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Last Updated: Monday, 29 March, 2004, 11:36 GMT 12:36 UK
Ustinov's comic touch
Sir Peter Ustinov
Sir Peter wrote 13 books and 23 plays

Sir Peter Ustinov, who has died at the age of 82, was a famed raconteur, though he later claimed it was only in England that he was singled out for his comic talents.

"I don't think the English take anybody particularly seriously if they can help it," he told Guardian journalist Simon Hattenstone. "The English have tried to colonise humour."

It was a remark typical of the actor, who once said: "Basically I'm a very serious person, but I think the form it takes with me is comedy. I see the amusing side of all potentially pompous situations."

Here are some of his best quotes:

  • "I have four children which is not bad considering I'm not a Catholic."

  • "Her virtue was that she said what she thought, her vice that what she thought didn't amount to much."

  • "I was irrevocably betrothed to laughter, the sound of which has always seemed to me the most civilised music in the world."

  • "It is our responsibilities, not ourselves, that we should take seriously."

  • "To refuse awards is another way of accepting them with more noise than is normal."

  • "Critics search for ages for the wrong word, which, to give them credit, they eventually find."

  • "The truth is an ambition which is beyond us."

  • "Love is an act of endless forgiveness, a tender look which becomes a habit."

  • "Contrary to general belief, I do not believe that friends are necessarily the people you like best, they are merely the people who got there first."

  • "Beliefs are what divide people. Doubt unites them."

  • "If the world should blow itself up, the last audible voice would be that of an expert saying it can't be done."

  • "...the great thing about history is that it is adaptable."

  • "The point of living, and of being an optimist, is to be foolish enough to believe the best is yet to come."


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