Sir John Hurt (1940-2017) was a powerhouse of a character actor best known for starring or supporting roles in A Man for All Seasons (1966); 10 Rillington Place (1971); The Naked Civil Servant (1975); I, Claudius (1976); Alien (1979); The Elephant Man (1980); 1984 (1984); Jim Henson’s The Storyteller (1988); Rob Roy (1995); Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (2001); Hellboy (2004); V for Vendetta (2005); and a 2013 appearance on Doctor Who. Blessed with a voice as distinctive as Peter Cushing’s or David Warner’s, he was also a voice actor who provided narration and character voices for films and television shows.
Born on January 22, 1940, in Chesterfield, Derbyshire, England, John Vincent Hurt was the youngest child of a mathematician-turned-Anglican vicar, Reverend Arnould Herbert Hurt (1904-1999), and his wife, engineer and amateur actress Phyllis Hurt (née Massey) (1907-1975). For a long time, Arnould Hurt was vicar of Old Clee Church in Grimsby, which is a large port-city in Lincolnshire. A convert to Catholicism, John’s elder brother Michael became a Benedictine monk at Glenstal Abbey in County Limerick, Ireland, and adopted the name Anselm in honor of an English saint. Following the death in childbirth of another elder brother, Arnould and Phyllis Hurt adopted a daughter, Monica. In a 2008 interview, Hurt told The Scotsman, “She was very bright but wasn’t allowed to go to university.” At one point, his family lived across from a cinema, but his family did not patronize it because his parents felt movies were too low-brow. The Hurt brothers attended an Anglo-Catholic (high church Anglican) school, St. Michael’s Preparatory School in Kent. Late in life, he said he was touched inappropriately while there. At twelve, he went to Lincoln School (now Lincoln Christ’s Hospital School), where he played Lady Bracknell in The Importance of Being Earnest. His parents wanted John Hurt to become an art teacher. At seventeen, he went to Grimsby Art School (now the East Coast School of Art and Design). In 1959, he won a scholarship to Saint Martin’s School of Art in London. Between 1960 and ’62, he trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (R.A.D.A.) in London.
John Hurt’s first major role was in A Man for All Seasons (1966) as a real-life villain, Richard Rich, a supposed friend of Sir Thomas More (1478-1535) who testified against him at his trial in Parliament. Hurt was in great company. The superb Paul Scofield (1922-2008) played Saint Thomas More, Leo McKern played Thomas Cromwell (died 1540), Orson Welles (1915-1985) played Cardinal Wolsey (died 1530), Robert Shaw (1927-1978) played King Henry VIII (lived 1491-1547, reigned 1509-1547), Susannah York (1939-2011) played Thomas More’s daughter Margaret More Roper (1505-1544), Corin Redgrave (1939-2010) played More’s son-in-law William Roper (died 1578), and Vanessa Redgrave played Anne Boleyn (died 1536). It is amusing how the narrator conveys disgust that Rich died of natural causes.
In a period of just a few years, Hurt won BAFTA awards four times for playing characters in historical dramas or biopics. He won a BAFTA for Best Supporting Actor for his performance as Timothy John Evans (1924-1950), a Welshman wrongfully convicted for the murder of his wife, Beryl, and infant daughter, Geraldine, in the theatrical film 10 Rillington Place (1971), which was an adaptation of the book Ten Rillington Place. Hurt won a BAFTA for Best Actor for his performance as Quentin Crisp (1908-1999) from youth to middle age in the ITV telefilm The Naked Civil Servant (1975). Hurt won a Golden Globe and a BAFTA and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance as a English heroin addict in Midnight Express (1978), a film about foreigners in a Turkish prison directed by Alan Parker and adapted by Oliver Stone from a memoir of the same name by Billy Hayes. He won a fourth BAFTA and was nominated for a Golden Globe and an Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance as the unfortunate John Merrick in The Elephant Man (1980). Anthony Hopkins (now Sir Anthony Hopkins) played Dr. Treves. The cast also included Anne Bancroft (1931-2005), Sir John Gielgud (1904-2000), Morgan Sheppard, and Kenny Baker. Director David Lynch and screenwriters Christopher De Vore and Eric Bergren (1954-2016) adapted the play The Elephant Man by Bernard Pomerance. The Elephant Man is a black-and-white film as with Lynch’s first feature-length film: Eraserhead (1977).
These roles made John Hurt a respected actor on both sides of the Atlantic, but what made him really famous to a wide audience was his role as Gilbert Kane, Executive Officer of the Nostromo and first victim of the unnamed alien race in Alien (1979), a hybrid science fiction/horror film. The alien is a parasitoid like certain real species of insects, crustaceans, and plants. Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) correctly tries to keep the others from bringing Kane back aboard their ship after a “facehugger” sprang on Kane from an egg they found on an alien spaceship (built and flown by a different race than the film’s eponymous monster) they had explored after they detected what they interpreted as a distress signal. However, the Science Officer, Ash (Ian Holm) – later revealed to be an android – violated the quarantine Ripley instituted by bringing Kane aboard the Nostromo. Kane’s crewmates try and fail to save him from the facehugger, only to discover its blood is acidic but it seemingly dies on its own. They do not realize it had an ovipositor that went down his throat and laid an egg. During what they intend to be their final meal before they enter stasis, the offspring bursts from his chest, killing him, and escaping. This shocking scene transforms what until that moment had been a claustrophobic and creepy film into a Grand Guignol-type horror show, not unlike splatter films. Alien then switches back-and-forth in tone as the survivors hunt for the monster. Screenwriters Dan O’Bannon (1946-2009) and Ronald Shusett wrote the script. Surrealist Swiss painter H.R. Giger (1940-2014) designed the alien. Ian Holm (later Sir Ian Holm), Yaphet Kotto, and Henry Dean Stanton were already stars, while Tom Skerritt and Veronica Cartwright were rising stars, and the movie made a star of Sigourney Weaver. It also solidified the reputation of Ridley Scott (later Sir Ridley Scott), who had previously made only one feature-length film: The Duellists (1977). Hurt recreated the “chestburster” scene from Alien in one of the final scenes in Spaceballs (1987), a Mel Brooks comedy that otherwise lampooned Star Wars. [John Hurt had previously played Jesus Christ in the extremely offensive Mel Brooks comedy History of the World, Part I (1981).] Years before he cast John Hurt as The War Doctor in Doctor Who, Steven Moffat memorably referenced the infamous chestburster scene in the BBC Two TV sitcom Coupling (2000-2004). Moffat had his stand-in Steve Taylor (Jack Davenport) erroneously state that all men associate birth with what he called “the John Hurt moment” in Alien.
John Hurt played C.I.A. Agent Laurence Fassett in The Osterman Weekend (1983). Sam Peckinpah’s final film, it was based on a Robert Ludlum (1927-2001) novel of the same name, and is as paranoia-inducing as anything else Ludlum wrote. Hurt played Winston Smith, the hero, in 1984 (1984), an adaptation of George Orwell’s dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four. This was the second film adaptation of the novel, published in 1948, which depicted a future in which the entire world was divided between totalitarian super-states.
In the American comedy King Ralph (1991), John Hurt played Lord Percival Graves, a British peer who was patriarch of the House of Stuart. He’s the film’s villain. The setup is that the entire British Royal Family is electrocuted in a freak accident, leaving one distant relation, a blue-collar American named Ralph Jones (John Goodman), to inherit the throne. Lord Graves undermines King Ralph I in the hope that Ralph will be forced to abdicate and the House of Windsor will be declared extinct, at which time the House of Stuart can sweep back into power with himself as king.
Hurt was fortunate to have a third act to his career in which he was in high demand to play both good and evil authority figures. In Rob Roy (1995), he played James Graham, Marquess of Montrose. Directed by Michael Caton-Jones, the film is a work of fiction about real people, and loosely based on real events. Liam Neeson played Rob Roy MacGregor, Jessica Lange played his wife, Mary MacGregor; Tim Roth played Archie Cunningham, a debauched English swordsman in the service of Montrose; Brian Cox played Killearn, the factor (estate manager) of Montrose; Eric Stoltz played MacGregor’s right-hand man, Alan MacDonald; and Andrew Keir (1926-1997) played John Campbell, 2nd Duke of Argyll. For my money, Montrose, Cunningham, and Killearn are the best trio of cinematic villains since the Emperor, Darth Vader, and Grand Moff Tarkin and those three didn’t appear on screen together in the same film until the very end of Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith (2005).
