BSC Address

Thursday, June 10, 2010


I've never read so many biographies in my life. But now I'm onto David Niven - so who's complaining!

Monday, June 07, 2010


These are Alec Guiness' favourite four lines of poetry. Very apt for me at the moment:

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time

T.S Eliot
Little Gidding -(the last of his Four Quartets)


I tend to read in spurts of five books every five years. Something hooks me into a book and then I'm off until I hit a dud...

OLIVIER first, SCOFIELD second, GUINESS third, then THE TWO OF US by Sheila Hancock, which is a very special book.

Onto book five now. This is normally where it goes wrong...

Good theatre

Another good show at The National with AFTER THE DANCE. Wonderful to see Benedict Cumberbatch on stage as Scott-Fowler in this superb Rattigan play. And I thought John Heffernan was excellent as Peter.

My mouth opened wide to find that Rattigan is telling the story of my life for the last twelve months. I hope mine has a better outcome than Scott-Fowlers'.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010


I stopped collecting autographs when, at 21 years old, I asked Olivier to sign a book which I'd been given for my 21st birthday. I reckoned that was the last autograph I needed.

But how could I refuse when I was offered a unique collection of signatures by Eileen Shand, a 90 year old lady whose sister Phyllis had worked at The Old Rep in the 1930's. Eileen's father had been a music hall magician at the turn of the century and had started to collect autographs. Eileen had read about the fledgling BSC and wrote to me to ask if I'd like to come and meet her. We became great friends for the three years before she died. And the book?

Page one is signed Ellen Terry, Bradford 1904. There's also a signature from Irving 1919, but when I checked the date I sadly realised it wasn't Henry, but his brother. Turning over the pages you arrive at Charles Chaplin, W.C.Fields, Dan Leno - and on one page alone there's George Bernard Shaw, Charles Laughton, Cedric Hardwick and Sir Barry Jackson. Later on you find Morcambe and Wise, Larry Olivier (the only time I've seen him sign his name as Larry)...and Simon Rattle...! And on several pages the leading comedians and actors of their day have drawn paintings and cartoons(the vicar drawn by W.C.Fields is my favourite).

I showed the book to Paul Scofield and Simon Callow who were brilliantly able to point out all the names I didn't recognise - and Paul was able to say "that's the box office manager at Stratford!".

It's one of the countless treats that's come from being associated with The Old Rep, Sir Barry's wonderful theatre.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010


I've just finished Garry O'Connor's book on Paul Scofield and it's been wonderful to 'hear' the old man's voice again. It's been like having an extended conversation over some of the things we never talked about. Sitting under the apple trees in Paul's garden on a summer's day eating all kinds of wonderful cakes home made by Joy was joy indeed. I cannot think of a better definition of 'bliss'.

I am now embarking on Alec Guiness's autobiography and it's another total delight. I tend to read in five year spurts and I'm hoping this latest spurt will last until I've read the biographies of all the formidable actors that are now memories. I probably know least about Ralph Richardson, so I'm hoping someone clever has written up his story.

(How great it was to read that Paul refused to extend UNCLE VANYA's short run once Colin Blakely had left the cast: Colin was always one of my favourite actors).


I read an article over the weekend which reminded me to register to donate my organs when I'm gone. It takes 30 seconds and will save someone's life when you're no longer in need of them. So here's a quick plug for

Quick, easy and could be the most important website you ever clicked onto