You Ask The Questions: (Such as: Ned Sherrin, legendary raconteur, are any of your anecdotes actually true?)

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The Independent Culture
NED SHERRIN, 68, was born in Low Ham, Somerset. He trained as a lawyer at Oxford University, where he became involved with the theatre. He began his career producing for ATV in Birmingham and has since worked in film production and has acted for TV and the stage. He received an Olivier Award for directing The Ratepayer's Iolanthe. He presents Loose Ends on Saturdays on Radio 4 and is director of the musical comedy A Saint She Ain't, opening on 22 September at the Apollo Theatre, London.

Have you ever heard of the trendy bands you showcase on Loose Ends?

DR Weller, London SW18

Not before I meet them. They are chosen by our expert Torquil Macleod. It is good when some go on to success, like Gomez, for example.

Are the anecdotes that you recount in your one-man theatrical show ever true?

Keith Harper, Clifton, Bristol

Half the point of theatrical anecdotes is to try to ensure they are accurate, but there is a lot of apocrypha about.

What is your most vivid memory of Jeffrey Bernard? And did you ever drink him under the table?

John Ellis, Peterborough

A tangential memory: when Jeffrey Bernard is Unwell opened, it emphasised Jeffrey's impotence. I went to the workshop to see the set and one piece of scenery was labelled "JB middle leg: extra stiffening." No, I have never drunk him under the table.

Do you have any annoying little habits?

L Chambers, by e-mail

Being right.

Your favourite playwright?

R Michaels, Cheshire

Keith Waterhouse. His plays have provided me with more work (and fun) than any other.

What do you think about Michael Portillo's self-"outing"?

Philip Jackson, Chipping Norton, Oxon

Very adroit to mount your own smear campaign.

As a resident of Kensington and Chelsea, how do you feel about a prospective MP who voted against gays in the armed forces?

Max Farthing, London W6

I think the boy will learn.

Do you listen to yourself on radio, watch yourself on TV, and read your own reviews?

E Grant, London SW11

If I listen to my programmes or watch them, it is by chance. I always read reviews.

How does it feel to be responsible for the success of Graham Norton and Sir David Frost?

Robert Brindle, Plymouth

Both would have made it anyway; I may have speeded up David's recognition factor.

Why is your nickname "Twinky"?

Tony Riley, Wokingham, Berkshire

It isn't. That was a Private Eye conflation (Ned Twinky) of me and Jack Tinker to typify a camp showbiz figure.

What are your favourite post-theatre restaurants?

P Donnelly, Colchester

Joe Allen, The Ivy, Le Caprice, Quo Vadis, L' Etoile, Lou Pescadou.

How will you celebrate the new millennium?

Mrs H Sutton, Nympsfield, Gloucestershire

At home. I never go out on New Year's Eve.

Has the BBC "dumbed down"? And if approached by ITV, would you be tempted?

William Ross, by e-mail

I don't think Radio 4 has dumbed down. I don't see much television. I'll work for anyone except L!ve TV.

You have been called the "Noel Coward of our age". How do you see yourself?

Olivia Burns, Rainham, Kent

That is ridiculous. He was an adept playwright, lyric writer, composer, singer, actor and director. I only direct a bit.

Where do you keep your Olivier award?

A Marcuson, Newbury

On a marble plant table that Burt Shevelove gave me - the marble is supported by my three Baftas.

How many times have you seen The Mousetrap?

B Haddon, Southampton


Who is the greatest theatrical raconteur, and why?

R Dean, Edinburgh

Victor Spinetti, for range, wit, warmth and versatility.

How has the King's Road changed over the years?

LE Jones, London SW6

When I first came along it in the Fifties it was all grocers, bakers and butchers, and Monty Norman, "The Singing Barber", was at the Chelsea Palace Music Hall.

Which modern novel would you recommend?

N Hallet, Crowborough, East Sussex

Scratch an Actor, by Ned Sherrin.

Next Week

Boris Johnson,

editor of `The Spectator', followed by Jeremy Paxman,


Send your questions to: You Ask The Questions, Features, The Independent, 1 Canada Square, London E14 5DL (fax: 0171-293 2182, or e-mail: yourquestions, by noon on Friday. The question we like best will win the sender a bottle of champagne