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Peter Nichols (born 31 July 1927) is an Englishmarker writer of stage plays, film and television.

Born in Bristolmarker, England, he was educated at Bristol Grammar Schoolmarker, and then did his National Service in the RAF for three years, going on to study acting at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre Schoolmarker. 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 which included Cockade by another new playwright Charles Wood. He later wrote A Day in the Death of Joe Egg for the stage because he thought it would be unacceptable for television.

Nichols' plays are hard to categorize. He is quoted as saying 'Do any damn thing you have to do to keep the heart and soul alive'.

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. 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 Dick Whittington's sister becomes a drug addict. Passion focusses on adultery and betrayal.

Joe Egg is based on Nichols' own experiences of raising a handicapped child. The National Health draws on a hospital stay of his own, and Privates draws on his own military experiences.

Plays

His plays include:

Books

  • Feeling You're Behind an autobiography by Peter Nichols, Weidenfeld and Nicholson (1984) ISBN 0297783920


'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 1854594745


"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.

Sources

  • Theatre Record and its annual indexes
  • London Stage in the 20th Century by Robert Tanitch, Haus Books (2007) ISBN 978904950745
  • The National: The Theatre and its work 1963-1997 by Simon Callow, Nick Hern Books (1997) ISBN 1854593234


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