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Nothing is safe, not even a joyous, throwaway TV show

Isis aren’t the only ones guilty of censoring the past

4 July 2015 11:11

Aside from reports about terrorism, war and the Vatican cosying up to Naomi Klein, few news stories this year have upset me as much as the ones about TV Land cancelling… Continue reading

390 Comments
New balls please. Image: Getty

Spectator competition: Anyone for tennis? (plus: poems on the underground)

4 July 2015 9:30

To mark the beginning of Wimbledon, competitors were invited to take as their first line ‘There’s a breathless hush on the centre court’ and continue for up to 15 lines… Continue reading

9 Comments
Royal Opera's controversial new production of Rossini's William Tell. Photo: Clive Barda

Boo the knee-jerk reaction to William Tell not the rape scene

1 July 2015 13:05

‘I blame Princess Diana’, was my guest’s response to it all. Certainly, there is much we might lay at the feet of our long lamented People’s Princess, but I struggled… Continue reading

14 Comments
The House of Lords, 'whose ornaments and chandeliers seem to drip off the gilded ceiling  like stalactites'. Photo: Tim Graham/Getty Images

There’s only one way to save the crumbling Houses of Parliament. Turn them into a theme park

1 July 2015 11:35

The Houses of Parliament are falling down. According to the Independent Options Appraisal of the Palace of Westminster Restoration and Renewal Programme - a group of engineers and project managers commissioned to… Continue reading

26 Comments
Soviet Colonel who prevented 1983 nuclear response

Meet Stanislav Petrov – the cantankerous man who saved the world

1 July 2015 9:36

I’ve just watched a rather good DVD. This happens so rarely that I thought I’d share the fact with you. It was a film called The Man Who Saved The… Continue reading

21 Comments
John Osborn as Arnold in the Royal Opera's controversial new William Tell. Photo: ROH/ Clive Barda

The gang rape was the least offensive thing about Royal Opera’s new William Tell

30 June 2015 16:14

Guillaume Tell Royal Opera House, in rep until 17 July There’s no such thing as a tasteful rape scene — or there certainly shouldn’t be. It’s an act of grossest violation,… Continue reading

14 Comments
Charlemagne, king of the Franks (Photo: Getty)

Greeks v Franks – why culture still matters

30 June 2015 15:13

During the period of the crusades Greeks would refer to western Europeans by the generic term ‘Frank’, derived from the name of the leading barbarian tribe of the west. The… Continue reading

134 Comments
Image: Getty

Spectator competition: Is that ‘Well Spanked’ or ‘Disappointing Sandwich’?

29 June 2015 17:45

A spoof Farrow & Ball paint-colour chart doing the rounds on social media was the inspiration for the latest challenge. Competitors were invited to see if they could outdo the… Continue reading

6 Comments
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In the footsteps of Marco Polo: the journey that changed William Dalrymple’s life

24 June 2015 17:23

This is the introduction to the 25th anniversary edition of William Dalrymple’s first book, In Xanadu: A Quest At the end of the windy, rainy April of 1986, towards the end of my… Continue reading

6 Comments
Shake it out and rake it in (Photo: Getty)

The world belongs to Taylor Swift now. There will be no free-trial period

23 June 2015 17:46

All hail Taylor Swift. How she must give baby boomers the fear. Not just baby boomers. Also those who came next, the Generation Xers, who seemed to define themselves culturally… Continue reading

108 Comments
The new chief conductor of the Berlin Phil, Kirill Petrenko. Photo: Getty

The new head of the Berlin Philharmonic was no-one’s first choice

23 June 2015 12:56

Let’s face facts. Kirill Petrenko was no-one’s first choice as music director of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. His name came into the reckoning only after 124 orchestra members split fatally… Continue reading

12 Comments
The point of an arts degree is the time it gives you to pursue other hobbies (Photo: Getty)

Students worrying about ‘value for money’ miss the point of an arts degree

23 June 2015 12:05

University towns are already awash with fur-trimmed gowns and proud parents, but behind the smiles there’s a glimmer of resentment: four in 10 of those graduating this year think they’ve… Continue reading

44 Comments
Len Hutton and  Cyril Washbrook coming out to bat for England at a Test Match, at Trent Bridge, Nottingham. (Photo by Central Press/Getty Images)

Spectator competition winner: The poetry of cricket (plus: can you see a rainbow?)

