Maggie Smith

Shirley MacLaine gives Downton 'extra frisson'

Austerity, Irish republicanism and a formidable arrival from America in the form of Oscar-winner Shirley MacLaine will provide the latest challenge to the Crawley family when Downton Abbey returns in August.

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie/ The Girls of Slender Means, Assembly

Muriel Spark wrote of her most enduring creation, Miss Jean Brodie, that she was "an Edinburgh festival all on her own": vibrant, bursting with culture and a touch overwhelming, you might infer. This year, it is Spark herself who is a festival all on her own with two large-scale theatre adaptations of her novels and a book festival event dedicated to a new doorstop biography of the Edinburgh author by Martin Stannard.