Thomas George Hooper is an English film and television director of English and Australian background. Hooper began making short films as a teenager, had his first professional short, Painted Faces, broadcast on Channel 4 in 1992. At Oxford University Hooper directed plays and television commercials. After graduating, he directed episodes of Quayside, Byker Grove, EastEnders and Cold Feet on British television. In the 2000s, Hooper directed the major BBC costume dramas Love in a Cold Climate and Daniel Deronda, was selected to helm the 2003 revival of ITV's Prime Suspect series, starring Helen Mirren. Hooper made his feature film debut with Red Dust, a British drama starring Hilary Swank and Chiwetel Ejiofor, before directing Helen Mirren again in the Company Pictures/HBO Films historical drama Elizabeth I, he continued working for HBO on the television film Longford and in John Adams, a seven-part serial on the life of the American president. Hooper returned to features with The Damned United, a fact-based film about the English football manager Brian Clough.
The following year saw the release of the historical drama The King's Speech, starring Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush, met with critical acclaim. Hooper's next film was Les Misérables, his 2015 film, The Danish Girl, was nominated for the BAFTA Award for Best British Film. Hooper's work was nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Directing for Prime Suspect and John Adams, won one for Elizabeth I, was nominated for the British Academy TV Craft Award for Best Director for Longford; the King's Speech won multiple awards, including Best Director wins for Hooper from the Directors Guild of America and the Academy Awards, a Best Director nomination from BAFTA. Tom Hooper was born in 1972 in London, the son of Meredith Jean and Richard Hooper. Meredith is an Australian author and academic and Richard is an English media businessman. Hooper was educated at Westminster School, his initial interest in drama was triggered by his English and drama teacher at Highgate, former Royal Shakespeare Company actor Roger Mortimer, who produced an annual school play.
At the age of 12, Hooper read a book entitled How to Make Film and Television and decided he wanted to become a director. For the next year Hooper researched filmmaking from publications such as On Camera by Harris Watts. Aged 13, he made his first film, entitled Runaway Dog, using a clockwork 16mm Bolex camera his uncle had given to him. Hooper said: "The clockwork would run out after thirty seconds, so the maximum shot length was thirty seconds. I could only afford a hundred feet of Kodachrome reversal film, which cost about twenty-five, you had to send off for two weeks to be processed. I could only make silent movies, because sound was too expensive and complicated." He slowed down the frame rate of the camera. Hooper classified the short, about a dog which kept running away from its owner, as a comedy, filmed it on location in Oxfordshire; when Hooper was 14, his film Bomber Jacket came runner-up in a BBC younger filmmakers' competition. The short starred Hooper's brother as a boy who discovers a bomber jacket and a photograph hidden in a cupboard and learns his grandfather died in World War II.
Another of Hooper's short films, entitled Countryside, depicts a nuclear holocaust. Hooper finished school aged 16 wrote the script for his first professional short film, entitled Painted Faces, he spent the next two years raising capital for the short by courting advertisement directors, whose financial dominance during the late 1980s was noticed by Hooper. Director Paul Weiland invested in the short. After two years of financing and production, Painted Faces was completed. Hooper wrote, produced and edited it, it was sold to Channel 4 and broadcast on the channel's First Frame strand in 1992, had a screening at the 35th London Film Festival and had a limited theatrical release. After taking a gap year to finance Painted Faces, Hooper read English at Oxford, he joined the Oxford University Dramatic Society, where he directed Kate Beckinsale in A View From the Bridge and Emily Mortimer in The Trial. Hooper had his first paid directing work, earning £200 for a corporate Christmas video, he directed his first television advertisements, including one for Sonic the Hedgehog 3 featuring Right Said Fred.
