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.

The Weekend's Television: Damages, Sun, BBC1<br />The Victorians, Sun BBC1<br />Free Agents, Fri, Channel 4

"You're the only one I can trust, Patty," said Daniel Purcell, neck-deep in the kind of corporate malfeasance that is the chief stock in trade of Damages. Patty's eyes glittered hungrily. Telling Patty that she's the only one you trust is a bit like handing your baby to a boa constrictor and saying "Could you hold her for a minute, but please don't squeeze too tight." Patty lives on betrayed trust, and she hasn't had a meal for some time now, what with recovering from the shuddering, mascara-dribbling breakdown that concluded the last series of Damages. Just like that series, this one began with a teasing flash-forward, as Ellen Parsons menaces an unseen character with a pistol. Then we're back in the moment – "six months earlier" – as the drama sets about connecting these two temporal points with the most convoluted and tangled line it can get away with.

BBC to trim stars' massive pay deals

The BBC is to trim the massive pay deals it uses to attract top stars after the storm caused by the antics of Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand.

Yasmin Alibhai-Brown: Men are just as much victims of the workplace

My husband has moved to working four days a week this year, and it has changed our lives

Burns is 'king of sentimental doggerel', says Paxman

Jeremy Paxman may have wept on television when he discovered his poverty-stricken roots in a Glasgow tenement block, but if the Scots thought this would spare them the famous snarling disdain of the BBC's grand inquisitor-in-chief, they were in for a rude awakening.

Leading article: Sentimental journey

Has there ever been a more airy dismissal of a literary giant? According to the BBC television presenter Jeremy Paxman, Robert Burns, the national poet of Scotland, is merely "a king of sentimental doggerel".

Reporters feel the heat over climate change

Ofcom is about to deliver its crucial report on the Channel 4 programme that upset climate experts. Bob Ward examines how science and journalism can misunderstand each other

Salome, Royal Opera House, London<br />Vienna Philharmonic/ Gergiev, Barbican Hall, London

McVicar invokes the final taboos, fascism and incest, to explain the deadly Salome

Alastair Campbell: The Cudlipp Lecture

Thank you very much for inviting me to deliver the Cudlipp Lecture and so follow in the footsteps of some first rate media figures. Not to mention Paul Dacre.

Sarah Sands: Paxman: Prince Charles, but with the angst in his pants

The question I have asked every BBC news journalist I know is: what was Jeremy Paxman's intention when he introduced the phrase "gusset anxiety" to the English language? The consensus view is 1) The email to Sir Stuart Rose may have been written with bitter humour but was sincerely and deeply felt. 2) Paxman is genuinely dismayed that the email was leaked. So is Sir Stuart, despite his public good humour.

The Third Leader: Brief encounters

It is not surprising that, given its subject matter, Jeremy Paxman intended his private email exchange with the head of Marks & Spencer to be strictly confidential. M&S underpants, he disclosed, were no longer giving him – coughs and throat-clearing all round – the "degree of support" they once had. The Newsnight anchorman contacted Sir Stuart Rose personally. Marks & Spencer, despite the ups and downs in its fortunes, still sells more socks and underwear than any other retailer in the UK. So it is good to see the nation's inquisitor-in-chief focusing on this key issue, instead of remaining preoccupied with trivia like the US primaries or the state of the Chinese economy. The downside is that it has exposed him to one of the key questions of contemporary life: Y-fronts or boxers? Mr Paxman's tetchy reply – "Mind your own business" – will not wash from the man who famously repeated a question no fewer than 12 times to the Tory leader Michael Howard in the face of equivocal or evasive answers. Nor will it do for him to insist that he is being misrepresented by the media. Yes, it is true that the bulk of his concerns were on non-gusset issues; he was asking why M&S socks wore out more quickly at the big toe, even for those, like Paxman, who clip their toenails "very rigorously". But clearly the real news point was the pants issue.

Bhutto's son faces press and a Paxman inquisition

Benazir Bhutto's teenage son faced some abrasive questions from Jeremy Paxman yesterday as he asked the media to respect his privacy and let him continue his studies at Oxford University in peace.

The Weekend's TV: Kipling makes exceedingly good drama

My Boy Jack, ITV1; Wilfred Owen - A Remembrance Tale, BBC1; Learners, BBC1

Yasmina Khadra: tools in the war for truth

Yasmina Khadra, once a counter-terrorism officer, now writes rather than fights. He tells Gerry Feehily why fiction alone can win the battle to understand our world

Are free papers worth it?

Associated's 'Metro' is on a roll. 'City A.M.' is causing a splash. Rupert Murdoch and Richard Desmond are poised to enter the fray. In an age of giveaway papers and free news, are the established papers under threat? Tim Luckhurst reports

Lancashire 228-3 v Yorkshire: Loye lays into lacklustre Yorkshire

Mal Loye underlined his value to Lancashire with his second century in three days as struggling Yorkshire endured a difficult opening to the 242nd Roses match.

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Syria civil war: Meet the military commander who says his soldiers will not rest until every inch of their war torn country is free of Islamist 'terrorists'

‘We won’t stop until Syria is back to normal’

Near the front lines with Islamist-controlled towns where Assad’s troops were besieged just last month, Robert Fisk meets a commander confidently preparing his soldiers for battle
The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation may undermine Hillary's chances

The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation...

... and how it may undermine Hillary's chances in 2016
12 best olive oils

Extra-virgin, cold-press, early-harvest, ultra-premium: 12 best olive oils

Choosing an olive oil is a surprising minefield. Save yourself the hassle with our handy guide
Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back