Arts interviews

Interview: Lionel Blair

By John Nathan, December 9, 2009

There was a time when Lionel Blair was so famous you could be forgiven for forgetting what he was famous for.

In the 1980s he was best known as the captain, no less, of the men’s team on that cosiest of television parlour games, Give Us A Clue.

To most viewers he was a celebrity who danced a bit — as opposed to a celebrity dancer — and to most TV producers, the embodiment of light entertainment, a composite of blinding smile, awe-inspiring hair and swivelling hips.


Interview: Lilian and Victor Hochhauser

By Jessica Duchen, December 3, 2009

To visit Victor and Lilian Hochhauser’s home in Hampstead is to step into a world bursting with history. For more than 50 years, the husband-and-wife impresarios have been the undersung heroes of the arts, serving most famously as a bridge between British and Russian music, opera and ballet — their office is currently busy preparing the Bolshoi’s visit to London next summer.


Interview: Stephen Poliakoff

By John Nathan, November 19, 2009

At 56 Stephen Poliakoff is the undisputed heavyweight champion of British television drama. Now he has done something that he has never done before. He has made a thriller. Well ok, it is a thriller with many familiar Poliakoff ingredients — big houses, old money, and the English upper-middle classes.

But still, Poliakoff’s latest is a step away from the family sagas that he is normally associated with and for which he earned himself and the BBC a hatful of awards.


Interview: A Serious Man's Fred Melamed

By Jessica Elgot, November 16, 2009

The Coen brothers' A Serious Man has been hailed as their "Jewish masterpiece", but its cast is a far cry from the celeb-fest of Burn After Reading and No Country For Old Men.

Fred Melamed, despite starring in nine Woody Allen movies, is one of the cast of relative unknowns. He plays slimy love rival Sy Abelman to Michael Stuhlbarg’s protagonist Larry Gopnik, and he has been nominated for a Gotham Independent Film Award for his work.


Interview: Leslie Caron

By Gerald Jacobs, November 5, 2009

In September 1965, Leslie Caron flew from Hollywood — where she was living in extravagant style with her then lover Warren Beatty — to her home-town of Paris to play a French Resistance fighter in René Clément’s film, Is Paris Burning?


Interview: Ronit Elkabetz

By Nick Johnstone, October 29, 2009

Ronit elkabetz is the face of Israeli cinema. The 43-year-old actress/director has starred in some of the country’s most acclaimed films over the past 10 years — including Late Marriage in 2001 and 2007’s The Band’s Visit. She has also co-written and directed two films with her brother, Shlomi. Born in a suburb of Haifa to parents of Moroccan descent, she now lives in Paris and Tel Aviv. Her latest performances, in Jaffa and The Girl On The Train, can be seen at the UK Jewish Film Festival, along with a screening of Late Marriage.


Jess Robinson

By Lara Lewington, October 28, 2009

A lot of talent, a bit of luck, and a “ridiculous” amount of chutzpah have propelled Jess Robinson on to prime-time television.

At just 26, the impressionist has already appeared in the BBC’s Dead Ringers show and voiced characters on ITV’s Headcases. Now she is appearing, alongside Jon Culshaw and Debra Stephenson, in The Culshaw and Stephenson Show in a coveted Saturday night slot on BBC1.


Interview: Judy Batalion

By Alex Kasriel, October 28, 2009

If you thought we had a lot in common with our Jewish North American counterparts, think again. One Canadian comedian found her experience of moving to London so difficult, she was compelled to write a stand-up show on the subject.

The Only Jew in The Village is, as its author Judy Batalion puts it, “part stand-up, part story telling, part confessional, part rant performance” about her experience of moving to a flat in the Muslim area of Whitechapel in the East End and studying for a PhD at the Courtauld Institute of Art before embarking on a career in comedy.


Interview: Sue Kelvin

By John Nathan, October 15, 2009

‘From treif to kosher,” observes Sue Kelvin. She is looking back on — to use a David Mamet phrase — a life in the theatre. It started with Flying Pig, the company Kelvin co-founded after leaving drama school, and grew into a career which has placed the 50-year-old actress at the top of the list for any director looking to cast a Jewish matriarch.


Interview: Omid Djalili

By Brigit Grant, October 1, 2009

You have to admit it was an odd piece of casting. Having come to terms with Mr Bean (aka Rowan Atkinson) playing Fagin in the West End production of Oliver!, we have had to adjust to a British-Iranian comedian in the role.

Omid Djalili stepping out as Fagin the Jew is up there with David Bowie playing Pontius Pilate in The Last Temptation of Christ. Only Jackie Mason being cast as Osama bin Laden could be as controversial.