News Fortune was at his best in the Long Johns' sketches that poked fun at authority

John Fortune was the comedian and satirist best known for his work on the long-running television comedy series Bremner, Bird and Fortune, together with fellow comics Rory Bremner and John Bird, that ran for 16 series from 1999 to 2010.

BFI Flipside celebrates forgotten British film

Fancy watching a film about groovy London beatniks eating a tin of cat food? Or one that has Peter Cook playing a policeman who travels around an absurd post-apocalyptic landscape by hot air balloon?

The royal rogue that Spacey was 'born to play'

He is Shakespeare's gloriously Machiavellian monarch-in-waiting, who machinates and murders his way to the throne during the 15th-century Wars of the Roses.

Terence Blacker: Grumpily is no way to grow old

No one engaged in creative work feels as appreciated as he should be, but who really cares? It is the work that matters

I haven't seen a West End show in 10 years, says Jonathan Miller

Even the most cursory glance across the breadth of West End plays staged in the past decade would reveal a clutch of golden moments in the history of contemporary British theatre.

The Week In Radio: It's hard work when you're in the thick of it

When a public figure dies, the whole of his life flashes before other people's eyes. So hours after the Prime Minister's post-dated political demise, a kneejerk appreciation called Gordon Brown: a Political Life was rushed on to Radio 4. Yet although Shaun Ley's programme contained a perfectly comprehensive checklist of all the delights of Brown's years in office – Bigotgate, psychological flaws, Forces of Hell, moral compass, smile – it had a perfunctory air that suggested now was not the best time to take the measure of the man. And that is the problem with living in interesting times. Achieving perspective from the middle of a political avalanche is a challenge and the Today programme has coped better than most. Unlike the TV studios, where captive politicians can sit for hours repeating formulas on a loop, Today's presenters have been far sharper than their televisual equivalents. When Paddy Ashdown came on with a lofty peroration about how he could not possibly reveal his own position, Nick Robinson was as cutting as a kitchen knife. "We can hear what you're saying, Paddy, and so can the rest of the country."

Nicholas Lezard: The country is turning into a Gestapo khazi

The seven years of life lost on average by smoking are not the best ones

Observations: Poetry scores with Scrabble

Who knew Scrabble could be so exciting? It is normally the kind of game you might play with your gran, but poetic theatre collective Pen-ultimate are putting on their first full-length play, A Night on the Tiles, at the Contact Theatre in Manchester and giving the board game a whole new underworld spin. The plot revolves around Harry "The Hackney Hacker" Jones, a 78-year-old ex-SAS gangster who returns from retirement. He decides to gather the biggest Scrabble players from around the world together for one last, big, high-stakes game.

The Week In Radio: In praise of older women

The nation's favourite poem, if BBC viewers are to be believed, is Jenny Joseph's charming vision of the feisty, older lady: "When I am an old woman I shall wear purple/ With a red hat which doesn't go and doesn't suit me." And, indeed, this hymn to the mature woman is very much of the zeitgeist. Females over 50 are supposedly hot right now, and as a result the BBC claims to be seeking women newsreaders past the first flush of youth. Obviously, they won't be allowed on TV wearing red hats or being embarrassing, and presumably they will be more Joanna Lumley than Thora Hird, but it's a start.

The unseen Terry O'Neill: Unpublished portraits of the world's greatest stars

Terry O'Neill, sitting on a chair in a London gallery, leans forward on his haunches to peer at one of his own photographs, now four decades old, on a laptop computer. It's a picture of Mick Jagger in his prime, back when he still had flesh on those bones, as well as a preternatural pout he seems to have since handed on to Scarlett Johansson.

Conference Diary: Do as I say...

"If I'm appointed Justice Secretary in the next Conservative administration I will end Jack Straw's serial selective and cynical trailing of government policy in the media," the shadow Justice Secretary Dominic Grieve pledged yesterday... in a speech selectively trailed by his personal spin doctor the night before it was delivered.

Clive James: 'I don't think art is the most important thing people do'

The formidably intelligent and witty writer performs a one-man show at Edinburgh but his work reveals very little of his real self

Terence Blacker: Beyond the fringe – and wholly safe

Proving that life can sometimes come up with punchlines with which no satirists could compete, Dudley Moore and Peter Cook have both been in the news this week. Moore, who died in 2002, is being remembered by his rather odd-sounding last wife, Nicole Rothschild, who is reported to be writing a memoir in which Cuddly Dudley is presented as drug-addled sex addict.

Not only a comic genius ...

... but also the founder of a Soho venue where subversive humour flourished in the 1960s. And yesterday a plaque was finally unveiled in honour of Peter Cook and the Establishment Club. Andy McSmith reports
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