He continues to direct advertisements alongside film projects. In 1996 he joined the commercial production company John S. Clarke Productions and in 2001 he signed with Infinity Productions. After graduating from Oxford, Hooper directed further television commercials, intending to break into the film industry the same way Ridley Scott, Tony Scott and Hugh Hudson did, he was introduced by his father to the television producer Matthew Robinson, who mentored Hooper and gave him his first television directing work. For Robinson, Hooper directed episodes of the short-lived Tyne Tees Television soap opera Quayside in 1997, four episodes of the Children's BBC television series Byker Grove in the same year, his first episodes of the BBC One soap opera EastEnders in 1998. Hooper directed several EastEnders episodes between 1998 and 2000, two of which were hour-long specials that represented the soap when it won the British Academy Television Award for Best Soap Opera in 2000 and 2001; the Jackson episode marked the beginning of a
Sir Michael Edward Palin, is an English comedian, actor and television presenter. He was a member of the comedy group Monty Python. Since 1980 he has made a number of travel documentaries. Palin wrote most of his comedic material with fellow Python member Terry Jones. Before Monty Python, they had worked on other shows such as the Ken Dodd Show, The Frost Report, Do Not Adjust Your Set. Palin appeared in some of the most famous Python sketches, including "Argument Clinic", "Dead Parrot sketch", "The Lumberjack Song", "The Spanish Inquisition", "Bicycle Repair Man" and "The Fish-Slapping Dance". Palin continued co-writing Ripping Yarns, he has appeared in several films directed by fellow Python Terry Gilliam and made notable appearances in other films such as A Fish Called Wanda, for which he won the BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role. In a 2005 poll to find The Comedians' Comedian, he was voted the 30th favourite by fellow comedians and comedy insiders. After Python, he began a new career as a travel travel documentarian.
His journeys have taken him across the world, including the North and South Poles, the Sahara Desert, the Himalayas, Eastern Europe and North Korea. Having been awarded a CBE for services to television in the 2000 New Year Honours, Palin received a knighthood in the 2019 New Year Honours for services to travel and geography. From 2009–2012 Palin was the president of the Royal Geographical Society. On 12 May 2013, Palin was made a BAFTA fellow, the highest honour, conferred by the organisation. Palin was born in Ranmoor, the second child and only son of Edward Moreton Palin. and Mary Rachel Lockhart. His father was a Shrewsbury School and Cambridge University-educated engineer working for a steel firm, his maternal grandfather, Lieutenant-Colonel Richard Lockhart Ovey, DSO, was High Sheriff of Oxfordshire in 1927. He was educated at Shrewsbury School, his sister Angela was nine years older. Despite the age gap the two had a close relationship until her suicide in 1987, he has ancestral roots in County Donegal.
When he was five years old, Palin had his first acting experience at Birkdale playing Martha Cratchit in a school performance of A Christmas Carol. At the age of 10, still interested in acting, made a comedy monologue and read a Shakespeare play to his mother while playing all the parts. After his school days in 1962 he went on to read modern history at Oxford. With fellow student Robert Hewison he performed and wrote, for the first time, comedy material at a university Christmas party. Terry Jones a student in Oxford, saw that performance and began writing together with Hewison and Palin. In the same year Palin joined the Brightside and Carbrook Co-operative Society Players and first gained fame when he won an acting award at a Co-op drama festival, he performed and wrote in the Oxford Revue with Jones. In 1966 he married Helen Gibbins; this meeting was fictionalised in Palin's play East of Ipswich. The couple have three children: Thomas and Rachel and four grandchildren. Rachel is a BBC TV director, whose work includes MasterChef: The Professionals, shown on BBC Two throughout October and November 2010.
William is Director of Conservation at the Old Royal Naval College, Greenwich and oversaw the 2018-19 restoration of the Painted Hall. A photograph of William as a baby appeared in Monty Python and the Holy Grail as "Sir Not-appearing-in-this-film", his nephew is the theatre designer Jeremy Herbert. After finishing university in 1965 Palin became a presenter on a comedy pop show called Now! for the television contractor Television Wales and the West. At the same time Palin was contacted by Jones, who had left university a year earlier, for assistance in writing a theatrical documentary about sex through the ages. Although this project was abandoned, it brought Palin and Jones together as a writing duo and led them to write comedy for various BBC programmes, such as The Ken Dodd Show, The Billy Cotton Bandshow, The Illustrated Weekly Hudd, they collaborated in writing lyrics for an album by Barry Booth called Diversions. They were in the team of writers working for The Frost Report, whose other members included Frank Muir, Barry Cryer, Marty Feldman, Ronnie Barker, Ronnie Corbett, Dick Vosburgh and future Monty Python members Graham Chapman, John Cleese and Eric Idle.
Although the members of Monty Python had encountered each other over the years, The Frost Report was the first time all the British members of Monty Python worked together. During the run of The Frost Report the Palin/Jones team contributed material to two shows starring John Bird: The Late Show and A Series of Birds. For A Series of Birds the Palin/Jones team had their first experience of writing narrative instead of the short sketches they were accustomed to conceiving. Following The Frost Report the Palin/Jones team worked both as actors and writers on the show Twice a Fortnight with Graeme Garden, Bill Oddie and Jonathan Lynn, the successful children's comedy show Do Not Adjust Your Set with Idle and David Jason; the show featured musical numbers by the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band, including future Monty Python musical collaborator Neil Innes. The animations for Do Not Adjust Your Set were made by Terry Gilliam. Eager to work with Palin sans Jones, Cleese asked him to perform in How to Irritate People together with Chapman and Tim Brooke-Taylor.
The Palin/Jones team were reunited for The Complete and Utt
Cecil Antonio "Tony" Richardson was an English filmmaker. He was best known for directing the films Tom Jones, which won him the Academy Award for Best Director. Richardson was born in Shipley, West Riding of Yorkshire in 1928, the son of Elsie Evans and Clarence Albert Richardson, a chemist, he was Head Boy at Ashville College and attended Wadham College, Oxford. His Oxford contemporaries included Rupert Murdoch, Margaret Thatcher, Kenneth Tynan, Lindsay Anderson and Gavin Lambert, he had the unprecedented distinction of being the President of both the Oxford University Dramatic Society and the Experimental Theatre Club, in addition to being the theatre critic for the university magazine Isis. Those he cast in his student productions included Shirley Williams, John Schlesinger, Nigel Davenport and Robert Robinson. In 1955, in his directing debut, Richardson produced Jean Giraudoux's The Apollo of Bellac for Television with Denholm Elliott and Natasha Parry in the main roles. Around the same time he began to be active in Britain's Free Cinema movement, co-directing the non-fiction short Momma Don't Allow with Karel Reisz.
Part of the British "New Wave" of directors, he was involved in the formation of the English Stage Company, along with his close friend George Goetschius and George Devine. He directed John Osborne's play Look Back in Anger at the Royal Court Theatre, in the same period he directed Shakespeare in Stratford-upon-Avon. In 1957 he directed Laurence Olivier as Archie Rice in Osborne's next play The Entertainer, again for the Royal Court. In 1959, Richardson co-founded Woodfall Film Productions with John Osborne and producer Harry Saltzman, and, as Woodfall's debut, directed the film version of Look Back in Anger, his first feature film. In 1964 Richardson received two Academy Awards for Tom Jones based on the novel by Henry Fielding, his next film was The Loved One, during which he worked with established stars including John Gielgud, Rod Steiger and Robert Morse working in Hollywood both on location and on the sound stage. In his autobiography, he confesses that he did not share the general admiration of Haskell Wexler, who worked on The Loved One as both director of photography and a producer.
