The death of magnetic British actor Alan Rickman was confirmed yesterday, and tributes have been flooding in for the man who chilled and thrilled a generation as Professor Snape in the Harry Potter films, stalking the corridors of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, uttering hushed, conspiratorial musings to quaking pupils. He was famed for his compelling presence and, of course, that warm, rich voice, which science has deemed perfect.

1988 saw him play Hans Gruber, panto villain to Bruce Willis’ good guy in the influential thriller Die Hard and in 1991 he camped it up again as the Sheriff of Nottingham in the high fantasy Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, delivering such ridiculous lines as: “That’s it then. Cancel the kitchen scraps for lepers and orphans, no more merciful beheadings, and call off Christmas.”

And here’s another fine performance from the late, great Rickman. More than 10 years ago he attended his pal Robyn Hitchcock’s 50th birthday party and recited Hitchcock’s own, moving poem ‘If Death Is Not The End’. The recording below is now deeply poignant – not least when it comes to the lines: “Life is what kills you in the end. And I can cry, but you won’t be there to be sorry.”