Oh, but this is becoming the very bastard of a year.
I’ve hardly begun to process the death of David Bowie, the news of which broke on Monday and it’s only Thursday and now Alan Rickman has died, and it’s cancer, fucking fucking cancer, yet again. It’s not even halfway through the first month of the year and that’s three already, what with Lemmy.
Everybody’s got their own favourite memory of Alan Rickman. A great many people, younger people especially, will immediately think of Snape in the Harry Potter films (and it was only two days ago that I was told that, before the filming of the first of them, when Rickman had been cast, J.K. Rowling took him into a private room and told him Snape’s fate and his schemes – long before any of this was written – so that he would know what lay behind the character).
Others will think of Hans Gruber in Die Hard, or the Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood – Prince of Thieves, about which I remember him commenting, after winning an award, that he now understood that subtlety wasn’t necessarily important. Or Jamie, coming back from the dead for Juliet Stephenson in Truly, Madly, Deeply, and that glorious, silly, heart-rendering scene where they sing ‘The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore’ over piano and a bass.
But for me, I will always go back to the beginning, to the 1982 adaptation of Trollope’s first two Barchester novels as The Barchester Chronicles (which I didn’t see until a repeat in 1990 or thereabouts). In one of the most perfectly cast series I have ever seen, Rickman was the newcomer, playing the Reverend Obadiah Slope in episodes 3-7.
Oh, and how brilliant he was, how perfectly he incarnated the part, to the extent that every time he was on screen, you expected to find pools of slime dripping out of the television set onto the carpet.
He was so bloody good. We cannot bear this, we cannot have so many good and great artists being taken from us so repeatedly. Not again. Fucking cancer, not again, please.