Potter may have written his own biography. Who knows?

Leave the fatalistic shoulder-shrugging to me, IF you don't mind. Next!

I OFTEN get queries from readers about the arts, such as "Can you suggest a good musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber?" or, "All right, what kind can you suggest then?", and I always pass these queries straight on to my resident expert, the veteran showbiz observer Nat West. He is here again today to deal with the current crop of most-asked questions. Take it away, Nat!

I have noticed that Dennis Potter is in the news again, despite being dead. There is a book out about him by Humphrey Carpenter and there are TV profiles of him... why is this all suddenly happening? I mean, it is not happening about Robert Bolt, or anyone else who has recently died, is it?

Nat West writes: Well, you have to remember that Dennis Potter spent the last year of his life knowing he was about to die and writing non- stop TV dramas to fill up the next 20 years of broadcasting, so he probably spent a week or two writing all these tributes as well. Maybe he wrote the Humphrey Carpenter book, too. Who knows?

I have noticed little newspaper stories recently saying `Potter family up in arms over Carpenter book' or words to that effect. What was all that about?

Nat West writes: I expect these were newspaper stories written by Dennis Potter before he died. He liked to plan everything like that, you know. Who can tell?

This Humphrey Carpenter chap: I've seen him on TV and heard him on the radio and he seems to be a jolly, inoffensive, quite enthusiastic sort of a chap. Indeed, he seems to play the bass saxophone as well, which shows a kind of muscular innocence. Yet whenever he produces a biography, there's always a whiff of danger and controversy about it. Benjamin Britten, Ezra Pound, Robert Runcie, now Dennis Potter. Is it because Carpenter is drawn to dangerous subjects? Or because he knows how to make them dangerous?

Nat West writes: No. It is more likely that his publisher has a good publicity department. Who knows?

Why do you keep emitting those little questions such as `Who knows?' and `Who can tell?'

Nat West writes: Shall we ever know?

Just tell us.

Nat West writes: This is designed to impart a slightly Jewish world-weariness to my gnomic statements. And the next!

I wonder if you could offer me some advice. I am running a very successful opera house in central London, but it is losing millions of pounds a year. What should I do? Nat West writes: Sell to Murdoch.

Why would Rupert Murdoch want to buy the Royal Opera House?

Nat West writes: Well, come to that, why would he want to buy The Times?

Who can say?

Nat West writes: Leave the fatalistic shoulder-shrugging to me, if you don't mind. And the next!

I would very much like to be an announcer on Radio 3, as I can pronounce `Janacek' correctly and don't like hard work. Can you advise me?

Nat West writes: Well, now, one thing you will have to have is an Irish accent. Just as it is becoming mandatory to have a Scottish accent if you are presenting current affairs and to be called Gordon or Kirsty if possible, so it is becoming obligatory to have an Irish accent for culture. In the old days an Irish accent in a broadcaster meant having the common touch, being a man of the people - Eamonn Andrews, Terry Wogan, and so on. Nowadays there is a cultural overtone to an Irish voice. Anthony Clare, being in charge of psychiatry... Sean Rafferty being drafted into Radio 3... Tom Paulin on late-night culture... Henry Kelly masterminding Classic FM...

Where does Frank Delaney fit into all this?

Nat West writes: Where indeed?

What about the Welsh accent? How does it fit into your scenario?

Nat West writes: How indeed?

The other day in `The Spectator' I noticed the poet Hugo Williams starting an open season on the universally loved Seamus Heaney. Not loved by Williams, it has to be said, who much prefers Larkin and poured cold water on Heaney's fame. The implication of what he said was that you couldn't really trust a man who had won the Nobel Prize - he was too establishment. What do you feel about all this?

Nat West writes: Well, I am reminded of what Erik Satie said when Ravel was offered - and accepted - the Legion of Honour.

What did he say?

Nat West writes: He said that even if Ravel had accepted the Legion of Honour, all his works had rejected it.

Sounds very clever, but what does it mean?

Nat West writes: Who can say?

Arts and Entertainment
Blackman: Landscape of children’s literature does not reflect the cultural diversity of young people
booksMalorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Arts and Entertainment
'Eminem's recovery from substance abuse has made him a more potent performer, with physical charisma and energy he never had before'
musicReview: Wembley Stadium ***
Arts and Entertainment
‘Dawn of Planet of the Apes’ also looks set for success in the Chinese market

film
News
Arts and Entertainment
The successful ITV drama Broadchurch starring David Tenant and Olivia Coleman came to an end tonight

tv
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Chocolat author Joanne Harris has spoken about the financial struggles most authors face

books
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from How To Train Your Dragon 2

Review: Imaginative storytelling returns with vigour

film
Arts and Entertainment
Josh Hutcherson, Donald Sutherland and Jena Malone in Mockinjay: Part 1

film
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Characters in the new series are based on real people, say its creators, unlike Arya and Clegane the Dog in ‘Game of Thrones’
tv
Arts and Entertainment
A waxwork of Jane Austen has been unveiled at The Jane Austen Centre in Bath

books
Arts and Entertainment
Britney Spears has been caught singing without Auto-Tune

music
Arts and Entertainment
Unless films such as Guardians of the Galaxy, pictured, can buck the trend, this summer could be the first in 13 years that not a single Hollywood blockbuster takes $300m

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Miley Cyrus has her magic LSD brain stolen in this crazy video produced with The Flaming Lips

music
Arts and Entertainment
Gay icons: Sesame Street's Bert (right) and Ernie

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Singer Robin Thicke and actress Paula Patton

music
Arts and Entertainment
The new film will be shot in the same studios as the Harry Potter films

books
Arts and Entertainment
Duncan Bannatyne left school at 15 and was still penniless at 29

Bannatyne leaves Dragon's Den

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The French economist Thomas Piketty wrote that global inequality has worsened

books
Arts and Entertainment
David Tennant and Benedict Cumberbatch

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Affleck plays a despondent Nick Dunne in David Fincher's 'Gone Girl'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Pete Doherty (L) and Carl Barât look at the scene as people begin to be crushed

music
Arts and Entertainment

tv
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Super Mario crushes the Messi dream as Germany win the 2014 World Cup in Brazil

    Super Mario crushes the Messi dream

    Germany win the 2014 World Cup in Brazil
    Saharan remains may be evidence of the first race war, 13,000 years ago

    The first race war, 13,000 years ago?

    Saharan remains may be evidence of oldest large-scale armed conflict
    Scientists find early warning system for Alzheimer’s

    Scientists find early warning system for Alzheimer’s

    Researchers hope eye tests can spot ‘biomarkers’ of the disease
    Sex, controversy and schoolgirl schtick

    Meet Japan's AKB48

    Pop, sex and schoolgirl schtick make for controversial success
    In pictures: Breathtaking results of this weekend's 'supermoon'

    Weekend's 'supermoon' in pictures

    The moon appeared bigger and brighter at the weekend
    Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

    How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over northern Iraq

    A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
    The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

    The evolution of Andy Serkis

    First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
    You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

    You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

    Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
    Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

    Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

    Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
    Children's books are too white, says Laureate

    Children's books are too white, says Laureate

    Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
    Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

    Blackest is the new black

    Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
    Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

    Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

    The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
    Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

    Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

    From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
    Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

    Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

    Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
    Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

    Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

    When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor