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John Bird

Born in Basford, Nottingham, and educated at High Pavement Grammar School, Nottingham, John briefly joined the Socialist Party of Great Britain, while still at school. He was educated at King's College, Cambridge (where he was to meet John Fortune), he became well known during the television satire boom of the 1960s, appearing in That Was The Week That Was (coined by him).  He was intended by Ned Sherrin for David Frost's role in the series, but was committed elsewhere. He also appeared in the television programmes Not So Much a Programme, More a Way of Life, A Very Peculiar Practice and My Father Knew Lloyd George, as well as in The Secret Policeman's Other Ball.

Further acting credits:   Help!, Jabberwocky, The Seven-Per-Cent Solution and Yellow Pages.

During the 1970s, he featured in The Collected Broadcasts of Idi Amin, based on Alan Coren's anti-Idi Punch columns. In 1975, The Melting Pot: a sitcom written by Spike Milligan and Neil Shand, was cancelled by the BBC after just one episode had been broadcast. In 1979 he appeared in Dennis Potter's Blue Remembered Hills.

Hilarious roles followed in the BBC situation comedy Yes, Prime Minister broadcast in 1988 and then as a newspaper editor in the political drama To Play the King in 1993.

From 1990 to 1992, he starred in eighteen episodes of the television detective series, El C.I.D., set in Spain. Amongst his co-stars were Alfred Molina and Amanda Redman. In 1993, John starred as Professor Plum in the fourth series of Cluedo.

Further parts included: John Fuller-Carp, a barrister, in the BBC radio and television sitcom, Chambers;   with Stephen Fry in Absolute Power and guest appearances in Jonathan Creek and The Three Gamblers.

We probably know and love him best for his collaborations with the late John Fortune and also Rory Bremner in Bremner, Bird and Fortune. We remember with great glee, and not a little irony, the famous series of sketches with John Fortune, The Long Johns, where one interviewed the other in the character of figures such as politicians, government consultants or businessman. In one of these sketches (The Last Laugh), which was recorded for The South Bank Show and broadcast on 14 October 2007, they were credited with being one of the first to predict the seriousness of the financial crisis of 2007–2010.

We are delighted to have him as part of our community and thank him for his generous involvement.

 Jean Boht

Perhaps best known for her role as Nellie Boswell in the hugely successful BBC Television series Bread (a peak of 26 million viewers a week) that won her the award for Top TV Comedy Actress and the programme The Variety Artistes Best Comedy. She has also appeared in numerous other television series, including: Casualty, Holby City, Brighton Belles, Scully, Miss Marple, Funny Man, Last of the Summer Wine, Doctors, Eskimos Do It, Spyship, Sons and Lovers, The Bill, and Boys from the Blackstuff, which was nominated as the Top Drama in the Best 100 TV Programmes Ever. Also many guest appearances in chat shows; including her favourite which was with Gloria Hunniford who often let her cook on the show!

Jean BohtJean began her career as a £1 a week student at the Liverpool Playhouse and then went on to join the Bristol Old Vic and Manchester Companies and within two years returned to Liverpool as leading lady along with Anthony Hopkins, Lynda La Plante and Patrick Stewart – with Director David Scase in charge – it was a magical time, she says. She then went to the Royal Court for a year working with Bill Gaskill, Jane Howell and Peter Gill; Michael Blakemore at the National Theatre and the great Joan Littlewood at Theatre Workshop, and seasons at Chichester Festival with Patrick Garland. At the Edinburgh Festival she played Florence Foster Jenkins in Viva La Diva, directed by Chrys Salt.

Her London and West End appearances go back to 1964 with St Joan of the Stockyards at the Queens with the English Stage company which led to a long association with the Royal court – most recently, Embers at the Duke of York’s with Jeremy Irons; Joy's Prayer at The Soho Theatre; The Countess at The criterion, Steel Magnolias at The Lyric (when she then became the subject of This is your Life); Dangerous Corner at The Whitehall. Kindertransport at The Vaudeville, Bread (the play) at The Dominion and pantomime with Cilla Black at The Piccadilly. Fringe theatres include Kennedy's Children at The King’s Head; The Wild Duck at Hammersmith Lyric directed by Michael Blakemore; Lost (The Bush); Birds of Passage (Hampstead) and OAPz - A Hip Hop Comedy.

Films include: Meddle not with Change, The Girl on a Swing, Where Adam Stood, Asylum, To Die For, The Big Game, Arthur's Hallowed Ground, Distant Voice Still Lives, A Day at Lords, Freis; The Tug and Bad Night for the Blues

Jean is married to the composer Carl Davis and they were both made Hon. Fellows of Liverpool University JMU for their work in entertainment and the arts. They have two daughters, Hannah and Jessie, and three grandchildren. Hannah is now in Los Angeles and has completed two feature films Mothers & Daughters and The Understudy with an award winning score by Carl – both now on DVD.

