Arts feature

Museum relic

On 1 July, at a swanky party at Tate Modern, one of Britain’s museums will bank a cheque for £100,000, as the Art Fund announces this year’s Museum of the Year. Sure, the money will come in handy. Sure, the publicity will be useful. But this posh bunfight can’t disguise a growing sense that museums


One foot on the catwalk

St James Theatre hosts a new play about Alexander McQueen (real name Lee), whose star flashed briefly across the fashion world before his suicide in 2010. It opens with a mysterious stalker, Dahlia, breaking into McQueen’s Mayfair home and demanding that he make her a dress. ‘I’m calling the police,’ he shrieks but she placates


Carmen v. Carmen

It’s been a busy operatic week, with a nearly great concert performance of Parsifal in Birmingham on Sunday (reviewed by Anna Picard in last week’s Spectator), Carmen at the Coliseum on Wednesday, Donizetti’s Poliuto at Glyndebourne on Thursday and Carmen, also at Glyndebourne, on Saturday. A trajectory that Nietzsche would have approved of, moving from


Living history

It has been a while since the BBC really pushed the boat out on the epic history documentary front. Perhaps to make amends it is treating us to possibly the most historian-studded, blue-screen-special-effects-enhanced, rare-documentastic, no-hyperbole-knowingly-under-employed series ever shown on television. Armada: 12 Days to Save England (Sundays, BBC2). Having clearly spent a lot of money


This is England

At the Turner Prize dinner of 2003, as the winner, Grayson Perry, took a photo call with his family wearing a girlish dress and huge bow in his hair, a German contemporary artist who was sitting at the same table leant over and hissed in my ear, ‘Only in England!’ He got it right in


Stolen goods

Man Up is a British rom-com starring Simon Pegg as Jack and Lake Bell as Nancy. Nancy’s problem, at the outset, is that she is 34 and still single — has yet to ‘man up’ — and is therefore a failure, and if you can buy that as a premise for a film, then that’s


Dr Johnson in Tahrir Square

Goodness knows what the Great Cham would have made of Radio 4 airing an adapted version of his philosophical fable, Rasselas, Prince of Abyssinia, on Sunday afternoon. Perhaps he would be surprised to see it done at all: the works of Dr Johnson are hardly fashionable these days and Rasselas is probably little known to