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Imelda Staunton

Observations: When Cranford bored Judi

It is August, 1844. Mr Buxton (Jonathan Pryce) is a newcomer to the Cheshire town of Cranford, and he threatens to bring lots of alarming new-fangled ideas with him. He asks Miss Matty Jenkyns (Judi Dench), the pillar of the local community, about a trendy new dance: "have you heard of waltzing?" A look of horror, if not revulsion, passes across Miss Matty's face as she replies, "it is not a form of dancing we have experienced in Cranford."

Queens of the small screen

Helen Mirren won an Oscar as Elizabeth II and now five more actresses are to play her on television. Is it time to re-bottle the monarch's mystique? By Gerard Gilbert

Ang Lee - Beyond the mild side

Ang Lee was not the most likely director to create a film about Woodstock, and his authentic-looking LSD scene is from imagination not experience, he tells James Mottram

Parties: I'd like to thank my trophy...

Stars of the stage thronged the Grosvenor House Hotel, London, for the 33rd Laurence Olivier Awards last Sunday. At the packed champagne reception it was hard to miss the glowing Lindsay Duncan, nominated for Best Actress, or David Morrissey, standing tall above the crowd with his wife, the novelist Esther Freud; easier to overlook, though, was the diminutive Imelda Staunton – until she shook your reporter's hand and asked trenchantly: "Why isn't this televised? Are we second-class citizens, working in the theatre?"

Party Of The Week: Packed with real characters

London's theatrical luminaries gathered at Grosvenor House, London, to enjoy a champagne reception in the lead-up to the Laurence Olivier Awards. Amid the splendour of the rooms, the pre-dinner drinks gave guests the chance to relax after the rigours of walking the red carpet outside.

Parties: Tales from the crypt

It was hard not to look at Mathew Horne in a new light after the opening night of Entertaining Mr Sloane, a revival of Joe Orton's play at the Trafalgar Studios. Previously known as the everyday man Gavin, from Gavin and Stacey, Horne had evolved into the play's ruthless seducer; and his new-found sexual magnetism didn't end after the curtains came down: as guests entered the recently restored vaulted crypt of St Martin's in the Fields, London, life imitated art, as a stream of admirers threatened to overwhelm Horne with gushing praise and a barrage of flirting (from both sexes).

Matthew Horne: Fom Gavin & Stacey to leather-clad psycho

Mathew Horne would like to get one thing straight. "Gavin's much nicer than I am. I'm nothing, nothing like him. I'm not from his world. I don't have a family like that. I don't have a job like that. I don't dress like him. I don't talk like him. I don't have friends like him. I'm nothing like him." Phew. Got that? The actor best known as the romantic hero at the heart of the Bafta-winning sitcom Gavin & Stacey is nothing like his most famous creation.

Happy-Go-Lucky, 15

The veteran British director has taken a break from the grimmer side of life, and has created an ode to joy

Mike Leigh: 'Me? Miserable? Nonsense!'

He admits that his new film 'Happy-Go-Lucky' has put a smile on his face – but, says Mike Leigh, woe betide any actor who reveals the director's 'trade secrets'