News – September 2017: Travesties, A Legacy of Spies, Breathe, Tulip Fever


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Travesties: Tom Stoppard’s play which had a hugely successful run at the Menier Chocolate Factory before transferring to London’s West End will now move to New York’s Broadway next Spring, with Tom Hollander reprising his role as Henry Carr and Patrick Marber directing [more info].

#ALegacyOfSpies: Tom has narrated John le Carré’s latest book which is available from iTunes UK and Audible (reviews are great for both book and Tom’s narration, Audible: 4.8/5 “Tom Hollander’s narration is magnificent.“) [more info]. Tom has narrated a number of audio books and done other voicework, more on that here.

Breathe: Andy Serkis’ directorial debut is having a gala premiere at the BFI’s London Film Festival on 4 October 2017. Public tickets go on sale at 10am on 28 September (assuming it hasn’t already sold out!) [more info]. Tom plays Diana Blacker’s twin brothers, David and Bloggs Blacker.

Tulip Fever: the story of forbidden love among the tulips has finally been released, though no release date for the UK as yet. Tom plays Dr Sorgh.

Tom has also appeared at Letters Live at the Wilderness Festival (August 2017, see pic below) [more info].





.@TravestiesPlay heads to New York with Tom Hollander as Henry Carr


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Here’s some good news if you’re able to get to New York next Spring. The “exuberant revival” of Travesties by Tom Stoppard is on its way over to Broadway next April, with Tom Hollander reprising his leading role as forgetful consular official Henry Carr (for which he was nominated for an Olivier Award, the play was nominated for five Oliviers).

Patrick Marber who directed it in London will also direct it in New York, but information about the other cast and crew has not yet been published.

The 2016 London revival began at the Menier Chocolate Factory and then transferred in early 2017 to the West End, at the Apollo Theatre. Previews for the New York run will begin on 29 March 2018 with the play opening on 24 April (last performance 17 June 2018), at the Roundabout Theater Company’s American Airlines Theater.

More information below and, of course, some tweets 🙂

Here’s Tom on the Andrew Marr show talking about the play…



If you’d like to find out some more about the real history behind the fictional Henry Carr (Tom’s role) then these blog posts are very good.


Further reading about the New York revival
London Success ‘Travesties’ to Play Broadway (16 August 2017) Variety
and The New York Times article below.

#ALegacyofSpies and other audiobooks read by Tom Hollander


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Tom Hollander will be reading the audiobook version of John Le Carré’s ‘A Legacy of Spies’ which is due for release in September.

Lovely news reached Team Hollander towers yesterday, from Penguin Books who shared the above tweet on Twitter. You can pre-order Tom Hollander reading ‘A Legacy of Spies’ here, from Audible UK.

Tom recently won a BAFTA for his role in Le Carré’s The Night Manager so it seems rather fitting that he’s doing the reading duties. Below you can find out more information about some of the other audio books that Tom’s read and a selection of tweets from people who’ve clearly enjoyed his excellent work.

Although this quote is about voice-overs rather than audiobooks I thought it was interesting nonetheless: “I really love voice-overs; I love the concentration and the detail of a voice-over because it’s very technical. It’s like if you were a painter and you had to do a line drawing as an exercise. I suppose it’s quite intimate too. And it’s very pure, yeah. It’s just you and a script and you have to bring some sort of humanity to it so that the audience listening can connect with it. I’ve enjoyed that a lot recently.
Source: Hunger TV interview (2014)

List of audiobooks read by Tom Hollander from Audble UK, see also this list of Tom’s voicework from Thomagination which includes lots of other things he’s done / narrated.

  • In the Company of the Courtesan by Sarah Dunant (2006)
  • The Lieutenant by Kate Grenville (2009)
  • Cityboy: Beer and Loathing in the Square by Geraint Anderson (2009)
  • A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess (2010)
    a nice review of Tom’s reading of Clockwork Orange
  • Theremin (radio play) by Melissa Murray (2011)
  • The Casual Vacancy by JK Rowling (2012)
  • Conrad: The Chrestomanci Series by Diana Wynne Jones (2012)
  • Agatha Christie: Twelve Radio Mysteries (2016) – several readers including Tom
  • Fare Thee Well by Lord Byron (2017) – poem (3 minutes)





Quacks: James Wood (writer & co-creator of Rev.) has a new show coming to BBC2 [Tue 15th Aug]


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This sounds rather good fun, a new series about Victorian medicine that’s also a comedy. It’s written (and Executive Produced) by James Wood who brought us Rev.

It gets a good write-up in this interview with James and the cast in the Independent.

“‘I gave myself a medical historical education and puked it back out as comedy,’ says ‘Rev’ creator James Wood of his new BBC2 comedy ‘Quacks’.

“…Quacks is surely one of the most original new TV shows of the year, unsurprisingly since its creator, James Wood, has a track record in unlikely but engagingly droll TV shows; he wrote Rev, the Bafta-winning comedy starring Tom Hollander as an inner-city vicar, and, earlier this year, a delightful adaptation of Evelyn Waugh’s Decline and Fall…“.

Apparently one of the cast is a ‘self-experimenting anaesthetist’… hmm, remind you of anyone? 😉

We can expect guest appearances from a couple of the Rev. cast too – Miles Jupp (Nigel) and Kayvan Novak (Yussef Hasan, the local imam).

Quacks will begin screening on BBC2 next Tuesday (15 August) from 10-10.30pm.

Further reading








Tom Hollander @LettersLive / @WildernessHQ Festival 2017 #letterslive #wilderness2017 #wildernessfestival


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Tom Hollander (wearing a lovely shirt from Indigo Island) and Ian McShane at Wilderness Festival 2017 after performing at Letters Live on Sunday 6th August. Both chaps looking gorgeous in blue 🙂

A lovely surprise this weekend was discovering that Tom Hollander was at the Wilderness Festival in Oxford. He took part in two performances of Letters Live (in which actors read out letters – the letters can be funny / sad or from famous / non-famous people, it’s a really great event) over the weekend. The first performance was – annoyingly – a surprise / secret one on Saturday night which I missed hearing about until the next day (although Letters Live did actually tweet about it) – and that was how I discovered that Tom was at the festival – hooray.









Letters Live at Wilderness Festival 2017 - participants close-up

The ‘cast’ of Letters Live taking a well-earned bow at the end of a lovely event.

I was delighted that he was at the Sunday afternoon performance too though (Mark Strong, who’d been at the Saturday evening performance hadn’t been able to stay so I’m sorry to have missed him) and he read some lovely letters along with Russell Brand, Ian McShane, Tony Robinson, Louise Brealey, Benedict Cumberbatch, Amanda Abbington and Zawe Ashton.

The line-up of speakers is kept secret before the event (though I suppose the cat was slightly out of the bag on Sunday morning after the surprise gig) and the actors bring the letters to life, and it’s all rather magical. Zawe Ashton’s been acting for a while though I hadn’t actually come across her before, but she was absolutely brilliant reading letters from a very young Madonna to Stephen Lewicki, and a rather miffed Billie Holiday to Tallulah Bankhead.

I wrote down (on my phone) a very scrappy list of readers and the letters they read (and please let me know if you spot errors or omissions). Apologies if you’re one of the people who read and I’ve misattributed anything, it’s all a bit of a lovely blur now. You can hear Jo Whiley’s interviews with the actors (from 1hr 8min onwards) including Amanda Abbington, Tom Hollander, Mark Strong and a longer one with Benedict Cumberbatch on letter-writing for another month [at 10 August 2017].

John Lloyd introduced, off-stage, each letter and its reader.

  • Ian McShane and Russell Brand read an exchange on the marvels of whiskey/whisky
  • Tony Robinson read a letter which I didn’t manage to make a note of
  • Zawe Ashton read Madonna Ciccone’s letter to Stephen Lewicki
  • Benedict Cumberbatch read a letter from Iggy Pop to Joshua Berger, he also read a letter from his mum Wanda (delivered on-stage by the Wilderness Festival’s own ‘Post Office’ team!) which thanked him and last night’s crowd for singing her a happy birthday video
  • Russell Brand read a very funny letter from a man who’d spent an entire year trying to seduce his wife and recording every rejection she’d given him.
  • Louise Brealey read a lovely letter from Rachel Carson, about life and monarch butterflies
  • Tom Hollander read the unintentionally hilarious proposal from a farmer, Simon Fallowfield, to his intended Mary Foster. The letter was written in 1866 but the proposal was rejected (possibly the P.S. didn’t help, haha). Tom did a brilliant accent for this letter.
  • Amanda Abbington read a letter from a convicted woman to her two children before she and her (also convicted) husband were executed






Letters Live at Wilderness Festival 2017 - Louise Brealey and Benedict Cumberbatch

Louise Brealey and Benedict Cumberbatch pondering the relative merits of cats and dogs

  • Louise Brealey and Benedict Cumberbatch had a lot of fun reading a series of exchanges from the Guardian’s letter pages (one example here) on whether cats are more fascistic than dogs
  • Ian McShane read a letter from Hunter S Thompson in reply to Anthony Burgess who’d written asking if he could send a 50,000 word novella in place of the ‘think piece’ he’d promised Rolling Stone magazine. Thompson’s reply pulled no punches.
  • Tom Hollander read a brilliant letter from someone with bipolar disorder who wrote complaining that a cartoon on the topic had offended him… though on reflection a few days later he changes his mind 😉
  • Zawe Ashton read Billie Holiday’s letter to Tallulah Bankhead
  • I’m afraid I didn’t write down who read the letter from Edmund Howard, written in 1535 to a woman who was trying to cure his kidney stones. It sounded painful.
  • Ian McShane read a letter from Kurt Vonnegut in support of his son who wished to be a conscientious objector during the Vietnam War
  • Amanda Abbington read Tina Fey’s pithy responses to internet trolls
  • Tom Hollander read John Steinbeck’s letter to Marilyn Monroe requesting her autograph for his smitten nephew
  • Tony Robinson read, hilariously, a letter from Lewis Carroll apologising to a friend with whom he’d promised to do a photography project
  • Ian McShane read a letter from Sir Archibald Clark Kerr to Lord Reginald Pembroke
  • Louise Brealey read Patti Smith’s letter to Robert Maplethorpe
  • Benedict Cumberbatch read a letter written in 1919, I think from Katherine Mansfield to John Middleton Murry but sadly my notes on the topic were poorly taken

I was lucky enough to meet Tom shortly afterwards and get his autograph, thanks Tom 😀

Also thank you to Letters Live for a lovely event (my fourth) and to the Wilderness Festival for a wonderful five days’ entertainment and relaxation. What a lovely place to be.

You might also enjoy Tom Hollander’s Letter to my younger self, and his own writings in The Spectator and elsewhere.





















And from the previous night’s gig at which Tom read a letter from Leonard Cohen and one from composer Percy Grainger, on his rather enthusiastic sex life: “Rev star Hollander brought roars of laughter from the audience as he faithfully quoted an outrageously graphic love letter by Country Gardens composer Percy Grainger, as florid as it was pornographic.”




What’s Letters Live?
Letters of Note (Twitter) began a few years ago thanks to Shaun Usher, with a website sharing all sorts of amazing letters and then later he came up with the brilliant idea of having them read live, and Letters Live (Twitter) was born.

The next Letters Live event is on 27 August in Edinburgh (part of the festival) and tickets are still available at the time of writing, but they tend to sell out.

What’s the Wilderness Festival?
A wonderful, relaxed festival of music, crafts, art, glitter, talks & debates, fine dining and excellent loos which takes place every year in Cornbury Park in Charlbury, Oxford. 2017 was its seventh outing, there’s a nice review of one of the early events here. (Website, Twitter).

Celebrities pick their favourite parts of London – mini clips


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Thanks to lucky_lazy on Twitter for spotting these, from 2007. The UK news broadcaster ITN (Independent Television News) made a series of short clips where well-known people shared their enthusiasm for a bit of London. I don’t remember seeing the programme at the time but they were probably shown as part of the local news for London at the end of the main news programme.

These two very short clips have Tom Hollander showing the audience how lovely a graveyard in Peckham can be – the beautiful Nunhead Cemetery. I can’t embed them so you’ll have to visit the ITN’s clip archive to watch…

…and while you’re there you might also enjoy this clip of Tom being interviewed in 2011 at a BAFTA red carpet event, the day before they began rehearsing the second series of Rev. It’s quite a funny interview! (look for Clip 7)

Don’t forget, if you’re in Birmingham UK and would like to see Pride and Prejudice tomorrow (Sunday 23 July) then BAFTA have arranged a special screening at MAC Birmingham.

Separate US screenings of the film in Los Angeles and New York on Wednesday 26 July have now sold out. There are more UK screenings (organised by BAFTA) in August and September.







Two bedtime stories from Tom Hollander and CBeebies


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Tom Hollander has read a few bedtime stories for the children’s television channel CBeebies and two of them have made their way onto Dailymotion, hooray. First is the tale of Captain Wag and the Polar Bears and then there’s Cantankerous King Colin. Enjoy!

Night night… 🙂

Don’t forget we’re sending Tom birthday wishes next month, find out how in this post.

Tom Hollander’s BBC Lifeline appeal for @intouniversity (supporting young people into higher education)


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Thanks to the BBC & YouTube (and to @lucky_lazy for telling me on Twitter!) anyone can now see this short clip about the work of the charity IntoUniversity. They support children and young people from disadvantaged backgrounds and help them feel more confident about considering university as an option. Tom Hollander presents the appeal which was first broadcast on Sunday 18th June 2017. There are subtitles available from subsaga.

You can contribute to the charity by SMS text message, online (one-off or regular donation), through payroll giving via your employer, through a standing order from your bank or via cheque – more info here

Tom wrote (in 2002) about how much he enjoyed his time at Cambridge University, and the opportunities and connections that time at university can give a young person, as well as an education. Look for the English faculty alumni letter in the list of Tom Hollander’s authored articles.