Sir Jonathan Miller is an art historian, comic actor, comedy writer, doctor, film director, gallery curator, historian of science, lecturer, neurologist,
opera director, painter, sculptor, television presenter, television producer, theatre director, and theatre historian.
He began his career by becoming a fully-qualified doctor in the 1950s. In the early 1960s he became famous as one of the writer-stars of the comedy smash hit Beyond the Fringe. He followed that by becoming famous as one of Britain's leading theatre directors. From 1973 he became famous as one of the world's leading opera directors. In the early 1980s he became even more world famous by presenting his BBC TV science documentary series The Body in Question. He lectures and writes books about all these too. This year he is having an exhibition of his own painting and sculpture (everyone needs a hobby). He spends a lot of time abroad because he very much dislikes the way the British try to belittle anyone who is cultured and good at things.
Sir Jonathan was knighted in the Queen's Birthday Honours list in June 2002.
The television series Beyond the Fringe
ran from 1961 to 1964, and as well as Miller it starred Peter Cook
, Dudley Moore
, and Alan Bennett
, and was the forerunner of much of British comedy thereafter, such as Monty Python
This highly innovative show, much harder hitting and more irreverent than anything that had gone before, was the beginning of the so-called Satire Boom.
His reputation here was built on his Shakespearean
productions, notably The Merchant of Venice
with Laurence Olivier
and Joan Plowright
at the National Theatre
, and The Tempest
with Max von Sydow
. In the 1980s he directed eleven of the BBC's television
series of Shakespeare adaptations. Between 1988 and 1990 he was the artistic director of the Old Vic
Theatre Company, the prestigious company which had in earlier years given rise to the National Theatre. Other major productions include Long Day's Journey into Night
with Jack Lemmon
, and Andromache
with Janet Suzman
. His première at the Gate Theatre
in Dublin was with Congreve
's The Double Dealer
in 1992, and his première at the Almeida Theatre
was A Midsummer Night's Dream
His 1986 book Subsequent Performances is about the problem of interpretation of classic plays once age has dulled their immediacy and required a re-evaluation for a new age.
His first production was in 1973, the new opera Arden Must Die
by Alexander Goehr
He began his fruitful collaboration with English National Opera in 1978, with The Marriage of Figaro. Perhaps his most renowned work for ENO is his Rigoletto, updated to the New York Mafia world of the 1950s. Other works he's done for ENO include Carmen, Der Rosenkavalier, Don Giovanni, La Traviata, The Barber of Seville, The Magic Flute, The Mikado, Tosca, and Turn of the Screw.
His Covent Garden première was Così Fan Tutte in 1995.
He has done Katya Kabanova and Pelléas et Mélisande at the Metropolitan Opera, New York, and plans to do The Rake's Progress.
At La Scala, Milan, he's done La Fanciulla del West and Manon Lescaut.
His strongest collaboration overseas has been with the Maggio Musicale in Florence, for whom he's done Ariadne auf Naxos, Così Fan Tutte, Don Giovanni, Idomeneo, La Bohème, The Marriage of Figaro, and Tosca.
At the Monte Carlo Opera he's done Anna Bolena, Maria Stuarda, and Roberto d'Evereux.
Then there's Figaro at Vienna, Capriccio and Falstaff in Berlin, Mitridate at Salzburg, Fedora in Bregenz, Falstaff and Nabucco and Secret Marriage in Zurich, L'Incoronazione di Poppea at Glimmerglass, The Magic Flute in Israel and Santa Fe, Tosca in Houston...
He studied first at St Paul's School
then at St John's College, Cambridge
, and qualified as a doctor in 1959 from University College London
In the 1980s he created and presented the popular BBC series The Body in Question about the history of medicine; and wrote the book to go with it. Subsequent medical TV series have been Born Talking and Museums of Madness, about the conceptual history of psychology.
Miller also created two best-selling pop-up books, The Human Body and The Facts of Life.
He has lectured on art at the National Gallery
and in New York, in a series entitled "From the Look of Things
". He curated an exhibition at the National Gallery in 1998.
This month (27 October to 24 November 2001) he has an exhibition entitled "Paper and Metal Works" at Flowers East gallery, 282 Richmond Rd, Hackney E8 (for anyone who wants to catch it), of pieces he has been working on in his spare time for the last few years: the paper works being partly painted, partly collage, partly three-dimensional, and the larger works being welded combinations of scrap metal.