Catherine Tate

'I prefer a less polite laugh'

Katherine Parkinson stars in a Dickens spoof over Christmas, then takes on Ayckbourn. Cosy comedy's not for this cerebral soul, as Alice Jones discovers

The Foster's Edinburgh Comedy Awards: the Nominees, Various venues,

The shortlist meeting for the awards this year was record-breakingly lengthy and no wonder, what with a rather unwieldy list of eight newcomer nominees. Many of the buzz acts made the cut, and of the main six nominees (Adam Riches, Andrew Maxwell, Chris Ramsey, Josie Long, Nick Helm and Sam Simmons), four have already been reviewed on this page and Simmons is covered below.

A cultural Christmas

The next few weeks don't have to be all about panto: from theatre and dance, to opera and comedy, Alice Jones picks the events to light up the season

The Diary: Patrick Barlow's Star Child; Belarus Free Theatre; Jessica

London's theatres can draw a glittering crowd of guests when they want to but how deep are their pockets? We'll find out on 5 December when Theatreland hosts not one but two VIP charity galas in a dramatic date clash. In the red corner, the Almeida Theatre will stage Star Child in aid of the Art Room Charity. Catherine Tate, Stephen Mangan and Juliet Stevenson will all star in Patrick Barlow's modern-day nativity while Stephen Fry – who else? – will play a "disgruntled" God. Tickets: £75 (including post-show champagne). Meanwhile, in the blue (orange?) corner, the Young Vic will host a benefit for the Belarus Free Theatre and Index on Censorship, with tickets priced for the people at £25-45. Jude Law, Ian McKellen and Sam West are signed up as guest stars for the night, timed to chime with the Belarusian elections on 19 December. Shame they didn't check the theatre calendar too.

Twelve TV treats of Christmas

Gerard Gilbert peeps under the bonnet in 'Cranford' and takes a trip with the Time Lord in a selection of the best yuletide viewing

More headlines

Who's the Doctor?

David Tennant has just four more episodes of the BBC1 sci-fi drama to film, and rumours are rife over who will take over. Rob Sharp rounds up the main contenders