Hugh Laurie

Hugh Laurie

Laurie in 2009
Born James Hugh Calum Laurie
(1959-06-11) 11 June 1959
Oxford, England
Nationality English
Education Dragon School
Eton College
Alma mater Selwyn College, Cambridge
Occupation Actor, writer, director, musician, singer, comedian, author
Years active 1981–present
Spouse(s) Jo Green (m. 1989)
Children 3
Hugh Laurie's voice
Recorded June 2013 from the BBC Radio 4 programme Desert Island Discs

James Hugh Calum Laurie OBE (/ˌhjuː ˈlɒri/; born 11 June 1959), is an English actor, writer, director, musician, singer, comedian, and author. He first became known as one-half of the Fry and Laurie double act with his friend and comedy partner Stephen Fry, whom he joined in the cast of A Bit of Fry & Laurie, Blackadder, and Jeeves and Wooster in the 1980s and 1990s.

From 2004 to 2012, he played Dr. Gregory House, the title character of House, for which he received two Golden Globe Awards and two Screen Actors Guild Awards. Laurie was listed in the 2011 Guinness World Records as the most watched leading man on television and was one of the highest-paid actors in a television drama, earning £250,000 ($409,000) per episode in House.[1][2]

Early life

Laurie was born in Oxford.[3] The youngest of four children, he has an older brother named Charles Alexander Lyon Mundell Laurie[3] and two older sisters named Susan and Janet.[4][5] He had a strained relationship with his mother, Patricia (née Laidlaw).[3][3][6] He notes that his mother "was Presbyterian by character, by mood"[3] and that he was "a frustration to her... she didn't like me".[3] His father, William George Ranald Mundell Laurie, was a doctor who also won an Olympic gold medal in the coxless pairs (rowing) at the 1948 London Games.[3][7]

Laurie's parents, who were of Scottish descent, attended St. Columba's Presbyterian Church of England (now United Reformed Church)[8] in Oxford.[9][10][11] He notes that "belief in God didn't play a large role in my home, but a certain attitude to life and the living of it did".[3] He followed this by stating, "pleasure was something that was treated with great suspicion, pleasure was something that... I was going to say it had to be earned but even the earning of it didn't really work. It was something to this day, I mean, I carry that with me. I find pleasure a difficult thing; I don't know what you do with it, I don't know where to put it."[3] He has stated, "I don't believe in God, but I have this idea that if there were a God, or destiny of some kind looking down on us, that if he saw you taking anything for granted he'd take it away".[12]


Laurie was brought up in Oxford and attended the Dragon School from ages seven to 13 and notes that he "was, in truth, a horrible child. Not much given to things of a bookey nature, [he] spent a large part of [his] youth smoking Number Six and cheating in French vocabulary tests."[13]

Laurie went on to Eton College, which he describes as "the most private of private schools."[3] He attributes his attending Selwyn College, Cambridge, as "a result of family tradition" as his "father went to Cambridge and I applied to the same college."[3] Laurie notes his father had a successful bout as an oarsman at Cambridge and that he was "trying to follow in his father's footsteps."[3] He studied for a degree in archaeology and anthropology, specialising in social anthropology.[14]

A building in the Tudor style with a courtyard in front
Eton College: Laurie's alma mater

Like his father, Laurie was an oarsman at school and university;[3] in 1977, he was a member of the junior coxed pair that won the British national title before representing Britain's Youth Team at the 1977 Junior World Rowing Championships. In 1980, Laurie and his rowing partner, J.S. Palmer, were runners-up in the Silver Goblets[15] coxless pairs for Eton Vikings rowing club.

Later, Laurie also achieved a Blue while taking part in the 1980 Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race.[16] Cambridge lost that year by five feet.[17] During this time, Laurie was training for up to eight hours a day and was on course to become an Olympic-standard rower.[18] Laurie is a member of Leander Club, one of the oldest rowing clubs in the world. He was also a member of the Hermes Club and the Hawks' Club.[3]

Acting career

Forced to abandon rowing during a bout of glandular fever (mononucleosis), Laurie joined the Cambridge Footlights,[19] the university dramatic club that has produced many well-known actors and comedians. There he met Emma Thompson, with whom he had a romantic relationship; the two remain good friends.[3] She introduced him to his future comedy partner, Stephen Fry. Laurie, Fry and Thompson later parodied themselves as the University Challenge representatives of "Footlights College, Oxbridge" in "Bambi", an episode of The Young Ones, with the series' co-writer Ben Elton completing their team.

