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WATCH: Why Steve Backshall is one of the best presenters on British television

1 September 2015 20:22

At a time when so much of television is read from autocue, it’s a joy to come across complete professionals whose love for their subject is second only to their knowledge of… Continue reading

The damaged Brahma statue at the Hindu Erawan shrine (Photo: Nicolas Asfouri/Getty)

Peaceful yet violent: the Thai paradox that still baffles the West

30 August 2015 11:10

The scene of the recent bombing at the Erawan shrine has swiftly been remodelled to make it seem as though nothing happened. Upbeat slogans – ‘Stronger Together’ – and a forensically… Continue reading

Image: Getty

Spectator competition: Spammity Spam! Wonderful Spam! (plus: arty limericks)

29 August 2015 9:30

The request for tributes in verse to a once-popular foodstuff that has fallen out of favour generated a large and lively postbag. Bill Greenwell’s entry (Spangles!) brought to mind childhood… Continue reading

Tyler, The Creator: a homophobic menace? Photograph: Joseph Okpako/Redferns via Getty Images

Why is the Home Office giving in to illiberal youth by banning rappers like Tyler, The Creator?

28 August 2015 13:17

In a 2012 interview on Newsnight, foul-mouthed LA rapper Tyler, The Creator told a churlish Stephen Smith that the point of his music was to ‘piss old white people off… Continue reading

Image: Getty

Spectator competition: a thriller in three text messages (plus: coinages inspired by today’s politicians)

24 August 2015 18:30

The latest challenge, to submit a thriller in three text messages, seemed straightforward enough but it turned out to be a tough assignment that stretched veterans and newcomers alike. As… Continue reading

The Stonewall memorial statues have been painted as part of a protest against the film Stonewall

There’s a simple reason why the Stonewall trailer doesn’t feature more ‘trans women of colour’

21 August 2015 16:06

Aping Isis, trans activists have defaced a historical monument to make a political point. They blacked-up — seriously, with spray paint and afro wigs — the Christopher Street Gay Liberation… Continue reading

A portrait of William Shakespeare is pic

Poets4Corbyn: Jeremy Corbyn is immortalised in rhyme

21 August 2015 11:32

If you thought Corbynmania was limited to female obsession and male politicians growing their facial hair, it’s time to think again. It turns out that Jeremy Corbyn is also inspiring poets everywhere.… Continue reading

Khaled al-Asaad, the Director of Antiquities and Museum in Palmyra, in 2002 (Photo: Marc Deville/Getty)

Remembering Khaled al-Asaad, the Syrian archaeologist who dared to stand up to Isis

20 August 2015 11:07

Erudite and bespectacled, he was the sort of Arab the Islamic State loathed. Khaled al-Asaad, an 81-year old archaeologist, was for the past four decades inseparable from Palmyra’s ancient ruins.… Continue reading

Jonathan Ollivier of the "Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake" cast photocall, poses in Times Square on October 13, 2010 in New York City.

Ballet critics are not writing for dancers

18 August 2015 13:55

Some fans of Jonathan Ollivier, the fine dancer who was killed on his motorbike recently on the day he was to perform one of his best roles, the brooding sexpot… Continue reading


Taki on Jeffrey Bernard – ‘Never a nice word about me’

15 August 2015 14:30

Some years ago, Taki and Jeffrey Bernard each wrote the other’s obituary. When Jeffrey died on 4 September 1997, The Spectator published Taki’s version. Radio 4 are today broadcasting Jeffrey… Continue reading

I wandered lonely as a cloud

The poetic thoughts your pet is having

14 August 2015 16:51

My request for poems by a pet who is cheesed off with its owner generated an entertaining parade of bullied, misunderstood and condescended-to creatures. The contempt in Basil Ransome-Davies’s closing… Continue reading


‘Life in Squares’ reminds us that the Bloomsbury Group liked sex. That’s about it

12 August 2015 18:15

I didn’t have very high hopes for ‘Life In Squares’ (the BBC three-parter about the Bloomsbury circle which concluded this week).  But the first episode stuck me as promising.  The… Continue reading

Robert Conquest (left) receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom with Aretha Franklin (middle) and Alan Greenspan (right) at the White House, 2005

