Alan Bennett, 86, has had to give up cycling and struggles with stairs

Alan Bennett, 86, has had to give up cycling and struggles with stairs

Alan Bennett, 86, has had to give up cycling and struggles to climb stairs but refuses to have a stairlift ‘for aesthetic reasons’

  • Playwright Alan Bennett, 86, shared his declining health in his annual diary
  • ‘How long I will continue walking is an open question and a pressing one’ he said 
  • The Talking Heads writer has arthritis and stopped cycling through Regent’s Park

Alan Bennett has shared how he has had to give up cycling and struggles to climb stairs – but refuses to have a stairlift for ‘aesthetic reasons’.

The playwright, 86, underwent open-heart surgery in 2019 and has shared his declining health in his annual diary of the year.

Mr Bennett, who wrote TV’s Talking Heads, says he has struggled with the stairs at his home Primrose Hill, London ever since several falls put him off his lifelong love of cycling.

Alan Bennett, 86, has revealed his deteriorating health has put him off cycling and left him struggling to take the stairs at his Primrose Hill home, but there will be no stairlifts installed ‘for aesthetic reasons’

Notes from his diary, shared in The Times, read: ‘I never thought I’d say it, but I wish we had a stairlift (as famously advertised by Thora Hird).

‘I come downstairs in the morning and don’t go back up until I go up for my bath before supper. All this has happened since I had to give up my bike.

‘We won’t ever get a stairlift for aesthetic reasons, but how long I will be able to continue walking is an open question and a pressing one.’

Bennett, who lives in Primrose Hill with his partner Rupert Thomas, could often be seen taking 30 minute bike rides around nearby Regent’s Park.

But this year’s diary has revealed how arthritis and a couple of falls have put him off cycling, during a year that saw one of his classic works brought back to life. 

A BBC revival of Bennett’s Talking Heads monologues proved a success during 2020, with cast and crew donating £1million.

Among the actors to appear in this year’s adaptations were Martin Freeman, Jodie Comer and Imelda Staunton.

Alan Bennett (right, aged 28) made his name in the Beyond The Fringe team (pictured together), but has had success through the years with The History Boys and The Lady in the Van

Talking Heads is among the many successes of a career spanning 60 years.

Having made his name with Beyond the Fringe, Bennett’s other triumphs include The History Boys and The Lady in the Van, which told the true story of how he let a homeless woman live on the drive of his Camden home.

Earlier this month MailOnline revealed how Bennett’s former home, which he bought for just £13,500 in 1969, had become a ‘magnet for drunks and drug addicts,’ after lying dormant for several years.

Its new owners have plans to revamp the £2million home, with recent pictures showing paint peeling off the outside walls, with pallets stacked in the garden and interior rooms looking bare.

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