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.

Man in gun rampage over breakfast row

A man facing eviction over his hostile temper became enraged by how his wife cooked his eggs and killed her, his stepdaughter and three neighbours with a shotgun before shooting himself.

Pandora: Clip sent to room 101

Feeling sensitive? The BBC is – or so it seems.

How to Win an Election, BBC4<br/>Ask the Chancellors, Channel 4

The camera that set out to discomfort our leaders has become their new best friend

Alan Watkins: Michael Foot &ndash; an intellectual prizefighter

The Labour veteran, who died on Wednesday, seemed bookish, but he was an early television star who relished a skirmish

Stephen and the Sexy Partridge, Trafalgar Studios 2, London

Are you game?" the sexy partridge asks Stephen. "I am!" If such chirpy wit were characteristic of Lily Bevan and Finnian O'Neill's ten o'clock Christmas show, one would leave the theatre singing "fa la la la la". But when Stephen later asks his friend, doubting her sobriety, "Are you high?", one can't help thinking that the adjective could refer to the age and odour of many of her jokes.

Marcus Berkmann: On the spot in the contestant's chair

Just because no one knows Greek any more doesn't make quiz shows easy

For the record: 21/09/2009

"The BBC probably has reached the limits of reasonable expansion." Culture Secretary Ben Bradshaw&rsquo;s message to the corporation at last week's Royal Television Society Cambridge Convention.

Pandora: Anne would have been a weak link, says Ken

Naturally, we think Anne Robinson would have made a splendid mayor of London. Ken Livingstone, however, begs to differ.

Tories wanted me as Mayor, says Robinson

Party turned to Boris after presenter rejected offer to run against Livingstone

Leading article: The reign of Queen Anne

The revelation that Britain's favourite compere, Anne Robinson, might have become the Tory candidate for the post of mayor of London naturally prompts speculation about what she might have campaigned on. We have a few ideas.

Queen Anne: Television royalty

Anne Robinson has been a tabloid journalist, a consumer champion and a terrifying game show host. Even the Conservative Party tried to hire her. But now she's broken the ranks of youthful female BBC presenters to take on the fat cats in a new show. John Walsh meets a true one-off

Matthew Norman: Yum Yum Yentob sings for his supper

After a mixed week for the BBC on the courage-under-fire front (see George Alagiah, below), a rousing thank the Lord for Alan Yentob.

Christina Patterson: The hangover that women can't shake off

Yes, we need cheaper childcare, but the real question for women is &lsquo;Are you hot?&rsquo;

Inside Lines: England expects but Olympic ball game at sixes and sevens

So the other Home Nations are graciously (or rather, ungraciously) allowing Great Britain to be represented by an all-England team in the 2012 Olympic football tournament. Big deal. No doubt though, they'll still be happy for matches to be played as scheduled in Glasgow, Cardiff and possibly Belfast, thus collecting a few bob in gate money. Sorry to disagree with my colleague Jamie Corrigan's Last Word, but such self-centred intransigence will not have gone unnoticed by the International Olympic Committee and Fifa, who see football as one of the Games' money-spinning showpieces. The 2012 chief Lord Coe is too politically polite to say so but you can bet he is privately seething at the bloody-mindedness of the Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland FAs. At least both men and women's teams will be there in 2012, albeit as England in disguise. And the probability that the men's tournament will now be restricted to players under 21 (with Stuart Pearce strongly tipped to manage it) is good news for the likes of the England youth captain John Bostock, the 17-year-old blossoming star at Spurs, who articulated his Olympic ambitions so well in these pages last week. Unfortunately, other British youngsters who may feel the same are being unjustly denied their opportunity. Now here is an intriguing Olympic poser for our insular cousins. Rugby Sevens is pushing hard for inclusion in 2016. If it gets in will the Scots, Welsh and Irish again refuse to scrum down with England citing the same "principle"?

Blue Peter: A sinking ship

It is suffering a catastrophic fall in ratings &ndash; and its fearsome long-term editor Biddy Baxter accuses the BBC of killing it off as children's tastes change. She's on the war path
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Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – Five-star MS Swiss Corona 7 nights from £999pp
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Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there