Bernard James Miles, Baron Miles of Blackfriars, CBE was an English character actor, writer and director. He opened the Mermaid Theatre in London in 1959, the first new theatre opened in the City of London since the 17th century.
Miles was born in Uxbridge, Middlesex and attended Bishopshalt School in Hillingdon. His father and mother were, respectively, a farm labourer and a cook.
Miles completed his education at Pembroke College, Oxford and then entered the theatre in the 1930s. He also soon began appearing in films and featured prominently in patriotic cinema during the Second World War, including classics such as In Which We Serve and One of Our Aircraft Is Missing. He also had an uncredited role in The First of the Few.
His typical persona as an actor was as a countryman, with a strong accent typical of the Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire counties. He was also, after Robert Newton, the actor most associated with the part of Long John Silver, which he played in a British TV version of Treasure Island, and in an annual performance at the Mermaid commencing in the winter of 1961-62. Actors in the annual theatrical productions included Spike Milligan as Ben Gunn, and, in the 1968 production, Barry Humphries as Long John Silver. It was Miles who, impressed by the talent of John Antrobus, originally commissioned him to write a play of some sort. This led to Antrobus collaborating with Milligan to produce a one-act play called The Bed Sitting Room, which was later adapted to a longer play, and staged by Miles at The Mermaid on 31 January 1963, with both critical and commercial success.
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