A prime time for design

With a little help from some big names in showbusiness, architecture has become a TV ratings draw. Can Dame Thora Hird and Ralph Fiennes bring the art of design to a popular audience?

British Gas set for clash with producers

NORTH SEA gas producers are expecting a fresh onslaught from British Gas over controversial "take-or-pay" contracts in the wake of its planned break-up, announced last week.

British Gas fracture leaves City uncertain

Flickering response: Investors give demerger a muted welcome as impact of costly take-or-pay North Sea contracts comes into question

At last, recognition of reality and the inevitable

Perhaps the most telling remark from Richard Giordano yesterday as he announced plans to demerge British Gas's retail arm from its pipeline and exploration business was that he believed the company has too many shareholders. It was "inappropriate" for British Gas to maintain a share register of 1.8 million investors, Mr Giordano opined. We all know what he means but coming from a company originally privatised as a way of expanding direct share ownership in Britain, it seems a bit rich. British Gas invented Sid; now it wants to kill him off.

British Gas pays the price for its grand folly

Common sense has prevailed, and the Government has told British Gas where to put its levy. The biggest surprise is that it took ministers as long as it did to come down against the idea of making gas consumers bail out a company which largely has itself to blame for highly priced take-or-pay North Sea supply contracts. There was never, in truth, much of a case for assistance even though it plainly might be damaging for the consumer if British Gas descended into serious financial difficulty.

Death from heart disease 'a lottery'

Coronary heart disease "black spots" exist around Britain with a North- South divide affecting the quality of care you receive, according to research by the Labour Party.

Time is finally called on Walker's world folly

This time last year, Ernie Els was frolicking in the surf at Montego Bay, his girlfriend in one hand, a bottle of beer in the other and a cheque for $550,000 (pounds 367,000) burning a hole in his back pocket. When the Johnnie Walker World Championship hits Jamaica, Christmas comes early for the seasoned golfer.

Something nasty in the bookshop

UNDERRATED: The case for Kyril Bonfiglioli

Letter: Better in the wild than decorating a rockery

Sir: Your article concerning the damage to Winskill Stones (13 September) is an urgent reminder of the threats facing limestone pavements in general.

Robert Maycock on classical music

It isn't so long ago that the only classical or traditional music of Asia that you could hear at all easily in Britain came from the Indian sub-continent. That has all changed in a cascade of Chinese operas and Japanese drummers and even musicians from Vietnam. But Laos? If you have spent the last few days in Hastings or Morecambe Bay you may be one up on the rest of us, because the tour that has called in on these resorts and reaches the Purcell Room tonight (8.00pm) is claiming to present the first group of Laotian musicians to perform in the UK.

British Gas lobbies for penalty on late payers

BRITISH GAS wants to be allowed to impose penalty prices on late-paying customers.

Virus plan to track pollution rejected

(First Edition)

REVIEW / The art of seduction, the skill of the tackle

SEXIEST scene of the week was delivered by Love on a Branch Line (BBC 1), in which Belinda, wayward daughter of Lord Flamborough, sized up Jasper Pye - meek, mousey, but eligibly male - like a greedy girl contemplating an ice- cream cone. 'All clear then,' she said, when she had established that he wasn't married or otherwise engaged. 'Whizzo]' Jasper looked nervous, but it wasn't long before he was bumping his hat brim against Belinda's seductive forehead, a delicious collision of hatter's felt, soft skin and, then, lips.

Sea defence plan threatens island bird haven: Oliver Gillie reports on environmental opposition to dumping of waste on land vulnerable to erosion

A RIVER of sand and shingle flows along the edge of Walney Island, near Barrow in Furness, Cumbria, bringing its heavy load from St Bees Head, 50 miles up the Cumbrian coast, to deposit it on the sandbanks of Morecambe Bay. Only the slender island prevents the shingle river from dumping its load in the entrance to Barrow harbour, where it would block access to the Trident nuclear submarine factory.
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