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

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".

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.

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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