Latest News
Simon Directs All-Star Philanthropist Cast

Simon will direct a new production of Oscar® winner Christopher Hampton’s most celebrated play, The Philanthropist, at the Trafalgar Studios, starring Matt Berry, Simon Bird, Lily Cole, Charlotte Ritchie and Tom Rosenthal.

The play has been delighting audiences since its premiere at the Royal Court in 1970. A biting ‘bourgeois comedy’ and a fiendishly clever inversion of Moliere’s ‘The Misanthrope’, Simon’s new production boasts some of today’s most exciting young stage and screen actors.

Set in a fictitious English University town, strongly evoking Oxford or Cambridge, the play follows 24 hours in the lives of a group of young academics. 

Previews from 3 April 2017

20 April 2017 - 22 July 2017

Trafalgar Studios 1

Read more here

Simon Callow Reads Dante's Inferno

On the occasion of the exhibition Robert Rauschenberg, Simon gives a public reading of excerpts from Inferno, the first part of Dante Alighieri’s 14th century epic poem The Divine Comedy.

Widely considered one of the greatest works of literature, Inferno tells of Dante’s journey through the nine circles of Hell guided by the ancient Roman poet Virgil. He witnesses a terrifying catalogue of punishments, an education that exposes him to the consequences of turning away from God’s grace.

This unique event sees Simon take to the stage to tell this dramatic story through selected readings alongside projections of Rauschenberg’s pioneering illustrations.

10 February 2017 at 18.30-20.00

Tate Modern

Read more here

A Christmas Carol With Simon Callow

Simon is deeply happy to be bringing Dickens - his compassionate heart and his wild imagination  - to London again this Christmas 

Following sell-out seasons in 2011/12 and critical and audience acclaim, Simon Callow returns in this much-lauded production of A CHRISTMAS CAROL, playing at the Arts Theatre for a strictly limited season from 8 December.

Based on Dickens’ own performance adaptation, Simon Callow and director-designer Tom Cairns have created a one-man theatrical extravaganza of festive story-telling that is both heart-warming and deeply moving. A Christmas must see for 8-88 year olds!

8 December - 7 January

Arts Theatre

Read more here


Simon Callow To Make "The Mother Of All Speeches" At 2016 Soundfestival

Simon Callow, known to millions as Gareth in Four Weddings and Funeral, is to appear at the 2016 soundfestival. Callow will perform Der Tribun (The Tribune or the Mother of all Speeches), a caricature of totalitarianism by the leading 20th century composer Mauricio Kagel, on Saturday 29 October at ACT Aberdeen.

Saturday 29 October 2016 at 8pm

ACT Aberdeen

Read more here

Simon Completes Rochdale's Literature Fest Line-up

At the festival Simon will be talking about his life on screen and stage, as well as reading excerpts from his latest book, 'One-Man Band', the third volume of his new biography of cinema giant Orson Welles

Friday 21 October 2016, 8-9 pm

Number One Riverside

Read more here

JULY 2016
Simon Stars In New TV Show The Rebel

Simon stars in The Rebel as the near 70-year-old Henry Palmer who looks like a respectable upstanding Brighton resident but underneath it all he's not. For the past 50 years he has been putting his youthful past behind him; or perhaps more accurately, brushing it under the floral patterned carpet!

Starts Wednesday 20th July at 10pm

Read more here

Catch up on Now TV here

APRIL 2016
Simon Reads Seamus Heaney's Aeneid Book VI

Simon Callow presents Seamus Heaney's Aeneid Book VI, introduced by Catherine Heaney, and accompanied by uillean piper David Power.

Friday 10th June 2105.

Borris House Hennessy Granary Stage.

Read more here

April 2016
Orson Welles: One Man Band ,Borris, Ireland

Simon Callow's three-volume biography of Orson Welles summarised in one delightful hour.

Friday 10th June 2105.

Borris House Hennessy Granary Stage.

Read more here

APRIL 2016
Sunday Brunch

Simon will be joining Tim Lovejoy and Simon Rimmer on Sunday Brunch this weekend. Tune in on Sunday at 9:30AM on Channel 4

Touring my Book. Orson Welles: One-Man Band

“I  love touring plays, but every bit as much as  that, I love talking about my books in cities and towns across the country. I’ve found that people are fantastically warm and keenly interested: as in the theatre, each talk is entirely different as people react differently to the - though i say it myself  - remarkable story I’m telling.  Since childhood, I’ve been addicted to  biography: I’m fascinated by my fellow human beings and long to know what makes them what they are. Orson Welles was one of the most completely, improbably, extravagant human beings who ever lived. I’ve tried to make the reader feel as if they’d met him. On the reading tour I can convey that even more vividly, and look forward to sharing what I know about Welles with people across the country this Spring - 27 one night gigs. Coming soon to a venue near you. Warm regards Simon Callow" 

Simon Callow    One Man Band  tour   20/22/15






























APRIL 2016
Miami Herald

Remembering the work of a difficult genius

Read more here

MARCH 2015
REVIEW: Simon Callow, One Man Band, Lighthouse, Poole

Really enjoying my tour. Thanks to those who have made it out so far and to those who haven't... I look forward to seeing you soon. 

Here's a review from the Bouremouth Echo:

Read more here

The One Show

Simon will be presenting a small film about the clown service in Dalton on The One Show on Wednesday the 10th February 2016. 

Brian Pern: 45 Years of Prog and Roll - BBC

Brian Pern, Brian Pern: 45 Years of Prog and Roll, Episode 1 Link Here

Wilde's Woman

Over a century on, Oscar Wilde continues to hypnotise us. The work, though distinctly uneven, is filled with intellectual provocation and delicious fantasy and studded with scintillants, but it is the life – those action-packed 46 years with their almost Greek trajectory of catastrophe, rapid fall and pitiful resolution: hamartia, peripeteia and catharsis – which has marked him out as one of the great  symbolic figures of Western civilisation. We keep coming back to him, trying to make sense of his actions. Was he simply a victim of society? Were there inherent flaws in him which governed, or failed to govern, his actions? What sort of man, indeed, was he? In person, he beguiled many of his contemporaries, but his behaviour was by no means always admirable; often it is barely intelligible. He remains a mystery, his motives as puzzling as Hamlet’s; this, of course, only increases our fascination for him. Every aspect of his life has been pored over and over in a unending procession of books – his childhood, his family, his celebrity, his sex life, his radicalism, his formidable intellectual underpinnings, his Irishness, his illnesses, his death, all comprehensively covered. And still the puzzle remains.


