12 MAY 2001, Page 29

Green-room gossip

From Mr Alistair B. Cooke Sir: Why should one believe a word of the stale gossip served up by Sheridan Morley (Arts, 5 May) when he attributes to King George VI, who died in 1952, comments inspired by the arrest of Sir John Gielgud which occurred a year later? In view of his wife's well-known tolerance of homosexuals, there is no reason to think that our former monarch shared the prejudices of his father, George V, who is supposed to have said that he thought men like that 'went out and shot themselves' (it is a wonder that this aphorism, doubtless apocryphal, is not quoted by Mr Morley).

More seriously, he seems to take the view that actors are behaving unreasonably or unsportingly if they seek to protect their private lives from prying eyes. On the contrary, concealment should be strongly encouraged. Far too many of them insist on boring us with the inconsequential details of their sex lives.

Alistair Cooke

London SW1