RIP John Hurt

No idea what his politics were but his talent transcended such things.

My personal favourite film of his was ‘Scandal,’ based on the Profumo Affair, the shocking episode which took up most of the summer of 1963.

I was in Canada for much of that time, and watched the news with my Ontario farming kin. They found it hard to believe that their beloved ‘Old Country’ could have got itself into such a mess.


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John Hurt as Stephen Ward, with Joanne Whalley as Christine Keeler, in Scandal (1989)


The 1989 movie did a masterful job of depicting the peculiar atmosphere of that era.

The Sixties saw the eclipse of self-confidence among the UK ‘Establishment,’ which had hitherto been on the side of a traditional Britain, but which thereafter ceded ground – or sold out – to people with very different values, or with none.

And a lot of good that’s done The Old Country.

But Hurt captured the essence of the era, his character, who was always dubbed a ‘society osteopath,’ a parasite vaguely aware of what really mattered but gliding heedlessly through life towards self-destruction.


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  • John Hurt perfectly played Dr. Stephen Ward, who battened onto people who saw power and celebrity as ends in themselves, not as a means by which to serve their country.
  • In the end, we in the audience tended to sympathise more with the Ward character than with anyone else.
  • That was down to Hurt’s thespian gifts.