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Love among the rich and lazy

Cometh the film, cometh the BBC study guide for schools. Emma Thompson's, sorry Jane Austen's, Sense and Sensibility has sprouted a BBC Film Education Study Guide to help teachers with their English literature classes.

It starts with a subversive question that teachers might receive from disruptive pupils, namely: "Jane Austen? Aren't her novels just old-fashioned romantic stories about love amongst the rich and lazy?" This is a problem, the study guide admits. "Even after studying her novels, many students find Austen's world remote and perhaps rather trivial."

So what should the teacher tell these adolescent sceptics? That the language is rich in irony; that the social observation is piquant and witty?

No. The BBC guide has a much more contemporary response. "The fact is," it states, "that there are many film and television adaptations of Jane Austen's novels and this itself is a mark of her popularity as well as her skill as a writer. The film industry tries not to take too many expensive risks."

Try that as an A-level answer. Better just to savour this example of sisterly affection in the film/book being replicated off screen. In an excruciating quote in Classic FM Magazine, Thompson's Sense And Sensibility co-star Kate Winslet enthuses about Emma, saying: "I stayed with her and she would put me to bed and tuck me up and give me a kiss at night, and I would do the same for her."

Take That as a compliment

The repeated insistence at the Brits last night that pop is one of our leading industries, and pop stars among our biggest exports, is clearly being taken seriously by the teeny bop idols themselves. Adrian Chiles, brash Brummy presenter of BBC's business programme, Working Lunch, had to fight his way through a crowd of screaming teenagers at Heathrow Airport last week. When he asked, they said they were waiting for Robbie, who, he later discovered, was formerly a singer with the group Take That. As Mr Chiles rode up an escalator to the departure lounge, he was tapped on the shoulder by the aforesaid Robbie, who said how much he enjoyed the programme. Once they made do with Top of the Pops as their weekly viewing. Now it is investment advice that they set the video recorders for.

Bolton's bolt proves his point

They won't make jokes about their weather forecasters' accuracy in Southampton again. Nigel Bolton, a meteorologist based at the Southampton office, predicted thunderstorms in his daily bulletin for TV and radio stations. He was spot on. A bolt of lightning hit and destroyed the roof of his house a few hours later.

Excluding women is not cricket

Liz Forgan's surprising decision to leave her post as managing director of BBC Radio will at least spare her from having to participate in one of her more tiresome though self-imposed duties. Shortly after arriving at the Beeb, she noticed that all the powerful chaps took themselves off for a day at the Test Match, where a certain amount of wheeling and dealing was done between the imbibing and occasional cricket watching from the BBC box. Determined not to be left out, she insisted that she be included in the Test Match party from then on. By choosing an April departure date, the non-cricket-loving Ms Forgan will not have to go through the ordeal again this summer.

The designer who fell to Earth

Fashion note: don't just flaunt your designer labels, mix and match them. David Bowie received his special achievement award from Tony Blair at the Brits last night wearing shoes by Katherine Hamnett, earrings by Vivienne Westwood, suit from Thierry Mugler and shirt from that exclusive designer who created a new line in wallpaper for Laura Ashley last year ... David Bowie. Tony Blair was almost upstaged.

Eagle Eye

Sharon made it worth the wait

Yesterday I spent an hour and a quarter waiting for Sharon Stone, the film actress, to turn up for a press conference. On inquiring why she was so late (since we were at her hotel all she had to do was walk downstairs), I got the unsatisfactory reply: "She's a movie star."

I was therefore inclined to take against Ms Stone before she even opened her mouth. To my surprise, however, I thought her clever, funny and really rather self-effacing.

When asked by one "ageing" man in the front row if she thought men found her intimidating, she looked him straight in the eye and said, "Do you?".

She then told a story of how the director Russ Myer, who "does films with curvy, naked girls", was asked if he would consider giving her a role. His answer - "I'd rather play cards."

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