Arts and Entertainment

Something strange happened while I was watching the new series of US legal drama The Good Wife (More4) this week. I found myself humming the theme tune from Australian soap opera Home and Away. It was my unconscious mind's way of serenading new addition to the cast, Melissa George.

Litany of disgust over airline meals

IT'S OFFICIAL: your in-flight meal is revolting. Or, to be more specific, the food served on the transatlantic slog is a leathery, congealed, fibrous form of "gastronomic murder".

Television Reviews: Beg To Differ and The Travel Show

"I AM THE capitalists' nightmare - the educated intelligent person who just doesn't want a job," said Annie Byfield, introducing a new series called Beg to Differ (C4) last week. She was delivering this link, or something similarly smug, on the Dockland's Light Railway - a heaving illustration of the rat-race lifestyle she was denouncing. At which point one of the oppressed rodents told her to shut up because he was trying to read his newspaper. Byfield was outraged to have her diatribe interrupted, but I let out an involuntary cheer for this hero of bourgeois endurance. He could probably just about cope with the fact that his labour was paying for her indolence, but to be harangued for his dull conformity was more than flesh could bear.

diary

Blue eyes, red faces

Watchdog finds placenta dinner in bad taste

Channel 4 presenter defies criticism of programme that showed family cooking and consuming afterbirth `to reflect rituals of other cultures'

Great Kentonese cuisine

XI'AN; 324 High Street, Orpington, Kent BR6 0NG. Tel: 01689 871 881. Open for lunch Monday to Saturday, 12-2.15pm and for dinner Sunday to Thursday, 6-11.15pm and Friday to Saturday, 6-11.45pm. Set menus from pounds 13 per head, average a la carte price around pounds 20 per person. Credit cards accepted

Mmm ... placenta puree, courtesy of our cook and C4

PARENTS invited 20 of their friends to feast on the afterbirth of their child for a fly-on-the-wall Channel 4 cookery show, to be screened early next month, writes Vanessa Thorpe.

Eating out: A bed of wild thyme

The Cors; Newbridge Road, Laugharne, Nr Carmartharne SA31 4SH. Tel: 01994 427219. Open Thursday to Friday noon to 2.30pm and 7 to 9pm, with extended hours over summer. Average price pounds 23 per person. Credit cards accepted

Great white truffles

Food stuff

The killing fields

Charlotte Eager goes wild in the country.

Food: For mash get mechanised

Mashed potato is back in fashion, both at home and in restaurants. Nikki Spencer investigates.

At the forecourt of dining

BLUEBIRD; 350 King's Road, London SW3 5UU. Tel: 0171 559 1000. Open Mon-Fri 12-3.30pm, Mon-Sat 6-11pm, Sat and Sun for brunch 11am-3.30pm, and Sun 6-10pm. Average price per person, pounds 35, without wine. Credit cards accepted

TV Reviews: Strike It Rich and TV Dinners

Spare a thought this Christmas for Helen Doble and Brian and Brenda Williams, the compilers who have the challenging task of thinking up questions for Strike It Rich (ITV), a vehicle for the spookily ordinary talents of Michael Barrymore. This might not seem, at first glance, to be the pinnacle of the compiler's profession. But next to it Mastermind is a mere foothill. The really testing nature of Strike It Rich is is the difficulty of finding questions easy enough for the competitors to answer. Take this for example: "this has a wobbly body and is found in the sea". Not exactly The Times crossword is it? And it isn't even assumed that the competitors might come up with the word jellyfish for themselves - they only have to choose correctly from a list of six words beginning with J (among the temptingly fishy alternatives - juggernaut, jackass and jurassic).
Voices
Homeless Veterans charity auction: Cook with Angela Hartnett and Neil Borthwick at Merchants Tavern
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm tomorrow
Arts and Entertainment
J Jefferson Farjeon at home in 1953
booksBooksellers say readers are turning away from modern thrillers and back to golden age of crime writing
Sport
Amir Khan is engaged in a broader battle than attempting to win a fight with Floyd Mayweather
boxing Exclusive: Amir Khan reveals plans to travel to Pakistan
News
Stacey Dooley was the only woman to be nominated in last month’s Grierson awards
mediaClare Balding and Davina McCall among those overlooked for Grierson awards
Voices
Joseph Kynaston Reeves arguing with Russell Brand outside the RBS’s London offices on Friday
voicesDJ Taylor: The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a worker's rant to Russell Brand
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Twitchers see things differently, depending on their gender
scienceNew study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
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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
Life and Style
A still from the 1939 film version of Margaret Mitchell's 'Gone with the Wind'
life
News
Xander van der Burgt, at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
scienceA Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
Career Services

Day In a Page

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