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Nichola McAuliffe’s ‘extraordinary interlude’ as tabloid theatre critic – 15 years ago in The Stage

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June 3, 2004: Olivier-winning actor Nichola McAuliffe enjoyed a brief stint as a theatre critic for the Daily Mail. However, after a mixed reaction from within the industry, she wrote to The Stage’s letters page to dismiss rumours that she intended to make the shift to a full-time role and put a few rumours straight.

She wrote: “To contradict The Serious Rumour Squad, who have been working overtime, I have not become poacher turned gamekeeper and morphed into the Daily Mail theatre critic. I was asked to do a guest spot for a week and perhaps will be asked to do another.

“It has been an extraordinary interlude, with one theatre producer bustling up to me to demand why I’d given up acting. This from a person who’s never offered me a job and once told me it was a good idea to write a novel for when I reach that ‘difficult age’ for actresses. Another had heard I was on a trial and two directors looked at me as if I had rabies. Mind you, that pair usually regard me with smiling condescension so it was quite a nice change.

“During my brief tenure I made a few mistakes and for those, sorry – but it was fascinating and all actors should have the opportunity to sum up a show in 350 words written in under 40 minutes. Just as all critics should experience a press night from the sharp end. So, in answer to all those surreptitiously asked questions – I’ll do anything once and maybe even twice if the money’s right.”

If you’d like to read more stories from the history of theatre, all previous content from The Stage is available at the British Newspaper Archive in a convenient, easy-to-access format. Please visit: thestage.co.uk/archive

Editor’s View: Theatre criticism is changing, but it needs to evolve further

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