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Ten years after marrying Miriam, Stoppard wrote The Real Thing, a play about a middle-aged playwright who leaves his wife for an actress called Annie whom he finds irresistible. Though he dedicated the play to Miriam, he later left her for the actress who played Annie, Felicity Kendal. Was life imitating art, or vice-versa? Petite one-time ‘Rear of the Year’, Ms Kendal was famous for the television sitcom The Good Life, in which she played kittenish Barbara Good with the late Richard Briers as her on-screen husband, Tom. In real life, as she told the Mail earlier this year: ‘I always did have affairs when I wanted. It’s just how you are at the moment.’ But it wasn’t until Stoppard cast her in another of his plays, and her own second marriage — to theatre director Michael Rudman — had broken up, that she and Stoppard began their affair. It was 1990 and Miriam’s distress was so acute she lightened her dark hair, possibly in a subconscious attempt to imitate her rival. But two years later, after 20 years of marriage, they were divorced. A year later, Ms Kendal was again starring in a new play by her lover, Arcadia. A key theme is the random nature of sexual attraction. Many saw it as inspired by Stoppard’s own rather reckless private life. But he and Ms. Kendal didn’t marry, and parted in 1998, a year after Stoppard was knighted.