Benedict Nightingale Steps Down as Times CriticDate: 25 January 2010
After nearly 50 years as a reviewer, Benedict Nightingale is retiring as chief theatre critic of The Times later this year, to be replaced by Libby Purves, currently a columnist for the paper.
Nightingale, who has been with The Times for 20 years, will step down shortly after his 71st birthday in May.
Born in 1939 and educated at Charterhouse and Magdalene College, Cambridge, Nightingale started as the Guardian’s northern drama critic in 1963. He was theatre critic on the New Statesman from 1968-86, and wrote a Sunday column in the New York Times in the mid 1980s. He joined The Times, succeeding Irving Wardle, in 1990. His mother was the first wife of Evelyn Waugh and his wife Anne Redmon is a novelist - one of his sons, Christopher Nightingale, is a West End musical director.
His successor Purves, 59, rose to prominence in the late 1970s as the first female presenter of the Today programme on Radio Four, where she currently presents Midweek. She has authored eleven novels, and written for a number of national newspapers and magazines including The Times and the Guardian. She was awarded an OBE in 1999 for services to journalism.
The Times editor James Harding said today: "Benedict has been the leading theatre critic of his generation and has written for the Times for 20 years, setting the standard by which the great performances and productions are judged. People onstage, backstage and in the audience have come to trust his every observation and judgement delivered with style, humour and passion.
"Benedict has ensured that Times readers have the best writing on what has been a golden age for British theatre and he will remain a contributor to the paper."
- Theo Bosanquet & Michael Coveney