Edward Hardwicke, who died on Monday aged 78, was best known on television for playing Dr Watson in a Sherlock Holmes series in the 1980s, but had already come to public attention in the 1970s series Colditz as the character based on the real-life war hero Pat Reid.
Hardwicke had been suggested as the bumbling foil to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s inscrutable sleuth by the actor David Burke, who had portrayed Watson in the Granada Television’s The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (1984-85), alongside Jeremy Brett, the 117th actor to take the title role.
As Captain Pat Grant in Colditz, Hardwicke based his character on Major Pat Reid, the real-life escape officer in the supposedly escape-proof German prison perched on a 250ft-high cliff. The first series, shown in 1972, and the follow-up two years later were based on Reid’s books about his exploits at Colditz and the efforts of the Allied prisoners to escape.
Edward Cedric Hardwicke was born on August 7 1932 in London, the son of the actors Sir Cedric Hardwicke and Helena Pickard. His film career in Hollywood began when he was only 10, in Victor Fleming’s film A Guy Named Joe (1943), with Spencer Tracy. He appeared at the Bristol Old Vic, the Oxford Playhouse and the Nottingham Playhouse before joining Laurence Olivier’s National Theatre in 1964, performing there regularly for seven years. He appeared with Olivier in Othello and The Master Builder.
He also had parts in numerous films, among them The Day of the Jackal (1973); The Black Windmill (1974); Richard Loncraine’s 1995 version of Richard III; The Scarlet Letter (1995); Shadowlands (1993); Elizabeth (1998); Enigma (2001); The Gathering Storm (2002); and the romantic comedy Love Actually (2003).