David Lister

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Full name: David Lister

Area of interest: Arts

Journals/Organisation: The Independent

Email: david.lister@independent.co.uk

Personal website:

Website: http://www.independent.co.uk/biography/david-lister







Career: Joined The Independent in 1986 (as a founder member) in the position of assistant Home Editor, became Arts correspondent in 1988 and then media and culture editor

Current position/role: Arts editor

  • also writes/written for:

Other roles/Main role:

Other activities:


Viewpoints/Insight: Press Gazette: A working week in the life of David Lister, 21st August 2003

Broadcast media:



Awards/Honours: Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts


  • With the headline "Some of the biggest names in the art world have been the victims of a literary hoax", revealed that abstract expressionist painter Nat Tate never existed (in fact being a hoax perpetrated by novelist William Boyd with the help of David Bowie)
  1. A ‘creative’ biography didn't foresee plot of British giggles (Washington Post, 1998)
  2. Bowie and Boyd "hoax" art world (BBC News, 7th April, 1998)


Books & Debate:

Latest work:



The Independent:

Column name: The Week in Arts

Remit/Info: Arts


Role: Arts Editor


Email: david.lister@independent.co.uk

Website: http://www.independent.co.uk/biography/david-lister

Commissioning editor:

Day published: Saturday

Regularity: Weekly

Column format:

Average length:

