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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.
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Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks
The haunting of Shirley Jackson: Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?

The haunting of Shirley Jackson

Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?
Bill Granger recipes: Heading off on holiday? Try out our chef's seaside-inspired dishes...

Bill Granger's seaside-inspired recipes

These dishes are so easy to make, our chef is almost embarrassed to call them recipes
Ashes 2015: Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

A woefully out-of-form Michael Clarke embodies his team's fragile Ashes campaign, says Michael Calvin
Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen