Arts and Entertainment Brace yourself: Bob Mortimer and Vic Reeves in 'House of Fools'

Vic and Bob have done sketch shows (The Smell of Reeves and Mortimer), web series (Vic & Bob’s Afternoon Delights), comedy dramas (Catterick, Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased)) and the greatest quiz show of all time (Shooting Stars), but until now they’ve never done a sitcom as sit-commy as this. Their new show, House of Fools (BBC2), is filmed in front of a live studio audience, and the duo play Odd Couple-style flatmates in a home filled with bizarre bric-à-brac and beset by unwelcome visitors.

Raw power: Who says you need to slave over a hot stove to make a tasty dish?

Use this season's freshest ingredients just as they are, says Mark Hix

Don't hurt my boy, mother begs kidnappers

The mother of a five-year-old British boy snatched by gun-wielding robbers in Pakistan wept today as she begged the kidnappers not to hurt him

Oyster and cucumber ceviche

Serves 2

Love bites: Create the ultimate valentine's meal with Mark Hix's sensuous oyster recipes

It's St Valentines Day tomorrow, and I have always thought that going out to a restaurant for an intimate dîner à deux on 14 February is a bit of a rip-off – some restaurants seem to think it's a good excuse to charge a small fortune for expensive food and champagne.

Business Diary: Getting hot under their wigs

Check out this week's issue of Legal Business magazine if you want to know what it's really like to work in a City law firm. It's Christmas quiz asks about the indentities of senior lawyers involved in some racy escapades over the past years. Among the few printable questions was: "Which top mediator bored his clients so much that, on returning to the meeting after a short break, found that they had resorted to sexual intercourse on the table?" Sadly, the magazine provides no answers.

Roll with it: How to make your own sushi

Sushi may be the ultimate in sophisticated grab-and-go lunches, but making your own nigiri is surprisingly simple. Alice-Azania Jarvis develops her raw talent

Summer veg salad

Serves 4

I Want Your Job: Market trader

'If you get it right you're quids in'

A taste of summer: In the first part of a seasonal celebration, Mark Hix serves up delicious starters and salads

Recently I was lucky enough to win a Guild of Food Writers Award for my book, British Seasonal Food, and this week and next we are celebrating by publishing some of the recipes here.

Pickled cucumber

1 medium cucumber
1tbsp good-quality white wine vinegar
Grated zest of 1 lemon
2tbsp olive oil
2tbsp chopped dill

Salad days: Now is the time to sow those delicious cut-and-come-again crops

For vegetable gardeners there is a flurry of mouthwatering firsts in July: the first shiny truncheons of courgette, the first slim, sweet carrots, the first early potatoes, the first shiny tomatoes. Perhaps even a cucumber. You can bet that somewhere, some smartypants will be saying airily, "Oh! I had those in June". But will that fantastically irritating paragon have remembered to sow more cut-and-come-again salad crops? Or a second row of French beans to crop under cloches in autumn? Or chicory, choy sum, endive, kohlrabi, komatsuna, mibuna, mizuna, oriental mustard and spinach leaf? Seed sowing is always more in our minds in spring and successional sowings of crops tend to get forgotten later in summer.

Knobbles and curves are back for fruit and veg

Curvy cucumbers and knobbly carrots return to supermarket shelves tomorrow thanks to the abolition of EU rules on the size and shape of 36 types of fruit and veg.

A £180m weeding job: The lake that has shrunk to half its original size

Kashmir's Dal Lake is dying, choked by algae that thrives on pollution. But a plan to clean it up threatens the livelihoods of local people
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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
Spain
Prices correct as of 19 December 2014
A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
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