Deborah Warner must feel baffled, as do I, that her thrilling National Theatre production of Richard the Second, with the inspired casting of Fiona Shaw as the king, failed to win any awards in Britain. But the dream team of Warner and Shaw have at last some laurels to rest on. Though ignored by their own country's prizegivers, they have scooped the prestigious French critics' award for best foreign production. I only hope it does not mean that Ms Warner, who has spent rather a lot of time in Paris recently, intends to follow in the footsteps of Peter Brook and take permanent French leave.
Virginia Bottomley, Secretary of State for Heritage, has a bullish new lobbyist to contend with, and one whose face will be familiar to her. Stewart Steven, the former editor of the London Evening Standard, has been elected chairman of the National Campaign for the Arts advisory council. Their first meeting could be a psychologically testing one for them both. Where once Mrs Bottomley was all charm, flattery and offers of gin and tonics, now it will be a quick five minutes and referral to a civil servant. On second thoughts, perhaps it will only be Mr Steven who is psychologically tested.
Forced smiles all round can be expected at the party being thrown by the BBC World Service programme Outlook next month. Chief guests are John Birt, Director-General of the BBC, and John Tusa, head of the Barbican Centre, former head of the World Service and outspoken and eloquent critic of John Birt.