Fiona Sturges

Fiona Sturges is an arts columnist, interviewer, reviewer and associate Lecturer at Southampton Solent University

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Off the wall: Armando Iannucci

The week in radio: Radio 4's A Brief History of Irony - a quest to define the indefinable?

Trying to explain the concept of irony can get you into hot water. When I recently told my six-year-old that it meant saying one thing and meaning the opposite, she replied, quite reasonably, "But why not say the thing you mean?"

Stoptober, Movember, Mecember? Charitable fundraising has become a self-centred affair

I want more effort than a moustache before I pay up

Mumford & Sons make the case for being not seen and not heard

There has been much whooping over the announcement that banjo-loving folkies Mumford & Sons have reached an “indefinite hiatus”. Mumford-bashing has, of course, become something of a national sport. Look at them with their private educations and their Wurzels’ waistcoats, the daft chumps!

Stephanie Smith and Eric Schulte (right and far right) have taken their sandwiches onto TV

Sandwich blog has surprising aftertaste

A woman has demeaned herself for the sake of a wedding ring. Or has she?

All the right moves: Moira Shearer in ‘The Red Shoes’

The week in radio: A magic mix of music and movies in the BBC's Sound of Cinema

I love music and I love film. You might say they are my main passions in life if you don't count disco nail varnish and the pulled-pork sandwiches served in the pub opposite my house. So several weeks ago when the BBC announced a season of programmes called Sound of Cinema to be rolled out across both TV and radio, I let out a little cheer and blocked out a large chunk of my September diary with the reminders: "comfy clothes", "snacks" and "Radio 3".

It’s not just a rumour: Fleetwood Mac are back

Fiona Sturges hails the legacy of the Mac, a band who have weathered more storms than the Atlantic

Strictly regal: Naomi Watts in ‘Diana’

The week in radio: Waffling Watts's royal appointment is a real wind-up

It's possible that when the actress Naomi Watts, ensconced in a suite at Claridge's, donned a set of headphones to speak to Radio 5 Live's Simon Mayo for an interview, she had already read the abominable reviews for the film, Diana, that she was supposed to be promoting and thought to herself: "Why bother?" Or it could be that room service had arrived earlier than expected – and given the choice between Simon Mayo and a plate of macaroons, well, it's a tough one even for the most committed self-publicist.

Coming soon in rock and pop: from Lady Gaga to Jay-Z

Praise be – the festival season is almost over, which means we can all go back to enjoying music just as the gods intended: comfortably, and with a roof over our heads.

On the right wavelength: Richard Bacon

The week in radio: Richard Bacon's uplifting broadcast from the cancer ward

"Hear the inspiring story of the man with terminal cancer who achieved his goal as a magician and comedian," went the blurb for Richard Bacon's show on BBC Radio 5 Live. Oh God, I thought. Must we? You see, I had imagined, in a cynical moment, a kind of queasy Bucket List-style scenario in which a pale-faced man in surgical gowns and smothered in tubing is wheeled on to a stage in order to pull a rabbit out of a hat for the last time as the audience howl in tear-stained approval, possibly with choirs of angels looking on.

Review: Fairyland, By Alysia Abbott

Fairy steps into adulthood

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War with Isis: Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria's capital

War with Isis

Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria
Scientists develop mechanical spring-loaded leg brace to improve walking

A spring in your step?

Scientists develop mechanical leg brace to help take a load off
Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock: How London shaped the director's art and obsessions

Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock

Ackroyd has devoted his literary career to chronicling the capital and its characters. He tells John Walsh why he chose the master of suspense as his latest subject
Ryan Reynolds interview: The actor is branching out with Nazi art-theft drama Woman in Gold

Ryan Reynolds branches out in Woman in Gold

For every box-office smash in Ryan Reynolds' Hollywood career, there's always been a misconceived let-down. It's time for a rethink and a reboot, the actor tells James Mottram
Why Robin Williams safeguarded himself against a morbid trend in advertising

Stars safeguard against morbid advertising

As film-makers and advertisers make increasing posthumous use of celebrities' images, some stars are finding new ways of ensuring that they rest in peace
The UK horticulture industry is facing a skills crisis - but Great Dixter aims to change all that

UK horticulture industry facing skills crisis

Great Dixter manor house in East Sussex is encouraging people to work in the industry by offering three scholarships a year to students, as well as generous placements
Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head

Hack Circus: Technology, art and learning

Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head. Rhodri Marsden meets mistress of ceremonies Leila Johnston
Sevenoaks is split over much-delayed decision on controversial grammar school annexe

Sevenoaks split over grammar school annexe

If Weald of Kent Grammar School is given the go-ahead for an annexe in leafy Sevenoaks, it will be the first selective state school to open in 50 years
10 best compact cameras

A look through the lens: 10 best compact cameras

If your smartphone won’t quite cut it, it’s time to invest in a new portable gadget
Paul Scholes column: Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now

Paul Scholes column

Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now
Why Michael Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

Why Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

Manchester United's talented midfielder has played international football for almost 14 years yet, frustratingly, has won only 32 caps, says Sam Wallace
Tracey Neville: The netball coach who is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

Tracey Neville is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

The former player on how she is finding time to coach both Manchester Thunder in the Superleague and England in this year's World Cup
General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?