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While politicians agonise over the size of the Government’s debt, one of the most expensive publicly funded projects in recent years is quietly getting under way.

Edinburgh victorious with three late tries

Edinburgh 32 London Irish 25

Scots have seasons to be cheerful

Blackadder's infectious spirit has given Edinburgh a new lease of life. Hugh Godwin discovers his secret

Broadcasting: Masochists would love this show

On the wall of our loo hangs a newspaper advertisement dating, I would guess, from the late 1930s. "Television is here, you can't shut your eyes to it," it proclaims. "Television is here to widen your horizon, to give a new depth, a richer meaning to life. For three hours a day, every day of the week, you can watch things happening in the world outside from within the comfort of your own home. The pageantry of some historic ceremony, the tense drama of a great play, the laughter and song of the musical shows, championship fights, news, comment and discussion on current affairs, all these come within your view as soon as you get Television, the most entertaining and informative accompaniment to everyday life the world has ever known."

You ask the questions: Stephen Fry

(Such as: Stephen Fry, why is TV comedy dominated by over-paid ex-public schoolboys and their cronies?)

Media: Turn on, tune in, switch over

At least two of the recent defections from the BBC have involved Peter Bennett-Jones, a man who acts as agent for the cream of British comedy. And it is greater artistic flexibility - rather than greed - that is motivating them, he insists. By Paul McCann

Football: The Sweeper - Mr Bean silent in FA's Edwards farce

MR BEAN, the Football Association's enforcer, has been as outspoken as his non-talking television namesake recently, not least on a potential disrepute charge against Manchester United's chairman Martin Edwards.

The enduring war

The First World War continues to haunt us. Why? A new TV series attempts to separate the myths from the bloody reality

Comedy: debt wish - live

For one of our top comic talents, Rowan Atkinson (left) does not do much live work. When he does tread the boards, however, Atkinson remains a fine physical comedian. On Friday, he heads a bill that lives up to that overworked adjective "starry". Debt Wish - Live, a Comic Relief benefit focusing on debt relief, also features David Baddiel, Simon Day, Kevin Day, Angus Deayton, The Happy Mondays, Goodness Gracious Me, Lenny Henry, Sean Hughes, Lee and Herring, Smack the Pony and Stomp. A similar line- up (with Steve Coogan and Alan Davies instead of Atkinson, Deayton and Henry) takes the floor on Saturday 5 June.

Profile: Richard Curtis - From gags to riches

`Notting Hill' is charming, witty, delightful. But has the writer of `Blackadder' gone soft?

Words: bloviate, v.

IT MIGHT cause pan-luvviedom apoplexy, but some of us lament the fact that Frank Rich no longer reviews plays. Dubbed the "Butcher of Broadway" by a petulant Rowan Atkinson, Rich now turns his firmly rooted, even orchidaceous style on other matters - always alert to those that bloviate.

Blackadder made the official hero of English history

VISITORS TO the Millennium Dome will have the chance to see Cate Blanchett, Dame Judi Dench and Miranda Richardson jostling for the throne as the true Elizabeth I in a special Blackadder version of British history. The first new episode of the show for 10 years will be viewed by 50,000 people a day on Britain's biggest movie screen.

GIGS: THE BEST OF THE REST

Marcus Powell

Christmas books: Humour - You won't believe this...

Steer clear of the spin-offs, says Martin Rowson. Stick to the cartoons

Rallying: Mr Bean a vintage runner at 61

BOB BEAN first entered the RAC Rally the year England won the World Cup, 1966, long before he gained his current identity.

Football: FA appoint Mr Bean as new `sleazebuster'

THE FOOTBALL Association yesterday announced the appointment of a 37-year-old police officer as its new `sleazebuster'.
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