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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.

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Humphrys planning to quit `Today'

JOHN HUMPHRYS is planning to leave or drastically scale down his role as the presenter of the BBC's flagship Radio 4 programme Today.

Radio: They should have said about Paxman

It was one of the most irritating advertisements ever screened. It was for that overrated magazine, the Economist. A businessman sits in his paid-for-by-someone-else airline seat. He looks pretty pleased with himself until who should squeeze in next to him but Henry Kissinger? Yikes! As our once-smug businessman does not read the Economist, we are led to believe, he will have nothing to say to Kissinger for seven hours except "pass the nuts, please". Or whatever they say in First Class.

Letter: The Paxman touch

The Paxman touch

Good humour saves festival from elements

THE ENGLISH, drawled Jeremy Paxman at the Hay-on-Wye literary festival yesterday, are defined by their ability to put up with almost anything with great good humour.

Britons rush to meet the brains behinds the books

WHERE CAN you find Val Doonican on the same programme as Harold Pinter? A gig by Van Morrison in the same venue as a discussion with Tom Wolfe? The Booker-winning novelist Ian McEwan with an appearance from proto-punk Ian Dury and his Blockheads? Not to mention the chance to beard Jimmy Hill ...

Open Eye: We are the champions... again

The OU has joined the elite group of universities to have won University Challenge twice, following victory over Oriel College, Oxford, in the final on 27 April. No university has yet won it three times.

The Critcs - Television: It makes you sad to be English

The shooting of John Lennon. The Lindbergh kidnapping. Nearly a week on, it is still scarcely believable that the name of Jill Dando, of all people, should be added to a list of crimes made particularly shocking by the fame and innocence of the victim. A list of crimes, along with the death of Princess Diana, of where-were-you-when-you-heard? status.

A Week in Books: A happy family of constant readers

WORLD BOOK Day unfolded yesterday with an array of Comic Relief- style stunts. Readers unswayed by sermons from Vanessa Feltz should still back its chief good cause: Book Aid International (at 39-41 Coldharbour Lane, London SE5), which last year sent 735,000 vital volumes to educators in 54 countries.

The truth was `out'. And so were the knives

It was not news to his constituents in Hartlepool or his colleagues in Westminster. So when Matthew Parris was provoked by Jeremy Paxman to `out' Peter Mandelson on TV, he could have let the whole affair blow over. But, as this exclusive extract from Donald Macintyre's biography reveals, this underestimates the ferocity with which the man guards his personal relationships and his private life MANDELSON: THE BIOGRAPHY; The truth was `out'. And so were the knives

Open Eye: Going for the Open double: the final Challenge

The OU is through to the semi-finals of University Challenge, following victory over Birkbeck yesterday. Yvonne Cook reports

Interview Adam & Joe: Pop Vultures

In their homegrown TV show, which returns in April, Adam and Joe ransack celebrities' record collections, Adam's septuagenarian father reviews youth culture, and soft toys star in films such as the new seven- minute epic, Toytanic.

The Critics: Television: A docusoap worthy of the hard cell

There is nothing to compare with actually being in the crowd, chanting and swaying and waving your scarf, or even sitting quietly, chewing your fingernails. But even for those of us at home last Wednesday night, watching the action unfold on the telly, it was an absolutely pulsating quarter-final. Both teams missed dozens of scoring opportunities, which, for the neutrals among us, simply added to the entertainment. And let's not forget the ref, who refused to let the occasion overwhelm him. But then nothing much overwhelms Jeremy Paxman. In the end, Bangor confounded expectations, recovering from a slow start to beat Bristol by 240 points to 170 for a place in the semi-final of University Challenge (BBC2). The Bristol students looked pig-sick. I think they blamed Paxman, for unsportingly refusing to offer them 50-50, ask-the-audience and phone-a-friend.
Life and Style
Steve Shaw shows Kate how to get wet behind the ears and how to align her neck
healthSteven Shaw - the 'Buddha of Breaststroke' - applies Alexander Technique to the watery sport
Arts and Entertainment
The sight of a bucking bronco in the shape of a pink penis was too much for Hollywood actor and gay rights supporter Martin Sheen, prompting him to boycott a scene in the TV series Grace and Frankie
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footballShirt then goes on sale on Gumtree
Voices
Terry Sue-Patt as Benny in the BBC children’s soap ‘Grange Hill’
voicesGrace Dent on Grange Hill and Terry Sue-Patt
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010
music
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Twin Peaks stars Joan Chen, Michael Ontkean, Kyle Maclachlan and Piper Laurie
tvName confirmed for third series
Sport
Cameron Jerome
footballCanaries beat Boro to gain promotion to the Premier League
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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
Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine