Writer and director Sir Jonathan Miller dies aged 85

27 November 2019, 13:59

Sir Jonathan Miller died on Thursday morning at the age of 85
Sir Jonathan Miller died on Thursday morning at the age of 85. Picture: PA

By Maddie Goodfellow

Theatre director Sir Jonathan Miller has died at the age of 85 following a long battle with Alzheimers.

The family of the acclaimed author, director and actor confirmed that he passed away on Wednesday morning.

In a statement, his family 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."

Sir Jonathan was an esteemed artist, photographer, presenter, sculptor and much more, fronting shows including The Body In Question and Atheism: a Rough History Of Disbelief.

He served as artistic director of the Old Vic Theatre and was knighted in 2002 for services to music and the arts.

He first found fame in the groundbreaking satirical revue Beyond the Fringe with Peter Cook, Dudley Moore and Alan Bennett, after leaving his job as a doctor.

Whilst undertaking his medical degree at Cambridge, he was a member of the Footlights.

He directed a series of critically acclaimed operas in the 1980s and 90s.

Jonathan Miller was esteemed in many fields
Jonathan Miller was esteemed in many fields. Picture: Getty

Tony Hall, director-general of the BBC, said: "Jonathan Miller was a creative genius whose imagination knew no bounds.

"He was a doctor; a writer; producer; director; presenter, a creator who enjoyed a remarkable career in theatre, television and opera. He brought arts and culture to millions on the BBC."

Oliver Mears, director of opera at the Royal Opera House, said: "Jonathan Miller was one of the most important figures in British theatre and opera of the past half century.

"Combining a supreme intellect with a consistently irreverent perspective, formed from his experiences in both comedy and medicine, Miller shone a unique light on our art form.

He continued: "His intolerance of inauthenticity and laziness on stage was matched by the urgency and rigour of his search for the composer's vision, historical accuracy and psychological truth, resulting in so many productions which have stood the test of time.

"As artistic director of the Old Vic, he also gave some of our most brilliant practitioners their first chance - a legacy that lives on today. He will be sorely missed."

The British Film Institute said: "We're sad to hear the news that humorist, author and director Jonathan Miller has died."

Film director Edgar Wright also paid tribute, tweeting: "RIP Jonathan Miller. One quarter of the truly ground breaking Beyond The Fringe."