Gyles brandreth

The best children’s books: a Spectator Christmas survey

J.K. Rowling Poignant, funny and genuinely scary, The Hundred and One Dalmatians was one of my favourite books as a child and the story has lingered in my imagination ever since. Blue iced cakes always put me in mind of Cruella de Vil’s experimental food colourings, and whenever our dogs whine to get out at dusk I imagine them joining the canine news network, the twilight barking. There’s simply no resisting a book containing the lines ‘There are some people who always find beauty makes them feel sadder, which is a very mysterious thing’, and ‘Mr Dearly was a highly skilled dog-puncher’. Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall There are countless children’s

Why wasn’t Gyles Brandreth chosen to host ‘Just a Minute’?

Turn aside if BBC Radio 4 isn’t your thing, still less its panel games. But for those of us who grew up with ‘Just a minute’ there was one obvious and outstanding candidate to replace the late Nicholas Parsons, who gave every indication that he was immortal until he was actually cut off at the age of 96. And it wasn’t the person who actually got the job. The obvious candidate was Gyles Brandreth – though if you’d put in a case for Andy Hamilton, the other genuinely funny man on radio, I’d give it serious thought. But Gyles didn’t get it, nor did Andy. Sue Perkins did. Brandreth is measurably

The shocking story of Charles and Mary Lamb: Slightly Foxed podcast reviewed

The Slightly Foxed podcast, like the quarterly and old bookshop of the same name, is almost muskily lovely. It’s the sort of thing you can imagine listening to with a dog at your feet and whisky by your side in a draughty Mitfordesque folly. Ordinarily, you might attribute its homeliness to the fact that it is recorded around a kitchen table. But with the hosts now socially distanced across the country, and it feeling just as cosy, you realise that the atmosphere must derive from something else. In the latest episode, Philippa, Hazel and Gail were joined down the line by biographer Felicity James to discuss the early 19th-century writers