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Following a highly acclaimed 2018 tour, award-winning British playwright, dramatist and screenwriter Alan Bennett presents The Habit of Art at Curve from Mon 6 – Sat 11 Apr. Exploring friendship, rivalry and heartache, the play is about a fictional meeting between two of the 20th century’s most remarkable artists, poet W.H. Auden and composer Benjamin Britten.
We found 10 interesting facts about Alan Bennett ahead of the production coming to Curve!
- Born in Leeds, Bennett then attended Oxford University where he studied history. He later stayed to teach and research medieval history there for years after.
- His collaboration with three fellow performers in a satirical production titled Beyond the Fringe brought him instant fame at the 1960 Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Bennett then gave up academia and turned to writing full-time.
- He has written nearly 50 TV plays, more than 20 stage plays and 13 films, and has published more than 30 books. His credits include: The Lady in the Van, History Boys and The Madness of George III.
- For these he has won more than 30 awards, including five Laurence Olivier Awards, two Baftas, five Evening Standard Awards and four British Book Awards.
- His 1966 comedy sketch series On The Marginswas lost for years after the BBC’s copies were destroyed under orders from David Attenborough! When Attenborough was Controller of BBC Two during the late 1960s, the videotape used for recording was expensive, hence the decision for archived shows to be wiped and taped over. Luckily, a surviving copy was discovered many years later in 2014!
- After running for 3500 episodes on 24 March 1996, Bennett appeared in the last ever episode of the popular BBC children’s TV series Jackanory, reading The House at Pooh Corner by A. Milne. It’s an appearance that’s still fondly remembered by many viewers from the time.
- Bennett has declined two separate honours from the Queen: a CBE in 1988, and a knighthood in 1996. He claims that this is not out of any republican sympathies, but simply because “it would be like wearing a suit every day of your life.”
- Most of his work has been completed on a second-hand typewriter picked up from a charity shop in North Yorkshire.
- Bennett’s civil partner is editor of the design and decoration magazine, The World of Interiors, Rupert Thomas.
- In 2010, while carrying £1,500 in cash to pay some builders, Bennett was mugged by a couple who had secretly daubed his coat with his ice cream and then offered to wipe it off.