Sir Jonathan Miller

“I’m simply not interested in belonging to a race,” he once said. “I’m English.”

Yes, that’s very good. And this is fun:

For a man best known for his inspired interpretation of opera, he could not read music.

17 thoughts on “Sir Jonathan Miller”

  1. “For a man best known for his inspired interpretation of opera”: we went to see his Marriage of Figaro. All that was noteworthy was a low, vaudevillian trick. I remarked to an academic friend that it was a production that I could have staged. She was horrified: I had doubted the great man. “Look” says I “you gotta get ’em on and off the stage. I learnt to do that as an actor in the school dramsoc.”

    In fact I never did doubt his quick mind, his wide reading, nor his wonderful contributions to Beyond the Fringe. But based on that sample of one, his operatic reputation was baloney.

  2. Anyhoo, Irving Berlin could not read music. He picked out his tunes on the piano, using only one key. And he was a genius of popular music.

  3. dearieme,

    “She was horrified: I had doubted the great man.”

    The thing with Jonathon Miller is that I can never quite pin down something he did that was really great. He seems like one of these establishment people that was always around on the BBC, but what stuff did he do that still lasts? What’s the genius piece of comedy that matches something like Caroline Aherne’s “so what first attracted you to the millionaire Paul Daniels”, or the black knight scene in Monty Python and the Holy Grail?

    And opera staging? Yeah, that’s all over the place, gimmicky smelling-your-own-farts-and-making-clumsy-comparisons-to-Trump-and-asylym-seekers stuff. There’s great stagings that no-one talks about because they just do the work well.

  4. He was a noise in atheist ranks.

    And he did the first MR James adaption “Oh Whistle etc” in 1968–which paved the way for the BBC’s good “Ghost stories for Christmas” series in the 1970’s.

    In his later years he looked like an upmarket Old Man Steptoe.

    Clive James dead too. I though he had died years ago.

  5. Ecks, Clive James was seriously ill for 10 years, only writing very occasional columns and books of poetry. However he did savage the global warming cult in the Guardian a few times

  6. That “Whistle and I’ll come to you” is still terrifying. And apparently achieved by having a couple of chaps flapping a dirty sheet around.

  7. Clive James did say he was slightly embarrassed that a new drug had prolonged his life after announcing he had only a short time to live, also reminded obituary writers that short is good and one line is even better

  8. Bloke on M4:
    “What’s the genius piece of comedy that matches something like Caroline Aherne’s “so what first attracted you to the millionaire Paul Daniels””

    Which might have been funnier if it was actually at all accurate and not simply a mean slur. Debbie McGee married Daniels when he was touring the likes of Working Men’s Clubs – way before fame and fortune. Magic was very unfashionable and wasn’t regularly on TV at the time – Daniels has to be largely credited with its UK resurrection.

    Mrs Merton might have more pertinently asked Caroline Aherne what attracted her to the wealthy pop star Peter Hook at a point before her career took off.

  9. Rowdy
    November 28, 2019 at 4:03 pm
    “That “Whistle and I’ll come to you” is still terrifying. And apparently achieved by having a couple of chaps flapping a dirty sheet around.”

    What enhanced the apparition visually was stretch printing. i.e. each frame of the shot film was printed several times to give an unnatural, un-smooth, slow motion. Very simple but effective and anything more obviously tricksy would have diluted the atmosphere.

  10. Good Lord. The Times:

    ‘He is survived by his wife, Rachel, and their daughter Kate, who works in television production, and two sons, Tom, a photographer, and William, who runs a television and media content and production business. Miller once said he considered his children, who failed to gain a single qualification at school, to be “academic failures” and, as such, a source of disappointment to him.

    Writing in The Sunday Times in 2009, William gently pointed out that he and his siblings would have fared better had they been sent to public schools, like their parents, instead of state schools, as part of a “cavalier social experiment” to appease the couple’s socialist principles.’

    Needless human pain.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *