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Friday, 4 January, 2002, 18:32 GMT
Your tributes to Sir Nigel Hawthorne
One of Britain's most respected actors, Sir Nigel Hawthorne, has died of a heart attack at the age of 72.

His career took off only in middle age, but he became a household name through his portrayal of wily civil servant Sir Humphrey Appleby in the TV series Yes, Minister, which was shown around the globe.

But after five series of Yes, Minister, and its sequel Yes, Prime Minister, he broke away from TV to pursue roles on both West End and Broadway stages.

Hawthorne later went on to score film success with his performance in the title role of The Madness of King George, which earned him an Oscar nomination.

You told us your memories of this versatile actor and his many roles.

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below and the note of thanks for the tributes sent by his partner Trevor Bentham.



Reading your tributes I am delighted - as Nigel would have been - that he succeeded as both an actor and a human being

Trevor Bentham
"I need to say how profoundly moved I am by the extraordinary tributes paid to my dear Nigel. In the twenty-two years that we were together, neither of us fully realised the depths of love and esteem in which he was held. Ours was a quiet, private life, tucked away from the razzamataz of showbusiness; a world where professional integrity and domestic life went hand-in-glove. Reading your tributes I am delighted - as Nigel would have been - that he succeeded as both an actor and a human being."
Trevor Bentham


He decided to make it his life long career

John Hawthorne, South Africa
Nigel had a soft and loving nature which became evident as a child, particularly towards animals. He started his acting career as a very small boy at school (and in the family garden!) and enjoyed it so much that he decided to make it his life long career that gave him much happiness. He will be missed by his two sisters and myself (his brother) very much.
John Hawthorne, South Africa

To this day I am so grateful that God put Nigel Hawthorne on this earth. He didn't just make me laugh but brought joy to my life. God bless you Nigel and rest in peace. I will always remember you.
David Murphy, England

It really took me by surprise when I read the news last week. Such a lovely person, whose life ended too early. He has brought so much happiness into my life. I've watched The Madness of King George, several times and I enjoyed watching him as Sir Humphrey . He made me smile every time. I cherish the interview I saw last year on Dutch television. Thank you, Sir Nigel, for giving me so much joy. I hope you live happily and peacefully with your creator. Goodbye.
Joop Fraanje, Netherlands


Kindness and sincerity flowed from the man

Caz Maughan, UK
I had the pleasure of meeting Nigel in 1994. He was living quite local to me at the time, and I sent him the manuscript of my first novel. The fact that he took it upon himself to read through it, and want to meet me just shows you the sort of person he was. Kindness and sincerity flowed from the man, and his belief in my writing is still with me to this day. He was an amazing actor, and a beautiful person.
Caz Maughan, UK

Nigel was a true actor. Equally adept at comedy and drama. An actor's actor and the people's actor. The latter is not easy to pull off. He is sorely missed.
John Lyons, USA

I fell in love with Nigel Hawthorne in The Barchester Chronicles - when he gently places his hand on his father's arm in the middle of a tirade (one of his many in that series). I've loved him in everything since, and hate it that I won't see him anymore. Condolences to his family, and to the rest of us.
Anne Womack, USA

I was deeply shocked by Sir Nigel's death. That day I purchased "The Madness of King George", one of my all-time favourite movies and watched it over and over. But every time I did, I felt a deep sadness rising in me at the loss of such a great man and actor. The movie has a new significance to me now. My deepest and heartfelt condolences to all who knew and loved him. May he rest in peace.
Mircea Raianu, USA

Our deepest condolences to Trevor. Dear Nigel gained fame through his fine acting but greatness came through his modesty.
Steve Lill, UK


A genuinely gentle and modest man

Donna Simons, USA
In 1993 Sir Nigel was here in Boston performing on stage in The Madness of George III. Before a scheduled television interview, I made a special trip to the station in hope of meeting this gifted actor whose work I admired so much. He was warm and gracious, taking my hand in both of his, accepting my compliments with kindness and humour. To my note sent in appreciation, I received a generous handwritten response which I will always treasure - just as I treasure the memory of his performance in that play and his accomplished work in so many other productions. I grieve at his loss and wish he could grace us again and again with his versatile portrayals - each unique character embodied fully and all revealing the true heart of a genuinely gentle and modest man.
Donna Simons, USA

The passing of Sir Nigel will touch the hearts of those who have witnessed both his talent on stage, television and screen as well as his wonderful humanity that shone through his work.
Colin Elmer, England

I spent 35 years in government and knew many people like Humphrey Appleby. Nigel Hawthorne was like part of my family. I have watched Yes, Minister over and over again. A brilliant actor. I was very saddened at his loss.
James Clark, Canada

