Arts and Entertainment

A definitive compendium on the revered institution that is the National Theatre

BOOK REVIEW / Dexter, not sinister: 'The Honourable Beast: A Posthumous Autobiography' - John Dexter: Nick Hern Books, 25 pounds

THE LAST TIME I saw John Dexter was at Colin Blakely's memorial service in Covent Garden. Eyes blazing and jaw tightly set, he homed in on me in the doorway of the church.

How We Met: Harriet Walter and Patsy Rodenburg

Patsy Rodenburg trained at the Central School of Speech and Drama, spent nine years at the RSC, and has been Head of Voice at the National Theatre and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama since October 1990. She has written two books on voice and speech. Harriet Walter trained at LAMDA, is a member of the RSC, and won a the 1988 Laurence Olivier Award in 1988. She has recently accepted a position as an artistic director at the Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester, and is currently appearing as Lady Croom in Tom Stoppard's 'Arcadia' at the National Theatre.

Snooker: Taylor cut out to be the marathon man: Griffiths ground down in Crucible

ON the basis that if you do something long enough you will eventually become good at it, the Dennis Taylor versus Terry Griffiths match in the Embassy World Championship took on a grisly fascination. No one had anticipated a quick contest when they were paired together in the second round; few had expected it would drag on to nearly 2am yesterday.

Cashing in on the Golden Age of Filth

'YOU KNOW about her, don't you?'

Celebrity chest burster to kill for

IN THESE times of moral panic and negative equity, I like to roam the streets in search of a grotesque chest burster. At noon on Thursday I tracked one down in Chelsea, at Bonhams the auctioneers. The burster, lot 174, was the thing that sprang from John Hurt's stomach in Alien and went on to wreak madness through two sequels. It was being offered without arms, at an estimate of pounds 150- pounds 250. Naturally, I was interested.

Jim White on Friday: A man with 300 magnificent obsessions: When lucky MGs get very old, they do not go to heaven; they go to Peter Ratcliffe's workshop, an altogether better place

DR PETER RATCLIFFE picked up an ancient wooden car dash- board, pock-marked with worm holes, and surveyed it lovingly. 'This is history in your hands,' he said. 'Just think, it was fashioned by somebody listening on the radio to news about Hitler invading Czechoslovakia.

QUIZ / There are more questions than answers: Nick Lezard watches members of the RSC take on the National in their annual contest of theatrical knowledge

On the set of Carousel at the National's Lyttelton Theatre, two teams of actors are preparing to fight over a crutch. Not just any old crutch, mind. This is Antony Sher's black crutch from his production of Richard III - a big draw in contemporary theatrical iconography, the ultimate prop-up prop.

BOOK REVIEWS / Paperbacks, Non-fiction

Dead Elvis: A Chronicle of a Cultural Obsession by Greil Marcus, Penguin pounds 9.99. Since Elvis's death at the age of 42, Presleymania has taken on all the trappings of a religion. Following the King- cult through the American psyche, Marcus's book is a gallery of bizarre posthumous phenomena, images, sightings - and, above all, merchandising.

Lord Olivier of Paddington: By day it's a west London coffee shop; by night it's tablecloths off for Iranian fringe theatre, courtesy of Iraj Emami, cafe owner, producer, actor extraordinaire

IT IS NOT what you expect of a coffee shop in Paddington, west London. By day, the La Strada looks much like any other cafe; a couple of students spending an hour over a shared espresso, a man in a pinstripe suit loudly conducting business over a portable phone. But for the last three weeks, if you had dropped in during the evening, you would have thought you had been teleported to downtown Tehran.

BOOK REVIEW / What Larry was like as a dad: My father Laurence Olivier - Tarquin Olivier: Headline, pounds 16.99

THIS is a curiosity: a Life by a son who barely saw his father but who adored him from afar and treasured every scrap of conversation, every fragment of correspondence. The prevailing note is almost unbearable pathos.

Obituary: Reginald Beck

Reginald Beck, film editor, born St Petersburg Russia 1902, died 12 July 1992.

Garrick chaps stand by to repel women: Zoe Heller infiltrates a bastion of male exclusiveness in its most divided hour

'FEELINGS are running very high about this. I heard a chap in the corridor the other day, shouting at the top of his voice about it. 'It's an outrage,' he was saying. 'The club will be ruined. It has to be stopped.' I . . .'
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Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam