Arts and Entertainment Angela Lansbury is set return to the London stage after a hiatus of almost four decades

The actress will return to the Gielgud Theatre where she made her debut

Jean Simmons, Olivier's Ophelia, dies at 80

After Shakespeare and Dickens, she went on to Hollywood stardom

Sarah Sands: The great British blockbuster – big, bold and brilliant

As I skipped to the Van Gogh exhibition at the Royal Academy last week, I experienced that first-day-of-the-sales feeling, excitement hardened by determination. Not only was I going to see one of my favourite painters, but he was everyone else's favourite. The world was converging in its taste, if not in its pronunciation. It was a blockbuster.

Actress Jean Simmons dies aged 80

Jean Simmons, the stunning beauty who sang with Marlon Brando in Guys and Dolls and was Ophelia to Laurence Olivier's Hamlet, died today.



Keira hits the stage

The actress joins a long line of movie stars trying their hand at theatre as she makes her West End debut next week. How will she fare?

Observations: Cold comfort at the Globe's open-air Christmas show

Do you fancy an open-air Christmas show this year? If so, head to Shakespeare's Globe, which will be hiring out blankets for its first Christmas production. For those prepared to brave the cold, Footsbarn's Christmas Cracker is inspired by the complete works of Shakespeare. But is, fortunately, a short show – just two half-hour acts and an interval, during which the audience can snuggle up with some mulled wine or steaming hot food. "There's nothing more bananas than doing a show at Christmas in a theatre without a roof, so it seemed like a good idea to find a company like Footsbarn who embody the ridiculousness to fill it", says Dominic Dromgoole, the artistic director of the theatre.

Twelve TV treats of Christmas

Gerard Gilbert peeps under the bonnet in 'Cranford' and takes a trip with the Time Lord in a selection of the best yuletide viewing

Vyacheslav Tikhonov: Actor best known for playing Soviet spies in a career spanning 60 years

Over a 60-year career as an actor, Vyacheslav Tikhonov played heroic and aristocratic roles, but he was best loved for playing spies. The highlight was the cult television series about the last days of the Second World War, Seventeen Moments of Spring (1973). In the 14-hour television series, he played Max Otto von Stirlitz, a high-ranking German officer who is actually a Soviet spy. Tikhonov brought to the role a quiet authority, which, with his good looks, and fine light tenor voice (several films gave him the opportunity to sing), turned him into something of a sex symbol.

Sarah Sands: Women love him. Men love him. Whishaw has it all

The reason Kate Moss timelessly endures as a model is that you never tire of her face, although you see it everywhere, every day. I have the same response to Ben Whishaw, who won an Emmy last week for his role in the BBC's Criminal Justice series. He is acting incarnate, not so much a performer as a lightning conductor for drama.

Hit & Run: Pleased to meet flu

That greatest of Christmas traditions – kissing – is under threat as Britain's leading authority on etiquette fears sloppy smackers under the mistletoe could lead to a festive outbreak of swine flu. Far better to clash cheeks than lips, says Debrett's, but even a chaste handshake is risky. So as the party season approaches, how is an amorous uncle or Kenneth from accounts supposed to navigate this greetings minefield without being blown into a snotty swine flu lockdown?

Rupert Penry-Jones: 'It's nice not to be chasing a bad guy'

Rupert Penry-Jones is grateful to be TV's most famous spy, and with a play set to open, he isn't worried about being typecast

Robin Scott-Elliot: Real and fantasy football collide on streets of Raith

View From The Sofa: Off Kilter/Champions Trophy/Carling Cup, BBC 4/Sky Sports/BBC 1

John Simm: 'I don't mean to seem cocky'

He's known as the star of television dramas 'Life on Mars' and 'Dr Who'. Now the actor is returning to the West End stage

Afterlife, By Sean O'Brien

Dead bodies, Hell's Angels and 'The Wicker Man': who knew modern poets had such dangerous pasts?

David Lister: Actors should stick to the script

The New York Times ran an interview this week with Jude Law. The actor is about to appear in New York in the compelling Michael Grandage production of Hamlet. I thought Law's performance extremely moving when I saw it in London, and I suspect there is every chance of him causing a stir on Broadway.

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