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Short Cuts: The towering genius of Alan Bennett

Regulars | By Anne Robinson

Never meet your heroes – unless they’re warm, charming and tall

Alan Bennett has grown since I last saw him in the flesh. Admittedly that was nearly sixty years ago, when I was a teenager and my brother, then at Cambridge, managed to get tickets for Beyond the Fringe after it transferred from the Edinburgh Festival to the Duke of York’s in London. I can still remember Alan in the corner of the stage wearing a dog collar, beginning his sermon, ‘My brother Esau is a hairy man and I am a smooth man.’ Perhaps the reason he looks so tall, as he appears at the door of the tent at the Cheltenham Literary Festival, is that all those years ago he was often standing between Peter Cook and Jonathan Miller, who were six-foot-plus giants. Anyway, I don’t have a chance to comment on his possible late-onset growth, as he immediately says, ‘We have something in common.’ I imagine he is...

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