TELEVISION / BRIEFING: A lean, mean act revisited

One of the benefits of winning your ITV franchise with a nominal bid is that you have money to spend on lavish, pounds 10m period dramas like SHARPE (8pm ITV). Central's big-budget, two-part adventure story boasts enough splendid Napoleonic costumes to fill the Imperial War Museum. By the by, it is a marvellous promo for the Crimean Tourist Board. Sean Bean was a compelling thug in Patriot Games and Fool's Gold. In 'Sharpe's Rifles', Eoghan Harris's straightforward adaptation of the novel by Bernard Cornwell, he reprises that lean, mean Sean Bean act, this time in the guise of a British soldier in 1809. Sgt Richard Sharpe's reward for saving Wellington's life is to be promoted from the ranks and kicked by his snobby fellow officers who think he is 'not one of us'. As if that wasn't bad enough, he is then sent on a dangerous mission behind enemy lines with a motley crew of ex-cons and pub brawlers known as the Chosen Men. His only compensation is meeting the alluring guerrilla leader Assumpta Serna, whom you may not recognise with so many clothes on. She was last seen romping with Mickey Rourke in Wild Orchid.

Letter: Dogma in the use of apostrophes

Sir: The correct use of the apostrophe is indeed complex, as William Powell says (Letters, 27 April); he is surely wrong to be so dogmatic in dismissing your earlier correspondent Stephen Thomas's complaint that 'Forces Sweetheart' (an exhibition at the Imperial War Museum) lacks an apostrophe.

Letter: Punctuation all present and correct

Sir: 'Forces Sweethearts' (an exhibition at the Imperial War Museum, which includes letters home written by British soldiers) is not missing an apostrophe. The word 'Forces' is being used adjectivally - cf, 'soldier boy'.

Spare the semi-colon and spoil the child

LET US begin with a quotation. It is from Winston Churchill's My Early Life. 'By being so long in the lowest form (at Harrow, where he had to repeat a year) I gained an immense advantage over the cleverer boys . . . I got into my bones the essential structure of the normal British sentence - which is a noble thing.'

Lady Ryder left pounds 76

BRITAIN'S most decorated wartime pilot, Lord Cheshire, who died last year, left his medals to the Imperial War Museum. Lord Cheshire left pounds 130,076, but after the medals' value was deducted his wife, Lady Ryder, was left pounds 76.

Spending: Retail therapy

VALENTINE's Day gifts should always arrive shrouded in mystery and suspense. But with so much kitsch in the shops, finding a present to match the spirit of the occasion is not always easy. Undeterred, Retail Therapy has come up with the following tips:

Arts: Show people 56: Joanna Lumley

SHE WAS a model, a Bond girl and Purdey in The New Avengers. She was a columnist, travel writer and an autobiographer. Beauty, brains, and now the beast in BBC2's Absolutely Fabulous, Joanna Lumley has cast off the gorgeous pouting image to show sudden comic talent. In AbFab, as she calls it, she plays a drunken, freeloading fashion editor, Patsy, who wears Chanel suits and a beehive hair-do worthy of a Restoration comedy. She curls her lip over a ciggie, dunks it in the red wine, then snarls out asides that bring the sin out of cynical. In a few weeks, AbFab has established itself as BBC2's most popular programme, with 8 million viewers at the last count. A second series will be filmed in the spring.

Contemporary Art Market: Mud, glorious mud for artist whose work is cracking up

ANDY GOLDSWORTHY has poured china clay evenly over the floor of the Turske Hue-Williams Gallery in Old Bond Street, central London, to a depth of four centimetres. You cannot get in until he takes the clay out again on 27 November, but you can look at it through the front window and from the offices at the back.

Memorial services: Lord Cheshire

The Queen was represented by Lord Moore of Wolvercote at a memorial mass to celebrate the life and work of Gp Capt Lord Cheshire which was held yesterday at Westminster Cathedral, London SW1. The Duke of Edinburgh was represented by Canon George Hall, the Prince and Princess of Wales by Mr Peter Holland, The Duke of York by Capt Rupert Maitland-Titterton, Prince Edward by Mrs Richard Warburton, The Princess Royal by the Hon Mrs Louloudis, The Queen Mother by Sir Alastair Aird, Princess Margaret by Major The Lord Napier and Ettrick, Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester, and The Duke and Duchess of Gloucester by Lt-Col Sir Simon Bland, The Duke and Duchess of Kent by the Marquess of Lothian, and Princess Alexandra by The Hon Sir Angus Ogilvy. The Prime Minister was represented by Mr Richard Ryder MP.

Firebombs found at three tourist venues in London

(First Edition)

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