i

Testicular cancer is ‘almost cured’

Bean believer

Michael Glover on the unpredictable world of performance poetry

What a week it was for ... Maurice Saatchi

The triumphant comeback shows what friends are for, Vicky Ward writes

REVIEW / Playing fast and loose with the facts of life

REALISM is a flexible virtue in television programmes. Those you're fond of, you will forgive almost any implausibility. Those you don't like (or those you haven't formed an opinion about yet) can infuriate you with the slightest departure from plausibility. It may be that Little Napoleons (C4), a new comedy series by Michael Abbensetts, will win our affection in the next few weeks, in which case its somewhat reckless way with the facts of life won't matter.

In the scheme of things: Simon Callow and the sonnets: a marriage made in heaven? Michael Arditti reports

Although the British distrust epics, we love events; whether it be all night in Glasgow with Peter Brook or all day at the Aldwych with Nicholas Nickleby. Nickleby opened in June 1980; a month later, the Olivier put on an event of an equally ambitious, if less populous, nature, when Simon Callow recited all 154 of Shakespeare's sonnets. Now, 14 years on, he is repeating his performance on Radio 3.

Right of reply: Maurice Gran on criticisms of his thriller Wall of Silence

'One psychopathic Orthodox Jew . . . would have sufficed. (But) the police interview a Hasid in prison for fraud, learn that the murder victim was generous because he bailed out another fraudster, and discover yet another sect member is a bigamist.' David Cesarini, Guardian

Letter: Tom and Viv

Sir: I do not know if Michael Hastings or Lyndall Gordon are intent in driving me out of the cupboard to satisfy their curiosity as to whether Maurice Haigh-Wood did, or did not, commit his sister to a mental institution or whether there was a conspiracy with Tom Eliot to do so, but I feel impelled to respond to your articles 'Film turns the spotlight on a poet's darker side' and 'Hijack of the Great Poet' (18 August).

DANCE / An improper Charlie: Judith Mackrell on Maurice Bejart's double bill at Sadler's Wells

SIXTY (long) minutes into Maurice Bejart's 'tribute' to Charlie Chaplin (the piece with which he heralds his company's return to London), one of the cast is fatally allowed to remark that 'it's impossible to do a ballet about Mr C'. No other moment in the performance rings so true. There may perhaps be a way for dance to capture the complex humanity of Chaplin's genius. But Bejart, with his incoherent, lazy and threadbare conception, certainly hasn't discovered it.

How We Met: 51. Josephine Hart and Iris Murdoch

Irish-born Josephine Hart (45) came to London in the Sixties, becoming a publishing director and producer of West End plays. Her highly successful first novel, Damage, is now being filmed by the French director Louis Malle. Her second book comes out later this month. She has two sons and lives in Mayfair with her second husband, the advertising tycoon Maurice Saatchi. Novelist and philosopher Dame Iris Murdoch (73) is one of Britain's finest writers, whose books have been translated into 26 languages. She is married to the literary critic, John Bayley, and lives in Oxford.

THEATRE / Can life begin at forty-two?: Paul Taylor reviews Sharman Macdonald's new play Shades at the Albery

THE GRANDMOTHER figures in the plays of Sharman Macdonald tend to take a poor view of the Almighty and His practical jokes on ageing women. The granny in her last play, All Things Nice, thought Him a bit of a misogynist, taking away a woman's face and figure and leaving only a rampant desire for anything in trousers. Violet, the grandmother in her new play Shades, feels much the same way. God does the decent thing, she reckons, by killing off the menfolk first; the only snag is that, deprived of their looks beforehand, women aren't in an ideal position to enjoy their new-found freedom.
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