Shirley Bassey

Miss Shirley Bassey, By John L Williams

Born above a brothel in a rough sea port, a tenth child of mixed-race parentage, she should have had no future beyond the streets or factories. But Shirley Bassey has shown that even a triply underprivileged black Welsh woman could make it to the giddy heights of showbiz. This is the story that John Williams tells in this fascinating book: the way in which she negotiated herself into another world.

The Rise and Fall of Little Voice/My Real War 1914 - ?, The Vaudeville

There may come a day when you will have to have featured in a viewer-voted TV talent contest to do anything of note in London theatre – not just star in a West End show, but direct Shakespeare, run a flagship national company, the whole shebang. So I suppose we should be relatively calm about the containable fact that an X Factor finalist, Diana Vickers, is currently failing to add either lustre or plausibility to Terry Johnson's energetically mediocre revival of The Rise and Fall of Little Voice, Jim Cartwright's lovely blowsy-yet-poetic Northern tragicomedy which was first seen in a production by the young Sam Mendes at the National in 1992. The blame lies not with Ms Vickers, but with the misguided producers.