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Alice Jones: Coming-of-age dramas are what we really love


Harry Potter will break box-office records this weekend but at least twice as many people will settle in for the real show – watching what its young stars do next.

The coming-of-age of child celebrities is a source of malevolent fascination – a case of not if, but when they will fall, spectacularly, from grace.

This week, wheeled out for one last publicity push, cast members were prodded and poked for signs of impending meltdown. Daniel Radcliffe admitted vaguely that he'd become "reliant on alcohol to enjoy stuff" while Emma Watson, needled relentlessly by David Letterman, finally gave way: "I've been drunk and I'll bow to that."

In fact, the two 21-year-olds show good signs of making it through unscathed. Radcliffe has had positive notices on Broadway, while Watson has a burgeoning film and fashion career, and an Ivy League brain. That they've been pushed to mark their entry into adulthood with claims of vice is a little sad.

Should they need a cautionary tale, though, Lindsay Lohan is on hand. The 25-year-old hellraiser, below, who became a film star when she was 12, was the subject of a scathing profile in Plum Miami magazine this week. The actress reportedly turned up late for her shoot – screeching into the parking lot with the hilarious words, "Move that cone! I'm Lindsay Lohan!" – knocked back wine (while claiming sobriety) and was rude and difficult throughout.

The crew were horrified, though you'd never know it from a video of the shoot in which Lohan is lavished with compliments from all sides. Someone moved the cone for her, someone poured her wine, they all praised her looks and talent: with enablers like that, what hope does she have?

Perhaps Radcliffe and co will form their own Hogwarts support network as they negotiate the next step. One thing's for sure – Hollywood won't help them.


I can lay waste to a cheese-and-pineapple hedgehog with the best of them but I can't swallow Delia Smith's claim that the Seventies was her favourite food decade. It's the era gastronomy forgot. The era that brought us chicken Kiev, Black Forest gateau and the vol-au-vent. It also brought Delia her first million: perhaps anything tastes good if you eat it with a golden spoon.

It's not Delia's embrace of naff nosh that sticks in the craw – my approach to entertaining has always been more Abigail's Party than Ferran Adria – it's the silly inverse snobbery of her comments. Asked about today's culinary scene, she said: "I am not a great fan. I like the Seventies the best. Gifted amateurs opened restaurants and pubs and you could have real food." But "real food", plucked from the farm and devoured nose to tail, has never been more fashionable. Supper clubs have mushroomed in the homes of enthusiastic wannabes. Smith's vision of dining as a choice between a hoity-toity "thimble of soufflé" or a "big plateful" of comfort food no longer holds true. Wake up and smell the lavender foam, Delia! There's a foodie revolution happening – and your cookbooks started it.


Where to hide from the phone hackers? Not the buggers themselves – impossible – but the endless news and analysis. It's utterly gripping, of course, but having gorged for more than a week now, I craved something a little more edifying. And so to the National Theatre for Emperor and Galilean, Ibsen's three-hour epic about the last non-Christian Roman Emperor, Julian. Surely, ensconced in AD351, amid dusty battlefields, torn togas and soaring rhetoric, the grubby machinations of News International would fade away? Nope. In Act III, as the temple of the Sun god lay destroyed, the masses revolted and his rule teetered on the brink of ruin, Julian searched in vain for a scapegoat. "I'm living in the wrong time," he pouted to Maximus. The reply: "Oh, don't blame the times!" The laughter started in the stalls and spread up to the gods. Even in ancient Constantinople, it seems, you can't escape the whiff of Wapping.