British playwright Alan Bennett branded the late Baroness Margaret Thatcher a ‘mirthless bully’ in diary extracts published in the latest issue of The London Review Of Books.
He adds the former Prime Minister ‘should have been buried, as once upon a time monarchs used to be, in the depths of night’.
On the day of Thatcher’s funeral, 17 April, Bennett wrote: ‘Shots of the Cabinet and the ex-cabinet at Lady Thatcher’s funeral in St Paul’s just emphasize how consistently cowardly most of them were, the only time they dared to stand up to her was when eventually they kicked her out.’
He continues: ‘What also galls is the notion that Tory MPs throw in almost as an afterthought, namely that her lack of a sense of humor was just a minor failing.
‘In fact to have no sense of humor is to be a seriously flawed human being. It’s not a minor shortcoming; it shuts you off from humanity.’
In response to Bennett’s comments, former senior cabinet minister Lord Tebbit said: ‘Whether he is a good playwright or not, he’s obviously pig-ignorant about British history and Margaret Thatcher.’
Bennett, who is now in a civil partnership, found fame in the 1960s for collaborative satirical revue Beyond The Fringe at the Edinburgh Festival. He has since written scripts for stage and screen including award-winning plays The History Boys and The Madness of George III.
He wrote openly about his sexuality for the first time in the autobiographical pages of Untold Stories, published in 2005, having had relationships with both men and women.
The diary extracts published in The London Review of Books also reveal Bennett urinated in the graveyard at the funeral of British actor and friend Richard Griffiths on 3 May at William Shakespeare’s hometown Stratford-upon-Avon.
He writes: ‘I hadn’t realized that Shakespeare’s father had been buried in the churchyard, the whereabouts of the grave now unknown.
‘So when, waiting for the service to start, I went out for a pee under one of the yews in a sheltered corner of the cemetery, I may well have been pissing on Shakespeare’s dad’s grave.’