Robert Conquest: ‘There is something particularly unpleasant about those who, living in a political democracy, comfortably condone terror elsewhere’

4 August 2015 22:21

Robert Conquest, the historian of Soviet Russia who has died aged 98, was also The Spectator’s literary editor between 1962 and 1963. The following essay was published in the magazine… Continue reading

Sinatra at the London Palladium. Photo: Nobby Clark

I wish the cult of Frank Sinatra would end

3 August 2015 14:48

Walking around central London, I’ve been struck by how many shows Frank Sinatra has been performing in town recently. He played a string of concerts in July at the Royal… Continue reading

Edward Bulwer-Lytton: ‘the worst writer in history'

Spectator competition: the best opening paragraphs to the worst of all novels (plus: a thriller in three text messages)

3 August 2015 13:10

The latest challenge was a shameless rip-off of the annual Bulwer-Lytton fiction contest which asks for ‘the opening sentence to the worst of all novels’ (Edward Bulwer-Lytton is often described… Continue reading

Chernobyl's radar station, Duga-3, is the star of Chad Gracia's documentary 'The Russian Woodpecker' about what really happened in Chernobyl in 1986. Photo: Sundance

Conspiracies, hookers and bombs – welcome to the Odessa Film Festival

30 July 2015 13:16

Odessa, the pearl of the Black Sea, is one of the most charming port cities you can imagine, the centre of the city mainly 19th-century Italian and French architecture. Like… Continue reading

Image: Getty

Spectator competition: ‘Come friendly bombs, and fall on those/ Who clip their nails or pick their nose…’ (plus: pets dish the dirt on their owners)

25 July 2015 9:30

Transport for London’s efforts to use verse to encourage Tube users to mind their manners produced poems whose rhyme and scansion would have made William McGonagall blush. So it was… Continue reading

Slash in full flow. Photo: Jure Makovec/AFP/Getty Images

Slash at 50: why is this rock god so underappreciated?

23 July 2015 15:27

Saul Hudson, more commonly known by his childhood nickname ‘Slash’, turns 50 today. It is safe to say that the next 50 years of his life are unlikely to be quite as hectic… Continue reading

August 1966:  A member of the International Society of Girl Watchers uses the ploy of wiping his shoulder in order to leer unnoticed at a passing woman. (Photo by Keystone Features/Getty Images)

Spectator competition: a lecherous poet gets his come-uppance (plus: Gove’s rules)

18 July 2015 9:47

Given the kerfuffle caused by the recent publication of Craig Raine’s ‘Gatwick’ in the London Review of Books, I thought it might be interesting to invite competitors to compose their… Continue reading

(Photo: Getty)

National Busking Day is an insult to real buskers

16 July 2015 15:53

This Saturday is National Busking Day, a series of events across the country proving that Britain’s arts establishment just don’t get it. The whole point of busking is that it’s… Continue reading

(Photo: Getty)

Riddled with clichés, routinely inept: Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman should never have been published

14 July 2015 17:18

This is an interesting document, and a pretty bad novel. I don’t know why anyone thought it would be otherwise. In 1960, Harper Lee published To Kill a Mockingbird. It… Continue reading


We need a Campaign to Protect Urban England

10 July 2015 16:02

If a political subject is inconvenient to both Left and Right then the chances are that it won’t get addressed, however serious the problem. And so it has been with… Continue reading


Rihanna’s latest offering is the perfect anthem for contemporary feminism

9 July 2015 13:43

Popular culture is all about the shock factor, especially when it involves female popstars. The late Eighties set a precedent for women making statements in their music videos. In 1989… Continue reading


Magic Mike XXL reviewed: stripping can be sexy – but lying on a pinned-down woman’s face is not

6 July 2015 18:17

It’s hard to overstate how much I wanted to like Magic Mike XXL, the sequel to the 2012 Steven Soderbergh hit about male strippers. I have long proclaimed loudly to… Continue reading

Brian Johnson and Angus Young of AC/DC at Wembley Stadium.
Photograph: Jim Dyson/Getty Images

‘A lot of bands know how to rock. Not many know how to roll’: AC/DC at Wembley reviewed

6 July 2015 18:10

The main thing that strikes you as you watch AC/DC whip 70,000 people into a frenzy at Wembley stadium is, of course, how very similar they are to David Hockney.… Continue reading