Tributes paid to actor Simon Ward

Simon Ward Ward toured the country with plays such as Alan Bennett's The Madness of George III

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Tributes have been paid to the British actor Simon Ward, who has died at the age of 70.

Ward played Churchill in the Richard Attenborough film Young Winston, while he also appeared in the television series The Tudors and Judge John Deed.

His last major theatre performance came in 2010, when he played the lead role Alan Bennett's The Madness of George III.

Its director, Alastair Whatley, described him as a "king to the last".

"Already in declining health, Simon took on the one of the most challenging roles written in recent years," Whatley said.

Whatley said his "lasting memory" was of a performance at The Exeter Northcott theatre, near the actor's home town, which was one of Ward's last public performances.

"To an audience full of his family and friends, he gave a final blistering performance to a standing ovation from audience and cast members alike," he said. "A king to the very last. I know he will missed by many."

'Magnificent' actor

Ward's agent said he died on Friday after a long illness, with his wife Alexandra and daughters at his bedside.

People who knew Ward have contacted the BBC to convey their memories of the actor.

Simon Ward Ward's stage career began in the 1960s

Michael Sumpter from Tunbridge Wells went to school with Ward and recalled that he stood out as a "magnificent" actor and "it was no surprise to see him rise to fame".

"I have followed his career with interest and the acting profession will be the poorer with his passing," he said.

Paul Raynor in Brisbane, Australia, said working with Ward was an experience he would never forget.

"His portrayal of Lawrence of Arabia in the 1986 Old Vic production of Ross was as dynamic and passionate a performance as anything you will see on stage," he said.

"His voice had an authoritative quality and stillness, his penetrating eyes and an acute observation of acting. He was a charming leading man, I am so desperately sad today."

David Page of Severn Beach, South Gloucestershire, said he was a driver for Ward during the filming of Dracula in 1973.

"It was my job to pick up both Simon Ward and Nigel Davenport and take them out to the set around Pinewood," he said.

"Simon was always a gentleman and I greatly enjoyed hearing his stories and those of Nigel. Simon will, for me, always be remembered for his role as Winston Churchill in Young Winston."

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