ARTS 1996

It was the year of Cezanne at the Tate and Oasis at Maine Road; of `Moll Flanders' and `Emma', `Trainspotting' and `Our Friends in the North'. And here, in time-honoured tradition, our critics pick their people and productions of the past 12 months. The envelopes please ...

Comedy: Antique Cutlery in fine condition

With all the gravitas commensurate with his status and venerability, the legendary Glaswegian sage, poet and humorist Ivor Cutler puts the collective mind of his audience at ease. Though the poetry books may shake in his hand, he assures a rapt Cambridge Corn Exchange, he is "not suffering from tertiary syphilis". That may very well be the case, but even well into his seventies, the uniquely affecting and melodious timbre of the Cutlerian larynx still poses a sexual threat.

COMEDY The Pub Landlord's Late Lock In Her Majesty's Theatre, London

For rather too long, Al Murray was grinding it out as one of comedy's also-rans, building up something of a name as the circuit's number-one gun impressionist. If a comic burst of Kalashnikov fire was your idea of a rollicking night out, Murray was your man. Then, while introducing Harry Hill's Pub International show a couple of years back, he needed a fill-in character to cover Hill's wig change, and hurriedly came up with a Cockney landlord. Murray took to his royal-worshipping pub patriot with such relish that in a very short space of time the character had evolved into a full act. So convincing has the Landlord proved that people have been known to come up to him after a show and ask him the whereabouts of his boozer.

COMEDY: Al Murray: Pub Landlord

Al Murray: Pub Landlord, Her Majesty's, London SW1 (0171-494 5558) 7.30pm Sun; The Stand-Up Show, BBC1 2 Nov

Fringe / Al Murray's Late Night Lock-In

Al Murray's Late Night Lock-In

Choice: The critics: COMEDY

Harry Hill There are few things more tiresome than self-consciously "look at me, aren't I clever" wackiness, but Hill throws himself into his stream of silliness with such gusto that you can't help but like him for it. From the moment he runs on stage in an agent orange Cilla Black wig singing "Hawaii 5-0" to the tune of "Cockles and Mussels", he captivates with craziness. Lyric Hammersmith, London W6; to 31 Dec

Boys' night out

If it's Sunday it must be the Comedy Store. Mark Wareham tagged along with Merton, Mullarkey, Sweeney and company

THE CRITICS: The joy of being Harried


Profits collapse at Hambro Countrywide

Hambro Countrywide, the troubled estate-agency chain, admitted yesterday that the slide in the housing market had led to a profits collapse in the past year.



When did you have your first drink?


Red-carding racism

Red-carding racism

Edinburgh Festival / Day 15: Perrier Award

This year's Perrier Pick of the Fringe Award, announced in a shopping mall at midnight on Saturday, has gone to . . . Lano and Woodley. 'Who?' chorused the gathering of astonished press and performers, partly because the PA had broken down but chiefly because no one had heard of them, let alone seen the show. The decision was described as 'bizarre' by one of the Perrier judges, Vicky Coren. The winners, an Australian double-act blending traditional variety with stand-up, receive a pounds 3,000 prize and a gig at the Lyric Theatre, London, on 2 October. Not giving the prize to the more bankable favourites, Alan Davies and Harry Hill, has at least put a temporary stop to the traditional post-Perrier cries of 'Fix]'.

Comedy / Just a Perrier contender for me, thanks

AS AUGUST progresses, the Perrier Award - referred to with wry deference in some comedic circles as 'The Little Bottle of Water' - casts an ever longer shadow over the Edinburgh jollity. This is a shame, because the Perrier is no Delphic oracle; it's just the opinion of a couple of people who have won competitions in magazines, the odd TV producer, and a handful of journalists including Alan Coren's daughter. Harry Hill's Pub Internationale (Pleasance) ought to have won it by now - the result was due to be announced at midnight last night - if only for being the perfect antidote to fizzy-water poisoning.

Edinburgh Festival / Day 11: Side View: Perrier Award

The shortlist for the 1994 Perrier Pick of the Fringe Award for best comedy reads as follows: much- fancied stand-up Alan Davies at the Gilded Balloon (8.15pm); Harry Hill (see review opposite); mild-mannered Brummie Jeff Green, the Assembly Rooms (9pm); absurd Australians Lano and Woodley, the Fringe Club (8.30pm); true blue American Robert Schimmel, the Assembly Rooms (10pm); and autobiographical sit-down comedian Owen O'Neill, the Gilded Ballon II (10.30pm). The winner will be announced at midnight on Saturday.
A cleaner prepares the red carpet for the opening night during the 59th International Cannes Film Festival May 17, 2006 in Cannes, France.
newsPowerful vacuum cleaners to be banned under EU regulations
Arts and Entertainment
Loaded weapon: drugs have surprise side effects for Scarlett Johansson in Luc Besson’s ‘Lucy’
filmReview: Lucy, Luc Besson's complex thriller
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Clarkson has rejected criticisms of his language, according to BBC director of television Danny Cohen
A polar bear’s diet is rich in seal blubber and half of its own body weight is composed of fat
Life and Style
fashion David Beckham fronts adverts for his underwear collection
Flocking round: Beyoncé, Madame Tussauds' latest waxwork, looking fierce in the park
travelIn a digital age when we have more access than ever to the stars, why are waxworks still pulling in crowds?
Career Services

Day In a Page

Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – MS Swiss Corona - seven nights from £999pp
Lake Maggiore, Orta and the Matterhorn – seven nights from £899pp
Sicily – seven nights from £939pp
Pompeii, Capri and the Bay of Naples - seven nights from £799pp
Istanbul Ephesus & Troy – six nights from £859pp
Mary Rose – two nights from £319pp
Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

Nick Clegg the movie

Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

Waxing lyrical

Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

Revealed (to the minute)

The precise time when impressionism was born
From slow-roasted to sugar-cured: how to make the most of the British tomato season

Make the most of British tomatoes

The British crop is at its tastiest and most abundant. Sudi Pigott shares her favourite recipes
10 best men's skincare products

Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
Malky Mackay allegations: Malky Mackay, Iain Moody and another grim day for English football

Mackay, Moody and another grim day for English football

The latest shocking claims do nothing to dispel the image that some in the game on these shores exist in a time warp, laments Sam Wallace
La Liga analysis: Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Pete Jenson starts his preview of the Spanish season, which begins on Saturday, by explaining how Fifa’s transfer ban will affect the Catalans
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape