‘The Demon Headmaster’ actor Terrence Hardiman dies, aged 86
Terrence Hardiman, best known for playing the title role in The Demon Headmaster, has died aged 86.
The news was broken with “great sadness” by his agent earlier today, who described him as a “beloved client and much-loved stage and screen actor” (via BBC). As of yet, no further details have been announced.
Hardiman first rose to fame in the ‘90s, for his role in The Demon Headmaster — a CBBC series which scared a generation of kids between the period of 1996 and 1998. The show was later given a reboot in 2019, where he once again took on the role.
The series was based on the popular children’s books of the same name, written by Gillian Cross, which explored the story of the Demon Headmaster, who hypnotised his victims with his piercing green eyes after telling them: “Look into my eyes”.
Other roles Hardiman played throughout his extensive career included the role of Doctor Evans in the second season of The Crown, as well as appearances in Doctor Who, Prime Suspect and Richard Attenborough’s 1982 film, Gandhi.
Gillian Cross, the author behind the CBBC series, led the tributes to Hardiman following news of his death. “Very sad to hear that Terrence Hardiman has died. He was a wonderful actor on television, stage and screen and a great Demon Headmaster,” she wrote on Twitter. “Sending deepest sympathy to his family and friends.”
TV critic and broadcaster Scott Brian also shared a tribute for the late actor on the platform, writing: “He terrified an entire generation of children in The Demon Headmaster. What an icon.” Check out more tributes from the entertainment world below.
Very sad to hear that Terrence Hardiman has died. He was a wonderful actor on television, stage and screen and a great Demon Headmaster. Sending deepest sympathy to his family and friends
— Gillian Cross (@gilliancross) May 9, 2023
Terrence Hardiman has died.
He terrified an entire generation of children in The Demon Headmaster. What an icon. pic.twitter.com/16dPLQc0Wo
— Scott Bryan (@scottygb) May 9, 2023
He terrified me when I was a child in The Demon Headmaster! Sad to hear that Terrence Hardiman has passed away at the age of 86. pic.twitter.com/uWz7ap3X1V
— Elliot Gonzalez (@elliot_gonzalez) May 9, 2023
Awfully sad news about Terrence Hardiman, who has passed away aged 86. Terrified a generation as the Demon Headmaster, but could not have been more of a good-natured gentleman in real life. pic.twitter.com/2mK9nVF8GZ
— Morgan Jeffery (@morganjeffery) May 9, 2023
We are very saddened to learn of the passing of Terrence Hardiman. Our sincerest condolences go out to his friends and family. pic.twitter.com/2MZYEeQsoL
— Big Finish Insider (@bigfinish) May 9, 2023
RIP to Terrence Hardiman – the man who played The Demon Headmaster. That was the stuff of nightmares as a kid. pic.twitter.com/pq4YZBBUdm
— Jono (@jonoread) May 9, 2023
Such sad news to hear we’ve lost #TerrenceHardiman a fantastic actor of stage and screen, the perfect baddie and such a lovely person to work with. pic.twitter.com/Mcd9DYEzlX
— Seán Carlsen 🇺🇦 (@SeanCarlsen1) May 9, 2023
R.I.P. Terrence Hardiman. pic.twitter.com/3j8peO1BS4
— Archivetvmusings (@archivetvmus71) May 9, 2023
How incredibly sad to hear about the death of #TerrenceHardiman – a superb actor and lovely man. My heart goes out to Rowena and his family. RIP. pic.twitter.com/arCJi9hOTj
— Lisa Bowerman (@TheLisaBowerman) May 9, 2023
Genuinely sorrowful to hear of the death of the great Terrence Hardiman. For my money, his monolithic Demon Headmaster ranks as the most overlooked horror icon in television history. What a remarkable actor. pic.twitter.com/CmqMtftGrB
— James Swanton (@jamescswanton) May 9, 2023
Hardiman was born in East London in 1937 and went on to study English at the University of Cambridge — where he first discovered his love of acting.
While in university, he joined the school’s amateur dramatic club, alongside other soon-to-be big names, including Derek Jacobi. From there, he also fulfilled the role of Mephistopheles in a touring production of Doctor Faustus, run by the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in 1968.
His big break on television came four years after with a role on Granada’s Crown Court, where he played the character Stephen Harvesty from 1972 onwards.
Discussing his most famous character, the Demon Headmaster, in 2019, Hardiman discussed how he first felt about accepting the role. “I thought, ‘what a horrible character. How lovely. A real villain of a piece. Why not,’” he told the Radio Times, going on to explain how he was surprised by the popularity of the show.
“I started to be recognised in the street, especially as I lived near schools around here, in northwest London,” he explained. “And there were people – youngsters – looking at me, and shouting out at me, and making fun of me, which is very healthy… It stopped me being too grand!”