Tributes to star of All Creatures Great and Small Robert Hardy

The family of Robert Hardy have paid tribute to the 'gruff, elegant, twinkly, and always dignified' actor, who has died at the age of 91.

Robert Hardy, star of All Creatures Great and Small and the Harry Potter films, has died at the age of 91. Picture: Yui Mok/PA Wire

Hardy was best known for his role in the Harry Potter films as the Minister for Magic Cornelius Fudge, and as Siegfried Farnon in BBC series All Creatures Great and Small.

Hardy’s children Emma, Justine and Paul said in a statement: “It is with great sadness that the family of Robert Hardy CBE today announced his death, following a tremendous life: a giant career in theatre, television and film spanning more than 70 years.”

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“From the early start, post WWII, with the Shakespeare Memorial Company in Stratford, to his later role in the Harry Potter films as Cornelius Fudge, the Minister for Magic – he will perhaps be most remembered for two iconic roles: as Siegfried Farnon in the long-running and much loved BBC series All Creatures Great and Small, and in his many and magnificently distinguished portrayals of Winston Churchill.”

They said that they will remember their father “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’s children said they are “immensely grateful” to the team at the Denville Hall retirement home for their “tender care” during in the weeks before his death.

A familiar face in households across the country, Hardy’s other roles included Tite Barnacle in Little Dorrit (2008) and Arthur Brooke in Middlemarch (1994). He also took on the leading role in Churchill: 100 Days That Saved Britain (2015) and in Winston Churchill: The Wilderness Years (1981). One of his earliest TV jobs, in 1955, saw him take on Shakespeare as he portrayed Cassio in Othello.

The Bafta-nominated star, from Cheltenham in Gloucestershire, was also awarded a CBE for his services to acting.

Harry Potter actor Chris Rankin, who played Percy Weasley in the films, wrote on Twitter that he was “terribly sad” to hear the news. He said: “He was a very kind man who told wonderful stories.”

Westminster Abbey shared a tribute on Twitter, remembering his reading from Henry V at the venue’s service marking the 600th anniversary of the Battle of Agincourt in 2015.