Show People: Meek inherits the mirth: Harry Hill

THE GLASTONBURY Festival is famous for giving a home to alternative lifestyles, and few this summer were more alternative than that of Harry Hill. A large crowd crammed into the comedy marquee to get out of an impending storm, many of them already looking like survivors of a small-scale nuclear attack, with two days and nights of takeaway food and satanic toilets still to come. Hill stalked the stage in his usual blazer and shirt, neck subsumed in the starched folds of an enormous wing-collar, Biros protruding officiously from his top pocket. 'You heckle me now,' he told a recalcitrant hippie in the audience, 'but I'm safe in the knowledge that when I get home, I've got a nice chicken in the oven.'

COMEDY / A hope in Hill: It's not every stand-up who compares himself to Tarbie. James Rampton takes a dose of Harry Hill's logical surrealism

Harry Hill is fed-up with reading headlines about himself such as 'Doctor hits funnybone', 'Surgeon on the ridiculous', 'Bedpan humour', and 'Laughter the best medicine'. But what does he expect? If you are unique among stand-up comedians in being a former hospital doctor, then medical puns are always going to be on the prescription - sorry, the agenda.

Hambro returns to the black

HAMBRO Countrywide, the estate agent and financial services group, returned to financial health in 1993 with a pre-tax profit of pounds 15.8m, against a loss of pounds 1.6m.

Edinburgh Festival Day 2: Word of Mouth

HELEN LEDERER, comedian, took all of 30 seconds to recommend Mark Thomas to punters. 'He's a confrontative and experiential, challenging, on-the-metal satirist,' she says. Not to be outdone, Mark Thomas directs the queue to Helen Lederer.' She's a charming and witty, playfully vulnerable earth mother.' Joe Traynor, from London, less nepotistically, offers comedian Jimeoin at the Fringe Club. 'He's quite different from the usual stand- ups. Not all dick jokes.' Sharon Duggal, also from London, enjoyed Stand Up Black America at the Pleasance, especially bald and beautiful comedian Rene Hicks. 'The performers were great. Unfortunately the audience was all white and didn't get it.' Comic of choice for Sophie Roberts of Small Fish Big Ponds Theatre Co is Harry Hill at the Pleasance: 'He's not particularly male.' For top-flight comedy Susan and Melinda Prenter from Edinburgh say 'Watch the bungee jumping. We've been twice today.' (The bungee jumping crane is at the Meadows every weekend.)

EDINBURGH FESTIVAL 1993

There are more than 500 arts festivals in Britain every year, and one of them pulls in about as many spectators as all the others put together. And gets more media coverage than the others put together. However commercial it becomes, however repetitive and predictable, however tainted by links with television, and whatever other festivals do to steal its thunder, there is still something special about Edinburgh. Where else do people sleep in dormitories, in shifts, because they can't afford a room but can't bear to miss out? Where else does a show go on when only one person has turned up to see it? Where does a show go on when no one has turned up to see it? Where else can you find a festival of theatre and comedy that also offers an exhibition of perhaps the best collection of photography in the world? Where else can you find Mark Morris, Robert Wilson, Klaus Tennstedt, Sean Hughes, Hans Holbein, Jane Campion, Wynton Marsalis, Eddie Izzard, Bryn Terfel and Arthur Smith on the same bill? Where else can you find a scrum forming around a Sold Out board - people straining to see what they're not going to be able to see? It's not just an arts festival: it's a lark, an ordeal, a drinkathon, a holiday, a lot of hard work, a talent contest, a love-in, a rite of passage, an endurance test. You tell yourself you won't overdo it, and then you overdo it. It overdoes it: every year it gets bigger, starts earlier, packs more into each day. The juggler in our picture is a symbol for the whole thing: hundreds of thousands of people, trying to keep too many balls in the air. It's the same every time, and yet you never know what you'll find. A definitive guide to Edinburgh is a contradiction in terms. But the next seven pages should be of some use.

Opinions: Could you live without a TV set?

DEREK JAMESON, radio presenter: Living without Coronation Street would be like being cast into perpetual darkness. I'm totally addicted to the box - it brings the entire world to my door - I'm obsessed with knowing what's happening.

Edinburgh Festival Day 15: Festival Eye

SPITTING IMAGE impersonators Steve Coogan and John Thompson have won this year's Perrier award for comedy. They will receive pounds 2,000 and a run at the Purcell Room at London's South Bank Centre from 29 September for three weeks. Fellow nominees John Shuttleworth, Jo Brand, Mark Thomas and Bruce Morton will also be appearing. All five shows can be sampled at The Perrier Pick of the Fringe Show in the Assembly Rooms, 9pm, from 3 to 5 September. Harry Hill was given a newly created award, Most Promising Newcomer, for his surreal slideshow, Flies.
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