• Image of Issue 1224: 26 February - 4 March

Such is Juliet Stevenson’s acting prowess that she can now choose her parts carefully. And for her current play Mary Stuart she’s picked not one but two powerful characters, depending on the toss of a coin at the start of each performance. Interview by Saskia Murphy.

Who might be the crossover northern sports stars of 2018? Neil Tague checks the form and finds talent to watch from the worlds of swimming, cricket – men’s and women’s – and rugby. Plus a look back at some of the successes we’ve tipped in previous years, such as boxer Zelfa Barrett, rugby league player Liam Marshall and footballer Georgia Stanway.

There are books to borrow at Bootle Library, of course. But there’s also the chance to borrow other people’s ideas and experience to do free yoga sessions, cooking groups and local history classes. Saskia Murphy visits Merseyside’s Human Library.

On the news pages, a report about the multi-academy trusts running more and more of our schools. Many are under fire for excessive head teacher pay, financial weakness, falling standards – and in one case fraud.

In our arts and entertainment section there’s everything from a preview of the first major exhibition of Manchester painter Annie Swynnerton’s work since the 1930s to TV, games and album reviews.

Columnist Roger Ratcliffe, who reported on the Troubles in Northern Ireland, fears that a hard Brexit would put pressure on the hard-won peace process, while actor David Tennant writes a letter to his younger self that, as you might expect, has a lot to say about Dr Who.

Plus our ever popular crossword and Sudoku, and the chance to win Paloma Faith tickets.

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