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.
Is the comedy album making a comeback?comedy
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Secret Cinema: Why were Back to the Future screenings cancelled?
- 2 Christians: The world's most persecuted people
- 3 The secret report that helps Israelis to hide facts
- 4 Thatcher ‘was warned of Tory child sex party claims’
- 5 The Simpsons Family Guy trailer: First look at crossover episode after Comic-Con debut
Secret Cinema: Why were Back to the Future screenings cancelled?
Game of Thrones season 4 blooper reel unveiled at Comic-Con 2014
Fifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral backlash from US parenting groups
Best movies on Netflix UK and US: 32 films that will end your endless scrolling
Doctor Who series 8: Watch Peter Capaldi in new ‘Listen!’ teaser trailer
The secret report that helps Israelis to hide facts
A day in the life of Vladimir Putin: The dictator in his labyrinth
Were 'Poor Doors' added to mixed developments so wealthy residents don't have to go in alongside social housing tenants?
Arizona execution lasts two hours as killer Joseph Wood left 'snorting and gasping' for air
Opponents of Israel's military operation in Gaza are the real enemies of Middle Eastern peace
A new Russian revolution: The cracks are starting to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc