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The Lord Miles
Bernard Miles in 1974 (with his parrot, Jack Sprat) by Allan Warren
Member of the House of Lords
Lord Temporal
In office
7 February 1979 – 14 June 1991
Life Peerage
Personal details
Bernard James Miles

(1907-09-27)27 September 1907
Uxbridge, Middlesex, England
Died14 June 1991(1991-06-14) (aged 83)
Knaresborough, North Yorkshire, England
(m. 1931; died 1990)
Children3, including John Miles

Bernard James Miles, Baron Miles, CBE (27 September 1907 – 14 June 1991) was an English character actor, writer and director.[1] He opened the Mermaid Theatre in London in 1959, the first new theatre that opened in the City of London since the 17th century.[2]

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.

YouTube Encyclopedic

  • 1/5
    65 140
    38 666
    612 793
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    6 832
  • Bernard Miles - Over The Gate
  • Whitbread Mackeson - Gran Hardy - CDP 1965
  • Tunisian Victory (1944) | Full Movie | Leo Genn | Burgess Meredith | Bernard Miles
  • A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
  • Mackeson Stout


Early life

Miles was educated at Uxbridge County School, Pembroke College, Oxford and the Northampton Institute (later City University of London) in London.[3] He lived for a while in New Road, Hillingdon Heath.


In 1946 his comedy about the Home Guard Let Tyrants Tremble! was staged at the Scala Theatre in the West End, with Miles in the cast.

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 reprised the role for a performance of Treasure Island at the Mermaid Theatre in the winter of 1961–62, where the cast included Spike Milligan as Ben Gunn.[4]

Miles was always keen to promote up-and-coming talent. Impressed with the writing of English playwright John Antrobus, he introduced him to Spike Milligan, which led to the production of the one-act play The Bed Sitting Room. It was later expanded and staged by Miles at Mermaid Theatre on 31 January 1963, with critical and commercial success.[5][6][7]

Miles was also known for his comic monologues, often delivered with a rural dialect, which were issued on record albums.[8]

Personal life

Miles married the actress Josephine Wilson, with whom he had two daughters and one son,[3] the racing driver John Miles, in 1931. She co-founded and was involved actively with Miles in the Mermaid Theatre.[3] She predeceased him on 7 November 1990.

Miles was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 1953,[9] was knighted in 1969,[10] and was created a life peer as Baron Miles, of Blackfriars in the City of London, on 7 February 1979.[11] He was only the second British actor to receive a peerage, after Laurence Olivier.[12]


Miles survived his wife by six months and died in June 1991. He had been born in the same year, and died on the same day, as the actress Peggy Ashcroft.[13]




  • Nathaniel Titlark (1956–1957, Woodsman, 10 Episodes, BBCTV. Lost) (with Maureen Pryor as Jessie Titlark) – Nathaniel Titlark
  • Long-running ITV commercial advertisement (1960s) Himself, drinking and recommending Mackeson as a beverage that 'Looks good, tastes good and, by golly, does you good'. Popularly believed to have been the main financial support for the Mermaid Theatre, for many years.[15]


  • The British Theatre[3]
  • God's Brainwave[3]
  • Favourite Tales from Shakespeare[3]


  1. ^ "Bernard Miles". BFI. Archived from the original on 21 February 2017.
  2. ^ "Bernard Miles | British actor". Retrieved 27 April 2016.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Mosley, Charles, ed. (1982). Debrett's Handbook 1982, Distinguished People in British Life. Debrett's Peerage Limited. p. 1061. ISBN 0-905649-38-9.
  4. ^ Scudamore, Pauline (1985). Spike Milligan: A Biography. London: Granada. ISBN 0-246-12275-7. p.198
  5. ^ Scudamore(1985) pp.200, 203–204
  6. ^ McCann, Graham (2006). Spike & Co. London: Hodder & Stoughton. ISBN 0-340-89809-7. p.157
  7. ^ Antrobus, John (2002). Surviving Spike Milligan: A Voyage Through the Mind & Mirth of the Master Goon. London: Robson Books. pp. 69–70. ISBN 0-246-12275-7.
  8. ^ "Bernard Miles | Britmovie | Home of British Films". Archived from the original on 30 May 2016. Retrieved 27 April 2016.
  9. ^ "No. 39732". The London Gazette (Supplement). 1 January 1953. p. 11.
  10. ^ "No. 44968". The London Gazette. 20 November 1969. p. 11119.
  11. ^ "No. 47766". The London Gazette. 9 February 1979. p. 1852.
  12. ^ Obituary. The New York Times 15 June 1991
  13. ^ "British theatre loses two titans". The Times. 15 June 1991.
  14. ^ "Release date for The Magic Box". Retrieved 27 April 2016.
  15. ^ Museum of the Moving Image Archives

Further reading

  • Strachan, Alan. Adventurer: Bernard Miles and the Mermaid Theatre (Salamander Street, 2023) ISBN 978-1-91422-898-8

External links

This page was last edited on 23 November 2023, at 14:18
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