News Hundreds of schools were closed today, because of a teacher strike

Workers strike over increases to pension contributions and cuts to the size of payouts

50 evacuated after 'piping theft gas blast'

Around 50 people were evacuated from their homes early today after a suspected gas explosion, police said.

Rampant Wolves put 82 past Quins

Warrington Wolves 82 Harlequins 6

High-flying Quins eager to tame hungry Wolves

It is time to start taking Harlequins' play-off credentials very seriously indeed. The 27-16 victory on 11 March at St Helens' temporary home in Widnes was their fourth win in five games this season. While their coach, Rob Powell, is not getting carried away, he knows they have already exceeded many people's expectations for their season.

Bob Greaves: Long-serving reporter and presenter for Granada Television

Bob Greaves was the most famous television face in the North-West through the 1970s and 80s. Everybody knew him. Wherever he went, people wanted to shake his hand or simply shout out his name. He always responded with a smile and a chirpy quip. In a street research study a staggering 96 per cent of people in the region could name him from a photograph.

Video: Devastation in Otsuchi

Video footage from the town of Otsuchi where some 12,000 people out of a population of 15,000 have disappeared.

Macclesfield and Wycombe fined after brawl

Macclesfield and Wycombe have been hit with £9,000 fines by the Football Association following their ugly brawl in the npower League Two fixture at Moss Rose last month.

Victory is Evans-sent for rampant Warrington

Warrington moved up to third in Super League with an attacking display that was sparked by an 18-year-old, Rhys Evans. The blond Welsh centre was instrumental in the Wolves taking a first-half lead they were never to lose, scoring a try and setting one up.

Footballers who couldn't take corners

Everton striker Louis Saha has escaped unharmed after crashing his Ferrari on a country road. The 32-year-old was driving his blue Ferrari 458 in Wilmslow, Cheshire, shortly before 9pm last night when he lost control of the car and collided with a fence.

Briers stars as Wolves weather late Saints revival

St Helens 18 Warrington 25

Anthony Rose: The 2009 Burgundy vintage is an abundant crowd-pleaser. What’s not to like?'

The phrase "hurry while stocks last" is so trite that it would be easy to ignore the clamour for 2009 Burgundy if there weren't a risk of being crushed in the stampede for it.

Shake a petal. Get out and see those early snowdrops

About Britain

Betts to hand Sculthorpe Widnes chance

Danny Cculthorpe is being given the chance by Widnes to revive his career after more than a year out of action. The former Wigan prop was released by Bradford without playing a game for them, because of an infection that set in after a back operation.

David Gilmour's son charged over riot

Charlie Gilmour, the son of Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour, has been charged with violent disorder and the theft of a mannequin leg following the student fees protest in London on 9 December. The Cambridge University student is one of three people charged in relation to the protest and will go before the City of Westminster Magistrates' Court on 10 February.

Stone Roses gig to be resurrected on film

The celebrated Spike Island show by the Stone Roses is to be immortalised in a new movie. The 1990 concert was a high point in the indie rock band's career, with nearly 30,000 people flocking to the outdoor gig near Widnes, Cheshire. It will be the backdrop for a film being made by Tom Green, director of Channel 4's Misfits.

Golf captain's £40,000 benefit con

A former golf club captain who swindled thousands of pounds in benefits avoided jail today.

Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
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Left to right: Stanley Tucci, Sophie Grabol and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
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Call The Midwife: Miranda Hart as Chummy
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Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald in the Doctor Who Christmas special
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Japanese artist Megumi Igarashi showing a small mascot shaped like a vagina
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The Queen delivers her Christmas message
newsTwitter reacts to Her Majesty's Christmas Message
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Independent Travel
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – Five-star MS Swiss Corona 7 nights from £999pp
Lake Como St Moritz & the Bernina Express 7 nights from £809pp
Vietnam
Lake Maggiore, Orta & the Matterhorn 7 nights from £939pp
South Africa
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Prices correct as of 19 December 2014
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