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Stars shine out in tribute to charming Tinker

Stars shine out

in tribute to

charming Tinker

The London Palladium was packed yesterday as the theatre industry paid tribute to the famous Daily Mail critic, Jack Tinker, who died last year.

It is a measure of Tinker's personal charm that his sudden death from a heart attack last year at the age of 58 was mourned not just by his readers but by the actors he wrote about and his rivals, who have just posthumously voted him Critic of the Year.

The packed house was filled with faces from Fleet Street and show business and countless Daily Mail readers. Jack in Review was assembled in haste by Tinker's friend Cameron Mackintosh and was a slickly produced two-hour anthology of show tunes and tributes. The proceeds went to The British Epilepsy Association (Tinker's daughter Charlotte died during an epileptic attack at the age of 24).

Tinker would have fought to get a ticket. Dora Bryan sang "Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend". The audience squealed with delight at the 73 year old's high kicks.

Dame Judi Dench, deadpan in a pink dirndl and bad blonde wig, joined Brendan O'Hea in a comic rendition of "You are 16 going on 17" from The Sound of Music. Her fellow theatrical dame, Barry Humphries, gave his version of Sondheim's "The Ladies Who Lunch"

The afternoon's highlight was an extract from the Royal National Theatre's Guys and Dolls. Theatre critics joined in with the revivalist "Sit Down You're Rocking the Boat". Sir David English in his closing speech insisted that none of them would be replacing Jack Tinker. "A hard act to follow, he became as big a star as anyone he wrote about. He was romantic about the theatre but never sentimental."

Tinker's strength as a critic, aside from his skills as a writer, lay in his almost total identification with his readers' tastes. This unerring ability to understand what they would love and hate earned him their affection and their loyalty. A lot of people love the theatre but the show in Tinker's honour at the Palladium proved that it actually loved him back.

Louise Levine