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Potter act pulls our of play due to poor health’

PUBLISHED: 18:24 15 October 2009 | UPDATED: 11:08 23 August 2010

NEW YORK - JULY 09: Michael Gambon attends the premiere of

NEW YORK - JULY 09: Michael Gambon attends the premiere of "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" at Ziegfeld Theatre on July 9, 2009 in New York City. (Photo by Brad Barket/Getty Images)

2009 Getty Images

HARRY Potter actor Sir Michael Gambon has been forced to pull out of a National Theatre production because of ill health. The 68-year-old star, who lives near Camer Park, Meopham, was taken ill during the preparations for Alan Bennett s new play The Habi

HARRY Potter actor Sir Michael Gambon has been forced to pull out of a National Theatre production because of ill health.

The 68-year-old star, who lives near Camer Park, Meopham, was taken ill during the preparations for Alan Bennett's new play The Habit of Art, which is due to premiere on November 17.

It is thought Sir Gambon, who play Professor Albus Dumbledore the headteacher at Harry Potter's wizard school Hogwarts, collapsed during the rehearsals for the show and was taken to hospital.

A statement issued by the National Theatre said he was suffering from "minor ill health for which he needs time to rest."

His role in the stage play as W H Auden will now be taken by Richard Griffiths, who also has a role in the Harry Potter franchise as Vernon Dursley. His other film and TV credits include Bleak House, Sleepy Hollow and Pie In The Sky.

Theatre director Nicholas Hytner said: "We're all extremely sorry that Michael Gambon has had to withdraw from the play, but Alan Bennett and I couldn't be more grateful to our old friend Richard Griffiths for agreeing to take on this considerable challenge at such short notice.

"The Habit of Art is about the business of putting a play together as much as it is about making music or poetry. Richard Griffiths will play the actor, Fitz, who plays the poet W H Auden in a play set in a rehearsal room as a group of actors work through a play about Auden and Benjamin Britten.

"We're looking forward to taking creative advantage of this unexpected twist in our own rehearsal process."

Sir Michael lives with his wife Lady Anne in Meopham, but also shares a house part-time with set designer Phillipa Hart, 43, in West London

He has a 45-year old son with Lady Anne, and two young children with Miss Hart.

Mr Hytner confirmed the play would still be performed on November 17.

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