Written by Richard Croxford, Artistic Director of the Lyric 2008-2013
On behalf of the Lyric Theatre may I say how deeply shocked and saddened we all are by the sudden passing of BJ Hogg, a much loved stalwart of the Northern Irish theatre scene and so well known through his numerous TV and film appearances.
BJ moved into acting after playing with the showbands through most of his teenage years and early twenties. It was a move that, at the time, saw his finances change for the worse as he himself joked he must have been a right eejit to take such a big pay cut! It did however prove to be much more personally rewarding and was to greatly benefit local audiences. He worked his way up the ladder of success starting off as an acting ASM in the theatre and went from strength to strength. His acting skills shone in all the local theatres.
His size and stature gave him a magnetic presence on stage but it wasn’t just this that ensured his watchability; it was his natural warmth, his generosity of spirit and the truth he was able to bring to a role. BJ brought such energy and zest for life in to a rehearsal room it was infectious, and helped create wonderful spaces to work in. He was always supportive to fellow cast members particularly ensuring younger actors were looked after often relaxing them with a joke or being silly. If things were getting tense, BJ would be able to relax the situation usually through his wonderful humour and in a calm manner through his sense of fair play. He was a fierce opponent of injustice and was prepared to stand up for what was right.
At the Lyric, BJ played in 20 productions showcasing his great versatility and acting strength. His talents shone through the tragedies of Shakespeare in Macbeth and Julius Caesar, sang his heart out in Hello, Dolly!, brought such realism to The Hidden Curriculum, Shadow of a Gunman and The Interrogation of Ambrose Fogarty and cracked us up in Comedians, She Stoops To Conquer and One for the Road. His skill, energy and the honesty of his portrayals always brought something special to a production. My personal favourite performance of his was as Joe Gargery in Great Expectations as I had the enormous pleasure of playing Pip opposite him. It was such a beautifully natural performance and on top of this he was such a support through rehearsals and performances. He was like the perfect big brother.
Whilst we remember him for his many stage successes, he also built a hugely successful career on camera, and our loss became TV and film’s gain. He was central to the success of the Oscar-nominated short film Dance Lexie Dance, played Addam Marbrand in Game of Thrones and of course known so well locally as Big Mervyn in Give My Head Peace.
He was working right up until recently when lockdown halted his talent. He had been on stage with the Hole in the Wall Gang just a few weeks ago and appeared in the BBC’s Windermere Children.
Our hearts go out to BJ’s wife Elish and their two children Nathan and Abigail.
On behalf of the theatre community, we thank you BJ for sharing your talent with us and all the joy, the drama and the laughs you have given us. You will be remembered as a hugely talented actor but above all as a gentleman, a warm, humorous and generous human being. You will be greatly missed.