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Last Updated: Saturday, 24 September 2005, 10:39 GMT 11:39 UK
Alan Bennett reveals cancer fight
Alan Bennett
Bennett is one of Britain's best-loved playwrights
Playwright Alan Bennett has revealed his private fight against cancer, but dismissed the illness as a "bore".

In his autobiography Telling Stories - serialised in the Daily Telegraph - Bennett, 71, wrote that he had surgery and treatment for colon cancer in 1997.

Surgeons told the Talking Heads creator they removed a "rock-bun" sized tumour.

He said he kept it secret because he did not "want to die in the pages of a newspaper" and that he was cheerful but did not dare think he had been cured.

He said he was given a 50% of surviving the cancer, but was later told it had really been much less.

"I did not see cancer as a way of dramatising my life," Bennett wrote.

"Cancer, like any other illness, is a bore."

Van lady

Bennett's rise to fame began in 1960 when he appeared at the Edinburgh Festival alongside Dudley Moore, Peter Cooke and Jonathan Miller.

They performed a satirical revue, called Beyond The Fringe, which Bennett also co-wrote.

Bennett went on to write many plays, forging a reputation as one of the UK's finest monologue writers.

Among his most memorable plays are The Lady in the Van, based on his real life experience of a woman who lived in a van in his street for 15 years, and The Madness of George III.

His return to the National Theatre in 2004 was viewed as a huge success, with The History Boys winning rave reviews and awards.

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