DoctorDoctor Who Guide

Simon Callow

Last updated 05 March 2013


Simon Callow
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Simon Phillip Hugh Callow

Born: Mon 13th June 1949 (age: 64)

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Simon Callow, CBE is an English actor, writer and theatre director. born in Streatham, London, UK.

Callow made his stage debut in 1973, appearing in The Thrie Estates at the Assembly Hall Theatre, Edinburgh. In the early 1970s he joined the Gay Sweatshop theatre company and performed in Martin Sherman's critically acclaimed Passing By. In 1977 he took various parts in the Joint Stock Theatre Company's production of Epsom Downs and in 1979 he starred in Snoo Wilson's The Soul of the White Ant at the Soho Poly.

He made his first film appearance, as Schikaneder, in Amadeus in 1984 (having played Mozart in the original stage production at the Royal National Theatre in 1979). He starred in several series of the Channel 4 situation comedy, Chance in a Million, as Tom Chance, an eccentric individual to whom coincidences happened regularly. Roles like this and his part in Four Weddings and a Funeral brought him a wider audience than his many critically acclaimed stage appearances.

At the same time, Callow was successful both as a director and as a writer. His Being An Actor (1984) was a critique of 'director dominated' theatre, in addition to containing autobiographical sections relating to his early career as an actor. At a time when subsidised theatre in the United Kingdom was under severe pressure from the Thatcher government, the work's original appearance caused a minor controversy. In 1992, he directed the play Shades by Sharman MacDonald and the musical My Fair Lady featuring costumes designed by Jasper Conran.[9] In 1995 he directed a stage version of the classic French film Les Enfants du Paradis for the RSC. The production was not a success. Callow has also directed opera productions.

One of Callow's best-known books is Love Is Where It Falls, an analysis of his eleven-year relationship with Peggy Ramsay (1908–91), a prominent British theatrical agent from the 1960s to the 1980s. He has also written extensively about Charles Dickens, whom he has played in a one-man show, The Mystery of Charles Dickens by Peter Ackroyd, in the film Hans Christian Andersen: My Life as a Fairytale, and on television several times including An Audience with Charles Dickens (BBC, 1996).

He was cast as Dickens in the 2005 Doctor Who story The Unquiet Dead, a role he reprised in cameo form for the 2011 season finale, The Wedding of River Song.

Callow appeared with Saeed Jaffrey in 1994 British television series Little Napoleons. In 1996 Callow directed Cantabile in three musical pieces (Commuting, The Waiter's Revenge, Ricercare No. 4) composed by his friend Stephen Oliver. Ricercare No. 4 was commissioned by Callow especially for Cantabile. He voice-acted the sly and traitorous Wolfgang in Shoebox Zoo. In 2004, he appeared on a Comic Relief episode of Little Britain for charity causes. In 2006, he wrote a piece for the BBC1 programme This Week bemoaning the lack of characters in modern politics. He has starred as Count Fosco, the villain of Wilkie Collins's novel The Woman in White, in film (1997) and on stage (2005, in the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical in the West End).

In December 2004, he hosted the London Gay Men's Chorus Christmas Show, Make the Yuletide Gay at the Barbican Centre in London. He is currently one of the patrons of the Michael Chekhov Studio London. Callow narrated the audio book of Robert Fagles' 2006 translation of Virgil's The Aeneid.

From 11 July to 3 August 2008, Callow appeared at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival in Canada in There Reigns Love, a performance of the sonnets of William Shakespeare and also in 2008, he appeared at the Edinburgh Festival performing "Dr Marigold" and "Mr Chops" by Charles Dickens, adapted and directed by Patrick Garland; repeating them from December 2009 to January 2010 at the Riverside Studios and on tour in 2011.

In February 2008, he played the psychiatrist in Chichester Festival Theatre's production of Peter Shaffer's Equus.

Between March and August 2009, he starred as Pozzo in Sean Mathias's production of Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett opposite Sir Ian McKellen (Estragon), Patrick Stewart (Vladimir) and also Ronald Pickup (Lucky). The tour opened in Malvern before travelling to Milton Keynes, Brighton, Bath, Norwich, Edinburgh and Newcastle.

From June to November 2010, he appeared in a national tour of a new one-man play, Shakespeare: the Man from Stratford, written by Jonathan Bate, directed by Tom Cairns and produced by the Ambassador Theatre Group. 

Callow has also written biographies of Oscar Wilde, Charles Laughton and Orson Welles. He is currently at work on the third volume of his life of Welles. He has also an anthology of Shakespeare passages Shakespeare On Love, and contributed to Cambridge's Actors on Shakespeare series. Callow was also the reader of The Twits and The Witches in the Puffin Roald Dahl Audio Books Collection and has done audio versions of several abridged P. G. Wodehouse books that feature, among others, the fictional character Jeeves. They include Very Good, Jeeves and Aunts Aren't Gentlemen. A devotee of classical music, he has contributed articles to Gramophone magazine.






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