WHAT: Acting against type. First Tom Hanks played a hitman in Road To Perdition, and now Robin Williams, famed for his kooky, lovable roles has gone all nasty in his recent crop of films.

Playing opposite Al Pacino in Insomnia, it was, ironically, Pacino who played the good guy while Williams cut a pretty sinister figure as the reclusive writer-cum psychopath. It's a fwar cry from Williams' roles as the manic alien Mork or the cross-dressing husband in Mrs Doubtfire but then, that is entirely the point.

After all, Williams was becoming rather irritating as the eccentric but lovable goof, and the roles had been getting steadily less impressive. Though he excelled in Good Morning Vietnam and Good Will Hunting, candy floss flicks such as Jack, Flubber and Patch Adams could not have been doing his credibility any good.

So the actor has turned to the dark side to reinvent himself and to reinvent, simultaneously, the movie-goer's opinion of him. And it seems to be working. Having pulled off his role in Insomnia without a backlash, Williams' latest film, One Hour Photo, sees the actor playing a stalker obsessed with the "perfect" family.

And it seems that the wise-cracking persona won't be back for a while. In a forthcoming release, the black comedy Death To Smoochy, Williams plays the corrupt host of a kids TV show.

And judging by the positive reaction to Williams' change of direction, this could become something of a trend. Might we see Christopher Walken as a happy-go-lucky family man? Or Adam Sandler playing Hamlet? Well, in Hollywood, there ain't such word as never.

TV: After appearing all those years ago as the frumpy, fed up sister to Brenda in the sitcom, Watching, it was a relief when Liza Tarbuck returned years later as Johnny Vaughan's sparring partner on the Big Breakfast, showing that she had inherited a bigger share of the comedy gene than her dear old dad. Then along came Red Production's Linda Green, a sassy, saucy sitcom which is the perfect vehicle for Tarbuck's easy humour.

Tarbuck, of course, plays the terminally single, permanently frisky, irrepressible 30-something who sounds very familiar. Take her comments on life: "I go out too much, I eat too much and for as long as I can remember I've spent more than I earn". On motherhood: "I couldn't even look after a rabbit"and on relationships: "I'm not a slapper, I just go off people really quickly!"

If she doesn't remind you of yourself then you definitely have a friend just like her. Now Tarbuck is back with a new series (Tuesday, BBC 1, 9.30pm) in which Linda is set to experience more fracas with her friends, more boozing than is good for her and more encounters with bizarre men. In this first episode Linda has a run in with new age expert cum Pizza delivery boy Eddie played by Bolton's own comedy genius Peter Kay. What's that you ordered, garlic bread?

Who: Popstars. Although Popstars: The Rivals hasn't really gripped me as much as Pop Idol did, it is a safe bet that, now these live shows have got underway, even the sceptics will begin to feel as if we know the hopefuls personally.

Last week it was the boys' turn to perform, and if I was a gambling girl, I'd put my money on Daniel definitely making the final five. And as yet another wannabe cries off saying that they don't like the rules (erm, they didn't hold a gun to your head, did they, Nicola love?) the focus returns to the girls. It's a bit hard to judge until they've sung live in front of an audience but our favourites so far are Nadine and Lynsey (from Little Hulton!) who has an amazing voice.

No doubt we'll all be pinned to the sofa tomorrow night to see how the girls react when one of them has to kiss goodbye to their dreams of stardom.

Let's face it, they couldn't blubber any more than the boys did, could they?

Niz: BROOKIE. It's been limping along for months now but recent reports suggest that the end is nigh for the Scouse soap. Despite new investment on the show, Brookie is soon to be stripped from its weekly slots to only one slot on a Saturday, which surely means that it is only a matter of time before Brookside is put to bed permanently.

The warning signs were there - after all when even the dire Channel Five soap Family Affairs can challenge your share of the ratings it's time to start wishing you worked on Shortland Street.

Once writer Phil Redmond kept the show on top with plotlines involving blackmail, murder and "that lesbian kiss". Now the soap seems to be treading old ground and frankly, not many people care what happens to the likes of Ron Dickson, mad Jimmy Corkhill or "Maxie" Farnham.

It is a sad day when a leading soap lets itself go, but if the viewers are switching off there's only one thing for it. A huge typhoon will have to sweep through Liverpool instantly killing all the inhabitants. What do you mean unbelievable? This is Brookside Close. Anything can happen.