Among stars that Richardson directed were: Jeanne Moreau, Orson Welles, Trevor Howard, David Hemmings, Nicol Williamson, Marianne Faithfull, Richard Burton, Jodie Foster, Anthony Hopkins, Mick Jagger, Katharine Hepburn, Paul Scofield and Judi Dench. His musical composers included John Addison and Shel Silverstein, his screenwriters were Jean Genet, Christopher Isherwood, Terry Southern, Marguerite Duras, Edward Bond and Edward Albee. Richardson and Osborne fell out during production of the film Charge of the Light Brigade; the basic issue was Osborne's unwillingness to go through the rewrite process, more arduous in film than it is in the theatre. Richardson himself had a different version. In his autobiography he writes that Osborne was angry at being replaced, in a small rôle, by Laurence Harvey to whom the producers had obligations. Osborne took literary revenge by creating a fictionalised and pseudonymous Richardson – a domineering and arrogant character whom everyone hated – in his play Hotel in Amsterdam.
Richardson's work was stylistically varied. Mademoiselle was shot noir-style on location in rural France with a static camera, monochrome film stock and no music; the Charge of the Light Brigade was part animated feature. Ned Kelly was. Laughter in the Dark and A Delicate Balance were psycho-dramas. Joseph Andrews, based on another novel by Henry Fielding, was a return to the mood of Tom Jones. In 1970, Richardson was set to direct a film about Vaslav Nijinsky with a script by Edward Albee, it was to have starred Rudolf Nureyev as Nijinsky, Claude Jade as Romola and Paul Scofield as Diaghilev, but producer Harry Saltzman cancelled the project during pre-production. In 1974, he travelled to Los Angeles to work on a script with Sam Shepard, took up residence there; that year he began work on Mahogany, starring Diana Ross, but was fired by Motown head Berry Gordy shortly after production began, owing to creative differences. He wrote and directed the comedy-drama The Hotel New Hampshire based on John Irving's novel of the same name and starring Jodie Foster, Beau Bridges and Rob Lowe.
Although it was a box office failure, the film received a positive critical reception. Richardson made four more major films before his death, his last, Blue Sky, was not released for nearly three years. Jessica Lange won a Best Actress Oscar for her performance. In 1966, Richardson financed the escape from Wormwood Scrubs prison of the spy and double agent George Blake. Richardson was married to actress Vanessa Redgrave from 1962 to 1967; the couple had two daughters and Joely Richardson, both actresses. He left Redgrave for actress Jeanne Moreau, although the marriage he had anticipated never materialised. In 1972 he had a relationship with Grizelda Grimond, a secretary for Richardson's former business partner Oscar Lewenstein, daughter of British politician Jo Grimond. Grizelda gave birth to his daughter, Katharine Grimond, on 8 January 1973. Richardson was bisexual, but never acknowledged it publicly until after he contracted HIV, he died of complications from AIDS in 1991. The Apollo of Bellac The Actor's End Momma Don't Allow Look Back in Anger
Kenneth Charles Loach is an English director of television and independent film. His critical directing style and socialist ideals are evident in his film treatment of social issues such as poverty and labour rights. Loach's film Kes was voted the seventh greatest British film of the 20th century in a poll by the British Film Institute. Two of his films, The Wind That Shakes the Barley and I, Daniel Blake received the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival, making him the ninth filmmaker to win the award twice. Loach, a social campaigner for most of his career, believes the current criteria for claiming benefits in the UK are "a Kafka-esque, Catch-22 situation designed to frustrate and humiliate the claimant to such an extent that they drop out of the system and stop pursuing their right to ask for support if necessary". Loach was born in Nuneaton, the son of Vivien and John Loach, he went on to read law at St Peter's College, Oxford. He graduated with a law degree in 1957. After Oxford he spent two years in the Royal Air Force and began a career in the dramatic arts, working first as an actor in regional theatre companies and as a director for BBC Television.
Loach's ten contributions to the BBC's Wednesday Play anthology series include the docudramas Up the Junction, Cathy Come Home and In Two Minds. They portray working-class people in conflict with the authorities above them. Three of his early plays are believed to be lost, his 1965 play Three Clear Sundays dealt with capital punishment, was broadcast at a time when the debate was at a height in the United Kingdom. Up the Junction, adapted by Nell Dunn from her book with the assistance of Loach, deals with an illegal abortion while the leading characters in Cathy Come Home, by Jeremy Sandford, are affected by homelessness and the workings of Social Services. In Two Minds, written by David Mercer, concerns a young schizophrenic woman's experiences of the mental health system. Tony Garnett began to work as his producer in this period, a professional connection which would last until the end of the 1970s. During this period, he directed the absurdist comedy The End of Arthur's Marriage, about which he said that he was "the wrong man for the job".
Coinciding with his work for The Wednesday Play, Loach began to direct feature films for the cinema, with Poor Cow and Kes. The latter recounts the story of a troubled boy and his kestrel, is based on the novel A Kestrel for a Knave by Barry Hines; the film was well received, although the use of Yorkshire dialect throughout the film restricted its distribution, with some American executives at United Artists saying that they would have found a film in Hungarian easier to understand. The British Film Institute named it No 7 in its list of best British films of the twentieth century, published in 1999. During the 1970s and 1980s, Loach's films were less successful suffering from poor distribution, lack of interest and political censorship, his documentary The Save the Children Fund Film was commissioned by the charity, who subsequently disliked it so much they attempted to have the negative destroyed. It was only screened publicly for the first time on 1 September 2011, at the BFI Southbank. Loach concentrated on television documentaries rather than fiction during the 1980s, many of these films are now difficult to access as the television companies have not released them on video or DVD.
At the end of the 1980s, he directed some television advertisements for Tennent's Lager to earn money. Days of Hope is a four part drama for the BBC directed by Loach from, scripts by dramatist Jim Allen; the first episode of the series caused considerable controversy in the British media owing to its critical depiction of the military in World War I, over a scene where conscientious objectors were tied up to stakes outside trenches in view of enemy fire after refusing to obey orders. An ex-serviceman subsequently contacted The Times newspaper with an illustration from the time of a similar scene. Loach's documentary A Question of Leadership interviewed members of the Iron and Steel Trades Confederation with regards to their 14-week strike in 1980, recorded much criticism of the union's leadership for conceding over the issues in the strike. Subsequently, Loach made a four-part series named Questions of Leadership which subjected the leadership of other trade unions to similar scrutiny from their members, but this has never been broadcast.
Frank Chapple, leader of the Electrical, Telecommunications and Plumbing Union, walked out of the interview and made a complaint to the Independent Broadcasting Authority. A separate complaint was made by Terry Duffy of the Amalgamated Electrical Union; the series was due to be broadcast during the Trade Union Congress conference in 1983, but Channel 4 decided against broadcasting the series following the complaints. Anthony Hayward claimed in 2004 that the media tycoon Robert Maxwell had put pressure on Central's board, of which he had become a director, to withdraw Questions of Leadership at the time he was buying the Daily Mirror newspaper and needed the co-operation of union leaders Chapple. Which Side Are You On?, about the songs and poems of the UK miners' strike, was due to be broadcast on The South Bank Show, but was rejected on the grounds that it was too politically unbalanced for an arts show. The film was transmitted on Channel 4, but only after it won a prize at an Italian film festival.
Three weeks after
Peter Hall (director)
Sir Peter Reginald Frederick Hall, CBE, was an English theatre and film director. His obituary in The Times declared him "the most important figure in British theatre for half a century" and on his death, a Royal National Theatre statement declared that Hall's "influence on the artistic life of Britain in the 20th century was unparalleled". In 1955 Hall introduced London audiences to the work of Samuel Beckett with the UK premiere of Waiting for Godot. Hall founded the Royal Shakespeare Company and went on to build an international reputation in theatre, opera and television, he was artistic director of Glyndebourne Festival Opera. He formed the Peter Hall Company and became founding director of the Rose Theatre, Kingston in 2003. Throughout his career, he was a tenacious champion of public funding for the arts. Peter Reginald Frederick Hall was born in Suffolk at Bury St Edmunds, the only son of Grace Florence and Reginald Edward Arthur Hall, his father was the family lived for some time at Great Shelford Station.
He won a scholarship to The Perse School in Cambridge. Before taking up a further scholarship to read English at St. Catharine's College, Hall did his National Service in Germany at the RAF Headquarters for Education in Bückeburg. Whilst studying at Cambridge he produced and acted in a number of plays, directing five in his final year and a further three for The Marlowe Society Summer Festival, he served on the University Amateur Dramatic Club committee before graduating in 1953. In the same year, Hall staged his first professional play, The Letter by W. Somerset Maugham, at The Theatre Royal Windsor. In 1954 and 1955, Hall was the director of the Oxford Playhouse where he directed several prominent young actors including Ronnie Barker and Billie Whitelaw. Eileen Atkins and Maggie Smith were part of the company as acting Assistants Stage Managers. From 1955–1957, Hall ran the Arts Theatre in London where he directed the English-language premiere of Waiting for Godot in 1955; the production's success transformed his career overnight and attracted the attention, among others, of Tennessee Williams, for whom he would direct the London premieres of Camino Real and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Harold Pinter.
Other productions at The Arts included the English language premiere of The Waltz of the Toreadors by Jean Anouilh. Hall made his debut at the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon in 1956 with Love's Labour's Lost: his productions there in the 1957–1959 seasons included Cymbeline with Peggy Ashcroft as Imogen, Coriolanus with Laurence Olivier and A Midsummer Night's Dream with Charles Laughton. In 1960, aged 29, Hall succeeded Glen Byam Shaw as director of the theatre, expanded operations to be all-year, founded the Royal Shakespeare Company to realise his vision of a resident ensemble of actors and designers producing both modern and classic texts, with a distinctive house style; the company not only played in Stratford but expanded into the Aldwych Theatre, its first London home. Hall's many productions for the RSC included Hamlet, The Government Inspector, the world premiere of Harold Pinter's The Homecoming and The Wars of the Roses adapted with John Barton from Shakespeare's history plays.
The latter was described as "the greatest Shakespearian event in living memory which laid down the doctrine of Shakespearian relevance to the modern world". Hall left the RSC in 1968 after ten years as its director. Hall was appointed director of the National Theatre in 1973 and led the organisation for fifteen years until 1988, he supervised the move from the Old Vic to the new purpose-built complex on London's South Bank "in the face of wide-spread scepticism and violent union unrest, turning a potential catastrophe into the great success story it remains today." Frustrated by construction delays, Hall decided to move the company into the still-unfinished building and to open it theatre by theatre as each neared completion. Extracts from his production of Tamburlaine the Great with Albert Finney were performed out on the terraces, free to passers-by. Hall directed thirty-three productions for the NT including the world premieres of Harold Pinter's No Man's Land and Betrayal, Peter Shaffer's Amadeus, the London and Broadway premieres of Alan Ayckbourn's Bedroom Farce.
Other landmark productions included The Oresteia which became the first Greek play to be performed by a foreign company at the ancient theatre of Epidaurus. Hall returned to the NT for the last time in 2011 with a production of Twelfth Night mounted by the company to celebrate his eightieth birthday, his daughter, Rebecca Hall, played Viola. Upon leaving the NT in 1988, Hall launched his own commercial company with productions in the West End and on Broadway of Tennessee Williams' Orpheus Descending and The Merchant of Venice; the Peter Hall Company went on to stage more than sixty plays in association with a number of producing partners including Bill Kenwright and Thelma Holt. In addition to an ensemble repertory season at the Old Vic, the company enjoyed a long collaboration with the Theatre Royal, Bath where a series of summer festivals were staged from 2003–2011: many productions were subsequently performed on domestic and international tours and in the West End. T
Humphrey William Bouverie Carpenter was an English biographer and radio broadcaster. Carpenter was born, lived all of his life, died in the city of Oxford, his father was Harry Bishop of Oxford. His mother was Urith Monica Trevelyan; as a child, he lived in the Warden's Lodgings at Keble College, where his father served as Warden until his appointment as Bishop of Oxford. He was educated at the Dragon School Oxford, Marlborough College, read English at Keble, his notable output of biographies included: J. R. R. Tolkien: A Biography, The Inklings: CS Lewis, JRR Tolkien, Charles Williams and their Friends, W. H. Auden, Ezra Pound, Evelyn Waugh, Benjamin Britten, Robert Runcie, Dennis Potter and Spike Milligan, his last book, The Seven Lives of John Murray about John Murray and the famous publishing house of Albemarle Street, was published posthumously. He wrote histories of BBC Radio 3, the British satire boom of the 1960s, Angry Young Men: A Literary Comedy of the 1950s, a centennial history of the Oxford University Dramatic Society in 1985.
His Mr Majeika series of children's books enjoyed considerable popularity and were adapted for television. The Joshers: Or London to Birmingham with Albert and Victoria is a children's adventure book, similar in style to The Railway Children and based on the adventure of taking a working narrowboat up the Grand Union Canal from London to Birmingham, his encyclopaedic work The Oxford Companion to Children's Literature, written jointly with his wife, has become a standard reference source. A distinguished broadcaster, he began his career at BBC Radio Oxford as a presenter and producer where he met his future wife, Mari Prichard, they jointly produced A Thames Companion in 1975. He played a role in launching Radio 3's arts discussion programme Night Waves and acted as a regular presenter of other programmes on the network including Radio 3's afternoon drivetime programme In Tune and, until it was discontinued, its Sunday request programme Listeners' Choice; until the time of his death, he presented the BBC Radio 4 biography series Great Lives recorded in Bristol.
The last edition recorded before his death featured an interview with the singer Eddi Reader about the poet Robert Burns, the major focus of her creative work. BBC Radio 4 broadcast this programme on New Year's Eve, 2004. Carpenter's other abilities included being a talented amateur jazz musician and an accomplished player of the piano, the saxophone, the double-bass, playing the last instrument professionally in a dance band in the 1970s. In 1983, he formed a 1930s style jazz band, Vile Bodies, which for many years enjoyed a residency at the Ritz Hotel in London, he founded the Mushy Pea Theatre Group, a children's drama group based in Oxford, which premiered his Mr Majeika: The Musical in 1991 and Babes, a musical about Hollywood child stars. His death was the result of heart failure, compounded by the Parkinson's disease from which he had suffered for several years. A commemorative stained glass window has been installed in St. Margaret's Institute, Polstead Road honouring Carpenter's many accomplishments.
He is survived by his wife, daughters Clare and Kate. A perceptive biographer and engaging broadcaster, The Guardian, 5 January 2005 Gently mischievous broadcaster and prolific writer, The Times, 6 January 2005 Humphrey Carpenter, English biographer, dies at 58, New York Times, 19 January 2005 Tributes Paid to Humphrey Carpenter BBC Radio Humphrey Carpenter on IMDb
Michael Henry Flanders OBE was an English actor and writer and performer of comic songs. He is best known for his stage partnership with Donald Swann; as a young man Flanders seemed to be heading for a successful acting career. He contracted polio in 1943 while serving in the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve and for the rest of his life was reliant on a wheelchair, he made a career as a prolific broadcaster on radio and television, together with his old schoolfriend, the composer Donald Swann, he wrote successful songs in the late 1940s and early and mid-1950s for revues in the West End of London. In 1956 they themselves performed some of these songs, along with new songs, in a two-man revue, At the Drop of a Hat; this show, its successor, At the Drop of Another Hat, ran with occasional short breaks from 1956 to 1967 and played in theatres throughout the British Isles, the US, Australia and elsewhere. During and after the stage partnership with Swann, Flanders pursued a many-faceted career, performing on stage, radio, concert platforms and recordings.