In 1980–81, his final year at university, besides rowing, Laurie was president of the Footlights, with Thompson as vice-president. They took their annual revue, The Cellar Tapes, to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and won the first Perrier Comedy Award. The revue was written principally by Laurie and Fry, and the cast also included Thompson, Tony Slattery, Paul Shearer and Penny Dwyer. He states that he did not graduate from Cambridge.[3] The Perrier Award led to a West End transfer for The Cellar Tapes and a television version of the revue, broadcast in May 1982. It resulted in Laurie, Fry and Thompson being selected, along with Ben Elton, Robbie Coltrane and Siobhan Redmond to write and appear in a new sketch comedy show for Granada Television, Alfresco, which ran for two series.

Fry and Laurie went on to work together on various projects throughout the 1980s and 1990s. Among them were the Blackadder series, written by Ben Elton and Richard Curtis, starring Rowan Atkinson, with Laurie in various roles, but most notably Prince George and Lieutenant George.[3] Other projects followed, of which one was their BBC sketch comedy series A Bit of Fry & Laurie; another project was Jeeves and Wooster,[3] an adaptation of P. G. Wodehouse's stories, in which Laurie played Jeeves's employer, the amiable twit Bertie Wooster. He and Fry worked together at various charity stage events, such as Hysteria! 1, 2 & 3 and Amnesty International's The Secret Policeman's Third Ball, Comic Relief TV shows and the variety show Fry and Laurie Host a Christmas Night with the Stars. They collaborated again on the film Peter's Friends and came together for a retrospective show in 2010 titled Fry and Laurie Reunited.

Laurie starred in the Thames Television film Letters from a Bomber Pilot (1985) directed by David Hodgson. This was a serious acting role, the film being dramatised from the letters home of Pilot Officer J.R.A. "Bob" Hodgson, a pilot in RAF Bomber Command, who was killed in action in 1943.[20]

Laurie appeared in the music videos for the 1986 single "Experiment IV" by Kate Bush, and the 1992 Annie Lennox single "Walking on Broken Glass" in British Regency period costume alongside John Malkovich.[21] In 1998, Laurie had a brief guest-starring role on Friends in "The One with Ross's Wedding".

Laurie's later film appearances include Sense and Sensibility (1995), adapted by and starring Emma Thompson; the Disney live-action film 101 Dalmatians (1996), where he played Jasper, one of the bumbling criminals hired to kidnap the puppies; Elton's adaptation of his novel Inconceivable, Maybe Baby (2000); Girl from Rio; the 2004 remake of The Flight of the Phoenix'

Since 2002, Laurie has appeared in a range of British television dramas, guest-starring that year in two episodes of the first season of the spy thriller series Spooks on BBC One. In 2003, he starred in and also directed ITV's comedy-drama series fortysomething (in one episode of which Stephen Fry appears). In 2001, he voiced the character of a bar patron in the Family Guy episode "One If by Clam, Two If by Sea". Laurie voiced the character of Mr. Wolf in the cartoon Preston Pig. He was a panellist on the first episode of QI, alongside Fry as host. In 2004, Laurie guest-starred as a professor in charge of a space probe called Beagle, on The Lenny Henry Show.

Between 2004 and 2012 he starred as the acerbic physician specialising in diagnostic medicine, Dr. Gregory House in the popular Fox medical drama House. For his portrayal, Laurie assumed an American accent.[3] Laurie was in Namibia filming Flight of the Phoenix and recorded the audition tape for the show in the bathroom of the hotel, the only place he could get enough light.[22] While working on Flight of the Phoenix, Jacob Vargas operated the camera to shoot Laurie's audition tape for House. Laurie's American accent was so convincing that executive producer Bryan Singer, who was unaware at the time that Laurie was British, pointed to him as an example of just the kind of compelling American actor he had been looking for.[22] Laurie also adopted the accent between takes on the set of House,[23] as well as during script read-throughs, although he used his native accent when directing the House episode "Lockdown".[23] Laurie also served as director for the episode "The C-Word" of the show's final season.[24]

