FILM: THE TOP 60 CHRISTMAS FILMS

Critical Guide

Sixties icon puts her past on sale

The short, flower-encrusted wedding dress worn by Britt Ekland for her 1964 wedding to comic Peter Sellers was put up for sale by the Swedish actress last night as part of a bid to "simplify her life". Acclaimed as one of the world's most beautiful women, she also sold photographs documenting her work as a model, marriage to Sellers and motherhood.

Peter York on ads No 155 Tilda: Currying favour with Madhur Jaffrey

In a time not so long gone by you hardly saw a brown face in a TV ad. Black, yes - meaning sports stars, pop stars and Lenny Henry - but there wasn't much call for brown. That's changing now, for two reasons. One is the repertoire of brown British suburban jokes from The Buddha of Suburbia, the other is the growing market for ethnic-style convenience foods, particularly cook-in sauces.

THE EYE WIDE ANGLE

John Travolta is to play Bill Clinton in the forthcoming Primary Colors, a screen adaptation of the White House satirical novel which should perhaps have been dubbed Waiting to Inhale. If the movie goes ahead, Travolta will be the latest in a long line of acting presidents who range from the classic all-American hero to low-down dirty scoundrels.

`The holder of this card is schooled to the highest level in the use of sarcasm, badinage and ironic exaggeration'

Everybody remembers the teacher at school who loved practical jokes, the big man (it was always a man) who thought it was really hilarious to send the thickest kid in the class to the shops for a tin of elbow grease. Nobody remembers them with affection - the one from my primary school swam unbidden into my memory when I was reading recently about a famous film star and noticed that he was described - as if this were a good thing - as "a great practical joker".

To be a blithering idiot today is not a burden ... on the contrary, it's a fashion statement

W hat is the Nineties Zeitgeist? Stupid is the Nineties Zeitgeist. It is, it is. You're just too - huh huh huh - cretinous to notice. Take Jim Carrey (please). He's the man and mood of the moment, a walking, talking, living caricature (see Ace Ventura, Pet Detective and The Mask), and he's all idiot, no savant. Carrey's lips move when other people are reading, he's what happens when cousins marry, and his latest movie - it's a hit - squeaks volumes about a culture going to pap: Dumb and Dumber is what it's called. A self-fulfilling prophecy.

Bomb base

As part of a new Channel 4 documentary series, film-maker Leslie Whitehead found out how the citizens of Los Alamos, birthplace of the nuclear age, learned to stop worrying and love the bomb. Jim White reports

Music Phil Johnson 20TH-CENTURY SAXOPHONES / SHEPPARD & HARLE The Barbican, London

When a doom-laden, neo-medievalist piece about the burdens of sin called Terror and Magnificence suddenly slips into the sand-between- the-toes shuffle of a samba for its penultimate movement, it's certain that something is breaking down, though whether it's musical barriers or simple good sense taking a tumble isn't immediately clear.

Croissants and decaff with reptile man; CANNES FESTIVAL

'I'm handsome, good-looking and I wanna career, I wanna haircut, I wanna go to Palm Springs. I want ejaculations just like anyone else.' Sheila Johnston takes breakfast with Tony Curtis before battling her way to the next round of screenings

`I'm hearing Norbert'

A dubious Dominic Cavendish joins the Doris Collins fan club

Milligan's mind

centrepiece

There's no news like old news

Today we tackle the question: where do old news stories go when they die? Or, to put it another way, why was everyone talking about female clergy one day as if nothing else in the world mattered, and the next they were forgotten? We have invited along the Fleet Street memory man, John Seedy-Rom, "the man in the Apple Mac", to answer your queries.

Hard labour at the chalkface

Television

Alas, poor Peter, lost and Goon

The jury's out on Peter Sellers. Was he a genius, or a genius who took a wrong turn? Kevin Jackson previews tonight's Arena profile and weighs up the evidence

THE RETURN OF THE PINK PANTHER

A call came through from California and his butler brought out the telephone to the garden and plugged it in the wall outside; I'd never seen an outside plug. And he picked up the phone and he'd go into the most beautiful Californian accent - we were all falling about laughing. And when he put the phone down he said, "What's up with you lot?" And we'd say, "You were talking pure American." He didn't know.
Voices
Mosul dam was retaken with the help of the US
voicesRobert Fisk: Barack Obama is following the jihadists’ script
Arts and Entertainment
Loaded weapon: drugs have surprise side effects for Scarlett Johansson in Luc Besson’s ‘Lucy’
filmReview: Lucy, Luc Besson's complex thriller
Arts and Entertainment
tvExecutive says content is not 'without any purpose'
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A cleaner prepares the red carpet for the opening night during the 59th International Cannes Film Festival May 17, 2006 in Cannes, France.
newsPowerful vacuum cleaners to be banned under EU regulations
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A polar bear’s diet is rich in seal blubber and half of its own body weight is composed of fat
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peopleCareer spanned 70 years, including work with Holocaust survivors
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Day In a Page

Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – MS Swiss Corona - seven nights from £999pp
Lake Maggiore, Orta and the Matterhorn – seven nights from £899pp
Sicily – seven nights from £939pp
Pompeii, Capri and the Bay of Naples - seven nights from £799pp
Istanbul Ephesus & Troy – six nights from £859pp
Mary Rose – two nights from £319pp
Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

Nick Clegg the movie

Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

Waxing lyrical

Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

Revealed (to the minute)

The precise time when impressionism was born
From slow-roasted to sugar-cured: how to make the most of the British tomato season

Make the most of British tomatoes

The British crop is at its tastiest and most abundant. Sudi Pigott shares her favourite recipes
10 best men's skincare products

Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
Malky Mackay allegations: Malky Mackay, Iain Moody and another grim day for English football

Mackay, Moody and another grim day for English football

The latest shocking claims do nothing to dispel the image that some in the game on these shores exist in a time warp, laments Sam Wallace
La Liga analysis: Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Pete Jenson starts his preview of the Spanish season, which begins on Saturday, by explaining how Fifa’s transfer ban will affect the Catalans
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape