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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Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

The secret CIA Starbucks

The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

One million Britons using food banks

Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

How to run a restaurant

As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Usher, Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert

The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
10 best tote bags

Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

Paul Scholes column

I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England
Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

The heptathlete has gone from the toast of the nation to being a sleep-deprived mum - but she’s ready to compete again. She just doesn't know how well she'll do...