Michael Gambon has given up his career in theatre.

The 'Harry Potter' actor has confessed his fading memory has left him with no choice but to stop taking on roles in plays and focus on his television and film career.

He said: ''It's a horrible thing to admit, but I can't do it. It breaks my heart.''

Told his memory still seems quite sharp, he added: ''Yes. But it's when the script's in front of me and it takes me forever to learn it. It's frightening.''

However, the 74-year-old star seems appalled by the suggestion it may be time for him to retire.

Asked if he plans to stop working all together, he said: ''No. You've got to go to work, haven't you?''

Gambon's decision to quit acting on stage comes after he was rushed to hospital twice in 2009 suffering panic attacks after forgetting his lines at theatre auditions.

However, just six months ago he confessed he tried to overcome his memory troubles when Tom Hollander asked him to do a play with him.

He explained to the Sunday Times newspaper: ''There was a girl in the wings and I had a plug in my ear so she could read me the lines. And after about an hour I thought, 'This can't work. You can't be in theatre, free on the stage, shouting and screaming and running around, with someone else reading your lines'.''