I am in shock at the news of Sir Hawthorne's passing. I had the pleasure of playing Douglas (the boy) in Shadowlands at the Queens theatre with him. He was always friendly, full of life and really took me under his wing at the time. Sadly I lost touch with him after the show but have seen his career go from strength to strength. Although I no longer act, the experience is one I will forever treasure. A great man, one of England's undiscovered treasures.
Phil Collis, USA


Sir Nigel brought a remarkable depth of humanity and warmth to his work

Jack Zerbe, North Carolina, US
I greatly admired Nigel Hawthorne for his performances in the Yes, Minister and Yes, Prime Minister series, and once had the good fortune to talk to him at a reception in Baltimore, Maryland after a magnificent opening night of The Madness of King George, in which he gave a riveting performance. What a great loss, and what pleasure he gave to so many people.
Prof Oliver Alabaster, US

My dearest Uncle Nigel, we love you very much and will miss you always. Love, Linda xxx
Linda-Anne Hawthorne, South Africa

Sir Nigel brought a remarkable depth of humanity and warmth to his work. The theatre and our world will be the poorer for his leaving. My heartfelt condolences to Trevor.
Jack Zerbe, North Carolina, US

My message is to Trevor: I only saw Nigel's public face yet that was always a genuine pleasure. My dear, my thoughts are much with you. You are not alone.
Sair Deiseal, UK

Great actor and a great loss to the nation. One of the finest !!!
Mukesh, UK

This superb thespian, whose quintessential portrayal of a civil service departmental head has not been equalled before or since, will cement Nigel's place in television history for all time.

That it took a viewing public so many years to recognise the man's talent, where he only received his due recognition at aged more than 50, is testimony to the wealth of acting ability available in the UK.

I will still be enjoying my video tapes of my hero "Humpy" for many a long year to come.
Len Barrett, Australia

I will never forget how, during one of our many visits to Britain, we met him on a movie set. After speaking with him for 10 minutes he invited us onto the set with a desire to show us the house.

When security attempted to eject us, he told them that we were personal friends and he continued to show us around. He played so many roles, that, I will never be able to pick a favourite, as they are all great! We will miss him dearly....
Scott R Andreacci, USA

I wish I could write that he is a great actor but alas it is too late now and it has to be that he was a great actor. Myself and my family enjoyed every episode of the Yes Minister series thoroughly and we always waited for the next one at the end of it. The contents and the actors in it looked so real. May Sir Nigel Hawthorne rest in peace.
M S Sheikh, UK

Nigel Hawthorne was one of my favourite actors. His portrayal of King George in The Madness of King George was truly moving and I thought his performance in the film made it one of England's best ever films. His portrayal of Malvolio in the film Twelfth Night was classic comedy at its best. The film was shown to my GCSE class and he managed to do the impossible - to make a group of 16 year olds who struggled in English - appreciate the comedy of Shakespeare. He was an inspiration to all actors and will be greatly missed in the industry but not forgotten.
Kirsty Woodward, England

Such a fine actor and such a modest man. Having seen his performance in Shadowlands in London I wrote the one and only fan letter of my life and was informed through a friend who knew him how touched he was by it but was too self-effacing to reply, not that one was expected. Rest in peace Sir Nigel.
David Schulten, England

We shall not look upon his like again. He was simply the best!
Mary, Ireland


We have lost a very special man and an exceptional actor

Patricia White, England
Sir Nigel's heart-rending performances on stage firstly as George III and later as Lear will remain forever in my memory, and my biggest regret is that I never saw him in Shadowlands. I wrote to him several times, and his replies were almost always handwritten, amusing and full of news about what he had been doing. Sadly the last few were accounts of his illness and treatments, but his optimism and humour still shone through.
He was also very kind and easy to talk to on the two occasions I summoned up the courage to go round after the show. I feel as if I have lost a friend! My deepest sympathy goes out to those close to him, particularly Trevor, his partner of so many years. We have lost a very special man and an exceptional actor.
Patricia White, England

Sir Nigel's portrayal of Sir Humphrey in both 'Yes Minister' and 'Yes Prime Minister' were superb renditions of the typical British civil servant, who ran the country. Being a Sri Lankan Tamil, and educated in the British traditions I deeply appreciated his laconic wit and yes his uncanny timing of delivery of his lines. He seemed to live and breathe the part. We have lost a wonderful actor and a great thespian.
Professor John C. Balachandra, USA

Memories of his performance in Yes Minister and Yes Prime Minister evoke tearful laughter. He was one of the best.
Lookman Martins, Nigeria

Sir Nigel was a superb actor and a real gentleman. I shall miss both his comedic performances, and his dramatic roles. Yes, Minister is one of the finest shows on television. I'm so glad that we in the U.S. were able to see it. He will be greatly missed.
Shawn Lynch, United States

Paul Eddington and Nigel Hawthorne are together once again, making heaven a better place. Two fine gentlemen, indeed.
Iyaz Rahiman, Canada

