In 1981, we interviewed the director, actor, writer and doctor Jonathan Miller, who died last week aged 85.
The renowned polymath, who was 48 at the time, was, we reported, in a “bleak mood, pondering over the problems of combining a career producing opera with TV commitments and a responsibility to medicine as an academic scientist”.
Miller said: “I really would like to get out of the theatre by the time I’m 50… I get so depressed on this treadmill. I spend most of my time in a transport of despair. I just can’t convince myself that my work in the theatre is important or worthwhile. It seems such a falling short of what I might do with my life.
“It’s terribly entertaining and amusing but it never completely engages the whole of my mind. The problems are not hard enough. If you have just been brought up as a scientist and been connected with academic life, the questions you are faced with are brain-cracking. The theatre just does not supply those sort of problems.
“There are only a limited number of operas a theatre producer can tangle with. I’d say there are 25 great pieces of music worth producing. I’ve done about 17. Mozart is the peak but there are some composers I don’t want to get involved with. Puccini is for kids, I can’t take him seriously. And I find Wagner’s world physically, morally and spiritually repulsive.”
If you’d like to read more stories from the history of theatre, all previous content from The Stage is available at the British Newspaper Archive in a convenient, easy-to-access format. Please visit: thestage.co.uk/archive