SOMEHOW the story has got around that the plum role of the Rev Edward Casaubon in the BBC's Middlemarch (above, left) is being played by Patrick Malahide. We may even have given that impression in these pages. But I can now reveal that the plodding academic who spends so much time with his books is in fact being played by John Tavener, the composer, who had a bestseller in 1991 with The Protecting Veil. On reflection, the casting makes perfect sense. Tavener (above, right, as himself) is a religious man: he is on record as saying that he writes for the glory of God. And as my picture shows, he was also able to help the BBC in its efforts to save money. He needed neither a flowing wig for the back of his head, nor any painstakingly counterfeited baldness for the front. Better still, he was able to film several key scenes in his own sitting-room, thereby saving thousands of pounds of studio time: as my picture shows, Tavener's den is equipped with just the sort of books that Casaubon pores over, and just the sort of lighting that you would choose to emphasise his crepuscular character. The IoS would like to apologise to Mr Tavener, on behalf of the whole of Fleet Street, for failing to spot his contribution earlier, and to congratulate him on the remarkable feat of starring in a major drama serial on BBC2 at the same time as having a festival of his music on Radio 3 (see Today's Radio, page 79).
READERS' solutions to the two mysteries in the plot of The Piano (C&W, 9 Jan) will now appear next Sunday - so many good suggestions have come in that passing them on will take more space than the arts editor usually gives me. Late entries can be faxed up to Tuesday evening (to 071-956 1469).