Clowning around in the PC circus

Artspeople
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Has the patience of Gerry Cottle, the circus impresario, finally snapped under the weight of political correctness? Having removed all animals from his new Circus of Horrors show to placate anxious city councils, Mr Cottle has now received a complaint from Liverpool about scantily clad performers, and a demand from Stockton that he change his advertising so as not to offend. Today Mr Cottle advertises in the Stage for "a juggler who is black, lesbian and a midget, preferably in a wheelchair". I suggest he takes a course of therapy with one of his clowns.

Sylvie Guillem, Darcey Bussell et al will not be seen at the Royal Albert Hall after all when the Royal Ballet's Covent Garden home closes down for redevelopment next year. The planned four-week season next September has been abruptly cancelled by Patrick Deuchar, chief executive of the Royal Albert Hall. Mr Deuchar tells me: "It's no snub to the Royal Ballet ... There will be a lot of arts companies without homes and I can't accommodate them all." Suddenly, I suspect, the Barbican Centre, about to be partially vacated by the Royal Shakespeare Company, could be hearing the patter of tiny feet.

Vanessa Redgrave, Eileen Atkins and Paul Scofield are getting rave reviews for Ibsen's John Gabriel Borkman at the National Theatre. But something is still missing apparently. A plea arrives on my desk from the National asking that all mentions of the production be followed by a footnote acknowledging the sponsors. And what should the footnote say? "In association with the Royal National Theatre's Private Contributors." Point taken. We should acknowledge in a footnote sponsors who are not to be named. Not so much Ibsen. More like Kafka.

Virginia Bottomley impressed record company bigwigs in her speech to the British Phonographic Industry's AGM. Well-briefed either by her family or by trendy civil servants, she mentioned the Kinks, the Who, the Rolling Stones, David Bowie, Culture Club, Duran Duran, Wham!, the Sex Pistols and the new dance bands Leftfield and Underworld. Something to suit voters of every age. I was more diverted by her recollection that she saw the Beatles in concert at Hammersmith in the Sixties. This begs one vital question about the Secretary of State for National Heritage. Did she scream?

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