Julie Burchill: Leslie Nielsen – the Hamlet who found wisdom as a clown

I was well-pleased to read in the obituaries of the actor Leslie Nielsen – who died this week at the age of 84 – that he had started out as a serious actor, but decided against it in later life. "I've finally found my home," he said, upon being cast in Airplane! in his fifties, when critics warned that he was being cast against type and bound to fail. Indeed, so much did he prefer the mask of comedy to the mask of tragedy that even in his own time he liked to stand in a crowded elevator, urge the palms of his hands to mimic flatulence and then apologise sheepishly. What a guy!

Diary: Do the decent thing, Gary

This column had been wondering when it could expect Gary Lineker's principled resignation from the BBC's Match of the Day over Panorama's FIFA investigation, given that he so quickly relinquished his Mail on Sunday slot when that paper's Lord Triesman sting put England's 2018 World Cup bid in jeopardy. "The story... and the actions of the Mail on Sunday in publishing it have undermined the bid to bring the World Cup to England," he said at the time. Yesterday, however, Lineker wrote in The Times that he was "unsettled" by Panorama's timing, but while there was "a lot of debate about whether media coverage has damaged our attempts to win... in terms of the bid, they are irrelevant." Lineker, 50 this week, glossed over his change of heart with a headline-grabbing birthday interview for BBC Sport, in which he confessed to having discreetly voided his bowels on the pitch during England's opening match at the 1990 World Cup. Meanwhile Manish Bhasin, after crying himself to sleep, dreamt once more of being trapped forever within the faux-warehouse walls of The Football League Show.

Matt Baker tipped for One Show as Jason Manford quits

Strictly Come Dancing star Matt Baker has become favourite to take over as The One Show host after Jason Manford quit over his online "flirting" with fans.

Julie Burchill: Gay man lays into women, fine. But when it's the other way around...

My husband claims that it was I who coined the line about Stephen Fry that he is "a stupid person's idea of a clever person". And if I weren't a sober person's idea of a booze-addled person, I might be more useful in remembering whether this is true or not. Whatever, it's pretty damn good.

Stewart Lee: Vegetable Stew, Leicester Square Theatre, London

Sharp show is souped up with jokes

Diary: Anna in from the cold

Nobody since Gorbachev has done as much to heat up relations between East and West as Anna Chapman, the saucy spy who last week stripped to her undies for the cover of Maxim's Russian edition. And Gorbachev's family, it turns out, is aware of Ms Chapman's work. "My husband reads Maxim," Gorbachev's fashion journalist granddaughter Anastasia told me yesterday, "so I'm used to seeing the magazine around the house."

Daybreak audience shrinks again

ITV's troubled Daybreak has seen its audience sink to a new low - drawing just half a million viewers.

BBC trounces ITV in breakfast wars

ITV's relaunched Daybreak breakfast show has slipped a million viewers behind its BBC rival for the first time, audience figures confirmed yesterday.

Daybreak lagging a million viewers behind rival

ITV's relaunched Daybreak show has slipped a million viewers behind its BBC rival for the first time, figures showed today.

The Feral Beast: Pearson flip-flops on benefits

"Take away our baby money at your peril" fog-horned Allison Pearson in The Daily Telegraph on Wednesday.

'Daybreak' loses a fifth of its viewers

ITV1's new breakfast show, Daybreak, has lost a fifth of its viewers since its first show last week.

Still top of the morning: Channel Five's The Wright Stuff turns 10

The Independent's Amol Rajan, a former 'mic boy' on the show, celebrates its birthday

First Morning: Daybreak, ITV

Chiles and Bleakley's 'Daybreak' looked different – but felt like 'GMTV'

Tony Blair drops in at 'Daybreak' show launch

ITV's new breakfast show got off to a lively start today with a mixture of serious items, features and banter between presenters Adrian Chiles and Christine Bleakley.

Blair roadshow attracts his foes – and some fans

There will be tight security for ex-PM in London
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Tim Vine has won the funniest joke award at the Edinburgh Festival 2014
peopleTim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
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sportBesiktas 0 Arsenal 0: Champions League qualifying first-leg match ends in stalemate in Istanbul
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Jamie and Emily Pharro discovering their friend's prank
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Taylor Swift crawls through the legs of twerking dancers in her 'Shake It Off' music video
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Pornography is more accessible - and harder to avoid - than ever
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Our resilience to stress is to a large extent determined by our genes
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The eyes have it: Kate Bush
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Day In a Page

Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – MS Swiss Corona - seven nights from £999pp
Lake Maggiore, Orta and the Matterhorn – seven nights from £899pp
Sicily – seven nights from £939pp
Pompeii, Capri and the Bay of Naples - seven nights from £799pp
Istanbul Ephesus & Troy – six nights from £859pp
Mary Rose – two nights from £319pp
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home
Lauded therapist Harley Mille still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Lauded therapist still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Australian Harley Miller is as frustrated by court delays as she is with the idiosyncrasies of immigration law
Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world. But could his predictions of war do the same?

Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world...

But could his predictions of war do the same?
Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs: 'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs
Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities, but why?

Young at hort

Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities. But why are so many people are swapping sweaty clubs for leafy shrubs?
Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award: 'making a quip as funny as possible is an art'

Beyond a joke

Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

Sadly though, the Lawrence of Arabia star is not around to lend his own critique
Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire: The joy of camping in a wetland nature reserve and sleeping under the stars

A wild night out

Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire offers a rare chance to camp in a wetland nature reserve
Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition: It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans

Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition

It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans
Besiktas vs Arsenal: Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie

Besiktas vs Arsenal

Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie
Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

As the Northern Irishman prepares for the Barclays, he finds time to appear on TV in the States, where he’s now such a global superstar that he needs no introduction
Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to Formula One

Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to F1

The 16-year-old will become the sport’s youngest-ever driver when he makes his debut for Toro Rosso next season
Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

But belated attempts to unite will be to no avail if the Sunni caliphate remains strong in Syria, says Patrick Cockburn
Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I would end up killing myself in jail'

Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I'd end up killing myself in jail'

Following last week's report on prison suicides, the former inmate asks how much progress we have made in the 50 years since the abolition of capital punishment