Arts and Entertainment

Nina Stibbe moved to London in 1982 to work as a nanny for Mary-Kay Wilmers, the editor of the London Review of Books. In the years following, she wrote letters home to her sister in Leicester, and Love, Nina is the result.

TV's classic shows are missing

DENNIS POTTER, Alan Bennett and The Beatles have all been victims of gross acts of carelessness. Classic television programmes featuring them and other famous names of the Fifties and Sixties are still missing after a six-year search.

Small screen: Novel programming

We all have a novel in us. Anyway, that's the view of the author, Nigel Williams, who presents The Write Stuff, a new three-part BBC2 series on the art of novel writing. "Everyone has the ability to tell stories," he argues. "Look at News At Ten. You get fantastic storytelling from eye-witnesses with wonderful natural eloquence. You even see it on Beadle's About." Surely not.

Theatre Review: Flushed with success

New European Writers

The Critics: The reason Miss America came on earth

Four women today, none quite what she seems. First on the catwalk is Miss America 1958: let's hear it for her! Eighty million people watch, awestruck, as this blue-eyed blonde is crowned. From now on, the compere proclaims, her address will be Main Street USA. But this girl, Marilyn Van Derbur, is Not Just a Pretty Face (R4); oh no, she has a beauty that makes all the other girls seem drab - so let's see the rest of her wholesome family. On come her three lovely sisters, her proud momma gushing about this coronation being every mother's dream, her father saying she's bin a lovely gal all her life ...

THEATRE Marat / Sade Olivier, RNT, London

To join The Caucasian Chalk Circle in this first in-the-round season in the Olivier, the National Theatre has chosen another work that predominantly exists as a play-within-a-play. The heightened sense you get of being voyeurs when seated round a dramatic action in a self-aware ring should be of particular benefit to a staging of the Marat / Sade. Set in an asylum in 1808, it makes you privy to a performance, put on by the inmates, of a play about the historical events leading up to the assassination of Jean-Paul Marat.

That nice Alan Bennett takes the gloves off for Tory politicians, the Queen Mother - and Dennis Potter

The writer and his victims: Home truths for six leading lights in politics, literature and the arts

What, no Aunt Agatha?

Andrew Lloyd Webber meets Alan Ayckbourn in the all-new Stephen Joseph Theatre. The result: somewhat less than top hole. By Paul Taylor

A close shave with genius


LETTER: Quality television direct from the West End

From Mr David Aukin

Silver daggers vs the kitchen knifers

Robert Richardson gives an insider's view of dissent among the crime writers


A MESSY HAMPSTEAD living-room in the early hours of a mid-Eighties morning. Stacks of hippie records and yellowing newspapers line the walls. Cigarette ash is scattered on the stained shag pile. The television blinks. Peter Cook sits tired-eyed on a G-Plan sofa with his back to a floor-to- ceiling mural of an autumn forest. His friend and neighbour George Weiss, whose house this is, sits opposite him, smoking a joint and tugging at his straggly grey beard. A reel-to-reel tape-recorder in an alcove across the room turns as they talk. There is a knock on the door. Weiss goes to answer it, returning with a local tramp called Bronco John. He is wet - rain falls heavily outside in the mews - and carrying his habitual teabags. He is breathless and excited.

Take a ride through suburbia

Jason Cowley finds forgiveness and reconciliation in an English dormitory town


Bennett, Leeds, Barrie Rutter, luvvies and loves, dialogue and dialect, Bennett again: the stage is set for Blake Morrison's theatrical dbut. This is his production diary

They're all making plans for Nigel

The years as unflappable Sir Humphrey are standing Nigel Hawthorne in good stead now: he's staying cool as Hollywood heats up with rumours of Oscar nominations and imminent stardom ...

Ring, ring. Will you let Poet Pete in?

If the people won't buy poetry from bookshops, why not take the fruits of your labour to them. Jim White meets the man injecting a little lyricism into London's streets
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NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own