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The good and the bad

These are difficult times for the BBC. The fine for the Blue Peter phone-in fraud was, in its way, as big a shock as the famous vandalising of its garden. The silly Crowngate affair in which what they claimed was the Queen staging an angry walk-out turned out to be her staging an angry walk-in.

A life examined

Back in the US in the Fifties, just as atomic fear was gripping the American nation and the McCarthyite witch hunts were at their most vicious, a rather extraordinary radio programme was created by the journalist Edward R. Murrow and his production team at CBS radio. This I Believe presented ‘The living philosophies of thoughtful

Water torture

Glass Eels / Love’s Labour’s Lost / Saint Joan Squelchy trotters up in Hampstead. Nell Leyshon’s new play is set on a Somerset flood plain where a family of bumpkin farmers are coping with a suicide. Before the action commences Mum has done a Virginia Woolf in the nearby river and her premature submersion furnishes

Super-size fun

This film is fun. It is fun, fun, fun, fun, fun. It might be the most fun you can have with your clothes on or, if you have been married a good while, then with them off. John Travolta as Mrs Edna Turnblad is fun. Christopher Walken as Mr Wilbur Turnblad is riotous fun. Newcomer

Bach wins through

Bach’s St Matthew Passion doesn’t seem an obvious ‘Glyndebourne opera’, except from the point of view of the non-Londoner having to use public transport to get there, who might well regard the whole outing as a penitential pilgrimage. At the third performance the atmosphere did seem unusually hushed. What we were offered was an almost

Summer treats

The summer ballet season in London, with the traditional arrival of illustrious foreign guests, has a well-established historical tradition. It was during the summer months that, in the 19th century, famous and not-so-famous foreign ballet stars appeared on the stages of theatres such as the Her Majesty’s, the Alhambra and the Empire. Later on, renowned

Bringing peace to the spirit

Hockney on Turner Watercolours at Tate BritainAnnely Juda — A Celebration at Annely Juda Fine Art If you enter Tate Britain via the side entrance on Atterbury Street, you will find five large new landscape paintings by David Hockney hanging above the stairs to the main galleries, to celebrate his 70th birthday. Each painting is

A fine balance

The word ‘virtuoso’ is often bandied about. Stephen Pettitt explains what it means to him Serious music critics — and I do not except myself from the breed — have many tendencies that mark them out from the rest of society. One of them is the habit of bandying around the word ‘virtuoso’. We know