Laurie was nominated for an Emmy Award[25] for his role in House in 2005. Although he did not win, he did receive a Golden Globe in both 2006 and 2007 for his work on the series and the Screen Actors Guild award in 2007 and 2009. Laurie was also awarded a large increase in salary, from what was rumoured to be a mid-range five-figure sum to $350,000 per episode. Laurie was not nominated for the 2006 Emmys, apparently to the outrage of Fox executives,[26] but he still appeared in a scripted, pre-taped intro, where he parodied his House character by rapidly diagnosing host Conan O'Brien and then proceeded to grope him as the latter asked him for help to get to the Emmys on time. He would later go on to speak in French while presenting an Emmy with Dame Helen Mirren, and has since been nominated in 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011.

Laurie was initially cast as Perry White, the editor of the Daily Planet, in Singer's film Superman Returns but had to bow out of the project because of his involvement in House. In July 2006, Laurie appeared on Inside the Actors Studio, where he also performed one of his own comic songs, "Mystery", accompanying himself on the piano.[3] He hosted NBC's Saturday Night Live, in which he appeared in drag in a sketch about a man (Kenan Thompson) with a broken leg who accuses his doctor of being dishonest. Laurie played the man's wife.

In August 2007, Laurie appeared on BBC Four's documentary Stephen Fry: 50 Not Out, filmed in celebration of Fry’s 50th birthday. In 2008, he took part in Blackadder Rides Again and appeared as Captain James Biggs in Street Kings, opposite Keanu Reeves and Forest Whitaker, and then in 2009 as the eccentric Dr. Cockroach, PhD in DreamWorks' Monsters vs. Aliens. He also hosted Saturday Night Live for the second time on the Christmas show in which he sang a medley of three-second Christmas songs to close his monologue. In 2009, Laurie returned to guest star in another Family Guy episode, "Business Guy", parodying Gregory House. In 2010, Laurie guest starred in The Simpsons "Treehouse of Horror XXI" as Roger, a castaway who is planning a murder scheme on a ship during Homer and Marge's second honeymoon.[27]

On 8 February 2012, Fox announced that season eight of House would be the last. On 13 June 2012, the media announced that Laurie was in negotiations to play the villain in RoboCop, a remake of the original RoboCop film.[28] These negotiations ultimately fell through and Laurie passed on the project.[29] In 2012, Laurie starred in an independent feature called The Oranges that had a limited release. The New York Post felt that he was "less-than-ideally cast" in the role of a dad who has an affair with his neighbour's daughter, played by Leighton Meester.[30] The Star-Ledger, Newark NJ, thought that he was "particularly good".[31]

He played the villain David Nix in Brad Bird's 2015 film Tomorrowland.[32] Laurie played Richard Onslow Roper in the BBC 1 mini-series The Night Manager. The series started filming in spring 2015 and aired first on the BBC.[33] He currently stars as Dr. Eldon Chance, a San Francisco-based forensic neuropsychiatrist in the Hulu thriller series Chance.[34]

Music career

Hugh Laurie performing at the Montreux Jazz Festival

Laurie took piano lessons from the age of six.[35] He sings and plays piano, guitar, drums, harmonica and saxophone. He has displayed his musical talents throughout his acting career, most notably on A Bit of Fry & Laurie, Jeeves and Wooster, House and when he hosted Saturday Night Live in October 2006. He is a vocalist and keyboard player for the Los Angeles charity rock group Band From TV.

Additionally, following Meat Loaf's appearance in the House episode "Simple Explanation", Laurie played piano as a special guest on the song "If I Can't Have You" from Meat Loaf's 2010 album Hang Cool Teddy Bear. Laurie co-wrote and performed the humorous blues song, "Sperm Test in the Morning", in the film Maybe Baby.[36]

On House, Laurie played several classic rock 'n roll instruments including Gibson Flying V and Les Paul guitars. His character has a Hammond B-3 organ in his home and on one episode performed the introduction to Procol Harum's classic "Whiter Shade of Pale".[37]

On 26 July 2010, it was announced that Laurie would be releasing a blues album after signing a contract with Warner Bros. Records.[38] The album, called Let Them Talk, was released in France on 18 April 2011 and in Germany on 29 April. The album features collaborations from well-known artists such as Tom Jones, Irma Thomas and Dr. John.

