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Gyles Brandreth

Member of Parliament
for City of Chester
In office
9 April 1992 – 2 May 1997
Preceded by Peter Morrison
Succeeded by Christine Russell
Majority 1,101 (2.1%)

Born 8 March 1948 (1948-03-08) (age 62)
Nationality British
Political party Conservative
Spouse(s) Michele Brown
Relations Jeremiah Brandreth
George Robert Sims
Benjamin Brandreth
Children 3

Gyles Daubeney Brandreth (born 8 March 1948) is a British author, broadcaster and former Conservative Member of Parliament.




Early life

After having moved to London from Germany with his parents at the age of three, Brandreth was educated at the Lycée Français Charles de Gaulle, Bedales School and New College, Oxford. He rose to the Presidency of the Oxford Union in 1970, also editing the University magazine, Isis. He was a contemporary of figures including Christopher Hitchens, Robert Jackson, William Waldegrave, Edwina Currie, Stephen Milligan, John Scarlett, William Blair, Bill Clinton and John Redwood.[1] He went on to become a theatre producer, journalist, author and publisher as well as, later, turning TV presenter.


He has appeared on Countdown and TV-am. He has also presented programmes on London's LBC radio at various times since 1973, such as Star Quality. He was renowned for his seemingly endless collection of jumpers, though many of the more outrageous examples were sold in a charity auction in 1993 and he has since displayed somewhat more restraint in his dress sense.

From 2003 to 2005 Brandreth hosted the BBC Radio 4 comedy panel game Whispers. In 2006, Brandreth appeared in the BBC Radio 4 comedy programme Living with the Enemy which he co-wrote with comedian Nick Revell, in which they appear as a former Conservative government minister and a former comedian. He appeared on the television series That Mitchell and Webb Look in the same year, satirising his appearances in Countdown's Dictionary Corner on the fictional game show Numberwang. In 2007, he guest-starred in the Doctor Who audio play "I.D." He also appears frequently on the Radio 4 panel game Just a Minute.

Brandreth commentated on the Diamond Wedding Anniversary of the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh on The One Show, on 19 November 2007 on BBC One.

In 2008, he appeared as the guest 'celebrity' in 'Dictionary Corner' on Countdown. This was to commemorate Carol Vorderman's final appearance on the show, plus the final for that round, reflecting his appearance in the first final of Countdown.

In July to August 2009, he hosted the game show Knowitalls on BBC Two.


In the 1970s Brandreth wrote and edited various puzzle and joke books for children.

In the 1980s Brandreth wrote scripts for Dear Ladies, the television programme featuring Hinge and Bracket. Brandreth is also the creator of a stage show called Zipp! which enjoyed success at the Edinburgh Festival and had a short run in London's West End.

In September 2004, Brandreth's book on the marriage of Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh, Philip and Elizabeth: Portrait of a Marriage was published. In July 2005, he published another royal book named Charles and Camilla: Portrait of a Love Affair which is about the three-decade love affair between the newly-married Charles, Prince of Wales and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall. He had previously written an authorised biography of John Gielgud, the actor, and many joke, comedy and children's books, as well as lipogrammic reworks of Shakespeare. One of his books, All Wrong on the Night, is a compilation of anecdotes about theatrical performances going wrong due to missed cues, faulty props or mangled dialogue. The book's title parodies a phrase often heard when a play is in rehearsal prior to its opening performance: anyone who misses a cue or commits any other error during rehearsal typically assures his colleagues that it will be "all right on the night" (of the opening).

He has also written three works of historical fiction, placing Oscar Wilde at the centre of two murder mysteries, working with Robert Sherard and Arthur Conan Doyle. They have been fairly well regarded publicly.[citation needed]


He served as a Conservative Member of Parliament (MP), representing the City of Chester, from 1992 to 1997. He also served as a junior minister and whip in John Major's government. He published a book of his diaries from his time as a whip, Breaking the Code. After his parliamentary career, he broadcast some of his reminiscences on BBC radio as Brandreth on Office and The Brandreth Rules in 2001, 2003 and 2005. He has stated an opposition to the British honours system, and said he will never accept one himself.

Other activities

In August 2005, he appeared in a production of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night at the Edinburgh Festival.

He is in great demand as an after-dinner speaker, and he held the world record for the longest continuous after-dinner speech, at 12 and a half hours, done as a charity stunt.

He is also a former European Monopoly champion,[2] and President of the Association of British Scrabble Players, having organised the first UK National Scrabble Championship in 1972.

Personal life

Brandreth has been married to Michele Brown since 1973. They met at Oxford University, when she was at St Anne's College, on a dormitory corridor with three other women: Mary Archer, Edwina Currie and Ann Widdecombe. He usually refers to Michele in public as "the first Mrs Brandreth", to confuse people who are not in on the joke.

The couple have three children - Bennet, Saethryd and Aphra - and are the founders of the Teddy Bear museum, formerly located in Stratford-upon-Avon, and now relocated to Wimbledon, London.

He has at various times claimed Jeremiah Brandreth, executed leader of the Pentrich Rising of 1817, as a 'forebear'.

Selected bibliography

  • The Joy of Lex: How to Have Fun with 860,341,500 Words (1980), ISBN 0-688-01397-X
  • The Book of Mistaikes (1982), ISBN 0-7088-2194-4
  • The Scrabble Brand Puzzle Book (1984), ISBN 0-671-50536-X
  • A Guide to Playing the Scrabble Brand Crossword Game (1985), ISBN 0-671-50652-8
  • The Great Book of Optical Illusions (1985), ISBN 0-8069-6258-5
  • The Scrabble Companion (1988), ISBN 0-09-172698-0 (with Darryl Francis)
  • World Championship Scrabble (1992), ISBN 0-550-19028-7 (with Darryl Francis)
  • Under the Jumper: Autobiographical Excursions (1993). ISBN 0-86051-894-9
  • Venice Midnight (1999). ISBN 0-7515-2658-4
  • Breaking the Code: Westminster Diaries, 1992-97 (1999), ISBN 0-297-64311-8
  • Brief Encounters: Meetings with Remarkable People (2001), ISBN 1-902301-95-1
  • John Gielgud: An Actor's Life (2001), ISBN 0-7509-2690-2
  • The Biggest Kids Joke Book Ever! (2002), ISBN 0-233-05062-0
  • The Joy of Lex: An Amazing and Amusing Z to A and A to Z of Words (2002), ISBN 1-86105-399-1
  • The Word Book (2002), ISBN 1-86105-398-3
  • Philip and Elizabeth: Portrait of a Marriage (2004), ISBN 0-7126-6103-4
  • Charles and Camilla: Portrait of a Love Affair (2005), ISBN 1-8441-3845-3
  • Oscar Wilde and the Candlelight Murders (2007), ISBN 978-0719569302 (American title: Oscar Wilde and a Death of No Importance)
  • Oscar Wilde and the Ring of Death (2008), (American title: Oscar Wilde and a Game Called Murder)
  • Oscar Wilde and the Dead Man's Smile (2009)


External links

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Peter Morrison
Member of Parliament for the City of Chester
Succeeded by
Christine Russell


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