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Last Night's TV: Afghanistan: the Battle for Helmand, BBC2<br/>Top Gear, BBC3

Today it takes images of smoke pouring from a Kabul hotel popular with Westerners to pull Afghanistan from the inside pages. Almost a decade after British and American troops set about bringing "enduring freedom" to a land to which the origins of 9/11 were apparently traced in a matter of weeks, all that has endured is a sorry stream of news-in-briefs. The names of the dead pool in the back of the mind, along with "explosion" graphics on brown BBC maps, so as to become increasingly meaningless. Do you know how many British pounds or lives have been spent in Afghanistan – or why?

Get set to doff your cap to these Aussie raiders

Hat-trick is on the Royal Ascot cards as Star Witness, Hinchinbrook and So You Think have the speed to stun the Poms

Diary: Campbell's legal logic makes Shaggy's lyrics look like Shakespeare

In seeking to understand the great figures of the age, few areas offer more potential for insight as the primary paternal influence. With Mrs Thatcher it was that austere Grantham grocer Alderman Roberts, while Messrs Blair and Bush would cite the Creator to whom each was linked by earthly-celestial red phone line. With Alastair Campbell, meanwhile, all finally becomes clear.

Mark Steel: It's the wrong people doing the gagging

You can understand why some tabloid newspapers are upset about these super-injunctions. Because when they write something about a footballer with a prostitute it's almost the only time they print a story that's true. Then it turns out that's the article they're not allowed to publish. How is that fair?

The big quiz on television movers and shakers

Who said TV isn't fun any more? The two biggest cult figures on the box are a mop-headed science boffin and a neurotic Scandinavian police detective.

Paul Vallely: Clarkson is a victim of his own values

The vandalising of the 'Top Gear' presenter's fence comes from the same mindset that underpins his fame and fortune

How has Clarkson caused offence this time? With a fence...

The Top Gear presenter is at war with neighbours over ancient rights of way bordering his Isle of Man home. Tom Peck on a six-year feud

Charles Nevin: Introducing a very modern Englishman

Start the week...

Paxman broke BBC impartiality rules

Presenter in trouble for article on Iraq war 'lies'

Terence Blacker: Whose idea of a joke involves sneering at dead people?

Once those in a position to reveal the flaws of those in power become establishment insiders, the world is much less problematical for politicians

Letters: multiculturalism

I am alarmed that David Cameron denigrated multiculturalism, to the applause of European Union ministers, some of whom are from right-wing parties. It was in Munich that Hitler held fascist rallies.

Top Gear comments &lsquo;vulgar, but not a matter for the law&rsquo;

Human rights chief bows out of &lsquo;Top Gear&rsquo; row. By Luke Blackall
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Dame Vivienne Westwood has been raging pretty much all of her life
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Panama
Languedoc Roussillon
Marrakesh & the Atlas Mountains
Bruges
The Jura Mountains
Dubrovnik & the Dalmatian Coast
Prices correct as of 17 September 2014
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
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His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
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How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
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Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
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Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam