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Armando Iannucci recently said that the UK falls behind the US  when it comes to female comedy writers. Do you find it to be a male-dominated industry?

Council sell-off closes Shaw Theatre

The Shaw Theatre on Euston Road, one of London's largest off-West End venues, is to close at the end of August. The 14-storey office block containing the theatre has been sold by its owners, Camden Council.

COMEDY / Fat and other feminist issues

THE ECSTATIC reception that greets Jo Brand at the Bound and Gagged Comedy Feast confirms that television has sent her star into orbit. Her series, Through the Cakehole, may have had the occasional jotted-down-on-the-back-of-a-fag-packet element, but that did not stop it riding high in the Channel 4 ratings, or being all the talk on Saturday morning trains into town. And her domesticated cockney cop-show spoof, 'Drudge Squad', was the stuff of which legends are made. Striding into the Bloomsbury Theatre spotlight with her electric-shock hair and sweet-wrapper trousers, she has certainly come a long way from the sad figure who used to creep on stage as the Sea Monster on Friday Night Live.

Profile: A lesson for the snobs: Laurence Marks on the Channel 4 boss who has proved more than just a good scheduler: Michael Grade

FOR someone who's trying to kick a three-cigars-a-day habit, Michael Grade looks surprisingly tranquil. His office is clear of its customary gauze of blue fumes. Channel 4's chief executive is leaning back in his swivel chair, necktie loosened, shocking-pink power braces

ARTS / Jo Brand, a fat load of good: Fat? She deals with that one every time she opens her mouth. Man-hater? That's different. James Rampton meets Jo Brand

The lights dim. Grown men and (particularly) women are whistling and whooping like teeny-boppers. Then the spotlight falls, not on Take That, but on a short, fat woman in a shapeless baggy black T- shirt and a cockatoo hairdo that looks as though it hasn't seen a comb since the Cure were in the charts. As the woman in black wanders on, a wardrobe assistant scuttles solicitously after her, a lighted cigarette at the ready. Once the ovation has finally died down, the woman raises an eyebrow and cackles: 'I bet you're as surprised as I am that the big fat bird's got a series.'

Long Runners / No 25: Just a Minute

Age: 26 (it began in 1967).

Comedy: Prima Donna: She's a stand-up who's a woman who's a lesbian - in that order. James Rampton talks to the outgoing Donna McPhail

Like it or not, Donna McPhail is known as the comic who 'came out' on stage. With some justification, she feels the seven minutes of her hour-long show devoted to her sexuality at Edinburgh last summer have been blown out of all proportion. 'All that lesbian stuff annoyed me,' she asserts. 'I hid it in the middle of the show, but all the reviews still read, 'Donna McPhail . . . LESBIAN' . . . But I'm a stand-up who's a woman who's a lesbian - in that order. I want to be a funny person, not a funny lesbian - which is a contradiction in terms anyway.'

Relax, don't do it. Exercise with me and shed no tears

PERHAPS the most terrifying experience I underwent in Canada recently was being exposed to what I took to be a rack of horror videos. They all featured threatening women on the front, wearing combat underwear and doing violent things to people just off-screen.

TELEVISION / Petty distractions of the royal variety

IT'S a wonder actors don't get the bends, they whizz so recklessly up and down the social ladder. Last Tuesday night, in Between the Lines (BBC 1), Michael Kitchen was playing something scraped off on the lowest rung - a journalist. Last night he was at the top playing King. Just King. The credits didn't add a name and nobody in To Play the King (BBC 1), a follow up to the enjoyable House of Cards, breached etiquette by mentioning it.

The British Comedy Awards 1993

And the nominations are:

RADIO / Polished turn by the secretive Starman

LAST WEEK the boffins of One Step Beyond (R4) thought about colonising Mars, while The David Bowie Story (R1) scooped them with a profile of a man who did it 20 years ago and lived to tell the tale. Actually he didn't tell the tale, at least not the one about how he managed to bring back some spiders, but it was still an accomplished performance.

