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Toby Young

Under the influence | 18 March 2006

Has Harold Pinter become too dominant a figure? I’m not just talking about the trophies he’s picked up in the past 12 months — the Wilfred Owen prize, the Franz Kafka prize, the Nobel prize, the Europe Theatre prize — but, more worryingly, the fact that so many new British playwrights seem content to ape

Good-natured glow

Almost everyone who has written about Vaughan Williams’s opera Sir John in Love has defensively insisted that we put all thoughts of Verdi’s Falstaff out of our minds because Vaughan Williams had something quite different in his mind. He knew all the going operatic versions of the play, including Nicolai’s (which is a minor masterpiece,

An inside view

It’s a little cheeky of Christopher Simon Sykes to have chosen a line from Rupert Brooke’s ‘The Soldier’ as the title of a show of photographs of country houses, but A Richer Dust Concealed does happen to combine the three essential ingredients of his subject: riches, concealment from the outside world and dust. Sykes has

Hotchpotch of a show

Forget for a moment the importation of ‘Gothic’, a term more usually confined to architecture or the novel, and consider the main protagonists. Blake will be familiar to most art-lovers, but what about Fuseli? Born Johann Heinrich F

Fighting talk

Radio Four listeners have been complaining about the John Humphrys ‘interview’ with David Cameron on Today a fortnight or so ago. So they must have been even more irritated to hear the programme’s deputy editor, Gavin Allen, defending the encounter on Feedback last week (Friday, repeated Sunday), even going so far as to describe it

Guile and determination

One reason I find most TV thrillers such a huge waste of life is that the bad guys so often turn out to be evil capitalists, corrupt Tory MPs or sinister right-wing terrorist organisations. This owes more to the wishful thinking of instinctively bien-pensant scriptwriters than to reality. Since the war — or even before