Mirren to quit acting for quiet life

Helen Mirren says she wants to retire shortly, a revelation that will upset her many fans. The actress has told the American chat show hostess Ruby Wax that she does not want to continue working for ever.

ELEN'S GAME

Why does the latest film about Northern Ireland distort the reality of terrorism and sentimentalise the IRA? The answer lies in Hollywood's taste for simplistic melodrama, says Boyd Tonkin

Let's play hunt the famous

Concluding his series on the nature of fame, Peter Popham examines the inner life of the stalker, who may easily become as famous as the object of attention

Television prefers blondes

This week brought yet more reassuring programmes about how we once gave the Germans a good seeing to, but glance around the schedules and you wonder whether the demonic dream of Aryan supremacy didn't come true after all. Television's obsession with anniversaries (happy birthday, Suez Crisis and the Hungarian Uprising) may look unimaginative, but not as much as its soft spot for blondes. They're uber alles.

Prime-time with La Plante

Lynda La Plante's work has been a hit with the viewers, but the critics remain unconvinced. James Rampton reports

when ambition has to go naked

If the role means appearing in the buff, do actors feel they have to whip their clothes off? The stars reveal all

Dear Helen Mirren

Is this really the right time to make a Hollywood film about the republican hunger-striker Bobby Sands?

Watch out for that big black guy

A strange colossus of negritude presides over The Lenny Henry Show, which rounds off BBC1's new crowd-pleasing Saturday line-up. There, at the back of the set, sits a right-on version of an Easter Island statue, a bust of black manhood. This gets dressed up occasionally with votive offerings - it was unaccountably wearing a monocle for part of this weekend's show - but it is always there, an icon of attitude. And, indeed, this is conspicuously black humour, more preoccupied with black experience and, for want of a better phrase, race relations, than anything he's done before.

OJ judge warms to Helen Mirren

No one would claim Lance Ito, the Californian judge presiding over the OJ Simpson trial, has an easy job. For hour after hour, he has to umpire contests between some of the toughest legal brawlers in the business. But there are some perks.

LaserDisc pirates go America

Video monthly

BOOK REVIEW / A landscape of pimps and police: Cold shoulder - Lynda la Plante: Macmillan, pounds 14.99: Sarah Dunant finds drama and charisma in the new thriller by Lynda la Plante

IN SOME ways Lynda la Plante is the Peter Snow of female thriller writers; a real professional who is not afraid to explore and enjoy the more unsavoury aspects of the job, in her case the sleaze, the guns and the violence. As a popular television dramatist she is extraordinarily talented, with a nose for near-perfect thriller structure, the ability to create absolutely credible strong female characters and the kind of dialogue, especially in scenes of interrogation or confrontation, that walks off the page straight into BAFTA awards. It is, therefore, something of a disappointment to find that she is much less sure-footed when it comes to keeping the plot between hard covers.

Mogul gets 1.5 million pounds for black film

Filming for the biggest independent black movie yet to be made in Britain is scheduled to start in October. The pounds 1.5m project, using only black actors, is the brain-child of the critically acclaimed London-based director Kwesi Owusu.

British agencies launch Rwanda appeal

Britain's leading aid agencies launched an appeal yesterday to help of Rwandan refugees. 'We rarely use the word genocide but there isn't any other word to describe what is happening in Rwanda today,' John Whitaker, deputy director of Oxfam, told a news conference, Reuter reports.

THEATRE / Helen Mirren, comedy star: I cannot think what has prompted Richard Eyre to install this piece in his main house

FOR THE first major revival of Turgenev's A Month in the Country in 20 years, Triumph Productions appear to have laid on an old-fashioned West End treat. The cast-list reads like a Black Magic chart. No less succulent is the design (by Hayden Griffin, Andy Phillips, and Deirdre Clancy) with its succession of poetically lit birchwood landscapes and dresses of ever- increasing splendour. Here is the serio-comic insight of Chekhov with no ominous echoes from the outside world. No one is going to chop those trees down just yet.
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Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks
The haunting of Shirley Jackson: Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?

The haunting of Shirley Jackson

Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?
Bill Granger recipes: Heading off on holiday? Try out our chef's seaside-inspired dishes...

Bill Granger's seaside-inspired recipes

These dishes are so easy to make, our chef is almost embarrassed to call them recipes
Ashes 2015: Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

A woefully out-of-form Michael Clarke embodies his team's fragile Ashes campaign, says Michael Calvin
Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen