Arts and Entertainment

“It is suicide to be abroad. But what is it to be at home...what is it to be at home?  A lingering dissolution,” declares the elderly, ailing Mrs Rooney in Beckett's 1957 radio play where she is heard dragging herself to a rural station in order to meet her blind husband off the mysteriously delayed train from Dublin.

Countdown to Downton: Your essential guide to the TV event of the year

Downton's back for a second series... and this time it's war. Veronica Lee gets the Abbey habit

Book Of A Lifetime: A Moment's Liberty, By Virginia Woolf

For half a century I have been hooked on diaries – my own and other people's. I began to keep a journal in 1959. I wrote my first entry on my first night at boarding school, by torchlight, underneath the blankets. My inspiration was the diary of Samuel Pepys. I had been given a copy, "suitably edited", for my 11th birthday.

DJ Taylor: The big picture

The Tory scheme to roll back the state; those who know their station; the artist formerly known as the greatest thing since sliced bread; and a one-string pony

Sugar, Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, 114 mins, (15)<br>Last Chance Harvey, Joel Hopkins, 92 mins, (12A)

Poignant, sweet and very funny. A sports movie that's pitch perfect

Psychoville - Dark side of the loons

Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton, the creators of 'The League of Gentlemen', have conjured up another bizarre bunch of misfits for 'Psychoville'. But, as they tell Gerard Gilbert, their new horror comedy's inspirations go beyond Royston Vasey

The Female of the Species, Vaudeville, London<br/>Zorro, Garrick, London<br/>Hangover Square, Finborough, London

A new play satirising feminism has enraged Germaine Greer, on whose experience it is loosely based

The Female of the species, Vaudeville Theatre, London

That banshee wail you hear when the wind is in the northeast is the sound of the biter bit – Germaine Greer is very, very angry at the author of this play about a sixty-ish feminist scribbler (played by Eileen Atkins). Its action is inspired by the time Greer was, briefly, held hostage by a devotee. And that sound you hear from the Vaudeville is the audience roaring at the best Ayckbourn play Alan Ayckbourn never wrote. Joanna Murray-Smith has expanded the original incident into a chorus of demands for approval, apologies, explanations, relief, compensation, and closure. No one, it seems, can be satisfied, but, at the end, remarkably, all are happy, rolling in love, money, and taramasalata.

'Cranford' heads BBC domination of awards

Bonnets and bustles were not in short supply in Cranford, but the BBC costume drama also addressed the dawning of a modern age, when railways intruded on rural life and Britain was on the brink of social upheaval.

The Weekend's TV: There's plenty to admire under the bonnet

Cranford, BBC1; Blair Years, BBC1

Now Elvis Presley ain't nothin' but a trapeze artist

Elvis may have left the building but nobody ever expected him to run away and join the circus. But it won't be long before fans of legendary show Cirque du Soleil find themselves all shook up at the sight of the King growling "I ain't nothin' but a hound dog" while swinging from a trapeze.

Snobs by Julian Fellowes

Rearguard action from the upper crust

Cold Mountain (15)

Puddle deep, mountain high

A Week in Books: Duped by the mandolin's seductive sound

"THE MILLION-copy bestseller", yells the jacket on the latest reprint of Captain Corelli's Mandolin (Vintage, pounds 5.99). A trifle previous, perhaps, since the latest figures showed the ubiquitous commuter's companion on sales of 995,000. At any rate, the Louis de Bernieres blockbuster has helped to fuel some smug punditry about the upwardly-mobile drift of the book charts. More will follow in the wake of the late Laureate's Whitbread victory this week, as Ted Hughes has lately outsold the likes of Terry Pratchett and Maeve Binchy. (Then again, Birthday Letters on its current form might well walk away with the Eurovision Song Contest, or even the Cheltenham Gold Cup.)
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Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
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Lake Garda, Venice & Verona
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Prices correct as of 30 January 2015
As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

Dame Harriet Walter interview

The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links