He wrote opera librettos, a children's book, a volume of poetry and the words of a cantata about Noah's Ark. Flanders was born in Hampstead, the third child and only son of Percy Henry Flanders and his wife, Laura Rosa, née O'Beirne, his father had a variety of occupations, including cinema manager. His mother was a professional violinist. From 1936 to 1940 Flanders was a pupil at Westminster School, where his contemporaries included Peter Ustinov, Peter Brook, Tony Benn and Donald Swann. In his last term in 1940, he and Swann collaborated on a school revue called Go To It!. From Westminster, Flanders went up to Oxford, to read history. There he acted and directed for the Oxford University Dramatic Society and the Experimental Theatre Club, his roles included Brabantio in Othello, Pirandello's Henry IV and Shawcross in Auden and Isherwood's The Ascent of F6. He wrote drama criticisms for the Oxford magazine Cherwell. In October 1941 he made his professional acting debut at the Oxford Playhouse as Valentine in Shaw's You Never Can Tell.
His biographer and Oxford contemporary Michael Meyer writes of Flanders in this period: a lean and long-striding six foot three, a fine oarsman and quarter-miler and by far the outstanding Oxford actor of our year. None of us had any doubt that he would be the Donat of our generation. In 1942 Flanders applied to join the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve, serving at first as an able seaman, commissioned as a sub-lieutenant, he survived unharmed a torpedo attack in 1942 on his ship, HMS Marne, but the following year he contracted poliomyelitis at sea and spent the next three years in hospitals. In 1946 he remained a wheelchair user for the rest of his life, he was upset when the university authorities refused, because of his disabilities, to allow him back to resume his studies. Flanders returned to the family home in Hampstead Garden Suburb, he directed and produced plays with a local amateur theatre group and arranged small musical gatherings with other amateurs of music, including Gerard Hoffnung and Frank Hauser.
A stage acting career being no longer possible, he found work as a radio broadcaster and wrote a few song lyrics. At the same time, Swann began composing music for revues, he recalled in 1974, "We wrote our first song in the summer of 1948. I'd gone over to Michael's home near Hampstead Heath to see if he could think of some words for a tune I'd written …'It all sounds a bit like Gilbert and Sullivan, don't you think? … It must be boring in the D'Oyly Carte Company, having to do everything as it always has been done – Idea!'" The resulting trio, "In the D'Oyly Cart", for three disgruntled Savoyards, was accepted by the producer Laurier Lister for his new show Oranges and Lemons. The revue and the trio were successful, Lister commissioned further work from the pair for his next production, Penny Plain. Among their contributions to the latter were "Prehistoric Complaint", a solo for Max Adrian, "dressed in bits of fur as a sort of mis-fit caveman", "Surly Girls", with Adrian, Desmond Walter-Ellis and Jimmy Thompson as a trio of appalling St Trinian's schoolgirls.
The Flanders and Swann numbers in the two shows worked so well that Lister invited the pair to write much of his next revue, Airs on a Shoestring. Their topics ranged from economics and politics to a plaintive song about London's last tram to a send-up of Benjamin Britten's works to date. In the same year Flanders wrote the libretto for a short opera by Three's Company, they followed this up the next year with A Christmas Story. In 1954 Flanders, in partnership with Kitty Black, translated Stravinsky's Histoire du soldat for the Edinburgh Festival; the work played to capacity audiences in Edinburgh, again in London at the Royal Festival Hall in 1956 with Flanders as the narrator, Sir Ralph Richardson as the Soldier and Peter Ustinov as the Devil. The translation has held its place as the standard English version into the 21st century. During the 1950s, Flanders consolidated his career as a broadcaster, on radio, on television, in programmes ranging from sports commentary to poetry readings, including a two-year stint as chairman of The Brains Trust after it moved from radio to television.
He preferred performing to writing, said that he wrote "to give myself something to perform." As established and successful songwriters Flanders and Swann were invited to lecture on