Alice Jones' Arts Diary: Needless to say, Alan's having the last laugh – back on the TV this time


It's the kind of commission that the North Norfolk Digital DJ has spent his life hoping for: Alan Partridge is to return to television in three new shows on Sky Atlantic.

First up this month is Welcome to the Places of My Life, a Norfolk travelogue. It will be followed in July by Alan Partridge on Open Books with Martin Bryce, in which he will read excerpts from his autobiography; and a rehashing of Mid Morning Matters, a series set behind the scenes of his DJ booth, first broadcast online in 2010. "He's been around for 20 years now and the fiction of Alan is that he's not really changed at all," says Steve Coogan, the man behind Alan. "But looking back at The Day Today it was actually quite crude. A lot of the stuff we thought was funny back then wouldn't really pass muster now. Originally we made him quite 2D in some ways – right wing and intolerant. I find there's more humour in making him attempt to be liberal. He's trying to do the right thing and gets it wrong."

Stage is set for Occupy Edinburgh

Neil LaBute will unveil a new political play at Latitude next month as part of Theatre Uncut. The short drama, a response to Occupy New York, will be given a reading at the festival before travelling to the Edinburgh Fringe for a series of breakfast previews in the Traverse's bar. "It's about people's response to the state of global capitalism", says Emma Callander, co-artistic director of Theatre Uncut. "It's controversial, for sure." David Greig, Anders Lustgarten, Hayley Squires (Vera Vera Vera) and playwrights from Greece, Syria and Egypt have also signed up to write plays on the same topic. After the previews, they will be made available for performance, rights free for a "week of mass theatrical action" in the autumn.

Rushdie sees the funny side of his 10 years hiding from the Ayatollah

Salman Rushdie is preparing to publish Joseph Anton, a memoir of his time living under a fatwa, this autumn. And it seems that reliving the experience in ink has allowed him to see the funny side of his decade in hiding. "It wasn't the first time they didn't like what I'd written. It was just the first time they'd tried to kill me", he said of The Satanic Verses at Hay Festival. "But I wasn't writing for the mullahs. I didn't think they were my target audience." He added: "The only thing worse than a bad review from the Ayatollah Khomeini would be a good review from the Ayatollah Khomeini."

Enough already: Grace McCleen announces her literary retirement

There are myriad ways to get noticed as a novelist, but Grace McCleen's has a certain class. The young writer whose first novel, The Land of Decoration, was published to rave reviews in March used her first appearance at Hay Festival to announce her retirement. "I love music more than books and I will return to it after my last novel is published in 2015", she declared. She aims to finish her last two books in the next few months. "And then I'll be free." Will she miss writing? "No!" So that's that, then.

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