Voices

For Evelyn Waugh, it was nothing less than "that original garden from which we are all exiled". Now it is the BBC that has strayed into the paradisal precincts of Blandings castle, bringing woolly-headed Clarence, ninth Earl of Emsworth, his indomitable sister Lady Constance Keeble and the irreverent Galahad Threepwood (last of the Pelicans) to the small screen for the first time since the 1960s.

A bit of a Doge's dinner

OPERA: Simon Boccanegra; WNO, New Theatre Cardiff

A double act with film world's hottest secrets

Could The English Patient, the hot favourite at the Academy Awards, be pipped at the post for Best Picture? Could Brenda Blethyn's dowdy, dotty mum in Secrets and Lies, the antithesis of the Hollywood glamour puss, really drive 'em wild on Oscar night?

Theatre: Street life

Mick Mahoney was a drifter - he sold dodgy goods, did a spell in boob for pickpocketing, lived with paraffins. His latest play 'Swaggers' is rich with the language of his experiences. But it's really a love story... By Adrian Turpin

case study

"And, finally, thank you to the lawyer who put the deal together."

THE CRICTICS FILM: Today suburbia, tomorrow the world

That Golden Palm which now casts its dappled shade over Mike Leigh's Secrets & Lies (15) might come as something of an agreeable surprise, for all that it is well deserved; his wanly comic drama about families has many of the qualities of a national family joke, so replete with this country's shared disappointments, half-forgotten grudges and rueful acceptances that you might not think it fully intelligible in Cannes, or anywhere outside these shores. Do audiences in Nancy yelp with laughter, as we do, when Paul (Lee Ross) grunts "Can be, mate" to someone who asks if his work is hard? Will cinema-goers in Helsinki squirm, as we do, when Monica (Phyllis Logan) says of her WC "I think the peach tones make it quite tranquil"? Are Bostonians likely to wince in recognition, as we do, at the shrill maternal whine with which Cynthia (Brenda Blethyn) catechises her daughter Roxanne (Claire Rushbrook) about contraceptive devices?

Film: Life is sweet after all...Secrets and Lies Mike Leigh (15)

Mike Leigh has buried the caricatures and obsessive bleakness to make a sentimental, human melodrama. By Adam Mars-Jones

Film: It's raining in the fast lane

There was high excitement at Cannes this year: a French outsider won the Grand Prix, and crashing cars became sexually charged. Which was nice. By Chris Peachment

Flying off the outside edge

It's no secret that Brenda Blethyn has just been voted Best Actress at Cannes. But it would be a lie to say that success has gone to her head

Life is (bitter) sweet as Manchester's bard of bleakness wins the top prize at Cannes

Mike Leigh, once a cult British film-maker for manic depressives and students of urban working-class disintegration, yesterday won over the film glitterati.

LIFE IS RARELY SWEET

In 1993, Mike Leigh won top prize at

Ryan Gilbey on film

I'm not a "lists" person. But do you realise just what an incredible four-and-a-half months of films we've had? It's like 1972 or something. (How fitting that The Godfather is being re-released in July.) It may not be cool to get this giddy about a year when you're not even halfway through it. But even if 1996 doesn't produce another single frame of the remotest worth, it should still go down as the richest year of the decade so far. I can't remember ever feeling quite so happy to hand over my seven quid.

Pleased, pleased, pleased

Rock

THEATRE / A long march back to the front: The plum role of staging the first West End revival of 'Oh, What a Lovely War]' has gone to the National Youth Theatre. Robert Butler sits in on rehearsals

A GIRL walks in carrying the bottom half of a leg. It's made of latex, clay and chicken wire, and the wet clay is all over her hands. She shoves the leg into the set, under a sheet of fibreglass that has been treated to look like the mud on the Western Front.

TELEVISION / They'd give an arm and a leg to be happy

THE ANNOUNCER'S voice faltered slightly when introducing a new series called Over the Edge (BBC2) on Tuesday night, and after watching the first episode it was easy to see why. The BBC Disability Programmes Unit had pledged to 'take on some of the thornier issues surrounding disability', and they weren't kidding.

RADIO / Tricks with time: Robert Hanks celebrates 21 years of an unchanging Kaleidoscope and a joyful Three Musketeers

Can it really be 20 years?' wondered Robert Dawson Scott last Monday, looking back at the first-ever Kaleidoscope. Given that he was hosting Kaleidoscope at 21 (Radio 4, Monday-Friday), you have to suspect that he hadn't been paying as much attention to the pre-publicity as he should have.
Career Services

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