TELEVISION / Think of England: Andy Gill is distinctly un-wooed by the blanket coverage in this weekend's festival of romance

As with pubs and drinking, 'theme' television is ruining viewing. Schedulers need only the merest hint of an anniversary to replace normal programmes with blanket coverage, as if they were organising an NFT season rather than running public television. So, for Valentine's Day, we got Last Tango, Dirty Dancing, Truly Madly Deeply and wall-to-wall Barry White, which is pretty much the way it is with Barry anyway.

Now for Kasparov: The champion awaits as Britain's challenger Nigel Short clinches victory against Timman to win a place in the world chess final. William Hartston reports

THEY LOVE Nigel Short in Iceland. In a television poll for favourite personality last year, he came second. Madonna was third. Yesterday he won the right to challenge for the world chess championship by beating the Dutchman Jan Timman in San Lorenzo de El Escorial, Spain. Now the British, too, are beginning to love Nigel Short.

Edinburgh Festival Day 18: Women in Comedy

'Bit of a dodgy thing, being a women's evening,' says compere Jo Brand in a pre-emptive strike. 'I hope it's not going to be a period frenzy.' As she points out, it's only men who make jokes about Vespre these days. The only monthly occurrences mentioned in this splendid evening of stand-up are the arrivals of Hattie Hayridge's Access bills. Other highlights include Two Girls Wot Sing's wonderful soap-addicts' confessional, set to 'Bohemian Rhapsody', the splenetic Donna McPhail and the ribald confessions of newcomer and agony aunt Mrs Merton.

Edinburgh Festival Day 15: Festival Eye

SPITTING IMAGE impersonators Steve Coogan and John Thompson have won this year's Perrier award for comedy. They will receive pounds 2,000 and a run at the Purcell Room at London's South Bank Centre from 29 September for three weeks. Fellow nominees John Shuttleworth, Jo Brand, Mark Thomas and Bruce Morton will also be appearing. All five shows can be sampled at The Perrier Pick of the Fringe Show in the Assembly Rooms, 9pm, from 3 to 5 September. Harry Hill was given a newly created award, Most Promising Newcomer, for his surreal slideshow, Flies.
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Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – MS Swiss Corona - seven nights from £999pp
Lake Maggiore, Orta and the Matterhorn – seven nights from £899pp
Sicily – seven nights from £939pp
Pompeii, Capri and the Bay of Naples - seven nights from £799pp
Istanbul Ephesus & Troy – six nights from £859pp
Mary Rose – two nights from £319pp
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home
Lauded therapist Harley Mille still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Lauded therapist still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Australian Harley Miller is as frustrated by court delays as she is with the idiosyncrasies of immigration law
Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world. But could his predictions of war do the same?

Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world...

But could his predictions of war do the same?
Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs: 'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs
Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities, but why?

Young at hort

Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities. But why are so many people are swapping sweaty clubs for leafy shrubs?
Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award: 'making a quip as funny as possible is an art'

Beyond a joke

Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

Sadly though, the Lawrence of Arabia star is not around to lend his own critique
Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire: The joy of camping in a wetland nature reserve and sleeping under the stars

A wild night out

Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire offers a rare chance to camp in a wetland nature reserve
Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition: It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans

Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition

It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans
Besiktas vs Arsenal: Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie

Besiktas vs Arsenal

Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie
Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

As the Northern Irishman prepares for the Barclays, he finds time to appear on TV in the States, where he’s now such a global superstar that he needs no introduction
Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to Formula One

Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to F1

The 16-year-old will become the sport’s youngest-ever driver when he makes his debut for Toro Rosso next season
Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

But belated attempts to unite will be to no avail if the Sunni caliphate remains strong in Syria, says Patrick Cockburn
Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I would end up killing myself in jail'

Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I'd end up killing myself in jail'

Following last week's report on prison suicides, the former inmate asks how much progress we have made in the 50 years since the abolition of capital punishment