The Independent | Features

Are television superhero dramas just marketing tools?

TV is churning out streams of movie franchise spin-offs. Why can't they give us some real characters, says Sarah Hughes

Simon Callow: The actor and writer on Jesus, a hatred of monster virus verbs, and the curse of Four Weddings and a Funeral

Every time I'm on stage I feel that I'm making the case for the theatre [Callow has appeared in more than 40 different stage productions over his 40-year stage career]. The theatre is an incredibly precious place; it's a chance to convince people that it's a life-changing and necessary experience filled with extraordinary emotions; it's an aesthetic version of the National Health Service, giving people new life, hope and energy.

Presenter Michael Palin and film-maker Roger Mills look back on 25 years of globe-trotting

Without the award-winning film-maker Roger Mills, there would never have been a Michael Palin, travel presenter. Here, the duo look back on a decade spent criss-crossing the world - the tiffs, the bungee jumps, the fermented spittle…

How Britain's favourite TV shows get their look: Meet the designers who bring Downton Abbey, Sherlock and Doctor Who to life

How do you recreate Machu Picchu on a Welsh beach? Or bring the up and downstairs of Downton Abbey to life? In the latest in his series on the people behind the TV scenes, Gerard Gilbert meets the production designers bringing the nation’s favourite shows to life

Terry Wogan: The broadcaster on Eurovision tipples, Michael Phelps’s big feet, and being blanked by Madonna

Who has been the worst behaved guest on Children in Need?

Grace Dent on TV: Strictly Come Dancing female duo with Tess Daly and Claudia Winkleman is crazy but might just work

It was not a high-excitement spectacle, more visual chewing gum

Game of Thrones fans can now perfect Dothraki pronunciation on new language course

The language now features upwards of 3,200 words

Long Lost Family, ITV

Long Lost Family: What Happened Next, ITV, review - Happy endings with a twist

New spin-off series demonstrates that a happy ending isn't always happy ever after

Time and time again: the popular daytime quiz has been a fixture on Channel 4 since 1982

Countdown: What's the winning formula that makes this the longest-running game show in television history?

As 'Countdown' becomes the longest-running game show in television history, Rhodri Marsden visits the website where the show's true obsessives go to hone their skills

TV wildlife presenter Steve Backshall is about to face his biggest fear ... Strictly Come Dancing

Steve Backshall has had a run-in with a hippo, come face to face with a giant rat and even broken his back. But, the cult kids' TV adventurer tells Lena Corner, what terrifies him is the thought of never having children – and strutting his stuff tonight on 'Strictly Come Dancing'

Rhodri Marsden's Interesting Objects: The Mastermind chair

* Forty-two years ago this week, the Radio Times alerted us to the first screening of a "new and exciting brain game" called Mastermind.

Grace Dent on TV: Jamie Oliver’s shameless helping of food porn is just a pukka treat

This week Grace watched... Jamie’s Comfort Food, Channel 4

Stateside success: British comedian John Oliver

Inside Television: Sesame Street is child's play for word-perfect comic John Oliver

Inside TV first hailed the stateside success of Birmingham-born comedian John Oliver back in May and since then his show Last Week Tonight has built up quite the following. Oliver’s every online mention is greeted with a hail of gushing below-the-line comments, often mentioning his “adorable” British accent and his “dapper” British dress sense.

The X Factor only exists on the judging panel

The X Factor 2014: Cheryl Cole sidelines Mel B as friendship with frenemy Simon Cowell dominates

First look review: The X Factor only exists on the judging panel

Inside the gallery at Frederick Bremer School in Walthamstow

First Essex and Yorkshire, now London: Channel 4's 'Educating...' series is moving to the East End

The show is turning its cameras on Frederick Bremer School in Walthamstow. Simon Usborne goes behind-the-scenes to watch the latest series being filmed

Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor poses the question of whether we are every truly alone in 'Listen'
Review: Possibly Steven Moffat's most terrifying episode
Arts and Entertainment
Robin teaches Clara to shoot an arrow
Review: A dull and nonsensical disappointment
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry inspect Kate's fruity pork pies
Review: Paul Hollywood piles on the pressure in pie week
Arts and Entertainment
Going wild: Lee Ingleby and Liz White in ‘Our Zoo’
Review: A heart-warming period drama
Arts and Entertainment
Precious moments: husband-and-wife team Sarah and Steve Bennett in 'Gems TV'
Review: Documentaries don't have to be angry hypocrisy-exposing investigations to hold our interest
Arts and Entertainment
Kitten and the Hip left the judges unimpressed

Review: Mocking foreigners and ageism - can this series sink any lower?

Arts and Entertainment
Life lesson: Musharaf Asghar, with his former teacher Mr Burton, in Stammer School
Review: Educating Yorkshire's Musharaf stars in inspirational documentary
Arts and Entertainment
Naturalist David Attenborough presents 'Attenborough’s Fabulous Frogs', the final instalment of the current 'Natural World' series
Review: BBC captures some fascinating footage of these charming creatures
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and Clara have their first real heart to heart since he regenerated in 'Deep Breath'
Review: Doctor Who returns and Peter Capaldi may be the best yet
Arts and Entertainment
Review: The story of women in the First World War is also the story of female liberation
Arts and Entertainment
From fear to maternity: 'In the Club'
Review: A warm new drama that could grow into something special
Arts and Entertainment
Mob rule: Salvatore Esposito and Marco d'Amore in 'Gomorrah'
Review A touch of Tarantino means it's worth sticking with this gritty gangster tale
Arts and Entertainment
Calling the shots: Kids and Guns featured nine-year-old Gia from Texas

Review An impressively even-handed look at America's young guns

Arts and Entertainment
Back to the wall: Lyse Doucet with Jalal in 'Children of Syria'

Review Children of Syria, BBC2

Arts and Entertainment
Family tragedy: a woman holding a picture of her missing relative after the Rana Plaza collapse in Bangladesh last year

Review: The devastating story of the West's real fashion victims

Arts and Entertainment
Nick & Margaret: Too Many Immigrants?
Nick and Margaret: Immigration Gain or Drain proves illuminating
Arts and Entertainment
Leading light: Rose Leslie in 'Utopia'

Review: Utopia, Channel 4

Arts and Entertainment
The byte stuff: 'Silicon Valley'

Arts and Entertainment
Maggie Gyllenhaal plays Nessa Stein, a woman who is trying to build links in the Middle East
Common and The Honourable Woman are clangingly depressing
Arts and Entertainment
David Luiz pictured during the 7-1 defeat to Germany
German record set as 32.6m tune in to watch World Cup semi-final
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