Alex Best: My Life With George (C4)

Trouble At The Top (BBC2)

My life was a total soap opera at that point," confessed Alex Best as the saga dubbed BestEnders by the tabloids rumbled on. Although one of the quieter jungle residents in I'm A Celebrity, the footballer's wife offered a few thoughts on life with George Best round the camp fire.

This well-timed documentary attempted to tell the full story, through Alex's video diary and the film crew that followed her during the months her marriage to Best fell apart.

His problem was simple enough to diagnose. He was an alcoholic womaniser 25 years her senior. He fell off the wagon after a liver transplant. He was unfaithful, with evidence provided by various blondes selling kiss-and-tell stories to the tabloids. He hit his wife and he smashed up her car.

Her behaviour was just as predictable. She said their marriage was over and left him. She went back to him. Then she said their marriage was over and left him. She went back to him. It was like groundhog day as the same pattern of events happened time and time again.

Only witnessing his indiscretions finally convinced her the marriage was over. She went round the house of Gina, who claimed to be pregnant by him. She denied Best was there. When Alex went to use the bathroom, she found him in a bedroom. She left him again. "Is that it?" asked the interviewer. "Yes," replied Alex.

Of course, it wasn't. He turned up on Christmas Day and beat her. She refused to press charges, blaming his actions on the fact that it was the first Christmas they hadn't been together.

She agreed to do the programme to tell her side of the story and help build her career in the media. As her first TV interviewing job was talking to the cast of Footballers' Wives, you wondered how seriously people are going to take her. Considering George's treatment of her, you wondered why she hadn't shouted I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of My Marriage! earlier.

Trying to keep Best off the booze seems a lost cause and so, I imagine, is Stelios Haji-Iaonnou's bid to introduce cheap cinema tickets to this country. What worked in other parts of the easy empire, such as easyjet, is more difficult to implement in the movie business because of terms demanded by distributors.

Trouble At The Top told how Stelios wanted to sell tickets as cheaply as 20p, but it was costing him £1.30 a seat for the right to show films. Distributors won't give him first-run movies to show in his Milton Keynes easyCinema.

You had to admire his persistence as he put on an orange sandwich board and handed out leaflets at the shopping centre. He even tried to drum up publicity outside the nearby rival cinema. Now he's trying legal action to force distributors to give him blockbuster movies, which is as likely as George Best staying off the wagon.

Beauty and the Beast,

Sunderland Empire

AS a regular visitor to the Sunderland Empire, Birmingham Royal Ballet is always assured of a warm reception, and this is certainly the case with Beauty and the Beast, now performing to packed audiences. A new ballet, which was premiered last December in the company's home town, it apparently attracted some less-than-flattering reviews from the national press, although regional reporters have since been more complimentary. Personally, I find it hard to think of anything to criticise about the ballet - I loved it.

From the opening scene, sumptuous costumes and beautifully designed sets combine to transport you to a fantasy world. But this is no Disney film set, with animated characters singing schmaltzy ballads. In fact, it's a dark and mysterious place where lighting is used to great effect to create a sense of eerie drama.

As the story unfolds, we witness the merchant encountering the angry beast after taking a flower from his garden and having to surrender his virtuous daughter Belle as compensation. In her goodness, she sees beyond the beast's ugliness and ultimately grows to love him.

Molly Smolen and Tiit Helimets are perfectly matched as Belle and the Beast (perhaps inevitably, as they're married in real life) and are ably supported by a cast of well-defined, often humourous characters. The musical score perfectly complements the story, with glockenspiel and drums used to create a whimsical or menacing tone. Possibly not a ballet best suited to children, but certainly something clever and original.

Sarah Foster

* Runs until Saturday. Box office 0191-514 2517.

Celloman, Darlington Arts Centre

CELLOMAN provided a rich and intense aural experience on Wednesday evening. The man on the electric cello is Ivan Hussey, accompanied by percussion, electric violin, bass guitar and drums.

Hussey is one of a small but growing number of musicians who is giving the cello a contemporary feel. He blends the flavours of the Middle East, reggae (Hussey once played in the Reggae Philharmonic Orchestra) and classical music to create hypnotic, sometimes thunderous, multi-layered music. Its soul is always Middle Eastern and the largely instrumental tracks have a distinctive North African feel to the melodies, percussion and scales.

Hussey uses a sophisticated loop machine so that he can play rhythm, then melody and counter melodies which are played back as he plays, adding more layers to the pieces. The driving accompaniment is made up of congas, bongos, drums and electric bass guitar, along with highlights played out on electric violin. The music is complex and dynamic but appears effortless because the musicians are so talented. In particular, percussionist Oli Savill and Samy Bishai on electric violin had extraordinary solos which were both breathtaking.

Celloman is an outstanding musician. His classical training, together with an innate feel for African and Caribbean rhythms, allow him to create a true and superb East-West fusion. He has played smaller venues to date, but look for Celloman at festivals and concert venues in the near future.

Sheelagh Caygill