Richard Stilgoe OBE (b. 28 March 1943) is a British songwriter, lyricist and musician. He is noted for clever wordplay as much as for his music.
Stilgoe was born in Camberley, Surrey but brought up in Liverpool where he performed at the Cavern Club, later being educated at Clare College, Cambridge, and was a member of the Cambridge University Footlights.
He made his name on the BBC television teatime programme Nationwide, followed by Esther Rantzen's That's Life!, a light-hearted consumer affairs programme for which he wrote comic songs satirising various minor domestic misfortunes. His ability to write a song from almost any source material and at prodigious speed is part of his cabaret act, which includes such diverse gems as singing the instructions from a Swedish payphone; a pastiche of the King's Singers listing all the kings and queens of England in which he sings all four parts; and composing a song in the interval from a series of words and musical notes called out by the audience. He has also written and presented numerous BBC radio programmes, including Hamburger Weekend ,Used Notes, Stilgoe's Around, Maestro and Richard Stilgoe's Traffic Jam Show, on BBC Radio 4.
Well known for his wordplay, Stilgoe is a great fan of anagrams and has appeared over two hundred times on the cult daytime TV show Countdown.
As well as being a comic of no small gift Stilgoe is a serious musician, writing lyrics for Cats and Starlight Express and collaborating with Charles Hart on the lyrics to The Phantom of the Opera and writing two musicals for schools, Bodywork and Brilliant the Dinosaur. He has appeared on the Royal Variety Performance and presented the Schools Proms, and has toured extensively both solo and with Peter Skellern.
He founded the Orpheus Trust in 1998, based in a previous family home in Godstone, Surrey, offering performing arts experiences to young people with various disabilities; he also started the Stilgoe Family Concerts series at the Royal Festival Hall, which feature young performers and regular commissions of new music.
He was High Sheriff of Surrey in 1998–99 and has a great interest in the sport of cricket, being appointed President of Surrey County Cricket Club in 2005.
Stilgoe has two Tony nominations, three Monte Carlo Prizes, a Prix Italia, an honorary doctorate and an OBE to his name. He is well-known for his love of architecture (both building it and demolishing it), having designed and built his own house more than once, and owns his own mechanical digger.