In Contact (1997), Hurt played S.R. Hadden, a reclusive billionaire industrialist who becomes the patron of Jodie Foster’s character, Dr. Eleanor (“Ellie”) Arroway. His character provides her with more than money for SETI as his employees (a) help her to decipher a message from an alien civilization as plans for the construction of a device and (b) build the device. Robert Zemeckis directed this film adaptation of Carl Sagan’s science fiction novel of the same name. The cast included Mathew McConaughey, James Woods, Tom Skerritt, William Fichtner, David Morse, and Angela Bassett.
Four times, Hurt played a Catholic priest. Firstly, he played Father Lareaux, an exorcist, in Lost Souls (2000), an atmospheric and deeply creepy horror film about a small group of Catholics trying to prevent the emergence of the Antichrist. Secondly, he played Fr. Christopher, a fictional priest loosely based on the real Franciscan friar, Fr. Vjekoslav Ćurić (1957-1998), in a drama about one of the most gruesome events in history – the Rwandan Genocide in 1994 – in Shooting Dogs (2005), which was known in the U.S.A. as Beyond the Gates. Thirdly, he played an unnamed confessor in The Confession (2011), a claustrophobic web-series in which a priest is trapped in his confessional with a psychopath (played by Kiefer Sutherland) ostensibly giving a confession and threatening to murder the pastor’s parishioners outside. Fourthly, he played a real cleric, Fr. Richard McSorley in Jackie (2016), which starred Natalie Portman as Jacqueline “Jackie” Kennedy.
Hurt was pitch-perfect as Garrick Ollivander in the first, seventh, and eighth Harry Potter films: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (2001), Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1 (2010), and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 (2011). His character was the wand-maker who remembered every wand he ever sold. Ollivander was the proprietor of Ollivander’s shop on Diagon Alley, which wonderfully has a sign that reads “Makers of Fine Wands since 382 BC.” He has knowledge considered esoteric even in a subculture of wizards and witches.
Hurt added gravitas to the Hellboy films and gave moral authority to his character. He played Professor Trevor “Broom” Bruttenholm as an old man in Hellboy (2004). This was Guillermo del Toro’s adaptation of Mike Mignola’s graphic novel Hellboy: Seed of Destruction, published by Dark Horse Comics. He’s introduced as a Catholic lay scholar who is an advisor on the occult to F.D.R. Professor Broom is trying to use a small detachment of American commandos to prevent an immortal Grigori Rasputin (Karel Rodin) leading a Thule Society/Nazi/German Army group from physically bringing a demon into this world on a Scottish island they’ve seized. The Americans are able to kill the Nazis, but fail to prevent the demon from coming through the gate, yet it’s a baby, and Professor Broom endeavors to raise the demon-child to become a sort of superhero. Ron Perlman played Hellboy as an adult. This was Hurt’s first comic book film. He returned for a cameo as Professor Broom in the prologue of Hellboy II: The Golden Army (2008).
In 2004, while he was filming The Proposition (2005) in Australia, Hurt’s sister Monica died of Creutzfeldt-Jacob disease. The Proposition was a nihilistic, ultra-violent western of the type Peckinpah introduced with The Wild Bunch (1969), but set in the Australian Outback in the 1880s. Danny Huston plays Arthur Burns, the leader of an ultra-violent gang. Guy Pearce plays one of his brothers, Charlie Burns. After several members of the gang die in a shoot-out with the police following the rape and massacre of the Hopkins family, Captain Morris Stanley (Ray Winstone), blackmails Charlie into murdering Arthur or their only surviving brother, Mikey (Richard Wilson), who is mentally handicapped, will be hanged for their crimes. Hurt played a bounty hunter.
