Jonathan Miller dies aged 85

Wednesday 27th November 2019, 1:31pm by Ian Wolf

Sir Jonathan Miller, a member of the celebrated Beyond The Fringe team, has died aged 85.

Rising to prominence in the internationally acclaimed Cambridge Footlights revue of 1960, he sustained a career in many other artistic and scientific fields, particularly as an opera director of some 40 years’ standing.

Born in London on 21st July 1934, according to a statement released by his family Miller died: “Peacefully at home… following a long battle with Alzheimer’s.”

In comedy, Miller is most famous as one of the Beyond The Fringe writer-performer quartet, alongside Peter Cook, Dudley Moore and Alan Bennett, which kick-started the satire boom that underpinned much comedy through that decade. The show premiered at the Edinburgh Festival in 1960 and transferred with huge success and critical acclaim to both the West End and Broadway.

Comedy was a small part of Miller’s varied career. Having qualified as a doctor from Cambridge University, Miller worked as an author, sculptor, photographer, documentary presenter, and a director of plays and operas, despite the fact he could not read music.

Other career highlights included a controversial TV adaptation of Alice in Wonderland in 1966 that ended up being denounced in Parliament as unsuitable for children; a much-revived production of Verdi’s Rigoletto; as well as Gilbert and Sullivan’s comic operetta The Mikado. He also presented documentaries such as The Body in Question in 1978, and for a brief period returned to working as a doctor.

In 1983 Miller was awarded a CBE, and in 2002 he was made a knight for services to music and the arts.

Below is a clip of Miller in Beyond The Fringe with Moore, Cook and Bennett.


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