Michael Gambon to appear at Edinburgh festival

Michael Gambon arrives at the New York premier of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince July 9, 2009 in New York.  AFP PHOTO/DON EMMERT (Photo credit should read DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images)
Michael Gambon arrives at the New York premier of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince July 9, 2009 in New York. AFP PHOTO/DON EMMERT (Photo credit should read DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images)
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FILM and TV star Michael Gambon is to take on a starring role at this year’s Edinburgh International Festival, organisers have revealed.

The 72-year-old Irish actor, who became a household name after appearing in the BBC adaptation of The Singing Detective, is known to millions as Dumbledore in the big-screen version of JK Rowling’s Harry Potter series.

Gambon will be appearing as part of the Samuel Beckett season being staged at the festival this summer by Dublin’s Gate Theatre, with his casting expected to provide a huge boost to ticket sales.

Gambon, who will be appearing in a new adaptation of the TV play Eh Joe, took over the role of the Hogwarts headmaster after the death of the late Richard Harris, who played the part in the first two Harry Potter films.

Among his other recent films have been The King’s Speech, Quartet, Brideshead Revisited, Fantastic Mr Fox and the remake of The Omen.

Gambon first appeared with the Gate Theatre in 1962 and he began his professional acting career with the company performing in Othello, before going on to join the Old Vic and Birmingham Rep. He first appeared in the Gate Theatre’s production of Eh Joe in Dublin seven years ago.

The EIF also confirmed that veteran English actor Peter Egan, star of TV shows Ever Decreasing Circles, Cold Comfort Farm and A Perfect Spy, will be appearing in another Beckett play, First Life, based on the writer’s 1946 novella.

As well as a series of plays, the Beckett season at this year’s festival also includes film screenings, talks and special events devoted to the work of the novelist, playwright, theatre director and poet.

Festival director Jonathan Mills said: “Michael Gambon and Peter Egan are both wonderful actors and will bring Festival audiences a very special experience in Edinburgh this August. We look forward to welcoming them.

“There are still some tickets available to our Beckett at the Festival season, so get online or on the phone and snap them up while you can.”

Michael Colgan, artistic director of the Gate Theatre, added: “We are excited to be coming, for the fifth time, to the Festival of Festivals.”