From Homeland to Game of Thrones and House of Cards, it’s an observation often made that we’re in a golden age of television. If there’s a TV renaissance afoot, and a renewed appreciation of what good writing, subtle character development and long form drama can achieve on a small screen, David Hare’s Johnny Worricker trilogy, which started in 2011 with Page Eight, is without doubt one of the best things to have been made for British TV in recent years.
Our cover star Bill Nighy plays a modern day MI5 agent, and the production has a cast list from Rachel Weisz to Michael Gambon, Christopher Walken, Ralph Fiennes, Helena Bonham-Carter and Winona Ryder, which could only be described as out of the ball park. Made by Carnival Films and the BBC, the films screen this month on BBC2, are available on the BBC iPlayer and will be released on DVD on April 21st. Johnny Worricker is a must for any box set addict.
On stage, you can also look out for Nighy in David Hare’s Skylight, at Wyndham’s Theatre, from 6 June, opposite Carey Mulligan. First performed in 1995 at the National, the play is about the love affair between Kyra, who teaches at a secondary school in East Ham, and Tom, a Chelsea restaurateur, or as he would prefer to be known, a ‘wealth creator’. Like all great plays, it has as much to say now as it did when it was written, and is set to be the summer’s hot ticket.
For our cover, Nighy was shot by photographer Harry Borden, something of a star himself, who has no fewer than fifteen of his portraits in my favourite museum, the National Portrait Gallery. I’d like to extend Life’s thanks to the Connaught Hotel, who allowed us to check into a suite for our shoot. Nighy inquired if I was based there full time. Whilst obviously London’s chicest hotel has nothing on 22 Old Queen Street, I could definitely get used to it and we were very grateful to have a butler catering for our every need, not something, alas, that we have on hand as Life goes to press.
Elsewhere in our issue, Rachel Johnson considers the parallel universe of Elle Deco, ‘deco hell’, writer Tom Teodorczuk appraises the parenting credentials of his banker peers in his adopted New York and Jonathan Foreman takes a closer look at the politics of this year’s Oscar race. While it’s wonderful to celebrate the success of Steve McQueen, I hope, as with Kathryn Bigelow’s win in 2010 for The Hurt Locker, we can look forward to a time (soon?) when such an achievement by a so called ‘minority’ in film-making will no longer be out of the ordinary.
We also feature the novel Shotgun Lovesongs by Nickolas Butler. It’s a Midwestern story of family, fame and friends set in Wisconsin, and it’s one of my favourite books in a long time. If over Easter you are packing for the beach, or like Melissa Kite, in her feature, a yoga retreat in India, it’s a must to squeeze into your bag, along with the spring issue of Spectator Life, of course. Alternatively, you could travel even lighter, and load both onto your iPad. Spectator Life is out on 28 March – enjoy the issue.