Paul McGann

How Withnail and I became a cult classic

There is an apocryphal story about a woman leaving a performance of Hamlet and complaining that it was nothing but a bunch of quotations strung together. Bruce Robinson’s 1987 movie Withnail & I can also feel like a caravan of famous lines: ‘I’ve only had a few ales’; ‘We’ve gone on holiday by mistake’; ‘We want the finest wines available to humanity!’ In the 1990s, when the men’s magazine Loaded canonised the film in its launch issue and Chris Evans paid £5,000 for Withnail’s tweed coat, its swift elevation from box office failure to cult set text came at the price of reducing it to a boozy lark. A film