A British director of theater and opera and an author of over a dozen non-fiction books, he also had a career as an actor, artist, television host, and physician. He is perhaps most famous for his innovative work as an opera director; his unique 1982 production of the classic opera, Rigoletto, was set in 1950s Manhattan and took on a Mafia theme.
He attended medical school during the 1950s. Soon thereafter, he wrote, produced, and performed in Beyond the Fringe, a musical revue that premiered at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
He directed television movie productions of Othello, The Taming of the Shrew, and King Lear. He later served as Artistic Director of the Old Vic Theatre.
He was born into a Jewish family in London. In 1956, he married Helen Rachel Collet. He and Collet subsequently became parents to a daughter and two sons.
He directed a 2007 production of Anton Chekhov's play, The Cherry Orchard.