David Benedict on theatre

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Indy Lifestyle Online
What do Michael Parkinson, Russell Harty, Terry Wogan, Michael Aspel, Jonathan Ross and Simon Dee have in common? Yes, they're all chat-show hosts. And they're men. Where are the women? Well, Lumley 'n' Lawley have been known to cover the holidays, and Selina Scott has simpered in Wogan's stead. But aside from the ludicrously underrated Mavis Nicholson, we have no Oprah Winfrey - a possible blessing in disguise.

However, as Bob Dylan opined, 'the times they are a-changing. The sparky Judi Spiers is acquiring something of a cult following for her work on Pebble Mill and the BBC's autumn season heralds the start of a new series hosted by Germaine Greer. But pipping them to the post is the one and only Rose English (right). And what's more, she isn't bothering to wait for TV. Tonight and tomorrow, she can be seen fronting a live chat-show at the Purcell Room.

A cross between Groucho Marx and Julie Andrews, English is a genuine one-off. Described in the past as Britain's only 6ft, sequinned, stand-up philosopher, she is (presumably) sitting down to discuss serious matters, namely Lidos and Routemaster buses. (You know, the real ones, none of this one-person-operator nonsense.)

The last time she was at the South Bank she appeared on-stage with a horse. Expect similar shenanigans.

'An Audience with Rose English' is at the Purcell Room tonight and tomorrow at 10.30pm (071-928 8800) See Beyond the West End, Central

(Photograph omitted)

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