow, Robert was there. He was a massive ambassador for the museum and from the beginning — right up until the reopening last year — he was a pleasure to be around. We are really going to miss him.”

Robert Hardy also became friends with James Herriot, author of All Creatures Great and Small, after acting in the TV series of the books and spoke at Herriot’s funeral. The All Creatures years are full of anecdotes from his costars, such as Peter Davison, about how much of a genial perfectionist “Tim” could be (full name: Timothy Sydney Robert Hardy). While his hard work didn’t make him a big Hollywood star, it did earn him a 13th-century Scottish castle with a walled garden and 50-foot tower as his later-life home. In the statement announcing his death, Hardy’s children said:

“Gruff, elegant, twinkly and always dignified, he is celebrated by all who knew him and loved him, and everyone who enjoyed his work.”

Hardy’s career has so many costume drama highlights that when I posted of his death on Facebook, it seemed like everyone mentioned a different beloved character he portrayed. I’m so glad he’s preserved in our videos, DVDs, and screens.



Oberon in A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1959)

Robert Hardy, A Midsummer's Night Dream (1959)

Stage performance, but historical-ish, and the RSC tweeted this out last week.


Lord Hinch in The Buccaneers (1957)

1957 The Buccaneers

Yay, pirates!


Henry V in An Age of Kings (1960)

Robert Hardy, An Age of Kings (1960)

His first big-impact role.

Robert Hardy, An Age of Kings (1960)
Robert Hardy, An Age of Kings (1960)

Judi Dench was his Princess Katherine of France.


Philip Weathers in The Vanishing Trick (1965)

1965 The Vanishing Trick

Costarring Sarah Lawson in this 1910s TV mystery.


Abwehr Sergeant Gratz in Manhunt (1970)

1970 Manhunt

Playing a baddie hunting French Resistance fighters during World War II in this popular series.


Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester in Elizabeth R (1971)

Robert Hardy in Elizabeth R (1971)

They are the perfect pairing, him and Glenda Jackson’s Elizabeth.

Robert Hardy in Elizabeth R (1971)

She is his eyes, her Robin.

Robert Hardy in Elizabeth R (1971)

Again, Hardy shows off his skill at the bow.

Robert Hardy in Elizabeth R (1971)

And other skills…

Robert Hardy in Elizabeth R (1971)
Robert Hardy and Glenda Jackson in Elizabeth R (1971)

No other Leicester and Elizabeth will do for me!


Archdeacon Haynes in The Stalls of Barchester (1971)

1971 The Stalls of Barchester

I know it’s a gothic mystery, but that look says “I can’t even.”


Robert Baldick in The Incredible Robert Baldick: Never Come Night (1972)

Robert Hardy, The Incredible Robert Baldick: Never Come Night (1972)

Tiny pic from a TV mystery.


Prince Albert in Edward the King (1974)

Robert Hardy, Edward the King (1974)

An even tinier pic, even tho’ this was a big, popular miniseries — it’s all I got!


Sir Guy Paynte in Upstairs, Downstairs (1975)

1975 Upstairs Downstairs

Hardy popped in at 165 Eaton Place, if only at the end.


George Duggan in The Duchess of Duke Street (1976)

Robert Hardy, The Duchess of Duke Street (1976)

And he showed up at the Bentinck Hotel, of course.


Siegfried Farnon in All Creatures Great and Small (1978–1990)

Robert Hardy, All Creatures Great and Small (1978–1990)

The other great role everyone loves Robert Hardy for!

Robert Hardy, All Creatures Great and Small (1978–1990)

The irascible older brother.

Robert Hardy, All Creatures Great and Small (1978–1990)
Robert Hardy, All Creatures Great and Small (1978–1990)

Who always knows best.

Robert Hardy, All Creatures Great and Small (1978–1990)
Robert Hardy, All Creatures Great and Small (1978–1990)

Makes you want to get all tweedy.


Sir Toby Belch in Twelfth Night (1980)

Robert Hardy, Twelfth Night (1980)

Catch a short clip of this production on the BBC’s website.


Winston Churchill in Winston Churchill: The Wilderness Years (1981)

Robert Hardy, Winston Churchill: The Wilderness Years (1981)

Hardy portrayed Churchill several times and called it “undoubtedly the greatest challenge of my acting career.”


Julius Caesar in The Cleopatras (1983)

Robert Hardy, The Cleopatras (1983)

Does not look like the highest budget of productions from all the stills I reviewed.


The Commandant in The Far Pavilions (1984)

Robert Hardy, The Far Pavilions (1984)

Part of the ’80s Anglo-Indian film obsession.


Lord Bob Lilburn in The Shooting Party (1985)

1985 The Shooting Party

With John Gielgud.


Winston Churchill in The Woman He Loved (1988)

Robert Hardy, The Woman He Loved (1988)

Playing Churchill again, here in a TV movie about King Edward VIII & Wallis Simpson.


Winston Churchill in War and Remembrance (1988)

Robert Hardy, War and Remembrance (1988)

With Ralph Bellamy as FDR.


Charles Augustus Milverton in The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes (1992)

1992 The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes

Hardy plays the sneaky villain in this Jeremy Brett Sherlock mystery.


Arthur Brooke in Middlemarch (1994)

1994 Middlemarch

This is such a good ensemble piece, based on a George Elliot book.


Professor Krempe in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1994)

Robert Hardy, Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (1994)

Can’t get a better screencap, but he plays one of Victor’s teachers.


Sir Herbert Hamilton in Bramwell (1995)

1995 Bramwell

The main character, Eleanor, starts out working as a nurse under Sir Hamilton’s supervision.


Sir John Middleton in Sense and Sensibility (1995)

Robert Hardy, Sense and Sensibility (1995)

Another of Robert Hardy’s best historical roles!

1995 Sense and Sensibility

He and Elizabeth Spriggs (as Mrs. Jennings) are hilarious.

1995 Sense and Sensibility

He makes a fast friend of Margaret Dashwood.

Robert Hardy, Sense and Sensibility (1995)



Dr. Parnell in Gulliver’s Travels (1996)

Robert Hardy, Gulliver's Travels (1996)

Yes, I’m being a completist here!



President Roosevelt in Bertie and Elizabeth (2002)

2002 Bertie and Elizabeth

With Juliet Aubrey as Queen Elizabeth during George VI’s visit to the states.


Cornelius Fudge in the Harry Potter series (2002-2007)

Robert Hardy, Harry Potter series (2002-2007)

OK, it’s fantasy, but everyone knows this role so well, I had to include it.


Winston Churchill in Agatha Christie’s Marple (2006)

Robert Hardy, Agatha Christie's Marple (2006)

Churchill, in a mystery!


Tite Barnacle in Little Dorrit (2008)

Robert Hardy, Little Dorrit (2008)

In the 1950s, Hardy played David Copperfield on TV as well, but I couldn’t find screencaps.


Winston Churchill in Churchill: 100 Days That Saved Britain (2015)

Robert Hardy, Churchill: 100 Days That Saved Britain (2015)

Fitting that Hardy’s final TV role was the historical figure he admired most.



How will you remember Robert Hardy?

17 Responses

  1. MoHub

    FYI: It’s Peter Davison, not Davidson.

    Also, Hardy was in Robin of Sherwood as Richard the Lionhearted. The role was written to show Richard as just as manipulative, uncaring, and nasty as his brother Prince John. It was lovely.

  2. Stephani

    His will always be the voice I hear when I read Sir John Middleton’s dialogue in S&S (or frankly, any other character of similar qualities), and I loved him as Siegfried in All Creatures Great and Small. I have not seen most of his other roles, but must add them to my list now.

  3. ladylavinia1932

    My two favorite roles of Hardy’s are Arthur Brooke in “Middlemarch” and Sir John Middleton in “Sense and Sensibility”.

  4. Colleen Crosby

    I didn’t realize that was him in Sense & Sensibility!

  5. Misty Smith

    Only one word to describe him: Awesome! He, along with Ian Richardson, are part of a hand full of actors I know I can depend on to be -at the least- very good in anything.

    I love the description from his children ‘Gruff, elegant, twinkly and always dignified’, I would add raconteur to that.

    He will be missed & thank you for this perfect tribute x

  6. Susan Pola Staples

    There are so many favorite characters that the late and very lamented Robert Hardy made immortal. But if I had to narrow it down to three, they are Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, Baron Denbigh in Elizabeth R, the caring equine lover Siegfried Farnham in All Creatures Great and Small and Sir Winston Churchill KG

  7. Debra Roush

    Please have another look at the still for The Shooting Party. The man with Gielgud looks like James Mason to me. So many good actors lost!

  8. woostersauce2014

    I thought he was excellent as Prince Albert in Edward the Seventh (Edward the King) and its been many, many years since I saw “War and Remembrance” but his portrayal of Churchill always stood out for me.

  9. Charity

    When the internet exploded with “Cornelius Fudge died” (from Harry Potter), twas me that sighed and said, “She’s horribly good at winkling!”

    He also appeared briefly in The 10th Kingdom, which is a … well, zany Hallmark fairy tale. ;)

  10. Katie

    Such a talented actor. So many wonderful roles. I particularly loved his Prince Albert.

  11. Adina

    Could we have an MCM on Ralph Fiennes? The man has an impressive resume of historical movies, off the top of my head I can think of Schindler’s List, Sunshine, Wuthering Heights, Grand Budapest Hotel, a biopic about TE Lawrence, The Duchess, The White Countess, The Invisible Woman, Quiz Show, Onegin, Great Expectations, the list goes on and on.