#1 Gone Too Soon: Remembering the Unforgettable Kit Hesketh-Harvey, the Master of Laughter and Music

Background of Kit Hesketh-Harvey

Kit Hesketh-Harvey, the multi-talented British composer, screenwriter, and performer has died at the age of 65. Throughout his long and multifaceted career, Kit Hesketh-Harvey worked in various industries, including theatre, television, music, and film. He made a name for himself in the entertainment industry and was known for his work on several BBC shows, including the popular sitcom “The Vicar of Dibley.” He was also part of the cabaret duo Kit and the Widow with pianist Richard Sisson until 2012.

Childhood in Malawi

Born in Nyasaland (now Malawi), Kit Hesketh-Harvey was educated at Canterbury Cathedral and Tonbridge School in Kent. He went on to study English literature at Clare College, Cambridge and was a member of the Footlights drama club. Later, he studied under Stephen Sondheim during his visiting professorship at Oxford University. Kit was a talented lyricist with a great knowledge of classical music and opera. In 2010, he wrote a piece for the Guardian about the challenges he faced while working on a script for “Monteverdi’s Flying Circus,” a stage show about the father of modern opera’s final days.

Marriage to Catherine Rabett

A 2004 photo of Hesketh-Harvey and his then wife Catherine Rabett, taken by Judy Totton and sourced from REX/Shutterstock.

Kit was married to actor Catherine Rabett until their divorce in 2021 after 35 years of marriage. They had two children, Augusta and Rollo. He was the brother of former Today editor Sarah Sands, who described him as “dazzling” and “clever, original, funny, and kind.” Kit Hesketh-Harvey was an old-style Vaudevillian, keeping the spirit of Noël Coward alive while also stepping into the caustic territory of Barry Humphries. He always celebrated quintessentially English humor, self-deprecating yet biting, and his originality set him apart from others.

Kit’s version of Gilbert and Sullivan’s “A Policeman’s Lot Is Not a Happy One” was a critique of modern-day policing, delivered with a smile that could take a few seconds for the social comment in his lyrics to strike home. He was much more than just a performer with an infectious stage presence. Kit Hesketh-Harvey played a crucial role in launching Hugh Grant’s career with his script for the film “Maurice,” an adaptation of the EM Forster novel. He was also an unsung hero in his work on the scripts of “The Vicar of Dibley.”

Performances and Personality

Sadly, there is very little of Kit’s performances available online, but the memories of his friends and audiences will have to serve as a testament to his originality. One of his most memorable performances was his rendition of Abba’s “Fernando,” rewritten in honor of a well-known chicken restaurant. To Abba’s tune, he would begin: “It’s extremely cheap at Nando’s, they’ve got an uber-friendly waiting staff to put you at your ease.” The chorus went: “There was something in the food that night that wasn’t right at Nando’s.” He would involve the audience by fixing someone with a stare and making a joke about them.


In conclusion, Kit Hesketh-Harvey was a versatile performer who made a significant impact in the entertainment industry. He was a talented lyricist, screenwriter, and performer whose originality set him apart from others. The world has lost a true artist and entertainer, and he will be remembered for his contributions to the arts.

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