If you had a childhood like mine, you grew up with a wizard called Merlin and a very grumpy dragon voiced by the brilliant John Hurt. The dragon is a character I can remember so well, despite not having watched the show for years, and his voice is so distinctive that it could only be one person. Merlin has, and always will be, a pivotal show for me; something I used to watch continually in childhood, the Great Dragon will always have a place in my heart.
In 2013, the plot twists of Doctor Who revealed that there had been another Doctor, the ‘War Doctor’. Hurt, with his raggedy appearance, gravelly voice, and puppy eyes full of years past, stepped up and won us over with the anger and yet also the compassion needed to fulfil the role; a Doctor both remembered and forgotten.
And of course, we cannot speak of Hurt without speaking of Ollivander from Harry Potter. The Einstein-esque character moves Harry (and all of us witches and wizards, of course) to his journey in the wizarding world. The story would not be the same without him.
Hurt managed to be a part of the three on-screen performances that have shaped my life, playing some of my favourite characters on screen. It may come as a surprise to some to find that Hurt lived and died in Cromer, Norfolk – a seaside town less than an hour’s train from UEA.
His talent and many TV and film roles will be remembered all over the world.