Peter Nichols

Peter Richard Nichols[1] CBE, FRSL (born 31 July 1927) is an English playwright, screenwriter, director and journalist.

Peter Richard Nichols
Peter Richard Nichols 2 (1)
Born31 July 1927 (age 91)
Bristol, England
Occupationplaywright, screenwriter, director, journalist

Life and career

Born in Bristol, England, he was educated at Bristol Grammar School, and served his compulsory National Service as a clerk in Calcutta and later in the Combined Services Entertainment Unit in Singapore[2] where he entertained the troops alongside John Schlesinger, Stanley Baxter, and Kenneth Williams,[3] before going on to study acting at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School. He later claimed to have studied acting because there were no dedicated courses for playwrights.[2] While he was working as a teacher he began to write television plays which achieved notice. His first play for the stage was The Hooded Terror, part of a season of new plays at the Little Theatre in Bristol. He later wrote A Day in the Death of Joe Egg for the stage.[3]

A Day in the Death of Joe Egg is a one-set drama in music hall style. The National Health is a fantasy farce, also interrupted by vaudeville. Privates on Parade is a musical comedy, partly inspired by Nichols's own experiences in the Combined Services Entertainments Unit.[3] Poppy takes the form of a Christmas pantomime.

Despite the comic style, Nichols' plays deal with the most serious of themes. In A Day in the Death of Joe Egg the burden of raising a hopelessly handicapped child shatters a couple's marriage. The patients of The National Health suffer and die, as do the singing soldiers of Privates on Parade. In Poppy, a pantomime take on the Chinese opium wars, Dick Whittington's girlfriend becomes a drug addict. Passion Play (known as "Passion" in the United States), focuses on adultery and betrayal. In Blue Murder, a comic satire about play censorship, a constable investigates a death.

Nichols is often considered an especially autobiographical playwright, and has chronicled much of the background to his plays in his published autobiography and diaries. Joe Egg is based on Nichols' own experiences of raising a handicapped child, The National Health draws on a hospital stay of his own, while Privates on Parade draws on his own military experiences.

Nichols was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2018 New Year Honours for services to drama.[4]


His plays include:


  • Feeling You're Behind an autobiography by Peter Nichols, Weidenfeld & Nicolson (1984) ISBN 0-297-78392-0

'Whatever interest my life may have had must have been exhausted. Yet there were better reasons than vanity – I needed the advance the publishers offered, which was far more generous than any given to me for a play; the theatre itself, once so alluring, now seemed past its best, the wrinkles showing, the kisses dry and dutiful; it would be a bitter pleasure to describe my disenchantment and blame the people who'd done me down; and if I didn't write a book about me, it was clear no one else would."` Peter Nichols' preface, page xi.

  • Peter Nichols: Diaries 1969–1977 by Peter Nichols, Nick Hern Books (2000) ISBN 1-85459-474-5

"Did you know that Maggie Smith once accused Laurence Olivier of having "a tin ear and two left feet"? That's one of many enjoyably acerbic snippets in Peter Nichols' Diaries 1969–77, a period that stretches from the composition of his The National Health to the conception of his masterpiece, Passion Play....Nichols tends to be touchy, crusty, disappointed with himself....yet wonderfully observant, honest and likeable." Benedict Nightingale The Times 13 December 2000.


  • Theatre Record and its annual indexes
  • London Stage in the 20th Century by Robert Tanitch, Haus Books (2007) ISBN 978-1-904950-74-5
  • The National: The Theatre and its work 1963–1997 by Simon Callow, Nick Hern Books (1997) ISBN 1-85459-323-4


  1. ^ "New Year's Honours 2018" (PDF). Government Digital Service. 29 December 2017. p. 18. Retrieved 29 December 2017.
  2. ^ a b "Theatre Archive Project". British Library. Retrieved 4 June 2011.
  3. ^ a b c Stevens, Christopher (2010). Born Brilliant: The Life Of Kenneth Williams. John Murray. p. 351. ISBN 1-84854-195-3.
  4. ^ Entertainment & Arts team (29 December 2017). "In pictures: Entertainment stars recognised in New Year Honours". BBC News. British Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 23 March 2017.

External links

A Day in the Death of Joe Egg

A Day in the Death of Joe Egg is a 1967 play by the English playwright Peter Nichols, first staged at the Citizens Theatre in Glasgow, Scotland, before transferring to the Comedy Theatre in London's West End.

A Day in the Death of Joe Egg (film)

A Day in the Death of Joe Egg is a 1972 film based on the play of the same name by Peter Nichols, directed by Peter Medak. It stars Alan Bates and Janet Suzman. It was nominated for a BAFTA Award in 1973.

Anton Rodgers

Anthony "Anton" Rodgers (10 January 1933 – 1 December 2007) was an English actor and occasional director. He performed on stage, in film, in television dramas and sitcoms. He starred in the sitcoms Fresh Fields (ITV, 1984–86), as well its sequel series French Fields (ITV, 1989–91) and May to December (BBC, 1989–94).

