||This biographical article needs additional citations for verification. (August 2010)|
Planer after receiving his Honorary Doctor of Arts degree from Edinburgh Napier University in 2011
|Born||Nigel George Planer
22 February 1953
Westminster, London, England
|Occupation||Actor, comedian, novelist, playwright|
|Spouse(s)||Anna Leigh (1988–95)
Frankie Park (1999–2003)
Nigel George Planer (born 22 February 1953) is an English actor, comedian, novelist and playwright. Planer is perhaps best known for his role as Neil in the cult BBC comedy The Young Ones. He has appeared in many West End musicals, including Evita, Chicago, We Will Rock You, Wicked and Hairspray. He is long time comedy partners with Peter Richardson. He also narrates the children's TV show, Grizzly Tales for Gruesome Kids.
Planer was born in Westminster, London. He was educated at King's House School, a preparatory school in Richmond upon Thames, and from the age of 13 at Westminster School. He subsequently studied at the University of Sussex (leaving after just one year), and at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art.
A founding member of the Comedy Store in London, Planer was one of the original cast of the Comic Strip team, pioneers of the alternative comedy movement in the UK. This was originally a nightclub stage show; Planer also appeared with its creator Peter Richardson as part of the double act 'The Outer Limits'. Planer and Richardson also wrote the That's Life! parody on Not The Nine O'Clock News. He was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Arts degree from Edinburgh Napier University in June 2011, saying "I am delighted to receive this honour and the responsibility that necessarily accompanies it. It has particular significance for me since, forty years ago, I flunked out of my university education after one year, for reasons probably best forgotten. I have been trying to compensate for this gaffe ever since."
He also starred 25 times in The Comic Strip Presents... series of short films between 1983 and 2005, invariably in the guise of various shambolic outsiders, to great comedic effect.
Other leading roles on TV include Shine on Harvey Moon, Filthy, Rich and Catflap, The Grimleys, King & Castle, Bonjour La Classe and Roll Over Beethoven. He also appeared in Michael Palin's Number 27, Simon Gray's Two Lumps of Ice, Emma Tennant's Frankenstein's Baby and Blackeyes by Dennis Potter.
Guest appearances include programmes such as The Bill, French and Saunders, Jonathan Creek, Blackadder III, The Last Detective, the Paul Merton Show, the Lenny Henry Show and Gary Wilmot's Songs from the Shows. He also made a guest appearance in an episode of This is Jinsy entitled Nameworm.
In 2003, he played Professor Dumbledore in a Harry Potter parody, Harry Potter and the Secret Chamber Pot of Azerbaijan. In 2007 he appeared on a BBC 4 programme under the guise of 'Nicholas Craig', interviewed by Mark Lawson. In 2010 he guest starred as Roger Venables in "Agatha Christie's Marple: The Pale Horse" alongside Julia McKenzie, Nicholas Parsons and Lynda Baron.
His first break in the theatre was understudying David Essex as Che Guevara in the original West End run of Evita. Planer was in the original London cast of Chicago, as Amos Hart. He was a member of the original West End cast of Ben Elton's Queen musical We Will Rock You as Pop.
In 1990, he replaced Michael Gambon in Alan Ayckbourn's Man of the Moment in the West End. Leading roles followed in other productions at the Bush Theatre, the Lyric Theatre, the Traverse, the Young Vic, the West Yorkshire Playhouse, Regent's Park Open-Air Theatre, Chichester Festival Theatre, Plymouth Drum and the Hampstead Theatre.
From 10–15 July 2006 he played the part of the narrator in The Rocky Horror Show, taking on the role in Manchester and Bromley. He then starred as The Wizard in the original West End production of Wicked alongside Idina Menzel. The show opened at the Apollo Victoria Theatre on 27 September 2006. Planer ended his run on 7 June 2008 and was replaced by Desmond Barrit.
In 2010, Planer returned to the role of the Narrator in the UK Tour of The Rocky Horror Show, playing in Cambridge and Northampton, before also reprising the role of Wilbur in Manchester and Leeds. He also featured in Doctor Who: Live touring the UK, as Vorgenson The Inter-Galactic Showman, before appearing in Pantomime as Captain Hook at the Lyceum Theatre in Sheffield.
Planer has appeared in a number of films:- Flood, Virgin Territory, Bright Young Things, Hogfather, The Colour of Magic, Wind in the Willows, Land Girls, Clockwork Mice, Carry on Columbus, Brazil, The Supergrass and Yellowbeard.
Planer played Den Dennis, one of the four members of the 1980s spoof rock band, Bad News who made two albums produced by Brian May. They also performed at the Hammersmith Apollo as well as the Donnington and Reading Rock Festivals.
As Neil from The Young Ones, Planer gained a number two hit single in 1984 in the form of "Hole in My Shoe", (originally a hit for 1960s band Traffic). A cover of Tomorrow's "My White Bicycle" was a less successful follow up, only reaching No.97 in the charts. After that, an album was produced, entitled Neil's Heavy Concept Album. Planer also took Neil's stage act on the road in that year as Neil in the "Bad Karma in The UK" tour. This culminated in a month-long run at St. Mary's Hall at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. The Young Ones also appeared on Cliff Richard's 1986 charity rerecording of "Living Doll", which spent three weeks at number one in the UK. He has a silver and a gold disc and has a Brit award from his musical career.
