Roger Lewis

The bald truth about Patrick Stewart

When you think that David Niven, James Mason, Ronnie Barker, Arthur Lowe and Powell and Pressburger among many others failed to receive state honours, you’ll concede that a knighthood was wasted on Patrick Stewart, even if for 12 years he was chancellor of Huddersfield University. I mean no disparagement by this. I’m happy for him.

Complicated and slightly creepy: the Bogart-Bacall romance

Whenever an actor and an actress begin an affair on the soundstage they like to believe they are the new Burton and Taylor. Actually they’ll be lucky to resemble Christopher Timothy and Carol Drinkwater, who had a fling on that vet programme – and now here are Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall to live up

The utter vileness of Richard Harris

Brawling, boozing and womanising, those vaunted hell-raisers of the 1960s – Peter O’Toole, Oliver Reed, Richard Burton and, of course, Richard Harris – were all frightful bores. Because their professional lives involved dressing up and wearing mascara and silly wigs, it was essential for them to show what he-men they were: how hard. Like Stanley

Norman Scott has the last word on a very English scandal

I’m glad Norman Scott can say he has ‘always had the ability to laugh at the absurdity’ of his existence because, as detailed here in a long-awaited memoir, I too couldn’t stop shrieking, he is so tragic. When he came home unexpectedly as a youngster, for example, and witnessed his mother having sex in the

Keeping yourself angry, the Hare way: We Travelled, by David Hare, reviewed

A character in David Hare’s Skylight claims she has at last found contentment by no longer opening newspapers or watching television. ‘Well,’ says her astounded interlocutor, ‘you’re missing what’s happening. You’re missing reality.’ Hare himself can never be accused of missing (or missing out on) the reality of what is happening. He has already even

Terence’s stamp: The Art of Living, by Stephen Bayley, reviewed

Rumours reach me that the libel report for Stephen Bayley’s forthcoming biography of Terence Conran was longer than the book itself, so I’m hazarding a guess that Bayley has siphoned off contentious material into this purported fiction. For as he says here, kidding on the level, ‘all novels are memoirs, all memoirs are novels’, and

Even the Queen wasn’t spared Prince Philip’s bad temper

Though the indefatigable Gyles Brandreth met and interviewed Prince Philip over a 40-year period, His Royal Highness managed to give very little away. ‘He would just look at me balefully and say nothing,’ Brandreth writes. Wondering what Prince Philip’s philosophy of life might be, ‘I didn’t get very far’. When asked about his childhood,‘he brushed

‘Social distance shaming’ is getting nasty

The Queen said in her address to the nation that what’ll get us through the lockdown and its ramifications will be our traditional British good humour. I’m not certain. Tempers are beginning to fray — and as we are looking at another week, minimum, of house imprisonment, I predict disaster. It is getting quite tense

Love your enmities

Grudges make the world go around, according to Sophie Hannah. They are ‘an important and fascinating part of human experience’, which ought to be ‘protective, life-enhancing and fun’. I think this overstates the case somewhat, as I can’t see any pleasurableness, though I am aware that my own ability to harbour resentments is possibly pathological


I saw a biopic about Morecambe and Wise recently. The actors impersonating the comedians were not a patch on the originals — how could they be? You need a genius to play a genius. I often wonder if my own HBO Peter Sellers movie would have been improved if someone fiery, of the calibre of

Broken dreams | 19 October 2017

In the expensive realm of musical comedy, it’s impossible to predict what will take off and what will crash and burn. Oliver! ran for 2,618 performances, but no other Dickens adaptation has succeeded— and Oliver! had to overcome a reluctant producer who’d suggested it could be much improved with an ‘all-black cast’. And would Lionel

Spectator books of the year: Roger Lewis on hating Sheridan Morley

Sheridan Morley was an old enemy of mine, so I was thrilled to see him brilliantly denounced and called to account by Jonathan Croall in his first-class book about writing a book, In Search of Gielgud: A Biographer’s Tale (Herbert Adler Publishing, £10.95). Morley is called an ‘arrogant, self-important and spectacularly lazy hack’, whose work was ‘sycophantic

The mad, bad and sad life of Dusty Springfield

Call me a crazy old physiognomist, but my theory is that you can always spot a lesbian by her big thrusting chin. Celebrity Eskimo Sandi Toksvig, Ellen DeGeneres, Jodie Foster, Clare Balding, Vita Sackville-West, God love them: there’s a touch of Desperate Dan in the jaw-bone area, no doubt the better to go bobbing for

Charlie Chaplin, monster

No actual birth certificate for Charles Spencer Chaplin has ever been found. The actor himself drew a blank when he went on a rummage in Somerset House. The latest research suggests that he was born ‘in a gypsy caravan in Smethwick, near Birmingham’. But surely the truth has been staring people in the face ever