Here is George


Most of the best listening these long, damp summer evenings seems to be tucked away in those twenty-minute gaps in the middle of the Proms. This week George Coulouris, the actor, has been harking back to his early days as the son of a Greek junk-dealer in Salford (Home, Thursday, and two more to come) and marvellous, throwaway period stuff it turned out to be.

His father came from Sparta ("he approved of the boy who was eaten by a wolf while making polite conversation") and was willing to trade in anything: ten tons of horse-hair, a thousand old corned beef tins. New Year's Eves were spent surreptitiously drying out cargoes of sodden cigarette papers on the boilers under Manchester's Y.M.C.A. (" We never sold them"). But finally the call of the stage got too strong, and Coulouris set off to London to make his fortune, with a thick Lancashire accent, a three-speed bicycle, a camp bed, and his mother's notion that it might be nice to be like Sir Henry Irving. The resulting theatre gossip is of the very best brand. There is the Central School of Drama full of colonels' daughters discussing which of their fellow-students were Really Gentlemen; the Rusholme Repertory where he was fired by the undertaker-impresario ("but Sybil Thorndike likes me!"); and the hideous first-night flop of 'Sirocco', where he played an Italian woman, with his chest covered in beads, and the crowd were howling for Noel Coward's blood "because he had just said something nasty about 'the Church of England in 'Home Chat'". Next episode: Life with Orson Welles (Home, August 30). Not to be missed.