Nigel Planer


Nigel George Planer (born 22 February 1953) is a British actor, comedian, musician, novelist and playwright. He played Neil in the BBC comedy The Young Ones and Ralph Filthy in Filthy Rich & Catflap. He has appeared in many West End musicals, including original casts of Evita, Chicago, We Will Rock You, Wicked, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. He has also appeared in Hairspray. He won a BRIT award in 1984 and has been nominated for Olivier, TMA, WhatsOnStage and BAFTA awards.

Nigel Planer
Nigel Planer (cropped).jpg
Planer after receiving his Honorary Doctor of Arts degree from Edinburgh Napier University in 2011
Nigel George Planer

(1953-02-22) 22 February 1953 (age 69)
OccupationActor, comedian, musician, novelist, playwright
Years active1977–present
  • Anna Lea
    (m. 1989; div. 1995)
  • Frankie Park
    (m. 1999; div. 2003)
  • Roberta Green
    (m. 2013)

Early lifeEdit

Planer's father's Hungarian-Romanian family left Nazi Germany in 1933 and settled in Mortlake, London. He established a medical equipment company, which pioneered technology in controlled-rate freezers, IVF and stem cells. Nigel, who has two brothers, was born in Westminster, London. He attended King's House School in Richmond and Westminster School in central London, where he wrote a satirical play about the school with fellow pupil Stephen Poliakoff. Having failed to gain a place on a drama course at university, he instead began a degree course in African and Asian Studies at the University of Sussex but dropped out and went travelling. After becoming ill, he applied and was accepted to study acting at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, where he met and began working with Peter Richardson.[1][2]


Planer was a founding member of the London Comedy Store and original member of The Comic Strip – pioneers of the alternative comedy movement in the United Kingdom.[3] Planer appeared with Peter Richardson as part of the double act "The Outer Limits". Planer and Richardson also wrote the That's Life! parody on Not the Nine O'Clock News. Over the next 20 years he went on to star in film, theatre and television. With Christopher Douglas, he created the spoof actor character "Nicholas Craig", who appears in book, radio, TV and articles as well as live; most recently at the Royal Festival Hall, London, in Stewart Lee's At Last the 1984 show. Planer is also the author of several books, plays, radio plays, and TV scripts as well as a small volume of poetry. He was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Arts degree from Edinburgh Napier University in June 2011.[2]


Planer is best known for his role as Neil, the hippie housemate in the BBC comedy The Young Ones, which ran for two series broadcast in 1982 and 1984. He has starred in The Comic Strip Presents..., a series of short films sporadically broadcast from 1982 onwards, as various odd outsiders.

In 2003, Planer played Professor Dumbledore in a Harry Potter parody, Harry Potter and the Secret Chamber Pot of Azerbaijan.[4] He appeared on a BBC4 programme in the guise of Nicholas Craig in 2007, in which he was interviewed by Mark Lawson.[5]

Planer guest-starred in "The Pale Horse",[6] a 2010 episode of Agatha Christie's Marple. In 2011's The Hunt for Tony Blair, he played Peter Mandelson.

Planer's guest appearances include programmes such as The Bill, French and Saunders, Jonathan Creek, Blackadder III, The Last Detective, The Paul Merton Show, The Lenny Henry Show, Death in Paradise and Gary Wilmot's Songs from the Shows. He also guest-starred in an episode of This is Jinsy entitled "Nameworm", and in the BBC series Boomers. Planer played Matt LeBlanc's lawyer in the TV series Episodes.

Leading roles on television include Shine on Harvey Moon, Filthy Rich and Catflap, The Grimleys, King and Castle, Bonjour La Classe and Roll Over Beethoven. He also starred in Michael Palin's Number 27, Simon Gray's Two Lumps of Ice, Emma Tennant's Frankenstein's Baby, and Blackeyes by Dennis Potter.


His first break in the theatre was understudying David Essex as Che Guevara in the original West End run of Evita.

In 1990, he replaced Michael Gambon in Alan Ayckbourn's Man of the Moment in the West End. Leading roles followed in other productions at the Bush Theatre, the Lyric Theatre, the Traverse, the Young Vic, the West Yorkshire Playhouse, Regent's Park Open-Air Theatre, Chichester Festival Theatre, Plymouth Drum and the Hampstead Theatre.

Planer was in the original cast for the 1997 London revival of Chicago as Amos Hart. He was a member of the original West End cast of Ben Elton's Queen musical We Will Rock You as Pop.

From 10 to 15 July 2006 he played the part of the narrator in The Rocky Horror Show, taking on the role in Manchester and Bromley. He then starred as The Wizard in the original West End production of Wicked alongside Idina Menzel. The show opened at the Apollo Victoria Theatre on 27 September 2006. Planer ended his run on 7 June 2008 and was replaced by Desmond Barrit.

He took over the role of Wilbur from Ian Talbot in the West End production of Hairspray on 2 February 2009.[7]

In 2010, Planer returned to the role of the Narrator in the UK Tour of The Rocky Horror Show, playing in Cambridge and Northampton, before also reprising the role of Wilbur in Manchester and Leeds. He also featured in Doctor Who: Live touring the UK, as Vorgenson The Inter-Galactic Showman, before appearing in Pantomime as Captain Hook at the Lyceum Theatre in Sheffield.

Planer went on to star as Grandpa Joe in the original production of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, which opened in London's West End in 2013.[8]

From September 2018 to November 2018, Planer toured with Ade Edmondson in a play that they wrote together called Vulcan 7.[9]


Planer has appeared in films, including Flood, Virgin Territory, Bright Young Things, Hogfather, The Colour of Magic, The Wind in the Willows, The Land Girls, Clockwork Mice, Carry On Columbus, Brazil, The Supergrass, I Give It a Year, The Apple Picker and Yellowbeard.


Planer played Den Dennis, one of the four members of the 1980s spoof rock band Bad News, which made two albums produced by Brian May. The band performed at the Hammersmith Apollo as well as the Donington and Reading Rock Festivals.

As Neil from The Young Ones, Planer gained a number two hit single in 1984 in the form of "Hole in My Shoe" (originally a hit for 1960s band Traffic). A cover of Tomorrow's "My White Bicycle" was a less successful follow up, only reaching No.97 in the charts. After that, an album was produced, entitled Neil's Heavy Concept Album. Planer also took Neil's stage act on the road in that year as Neil in the "Bad Karma in The UK" tour. This culminated in a month-long run at St. Mary's Hall at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. The Young Ones also appeared on Cliff Richard's 1986 charity rerecording of "Living Doll", which spent three weeks at number one in the UK. He has a silver and a gold disc and has a Brit award from his musical career. In 2015 he started a new music project called Rainsmoke with Chris Wade (Dodson and Fogg) and Roger Planer.

In 2017 he recorded two songs for the album Wit & Whimsy – Songs by Alexander S. Bermange (one solo and one featuring all of the album's 23 artists), which reached No. 1 in the iTunes comedy album chart.

In 2021, Planer released several of his own musical projects. "Five Songs Left" and "Four Songs More", collaborations with Chris Wade, are Nick Drake-inspired folk songs that he wrote in 1971, when we was eighteen. He also released two singles written more recently, "City in the Summer", a jazz song about the hot summer of COVID-19, and "Love Strikes". He also wrote lyrics for "Commit No Nuisance", a music collaboration with Neil Avery. Described as a "labour of love",[10] "Talk it Out", one of the songs from the album, aims to encourage male mental health awareness. He has also written lyrics for Matts Lindblom.

Voice actingEdit

Planer was the initial main reader for the first unabridged audiobook editions of many of Terry Pratchett's Discworld novels. He also appeared in the television adaptations of Terry Pratchett's Hogfather and The Colour of Magic, and performed as a voice artist in the games Discworld 2 and Discworld Noir. Discworld Audiobooks narrated by Planer include (with number in parentheses indicating order of the book in the Discworld series):

Other voice roles include the narrator of Grizzly Tales for Gruesome Kids (and the audiobook narrator for Fearsome Tales for Fiendish Kids), the title character of Romuald the Reindeer, and Dr. Marmalade in an episode of SpongeBob SquarePants (alongside Young Ones co-stars Christopher Ryan and Rik Mayall). Planer has also been the narrator of many of BBC Four's Britannia series of documentaries, including Prog Rock Britannia, Blues Britannia and Heavy Metal Britannia. In addition he voiced Frodo in The Adventures of Tom Bombadil from the 1992 radio series Tales from the Perilous Realm. He was a narrator in a direct-to-video version of Val Biro's Gumdrop book series in 1994. He also narrated two short surreal monologues on the album In A Strange Slumber, by Dodson and Fogg, Chris Wade's progressive folk rock project. He narrated as a thirty-something Adrian Mole in the radio adaptation of Adrian Mole: The Cappuccino Years.

In 2018, he voiced the character of Henry Davenant Hythe in the Big Finish Productions original production, Jeremiah Bourne in Time, which he also wrote. Planer also narrated an audiobook written by Chris Wade called Raymond's Room, released by Wisdom Twins Books.


Planer has written books, stage plays, TV shows, radio plays and newspaper articles as well as penning 105 episodes of The New Magic Roundabout.


  • Neil’s Book of the Dead 1984 (with Terence Blacker)
  • I an actor: Nicholas Craig 1988 (with Christopher Douglas)
  • A Good Enough Dad 1992
  • Let’s Get Divorced 1994 (with Terence Blacker)
  • Therapy and How to Avoid it 1996 (with Robert Llewellyn)
  • Unlike The Buddha 1997
  • The Right Man 2000
  • Faking It 2003


  • On the Ceiling 2008
  • Death of Long Pig 2009
  • The Magnificent Andrea 2011
  • Game of Love and Chai 2018
  • Vulcan 7 2018 (with Adrian Edmondson)
  • All Above Board 2021


His television comedy and satire work includes:


  • "Hole in My Shoe" (1984)
  • Neil's Heavy Concept Album (1984)
  • "Living Doll" (1986)
  • "Rough with the Smooth" (1986)
  • Bad News (1987)
  • Bad News Bootleg (1988)
  • Bad News The Cash in Compilation (1992)
  • The Last Night (1993)
  • Chicago cast recording (1995)
  • The Dreaded Lurgie (1998)
  • Three Men in a Boat (1999)
  • Adrian Mole the Cappuccino Years (2000)
  • There was also a soundtrack to The Grimleys (2000), Planer's character appearing on the album.
  • We Will Rock You (The Original London Cast Recording) (2002)
  • Cabaret (2005)
  • The Robe of Skulls (2008)
  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (The Original London Cast Recording) (2013)
  • Dodson and Fogg – In A Strange Slumber (2014)
  • Five Songs Left (2020)
  • City in the Summer (2020) – single
  • Four Songs More (2021)
  • Love Strikes (2021) – single
  • Phoning Home From Away (2021) – single
  • The Last Ten Yards (2021) – single


  1. ^ Sale, Jonathan (7 October 1998). "Education: Passed/Failed – Nigel Planer". The Independent. London.
  2. ^ a b "Edinburgh Napier University News: Young Ones star among honorary graduates". Archived from the original on 29 September 2011. Retrieved 15 June 2011.
  3. ^ Johnson, David (1 January 1981). "Something Funny is Happening in Stripland". Over21, page 36, republished at Shapersofthe80s. London. Retrieved 7 April 2018.
  4. ^ "French and Saunders: Harry Potter and the Secret Chamberpot of Azerbaijan". Retrieved 20 May 2011.
  5. ^ "Mark Lawson talks to ... Nicholas Craig". BBC. Retrieved 20 May 2011.
  6. ^ "Agatha Christie's Marple: The Pale Horse". ITV. Archived from the original on 15 October 2012. Retrieved 20 May 2011.
  7. ^ "Ball and Jones Extend Run in London Hairspray; Planer and Rushworth to Join Cast". Archived from the original on 22 January 2009. Retrieved 31 July 2020.
  8. ^ "Cast of Charlie & The Chocolate Factory". Whats on Stage. 11 January 2013. Archived from the original on 18 January 2013. Retrieved 11 January 2013.
  9. ^ "Vulcan 7 | 2018 UK Tour | Dates". 10 June 2018. Retrieved 31 July 2020.
  10. ^ "EP Review – Commit No Nuisance by Nigel Planer and Neil Avery (2021) (Pink Deer Records)". 11 April 2021.

External linksEdit

  • Official Nigel Planer website
  • Nigel Planer at IMDb
  • The Times Article September 2006 article about Planer
  • Nigel Planer discography at Discogs
  • Nigel Planer discography at Discogs as Neil