Notably, Hurt played Adam Sutler, a tyrant modeled in part on Big Brother from 1984 in V for Vendetta (2005), a stylish adaptation of Alan Moore’s ridiculous graphic novel of the same name. In the science fiction film Outlander (2008), Hurt played Hrothgar – yes, that Hrothgar, the king from the Beowulf saga. After he had played Jesus Christ in The Passion of the Christ (2004) and before he would play a heroic former assassin on the C.B.S. series Person of Interest (2011-2016), Jim Caviezel played Kainan, an alien soldier who in this retelling was clearly supposed to be the inspiration for Beowulf of the Geats. Luminous Sophia Myles played Freya, daughter of Hrothgar. Ron Perlman played Gunnar, an enemy king of Hrothgar whose village was destroyed by the Moorwen, an alien monster Kainan accidentally brought to Earth, which is supposed to be a seed colony of Kainan’s interstellar civilization. The Moorwen was supposed to be the inspiration for the ogre Grendel from the Beowulf saga.
The same year Outlander was released saw Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008). A science fiction film rather than a supernatural thriller like the previous installments in the franchise, it was inspired by B movies produced in the 1950s, the decade in which it was set to reflect how much time had passed in real life since the release of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989). The nonsensical script, which included a complete lack of response from the American garrison at Area 51 when Soviet troops disguised as American troops killed a few guards, Indiana Jones surviving an atomic bomb test at Area 51 by hiding inside a refrigerator, and aliens destroying a storehouse of cultural treasures they had amassed over the course of centuries in the process of leaving Earth, was an utter embarrassment. A great cast can elevate mediocre material but a cast that included Harrison Ford, Cate Blanchett, Ray Winstone, Karen Allen, Alan Dale, and Jim Broadbent could not save this dreck. Shia LaBeouf’s character Mutt Williams is cringe-inducing. At one point, he dunks his comb into someone else’s Coke before combing his hair. Hurt played Harold “Ox” Oxley, a good friend of Indiana Jones (not shown in previous films) and father figure for Mutt.
A high point in this renaissance of his career was Hurt’s performance as Control, the head of “the Circus” (Secret Intelligence Service/MI6) and mentor of George Smiley (Gary Oldman) in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011), an excellent, all-star adaptation of John le Carré’s Cold War spy novel of the same name.  The cast included Colin Firth, Tom Hardy, Toby Jones, Mark Strong, Benedict Cumberbatch, and Ciarán Hinds.
Released that same year was Immortals (2011), a film loosely inspired by Greek mythology in which he played Zeus in the guise of an old mortal man. Before he played Superman, English actor Henry Cavill played this film’s version of Theseus. Beautiful East Indian actress-model Freida Pinto played Phaedra, an Oracle priestess and love interest of Theseus. Welsh actor-singer Luke Evans played Zeus in his true form, having previously played Apollo in Clash of the Titans (2010). Gorgeous Australian actress Isabel Lucas played Athena. Kellan Lutz played Poseidon. Mickey Rourke played King Hyperion, the film’s villain who seeks to conquer every bit of Greek territory he didn’t already rule and release the Titans to defeat the Gods of Olympus. Indian-American director Tarsem Singh stated Immortals was a blend of Renaissance painters like Caravaggio (1571-1610) and David Fincher’s Fight Club (1999).
In yet another film based on Greek mythology (and yet another comic book movie), John Hurt played the villainous King Cotys of Thrace in Hercules (2014), Brett Ratner’s adaptation of Steve Moore’s graphic novel Hercules: the Thracian Wars. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson played Hercules. Rufus Sewell played Autolycus of Sparta, a member of a band of mercenaries headed by Hercules. Ian McShane played Amphiaraus the seer. Ingrid Bolsø Berdal played Atalanta the Amazon, another member of the band of mercenaries. Joseph Fiennes played King Eurystheus. Russian Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue model Irina Skayk played Megara, the tragic late wife of Hercules, in flashbacks.
