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Monday, September 9th, 2019

‘Privates on Parade’ creator Peter Nichols dies aged 92

Photo Hugo Glendenning

 

Peter Nichols the distinguished British playwright,screenwriter, director and journalist has just died at the age of 92. 

He penned  award winning plays  such as A Day in the Death of Joe Egg (1967), The National Health ( 1969), Forget-Me-Not-Lane ( 1971), Passion Play ( 1981, ) and Poppy ( 1982). He  wrote Hearts and Flowers and Inspector Morse for Television and also wrote the screenplays of such films as Georgy Girl and Having A Wild Weekend. and movie adaptations of some of his plays.

However his piece de resistance was Privates on Parade.  Based on his experiences  when he  served his compulsory National Service in 1948 as a clerk in Calcutta and later in the Combined Services Entertainment Unit in Singapore.  This was a special Army Platoon created  to  entertain the troops,   and Nichols acted there with an outrageous band of campy gay soldiers that included John Schlesinger, Stanley Baxter, and Kenneth Williams.

Even though homosexiulaity had been legalised in the UK eight years previously , the stage play was way ahead of its time as it was still a very touchy subject not talked about in polite circles. It was however a smash hit winning the Evening Standard Award for best comedy, an Ivor Novello award for Best Musical and a Society of West End Theatre Award for Comedy of the Year.   

Dennis Quilley a much beloved British actor won a Best Actor Award for his performance in the play and also starred in the movie version alongside John Cleese, in 1982.

Nichols writing showed he was a great ally to our community, and as a Brit in London at the time. it is hard to forget the positive impact that Privates on Parade had in society,  and for that we will always be grateful. 

It is so worth seeking out this gay classic. In the UK you can still catch the movie of BFI Player , and in the US Amazon still have  a few copies left.

Here meanwhile is the original movie trailer, and a teaser from a West End revival of the play

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R.I.P.  Peter Nichols CBE, FRSL July 1927 - 7 September 2019

Posted by queerguru  at  10:26

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