Renowned theatre director and writer Sir Jonathan Miller dead at 85

Jonathan Miller has died aged 85 Credit: Jeff Overs/BBC

Theatre director and writer Sir Jonathan Miller has died at the age of 85.

The polymath, who first found fame in the early 1960s in the revue Beyond The Fringe with Peter Cook, Dudley Moore and Alan Bennett after giving up a career as a doctor, made his directing debut in 1962 with John Osborne’s Under Plain Cover.

He went on to direct theatre and television plays, including The Merchant Of Venice at the National Theatre and six of the BBC Television Shakespeare plays, and had a four-decade relationship with the English National Opera.

His Royal Opera production of Cosi fan tutte was a staple of the repertory for nearly 20 years and he was also acclaimed as an author, artist, photographer, sculptor and television presenter, as well as artistic director of the Old Vic.

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.”