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.

TELEVISION / Personal services: Of course, things have never been the same since That Was the Week that Was . . . Oh yeah? Jim White says satire is alive and spitting

The comedian Victor Lewis Smith once reduced the production staff at That's Life to a pool of gibbering liquid with a particularly savage telephone gag. Posing as a disabled trombonist, Lewis Smith rang to ask if he might be auditioned for the show. A member of Esther Rantzen's team showed growing excitement as Lewis Smith played the trombone passably. But the mood altered dramatically as he pretended to collapse out of his wheel-chair in a death swoon.

Television (Review): When loose ends slip through sweaty palms

WE'RE MAKING a film which is very much a travel film,' explained John Sweeney to the man who runs Osijek, a character recently described by another journalist as 'a serial killer in fatigues'. This was not exactly candid, although you couldn't really blame him for it. The man behind the desk was responsible for setting up the International Brigade, a nasty assemblage of foreign adventurers and mercenaries who fought on the Croatian side, and Sweeney was investigating what he believed were two murders - the death of a Swiss journalist, Christian Wertenberg, and of the photographer Paul Jenks.

BEST-SELLERS / Top 10 comedian golfers

----------------------------------------------------------------- TOP 10 COMEDIAN GOLFERS ----------------------------------------------------------------- 1 Jimmy Tarbuck 2 Bruce Forsyth 3 Peter Cook 4 Mike Reid 5 Bobby Davro 6 Roger de Courcey 7 Stan Boardman 8 Tom O'Connor 9 Jim Davidson 10 Paul Shane ----------------------------------------------------------------- Information from the Comedians Golfing Society, London -----------------------------------------------------------------

Revenge clue as sex club fire toll reaches 8

AN ARSON attack on a London sex cinema club was being blamed yesterday on a man banned after a fight there earlier in the evening.

Witnesses say building blew up within minutes: Cinema death blaze: Murder of eight at 'dingy' club prompts demands for review of fire rules and inspections

A REMOVAL MAN yesterday described how he backed his van up against the blazing Dream City

Here Today: National Film Theatre: Desert Island Movies

Remember the scene in Bedazzled, where Peter Cook and Dudley Moore, dressed as the Fruni Green Eyewash men, swindle pounds 10 from the kind old lady? Nope, you probably don't. Despite its relative success, Bedazzled is hardly ever shown on television. Neither is Robert Altman's California Split, Martin Scorsese's Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore or Francis Ford Coppola's You're a Big Boy Now. Difficult to find on video, they are all films I need to see now or I think I may explode.

Sport on TV: Blokes and banality on fantasy island

I'D GOT back from the pub just before the advertised 11.15pm kick-off of Football Fantasy League (BBC2, Friday), only to see a haggard old woman unwrapping a pack of - non-inflatable - bananas. The advance publicity for sport's newest game-show had largely passed me by, so for a short while I was guessing that this might be a visual clue to a question about terrace racism in the 1980s. But then it became apparent that Newsnight was running late with a Moscow food- shortage report.

RADIO / An act of surrender: Robert Hanks on the BBC 2/ Radio 4 collaboration, Arena's Radio Night, and how History Now and Then was made

It's impossible to spend much time thinking about radio without finding yourself brooding on its relationship with television, which has stolen so much of its popular audience, so much of the available money, so much - you may think in gloomier moments, such as listening to Radio 4 sitcoms - of the available talent. There's no doubt that television is now the dominant medium, measured in terms of audience size and influence.

REVIEW / Close your eyes and think of the BBC

IT WAS the television set versus the wireless on Arena Radio Night (BBC 2, Saturday) - four hours of shared programmes and never-before-attempted hook-ups which required you to have both appliances running in the same room. 'It's a bit like letting the canary out of the cage while the cat's in the room,' warned David Attenborough at the start, trying to whet our appetite for a scrap.

Interview: The top ten pleasures of Peter Cook: What does the arch wit get up to these days? Chitchat (especially over lunch) is a favourite occupation, and pedantry. Sex is not included, and certainly nothing too stretching . . .

Midday, and Peter Cook is up and about. Glass of champagne in hand, industrial-size ashtray full of smouldering butts in front of him, all the morning papers spread out, television on, faxes the length of wallpaper on the floor, a box of unopened correspondence in the hall. 'No point in opening them. Strangers seldom write with welcome news.'

William Donaldson's Week: A novel of the right class

MY FRIEND Craig Brown has come up with an interesting variation on Judd's Paradox, which, you may remember, is that if it's rational to work only with your intellectual superiors then you can't work with them since they, obviously, will refuse to work with you.

William Donaldson's Week: Justin Judd's clever question

IT'S SNUBS, as it happens, to all those people (in fact, only my wife and Terence Blackler) who have complained that I've been banging on too much in recent weeks about the frightful Cornish

Show People 80: Small but perfectly formed: Dudley Moore

DUDLEY MOORE recalls going to the bat mitzvah of his agent's daughter with Malcolm McDowell. As soon as a woman started playing a religious tune on the guitar, the two actors got the giggles - uncontrollably. The more people tut-tutted and the more they tried to suppress the laughter, the more freely it flowed. 'It was the most awful experience,' Moore remembers, 'yet it was quite delicious. The worst times I've ever had have been like that, where you're trying to avoid being glanced at by authoritarian figures.'

Keating cabinet gets youthful look: PM starts drive to regenerate labor government

AUSTRALIA'S Prime Minister, Paul Keating, yesterday announced a cabinet of new young ministers in his drive to regenerate the Labor government. He then led his team of 30 ministers to a swearing-in ceremony before the Governor-General, in which each pledged allegiance to the Queen. If Mr Keating has his way and Australia becomes a republic through a referendum by the end of the decade, it will have been one of the country's last such ceremonies.
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Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'