Voices

Moving house really brings you up to speed with the state of customer service in modern-day Britain. For the past two weeks I have been waging an almost constant war, via Twitter, email and phone, to get companies to do the simplest things like turn up on time (or even on the right day), deliver the correct item or offer help over the phone in something resembling human. I am fortunate in that I am a very minor celebrity with a healthy amount of Twitter followers. Time and again, the moment I tweeted my grievances the managing director or head of customer care would be in touch within 15 minutes promising to solve the problem. This is brilliant for me, but it's a sad state of affairs that problems that are easily solved can only be dealt with because I once dressed as a large squirrel.

national puppetry archive

Violet Philpott: Puppeteer who brought Zippy to life in 'Rainbow'

Zippy, the yellowish-brown glove puppet who was loud and sought to be the centre of attention in Rainbow, gained a cult status that went beyond the pre-school children's programme's 25-year history.

As Robinson says 'Goodbye', our man Archie wins the last Weakest Link

Nine years on from his first appearance on The Weakest Link, The Independent's Archie Bland is celebrating after he returned to take part in the final edition of the show – and pulled off a stunning victory.

Archie is grilled by Anne Robinson on the final edition of The Weakest Link

As Robinson says 'Goodbye', our man Archie wins the last Weakest Link

Nine years on from his first appearance on The Weakest Link, The Independent's Archie Bland is celebrating after he returned to take part in the final edition of the show – and pulled off a stunning victory.

Archie is grilled by Anne Robinson on the final edition of The Weakest Link

‘You are the weakest link, goodbye!': What’s it like to face Anne Robinson on the cult quiz show?

When he was voted off the cult TV quiz show The Weakest Link nine years ago, Archie Bland thought he'd seen the last of Anne Robinson. Then he got invited back for its final broadcast...

Letter from the editor: The weakest link

BBC Parliament (504 on Sky, 81 on Freeview) is likely to garner record viewing figures at 2.30pm today when a reluctant Rupert and James Murdoch will appear before the Commons Culture, Media and Sport committee, to be followed at 3.30pm by their ex-CEO Rebekah Brooks.

Are Finnish schools the best in the world?

They have no uniforms, no selection, no fee-paying and no league tables. Yet Finland's education system consistently tops global rankings. Richard Garner finds out what we can learn from them

Stars in their eyes: Why is the Government allowing celebrities into the seats of power?

Mary Portas is the latest television personality to be recruited by government – but politics is too important to be treated like a reality show, argues John Walsh

Virginia Ironside: Why does it pay to be rude on television?

Now she's left The Weakest Link Anne has been extraordinarily generous to the guests she put down

Cultural Life: Boy George, singer

Music: I'm digging Laura Marling, Nocturne The Blonde, Hurts, Sister Crayon, Chairlift and, of course, the gorgeous Adele who has a touch of Dusty Springfield about her. My Spotify playlist goes from Glasvegas to Jimmy Scott, lots of David Bowie from all decades and even a dash of Julio Iglesias and Goran Bregovic! Oh, and Timi Yuro, who seems to have been forgotten but what a voice!

Matthew Bell: The <i>IoS</i> Diary (27/02/11)

Born on a red carpet

Matthew Norman: Let's hope Alan Johnson doesn't get asked about stamp duty

The mood music at which Johnners can excel is important. But you can't make music of any kind without knowing the individual notes

Age case presenter Miriam O'Reilly 'did the right thing'

Axed presenter Miriam O'Reilly today said she had done the "right thing" by "standing up" to the BBC after she won an age discrimination case against the corporation.

'I don't hate women' says top female television executive

One of the most senior female TV executives in Britain today launched an emotional rebuttal of "utterly offensive" claims that she "hates" women.

BBC One controller hated women, tribunal told

Four female presenters in their 40s and 50s were dropped from Countryfile because BBC One controller Jay Hunt "hated women", a tribunal heard today.

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University Edible Garden, Leeds – a sustainable garden in the centre of the university, passers-by can help themselves to the home-grown produce
newsFrom a former custard factory to a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery
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fashionHealth concerns and 'pornified' perceptions have made women more conscious at the beach
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Ojo Onaolapo celebrates winning the bronze medal
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Rock band Led Zeppelin in the early 1970s
musicLed Zeppelin to release alternative Stairway To Heaven after 43 years
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High-flyer: Chris Pratt in 'Guardians of the Galaxy'
filmHe was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
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Van Gaal said that his challenge in taking over Bobby Robson's Barcelona team in 1993 has been easier than the task of resurrecting the current United side
footballA colourful discussion on tactics, the merits of the English footballer and rebuilding Manchester United
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Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

Broadcasting plays and exhibitions to cinemas is a sure-fire box office smash
Shipping container hotels: Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Spending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but these mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
Native American headdresses are not fashion accessories

Feather dust-up

A Canadian festival has banned Native American headwear. Haven't we been here before?
Boris Johnson's war on diesel

Boris Johnson's war on diesel

11m cars here run on diesel. It's seen as a greener alternative to unleaded petrol. So why is London's mayor on a crusade against the black pump?
5 best waterproof cameras

Splash and flash: 5 best waterproof cameras

Don't let water stop you taking snaps with one of these machines that will take you from the sand to meters deep
Louis van Gaal interview: Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era

Louis van Gaal interview

Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era
Will Gore: The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series

Will Gore: Outside Edge

The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series
The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz