Fiona Mountford

Oliver Basciano, Mary Wakefield and Fiona Mountford

20 min listen

This week on Spectator Out Loud, Oliver Basciano warns that we should brace ourselves for a coup in Brazil (00:53). Then, is three – or more – a crowd? Mary Wakefield discuses this in her Spectator column (08:41), before Fiona Mountford tells us about the sad demise of church pews (14:55). Produced and presented by Oscar Edmondson.

The sad demise of the church pew

Imagine a child’s drawing of the interior of a traditional English church and the elements the picture is likely to contain. There will be colourful stained-glass windows, an altar and, almost certainly, rows of sturdy wooden pews. Yet the sad truth is that in parish after parish, the pews – which are often centuries old

Why must film delight in making us feel stupid?

‘What did the rampant chimp have to do with any of it?’ I squawked in bewildered disappointment to a friend at the end of Nope, the long-awaited third film from Oscar-winning writer-director Jordan Peele. I had hastened in great excitement to see Nope on the first day of its cinema release, hoping for a work

Why now is the time to be spontaneous

I am not naturally a spontaneous person. I relish neatly laying out projects and plans in my Moleskine diary. It was out of character, then, when on the second Monday of the Wimbledon fortnight I decided on the spur of the moment to head to the All England Club and join the queue for a

The Oscars championed the average over the excellent

For a number of years now, as the streaming revolution ramps up and our watching habits become ever more fragmented, the Oscars have been locked in a desperate struggle against plummeting viewing figures and waning public interest. This is obviously a situation that Will Smith wanted to try and remedy – and not simply by

Turkey’s dilemma

39 min listen

In this week’s episode: could President Erdogan broker a peace deal between Putin and the West?  For this week’s cover piece, Owen Matthews has written about how Turkey’s President Erdogan became a key powerbroker between Vladimir Putin and the Western alliance. On the podcast, Owen is joined by Ece Temelkuran, a political thinker, author, and

Rebel Wilson’s crass humour was a bad fit for the BAFTAs

After the two oddest years in the history of the red carpet, when Covid restrictions saw stars accepting gongs from their sofas via Zoom, glitzy prizegivings as we (used to) know them are back. Last night’s BAFTA ceremony, from the Royal Albert Hall, marked the opening salvo of a two-week run-in of the biggies, as

Why BAFTA has shunned the Oscars A-list

Last week, the nominations for the BAFTA film awards were announced and very swiftly afterwards the annual chorus of lamentation started up. For whatever poor old BAFTA does, a vocal segment of film fans and critics alike will declare themselves unhappy. BAFTAs-bashing, it can often seem, is how those in cultural circles like to keep

Top dog: how have animals captured politics?

34 min listen

On this week’s episode: should animal lives be considered as valuable as human lives? It’s often said that Britain is a country of animal lovers, but have we taken it too far? Pen Farthing’s evacuation has shown how some people value animal lives more than human lives. William Moore writes our cover piece this week,

The rise of the secular godparent

I always knew that I didn’t want children, but also always knew that I wanted godchildren. Lots of them. One of the less-discussed aspects of the decline of the church in our secular age is the fact that this precious relationship, more than a millennium old, is increasingly scarce. Previously godparents were there to ensure

Leading article, Fiona Mountford, Laurie Graham and Isabel Hardman

24 min listen

On this week’s episode, Fraser Nelson starts by reading our leading article: the Prime Minister promised ‘data, not dates’, so should we reopen before 21 June? (01:15) Fiona Mountford is on next, saying she’s had enough of corporate faux-friendliness. (07:20) Laurie Graham reads her piece afterwards, wondering what to put in her Covid time capsule.

The insidious creep of corporate friendliness

Have you noticed it? The slide towards faux-friendliness and fake sincerity from the companies with whom we used to have an impersonal and transactional relationship. The deal used to be simple: we paid them, they did things or provided stuff, thank you and goodbye. If something went awry, we told them and, with luck, they

What to look forward to at the theatre

It might seem counterintuitive to say this about such a chatty medium, but what I have missed most about the theatre during its long year in the Covid wilderness is silence. More specifically, the two distinct types of silence unique to this artform, the silences that top and tail a production of import, a piece

Ian Williams, Fiona Mountford and Deborah Ross

23 min listen

On this episode, author and journalist Ian Williams starts by looks at how China is using tech to expand its reach. (00:45) Then, Fiona Mountford reflects on how to deal with grief. (12:00) Finally, Deborah Ross reviews the Oscar-nominated Promising Young Woman, ‘a wonderfully clever, darkly funny, stomach-knotting’ revenge-thriller. (18:10)

The green games: Boris’s plan to rebrand Britain

37 min listen

In this week’s podcast, Katy Balls expands on her cover story, analysing Number 10’s hopes for November’s COP26 summit in Glasgow (01:10). She’s joined by Boris Johnson’s former advisor and co-author of the last Conservative election manifesto, Rachel Wolf and together, they ponder whether the much-anticipated green jamboree signposts a supercharged boost not only for

The necessary politics of Promising Young Woman

Last month there occurred an event so culturally seismic that it made, well, a barely perceptible dent on the news headlines. Not just one but two actual women were nominated for the Best Director Award at the Oscars, a category that has for many years now been open to five nominees. It was the first

Unopposed: Why is Starmer making life easy for the PM?

42 min listen

Is Keir Starmer becoming irrelevant? (00:50) Do the Oscars really celebrate the best that film has to offer? (15:55) Jordon Peterson is back with his new book, Beyond Order, but is it beyond readable? (25:40) With the Spectator‘s political editor James Forsyth; broadcaster and former Labour adviser Ayesha Hazarika; writer Fiona Mountford; the Spectator‘s arts