News A man sits under the sun at the Centenario park in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

The mercury rose to 45C in northern provinces of the country

Heatwave warning for weekend

Britain is braced for warmer weather this weekend after the Met Office warned parts of the country could be hit by a heatwave.

Retailers can expect a bad sales report again

Retailers are preparing for further bad news. Key figures to be published tomorrow are almost certain to reveal that consumer spending again disappointed last month, amid fears that the ongoing squeeze on household disposable incomes is set to depress the sector for the rest of the year.

We must focus on the big picture, says Anglian man

As the water industry faces a year of change, one of its leaders asks Ofwat to avoid micromanagement

Thorntons blames heatwave for profit meltdown over Easter

The scorching weather this Easter has caused a meltdown at the chocolate-maker Thorntons, forcing it to warn on profits for a second time in three months.

Hot weather hits Thorntons chocolate sales

Chocolatier Thorntons issued a profits warning today as it blamed the record temperatures in April for a meltdown in Easter sales.

Met Office comes to the rescue as hayfever sufferers wilt in heat

Britain's millions of hayfever sufferers have a new helping hand: the Met Office has introduced daily pollen forecasts on its website.

Anti-smog buildings could be the future, as pollution soars

Britain may face EU courts over poor air quality, but tests on new 'sponge-like' materials offer hope

Jeremy Laurance: Asthma sufferers beware: the dangers are all too real

Ozone produced by the action of sunlight on vehicle pollution causes smog, and is a particular threat to asthma sufferers, contributing to tens of thousands of serious attacks each year and hundreds of deaths.

Smog alert issued for Easter break

The Government today issued a "smog alert" for the Easter weekend for ozone and polluting particles known as PM10s, which can affect people's health.

Julie Burchill: Leslie Nielsen – the Hamlet who found wisdom as a clown

I was well-pleased to read in the obituaries of the actor Leslie Nielsen – who died this week at the age of 84 – that he had started out as a serious actor, but decided against it in later life. "I've finally found my home," he said, upon being cast in Airplane! in his fifties, when critics warned that he was being cast against type and bound to fail. Indeed, so much did he prefer the mask of comedy to the mask of tragedy that even in his own time he liked to stand in a crowded elevator, urge the palms of his hands to mimic flatulence and then apologise sheepishly. What a guy!

Penelope, Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh

Enda Walsh has long been one of the best and most challenging of all Irish playwrights; his new piece, Penelope breaks out of his Cork confines and deposits us in a drained swimming pool on the sweltering hot day of Odysseus's return.

One of the wettest, coldest Augusts

Last month brought the coldest temperature recorded in August for 23 years – and a complete absence of "hot days", figures showed yesterday.

Mushroom hunt claims 18 lives

At least 18 mushroom-lovers have been killed in accidents while hunting for their favourite fungi in the mountains and forests of northern Italy.

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Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – MS Swiss Corona - seven nights from £999pp
Lake Maggiore, Orta and the Matterhorn – seven nights from £899pp
Sicily – seven nights from £939pp
Pompeii, Capri and the Bay of Naples - seven nights from £799pp
Istanbul Ephesus & Troy – six nights from £859pp
Mary Rose – two nights from £319pp
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

Voted for by the British public, the artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen
Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Blanche Marvin reveals how Tennessee Williams used her name and an off-the-cuff remark to create an iconic character
Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Websites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

The woman stepping down as chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund is worried