2 July 2005
The Spectator was established in 1828, and is the oldest continuously published magazine in the
English language. The Spectator’s taste for controversy, however, remains undiminished. There is no
party line to which The Spectator’s writers are bound - originality of thought and elegance of expression are the
sole editorial constraints.
The trial issue contains a “Thought Crime Special” with articles from Melanie Phillips,
“I think, therefore I’m guilty”; Christopher Booker writes about
“Scientists in hiding; the demonisation of academics who question the consensus”; Alan Rusbridger explores
“How to stifle the press” and how England’s libel laws make it easy.
UK politics come under scrutiny from
James Forsyth, Brendan O’Neill ponders if teenagers could ever be
“Drunk and orderly”; while
Tom Hollander writes his diary and
James Delingpole says
eat local organic food if you like, but don’t kid yourself that it’s ‘green’.
The Spectator’s regular arts coverage includes
Interview: how Benedict Cumberbatch became my husband. When Channel 4 released the trailer for its Brexit drama, Mary Wakefield was struck by how well its star, Benedict Cumberbatch, captured her husband, Dominic Cummings. ‘We live in a multiverse of different branches of histories,’ says Cumberbatch-as-Cummings: precisely the language her husband would use, sitting in the same pose, in the same voice. How? He came around for dinner at their house, studying Cummings’ mannerisms: by 1 a.m. the actor was the mirror image. She interviews Cumberbatch for our Christmas special — the only interview he is giving ahead of its broadcast on Channel 4 next month.
Interview: the Sajid Javid manifesto. In an interview with James Forsyth and Fraser Nelson, the Home Secretary explains how his life experience – from a borderline school dropout to high finance – shaped his politics. He discusses how the public want politicians who can talk plainly, even if it is uncomfortable, and how immigration has kept salaries down and stopped companies investing in people. He also questions an immigration policy which has become about ‘bringing numbers down, and nothing else’.
Boris Johnson: obesity and Brexit – are we all too lazy to change? A recent GP visit brought the truth home to Boris: he was dangerously overweight. ‘I have been carting around 16-and-a-half stone,’ he writes in his Spectator diary. Having sworn off alcohol and ‘late-night binges of chorizo and cheese’, Boris reveals his pledge to get in shape. Now it’s time for the British political class to do the same, he says – ‘to be lighter on our feet and more agile’ as the country seizes the opportunity of Brexit.
Asia Bibi’s lawyer: I can’t go back to Pakistan. Lawyer Saif ul-Malook defied death threats to take on the case of Asia Bibi, the illiterate Christian woman sentenced to death for blasphemy. Having now secured Bibi’s release, ul-Malook reveals how he’s been forced to flee Pakistan, his hopes that he will gain asylum in Britain, and his disappointment at the UK government’s failure to stand up for religious freedom.
Prue Leith: my Christmas kitchen nightmares. From exploding chestnuts, to oven malfunctions and overly alcoholic prunes, The Great British Bake Off’s Prue Leith reveals how even professional cooks can get it wrong at Christmas. ‘Christmas in our family seems to guarantee tears and tantrums,’ she writes as she recounts a family history of seasonal calamity.
John Sentamu: don’t forget Jesus. For too many people Christmas has lost its meaning, says Archbishop of York John Sentamu in his Spectator notebook. Here in Britain, the holiday has become ‘a commercial onslaught’ and a ‘festival of hedonism’ — it’s time to re-capture the true Christmas message.
Frank Field: a life apart. Six-time Interviewer of the Year Lynn Barber meets the longstanding Birkenhead MP Frank Field, once described as the ‘heretical moralist’ of the Blair government. Field talks openly about working with Margaret Thatcher, his decision to resign the Labour whip, and how he will spend this Christmas alone.
Cressida Bonas: an actress’s Christmas. In her Spectator notebook, the actress and model Cressida Bonas shares her reflections on a turbulent Christmas period: from meditation retreats, to hungover rehearsals, and a newfound passion for nuclear physics. She ends with a moving plea for more understanding of mental health, inspired by the suicide of her boyfriend’s brother.