Arts and Entertainment

Tomorrow’s DVD release of Alpha Papa is a reminder that films based on television shows needn’t be On-the-Buses bad. Other honourable examples of the genre are The Inbetweeners Movie (2011), In the Loop (2009) and South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut (1999).

Screen scene

"I want a boyfriend who won't go crazy on me. That's all I want!" cries Carol the waitress to her mother, who answers, `That's what we all want. But it doesn't exist." That's because the "he" in question, an obsessive- compulsive writer in the comedy As Good As It Gets, is the father of all crazy guys: Jack Nicholson.

How publishing's newest wonder ended up on the dole

Two months ago Keri Beevis was hailed as one of the literary phenomena of recent times with, according to her publishers, a record first book deal worth pounds 750,000 waiting to be signed. Today, The Independent can reveal, she is preparing for a different kind of signing - signing on for the dole. Kim Sengupta investigates the story behind the hype.

The amazing maze of maize

Chris Maslanka guides us through the labyrinthine complexities of mazes, large and small

Gotham City comes to Battersea as Batman and his foes fly into town

The Caped Crusader and Robin are back. Paul McCann reports on the hype for their new movie

Football: Molby turns ugly ducklings into Swans

Phil Shaw meets the Dane whose first full season as Swansea player- manager may end in promotion at Wembley today

The man who invented Jack Nicholson

Director Bob Rafelson saw Nicholson's potential as an actor back in the Sixties, and the resulting collaboration has endured for 30 years. It continues with the release of `Blood and Wine'. Where next?

`Chief' leads from front

Chief, chief, chief." The monosyllabic homage paid by the Pontypridd faithful to their latest rugby folk hero is hardly the most imaginative sporting chant of all time - it makes "Swing low, sweet chariot" sound like a Verdi opera - but it may just be the most appropriate. The surge of noise from the Sardis Road terracing is dark, aggressive and threatening, which more or less sums up Dale MacIntosh, the subject of the adulation.

Ruth Picardie's Column

John Lyttle is not here. So this week, a heterosexual interlude with Ruth Picardie

A century of cinema fangs

Feminism apart, Wilderness is not exactly exploring uncharted territory, Ivan Waterman writes. Werewolf films date back to 1913, when the Canadian director Henry McRae hired Watuma, a Navajo, to become a wolf for his silent adventure.

Nuisance caller: barnets, starlets and old dogs

"Hi. I'd like to book an appointment with Nicky Clarke. Do you do hair relaxing?"

Even if I was Batman, I wouldn't be cool all the time, says the writer of `Father Ted'

I was travelling back to central London from Heathrow, my suitcases in the back of the taxi (I hadn't been flying, I just sometimes like to go to the airport with lots of suitcases), when I looked to my left and saw something that actually made me do a real double-take. Just like in a movie - I performed the full "Whu-whu-what-the" triple double-take. Driving alongside us, effortlessly drawing level with the taxi, was a silver BMW driven by two ... what looked to me like ... well, two 12-year- old children. And it was two 12-year-old children. Two boys. All right, maybe in their teens but only just. Their little necks straining so they could see over the dash. One pair of hands white-knuckled on the wheel.

Women and men: can't live with him ...

... can't live without him - or her? Don't despair. You don't have to share a front door to prove you're in love, says Elisabeth Winkler

Jack of all trades - and all classes

Goodbye Tracy and Wayne, says Ruth Picardie. Today's parents have other aspirations for their kids

It's getting tougher at the top

With US elections on the horizon, the role of president has never been subject to greater scrutiny. Even by Hollywood. Rob Reiner, maker of Spinal Tap, is taking a positive view.
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Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – Five-star MS Swiss Corona 7 nights from £999pp
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Vietnam
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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
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'