Arts and Entertainment The dark side: Bill Bailey

Cultural Life: The comedian on his favourite music, film, tv and theatre picks

Ozzy Osbourne of Black Sabbath performing last month

After 13 tops the charts, Black Sabbath win double at Golden Gods awards

Chart-topping metallers Black Sabbath crowned their comeback with a double win at a top rock awards event.

Rupert Murdoch has stated that he is trying transcendental meditation

'Trying transcendental meditation... not that easy to get started': Rupert Murdoch goes in search of his inner hippie

Holy media moguls! Has Rupert Murdoch discovered his spiritual side? Will the global maestro of plain dealing, pragmatism and unfettered capitalism reveal a mystical side to his thunderstruck associates?

Vote keeps US government going

The Republican House of Representatives voted to keep the US government going until the end of September, paving the way for the Senate to approve the measure to avoid a shutdown of federal agencies.

Diary: January's cold shoulder

Last week, this column was illustrated exclusively by middle-aged men, so I'm jolly grateful to Zach Galifianakis, star of The Hangover and its forthcoming sequel, for saying something mildly interesting about an attractive young lady. January Jones, best known as Mad Men's Betty Draper, recently claimed that Galifianakis (whose name I remain unable to spell without cutting and pasting it from the internet) was the most naturally funny man she'd ever met.

Stand-out stand-up: comedians name their favourite funnyman

Daniel Kitson, a comic virtually unknown to mainstream television audiences, today received the ultimate accolade when he was declared the funniest man in the business by his contemporaries.

Julie Burchill: Why the holier-than-thou hypocrites will always be rumbled in the jungle

"You are what you eat" – how many times a day do we come across this flagrant lie masquerading as modern wisdom? It's right up there with "If you look good, you feel good" (tell that to Marilyn Monroe) and "The abused abuse" (if that was true the majority of paedophiles would be female, and they're not).

Bill Bailey: Dandelion Mind, Wyndham's Theatre, London

Comedian's show fails to fully flower

Heard the one about Channel 4?

It was the home of anarchic humour in the Eighties and now it wants to define comedy for a new generation. Ian Burrell discovers why the broadcaster is playing it for laughs

Party reaction: Liberal Democrats fear deal will provoke exodus

Unease at prospect of sitting alongside Conservatives

The Snow Queen, The Coliseum, London

Michael Corder's The Snow Queen is glittering but bland. Adapting Hans Christian Andersen's tale for English National Ballet, he has chosen sparkling Prokofiev music with traditional designs and classical steps. He gives the dancers plenty of technical challenges, but not much to get their teeth into.

Stand up guy: Bill Bailey on music, marriage and the moment he refused to sell out

He wooed his wife with love letters. He plays every instrument under the sun. And he lives in a menagerie. What's not to like about Bill Bailey?

Going back to his roots: Bill Bailey injects some humour into music

The comedian discusses his remarkable guide to the orchestra...

Dylan Moran: 'I am a bit of a bumbling man, as you can tell..."

Despite his trademark moroseness, it seems that Dylan Moran may not be quite the crank he's cracked himself up to be
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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