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Cell Mates fall out as Gray roasts Fry

The Stephen Fry saga resumed in splendid luvvie fashion last night with the playwright Simon Gray accusing the troubled comedian of leaving his play "in the most cowardly fashion".

Fry walked out on the part of Russian spy George Blake in Cell Mates last week after three performances.

Fry explained in a letter to Gray that he had stagefright after becoming convinced he was a failure in the part, a fact which Gray promptly drew to the media's attention in a statement last week. In a new statement last night, Gray said: "The facts of the matter are precisely what Stephen Fry has publicly stated them to be. He left the production of Cell Mates in the most cowardly fashion because he believed he was incapable of performing the part of George Blake properly.

"It is disgraceful that so much media attention has been devoted to this squalid little story . . . I confess my own failure as a director was to have cast Stephen Fry in the first place, and in the second place, not to have acknowledged my error by requesting his departure after his (self-proclaimed) inadequacies were abundantly clear to me."

Gray said he did not feel the statement was unhelpful when his friend was clearly distressed. "I'm a friend of Stephen's. I have great sympathy because he was hurt and stressed, but what he left behind him was the most awful chaos and distress for other people who loved him, including me."