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John Hurt exits Kenneth Branagh’s The Entertainer on doctor’s orders

John Hurt. Photo: BAFTA/Ian Derry Actor John Hurt, 77. Photo: Photo: BAFTA/Ian Derry
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John Hurt has been forced to pull out of Kenneth Branagh’s production of The Entertainer following medical advice.

After a recent spell in hospital with an intestinal complaint, the actor has been told by doctors it is “too soon” in his recovery to take on the “lengthy and arduous” part.

He was due to play Billy Rice, the father of Branagh’s character Archie Rice, for nearly three months in a staging directed by Rob Ashford.

Hurt explained: “Although I am much improved and on the road to a full recovery, my doctors have advised that it is too soon for me to undertake a lengthy and arduous stage role.

“It is therefore with great sadness and disappointment that I must withdraw from The Entertainer.”

The veteran said he hoped Branagh, Ashford and the rest of the cast and crew had “a happy and successful production of a wonderful play”.

The Entertainer is due to begin previews on August 20, with an opening night on August 30. It is scheduled to run at the Garrick Theatre until November 12.

A replacement for Hurt has not yet been announced.

Earlier this year, Hurt was presented with an prize for outstanding contribution to radio at the BBC Audio Drama Awards.

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