Arts and Entertainment Angela Lansbury is set return to the London stage after a hiatus of almost four decades

The actress will return to the Gielgud Theatre where she made her debut

Sir Trevor Nunn: Kiss her? I married my Kate!

Sir Trevor Nunn has always been fascinated by how the musical inspired by Shakespeare's comedy crosses into real life – not least his own

Sheridan Smith to star as Hedda Gabler

Legally Blonde star Sheridan Smith is set to play Hedda Gabler in a London stage production of Henrik Ibsen's seminal work.

The Weekend's Viewing: Off by Heart Shakespeare, Sat, BBC2
Episodes, Fri, BBC2

Here are the rules. Nine young finalists from something like 2,000 original entrants memorise and perform a short speech from Shakespeare in front of an RSC audience.

Eccentric escape: The House in the Clouds, a five-storey clapboard tower, is now an unusual holiday rental

Thorpeness: The Suffolk holiday village that sailed to success

With a boating lake at its heart, it is a century-old Utopian escape, says Kate Simon

The rest is silence, Brighton Festival

Who knows what goes on behind closed doors? But for a rain-battered Brighton Festival banner on the gate you'd never guess that the nondescript lock-up on a industrial estate in Shoreham-by-Sea was playing host to one of the most eagerly anticipated theatre events of the year.

Observations: Shakespeare shake-up in Shoreham-by-Sea

Something is rotten in the state of Denmark. Or at least in the rubbish tip of Shoreham-by-Sea, which forms the malodorous backdrop for an ambitious new take on Hamlet, opening this weekend.

Anderton House’s sitting room frames valley views

Stay the night: Anderton House, North Devon

Amid traditional thatched West Country cottages, Sophie Lam discovers an elegant Modernist homage to space and light

The Independent’s Charlie Cooper, right, learns Original Pronunciation Shakespeare with actor Ben Crystal

'Tuh beh oar nat tuh beh?' That was the question

This radically different pronunciation is, according to a new scholarly recording of Shakespeare's works, much closer to the way the line would have been spoken

The Sheffield Theatres stage three plays by Michael Frayn including 'Democracy'

Heads Up: Michael Frayn Season

From the West End to've been Frayn-ed!

Absolutely Fabulous, 10pm, BBC1

The pick of Christmas television: How to make the most of your holiday viewing

It's not just the return of Edina and Patsy – there's Downton, the Doctor, and Dickens. Gerard Gilbert presents his pick of the seasonal small screen

The Faith Machine, Royal Court Downstairs, London<br/>The God of Soho, Shakespeare's Globe, London<br/>Wittenberg, Gate, London

Questions of faith, capitalism and platonic ideals are thrashed out in Alexi Kaye Campbell's new Royal Court drama

The Revenge of Prince Zi Dan, Festival Theatre, Edinburgh

Prince Zi Dan, the Peking Opera version of Hamlet, considers his next move. To show that he's thinking, he stretches one foot up past his ear and goes into a deep crouch on his supporting leg. He does this while wearing an embroidered costume, high platform shoes and a headdress with waving peacock plumes. Having finished his contemplative stretch, he cries, "Let's go!"

3D Hamlet: A Lost Generation, Spaces on the Mile

The title and the name of the venue create more excitement than is warranted for a 70-minute routine cut-up job in a tiny hotel function room in the city centre.

First Night: Anna Christie, Donmar Warehouse, London

Muscle-bound Law provides power in epic tale of the sea

Ten Plagues, Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh

An account of the London plague is a strong choice of subject for a song cycle, and this Traverse production is already a festival highlight and a triumph for the singer Marc Almond, writer Mark Ravenhill, composer Conor Mitchell and director-designer Stewart Laing.

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Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
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Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
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Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
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Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

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