Eleanor Fitzsimons is to be congratulated on finding a new and eminently profitable angle from which to approach him: the women who were so uncommonly significant in his life. His mother, first, of course,  his sister Isola whose death when still a  child devastated him, Lily Langtry, whose troubadour he affected to be, his poor utterly bewildered wife Constance, a clutch of influential lady novelists, a handful of leading ladies who appeared or, quite often, didn’t appear in his plays, a couple of stalwart middle-aged friends – Adela Schuster and the woman he dubbed “the Sphinx,” Ada Leverson – and sundry caring supporters, mostly Frenchwomen, at the end. There is no question that Wilde had a deep empathy for women. It is tempting to attribute this to his essential gayness, though he had experienced genuine heterosexual desire (as opposed to the extravagant poses of his relationship to the so-called Professional Beauties like Langtry), not least, of course, for Constance, with  whom, initially at least,  he attained something very close to rapture. Bosie Douglas, that poisonous, mendacious  nightmare, said at least one true thing in his life when he noted that women loved him because “although he was expected to talk brilliantly, he really did a great deal of listening.” 


And when, having failed to secure employment as an Inspector of Schools (a possibility which opens up startling vistas of educational reform), he became the editor of what he described as “a most trivial, vulgar production”, called The Lady’s World, he transformed it, under the new name of The Woman’s World,  into a vigorous platform for the latest thinking on the position of women –  even its stance on fashion was radical, seeking to liberate women from  the tyranny of corset and bustle. “From the Sixteenth Century to our own,” wrote Wilde, “there is hardly any form of torture that has not been inflicted on girls and been endured by women, in obedience to the dictates of an unreasonable and  monstrous fashion.” This was, interestingly enough, a cause that usually self-effacing Constance Wilde had eloquently championed in a lecture with the provocative title “Clothed in Our Right Minds.” But Wilde’s feminism was nothing to do with his wife’s views: like so very much else in his life, it derived directly from his mother.


The formidable Lady Wilde, née Jane Elgee, had, under the inspirational sobriquet of Speranza, not only written the fiery verse and essays which had made her a heroine of the Nationalist cause in Ireland, but also, no less  influentially, penned stirring polemics  on the subject of women’s rights. She was no straightforward gender egalitarian, however: “Nothing interests me beyond the desire to make him happy,” she had written on marrying the brilliant and alarming Sir William Wilde. “For this I could kill myself.” For her, women were still very much defined in relation to men – not an inferior relationship, she insisted, but one essentially of support and adornment, especially those who married geniuses. Her husband, she had no doubt, was a genius, and so, equally certainly, was her son.  She and Constance, she believed, were both “the daughters of men who wed with the sons of gods.” And this meant they had to pay attention to their appearance: “Humanity is distinguished from apes by two things: laughter and dress,” she wrote. “Nothing generates a morbid discontent like sombre, monotonous, ineffective costume.”


She attired herself in an astonishing array of fancy dress, most frequently appearing, in her younger years, as a Druidess; as time and grief – not least her husband’s trial for rape – and poverty took their toll, she wore black and held court, veiled, in rooms from which every glimmer of daylight had been banished. Guests stumbled about in the semi-dark, but they still flocked to her At Homes, mesmerised by her charisma and enchanted by the conversation. “Paradox is the very essence of social wit and brilliancy,” she decreed, as if prescribing Oscar’s modus operandi.  “The unexpected, the strange combination of opposites; the daring subversion of some ancient platitude are all keen social weapons.” This, she understood, was a dangerous ploy, but she had the antidote: “only assured celebrity makes society pardon originality.” It was not, in the end, protection enough; Wilde had perhaps taken his mother’s lessons too much to heart.


“Fathers should be neither seen nor heard,” Wilde wrote in An Ideal Husband. “Mothers are different. Mothers are darlings.” Wilde’s love of his mother, and his pride in her, was unquestionable; but it didn’t stop him from frittering away vast sums of money on Alfred Douglas in exotic watering-holes while Jane lay sick and impoverished in her dingy Paddington apartment, without, as she said, a shilling in the world.  But he was no doubt simply fulfilling the principles she had laid down before he was born” “the best chance, perhaps, of domestic felicity is when all the family are bohemians, and all clever, and all enjoy thoroughly the erratic, impulsive, reckless life of work and glory, indifferent to everything save the intense moments of popular applause.” Jane Wilde utterly dominates Fitzsimons’ book, and it is in these pages that it lights up, sometimes with a terrible sulphurous glow. “If you stay, even if you go to prison, you will always be my son; it will make no difference to my affection,” she told him in the brief moment when he could have fled the country after the collapse of his second trial. “But if you go, I will never speak to you again.” Yeats believed that it was this encounteD that kept him in the country and made jail, and the destruction of his health and his talent,  inevitable.


The book is a duller thing when Jane is not in it. From time to time Fitzsimons lights on extraordinary figures – Ouida and  Marie Corelli, for example –  whose work had a direct influence on Wilde; elsewhere, however, there is an excess of rather plodding résumé of lives that only tangentially illuminate him (four pages on the wives of his brother Willie). Even from these peripheral figures, however, Wilde  provoked exceptionally vivid responses. The actress Elizabeth Robins, for example, with whom he narrowly failed to work, remarked that it was “as if he had been stuffed with spice and caviar. Poke him and he would bleed absinthe and clotted truffles.” But his relationship with these women –   except for Robert Sherard’s remarkable observation that Wilde had in some sense modelled himself on the great French actress Sarah Bernhardt – yields little that is new.  It is still an affecting tale. The story of Constance Wilde, crushed between her husband’s appetites and his ambition, runs through the book like a heart-breaking descant sounded on a  particularly plangent oboe: “when I have you for my husband,” she wrote during their courtship, “I will hold you fast with chains of love & devotion, so that you shall never leave me, or love anyone so long as I can love & comfort.” Even after everything she had endured at his hands – the end of intimacy, abandonment, humiliation, financial ruin – and crippled by advancing multiple sclerosis she wrote “I think that we women are meant for comforters, and I believe no one can really take my place now, or help him as I can.” The persistence of love in the face of his incorrigibly rash and selfish behaviour is a tribute to an essentially delightful quality in him. As  Edith Cooper, one of the two gay women, aunt and niece, who made up the novelist ‘Michael Field’, wrote after it was all over, “now I can think of nothing but the quality that was in him – the pleasurableness.”

NMP Live

NMP Live Meets Simon Callow - Actor, Writer and Director

See video here

Observer Books of the Year, by Robert McCrum

Thatcher aside, the year’s most entertaining biography is Orson Welles: One-Man Band the third and probably final volume in Simon Callow’s study. This wonderfully vivid account of Welles’s tireless exploits in theatre, radio, film, television and even ballet is compulsive reading. Only an actor, director and writer as gifted and ebullient as Callow could have found the nerve to do this. Callow becomes Welles and, strangely, Welles almost becomes Callow. The only mystery is why, in Welles’s centenary year, his publishers waited until the end of 2015 to release such a tour de force.

The Guardian - Simon on: Why Orson Welles lived a life like no other

I understood from the beginning, though I had just one medium-sized, single-volume biography of Charles Laughton under my belt,  that any account of Orson Welles would be big. His life was so complex, his achievements so multifarious, his personality so unfathomable, the myths so pervasive, that I was sure that  if I was to understand him at all I would have to cast my net very wide, at the same time as going deep down under the surface; one volume, I knew, could never do him justice. 

Read more here

Simon Callow on Orson Welles - Belfast

Sunday 15th November 2015

15:00 - Queens Film Theatre, Belfast 

In One-Man Band, the third volume in his epic survey of Orson Welles' life and work, Simon Callow again probes in comprehensive and penetrating detail into one of the most complex artists of the twentieth century, looking closely at the triumphs and failures of an ambitious one-man assault on one medium after another - theatre, radio, film, television - even, at one point, ballet - in each of which his radical and original approach opened up new directions and hitherto unglimpsed possibilities.

Click here for more information and how to purchase tickets

New Statesman

Orson Welles: One-Man Band by Simon Callow shows how Welles was an often chaotic yet masterful film-maker in his middle age.

Read more here

The Independant

Orson Welles: One Man Band by Simon Callow, book review

Read more here

The Times

Book of the week: Orson Welles: One-Man Band by Simon Callow

Read more here

Daily Mail

Simon Callow has spent the past 25 years reliving the life of Orson Welles, his idol and inspiration. It has been a full-time occupation: this is his third substantial volume recording it.

Read more here

The Sunday Times

Orson Welles: One Man Band by Simon Callow

Read more here

Simon Callow on Orson Welles - Dublin

Saturday 14th November 2015

19:30 - Venue: dlr LexIcon Library, Dun Laoghaire, Dublin

In this, the third volume in his epic survey of Orson Welles’ life and work, Simon Callow again probes in comprehensive and penetrating detail into one of the most complex artists of the twentieth century, looking closely at the triumphs and failures of an ambitious one-man assault on one medium after another – theatre, radio, film, television – even, at one point, ballet – in each of which his radical and original approach opened up new directions and innovative possibilities.

Click here for more information and how to purchase tickets

The Seven O'Clock Show

Friday 13th November 2015

Simon is due to appear on the Seven O’Clock Show in Dublin at 18:30

Click here for more information

F is for Fake - Cork Film Festival

Friday 13th November 2015

Cork Film Festival - 11:30

Simon Callow  will attend the 60th Cork Film Festival which opens Friday night and runs for 10 days. 

Simon is also a biographer of legendary American director Orson Welles and will introduce a screening of Welles’s last major film, F for Fake.

Click here for more information

Today Show

Thursday 12th November 2015

Simon will appear on Ireland's most watched Daytime show at 16:35

Click here for more information

Screening of Orson Welles's F for Fake at Cork Film Festival

Simon Callow to introduce last significant work from auteur:

Click here for more information

Simon's Musical Autumn

Simon’s musical autumn - some concerts coming up.


October 23rd 2015 

Peter & the Wolf  Two Moors Festival Exeter

Click here for more information


October 25th 2015 

Paddington Bear  City of London Sinfonia Warwick 12

Click here for more information 


October 28th 2015 

Paddington Bear City of London Sinfonia Basingstoke 12

Click here for more information 


October 28th 2015 

Paddington Bear City of London Sinfonia Basingstoke 3 pm

Click here for more information 


October 29th 2015

Oxford Lieder Festival 6.30 pm A Shropshire Lad

Click here for more information 


October 31st 2015

Leeds Town Hall –  Flanders Symphony Orchestra Elgar Blackford Debussy

Click here for more information


November 1st 2015 

Paddington Bear   City of London Sinfonia Saffron Hall, Saffron Walden 1 pm

Click here for more information 


November 1st  2015

Paddington Bear   City of London Sinfonia  Saffron Hall, Saffron Walden 4 pm

Click here for more information 


November 3rd 2015

Flanders Symphony Orchestra The Hexagon, Queens Walk, Reading - Elgar Debussy

Click here for more information


November 4th 2015 

Flanders Symphony Orchestra Cadogan Hall London Elgar Blackford Debussy

Click here for more information 

Then Viceroy's House

Simon is off to India to play Sir Cyril Radcliffe in Then Viceroy’s House, directed by Gurinder Chabda.

Click here for more information

Alice in Wonderland

See Simon appear in Alice in Wonderland with Cellophony at King’s Place.

Click here for more information 


Simon's in Bristol to play Edwin the Magnificent in Galavant.

Click here for more information 


Simon plays himself in the film Mindthorn, directed by Sean Foley. 

Click here for more information 

The Life of Rock with Brian Pern

Simon recently filmed in The Life of Brian Pern, playing Bennett St Michael, the member of Thotch they got rid of early on, but who has dreams of a comeback.

Click here for more information

Dalston Revolution

A night of music, poetry and theatre... 

Allyson Ava Brown
Simon Callow
Maddy Hill
Rio Kai
Martina Laird
Anoushka Lucas
Ako Mitchell
Ann Mitchell
Marie Murphy
Che Walker
Roy Williams

Find out more here

Machynlleth Festival

Simon is doing a concert with the pianist Lucy Parham at the Machynlleth Festival in Wales on August 28th, 2015. 

Click here for more information and how to purchase tickets.

JULY 2015
Kingston University Honorary Degree

Simon Callow - one of Britain's most respected stage and screen stars - has been named an Honorary Doctor of Letters by Kingston University. As well as being known to millions for his acting roles in such hit films as ‘Four Weddings and a Funeral, ‘Shakespeare in Love' and ‘Room with a View' and in television shows such as ‘Doctor Who', Mr Callow is a critically acclaimed writer and director. He has been honoured for his contribution to theatre and film practice and research and also to literary biography.

Read more here

June 2015
Yvonne Callow

Simon's mother Yvonne passed away on April 9th this year. The funeral was held on June 11th at Sacred Heart Church, Quex Road, in Kilburn

Here is Simon's eulogy:

Yvonne Marie Guise was born an astonishing 96 years ago, in 1919, at the end of the First World War, just before the signing of the Treaty Of Versailles, which contained within it, as we now know, the seeds of the Second World War. So she grew up and came to womanhood in those terrible times which saw the Great Crash and the rise of the European dictators. She and her older brother Tony and her younger sister Marie, who all might have expected a decent education, were each of them at work by the age of 16, Marie at 15. Their father Jules, who was Danish, an engineer and an inventor, never worked at all during the 1930’s, at the end of which, at the age of 42, he suddenly died. Their mother, Vera, who was of German stock, had been a singer – she sang at the Royal Albert Hall at the official celebrations for the end of World War I – was, till they went to work, the family’s only breadwinner – genteelly brought up, she cooked and scrubbed in underground kitchens, she sold watches across the country,  she had a disastrous go at running a bed and breakfast establishment.

The girls, my mother and my aunt, became typists, working in a secretarial agency in Victoria, where they were brusquely addressed by their surnames and worked long and arduous hours. Both of them were clever young women – they attended the London Oratory Grammar School, which I went to 30 years later – but neither had the education they longed for. They dreamed of other lives – my mother wanted to be a journalist – but economic reality kept them down. And then, when my mother was twenty, the Second World war broke out and that defined their lives not only for the next six years, but  for ever more. Technically, they were Danish, like their father, though neither spoke the language, and  their passports were stamped Alien; for a while they were limited in what they could do, though both eventually became fire-fighters during the Blitz; their brother Tony  was called up and died in the last days of hostilities. But the war with its constant threat of instant death was a time to seize  life with both hands, and Yvonne plunged into the hectic round of parties and pleasure that her mother laid on for the boys on leave. Yvonne was attractive and witty, but very much, even at that young age, her own woman; she kept the boys at arm’s length, mercilessly mocking and teasing them.

Then, in 1944, rather against her better judgement, she married her brother’s best friend, my father, Neil Callow, a lively, sensuous, gregarious man, who was posted to Africa for the North Africa landings. While there, he fell in love with Africa, and at the end of the war she joined him there, in Freetown in Sierra Leone, and they led the unimaginably exotic lives of colonial expats – a life of comfort, of servants, of  free-flowing booze and plentiful food – until Yvonne became pregnant for the first time and returned to Austerity Britain, severely rationed and devastated by 6 gruelling years of war. Neil joined her for the birth of their daughter, Gabrielle, who was turned out to have a rare blood disease which led to her early death at 18 months old, a tragedy they overcame by having a second child as soon as possible, which was me. She was 30. Again, Neil returned to England  for the birth, but the lure of Africa and the possibility of earning good money there was too strong for him to resist and he went back. That was the end of her marriage, though she didn’t know it till he failed to return at end of his 18 months’ tour.

Her life and in some ways her personality changed as a result of that shocking rupture and the loss of a man she had come to love. Her Catholicism, always strong, became ever more deeply entrenched; she refused to entertain the idea of divorce and resigned herself to being single till the day either he or she died. Always pleasantly rounded, she now went on a severe diet which she then maintained for the rest of her life, and single-mindedly addressed the question of bringing up her child. First of all, she had to try to make ends meet. She was only fitfully supported by my father, but she successfully pursued a career as a secretary, making sure that I was fed and clothed and properly educated: she had very clear ideas about how to do things, guided by the egregious Dr Benjamin Spock and his  theories of child-raising: I was not to be indulged in any way, but was to be offered constant mental stimulation – we went on a ceaseless round of visits to museums, galleries, events – she took me down to Chartwell to catch a glimpse of the ancient Churchill, she arranged trips to National Trust properties. If we saw a film, it an improving one, like Walt Disney’s The Vanishing Prairie.  I was not an easy child to handle – emotional, exhibitionistic, uncontrollably energetic – but she stuck to her programme for me. Discipline was fierce – she was not above using a much-feared hairbrush for severe spankings – but there were visits to the cinema and very occasionally to the theatre by way of compensation. Above all she instilled in me the idea of achievement: no day should pass without something to show for it – something learned, something made, something mastered.

She took a job as a school secretary in a wildly eccentric private school in Berkshire largely because my education would be thrown in as part  payment for her services. For me it was a life-changing two years of country-living and for her an introduction to Spanish culture (the headmaster was a  passionate Hispanophile, having fought in the Spanish Civil War – on the side of the Fascists) and it led her to teach herself Spanish, toiling night after night over her Assimil textbooks and the accompanying gramophone records. When I was seven, she took herself off to Madrid  to become governess to a Spanish family; I stayed, very happily, with my rather indulgent grandmothers, for the few months she was away. When she came back, earlier than expected, we moved back to South London; she found a job working at the Nigerian embassy where she was the London  secretary of Chief Anthony Enahoro; this meant that I was kitted out with a variety of African robes and embroidered caps and the bedsit in Streatham was draped with exotic blankets and ivory carvings.

And then, when I was 9, and she was 39, astonishingly, my father got in touch to suggest that he and Yvonne should resume their married life – she and I should join him in Central Africa where he now lived. As a devout Catholic, believing that he was still her husband, though they had not seen each other for 5 years, she complied and we took the three-day flight to Kenya, where he picked us up and drove us all the way down to the tiny town of Fort Jameson in what was then Northern Rhodesia.

It was a disaster from the beginning. My father clearly had no intention of resuming his marriage: he was trying to get her to desert him, which eventually she did. With astonishing strength of  mind and and resourcefulness, she overcame the anxiety of being effectively stranded in the middle of that huge continent, and moved us to the capital, Lusaka, where she worked as a high-flying government secretary. And still she was determined that I should be mentally and imaginatively stimulated. We went off on Safari; we took trips to nearby beauty spots; she arranged for me to go up in a bi-plane with a colleague of hers, terrifying but tremendous. She bought a car and learned to drive. Or rather, she passed her driving test, having broken down in tears when she was failed, and so began a reign of terror for local drivers, as she drive into ditches and  knocked down fences. I meanwhile was packed off to school in South Africa; my father’s alimony was always  intermittent and she soon had to withdraw me, as I had been withdrawn from various schools over the years; but eventually, triumphantly, she engineered our return to England in 1962, three years after we had left it.

Back to South London we went. She secured a place for me at the London Oratory Grammar School, by dint of constant pleading, and did everything she could to focus my mind on the studies which would lead to my getting a  place at university, her single goal for me. She carried on with her secretarial career: when she worked for a shirt company, I learned the pleasures of hand-made shirts; and when she went to work for Freemans mail order, all sorts of other bonuses came my way. But these were very difficult years for us: a constant struggle with her trying to assert her authority and me become more and more wilful, less and less prepared to accept the limitations she tried to place on me.    

She was very much one her own. She had cool feelings towards her family, and was not a woman who made friends. She would go on adventurous trips with the Church, but she kept herself to herself; as long as my father was alive, she never had a relationship with another  man, and by the time he died, in 1971, it was too late. Nor would she have wanted it: her independence was the thing she prized above all else. She took herself off to concerts, to galleries, to exhibitions; she avidly watched the television – documentaries only. She had no time for fiction of any kind, which she regarded as a species of lying. She particularly had no time for Shakespeare, whose popularity she regarded as a conspiracy by an intellectual mafia of actors and directors and producers. Poetry in general, she said, was the longest way of saying the least.

She was not best pleased, to put it mildly,  when I decided to leave university to become an actor, but she said, typically, that though she would never give me  a penny in support, and though she was certain I had no talent whatever, nonetheless she thought I should do it because if I didn’t I would regret it for the rest of my life.

She knew what it was to regret.

She took only limited pleasure in my success as  an actor, cheering up a bit when I started writing books and directing, both of which she regarded as proper, grown-up jobs.

She gave up working as  a secretary at the first possible moment, when she was 60, and withdrew to the countryside. This proved too isolated for her, so I got her a flat in Croydon, sufficiently rural and within easy striking distance of London, where three or four times a week she would go, either to the latest exhibition at the Royal Academy or to Westminster Cathedral for mass or benediction:  her mother’s brother-in-law John Francis Bentley was the architect of the cathedral, though  that sort of thing – family connections – never impressed her. She went to church to further her very intense and very personal relationship with her god, in whom she believed with a simple and literal faith. God the father, that is: I don’t know that she had much feeling for Jesus or Mary or the Holy Ghost. No, it was the Old Testament God, severe and all-knowing, whom she adored, daily awaiting, as she often told me, the  day when she would die, go to heaven, and sit on his knee while he explained to her all the aspects of his creation that baffled her – why her 18-month old daughter had been snatched from her, why she had married the wrong man, why she had had to toil so unceasingly – why there was suffering, why there was injustice.

It was ten years ago that her mind collapsed, suddenly, overnight, after a long period of paranoia and fear for her life. Overnight, she lost her identity – her past disappeared like the hard disk of a broken computer. Then all the fixed points of her universe – God, the Church, me – lost all reality for her. And yet, though she increasingly lost the power of speech and the ability to function, there was a force of personality there, which impressed everyone who came across her – a huge inner force – and though she sat for hours in silence between meals, she always seemed to be thinking, trying to resolve some huge problem, it seemed to me. I sometimes thought that when she solved the problem, she would allow herself to die. She hung on and on, thinking furiously. And then in April this year, she let go. I like to think – I can only hope – that she’d finally solved the problem.

Some years ago, when she still had the power of speech, though she was not often able to make sense, she was vouchsafed one of those rare moments of lucidity that sometimes comes to those afflicted with this terrible condition. I came into the day room in her residential care home, and found her sleeping. I woke her up, and she suddenly smiled, a warm and happy smile, glad to see me. “How are you?” she asked, which was a rare question since she had disappeared into her own world. “Well,” I said, “busy – busy as you always were, working hard, as you always did.” I tried as I had so often done to bring her back to who she had been, what she’d done. “You worked so hard, you were a wonderful secretary, oh yes, I have all the glowing testimonials your bosses gave you whenever you left a job.” She smiled again, another radiant smile. “Really?” she said. “You mean I was of some worth?” “Oh, yes, I said, great worth, you did wonderfully well.” “I’ve often wondered,” she said. “Sometimes I don’t know who I was. I’m so glad.” And then I lost her again. But that moment, that knowledge of   who she was – of what she’d done - of how she’d toiled against so many obstacles – of what an honourable, determined life she’d lived – I hope that was  with her when she died. She was dealt a lousy hand of cards by life, in many ways.  But she played them to the utmost of her abilities, and she deserves our honour and respect. And love.

MAY 2015
Review of Tuesday's at Tesco's

In a bold and expert performance that makes no concessions to an actor’s vanity or an audience’s sympathy, the august British actor Simon Callow portrays — no, fully inhabits — Pauline in Emmanuel Darley’s “Tuesdays at Tesco’s.


APRIL 2015
Campaign to regenerate Legal Aid

Simon was part of the team that recorded the soundtrack for the campaign to regenerate Legal Aid


APRIL 2015
Print review for Outlander

‘Outlander’ 1×10 Recap: Put Up Your Dukes


APRIL 2015
Creditors Official Teaser Trailer #1

The official teaser trailer for the eagerly anticipated Creditors has been released, take a look here:


MARCH 2015
Tuesdays at Tesco's

We are very excited to announce that Simon will be performing in Tuesdays at Tesco’s in New York City from May 14th to June 7th, 2015. 

Click here for more info and to purchase tickets

MARCH 2015

Simon  is  going to be in HBO's pilot for Alan Ball’s new series, Virtuoso. Shooting next month in Budapest. Virtuoso is period drama set against the complex and volatile backdrop of 18th century Vienna.

Read more here

February 2015
Ant & Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway

Saturday 28th February.

Simon will be appearing on the Ant and Dec show: Saturday Night Takeaway this weekend on ITV at 7pm. 