Blue Murder

Blue Murder may refer to:

Blue Murder (band), an English heavy metal band

Blue Murder (album), the band's debut album

Blue Murder (folk), a folk group

Blue Murder (Beatrix Christian play), a 1994 play by Beatrix Christian

Blue Murder (Peter Nichols play), a 1995 play by Peter Nichols

Blue Murder (miniseries), a 1995 Australian mini-series

Blue Murder (UK TV series), a British detective series

Blue Murder (Canadian TV series), a Canadian crime drama

Blue Murder (1959 film), a 1959 Australian television movie

Blue Murder (2000 film), a British television crime drama film

"Blue Murder" (song), a song by the Tom Robinson Band on the 1979 album TRB Two

Blue Murder (Peter Nichols play)

Blue Murder by Peter Nichols was written in 1995 as a four-act drama, in response to those who had often questioned why Nichols had never written a play surrounding a murder investigation. Blue Murder opened at Royal Court Theatre in London on 23 May 1995 without the performance of the third act. Despite Nichols' objections, the third act was removed due to budgetary constraints. The play was not performed in its entirety until 1998 by the Show of Strength Theatre Company at the Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh.

Born in the Gardens

Born In The Gardens is a comedy play by Bristol-born playwright Peter Nichols.

Nichols wrote the play in 1979, after his now famous drama Privates On Parade was rejected by the Bristol Old Vic for being too controversial. Born In The Gardens was staged in the Theatre Royal (now the Bristol Old Vic) to celebrate its 200th anniversary. The cast for the premiere included Beryl Reid, Peter Bowles, Barry Foster and Jennie Linden and the production transferred to the Globe Theatre in London where it played for nine months. Reid won the Society of West End Theatre Award for Best Comedy Performance. A television version with Constance Chapman replacing Reid was shown in 1986.

The play centres on an elderly Bristolian mother and son living in a crumbling Victorian manor house.

The title comes from a sign in the Polar Bear enclosure in Bristol Zoological gardens and referred to a polar bear called Misha.

It was revived by the Peter Hall Company in 2008, beginning a run at the Theatre Royal, Bath, before embarking on a national tour. Stephanie Cole starred as Maud, and the cast also included Simon Shepherd, Allan Corduner, and Miranda Foster.

Evening Standard Theatre Awards

The Evening Standard Theatre Awards, established in 1955, are the oldest theatrical awards ceremony in the United Kingdom. They are presented annually for outstanding achievements in London Theatre. Sponsored by the Evening Standard newspaper, they are announced in late November or early December. They are the West Ends equivalent to Broadways Drama Desk Awards.

John Christopher

Sam Youd (16 April 1922 – 3 February 2012), known professionally as Christopher Samuel Youd, was a British writer, best known for science fiction under the pseudonym John Christopher, including the novels The Death of Grass, The Possessors, and the young-adult novel series The Tripods. He won the Guardian Prize in 1971 and the Deutscher Jugendliteraturpreis in 1976.

Youd also wrote under variations of his own name and under the pseudonyms Stanley Winchester, Hilary Ford, William Godfrey, William Vine, Peter Graaf, Peter Nichols, and Anthony Rye.

Maximum Overdrive

Maximum Overdrive is a 1986 American science fiction horror dark comedy film written and directed by Stephen King. The film stars Emilio Estevez, Pat Hingle, Laura Harrington, and Yeardley Smith. The screenplay was inspired by and loosely based on King's short story "Trucks", which was included in the author's first collection of short stories, Night Shift.

Maximum Overdrive is King's only directorial effort, though dozens of films have been based on his novels or short stories. The film contained black humor elements and a generally campy tone, which contrasts with King's sombre subject matter in books. The film has a mid-1980s hard rock soundtrack composed entirely by the group AC/DC, King's favorite band. AC/DC's album Who Made Who was released as the Maximum Overdrive soundtrack. It includes the best-selling singles "Who Made Who", "You Shook Me All Night Long", and "Hells Bells".

The film was nominated for two Golden Raspberry Awards including Worst Director for King and Worst Actor for Estevez in 1987, but both lost against Prince for Under the Cherry Moon. In 1988, Maximum Overdrive was nominated for "Best Film" at the International Fantasy Film Awards. King himself described the film as a "moron movie". He considers the process a learning experience, after which he intended never to direct again.

Passion Play (play)

Passion Play is a 1981 play by British playwright Peter Nichols dealing with adultery and betrayal, unusual in that the two leading characters are each portrayed by two actors for public speech and private thoughts.