Hurt played a version of Christopher Marlowe in Only Lovers Left Alive (2013), Jim Jarmusch’s strange vampire film with a very strong (sometimes heavy-handed) environmentalist subtext. In the film, which starred Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston as estranged vampire spouses known as “Eve” and “Adam,” their vampire friend Christopher Marlowe, who is dying from drinking impure blood, admits that he was the real author of Shakespeare’s plays.
The same year Only Lovers Left Alive came out saw Snowpiercer (2013). In this abhorrent science fiction comic book film, Hurt played the spiritual father of a revolution aboard a train that seemingly holds the entirety of what remains of the human race, endlessly circumnavigating the Earth after humanity accidentally triggers a new ice age while trying to end global warming. South Korean director-writer Bong Joon-ho and screenwriter Kelly Masterson adapted the film from the post-apocalyptic French graphic novel Le Transperceneige. The cast included Chris Evans, Tilda Swinton, Octavia Spencer, and Ed Harris.
In the U.S.A., Hurt would have been considered a character actor, but very much a film actor, yet he frequently worked on British television. He played the psychopathic Emperor Caligula in the B.B.C. miniseries I, Claudius (1976), an adaptation of the Robert Graves novels I, Claudius and Claudius the God. Derek Jacobi (later Sir Dereck Jacobi) starred as Emperor Claudius (lived 10 B.C. – 54 A.D., reigned 41 A.D. – 54 A.D.). Brian Blessed played Octavian Caesar/Emperor Augustus (lived 63 B.C. – 14 A.D., reigned 27 B.C. – 14 A.D.). Jane (“Siân”) Phillips (later Dame Jane Phillips) played his murderous second wife, Livia Drusilla (58 B.C. – 29 A.D.), who was depicted as poisoning other family members to maneuver her son (Octavian’s stepson) Tiberius into power. George Baker (1931-2011) played Emperor Tiberius (lived 42 B.C. – 37 A.D., reigned 14 A.D. – 37 A.D.). Patrick Stewart (later Sir Patrick Stewart) played Lucius Aelius Sejanus (20 B.C. – 34 A.D.), the treacherous Prefect of the Praetorian Guards. John Rhys-Davies played Naevius Cordus Macro (21 B.C. – 38 A.D.), who replaced Sejanus as Praetorian Prefect by executing him and murdering his children. The show was a hit both for the B.B.C. and the P.B.S. series Masterpiece Theatre. Production designer Tim Harvey won both a BAFTA in the U.K. in 1977 and Emmy in the U.S. in ’78 for his work and Derek Jacobi and Siân Phillips won BAFTAs.
That same year Hurt played Caligula, he was a guest star on The Sweeney (1976-1979), an ITV show about a flying squad of the Metropolitan Police. Hurt starred as Rodion Raskolnikov in the miniseries Crime and Punishment (1979), an adaptation of Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s novel of the same name. Later, John Hurt later played Porfiry, the lead investigator, in Crime and Punishment (2002), a Russian-Polish-American theatrical film set in modern times in which Crispin Glover played Rodion Raskolnikov.
Twice, Hurt appeared in Shakespeare adaptations made for the small screen. This was fitting because he had been performed on stage with the Royal Shakespeare Company before his first movie role in The Wild and the Willing (1962). Laurence Olivier (1907-1989), Lord Olivier, cast Hurt as the Fool in King Leer (1983), and himself as King Leer. Olivier – known as Sir Laurence Olivier between his being knighted in 1947 and being awarded a life peerage in 1970 – was one of the three most respected British actors of the 20th Century with Sir John Gielgud and Sir Ralph Richardson (1902-1983). The cast also included Diana Rigg as Regan, and Leo McKern as Gloucester, and Brian Cox as Burgundy. This Granada Television production was broadcast in the U.K. in 1983 and the U.S.A. in 1984. Hurt played The Chorus in The Hollow Crown: Henry V (2012).
Hurt starred as the Storyteller in Jim Henson’s The Storyteller (1988), a live-action British television series with Muppets in which Hurt narrated obscure European folk tales. In the U.S.A., episodes ran as part of The Jim Henson Hour (1989) on N.B.C.
