The Crown

The Crown
Alex as the Duke of Windsor

Friday, December 10, 2010


There is a small piece from the elusive Ashenden series up on YouTube now:

With Harrington on the train

My Fair Lady on Facebook

The Théâtre du Châtelet has created a facebook page for the production of "My Fair Lady". They've put up some very nice pictures. See:

Monday, December 06, 2010

People's Princess

Broadcast this Thursday, 9 December at 14.15, BBC Radio 4:

Facing financial ruin, George, Prince of Wales was obliged to marry his first cousin Princess Caroline of Brunswick. But if he had been expecting a docile partner with whom he could maintain appearances, George had seriously underestimated his wife-to-be.

George IV ...... Alex Jennings
Caroline of Brunswick ...... Rebecca Saire
Henry Brougham ...... Julian Rhind Tutt
Lord Sidmouth ...... Chris McHallem
Lord Liverpool ...... Richard Howard
Sir Robert Gifford ...... Mark Lambert
Lady Jersey ...... Jill Cardo
Mr Majoucci ...... Nial Cusack

Directed by Eoin O'Callaghan, written by Shelagh Stephenson.

Friday, December 03, 2010

My Fair Lady - Chatelet

The website of the Chatelet Theatre in Paris has a short video on the new production, which includes some snippets of rehearsal footage. Some dancing going on here...

Théâtre Châtelet de Paris

Friday, November 26, 2010

Electric Ink

This Friday a new series of "Electric Ink" starts on BBC Radio 4. The comedy drama was writeen by Alistair Beaton and Tom Mitchelson with Alex playing the role of Oliver. Journalists attempt to cover major news stories at the same time as grappling with the demands of working in a multi-platform environment, watching circulation figures plummet and the recession causing half the workforce to be laid off. First episode to be broadcast 3 December from 11.30-12.00.

For more information: BBC Radio 4

An Ideal Husband

BBC Radio 7 will broadcast Oscar Wilde's "An Ideal Husband" tomorrow, Saturday 27 November at 12.30 pm and 1 am. When Sir Robert and Lady Gertrude Chiltern give a party, an unwelcome guest makes an equally unwelcome request to her host. If it is not met, she will reveal an unsavoury secret from his past. Alex stars along with Janet McTeer, Emma Field, Geoffrey Palmer and Sarah Kestelman.

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Making of ...

This Saturday Channel 4 will show a documentary on "The Habit of Art" in the series "The Making of...". The programme will be shown at 7.55 pm, and will focus on Alan Bennett and Nicholas Hytner.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Strange Meeting - Remembrance Sunday

Alex can be heard this Remembrance Sunday in Peter Wolf's Play "Strange Meeting". It was inspired by Wilfred Owen's First World War poem, and dramatises events leading up to Owen's death on the eve of the Armistice. Alex plays the Captain and Paul Rhys is Wilfred Owen. Sunday at 10.15am and 9.15pm on BBC Radio 7.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Evening Standard Longlist

Alex is on the longlist for this year’s Evening Standard Theatre Awards for his performance in "The Habit of Art". The longlist will become a shortlist on 21 November with the winners being announced at a ceremony on 28 November.

The complete longlist for best actor:
Roger Allam – Henry IV Parts One and Two (Shakespeare’s Globe)
Bertie Carvel – Rope (Almeida Theatre)
Benedict Cumberbatch – After The Dance (National Theatre)
Martin Freeman – Clybourne Park (Royal Court)
Alex Jennings – The Habit Of Art (National Theatre)
Rory Kinnear – Measure For Measure (Almeida Theatre) and Hamlet (National Theatre)
Adrian Lester – Cat On A Hot Tin Roof (Novello Theatre)
Alfred Molina – Red (Donmar Warehouse)
Jonathan Pryce – The Caretaker (Trafalgar Studios)
Simon Russell Beale – London Assurance (National Theatre) and Deathtrap (Nöel Coward Theatre)
Adrian Scarborough – After The Dance (National Theatre)
David Suchet – All My Sons (Apollo Theatre)

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Whitechapel II

ITV is showing the second series of Whitechapel at the moment, with Alex resuming the part of Commander Anderson. The second episode will be shown on Monday 18 October at 9 p.m.

For more information check: ITV Whitechapel

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Words of the Blitz

Alex is one of the actors appearing in "Words of the Blitz" on ITV1 tonight, reading diaries and letters written during the Blitz. Alex will be reading from George Orwell's diary.

The programme will be broadcast on 8 September at 10.35 pm on ITV1.

ITV Press Centre

Saturday, July 24, 2010

White Chameleon

The Saturday play to be broadcast on the 24th of July on Radio 4 at 2.30pm is written by Christopher Hampton and is a witty and sad memory play set in Alexandria in the years up to and during the Suez invasion. (Edit: iplayer link available until Saturday 31st here.)

It is about his father, played by Alex, in Egypt working for Cable and Wireless, his mother, also from a Cable and Wireless family, and Ibrahim, the Egyptian servant who has been running the house for 20 years and who helps 10-year-old Chris, the future playwright, make up dramas for homework.

A Guardian article that touches on the recording of this play and the parlous state of radio drama budgets can be found here.

Narrator ... Christopher Hampton

Father ... Alex Jennings
Ibrahim ... Mido Hamada
Mother ... Amanda Root
Chris ... Harvey O'Neil
Guard/Fouad/Basso/Stockman/Shoes-shine man/Egyptian boy ... Ayman Hamdouchi
Albert ... David Annen
Edward ... Harrison Charles
Paul ... Harry Manton
Schoolboy ... Josef Lindsay

Egyptian singers:
Tony Kandel
Yazid Eid
Robert Hannouch

Pianist: Michael Webborn

Director: Polly Thomas
Producer: Ann Scott
A Greenpoint production for BBC Radio 4.

In other radio news, you can listen to "Speaking for Themselves" The letters of Winston and Clementine Churchill, on Radio 7 at 9.00pm every night this week and then for a week on the iPlayer.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

The Idiot

BBC radio 7 will broadcast the adaptation of "The Idiot" by Fyodor Dostoyesky. The novel is dramatised in four parts and will be broadcast Tuesday to Friday at 10am and 3am. The adaptation also stars Paul Rhys, Roger Allam, Lia Williams, David Swift and Stephen Moore and it was first heard in 2002.

The broadcast can be heard for seven days after initial broadcast on the BBC IPlayer.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Scarlet on Black

The radio drama "Scarlet on Black" will be rerun on BBC Radio 7 this Sunday at 02.30, 13.00 and Monday at 01.00. As usual the play will be available for seven days after the broadcast on the BBC IPlayer. Alex stars with David Calder, Peter Jeffrey, Charles Kay, and Natasha Pyne. The play was written by Roger Danes and was originally broadcast in 1992.

Thanks to Penny!

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Stratford Upon Avon Fringe

Alex will be taking part int the Rudolph Kempe Centenary Memorial Concert at the Stratford Upon Avon Fringe Festival on Sunday 13 June at 7,30 Alex will be reading a biographical narrative devised by Cordula Kempe together with Jeffery Dench.

For tickets and more information check the festival website: Stratford Fringe

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

An Actor's Life for Me

Alex is to take part in a midsummer musical gala at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School on 20 June. The musical, "An Actor's Life for me will be hosted by Jeremy Irons, and will include songs written about the theatre by by Rodgers and Hammerstein, Stephen Sondheim, Noël Coward, Irving Berlin, Cole Porter and many more. The cast will consist of final year students. Others taking part will be Samantha Bond, Tim Pigott-Smith, Joanna Riding, Greta Scacchi, members of the Cast of The Archers, though the announcement does say "subject to availability" for all actors.

