Page last updated at 20:37 GMT, Thursday, 25 December 2008

Tributes paid to Harold Pinter

Harold Pinter
Many of Pinter's plays are considered classics

The death of Nobel Prize-winning playwright Harold Pinter from cancer is a blow to the world of arts, culture and politics.

Tributes have been paid to the 78-year-old who was not only regarded as one of the most influential modern dramatists but a prolific campaigner for human rights.

Lady Antonia Fraser, wife

His second wife told the Guardian newspaper: "He was a great, and it was a privilege to live with him for over 33 years. He will never be forgotten."

David Bradley, actor

The actor is appearing in a production of Pinter's No Man's Land at the Duke of York's Theatre in London.

"I'm very honoured to have known him personally and professionally over the last 10 years. It's a huge loss.

"People from Germany, Israel and China would come backstage saying Harold Pinter was so important to them.

"He wrote about oppression and people taking terrible advantage and oppressing each other on a personal level.

"Although he did not write the plays in an overtly political way they stood the test of time because they have universal themes.

"They meant so much to people in different ways."

Tony Benn MP

The veteran politician and former Labour MP said: "Harold Pinter was a great playwright and a great figure on the political scene.

"His death will leave a huge gap that will be felt by the whole political spectrum."

Bill Bailey, comedian

The comedian appeared in the collection of sketches Pinter's People last year.

He told Sky News: "He really ushered in a whole new era of drama - it didn't have to have a neat ending or even make sense, it conveyed a sense of feeling, an air of menace, you don't know why, and that inspired a new generation.

"As a comic I was drawn to the brilliant way he was able to catch the idiosyncrasies of comic speech, and that ability to incorporate that into something that was drama, it was meant to be high art and it was incredibly funny."

Tim Walker, critic

The Sunday Telegraph's theatre critic Tim Walker said: "This was a man who had plays with long silences, where characters did not always go anywhere - very much like real life.

"He brought a realism to the business."

Michael Billington, biographer

Pinter's friend and biographer said he was great man and a great playwright.

"Harold had been ill for a very long time, but he had a titanic will and one imagined he would go on fighting.

"He was a fighter in the field of politics, he fought strenuously against American and British foreign policy, but also in his work you see this, there is a combative spirit in his work.

"He was a generous and loyal man and very attached to the people whom he sincerely liked."

Sir Michael Gambon, actor

The veteran actor, who starred in many of Pinter's plays, told the Guardian people were inspired by the man.

He said: "He was our God, Harold Pinter, for actors. He was the man who wrote the plays you wanted to be in.

"He was a stern man, very fussy about his dialogue and the accuracy of his text. But he loved actors, he was always on our side."

Kenneth Cranham, actor

The actor, who starred in a stage production of Pinter's The Homecoming earlier this year, said the playwright's use of language distinguished him from others.

He said: "There was no fat on it. It was as if he sort of took the economy of Beckett but placed it somewhere.

"He actively put his plays in Shepherd's Bush.

"They actually existed somewhere.

"There was real muscle to his writing - it was a real pleasure to learn."

Glenda Jackson, former actress

The former actress and Labour MP Glenda Jackson called his death a "great loss".

She appeared in the film Turtle Diary in 1984 for which Pinter wrote the screenplay.

She said: "I mean it is a great loss not only to the theatre but it is also a great loss to people who fight for human rights wherever human rights may be being sabotaged or denied."

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