In the spirit of Yes, Minister, one must not say that Sir Nigel has died but rather that he has acquired a medical condition, which after full consideration of the facts at hand, in the proper light, leads one to inevitable and regrettable conclusion that his present state of being is incompatible with that of continued life.
Coridon Henshaw, Canada

A sad day for the world of 'satire at its best'. Having watched him when I couldn't understand half of what he was talking about(lack of English and excess of youth!) and then years later watching him as an adult and still laughing endlessly, is indicative of the depth of his genius. may the world be blessed with more like him and may he rest in peace.
Vahid Pourghadiri, Australia


"Prime Minister" helped us to understand the universal message on how politics are run

Maryann Fassnidge, Chile
His role and performance in all the series of "Prime Minister" helped us to understand the universal message on how politics are run everywhere in the world at the highest level. He was a master in it, and he is one of the brightest actors in the world.
Maryann Fassnidge, Chile

A favourite memory was a local cricket match in which Paul Eddington (PM) was trying, rather unsuccessfully, to make a good impression with his batting, showing off to his friend who was visiting.
Nigel said to Paul after Paul's early return to the pavilion, "it would appear from what you say that you understand the theory, but the practical implementation of the theory has still to be mastered".
Will you be supplying any practical suggestions, asked Paul?
Nigel then said.
I am surprised that you ask - surely you know that I am a pragmatist, and therefore only exert myself when I believe that I have real chance of success.
To which Paul replied.
"to think - you could have been my friend..."
A great day...and a shame there will no repeats, at least of that episode anyway.
Simon Rogers, UK

An irreplaceable talent who was a noble ambassador for both Britain and South Africa. He has left this world with many comic memories. He will be sadly missed.
Charles Prichard, UK

I thought Nigel Hawthorne was just a hoot as Georgie in the TV series Mapp and Lucia.
Edna, South Africa


I thought this is a depth of acting that I would be unlikely to see again on stage

Alan Rosenfelder, UK
I had the pleasure of seeing his performance in Shadowlands in the late 80s in London and was struck by the depth and truth of his portrayal of a person finding unexpected happiness and then losing it so soon after in the autumn of his life, the range of emotion was so convincingly acted I thought this is a depth of acting that I would be unlikely to see again on stage. A true master craftsman who will be missed a great deal.
Alan Rosenfelder, UK

I was camping in Africa and don't mind saying that I was extremely frightened as Lions and elephant noises pierced the night air. I listened to tapes of Yes, Prime Minister on my Walkman to cheer me up. They took away the fear.
Lesser known, his performance in 'Object of My Affection' turned a formulaic Jennifer Aniston vehicle into a genuinely moving and funny film. A genius.
Richard Album, England

Nigel Hawthorne was one of the finest actors with such a wide range of characters to draw from. His laconic style made the hard work he excelled at both live and breathe. A consummate talent, a sad loss, a great man.
Ed Parnell, Wales

I feel so sad of the news that Nigel Hawthorn has now left us. I was so sad to hear of his struggle against cancer. He brought such a talent to the screen, his character portrayals were in the highest of leagues. A lovely man, an adorable face and I am sure an adorable person to be around. God bless.
Jenni, UK

The Yes Minister & Yes Prime Minister comedy series were a pinnacle of well-written and brilliantly delivered comedy. Nigel Hawthorne undoubtedly stole the show and his comic timing was immaculate. Whether on stage or television, he gave many, many people a great deal of pleasure. I will miss his wonderful voice and acting brilliance.
Nadia Kekwick, Singapore

Catching the tail end of BBC news, my heart sank at news of Sir Nigel's passing...so brilliant and funny as Sir Humphrey in this day and age when we're inundated with vulgarity and dummy-down stupidity which gets passed off as comedy...my sincerest condolences to his family.
Andrew Birtok, Plainsboro, New Jersey, USA

News of Sir Nigel Hawthorne's death brings tears, just as did his unforgettable performance as King George III. Educated in the USA, I was never taught to love George III, but that moving portrayal made me feel as close to him as to a friend suffering those terrible trials. Who can replace such a gifted actor?
Jon Rutherford, USA


Every character he portrayed was utterly believable

Dick Anderson
USA
Every character he portrayed was utterly believable. What greater tribute can you give an actor? The theatrical English-speaking cupboard is fast becoming like Old Mother Hubbard's. We poor movie-going puppies are the losers.
Dick Anderson, USA

What a shock it was this morning to hear the very sad news about the passing on of Nigel Hawthorne. I have only ever seen him in Yes Minister and Yes Prime Minister, but those enduring classics will live for ever. In the great tradition of Britcoms, rarely has there been such a fusion of writing and acting talent. Sir Humphrey always delighted and enraged us with his outrageous cynicism and silly japes.

