Vintage clips of Sir Michael Gambon on Top Gear are making the rounds on social media after his death on Thursday (28 September).
The 82-year-old Irish-English actor was known to many for his portrayal of Professor Dumbledore in six of the eight Harry Potter films. Other notable roles include playing the French detective Jules Maigret in ITV’s Maigret and starring in the BBC’s The Singing Detective.
Gambon’s family announced his death in a statement on Thursday, sharing that he died peacefully in hospital after a bout of pneumonia.
In response to the news, fans have shared their favourite memories of the acclaimed stage and screen star.
Some of his most appreciated public moments stem from his appearances on Top Gear, starting in the programme’s first season.
In 2002, Gambon took on the motoring show’s test track in a Suzuki Liana for the “Star in a Reasonably Priced Car” segment. He raced the vehicle with such power that it went around the last corner of his lap on two wheels.
While playing footage of the momentous turn, host Jeremy Clarkson called Gambon’s control of the car “spectacular”, and revealed that he’d completed the course in one minute and 55 seconds.
The actor admitted that his risky driving had resulted in him knocking one of the car’s wing mirrors off.
To mark the star’s impressive achievement, the final corner of the Top Gear test track was then dubbed “Gambon Corner”, or simply “Gambon”.
The Layer Cake star returned to the programme in 2006 to take on the track again, and entertained Clarkson with his candour about dislike of interviews.
“They’re just awful, so I just tell lies,” Gambon told the presenter.
Giving examples of some mistruths that he’d shared with previous interviewers, Gambon said that he’d once claimed that he’d trained as a ballet dancer, but gave up after falling from a stage and through a kettle drum.
Then, Gambon recalled how he’d previously fibbed that he was gay after being asked whether he’d found it difficult portraying the gay Victorian poet Oscar Wilde.
“[The interviewer] said, ‘What about the homosexuality?’ That annoyed me – and I said, ‘Well I found that very easy, because I used to be a homosexual.’”
After getting laughs from host Jeremy Clarkson and the studio audience, Gambon continued: “He was so thick. I said, ‘But I was forced to give it up… it made my eyes water.’”