The Critics' Circle

It is goodbye to him and hello to him

The doyen of Britain’s film critics, Philip French, has now retired – he will be missed. He has been a standard to aspire to for decades in The Observer. Not only was he funny – his jokes were a delight – he knew an awful lot about films, unlike far too many who lay claim to being film reviewers and whose knowledge goes back to the first Harry Potter movie.

Philip French

Philip © Critics’ Circle

A Liverpudlian, he has been the paper’s film critic since 1978. He was critic of the year in 2009 and was awarded the  OBE in this year’s New Year Honours List for services to film. His retirement coincides with his 80th birthday, not that anyone would take him for being so venerable in years, just venerable in stature.

His successor, Mark Kermode is pretty clued up too about the past, which is, of course, the foundation on which all critics write. So a long and happy retirement doing lots of things to Philip and welcome to the weekly grind of endless screenings to Dr Kermode who got his PhD in 1991 for his thesis on Horror Fiction. He has said he regards The Exorcist as the best film ever made. And he plays the double bass!

Mark Kermods

Dr Kermode