News Debris washed up by flood water in Moorland, where 40 square miles of the Somerset Levels remain underwater

Officials were told 12 months ago that rivers posed a serious risk but failed to take any action

Opera director's last stand falls flat

Covent Garden crisis: Bernard Haitink resigns over proposal to close for a year in attempt to repair finances

ROH conductor threatens to quit

SIR BERNARD Haitink, music director of the Royal Opera House, has threatened to resign at Christmas due to the scrapping of performances next year.

Letter: Elite v. lite

OF COURSE the Booker Prize for fiction is a bit of a circus, but at least it is trying to identify the best books.

The Week in Arts: Carry on cackling

IT WAS strange sitting behind the real Barbara Windsor at the National Theatre for the opening of Terry Johnson's Carry On Homage, Cleo, Camping, Emanuelle And Dick, while on stage her alter ego was both seducing and being seduced by the Sid James character. Would the real Barbara laugh, cry or sue? Well, she was crying at the end, as she is the only one of the central characters still alive. But it was interesting to note at which points she laughed. The first came when it was remarked on stage that things were so bad on the set that Charles Hawtrey nearly sobered up. But I was more intrigued to hear a barely-stifled giggle when an on-stage heavy sent by her husband said to the Sid James character: "It's not that Ronnie minds you owing him money. It's not that Ronnie minds you shagging his wife. It's your shagging his wife when you owe him money." Barbara Windsor, I gather, had seen the script and tweaked it a little. And if that's what she was happy, indeed mightily amused, to leave in, I'd love to see the out-takes.

The Saturday Essay: Popularity is fine, but it's not what makes art great

Quality will out is what we elitists believe: how one winces when a programme says `not performed since 1782'

BBC told to go for quality

IN THE week that the BBC launches its first digital channels, Chris Smith, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, has warned that quality must come before quantity.

BT chief calls for telecoms shake-up

SIR PETER BONFIELD, the chief executive of British Telecom, yesterday called for traditional telecoms and broadcasting regulators to be scrapped and replaced with bodies which could police the fast-converging markets of computers, television and telephones.

Blair backs tax perk for actors

TONY BLAIR has overruled Gordon Brown to give a tax break to actors by enshrining in law an anomaly under which they get preferential treatment.

THE PARTY BOYS

Waheed Alli - who's just become a peer at 34 - and Charlie Parsons are young, gay and very, very rich. Rachel Sylvester profiles the `yoof TV' tycoons who are at the heart of the New Labour establishment

Rugby league: Leeds' quality shows through

Leeds 37 St Helens 18

Architecture: The country's architectural enforcer

A small, unelected quango wields ultimate power over Britain's architectural planning. James Fisher examines its record

Music: It's cool to be highly strung

Synthesiser manufacturers beware. The epic sound of strings (yes, real strings) is making a comeback on the dancefloor.

Media: Analysis - Who's watching the watchmen?

DID DIXONS really sell second-hand goods as new? Do Ford Mondeos sometimes lean to the left? Did Airtours arrange holidays in hotels surrounded by barbed wire and located in bandit country?

Film: Lights go out at the BFI

No new British arthouse movies for two years? What's going on?

A knife at the opera

The grand old farce of Royal Opera House management becomes more improbable by the hour. On Tuesday, Sir Richard Eyre delivers his state- of-the-capital report. But is it too late to save Covent Garden from itself? By David Lister
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Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks
The haunting of Shirley Jackson: Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?

The haunting of Shirley Jackson

Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?
Bill Granger recipes: Heading off on holiday? Try out our chef's seaside-inspired dishes...

Bill Granger's seaside-inspired recipes

These dishes are so easy to make, our chef is almost embarrassed to call them recipes
Ashes 2015: Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

A woefully out-of-form Michael Clarke embodies his team's fragile Ashes campaign, says Michael Calvin
Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen