Advocates: Ben Miles

Ben Miles is an English actor who has worked with the Royal Shakespeare Company, the National Theatre, the Old Vic and in the West End. He played Tom in the award-winning Old Vic revival of Alan Ayckbourn's The Norman Conquests in 2008 which transferred to a Tony Award winning production in New York. His television work includes the award-winning Netflix series The Crown.


"I came to star in The Norman Conquests at the Old Vic in 2008 not knowing much about Alan’s work, other than he was considered one of the greats. I’d misconceived them as light comedies, but was blown away by the depth of the writing. It seemed to me like an English Chekhov: nothing happening in a rural country house. When you lift the lid, it’s total chaos: spiritual, psychological, emotional. There’s huge tragedy but it’s achingly funny. He gets English anxiety so perfectly and portrays it with such humanity and humour, it’s agony. That’s the key to The Norman Conquests. If you ignore the agony, you dilute the comedy.

"He has this genius for structure.
The Norman Conquests is so beautifully orchestrated. One country weekend seen in three separate rooms, and the audience get such a thrill seeing events in the second play echoing something they’ve seen earlier on. The trick is that the audience knows more than the characters on stage. It’s a delight to witness and a joy to play. You’re thinking, 'Just wait until you see what’s going on next door in part three.'

"We were all worried it wouldn’t work on Broadway. 'No one’s going to know where the A218 is or what Guildford even is. Surely, no one’s going to care about Sugar Puffs.' But it went down incredibly well. There’s a huge Ayckbourn fanbase in New York. I’m doing The Lehman Trilogy here now and people have come up to me saying
The Norman Conquests was one of the best times they’ve had in a theatre. They loved seeing this chaotic little England. Ayckbourn ranks very highly in the anglophile’s handbook out here - up there with Shakespeare, Monty Python and Fawlty Towers."
Copyright: Ben Miles. All research for this page by Simon Murgatroyd, please credit this website if reproduced.