Restaurants: Where shall we meet in SW11?

It's a happy day when something good gets even better. The Drawing Room has been a much-loved south London secret for a number of years, having gradually worked itself up from being an antique shop that did snacks to a fully-fledged restaurant and bar, and helped Lavender Hill to go from being a spooky area with a single fried chicken shop to a place with a buzzing social scene. The likes of Bjork and Helen Mirren have been known to patronise the place, apparently.

The Sitter's Tale: Helen Mirren

New faces at the National Portrait Gallery: 'It's me and yet not me,' says Britain's most alluring actress

South Africa: Primetime

The press roasted Helen Mirren for her recent performance in `Anthony and Cleopatra', but the tables are turned when she takes to the road for Oxfam in South Africa. Marina Cantacuzino joined her. Photographs by Brian Moody

Arts: A month is a long time in sexual politics

Theatre;:A MONTH IN THE COUNTRY; ROYAL SHAKESPEARE THEATRE, STRATFORD

Hunger strike ruins our image, says animal lobby

ANIMAL WELFARE groups, campaigning to end vivisection in British laboratories, believe they have been set back "a decade" by the hunger strike staged by Barry Horne.

Theatre Review: Antony and Cleopatra

Antony and Cleopatra

A case of hype and fall as Rickman and Mirren are put to the sword

IT WAS the most eagerly anticipated production of the year. It turned into the biggest disappointment. And at the National Theatre this weekend they are digesting some of the worst reviews for years and reports of walk-outs, and asking themselves how it all went so horribly wrong.

Theatre: A production that falls flat on its asp

ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA NATIONAL THEATRE LONDON

An actress in her prime

It's official. At 54, Francesca Annis is still the sexiest woman on TV

The Saturday Profile: Helen Mirren, Actress - The drama queen of England

WHEN I told people that I was writing this profile of Helen Mirren, the most common reaction was a snort of disgust. "Oh God, more excuses to run pictures of sexy old Helen," said one woman. "Why? She's the most written about woman in England," said a theatre type. Nor could anyone resist pointing out that she likes the odd nude scene. "You know the one thing that you can count on with her," said another man, eyes aglint, "is that she always takes her kit off." And then, finally and always on cue, came the discussion about whether those really were her legs in the Virgin ad.

Interview: Ian Dury: Great sense of tumour

The Deborah Ross Interview: When Ian Dury found he had cancer it was unlikely that our greatest living Cockney and Clever Bastard would come over all self-pitying and lose his lust for life. Well of course he didn't: a portrait of the artist as a diamond geezer

Television: Why can't a policewoman be more like a ... woman?

AS Maisie Raine (BBC1, Tuesday) accepts, women detective inspectors are statistically more likely to come in the shape of Pauline Quirke than Helen Mirren. That may be a victory for common sense, but the price is a defeat for dramatic tension. Prime Suspect took you into the battleground of the incident room, where DCI Tennison locked horns with sexist underlings. DI Raine, the latest recruit to television's overstaffed department of crime-solvers, circumvents that kind of conflict. She's one of those coppers who does things by the nose rather than the book. She shoots 'er maaf orf. She has an allotment. She is, when all's said and done, a bloke in a size 16. When she is brought before the court charged with impersonating maleness, the defence will ask for it to be taken into account that she is the creation of three men.

HOW WE MET: LYNDA LA PLANTE AND DEREK DEANE

Lynda La Plante, screenwriter and novelist, 52, was born in Liverpool. After training at Rada, she acted with the RSC, before making her TV- writing debut with `Widows' in 1982. She went on to write, among others, the hugely successful `Prime Suspect' series, `The Governor' and the recent `Killer Net', made by her own company, La Plante Productions. The choreographer Derek Deane, 44, joined the Royal Ballet as a dancer in 1972 and became its Senior Principal eight years later. During the Eighties, he danced all the major roles in the repertoire and created numerous ballets for the company. He became artistic director of English National Ballet in 1993. Both La Plante and Deane live in London

FILM: REWIND

The Rolling Stones: Bridges to Babylon (E) Game, pounds 14.99 (right)

How it really feels to be fifty

Cher thinks it sucks. Is she letting the side down, or being refreshing ly honest? Bel Mooney and some fellow fiftysomethings come clean
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