Sara Crowe

Sara’s theatre credits include:  Most recently Fallen Angels on tour, Radio Times the Musical, The City Madam (RSC Swan Theatre) Calendar Girls (Noel Coward Theatre); The Real Inspector Hound & Black Comedy (Comedy Theatre); The Constant Wife (Lyric Theatre); A Busy Day (Lyric Theatre); Dames at Sea (Ambassadors Theatre); Hay Fever (Albery Theatre) for which she received an Olivier nomination for Best Comedy Performance;  Relative Values (Savoy Theatre); Plunder (Savoy Theatre); Henceforward (Vaudeville Theatre); Twelfth Night (Peter Hall company at the Playhouse) and Private Lives (Aldwych Theatre) for which she received the Olivier award for Best Supporting Actress, the Variety Club Best Actress Award, and the Critics Circle Most Promising Newcomer Award.

On Tour: A Woman of No Importance (RSC); The Country Wife (English Touring Theatre); Lord Arthur Saville’s Crime & The Constant Wife (Bill Kenwright) and Donkeys Years by Michael Frayn. Sara played Miss Babs in the tour of Acorn Antiques the Musical by Victoria Wood.

Television and film credits include: Born and Bred; Haggard; Alas Smith and Jones; The Harry Enfield Show; Scarlett; The Green Green Grass, Skins, and Eastenders. Sara played Laura ‘the meringue’ in Four Weddings and a Funeral.

She is also a writer and her first novel ‘Campari For Breakfast’ is out now published by Transworld.

We are very pleased that Sara, an award winning actress, should take an interest in what we do at Polesden. 

Nicholas Owen

Nicholas Owen is a Presenter with BBC News, which he re-joined in February 2007. For well over a decade before that he hosted all ITN's major bulletins, including Channel Four News and News at Ten. He has also appeared in a wide range of other TV and radio programmes, including BBC1's Strictly Come Dancing in 2006.

Nicholas OwenFrom 1994 to 2000 Nicholas was Royal Correspondent for ITV News. In that capacity he played a major role in reporting on the death and funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales, for which ITN won an RTS Award. He compiled a book on her life entitled Diana - The People's Princess.

He has been a regular contributor to ITN's Budget programmes, having joined ITN as Channel Four News' Business and Economics Correspondent. During the first Gulf War Nicholas presented the highly-acclaimed Midnight Special Programmes when they were launched on Channel Four. He also anchored The Parliament Programme, Channel Four's first daytime political series.

Nicholas began his journalistic career on the Surrey Mirror in 1964, moving to Fleet Street in 1968. He worked for the Evening Standard and the Daily Telegraph before spending seven years with the Financial Times.

In 1981 Nicholas switched to television reporting, joining the BBC in the North of England, covering general and industrial stories for both regional and national news and current affairs programmes. He moved to ITN in 1984. Nicholas Owen was born in 1947. He has a close interest in transport matters, especially railways and light rail schemes. His publications include a history of the British trolleybus. Nicholas also hosts many corporate and charity events, and is an after dinner speaker. He is married to a newspaper journalist, lives in Surrey, has four children - and two grandchildren.

We have been delighted to welcome Nicholas as a patron of Polesden Lacey Shakespeare. He has in fact appeared on the same stage, that we use, when he acted as a narrator for the childrens' concert held in 2010.

Robin Sebastian

Robin’s career at Polesden Lacey Open Air Theatre (PLOAT) started in the 1980’s. Firstly playing Lucentio in Peter Hahlo’s’ Taming of the Shrew’, and the following year in his ‘Dream’ as Lysander with his mother Margaret Hunter making her PLOAT debut as Titania.

After leaving drama school Robin featured in a wide range of performances from Shakespeare to Restoration Comedies, from comedy cabaret to TV. One of his early television appearances was in ‘Just William’ starring the talented young Oliver Rokison who had also cut his teeth at Polesden.

Comedy has always been Robin’s forte, working with comedy greats such as David Mitchel, Rob Webb, Sara Crowe, Russ Abbot, Joe Pasquale and Peter Kaye who he partnered in the hilarious musical the Producers in 2007.

Robin’s main claim to fame came in 2003 when he was cast as Kenneth Williams in the hugely Popular ‘Round the Horne…Revisited’.  This show started life in a tiny pub theatre in London and was to run in the West End for 15 months and spawn a multitude of number one tours! In 2004 the BBC commissioned a TV special and 3 appearances on the ‘Royal Variety Show’. Robin went on to play Mr Williams in a number of further productions and is currently devising a series of BBC Radio programmes on his radio career.

Recently Noel Coward has been Robin’s bag. Appearing opposite Finty Williams in Roy Marsden’s production of ‘Volcano’, and in ‘Fallen Angels’ as Sara Crowe’s dim husband Willy. It was the third time Robin had given his ‘Willy’ which is a small part, but he’s had no complaints! Robin’s greatest triumph however was in a production of Lady Windermere’s Fan at the English Theatre In Vienna where he fell in love with ‘Lady Windermere’ (now his wife, Lucy)…he very soon became her fan! 

At the moment Robin is donning his Williams’ persona again as he is preparing to embark on the second series of ‘The Missing Hancock’s’ for BBC Radio 4, then taking the stage version to The Beckett Festival in Enniskillen followed by The Edinburgh Festival.

Robin is thrilled to be a Patron of Polesden Lacey Shakespeare and is looking forward to enjoying each year's production.

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Polesden Lacey Shakespeare Limited, Registered Number 7512952 Registered Charity Number 1142776 Registered Office: 16 Dorking Road, Great Bookham, Leatherhead, Surrey KT23 4LX