It was originally intended to open the Royal Shakespeare Company's new Barbican Theatre but was produced by them at the London's Aldwych Theatre in 1981.It was revived at the Leicester Haymarket Theatre in 1984 before transferring to Wyndham's Theatre, at the Donmar Warehouse in 2000 before transferring to the Comedy Theatre, and at the Duke of York's Theatre in 2013.

Personal Enemy

Personal Enemy is a play by John Osborne and Anthony Creighton. It was written in 1954, prior to Osborne's 'big break' with Look Back in Anger at the Royal Court Theatre in 1956, and first performed in Harrogate in 1955. It was thought that the play manuscript was lost, but copies were found (along with another early Osborne play, The Devil Inside Him) in the Lord Chamberlain's archive in the British Library in 2008. The two plays were subsequently published as Before Anger, with a foreword by Peter Nichols. Personal Enemy was produced in its uncensored form for the first time in 2010 at the White Bear Theatre, as part of their Lost Classics Project, before transferring to New York's Brits Off Broadway festival at 59E59 Theaters in November of that year. The play is the only work by Osborne to be set in the United States.

Poppy (1982 musical)

Poppy is a 1982 musical comedy play set during the First Opium War. The play takes the form of a pantomime, complete with Dick Whittington (played as a principal boy), a pantomime dame, and two pantomime horses. The book and lyrics were written by Peter Nichols; the composer was Monty Norman.

Privates on Parade

Privates on Parade: A Play with Songs in Two Acts is a 1977 farce by English playwright Peter Nichols (book and lyrics), with music by Denis King.

Privates on Parade (film)

Privates on Parade is a 1982 film adaptation of the Peter Nichols play of the same name about a fictional – and mostly gay – military entertainment group, the "Song and Dance Unit, Southeast Asia" assembled to entertain the troops in the Malayan jungle during the Malayan Emergency.

The Gorge

The Gorge can refer to the following:

The Columbia River Gorge, a section of the Columbia River in Washington and Oregon

The Gorge Amphitheatre, a concert venue in George, Washington, United States of America

The Gorge (album), a live album by the Dave Matthews Band from The Gorge Amphitheatre

Live at the Gorge 05/06, a live box set by Pearl Jam from The Gorge Amphitheare

The Gorge, a geological feature of Federated Women's Club State Forest in Massachusetts, United States of America

The Gorge, Shropshire, a civil parish in Shropshire, England

Cataract Gorge, a river gorge located in Launceston, Tasmania, Australia

Vikos Gorge, Pindus Mountains, Greece

The Gorge and Gorge Water, part of the inner reaches of Victoria Harbour, British Columbia

A 1968 television play by Peter Nichols, in the BBC's Wednesday Play series

The National Health

The National Health may refer to:

The National Health (play), a 1969 British play written by Peter Nichols

The National Health (film), the 1973 movie adaptation of the play

The National Health (album), a 2012 album by English band Maxïmo Park

National Health, an English progressive rock band associated with the Canterbury scene

National Health (album), their debut album, 1978

"National Health", a song by the Kinks from their 1979 album Low Budget

The National Health (film)

The National Health is a 1973 British comedy film directed by Jack Gold and starring Lynn Redgrave, Colin Blakely and Eleanor Bron. It is based on the play The National Health by Peter Nichols, in which the staff struggle to cope in an underfunded NHS hospital. The film satirically interweaves the story of the real hospital with a fantasy hospital which exists in a soap-opera world where all the equipment is new and patients are miraculously cured – although the only "patients" seen are doctors or nurses who are themselves part of the soap opera plots. In the real hospital, the patients die while the out-of-touch administrators focus on impressing foreign visitors.

The National Health (play)

The National Health is a 1969 British play by Peter Nichols. Reminiscent of the Carry On film series, this black comedy with tragic overtones focuses on the appalling conditions in an under-funded National Health Service hospital, which are contrasted comically with a Dr. Kildare-style soap opera airing on the ward television.

Tom Littler

Tom Littler is a British theatre director and the Artistic Director and founder of theatre company Primavera Productions, and a former Associate Director of Theatre 503. He is Artistic Director of Jermyn Street Theatre, which he has turned into a producing theatre. His West End credits include Stephen Sondheim's Saturday Night (for Primavera) which starred Helena Blackman, the runner-up of How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria. Littler was also resident director of the 2009 revival of A Little Night Music at the Garrick Theatre and Menier Chocolate Factory. Littler directed the premiere of Dances of Death by Howard Brenton, a new version of The Dance of Death by August Strindberg at the Gate Theatre (London) in 2013, starring Michael Pennington. He also directed the premieres of Brenton's biographical play about August Strindberg, The Blinding Light at Jermyn Street Theatre , and his new version of Miss Julie.Littler was a regular Associate Director of the Peter Hall Season in Bath, working with Sir Peter Hall (director) on productions including Little Nell by Simon Gray, A Doll's House with Catherine McCormack, Born in the Gardens by Peter Nichols, and The Browning Version by Terence Rattigan.


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