Remembering Siegfried

I have just heard news of the death of Robert Hardy. Sadly, this is not current news as the beloved English actor passed away in early August. However, for whatever reason, I missed the notice. Still, I wanted to mention it because Hardy has had a long presence on UNC-TV.

Robert Hardy was born Timothy Sydney Robert Hardy in 1925 and he enjoyed a long career in theatre, film and television. The veteran performer may be best known to international audiences for his role as Cornelius Fudge in the Harry Potter film series but public broadcasting viewers will perhaps remember him most fondly as veterinarian Siegfried Farnon on the series All Creatures Great And Small, adapted from the books by James Herriot.

Aside from memorable guest appearances on many familiar programs (Lewis, Foyle’s War, MI-5, Inspector Morse, The Duchess of Duke Street), Hardy has also played roles on several series seen on Masterpiece including Elizabeth R (Robert Dudley), Winston Churchill: The Wilderness Years (Winston Churchill), Northanger Abbey (General Tilney), Middlemarch (Mr. Brooke) and Little Dorrit (Tite Barnacle [Sr]). He was also appointed a Commander of the British Empire in the 1981 Birthday Honours.

Robert Hardy died on August 3 at the age of 91.

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Where Do I Know That Actor?

If you turned on Midsomer Murders on Saturday night (“Secrets and Spies” part one) you saw DCI Barnaby encounter a family of former espionage agents. You also caught sight of several familiar faces you may have recognized from other British programming we’ve aired on UNC-TV. Let’s see who’s who, shall we?

Veteran actor Benjamin Whitrow played eccentric, retired spymaster Sir Malcolm Frazer. His decades-long career (which sadly ended a few weeks ago when he passed away at 80) boasted guest roles in dozens of shows (Wolf Hall, Doc Martin, The Pallisers, Danger UXB, Poirot and Partners in Crime, just to name a few) but he had larger roles in a few Masterpiece Theatre presentations – he was Bailiff Francis la Palotte on Island at War and Thomas Boleyn on Henry VIII.

Peter Davison played Sir Malcolm’s son, Nicky Frazer. He should be immediately known for two roles – that of veterinarian Tristan Farnon on All Creatures Great and Small and that of the fifth Doctor on Doctor Who. However, he too has appeared in a bevy of other roles. Going back to the late 1970s, Davison was Tom Holland on the Masterpiece Theatre series Love for Lydia. In the 1980s, he played Margery Allingham’s gentleman detective Albert Campion on Mystery! In the late 1990s, he portrayed Joseph Lockwood on a Masterpiece adaptation of Wuthering Heights. About that time, Davison played Inspector Christmas on the Diana Rigg vehicle The Mrs. Bradley Mysteries. More recently, he starred as Dr. Bill Shore on the delightful fish-out-of-water series Distant Shores. Continue reading

Where Do I Know That Actor?

There’s a new-ish face Saturday nights in UNC-TV. The Mrs. Bradley Mysteries are now airing Saturdays at 11 and while the show itself is neither new nor a stranger to our airwaves (the program originally aired as part of the Mystery! series) it does present a fun opportunity to showcase a few stars and guest stars that will be known to regular viewers.

The Mrs. Bradley Mysteries stars Diana Rigg – excuse me, Dame Diana Rigg – as the titular sleuth. Rigg will be best known to longtime viewers as the host of the aforementioned Mystery! (taking over the reins from Vincent Price in 1989) and/or as John Steed’s partner Emma Peel on the classic 1960s spy-fi The Avengers. She’s also been in several Masterpiece Theatre productions and was Lady Honoria Dedlock in Bleak House, Mrs. Danvers in Rebecca and Mrs. Golightly in Moll Flanders.

Among the notable guest stars in last Saturday’s episode (“Death At The Opera”) were two actors well known to Doctor Who fans. Peter Davison (The Fifth Doctor) played Inspector Christmas and David Tennant (The Tenth Doctor) played Max Valentine. Of course, both actors have other credits on shows UNC-TV has aired. Davison was in All Creatures Great And Small, Campion and Distant Shores. Tennant, in addition to hosting Masterpiece Contemporary, has been seen in Casanova, He Knew He Was Right and The Escape Artist.

Also of note were guest actors Annabelle Apsion and Roy Barraclough. Apsion, who played Mona Bunting in the episode, was Violet on Call The Midwife and Jennifer Cardew on series six of Doc Martin. Barraclough, who was Dr. Simms, played Maurice on Last Tango In Halifax.

The Mrs. Bradley Mysteries continue Saturday night at 11 on UNC-TV.

Got a face you can’t place from one of the plethora of programs UNC-TV airs from the UK? Email me at sparkymac@unctv.org and I’ll try to help out.