John Bird Obituary, Death – John Bird, who passed away at the age of 86, was a prominent figure in this phenomenon. He appeared on stage and television with a voice that had numerous timbres, including comedic self-justification, complete and utter incredulity, and reasoned dismay. John Bird was the son of Horace Bird, who worked as a chemist’s shopkeeper, and Dorothy Bird, who was Horace’s wife. John was born in Bulwell, Nottingham (nee Haubitz). Despite the fact that he did not pass the 11-plus test, he was fast-tracked into the High Pavement grammar school by an encouraging teacher. He subsequently went on to King’s College, Cambridge, to study English, where he soon made his mark in the Footlights.
He was a reserved and reflective individual who, in the beginning of his career, harbored serious ambitions to become a theatre director at the Royal Court, the home of new writing for the stage. Between the years 1959 and 1963, he worked there first as an assistant director and then as an associate director. He directed NF Simpson’s surreal comedy A Resounding Tinkle (with a cast that included Cook and Eleanor Bron) and George Tabori’s cabaret Brecht on Brecht, which featured the Royal Court’s artistic director George Devine and the great cabaret singer Lotte Lenya, who was also Kurt Weill’s muse and wife, in her first London stage appearance since the 1930s. He first mounted the premiere of NF Simpson’s play at the A
Bird himself would never claim to have had a significant career as an actor, but he did make telling contributions to both Alan Bennett’s medical farce Habeas Corpus (1973) at the Lyric as Sir Percy Shorter, a flustered doctor and president of the British Medical Association; and to Jonathan Miller’s 1970 movie version of Kingsley Amis’s Take a Girl Like You as a lecherous landlord and Labour councilor trying vainly to seduce Hayley Mills. Both The first was an accumulation of spoofs, sketches, and satirical playlets co-written with Fortune. The second co-starred Carmen Munroe and analyzed the process of presenting humor on television, with some sequences shot from a control room. And two BBC series in his own name – A Series of Bird’s (1967) and With Bird Will Travel (1968) – were decidedly experimental. The first was an accumulation of spoofs, sketches, and satirical playlets
He was one of seven adult actors, including Helen Mirren, Janine Duvitski, Michael Elphick, and Colin Welland, who played children aged seven in Dennis Potter’s Blue Remembered Hills (1979), an excellent BBC Play for Today that took place during the summer of 1943 in the Forest of Dean. The play was written by Potter. And he was the perfect choice for the role of a university vice-chancellor in Andrew Davies’ series A Very Peculiar Practice (1986), in which he tried to attract Japanese investment in keeping with the increased commercialism of higher education in the 1980s as a result of cuts made by the government.
Later work included a shady and inept barrister named John Fuller Carp in Clive Coleman’s Chambers (2000) and an overbearing PR man named Martin McCabe, alongside Stephen Fry as his partner in crime, Charles Prentiss, in a government media relations company in Absolute Power (2003-05). Both of these series were initially broadcast on BBC Radio 4 before being adapted for television.
Bird was honored with an honorary degree from Nottingham University in 2002 in addition to his two Bafta awards, the first of which he received in 1966 for his performance and the second of which he shared with Fortune in 1997. His first marriage was to the actress Ann Stockdale, who was also the daughter of the United States ambassador to Ireland. His second marriage was to the television presenter Bridget Simpson in 1975, and they divorced in 1978. His third marriage was to Libby Crandon, who was a concert pianist.
During the 1980s, the pair called Reigate, Surrey, home. By the late 1990s, however, they had relocated to Newdigate, which is located close to Dorking. There, they brought up Libby’s two sons from a previous marriage and maintained two llamas as pets. Bird, who was never one for the limelight, admitted to having experienced periods of drug and alcohol dependency. At one point, he claimed that his troubles had caused him to become paranoid and even suicidal. Bird was never one for the bright lights. However, in more recent years he became a happy member of the bowling club in his community and a supporter of the Mole Valley Arts Alive event.