Arts and Entertainment '1984' performed at the West Yorkshire Playhouse

It seems a suitably Orwellian reward to the extraordinary success story that is Nottingham Playhouse’s co-production of 1984.  On the day that tickets for its keenly-awaited opening at the Almeida in London went on sale, the company was told - without warning - it faced losing all of its funding from Nottinghamshire County Council.

DVD: Robin Hood

Ridley Scott’s version of ye olde legend has the hefty battle scenes and earthy period colour you’d expect, but Scott seems to think that Robin (Russell Crowe) was a real historical figure, and so he explores in baffling detail the political chicanery which led to one of King Richard’s archers becoming an outlaw, and gives us precious little swashbuckling.

How I learnt to love musicals: Michael Bywater on the purest form of theatre

Don't be a snob, says Michael Bywater – musicals are the purest form of theatre, and they're booming. But why? Could it be, simply, that they cheer us up in these recessionary times?

DVD: Robin Hood (15)

Is it a Scottish accent? Irish? Liverpudlian? Is he impersonating Sean Bean? John Lennon? What in the name of Sherwood Forest is Russell Crowe doing here?

Union leaders warn of strikes and deep unrest over 'cuts that hurt poor'

TUC annual conference will hear calls for industrial action and national demonstrations spreading to 2011. Nigel Morris reports

Ridley Scott: 'I'm doing pretty good, if you think about it'

As Ridley Scott prepares two new Alien prequels, he tells James Mottram why, at 72, he isn't ready to slow down yet

Cultural Life: Philippa Gregory, novelist

Books: I am reading Adam Thorpe's 'Hodd' – a fictional account of Robin Hood, alongside David Baldwin's biography 'Robin Hood: The English Outlaw Unmasked'. It's fascinating to compare the two treatments. Baldwin finds his way through the medieval world, explaining the gaps in the manuscript, and Thorpe has written the manuscript we are missing. It's a wonderful historical jigsaw puzzle and perfect to be read side by side.

Kate Simon: Free Wi-Fi is the way to a traveller's heart

Good news for passengers on East Midlands Trains. The rail company is the latest to offer Wi-Fi on board its services to London. From 5 September, Wi-Fi will be piloted on all East Midlands' fast trains on the London-Sheffield route and the Robin Hood service from London to Nottingham.

Sean Connery at 80

Daniel Read and Emily Dugan shake up 80 stirring facts to mark the actor's birthday this week

Leading article: Historical injustice

It is reported that Billy the Kid could be on the verge of receiving a pardon from the Governor of New Mexico, Bill Richardson. Retrospective justice for semi-legendary figures is an intriguing idea.

Location location location: UK's top cinematic spots

Britain is blessed with a variety of landscapes that can change, sometimes dramatically, within short distances. Close enough to the studios of Pinewood and Shepperton, Egypt has been filmed on the sand of Frensham Large Pond whilst across the water Russia has been shot amongst the pine trees and silver birches of Frensham Little Pond.

Diary: Sheriff Matthew lives on

We had it on rather good authority that Matthew MacFadyen was miffed to find his role in Ridley Scott's Robin Hood was minimal. Fair enough: Macfadyen was awarded the part of the legend's iconic villain, the Sheriff of Nottingham. But instead of being asked to let loose his inner Alan Rickman, his involvement was restricted to a few short scenes. However, when Diary collared him at the West End opening of Ghost Stories, a petrifying new play co-written by one quarter of The League of Gentlemen, the Spooks star assured us that, far from being peeved, he was overjoyed to find he'd had a stay of execution. "I was due to die," Macfadyen explained, "and then I got the script through and I survived; it was something of a curiosity to me. I can't imagine why they didn't go through with killing me off." If Scott's planning a Sheriff-heavy sequel, he'll have to wait for Macfadyen to finish with his next star-studded remake, The Three Musketeers, in which he'll play the alcoholic Athos. "And no," he adds, "I wasn't a Dogtanian fan".

The Business On... Michael Grade, Chairman, Pinewood Shepperton

Now there's a star name

The legacy of 'jaws' that has bitten the dust

Summer blockbusters began 35 years ago with the Steven Spielberg classic. Now the phenomenon is over

Hodd, By Adam Thorpe

Ridley Scott might have reinvented Robin Hood for the 9/11 age, but in the revisionist hands of Adam Thorpe, "Robert Hodd" was little more than a common thief living by a weird set of home-brewed libertarian beliefs. It is Thorpe's somewhat complicated conceit that he has come across the early 20th-century translation of the memoirs of an elderly monk, who as a 14-year-old minstrel, was captured by Hodd and taken to live in the "thick wild forest".

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