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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Day In a Page

Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – MS Swiss Corona - seven nights from £999pp
Lake Maggiore, Orta and the Matterhorn – seven nights from £899pp
Sicily – seven nights from £939pp
Pompeii, Capri and the Bay of Naples - seven nights from £799pp
Istanbul Ephesus & Troy – six nights from £859pp
Mary Rose – two nights from £319pp
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home
Lauded therapist Harley Mille still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Lauded therapist still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Australian Harley Miller is as frustrated by court delays as she is with the idiosyncrasies of immigration law
Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world. But could his predictions of war do the same?

Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world...

But could his predictions of war do the same?
Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs: 'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs
Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities, but why?

Young at hort

Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities. But why are so many people are swapping sweaty clubs for leafy shrubs?
Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award: 'making a quip as funny as possible is an art'

Beyond a joke

Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

Sadly though, the Lawrence of Arabia star is not around to lend his own critique
Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire: The joy of camping in a wetland nature reserve and sleeping under the stars

A wild night out

Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire offers a rare chance to camp in a wetland nature reserve
Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition: It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans

Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition

It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans
Besiktas vs Arsenal: Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie

Besiktas vs Arsenal

Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie
Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

As the Northern Irishman prepares for the Barclays, he finds time to appear on TV in the States, where he’s now such a global superstar that he needs no introduction
Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to Formula One

Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to F1

The 16-year-old will become the sport’s youngest-ever driver when he makes his debut for Toro Rosso next season
Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

But belated attempts to unite will be to no avail if the Sunni caliphate remains strong in Syria, says Patrick Cockburn
Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I would end up killing myself in jail'

Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I'd end up killing myself in jail'

Following last week's report on prison suicides, the former inmate asks how much progress we have made in the 50 years since the abolition of capital punishment