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Owen Paterson, the Environment Secretary, was due to chair a meeting of the Government’s crisis committee Cobra in response to the bad weather and power cuts.

Leading Article: Not so tongue-tied after all

It is refreshing today to be able to report some good news about language provision in state secondary schools after seven lean years. The decline in the take-up of languages has been halted and schools are offering pupils a much broader range of options.

<a href="http://blogs.independent.co.uk/independent/2008/09/eat-goodbye-mr.html" target="_blank">Eat: Goodbye Mr. Basil</a>

He was there for the toaster, again and again. There for the remote control. For the alarm clock

Rabbit with saffron, basil, cucumber and tomatoes

Serves 6

Spaghetti with sardines, chilli and tomatoes

Serves 4

Salmon escalope with tomatoes and basil

Serves 4

Ever wondered what it would be like to dine at Fawlty Towers?

You can mention the war if you like, but just don't ask for more butter. Because if you do, your waiter, Manuel, will find an unsuspecting female diner and proceed to head-butt her. Welcome to Faulty Towers: the Dining Experience – a real-life night with Basil, his wife Sybil and the English-mangling Spanish waiter who are abusing audiences at the Edinburgh Festival.

Rich pickings: Skye Gyngell's basil recipes

Did you know that there are over 40 varieties of this flavoursome herb? As British basil bursts into season, Skye Gyngell shows how to get the best out of your bunch

Curb Your Enthusiasm: Sixth Season (DVD)

Warner Having masterminded seven series of 'Seinfeld' and six seasons of his own starring vehicle, Larry David has a strong claim to be the greatest sitcom creator in TV history.

Gardening: Herb your enthusiasm

Basil is now one of the country&rsquo;s most popular herbs, yet it&rsquo;s notoriously difficult to grow in our unpredictable climate. Anna Pavord offers a few pointers

Basil Brush: Down with battery hens &ndash; so dashed hard to get at

The nation's favourite fox has been in hot water. In a programme on CBBC, a Gypsy woman was seen trying to sell him heather and pegs, giving rise to a complaint that he was behaving in a racist manner. Here the IoS imagines how Basil might respond.

Boardroom crisis rocks home of Basil Brush, Rupert Bear and Lassie

On screen, they inhabited idyllic worlds where laughter and fun with friends was never far away. But the perfect lives of children's favourites Rupert Bear, Postman Pat and Basil Brush are under threat, for the company that owns them is in crisis.

Miles Kington: The downward spiral of a downward spiral

I have never worked out how it was possible to hijack an aeroplane with a corkscrew

Basil Hume: the Monk Cardinal By Anthony Howard

A warrior monk who loved a good fight
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Brendan O'Carroll as Agnes Brown in the 2014 Mrs Brown's Boys Christmas special
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Jack O'Connell stars as Louis Zamperini in Angelina Jolie's Unbroken
film review... even if Jack O'Connell is excellent
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Independent Travel
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – Five-star MS Swiss Corona 7 nights from £999pp
Lake Como St Moritz & the Bernina Express 7 nights from £809pp
Vietnam
Lake Maggiore, Orta & the Matterhorn 7 nights from £939pp
South Africa
Spain
Prices correct as of 19 December 2014
A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
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