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Decline of science coverage on the BBC is even worse than arts (your views, October 5)

BBC Broadcasting House. Photo: Liz Smith

Compared with science, the arts have plenty of airtime on BBC TV and radio (‘BBC sneers when it should support [1]’, Comment, September 28) – there are programmes every day. The problem is quality, not quantity, as Lyn Gardner also states.

Too many glossy Oxbridge arts clones have been allowed to recycle their university notes without adding analysis or insight. Outsiders such as Brian Sewell and Jonathan Meades have been pushed to the fringes.

Coverage of science has been in decline on the BBC for decades. It is allotted little time, dumbed down and scientists are frequently accompanied by a sniggering ignoramus and canned laughter. People want more science and information but the BBC does not recruit the talent to supply demand.

The BBC radio presenter Simon Mayo, for example, is able to talk to both scientists and artists, showing he knows a little about everything. Unfortunately, his fellow presenter Mark Kermode seems to know everything about cinema and little about anything else.

Richard Stevens
Via thestage.co.uk

Can anyone explain why, after damaging BBC Radio 2’s image some time ago, Jonathan Ross is now fronting the station’s Arts Show?

Is this an example of serious ‘agenting’?

Michael Pointon
London SW19

Interval ads in theatres

For many years, Worthing’s Connaught Theatre has displayed interval advertisements on its safety curtain for forthcoming events at the venue, as well as for commercial companies and products (‘Ad nauseam’, Letters, September 28 [2]).

When I first arrived in Brighton as a student in 1963, the Theatre Royal also had a safety curtain, which was lowered at the interval and on which a slide sequence was displayed. Future productions were advertised alongside static adverts for local restaurants and hardware stores.

There was also an interval pianist (for the Thursday matinees, at least) who entertained the audience no matter what the production, and pre-ordered trays of tea were passed along the rows of seats in the stalls and royal circle during the interval, mainly to elderly patrons.

The start of the second act was usually accompanied by the rattle of china cups as the last few trays were passed to the ushers waiting to collect them in the aisle.

Trevor Harvey
Shoreham-by-Sea, West Sussex

Credit squeeze benefits no one

As a viewer I agree with Angela Yeoman (Letters, September 14 [3]) about actors’ credits.

I often see an actor who I recognise but whose name I can’t remember. I wait for the cast list to see it, but miss it as it is squeezed down to half a screen while another show is being advertised on the other.

When the list returns to the full screen, the readable credits are for hair stylists, gaffers, costumes or lighting directors. These are all important contributors to the show, but most viewers are more interested to see the actors’ names. Performers making their television debuts must be disappointed not to be able to read their own names.

Let’s hope this changes soon.

B Jones
Luton, Bedfordshire

Independent voices lost

In January this year, all theatre assessors, engaged since 2010 to comment on the work of Arts Council England’s national portfolio organisations, were summarily released. They have been replaced with an “inventory of facilities” – ACE’s now-delayed Quality Metrics programme (News, July 13 [4]).

Gone are these independent voices – an exceptional company of theatre ambassadors with a wide range of knowledge and experience. Instead tick-box data is to be completed and supplied by the NPOs themselves, as well as their peers and punters.

Surely this process is vulnerable to favouritism and self-interest. This is a bad idea, poorly implemented at the wrong time.

Tamara Malcolm
Stroud

Quotes of the week

Kwame Kwei-Armah. Photo: Richard Anderson [5]
Kwame Kwei-Armah. Photo: Richard Anderson

“In America, I am the only black, male artistic director of a major theatre. And we’re talking about 100 top regional theatres. In Britain, I will be the only African-Caribbean director of a major, and in Europe, I don’t know of any, which tells me that in the western world there is only one diasporic African artistic director of a major theatre, and that is what I mean by sinful.”
Kwame Kwei-Armah (The Guardian)

“I only need to do what I really want to do. Because [normally] you get paid horribly as a director. It’s horrendous. Unbelievable. And that’s why there aren’t many women directors, especially women directors with kids. They can’t afford to do it because it doesn’t pay the childcare fees.”
Marianne Elliott on her success (Times)

“There are women in the theatre trying to get together and make life easier for women to go back to work. When you are pulling in £450 a week and trying to pay for childcare, it doesn’t add up. With this, I can go and shake my tail feathers a bit and then go home and actually be a better mum.”
Actor Rachael Stirling on being allowed to bring her baby to work (i)

“I had a script come through with a character in it actually called Thick-Necked Jihadi Number Three.”
Nabil Elouahabi on typecasting (Guardian)

“If producers are offering me interesting things – and I’m really lucky that they are – it’s going well. I’m not interested in being a name.”
Director Jeremy Herrin (Evening Standard)

“In theatre I take comfort in the fact that much older actors are probably paid more than me, as it lets me believe there might be some stable progression in this most unstable of careers.”
Lydia Leonard (ES Magazine)

“The narrative that has been perpetuated is that we are somewhat sympathetic to Murdoch. I don’t think it’s that. It’s about understanding human motivation. I don’t think people wake up and think, ‘How can we make the world worse?’ ”
James Graham on staging Ink (The Independent)

“I always play a miserable person. I’m either on a council estate having a breakdown or in a corset dying.”
Anne-Marie Duff (Evening Standard)

What you said on Facebook

About Lyn Gardner’s column calling for the BBC to improve its theatre coverage… [1]

Let’s get some proper coverage of the Oliviers and the Tony Awards. Enough airtime is given to other awards shows, so why not give the same airtime to theatre awards?
Gary Power

Theatre outside the M25 would be a great start.
Darryl Jenner

About Guildford School of Acting focusing on written work as well as performance skills… [6]

My drama school training included a serious amount of written work. The skills I honed in research, critical thinking, organisation and time management are used every day for producing and promoting my theatre company – not to mention the day job I rely on to support my artistic work.
Simon Moore

About increased security checks at theatres… [7]

Having worked in a theatre for six years, I know that most people with objections to having their bag checked have something to hide – usually alcohol. Some regional venues only introduced checks after the Paris attacks, but they have been happening in London for longer. I’m not silly enough to think that bag checks will deter or stop terrorists, but I welcome these checks. Bring in metal detectors as well, I say.
Emily Louise Eager

At the Barbican a few months ago, despite an advance email warning, there were no checks at all. Frankly, that made me more nervous.
Jane Mil