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Alan Yentob, BBC Director of Drama
"He was an incredibly endearing figure"
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Sheridan Morley, biographer
"John had no place in the history of 20th century theatre as he was that history"
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Lord Attenborough, director and actor
"Probably the greatest theatre actor"
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Monday, 22 May, 2000, 17:23 GMT 18:23 UK
Gielgud acclaimed as 'greatest actor'
Sir John Gielgud
"Greatest actor of all time"
The worlds of art, entertainment and politics have been paying tribute to Sir John Gielgud, who has died aged 96.

"The prime minister was very sad to hear of the death of Sir John Gielgud. He was one of the great English figures and one of the finest actors of the last century. He was much loved and will be much missed."
Downing Street spokesman

"He was probably the greatest theatre actor, the greatest classical actor. Not all the theatre actors, particularly in the UK, understood the difference between theatre and film. What John did absolutely extraordinarily was to change his whole manner of performance... so that he became a consummate film actor."
Lord Attenborough, film director and actor.

"Working with John Gielgud was one of the great thrills of my life."
Lord Puttnam, producer.

As Shakespeare said: `There's a great spirit gone'

Trevor Nunn, director of the Royal National Theatre

"His last play was about 10 years ago but he never stopped making movies. He was still filming, broadcasting and recording right up until April. He has only had four weeks without working since the age of 17. With him we have lost not only the best actor of all time but a man who was a link back to the Victorian theatre."
Sheridan Morley, biographer.

"We shall not see his like again - it is the end of an era."
Dame Maggie Smith, actress.

"In person he was unfailingly courteous, kind and an inspiring and encouraging example to all who followed. His influence is enormous and his absence will be deeply felt."
Kenneth Branagh, actor

Helen Mirren
Helen Mirren: "It's a sad day"
"It is a sad day, but Sir John's memory will be with us for a very very long time. He was a great addition to our culture and our country."
Helen Mirren, actress.

"He was a remarkable man, as well as being a quite extraordinarily gifted actor."
Glenda Jackson, MP and former actress.

"This is a very great loss - he was one of the greatest actors of all time and his manners were impeccable."
Lord Snowdon

Richard Briers
Richard Briers: "Sir John changed face of theatre"
"He was the greatest Hamlet of his generation and virtually single-handedly changed the face of theatre. His contribution was vast over a very, very long career and he was the greatest speaker of Shakespeare and verse."
Richard Briers, actor.

"He was one of my three great heroes and will never be forgotten."
Jeremy Irons, actor

"He was remarkable in his kindness and great feeling for people. There is nobody remotely like him and there won't be again. "
Michael Winner, film director

"He took those great Shakespearean roles, those big roles and reinvented them for the public."
Alan Yentob, BBC director of drama.

Trevor Nunn
Trevor Nunn "End of an era"
"Everybody currently working in the theatre will agree that his death is the end of an era. As Shakespeare said `There's a great spirit gone'."
Trevor Nunn, director of the Royal National Theatre.

"When we showed the film at a premiere there was a spontaneous round of applause for his performance because it was so magical. I think that's what he brought to the screen, a magic that can never be trained or nurtured or anything else. It's just he had it."
Tom McCabe, producer of Sir John's last film, The Titchborne Claimant.

Brian Blessed
Brian Blessed: "Who could replace Sir John?"
"Although there is a huge amount of talent around today I can't imagine anybody replacing a man of such magnitude."
Brian Blessed, actor.

"He was someone whose performances in both the classical theatre and more recently in mainstream film and television have entranced audiences around the world."
Adrian Noble, artistic director, Royal Shakespeare Company .

"I represented Ralph Richardson, Laurence Olivier and John Gielgud and with his death on Sunday it really does represent the end of a great age. I suppose of the three, Sir John was really the greatest actor. The other two were wonderful personalities and Lord Olivier was a film star but John Gielgud was not - he was a wonderful actor with a wonderful reputation."
Laurence Evans, former agent.

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