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.
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