Sir Richard Stilgoe has spent fifty years as a performer and writer in all forms of the performing arts. He is a distinguished TV & Radio personality, known for his music, dry witty humour, and intelligence.
Richard grew up in Liverpool and was a choral singer early on, but scrapped that in favour of rock & roll; he performed with the Cambridge Footlights comedy revue, and subsequently moved to London, where he performed humorous, often satirical songs in small nightspots. He parlayed this act into regular performances on BBC Radio 4’s Today show, and by the late ’60s had graduated to television, appearing on several revue-style comedy shows. He became a household name in Britain during the ’70s after landing a regular slot on the popular satirical show Nationwide, where he often set the text of viewer complaints to music. From there he moved to the similarly successful ‘That’s Life’, not to mention several other, shorter-lived series including the sketch show ‘Kick up the Eighties’.
A longtime fan of musical theater, Richard seized an opportunity to provide Andrew Lloyd Webber with a few additional lyrics for his blockbuster success Cats, which opened in London in 1981. Webber employed Richard as the primary lyricist on his next project, the lavish roller-skating extravaganza Starlight Express; after its London opening in 1984, Starlight Express became the second-longest-running musical in British history (behind Cats). Although he wasn’t the chief lyricist on 1987’s Phantom of the Opera, Richard again contributed extensively, and also worked on the show’s book. In addition to his work with Webber during the ’80s, Stilgoe also wrote a couple of children’s musicals (Brilliant the Dinosaur and Body Work), and toured in his own one-man show later forming a performing partnership with Peter Skellern which toured every so often over the next two decades. He later became a regular on the game show Countdown, where he traded puns with host Richard Whitely and made anagrams out of contestants’ names. His broadcasting work has earned him the New York Radio Festival Gold Award, three Monaco Festival Prizes and the Prix Italia.
Richard was High Sheriff of Surrey in 1998, during which year he was awarded the OBE. He owns and drives a JCB digger, and has five children and twelve grandchildren, none of whom told him he was going to be the subject of This is Your Life in June 2001. In the Jubilee honours list of 2012 Richard was knighted for charitable service through the Alchemy Foundation. Richard sits on various boards involved in music education. In 1997 he founded the Orpheus Centre in Surrey, where young disabled people prepare for independent living through a series of performing arts courses, he devotes much of his time to his charitable venture the Orpheus Centre, which gives disabled children the opportunity to develop through playing music.
Matthew Willetts MA is the Director of Comicus who has over 35 years experience in television, film, theatre, and comedy club/cabaret entertainment, working as a performer, screenwriter, producer and agent. He lectured at Southampton Solent University in Comedy, Screenwriting, Television, Theatre & Radio. Matthew can sometimes be seen and heard on TV & Radio and often quoted in the national press and media publications. As well as speaking regularly at festivals and industry conferences, he has been a judge at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and the Montreux Television Festival.
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