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 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'

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.

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.

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

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.

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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Day In a Page

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
Spain
Prices correct as of 19 December 2014
A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

Who remembers that this week we enter the 150th anniversary year of the end of the American Civil War, asks Robert Fisk
Homeless Veterans appeal: Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served

Homeless Veterans appeal

Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served
Downfall of Dustin 'Screech' Diamond, the 'Saved By The Bell' star charged with bar stabbing

Scarred by the bell

The downfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Security breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Cuba's golf revolution: But will the revolutionary nation take 'bourgeois' game to its heart?

Will revolutionary Cuba take 'bourgeois' golf to its heart?

Fidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
The Locked Room Mysteries: As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor Otto Penzler explains the rules of engagement

The Locked Room Mysteries

As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Amy Adams on playing painter Margaret Keane in Tim Burton's Big Eyes

How I made myself Keane

Amy Adams hadn’t wanted to take the role of artist Margaret Keane, because she’d had enough of playing victims. But then she had a daughter, and saw the painter in a new light
Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

Parting view of Ofcom chief... we hate jokes on the disabled

Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog, Ed Richards
A look back at fashion in 2014: Wear in review

Wear in review

A look back at fashion in 2014
Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015. Might just one of them happen?

Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015

Might just one of them happen?
War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?