He was brought up in Liverpool, and progressed through St. Agnes Church Choir and the Cavern Club to the Cambridge Footlights. Several spells singing his songs in pubs and clubs led to appearances on the Today Programme in the 1960’s, and thence to Nationwide and That’s Life, as well as several series of his own.
In the 1980’s he was involved in the writing of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s
Cats, Starlight Express and Phantom of the Opera, all of which continue to play all over the world. Cats and Starlight Express are now the longest and second-longest running shows in British theatre history. Schools continue to perform his musicals Bodywork and Brilliant the Dinosaur. He has presented the Schools Proms since 1988, and passed his 120th appearance on Countdown.
In 1982, Richard and Peter Skellern both appeared in the Royal Variety Performance. While standing star-struck in the wings watching Ethel Merman, each of them said, “We really ought to do something together sometime”. Nothing happened until 1984, when the Lord’s Taverners brought them together for what has become an enduring part-time double act. They have toured the United Kingdom many times, and conquered Australia, Hong Kong, Gibraltar, Rome and Stockholm. Last year saw the first of several farewell tours, and an appearance together at the Royal Variety Performance.
In 1998, he founded the Orpheus Centre, which provides opportunities for disabled people to take part in the performing arts. Its students now appear all over the country, including the Millennium Dome, the Notting Hill Carnival and the Glastonbury Festival and last year they added Schools Proms to their impressive list of credits.
He has two Tony nominations, three Monte Carlo Prizes, a Prix Italia, an Honorary Doctorate and an O.B.E. His hobbies are architecture, demolition (he owns and drives a Komatsu P.C.120 digger!), cricket, sailing and his family, none of whom told him he was going to be the subject of This is Your Life.