“Tim”: In Memory of Timothy Robert Hardy, 1925-2017

“Tim”: In Memory of Timothy Robert Hardy, 1925-2017

 “What Price Churchill?” Click here for the final moments of a momen­tous tele­vi­sion epic. “Churchill: The Wilder­ness Years” (1981) enshrined him for­ev­er as the great­est of “Churchills” in a sea of pale imi­ta­tions. Mar­tin Gilbert‘s close involve­ment with the scriptwrit­ers gave him truth and sub­stance. In a world of revi­sion­ist his­to­ry, flawed por­traits and over­played roles, it was accu­rate to a fault. Tim­o­thy Robert Hardy was the only actor to play her father for whom Lady Soames would brook no word of crit­i­cism. I’ll always remem­ber her greet­ing him with out­stretched arms: “Papa!”

Tim at Hillsdale

Tim
Tim Hardy at the Dow Cen­ter, Hills­dale Col­lege, Octo­ber 2015. Bob Pet­tengill (Hills­dale President’s Club) writes: “Ear­ly one morn­ing there was a fire alarm. We were told to exit the build­ing. Nei­ther he nor I were yet dressed. I trooped out in my bathrobe, he in his ‘dress­ing gown.’ It was cold and we were allowed back inside. Joined by his friend, Neil Nis­bit-Robert­son, we had a good chat. Glad I have the picture.”

I’m glad we were in time. In Octo­ber 2015, we host­ed him at a Hills­dale Col­lege Churchill Con­fer­ence, where he wowed an audi­ence of 600, guests, stu­dents and fac­ul­ty. He told us that he strove imper­fect­ly to play Churchill—to find, as he said, “a way in.” On anoth­er occa­sion he had said: “I shall nev­er look down from that peak, but as long as I live I shall delight in gaz­ing upwards towards those tow­er­ing rocks.”

He was, of course, express­ing the win­ning mod­esty that always accom­pa­nied him, gain­ing the affec­tion of the world in his every role, from Shakespeare’s clas­sics, to Siegfried Farnon, the York­shire vet of All Crea­tures Great and Small, to Cor­nelius Fudge, Min­is­ter of Mag­ic in Har­ry Pot­ter. (Of the lat­ter role, he told me that his one regret was that he was not allowed to have a per­son­al owl.)

And on to the end…

In April 2016 he was back at Hills­dale to talk to stu­dents about act­ing as a career. As before, he was a one-man show, launch­ing into long quotes in Old Eng­lish from Can­ter­bury Tales.  Stu­dents and fac­ul­ty alike were awestruck by his mem­o­ries of Oxford, and his tutors, C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien.

I feel his loss deeply, because on count­less occa­sions he was there for me, appear­ing reg­u­lar­ly at Churchill events, and our Churchill tours of Eng­land. On one of these he arranged a spe­cial tour of the Mary Rose restora­tion project at Portsmouth. A his­to­ri­an of the Eng­lish long­bow, he was the Mary Rose Trust’s archery consultant.

Every­where he went he was always ready for an affa­ble chat with every­one who admired him, and they were many. To those who knew what he had accom­plished in his roles as Sir Win­ston, no actor how­ev­er good could ever come close.

I will gaze for­ev­er at Tim­o­thy Robert Hardy’s tow­er­ing rocks of achieve­ment. He was the most gen­uine “Churchill” of them all. Far beyond that, he was a noble spir­it, the most gen­uine human being. He is irre­place­able. I shall mourn him forever.

3 thoughts on ““Tim”: In Memory of Timothy Robert Hardy, 1925-2017

  1. A great loss. Read­ing your beau­ti­ful, spot-on trib­ute, I cried my lit­tle ole eyes out. For­tu­nate­ly, “Tim” had good innings, liv­ing to the age of 92, but loss is loss … irre­place­able is irreplaceable.

    Fare thee well, Mighty Play­er and Noble Spirit.

  2. Agree; his was a great per­for­mance. Mar­tin Gilbert’s script was of the high­est qual­i­ty, his­tor­i­cal­ly and dramatically.

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