22 February 1953 (age 58)
Actor, comedian, novelist, playwright
Anna Leigh (1988–95)
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 Pye 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.
A founder 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 Doctorate of Arts from Edinburgh Napier University in June 2011.
Planer is best known for his role as Neil, the hippie housemate of Vyvyan (Adrian Edmondson), Rick (Rik Mayall) and Mike (Christopher Ryan) in the cult BBC comedy The Young Ones, which ran from 1982–84.
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.
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. Nigel 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, Nigel 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 over the UK, as Vorgenson The Inter-Galactic Showman before appearing in Pantomime as Captain Hook at the Lyceum Theatre in Sheffield.
Nigel 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.
Nigel played Den Dennis, one of the four members of the 1980s spoof rock band, Bad News who made two albums produced by Queen guitarist 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. Nigel 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.
Nigel 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 Nigel 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. 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 is also as a narrator in direct-to-videoVal Biro's Gumdrop'' book series in 1994 on VHS distributed by castle vision in three volumes containg 9 stories each, later reissued in 1999 by castle home video and also reissued on DVD in two volumes by conerstone media containg thirteen stories each.
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