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: 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

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

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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Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee