Culture House Daily

Safe pair of hands? The new head of Tate, Maria Balshaw, receiving the 2015 museum of the year award for the Whitworth Art Gallery. Photo by Tim P. Whitby/Getty Images for the Art Fund

Is Maria Balshaw such a good choice for Tate? I tremble for the art I love

19 January 2017 16:30

The last couple of years have seen changes at the top of all of London’s major art musuems. In 2015…

Fraser And Pinter

Books podcast: Antonia Fraser’s Israeli diary

16 January 2017 12:36

In this week’s Books Podcast, I talk to Lady Antonia Fraser about her new book. Our Israeli Diary, 1978 is…


The sadism of Saturday night TV shows

14 January 2017 16:00

It’s easy to see TV talent shows as three-ring circuses of cheap emotion,  empty promises and bitter tears – but…

Frankie Howerd. Photo by Joe Bangay/Daily Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Spectator competition winners: Nigel Farage channels Frankie Howerd

14 January 2017 10:15

The latest challenge was to submit an extract from a politician’s speech ghostwritten by a well-known comedian. At the 1990…

Meryl Streep playing Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady

Meryl Streep won an Oscar for imitating the afflicted

11 January 2017 14:07

At the Golden Globes ceremony, Meryl Streep attacked Donald Trump because he ‘imitated a disabled reporter’. ‘When the powerful use…

Casey Affleck (Lee) and Lucas Hedges (Patrick) in Manchester By The Sea

Affleck carries the film – with the help of that jaw: Manchester By The Sea reviewed

11 January 2017 11:49

Everyone in Hollywood knows that if you want some good jaw-clenching you go to an Affleck brother. To older brother…

Plácido Domingo as Nabucco at the Met, searching for his low notes. Photo: Marty Sohl/Metropolitan Opera

Callas would have found it a very big bore: Met Opera Live’s Nabucco reviewed

11 January 2017 11:27

Nabucco Met Opera Live Callas, writing to her husband Meneghini from Naples in 1949, where she was performing a run…


Books podcast: The war on the old

9 January 2017 17:22

Is there a war on the old? Yes, says John Sutherland, the respected author and critic who is currently Emeritus Professor…


Trump voters are Hollywood’s new laughing stock

9 January 2017 17:00

‘When the powerful use their position to bully others we all lose,’ announced Meryl Streep at last night’s Golden Globe…

Peter Cook with wife Lin at Mick Jagger's 50th birthday party in 1993. Photo: Richard Young / Rex / Shutterstock

Lin Cook, who died before Christmas, personified that odd breed: the celebrity widow

4 January 2017 15:52

Amid the flurry of famous deaths during 2016, one particular passing has been more or less forgotten. Peter Cook’s third…

English writer John Berger near Paris in 2009. Photo: Ulf Andersen / Getty Images

Kenneth Clark was much better at opening people’s eyes to great art than Marxist John Berger

4 January 2017 12:35

It is one of those interesting quirks of postwar cultural history that John Berger, who has died at the age…


Sherlock Holmes and the Mystery of the Murdered Script

3 January 2017 11:14

In the first days of January ‘17, the Arctic air frosted over London forcing even the most careless citizen of…

Vanity License Plate - Arkansas

Why do people hate poetry?

2 January 2017 11:52

Why do so many people think poetry is important, and so few of them read it? And why does what…


Spectator Books of the Year: The biography of a man who prayed he’d never have one

31 December 2016 9:30

‘I pray I shall not find a biographer,’ said Steven Runciman, eminent historian of Byzantium and the Crusades, Grand Orator…

A shot from Vogue magazine, April 1933

Spectator Books of the Year: A hundred years of British Vogue

30 December 2016 9:30

I don’t really care — as I’m sure you don’t either — whether Duchess Kate agrees to a photoshoot or…

Spectator Books of the Year: The myth of meritocracy

29 December 2016 9:30

I must admit that I write a beautiful essay about my dad in My Old Man: Tales of Our Fathers…


The great Roald Dahl debate

28 December 2016 22:26

In the year of Roald Dahl’s centenary, the Spectator Books Podcast decided to debate this sacred cow. Lucy Mangan, author of…


I wasn’t offended by Richard Hammond and Ice Cream Gate. Does that make me self-hating?

28 December 2016 18:10

On Christmas Eve, as my partner headed upstairs to continue his Spanish lessons, I settled down to wrap presents while…

Spectator Books of the Year: Philip Hensher on a good year for novels

26 December 2016 9:30

A good year for novels. Rachel Cusk’s Transit (Cape, £16.99) is a brilliant and original enterprise, as well as a…


The genius of George Michael, 1963-2016

25 December 2016 23:34

A couple of weeks ago, George Michael announced he was collaborating with another songwriter, Shahid Khan, and for his fans…

Spectator Books of the Year: The novel that Netflix should snap up

25 December 2016 9:30

Kate Loveman’s Samuel Pepys and his Books (Oxford, £60) abounded in memorable touches: Pepys buying a Mass book in 1660…

Ali Smith

Spectator Books of the Year: How Ali Smith’s Autumn captures the best in human nature

24 December 2016 9:30

Easily the most original novel of the year was Charlotte Hobson’s The Vanishing Futurist (Faber, £16.99). It tells the story…

Spectator Books of the Year: The man who stole Captain Cook’s thunder

23 December 2016 9:30

Hot on the heels of his books about the Bible and the Queen comes A.N. Wilson’s witty, learned, utterly self-possessed…

What Donald Trump’s taste tells us about him

22 December 2016 11:00

Elsie de Wolfe was the pioneer interior designer whose motto was ‘plenty of optimism and white paint’. She banished brown…


This Christmas, fall in love with the Spectator’s books podcast

22 December 2016 9:44

Christmas is three days away, those heading off to relatives are starting to pack. Booze, books – and, I’d like to…