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

EL James' Fifty Shades Of Grey is fastest-ever seller

Author EL James - behind publishing phenomenon Fifty Shades Of Grey - has become the first writer to see three of her books each sell in excess of 100,000 paperback copies in a week.

Billy Connolly joins cast of The Hobbit

Billy Connolly is going from Big Yin to tiny dwarf to complete the cast of Peter Jackson's movie version of The Hobbit.

Evangeline Lilly to star in The Hobbit

The former 'Lost' actress has signed on to play a new character, Tauriel, but director Sir Peter Jackson refused to give any further details about the woodland elf.

X-Men First Class (12A)

Starring: James McAvoy, Jennifer Lawrence, Rose Byrne, Michael Fassbender

Peter Jackson is taken ill as curse of 'The Hobbit' strikes again

Budget blow-outs, an industrial dispute, even a race row have threatened to derail the latest JRR Tolkien blockbuster, The Hobbit. To that list can now be added a perforated ulcer, courtesy of director Sir Peter Jackson, who was taken to hospital in the New Zealand capital, Wellington, on Wednesday.

King Lear, Donmar Warehouse, London

He is the most exacting and pernickety of actors, Derek Jacobi, which means that his long-awaited Lear will never open the floodgates. But it is most beautifully spoken and detailed. It's also terribly polite.

First Night: King Lear, Donmar Warehouse, London

Jacobi's Lear is too calm, not enough storm

One Minute With: Armistead Maupin, novelist

Where are you now and what can you see? I'm on a train on my way from London to Liverpool and there are English fields flying by the window and the sun is coming out. It's a milky view of an England that doesn't change.

Freeman to lead British invasion into Middle Earth

An influx of familiar faces into Middle Earth is expected after the announcement that filming of The Hobbit will finally begin next February, bringing to an end years of delays.

Curse of 'The Hobbit' strikes again as actors threaten to walk off set

As any proper J R R Tolkein fan knows, it takes bravery, patience, and a little bit of luck to complete a journey to Middle Earth. Peter Jackson certainly boasts the first two, but judging by the fate of his long-running efforts to bring a film version of The Hobbit to the big screen, he's sadly lacking in the third.

McKellen blasts acting standards

Britain's reputation for world-class theatre is being jeopardised by declining acting standards, according to Sir Ian McKellen.

Shakespeare the Man from Stratford, Assembly Hall, Edinburgh

Simon Callow is a renowned actor, but not Shakespearean. His Orlando was bizarre, his Falstaff (twice) less than great, but he did let rip satisfactorily as Titus Andronicus.

Tara Fitzgerald: 'Plenty of good roles for older actresses'

The English actress, Tara Fitzgerald, has spoken out against the popular belief that female performers are faced with fewer work opportunities than males as they get older.

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Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – MS Swiss Corona - seven nights from £999pp
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'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
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A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
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James Frey's literary treasure hunt

Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
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Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
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The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
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'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
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The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
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The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
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She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
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Get well soon, Joan Rivers

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A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering