Why Michael Gambon has decided to end his stage career

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Sir Michael Gambon has announced his decision to end his stage career due to the difficulty he has remembering his lines. The star said “it breaks my heart” to quit the stage.

Could he be persuaded to change his mind?

It’s not an impulsive decision. Sir Michael, who has played Shakespearean greats including King Lear and Othello, was rushed to hospital twice in 2009 after suffering panic attacks when he forgot his lines during rehearsals for a performance at the National Theatre.

There must be some way around it.

The Irish-born actor said he realised it was time to bow out during a read-through for a recent project. “There was a girl in the wings and I had a plug in my ear so she could read me the lines,” Sir Michael, 74, told The Sunday Times Magazine (£).

“After about an hour I thought, ‘This can’t work. You can’t be in theatre, free on the stage, shouting and screaming and running around, with someone reading you your lines.’"

I suppose it’s not ideal.

“It’s a horrible thing to admit but I can’t do it. It breaks my heart,” said Sir Michael, who trained at the National Theatre under Laurence Olivier and has won four Baftas and three Laurence Olivier awards.

So it’s curtains for Sir Michael?

He will continue to work in film and TV. Later this year he will appear in the BBC adaptation of The Casual Vacancy, JK Rowling’s first novel for adults, and next year cinemagoers can see him play Private Godfrey in the film version of Dad’s Army.

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