February 2015
Golden Years

On February 26th, Simon starts filming an Indy feature called Golden Years, with Bernard Hill, Virginia Mckennaan and Alun Armstrong. Directed and written by John Miller. 

February 2015
The Flying Dutchman, The Royal Opera House

On Tuesday February 24th, Simon is presenting the world-wide broadcast of The Flying Dutchman from the Royal Opera House. 

February 2015
City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra

On Sunday February 15th at 3pm, Simon is doing a concert in Birmingham with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. The music is by Elgar and Shostakovich.

February 2015
BBC Concert Orchestra

February 3rd 2015, Simon will be in the recording studio to record texts with the BBC Concert Orchestra conducted by John Andrews. The music is Sir Arthur Sullivan's incidental music for the tempest and Macbeth.

January 2015
Royal United Hospital

On Friday January 30th at 18:30, Simon will be giving the Awards at the Royal United Hospital's annual get-together in the Assembly Rooms, Bath.

December 2014
Guardian Review

Simon Callow pays tribute to film-maker Mike Nichols

Their first meeting, a script reading for Postcards from the Edge, felt like a reunion. Simon Callow looks back at his 25-year friendship with director Mike Nichols, who died last week


December 2014
Guardian Review

Simon Callow: The Golden Age of Pantomime

Never underestimate the power of a heavyset hero in fishnet tights. Panto has long provided the heart, soul and high camp of the festive season. How did it all begin?


December 2014
A Christmas Carol - Review

A Christmas Carol, Houston Grand Opera, Wortham Theater Center, Houston, Texas — NEW review


The tradition of performing A Christmas Carol as a one-man show goes back to Dickens himself and continues with contemporary practitioners such as Patrick Stewart and Gerald Dickens. Now it has inspired a brilliant new opera by the young British composer Iain Bell, with a libretto by the actor, director and Dickens expert Simon Callow and a performance of astounding stamina and vigour by the tenor Jay Hunter Morris. Don’t expect jolly holiday entertainment, although the new Christmas Carol is amply heartwarming in its own entrancing way.

October 2014
**NEW** Diary Section Added

We have added a new section to the website. Please find 'Diary' located on the top information bar. 

Here you will find a complete schedule of Simon's appearances past, present and coming soon! 

July 2014
The Man Jesus

The Man Jesus - UK tour

The Tour

Date Town Venue Box Office
10 & 11 Sep Salford Quays The Lowry 0843 208 6000
12 Sep Horsham Capitol 01403 750220
13 Sep Bideford Devon Hall 01805 624624
14 Sep Exeter Northcott 01392 493493
16 Sep Brighton Theatre Royal 0844 871 7650
17 Sep Aylesbury Waterside 0844 871 7607
18 & 19 Sep Southend Palace 01702 351135
20 Sep Newport Riverfront 01633 656679
21 Sep Richmond Theatre 0844 871 7651
23 & 24 Sep Mold Theatr Clwyd 0845 330 3565
25 Sep Dundee Rep 01382 223530
26 Sep Musselburgh Brunton 0131 6652240
27 Sep Berwick Maltings 01289 330 999
28 Sep Lincoln PAC 01522 837600
29 Sep Bromley Churchill 08448 717 620
01 Oct Leicester Curve 0116 242 3595
02 Oct Darlington Civic 01325 486555
03 Oct Southport Atkinson 01704 533333
05 Oct Cheltenham Everyman 01242 572573
06 Oct London Lyric 0844 482 9674
07 Oct York Grand Opera House 0844 871 3024
9 – 11 Oct Guildford Yvonne Arnaud 01483 440000
12 Oct Leeds West Yorkshire Playhouse 0113 213 7700
13 Oct Milton Keynes Theatre 0844 871 7652
15 Oct Neath Gwyn Hall 0300 365 6677
16 Oct Halesworth Festival 01986 872000
17 Oct Spalding South Hollland Centre 01775 764777
19 Oct Plymouth Theatre Royal 01752 267222
20 Oct London artsdepot 0208 369 5454
21 Oct Canterbury Marlowe 01227 787787
22 Oct Woking New Victoria 0844 871 7645
24 Oct Bridport Electric Palace 01308 424901
25 Oct Malvern Festival Theatre 01684 892277
27 Oct Harrogate Theatre 01423 502 116
28 Oct Bristol Tobacco Factory 0117 902 0344
30 Oct Dublin Pavilion Theatre 01 231 2929
31 Oct Coleraine Riverside Theatre 028 70 123 123
01 Nov Limerick Lime Tree Theatre 061 774774
02 Nov Cork Everyman 021 450 1673
03 Nov Northampton Theatre Royal 01604 624811
04 Nov Oxford Playhouse 01865 305305

Various dates and venues. See for details.

Ros Povey, Zoë Simpson and Seabright Productions present Simon Callow in the Lyric Theatre Belfast production of The Man Jesus by Matthew Hurt

Directed by Joseph Alford

This extraordinary play looks back two thousand years to witness key moments in the life of ‘the man Jesus’, through the eyes of the people who knew him. 

Simon Callow, one of Britain's best-loved actors, performs this fresh and moving account of biblical stories including the raising of Lazarus, the wedding at Cana and the journey to Jerusalem. His powerful portrayal of the tyrants, traitors and madmen in Jesus’ life asks people of all faiths and none: what sort of a man was able to inspire the history of the world?

Thought-provoking, thrilling and full of wit, this production premiered to great acclaim at Belfast’s Lyric Theatre, and now embarks on a strictly limited UK tour.

‘Callow renews our sense of wonder at the son of man and his story.’  
Daily Telegraph

'Callow and Hurt manage to keep us gripped.’
Sunday Times

‘Callow is stunning.’  
Belfast Times

August 2014


26th to 30th of August at St. James Theatre

Directed by Simon Stokes
Adapted by Richard Quick
From a translation by Peter Green

Simon Callow does stand-up comedy – filthy, scabrous, politically incorrect – as he lambasts foreigners, plutocrats, women, gays – as delivered last in Rome AD 100.

Juvenal was one angry white middle-class male. In Juvenalia he tells it like it was. And is.

