Cultural Life: Stephen Poliakoff, screenwriter

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The Independent Culture

Television: I don't think we should say TV isn't a cultural experience. The best show is the American Golden Globe-winning TV series Mad Men showing on BBC4. It takes place in a fictional advertising agency on the cusp of 1959/1960. Easily as good as contemporary American theatre easily as good as David Mamet and by far the biggest cultural highlight I've had in any medium for the past couple of years. Interestingly, it is quite slow it has deliberately gone back to the days of a really rich period of American writing basing itself on the works of the writers in the 1950s. The fact it is so successful in the US puts us to shame, really.

Books: I became very addicted to reading historical and modern diaries over the past eight months. I was trying to avoid Alastair Campbell's diaries, but eventually I read them. That was an interesting experience as it felt like being half told everything because they have been heavily edited. When he publishes the original it will be a very interesting portrait of what went on, but at the moment there is so much missing especially the whole relationship with Gordon Brown.I am also reading a historical diary The Duff Cooper Diaries: 1915-1951, which are extraordinarily sexually explicit. The former cabinet minister spends most of his time going to parties, drinking and having sex with an unbelievable amount of people, even while married to a great beauty, Diana Cooper.

Film: The horror film The Orphanage may work better in Spanish and is not as good as The Others. Martin McDonagh's In Bruges is a strikingly audacious film with incredibly long scenes, which interests me as I write long scenes. But the best film I've seen for ages is The Diving Bell and the Butterfly.

Theatre/opera: I don't go to the opera; I'm not naturally attracted to it. The most important cultural event was Peter Hall opening the Rose Theatre in Kingston at the end of January with the production of Uncle Vanya, because it was the birth of a new theatre just a stone's throw from London.

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