Arts and Entertainment

Julian Fellowes, DVD

Arts: Tom and Peter meet their match

'Oh God, what a great idea!' In 30 years, only one play has aroused Tom Stoppard's envy: Peter Shaffer's 'Black Comedy'. Now it's being paired with 'The Real Inspector Hound'. The playwrights talk it over

Choice: Opera

Il Trittico, The Coliseum, London WC2 (0171-632 8300) 7pm

Choice: Comedy: Think No Evil of Us - My Life With Kenneth Williams

Think No Evil of Us - My Life With Kenneth Williams, Vaudeville Theatre, London WC2 (0171-836 9987)

The Critics: A different voice

Bring warm clothing, the leaflet said. Looking at the musty brick outside the Wilton Theatre - which hasn't seen a live performance since the 1880s - it might have said, bring a hard hat. Inside, we sat in pews. This was halfway between the recherche and the reverential. Once Fiona Shaw (above) entered, she blasted away misgivings with 37 minutes of sheer vitality and intelligence. Dressed casually, and with only two chairs, a few bare bulbs and a follow-spot that threw up startling shadows (lighting by Jean Kalman), Shaw gave a riveting reading of TS Eliots's The Waste Land - a poem which now seems to have as many familiar lines as Hamlet. There was a sepulchral aptness in performing it late-afternoon in a music hall near the Thames. Naturally dramatic, Eliot's working title was "He Do the Police in Different Voices": directed by Deborah Warner, Shaw fleetingly conjured them up. A lock of dark hair bounced across her forehead, her Irish lilt found a rhyme between "room" and "gramophone", and a touch of Maggie Smith peeked through. In the Stygian gloom, Eliot's voices crowded round like hauntingly immediate ghosts. Terrific.

Bennett goes straight to tape

THE playwright Alan Bennett, the cherished family favourite who brought the plaintive voice of Eeyore to your car stereo, may one day also be remembered as the pioneer of a new art form.

Buyer snaps up whole village

A buyer has bought an whole village in a move that has angered locals. The unidentified person is believed to have paid pounds 1m for Upton Cheyney, a hamlet of 12 cottages set in a 160-acre estate near Bath.

MAYBE SHE CAN ACT, AFTER ALL

A decade of playing costume-drama ingenues against a backdrop of exquisite Tuscan landscapes turned Helena Bonham Carter into a cinematic cliche. But should we now be taking her more seriously?

The prime of prizewinner Muriel Spark

David Lister

Get a life, Harriet

The media love to put Harriet Walter into a box marked melancholy. OK, she's a workaholic and loves nothing more than to take on serious roles, but in reality she's anything but po-faced, as David Benedict discovers

Theatre Curtain Calls: Talking Heads

Last weeks for a double-bill of Alan Bennett monologues, with Margaret Tyzack and Maggie Smith, who reprises her TV role in "A Bed Among the Lentils", a tragicomic performance described by our very own Paul Taylor as "brilliant beyond belief".

THEATRE Shakespeare For My Father Theatre Royal, Haymarket

They fuck you up, your mum and dad - or, rather, some mums, some dads do some children that service. For, as Alan Bennett has commented, if you want to be an artist, and your parents don't fuck you up, then they fuck you up good and proper. So, while Lynn Redgrave's one-woman show, Shakespeare For My Father , puts on public display the psychic wounds caused by being the least favoured child of the great actor, Sir Michael Redgrave, it is also - quite rightly - a celebration of him and an acknowledgement that it was a privilege to have been even that close.

Well, hell... nobody's perfect

'Who are you calling a female impersonator? I'm a gay man in a frock!' Paul Taylor meets Bette Bourne, drag queen, as he prepares to reprise his signature role, the castrato-diva star of Gloria's 'Sarrasine'

The housewife heroine

With two productions on the go and more to come, Hedda Gabler is the woman to watch. But why? Here, David Benedict assesses Heddas past while, below, the current stars talk us through the female Hamlet

Frankie goes to Pinewood

That voice, that face, that sitcom. As she takes centre stage in Dennis Potter's 'Cold Lazarus', Frances de la Tour explains why recognition has been so long in coming. And why she's not bitter.
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Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
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Nick Clegg the movie

Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

Waxing lyrical

Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

Revealed (to the minute)

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From slow-roasted to sugar-cured: how to make the most of the British tomato season

Make the most of British tomatoes

The British crop is at its tastiest and most abundant. Sudi Pigott shares her favourite recipes
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Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
Malky Mackay allegations: Malky Mackay, Iain Moody and another grim day for English football

Mackay, Moody and another grim day for English football

The latest shocking claims do nothing to dispel the image that some in the game on these shores exist in a time warp, laments Sam Wallace
La Liga analysis: Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Pete Jenson starts his preview of the Spanish season, which begins on Saturday, by explaining how Fifa’s transfer ban will affect the Catalans
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

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Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

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Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

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Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape