Corin Redgrave 1939-2010

Scion of the theatrical dynasty dies at 70.

The actor Corin Redgrave, scion of the Redgrave theatrical dynasty, has died, his family announced today. Redgrave suffered a heart attack in 2005 and only returned to the stage last year, playing the Hollywood screenwriter Dalton Trumbo.

Redgrave was an occasional contributor to the New Statesman. And last year, he gave a short interview to the magazine, reproduced below.

 

Does art make a difference?

Yes. To me, most of the time. In fact, all of the time. It allows me to say what I feel, what I think. Everything that needs to be said. For some in oppressed or deprived countries, it is the only way they can express themselves.

Should politics and art mix?

Yes, they should. In fact, for me they always do. Of course, not all my work as an artist is political, but I think I am a political artist.

Is good art a product of inspiration or perspiration?

This is a good question. Not that I always feel inspired -- although I hope to be -- but when I work hard I do perspire!

Does money corrupt an artist?

In my career, unfortunately, I have never been paid sufficiently to imagine that I have been corrupted. I wish I had been. I should like to be, always.

Is your work for the many or for the few?

Both. I have done films and television which undoubtedly were seen by larger audiences. I have done plays which have been seen in tiny theatres by very small audiences or, for that matter, sometimes even in larger theatres.

Which artist do you most admire?

My sister, Vanessa. Because she always loves her work and puts herself completely into it.

Which artist do you least admire?

Myself. I don't think there is anything particularly admirable about my work.

What inspires you?

An artist whose work has changed the world and allowed us to understand it better.

Where do you work best?

In theatres such as the National Theatre.

If you weren't an artist, what would you be?

I would be a teacher, I think.

If you were world leader, what would be your first law?

Abolish all destructive weapons.

Who would be your top advisers?

My family, or just people I meet in the street every day, in pubs or restaurants.

What would you censor?

Nothing at all.

What would you legalise?

Anything that needed the help of the law to make it really disreputable.

Who would you banish?

Our present Prime Minister.

What are the rules that you live by?

I don't live by any rules but if there were one, it would be to enjoy myself. I should live by that.

What couldn't you live without?

Sex!

What would you like your legacy to be?

I would give a lot of money to help people enjoy themselves.

Do you love your country?

Yes, I do. But not, of course, more than any other country.

Are we all doomed?

No, not all of us. Not even myself.

Jonathan Derbyshire is Managing Editor of Prospect. He was formerly Culture Editor of the New Statesman.

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Would the BBC's Nazi drama SS-GB have felt half so resonant a year ago?

This alternate history is freighted with meaning now we're facing the wurst-case scenario. 

Would SS-GB have felt half so resonant a year ago? Though the clever-after-the-fact Nostradamus types out there might disagree, I can’t believe that it would. When it comes to the Second World War, after all, the present has helpfully stepped in where memory is just beginning to leave off. The EU, in the process of fragmenting, is now more than ever powerless to act in the matter of rogue states, even among its own membership. In case you hadn’t noticed, Hungary, for instance, is already operating as a kind of proto-fascist state, led by Viktor Orbán, a man whom Jean-Claude Juncker, the president of the European Commission, jokingly likes to call “the dictator” – and where it goes, doubtless others will soon follow.

The series (Sundays, 9pm), adapted from Len Deighton’s novel, is set in 1941 in a Britain under Nazi occupation; Winston Churchill has been executed and the resistance is struggling to hold on to its last strongholds in the countryside. Sam Riley plays Douglas Archer, a detective at Scotland Yard, now under the control of the SS, and a character who appears in almost every scene. Riley has, for an actor, a somewhat unexpressive face, beautiful but unreadable. Here, however, his downturned mouth and impassive cheekbones are perfect: Archer, after all, operates (by which I mean, barely operates) in a world in which no one wants to give their true feelings away, whether to their landlady, their lover, or their boss, newly arrived from Himmler’s office and as Protestant as all hell (he hasn’t used the word “degenerate” yet, but he will, he will).

Archer is, of course, an ambiguous figure, neither (at present) a member of the resistance nor (we gather) a fully committed collaborator. He is – or so he tells himself – merely doing his job, biding his time until those braver or more foolhardy do something to restore the old order. Widowed, he has a small boy to bring up. Yet how long he can inhabit this dubious middle ground remains to be seen. Oskar Huth (Lars Eidinger), the new boss, is keen to finish off the resistance; the resistance, in turn, is determined to persuade Archer to join its cause.

It’s hard to find fault with the series; for the next month, I am going to look forward to Sunday nights mightily. I would, I suppose, have hoped for a slightly more charismatic actress than Kate Bosworth to play Barbara Barga, the American journalist who may or may not be involved with the British resistance. But everything else seems pretty perfect to me. London looks suitably dirty and its inhabitants’ meals suitably exiguous. Happiness is an extra egg for tea, smoking is practically a profession, and
the likes of Archer wear thick, white vests.

Swastikas adorn everything from the Palace of Westminster to Trafalgar Square, Buckingham Palace is half ruined, a memorial to what the Germans regard as Churchill’s folly, and the CGI is good enough for the sight of all these things to induce your heart to ache briefly. Nazi brutality is depicted here as almost quotidian – and doubtless it once was to some. Huth’s determination to have four new telephone lines installed in his office within the hour is at one end of this horrible ordinariness. At the other is the box in which Archer’s mutinous secretary Sylvia (Maeve Dermody) furiously stubs out her fag, full to the brim with yellow stars.

When I first heard about The Kettering Incident (Tuesdays, 12.20am; repeated Wednesdays, 10pm) I thought someone must have found out about that thing that happened one time I was driving north on the M1 with a more-than-usually terrible hangover. Turns out it’s a new Australian drama, which comes to us on Sky Atlantic. Anna (Elizabeth Debicki), a doctor working in London, pitches up back in Tasmania many years after her teenage friend Gillian disappeared into its Kettering forest, having seen a load of mysterious bright lights. Was Gillian abducted by aliens or was she, as some local people believe, murdered by Anna? To be honest, she could be working as a roadie for Kylie, for all I care. This ponderous, derivative show is what happens when a writer sacrifices character on the altar of plot. The more the plot thickens, the more jaw-achingly tedious it becomes.

Rachel Cooke trained as a reporter on The Sunday Times. She is now a writer at The Observer. In the 2006 British Press Awards, she was named Interviewer of the Year.

This article first appeared in the 24 February 2017 issue of the New Statesman, The world after Brexit