John Miller obituary

My friend John Miller, who has died aged 85, was an author of authorised biographies, including those of Judi Dench, Peter Ustinov and Ralph Richardson, and a producer for the BBC and ITV.

John joined the BBC as a general trainee in 1962, before he went on to become a producer in Schools TV. He was then seconded to Unesco to create the Broadcasting Training Institute in Kuala Lumpur, before returning to the BBC Open University as a senior producer, educational studies. After leaving the BBC in 1981, John became a founding member of Television South, the ITV franchise for the south and south-east of England, as head of features and education (1981-92).

John was a guest interviewer at the National Theatre and many literary festivals, and was a regular contributor to the Cheltenham festival. His address book was a veritable Who’s Who of the literary world, stage and screen, and he brought many of those friends to festivals in the south of England. He was artistic director of the Winchester festival from 1998 to 2011.

A wonderfully urbane and charming interviewer, John coaxed all manner of revelations from his guests. Of the many actors and VIPs he interviewed over the years one stood out. This guest arrived an hour late, looked as if he had been dragged through a hedge backwards and never apologised – it was Boris Johnson.

He collaborated with John Gielgud on his memoirs for radio, TV and two subsequent books, and he was Bafta-nominated for the Huw Wheldon award for the best arts programme of 1989 for An Actor’s Life, his TV profile of Gielgud. He also collaborated with John Mills on his updated autobiography Up in the Clouds, Gentlemen Please.

For the millennium celebrations John wrote and produced Men in Scarlet – a son et lumière history of the Chelsea Pensioners, staged at the Royal hospital, Chelsea.

The middle of three brothers, John was born and raised in Tetbury, a Cotswold town. His parents both worked for the Midland bank in Shepton Mallet – his father, Bernard, was the manager and his mother, Olive (nee Cox), was a clerk.

Educated at the Blue school in Wells, Somerset, John studied politics at Nottingham University, where he was president of the debating society, and it was at one of the society’s events that he met Aileen Knight, then an office manager at Hay MSL, a recruitment company in Nottingham. They married in 1963 and moved to London, where John had already taken up his new job with the BBC as a general trainee.

John and Aileen lived in Bishop’s Sutton, Hampshire, for 40 years. She survives him, as does his brother Ken.