British journalist. He was co-founder of Private Eye magazine.
Once married to the novelist Emma Tennant.
Personal Quotes (3)
[when interviewed in the 1960s about becoming rich]: I'd like a sort of really modern house, with glass walls and things, on Lake Como in Italy. And an aeroplane to fly to and from London. It's a funny thing about our society, that real talent never gets rewarded.
[on "Amadeus" (1984)] The film was shot in Prague, as the most unspoiled baroque city in Europe. It was even emphasized that a magnificent chandelier shown in several scenes was the very one owned by Mozart's Salzburg patron, the Archbishop Colleredo, lovingly restored and lit with a thousand candles for the first time since the 18th century. Yet in the midst of all this riot of historical verisimilitude appeared the central figure, Mozart, shockingly presented as a giggling and ridiculous little dirty-minded grotesque. Here, any pretense at historical accuracy was chucked out of the window. This bizarre creation bore not the slightest resemblance to the complex and fundamentally very serious Mozart who emerges from his letters or descriptions by contemporaries. It was as if it was not only Salieri who who was setting out on his quest to destroy Mozart, but the author himself: turning the composer into this embarrassing travesty to gratify some obscure purpose of his own psyche.
[comparing the plots of "Jaws" and "Beowulf"] The resemblances between the twentieth-century horror film and the eighth-century epic are so striking that they may almost be regarded as telling the same story. Are we to assume that the author of "Jaws", Peter Benchley, had in some way been influenced by "Beowulf"? Of course not. Even if he had read "Beowulf", it is most unlikely that he could have conceived a story with the power of "Jaws" unless it had emerged spontaneously into his own imagination. Yet the fact remains that the two stories share a remarkably similar pattern - one which, moreover, has formed the basis for countless other stories in the literature of mankind, at many different times and all over the world.