Nigel Planer

Nigel George Planer (born 22 February 1953) is an English actor, comedian, novelist and playwright who played Neil in the cult 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, What's On Stage, and BAFTA awards.

Nigel Planer
Planer after receiving his Honorary Doctor of Arts degree from Edinburgh Napier University in 2011
Nigel George Planer

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

Early life

Planer was born in Westminster, London. He studied at the University of Sussex before leaving to become an actor.[1]


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.[2] 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.[1]


Planer is best known for his role as Neil, the hippie housemate in the cult BBC comedy The Young Ones, which ran from 1982 to 1984. He has starred in The Comic Strip Presents..., a series of short films broadcast from 1983 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.[3] He appeared on a BBC 4 programme in the guise of "Nicholas Craig" in 2007, in which he was interviewed by Mark Lawson.[4]

Planer guest-starred in "The Pale Horse",[5] 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 (TV series) 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. Planer was in the original London cast 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.

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.

From 10–15 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.[6]

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.[7]

From September 2018 to November 2018, Planer toured with Ade Edmondson in a play that they wrote together called Vulcan 7.[8]


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, who made two albums produced by Brian May. They also 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.

Voice acting

Planer is the main reader for the audiobook editions of many of Terry Pratchett's Discworld novels. He also appeared in the television adaptations of both 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, 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.


His television comedy and satire work includes:

He has published several books including the novels The Right Man (2000) (ISBN 0-09-927227-X) and Faking It (2003) (ISBN 0-09-940986-0). Planer also wrote A Good Enough Dad (1992) (ISBN 0-09-929661-6) after his first son was born, talking about coping with becoming a father.



  1. "Edinburgh Napier University News: Young Ones star among honorary graduates". Archived from the original on 29 September 2011. Retrieved 15 June 2011.
  2. Johnson, David (1 January 1981). "Something Funny is Happening in Stripland". Over21, page 36, republished at Shapersofthe80s. London. Retrieved 7 April 2018.
  3. "French and Saunders: Harry Potter and the Secret Chamberpot of Azerbaijan". Retrieved 20 May 2011.
  4. "Mark Lawson talks to ... Nicholas Craig". BBC. Retrieved 20 May 2011.
  5. "Agatha Christie's Marple: The Pale Horse". ITV. Archived from the original on 15 October 2012. Retrieved 20 May 2011.
  6. Ball and Jones Extend Run in London Hairspray; Planer and Rushworth to Join Cast Archived 22 January 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  7. "Cast of Charlie & The Chocolate Factory". Whats On Stage. 11 January 2013. Retrieved 11 January 2013.

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