Cult TV

David Ryall passes away aged 79

Harry Potter star David Ryall has died age 79.

The actor, who played Elphias Doge, passed away on Christmas Day.

Sherlock writer and actor Mark Gattis tweeted the sad news yesterday. He wrote: “The great David Ryall left us on Christmas Day. A twinkling, brilliant, wonderful actor I was privileged to call a friend. RIP.”

David’s daughter Charlie Ryall tweeted: “Please take a moment to remember his huge five-decade-spanning career outside of the more well-known TV & film. Not just Harry Potter.

Ryall received a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in 1962, during which time he won the Caryl Brahams Award for a Musical. On leaving RADA, he went into repertory work in Salisbury, Bristol, Leicester and Birmingham (including King Lear and The Master Builder) and then into Laurence Olivier’s company with the National Theatre at the Old Vic from 1965–73. During this time he was involved with many new and influential plays, including Tom Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead and Jumpers, Peter Shaffer’s The Royal Hunt of the Sun and Adrian Mitchell’s Tyger.

Other work at the National Theatre included Guys and Dolls, The Beggar’s Opera, Coriolanus and Animal Farm (for which he won the Clarence Derwent Award in 1985), The School for Wives, Wild Oats, Democracy and The UN Inspector. In 1983 he worked on ‘A Matter of the Officers’ and Jean Seberg with Julian Barry remained a lifelong friend. In 1984 Ryall performed a one man show of stories and poems by Edward Bond at the NT, entitled A Leap in the Light.

Ryall portrayed discredited scientist Frank Skuse in the March 1990 docudrama Who Bombed Birmingham?

In 1994 he played Feste in Sir Peter Hall’s production of Twelfth Night – a performance which was praised highly by Sir Alec Guinness in his autobiography. In 1996–97, working with the Royal Shakespeare Company, he played God in The Mysteries, and Polonius in Hamlet, for which he was nominated for the Helen Hayes Award during its tour of the United States.

He worked with Sir Peter Hall again in the 1999 production of Lenny in the West End, and after that in the 2000 epic Tantalus, in Colorado and the UK. Ryall continued to be a regular face in the theatre, with appearances in Patrick Marber’s Don Juan in Soho at the Donmar Warehouse in 2007.

His television and film career included The Knowledge, The Singing Detective, Shelley, Inspector Morse, State of Play, The Elephant Man, Truly, Madly, Deeply, Black Beauty and Two Men Went to War. He appeared as Max, an antique collector, in episode 4 of BBC drama Bonekickers.

In 2005, Ryall played the role of Winston Churchill in the French television drama Le Grand Charles, based on the life of Charles de Gaulle.

Ryall appeared in the BBC One sitcom Outnumbered from 2007 to 2011, in which he played Frank (known as “Granddad”), a character who suffers from dementia.The character appeared in series 1 and 2. Ryall reprised his role as Granddad in the Christmas specials in 2009 and 2011.

Ryall replaced Peter Cartwright as Elphias Doge in 2010’s Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1.

His character was a close friend of Albus Dumbledore in addition to being a Ministry of Magic jurist and the Order of the Phoenix member.

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