Acclaimed theatre director Sir Jonathan Miller died aged 85 on Wednesday morning.
The writer, actor, director and sculptor was born to a Jewish family in St John’s Wood. He studied medicine and natural sciences at Cambridge’s St John’s College before qualifying as a doctor in 1959.
Giving up a career in medicine, he had his first taste of fame in the early 1960s after starring in the hit comedy revue Beyond the Fringe, which transferred to the West End and Broadway.
After making his directing debut with the play Under Plain Cover in 1962, he directed six of the BBC’s Television Shakespeare plays and worked with the English National Opera over four decades.
Miller’s contribution to music and the arts earned him a knighthood in 2002.
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.
“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.”