Best in show
Awards season is upon us but forget Colin Firth's Golden Globe-nominated stutter, the year's most prestigious prize has already gone to Albert Clark, a jowly, velvet-skinned star who doesn't utter a word in his film debut. This week, Albert scooped the Best in World award at the Fidos (For Incredible Dogs on Screen) for his turn in Tamara Drewe. The boxer dog played Boss, a role that required him to ride in Dominic Cooper's Porsche, look wearily upon Gemma Arterton's romantic entanglements and, at the film's climax, spark off a deadly stampede of cattle. "Albert's performance was particularly emotive," explains Toby Rose, the founder of the Fidos. "With expressive close-ups, comic timing and all-action chases – it's a performance with range." On the day, Albert was unwell so his understudy Blue collected the prize – a bone-shaped dog tag by Tatty Devine – on his behalf. Other winners included the stars of Due Date (Best Comedy Canine), Robin Hood (Blockbuster Bowser) and Hachiko: a Dog's Story (Historical Hound).
In like Flynn
He's better known as one of the new-folkies, part of the Marling/ Mumford set, but in February the multi-talented musician Johnny Flynn, 27, will take to the stage in Richard Bean's new play The Heretic at the Royal Court. Flynn plays a student of climate science in the dark comedy, opposite Juliet Stevenson.In fact, acting is in Flynn's blood – his late father and siblings, including Jerome (of Robson and Jerome), are all in the business. After graduating from drama school, Flynn joined Ed Hall's all-male troupe Propeller, touring the world in Twelfth Night and The Taming of the Shrew. Music was a hobby, as he played violin in friends' bands, ran a night at The Flowerpot in Kentish Town and gigged with Emmy the Great. Along the way he landed a deal with Mercury, released an album and toured America with Laura Marling (Mumford & Sons were their support act). This summer he released his second album on Transgressive, and has been touring ever since. "I've really missed acting," he tells me. "It's a big part of me. I'm a bit nervous but it's such a relief to be back on stage. I felt panicked about being on a never-ending music tour." After the Royal Court, it's off to the summer festivals. "It's a bit limiting to define yourself by your job," he says. "To say I'm an actor or a musician means I might never write my novel."
Buried in Dulwich Picture Gallery
They're the chimeric cornerstone of Jeremy Hunt's plan to preserve the arts, but how does one go about being a philanthropist? And then ensure a little long-term recognition for one's generosity? Would-be donors might like to look to Francis Bourgeois, the founder of Dulwich Picture Gallery. The painter bequeathed his collection to Dulwich College in 1811, on the stipulation that it should be housed in a museum designed by Sir John Soane – and that he should be housed in a mausoleum alongside it. As the gallery builds up to its 200th anniversary, director Ian Dejardin confirmed that old Bourgeois will be at the centre of celebrations – literally, with fireworks set to illuminate his tomb on 9 January. "Most galleries don't bury their founders in the middle of their site," he said. "Here's a tip for budding philanthropists, bury yourself there. They won't forget you then."
Gorillaz in the gifts
Embracing the Christmas spirit, Gorillaz have been showering fans with gifts – games, Gorillaz masks and behind-the-scenes videos – all month via an advent calendar on their website. And the best is yet to come. On Christmas morning fanclub members will be able to download a new album, for free. Damon Albarn recorded the work entirely on his iPad (a world first?) over the course of a month in America. A taster video of one of the tracks will be made available on Christmas Eve. Miles better than a chocolate nativity scene.
As a cynical world wonders whether The X Factor winner Matt Cardle's fate will be more Leona or Brookstein, spare a thought for those involved in the programme for whom a long year without employment stretches ahead. No, not Louis Walsh – voiceover man. Or PETER! DICKSON!, as he might boom it. The human foghorn has landed an interim job at south London's Landor Theatre where he is narrating Discotivity, a nativity "for the Simon Cowell generation". Dramatic/ear-splitting lines include, "She's loud, she's proud, she's MARY!" No rehearsal required.