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

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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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Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas