1 JANUARY 2005, Page 19

Critical error

From Sheridan Morley Sir: Could somebody give Toby Young a reliable theatrical history, preferably one of mine? One minor example, taken at random from your otherwise superb Christmas double issue: ‘As far as I know,’ writes Young of his own solo show which mercifully I missed (though I could have made a small fortune accepting the number of Fleet Street offers I had to review it), ‘this is the first time a critic has appeared on the West End stage.’ As far as Young knows must be a distance measurable in millimetres, and this is not the first time I have had to point it out. Briefly, then, the late and much missed Kenneth Tynan got his first job on the London Evening Standard as a theatre critic by writing a savage letter to the editor objecting to a review by Beverly Baxter who (in the early 1950s) had accused Tynan of being ‘amateur’ while playing a minor role in a modern-dress Alec Guinness Hamlet.

In more recent times Joyce Grenfell, while radio critic of the Observer, made several starring appearances in the West End, and dare I add that I played at the Whitehall theatre in Spread a Little Happiness, a celebration of the late, great songwriter Vivian Ellis, which originally I had put together for the King’s Head. Other critics with playwriting credits include Jeremy Kingston (Signs of the Times) and Frank Marcus (The Killing of Sister George).

Sheridan Morley

London, SW11