Wednesday 13 December 2017

Bennett's 1983 masterpiece still poignant

Birthday: Alan Bennett
Birthday: Alan Bennett

John Boland

BBC4 spent much of the week celebrating Alan Bennett, who's just turned 80, starting off with an interview in which theatre director Nicholas Hytner elicited some droll and occasionally waspish observations from the dramatist.

Some of his Talking Heads monologues were also rescreened, along with John Schlesinger's hour-long film of An Englishman Abroad, which Bennett based on an encounter that actress Coral Browne had in Moscow with the defector spy Guy Burgess.

Browne played herself, and brilliantly too. Ultimately, this witty and poignant 1983 film belonged to Alan Bates, who was never better than here. A masterpiece that can be watched again and again.

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