Dramatist and actor; from Beyond the Fringe (Royal Lyceum, Edinburgh, 1960), he progressed to notable successes on stage, screen and radio. Among the highlights are the plays A Question of Attribution (1988), The Madness of George III (1991, adapted for screen 1995) and the television plays, Talking Heads (1988), as well as more recently The Lady in the Van and an autobiography Telling Tales (both 2000). He has also memorably recorded A. A. Milne's Winnie the Pooh stories for radio. Like the sitter, the artist is from Yorkshire and is known for his somewhat mysterious, idiosyncratic symbolism. The objects in the portrait – the plug and the paper bag – deliberately provoke questions without providing answers.
Where to see this painting?
National Portrait Gallery, London
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