Jonathan Miller, the veteran theatre and opera director who was one of the leading lights in the Beyond the Fringe comedy revue, has died at 85 years of age.

His family's official statement reveals that he died "peacefully at home... following a long battle with Alzheimer's".

Miller was a particularly respected broadcaster and writer, a photographer, sculptor, and a medical doctor with a keen interest in human psychology.

He could be said to date from a period when intellectuals found a ready place on mainstream television channels, such as the BBC.

In this regard, Miller was comparable to the writer and broadcaster Clive James, whose death has also been announced. The talented Australian emigré also bent his innate intellectual insights towards the comedic strain with great, indeed hugely popular results.

Miller was born in London in 1934 and as a young man he studied medicine at Cambridge before veering towards the bright new world of unbuttoned and what some might have described as irreverent British comedy.

Beyond the Fringe, whose premiere at the 1960 Edinburgh Festival was a game changer in terms of the English comedic voice, later ran on the West End and Broadway. In that now legendary revue, Miller starred alongside Peter Cook, Dudley Moore and Alan Bennett.