mon 27/09/2021

tv

Maggie Smith: 'If there’s an old bat to play, it’ll be me'

Jasper Rees

Maggie Smith rarely gives interviews. In the week that Downton Abbey's last-ever series episode is broadcast, and she reprises on screen her role in Alan Bennett's The Lady in the Van (pictured below with Alex Jennings), theartsdesk revisits an encounter that took place in Highclere Castle in 2010.

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theartsdesk Q&A: Writer Bernard Cornwell

Barney Harsent

Bernard Cornwell's best-selling Sharpe series, set during the Napoleonic wars, transferred to television with huge success. This week, it’s the turn of his Saxon Stories to make the jump, as the BBC airs its lavish, eight-part drama The Last Kingdom, based on Cornwell's novels.

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10 Questions for Broadcaster Bettany Hughes

Jasper Rees

How do you live a good life? Is wealth a good thing? How do you create a just society? The United Kingdom's electorate recently pondered such questions in the polling booth, and made their decision. The Labour Party is agonising over them as it chooses its next leader. And yet while these anxieties may feel very now, they have deep roots.

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theartsdesk Q&A: Spooks, the movie

Adam Sweeting

During its 10-season run on BBC One between May 2002 and October 2011, Spooks built a lasting reputation as a superior espionage thriller, charting the battle of a squad of MI5 agents to protect the realm against its fiendish and unscrupulous adversaries.

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'Most of the time I play complete losers'

Jasper Rees

The world now knows him as Lord Crawley, stiff-backed in white tie and tails, regimental garb or, for relaxation, tweed. But before he became the face of Downton Abbey – and of bumbling institutional incompetence in Twenty Twelve and W1A – Hugh Bonneville could be seen in roles of considerable depth and range, including a moving Philip Larkin and a brutish husband in the BBC's Daniel Deronda.

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theartsdesk Q&A: Actress MyAnna Buring

Adam Sweeting

There came a moment, around three years ago, when MyAnna Buring suddenly seemed to be in everything. "I'm so sorry!" she shrieks (ironically) when I point this out to her. She had given warning of her arrival by appearing in Ben Wheatley's Kill List and, rather more prominently, as Tanya (who as you'll know was a vegetarian vampire from the Denali coven) in the concluding pair of Twilight films.

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theartsdesk Q&A: Novelist Hilary Mantel

Jasper Rees

Hilary Mantel is a maker of literary history. Wolf Hall, an action-packed 650-page brick of a book about the rise and rise of Thomas Cromwell, won the Man Booker Prize in 2009. Its successor, the just as sturdy Bring Up the Bodies, followed it onto the Booker rostrum three years later - the first sequel ever to win the prize in its 44-year history. Then came the RSC's stage adaptation of both novels, which started in Stratford, proceeded to the West End and this year...

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theartsdesk Q&A: Actress Sofie Gråbøl

Jasper Rees

Sofie Gråbøl as Danish royalty: it hardly stretches credulity. The face of Nordic noir has been a star in her home country ever since appearing in Bille August's Pelle the Conqueror in 1987, but is solely familiar on these shores as Sarah Lund, the jumpered Copenhagen detective from three unmissable series of The Killing.

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theartsdesk Q&A: Writer Jimmy McGovern

Jasper Rees

The black stuff. The phrase was patented in the early 1980s by Alan Bleasdale, Liverpool's other small-screen big hitter. But it could just as well describe the drama that issues from McGovern's imagination, with its dark understanding of the Manichean psyche, its intimacy with the curlicues of Catholic guilt, its knowledge that animal instincts pulse insistently beneath the epidermis we call civility.

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10 Questions for Harry Shearer

Jasper Rees

It is the fate of political leaders to be played by actors. In the circumstances Richard Nixon hasn’t been dealt a bad hand. He has been portrayed by Anthony Hopkins in Oliver Stone’s Nixon, by Frank Langella in Frost/Nixon on stage and screen and by tall handsome Christopher Shyer in Clint Eastwood’s J Edgar. But towering over them all is Harry Shearer, who has been impersonating Tricky Dicky since Nixon was actually president.

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