Arts and Entertainment
 

There were fast and furious scenes in the fictional London Borough of Walford yesterday as EastEnders stars put the pedal to the metal while shooting the soap's most explosive stunt ever.

Chequered career: Harlequin wields the 'slap-sticks'

Theatre review: Harlequin Goes to the Moon - The Harlequin moonshot is go! Rain permitting …

A country churchyard lush with meadow flowers, a coop of happy hens nearby …. The seductive location is typical of where The Rude Mechanical Theatre Company nightly strikes its stage. Each summer, they tow their two-storey wagon to commons and stubble fields across England’s southern counties. In style, though, they are travelling players of 16th-century Italy. It’s just a pity they can’t have Italian weather. 

DVD/Blu-ray: Crooks in Cloisters (U)

There's plenty of "cor, blimey" and "me ol' China" chat in this horribly dated British comedy caper from 1964.

Actor Victor Spinetti, star of The Beatles’ films, dies aged 82

The veteran Welsh actor Victor Spinetti has died of pancreatic cancer, his agent said today.

Comedy writer Ronnie Wolfe dies

Comedy writer Ronnie Wolfe, one of the creators of TV comedy classic On The Buses and many other sitcoms, has died at the age of 89.

Letter from the editor: The weakest link

BBC Parliament (504 on Sky, 81 on Freeview) is likely to garner record viewing figures at 2.30pm today when a reluctant Rupert and James Murdoch will appear before the Commons Culture, Media and Sport committee, to be followed at 3.30pm by their ex-CEO Rebekah Brooks.

Terence Longdon: Actor whose credits included 'Garry Halliday', the 'Carry On' films and 'Ben-Hur'

Between 1959 and 1962 the hero of Saturday-evening television was Terence Longdon as the eponymous Garry Halliday, ace commercial-airline pilot, international man of mystery and the BBC's answer to Patrick McGoohan's Danger Man.

Win one of five copies of the classic Tony Hancock Collection on DVD

We're comedy connoisseurs here at The Independent - and we love to share - so we've decided to give away five copies of the Tony Hancock Collection on DVD.

Freedom of London: Streets paved with gold

The Freedom of London was once a licence to print money. These days it's yours for just £25. Samuel Muston visits the Guildhall to discover why

Last Night's TV: Hattie/BBC4<br />Mary Portas: Secret Shopper/Channel 4

Hattie Jacques is cooking Christmas dinner for family and friends, and it's not going entirely well. One of the turkeys has been burned and, as Hattie is giving the gravy a stir, the ash from her jutting cigarette drops into the saucepan. "Don't tell anyone about the secret ingredient," she hisses at the friend standing next to her, and quickly stirs it in. The subject of Stephen Russell's biopic Hattie – the latest in a line of BBC4 dramas about the private lives of television's early public figures – was the rather more interesting secret ingredient that Hattie was about to add to her marriage a live-in lover called John Schofield, who displaced John Le Mesurier from the marital bed and sent him into glum exile in the attic.

Alan Hume: Cinematographer who switched between James Bond and the Carry On films

In 1976, Alan Hume was standing on a snow-covered, 3,000ft-high rock on Baffin Island, north of Canada. As the second-unit director of photography on the James Bond film The Spy Who Loved Me (1977), he had to capture the breathtaking, pre-title, ski-jump sequence.

Fire to mark last orders for Eastenders' Queen Vic

One of the UK's most famous pubs will go up in flames as EastEnders' Queen Vic is destroyed by fire later this year, TV bosses confirmed today

Leading article: Love hurts

What is the "worst thing that has ever happened" to the British acting profession? Was it the murder of Christopher Marlowe? Maybe the 1737 Theatrical Licensing Act, which empowered the Lord Chamberlain's Office to censor plays? Perhaps it was the Carry On films?

Barbara Windsor calls time on Eastenders role

Peggy Mitchell is leaving Albert Square, it was announced today, and the EastEnders scriptwriters must now decide whether she goes vertically or horizontally.

Simon Carr: Brighter than Brighton with baffling Boris

Sketch: The other Eastend blond wades into 'stale and miserablist' Labour
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Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine