Whether they win on the night remains to be seen, but as far as nominations and build-up goes, the big story of this year’s Academy Awards (certainly as far as the UK media is concerned!) is the success of British artists and films, including The Queen (written by Frost/Nixon’s Peter Morgan, starring Helen Mirren and Michael Sheen, directed by Stephen Frears) and Notes on a Scandal (adapted by Patrick Marber, starring Judi Dench and directed by Richard Eyre). Those names, and many others associated with those and other films, will of course be familiar to theatregoers as heavyweight actors, directors and playwrights of the British stage. The point, according to National Theatre artistic director Nicholas Hytner, is that the buoyancy of the UK film industry is inextricably linked to the health, and proper funding, of the UK theatre industry. Hytner, who is worried that the Government may impose standstill grants or worse in its upcoming spending round, has gathered words of support from several of this year’s Oscar nominees.

According to Helen Mirren, up for a Best Actress in a Leading Role Oscar: “The huge success of recent British films like The Queen would not have been possible without the many wonderful actors who have become as good as they are through long experience in the theatre…. My own career has included many productions with companies like the RSC and the National, and I’m sure it won’t be long before I’m back on the stage.” Her Best Actress competitor Judi Dench, who won this year’s Whatsonstage.com Award for Best Actress for Hay Fever, added: “Our theatre is envied and respected by almost every country worldwide, and we are only in this position because of the subsidy we receive…. Being trained in the theatre is a necessity. The health of our film industry depends on the health of our theatre.”

From the writer’s perspective Patrick Marber - Oscar nominated for best adapted screenplay and best known to theatregoers for the likes of Closer, Dealer’s Choice and, just seen at the Donmar Warehouse, Don Juan in Soho - believes: “The success of British film is an international phenomenon, and it would not be so without the creative energy it borrows from those who have trained and continue to work in the theatre…. Receiving an Academy nomination for screenwriting is an honour, and I’m thrilled to be part of this year’s British success story. But I owe it all to the years I spent learning and developing as a writer in the subsidised theatre.” Stephen Frears noted that, as most of Britain’s successful filmmakers had worked in the subsidised arts and “have benefited from the wise decision of the Government to support the arts properly. Why on earth would anybody change that policy when it’s paid off so handsomely?” Why indeed.