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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On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
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Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
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Thurston Moore interview

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From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific
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In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

Dame Colette Bowe - interview
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The 'Cher moment' happening across fashion just now

Fashion's Cher moment

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Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination

Health fears over school cancer jab

Shock new Freedom of Information figures show how thousands of girls have suffered serious symptoms after routine HPV injection
Fifa President Sepp Blatter warns his opponents: 'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

Fifa president Sepp Blatter issues defiant warning to opponents
Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report

Weather warning

Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report
LSD: Speaking to volunteer users of the drug as trials get underway to see if it cures depression and addiction

High hopes for LSD

Meet the volunteer users helping to see if it cures depression and addiction
German soldier who died fighting for UK in Battle of Waterloo should be removed from museum display and given dignified funeral, say historians

Saving Private Brandt

A Belgian museum's display of the skeleton of a soldier killed at Waterloo prompts calls for him to be given a dignified funeral