Dowell, Ben, New Statesman (1996)
* The BBC's Culture Show will be funkier when it returns at the end of this month. The academic and film composer John Altman (Titanic, Little Voice) has been asked to "score" the Man Booker Prize shortlist. Once he has produced music for each of the six books, the judges--Hermione Lee, Simon Armitage, Candia McWilliam, Anthony Quinn and Fiona Shaw (pictured below)--will have to guess which tune fits which tome. This jolly stunt will kick-start the new series, to be guest-presented by sassy rock chick Lauren Laverne.
Privately, I hear that one of the Booker judges has doubts about the producers' plans. He claims that even though it's a "brilliant idea" to score a book, the guessing game could make the judges look "foolish". Ouch!
* Tony Blair is on his way out, and that's good news for some creative types. World Productions, the indie company responsible for the forthcoming BBC2 political hanky-panky series Party Animals, is developing another BBC drama, based on James Naughtie's book The Accidental American: Tony Blair and the presidency. The book is about Blair's infatuation with the Bush administration.
If it gets the green light, the new project will probably go out in May. No word yet on who will play the two protagonists. It may be one Blair too many for Michael Sheen, who took on the role for Channel 4's The Deal as well as Stephen Frears's film The Queen.
* Speaking of Michael Sheen, his taste for playing real-life characters has led to plaudits for his performance as David Frost in Peter Morgan's Frost/Nixon, at the Donmar Warehouse in London. …