For more informationBristol Old Vic Theatre School

In Conversation at the Lyttelton Theatre

Last Friday Alex talked to Al Senter in the series "In Conversation With..." at the Lyttelton Theatre. The conversation took place in the set of "The Habit of Art", with a small tea table placed just in front where the men had their tea. The talk started with Al Senter asking most of the questions, but later on the audience got to ask their own. I took notes and will try to give an idea of the various topics that came up.

Alex was recently heard reading the part of Oliver Lacon in the new BBC radio adaptations of the Smiley books. This brought him back to the start of his career, because his first television appearance was as PC Hall in "Smiley's People". He had to turn a body over and be sick. The job did give him the chance to work with Alec Guinness. "He taught me what a mark is", according to Alex. His appearance in the tv series was short, but he later met Alec Guinness again and had lunch with him a couple of times.

Alex is a contributor to the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography and has already written some ten pieces. He says he got involved in this in an "anoraky way". He got in touch with them, pointing out certain omissions in the dictionary, for example Kenneth More and Kay Kendall, and he was then asked to be a contributor. "You have to be dead to be in it". He has written pieces on, for example, Kay Kendall, Maurice Denham and Michael Bryant, and he will write on Ian Richardson, Elizabeth Spriggs and Paul Scofield.

Alex went to the theatre more often in the past, when he was at school, university and drama school, than he does now, and he used to go to see particular performers rather than directors. He doesn't prefer a specific type of acting but "a raft of different approaches". Favourites were Ralph Richardson, who "dazzled and intrigued", Cyril Cusack, Paul Scofield in anything, John Wood and Angela Lansbury in "Gypsy".

The creation of "The Habit of Art" was an odd process, it went from a rehearsal room to a rehearsal room. It was a little like rehearsing in front of an audience, which was quite relaxing. Alex does feel that rehearsing is a private process, which should not be seen by the audience. He finds the presence of cameras for a programme like the South Bank Show quite unsettling. There was some talk of installing a viewing gallery in one of the rehearsal rooms at the National Theatre, but that idea horrifies him. There was such a gallery in the Archers studio when he worked there a couple of years ago, but there is a curtain there now. "It's our business", he says.

Alex is passionate about Britten and his music, and he wanted to be in a play by Alan Bennett. He is always happy to get the laughs, though they don't always happen at the same moment. "Prince Charles loved it, he was laughing when other people weren't."Alex had another actor in mind as a model for Henry, but he won't say who. There was some debate during rehearsals about Britten and that sometimes got heated. Alex about Britten: "He sat on the edge of the bath, but didn't get in". If something had happened with the boys that would have come out by now. The boys had all enjoyed working with Britten, and were hurt to be turned away when their voices broke and they were no longer useful for the music. Alex now feels "slightly fed up with playing real people". He thought he played a sympathetic Charles, but not everybody agreed. He feels the same about Britten.

Alex does a lot of readings and audiobooks. He reads the books beforehand, but he is not a fast reader and doesn't always manage to finish the book on time. He was once almost caught out when, after the first day of a four day reading, it turned out that the four characters he had been playing were in fact one character, and he didn't know. He knows this kind of thing happens to other actors too. Alex usually casts the books in his mind so he can attach another actor's face and voice to a character. He has just finished recording a series of children's books, The Edge Chronicles, where he gave the different kinds of creatures different regional accents. He likes to do radio and is sometimes disappointed to find other actors take the parts he has done for radio into film. That happened, for example, with Graham Greene's "THe End of the Affair", which he recorded with Emma Fielding and which he was particularly happy with. Ralph Fiennes played the part in the film.

Alex will be appearing in "Candide" in Japan in August, and then in a new production of "My Fair Lady" in Paris in December. Both will be directed by Robert Carson. Margaret Tyzack will play Higgins' mother in Paris, with Nicholas le Prevost playing Pickering. The piece will be performed in English. Emma Thompson has written the screenplay for a film version, but Alex doesn't consider playing Higgins in that one a real possibility.

He likes to play both comedy and straight plays, and he enjoys getting the laughs. He has no cause to complain about the way his career has turned out so far, though at the moment he has some nostalgia for the ages 35 to 45. He gets to play more fathers now, often to pretty daughters as in Cranford. A few years ago he decided to try to get more work in television, to get some bigger parts. He very much enjoyed being in Cranford. There was a cake day every week during the shooting, with cakes spread out on a big table in the reverend Hutton's church. Julia McKenzie made the best merengues.

He would like to do more audiobooks, more Dickens, but the market seems saturated. Everything seems to be available now. He enjoys doing unabridged readings. "So you can do all the parts". There will be more Woman's Hour drama, the next Dickens will probably be "A Tale of Two Cities". Alex: "I have asked if Dickens can play the part of Sydney Carton".

The question if "The Habit of Art" gives a truthful insight into the presence of the writer in the theatre and the rehearsal process, leads Alex to say that "Alan is completely open and unprecious about his writing". Alex goes into Alan Bennett mode, when asked to illuminate on the text he goes "Ooh, I don't know". He seems well able to impersonate Bennett, but says he will not play him. Working with David Hare on "stuff Happens" meant changes to the script every day, whith an author who was much better informed than the actors. For Speer, David Edgar and Gitta Sereny were both present, and Sereny had know Speer. But Alex continues: "I'd like to have done more new work than I've done, I've done mainly dead writers". And about the actors in relation to the authors: "We have to be adaptable, we're just here to serve", with a little smile.

Comedians he grew up with were Morecambe and Wise, Tommy Cooper and Frankie Howerd. The comedy he loved, however, was that of Hollywood's Golden Age, the screwball comedies made by Cary Grant and William Powell, who "got to be suave and wear tuxedos". The greatest influence was the film "Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines", bits of which he used throughout his career. "His Girl Friday" was a dream to do for Alex, playing the Cary Grant character. "I'd love to work with Zoe (Wanamaker) again", he says.

Part of his career was determined by the need to pay the mortgage. He has had to turn down parts with theatres that could not afford to pay very much. "There were some fairly rocky moments" (financially). With his partner Lesley he has raised two children. His partner also works, "my career was enabled by her", he says. The present financial crisis isn't doing actors much good. There are fewer parts in film and tv, and actors get paid less for the work than they did ten years ago.

He did some directing at university, but now he has "no desire whatsoever to direct".

The most challenging and satisfying part he has played was Hamlet. He thought he'd left it too late, but he did get to play it. He was very much on the same wavelength as director Matthew Warchus, so it worked very well. It took him a long time to let go of the part and he didn't see the play again until Simon Russell Beale played the role. Even then he had trouble hearing some lines, wondering why he didn't say that line like that.

He loves working at the National Theatre, also because he doesn't live too far away. Another favourite theatre is Stratford, partly because of the way he got to develop his career there. He loved playing Higgins at the huge stage of the Theatre Royal Drury Lane. He also likes the huge stage at the Coliseum. His partner said of this: "Finally, darling, you've found the right theatre for you".

As for future plans and parts he would like to play. He has given up on MacBeth, but he would love to have a go at Sweeney Todd. He is aware of the limitations of his voice, but he will try the part with his singing teacher.

After the session in the Lyttelton Alex signed autographs in the foyer of the theatre. There was quite a queue, but he took time to talk to all people interested.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

More Nocturne

The Chopin reading Nocturne can be heard at St George's Bristol on 22 June as well as the Kew Festival on June 25. The readings are part of a series of performances by pianist Lucy Parham, featuring different actors. For a full list of performances see Lucy Parham's website.

For tickets to the Bristol performance see St George's Bristol.

Thanks to Jen!


The dramatisation of the life of Alexander the Great will be broadcast again on BBC Radio 7 this week. Alex stars with Barry Foster, Brian Cox, Geraldine James, Simon Ward, Sam Crane and Geraldine Fitzgerald. The drama will be broadcast Monday to Friday at 10 am and 3 pm, and will conclude the following Monday. Episodes can be heard for a week after the broadcast on the BBC IPlayer.

Monday, April 26, 2010

In Conversation With ....

Alex Jennings this Friday, 30 April, at the Lyttelton Theatre, 3 pm. Some tickets still available from the National Theatre. So who's going?


Alex is due to appear at the Kew Music Festival on 25 June in a reading called "The Romantic Life of Frédéric Chopin". Lucy Parham will play the piano, reading by Alex Jennings and Juliet Stevenson, from letters and diaries. The reading will take place at the Musical Museum and will start at 19.30 hrs.

For more information and for tickets check the Kew Music Festival website.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Candide and My Fair Lady

After "The Habit of Art" finishes in London, Alex is off to Japan for a series of performances of "Candide" in Tokyo and Kobe in July and August.

In December Alex will resume the role of Professor Higgins in a new production of "My Fair Lady" at the Theatre du Chatelet in Paris.

Whitechapel II

Alex will appear in the second series of Whitechapel, an ITV production. It is not yet known when the series will be broadcast.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Finishing the Hat

This Sunday Alex and Carolyn Pickles are the readers on BBC Radio 3's "Words and Music". This week's theme is painting and artists. The programme will be broadcast on Sunday 18 April at 22.20.

Words and Music

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Smiley's People

BBC Radio 4 will broadcast the dramatization of "Smiley's People" starring Simon Russell Beale. Alex plays the part of Oliver Lacon. The adaptation starts on April 11 at 15.00. Episodes can be heard for a week after the broadcast on the iPlayer. This is the third part of the Karla trilogy. Alex also appeared in the first book, "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy".

Smiley's People

Thanks to Jennifer!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

No Place Like Home

Alex will appear on the afternoon play "No Place Like Home" on Friday 26 March from
2.15 to 3.00pm BBC RADIO 4. He starts with Toby Stephens in this play written by Robert Rigby and Nick Russell-Pavier.

From the BBC website: "Jonathan confronts intruder Steve with his legally owned shotgun. A violent struggle ensues and the gun goes off, shattering a window. Steve grabs the gun and gains control. A neighbour reports hearing gunfire and a full-scale, armed police siege unfolds. A bizarre and precarious relationship develops between Steve, Jonathan and the authorities."

The cast also includes Victoria Carling, Ben Crowe, Jonathan Oliver and Zoe King.

Thanks again to Penny!

Sunday, March 07, 2010

NT Live Trailer

The National Theatre have a trailer for NT Live up on their website now, announcing the broadcast on 22 april.

See: NT Live

Thanks to Penny! And thanks also to Penny for looking after the diaries while I was off to the ice again!

Friday, February 26, 2010

On Expenses - Pictures

On Expenses is available until Tuesday 2nd March on the iPlayer.

I've grabbed a few pictures from it below. Alex played the Head of the Fees Office Andrew Walker; a man who won't look through his glasses if he can possibly look over them.

The trailer for the show can be found on Youtube here.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

On Expenses - Preview

There were a few clips of 'On Expenses' shown during the interview this morning, on BBC Breakfast, with Heather Brooke and Anna Maxwell Martin.

The video of the interview can be found here.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Front Row

Front Row on BBC radio 4 on Friday evening had a short discussion about 'On Expenses'. There is a short audio clip of the production at the start of the programme.

You can listen to this edition of Front Row here until Friday the 26th.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Vortigern and Rowena

It's 1796 and a young antiquarian claims to have discovered a lost play by Shakespeare. He takes the play to Richard Sheridan, who agrees to produce it. By the second act, the audience are gleefully aware the play is a fake...

Vortigern and Rowena will be broadcast on Wednesday the 3rd March at 2.15pm on Radio 4.

Lorcan Cranitch plays Richard Brinsley Sheridan, Alex Jennings plays John Philip Kemble and Rufus Wright plays William Henry Ireland. The play was written by Melissa Murray.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

On Expenses

On Expenses, which has been renamed from Bringing Down The House, will be broadcast on BBC 4 at 9pm on Tuesday the 23rd February.

The 60 minute drama is a humorous take on the recent furore over MP's expenses. Alex plays the head of the Fees Office, Andrew Walker; other actors include: Brian Cox, Anna Maxwell Martin and Neil Pearson. The drama was written by Tony Saint.

The BBC Press Pack can be found here.

Friday, February 12, 2010

An Ideal Husband

There's another chance to hear the radio production of 'An Ideal Husband' this Sunday 14th at 8pm on Radio 3. It will be available on the iPlayer for one week after transmission.

Thanks to Jen.

Edit: iPlayer link (available until 21st February).

Friday, January 29, 2010

In Conversation With Alex Jennings

Alex will be talking about his career and current role in a platform at the National Theatre, chaired by Al Senter, on the 30th April 2010 at 3pm. Tickets are available here.

This platform was originally scheduled for December 2009, but was canceled due to Alex's unavailability.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Goldfish Girl

The beautiful short play "Goldfish Girl" will be broadcast again this Friday on BBC Radio 7 at 11.15 and 21.15 and will then be available on the IPlayer for seven weeks. Alex stars with Juliet Stevenson.

Thanks to Jen!

Friday, January 01, 2010


The Mail Online reports that "The Habit of Art" might transfer to Broadway in the spring of 2011, if possible with the current cast. Read the full report at:
Mail Online

Thanks to the other Lori, now also from Florida....

Personal Reviews

Two of our "regulars" went to see Alex at the end of November, beginning of December and both have written a review. So thanks to Lori and Penny for the following:

29 November matinee

The play is very good, with plenty of funny lines and superb performances from everyone. Frances de la Tour was marvellous as the stage manager; getting laughs from terse repetitions of 'Go on!' to simply a look. She's fantastic in the play, if underused during the second act.

Richard Griffiths Auden/Fitz is the main role of the play and he's very good as a slightly irascible, forgetful Fitz and is just as good as the punctuality obsessed, forgetful Auden, who is inclined to pee in the basin.

Adrian Scarborough's Donald is a bit sensitive, a bit neurotic and makes an unforgettable second act entrance! His Humphrey Carpenter is a competent fellow, at first alarmed by Auden mistaking him for a rent boy, but then calming down to interview the poet.

Alex's Henry is a confident, proficient actor, with hints of a slightly seedy youth. He's occasionally exasperated by Fitz and like Frances de la Tour can get a laugh with just a sharp look, discontented sigh or reluctance to shake hands goodbye with a just returned from the lavatory Auden. His Britten is reserved and anxious. Britten's desire for Auden's appreciation of 'Death in Venice' is a bit childlike, but eloquent and passionate.

The balance of rehearsal room and play is perfect, we see enough of the rehearsal to engage with the actors and the learn about the play and then we see what would be the heart of 'Caliban's Day', the meeting between Auden and Britten. All the actors are equally fantastic and seem to relish their roles.


Alan Bennett's The Habit of Art is a frame-story, a play about rehearsing – and making -- a play. In it, then, Alex plays Henry, an actor who takes two parts in the rehearsal of the play-within-the-play, the major role of Benjamin Britten and the role of Auden's servant Mr Boyle. Of these three parts, none is entirely what he might seem to be.

Alex, of course, delineates each character beautifully – watch the way in which body language alone can convey a shift from Benjamin Britten to Henry – and Act II is in some ways his act. He's onstage all of Act I, but often wandering around the margins or simply watching from the side; that act belongs more to Richard Griffiths as the actor Fitz who plays W.H. Auden. The play is structured around the withholding of Henry and Britten, because the character(s) Alex plays reveal themselves behind their masks in Act II, but I confess I wanted him to have more to do earlier on!

It's an interesting, overstuffed play, full of wit and sharpness as well as a few melancholic touches. Frances de la Tour, Adrian Scarborough, and Richard Griffiths are wonderful in the piece. But Alex is a real anchor for the complications of the work – Henry and Benjamin Britten need an actor of his theatrical weight-- and he does a marvelous, perfectly pitched job.