Terrence Hardiman, star of CBBC series The Demon Headmaster, dies aged 86


Actor Terrence Hardiman, best known for playing the title role in the CBBC series The Demon Headmaster, has died at the age of 86, his agent said on Tuesday.

His death was announced “with great sadness” by Scott Marshall Partners, which said he was a “beloved client and much-loved stage and screen actor”.

The stage and screen star also appeared in TV series such as The Crown, Wallander, Doctor Who and Prime Suspect as well as Colditz, Secret Army, Bergerac and Minder.

The Forest Gate native made a career out of playing authority figures and villains, most memorably for his turn as evil headteacher in classic kids’ show The Demon Headmaster from 1996 until 1998.

The plot was based on the series of books written by Gillian Cross and saw his sinister character hide his piercing green eyes behind dark glasses - only removing them to hypnotise his victims.

Speaking about taking up the iconic role, Hardiman told Radio Times in 2019: “I thought, ‘What a horrible character. How lovely. A real villain of a piece. Why not?’”

Hardiman’s passing was confirmed by his agent (Mersey Television Company)
Hardiman’s passing was confirmed by his agent (Mersey Television Company)

The actor confessed to the outlet that he had “no idea” it would become such a success, and explained that he was taken aback when he began getting recognised because of it.

He added: “I started to be recognised in the street, especially as I lived near schools around here, in North-West London. 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! But then the slightly more remarkable thing, I found, was that it wasn't just children who were watching. It was parents and other people, too.”

The Londoner returned to the show for a cameo appearance when it was rebooted in 2019.

Hardiman, who studied English at Cambridge University, was also an established stage actor, and was a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company in the 1970s.

Aside from his stage and TV work, Hardiman was also known for lending his voice to hundreds of audiobooks, narrating series by the likes of Colin Dexter, Anne Perry and Ruth Rendell.

Hardiman is survived by his wife Rowena and his two children.