Their legacy is just doing it, not shouting about it

Alan Rickman
Alan Rickman
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It has been quite incredible to see the outpouring of grief over the deaths of David Bowie and Alan Rickman.

That both should have passed away from cancer in the same week, both aged 69, has made it doubly poignant.

They let their profession speak for them: they did not need the spotlight once the performance was over, and that is why we did not know they were ill

I wonder if the grief, the desire to mourn them, has come because both their deaths were unexpected.

We’ve seen the pictures of layers and layers of floral tributes laid at the David Bowie mural in Brixton and social media is awash with quotes from Alan Rickman’s films.

For me, Bowie was very much a part of the soundtrack to my teenaged years — discovered as my tastes moved from pop to rock.

Alan Rickman, however, will always be Hans Gruber from Die Hard or the Sheriff from Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves, whose line “I’ll cut your heart out with a spoon” has to be one of the best threats ever uttered in film.

What both men had in common was a modesty born from their desire to be the best they could be when it came to their craft. Could you imagine either of them appearing on Celebrity Big Brother?

Do you think Bowie could ever have been discovered on The X Factor?

Or Rickman via a well-delivered monologue on Britain’s Got Talent?

Fame for them — like for all truly great people — was just a by-product of their unmatchable talent and their absolute dedication to their art.

They let their profession speak for them: they did not need the spotlight once the performance was over, and that is why we did not know they were ill.

We did not need to know Bowie’s Blackstar album was his deathbed message.

We did not need to know Rickman would not, after all, be still reading the Harry Potter novels when he’s 80, like he foretold.

There are people like them in every profession. Take our very own astronaut Tim Peake, who took his first spacewalk on Friday, for example.

They don’t need to shout about what they do — it’s the doing of it that’s the important thing.

And that will be the Bowie and Rickman legacy.