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.

Games people play in the Caribbean

I AM writing this in a little pink and white cabana on Bequia, a small, hilly island, just off St Vincent. Outside, a cockerel is crowing, humming-birds are hovering and troupes of bright green butterflies are wafting through the air, like errant scraps of lettuce. It is very nice to be away from Manhattan for a bit. The day before I left, I walked into my local deli and found myself in the middle of an altercation between a gang of brutish young men and the store owner. The gang-leader - a sort of Hispanic Giant Haystacks, with a stars and stripes kerchief wrapped about his enormous head - claimed to have been "disrespected''. He and the three or four of his chums were wagging their fingers threateningly and knocking over the confectionery displays, while the store owner - a small, wiry Korean man - told them, not very politely, to desist. Shortly after he accused Haystacks and his cohorts of enjoying sexual intimacy with their mothers, Haystacks lost his rag and tried to straddle the counter. Nothing daunted, the store owner produced a terrible blade, about a foot long, with a handle at each end, and began waving it around excitedly.

First Night: Royal Family's difficulties take a turn for the theatrical: The Queen and I, - The Vaudeville Theatre, London

THE Royal Family's troubles reached the West End stage last night as a production, publicly funded through the Arts Council, showed the family having to live on a council estate in a republican Britain.

BOOK REVIEW / The innocent abroad: Audrey: Her Real Story by Alexander Walker: Weidenfeld pounds 18.99

HARDLY anyone has a bad word to say about Audrey Hepburn. It's true that Humphrey Bogart was no admirer (he resented being upstaged by the handsome William Holden when he starred with her in Sabrina Fair) and that Hitchcock never forgave her for reneging on a contract to play a rape victim in one of his manipulative little dramas, but otherwise all is sweetness and light. She was not just a doe-eyed beauty who caused journalists to overdose on the word gamine, but singularly well behaved: no tantrums, no drugs, not much booze and only two and a half husbands. After the vamps and demons Alexander Walker has written about in the past (Garbo, Dietrich, Joan Crawford, Bette Davis), she must have been uphill work. You can't blame him for rattling the one exciting skeleton he does find in her cupboard, the trace of a Nazi connection.

Long runners: No 21: The Archers

Age: 43. After a trial week in the Midlands, it was first broadcast to the nation on 1 January 1951.

Letter: No need to be fanatical about fur coats

SO GERALDINE Bedell was surprised to see Princess Margaret wearing a fur coat (6 February). It is more surprising that a newspaper columnist is not aware that the princess - as well as her sister, for that matter - is often seen in fur.

The crazy sound of Gerry and the pause-makers

WHERE on earth do they find those actors who pretend to be Gerry Adams? Is there some special casting agency for men with Northern Irish accents who sound like automata? Or do they hire regular actors and give them direction in speaking meaninglessly?

Naomi climbs up from the floor as Gazza takes a tumble

EVERY year I like to tabulate the popularity of boys' and girls' names during the previous 12 months - based not upon their occurrence in the births columns, but on the frequency with which they appear in newspaper headlines, surely a truer guide to their popularity. If we went through the births announcements of the Eighties, for example, we would never encounter some of the most popular names of the decade such as Sting and Madonna, or Prince and Fergie.

Inside Story: Princess Divided: Celebrity or royalty? Internal confusion rather than external pressure has led to retreat, says Richard Tomlinson

LAST Wednesday evening, in a hospitality suite at London's Wembley Arena, an eclectic group of the famous and not-so- famous were arranged in a line. At one end, were rock stars George Michael, Mick Hucknall and David Bowie. At the other, were the Government and Opposition health spokespersons, John Bowis and Dawn Primarolo. In between were a swathe of Aids researchers and charity fundraisers, including the film producer David Puttnam.

Captain Moonlight: Princess Ira

FURTHER confirmation that the wit of Princess Margaret is as splendidly sharp as ever. The Princess recently dined with Sir Mark Weinberg and his wife, Anouska Hempel, the former actress who designs clothes for her. The conversation turned, as conversations do, to the long-running dalliance between Prince Rainier of Monaco and that other, voluptuous representative of minor European royalty, Princess Ira von Furstenberg. 'What a big girl for such a little country,' said Margaret.

BOOK REVIEW / Mary, Mary, quite contrary: Writing dangerously: Mary McCarthy and Her World by Carol Brightman: Lime Tree, pounds 20

IN HER story 'C'est le Premier Pas qui Coute', Mary McCarthy describes her fictional self as 'one of those cowards who are afraid not to be brave'. But it is that fearful knowledge of necessity which creates bravery, and her courage, as much as her intelligence, formed and sustained her remarkable life.

RADIO / An accident that waited to happen: Nick Curtis welcomes the late arrival of Michael Wall's Headcrash, after three years in limbo, and says Happy Birthday to Mick Jagger

'I'M GONNA shoot roller-skaters, you coming?' must be one of the best offhand lines of dialogue ever. It encapsulates the grimly humorous, nihilistic ambience of Michael Wall's futuristic Headcrash (Saturday, Radio 3), a weird piece that's languished in the archives since 1986, finally finding a sympathetic slot in the 'experimental' Studio 3 season two years after its author's death.

INTERVIEW / Down to his last shack in the sun: He would appear to have led a charmed life: fame, fortune, looks - and a fair slice of the Caribbean. But all is not quite as it seems

THREE things we know about Lord Glenconner, formerly the Hon Colin Tennant, close friend for many years of Princess Margaret. That's one of them. Another is that he created the millionaires' paradise of Mustique. Then there are the tragedies which befell each of his three sons - one dying of Aids, one a heroin addict and one crippled in a motorcycle accident.

Bunhill: Sales gag

GEORGE DUDLEY and Shannon Goodson, a pair of US psychologists who teach sales staff how to counter stress, have put it all into a book called Earning What You're Worth? And a pretty weird volume it is, too.

Princess ill

Princess Margaret has been admitted to hospital suffering from pneumonia. The princess, 62, was taken to the King Edward VII Hospital in central London on Sunday.
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Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – MS Swiss Corona - seven nights from £999pp
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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