mon 27/09/2021

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theartsdesk Q&A: Writer/Director David Leland

Hilary Whitney David Leland: 'There was a lot of me in Trevor. I was getting rid of a lot of anger in my system about what I went through in terms of education - or lack of it'

David Leland (b 1947) has worked extensively both sides of the Atlantic but he is best known, both as a writer and a director, for his shrewd observations of ordinary people struggling against the constraints and hypocrisy of the accepted social mores of English life in films such as Mona Lisa (1986), Personal Services (1987) and Wish You Were Here (1987). However, it was Made in Britain (1982), a television play written by Leland for Channel 4 and...

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theartsdesk Q&A: Actor Nicholas Parsons

Hilary Whitney Nicholas Parsons in celebratory mode on 'The  Arthur Haynes Show': 'I was taking the role of the straight man to the comedian into a different direction'

Nicholas Parsons has been an actor – he is most adamant that he is first and foremost an actor – for almost 70 years, so it’s not surprising, given the erratic nature of his profession, that he has been obliged to assume a number of alternative guises over the years from leading man to comedy sidekick to quiz master. Yet despite this, he is no chameleon. He has somehow managed to pull off the trick of being supremely adaptable whilst remaining resolutely true to himself – you’ll never catch...

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theartsdesk Q&A: Actor Christopher Eccleston

Hilary Whitney

Christopher Eccleston’s performances have a raw-boned, visceral quality which makes him a sometimes unsettling - but always compelling - actor to watch.

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Q&A Special: Writer John Sullivan, 1946-2011

theartsdesk

Comedy writer John Sullivan has died aged 64, writes Adam Sweeting, after spending six weeks in intensive care battling viral pneumonia. The creator of several hit comedy series for the BBC, Sullivan is guaranteed immortality for his masterpiece, Only Fools and Horses, which ran from 1981 to 2002. Featuring the escapades of the wide-boy south-London brothers, Rodney and Del Boy Trotter (Nicholas Lyndhurst and David Jason), it became one of the best-loved...

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theartsdesk Q&A: Artist/Dramatist John Byrne

graeme Thomson

"I’m very hard to categorise,” says John Byrne (b 1940), tugging at his magnificent moustache. A restless, defiant, shape-shifting polymath who was an exponent of multimedia long before computers ruled the world, Byrne's singular career is perhaps doomed to gentle underappreciation simply because he can do so much so well. “If you’re hard to categorise they don’t like that." He peers into his coffee as though looking for something. "Whoever 'they' are.”

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theartsdesk Q&A: Author Michael Dibdin

Jasper Rees

“There is a sense I very much get about this place. Italians know what life is for and they know it won’t last very long. And so they take advantage. I like that. Particularly at my age.” The last of several times I interviewed the British crime writer Michael Dibdin (1947-2007) was four years before his death. It was a freezing February morning in Bologna, where he was researching the 10th and (it turned out) penultimate book in the Aurelio Zen series. The interview was at 9am.

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theartsdesk Q&A: Actress Eileen Atkins

Jasper Rees

Eileen Atkins (b 1934) acquired long-overdue fame with her performance in the BBC adaptation of Elizabeth Gaskell’s Cranford. Her desiccated spinster was the indisputed star turn until death did us part. It’s taken a while. Aside from half a century’s commitment to the classics and new plays, unlike the other more celebrated DBEs she has had a parallel career as a writer. There have been two plays about Virginia Woolf, as well as a screenplay of Mrs Dalloway.

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Q&A Special: Actor Derek Jacobi

Jasper Rees

Derek Jacobi (b 1938) grew up in Leytonstone. His father was a tobacconist, his mother worked in a department store. Although he entered the profession in the great age of social mobility in the early 1960s, no one could have predicted that he would go on to play so many English kings - Edward II, a couple of Henry VIIIs and Shakespeare’s two Richards - as well as a Spanish one in Don Carlos. This month he prepares to play another king of Albion: Lear, against which all classical...

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Debate: Should Theatre Be On Television?

theartsdesk Get thee to an edit suite: David Tennant's RSC Hamlet on screen with Mariah Gale as Ophelia

The relationship between stage and screen has always been fraught with antagonism and suspicion. One working in two dimensions, the other in three, they don't speak the same visual language. But recent events have helped to eat away at the status quo. On the one hand, theatre has grown increasingly intrigued by the design properties of film. Flat screens have popped up all over the place, notably in Katie Mitchell’s National shows and at the more ambitious work of the ENO. Meanwhile,...

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theartsdesk Q&A: Comedian Ben Elton

Jasper Rees

Ten years ago Ben Elton (b 1959) would have needed no introduction. When still very young he became the mouth of a bolshy new generation of alternative comedians, as they were then known. Saturday Live - later Friday Night Live - was consciously modelled on the American template, and seemed very cutting edge. In fact all its alumni soon migrated to the mainstream: Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie, freshly down from Cambridge, played Jeeves and Wooster.

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