Arts and Entertainment Paul O’Grady, best known for his drag queen comedic alter ego, Lily Savage, has strong views on benefit reform

Viewers complained the comedian's strong opinions were not challenged

Frank Skinner: Frank and fearless

Frank Skinner's new sitcom is full of gags, as you'd expect from the king of earthy humour. But he has a darker edge too, he tells Gerard Gilbert

Benn vs Davis: politics meets the music hall

Public Services Debate, Royal Festival Hall, London

Wit loses its working-class heart

The repertoire included "You only sing when you're fishing!" and an obscene numberinvolving Captain Birdseye

Perrier winner signs with Sky

SKY TELEVISION has paid pounds 3m to sign the Perrier Award winning comedian Al Murray.

Behind the scenes of British comedy, two hard men fix the funny money

AVALON, THE comedy company at the centre of the storm when Frank Skinner fell out with the BBC this week, admitted yesterday that it is "ruthless and will stop at nothing" in pursuing its clients' best interests.

Now Baddiel joins queue of talent leaving the BBC

SKY ADDED David Baddiel to its collection of BBC deserters yesterday, paying pounds 5.5m for a new sitcom written by, and starring, the comedian.

Skinner makes a sky-high demand so BBC walks out

THE BBC has walked away from contract negotiations with the comedy star Frank Skinner because of his "ridiculous" demands for money, it said yesterday.

Profile, Frank Skinner: A bloke for all seasons

Something dark lurks behind the loutish charm of the lad who is now at the centre of a multi-million TV bidding war

Banned pub landlord in last chance saloon

THIS YEAR'S race to win the Perrier Comedy Award entered its final stage yesterday when five acts were named in a shortlist. The winner will be declared on Saturday.

A play for three characters, a cast of thousands

Soon after Yasmina Reza's play Art opened in Paris in 1994, the French playwright received a telephone call from a woman she had never met. "I am in Paris," said the voice. "I am the wife of Sean Connery and I want to meet you immediately." Micheline Connery had seen the play, loved it, and told Reza when they met at the Paris Ritz that she wanted to buy the film rights. To Mrs Connery's surprise, Reza was not interested. Her dream was to put the play on in London.

Sport on TV: Age of nostalgia in close-up and super slo-mo

HOW MANY great sporting moments have you witnessed in the flesh? Not many. How many have you seen on the telly? Every single one, I bet. Most people's recollections of such occasions are framed by the TV screen. It's nostalgia in close-up and super slo-mo, embellished with opera scores, indy bands and techno beats.

Comedy: Gig Of The Week - Frank Skinner

Frank Skinner Tue

Fashion: Is it worth it? Return to sender

Fancy making a few bob? Write to someone you think will be the next Elvis, wait for a reply, then flog it
Career Services

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Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – Five-star MS Swiss Corona 7 nights from £999pp
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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
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'