My detour to the Lyttelton theatre for a 40-minute NT platform with Howard Brenton was supposed to be the hors d'oeuvre of the evening but turned out to be the plat de resistance. I'd never seen him before and having missed the whole Thatcher era while living abroad, I never got to see his early leftie plays. So I was interested to hear him talk about Never So Good, his play about Harold Macmillan. Rather than sitting down for a prim interview with a critic like most platformers, Brenton strode on to the stage alone, obviously delighted to be in the limelight, spoke for just a couple of minutes and gave straight answers to questions for more than half an hour. Although I had reservations about the play, I warmed to Brenton himself, not because of his political views or even his playwriting skills, but because I liked his lack of pomposity and his troublemaking streak. He confessed that the play's opening line 'I always had trouble with my teeth' was for a long time all he had of his play. What he started out with was the idea of a satirical attack on the old Tory right whose decay and collapse formed a prelude to the rise of Thatcher. Macmillan was picked as a representative of everything Brenton hated in his youth. 'But I got seduced', he told us with disarming frankness. 'I began at the age of 65 to wander into a new area as a playwright.' Brenton described his play as a pageant and an entertainment, described the thrill of reading Macmillan's unpublished diaries in the Bodleian library and the paradox of discovering that Macmillan's early book 'The Middle Way' advocated nationalisation and the replacement of the Stock Exchange with a national investment board. I'm still not sure that Macmillan was quite such a failure as Brenton makes him out to be. After Churchill, Thatcher and Baldwin, he can probably be regarded as the fourth most successful Tory prime minister of the last century. But Brenton is keen to give him his due and be fair. Listening to him, I felt that the old Edwardian charmer had claimed another victim from beyond the grave. Macmillan was a deeply moral man, which is why he failed to grasp the Profumo scandal, according to Brenton. So there we have it: former leftwing firebrand playwright gets to grips with his Tory hate-figures and changes his mind. What we need now is for Brenton to do a play about Maggie and give her equally positive treatment. Given a few more years, he'll be a national treasure like Kingsley Amis, or even Macmillan himself, who in Brenton's words 'had a sunny old age'.