Christopher Tookey (born 9 April 1950) is an award-winning English film critic. He has written for both The Sunday Telegraph and the Daily Mail. He has presented the Radio 4 programmes The Film Programme and Back Row. In 2013, he won the award as "Arts Reviewer of the Year" from the London Press Club.
At Oxford University he was president of the Oxford Union, Editor of Isis, President of the Etceteras and Musical Director of Oxford Theatre Group. Tookey was elected chairman of The Critics' Circle in 1995, but his bid to become vice-president floundered due to the position he took on the 1996 film Crash. Tookey campaigned for the film to be banned, writing that "Crash is the point at which even a liberal society should draw the line." The Observer film critic Philip French wrote that Tookey's "campaigning was thought to be in breach of the Critics' Circle's objects of promoting the art of criticism and supporting the advancement of the arts." Tookey wrote a series of critical articles for the Mail regarding the film which saw Jonathan Coe of the New Statesman describe him as "the real architect of the antiCrash campaign". Tookey called for readers to boycott the products of distributor Sony, and questioned the suitability to the role of the then director of the British Board of Film Classification. Tookey denied charges that he was in favour of blanket censorship, writing in a letter to The Guardian that he has "frequently written and spoken against censorship and jumped to the defence of films (such as Pulp Fiction, Reservoir Dogs and The Life Of Brian) which struck me as victims of unjust repression in the past." He wrote in an article for Prospect magazine that his campaign against Crash was motivated by the fear that "Cronenberg's film might well have a "copycat effect" on a few unstable individuals" and could "also have a far more insidious longterm effect by eroticising sado-masochism and orthopaedic fetishism for people previously unaware of being turned on by acts of mutilation." Tookey was also concerned at the precedent set by releasing such a film with an 18 certificate.
In 2000 Tookey directed and co-produced the musical Hard Times, based on the Charles Dickens novel of the same name, which opened to mixed reviews at the Theatre Royal, Haymarket and closed the same year.
Tookey also witnessed a man bleed to death from a stabbing in 1997, and his reaction troubled him: "It has brought home to me that I have seen so much violence on screen (the latest film is Crash) that I have become desensitised. Talking with the others on the street, I was noticeably less affected by the sight of this guy bleeding to death. After the killing, a number of people had nightmares. Shouldn't I have? It was my lack of reaction that was so chilling."
In August 2013 the Daily Mail decided to not renew Tookey's contract which expired on 1 December 2013.
- The Critics' Film Guide (Boxtree, 1994) ISBN 1-85283-415-3
- Named And Shamed (Matador, 2010) ISBN 978 1848765 603
- Tookey's Turkeys (Matador, 2015) ISBN 978-1784621-971
- Tookey's Talkies (Matador, 2015) ISBN 978-1784621-988
- Hughes, Scott (26 April 2001). "Arts: The worst movie ever?". The Guardian. p. 15.
- "Christopher Tookey". rottentomatoes.com. IGN Entertainment, Inc. Retrieved 30 March 2009.
- French, Philip (23 March 1997). "The week in Reviews: Censorship: Crash! No, not distant thunder - just film critics dropping clangers". The Observer. p. 013.
- French, Philip (25 May 1997). "Crash, there goes the censors' Berlin Wall". The Observer. p. 029.
- Busfield, Steve; Dan Glaister (March 27, 1998). "Analysis: Film censorship: They know what's good for you As Lolita is passed for release Steve Busfield and Dan Glaister see how the Daily Mail wages war on Britain's censors". The Guardian. p. 019.
- Glaister, Dan; Derek Malcolm (12 November 1996). "Inside Story: In search of depravity David Cronenberg's new film, Crash, has riled the right and provoked calls for censorship". The Guardian. pp. T.008.
- Jonathan, Coe (6 June 1997). "There is no paedophilia or sexual humiliation in Crash. Neither is there any merit. But we should still defend it from the censors and moralists". New Statesman. p. 38.
- Tookey, Christopher (29 November 1996). "Letter: A Crash victim protests". The Guardian. p. 020.
- Tookey, Christpher (February 1997). "Crash, ban, wallop". Prospect (16). Retrieved 30 March 2009.
- Tookey, Christopher (28 July 2000). "Reprieve that is music to my ears". Daily Mail. p. 52.
- "Hard Times - The Musical - Christopher Tookey & Hugh Thomas". The Guide to Musical Theatre. 10 February 2009. Archived from the original on 30 March 2009. Retrieved 30 March 2009. 30 March 2009.
- Sweeney, John (15 June 1997). "Death of an Islington man: A curry delivery man murdered in a gang war? So much for Neighbourhood Watch". The Observer. p. 005.
- French, Sean (18 September 1998). "Sean French (column)". New Statesman. p. 31.