Twice, in the 2000s, he portrayed real men in telefilms. Hurt played U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher in the H.B.O. telefilm Recount (2008), which concerned the 2000 presidential election recount in Florida. He also reprised the role of Quentin Crisp in the telefilm An Englishman in New York (2009).
To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the British television series Doctor Who, the aforementioned Steven Moffat, the second showrunner of the Doctor Who revival series, cast John Hurt as The War Doctor. This character was supposed to be a previously unacknowledged incarnation of The Doctor in three episodes. Moffat was retroactively placing Hurt’s version of The Doctor during the Time War, a backstory for the new version of Doctor Who that the revival show’s first showrunner, Russell T. Davies, used at B.B.C. Wales when he launched the new series in 2005. [The conceit is that the Time War wages between the Time Lords and the Daleks occurred between the original series and the revival series.] The special episode “The Day of the Doctor” was simultaneous broadcast in ninety-four countries and was also screened in some cinemas.
A voice actor, as well, John Hurt provided the voice of rabbit Hazel, the heroic founder of the rabbit warren Watership Down, in Watership Down (1978). This was a theatrical film adaptation of the Richard Adams fantasy novel of the same name that uses English rabbit warrens to explore political philosophy on the city-state level. [Years later, Hurt provided the voice of Hazel’s worst enemy, General Woundwart, the tyrant of Efafan, for Seasons 1 and 2 of the more child-friendly British-Canadian television series Watership Down (1999-2001).] He provided the voice of Aragorn (a.k.a. Strider) in the animated film The Lord of the Rings (1978), Ralph Bashki’s adaptation of the first volume of J.R.R. Tolkien’s three-volume novel The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, and the first half of the second volume, The Two Towers. Hurt also provided the voice of the villainous Horned King in The Black Cauldron (1985), Disney’s loose adaptation of the first two volumes in Lloyd Alexander’s The Chronicles of Prydain. He provided the voice of Professor Broom in Hellboy: Blood and Iron (2007), the second of two animated Hellboy films that aired on the Cartoon Network. More recently, he provided the voice of the Great Dragon in the live-action fantasy series Merlin (2008-2012).
Hurt narrated the eight-part documentary miniseries Human Planet (2011). Produced by Discovery and B.B.C. Worldwide, it aired in the U.K. on B.B.C. One, the Discovery Channel in the U.S.A., ABC 1 in Australia and Prime in New Zealand. Hurt also narrated the six-part documentary Planet Dinosaur (2011). Produced by Jellyfish Pictures, it aired on BBC One.
John Hurt wrote the forward to The Glenstal Spiritual Cookbook by Brother Anselm Hurt. Hurt was married four times. In addition, he also had a fifteen-year-long relationship with French model Marie Lise Volpeliere-Porrot, who died in a horse-riding accident in 1983. He was briefly married, between 1962 and ’64, to actress Annette Robertson. His second and third wives were both Americans. Between 1984 and 1990, he was married to Donna Peacock. He left her for production assistant Joan (“Jo”) Dalton, to whom he was married from 1990 to ’95. In 2005, he married his fourth (and final) wife, Anwen Rees-Myers, a producer of advertising films.
A famous carouser like Richard Burton (1925-1984), Peter O’Toole (1932-2013), and Oliver Reed (1938-1999), John Hurt put his drinking problem behind him after he wed Anwen. He also gave up smoking. He told The Scotsman, “I’ve stopped drinking…It wasn’t serving me, and the climate has changed. People aren’t doing it anymore.”
Hurt had two sons, both with Jo Dalton. His sons are Alexander John Vincent Hurt, born in 1990, and Nicholas Dalton Hurt, born in 1993. In 2014, he joked that he died so often in movies that his children no longer asked him if he would die in a movie, but how he would die.
In 2004, Queen Elizabeth II named John Hurt a Commander of the Order of the British Empire. On July 17, 2015, she knighted him.
With Anwen, Hurt moved from Soho, London to a residence outside of the coastal town of Cromer in the county of Norfolk in East Anglia. Sir John Hurt, C.B.E. died at his home on January 27, 2017. He is survived by Anwen and his sons.
 This film, like the book on which it was based, was called “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” in the U.S.A.
 The realization three years after Evans was hanged that one of the prosecution witnesses, the downstairs neighbor of Evans, John Christie (1899-1953), was a serial killer who had murdered his own wife, Ethel; Beryl Evans and baby Geraldine (as Evans had contended was the case); and at least five other people resulted in three things. First, the (richly deserved) execution of Christie. Second, the posthumous pardon of Evans. Third, the British Parliament banned the death penalty in 1965.
 Really named Joseph Merrick (1862-1890), he suffered from multiple severe physical deformities, an unpleasant odor, and had difficulty speaking. At his own suggestion, after he was rejected by his father and stepmother and forced into a workhouse, he was exhibited as a freak show called “the Elephant Man” until he was robbed of his life savings and Dr. Frederick Treves took him to live at London Hospital.
 The script called Joseph Merrick by the wrong Christian name because the play did so. Pomerance perpetuated the error of Dr. Treves, who called Joseph “John” in his book The Elephant Man and Other Reminisces, published in 1923. Lynch, De Vore, and Bergren also drew on The Elephant Man: A Study in Human Dignity by anthropologist Ashley Montagu (1905-1999).
 Coupling was a British response to the American sitcom Friends (1994-2004) in which co-producer and writer Steven Moffat mined his relationship with co-producer Sue Vertue for material from dating to parenthood.
 This came in the episode “Nine and a Half Minutes,” the first episode of Series 4 (or Season 4 as it would have been in the U.S.A. on P.B.S.).
 The original title is a reference to the fact U.N. peacekeepers were not allowed to shoot at the Hutus murdering Tutsis, but did shoot dogs that scavenged corpses.
 Irish actor Kevin Trainor played Professor Broom as a young man.
 Perlman had become famous in the 1980s when he played Vincent (the eponymous lion-man) in the C.B.S. series Beauty and the Beast (1997-1990).
 In the B.B.C. miniseries Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (1979), Canadian actor/novelist Alexander Knox (1907-1995) played Control and Sir Alec Guinness (1914-2000) played George Smiley.
 The problem with that as a literary theory is that after Marlowe died in real life in 1593, Shakespeare continued to write and succeeded him as the foremost playwright of Elizabethan England.
 Since most police in the U.K. are only armed in an emergency, they rely on flying squads of armed police to handle armed criminals. Other famous actors who were guest stars on the show included Joss Ackland, Brian Blessed, and Patrick Troughton (1920-1987). The series was popular enough to spawn three theatrical films. Two of these were direct spin-off films – Sweeney! (1977) and Sweeney 2 (1978). More recently, a reboot, The Sweeney (2012), starred Ray Winstone, Ben Drew, Damian Lewis, Alan Leech, and Hayley Atwell.
 Here, it ran not on P.B.S., but in syndication as part of Mobil Showcase Theatre.
 The Hollow Crown was a series of telefilms produced by Neal Street Productions in association with NBC Universal for BBC Two. The first season consisted of adaptations of Shakespeare’s plays Richard II; and Henry IV, Part II. The second season consisted of Henry VI, Part I; Henry VI, Part II; Henry VI, Part III; and Richard III.
 The Doctor is an alien hero from the planet Gallifrey who travels across time and space, a member of a race called the Time Lords, who periodically regenerates his entire body to explain periodic re-castings of the part.
 Seven different actors had played The Doctor in the original Doctor Who series that ran from 1962 to 1989 on BBC One.
 The War Doctor came between Paul McGann, who played the Eighth Doctor in the American-made one-shot telefilm Doctor Who (1996), which aired in the U.S.A. on FOX and in the U.K. on BBC One, and Christopher Eccleston, who played the Ninth Doctor for a single season of the series revival in 2005.
 This was the part Viggo Mortensen, Jr. played in Peter Jackson’s adaptation, The Lord of the Rings: The Motion Picture Trilogy (2001-2003).
 The Chronicles of Prydain is an award-winning series of coming-of-age/high fantasy novels inspired by Welsh mythology (and Professor Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings).