Arts and Entertainment Showbiz royalty: Helen Mirren is ready to bring her Elizabeth II from cinema to stage

Actress Dame Helen Mirren has still not forgotten Michael Parkinson's line of questioning when he interviewed her on his chat show almost 40 years ago.

Dance Reviews: Wherefore art thou, Juliet? At Hammersmith, Romeo

Romeo and Juliet, Royal Ballet

Queen Mother's 97th birthday is a family affair

The Queen Mother celebrated her 97th birthday yesterday by going on an impromptu walkabout among a crowd of more than 1,000 well-wishers, some of whom had camped overnight at Clarence House.

Racing: Strong Papin party

Six British-trained juveniles are among the 11 acceptors for the Prix Robert Papin at Maisons-Laffitte on Saturday. The Group Two event, the most important race for two-year-olds run in France so far this season, has attracted Clive Brittain's Greenlander, Mark Johnston's Atlantic Viking, Brian Meehan's Dernier Croise, Paul Cole's Bodyguard, Godolphin's Asfurah and Simon Dow's Aurigny.

Not the best time to have a birthday

You don't get to choose your birthday, otherwise I guess the Royal Ballet School would have opted for another time - any other time - to celebrate its 50th. What with its parent company in the artistic doldrums, moving house, planning next week's closing-down party and dashing round and round Hammersmith flyover trailing balloons in an ill-conceived publicity stunt, it was a rum week to be having a gala.

Covent Garden plans people's opera

Under pressure from the Government to become "the people's opera house" Covent Garden executives are working on plans for Sunday opera and ballet performances.

Peter Pan and the princess

Sir James "JM" Barrie, author of Peter Pan, was revealed yesterday to have undertaken an unusual royal collaboration.

I'm not at liberty to divulge a word, of course, but...

The Agreeable World of Wallace Arnold

A man you can count on

The perfect man exists - and he's for hire. James Sherwood on a new professional 'walking' service

Thatcher toasts Dame Vera's 80th birthday

The belle of the Allied Forces in the Second World War, Dame Vera Lynn, celebrated her 80th birthday last night.

The princess and the pique

Susan Jeffreys wonders why an acid-tongued royal does her duty with so little grace

IN BRIEF: Books

Princess Margaret, A Biography by Theo Aronson (Michael O'Mara Books, pounds 16.99). It's such a strange tone, the one you get in these pulpy unauthorised biographies: the tongue dripping with honey on the outside, forked like a viper's within. "Although this book is in no way authorised or sanctioned," Aronson begins, "my chief thanks are to its subject, Princess Margaret." He has, apparently, been granted an audience with her while working on earlier projects, and is enduringly "grateful to HRH". Ugh. But we can be sure she'll be having him round for tea directly once she has read his findings on how she chatted up Mick Jagger -"wearing a low- cut gown that revealed ample cleavage". It's all considerably closer to Sylvie Krin of Private Eye fame than to Ben Pimlott's recent scholarly book on the Queen.

Obituary: Princess Margaret of Hesse and the Rhine

Few Englishwomen have adapted so well to German life or played such a prominent part in it as Princess Margaret of Hesse and the Rhine.

Keeping the royal hangers-on afloat

If Margaret and co can't make do on their own, the Queen should pay for them herself

Elizabeth's naughty little sister

The Establishment closed ranks in an attempt to stop the making of a television documentary about the life of Princess Margaret, which will be shown on Tuesday, according to the programme makers, writes Michael Streeter.

Salmonella closes ward

A hospital's special care baby unit has been closed to further admissions after the isolation of salmonella bacteria from two babies.
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Ben Little, right, is a Labour supporter while Jonathan Rogers supports the Green Party
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Former helicopter pilot Major Tim Peake will become the first UK astronaut in space for over 20 years
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NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
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Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
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You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
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Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
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Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

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Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
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