Just imagine the fireworks there might have been if they’d managed to get Judi Dench and the Daily Telegraph’s Charles Spencer on the panel together (See The Goss, 9 May 2009). Still, there’s little doubt that National Theatre artistic director Nicholas Hytner – who, two years ago, famously referred to the UK’s leading critics as “dead white males (See News, 14 May 2007) – will be able to hold his own when he gets to question the Guardian’s Michael Billington on Sunday (17 May 2009) as part of Cancer Research UK’s inaugural Theatrical Turn the Tables event.

Theatrical Turn the Tables is based on Turn the Tables, the charity’s renowned political event, in which politicians get to quiz the commentators. In addition to the Hytner-Billington head-to-head, actress Helen Mirren, the star of Hytner’s upcoming NT production of Phedre, will put cultural broadcaster Joan Bakewell in the hotseat. The event is chaired by actor Alex Jennings and adjudicated by Kit Hesketh-Harvey, of comedy act Kit and the Widow. Amongst the other theatre practitioners in the audience, who can also pose questions to get the sparks flying, are actresses Eileen Atkins and Jane Asher.

Theatrical Turn the Tables takes place from 12pm to 2.30pm this Sunday 17 May 2009 at BAFTA’S headquarters in Piccadilly, London. Tickets cost £90 each. Guests will also have the option to pose a question to the panel for an additional donation of £50. For tickets, contact Barbara Alexander on 020 7438 5434 or email Barbara.Alexander@cancer.org.uk.

Since the first event in 2000, Turn the Tables has raised over £800,000 for Cancer Research UK’s charity work in the battle against cancer.