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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General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever