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Look away now: Sir Gerald Kaufman at the Westminster Dance UK manifesto launch

Dance has never addressed whether making money is a good or bad thing. It’s time to do so

1 April 2015 16:45

A couple of weeks ago some dance instructors went to Westminster to coach MPs to shake their tushes for the cameras, while they promised to support a ‘dance manifesto’ for Britain. Since then the image of MPs twerking has stuck… Continue reading

Noel Gallagher and the High Flying Birds at the Royal Albert Hall, 2015

Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, Royal Albert Hall, review: who goes to a Noel Gallagher gig?

1 April 2015 16:19

When people say Noel Gallagher is big-headed, they don’t know the half of it. He has what is known as a ‘classic rock-star build’ – that is, a tiny, fragile… Continue reading

Emma Thompson (Mrs Lovett) and Bryn Terfel (Sweeney Todd). All photographs: Tristram Kenton

Sweeney Todd, ENO, review: blunt and bloody

31 March 2015 10:38

Sweeney Todd English National Opera, in rep until 9 April A wicked deception is sprung in the opening moments of this New York-originated concert staging of Stephen Sondheim and Hugh… Continue reading

Richard Desmond of the Northern & Shell company at the headquarters of Express Newspapers in central London

Spectator competition: laments for lost newspapers (plus: historical characters’ desert island discs)

28 March 2015 9:30

In his 2004 book The Vanishing Newspaper Philip Meyer predicted that the final hard-copy newspaper will plop through someone’s letterbox in 2043. So who’ll be the first to go? In… Continue reading

Head of a Man with Kausia, third century BC

Reimaging the lost masterpieces of antiquity

Arts feature

For centuries there has been a note of yearning in our feelings about ancient Greek and Roman art. We can’t help mourning for what has irretrievably vanished. In 1764 Johann Joachim Winckelmann wrote that we have ‘nothing but a shadowy… Read more

‘Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington’, 1829, by Sir Thomas Lawrence

Wellington's PR machine

Exhibitions

The history of portraiture is festooned with images of sitters overwhelmed by dress, setting and the accoutrements of worldly success. Vanity, complacency and, frequently, insecurity have led men and women to commission or sit for likenesses in which an extra… Read more

A still from the indie game Monument Valley

How gaming grew up

Arts feature

Sometimes a guy feels abstracted from the world. He visits Europe’s finest galleries, but the paintings seem to hang like corpses from the walls. The great symphonies fail to stir his interest, let alone his soul. So he goes home,… Read more

Portrait of Handel by Balthasar Denner

Why we should revel in the empty virtuosity of Handel's pasticcios

Opera

Before the jukebox musical, back when Mamma Mia!, Jersey Boys and Viva Forever! were still dollar-shaped glints in an as-yet-unborn producer’s eye, there was the pasticcio opera. Literally a musical ‘pastry’ or ‘pie’, these brought together arias from different operas,… Read more

Zoë Wanamaker as Stevie Smith

Shrapnel at the Arcola works for the slayers, not the slain

Theatre

Quite a hit factory these days, the Hampstead Theatre. The latest candidate for West End glory is Hugh Whitemore’s bio-drama about Stevie Smith. Not an obvious choice. The script, from the 1970s, recreates the atmosphere of Stevie’s life with effortless… Read more

Ella (Lily James) with her evil stepmother (Cate Blanchett)

Lily James's Cinderella is more of a doormat than my actual doormat

Cinema

Kenneth Branagh’s Cinderella is a Disney film based on a Disney film, so is double Disney, if you like. It is a live-action adaptation of the 1950 animated version, and an entirely faithful retelling. As such, it comes with no… Read more

Serial producer Dana Chivvis Photo: Meredith Heuer

Does the future of radio really lie in podcasts?

Radio

To a debate on the future of radio at the BBC where it turns out not to be a discussion on who’s listening now but how they’re listening. The Reithian ambition to inform, educate and entertain needs to change, says… Read more

David Cameron (Mark Dexter), Nick Clegg (Bertie Carvel) and Gordon Brown (Ian Grieve)

Channel 4's The Coalition reviewed: heroically free of cynicism

Television

In a late schedule change, Channel 4’s Coalition was shifted from Thursday to Saturday to make room for Jeremy Paxman interviewing the party leaders. With most dramas, that would mean I’d have to issue the sternest of spoiler alerts for… Read more

Style council: left to right, Kiernan Shipka (Sally Draper), January Jones (Betty Draper), Jessica Paré (Megan Draper), Jon Hamm (Donald Draper)

Will you miss Mad Men? James Delingpole won’t

Arts feature

There’s a scene in the finale of season six that embodies everything that’s so right and so wrong with Mad Men. Don Draper, that fathomless enigma of a Madison Avenue copywriting anti-hero, is pitching for the Hershey’s chocolate account. Hershey’s… Read more

The Cutting of the Cloth, Southwark Playhouse

Radiant Vermin at the Soho Theatre reviewed: a barmy little sketch posing as a revolutionary satire

Theatre

Philip Ridley is best known as the screenwriter of The Krays, in which Gary and Martin Kemp played Ronnie and Reggie as a pair of tanned and lisping choirboys. Ridley loves to bang his own gong. And he’s got enough… Read more

Richard Diebenkorn 'Berkeley #5' (1953) . Copyright:
The Richard Diebenkorn Foundation

Richard Diebenkorn at the Royal Academy reviewed: among the best visual evocations of LA there are

Exhibitions

It is true that, like wine, certain artists don’t travel. Richard Diebenkorn, subject of the spring exhibition in the Royal Academy’s Sackler Wing, is a case in point: an American painter who is revered in his native land, but of… Read more

Jerry (Ryan Reynolds) with his dinner date, Fiona (Gemma Arterton)

The Voices review: a hateful, repellent, empty film

Cinema

The Voices is ‘a dark comedy about a serial killer’, which is not an overcrowded genre, and I think we can now plainly see for why. I was up for it, initially. The buzz around the film had been good.… Read more

Ksenia Ovsyanick & James Forbat perform for English National Ballet's Modern Masters Photo: Ash

50 shades of beige: English National Ballet's Modern Masters at Sadler's Wells, reviewed

Dance

My moment of the week was stumbling into the shocking, fantastical Cabinet of Curiosities in the Alexander McQueen show at the V&A. On the walls were tier upon tier of dresses, shoes and headdresses, feathered, leathered, beaded, painted, razored, or… Read more

Left to right: Peter Hoare (Fatty), Anne Sofie von Otter (Leocadia Begbick), Willard White (Trinity Moses)

Royal Opera's Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny review: far too well behaved

Opera

Brecht/Weill’s Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny was premièred in 1930, Auden/Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress in 1951. Twenty-one years separate them, but it seems, as one looks back, enormously more than that. Think of 1994 and now, no… Read more

Raised by Wolves, Channel 4

Raised by Wolves review: council-estate life but not as you know it

Television

Journalist, novelist, broadcaster and figurehead of British feminism Caitlin Moran, who writes most of the Times and even had her Twitter feed included on a list of A-Level set texts, is now bidding to break into the sitcom business. Can… Read more

Mikhail Bulgakov Photo: Getty

Radio is the best way to mug up on the classics

Radio

If ever I found myself at a pretentious literary party obliged to play David Lodge’s ‘Humiliation’ game and to confess to the great books I’ve never read, I’d only escape the ignominy of winning (by being the most ignorant) because… Read more

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The Heckler: Why I’m allergic to Stephen Sondheim

The Heckler

I came out in a rash when I heard that Emma Thompson was to star in Stephen Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd at the Coliseum. Sondheim has that effect on me. And it’s an allergy I bear with pride. I’ve been the… Read more

The dramatic centrepiece to McQueen’s 2001 spring/summer collection set in an asylum

Alexander McQueen may have been a prat but at least he was an interesting one

Arts feature

Alexander McQueen famously claimed to have stitched ‘I am a c***’ into the entoilage of a jacket for Prince Charles. The insult was invisible behind the lining and his tailor master later investigated and found nothing. So what was this?… Read more

Left: ‘Dream of a good witch’, c.1819–23, by Goya Right: ‘Bajan niñendo (They descend quarrelling)’, c.1819–23, by Goya

Flying witches, mad old men, cannibals: what was going on in Goya’s head?

Exhibitions

It is not impossible to create good art that makes a political point, just highly unusual. Goya’s ‘Third of May’ is the supreme example of how to pull it off. It is a great picture with a universal message —… Read more

French villager Lucile Angellier, played by Michelle Williams, falls for a Nazi soldier

Suite Francaise review: what is this film playing at, when it comes to Jews in attics?

Cinema

Suite Française is being billed as a second world war romance about ‘forbidden love’ and, in this regard, it is handsome, solid, well played and probably fine, if you haven’t read Irène Némirovsky’s novel, but if you have? Then you… Read more

Simon Darwen as Peter and Siubhan Harrison as Eloise in ‘The Armour’

The Armour at Langham Hotel reviewed: three new playlets that never get going

Theatre

One of last year’s unexpected treasures was a novelty show by Defibrillator that took three neglected Tennessee Williams plays, all set in hotel rooms, and staged them in suites at a five-star dosshouse in central London. The Langham Hotel, an… Read more

Identity crisis: Rachele Gilmore as Alice

Alice in Wonderland at the Barbican reviewed: too much miaowing

Opera

Charles Lutwidge Dodgson loved little girls. He loved to tell them stories, he loved to feed them jam, he loved to set them puzzles, and he loved to take their photographs. On 25 March, 1863, he composed a list of… Read more

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What it’s really like to live in India today - stressful

Radio

After a month cooped up in a Scottish castle, no internet, no TV, and no radio, watching hectic snowflakes billowing through the wooded hillside opposite my window, I realise that what I’ve missed most about this supposed deprivation has not… Read more

Should he stay or should he go: Aidan Turner as Ross Poldark

Poldark review: drama by committee

Television

By my calculations, the remake of Poldark (BBC1, Sunday) is the first time BBC drama has returned to Cornwall since that famously mumbling Jamaica Inn — which may explain why even the lowliest yokel here tends to project from the… Read more

Staying power: Harrison Ford as Rick Deckard in ‘Blade Runner: The Final Cut’

How Ridley Scott’s sci-fi classic, Blade Runner, foresaw the way we live today

Arts feature

In 1977 a journeyman actor called Brian Kelly optioned a science-fiction novel called Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? The book’s author, Philip K. Dick, had been writing science fiction since the early 1950s. He was 49 years old, with… Read more

Camille Pissarro
The Avenue, Sydenham, 1871.
© The National Gallery, London

Inventing Impressionism at the National Gallery reviewed: a mixed bag of sometimes magnificent paintings

Exhibitions

When it was suggested that a huge exhibition of Impressionist paintings should be held in London, Claude Monet had his doubts. Staging such an exhibition, he wrote to his dealer Paul Durand-Ruel, would be ‘unwise’ and only likely to baffle… Read more

Singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran poses with his Brits Awards for album of the year and male solo artist Photo: Getty

Why you should never trust songwriting credits

Music

Songwriting credits are, as we know, not always to be trusted. Since the dawn of music publishing, there has always been a manager or an agent or a well-connected representative of organised crime willing to take a small cut of… Read more

Class act: Nancy Carroll in Patrick Marber’s ‘Closer’ at the Donmar Warehouse. Photo: Johan Persson

Why George Bernard Shaw was an overrated babbler

Theatre

When I was a kid, I was taught by a kindly old Jesuit whose youth had been beguiled by George Bernard Shaw. The provocative ironies of ‘GBS’ were quoted everywhere and he was, for several decades, the world’s leading public… Read more