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Conservative halve Labour’s poll lead

Leading article: No strings attached to this War Horse

Steven Spielberg's interest in the sentimental is well documented. The man could buy the rights to a trigonometry text book and find a way to wring a tear from its pages on the silver screen.

Rebecca Tyrrel: 'At least Billie Piper never threw a cat in a wheelie bin'

Who knew that, before she became a child pop sensation at 15, Billie Piper's guilty pleasure was throwing animals? For a while in the early 1990s, it was literally raining cats and dogs in Swindon. "I used to pick up animals on the street," she confessed in a questionnaire, "and launch them as far as I could."

Granular poison frog (Oophaga granulifera) Listed as vulnerable on the Red List of Threatened Species, mainly because its severely fragmented range covers an area of less than 20,000 sqkm in Costa Rica and Panama, and is getting smaller due to farming, logging and human settlements

Amphibians face faster demise from multiple threats

Many of the world's amphibians are likely to go extinct faster than expected because of a combination of environmental threats working in unison, a study has found.

Granular poison frog (Oophaga granulifera) Listed as vulnerable on the Red List of Threatened Species, mainly because its severely fragmented range covers an area of less than 20,000 sqkm in Costa Rica and Panama, and is getting smaller due to farming, logging and human settlements

Amphibians face raised extinction threat

Many of the world's amphibians, which include frogs, toads, newts and salamanders, could die out faster than expected this century, a study has found.

Guido Fawkes (Paul Staines), Jamie East, founder of 'Holy Moly', and Richard Wilson, blogger, David Allen Green, Jack of Kent blog and legal correspondent of the New Statesman

The Sketch: 'The culture clash was no more pronounced when Badger got Toad in to give him a good talking to'

On this side - peers and senior MPs of the Joint Privacy and Injunctions Committee; parliamentarians of age, honour and wisdom. On that side - tweeters, bloggers and other internet riff raff - that is, heroes of the modern age, who live and die by their reputation.

Cane Toads: The Conquest 3D (PG)

I'm afraid so: a documentary, in 3D, about... toads.

You can take the slow lane all the way down this river

The busy Canal du Midi isn't the only place to take a river cruise. Sarah Donnelly boards a solar-powered boat for a new tour of the Lot

Parents 'turned in teenage looter'

A teenager was "frog-marched" to a police station after his parents saw photos of him looting, a court heard today.

Album: Little Dragon, Ritual Union (Peace Frog)

Collaborations with Gorillaz and Big Boi have made the Swedish quartet Little Dragon one of the more intriguing new prospects, arousing an interest which the piquant electro-soul stylings of Ritual Union more than bear out.

Scientists discover toad species last seen in 1924

Scientists scouring the mountains of Borneo have found a toad species last seen in 1924 by European explorers and thought to be extinct.

Trail of the unexpected: Paris' coffee culture

Parisian coffee was once a bitter black mark on French cuisine. No longer, says Tilly Culme-Seymour

Book Of A Lifetime: Charlotte's Web, By EB White

I was a child who loved reading. I was crazy for the world of books, a world I felt was much more exciting than the one I actually lived in. To have some of the thrill of story, I would try and put myself in the way of adventure in my "real" life. Usually this involved riding my bike around the neighbourhood, or squelching through the pond opposite my house. For a long stretch of days one summer, I stood at the window of my bedroom, notebook in hand, looking for suspicious people to document. I made my little brother stand with me, as my assistant. His job was to look up the street while I looked down.

DJ Taylor: We're all in the same boat, even old Toad

False assumptions over the poor, hard realities for university dons, 'tradesmen' in publishing and trouble down on the riverbank

Nature Studies by Mike McCarthy: Worth being awake at 3am to hear this sound

Of all our imaginings, one of the most resonant is the idea of transformation. We are instantly fascinated by people changing identities, by things becoming different things, by frogs which turn into princes. Perhaps it's because one of our principal holds on reality is our instinctive belief, so hard to dislodge, that form is fixed, not fluid, and so to encounter any fundamental shift in form or nature gives us a jolt. Not that we do come across such shifts much, in the real world – the caterpillar changing into a butterfly is the prime exception – but our myths and legends and stories are chock-fullof them.

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There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm tomorrow
Arts and Entertainment
James May, Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond in the Top Gear Patagonia Special
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Claudia Winkleman and co-host Tess Daly at the Strictly Come Dancing final
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Arts and Entertainment
Caroline Flack became the tenth winner of Strictly Come Dancing
tvReview: 'Absolutely phenomenal' Xtra Factor presenter wins Strictly Come Dancing final
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Elton John and David Furnish will marry on 21 December 2014
peopleSinger posts pictures of nuptials throughout the day
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A still from the 1939 film version of Margaret Mitchell's 'Gone with the Wind'
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J Jefferson Farjeon at home in 1953
booksBooksellers say readers are turning away from modern thrillers and back to golden age of crime writing
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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
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'
Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

Marian Keyes

The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

Rodgers fights for his reputation

Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick