Arts and Entertainment On the cutting edge: Johnny Vegas, from the Face of Satire exhibition at the BFI

On 26 February, Spitting Image will celebrate its 30 birthday. BBC Four will mark the occasion with a special episode of Arena which promises to tell the “vexed and frequently hilarious story” of the sketch show which ran for 21 series between 1984 and 1996 and marked a high point in British satire.

FILM / See the ones that got away: Readers' Season of Lost Films

Last summer we considered the strange case of the Lost Films - memorable and important movies that, for one reason or another (mainly the vagaries of distribution and archiving) nobody can get to see any more. We hymned our favourites and asked you to nominate your own obsessions. The size of the mailbag and the fervour of the responses suggested that this was a subject dear to readers' hearts.

ROCK / Tres bien ensemble, tres bien ensemble

WHILE MOST rappers opt for short, marketable names (silliest example: Def Jef), Me'Shell NdegeOcello goes for the full mouthful-of-toffee her parents chose for her. Her first LP, Plantation Lullabies (Maverick), has been praised for its uncompromising, jazz-inflected musicianship, with echoes of Funkadelic's muzzy drawl and Defunkt's hyper-taut cocaine panic. That's to say, it celebrates some of the most complex black pop ever - a point not lost on the very hip black crowd at the Jazz Cafe.

REWIND / Pitched cattle: Fred Zinnemann, director of High Noon, recalls his only acting role, as an extra in All Quiet on the Western Front

WHEN Lewis Milestone made All Quiet on the Western Front in 1930, Fred Zinnemann was 21 and a brand new boy in Hollywood. He had applied to join the cameramen's union, but had been turned down. Times were hard and so he signed up as an extra for dollars 7.50 a day. He was not just the 14th soldier from the left under the spiked helmet: Hollywood got its seven dollars' worth out of extras those days. Reviewing the film earlier this week, he kept spotting himself in the background. 'I was one of the French ambulance drivers, one of the patients in hospital and I was also sitting right behind the two main characters when they get drunk in a bar.'

FILM / Dealing in movie cliches: Marek Kohn on the Hollywood menace that is the National Film Theatre's forthcoming drug season

WHEN IT comes to the depiction of drugs with a capital D, you can't beat the movies. Drugs and films grew up together. Back in 1894, just around the time that the idea of the 'demon dope' was taking shape, a short called Chinese Opium Den was made for Thomas Edison. By 1916, 'happy dust' was cranking up the pace in front of Hollywood's cameras and behind the scenes: as a Tinseltown in- joke, it surfaced in The Mystery of the Leaping Fish, starring Douglas Fairbanks Sr as Detective Coke Ennyday.

DIRECTOR'S CUT / Emotional after all: Paul Schrader on Jack Clayton's bittersweet film Room at the Top

I thought that, in deference to my host country, I would pick a British film. One of my favourite movies, and probably my favourite last line in a movie, is from Jack Clayton's Room at the Top (1959). Joe Lampton, who was played by Larry Harvey, has married the boss's daughter in order to move up the class ladder. And in so doing he has had to turn his back on his lover, Simone Signoret.

FILM / Orchestral manoeuvres in the dark: Meltdown explores the difficult marriage of sight and sound in films. Kevin Jackson is given a conducted tour of soundtracks by the composers George Benjamin and Benedict Mason

ALL ART, Walter Pater declared, aspires to the condition of music; but then, he was writing before the days of Melies and the Lumiere Brothers. In the 20th century, it might be more appropriate to say that some music aspires to the condition of cinema. This, anyway, is one of the possibilities suggested by Meltdown, a week- long festival devised for the South Bank by the British composer George Benjamin. Meltdown will encompass a wide variety of work, including concerts, dance and installation pieces, but one of its main concerns is to reflect on and illustrate the various ways in which film and music may complement, criticise or compete with each other.

