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Alan Bennett on 'capturing the world'

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The plight of a lonely old woman is classic territory in the work of Alan Bennett but less familiar is the row that has broken out before the opening of his new play, People, at the National Theatre.

He had been keeping the plot secret until he wrote in the London Review of Books this week that it involved an elderly lady, her country house, the National Trust and a pornographic film.

The trust has taken offence; not at the porn, but at Mr Bennett's withering criticism of the way the trust presents its stately homes and the guides who show the public around them.

Before this outbreak of hostilities between these two national treasures, Today programme presenter James Naughtie went to meet Alan Bennett at the National Theatre and asked him what the new play was all about.

"It's like all plays, they come out of not knowing an answer to something and trying to find out what the answer is; and you write the play to sort of untie the knot really," he explained.

This is an extended version of the broadcast item.


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