Jonathan Miller

I haven’t been able to get out of my head the voice of Jonathan Miller in an archival interview which was re-broadcast on Saturday night – his particular tone of extraordinarily wide-ranging intellectual authority and curiosity, quizzical, successful in so many different dimensions with such ease in his youth when he was an Apostle and appeared in Beyond the Fringe and was taken on by Huw Weldon to edit Monitor, but then in later life he became oddly and totally unnecessarily peevish, as if all the blessings which had fallen into his lap were never enough to satisfy him. I liked and admired him. He sat for his portrait to Stephen Conroy, whose work he had come across while working in Glasgow, and who produced a finely pensive and brooding portrait. He’s the subject of 28 other portraits in the NPG, the first a photograph by Jane Bown in 1954, when he was only 20, and including images by Cecil Beaton and Bill Brandt, the last by Tom, his son, in 2016. So, he’s unlikely to be forgotten even if he ended up disappointed by his own achievements.

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