News Arms deals fixer Ziad Takieddine has been refused entry to Britain

A controversial fixer for arms deals linked to an alleged corruption scandal that engulfed Nicolas Sarkozy has been refused entry to Britain.

Opera singer Boe bites the (tiny) hand that feeds him

The star of La Bohème picks rock classics over classic arias, to the dismay of others in the musical world

Cooper Brown: Running

Brian Viner: No one holidays quite like the British

With a bank holiday weekend almost upon us, followed in most schools by a week of half-term, tens of thousands of British families will, Icelandic ash clouds permitting, be jetting off today and tomorrow for some guaranteed Mediterranean or perhaps more distant sunshine. At the same time, tens of thousands of others will be risking the vagaries of the British weather, and setting off for hotels, rented houses, B&Bs, caravans and campsites in our own islands. The latest edition of The Good Beach Guide, published yesterday, shows that no fewer than 461 British beaches now meet the guide's gold standard, so unpolluted seas at least await those brave enough to wade in.

No black tie, no tea-towels on heads – meet the populisers

The men behind the rise and rise of Opera Holland Park are proud of their diverse repertoire – and their diverse audience. Anna Picard reports

Excess and the exorcist: Edward St Aubyn brings the Melrose family saga to an end

St Aubyn has spent two decades writing acclaimed tragi-comic novels about the abusive, aristocratic Melrose family, modelled on his own.

Elizabeth Llewellyn/ Simon Lepper, St. John’s, Smith Square

The first thing you notice about Elizabeth Llewellyn’s voice is the bloom – a plushy, covered quality that extends pretty much throughout the range and only hardens under pressure at the top.

The Afterparty, By Leo Benedictus

Celebrity satire with lots of style

The Cult of Beauty: Beautiful Dreamers

A new exhibition at the V&A showcases the work of the 19th-century Aesthetic Movement. Arifa Akbar explores the enduring allure of art for art's sake

Cooper Brown: Television

I spent the day filming a TV pilot in Holland Park. You, dear reader, are not the only person to spot my potential. It seems that with OMG With Peaches Geldof now looking like history there may need to be a replacement.

Home to roast: Are designer chickens worth the money?

Forget the £2.99 broiler. Christopher Hirst discovers how gourmet super-birds are carving out an appetising – and lucrative – niche

Must You Go?, By Antonia Fraser

Some of Antonia Fraser's memoir of her decades with Harold Pinter does consist of lustrous names dropping in an avalanche of well-connected badinage onto Notting Hill lawns and Caribbean terraces. But not much.

Fables: A Film Opera, Spitalfields Winter Festival, London <br/> The Messiah, Wigmore Hall, London

Stories of survival, rebellion, greed and love come to life in a remarkable marriage of music and film

Diary: Best to avoid the scrum, Gavin

Never afraid to embrace the big issues of the day, High Street Ken sprang into action on behalf of his old mate Gavin Henson, after the occasional rugby player announced he was once again ready for romance.

'Writing really can change lives'

A project that brings authors into inner-city schools, inspired by the novelist Dave Eggers, is empowering young people &ndash; and writers themselves &ndash; in ways they never expected.
Voices
On the last day of campaigning before the polling booths open, the SNP leader has written to voters in a final attempt to convince them to vote for independence
voicesIs a huge gamble on oil keeping the First Minister up at night?
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Apple has been hit by complaints about the 1.1GB download

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Pointless host Alexander Armstrong will voice Danger Mouse on CBBC
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Much-loved cartoon character returns - without Sir David Jason

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Liam Neeson's Downton dreams

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Rosalind Buckland, the inspiration for Cider with Rosie died this week
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The former Doctor Who actor is to play a vicar is search of a wife
film

Matt Smith is set to join cast of the Jane Austen classic - with a twist

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Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

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Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
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From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
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‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week