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Spectator competition: Ed Miliband’s bacon roll blues (plus: new ways with Sonnet 18)

31 January 2015 9:22

The most recent challenge asked for blues songs from well-known politicians contemplating the forthcoming general election. In a small but accomplished entry the Lib Dem leader dominated the stage. John… Continue reading

A group of Afghan mujahideen, 1989 (Photo: Joel Robine/AFP/Getty)

Adam Curtis’s Bitter Lake, review: a Carry On Up the Khyber view of Afghanistan

30 January 2015 15:56

We all need stories ‘to help us make sense of the complexity of reality’, intones the sensible sounding voice of Adam Curtis at the start of his new documentary about… Continue reading

Robert Harris is unimpressed by the BBC's lack of books coverage

Robert Harris: BBC’s books coverage is a ‘disgrace’

28 January 2015 9:41

Lord Hall will be glad that he didn’t attend last night’s Costa Book Awards. Robert Harris, who chaired this year’s judges, took the opportunity to criticise the corporation’s book coverage when announcing… Continue reading

A 16th-century Turkish image of Mohammed welcoming Jacob, from the ‘Zubdet ut Tevarih’ by Lokman (1583) - a separate picture to the one in the V&A collection

Why is the V&A hiding a picture of Mohammed from its website?

27 January 2015 18:06

The V&A has recently decided to remove an historic image of the Prophet Mohammed from its website. The image remains in the collection and will be made available to scholars and researchers by appointment. I am… Continue reading

56th BFI London Film Festival: Midnight's Children - Official Screening

A medieval war of words: Salman Rushdie vs Times Literary Supplement

27 January 2015 8:47

Pencils are being sharpened on both sides of the Atlantic as a tiff between the Times Literary Supplement and Salman Rushdie reaches full swing. The author of The Satanic Verses has threatened… Continue reading

Image: Getty

Spectator competition: Henry VIII’s bedroom tax (plus: poems about beards)

24 January 2015 9:30

In Competition No. 2881 you were invited to take your lead from Carol Ann Duffy and provide an amusing poem about a piece of government legislation. The first line of… Continue reading

The art of astonishment: Cirque du Soleil’s 'Kooza' at the Royal Albert Hall

What happened to virtuosity in dance?

23 January 2015 16:42

I was watching the Cirque du Soleil’s Kooza at the Royal Albert Hall last week, thinking how much base, uncomplicated enjoyment can be had away from dance. Such relief to… Continue reading


Wolf Hall, BBC Two, review: ‘actually rather good’

22 January 2015 11:13

It starts in darkness. And no, it’s not a metaphor for the crooked timber of the human heart, it’s just bad lighting. Stanley Kubrick sourced his cameras from NASA in… Continue reading

Leave your brain at the door: David McVicar's Andrea Chenier at the Royal Opera House. All images: Bill Cooper/ROH

Andrea Chénier, Royal Opera House, review: like a Carry On – but without the jokes

21 January 2015 11:53

Andrea Chénier Royal Opera House, in rep until 6 February Who on earth could have predicted that a hoary old operatic melodrama set in revolutionary France would find resonance in… Continue reading

Chris Bryant and James Blunt

Blunt is right. Being posh in the arts is career suicide

20 January 2015 14:55

Yesterday saw Labour’s shadow minister for the arts, Chris Bryant MP, amusingly and justly savaged by the pop star James Blunt for some ill-advised remarks about the predominance of public school… Continue reading

James Blunt and Chris Bryant.

Good question, Mr Bryant, where are the Albert Finneys and the Glenda Jacksons?

19 January 2015 15:48

James Blunt, the self-deprecating musician who may or may not have stopped World War III, has written an open letter to Chris Bryant calling him a ‘classist gimp’ after the… Continue reading

James Blunt is married to Sofia Wellesley

‘Blooming precious’ James Blunt vs ‘prejudiced wazzock’ Chris Bryant

19 January 2015 14:16

Chris Bryant’s call for more diversity in British culture, has hit a nerve with James Blunt. After Bryant, the new shadow culture minister, remarked that ‘we can’t just have a culture… Continue reading

Renée Fleming is Hanna and Nathan Gunn is Danilo in Lehár's The Merry Widow. Photo: Brigitte Lacombe/Metropolitan Opera

