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On Jonathan Miller

Neal Ascherson: Jonathan Miller, 2 January 2020

... Ifirst met​ Jonathan’s knees. This was because Cambridge sofas in the 1950s had broken springs. Once they had buoyed up culture heroes like Rupert Brooke, John Cornford or Guy Burgess. Now, as we trudged across the great Gromboolian plain of the 1950s, they had given up the struggle. Modish undergraduates perched on the arms ...

Et in Alhambra ego

D.A.N. Jones, 5 June 1986

Agate: A Biography 
by James Harding.
Methuen, 238 pp., £12.95, April 1986, 0 413 58090 3
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Subsequent Performances 
by Jonathan Miller.
Faber, 253 pp., £15, April 1986, 0 571 13133 6
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... remarks, though they will seem truisms to many actors, are distanced, as in a time-warp, from Jonathan Miller’s handsome, thoughtful book about ‘directors’ theatre’, Subsequent Performances. This book is, among other things, an apologia for Miller’s own work as a drama director and an essay on the effects ...

Keeping control

Jane Rogers, 8 January 1987

Ivan: Living with Parkinson’s Disease 
by Ivan Vaughan and Jonathan Miller.
Macmillan, 203 pp., £9.95, November 1986, 0 333 42454 9
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... Parkinson’s disease, in Ivan Vaughan’s book, becomes a fascinating, even thrilling experience. Jonathan Miller talks in his introduction of Ivan ‘surmounting his disease by regarding it as a treasured possession and not just as an abominable affliction’, and that is exactly right. The experience of the disease becomes a voyage of discovery ...

Alan Bennett remembers Peter Cook

Alan Bennett, 25 May 1995

... first set eyes on Peter, at lunch in a restaurant, I think on Goodge Street, with Dudley Moore and Jonathan Miller, the meeting arranged by John Bassett, whose idea it was that we should all work together writing the review that turned into Beyond the Fringe. Having already written while still an undergraduate a large slice of the two West End shows ...

The Light at the Back of a Sequence of Rooms

Peter Campbell: Pieter de Hooch, 29 October 1998

Pieter De Hooch 1629-84 
by Peter Sutton.
Yale, 183 pp., £30, September 1998, 0 300 07757 2
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On Reflection 
by Jonathan Miller.
National Gallery, 224 pp., £25, September 1998, 1 85709 236 8
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... in its own right. It can still be peered into at the National Gallery (at the moment it is part of Jonathan Miller’s exhibition), which also houses the Fabritius picture. Perhaps it is because they deal so magically with light and space that de Hooch’s pictures make you preternaturally aware of the relationship between flat picture and depicted light ...


W.G. Runciman: You had better look out, 10 December 1998

... oughtn’t they to be prepared to take it either way? I know that’s easy to say, and I remember Jonathan Miller once telling me, and convincingly so, that nobody to whom it hasn’t happened can know how peculiarly disagreeable it is to be lampooned in print. But as Goethe said, and I quoted to the famous Jonathan on ...

Knowledge Infinite

D.J. Enright, 16 August 1990

The Don Giovanni Book: Myths of Seduction and Betrayal 
edited by Jonathan Miller.
Faber, 127 pp., £6.99, July 1990, 0 571 14542 6
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... This compilation arose out of Jonathan Miller’s 1985 production of Don Giovanni for the English National Opera, and his introduction to the book is agreeably illuminating, not least for those who for one reason or another never go to the opera. The main characters of Don Giovanni, he notes, have a prior and conspicuous existence outside the opera, being well-established figures of myth, a fact which both helps and hinders ...


Frank Kermode: Everybody loves the OED, 20 April 1989

... Listener of 1968, and with a rarefied allusiveness in the TLS for 1978, where it is written that Jonathan Miller has a variety of allotropes.The big problems tend to come with the little words, such as all – eight and a half columns in the old text, more than ten in the new; but the old was good enough to provide the substance of the new. I was ...

This Charming Man

Frank Kermode, 24 February 1994

The Collected and Recollected Marc 
Fourth Estate, 51 pp., £25, November 1993, 1 85702 164 9Show More
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... the Sunday Times Colour Supplement, as well as supplying pocket cartoons for several dailies. Karl Miller, who knew him well both at Cambridge and in London, describes Boxer in his autobiography as ‘both Figaro and the Count’, which may suggest not a blend of patrician wilfulness and backstairs cunning but internal strife between the two. Presumably you ...

Boys will be girls

Clive James, 1 September 1983

Footlights! A Hundred Years of Cambridge Comedy 
by Robert Hewison.
Methuen, 224 pp., £8.95, June 1983, 0 413 51150 2
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... give up their boas and beads if they could help it. The revues of the early Fifties which featured Jonathan Miller still had their quota of rouged youths. But at long last the IQ level of the Footlights rose into triple figures. Successively onto the scene came such butch illuminati as Miller, Michael Frayn and Peter ...

At the Wellcome

Peter Campbell: The Heart, 16 August 2007

... that he reckoned it must be penetrated by pores too narrow to be seen or felt out with a probe. Jonathan Miller, in a lucid account of Harvey’s demonstration of the circulation of the blood, reckons that knowledge of pump technology must have had a part in the development of his ideas. You see what you expect to see. Because our textbooks have ...

Robbing banks

George Melly, 25 June 1992

by David Sylvester.
Thames and Hudson, 352 pp., £45, May 1992, 0 500 09227 3
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by Sarah Whitfield.
South Bank Centre, 322 pp., £18.95, May 1992, 1 85332 087 0
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... the bourgeois ‘bad taste’ of Magritte’s house in the Rue des Mimosas in suburban Brussels, Jonathan Miller took off into one of his self-intoxicating fantasies. We were there together in the mid-Sixties to make a film for the BBC, and although I had forewarned him, Jonathan couldn’t believe that this ...


Frank Kermode, 5 June 1986

Dear Shadows: Portraits from Memory 
by John Wain.
Murray, 186 pp., £10.95, April 1986, 0 7195 4284 7
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The Oxford Library of English Poetry 
edited by John Wain.
Oxford, 1430 pp., £27.50, April 1986, 0 19 212246 0
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... of a television interview I did with the sage in January 1967. It was produced (for Monitor) by Jonathan Miller, and Wain was present. He says he understood nothing of the conversation, and the BBC presumably agreed that it was unintelligible, for it was never transmitted. However, a transcript of the programme was published, and it contains nothing ...


Alan Bennett: On failing to impress the queen, 5 January 2023

... in London’s Fortune Theatre where I was appearing with my colleagues and co-writers Peter Cook, Jonathan Miller and Dudley Moore in Beyond the Fringe.It was a smash hit, with every night the audience studded with celebrities, and accordingly at one performance there was the queen. My particular tour de force in the second half was an Anglican ...

Sinking Giggling into the Sea

Jonathan Coe, 18 July 2013

The Wit and Wisdom of Boris Johnson 
edited by Harry Mount.
Bloomsbury, 149 pp., £9.99, June 2013, 978 1 4081 8352 6
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... original cast members) and the other three-quarters of the Beyond the Fringe team (Alan Bennett, Jonathan Miller and Dudley Moore), who would go on to present their own take on the nuclear threat, in a sketch called ‘Civil War’.In that sketch, a worried Moore listens trustingly as a succession of posh-voiced government spokesmen seek to reassure him ...

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