Planer is the reader for the audiobook editions of many of Terry Pratchett's Discworld novels. He also appeared in the television adaptations of both Terry Pratchett's Hogfather and The Colour of Magic, and performed as a voice artist in the games Discworld 2 and Discworld Noir. Discworld Audiobooks narrated by Planer include (with number in parentheses indicating order of the book in the Discworld series):
- The Colour of Magic (1)
- The Light Fantastic (2)
- Mort (4)
- Sourcery (5)
- Wyrd Sisters (6)
- Pyramids (7)
- Guards! Guards! (8)
- Moving Pictures (10)
- Reaper Man (11)
- Witches Abroad (12)
- Small Gods (13)
- Lords and Ladies (14)
- Men at Arms (15)
- Soul Music (16)
- Interesting Times (17)
- Maskerade (18)
- Feet of Clay (19)
- Hogfather (20)
- Jingo (21)
- The Last Continent (22)
- Carpe Jugulum (23)
Other voice roles include the narrator of Grizzly Tales for Gruesome Kids, the title character of Romuald the Reindeer, and Dr. Marmalade in an episode of SpongeBob SquarePants (alongside Young Ones co-stars Christopher Ryan and Rik Mayall). Planer has also been the narrator of many of BBC Four's Britannia series of documentaries, including Prog Rock Britannia, Blues Britannia and Heavy Metal Britannia. He was also a narrator in a direct-to-video version of Val Biro's Gumdrop book series in 1994.
He has two sons from previous marriages: Stanley, with Anna Leigh (married 19 August 1988–95); and Harvey, with Frankie Park (married April 1999 – 2003).
Nigel is an avid Tottenham Hotspur fan and is a member of the FromTheLane message board, appearing as 'Neilyboy'.
He is arguably best known in Britain for his work in television comedy and satire, including:
- Boom Boom...Out Go The Lights (1980)
- Shine on Harvey Moon (1982)
- The Young Ones (12 episodes) (1982–84)
- Roll Over Beethoven (1983–84)
- Yellowbeard (1983)
- The Comic Strip Presents… (25 episodes) (1983–2012)
- King & Castle (1986–88)
- Filthy Rich & Catflap (6 episodes) (1987)
- Blackeyes by Dennis Potter (1989)
- Frankenstein's Baby (1990)
- Nicholas Craig — The Naked Actor (1990)
- Nicholas Craig's Interview Masterclass (1990)
- Nicholas Craig's Masterpiece Theatre (1992)
- The Nicholas Craig Masterclass (1992)
- Carry On Columbus (1992)
- The Magic Roundabout (English adaptation and narrator on previously unseen episodes)
- Bonjour la Classe (1993)
- Sherlock Holmes (1993)
- Let's Get Divorced (1994)
- Wake Up! With Libby And Jonathan (1994)
- Blackadder the Third
- French & Saunders
- Jonathan Creek
- The Grimleys (1997–2001)
- Wicked (2006–08)
- Terry Pratchett's Hogfather (2006)
- Flood (2007)
- Terry Pratchett's The Colour of Magic (2008)
- Hairspray (2009)
- M.I.High (2009)
He has published several books including the novels The Right Man (2000) (ISBN 0-09-927227-X) and Faking It (2003) (ISBN 0-09-940986-0). Planer also wrote A Good Enough Dad (1992) (ISBN 0-09-929661-6) after his first son was born, talking about coping with becoming a father.
- Neil's Heavy Concept Album (1984)
- "Living Doll" (1986)
- "Rough with the Smooth" (1986)
- Bad News (1987)
- Bad News Bootleg (1988)
- Bad News The Cash In Compilation (1992)
- The Last Night (1993)
- Chicago cast recording (1995)
- The Dreaded Lurgie (1998)
- Three Men in a Boat (1999)
- Adrian Mole the Cappucion Years (2000)
- There was also a soundtrack to The Grimleys (2000), Planer's character appearing on the album.
- We Will Rock You (The Original London Cast Recording) (2002)
- Cabaret (2005)
- The Robe of Skulls (2008)
- Membery, York (16 April 2011). "Me and my school photo". Weekend (Daily Mail): 6.
- "Edinburgh Napier University News: Young Ones star among honorary graduates". Retrieved 15 June 2011.
- "French and Saunders: Harry Potter and the Secret Chamberpot of Azerbaijan". .frenchandsaunders.com. Retrieved 20 May 2011.
- "Mark Lawson talks to ... Nicholas Craig". BBC. Retrieved 20 May 2011.
- "Agatha Christie's Marple: The Pale Horse". ITV. Retrieved 20 May 2011.
- Ball and Jones Extend Run in London Hairspray; Planer and Rushworth to Join Cast
- "Cast of Charlie & The Chocolate Factory". whatsonstage.com. Whats On Stage. 11 January 2013. Retrieved 11 January 2013.
- Official Nigel Planer website
- Nigel Planer at the Internet Movie Database
- The Times Article September 2006 article about Planer