Writings about other people

1983: Tyrone Guthrie, A Titan of the Theatre

Our family were churchgoers. Grandpa Sutcliffe was a professional: a gentlemanly non-conformist minister in a quiet corner of the north of England. Read More

1990: Ian Charleson

As actors get old, their work is often enfeebled. Disappointed even embarrassed, we would rather they quietly retired and left us with memories of their maturity. Read More

1992: For Curt Dawson

In 1961, just out of Cambridge University and waiting for my first professional acting job, I found myself in an amateur production . . . Read More

1993: Christopher Marlowe

Four hundred years after he was stabbed to death in Deptford, South London, Christopher Marlowe is still going strong. Read More

2000: The "Golden Quill Award" to Kenneth Branagh

When I first saw Kenneth Branagh onstage in Another Country he looked about 13. Read More

2000: Sir John Gielgud

My first contact with John Gielgud was a congratulatory telegram sent to the 1969 Edinburgh Festival where I was playing one of his most famous parts, Shakespeare's Richard II. Read More

2000: Sir Alec Guinness

It is a pity that a man whose friends testify to his gentle self-deprecating humour should be famous amongst actors for his temper. Read More

2002: Sir Nigel Hawthorne

Nigel Hawthorne played every part well that I ever saw him do on stage or on screen. Read More

2002: Richard Harris

Richard Harris was a smashing young actor and had his own style subsequently, which was enviable. Read More

2003: John and Hope

Two giants of the film industry, both born in London, have died within days of each other, within easy reach of Hollywood where they made their reputations and garnered the world’s respect, love even. Read More

2004: Sir Peter Ustinov

I was in the first company of actors and was cast as Leo McKern's son in Ustinov's newest play The Life in my Hands. Read More

2004: Ronald Reagan

On 4 November 1980 I was opening in Amadeus at the National Theatre in Washington DC. It was, more significantly, voting day in USA. Read More

2007: Ian Richardson CBE

In 1989, the Royal Shakespeare Company actors were rehearsing Trevor Nunn's production of Othello in a church hall in London when the news reached us that Laurence Olivier had died. Read More

2008: Brad Renfro

I first caught sight of Brad Renfro when he was kicking a football around with Bryan Singer on the half-built set of Apt Pupil in Hollywood. Read More

2008: Paul Scofield

My few connections with Paul Scofield were tangential, beginning with a near-miss. In 1952, on my first trip to London … Read More

2010: Corin Redgrave

At Cambridge, beneath Corin’s austerely handsome face and tall body, anger brewed. He didn’t laugh at silly things as much as the rest of us: but he could tell a story well, with killer punch-lines. Read More

2010: Sir Peter Hall

Sir Peter Hall was 80 years old last week and there was a party for him in the lobby of the National Theatre in London.
Read More

2013: Bille Brown

Bille Brown was a man and an actor of the world. His worldwide travels before him, he was born in Queensland and worked often there, surviving as a confidently gay man in an often alien society. He has just died in Brisbane, two days after a birthday party, for which he ordered crab, lobster and champagne. Read More

2013: Margaret Thatcher

The official obituaries have been, as often happens, partial in both senses: sympathetic and incomplete. With regard to the divisive effect of her reign, one omission was significant and glaring:
Read More

2013: Nelson Mandela

I met him once, in February 1995. He'd not long been President of the new Republic of South Africa and a debate was on to write the new constitution. A Constitutional Committee was lobbying to ensure that it would be constitutionally illegal to discriminate on grounds of sexuality. Read More

2018: John Barton

In 1960 when he was 32, John abandoned academia in Cambridge, where he was researching the original staging of Elizabethan theatre, at the behest of his chum Peter Hall, both of them having acted and directed for the Amateur Dramatic Club. When the caretaker of the ADC's theatre heard that John, then Lay Dean of King's College, was off to Stratford-upon-Avon he said: "Oh yes, Mr Barton was always the one who Peter got in, to sort out the problems." Barton was the Fixer: Barton the Expert: Barton who studied, practiced and lived for the Theatre. Read More

2018: Ken Dodd

Ken Dodd didn't make me laugh on radio, though the factory audiences at Worker's Playtime hooted. The same on television in decades of shows: the studio audience were helpless. Read More

2018: Stephen Hawking

The huge stadium went totally black; not a single selfie spoiling the effect. A cluster of brilliant spotlights suddenly aimed down, onto the familiar, complicated wheelchair. Read More

2021: Antony Sher

Antony Sher was hugely, uniquely gifted as actor, author and artist. Read More

More Writings

Ian McKellen's Home Page