Robert Gorelangton

A break from posh

The actor Ed Stoppard is kicking off the year in some nice period costumes. One of our brightest young actors, he’s back at 165 Eaton Place in the new BBC Upstairs Downstairs (reviewed on page 60) playing the diplomat Sir Hallam Holland. It’s got gas masks, the Munich Crisis, cocktails, a dead pet monkey, the

Consumed by Dickens

If you don’t like Simon Callow, you probably don’t like the theatre either. He is as theatrical as a box of wigs. Who else would bark ‘come!’ when someone knocks on his dressing-room door? There he is with a glass of wine, a boom of good cheer, having peeled off his side whiskers after his

Playing Churchill

Where would gentleman actors be without Churchill? No prime minister has given as much work to the profession as Winston (though Blair comes a close second), patron saint of jowly thespians of a certain age. Churchill now features in a new stage play called Three Days in May, about the British war cabinet in May

Priestley values

The J.B. Priestley flame is kept alive today by his son Tom, who resides in the same Notting Hill flat he has lived in for more than 50 years. His father — novelist, dramatist, scribe, broadcaster, socialist (who died in 1984) — was glad that Tom, now 79, hadn’t chosen the same life. ‘The only

Wilton’s Music Hall – The good old days

John Major is half way through a book about the rise and fall of the music hall. His father, Tom, was a song-and-dance man who formed a double act with his wife, Kitty. John’s brother Terry was a trapeze artist, and the former prime minister must have come close to going into the family trade.

The face of space

Everyone loved Yuri Gagarin – but he was always a Soviet sideshow Fifty years ago, on 12 April, Yuri Gagarin, a tractor-driver’s son from Smolensk, climbed aboard a capsule about the size of a Morris Minor, perched on top of a massive rocket. He followed into space a mongrel bitch called Laika, but unlike the

‘I play to middle England’

Raymond Gubbay is a hard man to avoid. Especially at Christmas. Last year Raymond Gubbay Ltd presented roughly 600 concerts, of which 180 were part of his annual Christmas Festival and he lived up to his festive catchphrase: ‘You want carols? We’ve got carols.’ Gubbay’s packaging of live classical music has been amazingly successful. He

Two men in a boat

Robert Gore-Langton on a stage adaptation of the Erskine Childers classic Riddle of the Sands The Riddle of the Sands was published in 1903. It was an instant bestseller and has never been out of print since. It’s the story of two young Englishmen who, while sailing off the German coast, unearth a fiendish plot

What’s a war book without a dead Nazi?

Objections are raised to a cracking new children’s book on account of a dead German soldier and pictures of frostbite. But the young adore grisly bits, says Robert Gore-Langton There’s a cracking new children’s book out, Mission Telemark, by the award-winning writer Amanda Mitchison. It is set in the second world war and it’s based

Sellotape and string pants

More than ever in the UK, fuel bills now resemble school fees and so, despite the bitter cold, few of us can afford full-on 24-hour heating. But, driven by desperation, I’ve been researching the matter and have discovered several ways of surviving this miserable weather. Forget about replacement double glazing: it looks nasty and it

Moral and political dilemmas

Robert Gore-Langton talks to Ronald Harwood about musical life in Nazi Germany Nazis in the theatre liven things up no end. They provide the hilarity in The Producers, the creepiness in Cabaret. And when you can’t take any more bright copper kettles or warm woollen mittens in The Sound of Music on comes the SS,

An eccentric part of the landscape

Robert Gore-Langton talks to an irreverent Dominic Dromgoole about the Globe A few months ago I was at a literary festival on a drama panel which featured a senior actress of the stage. She was holding forth about working with the Royal Shakespeare Company at Stratford when I suggested that Shakespeare’s Globe was just as

‘It’s the most English thing you could imagine!’

Shakespeare’s birthday celebrations in Stratford-upon-Avon may be a small-town affair, but it is one of the very few non-London dates that involves the diplomatic corps. On Saturday 26 April no fewer than 18 ambassadors will attend the occasion, the world’s nations joining sundry Warwickshire dignitaries, Stratford’s mayoral chain gang, various Shakespearean bodies, the band of

Snowy and friends

Hergé’s Adventures of Tintin is at the Playhouse Theatre, London, 6 December to 12 January; 0870 060 6631. The first time I saw Hergé’s Adventures of Tintin on stage it starred a West Highland white called Chester, playing Snowy. The dog’s is a walk-on part only; he’s rapidly substituted for a talking actor with a

Packing a punch

It’s a good month for the Great War. At the National Theatre this week a new play by Michael Morpurgo tells the story of the war seen through the eyes of a horse. Staged with huge puppet nags, War Horse sounds on paper like the theatrical lovechild of Equus and Birdsong. Up in Bolton, with

Old gold

Warren Mitchell is lying on an air mattress in rehearsals. He’s 81 and in constant pain, made worse by a recent operation. Warren Mitchell is lying on an air mattress in rehearsals. He’s 81 and in constant pain, made worse by a recent operation. He looks very tired, very old and I wondered, hauling him

Blackpool’s cheap thrills

Whatever happened to poor old Blackpool? The last time I went it was alive, busy and reasonably full of life. The place today is a windswept vision of destitution and bleakness, home to roaming bands of stag and hen weekenders, fat people with limps and aimless geriatrics waiting to be mugged. A town once synonymous

Thrilling stuff

This season’s they-don’t-make-’em-like-that-any-more offering at the Old Vic is Gaslight. The chief reason for going to see it is that it stars the talented young actress Rosamund Pike. Time spent gazing at the astoundingly beautiful Miss Pike is never wasted. But Gaslight has other attractions as an entertainment. It’s a 1938 three-act thriller set in

In the mood

The Hound of the Baskervilles first appeared on stage 100 years ago in Berlin, presented by Ferdinand Bonn. Herr Bonn was dead keen on realism and decided that his wife’s huge, beloved black dog would be the star of the show. Every night she would wait in the wings ready to produce a lump of

‘Call me Larry’

Fifty years ago, the Royal Court theatre detonated its second H-bomb. The first had been Look Back in Anger, in 1956. The next was The Entertainer, John Osborne’s follow-up play, which opened 50 years ago in April. Out were blown the West End play’s French windows and in came the kitchen sink. The memorable first