Kit Hesketh-Harvey

Hesketh Harvey on Just a Minute in 2010

Christopher John "Kit" Hesketh-Harvey (born April 1957)[1] is a British musical performer, translator, composer and screenwriter.

Early lifeEdit

Born in Nyasaland (now Malawi), into a Foreign Office family,[2] he was educated as senior chorister at Canterbury Cathedral and then at Tonbridge School in Kent. He gained an Exhibition in English Literature as well as a choral scholarship to Clare College, Cambridge, where he studied under John Rutter and joined the Footlights.


Hesketh-Harvey worked for six years as a staff producer for the BBC-TV Music and Arts Department, leaving to write the script for Merchant Ivory's Maurice (1987). He won the 1988 Vivian Ellis Award for musical theatre writers and subsequently studied with Stephen Sondheim, who had been appointed to the Cameron Mackintosh visiting professorship in Contemporary Theatre at St Catherine's College, Oxford.[3]

He worked on the Vicar of Dibley series for the BBC. He wrote 'Full Throttle', starring Rowan Atkinson, and Hans Andersen: My Life As A Fairytale (Hallmark). He co-wrote the screenplay for Tim Walker's film The Lost Explorer. (Another collaboration with Walker, The Granny Alphabet with his verses to Walker's photographs, was published by Thames and Hudson in 2013). His first detective novel, 'For The Shooting' was published in October 2017.

Hesketh-Harvey wrote and sang with pianist Richard Sisson for over thirty years as musical comedy duo Kit and The Widow. They had a number of West End and Broadway theatre runs and international tours, notably with the late Joan Rivers. They had their own series on BBC Radios 3 and 4, and two TV specials on Channel 4. He starred in the 1996 production of Salad Days at the Vaudeville Theatre, and in Tom Foolery (Jermyn Street and national tour). He co-devised and starred in the original production of the Sondheim revue Putting It Together. In 2011, he starred in Cowardy Custard (national tour) with Dillie Keane. He co-starred with Tim Minchin in the first BBC Comedy Prom at the Royal Albert Hall in 2011: the last time that Kit and the Widow appeared on stage together. He stars annually in pantomime at Guildford, always playing the baddie.[4] He makes occasional appearances on the many BBC Radio 4 series such as Just a Minute and Quote Unquote. He presents one-off documentaries on off-beat subjects for Radio 4.

His musicals written with composer James McConnel include Writing Orlando (Barbican 1988) and Yusupov (Bridewell Theatre). He adapted the English version of Jacques Offenbach's La Belle Hélène (2006) directed by Laurent Pelly for English National Opera. His translation of The Bartered Bride for Charles Mackerras at the Royal Opera House was Grammy-nominated, and he has translated many other operas.

Original libretti include Varjak Paw (composer Julian Phillips). He adapted and produced 'The Caribbean Tempest', starring Kylie Minogue, in Barbados and Sydney 2000. He co-produced Shadwell Opera's Magic Flute at the Rosslyn Chapel, Edinburgh, (Herald Angel Award 2009). He collaborated in 2011 with Gifford's Circus, writing the lyrics to War And Peace.

His plays include Five O'Clock Angel at the Hampstead Theatre. He writes regularly for Country Life magazine (2009 IPC's Writer of the Year). His radio play A La Villa Bab Azzoun, produced by Moving Theatre, won the 2009 Prix Europa. His work for military charities has taken him to the conflict in Kabul, as well as to Saudi, Africa and the Far East. {[5]}

His translation of The Merry Widow was in Opera North's 2010/11 season, transferring in July 2011 to the Sydney Opera House. Armonico Consort staged his 'Monteverdi's Flying Circus'. In 2011 he directed for Merry Opera his own adaptation of La belle Hélène, Troy Boy, and in 2012, his adaptation of La Traviata.[6] He wrote and co-directed their production of The Magic Flute at the Riverside Studios, London, in 2013. His translation of The Magic Flute was revived in 2012–13 in the Scottish Opera's production, directed by Sir Thomas Allen. In 2013, he translated Salvatore Sciarrino's The Killing Flower (Royal Opera) for Music Theatre Wales. His libretto to Anthony Bolton's 'Litvinenko' received its first staging on October 2017. He now works as a performer and lyricist with James McConnel; the duo perform regularly at London cabaret venues as Kit and McConnel[6]

Personal lifeEdit

In 1986, he married actress/academic Catherine Rabett; they have two children, Augusta and Rollo.[7] His sister is Sarah Sands, former editor of the London Evening Standard and current editor of Today on BBC Radio 4. He lives in Norfolk and Cornwall, UK.


  1. ^ "Christopher John HESKETH-HARVEY - Personal Appointments (free information from Companies House)". Retrieved 15 January 2020.
  2. ^ Greenstreet, Rosanna (25 March 1995). "Kit Hesketh-Harvey Entertainer and writer". The Independent.
  3. ^ Service, New York Times News. "SONDHEIM WILL TEACH AT OXFORD". Retrieved 6 March 2020.
  4. ^ Hesketh Harvey, Kit (16 December 2014). "Why I always play the panto Baddie. Muh-ha-ha!". The Daily Telegraph.
  5. ^ Sherard Cowper-Coles, 'Cables From Kabul'
  6. ^ a b White, Michael (10 February 2012). "Why Kit Hesketh-Harvey's raunchy little Traviata did for me what other, grander stagings never managed". The Daily Telegraph (Blog).
  7. ^ Lambert, Victoria (6 July 2015). "'I've always preferred myself looking tanned – and still do'". The Daily Telegraph.

External linksEdit