Robert Gorelangton

Queen bitch

In 1950, Bette Davis had a string of recent flops behind her. She was 41, married to an embarrassing twerp (her third husband), and her career was spiralling above the plughole. She only got the lead part in All About Eve when Claudette Colbert — who was all signed up — ruptured a disc while

Moor and more

In 1824 an ambitious teenage actor fled to England from his native New York where he had been beaten up once too often. He built a career here, being billed as ‘a Most Extraordinary Novelty, a Man of Colour’. What audiences encountered, however, was not the expected comedy of a simpleton mangling the Bard. They

Tail-end Terry

It is often said that Terence Rattigan’s ‘thing’ was his homosexuality and that his disguising of it coloured everything he wrote. But he had, I think, another secret up his sleeve that is still little known. He was a tailgunner in the RAF. Indeed the service was his family and a thread of blue serge

All white on the night

Shakespeare’s ‘Wars of the Roses’ will have no ethnic minority actors in the cast when the shows (two Henry VI plays and Richard III) open at the Rose Theatre, Kingston upon Thames, later this month. A sprinkling of so-called BME (black and minority ethnic) actors in Shakespeare has been the norm for ages now. So

North Cornwall

In a documentary filmed at the end of his life, Sir John Betjeman, who lived in the village of Trebetherick on the Camel estuary in north Cornwall, famously regretted not having had more sex. That problem doesn’t seem apply to today’s party crowd in the area. Nearby Rock and Polzeath are thronging with bingeing public-school

The birth of a barrel of cider

The fabulous October weather is now just a memory but it made for a golden, old-fashioned apple day down in Somerset. The plan was to pick and convert a mound of sugar-rich Redstreaks — about 400 kilos — into a rather special vintage. We would pour the apple juice into an oak hogshead, freshly emptied of its

Indiscretions from two veteran producers

Stars, playwrights and even set designers are constantly being lionised in the papers. But why not producers? They, after all, are the ones who choose the plays, the stars, and then make it all happen. Duncan Weldon and Paul Elliott are two veteran cigar chompers who’ve been in the business for 45 years. They’ve made

Book of Mormon – religion hits the West End

Hitchhiking through Salt Lake City as a student in 1976, I asked a local man, who was out shopping, directions to the nearest Salvation Army hostel. Rightly assuming I was down on my uppers, the man gave me his huge bag of groceries and walked off with a ‘bless you’. Say what you like about

Unacceptable faces

A play called Rutherford & Son gripped audiences in London 101 years ago. Set on Tyneside, it was the David Hare-style leftie hit of its season. It depicted the unacceptable face of capitalism, a face that belonged to John Rutherford, who rules the family glassworks by fear, hated by his workers and his children alike.

Going for a song | 12 December 2012

I once asked Donald Sutherland what it was like filming the famous naked love scene with Julie Christie in Don’t Look Now. He said, ‘It was just so horrible.’ I was telling this anecdote over a bacon sandwich to the freckled actor Eddie Redmayne, who, if he is hit by a bus tomorrow, will be

The master’s lost voice

There is hardly ever one of Noël Coward’s old plays not on tour or in the West End. Sometimes you think the commercial theatre would collapse without him. A ‘new’ Coward is therefore an event. Never performed or published, Volcano was written in 1956 when Coward was living permanently in Jamaica as a tax exile.

Fairground attraction

Robert Gore-Langton talks to Professor Vanessa Toulmin about bringing the 27,000 Volt Girl and five-foot earwigs back into the public eye Vanessa Toulmin is that rare thing — an academic professor who grew up on a fair. From the age of ten she fried onions for the hotdogs, spun candyfloss, and took money for rides