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Revenge of the dalmatians

Cruella De Vil lives. And is about to be taken to court. After all these years, the dalmatians are taking their revenge, barking madly right up to the procurator fiscal.

The Disney Corporation is being accused of mistreating 10 of the dogs in the cast of its remake of 101 Dalmatians, currently being shot (the film that is, the dogs weren't that badly treated) in Scotland. Glenn Close (below), who plays Cruella, is innocent of this one, but someone on the production staff has been treating the dogs worse than dogs, treating them like actors, in fact.

One dog breeder, Roy Iwaniec, has withdrawn his spotted treasures from the filming, complaining that the 10 dogs were given tiny meals so that they'd stay thin enough to keep working. "And sometimes," he added, "when they were shooting on location, the seven-week-old pups would work a 12- hour day and be left in a van for four hours until they were needed.

"They couldn't have cared less. They used them, then forgot about them. Seven of the pups came back with a virus; they had diarrhoea and there was blood in the faeces," says Mr Iwaniec, who has issued a writ against Disney.

A spokeswoman for Disney denies all allegations of mistreatment: "This is untrue in any way, shape or form," she says. "We've had 250 dogs on the set so far and they have all left here in perfect health. Roy did not withdraw his puppies. They were sent home early because they were too big. They were not suffering from a virus. The symptoms they had were due to a change in diet and routine."

Over to you, Cruella.

To dream, perchance to perform ...

So why did Mark Rylance, artistic director of the new Shakespeare Globe, make the rather low-key choice yesterday of Two Gentlemen of Verona as the inaugural production for the open air space in south London? Was it a healthy disdain for a knee-jerk choice of a tragedy; a desire to champion a supposedly minor work to the international attention that will focus on the new theatre? There is another reason, Mr Rylance tells me. "My wife dreamt it. She's very intuitive that way." Good thing she doesn't see Marlowe in her dreams, or we wouldn't have a Shakespeare play at the Globe at all.

Flagship becalmed

Some worries in the BBC, I hear, over the performance of their current affairs flagship Panorama. A half-hour special on beef on Monday pushed Panorama out of its normal slot. But then, for a flagship, Panorama hasn't been in its normal slot in the convoy, or any slot at all much this month. Its special on the Sea Empress was so special it wasn't completed in time. Its special on Dunblane wasn't special enough and was pulled. Life was so much easier when you could just take a camera round to interview a willing princess in her boudoir.

Och, Michael, don't try to be clever

If only Sir Humphrey had been there. He could have saved Michael Forsyth, the Secretary of State for Scotland, from certain disaster. "Minister," he would have said, his face contorted in panic, "Minister, are you mad? A Scottish Secretary must never, never try to sound Scottish."

Alas, Mr Forsyth had no one to moderate his urges. And the foolhardy man fired off a fax to Mel Gibson after his Oscar success with Braveheart, saying: "We hope you will haste ye back for another winning production."

Haste ye back translates as hurry you back, which means Mr Forsyth in his eagerness to lose his Scottish accent over the years has lost his grammar as well, and repeated the you. If Mel Gibson doesn't know what the hell Mr Forsyth is talking about, then he's not alone. Dr Christopher McLaughlin, linguistics expert at St Andrews University (Mr Forsyth's alma mater), says: "Yes, the phrase 'haste ye back' is a bit awkward to be embedded in the middle of this sentence. He is treating 'haste ye back' as a noun phrase in itself, which wrong, but perhaps understandable because he is writing to an American Australian."

Eagle Eye

Redwood didn't sing the blues

When will MPs learn to stop trying to sound youthful by quoting pop lyrics? John Redwood, right-wing Conservative and sudden public convert to Britpop, recently cited lyrics from the group The Lightning Seeds as pro-Tory. He said: "In this long winter for Conservatism they might even be singing a double entendre message to us Tories: 'Everything's blue now, oh lucky you ... there's nothing to lose.' "

Today the London listings magazine Time Out puts this to the Lightning Seeds' leader, Ian Broudie (right). It seems the fan worship of John Redwood is not something he relishes. "It's embarrassing," he moans. "He's trying to be like a really hip dad or something, but in the same breath he's going on about the spirit of the Sixties, then saying he preferred The Barron Knights over the Stones. I mean, doesn't that tell you everything you need to know about the Tories? They went through the most exciting decade of this century with their eyes closed."