Articles: 2016

Articles: 2015

Articles: 2014

Articles: 2013

Articles: 2012

Articles: 2011

Articles: 2010

Articles: 2009

  • The daddy of all that divides the sexes - Van Morrison has proudly announced on his website the birth of a son, George Ivan Morrison III - 31st December
  • Shakespeare makes great television - It's Boxing Day and so you might think it's not a day when you are going to see something wildly innovative and mould-breaking in the arts world - 26th December
  • Rage against being told what to do - For the first time in years I am interested in what will be the Christmas number One - 19th December
  • Part of London's heritage has been lost - Alarm bells first rang when I picked up a leaflet saying Transport for London was "changing the direction of the Circle line". Rubbish as I always have been at geometry, even I felt that you couldn't change the direction of a circle - 15th December
  • Too many popstars, not enough singers - Cultural events are taking place all over the country this weekend, and there is a plethora of arts programmes on BBC4 and Sky Arts. Yet there is no doubting that the finals of ITV's The X Factor over two nights will be the most watched and most talked-about arts event of the weekend - 12th December
  • Peter, Jackie, and questions never asked - Bennett said he was sure Cook was having an affair with Jackie Kennedy - 8th December
  • Why Strictly's upset a professional dancer - Let's see some proof there is audience movement from these events to a wider interest in the art form - 5th December
  • Craft does not make art – it takes originality - As a debate, "what is art" prefigures most art. France's celebrated prehistoric cave paintings probably had assorted cavemen raising their clubs as they declared: "I may not know much about art but I know what I like." - 1st December
  • Beware Conservatives bearing cash - 28th November
  • How can they not love Lily? - It is the season of lists. Best of the Year/ Decade. Worst of the Year/ Decade. Most Beautiful of the Year/Decade. I'd like to introduce a "Mildly Enjoyable Night Out But Nothing To Write Home About of The Year/Decade", because that is also a large part of the cultural experience. But for the moment we'll have to make do with the best-of category - 21st November
  • Great writers don't need a helping hand - There's an unusual story about the new Alan Bennett play which opens at the National Theatre next Tuesday - 14th November
  • The pulsating battle to rule the arts - Who should be the next chairman of the London Regional Arts Council? There's a question that invites the reader to turn the page. But this seemingly arcane question has become intriguing, controversial even - 7th November
  • You need a PhD for a night at the opera - They're expensive and often of little use, yet they are the one part of the cultural experience that rarely provokes comment. Why can't the programmes on sale at concerts, theatres and operas be better? - 31st October
  • The perils of being friends with the boss - The editor on my first newspaper had a habit of standing behind you as you were writing. Eventually, unnerved by his presence, you would stop writing. "What are you doing?" he would ask, amazed. "I'm thinking," the hapless reporter would answer. "Don't think! Write!" he would bark, emphasising the point with a jab of his finger between the shoulder blades - 27th October
  • Annie get your (politically correct) gun - I was sure that the score also contained a song called "I'm an Indian Too" - 24th October
  • It's not time to junk the breeches and bonnets - The death of the costume drama on the BBC has been declared before. By the BBC. In the Eighties the Corporation decided that the public no longer had an appetite for it, and barely made any, denying a generation adaptations of the classics - 22nd October
  • Hirst's £250k (gift) - There's no need for me to comment on the quality of Damien Hirst's new paintings at London's Wallace Collection. The art critics have delivered their verdict - 17th October
  • I seek to understand David Hare - There's something that disturbs me about the subtitle David Hare has given to his new play The Power of Yes. It is "A dramatist seeks to understand the financial crisis - 10th October
  • Time to ditch these meaningless awards - Who exactly is exempt from playing music of black origin? - 3rd October
  • BBC4 should watch its back - I've never known a time when the BBC had so few friends in the main political parties. Ben Bradshaw, the Culture Secretary and Jeremy Hunt, his Conservative shadow, seem to be vying with each other to be the more antagonistic to the corporation - 26th September
  • A refreshing week for our new students - Freshers' Week: You can look on it in a number of ways - 25th September
  • This is no time to be utilitarian - When the Prime Minister admitted to the TUC this week that there would be public spending cuts, he used a word which should strike fear into everyone connected with the arts - 19th September
  • Actors should stick to the script - The New York Times ran an interview this week with Jude Law. The actor is about to appear in New York in the compelling Michael Grandage production of Hamlet. I thought Law's performance extremely moving when I saw it in London, and I suspect there is every chance of him causing a stir on Broadway - 12th September
  • A class divide still distorts the Proms - The BBC has its faults, many of them, but those who advocate replacing it should have to answer one question... - 9th September
  • A Robert Peston for the arts? Not quite - The BBC has been toying for a long time with the idea of having a Robert Peston of the arts. It's some months since the director-general himself said he wanted to transform the BBC's arts coverage by appointing a journalistic arts supremo to beef up its arts news and be the corporation's face of the arts - 5th September
  • The BBC does not have to pay the going rate - Director of TV defends salaries by saying it is a matter of the market - 2nd September
  • Carnaby Street personified – and that was the problem - Long before Jonathan Ross there was a BBC TV presenter whose ego blazed through the screen and who embarrassed the corporation because of his salary. Simon Dee may well have a claim to be the first of the television superstar presenters. But in his Sixties heyday, the BBC was tougher, and it never caved in to his salary demands, "letting him go" instead - 31st August
  • So why the rape joke, Ricky? - There can be boundaries even in comedy and even with Ricky Gervais - 29th August
  • It is cricket's turn to take centre stage - The last time I met Sam Mendes he didn't talk about Oscars, movies, plays, or even Kate Winslet. He talked about cricket. Like many in the arts, he is a cricket nut, though probably not as much as the late Harold Pinter - 26th August
  • This time the joke's on Brüno - The diminishing importance to box-office takings of stars and critics is of some interest, though I suspect the next cycle will find both back in vogue. What struck me of far greater, and more lasting, importance concerned the fate of our very own Sacha Baron Cohen's film, Brüno - 22nd August
  • Making an album shouldn't kill you - Creative hoo-ha is what artists have to deal with. It goes with the territory - 15th August
  • Nice sex, shame about the play - People have been spotted "pleasuring" one another in the audience at theatres - 8th August
  • Tweet your way to sporting failure - Cricketers intent on sharing their musings are just asking for trouble - 5th August
  • Film can learn from theatre - I would like to take the people behind the remake of the film The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 to the Donmar Warehouse theatre in London to see A Streetcar Named Desire - 1st August
  • It's a funny old job but someone's got to do it - The new Culture Secretary Ben Bradshaw was spotted at the Latitude festival last weekend, dancing to Grace Jones - 25th July
  • Bridget the funny yummy mummy? - When the history of this newspaper comes to be written, which I hope won't be for quite a while yet, one item sure to be counted among the glories will be Helen Fielding's Bridget Jones column - 18th July
  • Don't forget Monterey... - It was the music festival that not only summed up the Sixties but also is acknowledged as setting the template for all future music festivals. Hundreds of thousands of people attended to watch stars such as The Who and Jimi Hendrix give unforgettable performances - 11th July
  • Keep our museums and galleries free - Free admission to national museums and art galleries is a jolly good thing and people who get in free are very happy with the situation - 4th July
  • Theatres should give women a break - What was the biggest event in theatre this week? It was all set to be Nicholas Hytner's excellent initiative in beaming Helen Mirren's performance in Phèdre to cinemas around the world. But the National Theatre's artistic director has been upstaged by the arts minister, Barbara Follett - 27th June
  • There's no need to make a song and dance about arts in the North - Well, it sounded good. An opera house for the North. A good old anti-elitist, anti-London gesture to bring some of the best of the Royal Opera House's London performances to Manchester, and produce some work there too. It sounded good, but it was never properly thought out - 25th June
  • Deep in thought over the thinker in residence - An intriguing appointment has been made, I hear, at London’s South Bank Centre, or Southbank Centre, as they annoyingly insist on being called - 20th June
  • Artists shouldn't have to explain themselves - In the midst of the Venice Biennale opening celebrations, an odd exchange took place. Steve McQueen, Britain's representative, was giving a press conference about his artwork, a short film depicting the setting of the Biennale after the glamorous art world had left - 13th June
  • The Sky's the limit for 3D drama - Rupert Murdoch, patron of the arts. It still has a most unlikely ring to it. But it has to be said that the investment of Sky television in culture is proving quite impressive - 6th June
  • Beyoncé's transport blues - The workings, or non-workings, of the London Underground system at weekends are discussed far too seldom - 30th May
  • You can't copyright a hero - I have a vision. And I'm guessing I can say that without being sued. Were I to say "I have a dream" then I might need to seek legal advice - 23rd May
  • Can't stand the heat? Lower the price - Andrew Lloyd Webber's Really Useful Group has admitted that people are having to walk out of Oliver! at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, because it is "insufferably hot" in the balcony - 16th May
  • Dylan and McCartney don't mix - This collaboration of legends may not be such a good idea. But it's no surprise that it is generating excitement. It's that dreaded word "collaboration". It has become the holy grail of the arts world - 9th May
  • ITV will be a poorer place without him - The first South Bank Show had Paul McCartney, plain Mr then, talking about his new song "Mull of Kintyre". Yes, it was a long time ago. But since that first airing in 1978 it has been ITV's flagship arts programme, and there were times when the BBC was in the cultural doldrums and before Sky Arts was conceived, when Melvyn Bragg's baby was the cultural flagship for television generally - 7th May (see: Curtain falls on 'South Bank Show')
  • The pianist doth protest too much - The renowned Polish pianist Krystian Zimerman was about to play the final piece in his recital at the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles. He sat silently for a moment, then turned to the audience and said he would never play again in America, as its military wanted to control the whole world - 2nd May
  • Sexy or not, it's best to keep quiet - When Laurence Olivier and Marilyn Monroe starred in a film together, Monroe took particular exception to Olivier, who was also directing, saying to her before a scene: "OK, Marilyn, be sexy." The suggestion that her greatest natural asset was a mere technique that any decent actress could turn on did not go down well - 25th April
  • Take a risk: let us watch rehearsals - Gustavo Dudamel and his 100-plus youth orchestra from Venezuela were the biggest noise in town this week, but I was enthralled not just by the evening's performance at the Royal Festival Hall on Tuesday, but by an event that took place in the morning – an open rehearsal of the orchestra - 18th April
  • The Arts Council has sex on the brain - Do you want to be on the board of an arts organisation? Well, first of all, disclose whether you are straight or gay - 11th april
  • Sadly all the noise is about the novelties – not the classics - I have a dream that one day the Proms programme will be announced, and among the headlines the next day will be words like Beethoven, Brahms, Rattle, Barenboim - 9th April
  • You're no arts supremo, Mrs Darling - Somewhat overshadowed by the G20, the arts have been having their own powwow - 4th April
  • A Poet Laureate should work harder - Who'd be the Poet Laureate? They have to write verse about those increasingly unfashionable and largely unpoetic royal occasions, births, marriages and birthdays. They traditionally receive a quantity of sherry for their pains, but no actual dosh - 28th March
  • We don't need a Cultural Olympiad - £5m is to be given to artists, writers and composers to come up with sculptures, symphonies, plays and other works for the Cultural Olympiad. And that's only a fraction of what has already been promised- 21st March
  • When does an actor become a star? - 14th March
  • No rhyme or reason to booking fees - There is widespread and justifiable anger at West End theatres and rock concert venues adding a charge to the ticket price for reasons too linguistically obscure – handling charge, transaction fee – to understand - 7th March
  • Colour should no longer be an issue - Ballet Black. Why does that name make me feel a little uncomfortable? - 28th February
  • It’s only rock’n’roll, but I don’t like it - It was a glamorous, glitzy affair. Duffy’s smoky soul songs triumphed. The crowd went crazy - 21st February
  • Get off screen and into the provinces - There's a small revolution taking place in the British arts scene at the moment. Our national powerhouses are filming some of their productions and releasing the "movies" in cinemas across the country - 14th February
  • Embarrass us at the Baftas, please - These award ceremonies are drawn out and boring. The only chance of a little light relief is an honest-to-God, toe-curling, embarrassing acceptance speech - 7th February
  • Censorship secret is out of the bag - Can anything in our cultural affairs be more important than the fact that we are living in an age of self-censorship and, presumably, fear by those who put on plays and films, write comedies, and publish books? - 31st January
  • Why pay top price for a rehearsal? - put actors on a stage and they need weeks to develop their performance before a first night - 24th January
  • The BBC flies in the face of accuracy - But if it gets viewers viewing, is accuracy that important? Apparently not, according to the new head of BBC drama - 17th January
  • Mismatches – or inspired casting? - Usually at the end of the cultural week, it is a great performance that lingers in the mind. But this week there are two images that are playing in my head, and they keep playing there because they are so improbable - 10th january
  • Bring back the art blockbusters - they attract a new audience into a gallery, an audience which is tempted by the buzz around an exhibition, and might just wander off to see, and be entranced by, paintings in the permanent collection - 3rd January

Articles: 2008

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