Sport Didier Deschamps' France side face a tricky first leg in Ukraine

The clash of giant egos is in Lisbon, the romance in Reykjavik, and the only previous winner under threat plays in Kiev, but perhaps the most intriguing European World Cup play-off begins on Friday night in Athens.

View from City Road: Chesterton may have the answer

There is a poetic justice in the Government's choice of Sir Alastair Morton as its chief project hustler, or, in Whitehall parlance, chairman of the working group on the private finance initiative. The Channel tunnel would probably never have been built without his persistence and cussedness. Not only is he fed up with Britain's laggardly attitudes to big projects, as he told his Nottingham audience yesterday, but he has the expertise to deal with it.

Street-Porter to leave youth post at BBC after six years

JANET Street-Porter's six-year reign as head of youth and entertainment programmes at the BBC is coming to an end.

Interview: Clever being stupid: William Leith meets Danny Baker, a chat show host whose secret is that he risks looking like an idiot but doesn't - most of the time

IT'S HARD to catch everything Danny Baker says in his late night Saturday chat show, Danny Baker After All, because he says it so fast, burbling most things off the top of his head. It looks like he's unprepared, like he's making it up on the spot. With its house band and its mildly anarchic humour, it looks like a more off-the-cuff version of Jonathan Ross's The Last Resort, which, in its turn, resembles the prototype of its kind, the US show Late Night With David Letterman.

PolyGram stakes future on golden oldies: Larry Black looks at the legendary label started by Berry Gordy in a dollars 700 studio

THE SALE of Motown, arguably the most successful black business enterprise of all time, marks the end of an era in pop music.

Japan's 'Don' set to ensnare political allies

JAPAN'S arch political fixer, Shin Kanemaru, is to go on trial today and, like Al Capone before him, the charge is the apparently trifling one of income tax evasion. But in Mr Kanemaru's case the unpaid tax amounts to pounds 6m, according to prosecutors, and it could ensnare an unknown number of other politicians just as Japan's political system has enough problems.

Alpert and Moss play out at A&M Records: End of an era as co-founders resign three years after PolyGram bought firm

THE music business saw the end of an era yesterday with the resignation of the legendary trumpeter Herb Alpert and his colleague Jerry Moss from A&M Records, the company they established in 1962.

ROCK / Back to life with a blast from the rocket man

THE MAN who plunged London into traffic chaos by threatening to jump into the Euston underpass on Thursday night may have done me a favour. Arriving late at Earls Court, I was impressed by the extent to which Elton John's new hair has settled (he no longer looks like the object of a vicious assault by a flying squirrel), but the crowd was subdued enough to suggest that he had been playing songs from his latest album.

'Classic' Virgin takes on Radio 1: National commercial pop station launched

BRITAIN'S first national commercial pop station, Virgin 1215, was launched by Richard Branson yesterday. The first two tracks were announced by Richard Skinner as world exclusives: a specially recorded version of Steppenwolf's 'Born to be Wild' by INXS, and a specially recorded cover of Jimi Hendrix's 'Hey Joe' by The Cure. This was a double world exclusive - the station's first mistake. The track was actually Hendrix's 'Purple Haze'.

Keep your head to the sky: It's gospel and then some. Giles Smith catches a bus with the 26-strong Sounds of Blackness

IN the afternoon before their show at the Hammersmith Apollo, the Sounds of Blackness gather in the hotel lobby. All of them. At home in Minneapolis, the band goes out at around 40-strong, but this is the touring unit, slimmed down to a snug 26 - 15 singers, a 10-piece band and Gary Hines. Everyone wears black T- shirts and track pants with big white logos: 'The Blackness - Keep . . . Keep On'. The lobby heaves.

OPERA / Hints of summer: Edward Seckerson on Janacek's Jenufa at Covent Garden

Autumn and winter - the seasons of decay - predominate in Jenufa. Spring arrives under duress, summer never comes at all. But we feel its proximity in the bountiful final pages of the score.

Michael and Janet Jackson

The singer Michael Jackson kisses his sister Janet after receiving the Grammy Living Legend Award at the 35th award ceremony in Los Angeles. Eric Clapton, the British rock star, won six Grammys, including Record of the Year, Album of the Year and Song of the Year.
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Independent Travel
Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
Seven Cities of Italy
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence
Prague, Budapest and Vienna
Lake Garda
Minoan Crete and Santorini
Prices correct as of 1 May 2015
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living