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Terrence Hardiman – The Demon Headmaster

Image: BBC

Growing up as a child, I remember watching a BBC series called “Secret Army” and I remember three actors vividly from that series, Bernard Hepton (as Albert Foiret) and the formidably scary Clifford Rose (as Ludwig Kessler), who both starred in all three series, but in the third series the viewers were introduced to Major Hans-Dietrich Reinhardt played by the late great Terrence Hardiman, who might I add was a far more scary and sinister character than the the Demon Headmaster he portrayed to younger audiences.

Terrence Hardiman was born on 6th April 1937 in Forest Gate in Essex, England.  Whilst studying English in Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge, he started drama and comedy acting with the Marlow Society and the Cambridge University Amateur Dramatic Club.  He then toured with the Royal Shakespeare Company.

In his film and television career, Hardiman often play authoritative figures such as barristers, military officers, teachers and police officers.  Apart from Major Reinhardt, Hardiman was well known for The Demon Headmaster, an nfluential character that instilled a discipline in younger audiences to study harder.  I have to admit, I was too old to view The Demon Headmaster as I was at work when it was broadcast.

Lauded by critics for his dedication to his work, he was notably praised for portraying a character called Wilson who worked in a bank during World Wr 2 in an episode of Goodnight Sweetheart, where Wilson was based on the Dads Army character Sgt. Wilson and Hardiman had perfected John Le Mesurier’s mannerisms.

Another notable performance was in Richard Attenborough’s Oscar winning film Gandhi playing Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald.

As well as acting roles, Hardiman narrated hundreds of audiobooks and he earned a Silver Centurion service award for his volunteer narration work for the non-profit Calibre Audio Library.

Married to actress Rowena Cooper from 1964 to his passing.  The couple had two children.  Hardiman passed away on the 8th May at the age of 86.

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