i Jim Carter

He looks familiar. Belongs in a dining room, doesn’t he?

The musicals to see first

His name is synonymous with the West End musical, but last night Cameron Mackintosh faced his biggest test


Stella Phelps, the character Imelda Staunton plays in ITV's sitcom, Is It Legal?, is more uptight than Cher's cheeks after a facelift. In one episode of the new series by Simon Nye, she is bemoaning the fact that everyone at her drab solicitors' office in Hounslow hates her because she is so efficient. "I have to be the Iron Lady and Miss Whiplash," she wails, before whingeing about being missed off the sticky bun run.



Nye's work

Simon Nye, author of Men Behaving Badly, is back with a new sitcom set in an office. He's not interested in plots, and he thinks the best comedy happens in real life. Modest or what? James Rampton met him

THEATRE / More than a chip off the Bloc

Slavs! Hampstead Theatre, London

Dramatic tribute to Dennis Potter

The celebration of the life of Dennis Potter was both curious and memorable. Little advertised, yesterday's service attracted barely 200 people.

THEATRE / The London Fringe: Borrowed times

Step into the King's Head, and you're whisked back a quarter of a century to a theatrical world that vanished with the Sixties: the world of a Flanders and Swann revue. But the charming atmosphere is deceptive: Alan Strachan's tribute to the great song-writing duo is skilfully constructed to combine nostalgia with a darker purpose. While the old favourites are there - 'Mud, Mud, Glorious Mud' et al - a more sinister note is sounded in 'Twenty Tons of TNT', a number about arms limitation.

TELEVISION / They'd give an arm and a leg to be happy

THE ANNOUNCER'S voice faltered slightly when introducing a new series called Over the Edge (BBC2) on Tuesday night, and after watching the first episode it was easy to see why. The BBC Disability Programmes Unit had pledged to 'take on some of the thornier issues surrounding disability', and they weren't kidding.

FILM / Out of the blue and into the black: Romeo Is Bleeding (18) Director: Peter Medak (UK / US), Mother's Boys (15) Director: Yves Simoneau (US), Deadly Advice (15) Director: Mandie Fletcher (UK), Ace Ventura: Pet Detective (12) Director: Tom Shadyac (US)

Moral distinctions can paralyse you,' murmurs the philosophical Mafia boss (Roy Scheider) to Jack Grimaldi, a corrupt New York policeman (Gary Oldman) in Romeo is Bleeding. It seems to be a maxim Peter Medak has taken to heart. After the low-key scrupulousness of Let Him Have It, Medak has pitched himself headlong into a tale of carnal, bloody and unnatural acts so overblown and relentless as to verge on farce. In fact, there are touches which suggest that Medak might have intended the whole thing as a joke, though, if so, it's not quite funny enough, not even when the incongruously waspy Scheider quotes Robert Lowell.

ART / Show People - Greatness visible: Janet McTeer

BEFORE she applied to train at Rada, the sum of Janet McTeer's theatrical experience was one all-girl grammar-school production. That was at the age of 13. Ten years on, she played Rosalind to great acclaim at the Royal Exchange in Manchester, and a likeness to the young Vanessa Redgrave has been invoked ever since. What the comparison glosses over is one glaring dissimilarity - the little matter of roots. Redgrave, a princess in the country's most illustrious theatrical dynasty, was born to act; McTeer first caught the bug as a gauche teenager working on Saturdays behind the coffee bar at York Theatre.

TELEVISION / In a state about the world: John Lyttle delivers his verdict on Edward Bond's small-screen debut; plus murder in academe

The name's Bond. Edward Bond. This reminder of name, rank and CV (Saved, The Sea, Bingo) is offered because the playwright's expert brand of coruscating banality has dropped out of sight of late. Not that three one-hour sightings near midnight on BBC2 over the long weekend exactly constitutes an assault on the mainstream. Bond's slashed portraits of life at the bottom of the social heap don't lend themselves to easy viewing; this is, after all, the man who once rattled the tabloids by having a baby stoned to death on stage.
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