To flee or not to flee, that is the question

Why Hamlet-star Benedict Cumberbatch should save his politician-bashing for post-theatre interviews.


It's madness to diss the great man but put a sock in it

Benedict Cumberbatch has been packing London's Barbican Theatre with his performance of Hamlet, and most critics think he's brilliant. But sadly, said Richard Littlejohn in the Daily Mail, "young Ben's success seems to have gone to his head". Not content with merely playing the role, he has "come to see himself as a born-again Bob Geldof". Audiences at the end of the evening find themselves being harangued by Cumberbatch about the plight of Syrian refugees and why Britain isn't doing enough to help. Theatregoers are urged to dig deep into their pockets and, as they leave the auditorium, have "to run the gauntlet of volunteers rattling red buckets".

Tickets for the Hamlet run are sold out, with some changing hands on the internet for "a staggering £1,000 a pop", says Littlejohn. There are no reports of anyone walking out in disgust or heckling after "this impertinent posturing. But if I'd paid anything up to a grand to watch an actor at the top of his game play Hamlet, I would be furious if he tried to exploit his celebrity by delivering a political speech for an encore". The theatre is supposed to be a "sanctuary" from the real world, not an extension of it.

"To flee or not to flee?" That's the question audiences should ask when Cumberbatch starts his rant, says Louise Mensch in The Sun. We can do without "tedious virtue signalling' from luvvies who wouldn't dream of housing a migrant in their luxury Soho flats".

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"It's madness to take on Cumberbatch, I know," said Boris Johnson in The Daily Telegraph, especially with his legions of so-called Cumberbitches patrolling the Twittersphere, "ready to plunge their electronic machetes into anyone who disses the great man..." So Johnson is glad he wasn't at the Barbican the other night when Cumberbatch, more carried away than usual, cried, to wild acclaim: "F*** the politicians".

If I had been around, said Johnson, I hope I "might have shouted rubbish', or at least murmured some feeble dissent". Someone needs to respond to these "bien-pensant Londoners". Cameron has rightly pledged to take 20,000 of the most vulnerable of the Syrian refugees, but there are now millions of people on the move, many of them not because they're in immediate fear for their lives but because they want a better life.

How many can we take: 200,000? Half a million? Yes, most of us worry about refugees, but we worry, too, that our government has lost control of immigration, with potentially disastrous consequences. "It is a painful truth that we said we would cap immigration in the tens of thousands'; and yet this year alone we have had net immigration at 330,000." Cumberbatch may be right to bash politicians, but he's doing it for the wrong reason.

Whatever the reason, I think he should save his politician-bashing for post-theatre interviews. People are paying to see him play Hamlet, not to hear his views on refugees, however strongly he may feel about them. The Barbican should tell him to put a sock in it.

Tabloid money: feminists should stop their grumbling

"So, the police have announced they will no longer mount a £12m-a-year, round-the-clock operation to watch out for Julian Assange, the lunatic WikiLeaks founder who's spent the last three years hiding under a table in the Ecuadorian embassy," says Jeremy Clarkson in The Sun. "However, there's talk that the Aussie loony, who's also wanted in Sweden for sex crimes, is still being watched covertly. Hmmm." Of course police have plenty of technology they can use to monitor criminal behaviour."But fortunately for Mr Assange, all of it is being used to catch people doing 37mph and parking on double yellow lines."

"It's good news that there are no more all-male boards on the FTSE 100," says Louise Mensch in The Sun. "A report by former trade minister Lord Davies says that the voluntary target of 25% female board members has been met, and without any quotas, which is great news for women. But rather than be pleased, feminist organisations reacted with grumbling.

Professor Shainaz Firfiray of Warwick Business School complained to the BBC that women encounter different obstacles to men. One of the biggest obstacles to women's success is interest groups grumbling about the problems we face. It makes us all look like moaning minnies about as much fun to have in the office as Eeyore. How about Brilliant news, more to do but what a great start?'"

"BBC executive Alan Yentob spent £1,500 of the corporation's cash on taxis in three months," says Carole Malone in the Daily Mirror. "I'll bet if the money had been coming out of his own pocket and not ours he'd have taken the Tube."

Jeremy Corbyn's new media adviser, The Guardian's Seumas Milne, 57, is a millionaire columnist, says Ephraim Hardcastle in the Daily Mail. Educated at Winchester and Balliol College, Oxford, he inherited a third of the £3.9m estate left by his late father, former BBC Director-General Alasdair Milne.