Let’s start with The Madness of King George.


What an incredible film. How I love that film. I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve watched it. Dozens. Definitely dozens. Remarkable story, beautifully written and the most amazing cast – it’s a winner on so many levels.

Frankly, anything with Nigel Hawthorne is going to make me happy. But put him together with Ian Holm and Helen Mirren, and I’m delighted.

Alan Bennett is the most remarkable of writers. He has equal parts humour and pathos, and an inherent understanding of the goodness and weakness of people. His characters don’t slip into the darkness of the pantomime moustache-twiddler. They have frailties, likes and dislikes, they’re not all bad, because they’re fully rounded. There’s a depth to his characters which makes them as real as real people. I love his writing.

The History Boys.


Not a one of his characters is there for local colour, for distraction, they’re fully realised and wonderful. Their problems and worries are precise and believable. I love that. Sometimes, people forget what it is to be a teenager. Certainly, the adults in my life had completely blotted out what it was to be trapped in adolescence by the time I reached mine. I must have been a great confusion to them.

But they say that if you don’t remember what it’s like to be a child, you shouldn’t write children’s books. The History Boys has so much to say, but I love how clearly Alan Bennett remembers the horrors of being a teenager. I really admire the care he lavishes upon his characters while not really letting up on them. And Frances De La Tour is a reason to be happy all by herself. She’s tremendous and always has been.

The Lady In The Van.


Maggie Smith. Just – Maggie Smith.
Now, here’s the other thing – Alan Bennett sees those little details of life that are so often overlooked but can contain whole worlds.

It’s important to celebrate our heroes. Alan Bennett is mine.