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Londoner’s Diary: David Hare slams Arts Council ‘for pointless evenings’

·4-min read
 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

PLAYWRIGHT Sir David Hare slammed the Arts Council for creating “propaganda” and accused the BBC of “ingratiation” in a full-blooded attack over the weekend.

Hare, inset, said the Arts Council, which is public financed, was “off its head” and afraid of funding plays that have ideas “with which the public are not familiar”. Instead, “we are told what we already know”, leading to a “completely pointless evening”. “All the playwrights of my youth were major contrarians” he said. Speaking at Hay Festival’s Winter Weekend, Hare called the organisation “criminal” for “doing so little to feed things at the root”. He said that while the council was creating “generations of needless arts administrators... the young are being abandoned”.

The Oscar-nominated screenwriter was similarly damning about the BBC, which he thinks is afraid to “make waves”. “Most drama is now crime shows you know because they’re not a problem to the Government” he said. Perhaps he was cross with the BBC for not taking No for an answer over Strictly. Hare, calling himself the “world’s worst dancer”, said he has been asked to appear twice, which he found “curiously insulting”. “What part of No do they not understand?” he said.

Biggins gets behind panto ticket sales

Christopher Biggins (Channel 5)
Christopher Biggins (Channel 5)

CHRISTOPHER BIGGINS has urged punters to book pantomime tickets to help beleaguered theatres. Panto icon Biggins, who starts rehearsals for a run in Dartford today, told The Londoner that theatre has struggled in the pandemic with “no help whatsoever” from government. “We were just left in the cold.”

A survey last week showed regular panto goers so far say they are less likely to book this year. Biggins said he could understand why people might be nervous but that checks would mean the evening was safe.

The actor said that some thespians “pooh-pooh” pantos because it’s “common and means nothing”. However, Biggins said that the form is entertaining, and is “breeding a new audience: children”. So people should definitely come, we checked? “Oh yes they should” he said. A pro.

Rani: I was off with the trolley

All smiles: TV star Anita Rani (Ian West/PA)
All smiles: TV star Anita Rani (Ian West/PA)

COUNTRYFILE presenter Anita Rani, pictured admits she used to steal trolleys from a local supermarket as a child to avoid having to carry groceries home. “It was too close to take the car, and too far to have to carry the shopping back” she said, qualifying: “They were recycled because the local kids would use them as go-karts”. “I’m the reason you have to put a quid in” Rani says. “Sorry”.

Fennell has blazed a trail since youth

Emerald Fennell (AP)
Emerald Fennell (AP)

EMERALD FENNELL’S imagination has been known to get her in trouble. When there was an electrical fire at her childhood home, the now star of The Crown told firemen that she had been involved “for attention”. The story has never left her behind in her home town. Fennell told the Hay Winter Festival last night it “hadn’t really occurred to her” that “the whole county would think that I was an arsonist for the rest of my life”. “I have not burned any houses down,” she promised.

Anything Goes for Kendal and Lindsay

FELICITY KENDAL and Robert Lindsay shared a hug to keep warm at a screening of Anything Goes: The Musical at Chiswick Cinema last night, also attended by Simon Callow. Meanwhile, David Oyelowo hosted a screening of Aml Ameen’s Boxing Day at the Warner House screening room near Holborn. On Friday, singers Alexandra Burke and Nicola Roberts attended the launch of nail salon Ama’s new site at The Londoner hotel.


Labour MP Zarah Sultana (Jessica Taylor) (PA Media)
Labour MP Zarah Sultana (Jessica Taylor) (PA Media)

LABOUR’S Zarah Sultana wants support from her party leader over racism. When she and colleagues told of the Islamophobic abuse they receive, some front-bench allies condemned the words, but not Sir Keir Starmer who Sultana says she has never spoken to. His support could show “the party is unafraid to challenge this vile racism”, she says.


Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries (Steve Parsons/PA) (PA Wire)
Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries (Steve Parsons/PA) (PA Wire)

BBC stars can’t help but have a dig at the Culture Secretary. Speaking in Hay, Jane Garvey joked about the BBC’s centenary celebrations: “100 years next year — that’s if Nadine Dorries lets the BBC stagger on into 2022... oops”. The presenter then added: “She’s a very successful writer, very successful indeed.” That’s balance.

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