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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Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
How to make your own Easter egg: Willie Harcourt-Cooze shares his chocolate recipes

How to make your own Easter egg

Willie Harcourt-Cooze talks about his love affair with 'cacao' - and creates an Easter egg especially for The Independent on Sunday
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef declares barbecue season open with his twist on a tradtional Easter Sunday lamb lunch

Bill Granger's twist on Easter Sunday lunch

Next weekend, our chef plans to return to his Aussie roots by firing up the barbecue
Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

The England prop relives the highs and lows of last Saturday's remarkable afternoon of Six Nations rugby
Cricket World Cup 2015: Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?

Cricket World Cup 2015

Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?
The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing