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Tuesday, 23 July, 2002, 16:46 GMT 17:46 UK
Mortimer leads McKern tributes
Leo McKern
McKern was best-known for his role as Rumpole
The author John Mortimer has led the tributes for Rumpole Of The Bailey star Leo McKern, who has died aged 82.


Leo McKern not only played the character of Rumpole, but added to it, brightening it and bringing it to life

Rumpole creator John Mortimer
Mortimer, who created the character of barrister Horace Rumpole, said: "Leo McKern was a wonderful actor who not only played the character but added to it, brightening it and bringing it fully to life."

He described the actor as a "very private man who never failed in his public performances".

Actress Patricia Hodge, who starred opposite McKern as Phyllida Trant, described working with him as "one of the greatest learning experiences I have ever had".

John Mortimer
John Mortimer: "Leo McKern was a wonderful actor"
"The example he set was not just as an actor but as a man. In both he was a great listener and sublimely humorous," she said.

"He took his work seriously but never himself. We shall all miss him."

Rumpole co-star Peter Bowles, who played Guthrie Featherstone on the show, also spoke warmly of the actor's qualities.

"He was one of those rare actors who had no pomposity," he said.

"He wasn't a luvvie. He never took himself seriously and had always kept the child within him."

Actress Patricia Hodge
Patricia Hodge: "He took his work seriously but never himself"
Bowles, who was also famed for his role To the Manor Born, added that McKern was "extremely generous and funny, and was brilliant on the stage as well as on television".

He was an inspiration to younger actors and he will be deeply missed," he said.

Geoffrey Robertson QC said the actor's greatest achievement was "to create a lawyer the world could love".

"Rumpole of the Bailey was television's first and perhaps only truly Dickensian character," he said.

Actor Peter Bowles:
Peter Bowles: "He wasn't a luvvie"
Nigel Pascoe QC also offered his views on McKern, who first played the role of the blustering barrister in 1975.

"He was a brilliant character and Rumpole always had his heart in the right place. He will be sadly missed by all obituarists in the criminal court, particularly at the Old Bailey," he said.

And the Bar Council, which represents barristers in England and Wales, told BBC News Online: "Leo McKern's Rumpole brought entertainment and delight to many millions.


His great achievement was to create a lawyer the world could love."

Geoffrey Robertson QC
"His character was well-loved and showed a human side of the legal profession that is often missing in most television dramas. I doubt if anyone would be able to replace him."

See also:

23 Jul 02 | Entertainment
23 Jul 02 | Entertainment
23 Jul 02 | Entertainment
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