Christmas Eve

BIRTHDAYS: Mr Alistair Baillie, former diplomat, 67; Mrs Mair Barnes, former managing director, Woolworths, 55; Mr John Barron, actor, 79; Professor Anthony Clare, psychiatrist, 57; Lord Cowdrey of Tonbridge, former cricketer, 67; Sir Gerald Elliot, former chairman, Christian Salvesen, 76; Mr Jeremy Hindley, horse-racing trainer, 56; Sir James Hodge, ambassador to Thailand, 56; Mrs Helen Jones MP, 45; Dame Joan Kelleher, former Director, WRAC, 84; Sir Ivan Lawrence QC, former MP, 63; Dr John Marek MP, 59; Miss Suzy Menkes, fashion editor, International Herald Tribune, 56; Miss Thea Porter, fashion designer, 72; Mr John D. Taylor MP, 62; Miss Carol Vorderman, broadcaster and writer, 39; Mr Philip Ziegler, writer and editor, 70. BORN THIS DAY: James Prescott Joule, physicist, 1818; Ava Lavinia Gardner (Lucy Johnson), actress, 1922. DIED THIS DAY: Frank Richards (Charles Harold St John Hamilton), creator of "Billy Bunter", 1961; John James Osborne, playwright and actor, 1994. ON THIS DAY: Giuseppe Verdi's opera Aida was first performed, 1871. TODAY is and the Feast Day of St Adela, St Delphinus, St Gregory of Spoleto, St Irmina, St Sharbel Makhlouf and Saints Tharsilla and Emiliana.

Christmas Day

BIRTHDAYS: Princess Alexandra, 63; Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester, 98; Lord Annan, writer, 83; Miss Sheila Browne, former Principal, Newnham College, Cambridge, 75; Professor Sir Kenneth Calman, Vice-Chancellor and Warden, Durham University, 58; Mr Brian Connelly, High Commissioner to the Solomon Islands, 58; Mr Nick Conway, actor, 37; Mr Edward Davey MP, 34; Mrs Barbara Follett MP, 57; Professor Christopher Frayling, Rector and Vice-Provost, Royal College of Art, 53; The Right Rev Noel Jones, Bishop of Sodor and Man, 67; Miss Annie Lennox, singer, 45; Professor Philip Love, Vice-Chancellor, Liverpool University, 60; Mr Tony Martin, singer and actor, 86; Sir Peter Matthews, former Chief Constable of Surrey, 82; Mr Ismail Merchant, film producer, 63; Professor Phyllida Parsloe, former Warden of Wills Hall, Bristol University, 69; Mr Lawrie Quinn MP, 43; Mr Noel Redding, rock musician, 54; Mr John Sharman, former High Commissioner to the Seychelles, 62; Lord Sheppard of Didgemere, former chairman, Grand Metropolitan, 67; Miss Sissy Spacek, actress, 50; Mr Nigel Starmer-Smith, sports commentator, 55; Sir Noel Stockdale, life president, Asda, 79; Mr Stephen Twigg MP, 33; The Right Rev Benjamin Vaughan, former Bishop of Swansea and Brecon, 82; Sir Christopher Wates, chief executive of Wates Building Group, 60. BORN THIS DAY: Sir Isaac Newton, mathematician, physicist and astronomer, 1642; Humphrey DeForest Bogart, actor, 1899; Cabell (Cab) Calloway, jazz singer and bandleader, 1907. DIED THIS DAY: W.C. Fields (William Claude Dukenfield), comedian, 1946; Sir Charles Spencer Chaplin, comedian, 1977; Nicolae Ceausescu, former Romanian president, and his wife, Elena, executed by firing squad 1989. ON THIS DAY: William I, "the Conqueror", was crowned in Westminster Abbey, 1066; the Mayflower arrived at Plymouth Rock, Massachusetts, 1620; the Great Frost of London began, 1730; Vaclav Havel, playwright, was elected president of Czechoslovakia, 1989; in the Soviet Union, President Mikhail Gorbachev announced that he had resigned all offices, and that the Soviet Union was officially disbanded, 1991. TOMORROW is Christmas Day and the Feast Day of St Alburga, St Anastasia of Sirmium, St Eugenia and the Martyrs of Nicomedia.

Boxing Day

BIRTHDAYS: Mr Earle Brown, composer, 73; Mr Stephen Brown, ambassador to Korea, 54; Captain George Burnet, Lord-Lieutenant of Midlothian, 72; Professor Sir Colin Campbell, Vice-Chancellor, Nottingham University, 55; Baroness Faithfull, former Director of Social Services, 89; Sir Christopher Hewetson, former President of the Law Society, 70; Mr Rohan Kanhai, former West Indian cricketer, 64; Mr Eric Kinder, chairman, Smith and Nephew, 72; Professor Thea King, professor, Guildhall School of Music, 74; Miss Jane Lapotaire, actress, 55; Mr David Perry, chairman, John Waddington, 62; Mr Denis Quilley, actor, 72; Mr Richard Skinner, disc jockey, 48. BORN THIS DAY: Charles Babbage, computer pioneer, 1792; Mao Tse-tung, Chinese leader, 1893. DIED THIS DAY: Harry S. Truman, 33rd US president, 1972; Sir Lennox Randal Francis Berkeley, composer, 1989. ON THIS DAY: radium was discovered by Pierre and Marie Curie, 1898. BOXING DAY (Handsel Day in Scotland) is the Feast Day of St Archelaus of Kashkar, St Dionysius, pope, St Stephen, St Tathai or Athaeus, St Vincentia Lopez and St Zosimus, pope.