Arts and Entertainment

Cutie and the Boxer (E) Zachary Heinzerling, DVD (82mins)

Mr Bean turns the handle of money-making machine

The pathetic comic character has a serious side, writes Chris Blackhurst

Mr Bean goes to Hollywood

Rowan Atkinson's new film, The Ultimate Disaster Movie, starring his alter ego, the gormless Mr Bean (pictured), has already taken Australia, New Zealand and Holland by storm and looks set to do the same in the United Kingdom.

Four weddings and a sequel

Hugh Grant to play himself again in a film called Notting Hill

Mother defends helping her son buy heroin

A 62-year-old Women's Institute member and school governor yesterday defended making daily trips to buy heroin from back-street dealers to feed her son's addiction.

Crazy for Herodotus

A Greek classic gets a walk-on part in The English Patient: suddenly it's a hot item. John Lyttle on the trend-setting power of the movies

Books you listen to

Humour is the best-selling category of audio books. Talkies Best Comedy Award went to The Long Johns (Laughing Stock, c 1hr, pounds 5.99), John Bird and John Fortune's brilliant mock interviews satirising political cynicism and expediency from the Rory Bremner Show. Blackadder's Christmas Carol (BBC, c 1hr, pounds 5.99) turns Dickens's story on its head with predictably hilarious results.

Profile: Ben Elton: Older, wiser quieter?

Writer and comic BEN ELTON talks with James Rampton

Media: Serious about funny business

Is BBC comedy stale? No, says its new head, Geoffrey Perkins. Well, he would, wouldn't he? By James Rampton

An albatross named Thatch

In the 1980s, he was too political. Now, he's not political enough. In a frank interview, Ben Elton tells Nicholas Barber about the pressures of life as a 'one-person genre'

Nye's work

Simon Nye, author of Men Behaving Badly, is back with a new sitcom set in an office. He's not interested in plots, and he thinks the best comedy happens in real life. Modest or what? James Rampton met him

CINEMA / The British are coming (again)

A year after `Four Weddings', another charming British comedy is a hit. Sue Summers meets the director of `Jack and Sarah'

Something of a comic relief

Blackadder (left) established the writer Richard Curtis (below) as a funny guy. Four Weddings and a Funeral (right), nominated for an Oscar last week, established him as a funny thing: a British boffo box- office success. Plenty to talk about, then, in his

I've been on the telly, so I know all about politics

BERNARD LEVIN once wrote in praise of Paul Eddington after the latter had refused to divulge how he voted. The gist of Levin's argument was that we showbiz types have done nothing in life except prance about on the boards, but we all think this g ives usthe right to ram our politics down everyone else's throats. This from a man who has done nothing with his own life except prance about on TW3 before settling down to a life of self-righteous pontificating. Well, Bernard Levin can shove off. I've had my own comedy series on telly and I know the truth about politics. So here's how we ought to run the world. First, we should spend a lot more money on the arts, especially small theatres that encourage new playwrights. Second, we should stop eating v eal and set all the little calves free to scamper over hill and dale. Third, um, that's it.

Why `Four Weddings . . .' was nearly `Toffs on Heat'

THEY called it Four Weddings and a Funeral and it became the most successful film ever made in this country, grossing $200m ( pounds 125m) around the world. But at the last minute, a new book reveals, the producers had a ``title crisis'' and nearly called it a lot of other things - including Toffs on Heat.

Four weddings and a circle of poetry

THE RADIO announcer reviewing the day's papers last Wednesday morning sounded half-amused, half-baffled. There is a new craze for Auden's poetry in the United States (and an incipient one here), and it comes as a by-product of the film Four Weddings and a Funeral. So much so that Vintage Books has rushed out a popular edition of Auden lyrics, to sell alongside memorabilia of the film. To cash in, that is.
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Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
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