Born in 1934 he spent the war years following his father, who was at the time a military psychiatrist, around the country. Having attended several preparatory schools he completed his secondary education at St Paul's School in London where he developed an interest in biological sciences which has continued throughout his life. Two years after qualifying as a doctor in 1959 he agreed to write and take part in a review (Beyond the Fringe) at the Edinburgh Festival. Caught up by its unexpected success he went on to perform in it in London and New York. From that time on he gradually moved further and further away from medicine into television, theatre and opera.