|Born||Timothy Sydney Robert Hardy
29 October 1925
Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, England
|Years active||1956 – present|
|Spouse(s)||Elizabeth Fox (1952-1956) Sally Pearson (1961-1986)|
Hardy was born in Cheltenham, England, the son of Jocelyn (née Dugdale) and Henry Harrison Hardy. His father was headmaster of Cheltenham College. He was educated at Rugby School and Magdalen College, Oxford University where he gained a BA Honours degree in English.
Hardy began his career as a classical actor, appearing as Shakespeare's Henry V on stage and in television's An Age of Kings (1960), and subsequently played Coriolanus and Sir Toby Belch for the BBC. It was while playing Henry V that Hardy developed an interest in medieval warfare, and he later wrote and presented an acclaimed television documentary on the subject of the Battle of Agincourt. He has also written two books on the subject of the longbow, Longbow: A Social and Military History and The Great War Bow with Matthew Strickland (Sutton Publishing 2005. ISBN 0750931671 ISBN 978-0750931670). He was one of the experts consulted by the archaeologist responsible for raising the Mary Rose.
Over the years, Hardy has played a huge range of parts on television and film. His first continuing role in a TV series was as businessman Alec Stewart in the award-winning oil company drama The Troubleshooters for the BBC, which he played from 1966 to 1970. He won further acclaim for his portrayal of the mentally-unhinged Abwehr Sgt Gratz in LWT's 1969 war drama Manhunt. In 1975, Hardy appeared in the episode "Such a Lovely Man" in the fifth season of the series Upstairs, Downstairs. But his most famous role was as Siegfried Farnon in the long-running All Creatures Great and Small (1978–1990), a stylish and much loved adaptation of James Herriot's novels.
He also made an appearance in the 1987 ITV comedy series Hot Metal, in which he played a dual role, that of a newspaper proprietor, Twiggy Rathbone (who bore more than a passing resemblance to Rupert Murdoch) and his put-upon and harassed editor, Russell Spam.
In 1993 Hardy appeared in an episode of Inspector Morse, playing Andrew Baydon in "Twilight of the Gods". Hardy played the part of the successful businessman with a murky wartime past with a characteristic blend of the vulnerable and the bombast.
He holds the distinction of having played both Winston Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt, and having played both roles on more than one occasion. He played Churchill most notably in Winston Churchill: The Wilderness Years (1981), for which he won a BAFTA award, but also in The Sittaford Mystery, Bomber Harris and War and Remembrance. He played Roosevelt in the BBC serial, Bertie and Elizabeth, and in the French TV mini-series, Le Grand Charles, about the life of Charles DeGaulle.
He also played Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester in Elizabeth R, and Prince Albert in Edward the Seventh (known as Edward the King to the American audience). He took a role in the 1995 film version of Sense and Sensibility. His most recent roles were as Minister of Magic Cornelius Fudge in the Harry Potter movies, and as Lord Malan in His Master's Voice.
He was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the Queen's Birthday Honours of 1981.
His first marriage, in 1952, was to Elizabeth Fox, the daughter of Sir Lionel Fox. This marriage ended in 1956. In 1961 he married Sally Pearson, the daughter of Dame Gladys Cooper and, thus, sister-in-law of Robert Morley. This marriage ended in 1986. Robert Hardy has three children. He was a close friend of actor Richard Burton whom he met at the University of Oxford.