News David Icke has launched The People's Voice, a new free internet TV station

Conspiracy theorist says new station will 'give people who are currently voiceless in the mainstream media their say'

Bunhill: Lunch for the Irish

TO THE the Banqueting House in Whitehall last week, where anyone with the faintest trace of Irishness in the blood (and many with none at all) was lunching in aid of the Ireland Fund of Great Britain. The hopeful noises coming out of Ulster set the tone for a jolly bunfight.

The Uncle Cecil story? Ah yes, I remember it well . . .

WHEN people die, their children always say: 'Oh, if only we had talked more to them before they went] All that family history gone] All those memories] Too late, too late]'

Over the hills and far out: It was Genghis Khan meets Terry Wogan at the Voice of Asia contest. And, worse for wear in Kazakhstan, Philip Sweeney ended up on the jury

ON THE floor of a jagged, pine-covered gorge in the mountains overlooking the city of Alma Ata in Kazakhstan, sits the vast Medeo ice skating rink. During the Soviet era it was the city's architectural pride. In independence, it is still its chief entertainment facility. Every Sunday through the winter, scores of battered Lvov buses chug the winding 16km ascent in a diesel vapour trail to deposit Alma Ata's citizenry for a day out, with their picnics of horsemeat, vodka, and acorn-flavoured Hungarian chocolate.

'Better drama' pledge for BBC1: Yentob rejects accusation that he is indifferent to ratings

ALAN YENTOB, controller of BBC 1, yesterday announced his intention to strengthen the channel's popular drama output as the main plank in his strategy to improve its poor ratings.

BBC signs French and Saunders for five years

(First Edition)

FILM / You promised me a miracle: Leap of Faith (PG) Richard Pearce (US); The Ox (12) Sven Nykvist (Swe); Paris is Burning (no cert) Jennie Livingston (US); Best of the Best 2 (18) Robert Radler (US)

STEVE MARTIN's a dab hand at playing wild and crazy guys, but when he takes on complex characters he becomes a prickly, unappealing screen presence. In Grand Canyon, he was a schmucko producer of ultra-violent exploitation movies; in Leap of Faith he's a sleazy con-man turned revivalist preacher. Neither character is comfortable with himself, and the actor doesn't have the knack of making us, the audience, understand and like them.

TRAVEL / Homing in on the American dream: Phil Dourado and Sandy Sulaiman swapped their Chiswick house for a taste of the Californian good life

THE CAR was the second American to talk to us. George, its owner, had been the first. George's expansive 'Welcome to America', with open arms as he met us at San Francisco airport, was warm and sincere. His car's 'Your seatbelts are still undone' was, by contrast, cold and, well, impersonal.

RADIO / Off the straight and narrow: Robert Hanks reviews a week of Living Dangerously and Against the Grain

THE HEARTENING thing about Living Dangerously (Radio 4, Sunday) has been the discovery of how easy it is to prevent crime: it's that old-fashioned recipe, settle down with a nice girl and have kids. After that, the message is less encouraging.

TELEVISION / Ross toes the line

MADONNA's interviews are not so much interesting for what she says as for what her interviewers say. Most television presenters have adapted to fame in the way that Eskimos' eyes have adapted to snowfields; in general they don't find the glare troubling. But Madonna, as Jonathan Ross conceded, has magnified her own celebrity to dazzling levels; where the average film actress is a light bulb, she is the Eddystone lighthouse. 'She is,' as Ross said pointedly, 'the Napoleon of hype, the Attila the Hun of self-promotion'.

Media: Game for a laugh no longer: The governors of the BBC are gunning for all that is cheap and cheerful in light entertainment on televison. But, asks William Phillips, how will they paper over the cracks?

IT IS an area of programming the BBC does not boast about: light entertainment, filled with cut-price 'celebrities' or so-called real people, that fills the television schedules between the prestigious peaks of news, drama and classic comedy.

Collecting: Going to work on an egg cup: A simple yet creative charitable challenge has attracted hundreds of celebrities - and sent Norman Willis on a flight of fancy, writes John Windsor

Margaret and Dennis have sent theirs. John and Norma have, too. Lord Callaghan signed his, apologising for not being an artist, but Ted Heath drew a yacht and a tree. As for Norman Willis's - well, his seems to have got a little out of hand . . .

CHAT-SHOWS / The blarney's over: Wogan ends tonight after seven years of chatter. Mark Lawson reflects on the one celebrity Terry never interviewed

In its small way, the scrapping tonight of the Wogan chat-show is as significant an indication of changes of will and priority in the television industry as the scrapping of the European Fighter Aircraft would be for the defence industry. The abandonment of Wogan - screened three times a week on BBC1 since 1984 - marks the end of a cherished experiment.
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Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

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In a world of Saudi bullying, right-wing Israeli ministers and the twilight of Obama, Iran is looking like a possible policeman of the Gulf

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