Writer Michael Frayn, who received a special award for his contribution to theatre at last night's Oliviers, revealed in the press room afterwards that he's planning to retire.

Frayn, 79, whose stage plays include Democracy, Copenhagen and the multi award-winning farce Noises Off, said the accolade signalled it was time to put down his pen.

"It's a very great honour and I'm very touched," he told Whatsonstage.com, "but it's like when they put the hook on for you in the days of music hall - it means stop now and take a rest."

Pushed on whether he really would stop writing, he added: "I don't think I'm going to write anything else, I think I've finished. I'm currently writing the screenplay for my last novel, but apart from that I've got absolutely nothing planned."

Reflecting on a career that has seen him span the worlds of literature, stage and screen, he conceded that an early theatre flop had initially put him off writing for theatre.

"I came to the theatre very late, and I actually started off hating it," he said. "One of my early jobs was as a newspaper columnist and I spent a lot of those columns mocking the theatre and saying how embarrassing it was. I wrote a flop play when I was a student, and it took me a long time to recover. I found playwriting a hard trade to learn."

Asked how the landscape has changed for new writing, Frayn observed: "There's a lot more cooperation now between the subsidised and private theatre. Producers now on the whole expect young writers to cut their teeth in the subsidised theatre, and if it works they take the play over.

"When I began I was nursed along by Michael Codron, one of the greatest West End producers, who took a chance on my early work. I think that happens a lot less now."