19 October 1930
|Alma mater||Swansea University|
|Occupation||television presenter, writer|
After Noon Plus
Mavis on 4
A Plus 4
She was born Mavis Mainwaring and spent her childhood in Briton Ferry. She became a student at Swansea University. There in 1949 she met the writer and journalist, Geoffrey Nicholson, whom she married in 1952, and with whom she had three sons.
In 1951, at the end of her undergraduate career at Swansea University, Nicholson won a scholarship to train as an advertising copywriter and with this moved to London.
There she and her husband were at the centre of a lively social circle, including the journalist and broadcaster John Morgan and the novelist Kingsley Amis. According to Peter Corrigan's obituary of her husband, Mavis and Geoff Nicholson "...became a much-loved double-act. Amis did not always approve of their views and claimed to have invented the word 'lefties' during one little set-to with them. While it was true that the Nicholsons didn't have dinner parties as such – they invited people for an argument and threw some food in – they were by no means belligerent but had in abundance the Welsh love of debate."
Nicholson stopped her work as an advertising copywriter when she had her children, but her second career as a broadcaster began when, because of her probing and engaging conversational style at the dinner table, she was asked by Thames Television to host a programme on newly launched daytime television (British television had previously only started to broadcast in the late afternoon).
She then presented British television programmes such as After Noon, After Noon Plus and Mavis on 4 from the 1970s to 1990s, on which she interviewed celebrities of the stature of Elizabeth Taylor, Kenneth Williams, David Bowie, Peter Cook and Dudley Moore. Her February 1979 interview with David Bowie is widely regarded as one of the best interviews ever done with him.
Nicholson presented the Channel 4 programme A Plus 4, which ran from 1984 to 1986. In 1983, she presented the discussion series Predicaments, also a Thames production for Channel 4; she dismissed the view that the programme was "voyeuristic" as "middle-class queasiness". For the BBC, she appeared on Start the Week regularly in the 1970s, presented You and Yours in 1976 and hosted a number of interview and discussion series, including Open Air from 1988 to 1989 and Welsh editions of the Radio 2 Arts Programme in the 1990s.
In the 1980s she and her husband returned to Wales to live in a farmhouse in Powys. In the early 1990s she fronted a number of Channel 4 series produced by YoYo Films, such as Third Wave, In with Mavis, Moments of Crisis and Faces of the Family. She also presented the discussion show Right or Wrong, made by Central Television and taken by some other regions including Meridian. Her last work for television was Oldie TV in 1997, a television version of The Oldie magazine. However, in 2005 she returned to interview Elaine Morgan in an On Show programme for BBC One Wales, broadcast on 13 March that year. On 25 August 2016, BBC One Wales broadcast a profile called Being Mavis Nicholson: the Greatest TV Interviewer of All Time? in a peak 9pm slot.
She has also presented several radio shows, including a history of the department store and a look back at her childhood.
She is the author of the 1992 book Martha Jane & Me: A Girlhood In Wales.
- "Mavis Nicholson IMDB entry". IMDB. 2007.
- Chilton, Martin (1 June 2011). "Hay Festival: day seven as it happened". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 30 July 2015.
- Peter Corrigan (1999-08-04). "Obituary: Geoffrey Nicholson – Arts & Entertainment". The Independent. Retrieved 2012-06-12.
- Daily Express, page 10, 26 January 1972
- Daily Mirror, page 18, 19 April 1972
- "Film & TV Database – Nicholson, Mavis". British Film Institute. 2005-10-31.
- "North Powys Youth Music by Mavis Nicholson". North Powys Youth Music. 2006. Archived from the original on 2007-08-08.
- "Bowie Golden Years: ITV February 1979". Bowie Golden Years. 2007.
- "Good Afternoon!: Good Afternoon[RX 01/08/74]". BFI. 2007.
- "Afternoon Plus interview with David Bowie". 1979.
- "Peeping in on people's problems" by Clare Colvin, The Times page 13, 25 March 1983
- BBC Genome Project – Radio Times listings
- "A life on the open air" by Bill McCoid, The Stage and Television Today, 15 December 1988
- YoYo Films YouTube channel
- Daily Express, page 34, 1 September 1993
- Wexford People, 9 March 2005, and several other Irish papers
- Daily Mirror, page 42, 25 August 2016
- "Magazines: The Oldie". The Independent. 2005-10-31. Archived from the original on 2007-05-07.
- "Miles Kington: Trapped in the Med with the wise and witty Oldies". The Independent. 2006-11-10. Archived from the original on 2007-09-30.
- "Radio Listings "Mavis Nicholson"". Radio Listings. 2007.
- "WorldCat: Martha Jane & Me: A Girlhood In Wales". WorldCat. 2007.