Times axes theatre critic Libby Purves

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Theatre critic Libby Purves will stop reviewing for the Times from next month, following the termination of her contract.

She has been notified by editors that as of October 11 she will no longer review for the newspaper or write features, however she is in talks to continue her weekly column.

Purves has held the position of theatre critic at the newspaper since 2010, when she replaced Benedict Nightingale who had been in the job for 20 years.

She said she had not been told whether she would be replaced and hoped that the Times’ coverage of theatre would be as strong as before.

Purves said: “It is not my wish at all to stop. I’ve enjoyed this very much for three years. I love it and I find the whole industry very fascinating.

“I would hate to think that the Times would be any less full of theatre review. Dominic Maxwell [deputy theatre critic at the Times] is an excellent theatre critic and I’m very much hoping he will pick up the slack or someone else will, but I know nothing about anyone else.”

The news comes after it was revealed earlier this summer that all arts critics at the Independent on Sunday would be axed from this autumn.

Purves added that she did not believe that the termination of her freelance contract as a reviewer was part of a phenomenon of arts critics being removed from newspapers.

She said: “I think that is a completely different issue. They [the Independent on Sunday] were downsizing and deliberately getting rid of their critics whereas the Times still has a great mass of marvellous critics. It's a different thing, I don't think it’s part of a phenomenon.”

A spokeswoman for the Times confirmed that Purves had been asked to step down as chief theatre critic.