29 August 2023 marks the centenary of the birth of Sir Richard Attenborough, English actor, director and producer. He left home when he was 17 to attend London’s Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts.
His acting roles stretch a remarkable 60 years from 1942 to 2002 – starring in early films such as the sublime ‘A Matter of Life and Death’ (one of the editor’s favourites); ‘In Which We Serve’; ‘The Great Escape’, then showing us his menacing side as Pinky Brown in the classic ‘Brighton Rock’
and as the chilling John Reginald Christie in ’10 Rillington Place’.
A more avuncular Attenborough appeared in ‘Miracle on 34th Street’ and he charmed modern audiences as John Hammond in ‘Jurassic Park’.
His directorial debut was ‘Oh! What a lovely war’, followed by many others, including ‘Young Winston’, ‘A Bridge too Far’ and ‘Cry Freedom’. In 1982 he produced and directed ‘Ghandi’ which won 5 British Academy Awards and 8 Oscars.
He served as director of the Muscular Dystrophy charity for 33 years, becoming its honorary life president in 2004.
He was a long time advocate of education that does not judge upon colour, race, creed or religion. He was Chancellor of the University of Sussex 1998-2008 and his speeches at graduation ceremonies were always inspiring (I know, I used to help out at the ceremonies during his reign of office, Ed!).