FILM / Casting electric shadows: A season of films at the NFT focuses on the flourishing Chinese cinema. Sheila Johnston reports

At a depressingly slack time for international cinema, China can lay a strong claim to the most exciting national film movement in the world. Over the past year alone, 'electric shadows' have scooped a grand slam of the top prizes at all three of the most important film festivals: Zhang Yimou's The Story of Qiu Ju won at Venice, Xie Fie's The Women From the Lake of Scented Souls was a co- laureate in Berlin (the other winner was from Taiwan) and Chen Kaige's Farewell To My Concubine shared the Golden Palm at Cannes. But this festival elite is only the tip of the iceberg, and, over the next two months, there is an unmissable chance to see 50-odd recent Chinese films at the National Film Theatre.

Birt admits pay row 'damage'

JOHN BIRT, the Director-General of the BBC, last night accepted that the revelation about his BBC pay through a private company damaged his relationships with staff.

Appeals: War Child

War Child, a newly formed charity aiming to raise funds to help child victims of war throughout the world, is staging a music and arts festival at the Royal Festival Hall, London. The event takes place over this weekend and next, Saturday/Sunday 6/7 March. It will comprise four performances of classical, contemporary and rock and pop music, as well as comedy. There will be films at the National Film Theatre, a photography exhibition and illustrated talks. The festival begins this evening with a candlelit vigil on the banks of the Thames by Gabriel's Wharf, starting at 10pm, in remembrance of all those children who have perished through war, especially those now suffering in Bosnia. Donations of blankets and clothes can be made tonight and at dawn a convoy of loaded lorries will set off for Sarajevo.

FILM / Director's Cut: Zero points: Veteran film-maker Henri Storck recalls his work with the surrealist Jean Vigo

IN 1913, when I was six years old, I saw my first film, Quo Vadis. In those days they screened films in bars and people would smoke and drink while they were watching them. In Quo Vadis there's a chariot race in which the horses gallop towards the camera, and I was so frightened I started screaming. My parents took me home and I cried all night. That was my baptism into cinema. I went to see it again a few years later to find out why I was so afraid. And I saw that the horses were afraid when they caught sight of the cameraman. I think they communicated that fear to me.

FILM / Unfavourable projections - Stormy weather at the NFT: The National Film Theatre's latest 'season' has been one of financial uncertainty, staff dissension and falling audiences. Sheila Johnston reports on troubled times underneath the arches of Waterloo Bridge

Last October the National Film Theatre celebrated its 40th anniversary in a cloud of self-congratulation, but it has not taken long for the balloons to burst. This month has seen the resignations of the Deputy Controller, Paul Collard, and the Controller, Jurgen Berger (following a vote of no confidence from his staff). The NFT's projected attendances for the current financial year are 140,000 - down from 250,000 five years ago, and 35,000 under target. Its sister-institution, the Museum of the Moving Image, has similar problems. The British Film Institute has had its government grant frozen. There are rumours of job cuts, deep demoralisation and widespread animus against the BFI's Director, Wilf Stevenson (a 17-page document of staff gripes - dismissed by him as a distraction - has been leaked to the press, along with other internal papers).

Rod Steiger on the waterfront in London

Rod Steiger on the waterfront in London, near the South Bank arts complex. The 67-year-old American film star was in London yesterday to help promote a retrospective of his work this month at the National Film Theatre. His films being shown this weekend are W C Fields and Me, The Pawnbroker and The Sergeant.

FILM / Off the Continental shelf: As Francophilia runs rampant in the UK, Sheila Johnston considers France's most favoured nation status at home and abroad . . . . . . and makes her choice of films from the NFT's Boulevard Nights

Even if you never go to the cinema, it is almost certain that you will have seen a French movie over the past week or two - or at least one of those mini- movies that are TV ads. A current commercial for Stella Artois is a pastiche of Jean de Florette (no matter that the beer is brewed in Belgium); another beer, Kronenberg, is being plugged in the manner of a mini- thriller, complete with subtitles. Then there are the cars, the wines, the perms, the perfumes, the cosmetics . . . Endless articles in the British press hymn French food, fashion and lifestyle: look at the 'passport to France' series, exploring ever more arcane corners of Gallic life, which has been running all summer in the Times - and watch out, too, for a severe bout of national Francophilia that will undoubtedly be provoked by a new TV adaptation of Peter Mayle's A Year in Provence.
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