Arts and Entertainment

The Week in Radio: Williams was quick on his feet, and willing to cover mishaps with self-deprecating humour

My Secret Life: Taio Cruz, singer-songwriter, 26

My parents were ... My father is originally from Nigeria and is a lawyer; my mother is Brazilian and used to run her own hairdressing company. They are still together.

Going back to his roots: Bill Bailey injects some humour into music

The comedian discusses his remarkable guide to the orchestra...

Plagiarism is no laughing matter for comedians

A performer has highlighted the growing problem of material being reproduced online

Q. When is a joke not a joke? A. When it's offence

The nation's stand-ups can barely open their mouths these days without causing outrage. So have they gone too far – or has Britain lost its sense of humour, asks Ian Burrell

Outside Edge (01/11/09)

World Series fever has hit Philadelphia, where Phillies fan Susan Finkelstein has been charged with offering sex in exchange for tickets to the ball game against the New York Yankees. The married mother of two, 43, was picked up by an undercover cop who responded to her internet advert: "Gorgeous tall buxom blonde – in desperate need of two World Series tickets. Price negotiable – I'm the creative type." The officer said he and his brother had tickets, and she told him she wanted both, rather charmingly because she wanted to take her husband. "I could take care of both of you," she is alleged to have said. She has since received offers from a radio DJ and a car dealer – of tickets, that is.

Howard Jacobson: Make me laugh – even at an offensive joke – but just don't be so smug about it

Self-satisfaction is an unpardonable crime. Hence the need to keep a straight face

Dominic Lawson: Jimmy Carr and the pomposity of those professing outrage

MPs have been quick to join in the confection of fury over a comedian's joke

My Secret Life: Noel Clarke

Actor & director, 34

Britcom Gala Just For Laughs, Theatre Saint-Denis, Montreal

A bout of prostatitis prevented John Cleese from hosting this showcase for UK talent at the Just for Laughs festival in Montreal. The British comedy icon was due to be one of the event's big draws, along with the US stars Bill Cosby and Whoopi Goldberg, before illness struck and hospitalised him, although he is due to make a rescheduled appearance before the festival ends.

The Comedy Store's 30th Birthday, The Comedy Store, London

The old ones are still the best

My Name Is Daphne Fairfax, By Arthur Smith

The grumpy old man of comedy surveys his career

Jim Carr

In our article, 'Taboo-buster: the dark side of Jimmy Carr' (18 November 2008), we wrote that Jimmy Carr's mother had divorced his father seven years before her death.

Flight of the Conchords: Minimum concept

Less is sometimes more in a sitcom, says Gerard Gilbert

Matthew Horne: Fom Gavin & Stacey to leather-clad psycho

Mathew Horne would like to get one thing straight. "Gavin's much nicer than I am. I'm nothing, nothing like him. I'm not from his world. I don't have a family like that. I don't have a job like that. I don't dress like him. I don't talk like him. I don't have friends like him. I'm nothing like him." Phew. Got that? The actor best known as the romantic hero at the heart of the Bafta-winning sitcom Gavin & Stacey is nothing like his most famous creation.

Coming soon: Another round for the Pub Landlord

A year ago, it seemed incredible that Chris Rock could sell out a comedy show in the O2, but we're already getting to the point where the erstwhile Millennium Dome is just another port of call for an A-list stand-up: witness The Pub Landlord's Beautiful British Tour ( www.thepubland-lord.com), which begins on 22 February at the Liverpool Empire (0844 847 2525) and takes in a further 50 dates, including two at the O2 (0844 856 0202) in May.

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There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
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Caroline Flack became the tenth winner of Strictly Come Dancing
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Elton John and David Furnish will marry on 21 December 2014
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The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

Marian Keyes

The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

Rodgers fights for his reputation

Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick