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John Stride (born 11 July 1936) is an English actor best known for his television work during the 1970s.. His career begain in the theatre where appeared at the Old Vic as Romeo in Franco Zeffirelli's long-running production of Romeo and Juliet, first staged in 1960, with Judi Dench, and also as Prince Hal in Henry IV, Part 1. At the end of the 1960s he played Rosencrantz at the Old Vic, in the National Theatre Company's production of Tom Stoppard's play Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead. Stride appeared in two Shakespeare production during the 1970s made for the large and small screen respectively. In Roman Polanski's version of Macbeth (1971) he played the role of Ross. For the BBC Television Shakespeare production of Shakespeare's Henry VIII (1979) he was cast in the lead as the Tudor King.
This man Stride
John Stride is still David Main - the part for which TV Times readers voted him top TV personality in 1970. He is about eight pounds lighter, still lives in Battersea. "So I can see the trees and run two miles a day in the park without being mistaken for an escaping burglar. Not good for the Main image, that."
The physical fitness is professional. A part like that of David Main makes great demands on stamina as well as artistic creativity "besides," Stride says, "it was always good enough for Olivier and he taught me my trade - or as much of it as I can claim to know."
The trade began for him with a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. After that, National Service and some hesitation about an acting career. Then plays with Peggy Ashcroft, and most of the other great names, Romeo in Zeffirelli's Romeo and Juliet, then five years at the National Theatre under Olivier, playing the leading modern and classical roles.
Stride's National Theatre experience was, incidentally, of great benefit to me. When the series first started I had a theatre-going secretary. She learned I was about to work with Stride, gasped "I'd queue on broken glass to see him", doubled her efficiency and after that it was no trouble to get typing done on Sundays.
Stride still has the theatrical approach to television. This means as unselfishness and unstarlike consideration and co-operation which is the vitak factor in welding together a cast of actors and actresses into a company which produces and level of ensemble playing like a good orchestra. According to Stride: " That's a big audience out there and they're entitled to the best we can do. Why waste energy on rehearsal-floor politics, petty niggles about dignity, upstaging? Let's get stuck into the job and act."
Two examples. Stride has one of the smallest dressing rooms in the long corridor of them at the Leeds studios. "What the hell, the shower works and it's nearest the exit if there's a fire." Second, any new actor nervous about his 10-line part will be found near Stride on the studio floor. I've seen Stride coach an actor seconds before stepping in front of the camera to be word, gesture, and expression perfect in his four-page speech.
Preparation is all. Stride arrives at the rehearsal room over a taxi garage near the Oval very well prepared indeed. A lot of this is due to his wife, actress April Wilding, who helps Stride go over scripts with a fine-tooth comb and whose comments are shrewd, and invariably constructive. "Do you think Edmund wants to be specific about which Peasants' Revolt you're talking about? It'll make a difference to the Magna Carta reference earlier."
In Leeds, recording an episode, Stride turns into a amiable monk. In the dressing-room, there is a drinks tray-again the theatrical tradition and one I have occasional cause to be grateful for-but stride sips Perrier water. There is a choice of four-star hotels but Stride stays in an anonymous flat, and is fast asleep by 9:30 after his chicken salad on the night before recording.
It should, however, be said firmly that Stride puts the same amount of dedication into relaxing.
After a series, he does a disappearing act with April, usually towards a beach with a variety of Michelin-starred restaurants. "The way I'm collapsed on that beach, kid, even the jellyfish are jealous. April, peel me a grape."
While you're watching the series, John Stride will probably be bicycling round Battersea. He's a shade secretive about this, claims he hates to see his own performances. April, as usual, is probably right when she says: "He prefers to get other people's opinions of his work. But he's always very pleased if our greengrocer or the ladies in the launderette have liked it."
Stride is a private man, concealing shyness with an extrovert charm. But he's also apable of turning out in crowds and rain for a charity walk, Which coast me £5 at 25p a mile and Stride a blistered Sunday when he was supposed to be resting in the middle of a hard schedule.
In his complexity, Stride finds the attributes in himself which make for his impeccable playing of David Main. The research, the preparation-"nothing beats homework"- the energy, the refusal to suffer fools or time-servers gladly (where his language can be emphatically non-legal) the same ambition to be good at his job. Acting.