1. Sir Kenneth Charles “Ken” Branagh is a Northern Irish actor, director, producer, and screenwriter from Belfast, Northern Ireland.
2. Branagh has been nominated for five Academy Awards, five Golden Globes, and has won an Emmy and three BAFTAs.
3. He was appointed a knight bachelor in the 2012 Birthday Honours and was knighted on 9 November 2012.
4. Branagh went on to train at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.
5. Others included Jonathan Pryce, Juliet Stevenson, Alan Rickman, Anton Lesser, Bruce Payne and Fiona Shaw.
6. In 1984 he appeared in the Royal Shakespeare Company production of Henry V, directed by Adrian Noble.
7. Branagh became a major presence in the media and on the British stage when Renaissance collaborated with Birmingham Rep for a 1988 touring season of three Shakespeare plays under the umbrella title of Renaissance Shakespeare on the Road, which also played a repertory season at the Phoenix Theatre in London.
8. It featured directorial debuts for Judi Dench with Much Ado About Nothing , Geraldine McEwan with As You Like It, and Derek Jacobi directing Branagh in the title role in Hamlet, with Sophie Thompson as Ophelia.
9. Critic Milton Shulman of the London Evening Standard wrote: “On the positive side Branagh has the vitality of Olivier, the passion of Gielgud, the assurance of Guinness, to mention but three famous actors who have essayed the role.
10. On the negative side, he has not got the magnetism of Olivier, nor the mellifluous voice quality of Gielgud nor the intelligence of Guinness.”
11. A year later in 1989 Branagh co-starred with Emma Thompson in the Renaissance revival of Look Back in Anger.
12. Judi Dench directed both the theatre and television productions, presented first in Belfast then at the London Coliseum and Lyric Theatre.