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

Credo: Sir Ian McKellen

Actor, 69

Gay bishop defies his Lambeth Conference ban

Gene Robinson wasn't invited – but he's coming anyway. Ian Griggs and Cole Moreton report

Paperbacks: Sepulchre, by Kate Mosse

For anyone who religiously avoids novels about bloodlines, the occult and ecclesiastical manuscripts the window for escape is closing.

Pandora: In need of Cash?

Unlike most modern tennis stars, Pat Cash still has to don his famous chequered headband and earn his crust.

Cultural Life: Rose Tremain, novelist

Theatre

Tolkiens threaten to halt 'Rings' films in row over takings

The epic legal battles over profits from The Lord of the Rings movie trilogy long ago eclipsed anything raging on Middle Earth, but New Line Cinema, the films' producer, has just got sight of its most formidable foe to date: the family of J R R Tolkien himself.

Rise of the superstar DJ: In praise of Fatboy Slim

Fresh from a sell-out gig on Brighton seafront, Norman Cook is now working on a soundtrack for Disney. Jonathan Brown charts the rise of a dance-floor king

Peter Mandelson: You ask the questions

The European commissioner for external trade on the CAP, 'Mandy' and Gordon: 'I have no feud with Gordon Brown. I respect what he does as Chancellor'

Campaigners' fury at refusal to outlaw hotel ban on gays

Government faces first defeat as more than 100 MPs join leading figures in calling for new law to end discrimination in tourist industry

Richard II, Old Vic, London

A king with a PM's problems

Richard II, Old Vic, London

There's no virtue like necessity as Spacey gives an eloquent answers to his critics

The incredible shrinking Tolkien

Like many other fans of the Lord of the Rings novels, Guy Keleny was impressed by last year's film. But the new instalment is another story

Coriolanus, Swan Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon

In the Royal Shakespeare Company's new 'Coriolanus', Paul Taylor hails Greg Hicks's powerful portrayal of the tragic warrior who has outlived his usefulness
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tvDownton Abbey Christmas special
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Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
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Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald in the Doctor Who Christmas special
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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
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A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all