Arts and Entertainment

With stand-up dominated by the one-comic-and-a mic-form of observational humour, it's little wonder that some comedians are seeking more alternative modes of expression to set themselves apart. The Boy with Tape On His Face distinguishes himself with a joyously retro presentation of silent, performance-led humour, while the bestowal of the Edinburgh Comedy Award on Phil Burgers last year, for his mute, sexualised and playfully scary bouffon Dr Brown, echoed and endorsed the stand-up circuit's burgeoning interest in clowning.

Noël Coward: In His Own Words, Compiled by Barry Day

In his introduction to this slim volume, editor Barry Day tries to argue the case for Coward as a weighty thinker, deeper and more profoundly political than his lightning one-liners have led us to believe. Wit, Coward said, should be "a glorious treat like caviar", not "spread about like marmalade".

Sarah Sands: Emma Thompson is the true lady of Brideshead

"It's our turn now," says the young soldier at the end of Brideshead Revisited, and so it is. Do not mind the old incumbents who moan that Diana Quick can never be robbed of her role as Julia Flyte, or that Jeremy Irons conveyed more emotion as Charles Ryder. Instead, there is a fashionable distaste for barmy old faith and self-restraint. Brideshead has become better looking and more shallow.

Why are they famous ?: Emma Thompson

Main claim

Somebody to lean on

She's your mate but she's old enough to be your mum. CAYTE WILLIAMS on the friends who really know how you feel

The Independent Recommends: Film

"WHAT WENT down on the way to the top," screams the poster for Primary Colors (left). After the Starr Report, you don't really have to watch Mike Nichol's rather respectful political satire to find out what did go down, but it still makes for entertaining viewing. John Travolta, as the sexually incontinent presidential candidate Jack Stanton, gives an uncanny impression of Clinton and Emma Thompson frumps it up as his wife. But the real acting honours go to Adrian Lester as the political ingenu who falls in and out of love with his charismatic boss.

Teen girls urged to follow star role models

A PANEL of "role models" for teenage girls, including celebrities such as the former Spice Girl Geri Halliwell, the heptathlete Denise Lewis, and the pop starlet Billie, is to be set up by the Government as part of its drive to promote women.

Film: The Big Picture - All too black and white

PRIMARY COLORS (15) DIRECTOR: MIKE NICHOLS STARRING: JOHN TRAVOLTA, EMMA THOMPSON 143 MINS

Travolta reveals Clinton's prime sense of humour

THE director of Primary Colors, the top film at the Cannes Film Festival, was yesterday accused of cutting an interracial love scene between Emma Thompson and black British actor Adrian Lester.

You and me against the world

The mother-daughter bond is always a complex one, but in the emotional aftermath of divorce or bereavement, the females of the family often forge a new intimacy with all the passion - and the pitfalls - of a love affair. Hettie Judah reports

Interview: Andrew Davies: Bombazine doyen takes a break

His name is on all the classics; now he has his own screenplay. James Rampton talked to Andrew Davies

A FAMILY MAN

THERE IS A MOMENT in Ang Lee's The Ice Storm when a father stands, suitcase in hand, in the doorway of his son's bedroom. "I'm back!" he announces cheerfully. His son stares at him as if he's never seen him before. "You ... you were gone?" he stutters. It is the axis upon which the whole film rotates. After "Pinteresque silence" and "Hitchcockian suspense", we may one day talk about "Ang Lee excruciating family moments".

Television: Listen with mother, for adults only

LAST WEEK a very polite woman reader from the Home Counties wrote to the editor of this newpaper to complain about me. In a stern but good- tempered way, she admonished me for my excessive use of sexual imagery, and - in particular - for imagery associated with penises and nipples.

US gapes at Bill, the Hollywood super-stud

An entire nation is gripped by allegations that Bill Clinton indulged in a "kind of sex" with Monica Lewinsky, a 21-year-old work experience trainee, then told her to lie about it. The White House is in pandemonium. It is a script even Hollywood would have had trouble dreaming up.

Film: Em and Phyllida keep it in the family

The self-deprecating Phyllida Law didn't have a `blazing career' until her son-in-law, Kenneth Branagh, made her a star in `Peter's Friends'. Now she is co-starring with her daughter, Emma Thompson, and, she tells James Rampton, she found the experience both easy and emotional.

Media: If lunch is for wimps, make mine a light one

Every now and again word goes round that there's a hip show on television, compulsory viewing, at least for potential cultists. They rarely happen at midday, which is why `Light Lunch' is something special. It's all about Mel and Sue but Monique Roffey wanted to know why.
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Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there