PASSED/FAILED: John Tusa

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The Independent Online
John Tusa, 61, is the managing director of the Barbican Centre in the City of London, where the Royal Opera starts a new season in the refurbished theatre on Saturday. He has presented `Newsnight' for BBC2 and `The World Tonight' for Radio 4. In 1986 he became managing director of the BBC World Service. In 1993 he was appointed President of Wolfson College, Cambridge, resigning later in the year.

Blank Czech? I was born in Czechoslovakia in 1936 and was three and a half when we finally left. I think I remember Nazi stormtroopers in their coalscuttle hats riding about on their motorbikes and sidecars in the street of the town I was born in - that certainly happened - but it may be just the memories of what I've been told.

Did You Have A Good Waugh? I started at Horndon-on-the-Hill Primary School, in the Essex village where we lived, and then at six and a half I was sent to St Faith's, a preparatory school in Cambridge that had been evacuated to Ashburton, in Devon. There were then only 36 boys and a staff of four. Latin was taught by a ferocious Old Testament headmaster. There was a marvellous English teacher who also taught drama, maths and films. The other teachers were more of an odd-job lot, fairly Evelyn Waugh.

Away From Home Alone? In autumn 1945 the school went back to Cambridge. It did seem a bit strange; not seeing our parents for 13 weeks at a time when we were in Devon, and even in Cambridge you only saw your parents at half-term. The day boys seemed strange, because they saw their parents every day. Leaving home was fairly miserable. I cried on the platform.

Holt - Who Goes There? In 1949 I went to Gresham's School, Holt, in Norfolk. There was a nice atmosphere and there was no bullying. There were school and house plays: I was Antony in Antony and Cleopatra and Ferdinand in The Tempest. The housemaster made me Head of House with great reluctance; he thought I was unsteady - and I was not made Head of School. If you were a prefect, you could put your hands in your trouser pockets. Everyone else could only put their hands in their jacket pockets.

Amid The Alien Dorm? I was foreign. All the other boys had fruitcake in their tuckboxes and I had chocolate eclairs handmade by my mother's family. They also had homemade jam. Also, their parents spoke proper English and had lots of relations. The other boys never said, "You're different," but these were things I chose to feel.

Mummers' Boy? Having done my National Service, I got a scholarship to read History at Trinity, Cambridge. I was the only person not called to speak at the Union during my entire first term, so I spent most of my time doing theatre with the Mummers. I got the lead part in Arthur Miller's The Crucible - Clive Swift (Mr Violet Bucket) was Judge Danforth - and I also played Ferdinand in The Tempest.

Cooking The Books? Having got a First, I thought I might stay on and do research into "The British Press and Anglo-German Relations 1933-9" but I wasn't properly focused - and I had a traineeship at the BBC. Later I worked with my wife on two books on Germany. I learnt to cook in my fourth year, when my landlord charged low rent on condition that on two evenings a week we cooked and invited guestsn

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