Arts and Entertainment Elton John performing at his 'Brits Icon' concert at The Palladium in London

Sir Elton John has become the recipient of the first Brits Icon award after being presented with honour by Rod Stewart at a special concert at the London Palladium.

Thomas flotation steams ahead

The two creators of the Thomas the Tank Engine television series, who bought the rights to the character from the Rev W Awdry for pounds 50,000 in 1981, are to float the company on the stock market next month for pounds 30m.

Next stop London: Thomas heads for the stock market

Thomas the Tank Engine and the Fat Controller are steaming off to the London stock market in a flotation that should value the Britt Allcroft group at about pounds 25m.

Heterosexuality? Who needs it?

Right. That's it. Last straw, camel's back, had enough, coming out. Out. You know: like one of these homos you read about.

Shopping Bazaar: Checkout/Bjorn Borg, 70 Sloane Ave, London

What is It? Not the Seventies tennis champ's fan club, but a Swedish- owned "underwear palace" in London. There's nothing below the belt about this: it's licenced to use Bjorn's legendary name. Deliciously cheesy promotional postcards show Svenska sirens Inga-Britt and Ulle giving nerdy Uffe a good birching. "A sauna gives the Swedes an opportunity to `pusta ut' (take it easy)," explains a caption.

My life in gor blimey trousers at

Jonathan Sale celebrates skiffle king Lonnie Donegan's 65th birthday

OBITUARY : Wes Farrell

At a time when the charts are dominated by Beatles re-releases, Beatles sound-alikes, disco acts and prefabricated teen stars like Take That, the death of Wes Farrell, the American songwriter and music entrepreneur, helps us put these trends into perspective.

Train to glory

Fifty years ago, as Britain emerged triumphant from a gruelling six-year war, the Reverend Wilbert Awdry published his first book and created one of the world's most enduring fictional characters. The Three Railway Engines introduced Thomas, a talking steam engine. With his irreverent sense of humour and winning smile, he muddled through some 30 adventures between his inception and the Rev Awdry's death in 1972. Originally conceived as an entertainment for the vicar's bed-bound son, Thomas the Tank Engine is now big business with some 200 book titles to his name as well as a television series. (Who could forget Ringo Starr's deadpan voice-overs?) An exhibition currently at the National Railway Museum in York explores the continuing appeal of the brave little engine and his friends. You can climb aboard a model of Thomas, watch Thomas videos and examine the Rev Awdry's collection of Thomas memorabilia, including the wooden model which originally brought the train to life for his son and a relief map of Thomas's imaginary country.

Imagine - the elder brother I never knew

Where were you when John Lennon was killed 15 years ago today? The playwright Alan Bleasdale remembers where he was - and how he felt, and why it still hurts to think about the hero he never met

Fab Four finally come together in spirit for one last song

Mersey's new beat: Security was tight and tempers frayed at the launch of the first new Beatles single for 25 years

Guru in need of a C-change

Whatever they say about the Beatles, Terry Riley's In C was the sound of the Sixties. But where's he at today? Apart from in Huddersfield. By Keith Potter


John Lennon said that Ringo was the one to worry about when the Beatles finished. He was not wrong. Trauma and bad behaviour were what followed. Then things started to get better

With the Beatles

but where are they now? Insiders, outriders, relatives and friends. 30 brief lives compiled by Miles

Heavenly: A new Mercury album

Rock legends: Queen and Beatle releases featuring songs by late, great stars are set for a macabre battle, reports David Lister

A long time since last orders

Years ago, she tottered around a Boston bar like a bossy prefect on library duty. Now she's Mrs Brady, immaculate mom to the obnoxious Brady Bunch. And in between? Ryan Gilbey talks to Shelley Long about her disastrous career

ROCK / Thirty years on, and worth their wait in gold

'WE WERE in an elevator, me and Mick Jagger and Ringo Starr,' says Ronald, lead singer of the Isley Brothers. 'Ringo said, 'Can we make a record of your 'Twist and Shout'?' We said, 'Sure, as long as you do it like we do it, with the oohs.' '
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