Born in 1934, Neville Jason trained at RADA where he was awarded the diction prize by Sir John Gielgud. His first appearance in the theatre was in Peter Brook’s production of Titus Andronicus starring Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh. He was a member of the Old Vic Company, the English Stage Company, the Royal Shakespeare Company and the Birmingham Repertory Company. In addition, Neville appeared in numerous musicals, including Kiss Me Kate and Irma La Douce.
Television appearances included Maigret, Dr Who, Hamlet, Crime and Punishment, Dixon of Dock Green, When the Boat Comes In, Minder, Dempsey and Makepeace, and Windmill Near a Frontier. Amongst his film work was the Bond movie From Russia With Love. He was a member of the BBC Radio Drama Company three times, and was often heard in radio plays, documentaries and arts programmes.
Neville began his association with Naxos AudioBooks in the very early days of the label and was a prolific contributor to its output. Perhaps most notable was his Remembrance of Things Past by his beloved Proust, but his readings extended to the literary classics of Russia (War and Peace; Evgenii Onegin) and England (The Once and Future King and Far from the Madding Crowd). His work for Naxos was recognised on several occasions: as a director, he won Talkie Awards for Great Expectations and Poets of the Great War; and as a reader, he won AudioFile Earphone Awards for The Captive, Time Regained, The Once and Future King and War and Peace (Best Audiobooks of the Year 2007 and 2009).
Nicolas Soames, former Publisher of Naxos AudioBooks, has fond memories of his time working with Neville. ‘Over two decades of close association I had nothing but complete admiration for Neville and his craft as a reader. The sheer range of subjects among the 60 recordings he read for Naxos AudioBooks showed his versatility and his impeccable preparation. However, there is no doubt that he will be remembered particularly for his recordings of Proust, where his urbane, measured, insightful performances, sustained over 120 hours in the unabridged version, have resulted in one of the greatest audiobook landmarks of all time. It truly was a privilege to be involved in this momentous, unmatched achievement.’
Shortly before his death, Neville recorded The Periodic Table by Primo Levi, an idea for audiobook that he himself had suggested. Happily, he was able to hear the edited recording during his final days.
Our sympathy goes to his wife, Gillian, and his family.