‘A comic delight … Callow comes on like a foul-tempered and thoroughly vicious Woody Allen’


‘The observation and lyricism delight and resonate’
Time Out

For tickets and information: LINK

Coming Soon ** December 2014 **
Houston Grand Opera - A Christmas Carol

Houston Grand Opera

Running from the 5th to 21st of December

A Christmas Carol 

When Charles Dickens' novella A Christmas Carol appeared in 1843, it delighted Victorian London and still inspires imaginations today.

Iain Bell, a promising young British composer, has written a captivating score to a libretto by Simon Callow, the renowned film and stage actor. Remembered for roles in films like A Room with a View and Four Weddings and a Funeral, Callow has also played Ebenezer Scrooge and Dickens himself on the screen.

Together, they have penned a spellbinding, intensely theatrical experience for HGO's intimate Cullen Theater. The opera is a true tour de force - a one man show - with Houston favorite Anthony Dean Griffey as the narrator of this beloved fable. We will, without doubt, leave the theater with a deeper understanding of the holiday each time we say, "Merry Christmas."

The Narrator - Anthony Dean Griffey
The Narrator - Kevin Ray (Dec. 17 and 20)

Creative Team
Conductor - Warren Jones 
Director - Simon Callow
Set & Costume Designer - Laura Hopkins
Lighting Designer - Mark McCullough
Houston Grand Opera Orchestra



August 2014
The Guardian - Simon Callow: A return to Juvenalia

Phony politicians, flashy oligarchs, gay marriage. As Simon Callow takes his one-man show to Edinburgh, he explores the timeless bite of Juvenal's Satires...

Link to the Guardian article 

July 2014
The Guardian - Simon Callow: Why Der Rosenkavalier reveals the real (and racy) Richard Strauss

With its comic intrigues and double cross-dressing, as well as its longing for a vanished world, this is Strauss's most successful and satisfying opera...

Link to The Guardian article 

July 2014

Edinburgh Festival and London

Directed by Simon Stokes, Adapted by Richard Quick, Translated by Peter Green.

Riverside Studios, London

Tues 17- Tues 22 July 7.30pm

Assembly Rooms, Edinburgh

Jul 31, Aug 1-5, 7-10, 12-17, 19-25 at 3.30pm

St James Theatre

Tues 26-Sat 30 Aug, 7.30pm (matinee performances at 2.30pm on Thurs 28th and Sat 30th

Simon Callow does stand-up comedy. Filthy, foul-mouthed, viciously funny, and deeply politically incorrect. The target: immigrants, plutocrats, women, gays. As last delivered in Rome AD 100. Juvenal was one angry white middle class male. In Juvenilia he tells it like it was. And is. The Writer, Juvenal born circa ad 55, wrote sixteen satires that attacked the decadence of Rome in its heyday. Here adapted by Richard Quick we are given a view into the moral decline that is as relevant now, as it was back then.

July 5 2014

Following the critically acclaimed sell-out concert, Ivor Novello – The Great British Musical, award-winning Musical Director Ross Leadbeater and The Novello Singers return to the St James Theatre for a limited 3 performances only with a new theatrical concert celebrating the best of The Great British Musicals.

Narrated by BBC Radio 4 Just A Minute host Nicholas Parsons CBE (Friday and Saturday Eve) and Stage and Screen legend Simon Callow CBE (Saturday Matinee)  this is a not-to-be-missed opportunity to enjoy a ‘glamorous night’ at St James Theatre with Ross Leadbeater and The Novello Singers – a newly established eight-voice musical theatre ensemble.

The concert celebrates the works of Gilbert and Sullivan, Lionel Monckton, Vivien Ellis, Noel Coward, Ivor Novello, Lionel Bart, Leslie Bricusse and Andrew Lloyd Webber, and features a special First World War centenary tribute to Ivor Novello’s 1914 composition ‘Keep the Home Fires Burning’.

30 June 2014

30 June 2014

Join us for a theatrical exploration of Beethoven through his music and letters. Intense emotion, psychological drama and the Academy of St Martin in the Field's signature interpretation of Beethoven provide "as edge of a seat experience as you will find", featuring award-winning screen and stage actor Simon Callow, Inon Barnatan and in a change to the previously published line-up, Jack Liebeck (director/violin).

15 June 2014

Seventy years ago, in July 1944, with the most disastrous war in history in its death-throes, a secret meeting took place in a hotel deep in the forests of New Hampshire. Bankers and economists from over forty nations met to draw up a settlement to save the world economy and secure the peace. Everything depended on two men - John Maynard Keynes and Harry Dexter White, played in this new play by Simon Callow as Keynes and Henry Goodman as White.

23 May 2014

Featuring a star-studded array of storytellers like Harry Enfield, Sally Phillips, Richard Hammond, Sarah Solemani, Rebecca Front, Kevin Eldon, Hugh Dennis, Jessica Hynes, Sharon Horgan, Jack Dee, Stephen Mangan and Charlie Higson, this brand new and exclusive Dave original taps into a bygone age of television storytelling. But this time, instead of the cosiness of the original it took inspiration from, Crackanory is packed full of darkly funny yarns that are firmly set in the cut and thrust of 21st century life.

Each episode features two 15-minute tales narrated by some of the best names in comedy and featuring some special guests, while these unique stories are brought to life with a mix of live action and animation. Simon will be appearing in the second series, due for release later in the year.

14 May 2014

We’re thrilled to announce that Simon Callow is confirmed as the narrator for the performance of Tarik O’Regan’s Suite from the Heart of Darkness on Wednesday 14 May at BBC Hoddinott Hall.

The Suite is extrapolated from O’Regan’s opera of the same name based on the novella by Joseph Conrad.  The spoken text for the narrator is based on the libretto written by Tom Phillips.  An added bonus is the post-concert talk which will see Callow joining O’Regan and Phillips in conversation with broadcaster Nicola Heywood-Thomas.  

Full details of the concert, given by BBC National Orchestra of Wales, can be found:

30 April 2014

Simon Callow concludes Newsnight's celebration of Shakespeare's 450th birthday playing Prospero, from The Tempest.

26 April 2014

Director: Ben Cura

Producer: Cuibar Productions (ES) /Tough Dance (GB)

A love triangle is unraveled when a painter whose career and marriage are in decline is approached by an admirer and eased into making sense of his troubled relationship with his wife. The movie is based on the original play by August Strindberg (recently revived at the Donmar in 2008 in London and at the B.A.M. in 2010 in New York).

