EXPIRED: 05/03/10 – Jimmy Gardner, 85, had an acting career that spanned 50 years but was best known for his last role, that of Ernie Prang, the driver of the double decker Knight Bus, in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.
His other roles included character parts in Dr Who, the Adventures of Young Indiana Jones, Finding Neverland and many others including Hamlet!
His father Ted, a leading British jockey, tried to get the young Gardner into the horse business but he didn’t like it very much and always said as a child that he wanted to be an actor and appear on stage.
Before World War II broke out, Gardner worked for Warner Bros. and then Gainsborough Studios as a props man. One of his many jobs was to pass lit cigarettes to actors like Margaret Lockwood, James Mason and Michael Redgrave before the cameras rolled.
He also learned a lot about acting by spending time with playwright John Osborne — as his personal driver.
Recalling the old days when acting was tougher he once said, “We had to learn two or three plays a week that we now have weeks to learn, perform it, set up for the next one on Sunday and start again on Monday.”