It must be devastating for Derek Fowldes to have lost both of his colleagues so prematurely, and to painful illnesses. Sincere condolences to the family of Sir Nigel.
David Ireton, Canada

What a shock! My husband and I have seen Mapp & Lucia, Yes Minister, Yes Prime Minister, The Barchester Chronicles, the Winslow Bow, and The Madness of King George III. What a loss to the acting world. And what diverse roles we have seen. Thank you! We'll miss you!
Heather Bentley, Canada

The demise of such a great actor and personality is indeed a sad loss to the whole world. Yes Minister and Yes Prime Minister were one of the best serials that I have ever watched. Sir Nigel shall be missed by the whole world.
Biswajith Unnikannan, India

I did have the pleasure of seeing Sir Nigel in King Lear a couple of years ago. My parents and I, longtime fans, went backstage after to meet him, because a friend of ours (who had never met him) had written to ask if we might, and he had responded that he would be pleased to meet his American fans. Barefoot, bearded, probably exhausted after a thrilling performance, he stood and chatted with us for some time, thanked us for coming, and was in general a kind, gracious, modest man. He will be missed.
Lisa, U.S.

Sir Nigel was an inspiration. A jobbing actor who stayed with his dream until it finally came true. Sympathy should be extended to his partner, friends and family. A quiet achiever and a great gay man.
Andrew Bell, Australia

Sir Nigel, as Sir Humphrey, taught me more about the British civil service than 20 subsequent years in the organisation. As a teenager watching Yes, Minister I thought he was a rather wonderful comedian. Only later did I discover that the man was the most formidable stage and screen talent that one could imagine. A terrible loss to the UK and the world.
James, UK

I can still remember watching Yes, Minister with my grandfather, laughing us silly... World has lost a great man, but it is comforting to know that heaven is now an even more desirable place than ever... Rest In Peace, and my condolences to his family and his partner.
Santtu Kyröhonka, Helsinki, Finland

His sudden death took me by surprise. Now I am at a loss for words, something which wouldn't ever happen to Sir Humphrey Appleby. I will miss you, Nigel.
Tania Cheng, Singapore (UK presently)

For me Sir Nigel Hawthorne was always an incredible actor. The sheer emotional depth and power of his performances was mesmerizing. My personal favourite was his Malvolio in Twelfth Night. Hawthorne ranks up with Olivier and Gielgud. Their like will hardly be seen again.
Kim Log, Norway

I was very sorry to learn of the loss of such a great actor. In 1991 I was fortunate to see Sir Nigel in Shadowlands on the New York stage. He was superb in a very moving performance. Afterwards he was a friendly, gracious, unassuming gentleman, who was very pleased to sign autographs.
Maureen Woodman, Canada

I was lucky enough to see Mr Hawthorne in Shadowlands in New York. Like everyone else I was moved to tears. I wrote to him to tell him how much I had appreciated his performance and how sensitive his performance had been especially to myself.

As a survivor of cancer at the age of 30 I felt that his portrayal each night must have been such an enormous strain but watching him it seemed to me the first time he had enacted this part. He replied to me, although I am sure he was very busy, and his letter was every bit as feeling and compassionate as this extraordinary man.
T Robins, Spain

A past master at raising that rare laugh which starts in the mind and finishes in the belly. Rest in peace.
James, United Kingdom

Politics will never be the same after Sir Humphrey. That role was Nigel Hawthorne's masterpiece. He made us all smile and laugh. In today's world that is a tremendous achievement. My sympathies to his loved ones and friends.
Alan Pittman, Canada

I was very saddened this morning to learn of the death of Sir Nigel Hawthorne, who was one of my favourite actors of all time. His powerful portrayal of characters both historical and mythical have delighted audiences around the world for decades. He possessed a rare combination of talent and class, and though I never had the pleasure to meet him, he seemed a truly kind person.

Like many others who have posted on this site so far, I saw The Madness of King George just two days ago, and wondered afterwards how he was doing. We have lost a great actor, and a great man. Rest in peace, Sir Nigel.
Thomas Rimer, United States


Anything that had his name in it got my attention

B Cainey, US
Sir Nigel Hawthorne has always been one of my favourite actors. His portrayal of Sir Humphrey Appleby was sheer comic brilliance and his George III was captivating.

In personal interviews, however, he always struck me as a shy and truly dear and gentle man.

