Arts and Entertainment

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

Arts Campaign: My greatest night out - Simon Callow Actor

I was lucky enough to be part of the ILEA schools parties thing, and they took us to the Old Vic and the National Theatre in the days when they were doing the Royal Hunt of the Sun. It was one of the most extraordinary performances I have seen. It's a play about the invasion of Peru and the subjugation of the Incas by the Spanish, and it was a most thrilling, physical thing; they had a great big gold sun, and Robert Stephens, then young and lithe, was playing the sun god king. I had never seen anything like it. I was overwhelmed and astonished, and started going to everything I possibly could at the National. I eventually wrote Laurence Olivier a letter, and he wrote back saying, 'If you like it so much, come and work here.' So when I was 18, I went to work in the box office.

Film: A people that time forgot

For those who think that Russian cinema is limited to Eisenstein and Tarkovsky, this film might be a revelation.

Books: The riddle of the sonnets: just an inky slip

THE GENIUS OF SHAKESPEARE by Jonathan Bate Picador pounds 20

Theatre: Bawdeville

Henry V, Barbican Hall, London; tonight to Nov 22

Dig the pumps Herc!

Disney's 'Hercules' strains every sinew to make Greek mythology accessible to a Nineties audience. Which means more product placements than you can shake a divine rod at.

Theatre: Play it any way you like it except safe

Thelma Holt, producer, chair of the Arts Coucil Drama Panel and recipient of a Laurence Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Theatre, recalls some of her theatrical highlights

Edinburgh Festival 97: Marathon man

Eleven down, four to go: Peter Hurford is nearing the end of his 15-concert run through the organ works of JS Bach. Laurence Hughes went along to hear him

Obituary: Gerald McLarnon

Gerard McLarnon was a playwright who never sought popularity. Nor did he ever find it. But he knew how to make us sit up in the playhouse, which is half the battle. If he never bothered to fight the other half, it must be because his dialogue and his characters came to him in such a vivid if baffling rush that there was no time to sit down and shape them for Shaftesbury Avenue or Broadway, Hollywood or television.

Letter: Othello: educated gentleman of any colour

Sir: Film and television particularly have made us used to seeing the "real thing", but this insistent realism may incur its own losses. Some of the greatest and most memorable performances in the recent past have been big make-up jobs: for me Laurence Olivier's Othello, Charles Laughton's Quasimodo, Alec Guinness's Fagin, and (best of all, perhaps) John Hurt's Elephant Man.

Canadian who clicked with the great and glamorous

They are a revealing glimpse of the famous and glamorous of a bygone era. An exhibition of work by the Canadian photographer Roloff Beny provides an insight into the lives of some of the personalities who dominated the cultural stage from the 1950s onwards, including Laurence Olivier, Margot Fonteyn, Rudolf Nureyev and Coco Chanel.

Cricket: Hollioakes upstaged by Brown

Essex 214 Surrey 215-4 Surrey win by 6 wickets

Queue for the ideal Holm exhibition

With four films due out and an acclaimed `Lear' at the National, Ian Holm has never been busier or better.

Accolades for best musicals confound the critics

Olivier Awards: Top prize for `Tommy' despite early closure as debate grows over role of opinion-formers

WHY ARE THEY FAMOUS? NO 14: JEREMY IRONS

Main Claim: Jeremy is an ac-tor. The Laurence Olivier de nos jours.

There is a house in Lord North St

Catherine Pepinster reveals an address with a chequered history
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Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there