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.

TELEVISION / Doing time with Cape Town's Krays

BELOVED Country (BBC 2) is busy besmirching the good name of the National Geographic Society, and not before time if you ask me. It used to be the case that if you saw that name in the production credit was because you had just endured an anodyne wildlife film or a coffee-table travelogue about somebody who wants to bungee-jump off the Victoria Falls. Not this time. Beloved Country is unblinkingly nasty when it needs to be; anyone given to simplistic statements about the future of South Africa should be made to sit down and watch all three of the episodes that have been transmitted so far.

FILM / Stripped of the bare necessities: Life, says Adam Mars- Jones, is anything but sweet in Mike Leigh's new film, Naked

Mike Leigh's Naked represents a strong reaction away from the lightness and charm of his last film, Life Is Sweet. It would be hard to imagine a film much sourer than Naked, but sourness is not a fault, merely a characteristic. Hollowness, now, self-indulgence, a sort of gloating emotional ugliness - those are faults.

How We Met: John Sessions and Timothy Spall

Timothy Spall, 36, was born in Battersea, south-west London. He went to Rada, and established himself in the television series, Auf Wiedersehen Pet. He is currently playing the title role in the acclaimed series Frank Stubbs Promotes. He lives in south London with his wife Shane, their two daughters, Pascale and Mercedes, and son, Rafe. John Sessions, 40, studied English at university in Wales and Canada and then went to Rada. He won a cult following in London in the mid-1980s with his one-man shows, and was a star of Whose Line Is It Anyway?

TELEVISION / Frank's for the memory

FRANK STUBBS is still at that stage in his budding business career when he is uncertain about how you drive a desk. A nice moment in Carlton's Frank Stubbs Promotes showed him fidgeting with his new desk accessories, like a little boy laying out his pencils and rubbers on the first day at school.

RADIO / And not a drop to drink

THE AIR was full of water this week. A Venetian, Vivaldi, was Composer of the Week (R3), washed down with Martin Jarvis's smooth readings from an 18th- century account of Venice. And death by water was the subject of Dunwich (R3), the tale of the Suffolk port that slowly sank into the sea. In the 13th century, it had 50 churches, two monasteries, two hospitals and two MPs, and was among the top five ports and 20 towns in England. Now there is a road and some graves.

THEATRE / A strange case of swamp fever

AS IT WAS I who first lumbered Robert Lepage with a comparison to Peter Brook which has been clanking along behind him ever since, I am glad to have the chance of striking off this ball and chain. Until now, English audiences have known Lepage by his original work; but with his production of A Midsummer Night's Dream he moves into Brook's home territory - and any comparison between the two directors breaks down.

THEATRE / Mud, mud, inglorious mud: Paul Taylor reviews Robert Lepage's eagerly-awaited but cheerless vision of A Midsummer Night's Dream at the National Theatre

MOST of my colleagues rubbished The Pocket Dream when it played in the West End earlier this year. But that good- humoured spoof of a disaster- prone, tatty old rep production kept better faith with the spirit of Shakespeare's great comedy than anything to be found in Robert Lepage's leadenly paced, unfunny Midsummer Night's Dream, just opened in the Olivier.
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