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What do Lily Cole, Rupert Everett and Peppa Pig have in common? Apart, obviously, from their striking good looks. Answer: they are passionate about reading, and about encouraging children to read. To prove their point, they joined a host of other actors and writers at yesterday's inaugural Get Reading event, a day-long festival in Trafalgar Square in London.

THEATRE / Madly, deeply: Paul Taylor reviews the revival of Alan Bennett's The Madness of George III

THESE DAYS it's spin doctors who infest the game of politics; at the end of the 18th century, it was medical doctors - or, more to the point, quacks. If the monarch fell ill, then Parliament too had a funny turn, for the King was still the fons et origo of patronage and chose as his chief minister whoever could patch together a majority in the Commons. Royal sickness, therefore, spelt political crisis, since it meant that the unfilial Prince of Wales and hangers-on could start to get above themselves.

THEATRE / So how was it for them?: Georgina Brown uncovers the exercises in practical criticism that keep a production fresh

Not every detail of a production will find its way into a review. 'A member of the audience, unbeknownst to Miss Boycott, brought her chihuahua in to the performance in her handbag. It was noticed when the dog got restless during the first half and the bell on its collar began to ring. It was looked after by Miss Engel for the second half.' That was written by the stage manager of the RSC's last production of King John, and filed, as always, at the end of the evening's performance. The writers of these reports would do well to have a direct line to the diary editors of national newspapers, but their comments have a serious function. Stationed within the wings - though generally peripatetic - and aided by assistants and a couple of monitors displaying the view from the stalls, the stage manager's task is to spot and record the differences from the show as it was on opening night.
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