A very English playwright: The return of Alan Bennett

Alan Bennett stages his first play for years this month, at the National Theatre. Paul Taylor, who has met him many times, looks at how the butcher's son from Leeds became Britain's best loved playwright, and tries to unravel his complex personality

Wild Cooking, By Richard Mabey

Thirty-five years after his Food for Free, Mabey has produced an accompanying cookbook. The wait was worth it for such a literate and imaginative work.

Bennett and Gambon to form dream team

Alan Bennett, arguably Britain's greatest living playwright, is to team up with Michael Gambon, one of the best actors of a generation, in the National Theatre's new season.

Internal, Mercure Point Hotel, Edinburgh<br/>East 10th Street, Traverse, Edinburgh<br/>Sea Wall, Traverse, Edinburgh<br/>Susurrus, Royal Botanic Gardens, Edinburgh

Drama doesn't get more intimate (and scary) than an interactive speed-dating show where you are the innocent victim

35 Shots of Rum, Claire Denis, 100 mins, (12A)

This gentle French drama gets under your skin with a heady cocktail of intimacy and family ties

Britten, the boy wonder

Music the composer wrote as a child can now be heard for the first time. It shows a precocious genius, says Lynne Walker

Ron Mallone: Pacifist campaigner who founded the Fellowship Party

Ronald (known to his friends as “Ron”) Mallone, who recently died of leukaemia at the age of 92, was a committed and lifelong pacifist, Christian and socialist, who co-founded a political party and repeatedly contested both parliamentary and local elections between 1959 and 1997.

The Beggar's Opera, Royal Opera House, London

You could experience a momentary double-take walking into the Royal Opera's Linbury Studio Theatre – thinking you've taken a wrong turn into the main house, as a cross-section of the ornate balconies and familiar red curtains of the latter confronts you. John Gay's original The Beggar's Opera was so successful that it laid the foundations for the theatre that is now the Royal Opera House.

Britten The Beggar&rsquo;s Opera, Royal Opera/ Linbury Studio

You could experience a momentary double-take walking into the Royal Opera’s Linbury Studio Theatre and thinking you’ve taken a wrong turn into the main house.

Preview: Albert Herring, Glyndebourne Festival, Glyndebourne

A sterling cast for a vintage production

Punch and Judy, Young Vic, London<br/>Atalanta, Britten Theatre, London<br/>Acis and Galatea, Wilton's Music Hall, London

Mr and Mrs Punch and the Molotov cocktail: Britten was said to hate Birtwistle's violent opera, but, 40 years on, its wit and skill stand out. Just don't look for a moral centre

&#163;51m profit on sale of Boosey & Hawkes is music to HgCapital

The classical music publisher Boosey & Hawkes is the latest addition to the ABP pension fund's programme of direct investment in assets, rather than fare the volatility of the public markets.

BBC SO/Knussen, Barbican, London

Alban Berg was in poor shape, financially and bodily, when he accepted the commission for a violin concerto in 1935, and shattered to learn of the death of Alma Mahler's 18-year-old daughter, Manon, of whom he had been fond.

Punch And Judy, Royal Opera House: Linbury Studio, London

Still murderous after all these years. Harrison Birtwistle and Stephen Pruslin's Punch and Judy is 40 years old. Mr Punch and his unfortunate wife go back much further, of course, but this extraordinary work was perhaps the defining moment when the Theatre of Cruelty set its mark on opera. That moment occurred in Jubilee Hall, Aldeburgh, in June 1968, when even our most astute and receptive of music-theatre practitioners, Benjamin Britten, found it just too, too much. It is, of course – but then nightmares are, aren't they?

'Replace trite and trashy statues with trees'

Leading art figures condemn the profusion of public memorials, claiming the majority are sentimental and badly executed
Life and Style
A monstrous idea? Body transplants might no longer be science fiction
Science An Italian neurosurgeon believes so - and it's not quite as implausible as it sounds, says Steve Connor
Demba Ba (right) celebrates after Besiktas win on penalties
footballThere was no happy return to the Ataturk Stadium, where the Reds famously won Champions League
Arts and Entertainment
Natural beauty: Aidan Turner stars in the new series of Poldark
arts + ents
Mia Freedman, editorial director of the Mamamia website, reads out a tweet she was sent.
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
The write stuff: masters of story-telling James Joyce, left, and Thomas Hardy
arts + ents...begging to differ, John Walsh can't even begin to number the ways
Image from a flyer at the CPAC event where Nigel Farage will be speaking
Career Services

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Prices correct as of 20 February 2015
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Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

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Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

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'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

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'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

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Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
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