From the Writers & Company Archives: Jonathan Miller

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This summer, the Writers & Company weekly podcast will feature some of the best shows from the show's archives. We hope you'll enjoy this opportunity to hear these programs that haven't been available as a podcast before.

Every week in July and August, CBC Books will bring you the Writers & Company podcast, an encore presentation of those great full-length conversations.

This week's Writers & Company podcast features Eleanor's conversation with Jonathan Miller about his books of visual art and his career as a playwright and director.

This interview originally aired on October 22, 2000.

You can listen to Writers & Company on CBC Radio One every Sunday at 3 p.m. ET and AT; 3:30 p.m. NT; 5 p.m. PT, MT and CT.


England's Jonathan Miller's enthusiasms are so diverse that many people think there are two, three or even four Jonathan Millers.

The first Jonathan Miller is a performer, who took part in Beyond the Fringe, a satirical revue that goes back to the early '60s at the Edinburgh Festival, and went on to be a hit in London and New York.

The second Jonathan Miller is a medical doctor. He originally trained as a physician before turning to performance, but this wasn't publicly known until his 13-part BBC television series on the history of medicine, The Body in Question, which also became a book.

The third Jonathan Miller is the internationally known director of theatre and opera, from the BBC Shakespeare series of the 1980s and productions for London's National Theatre and the Old Vic to more than 50 opera productions in London, New York, Paris, Florence, Berlin and Zurich. Along the way, he wrote a book about theatre called The Afterlife of Plays and edited books about Freud, Don Giovanni and humour.

The fourth Jonathan Miller is an artist and curator. At the time that Eleanor Wachtel sat down with him, in 2000, he had published two books of visual art. On Reflection is based on a show about perception that he curated for the National Gallery in London. The other is a selection of his own colour photographs and notebook entries, going back 30 years, a striking book called Nowhere in Particular.

Yet all of these men are one and the same. Miller's eclectic career has allowed him to follow numerous passions and work on a variety of innovative projects. Wachtel spoke with Miller about all his interests and careers, about his childhood, and about where he was headed next. You can listen to their complete conversation in the audio player above.

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