Bernard Hill was ‘looking forward’ to reaction to final TV performance

Actor Bernard Hill had been looking forward to seeing the reaction to his performance in TV drama The Responder, which aired on the day of his death, the writer of the show has said.

The Lord Of The Rings and Titanic actor died in the early hours of Sunday morning, before the second series of The Responder was aired that evening.

At a screening of the show in Liverpool on Tuesday, writer Tony Schumacher described Hill, 79, as “incredibly talented”, “generous” and “humble” – while co-star Martin Freeman said he was “beautiful” in the drama.

Schumacher said: “I got a text message off him a few days ago saying that he was looking forward to seeing how it went down and seeing the reaction that people had to the show.

“Even with his career, he was still a bit nervous about how he’d be received and stuff like that.

“It’s all the more tragic and poignant that he’s not going to be here to see it.”

He credited Hill’s appearance as Yosser Hughes in Alan Bleasdale’s 1980s drama Boys From The Black Stuff as one of the reasons he began writing.

The Responder
(Rekha Garton/Dancing Ledge/BBC)

Hill played the father of Freeman’s character Chris Carson in the show.

Freeman – known for roles in The Office, The Hobbit and Fargo – said: “He was a gentle, very lovely, fun bloke and I’m just dead pleased that I got to work with him on what turns out to be, horribly, his last thing.

“But what isn’t horrible is that he was beautiful in it and it was a show that he really cared about as well. We’re all gutted that he’s not here, he should be here tonight.”

He said they shared “chemistry” in the scenes together and the crew was “thrilled” to have him on board.

He added: “It’s just ridiculously sad that he’s not here. I’m pleased that his last thing was something that he would have been proud of and I know he enjoyed, he really loved doing.”

Schumacher said he was proud of the reaction to the new episodes of the BBC show, after a successful first series.

He said: “I just thought we’ll just do it again. It was only later on as we got into the process I started saying to Martin ‘what if it’s rubbish?'”

The show follows police response officer Carson as he covers night shifts in Liverpool, with a series of challenges.

Freeman said: “I hope people are still rooting for him and them – for the characters generally.

“Everyone is someone who you could say ‘there but for the grace of God’, that could be me.

“I loved playing him, he’s a very very rewarding part to play. I like him very much.”