Cultural Life: Willy Russell, playwright

Interview by Rosie Oram
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The Independent Culture

Music: I loathe jazz. I listen to Radio 4 religiously; where I live in London is terribly noisy so I have it on all night and it keeps me fast asleep. I've been listening recently to Declan O'Rourke, who is fantastic.

Visual: Arts The Van Gogh exhibition at the Royal Academy was brilliant but busy. I found myself a space by one picture and satisfied myself with looking at it for 30 minutes in some incredible depth. On my way to Bob Dylan's exhibition at the Halcyon earlier this year I stumbled upon the Fleming Collection. I should have visited the exhibitions in reverse order; Dylan's efforts were unfairly dwarfed following the breathtaking work of the Scottish Colourists. I recently saw Teaching the Eye to See, the exhibition of the class that I am in at Liverpool's Hope University. I am a true amateur.

Television: I'm contributing to a forthcoming documentary about 'The Royle Family', so I've been re-watching that. It's a reminder of what a potently glorious medium TV can be. There have been some unmissable BBC4 music programmes like 'Rock Britannia'. They continue the BBC's tradition of entertainment and education.

Theatre: Mark Rylance's performance in 'Jerusalem' was toweringly beautiful. I was invited to watch Tamzin Outhwaite's current performance in 'Sweet Charity' (below). She and the band are wonderful and the musical terrifically well directed. I also saw my friend Tim Fountain's 'Dandy in the Underworld', about Sebastian Horsley, who tragically died after the opening night.

'Educating Rita' and 'Shirley Valentine' , Trafalgar Studios, London SW1, to 30 October (Willyrussellseason.com). 'Our Day Out: the Musical' is at the Royal Court, Liverpool, from 27 August (Royalcourtliverpool.com)

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