Book Review: Spoken Word
Saturday 31 July 1999
Presented by Sheridan Morley
BBC, c.3hrs, pounds 8.99
THERE COULD be few more richly endowed subjects for an "audio biography" than Sir Noel Coward. This excellent production, a centenary tribute to "the Master", has been edited down from A Talent to Amuse, a series first broadcast in 1975. Besides being an extraordinary story, it is an unparalleled gallery of theatrical talents. Celia Johnson, Edith Evans, John Mills, Terence Rattigan and Sybil Thorndike are among interviewees. Jessie Matthews's contribution touchingly points out how full of love Coward's plays are, for all that he felt incapable of any such emotion. But it is Coward himself who steals the show. You too will be Mad about the Boy.
Private Lives & Hay Fever
BBC, c.3hrs, pounds 8.99
AN APPROPRIATE accompaniment to Sheridan Morley's audio-biography is this pairing of Coward's best known and most tantrum-filled plays. Private Lives, the story of a divorced couple who meet again while each are on honeymoon with a new partner, was Coward and Gertie Lawrence's most famous theatrical vehicle. As such, it has always proved a challenge for other actors. Stephen Fry and Imogen Stubbs cope better than most could have done with their ultimately thankless parts. Hay Fever, with its timeless theme of family in-fighting, works much better. Judi Dench is magnificent as the ludicrously theatrical Judith Bliss, and Michael Williams plays up to her with imperturbable resilience.
Final Top Gear reviewTV
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Isis propaganda video shows 25 Syrian soldiers executed by teenage militants in Palmyra
- 2 Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
- 3 The map showing the most dangerous tourist destinations in Europe, according to the Foreign Office
- 4 The biggest first date turnoff has been revealed
- 5 German man found living with 300 rats in tiny apartment
More Britons believe that multiculturalism makes the country worse - not better, says poll
Nathan Collier: Montana man inspired by same-sex marriage ruling requests right to wed two wives
Greece crisis: IMF was pushed around by Angela Merkel and Nicholas Sarkozy – and now it is being humiliated
'I wish the BBC would stop calling it Islamic State' – David Cameron unleashes frustration at broadcaster
Forget little green men – aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert
Girl, 7, stares down hate preacher at Ohio festival with pro-LGBT rainbow flag gesture