Terrence Hardiman death: Demon Headmaster star dies aged 86

·2-min read

Terrence Hardiman, best known for playing the title role in the CBBC series The Demon Headmaster, has died at the age of 86.

The actor’s death was announced “with great sadness” today (Tuesday 9 May) by his agency, Scott Marshall Partners.

The statement described him as a “beloved client and much-loved stage and screen actor”.

Hardiman terrified a generation of children with his chilling performance in The Demon Headmaster, the TV series based on the children’s books of the same name by Gillian Cross. The programme ran for three seasons between 1996 and 1998.

He also starred in series such as The Crown, Wallander, Doctor Who and Prime Suspect. One of his final roles was in Holby City in 2021.

Hardiman also narrated hundreds of audiobooks throughout his career, including series by Colin Dexter, Anne Perry, and Ruth Rendell.

Born in London’s Forest Gate in 1937, Hardiman discovered his acting talents while reading English at Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge. As part of the Marlowe Society and the Cambridge University Amateur Dramatic Club, he played both dramatic and comedic roles alongside other future stars such as Derek Jacobi.

After university, he established a career on stage as part of the Royal Shakespeare Company before transitioning into television and film roles.

Terrence Hardiman as ‘Mephistophilis’ in the ‘Doctor Faustus’ play at The Royal Shakespeare Theatre in 1968 (Getty Images)
Terrence Hardiman as ‘Mephistophilis’ in the ‘Doctor Faustus’ play at The Royal Shakespeare Theatre in 1968 (Getty Images)

In response to news of Hardiman’s death, several fans of The Demon Headmaster have left tributes on social media.

Morgan Jeffery of Radio Times wrote: “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.”

TV critic Scott Bryan also wrote of Hardiman’s terrifying work in his headmaster role, ending his sentiment with “What an icon”.

Comedian Aaron Weight recalled meeting Hardiman as a child and being charmed by Hardiman’s kindness in contrast to his TV role.

He wrote: “Terribly sad news of Terrence Hardiman passing away. He was supremely terrifying in The Demon Headmaster, but I had the pleasure of meeting him once at one of my school’s fetes, It took a bit of convincing to go up to him, but he was absolutely wonderful and kind. RIP.”

His wife, actor Rowena Cooper, survives him.

Additional reporting provided by PA