On 1 May 2011, Laurie and a jazz quintet closed the 2011 Cheltenham Jazz Festival to great acclaim.[39]

On 15 May 2011, Laurie was the subject of the ITV series Perspectives, explaining his love for the music of New Orleans and playing music, from his album Let Them Talk, at studios and live venues in the city itself.[35] He was the subject of PBS Great Performances Let them Talk, also about New Orleans jazz, first broadcast on 30 September 2011.[40]

His second album, Didn't It Rain, was released in the UK on 6 May 2013.[41] In the same year he played at the RMS Queen Mary together with his band. This concert was filmed and later released as "Live on the Queen Mary" on DVD and Blu-ray.


In 1996, Laurie's first novel, The Gun Seller, an intricate thriller laced with Wodehouseian humour, was published and became a best-seller.[3] He has since been working on the screenplay for a film version. His second novel, The Paper Soldier, was scheduled for September 2009, but has yet to appear.

Personal life

Laurie's mother, Patricia (née Laidlaw), died from motor neurone disease in Oxfordshire at the age of 73, in 1989, when Laurie was 30. According to Laurie, she endured the disease for two years; and she suffered "painful, plodding paralysis" while being cared for by Laurie's father, whom he called "the sweetest man in the whole world".[5]

Laurie married theatre administrator Jo Green on 16 June 1989, in Camden, London.[42] They lived in Belsize Park, North London,[43] with sons Charles (b. 1988) and William (b. 1991) and daughter Rebecca (b. 1992).[44] In July 2008, Laurie bought a mansion in Hollywood,[45] as they had planned to move the whole family to Los Angeles, because of the strain of being mostly separated for nine months each year,[44] but ultimately decided against it.[46] When he bought the mansion, he claimed he was in "virtual isolation" from his family.[45]

Eldest son Charlie played a cameo part in A Bit of Fry & Laurie, in the last sketch of the episode, entitled "Special Squad", as baby William. Stephen and Hugh begin to "interrogate" the baby about "what he's done with the stuff", calling him a scumbag and telling him that he's been a very naughty boy. Daughter Rebecca had a role in the film Wit as five-year-old Vivian Bearing. Laurie's best friend, long-time comedy partner Stephen Fry, was best man at his wedding and is godfather to his children.[47]

On 23 May 2007, Laurie was awarded the Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE), in the 2007 New Year Honours, for services to drama.[48][49][50][51] While appearing on Inside the Actors Studio in 2006, Laurie discussed his struggle with severe clinical depression.[3] He told host James Lipton that he first concluded he had a problem whilst driving in a charity demolition derby, during which he realised that seeing two cars collide and explode in front of him caused him to be neither excited nor frightened, but bored. He continues to have regular sessions with his psychotherapist.[3][6] "Boredom," he commented, "is not an appropriate response to exploding cars."[3]

Laurie admires the writings of P. G. Wodehouse, explaining in a 27 May 1999 article in The Daily Telegraph how reading Wodehouse novels had saved his life.[52]

In an interview in The Daily Telegraph, Laurie confirmed his atheism.[53] He is also an avid motorcycle enthusiast. He has two motorbikes, one at his London home and one at his Los Angeles home. His bike in the US is a Triumph Bonneville, his "feeble attempt to fly the British flag".[54]

In March 2012, Laurie was made an Honorary Fellow of his alma mater Selwyn College, Cambridge.[55][56] In June 2013 he was the guest on BBC Radio 4's Desert Island Discs when he chose Joe Cocker ("The Letter"), Sister Rosetta Tharpe ("My Journey to the Sky"), Randy Newman ("Louisiana 1927"), Professor Longhair ("Go to the Mardi Gras"), Son House ("Grinnin' in Your Face"), Nina Simone ("I Wish I Knew How It Would Be to Be Free"), Lester Young–Buddy Rich Trio ("I Cover the Waterfront") and Van Morrison ("Brown Eyed Girl")[57] as his eight favourite discs. This was his second appearance on the show, having previously been a 'castaway' in 1996, when he chose tracks by Muddy Waters, Max Bruch, the Rolling Stones, Frank Sinatra with Count Basie, Ian Dury and the Blockheads, Erich Wolfgang Korngold and Van Morrison.[58] In October 2016 he was awarded a star on Hollywood Walk of Fame.[59]


