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

'Hobbit' movie in jeopardy as director Guillermo Del Toro quits

If you thought reading a JRR Tolkien novel was time-consuming, try turning one into a film. Two years and hundreds of painstakingly designed monster costumes after he started work on The Hobbit, the Mexican director Guillermo Del Toro has suddenly quit, complaining about endless delays in getting his eagerly-awaited film green-lit.

Sir Ian McKellen to star in zombie costume drama

Sir Ian McKellen, who has mastered a dazzling panoply of Shakespearean roles on stage and is considered one of the most serious screen talents of his generation, is to star in a low-budget zombie costume drama set in the rural backwaters of Britain.

Macbeth, Shakespeare's Globe, London

The play hasn't started and you're already saying, with Marlowe's Mephistopheles, "Why this is hell, nor am I out of it." The smoke is billowing, the bells are tolling, the bagpipes are wailing and, down below in the pit, the heads of the groundlings are peeking through a black tarpaulin like the lost souls on Judgment Day.

Not all villains must be British, says Mirren

From middle earth to a galaxy far far away, there exists a truth universal since the dawn of Hollywood time: bad guys speak with British accents. But it is a truth that British actress Dame Helen Mirren has become fed up with.

The Music Room, By William Fiennes

It was for his observation of the pattern of migratory birds in the award-winning The Snow Geese (2002), and for its insight into the theme of human belonging as well as the titular birds, that William Fiennes gained his reputation. Conversely, his latest memoir, concerned this time with humans (specifically, Fiennes's elder brother Rich's struggle with epilepsy), is rich in descriptions of nature. He strikes upon truth when he reaches it obliquely.

McKellen speaks out against vetting scheme

The actor Sir Ian McKellen has become the latest high-profile artist to speak out against the Government's vetting scheme for all adults working with children.

Gay rugby star hosts 'coming out' party to thank friends

Sport and stage stars turn out to show solidarity with Wales's 'role model' player

Pandora: Tolkien family feud heads for the courts

For all the success that the Lord Of The Rings trilogy enjoyed on the big screen, the ongoing bad blood between film executives and the family of JRR Tolkien, who wrote the books, has proved an unfortunate sub-plot.

Wogan takes back breakfast radio lead

Sir Terry Wogan was re-confirmed as king of breakfast radio today, pulling clear of rival Chris Moyles in the latest official listening figures.

Faster-paced 'Da Vinci Code' sequel premieres in Rome

The movie sequel to "The Da Vinci Code" is being greeted as a faster-paced, more gripping film than the original and is respectful to Catholics, director Ron Howard said at its Rome premiere.

The Rough Guide to Shakespeare, By Andrew Dickson

There's nothing rough at all about this confident and readable guide to plays, poems and author from a young critic who matches energy and erudition with truly Elizabethan zest. From the "special intensity and charm" of All's Well That Ends Well through Measure for Measure (that "unsettling comedy of sex in the city") to the "almost mythical resolution" of The Winter's Tale, Dickson's play-by-play survey combines sound accounts of plot, stage history, critical debate and screen adaptations with striking photos, illuminating interviews (from the likes of Simon Russell Beale, Ian McKellen and Zoe Wanamaker) and up-to-date bibliographies. A stylish cockade in the Rough Guides' cap, this is a must-own volume that Bard veterans and apprentices alike will punish - and reward - with daily use.

First Impressions: The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown (2003)

The word for The Da Vinci Code is a rare invertible palindrome. Rotated 180 degrees on a horizontal axis so that it is upside down, it denotes the maternal essence that is sometimes linked to the sport of soccer. Read right side up, it concisely conveys the kind of extreme enthusiasm with which this riddle-filled, code-breaking, exhilaratingly brainy thriller can be recommended.

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Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

Broadcasting plays and exhibitions to cinemas is a sure-fire box office smash
Shipping container hotels: Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Spending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but these mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
Native American headdresses are not fashion accessories

Feather dust-up

A Canadian festival has banned Native American headwear. Haven't we been here before?
Boris Johnson's war on diesel

Boris Johnson's war on diesel

11m cars here run on diesel. It's seen as a greener alternative to unleaded petrol. So why is London's mayor on a crusade against the black pump?
5 best waterproof cameras

Splash and flash: 5 best waterproof cameras

Don't let water stop you taking snaps with one of these machines that will take you from the sand to meters deep
Louis van Gaal interview: Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era

Louis van Gaal interview

Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era
Will Gore: The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series

Will Gore: Outside Edge

The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series
The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz