Open main menu

Gyles Daubeney Brandreth (born 8 March 1948) is an English writer, broadcaster, actor, and former Conservative Member of Parliament.

Gyles Brandreth
Gyles Brandreth - Waffle TV.jpg
Brandreth at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2013
Lord Commissioner of the Treasury
In office
11 December 1996 – 1 May 1997
Prime MinisterJohn Major
Preceded byMichael Bates
Succeeded byGraham Allen
Member of Parliament
for City of Chester
In office
9 April 1992 – 1 May 1997
Preceded byPeter Morrison
Succeeded byChristine Russell
Majority1,101 (2.1%)
Personal details
Born (1948-03-08) 8 March 1948 (age 71)
Wuppertal, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany
NationalityBritish
Political partyConservative
Spouse(s)Michèle Brown
RelationsJeremiah Brandreth
George Robert Sims
Benjamin Brandreth
Benet Brandreth
Children3
Alma materNew College, Oxford

Contents

Early lifeEdit

Brandreth was born in Wuppertal, Germany, where his father, Charles Brandreth, was serving as a legal officer with the Allied Control Commission.[2] After moving to London with his parents at the age of three, Brandreth was educated at the Lycée Français Charles de Gaulle (as it is called today) in South Kensington, Bedales School in Petersfield, Hampshire, where he met his friend Simon Cadell, and New College, Oxford, where he met Rick Stein.[2]

He was President of the Oxford Union in Michaelmas term, 1969, and edited the university magazine Isis. He was described in a contemporaneous publication as "Oxford's Lord High Everything Else".[3] Christopher Hitchens suggested that Brandreth "set out to make himself into a Ken Tynan. Wore a cloak."[4] He became a theatre producer, politician, journalist, author and publisher as well as, later, a TV presenter.

TelevisionEdit

In the 1970s Brandreth hosted the ITV children's show Puzzle Party.

He has appeared on Countdown more than 300 times, in Dictionary Corner, including Carol Vorderman's final episode in 2008, making more appearances than any other guest. He also appeared on TV-am. He was known for his collection of jumpers, of which some were sold in a charity auction in 1993.

In 2006 he appeared on the television series That Mitchell and Webb Look, on the fictional game show "Numberwang", satirising his appearances in Countdown's Dictionary Corner. In 2007 he guest-starred in the Doctor Who audio play I.D.. From July to August 2009 he hosted the game show Knowitalls on BBC Two. In April 2010 he appeared on BBC Radio 4's Vote Now Show. He also made a cameo appearance as himself in Channel 4 sitcom The IT Crowd, in the episode "The Final Countdown".

A frequent guest on BBC television panel shows, he has appeared on four episodes of QI and six episodes of Have I Got News for You. He has also appeared in episodes of Channel 5's The Gadget Show, and is a contributor to the BBC's early evening programme The One Show. He has appeared in two episodes of the TV adaptation of Just A Minute, as part of the show's 45th anniversary. In 2013 he was a guest on the Matt Lucas Awards.

He appeared on Room 101 in 2005, while Paul Merton was host, successfully banishing the Royal Variety Performance and the British honours system into Room 101, saying that he would never accept an honour himself.[5] In 2013 he clarified that position, stating that he had "no fundamental objection to the honours system", and that he selected the honours system for Room 101 because he could "tell funny stories about it".[6]

RadioEdit

Brandreth has presented programmes on London's LBC radio at various times since 1973, such as Star Quality. He frequently appears on BBC Radio 4's comedy panel game Just a Minute.[2] He has appeared on several episodes of Radio 4's political programme The Westminster Hour, explaining his thoughts on how to make the most of being a government minister. From 2003 to 2005 Brandreth hosted the Radio 4 comedy panel game Whispers.

In 2006, Brandreth appeared in the Radio 4 comedy programme Living with the Enemy which he co-wrote with comedian Nick Revell, in which they appear as a former Conservative government minister and a former comedian. In 2010 he broadcast a Radio 4 documentary about his great-great-grandfather, Benjamin Brandreth, the inventor of a medicine called "Brandreth's Pills". He is the host of the Radio 4 comedy panel show Wordaholics, first aired on 20 February 2012. He appeared on the Radio 4 programme The Museum of Curiosity in August 2017, to which he donated a button that was once owned by a famous actor.

In April 2019, Brandreth began co-hosting a podcast titled Something Rhymes With Purple alongside friend and colleague Susie Dent.[7] The podcast discusses aspects of the English language such as historic or unusual words and their origins, as well as the origins of popular phrases and sayings.

WritingEdit

Since the 1970s Brandreth has written various books about Scrabble, words, puzzles and jokes, for adults and children. He wrote an authorised biography of actor John Gielgud, as well as lipogrammic reworks of Shakespeare. In the 1980s, Brandreth wrote scripts for Dear Ladies, the television programme featuring Hinge and Bracket. Brandreth is also the creator of a stage show called Zipp! which enjoyed success at the Edinburgh Festival and had a short run in the West End.[8]

Brandreth has kept a diary. In 1999, he published his diaries between 1990 and 1997, written during his days as a politician, called Breaking the Code.[9]

In September 2004, Brandreth's book on the marriage of the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh, Philip and Elizabeth: Portrait of a Marriage was published.[2] In July 2005, he published a second book on the Royal Family, entitled Charles and Camilla: Portrait of a Love Affair, which concerns the three-decade love affair between Charles, Prince of Wales and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall.[2]

Brandreth has written a series of seven works of historical fiction called The Oscar Wilde Murder Mysteries, in which Oscar Wilde works with both Robert Sherard and Arthur Conan Doyle.[10]

Over the years he has written and appeared in a number of comedic one-man shows and toured in a number of venues. Shows have included The One-to-One Show in 2010–2011, Looking for Happiness in 2013–2014 and Word Power in 2015–2016.[11]

Brandreth has also written a book entitled Have You Eaten Grandma? which is about the English language and correct grammar.[12]

PoliticsEdit

Brandreth was a Conservative Member of Parliament (MP), representing the City of Chester, from 1992 to 1997. He proposed a Private Member's Bill which became law as the Marriage Act 1994. In 1995, he was appointed to a junior ministerial position as a Lord of the Treasury, with his role being essentially that of a whip.[13][14]

He later published a book of his diaries from his time as a whip, Breaking the Code. After his parliamentary career, he broadcast some of his reminiscences on BBC radio as Brandreth on Office and The Brandreth Rules in 2001, 2003 and 2005.

In August 2014, Brandreth was one of 200 public figures who were signatories to a letter to The Guardian opposing Scottish independence in the run-up to September's referendum on that issue.[15]

Other activitiesEdit

He is a former European Monopoly champion,[16] and President of the Association of British Scrabble Players,[17] having organised the first British National Scrabble Championship in 1971.

He is also the President of The Oscar Wilde Society. The society was founded in September 1990, by a group of fans of Wilde and his work, it is a non-profit organisation that aims to increase knowledge, enjoyment and study of Wilde’s life, personality and works. It organises lectures, readings and discussions, as well as visits to places connected with him.[18][19]

Brandreth hosts an annual Oscar Wilde party to celebrate the writer's birth. Guests have included Stephen Fry, Joanna Lumley, Derek Jacobi, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall and Julian Fellowes.[18][20] The venues are often places of interest in Wilde's life, for example the Langham Hotel where A Picture of Dorian Gray was commissioned.[21] In August 2005, he appeared in a production of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night at the Edinburgh Festival.

He is an after-dinner speaker, and he held the world record for the longest continuous after-dinner speech, at twelve-and-a-half hours, done as a charity stunt. With his wife, he founded the Teddy Bear museum. Located in Stratford-upon-Avon for 18 years, it was relocated to the Polka Theatre in Wimbledon, London. As of 2016, it is on display at Newby Hall in Yorkshire.[22] He is a patron of the National Piers Society, and vice-president of charity Fields in Trust (formerly the National Playing Fields Association).

In 2014, Brandreth was awarded the honorary degree of Doctor of Letters (D.Litt) from the University of Chester,[23] and was appointed the University's Chancellor in December 2016.[24]

Personal lifeEdit

Brandreth married Michèle Brown, a writer and publisher, in Westminster in 1973.[25][26] They reside in Barnes, Southwest London[27] and have three grown-up children: Benet, a barrister; Saethryd, a journalist; and Aphra, a former government economist and now financial director of a veterinary business,[28] and who is mother of their first grandchild, Kiyo.[29] Aphra is the prospective parliamentary candidate for the Conservatives in the constituency of Kingston and Surbiton.[28]

Selected bibliographyEdit

Non-fictionEdit

  • Created in Captivity (1972), a study of prison reform
  • The Funniest Man on Earth (1974), a biography of Dan Leno
  • The Joy of Lex: How to Have Fun with 860,341,500 Words (1980), ISBN 0-688-01397-X
  • "Everyman's Indoor Games" (1981), ISBN 0-460-04456-7
  • The Book of Mistaikes (1982), ISBN 0-7088-2194-4
  • The Scrabble Brand Puzzle Book (1984), ISBN 0-671-50536-X
  • A Guide to Playing the Scrabble Brand Crossword Game (1985), ISBN 0-671-50652-8
  • The Great Book of Optical Illusions (1985), ISBN 0-8069-6258-5
  • "Everyman's Classic Puzzles" (1986) , ISBN 0-4600-2466-3
  • The Scrabble Companion (1988), ISBN 0-09-172698-0 (with Darryl Francis)
  • World Championship Scrabble (1992), ISBN 0-550-19028-7 (with Darryl Francis)
  • Under the Jumper: Autobiographical Excursions (1993). ISBN 0-86051-894-9
  • Breaking the Code: Westminster Diaries, 1992–97 (1999), ISBN 0-297-64311-8
  • Brief Encounters: Meetings with Remarkable People (2001), ISBN 1-902301-95-1
  • John Gielgud: An Actor's Life (2001), ISBN 0-7509-2690-2
  • The Biggest Kids Joke Book Ever! (2002), ISBN 0-233-05062-0
  • The Joy of Lex: An Amazing and Amusing Z to A and A to Z of Words (2002), ISBN 1-86105-399-1
  • The Word Book (2002), ISBN 1-86105-398-3
  • Philip and Elizabeth: Portrait of a Marriage (2004), ISBN 0-7126-6103-4
  • Charles and Camilla: Portrait of a Love Affair (2005), ISBN 1-84413-845-3
  • The 7 Secrets of Happiness (2013) ISBN 978-1780722047
  • Word Play (2015) ISBN 978-1-473-62029-2

FictionEdit

  • Here Comes Golly (1979) ISBN 978-0-7207-1098-4[30]
  • Who is Nick Saint? (1996). ISBN 978-0-3168-7979-8
  • Venice Midnight (1999). ISBN 0-7515-2658-4
  • Oscar Wilde and the Candlelight Murders (2007), ISBN 978-0-7195-6930-2 (American title: Oscar Wilde and a Death of No Importance)
  • Oscar Wilde and the Ring of Death (2008), (American title: Oscar Wilde and a Game Called Murder) ISBN 978-0719569609
  • Oscar Wilde and the Dead Man's Smile (2009) ISBN 978-1416534853
  • Oscar Wilde and the Nest of Vipers (2010) (American title: Oscar Wilde and the Vampire Murders)
  • Oscar Wilde and the Vatican Murders (2011)
  • Oscar Wilde and the Murders at Reading Gaol (2012)
  • Oscar Wilde and the Return of Jack the Ripper (2019)

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Gyles Brandreth". Desert Island Discs. 14 January 2011. BBC Radio 4. Retrieved 18 January 2014.
  2. ^ a b c d e "Gyles Brandreth Biography". bookbrowse.com. Retrieved 10 August 2013.
  3. ^ Cherwell Guide 1972
  4. ^ Farndale, Nigel (2 June 2010). "An audience with Christopher Hitchens". The Daily Telegraph. London, UK.
  5. ^ "Room 101 with Gyles Brandreth". BBC. 5 October 2005.
  6. ^ ChatPolitics (30 August 2013), Gyles Brandreth on Tony Blair, the monarchy, and 'Just A Minute', retrieved 7 August 2016
  7. ^ "Something Rhymes With Purple podcast archive". acast.com. Retrieved 16/08/2019. Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  8. ^ London Theatre. "Zipp! The Musical with Gyles Brandreth at Duchess 23 Jan 03". London Theatre. Retrieved 20 April 2018.
  9. ^ "Gyles Brandreth: Author, Broadcaster, Actor, Entertainer". www.gylesbrandreth.net. Retrieved 19 March 2016.
  10. ^ "The Oscar Wilde Murder Mysteries by Gyles Brandreth". www.oscarwildemurdermysteries.com. Retrieved 19 March 2016.
  11. ^ "Gyles Brandreth books and biography | Waterstones". www.waterstones.com. Retrieved 14 September 2018.
  12. ^ "Gyles Brandreth". www.penguin.co.uk. Retrieved 14 September 2018.
  13. ^ "The Brandreth Rules". BBC News. 10 January 2006.
  14. ^ [1] Archived 2 June 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  15. ^ "Celebrities' open letter to Scotland – full text and list of signatories". theguardian.com. 7 August 2014. Retrieved 26 August 2014.
  16. ^ Mount, Harry (7 April 2003). "Portrait of a driver: Gyles Brandreth". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 21 January 2009.
  17. ^ "Gyles Brandreth". ABSP. Retrieved 9 June 2012.
  18. ^ a b "Camilla to join Gyles Brandreth to mark 161st anniversary of Oscar Wilde's birth". Royal Central. Retrieved 19 March 2016.
  19. ^ "Welcome to the website for". The Oscar Wilde Society. Retrieved 12 March 2017.
  20. ^ "Oscar Wilde party at The Langham". Tatler. Retrieved 19 March 2016.
  21. ^ "Events". Oscar Wilde Society. Retrieved 19 March 2016.
  22. ^ "Polka Theatre - World-class theatre for children". www.polkatheatre.com. Archived from the original on 15 October 2011. Retrieved 19 March 2016.
  23. ^ "Honorary Graduates 2014". University of Chester website. Retrieved 12 March 2019.
  24. ^ "University's new Chancellor to be Gyles Brandreth". University of Chester. 8 December 2016. Retrieved 12 June 2017.
  25. ^ "Index entry". FreeBMD. ONS. Retrieved 9 February 2017.
  26. ^ "Index entry". FreeBMD. ONS. Retrieved 9 February 2017.
  27. ^ "Famous Residents of Richmond-upon-Thames". Richmonduponthamesnotables.tumblr.com. 18 December 2015. Retrieved 12 March 2017.
  28. ^ a b "The Good Life, Surbiton's Community Newspaper". Issue 45, March 2019, page 8'.
  29. ^ Lynn Barber. "Turned out nice again | Culture". The Guardian. Retrieved 12 March 2017.
  30. ^ "Here Comes Golly". Biblio.co.uk. Retrieved 12 March 2019.

External linksEdit