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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?

Andersen's English, Hampstead Theatre, London

Sebastian Barry's subtle, speculative new play takes off from a sad yet amusing real-life circumstance.

Polar Bears, Donmar Warehouse, London<br/>Andersen's English, Hampstead Theatre, London<br/>Beyond the Horizon/Spring Storm, NT Cottesloe

In Mark Haddon's first foray into theatre, a manic depressive slips into a decline and takes her saviour down with her

Book Of A Lifetime: Of Walking On Ice, By Werner Herzog

Simple acts of walking are threaded through the fiction of many writers, such as Jane Austen, Charles Dickens and Franz Kafka, who put their characters on the road for compelling reasons. So it seemed an idea to round them all up, and steer them into an anthology called The Burning Leg. Twenty authors gathered. Except my favourite was missing, because his words are non-fiction, though they flow fantastically. Quest, myth and even farce colour the pages of his rich and remarkable diary - the sort of diary that invites you to stop reading before pulling on your Timberlands.

Observations: Joseph Fiennes is the new face of Carte Noire Readers

At the moment we're used to seeing Joseph Fiennes play action man. As the star of the US television sci-fi drama FlashForward, he charges around Los Angeles waving a gun, trying to work out why everyone on the planet simultaneously lost consciousness for 137 seconds.

Martin Jarvis: Voice of the nation

Described as the Olivier of audiobooks, actor Martin Jarvis is the go-to guy for aural adaptations. Tim Walker talks to the man behind the mic

Minor British Institutions: The Trollope Society

It is a fair bet that the vast majority of the British population has never picked up a Trollope – one of the 19th-century novelist's works that is, not a tart. Even for those who made the excursion into Barsetshire and got to know the Pallisers, Anthony Trollope will for ever be under the shadow of his contemporary Charles Dickens.

Leading article: Price of justice

According to Dickens, "the one great principle of the English law is to make business for itself". Nowadays it often seems that the great principle is to run up vast costs, particularly in civil litigation cases.

Fabulous Foden makes the difference for Saints

Worcester 6 Northampton 26: Full-back's moment of magic is key to unlocking hosts' stubborn resistance

Present perfect: Christmas gifts for fashion followers

From bunny ears to designer skis, from killer heels to the ultimate pair of pants, Harriet Walker has the definitive guide for the fashion follower this Christmas

One Minute With: Sandi Toksvig

The Week In Radio: When poetry becomes an adventure

If I had a fiver for everyone I've heard say, "I never watch any television apart from the news and David Attenborough", well, it would probably cover my licence fee. But while there being Nothing on TV has been a staple moan of British cultural life for some time now, radio is in far happier shape. The Rajar figures for the third quarter of the year were good for the BBC, especially Radios 3, 4 and 5 Live. There were all sorts of explanations, including the Ashes and the Proms and global economic meltdown to explain why people were reaching for the radio. Yet perhaps it comes down to the fact that radio simply does some things better.

Charles Dickens, By Michael Slater

Dickens's ruthless ambition grew from family failure. His father constantly ran into trouble with money, and was eventually imprisoned for debt. In what has become one of the most familiar episodes in any writer's life, 12-year-old Charles was sent to work in a dingy blacking factory, sitting in a window to paste labels. Idlers would gather to watch. The shame was overwhelming, but it could not crush Dickens's relish for what London offered, even to a "common labouring boy".

Boxing: A Cultural History, By Kasia Boddy

A triumph of research in an unexpected field, Boddy's lucid study starts with the Greek gagster Lucilius ("Your head, Apollophanes, has become a sieve") before moving briskly on to the boxing obsessions of Byron, who created a pugilistic scrapbook on a folding screen, and Dickens, who inserted punch-ups in works from Pickwick to Edwin Drood.

Charles Dicken's England

That a documentary about the most exuberant comic novelist who ever lived should be quite so plodding as this is really a cause for shame.

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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
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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
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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

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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'

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The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

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The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

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Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

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From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

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