Kenneth Williams was the stand-out comic actor of his generation.

Beloved as the manic star of Carry On films and as a peerless raconteur on TV chat shows and radio comedies, he was also acclaimed for serious stage roles.

But he was a complicated character which often showed in his erratic behaviour - he could be affectionate one minute then spiteful the next, ever the extrovert in public he would return to his tiny sparsely decorated flat alone and he turned down more than his fair share of professional opportunities.

Since the publication of edited extracts from his diaries, much controversy has surrounded Williams's personal and professional lives.

But journalist and author Christopher Stevens has been granted access by the estate to Williams's complete archive - the forty-three volumes of diaries and hundreds of unseen letters to and from the star.

He has also interviewed many of Williams's friends and colleagues (some who have never spoken publicly before about their time with Kenneth).

Born Brilliant: The Life of Kenneth Williams (the first full-length authorised biography) traces the complex contradictions that characterised an extraordinary life.

SeriesEpisodeFirst
Broadcast
RepeatedDescription
BOTW012010112920110220 (R7)
The young Kenneth Williams shows academic promise and an instinct for comedy.
The young academic has a comedy instinct, but his father has other ideas.
Nicholas Boulton reads Christopher Stevens' portrait.
BOTW022010113020110227 (R7)
20121106 (R4+)

Now an established star of the Carry On films, Kenneth is offered a role in an exciting new radio comedy series.
Personal struggles conflict with the actor's blossoming career.
Read by Nicholas Boulton.
Nicholas Boulton reads Christopher Stevens' biography.
Personal struggles conflict with the actor's blossoming career. Nicholas Boulton reads Christopher Stevens' biography.
BOTW032010120120110306 (R7)
20121107 (R4+)

Kenneth meets two young men who become great friends and provide the closest thing Williams ever had to a love affair.
The actor and raconteur displays his own trademark behaviour as he turns 40.
Christopher Stevens' book read by Nicholas Boulton.
The actor and raconteur displays his own trademark behaviour as he turns 40. Christopher Stevens' book read by Nicholas Boulton
BOTW042010120220110313 (R7)
20121108 (R4+)

Tom and Clive join Williams on holiday but, as ever, if Kenneth does something he loves every day, he begins to hate it.
More highs and lows as the complex actor holidays in Morocco with friends.
Christopher Stevens' book read by Nicholas Boulton.
More highs and lows as the complex actor holidays in Morocco with friends. Christopher Stevens' book read by Nicholas Boulton
BOTW05 LAST2010120320110320 (R7)
20121109 (R4+)

Now a regular on television chat shows and Radio 4's Just a Minute, Kenneth is invited to direct Joe Orton's play, Loot.
In his final years, the comic actor is plagued by illness and worry.
Nicholas Boulton concludes Christopher Stevens' portrait.
In his final years, the comic actor is plagued by illness and worry. Nicholas Boulton concludes Christopher Stevens' portrait.

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Trivia

  • This contains readings from the biography, with direct quotes from Williams read in a voice similar to his own, and archive recordings from interviews.