Brian Viner: Oh, for the days of parlourmaids

The enduring British fascination with life above and below stairs gets another stoking from Sunday, with ITV's transmission of Downton Abbey, a seven-part drama set in a grand country house just before the First World War and naturally starring, in the regrettable absence of Dame Judi, Dame Maggie Smith.

Steven Berkoff: Rise of an 'up and coming nobody'

Steven Berkoff may be among the most acclaimed playwrights and actors of his generation but he revealed he would much rather have been a tailor, like his father, given a choice between the two.

Daisy Goodwin: A woman of substance

Already TV’s face of poetry, awardwinning producer and ‘head girl’ of her own company, Daisy Goodwin has writtenher debut novel. She talks to Arifa Akbar

Sun shines on festival revellers

More than a million revellers were thought to have attended the Notting Hill Carnival yesterday, making it Europe's largest street festival, which has been held every August bank holiday since 1966.

The Timeline: Music festivals

Music festivals were nearly as common in the ancient world as they are in the modern. Though unlike modern festivals, which venerate rock gods, the ancients sought to glorify more ethereal deities. Each spring the Athenians would celebrate the Festival of the Vine Flower, a three day shindig which began with a drinking contest conducted in silence and ended with singing and dancing to "melodies that excite the soul to a mystic frenzy". A description that wouldn't be amiss applied to many a modern festival.

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