Bernard Miles in 1974 (with his parrot, Jack Sprat) by Allan Warren
|Member of the House of Lords|
7 February 1979 – 14 June 1991
Bernard James Miles
27 September 1907
Uxbridge, Middlesex, England
|Died||14 June 1991 (aged 83)|
Knaresborough, North Yorkshire, England
(m. 19??; died 1990)
|Children||3, including John Miles|
Bernard James Miles, Baron Miles, CBE (27 September 1907 – 14 June 1991) was an English character actor, writer and director. He opened the Mermaid Theatre in London in 1959, the first new theatre that opened in the City of London since the 17th century.
He was known for playing character roles that usually had bucolic backgrounds or links to countrymen. His strong accent was typical of rustic dialects associated with the counties of Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire. His pleasant rolling bass-baritone voice made him a regular presence on the stage and in films for more than fifty years. In addition to his acting, he was a voice-over artist and published author.
Miles was born in Uxbridge, Middlesex, and attended Bishopshalt School in Hillingdon. His father was a farm labourer and his mother a cook. After completing his education at Pembroke College, Oxford, he entered the theatre in the 1930s.
In addition to his theatre work, Miles began appearing in British feature films in the mid-1930s. He featured prominently in several patriotic movies made during the Second World War, 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 (released in the US as Spitfire). His best known film role was as Joe Gargery in the David Lean version of Great Expectations (1946).
By the 1950s, he had started to work in television. In 1951 he played Long John Silver in a British TV version of Treasure Island. A decade later he would reprise the role for a performance of Treasure Island at the Mermaid Theatre in the winter of 1961–62, the cast also including Spike Milligan as Ben Gunn.
Miles was always keen to promote up-and-coming talent. After being impressed with the writing of English playwright John Antrobus, he introduced him to Spike Milligan which led to the production of a one-act play called The Bed Sitting Room. It would later be adapted into a longer play, and staged by Miles at Mermaid Theatre on 31 January 1963, with both critical and commercial success.
Miles was also known for his comic monologues, often delivered with a rural dialect. These were issued on record albums.
Miles was married to the British stage and film actress Josephine Wilson until her death in 1990. They had two daughters and a son. His daughters are the actress Sally Miles and the artist Bridget Miles. His son John Miles was a Grand Prix driver with Lotus in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
Miles was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 1953, was knighted in 1969, and was created a life peer as Baron Miles, of Blackfriars in the City of London on 7 February 1979. He was only the second British actor to be given a peerage (the first was Laurence Olivier).
Miles wrote several books, including The British Theatre (1947), God's Brainwave (1972) and Favourite Tales from Shakespeare (1972).
- Channel Crossing (1933) – Passenger (uncredited)
- The Love Test (1935) – Allan
- The Guv'nor (1935) – Man at Meeting (uncredited)
- Late Extra (1935) – Charlie (uncredited)
- Twelve Good Men (1936) – Inspector Pine
- Everything Is Thunder (1936) – British Officer (uncredited)
- Crown v. Stevens (1936) – Detective Wells (uncredited)
- Midnight at Madame Tussaud's (1936) – Modeller (Kelvin) (uncredited)
- Strange Boarders (1938) – Chemist (uncredited)
- The Challenge (1938) – Villager (uncredited)
- Convict 99 (1938) – Prison Warder (uncredited)
- 13 Men and a Gun (1938) – Schultz
- The Citadel (1938) – Member of Medical Aid Society Committee (uncredited)
- They Drive by Night (1938) – Detective at Billiard Hall (uncredited)
- The Rebel Son (1938) – Polish Prisoner
- The Spy in Black (1939) – Hans – Hotel Receptionist (uncredited)
- The Lion Has Wings (1939) – Civilian Observer Controller
- Band Waggon (1940) – Saboteur (uncredited)
- Contraband (1940) – Man Lighting Pipe (uncredited)
- Pastor Hall (1940) – Heinrich Degan
- Freedom Radio (1941) – Capt. Muller
- Quiet Wedding (1941) – PC
- The Common Touch (1941) – Cricket Steward
- The Big Blockade (1942) – Royal Navy: Mate
- This Was Paris (1942) – Nazi Propaganda Officer
- One of Our Aircraft Is Missing (1942) – Geoff Hickman – Front Gunner in B for Bertie
- The Day Will Dawn (1942) – McAllister (Irish Soldier)
- The First of the Few (1942) – Lady Houston's Agent (uncredited)
- In Which We Serve (1942) – Chief Petty Officer Walter Hardy
- The New Lot (1943) – Ted Loman (uncredited)
- Tunisian Victory (1944) – British soldier (voice)
- Tawny Pipit (1944) – Colonel Barton-Barrington
- Carnival (1946) – Trewhella
- Great Expectations (1946) – Joe Gargery
- Nicholas Nickleby (1947) – Newman Noggs
- Fame Is the Spur (1947) – Tom Hannaway
- The Guinea Pig (1948) – Mr. Read
- Chance of a Lifetime (1950) – Stevens
- The Magic Box (1951) – Cousin Alfred
- Never Let Me Go (1953) – Joe Brooks
- The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956) – Edward Drayton
- Moby Dick (1956) – The Manxman
- Tiger in the Smoke (1956) – Tiddy Doll the Gang Leader
- Fortune Is a Woman (1957) – Mr. Jerome
- Doctor at Large (1957) – Haymaking Farmer (uncredited)
- The Smallest Show on Earth (1957) – Old Tom
- Saint Joan (1957) – Master Executioner
- Tom Thumb (1958) – Jonathan
- Sapphire (1959) – Ted Harris
- Heavens Above! (1963) – Simpson
- Baby Love (1968) – (voice)
- Run Wild, Run Free (1969) – Reg
- The Lady and the Highwayman (1989, TV Movie) – Judge
- Nathaniel Titlark (1956-1957, Woodsman, 10 Episodes, BBCTV. Lost) (with Maureen Pryor as Jessie Titlark) – Nathaniel Titlark
- "Bernard Miles". BFI.
- "Bernard Miles | British actor". Britannica.com. Retrieved 27 April 2016.
- Scudamore, Pauline (1985). Spike Milligan: A Biography. London: Granada. ISBN 0-246-12275-7. p.198
- Scudamore(1985) pp.200, 203–204
- McCann, Graham (2006). Spike & Co. London: Hodder & Stoughton. ISBN 0-340-89809-7. p.157
- Antrobus, John (2002). Surviving Spike Milligan: A Voyage Through the Mind & Mirth of the Master Goon. London: Robson Books. ISBN 0-246-12275-7. pp.69–70
- "Bernard Miles | Britmovie | Home of British Films". Britmovie.co.uk. Archived from the original on 30 May 2016. Retrieved 27 April 2016.
- "No. 39732". The London Gazette (Supplement). 1 January 1953. p. 11.
- "No. 44968". The London Gazette. 20 November 1969. p. 11119.
- "No. 47766". The London Gazette. 9 February 1979. p. 1852.
- Obituary. The New York Times 15 June 1991
- "British theatre loses two titans". The Times. 15 June 1991.
- "Release date for The Magic Box". IMDb.com. Retrieved 27 April 2016.