Charles Spencer at the 2006 Critics' Circle Awards
Charles Spencer at the 2006 Critics' Circle Awards
© Dan Wooller

The Daily Telegraph's chief theatre critic Charles Spencer has announced his retirement.

Known for his deeply personal and entertaining reviews, he famously branded Nicole Kidman's performance in The Blue Room as "theatrical viagra".

In 2009 he made public an abusive letter he received from Judi Dench following his review of Madame de Sade, in which he referred to the Dame as a "formidable old boot".

Spencer, who is 59, said of his decision: "I have loved my job, but critics shouldn't go on too long. I feel I've had my say and it's time to stop and put my feet up."

He will be replaced by his deputy Dominic Cavendish and a team of reviewers.

Telegraph arts editor Sarah Crompton said: "He has always said exactly what he thinks, and that is why people have come to trust him so much. We will all miss reading his reviews."

Director Rupert Goold said on Twitter: "In the critic's tavern Charlie Spencer was Falstaff - impossible to avoid, here to have fun, lusty, cruel, vivid and once gone oddly missed."