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.
Sport
World Cup 2014
Sport
Rihanna celebrates Germany's win
Arts and Entertainment
Sheeran arrives at the 56th annual Grammy Awards earlier this year
musicYes, that would be Ed Sheeran, according to the BBC
Sport
Rio Ferdinand, Alan Shearer, Alan Hansen and Gary Lineker during Hansen's final broadcast
Sport
Arts and Entertainment
AKB48 perform during one of their daily concerts at Tokyo’s Akihabara theatre
musicJapan's AKB48 are one of the world’s most-successful pop acts
News
Ian Thorpe has thanked his supporters after the athlete said in an interview that he is gay
people
News
The headstone of jazz great Miles Davis at Woodlawn Cemetery in New York
news
Arts and Entertainment
Brendan O'Carroll has brought out his female alter-ego Agnes Brown for Mrs Brown's Boys D'Movie
filmComedy holds its place at top of the UK box office
News
newsBear sweltering in zoo that reaches temperatures of 40 degrees
Arts and Entertainment
Professor Kathy Willis will showcase plants from the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew
radioPlants: From Roots to Riches has been two years in the making
Career Services

Day In a Page

Independent Travel Shop See all offers »
India and Nepal
14 nights from £2,159pp Find out more
Dutch Masters
five nights from £679pp Find out more
La Robla and Rioja
nine nights from £1599pp Find out more
Classical Spain
six nights from £539pp Find out more
California and the Golden West
14 nights from £1,599pp Find out more
Bruges
three nights from £259pp Find out more
Super Mario crushes the Messi dream as Germany win the 2014 World Cup in Brazil

Super Mario crushes the Messi dream

Germany win the 2014 World Cup in Brazil
Saharan remains may be evidence of the first race war, 13,000 years ago

The first race war, 13,000 years ago?

Saharan remains may be evidence of oldest large-scale armed conflict
Scientists find early warning system for Alzheimer’s

Scientists find early warning system for Alzheimer’s

Researchers hope eye tests can spot ‘biomarkers’ of the disease
Sex, controversy and schoolgirl schtick

Meet Japan's AKB48

Pop, sex and schoolgirl schtick make for controversial success
Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over northern Iraq

A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

The evolution of Andy Serkis

First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

Blackest is the new black

Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor