As well-known for his political activism as for his acting, he was speaking at a public meeting about a disputed "travellers" site when he collapsed.
The 65-year-old was in Basildon defending the rights of several hundred gypsies and travellers to squat on a site called Crays Hill. An eyewitness told the Guardian newspaper, “He stopped talking [and] sank to his knees. The police used their machines on him twice. The second time they seemed to get a pulse and then one of the gypsies started giving him mouth to mouth.”
Redgrave has long been an outspoken champion of favorite, often controversial, causes. He spoke out against the war on Iraq recently, telling this correspondent shortly before the war began that Iraq was “a far more culturally rich and civilized society than America is.”
Redgrave, who has recently been receiving treatment for cancer, has been taken to Basildon Hospital where his condition, according to Reuters, is said to be “critical but stable.” Kika Markham, his wife (herself an actress), has gone to the hospital to be with him.
The attack comes at a time when Redgrave was working immensely hard. The last two years had seen a quick-fire succession of challenging stage roles, including King Lear and Tynan for the RSC, and Pericles at Shakespeare’s Globe.