Three deaths were announced yesterday of celebrities whom most people – at least in Great Britain – will have heard of and held in a certain degree of affection.
These were the TV chef Gary Rhodes (aged 59), the Australian humorist Clive James (80), and the theatre director and humorist Jonathan Miller (85).
Jonathan Miller formed part of the “Beyond the Fringe” quartet who created the vogue for satirical revue in the 1960s. The photo above is of the four, namely Alan Bennett, Peter Cook, Dudley Moore and Jonathan Miller.
The story is told that when – long after their “Beyond” days – Jonathan Miller lived in a house immediately opposite that of Alan Bennett, Jonathan would play a prank on Alan that he never tumbled to.
Bennett was paranoid about house security, and when he left the house he would lock and double-lock the door, checking each move with great care. Miller would watch him from his window and, as soon as Bennett was satisfied that the house was secure and he turned away from the door, Miller would phone Bennett’s number.
Another thing that Alan Bennett was particular about was not missing phone calls, so when he heard his phone ring he would unlock all his door locks and rush inside, at which point Miller would ring off.
Alan Bennett is the last survivor of the four. Presumably he now knows who those mysterious phone calls came from!