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You win some … and lose some

Listening to the radio overnight I thought I heard that sales of jigsaws – according to one interviewee, a representative of that industry – have soared over 800% since the beginning of the coronavirus crisis, particularly among the 24 to 35 age group.

This figures, because – if the newspapers are to be believed – those of us in lockdown are apparently finding newer and ever more bizarre, sometimes through-back or retro, ways of occupying ourselves and/or the passing time.

Separately, I’m also a fan of candid ‘in depth’ interviews or conversations with those in the creative and arts worlds, especially when the subjects are both articulate and content to reveal aspects of their personality which rarely get an airing in promotional or marketing literature.

If memory serves I think it was the polymath Jonathan Miller, in the context of a informal moot about why it was (allegedly) that so few examples of great literature went on to make for similar quality movie or theatrical productions when translated to those media, who opined that – as often as not – the greatest movies or television series based upon novels came from ‘not quite great’ literature such as the output of the two Anthonys (Trollope and Powell).

A parlour game that might rank with that of “Name your choice of figures from history that you would invite to a dinner party for twelve” might be that of “If you could transport historical figures from the world of art, music and literature into the present day in order to submit themselves to an hour long interview by a suitably-qualified presenter in a Radio Four series, nominate the first twenty you would select for the experience …”

Whilst we’re waiting for this concept to be picked up by the BBC (subject to contractual/rights discussions, naturally!), here’s a little forerunner of one of the topics that might be covered in such a venture – a bold cadre of playwrights recall some of their biggest disasters, as interviewed by Kate Wyver, as appears today upon the website of – THE GUARDIAN


About Francesca Shawn

A former arts editor of The Independent, over the years Francesca has written for an innumerable list of UK arts and dance magazines. More Posts