Bernard Hill – OBITUARY

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Bernard Hill - Obituary
Bernard Hill 1944 - 2024

It is rare that an actor in a role that defined an era but for Bernard Hill that was certainly the case in his break through role as Yosser Hughes in The Boys from the Blackstuff

Born on 17th December 1944 in Blackley just outside Manchester ( and yet many of his most famous role would see him as a Liverpudlian) to working class parents. His father who was a miner and his mother worked in kitchens. Leaving school he took a number of manual jobs before quitting and trained as a quantity surveyor bur after failing an audition for drama school he looked to become a teacher and it was a tutor at his college that encouraged him to stick at drama. That person was Mike Leigh.

He eventually was accepted by drama school in 1970 and after graduation he appeared in a number of TV series including ‘I, Claudius’ before the role that would establish him. That role was Yosser Hughes in 1980’s Alan Bleasdale scripted drama ‘The Black Stuff a searing indictment of Thacherite Britain that saw his character Yosser reduced to begging for work with the phrase, ‘Gizza a job’ it was the flip side of that other catchphrase, ‘Loads of money’ that comedian Harry Enfield gave us. And yet despite Yosser being an increasingly violent and desperate man trying to support his three children on his own. Hill still showed the characters humanity ground down both physically and mentally. The film was developed into a mini-series and he was rightly BAFTA nominated for the role and the series remains one of the most important TV dramas of the past fifty years.

The role established him as an actor of note and went on to appear in a range of epic films and he would often find himself playing authoritative figures later in his career in films that included Ghandi, Titanic as well as The Two Towers and The Return of the King. But he worked extensively in both film and TV with his last role in the just transmitted BBC police series ‘The Responder’ but he also appeared in Wolf Hall, The Long March to Freedom, and True Crime for Clint Eastwood

He lived in Suffolk and was married to American  actress Marianna Hill with whom he had a son.

Bernard Hill died on 5th May 2024. He was 79 years of age

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