Mark Mason

Where’s the fun in football without the fans?

27 June 2020 9:00 am

Football is back — but the fans aren’t. Covid means that clubs have to play their games behind closed doors.…

From ABBA to Pet Shop Boys: how bands got their names

30 May 2020 9:00 am

You wouldn’t have thought that Starbucks’s pricing policy could influence rock history, but that’s what happened. In the early 1990s,…

Perfectly serviceable – at points even charming: Four Kids and It reviewed

4 April 2020 9:00 am

This film contains flying children, time travel and a sand monster that lives under a beach — yet the most…

How to work from home (according to Churchill, Einstein and Napoleon)

28 March 2020 9:00 am

Working from home has been on the rise for years. No one expected the latest surge to happen in the…

I regret my bust-up with the Bee Gees: Clive Anderson interviewed

21 February 2020 10:00 pm

Mark Mason talks to Clive Anderson about mistaken identity, Macbeth and making a career out of being a bit of a smartarse

Why does Big Ben bong on the radio before it does in real life?

1 February 2020 9:00 am

The debate over whether Big Ben should bong to mark Brexit isn’t the first time the famous bell has caused…

What is the only London Underground station to share no letters with ‘mackerel’?

18 January 2020 9:00 am

Don’t worry, this isn’t a piece about fishing quotas. It’s about the word ‘mackerel’ itself. Specifically, the fact that St…

Why everyone loves Dolly Parton

14 December 2019 9:00 am

When her musical 9 to 5 opened at the Savoy Theatre earlier this year, Dolly Parton stayed at the Savoy…

Why I love a bit of death on a Sunday night

9 November 2019 9:00 am

There’s nothing like a nice bit of death on a Sunday evening. Radio 4 originally transmit their obituary programme Last…

The unlikely beauty of urinals

2 November 2019 9:00 am

In 1966, just as he was becoming famous, Michael Caine met John Wayne. The Holly-wood veteran offered him some advice:…

An ‘I’ for a ‘my’: why we’re terrified of getting our grammar wrong

26 October 2019 9:00 am

Jonathan Agnew recently described off-the-record interviews as those where you agree that it’s ‘between you and I’. Last month, Jess…

We have the French Revolution to thank for Ordnance Survey maps

28 September 2019 9:00 am

You could say it started because of the French. The turmoil caused by their revolution got the British military worried…

The motorway that contains 2.5 million Mills & Boon novels

13 July 2019 9:00 am

The first one was too straight. In the absence of a speed limit, early motorists on the M1 used the…

The retiring Brian Bilston.

The great anti-hero of our time: Diary of a Somebody, by Brian Bilston, reviewed

15 June 2019 9:00 am

Brian Bilston’s life is summed up perfectly by the incident with his neighbour’s dog. The annoying Mrs McNulty comes round…

From Amazon to Waitrose: how do companies get their names?

1 June 2019 9:00 am

Poor Mr Bergstresser. He put up the money to start the financial reporting company but his name wasn’t as snappy…

Stop going through the motions – committees are a waste of time

27 April 2019 9:00 am

God save us from committees. They’re an increasingly outdated way of getting things done. But there’s a certain sort of…

Is British food really still wodges of stodge?

27 April 2019 9:00 am

‘You are what you eat.’ The old phrase always reminds me of Denzil, John Sparkes’s character in the comedy sketch…

Celebrities, cars and chickens: Inside the Connaught hotel

13 April 2019 9:00 am

You may have noticed the Connaught a little more since 2011, when ‘Silence’, the steamy fountain by Japanese ‘architect philosopher’ Tadao…

Divine comedy: Steve Coogan as Stan Laurel and John C. Reilly as Oliver Hardy

The best tribute possible to the greatest comics ever: Stan & Ollie reviewed

12 January 2019 9:00 am

You mess with Laurel and Hardy at your peril. Their fan base is essentially the entire world. Samuel Beckett adored…

Can men call women ‘girls’?

5 January 2019 9:00 am

Talking to someone in her mid-twenties recently, I mentioned someone else of the same age. ‘She’s a really talented girl,’…

Light fantastic: Shirazeh Houshiary’s east window

St Martin-in-the-Fields: the ‘Church of the Ever Open Door’

8 December 2018 9:00 am

St Martin’s really did once stand in the fields, just as nearby Haymarket was a market selling hay. But the…

Tricks of the trade…

Notes on Davenports Magic Shop, an emporium for serious conjurors

20 October 2018 9:00 am

It’s a very fitting place for a magic shop. Hidden away in the maze of pedestrian tunnels that lead from…

Pete Conrad, one half of the second Apollo 12 team, on the moon in 1969

Second best: Why runners up are more interesting than those who come first

22 September 2018 9:00 am

Who was the second prime minister? Everyone knows Robert Walpole was the first. Firsts get all the fame and glory.…

Breaking the bank: The impregnable BoE

How easy is it to break into the Bank of England?

21 July 2018 9:00 am

‘Safe as the Bank of England.’ So goes the old phrase. And yes, with walls 8ft thick, the Old Lady…

Why will the myth of the yeti just not go away?

Climbing Everest with Brian Blessed is the nearest anyone will get to encountering the yeti

16 June 2018 9:00 am

In 1969 the body of an ape-like creature, preserved in ice inside an insulated box, came to light in Minnesota.…