New Vic Theatre pays tribute to Sir John Mortimer

THE New Vic Theatre will pay special tribute to the late Sir John Mortimer with a production of A Voyage Round My Father which opens on Friday, January 23.

Sir John died last week as the Newcastle-under-Lyme theatre entered the final week of rehearsals for the playwright’s autobiographical work, based on life with his eccentric barrister father, a character famously immortalised as the much-loved Horace Rumpole in the hit TV series.

The witty and moving memoir by barrister, author and playwright Mortimer, who died at the age of 85, is being adapted for the round courtesy of artistic director Theresa Heskins, whose fast-paced productions such as Jamaica Inn and Great Expectations have won plaudits from critics and audiences alike.

A Voyage Round My Father describes Mortimer's upper middle-class childhood and young adult life between the wars. He grows up in the shadow of his father, a brilliant, eccentric and completely impossible barrister, who goes blind in middle age but insists on continuing with life as though he hasn’t.

Despite sailing off to boarding school and to war-work in a film studio, despite love and marriage and the first glimmerings of a writing career, it is to the charismatic, curmudgeonly father that the son always returns - with exasperation, frustration and, above all, with deep, hard-won love.

Called to the Bar in 1948, Sir John Mortimer QC CBE developed his career as a playwright by rising early to write before attending court.

His output includes more than 50 books, plays, and scripts including the hugely successful adaptation of Brideshead Revisited for ITV in 1981. That same year A Voyage Round My Father was re-made for Thames Television with Laurence Olivier in the role of his father.

Tickets for A Voyage Round My Father, which cost £8.50–£17.50, can be booked by calling the New Vic’s box office on 01782 717962, or online at