Jonathan Lynn (born 3 April 1943) is an English stage and film director, producer, writer and actor. He directed comedy films such as Clue, My Cousin Vinny, and The Fighting Temptations and earlier co-created and co-wrote the TV series Yes Minister and Yes, Prime Minister.
Lynn was born in Bath, Somerset, the son of Ruth Helen (Eban), a sculptor, and Robin Lynn, a physician. Lynn was educated at Kingswood School, Bath, between 1954 and 1961, after which he studied Law at Pembroke College, Cambridge (his maternal uncle, Israeli statesman Abba Eban, also studied at Cambridge). There he participated in the Cambridge University Footlights Club revue Cambridge Circus (appearing with the revue in 1964 on Broadway and on The Ed Sullivan Show).
Lynn's first West End appearance was in a stage production of Green Julia, for which he was nominated for the 1965 Plays and Players Award as Most Promising New Actor. In 1967, he played Motel the tailor in the original West End production of Fiddler on the Roof (production recorded by CBS Records). From the late 1960s, Lynn was appearing in and writing television sitcoms, including the television comedy series Twice a Fortnight with Graeme Garden, Bill Oddie, Terry Jones, Michael Palin and Tony Buffery.
He also played the Irish medical student Danny Hooley in the second series of the television comedy Doctor in the House in 1970 (Jonathan Lynn returned as Danny Hooley, for one episode of Doctor in Charge, "Should Auld Acquaintance be Forgot?", after Hooley had been working as a doctor). He also wrote some episodes for Doctor at Large, Doctor in Charge, Doctor at Sea and Doctor on the Go. As a TV actor, his most memorable roles included Beryl's boyfriend Robert in early series of The Liver Birds, the role of Harold in Jack Rosenthal's 1976 television film Bar Mitzvah Boy, and the role of Ted Margolis in Rosenthal's The Knowledge (1979). He also had a bit-part as a window cleaner in the BBC television series The Good Life. His film appearances have included roles in Prudence and the Pill (1968), The House That Dripped Blood (1971), Romance with a Double Bass (1974), and Three Men and a Little Lady (1990).
Lynn's first (co-written) screenplay was for The Internecine Project, which was released in 1974. For television he wrote episodes for the Doctor TV series, On the Buses, and wrote for Harry Worth and George Layton before eventually, in partnership with Antony Jay, writing Yes Minister and Yes, Prime Minister. His later writing credits include the first two films he directed, Clue (1985) and Nuns on the Run (1990). He is also known for his co-writing, co-producing, and co-directing of the revived Yes, Prime Minister series produced by the BBC on Gold in 2013.
Lynn co-authored the books The Complete Yes Minister, as well as The Complete Yes Prime Minister, which spent 106 weeks on the Sunday Times top 10 fiction list. Both were ranked number one on the Sunday Times list, including in December 1986 when the books were ranked number one and number two respectively. He also wrote the 1993 novel Mayday. In 2011 Lynn wrote a non-fiction work entitled Comedy Rules. The Independent newspaper called the book "a charming memoir, full of amusing and insightful anecdotes about the many entertainers Lynn has worked with" and described it as a combination of autobiography and how-to manual for comedy. The paper wrote further: "By dovetailing different types of book, Lynn cleverly avoids the pitfalls of both genres. Because it's ostensibly a sort of how-to book, there are no boring childhood reminiscences. Because it's also a kind of autobiography, his no-nonsense dos and don'ts are springboards for entertaining yarns, rather than academic discourse."
Lynn won praise for his direction of the 2010 London stage version of Yes, Prime Minister, which he co-wrote as well.
Lynn's work on the Minister series earned him three BAFTAs, two Broadcasting Press Guild Awards, and two Pye Television Writers Awards, and he won the ACE Award for Best Written Comedy Series. The Campaign for Freedom of Information also recognized Lynn with a special award for his work on the show. Lynn was a recipient of a Diamond Jubilee Award for Political Satire in 2010. He received a NAACP Image Award for the 2003 film The Fighting Temptations.
Lynn has directed numerous films, including:
...a new stage version of 'Yes, Prime Minister' (expertly directed by Lynn, at the Gielgud, in London)...