Derek Nimmo

Derek Robert Nimmo (19 September 1930 – 24 February 1999) was an English character actor, producer and author. He was particularly associated with comedic upper class "silly-arse" and clerical roles.

Derek Nimmo
Derek Nimmo Allan Warren.jpg
Nimmo in a 1975 portrait by Allan Warren
Derek Robert Nimmo

(1930-09-19)19 September 1930
Died24 February 1999(1999-02-24) (aged 68)
Resting placeChurch of St Peter and St Paul, Easton Maudit
EducationQuarry Bank High School for Boys
OccupationActor, theatre manager
Patricia Brown
(m. 1955)


Nimmo was born in Liverpool, Lancashire,[1] the son of an insurance salesman,[2] and grew up in Mossley Hill in an environment he described as "old merchants' houses, comfy English suburbia".[3] He was educated at Booker Avenue Infants and Junior School as well as Quarry Bank High School for Boys, then a grammar school under headmaster R. F. Bailey, who brought with him, from his previous position as assistant headmaster at leading independent school Shrewsbury School, "the finest traditions of public schools".[4] He then followed his father into the insurance business, and after National Service in Cyprus, became a salesman for a paint company.[5] He began his stage career at the Hippodrome Theatre in Bolton, Lancashire.[1][6] It was during this time that he made a cameo appearance in the Beatles' film, A Hard Day's Night (in which he appeared as "Leslie Jackson", a magician with doves).

He appeared in a number of British films and television series, as aristocrats, including starring roles in the television comedy series The World of Wooster (as "Bingo Little"),[6] and in the comedy film One of Our Dinosaurs Is Missing[1] (as "Lord Southmere"), as well as appearing in the James Bond spoof film Casino Royale.[6]

Derek Nimmo made his name as the Reverend Mervyn Noote in the British sitcom All Gas and Gaiters (1966). At the time it was considered rather controversial because the main characters were senior churchmen (the Bishop, his chaplain Noote and the Archdeacon) who got into various scrapes as a result of their general incompetence. By the time the series finished, Nimmo was identified with the stereotype of a traditional British clergyman and he went on to play a bungling monk in another BBC clerical sitcom, Oh, Brother!, and a Roman Catholic priest in its sequel series, Oh, Father!.[7] Another sitcom in which he appeared in a starring role as a clergyman, many years later, was Hell's Bells (by now promoted to a dean).[6] He also appeared as the Reverend Jonathan Green in a television production of Cluedo. He became so well known for his clerical parody that, in the 1975 The Goodies' episode "Wacky Wales", a "team of Derek Nimmos" played in a spoof "Ecclesiastical Rugby Sevens" competition.

In 1966, he appeared in the second series of The Bed-Sit Girl. Derek Nimmo appeared on stage in many West End plays and starred in the musical Charlie Girl, which contained a scene specially written to allow him to perform his party trick of wiggling his toes. He also became a regular panelist on the popular BBC radio show Just a Minute,[7] and had a chat show on BBC Television, If It's Saturday, It Must Be Nimmo,[6] from 24 October to 19 December 1970, though it was felt that he seemed less at ease as a chat show host. Having been away from television for some time, he made an appearance in the Australian television series Neighbours in 1990, playing Lord Ledgerwood alongside Madge and Harold Bishop.[6]

As a theatrical impresario, he took his own touring production (Intercontinental Entertainment) to 30 countries,[7] including Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Hong Kong, Thailand, Oman and the UAE (Abu Dhabi and Dubai) and so provided himself with material for many stories on Just a Minute.[7]

In the 1970s, Derek Nimmo sang the jingle "P…p…pick up a Penguin" in a series of television advertisements for McVitie's Penguin biscuits, [8] echoing a stammer he had used for his character in All Gas and Gaiters. In 1996, Nimmo voiced Mr Smiley in one episode of Dennis the Menace.

Personal lifeEdit

Derek Nimmo's grave at Easton Maudit, Northamptonshire.

He married Patricia Brown in 1955; they had three children: Timothy (b. 1956); Piers (b. 1967); and Amanda (b. 1959), who was the first wife of Nicholas Howard, son of politician George Howard, Baron Howard of Henderskelfe.[9][1]

Nimmo's hobbies included gardening,[1] photography (particularly nature photography), birdwatching and collecting walnut furniture, porcelain and paintings.[6] He was also a wine expert[1] and wrote several books on the subject as well as a number of books on the theatre.[6] Another interest was after dinner speaking, for which he was always in demand.

He received many awards, including the 1990 Benedictine After Dinner Speaker of the Year. He was made a Freeman of the City of London, and the University of Leicester recognised his contribution to entertainment with an honorary Master of Arts degree in 1996. Nimmo was an Anglican.


On 2 December 1998, Nimmo attended a National Treasures celebrity lunch in the boardroom of the Daily Express newspaper along with Sir Peter O'Sullevan, Joan Collins, Dame Beryl Bainbridge, Dickie Davies and Sue MacGregor amongst others. He had recently returned from a Middle East tour of Run For Your Wife and was in sparkling form during the lunch. After lunch he asked to be driven to the Garrick Club for further refreshment, and then returned to his Kensington (Lexham Gardens) home. He and his wife later went out to dinner. On their return, Nimmo was checking an external alarm when he lost his footing and fell down a stone staircase into the basement. He suffered head injuries and was taken to the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital where he remained in a coma until the end of December. While still recovering in hospital, Nimmo contracted pneumonia and died on 24 February 1999.[10]

He is buried in the churchyard at Easton Maudit, Northamptonshire.

Selected filmographyEdit




  1. ^ a b c d e f "Nimmo dies after fall". BBC News. 24 February 1999. Retrieved 29 September 2012.
  2. ^
  3. ^ The Illustrated London News, vol. 467, issue 2, Illustrated London News & Sketch Ltd, 1979, p. 432
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h Anthony Hayward (26 February 1999). "Obituary:Derek Nimmo". The Independent. Retrieved 29 September 2012.
  7. ^ a b c d Stevens, Christopher (2010). Born Brilliant: The Life of Kenneth Williams. John Murray. p. 395. ISBN 978-1-84854-195-5.
  8. ^ "A Word From our Sponsors…".
  9. ^ Burke's Peerage, Baronetage and Knightage, 107th edition, vol. 1, ed. Charles Mosley, Burke's Peerage Ltd, 2003, p. 689
  10. ^ "Derek Nimmo dies aged 68". The Independent. 25 February 1999.

External linksEdit