Veteran actor Peter O'Toole blames the declining state of British theatre for the sudden surge of promising UK actors seeking out movie work.

The Lawrence Of Arabia legend is convinced aspiring stars would stay longer in theatre if the London's West End would stop churning out "badly-done s**t" and return to the thriving years that helped him learn the craft of acting.

He says, "There are always promising young actors, and today the sensible ones f**k off from what calls itself 'the theatre' as soon as they can because it's such badly-done s**t.

"Do you feel you can hop on a bus to the West End and see the likes of Paul Scofield, Richard Burton, Laurence Olivier?

"The Old Vic and Stratford were places where the best actors in the English-speaking world did their greatest work.

"That was their remit - not whether a third-rate, biddable a*sehole could do 39 productions of AS YOU LIKE IT upside down with red noses. The bulbous, state-run theatre provides a healthy living for smart-alec t**ts."

30/03/2005 13:49