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Armando Iannucci recently said that the UK falls behind the US  when it comes to female comedy writers. Do you find it to be a male-dominated industry?

Lessons for the press from Dickens

Chalk Talk
Family values: 'It's a Wonderful Life'

Ten best Christmas films

The Independent's film critic selects the ten best festive flicks

The News Matrix: Monday 23 December 2013

Artificial heart 'just a pump' like real one

Andy McSmith's Diary: Nadine gives ‘the scum’ something  to get their teeth into...

It can be said without fear of contradiction that the Sunday Mirror is not Nadine Dorries’ favourite read. Last week, a Sunday Mirror hack approached the Tory MP for Mid Bedfordshire to ask why she pays her daughter £35,000 a year from her MP’s expenses to work for her when her daughter has a Cotswold home 96 miles from London and 89 miles from Bedfordshire.

Book Review: Dickens and the Workhouse, By Ruth Richardson

It seems likely that, in writing with such conviction and clarity about Oliver Twist’s workhouse experiences as a young orphan, Dickens knew something of what went on inside. But what’s far more remarkable is that so few of his biographers followed up the connection between his sometime family home as a child and young man on Norfolk Street, London, and the building that stood only a few doors away from him and his family: the Cleveland Street Workhouse.

Donald Macintyre's Sketch: Lenders first, their critics second – the mistake MPs couldn’t afford to make

It must have seemed a good idea at the time. But you had to wonder, seeing their representatives lined up in front of the Business Innovation and Skills Select Committee, whether the off-the-back-of-the-lorry company names help their branding as public spirited pillars of the financial services community: Wonga, Mr Lender, QuickQuid. How confidence-inspiring is that?

Adjoa Andoh stars as Miss Havisham

Theatre review: Great Expectations, Bristol Old Vic

In Neil Bartlett’s staging of Great Expectations at Bristol Old Vic, you hear the story more than watch it. The chains of the convict, the hammering of the blacksmith, the unhinged humming of Miss Havisham are as much a part of the characters as the costume, expression and lines.

Third of Brits don't know who wrote Great Expectations - can you name the authors of these classics?

A new report has claimed a third of British people do not know the author of Great Expectations. It's Charles Dickens, by the way.

Book review: Wilkie Collins: A Life of Sensation, By Andrew Lycett

A biography that reveals the yin and yang of Victorian moral life – and a literary friendship

Ralph Fiennes as Charles Dickens

Film review: The Invisible Woman - Ralph Fiennes stars in the love life and adventures of Charles Dickens

Performing admirably both behind and in front of the camera Ralph Fiennes depicts Charles Dickens as a boisterous man so taken with his own celebrity that he believes he can hide his affair with a young actress (Felicity Jones) from the press. This is a film of two strands. As a treatise on how celebrity can delude it is excellent, but Fiennes is initially less sure-footed when dealing with the central secret romance.

Ralph Fiennes as Charles Dickens

Film review: The Invisible Woman - Ralph Fiennes stars in the love life and adventures of Charles Dickens

Performing admirably both behind and in front of the camera Ralph Fiennes depicts Charles Dickens as a boisterous man so taken with his own celebrity that he believes he can hide his affair with a young actress (Felicity Jones) from the press. This is a film of two strands. As a treatise on how celebrity can delude it is excellent, but Fiennes is initially less sure-footed when dealing with the central secret romance.

Review: The Luminaries, By Eleanor Catton

However you read this rangy, enormous, brilliant novel, make sure you do before its scope is crushed by a cinema or television adaptation

Last night's viewing: Who Do You Think You Are?, BBC1
Big Bad World, Comedy Central

Gary Lineker's family is fascinating. But not necessarily the ancestors he found with the help of the crack squad of genealogists in the Who Do You Think You Are? team. More interesting is the world of his brother, Wayne. Wayne – the black sheep Lineker – was once sentenced to two and a half years of bird for tax fraud. He also turned up on ITV's The Only Way Is Essex and runs a raft of Lineker's Bars in parts of the Med usually seen in the backdrop of Sky1's Ibiza Uncovered. The guy's a card.

The one-man plays of Simon Callow

The actor Simon Callow is set to star in a new one-man show exploring the life and work and the German composer Richard Wagner. However, it is not the first time that Callow has taken on a one-man role.

Mishal Husain will join presenters on BBC Radio 4's Today programme

BBC announces Mishal Husain as new female voice for Today programme

Show's stalwart presenter Jim Naughtie has moved to work on coverage of Scottish independence referendum

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Seven Cities of Italy
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence
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Minoan Crete and Santorini
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Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine