Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Ken Campbell (actor)
He was educated at Chigwell School and then studied drama at RADA before joining Colchester Repertory theatre as an understudy to Warren Mitchell. He soon began writing and directing his own productions, including working with director Lindsay Anderson. After seeing the American Living Theatre at The Roundhouse in the early 1970s he was inspired to found The Ken Campbell Roadshow, a small theatre group that performed in unconventional venues such as pubs. Members included Bob Hoskins and Sylvester McCoy.
On television he played Alf Garnett's neighbour in In Sickness and in Health, and the irritating Roger in an episode of Fawlty Towers ("The Anniversary"). On radio he played Poodoo, a part written especially for him, in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Campbell's film work includes Derek Jarman's The Tempest (1979) and Peter Greenaway's A Zed and Two Noughts (1985), and more recently in Saving Grace (2000) and Creep (2004).
In 1976, he and Chris Langham formed the Science Fiction Theatre of Liverpool in order to stage Illuminatus!, an 8-and-a-half hour cycle of 5 plays by Campbell based on The Illuminatus! Trilogy by Robert Anton Wilson and Robert Shea. As well as starring Campbell and Langham themselves, it featured David Rappaport, Jim Broadbent, and Campbell's wife Prunella Gee. It eventually moved to the Royal National Theatre. The Science Fiction Theatre of Liverpool also produced a (rather less successful) stage adaptation of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, with Langham as Arthur Dent.
Since the late eighties Campbell has written and performed a series of one-man shows. Part autobiography, part stand-up comedy, part philosophical exploration, part popular science lecture, Campbell's shows include Recollections of a Furtive Nudist, Pigspurt, Jamais Vu, Mystery Bruises and The History of Comedy part one: ventriloquism. Campbell has toured these shows worldwide, and many of them have been published as scripts by Methuen books.
Campbell was later commissioned by the National's director Trevor Nunn to write The History of Comedy Part One: Ventriloquism. The two had previously fallen out when Nunn had been director of the Royal Shakespeare Company: when Campbell had distributed a fake press release, stating that after the success of their production of Nicholas Nickleby they would be changing their name to the Royal Dickens Company, Nunn had brought in the police.
In 1999, Campbell starred with Warren Mitchell and John Fortune in Art in London's West End. In 2001 in his show Wol Wantok he proposed that Bislama, as spoken in the Republic of Vanuatu, should be adopted as a world language. Campbell translated Macbeth into Bislama for the show, as well popularising the Bislama for Prince Philip: "Nambawan Bigfala him blong Missus Queen" (Number one big fellow him belong Mrs Queen).
Campbell is known in the UK as a commentator on both science and the paranormal, and has presented the Channel 4 television shows Reality On the Rocks, Brainspotting and Six Experiments that Changed the World. He is keen on the writings of Charles Fort and often appears at UnCon, the Fortean Times convention.
- 1972 - You see the thing is this: a one act comedy (ISBN 0-23774-966-1)
- 1972 - Old King Cole (ISBN 1870259122)
- 1975 - Skungpoomery (ISBN 0413675203)
- 1976 - Jack Sheppard (ISBN 0333196236)
- 1991 - Recollections of a Furtive Nudist (ISBN 1871503035)
- 1993 - Pigspurt: Or Six Pigs from Happiness (ISBN 0413681009)
- 1995 - The Bald Trilogy' (ISBN 0413690806) - a volume collecting together Furtive Nudist, Pigspurt and Jamais Vu
- 1996 - Violin time; or, the Lady from Montségur (ISBN 0-41370-960-4)
- 2000 - Wol Wantok (ISBN 1841660396) - a pidgin English version of Macbeth
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