SIR Jonathan Miller has complained that West End theatres put celebrity ahead of quality. He bemoans the fact that producers won't back ventures that don't have star names.

This is in the wake of his recent production of Hamlet, which attracted critical praise but not West End producers.

There are however currently two other planned productions of Hamlet, starring respectively Jude Law and David Tennant.

Whilst I sympathise with the frustrations felt by the directors and the excellent but unknown casts of productions praised by critics when they don't get a commercial afterlife, nonetheless that is, (sadly one might argue), the way the theatrical cookie is currently crumbling.

However much we who work in it might wish it were otherwise, theatre has to fight its corner in a competitive world and more brave producers have lost money than have ever made millions from putting on plays.

Such is the power of television and film that the lure of a star will tempt more theatregoers to leave the comfort and security of their homes.

That star may be an actor, even a composer (e.g. Andrew Lloyd Webber) or indeed simply a high-profile musical, a genre that currently dominates the West End.

Where Jonathan Miller weakens his argument is in his dismissal of both the two star names he has chosen to illustrate his point - as being unworthy of that status - and also of the audience for wanting to see them.

He is reported to have decried the fact that the Royal Shakespeare Co. has cast "that man from Doctor Who" - which if true is rude and dismissive.

David Tennant worked with distinction at the Royal Shakespeare Co. long before he achieved his recent television notoriety - and is demonstrably a fine actor.

Jude Law, despite being impossibly handsome and a film star, has also earned his acting spurs in the theatre.

That Miller should so peremptorily dismiss actors who are successful already in favour of his Hamlet, Jamie Ballard, who thus far isn't (but may doubtless achieve that status one day if he is as good as Miller claims) surprises me.

I once spent an evening in his company and found him charming, brilliant and witty. I am disappointed by his apparent belief that fame and talent cannot go together. And I promise you it is not just Doctor Who solidarity that provokes my defence of David Tennant.