Simon plays Chloe Fleury’s literary agent John Allen. John is seen at her book-launch party on Osea Island approaching Freddie Lynch, a famous young painter. Freddie’s earlier accidental encounter with Chloe, in a remote corner of the island, has left a mark on him - which John can sense. He uses this to take advantage of a photo-op with the two - which will eventually segue, Chloe’s husband being absent, into adultery.

17 April 2014

But what about the little guys, the wasters - new to the big city, stuck in office jobs, unable to get the girls?

Plebs follows three desperate young men from the suburbs as they try to get laid, hold down jobs and climb the social ladder in the big city – a city that happens to be Ancient Rome.

The series stars Tom Rosenthal (Friday Night Dinner), Joel Fry (White Van Man) and Ryan Sampson (After You’ve Gone) as the three young men – Marcus, Stylax and their lazy slave with an attitude problem, Grumio. 

Simon will be making a guest star appearance in the second series. 

31 March 2014

Simon appeared on the quiz show's theatre special.

12 April 2014

"Rob Brydon hosts a new series in which five celebrities help contestants to guess the answers to some rather revealing questions. The famous faces in this episode are James Corden, Jennifer Saunders, Simon Callow, Emilia Fox and Louis Smith."

13 February 2014
Being Shakespeare

Simon Callow brings to life Shakespeare's unforgettable characters and the real man behind the legend in this triumphant and critically acclaimed play. 

Don't miss your chance to experience this magnificent performance from one of Britain’s finest actors, as BEING SHAKESPEARE sets the West End alight for a strictly limited run of 22 performances only. 

The show returns to the the London stage following its run at the Trafalgar Studios in 2012 and subsequent off-Broadway transfer. 

At the Harold Pinter Theatre from 26 February until 15 March 2015,

Click here to buy tickets

Space Age and Outlander

Simon is very excited about staring in the up and coming: Space Age and Outlander. 

One to keep an eye out for... 

Charity Concert for Great Ormond Street Hospital

Tuesday 10 December 2013

Sponsored by Trailfinders, the concert will be a wonderful evening for adults and children alike and will feature popular congregational carols accompanied by the Choristers of Thomas’s Battersea, the London Central Fellowship Band and the Band of the Grenadier Guards, along with heart-warming readings from a host of well-known special guest and patients from Great Ormond Street Hospital.

Simon will be appearing on Tuesday 10th of December

Click here to buy tickets

Charity Concert for Breast Cancer Care

Tuesday 17th December 2013

Join us to celebrate the festive season at the magical setting of St Paul’s Cathedral for our popular, annual Carols by Candlelight. This wonderful evening will put you in the Christmas spirit with seasonal readings from our celebrity supporters; be entertained by the world-renowned St Paul’s Cathedral Choir as they lead the carols, and enjoy spectacular performances throughout the evening.

Carols by Candlelight in 2013 will include readings and performances from celebrity guests. We're excited to announce that Jonathan Ansell will be singing at the event, and actor Simon Callow CBE will be reading. We will update this page with more guests, so check back for updates.

Gather after the service by the steps of St Paul’s Cathedral for delicious festive treats. For guests wishing to continue the Christmas merriment, we host an intimate champagne supper in the charming Crypt of St Paul’s, under the Cathedral floor. Here you’ll enjoy a champagne reception, delicious supper and the opportunity to bid in our luxury ‘auctionette’.

Click here to buy tickets

Etiquette on London's Transport Network

TFL Campaign 

Etiquette on London's Transport Network


Watch here

Inside Wagner's Head

Latest News:

Wagner's Head is at the Theatre Royal Plymouth on the 12th, 13th and 14th of December (Matinee & Evening)

Simon is currently performing a new one-man show – Inside Wagner’s Head - as part of the Deloitte Ignite festival.

‘The most surprising thing I discovered was his autobiography. You assume an 800-page biography by Wagner is going to be heavy, but it’s one of the most entertaining biographies by an artist I’ve ever read’, said Simon. ‘It shows he does have a sense of humour. It doesn’t conceal anything, it’s absolutely lousy with anti-Semitism but equally it’s full of vision and brilliance and jokes. He was a funny man!’

In creating Inside Wagner’s Head, Simon revealed he has discovered a hugely complex character – one who was fervently nationalist but who hated militarism and imperialism. The BAFTA-winning actor also spoke of reconciling Wagner’s anti-Semitism with his ability to create awe-inspiring works:

‘It’s really difficult – I think that it’s a pathology in his case. When he was being painted by Renoir he chit-chatted most agreeably with Renoir and then suddenly a five-minute tirade against the Jews, completely unprovoked, and then after the tirade back to chit-chat. It was like a Tourette’s syndrome.

‘Wagner was a delinquent by temperament… he glamorized his participation in the revolution of 1849 – he went round joining in with the general mood of danger and excitement. He was very excited by being in the presence of [Mikhail] Bakunin, the great anarchist; the most famous terrorist in the world at the time. Wagner, like Dickens, is one of those people who attracted extraordinariness to him. Wherever he went, everything became more extreme. He self-dramatized to an astonishing degree, but that’s who he was.’

Simon also spoke about Wagner’s relationship with his patron King Ludwig II of Bavaria, his revolutionary activities and Wagner’s turbulent love affairs as well as giving a sense of how he himself developed Wagner’s voice for the one-man show.

Book tickets here

Click Here to Listen to Simon speaking about Richard Wagner

Lifetime Contribution To The British Theatre

Announced As Recipient Of The Stage Award for Outstanding Contribution to British Theatre at the 2013 UK Theatre Awards.

Click here for more information


Felicity Kendal and Simon Callow star as two people who have something in common: the affair that exists between their spouses!

Set in burgeoning 1950’s Paris, Chin-Chin tells of the often hilarious and ultimately disastrous effect of the affair, as the jilted couple rendezvous in a Paris apartment to set the world to rights, where they declare their independence in life, and in love.

But out of these undesirable circumstances, special connections are forged, and the un-likely pair soon realise that they will leave the ‘city of love’ with more than they had bargained for...

Dates and venues are as follows:

Cheltenham Mon 18th Nov - Sat 23rd Nov

Cardiff New Theatre Tue 26th Nov - Sat 30th Nov

Truro Hall For Cornwall Mon 2nd Dec - Sat 7th Dec

Click here to buy tickets

© Simon Callow 2013