Arts Diary

A weekly round-up of what's happening in the arts

The author (apparently a Tory lobbyist) of Unzipped - the scandalous sex memoir of a bonking blue, published by Virgin Books - plans to run for Mayor of London. "He pretty much knows he won't win, but thinks that if he gets outed as the author of the book during the campaign it may push up sales," my source tells me.

"Good morning" . . . or perhaps that should now be "G'day". The cerebral Aussie broadcaster Clive James is being lined up as the new Alistair Cooke. He is taking over the great man's Letter from America slot on Radio 4 this month, delivering authored essays about current affairs for the next ten weeks. Insiders say it could become a permanent gig.

The BBC's Tchaikovsky Experience season opened with a lovely concert at the Russian Orthodox Cathedral in Knightsbridge, London. One small problem: the invite was a clever pastiche of Gilbert and George that used the Russian composer's image in a stained-glass montage. But G&G are notoriously protective of their imagery and apparently they weren't consulted. Yikes!

Sympathies to Rik Mayall (pictured below), who keeps having blackouts on stage playing Alan B'Stard in The New Statesman. I am told his short-term memory is shot after his near-fatal quad-bike accident. Some performances have had to be cancelled. Still, audience members are always supportive ("We love you, Rik," they often shout) and the show is selling out.

Remember The Manchester Passion, the BBC's Easter extravaganza for which the city hosted a recreation of the Crucifixion story, featuring Jesus singing the indie Manc classics "Love Will Tear Us Apart" and "I Am the Resurrection"? Well, stay tuned for a Crimbo Nativity event set in Liverpool.


Ben Dowell is a 32 year old freelance journalist who has written extensively on the arts and media for a range of publications including The Sunday Times, The Guardian, The Evening Standard, the Sunday Mirror and most tabloids. As well as providing punditry for a number of media outlets he has also sat on judging panels for many awards including Bafta and the Royal Television Society. He writes the Arts Diary in the New Statesman.