News Game of Thrones series four

BSkyB has signed a new five-year deal for exclusive rights to HBO shows including 'Game of Thrones', 'Girls'

William Donaldson Week: To Ibiza, and no Miss Lumley

THE PEOPLE at Radio 4 don't seem to have got a grip on programme-making in the least. Their Andrew Johnston rang me on Monday and asked me if I'd like to do a show.

Bowler for sale

(First Edition)

Fashion: Keep it under wraps: Patsy from Absolutely Fabulous wouldn't be seen dead in one, but among the cognoscenti these sumptuous silk shawls from Madagascar are the new 'must have'. Marion Hume tells how the lamba made it from the Indian Ocean to Bond Street

'I've bought three and now I must stop myself,' says Joanna Lumley. The actress who has come to epitomise trashy glamour as Patsy - the fashion world's favourite icon - is in a different mood today. For we are in Bond Street, at the Fine Art Society, where an odd mix of people, from fashion's finest to scientists in desert boots, has gathered to admire and acquire intricate, 7ft silk shawls called lambas.

TELEVISION / There ain't nothing like a cartoon dame

Verity Lambert must enjoy living dangerously. As if the challenge of launching a three-times-a-week soap wasn't enough, she went and called it Eldorado, presenting journalists with an all-you-can- eat buffet of easy jokes. Now she takes on the thankless task of employing an actress, Joanna Lumley, whose career has just been revived by an acclaimed character role in a comedy hit on another channel - an open invitation for invidious comparisons. That isn't hazard enough, though. Just to spice things up she calls the series Class Act (ITV). Had she walked into the Groucho Club wearing a sign saying 'Kick Me', she couldn't have done more to solicit media sniping.

INTERVIEW / Plowman's half hour: Jon Plowman is the straight man behind the funny women played by French and Saunders. Life's a gag, the TV producer tells Sabine Durrant

Murder Most Horrid and Absolutely Fabulous have several things in common. They both rest on the shoulders of Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders. They're both predominantly directed by Bob Spiers. And they're both produced by Jon Plowman - the man behind the original French & Saunders series, behind Smith & Jones and Fry & Laurie, behind Comic Relief, the man who is BBC Head of Comedy Entertainment. He must be very powerful, this Jon Plowman. 'You could look at everything I've produced over the last few years,' he says, trying to help, 'and analyse a very sick man who has a very sick, sad sense of humour and lives a tragic life, surrounded by a lot of very dominant women'.

TELEVISION / One fat lady, click, click, click

BAD SIGHT of the week came in Special Babies (ITV) as a Caesarian section was performed on a woman who, narrator Julia Somerville confided, weighed 27 stone. It was unclear whether the baby was included in this figure, indeed it was unclear whether the mother's figure included a baby: as her stomach slopped over both sides of the table like a runaway semolina, it was impossible to tell where tissue stopped and issue began. 'We don't normally have half a dozen people holding the patient's anatomy out the way,' a doctor said, as the baby was winkled into the world. There was no question about the staff's devotion, but you did want some answers concerning the ethics of allowing an unconscious woman to become a freak show.

TELEVISION / Fabulously dedicated followers of fashion

IF YOU'VE been feeling stampeded by the recent wave of hype for Absolutely Fabulous (BBC 1), then the first episode of the second series put the cap on it. There were guest appearances by Helena Bonham Carter, Mandy Rice-Davies, Richard E Grant, Germaine Greer and Suzi Quatro, all obligingly appearing in one of Edina's self-gratifying dreams. The message was clear - we've got clout. It's an odd spectacle - a comedy that made its name by mocking the sheep-like followers of fashion and which is now itself so fashionable that it can assemble its own celebrity flock.

Fashion Update: Fashion page

JOANNA LUMLEY has only just replaced her image of the high-kicking, Seventies siren Purdey with the heavy-drinking high-hairdo'ed Patsy when it seems the Purdey pudding-basin haircut is on the verge of a comeback.

Media: Let them lust after Lumley: With her eye - and ear - for a laugh, Jennifer Saunders needn't be concerned about her co-star stealing the limelight, says Jaci Stephen

At a recent event held in honour of George Cole's 100th Minder, a group of male journalists sat around a table picking at chicken breasts and demanding the waiter stop serving the wine and simply leave the bottles on the table. The scene was, as is usual at such events, a noisy and frantic one. The talk was of Absolutely Fabulous and the launch for the second series, which had taken place a few days before.

Oh darlings, fabulous news for 8 million viewers

YOU WOULD have thought it was the world premiere of some great lost work by Orson Welles. Instead, more than 100 journalists had packed into a room at the Lansdowne Club in London yesterday to glimpse the eagerly awaited second series of Absolutely Fabulous, writes Rhys Williams.

Media / Talk of the Trade: Absolute winner

JENNIFER Saunders won another award yesterday to add to those she has already scooped for French and Saunders and Absolutely Fabulous. In the Carlton TV Women in Film and Television Awards for 1993 she was cited for 'the creation of work that has contributed to the advancement of women'.

Review: You have to be mad to work here, it's essential

TOM PETERS wants to rewrite that old office gag, 'You don't have to be crazy to work here but it helps'. In a world where a computer that's been on the market for four months is an 'old' product, he suggests that you stand more chance of success if the poster reads, 'You do have to be crazy to work here - it's essential'. Unfortunately he suggests this to a large gathering of suits whose idea of going crazy would be to use a Snoopy biro to fill in their triplicate inventory control reports. As he strides backwards and forwards preaching the virtues of the paperless office and perpetual revolution, his audience sat there scribbling like freshmen at their first lecture - 'we are hpllsly dull in undull wrld'.

RADIO / The fizz that gives you whizz

OK, SO 'OK' is the best-known phrase on earth, but what is the second-best? Here's a clue. In Chinese, it translates as 'bite the wax tadpole'. That isn't much of a choice, so here's another. In Mexico, they call it the black waters of Yankee imperialism. No? Well it is Coca-Cola. The story of its rise to world domination was the subject of the first in a series of American Icons, part of the current State of the States season on the World Service. As an icon, a mysterious image of supernatural power, it's the surreal thing.

The British Comedy Awards 1993

And the nominations are:

ETCETERA / Other People's Jobs: No 1 THE HAIRDRESSER

THERE is the photograph with the peacock feather arranged diagonally across it, cutting the mouth into two uneven parts. One side is grinning, the other is down-turned. 'That's there to give the impression the feather is tickling the mouth out of shape,' explains the owner and chief artist-in-hair of 'Hair By Christmas' - Elton Sydney Paschal Clough. ('My real name. I live with my mother, etcetera.').
Sport
Lionel Messi pictured after reaching the final
world cup 2014
Sport
Lionel Messi and Thomas Muller have shone brightest for Argentina and Germany respectively on their way to the World Cup final
Arts and Entertainment
TV The follow-up documentary that has got locals worried
Arts and Entertainment
Eminem's daughter Hailie has graduated from high school
music
News
Ian Thorpe had Rio 2016 in his sights
people
Arts and Entertainment
Original Netflix series such as Orange Is The New Black are to benefit from a 'substantial' increase in investment
TVHoax announcement had caused outrage
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur
fashion

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

News
One Direction star Harry Styles who says he has no plans to follow his pal Cara Delevingne down the catwalk.
peopleManagement confirms rumours singer is going it alone are false
Career Services

Day In a Page

Independent Travel Shop See all offers »
India and Nepal
14 nights from £2,159pp Find out more
Dutch Masters
five nights from £679pp Find out more
La Robla and Rioja
nine nights from £1599pp Find out more
Classical Spain
six nights from £539pp Find out more
California and the Golden West
14 nights from £1,599pp Find out more
Bruges
three nights from £259pp Find out more
Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over northern Iraq

A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

The evolution of Andy Serkis

First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

Blackest is the new black

Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor
Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy: Was the otter man the wildlife champion he appeared to be?

Otter man Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy

The aristocrat's eccentric devotion to his pets inspired a generation. But our greatest living nature writer believes his legacy has been quite toxic
Joanna Rowsell: The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia

Joanna Rowsell: 'I wear my wig to look normal'

The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef gives raw ingredients a lift with his quick marinades

Bill Granger's quick and delicious marinades

Our chef's marinades are great for weekend barbecuing, but are also a delicious way of injecting flavour into, and breaking the monotony of, weekday meals
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014 preview: Why Brazilians don't love their neighbours Argentina any more

Anyone but Argentina – why Brazilians don’t love their neighbours any more

The hosts will be supporting Germany in today's World Cup final, reports Alex Bellos
The Open 2014: Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?

The Open 2014

Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?