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Sir Jonathan Miller: British theatre director and author dies aged 85 | Ents & Arts News

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British theatre director and presenter Sir Jonathan Miller has died aged 85.

The family of the Beyond the Fringe star, who had Alzheimer’s disease, said his death on Wednesday will leave a “huge hole in our lives”.

They said: “Our father died this morning peacefully at home with his family around him following a long battle with Alzheimer’s.

“He was 85 and leaves his wife Rachel and children Tom, William and Kate. His death is a great loss to our family and to his friends and will leave a huge hole in our lives.”

Miller enjoyed a decades-long career that encompassed theatre, television and opera and became one of the most renowned figures in the arts.

Born in London, he studied medicine at Cambridge and specialised in neurology in the late 1950s before finding fame in the early 1960s following the success of the satirical revue, Beyond The Fringe.

Jonathan Miller at Cambridge University in 1954
Image:
Jonathan Miller at Cambridge University in 1954
Alan Bennett, Peter Cook,  Dudley Moore and Jonathan Miller (R), authors and performers of the revue, Beyond The Fringe
Image:
Alan Bennett, Peter Cook, Dudley Moore and Jonathan Miller (R) starred in Beyond The Fringe

The show, which also featured Dudley Moore, Alan Bennett and Peter Cook, went from London’s West End to Broadway.

Miller made his directing debut in 1962 with John Osborne’s Under Plain Cover and went on to direct theatre and television plays, including The Merchant Of Venice at the National Theatre and six Shakespeare plays.

His creative ventures also included directing operas in the 1970s and running the Old Vic Theatre. He later became a writer and presenter of more than a dozen BBC documentaries, and was known for being a television personality and public intellectual in Britain and the US.

Some of Britain’s most reputable arts institutions paid tribute to Miller following the news of his death.

The National Theatre, which Miller was associate director of in its early days, said: “We are saddened to learn of the death of Jonathan Miller, a legendary figure across theatre and opera.”

The British Film Institute tweeted it was “sad” to hear of the news of his death.

The Royal Opera added that Miller was “one of the most important figures in British theatre and opera of the past half century who shone a unique light on our art form”.

The English National Opera tweeted: “His contribution to comedy, theatre and ENO in particular was immeasurable. For over four decades Jonathan created some of ENO’s most celebrated and popular opera productions.”

Writer and filmmaker Marco North described Miller as a “curious soul that wandered and explored” in a tribute on Twitter.

He added: “A joyous man, with an inspired laugh, his head tilted far back – and I am proud to say I told him a few jokes. He knew what life was about.”

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