Comedy: Knowing me, knowing who?

At a recent Royal Television Society dinner, the BBC's head of comedy, Geoffrey Perkins, used a clip from BBC2's I'm Alan Partridge as the climax to a state-of-the-nation address about the sitcom. It was greeted - even by an audience of jaded industry insiders - with rapturous applause.

Ciao Baby: Throw out your high-heeled sneakers

Murmurings that the stiletto heel will make a come-back have been growing since last year. However, albeit endorsed by fashion bible, US Vogue, people haven't rushed out to adopt the latest heel. They are either immobilised from a recent dancing spree in six-inch heel hell, or stilettoes just aren't a good idea.

Today's pick: Innocents Lost

Innocents Lost (9pm C4) Brian Woods and Kate Blewett, who brought the distressing scandal of China's state orphanages to light in their films The Dying Rooms and Return to the Dying Rooms, broaden their scope to take in the state abuse of children in 21 of the 191 countries which have signed The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. In this first of two films (the second is screened tomorrow night), Woods and Blewett visit Guatemala, where street children inhale glue to deaden the pain of hunger and the fear that they might be tortured and killed by security forces, and to Russia, where teenage petty thieves now swell the emptied gulags in scenes that Dickens would have immediately recognised. The last report comes from within the EC - and some of Greece's horrific "hospitals" for the disabled.

Television: The importance of being Esther

The title, Joanna Lumley in the Kingdom of the Thunder Dragon (BBC1, Tues), does not exactly trip off the tongue, but you can see the BBC's problem. In the Kingdom of the Thunder Dragon is more exciting than Holiday in Bhutan, and it is virtually a rule these days that when you have a star, their name gets into the title. Lumley is unquestionably a star: brave, funny and very English. So there was this monster bit of nomenclature, taking up three whole lines in the Radio Times.

Poetry: Manchester Poetry Festival - A town swathed in poetry

Indulge the media whimsy that poetry is "the new rock n roll", and Ric Michael, an organiser of the 1997 Manchester Poetry Festival, brings you up short. "I've run a club for years and I can tell you it's not," avers the one-time rock promoter and manager of The Roadhouse club. "Poets don't get half-empty cans of beer thrown on them, for a start."

TV review: Hotel

How was it that the rather overblown young lady, ejected by Eileen after a pursuit through the hotel's bars, was filmed arriving with her equally blowsy friends? Just good luck or a spot of private catering on the producer's part?

Coogan's straight run: from bonks to bungs

The price of fame for Steve Coogan has been the prying eyes of the tabloids. So why has the comedian taken on a straight acting role as Mike Gabbert, the newshound who exposed match-rigging in the Sixties? By James Rampton

Comedy: Still feeling fizzy? Perrier's past winners

With a forthcoming Radio 4 series which will doubtless magically transfer to BBC2, the League of Gentlemen are in no danger of suddenly disappearing from public view. That has not always been the case with Perrier Award winners, however.

TV producer hits out at BBC `quota' on swearing

Television executives at the BBC have told one of Britain's top television producers to remove four swear words from a new BBC1 drama.

COMEDY Lenny Beige Regency Rooms, London

I've never been, but I imagine Kitsch Heaven looks something like this: a self-styled showbiz legend in a velvet bow-tie and matching cummerbund puffing a cigar and wearing more jewellery than Mr T introduces such acts as Barry from EastEnders belting out "Young Girl" - with added vibrato in the chorus.

This death was different; Revelations

The time: 8 October 1996 The place: London The man: David Baddiel, comedian

Voices of protest: Where are they now?

Although all three major parties claim to be recruiting heavily among young voters the truth is that youth wings in British politics have often been the source of discomfort.

When is a TV show not a TV show?

TELEVISION

Festive telly fun

Christmas - total ratings war, no weapon too lethal or trick too low.

Love in a distinctly chilly climate; FILM

Lars Von Trier's Breaking the Waves (18) is a film that seems to be making strong men weep and cynics attend in reverent silence, and not without reason. Though you might easily take it for a bleak social drama in its early reels, it soon dawns that Von Trier is really thrashing around in religious dilemmas. Like Bergman or, more aptly, like his great fellow countryman Carl Theodore Dreyer, he's grappling with some profoundly vexed (and no less profoundly unmodish) notions about spirituality, redemption, miracles and the nature of good - indeed, of sanctity. In Emily Watson he has a wonderfully true and harrowing female lead, who richly deserves her "Felix" award as European Actress of the Year. Working with cinematographer Robby Muller and others, he has arrived at an idiosyncratic and apt style for his harsh fable, at once intimate and grandiose. It's impressive work. Yet it has a faint air of the bully, too, as though insisting that not to take it on its own grimly earnest terms would be cheap, possibly heretical. There are, however, causes for doubt.
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The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003
Barbara Woodward: Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with the growing economic superpower

Our woman in Beijing builds a new relationship

Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with growing economic power
Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer. But the only British soldier to be awarded the Victoria Cross in Afghanistan has both

Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer

Beware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
Alexander McQueen: The catwalk was a stage for the designer's astonishing and troubling vision

Alexander McQueen's astonishing vision

Ahead of a major retrospective, Alexander Fury talks to the collaborators who helped create the late designer's notorious spectacle
New BBC series savours half a century of food in Britain, from Vesta curries to nouvelle cuisine

Dinner through the decades

A new BBC series challenged Brandon Robshaw and his family to eat their way from the 1950s to the 1990s
Philippa Perry interview: The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course

Philippa Perry interview

The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef recreates the exoticism of the Indonesian stir-fry

Bill Granger's Indonesian stir-fry recipes

Our chef was inspired by the south-east Asian cuisine he encountered as a teenager
Chelsea vs Tottenham: Harry Kane was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope

Harry Kane interview

The striker was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope
The Last Word: For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?

Michael Calvin's Last Word

For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?