What I was truly moved by was how, in the glare of publicity after his Oscar nomination was announced, this deeply private man openly acknowledged his life partner by accompanying him to the Oscars. Probably the first Oscar nominee to do so.
Andy Lehrer, Canada

I just watched The Madness of King George on television over this past weekend. What a brilliant performance: gentle and thoughtful, harsh and caustic, and barking mad, sometimes all within five minutes of each other! What a loss. My condolences to his family and friends.
Lara Wiz, US

Anything that had his name in it got my attention.
B Cainey, US

Sir Nigel will always be remembered for his excellent acting abilities as Sir Humphrey Appleby, King George III, and for his unique portrayal as Santa Claus in the US production of Call me Claus starring Sir Nigel and Whoopi Goldberg. This is truly a great loss for the acting world. He will be missed.
Sean P McCoy, Texas, US

How very sad I was to hear the news of Sir Hawthorne's passing. He was seen most recently in this country in Call Me Claus, a cable movie, with Whoopi Goldberg. I watched more than once because of how this actor brought such warmth and naturalness to an otherwise improbable scenario, making it far more palatable.

It's not surprising that his was such a high calibre performance even in this little story - Hawthorne seems to have been incapable of nothing less. I'm glad to have witnessed it countless times in series and films - how I'd have loved to have seen him on the stage! He is a great loss!
Cherie, Seattle, US

Apart from the famous roles that he played, who can forget Sir Nigel's portrayal of "Georgie" in the serialisation of EF Benson's Mapp and Lucia. His development of that character, particularly during the second series, was superb! Sir Nigel's death is a great loss.
David Blandford, U.S.A.

I had no idea Sir Nigel was ill, before the sad turn of events on Wednesday. I've watched almost all episodes of Yes Minister and Yes PM, and can reel off the dialogues from memory. 'One of Us' was among the best episodes. Sir Nigel was a towering acting personality, and he brought us all a lot of good cheer through his work. RIP.
Venkat Srinivasan, United States

A distinguished actor of comedy and classics, but also a wonderful human being and role model for the gay community, often given only stereotypes on which to help form their futures. Thank you for being you!
Alec Deary, Scotland

As a fan since Yes, Minister and beyond, this is very sad news. Nigel never failed to convince me of whatever mood or feeling he was attempting to convey through his acting. A rare breed. Goodbye old friend.
Antal, US

Sir Nigel is on top of my favourite English actors list. It is so sad that we cannot watch your new works any more. However, I shall watch your masterpieces, again and again.
Cheng-Tung Li, Taiwan

A wonderful talent, he will be greatly missed.
Janis Sirany, US


His support and advice will always live on in all I do

Sally McLean, Australia
Words cannot describe the high esteem and heartfelt gratitude I hold and feel for Nigel Hawthorne.

As a struggling actor/filmmaker, who was in the throes of producing her first film in London - an Australian working in a foreign land - I wrote to several high-profile UK actors asking for their support as Honorary Patrons for my fledgling film company.

Sir Nigel was the only one who wrote back - and not with a standard letter, but a handwritten note, in which he expressed his great interest in the idea. He subsequently became the Honorary Patron of Salmac Productions, a position he has held for the last four years - and will always hold.

He was one of the most generous, supportive, funny, kind, sensitive and caring people it was my honour to be associated with. Despite our never meeting in person, we corresponded regularly and his support and advice will always live on in all I do.

His passing is a great loss to me personally, to all those who worked with him and knew him and to his many, many fans around the world.

My sympathies and thoughts go out to his family and friends at this time. He was a shining light as an actor and as a person - a man who has left behind a legacy of beautiful work created by a beautiful spirit.
Sally McLean, Australia

I always loved watching him. You knew he would be worth it. There are so few actors these days who have real star quality, and the ability to make it look completely natural. I'll never forget his portrayal of King George. Not many modern actors could have carried it off the way he did. We have lost a real professional today.
Geraldine, UK


I found him warm, considerate, and above all a great teacher

Martin Holleran, England
I met Sir Nigel first when he was a young actor in Johannesburg. He was even then an artist of both variety and depth. He was also a man with great compassion and his generosity towards people less fortunate was a cornerstone of his personality. The loss of such a gifted and honourable man is great.
Ian Ferguson, Canada

My chief memory of Hawthorne was the episode of Yes, Minister where Sir Humphrey is told that honours will be linked to economies in Civil Service departments.

"I don't intend to recommend anyone for an honour unless they've done something to earn it," intones the Minister, Jim Hacker.

"What do mean 'earned it'?", asks an alarmed Sir Humphrey.

"I mean 'earned it', Hacker says, "Done something to deserve it."

An aghast Sir Humphrey exclaims: "But that's unheard of, Minister!"
Gregory Ross, Canada

I was assigned to Sir Nigel, whilst a student at LAMDA in 1979, to assist in his training of overseas post grads. I found him warm, considerate, and above all a great teacher. I shall always remember him.
Martin Holleran, England

I am saddened to hear of the death of Sir Nigel, he was one of the great talented actors and will always be remembered for his famous role as Sir Humphrey and hold us in admirations at the ability to say those marvellous "90 word" sentences! Rest In Peace!
Morvyn Finch, UK


As an expatriate Brit I found his portrayal of Sir Humphrey to be a very pleasurable link with England

David Eve, Canada
It was with great sadness I read of Nigel Hawthorne's death. His characters have given me plenty of joy over the years - my personal favourite being his wonderful interpretation of "Malvolio" in Twelfth Night. He will be sadly missed.
Christian, Sweden

Nigel H will in the coming years be remembered as an equal of Olivier and the other great actors of the British stage
Midrac, Belgium

I am saddened by the loss the stage and the world has experienced in the passing of Sir Nigel. As an expatriate Brit I found his portrayal of Sir Humphrey to be a very pleasurable link with England.
David Eve, Canada

A superb actor who immortalised the role of Sir Humphrey.
Stephen, Glasgow, Scotland

Some of my fondest memories of British comedy! Yes (Prime) Minister was and still is my favourite British broadcast! I and a lot of my friends are deeply saddened by the loss of such a brilliant and intelligent actor - Thank you, Sir Nigel!
Andreas Mark Herren, Switzerland

What can I say apart from express my deep condolences to his family and his friends. He was an exceptional actor and although I never saw him on stage I enjoyed his TV and cinema work enormously. His portrayal of Sir Humphrey was incredible, the script, though excellent in its own right, was matched by the actors' skills.


He was such a gentle man who coped with unwelcome publicity with great dignity

Martyn, Leeds, UK
Few people could have carried off performances such as The Key with such technique. I, as well as many others all over the world will miss him. He will be sadly missed. God Bless, Nigel.
Lawrence Matherson, UK

I am deeply saddened by Sir Nigel Hawthorne's demise. He was a truly great actor. He brought a lot of joy in to my life.

May his soul rest in peace.
Vasu Sakthikumar, India

Very sad to hear of Sir Nigel's sudden death. He was such a gentle man who coped with unwelcome publicity with great dignity. We'll miss him.
Martyn, Leeds, UK

He gave us so much in Yes, Minister. Who could not love this beautiful man for his splendid acting ability, this generous gift of himself. Just a fortnight ago we watched King George again and applauded his brilliant performance. He was the best in his class and the world will miss him. Our sympathies to his family and friends.
Jerry Boyke, California, US

What a loss! He was wonderful in the madness of King George and I wish we could have seen more of his work here.
Cecille Juresko, US

He had the kindest face I have ever seen on the screen. We'll miss you Nigel.
Sarah, US

Growing up in India, I was exposed to Yes, Minister and Yes, PM a lot. Never has an actor portrayed the range of emotions as well as Sir Nigel did. The way he and Paul Eddington (alas, another sad loss) sparred, with Bernard clucking in with witty riposte, it is hard to forget this series for a very long time. Thank you, Sir Nigel, for making our life fuller. God bless you, and may you rest in peace. We will miss you.
Anil, US

What a shock! Just last night, I watched the movie "The Winslow Boy" and listened to the funny commentary that Sir Nigel and the rest of the cast gave on the DVD version. No doubt, we lost a great soul, may God bring him peace and love. And we lost a great gentleman that will not be forgotten.
Kathleen Sedlock, United States

Oh, NO! I am devastated to hear this news about Nigel Hawthorne! Always one of my favourites, ever since Yes, Minister. And he was superb in The Madness of George III. I only wish I had seen him on stage in Shadowlands. It's a shame he was replaced in the film by Anthony Hopkins (good though Hopkins is). What a sad note on which to end the year. Goodbye, goodbye.
Carolyn, San Francisco, US

There is something sad and also fitting that we should lose Sir Nigel AND Jack Lemmon in the same year. May they both rest in peace - and keep Heaven in stitches!
Robert del Valle, US

I very well remember Sir Nigel Hawthorne's portrayal of a Whitehall top civil servant in the television series Yes, Minister during the eighties. It was known for its educational and humorous qualities. He has become a legend among his generation of actors.
Vijay K Vijayaratnam, United Kingdom


His role in Yes, Minister had me crying with laughter

Clark, UK
A great actor whose brilliant depictions of the characters he played were a privilege to watch. We had the pleasure to speak with Sir Nigel after one of his performances in Shadowlands. A truly inspiring man. We will miss his work.
Susan & Charles Kerr, Canada

Nigel Hawthorne was one the best actors I've ever seen. His role in Yes, Minister had me crying with laughter and his portrayal of King George III was superb. A tragic loss.
Clark, UK

I was very sad to hear about the death of Sir Nigel. I will always enjoy is portrayal of Sir Humphrey Appleby. I am comforted by the fact that he is with his friend Paul Eddington.

I was watching a tape of YM episodes last night and now every time I hear the word "Yes Minister" I smile. God Bless you Nigel and I will miss you.
Al, US

What a sad shock. He will be missed. My deepest sympathies to his loved ones.
Kathryn, US

Very sad news. This weekend I rented the video of Late Flowering Lust in which he portrayed Sir John Betjeman. Wonderful. A sad loss indeed.
K Howard, US

Amongst many screen, stage and TV successes must be counted the superb series of Mapp and Lucia with Prunella Scales some time ago. Nigel Hawthorne was a magnificent actor, and portrayed many troubling and complex roles with aplomb and depth. I will miss him.
Jane Edwards, UK

I recall Sir Nigel from one of his lesser-known roles - the Archdeacon in the BBC's 1982 TV series, The Barchester Chronicles, based on Trollope's The Warden and Barchester Towers (inspired by the Cathedral Close in my home city, Salisbury).

His portrayal of the scheming, ambitious cleric was a tour de force that combined humour, rage and self-pity. I still treasure the video of this production, which also starred the late Donald Pleasance, another masterful actor.
David Humphrey, England

And what about his superb performance as the sadistic examiner in The Knowledge?
Declan Thomas, UK

One of the finest thespians of his generation. A sad loss to the world of arts, and to the world in general. Rest in Peace Sir Humphrey, you deserve it.
Cliff Babbs, Hong Kong

A terrible loss. We will always remember him as Sir Humphrey.
Sajid Zaidi, US

A great gay actor - a light has gone out in Britain. May he rest in peace.
Tony L, UK

I so enjoyed Sir Nigel in Yes Minister as many others have mentioned. However, it was when I saw him in the Madness of King George that I realised the true depth of his talent. He certainly deserved an Academy award for his tremendous performance. Actors of his calibre are rare these days. He will be sadly missed.
Veronica Colson, Canada


The epitome of an English gentleman

Tony, South Korea
I especially loved him as Georgie in Mapp and Lucia.
Charles F Marker, Canada

I thought Sir Nigel was the epitome of an English gentleman. We will miss him... from South Korea...
Tony, South Korea

Such a truly great loss to British theatre and acting as a whole. It is a great tragedy that one of our great actors did not live to tread the boards at the new RSC theatre at Stratford Upon Avon.
Simon Charles Rudman, UK

Sir Nigel was an amazing actor - perhaps one of the best in the world. I was a struggling drama student about to be kicked out when my teacher recommended that I write to people for sponsorship. Sir Nigel was one of the actors who sponsored me.

I have never forgotten his generosity. I regularly corresponded with him and he always wrote back. We never met but I always invited him to my plays in London. I shall never forget him, he's made a difference to my life. I shall always be indebted to him.
Shammi Aulakh, UK

One of Britain's most sensitive and intelligent actors. He excelled at everything he did, both in film and on the stage. A great loss.
Paola, UK


In years of theatregoing I have not experienced an actor with such command of audience emotion

Neil, Scotland
This is so sad. Sir Nigel will to me always be Sir Humphrey in the Yes Minister and Prime Minister series. I've enjoyed him in countless movies, and it is so sad to hear that he is no longer with us. My heart goes out to his family and friends.
Mac, US

I saw him on stage in London as CS Lewis in Shadowlands. The scene in which Douglas, the small boy, and Lewis grieve for Joy had the entire house - men, women, children, myself included - in uncontrollable tears.

In years of theatregoing I have not experienced an actor with such command of audience emotion. It was a gross disservice to an actor of such consummate talent that he was not given the movie role.
Neil, Scotland

Thank you, Sir Nigel, for bringing so much joy into the world. No one could have played the role of Sir Humphrey the way you did. And no one will ever be able to. The people of Pakistan will miss you. May you find eternal peace in the Hereafter. Amen.
Kamran Ezdi, Lahore, Pakistan

I was first exposed to Sir Nigel Hawthorne's work in The Madness of King George. Recognising Paul Eddington from The Good Life, I purchased Yes, Minister on tape and I was introduced to one of the funniest performances I've ever seen in a sitcom. I've been a loyal fan of Sir Nigel ever since. His talent will be greatly missed.
Eileene Coscolluela, Upper Montclair, New Jersey, US

You knew you had spent your time well when you saw a performance by Sir Nigel. A great loss.
Paul Biedenharn, United States


Surely there have been few actors... who have given us so much delicious fare of such an impeccably high standard

Tony Zamir, Israel
There can be few actors whose role has made it into the English language as a term in its own right, but 'Sir Humphrey' as portrayed by Hawthorne is surely one of them. If Andrew Rawnsley (Servants of the People) is to be believed, the term has even been used by one Secretary to the Cabinet. However devastatingly funny Yes Prime Minister may have been as a script in its own right, Hawthorne's portrayal of the Appelby character is surely the reason for such a phenomenon.

And as for George III, I cannot imagine thinking about the historical individual without conceiving of him as portrayed by Hawthorne. Will most definitely be missed. Perhaps the BBC could see its way to screening Yes Prime Minister again - in its entirety, by way of tribute.
Andrew, Oxford, UK,

What can one say to console ourselves in this loss? Surely there have been few actors - indeed few performers of any kind - who have given us so much delicious fare of such an impeccably high standard. Thank you, dear Sir Nigel. We shall always remember you with a smile and a chuckle. No better epitaph...
Tony Zamir, Israel

What a shock! Just last night, I watched the movie "uncorked" and was amazed by Sir Nigel's superb acting. No doubt, we lost a great soul, may the almighty bestow his blessings on him.
M Karim, US

"A Humble Mortal such as I" am truly saddened by the demise of this great actor-bureaucrat!! Rest in peace Sir Humphrey.
Rajeev, US

Yes Minister remains one of the most brilliant pieces of comedy ever. Add to that Sir Nigel's role in the stunning Madness of King George and you have just the tip of the iceberg of the achievements of this immensely talented man. Rest in peace, you will be sadly missed.
Andy, London, UK

Sir Humphrey, you gave us many hearty laughs in your life, may you be blessed and rest in peace in your death. You shall live on in our hearts and on our screens.
Hassan, Egypt

Sir Nigel had my great admiration due to his role in Yes Minister. Yet another great actor has died but his memory will live on. He'll be sadly missed in the world of theatre.
Marc Huiberts, The Netherlands

It's always sad to hear of the death of a fellow actor - especially one so respected and admired by his peers. God bless you, Nigel.
Peter, UK

Will always be grateful for the hours of enjoyment he gave us in his portrayal of Sir Humphrey.
Joan Donaldson, Maine, US

Sir Nigel Hawthorne was a great actor - magnificent in Yes, Prime Minister - that brought the TV audiences many good laughs, as well as in The Madness of King George.

Back in January 1986 I received from this gentleman a very nice letter and a personally signed autograph that I really do treasure.

We're surely going to miss him very much.
Viveca Andersson-Baluchi, Sweden

The disappointment of not seeing Sir Nigel Hawthorne as Lear two years ago becomes a palpable sadness. But I should consider myself lucky for having seen him as King George III, a portrayal that left a lasting impression on someone starting out in the world of theatre.
Dev Bhojwani, India


The stage and screen has lost a truly talented actor, and the world a truly kind man

Richard, United States
A brilliant actor who will be sadly missed. His portrayal of Sir Humphrey will, forever, be remembered. Equally at ease with comedy or drama, Sir Nigel Hawthorne showed other actors how it should be done. Rest in Peace, Sir Humphrey, with Jim Hacker MP.
George Cook, Australia

What a tremendous loss. But we are richer for having seen and heard this great actor. He was so human, a warm and gentle presence. We are truly saddened.
William, USA

Nigel Hawthorne was easily one of Britain's finest talents, despite remaining unrecognised by the Academy Awards. Not only a great actor, but someone who always came across as a truly lovely man. My thoughts are with his family at this time
Nat, UK


A great, versatile actor, totally dedicated in his performances, and charming in life

Deanna, England
I was saddened this morning to learn that Sir Nigel Hawthorne had passed away. I remember first seeing him in Yes, Minister but truly learned of his talent when I saw the Madness of King George. The stage and screen has lost a truly talented actor, and the world a truly kind man.
Richard, United States

A great, versatile actor, totally dedicated in his performances, and charming in life. A sad loss. God Bless, may he rest in peace. Dx
Deanna, England

Sir Nigel has given us years of enjoyment with his portrayal of Sir Humphrey. We will miss him.
Jan, South Africa

It is a great shame that we have lost such a versatile actor. It is criminal that he was never awarded an Academy Award for his portrayal of George III.
John Washbourne, England

Although the role that Sir Nigel portrayed in Yes Minister and its sequel Yes Prime Minister, was not that of a lovable character, he came to be regarded as the familiar figure of one more of the excellent British actors. We shall miss him.
Maria Skura, Greece

I was extremely sad to read of the death of Sir Nigel Hawthorne. His acting talent impressed me greatly and when I saw him being interviewed he struck me as incredibly interesting and very sensitive. Both he and his talent will be missed by many.
Sue Whitfield, Bolivia

Arrr, Yes Prime Minister...

A magnificent person, Sir Humphrey, you will be truly missed.
Bruce Stephens, Australia

A tragic loss of one of our greatest actors.
James Macleod, England

He will be sadly missed.
Tony, UK

I deeply regret the passing of this great actor. His appearance on screen always gave extra depth, if not an additional dimension, to the work.

And in his immortal role as Sir Humphrey he not only made us laugh, but with deliciously gentle irony explained the basics of everyday politics to us!
Manu, Belgium

See also:

26 Dec 01 | UK
Sir Nigel Hawthorne dies


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