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Miller, Jonathan (1934 - )
"I was trained as a neurologist, and then I went into the theater, and if you're brought up to think of yourself as a biological scientist of some sort, pretty well everything else seems frivolous by comparison."

--Jonathan Miller


Jonathon Miller was a British physician, theatre and opera director and television presenter.
Miller grew up in Hampstead in a well connected Jewish family - his father Emanuel (1892-1970) was a psychiatrist specialising in child development and his mother Betty (née Spiro) (1910-65) was a novelist and biographer.

He studied natural sciences and medicine at St John's College at the University of Cambridge and University College London, graduating in 1959 and worked as a hospital doctor for the next two years. He was, however, also involved in the university drama society and the Cambridge Footlights and in 1960 he helped write and produce 'Beyond the Fringe' at the Edinburgh Festival which launched the careers of Alan Bennett, Peter Cook and Dudley Moore.

Miller quit the show shortly after its move to New York and took over as editor and presenter of the BBC's flagship arts programme "Monitor". In 1966 he wrote, produced and directed a play of Alice in Wonderland for the BBC.

During the later 1960s he had a major falling out with the magazine Private Eye that Miller accounts to implicit anti-semitism.

In the 1970s he started directing and producing operas for the Kent Opera and Glyndebourne, with a new production of The Marriage of Figaro for English National Opera in 1978. He has now become one of the world's leading opera directors. At the same time he held a research fellowship in the history of medicine at University College, London.

Most of his work for television has been for the BBC, starting by producing a series of 12 Shakespeare plays between 1980-82. He also wrote and presented several factual series drawing on his experience as a physician, for example 'The Body in Question' 1978 (which caused some controversy for showing the dissection of a cadaver), 'States of Mind' 1983, 'Who Cares' and 'Born Talking'.

In 2004 he wrote and presented a series on atheism, 'Atheism: A Rough History of Disbelief' (on-screen title; but more commonly referred to as 'Jonathan Miller's Brief History of Disbelief') for BBC Four TV, exploring the roots of his own lack of belief and investigating the history of atheism. Individual conversations, debates and discussions for the series that could not be included, due to time constraints - were individually aired in a six-part series entited The Atheism Tapes. He is also an Honorary Associate of the National Secular Society.

He is a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (1983), a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians in London and Edinburgh and a Foreign Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He was knighted in 2002.

In the film for television Not Only But Always about the careers of Peter Cook and Dudley Moore, Jonathan Aris played Jonathan Miller as a young man.

 
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