Arts and Entertainment Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins in a scene from 'The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug'

Dir. Peter Jackson;  Starring Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, 161mins

A scene from Peter Jackson's The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug review

For all its use of 3D and digital technology, this is an old-fashioned romp at heart – a piece of pure cinematic escapism

Nicola Adams topped the list last year

Who’ll top the IoS Pink List this year? That’s up to you

Katy Guest opens search for UK’s influential gay, bisexual and transgender people

High-vis low comedy: (from left) Luke Gell, David Haig, Mina Anwar and Toby Longworth in 'The Wright Way'

BBC axes 'bruised' Ben Elton's TV flop 'The Wright Way'

BBC2 sitcom Heading Out has also been dropped

Michael Pennington in Dances of Death

Theatre review: Dances of Death, Gate, Notting Hill, London

Strindberg’s The Dance of Death (1900) is a play in two parts. Although Laurence Olivier and Geraldine McEwan played the full saga at the National Theatre in 1966, you only usually see Part One.

Dan Brown attends his An Evening With Dan Brown event, to promote his new novel Inferno, at the Freemason's Hall, London.

The Freemasons' Code: Dan Brown reveals the message that told him the door to the lodge is open

His best-selling novels illuminate the shadowy organisations that supposedly run the world. But Dan Brown was “honoured” to receive an invitation to join the Freemasons, the arcane fraternity whose tentacles are said to extend into the highest echelons of power.

Sir Ian McKellen and Sir Derek Jacobi star as lifelong partners growing rancorously old together in ITV's new sitcom Vicious

Will new ITV sitcom Vicious starring Sir Ian McKellen and Sir Derek Jacobi prove a watershed for gay relationships in TV drama?

Take our poll: Are LGBT characters fairly represented on British TV?

DVD & Blu-ray review: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (12)

Peter Jackson DVD/Blu-ray (166mins)

Hairy moment: Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins in 'The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey'

The Hobbit 3 release date pushed back to December 2014

The release date of the third instalment of Peter Jackson's Hobbit trilogy has been pushed back from 18 July 2014 to 17 December 2014.

So Tate Modern's had 5.3m visitors, but do gallery visitor numbers really add up to all that much?

Plus: My nomination for best non-snub and the people of  Les Misérables are revolting

Journeyman: Martin Freeman's Bilbo Baggins takes on the Dwarves

The Hobbit: An Unexpected box office smash with $200 million global opening weekend

Despite weak reviews and a problematical production process, Peter Jackson's first Hobbit instalment looks set to be more successful than the Rings films

Engaging: Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins in the first film of the Hobbit trilogy

The Hobbit movie is no fantasy for animals

Allegations of animal cruelty on the set of The Hobbit threaten to tarnish the film's reputation. So has director Peter Jackson done enough to answer them?

A long slow journey to an abrupt ending

There is a sense of sledgehammers being used to crack nuts in the first part of Peter Jackson's Hobbit trilogy. J R R Tolkien's short 1937 novel has been turned into an enormous Wagnerian epic.

So bright, so beautiful. Ah, precious! 'Hobbit' coins to be legal tender in New Zealand

Something as shiny, but not quite as precious, as the ring from the film adaptation of JRR Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings series could soon be used to do your weekly shopping – if you live in New Zealand, that is. Newly minted ‘Hobbit’ coins, featuring characters such as Bilbo Baggins and Gandalf, are to become legal tender in the country.

Martin Freeman in 'The Hobbit'

One into three won't go. A Hobbit trilogy is stretching Tolkien a little too far

Is there some kind of law of modern culture that says everything must come in threes? Fifty Shades of Grey, The Dark Knight movies, The Hunger Games books, Hilary Mantel's Thomas Cromwell books, Toy Story, The Matrix… It seems that publishers and film studios would do anything to get a franchise under way, and to tell its audience, as if they were small children, that the characters they liked will be back with more adventures next year…

The Blagger's Guide To: Oldies

Will you still need me? Will you still feed me?

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The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003
Barbara Woodward: Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with the growing economic superpower

Our woman in Beijing builds a new relationship

Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with growing economic power
Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer. But the only British soldier to be awarded the Victoria Cross in Afghanistan has both

Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer

Beware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
Alexander McQueen: The catwalk was a stage for the designer's astonishing and troubling vision

Alexander McQueen's astonishing vision

Ahead of a major retrospective, Alexander Fury talks to the collaborators who helped create the late designer's notorious spectacle
New BBC series savours half a century of food in Britain, from Vesta curries to nouvelle cuisine

Dinner through the decades

A new BBC series challenged Brandon Robshaw and his family to eat their way from the 1950s to the 1990s
Philippa Perry interview: The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course

Philippa Perry interview

The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef recreates the exoticism of the Indonesian stir-fry

Bill Granger's Indonesian stir-fry recipes

Our chef was inspired by the south-east Asian cuisine he encountered as a teenager
Chelsea vs Tottenham: Harry Kane was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope

Harry Kane interview

The striker was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope
The Last Word: For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?

Michael Calvin's Last Word

For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?