Television roles

Year Title Role Notes
1981 Cellar Tapes, TheThe Cellar Tapes Various characters Writer
1982 Nothing to Worry About!, There'sThere's Nothing to Worry About! Various characters Writer
1983 Alfresco Various characters Writer
1983 Crystal Cube, TheThe Crystal Cube Various characters
1984 Young Ones, TheThe Young Ones Lord Monty Episode: "Bambi"
1985 Letters from a Bomber Pilot Pilot Officer Bob Hodgson
1985 Mrs. Capper's Birthday Bobby
1985 Happy Families Jim
1986 Blackadder II Simon Partridge Episode: "Beer"
Prince Ludwig the Indestructible Episode: "Chains"
1987 Filthy Rich & Catflap N'Bend
1987 Blackadder the Third George, Prince of Wales, The Prince Regent
1988 Blackadder's Christmas Carol Prince George
1989 Blackadder Goes Forth Lt. the Honourable George Colhurst St. Barleigh
1989 New Statesman, TheThe New Statesman Waiter
1989–95 Bit of Fry & Laurie, AA Bit of Fry & Laurie Various Characters Writer
1990–93 Jeeves and Wooster Bertie Wooster
1993 All or Nothing at All Leo Hopkins
1996 Tracey Takes On... Timothy Bugge Season 1
1998 Friends Gentleman on the Plane Episode: "The One with Ross's Wedding (part 2)"
1998 Bill, TheThe Bill Harrap
2000 Randall and Hopkirk Dr. Lawyer Episode: "Mental Apparition Disorder"
2002 Strange Case of Penny Allison, TheThe Strange Case of Penny Allison Various Characters
2002 Spooks Jools Siviter
2003 Fortysomething Paul Slippery Directed three episodes
2004 Fire Engine Fred
2004–12 House Dr. Gregory House Directed episodes: "Lockdown" and "The C-Word"
2006 Saturday Night Live Host Season 32, Episode 4
2008 Season 34, Episode 11
2011 Later... with Jools Holland Himself Guest Performance/ Interview
2015–16 Veep[60] Sen. Tom James 14 episodes
2016 The Night Manager Richard Onslow Roper TV miniseries
2016 Chance[61] Dr. Eldon Chance

Film roles

Year Title Role Notes
1985 Plenty Michael
1989 Strapless Colin
1992 Peter's Friends Roger Charleston
1994 Pin for the Butterfly, AA Pin for the Butterfly Uncle
1995 Sense and Sensibility Mr. Palmer
1996 101 Dalmatians Jasper
1997 Spice World Poirot
1997 Borrowers, TheThe Borrowers Police Officer Oliver Steady
1997 Place of Lions, TheThe Place of Lions Steve Harris
1998 Man in the Iron Mask, TheThe Man in the Iron Mask Pierre
1998 Cousin Bette Baron Hector Hulot
1999 Blackadder: Back & Forth Viscount George Bufton-Tufton / Georgius
1999 Stuart Little Frederick Little
2000 Maybe Baby Sam Bell
2001 Girl from Rio Raymond Woods
2001 Life with Judy Garland: Me and My Shadows Vincente Minnelli
2002 Stuart Little 2 Frederick Little
2003 Young Visiter, TheThe Young Visiter Lord Bernard Clark
2004 Flight of the Phoenix Ian
2005 Big Empty, TheThe Big Empty Doctor
2008 Street Kings Captain James Biggs
2011 Oranges, TheThe Oranges David Walling
2012 Mister Pip Mr. Watts[62]
2015 Tomorrowland David Nix

Voice roles

Year Title Role Notes
1993–95 Legends of Treasure Island, TheThe Legends of Treasure Island Squire Trelawney Voice
1997 Ugly Duckling, TheThe Ugly Duckling Tarquin Voice
2000 Preston Pig Mr. Wolf Voice
2000 Carnivale Cenzo Voice
2001 Family Guy Bar Patron Voice
Episode: "One If by Clam, Two If by Sea"
2001 Discovering the Real World of Harry Potter Narrator Voice
2001 Second Star to the Left: A Christmas Tale Archie Voice
2003 Stuart Little: The Animated Series Frederick Little Voice
2005 Valiant Wing Commander Gutsy Voice
2006 Stuart Little 3: Call of the Wild Frederick Little Voice
2009 Monsters vs. Aliens Dr. Cockroach Nominated – Annie Award for Voice Acting in a Feature Production
2009 B.O.B's Big Break Dr. Cockroach Short film
2009 Monsters vs. Aliens: Mutant Pumpkins from Outer Space Dr. Cockroach Voice
2010 Family Guy Gregory House / Himself Voice
Episodes: "Business Guy"
2010 Simpsons, TheThe Simpsons Roger Voice
Episode: "Treehouse of Horror XXI"
2011 Hop Mr. Bunny Voice
2011 Arthur Christmas Steve Voice


Year Title Role Notes
2010 Fry and Laurie Reunited Himself Documentary
2011 Down by the River Himself Documentary
2013 Copper Bottom Blues Himself Documentary

Video games

Year Title Role Notes
2014 LittleBigPlanet 3 Newton[63] Voice



Year Album details Peak chart positions Certifications
(sales thresholds)
US Blues
2011 Let Them Talk 2[75] 37 1 2 8 14 25 26 4 30 16 1
2013 Didn't It Rain
  • Released: 6 May 2013
  • Label: Warner Bros. Records
  • Formats: CD, vinyl, digital download
3 35 10 3 41 21 32 22 3 26 21 1


Year Single Peak chart

2011 "You Don't Know My Mind" 164 47 20 Let Them Talk
"Winin' Boy Blues"
2013 "Wild Honey"[83] 36 Didn't It Rain
Year Single Peak chart
NL Top 40
1993 "Stick It Out" (Right Said Fred and Friends)[85] 4 48 N/A
2010 "If I Can't Have You" (Meat Loaf, featuring Kara DioGuardi & Hugh Laurie)[86] Hang Cool Teddy Bear

Other charting songs

Year Single Charts Album
2011 "St James' Infirmary" 92 Let Them Talk
"Police Dog Blues" 58 39
"Guess I'm A Fool" 67
2013 "Unchain My Heart" 86 Didn't It Rain
"Louisiana Blues" 96
"The St. Louis Blues" 133

Music videos

Year Artist Song Album
1986 Kate Bush Video for "Experiment IV" The Whole Story
1992 Annie Lennox Video for "Walking on Broken Glass" Diva


Year DVD/Blu-ray Notes
2013 Live on the Queen Mary Recorded live 2013 on the RMS Queen Mary together with band


Most of the following are nominations or wins for Laurie's role on House:

Primetime Emmy Award

Year Category Nominated work Result Ref.
2005 Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series House Nominated [92]
2007 Nominated
2008 Nominated
2009 Nominated
2010 Nominated
2011 Nominated
2016 Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie The Night Manager Nominated

Golden Globe Awards

Year Category Nominated work Result Ref.
2006 Best Actor – Television Series Drama House Won
2007 Won
2008 Nominated
2009 Nominated
2010 Nominated
2011 Nominated

Screen Actors Guild Award

Year Category Nominated work Result Ref.
2005 Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series House Nominated
2006 Won
2007 Nominated
2008 Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series Nominated
Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series Nominated
2009 Won
2010 Nominated
2011 Nominated
2015 Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series Veep Nominated

Satellite Awards

Year Category Nominated work Result Ref.
2005 Best Actor – Television Series Drama House Won
2006 Won
2007 Nominated

Television Critics Association Awards

Year Category Nominated work Result Ref.
2005 Individual Achievement in Drama House Won
2006 Won
2007 Nominated
2009 Nominated

Teen Choice Award

Year Category Nominated work Result Ref.
2007 TV Actor: Drama House Won
2011 Nominated

People's Choice Awards

Year Category Nominated work Result Ref.
2009 Favorite Male TV Star House Won [93]
2010 Won
2011 Favorite TV Doctor Won
2011 Favorite TV Drama Actor Won
2012 Nominated

Other awards


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