20 June 2015 11:40

In Competition No. 2903 you were invited to supply a poem incorporating a dozen cricketing terms. English poets love cricket: Housman, Betjeman, Chesterton and Sassoon all wrote about the game.… Continue reading

9 Comments
entourage-cast

Entourage review: its obsession with boobs, babes and oiled up bodies continues

17 June 2015 14:54

Look, could everyone please stop denigrating the Entourage movie for spurious reasons like ‘it feels like an extended episode of the TV series’? Since the US release a few weeks… Continue reading

4 Comments
Queen Cersei Lannister - pre-punishment

Why feminists like me are addicted to Game of Thrones

16 June 2015 15:32

This post contains spoilers and discussion of the Season 5 Finale. My name is Kate Maltby, I’m a feminist, and I’m addicted to Game of Thrones. I’ve known I’ve had a problem for… Continue reading

47 Comments
Salisbury Cathedral's Magna Carta Granted World Heritage Status

In praise of charming but pointless laws – like the Magna Carta

15 June 2015 13:36

If you peer deep into the statute book, you will see that it is still an offence to enter parliament wearing armour. Even more amazing, it has been a crime… Continue reading

33 Comments
Image: Getty

Spectator competition winner: nude giant girls and Georges Pompidou’s innards (plus: anyone for tennis?)

13 June 2015 9:30

The latest comp was inspired by Stephen Spender’s notorious poem ‘The Pylons’, which he likens to ‘nude giant girls that have no secret’. Spender wasn’t praising pylons on aesthetic grounds… Continue reading

4 Comments
Jenny Sealey with Labour culture shadow Chris Bryant

Fine producers who don’t employ disabled actors and actors will just learn how to fake disability

12 June 2015 14:45

Jenny Sealey, director of Graeae Theatre Company, has had a brainwave. Fine producers who don’t employ disabled actors. She’s particularly concerned about the failure of opera directors to hire performers… Continue reading

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If comedians can’t take a politically incorrect joke, who can?

10 June 2015 10:22

Jerry Seinfeld’s takedown of the political correctness of today’s youth should give us all pause for thought. In an interview on US radio, the sitcom and stand-up star said that… Continue reading

224 Comments
ol

The Olympic movement follows Fifa into the gutter

9 June 2015 18:39

No line has been repeated more often during the Fifa scandal than the instruction that football should follow the example of the International Olympic Committee. In 1998, the received wisdom… Continue reading

20 Comments
(Photo by John Pratt/Keystone Features/Getty Images)

Spectator competition winner: saucy short stories

6 June 2015 9:30

The American writer Richard Brautigan fulfilled his ambition to end a short story with the word ‘mayonnaise’ in his 1967 novel Trout Fishing in America. Actually, strictly speaking, he didn’t.… Continue reading

4 Comments
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We had so many books we had to hire a structural engineer to prevent us being buried

5 June 2015 17:28

My father Anthony Hobson, whose books are to be sold at Christie’s in two sales next week, claimed that the book collector’s greatest joy was the sight of an empty… Continue reading

13 Comments
sense8-trailer-netflix-wachowski

The Wachowskis’ Sense8 reviewed: the kind of programme where nobody ever fully dies

5 June 2015 16:45

With 60 million international subscribers and a programme-making budget of about $3bn, Netflix is steamrolling most of the received wisdom about how we make and watch television. Already riding high… Continue reading

9 Comments
Craig Raine - poet under fire. Photo: Corbis

Why Twitter was right to mock Craig Raine’s poem

4 June 2015 17:44

Yesterday was a strange day on Twitter. For most of it, a living poet was trending. Unfortunately for Craig Raine, the poet in question, he was trending because a poem… Continue reading

22 Comments
Ali Smith wins the 2015 Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction for her novel How To Be Both (Photo: Ian Gavan/Getty)

The Women’s Prize for Fiction deserves a better drink than Baileys

4 June 2015 15:03

Well, as a mere PR exercise, the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction, awarded last night, has done really well, what with the American woman from Diageo (owner of Baileys) causing… Continue reading

9 Comments