1. Until recently, if you knew David Bradley’s name or face, it was probably from his portrayal of Filch in the Harry Potter movies.
Bradley was born in 1942 in Yorkshire, England. He began acting in 1971 and his first television credit was in a comedy called Nearest and Dearest (he played “2nd Policeman”). Bradley went on to have a very successful career as a working character actor in such successes as A Family at War, Our Friends in the North (which launched the careers of Daniel Craig, Mark Strong, and Christopher Eccleston), Masterpiece Theatre’s Reckless (he played Robson Green’s father), and many more.
2. He began playing Filch in 2001.
Is his role as the bitter, yet cat-loving Squib the reason David Bradley is suddenly everywhere?
3. Because he is everywhere — here he is as Walder Frey on Game of Thrones.
Walder Frey is the villain of the year.
5. Bradley is also in the wonderful The World’s End, which is still in theaters
There he is on the left. He plays one of the townsfolk — I will leave it vague like that. (Bradley was also in Hot Fuzz, the second of the Edgar Wright/Simon Pegg Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy.)
6. American audiences can also soon see him in Richard II on PBS.
Great Performances will broadcast the series The Hollow Crown: Shakespeare’s History Plays starting on Sept. 20. Richard II is the first up.
7. His biggest role of the year, however, will be as the lead in the TV movie An Adventure in Space and Time.
As part of the 50th anniversary celebration of Doctor Who, the BBC is making a movie about the creation of the much-worshipped series. Bradley is the star — a rarity for him — playing William Hartnell, the actor who was the first Doctor. An Adventure in Space and Time will premiere later this year (the anniversary is Nov. 23).
8. But the reason for this post is Bradley’s mind-blowing, tragic turn in Broadchurch — spoilers for Wednesday night’s episode below.
Jack: one of the riveting mystery Broadchurch’s red herrings, and definitely its saddest. Though he was innocent of killing 11-year-old Danny, Jack couldn’t live with the town’s wrath after his secrets came out — particularly the secret that he had been a sex offender with a teen-aged girl whom he went on to marry — and jumped off a cliff to his death in this week’s episode. That people Jack loved turned on him easily (and incorrectly) appeared to break his heart; the scene in which he admitted he liked hugging young boys because he missed his dead son broke mine. What was so remarkable about Bradley in Broadchurch was how the actor used the same physicality that makes him a natural to play the cranky, if not villainous, Filches and Walder Freys of the world. Bradley’s face, particularly his down-turned mouth and deep-set and unsmiling eyes, can look as if it were etched by a sculptor in a terrible mood. As Jack, he was creepy and cranky and suspicious. And yet he loved Danny in a (grand)fatherly way that proved to be only innocent — he was lonely for his missing family. Broadchurch’s creator, Chris Chibnall, was brilliant to cast Bradley, and Bradley brought a weight to this role that will stay with viewers forever. Good-bye, Jack.