Met Opera Live’s Merry Widow, review: kitsch, glorious kitsch

19 January 2015 11:54

The Merry Widow Met Opera Live ‘Even today, at 75, the waltz from The Merry Widow sends me into a fit of rage,’ wrote Richard Strauss to his close collaborator… Continue reading

Getty Images Europe

How Kraftwerk did more to shape modern music than anyone since the Beatles

19 January 2015 9:00

Normally, few things in life are quite so tedious as listening to a bunch of academics discussing pop music. However this week’s Kraftwerk Konferenz at Aston University may be the… Continue reading

Richard Dawkins. Could these blurbs make the bible his book of the year? Image: Getty

Spectator competition: Not Richard Dawkins’s Book of the Year (plus: literary agony uncles and aunts)

17 January 2015 9:15

The recent call for publicity blurbs that sell the bible to a modern audience attracted a host of new competitors as well as the old-timers. Kieran Corcoran’s entry presented Jesus… Continue reading


Truth, Lies, Diana review: it was a cover-up!

15 January 2015 17:05

Truth, Lies, Diana Charing Cross Theatre, in rep until 14 February John Conway’s sensationalist play, Truth, Lies, Diana, is a forensic re-examination of the circumstances surrounding the princess’s death in 1997.… Continue reading

08 (Raid) - The Cotton Wool Kid

A day in the life of Britain’s sexiest man

15 January 2015 9:00

There are, presumably, a great many people who dream about what they will say when the day comes that they get to meet David Gandy – but I have to… Continue reading

Gyula Orendt (Orfeo) and Mary Bevan (Euridice) in the Royal Opera's new staging of 'Orfeo' at the Roundhouse. Image: Stephen Cummiskey

Royal Opera’s Orfeo, Roundhouse: shouts its agenda so loudly the music struggles to be heard

14 January 2015 10:42

Orfeo Royal Opera, Camden Roundhouse, in rep until 24 January What a week to stage an opera about art’s power to challenge institutional authority, oppression — even death itself. Orfeo’s weapon… Continue reading

Circa 30 AD, Jesus Christ being kissed by Judas Iscariot, the apostle who betrayed him. Original Publication: From 'The Judas Kiss' by Dore. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Spectator competition: another side of Judas Iscariot (plus: singing the election blues)

12 January 2015 18:30

The latest competition invited you to take a leaf out of Hilary Mantel’s book and provide a scene that shows a well-known villain from history or literature in an uncharacteristically… Continue reading

Eddie Redmayne has won the Best Actor Golden Globe for his performance in The Theory of Everything

Eddie Redmayne reigns as king of the Hawkings

12 January 2015 11:56

Mr S’s colleague Tanya Gold writes in this week’s issue of The Spectator, that Eddie Redmayne is ‘very good’ in The Theory of Everything even if the Stephen Hawking biopic… Continue reading

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Marcello Mastroianni and Anita Ekberg in La Dolce Vita (Photo: AFP/Getty)

The Spectator reviews La Dolce Vita, December 1960

11 January 2015 16:13

It’s hard when a legend turns up to be judged: hard to judge it, hard on the legend. Everything suffers, maybe judgment most of all. How can we help being influenced—… Continue reading


The cook, the critic, the composer and the love child

8 January 2015 16:09

Michael Kennedy, who died on New Year’s Eve, was the Sunday Telegraph’s music critic when I was for a while assistant arts editor there about 20 years ago. He was of course… Continue reading


Je Suis Charlie

7 January 2015 14:18

It is important, today especially, to remember that this is nothing new. We have been here before. On the 11th of July, 1991, Hitoshi Igarachi was murdered in his office… Continue reading


The attack on Charlie Hebdo is an attack on freedom

7 January 2015 13:46

Here is the leading article from the new Spectator magazine, out tomorrow, which went to press as news of the attack on Charlie Hebdo broke. listen to ‘Douglas Murray discusses the attack… Continue reading

'Bedroom tax' report

Spectator competition: New Year haikus (plus: a poem about the bedroom tax)

6 January 2015 18:45

Your New Year challenge was to submit a poem composed of three haikus that looks forward to the year ahead. The traditional Japanese haiku contains 17 syllables in three unrhymed… Continue reading