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Since the Second World War, when the BBC provided news and comfort for a nation in great peril, it has played a central role in British life and culture. That is why any proposals for radical change at the Corporation, or any sign that its standards might be slipping, deeply disturb its loyal admirers.

David Lister: One thing we can all agree on is that we can't agree on comedy

I've mentioned before that I have been wary of writing about comedy since I once said that the state of women's stand-up wasn't very good that particular year, and the comedy editor of the magazine Time Out wrote with a straight face: "David Lister should expose himself to more female comedians."

BBC's new pay policy 'could spark media war'

Corporation may never be the same again if it reveals stars' salaries

Yes, Prime Minister, Festival Theatre, Chichester

In the early days of a new hung parliament, the Prime Minister is beset by myriad problems: the cabinet is split, the national debt is rising, the Lancaster House convention is a catastrophe and the new oil pipeline deal with Kumranistan depends on the Turks joining the EU. There's worse to come: the pipeline deal, and a huge dollar loan, further hinges on the material whims of the Kumranistan foreign minister, a weekend guest at Chequers, being properly indulged. And his whim of choice is an under-age sexual partner for the night. "Is he gay?" asks an aide. "If only it were that simple," shoots back the PM.

Producer rejects Mastermind 'dumbing down' claim

Mastermind programme-makers defended the show against "dumbing down" claims.

Benitez refuses to give a straight answer after letting 'speculation' run

Rafael Benitez would give Liverpool fans no assurances last night that he would still be at the club next season as the saga over the manager's future descended into farce at Anfield yesterday.

Election Highlights of the Day: 01/05/2010

Show of the day

American TV audiences are getting a taste for "frumpy old English women."

Brown still sees his economic record as the way to electoral salvation

As Lord Mandelson's speech at Labour's latest "launch event" was abruptly punctuated by the sound of a Volkswagen Golf ploughing into a nearby bus shelter yesterday morning, the gathered journalists could scarcely believe they had been presented with such a ready-made metaphor for Gordon Brown's last week on the campaign trail.

Andrew Martin: Do I have to be ranked on life's league table?

Longing for a return to self-effacing modesty

First Night: University Challenge Final, BBC2

Guttenplan's star performance seals coveted trophy

Your starter for 10...Where is the student who taught politicians how to handle Paxman?

Tom Peck hunts for Alex Guttenplan, star of University Challenge

The Victorians: Britain Through the Paintings of the Age, By Jeremy Paxman

This enjoyable book, written to accompany the BBC series of the same name, doesn't challenge too many of our assumptions about the Victorians. We know now that a stuffy exterior hid many a seedy life, as Jeremy Paxman illustrates with the life of one popular and populist painter, William Powell Frith: he managed to father 12 children with his wife, and seven with a mistress he kept hidden in another part of London.

Jeremy Paxman apologises for using F-word on air during Newsnight

Veteran journalist Jeremy Paxman was forced to apologise after using a swear word during Newsnight.

For the record: 01/02/2010

"There are those I know who think we should be looking for a star broadcaster." ITV chairman Archie Norman defends the decision to appoint Royal Mail boss Adam Crozier as the broadcaster’s chief executive

'Restoration' saved, but BBC pulls down Griff Rhys Jones

Experts on heritage to replace celebrity front man as series on old buildings is revived for new series

Chain Reaction, Radio 4<br/>The Essay: Johnson Now, Radio 3

Success (noun): An entertainment with comedians but no leotards
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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 15 May 2015
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future