If somebody were to hold a poll asking journalists to name the greatest living critics, two of the names in contention would be Fay Maschler and Irving Wardle. On Tuesday, 14th May both of them were on the panel for this event The Bloomsbury. They discussed how to be a critic, who does it best, what qualities are needed and why it still matters, even in the age of user reviews. The full speaker line-up was:
Fay has been the restaurant critic of the Evening Standard ever since she won the role in a competition in 1972. The current editor of the Standard, George Osborne, is the 11th she has worked for. Her incisive reviews have helped the London restaurant scene transform itself from limited, verging on moribund, to diverse and dynamic.
Irving was the chief theatre critic for The Times from 1963 to 1989, before moving to The Independent On Sunday, where he was one of several star writers on the late lamented Sunday Review. He knows so much about reviewing plays, he wrote the book (Theatre Criticism, Routledge, 1992). He was the first critic to spot the talent of Harold Pinter, who sent a thank-you letter describing Irving's review as "most penetrating".
Lucy is the TV critic for G2, the daily magazine from The Guardian. A columnist for Stylist as well as The Guardian, she is the author of Bookworm: A Memoir of Childhood Reading (Square Peg, 2018), which led The Spectator to declare that "Lucy Mangan has enough comic energy to power the National Grid".
A former editor of Car magazine, Gavin is now motoring editor of High Life magazine and a freelance car critic. He is perhaps the only member of our panel who has the power to lower a share price.
CHAIR: TIM DE LISLE
Now in his second stint as a member of the BSME committee, Tim is the pop critic of Event magazine at The Mail On Sunday. As a former arts editor of The Times and The Independent On Sunday, he has had some practice at keeping critics in order.