Libby Purves axed as Times theatre critic after three years: 'no idea why'

The Times has axed Libby Purves as its chief theatre critic, with Dominic Maxwell thought to be taking over.

Purves, a veteran writer and broadcaster who also hosts Midweek on BBC Radio 4, announced the news on Twitter yesterday, adding that she had “no idea why” the decision had been taken.

In response to messages of support on the social networking site, Purves told her followers: “Thanks, kind theatre-tweeple. No, not a joke. No, no idea why. Ends Oct 11.Shall not vanish from back row opining, watch this space…”

She added that Maxwell, who is currently a critic on the paper’s arts desk, would be her replacement. She said he “is a terrific guy and fine crit”.

Purves, who was formerly a columnist for The Times,  replaced Benedict Nightingale as chief theatre critic following his retirement in 2010.

The decision to drop Purves comes as other papers are also cutting back on their arts teams. Last month, The Independent on Sunday confirmed that all seven of its contracted critics would not have their contracts renewed as the paper changed its arts coverage to cut down on traditional reviews.

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