Arts and Entertainment Damien Hirst,

Damien Hirst has today unveiled a new spot painting based on Disney character Mickey Mouse.

Off the wall, under the hammer

Coming soon to Christie's: Europe's biggest ever film poster auction. If you want vintage, it's here. If you want to flog Abba - The Movie, stay home. By Sheila Johnston

REVIEW : Inside the school where education has attitude

I've been slightly wary of Channel 4's Black Christmas so far, taking the view that this was a classic case of "The Wordplay that Ate the Schedules". The suspicion, in other words, was that some of the elements would be there because they filled out the theme, rather than because they were the best the channel could offer. The caution seemed justified by The Ballad of Nicky Mouse, a grim radio monologue broadcast at midnight on Tuesday. What you saw was a white disc in the centre of a black scre en, entirely mystifying unless you caught the moment at which the shutter had been pulled back, revealing that this was the peephole in a prison door. For the next 29 minutes no image sullied its minimal charms. What you heard was a meandering fantasy, i nvolving Ronnie Kray, Mickey Mouse and several episodes of gay sex with other inmates. Other details, mercifully, are already fading from the mind. Did the season generate this programme or finally provide a sufficient excuse to broadcast it?

Mickey Mouse towers over France

Despite its money troubles, Euro Disneyland has established itself as by far the No 1 tourist attraction in France, AP reports from Paris. It outdraws such landmarks as the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre by better than 2-1.

Profile: A royal white knight for Mickey Mouse: Prince Al-Waleed: Larry Black in New York on the rich Saudi prince who has bailed out Euro Disney and is keen to be a corporate raider

THE IMAGE of a prince riding to the rescue of the Magic Kingdom has proved irresistible to headline writers all over the world. Prince Al-Waleed Bin Talal Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, who said last week he would bestow hundreds of millions of dollars on besieged Euro Disney, fits the West's ideal of desert royalty to a T.

Chess: Icelandic players are hot stuff

ICELAND has more grandmasters per capita than any other country, writes William Hartston. Some blame the long winter nights, but another explanation is that until recently Icelandic television broadcast only six days a week. Indeed, when daily television began a few years ago, a Reykjavik chess club spokesman protested strongly. Attendances on their club night, previously the TV-free evening, dropped suddenly. 'Mickey Mouse is destroying our chess,' he said.

Mickey magic

Three records for Walt Disney memorabilia were broken at Christie's. A handmade 1930s Mickey Mouse organ-grinder toy fetched pounds 18,150; the earliest known autographed Walt Disney letter sold for pounds 8,250; and a film poster of Disney's first Hollywood film, Alice's Day at Sea, in 1923, sold for pounds 22,100.

No to the claret, yes to the fax: The Oxford dons depicted in the film 'Shadowlands' no longer exist, reports Blake Morrison

'ACADEMICS are such prima donnas,' says the man in the pub. 'You'd think they were in the salt mines to hear them talk. What most of them here in Oxford do with their time, I really don't know.'

Racing Commentary: Toll rings alarm for all-weather: A spate of deaths after falls among runners on the artificial surfaces has focused concern about jumping safety

IT IS perhaps the most crass adage in racing, the one trotted out after a well-known horse is either injured or killed. 'Typical,' a connection mutters, 'it only happens to the good ones.'

Fishing Lines: A Mickey Mouse idea floated by the Yanks

Congratulations to the technological American genius who has come up with the perfect Christmas present for those who take their fishing very seriously indeed.

City: Mickey-taking

Dear Mickey Mouse,

View from City Road: Mickey Mouse becomes vulnerable

What could you get on mixing the following? One of Wall Street's most desirable stocks, a troubled subsidiary, a management that is failing to grasp the nettle and a dash of acquisition fever in the markets.

COLLECTABLES / Coming soon to a sale near you: As the millennium approaches, a century of lost cinema art is finding a new audience. John Windsor reports

RARE Hollywood film posters have become the world's hottest collectables. Private deal prices in America have reached dollars 100,000 (pounds 68,000), having risen threefold in three years despite the recession. Speculators predict that unique historic posters will fetch dollars 250,000 - the price of a Constable or a Gainsborough - when released on to the open market.

Rodent-power backs the President's Mr-Mice-Guy move

President Bill Clinton, seeking to sweeten his uneasy relationship with the White House press corps, sports a mickey Mouse tie, a gift from a reporter.

Hurd defends UK diplomats

DOUGLAS HURD had come to praise the Foreign Office, not to beg. The Foreign Secretary spoke at Chatham House yesterday to take on the 'silly, shallow, opinionated' views of those who accuse the diplomatic service of not earning its keep.
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