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Playwright Peter Nichols dies at 92

Published: 9 September 2019
Reporter: David Chadderton

British playwright Peter Nichols CBE, whose play A Day in the Death of Joe Egg is revived next week on the West End, has died at the age of 92.

His agent, Alan Brodie, issued the following statement on behalf of the family: "It is with great sadness that we announce the death of one of Britain’s foremost playwrights, Peter Nichols. Peter, 92, died peacefully on Saturday morning in Oxford. His wife Thelma was at his bedside. The family would like to thank those who have sent messages for their kindness."

Nichols was born in Bristol in 1927 and completed his National Service in India, Malaya and Hong Kong, before becoming was an actor in repertory theatre and television for five years and then a teacher in London schools.

His plays for theatre include A Day in the Death of Joe Egg, The National Health, Forget-Me-Not Lane, The Freeway, Chez Nous, Privates On Parade, Born In The Gardens, Passion Play, Poppy, Blue Murder (later Fig-Leaves), So Long Life, A Piece Of My Mind and Lingua Franca. Joe Egg will be revived in a production opening at Trafalgar Studios on 21 September.

Producer Howard Panter said, "on behalf of the cast and production team of A Day in the Death of Joe Egg, we were all so saddened to hear about the passing of Peter Nichols. Peter was one of British theatre’s greatest writers of the last 60 years.

"As the company rehearse Joe Egg—his funny, moving and perhaps greatest masterpiece—ahead of its West End opening next week, Peter to his very last was e-mailing notes and involved in the production as he had always done. We are so pleased we have been in rehearsals for long enough for the company to hear from Peter his experience of bringing up his daughter and how that informed Joe Egg. Bringing the authenticity that was a hallmark of Peter’s work.

"We think it is real testament to the quality of Peter’s writing that he was always considered an actors’ playwright and we are proud of the great actors we have in this revival—Peter was also delighted with the cast.

"He suffered both great joy and tragedy in his life and from these experiences he could create the vivid relationships we see in his work. Peter was the true master of wit and pathos. Finally, speaking of the joy in his life, our thoughts are with his wife Thelma and their family."