Woody Allen and Diane Keaton in Manhattan

Woody Allen: a life of jazz, laughter, depression —and a few misdemeanours

26 September 2015 8:00 am

Woody Allen (born Allan Stewart Konigsberg), the prolific, Oscar-winning auteur, New Orleans-style jazz clarinettist, doyen of New York delicatessen society,…


A gleeful vision of the future from Margaret Atwood

19 September 2015 8:00 am

What could happen in literature to a young couple — or a pair of young couples — who fall off…

Author Irvine Welsh Photo: Getty

Taxi ride to the dark side: a thrilling blast of full-strength Irvine Welsh

11 April 2015 9:00 am

Irvine Welsh, I think it’s safe to say, is not a writer who’s mellowing with age. His latest book sees…

Miranda July Photo: Getty

Miranda July may be a film director, performance artist, sculptor and designer — but she is no novelist

28 March 2015 9:00 am

Miranda July is a funny and brilliant film director, performance artist, sculptor and smartphone app designer. In 2005, she won…

Nick Hornby Photo: Getty

The greatest sitcom that never was

8 November 2014 9:00 am

Funny Girl is the story of the early career of the vivacious, hilarious Sophie Straw, star of the much-loved BBC…

The unfortunate Manuel in
Fawlty Towers — portrayed by the similarly accident-prone Andrew Sachs

The harrowing, inspiring life of Andrew Sachs

15 March 2014 9:00 am

Comedians always like to claim that they started making jokes after childhoods made harsh by poverty; that at a formative…


An utterly charming, totally bonkers short novel

4 January 2014 9:00 am

This utterly charming, totally bonkers short novel is something from another age. There are elements of A Handful of Dust…

A Memorial Is Held On The 20th Anniversary Of The Murder Of Stephen Lawrence

The Wit and Wisdom of Boris Johnson, edited by Harry Mount - review

1 June 2013 9:00 am

It’s just a guess, but I suspect that the mere sight of this book would make David Cameron gnash his…

Life imitates art

19 May 2012 11:00 am

The other evening my wife came home to find me watching re-runs of Steptoe and Son. The washing up had…

A bit of slap and tickle

14 April 2012 9:00 am

Hard on the heels of the ecstatically received London revival of Michael Frayn’s Noises Off (currently playing at the Novello…

Deviation and double entendre

17 March 2012 10:00 am

If there’s anything full-time novelists hate more than a celebrity muscling in on their turf, it’s the celebrity doing such…


Bookends: The showbiz Boris Johnson

29 October 2011 11:00 am

Amiability can take you a long way in British public life. James Corden is no fool: he co-wrote and co-starred…

Bookends: Laughing by the book

13 August 2011 12:00 am

Laughing by the book.


An existential hero

16 April 2011 12:00 am

Sam Leith is enthralled by a masterpiece on monotony, but is devastated by its author’s death

Cross-cultural exchanges

12 February 2011 12:00 am

The 18 stories, each around a dozen pages long, in E.C. Osondu’s Voice of America seem to have poured out of him like water. They have a fluency, an evenness of tone and texture, that creates an illusion of transparency and simplicity.


The sound of broken glass

27 November 2010 12:00 am

What do Evelyn Waugh, Peter Cook and Chris Morris have in common? I would have said ‘irreverence’ and left it at that; but the social scientist Peter Wilkin has written a book on the subject, The Strange Case of Tory Anarchism.

Dying of laughter

27 November 2010 12:00 am

Marcus Berkmann on the few genuinely funny books aimed at this year’s Christmas market


Anything for a laugh

14 April 2010 12:00 am

A hundred years ago, when Britannia still ruled the waves, the Royal Navy fell victim to a humiliating hoax, reports of which kept the public amused for a few wintry days in February 1910.


A couple of drifters

3 February 2010 12:00 am

Paul Torday was 59 when his first novel, the highly acclaimed Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, was published in 2006.

Quirky books for Christmas

9 December 2009 12:00 am

After the Christmas ‘funny’ books, here’s an even larger pile of Christmas ‘quirky’ books.

But then the snow turned to rain

14 October 2009 12:00 am

My daughter when small came home from school one night singing these extraordinary lines: ‘Fortune, my foe, why dost thou frown on me/ And will thy favours never lighter be?’

The one that got away

14 October 2009 12:00 am

Michael Palin is the meekest, mildest and nicest of the Pythons.

Cries and whispers

23 September 2009 12:00 am

Strange Days Indeed, by Francis Wheen

Joking apart

16 September 2009 12:00 am

Free association underpins the comedy of Lorrie Moore’s writing — or perhaps the verb should be ‘unpins’, since her prose spins off in tangential, apparently affectless riffs.

Behind the wit

13 May 2009 12:00 am

Home to Roost and Other Peckings by Deborah Devonshire, edited by Charlotte Mosley