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To buy a ticket for a hotly tipped play, within seconds of booking opening, requires perseverance and nerve as websites falter, payments vanish and a confirmation finally limps through. The goal is to see a top cast, whose fluency and fluidity is testament to years of determination – getting to drama school, being noticed at the end-of-year shows, getting an audition, getting a part and nailing it.  

David Cameron and François Hollande at The Swan in Swinbrook, Oxfordshire on Friday

Bitter? You should see the ex-First Lady! François Hollande given a warm British welcome

Donald Macintyre follows François and David as they try to mend Anglo-French relations over a half-pint in Oxfordshire

Time to influence the debate on Europe

The EU divides opinion but whatever your views it is important to have your say — through voting in the May election and joining in the Citizens’ Dialogue events around Europe

Winter Olympics 2014: Britain must make clear that it totally opposes Russia’s treatment of LGBT people

When Maria Miller travels to Sochi next week, she must seize the opportunity to raise the issue of LGBT rights with Russian officials

Amanda Knox on Good Morning America

Meredith Kercher murder: Amanda Knox breaks down in first live interview after second guilty verdict, saying: 'It hit me like a train'

From Seattle to the Austrian border, the fallout from the latest verdict on Meredith Kercher’s murder has been dramatic

George Zimmerman: Celebrity boxing match is confirmed, as rapper The Game offers to fight him: 'I would take pleasure in it'

Damon Feldman, the promoter organizing the bout with the star, has confirmed that the fight will take place on 1 March

Shrien Dewani is accused of killing his bride Anni on their honeymoon in South Africa

Honeymoon murder suspect Shrien Dewani loses High Court move to block extradition

Shrien Dewani, who is accused of organising the murder of his wife Anni, has lost a High Court bid to block his extradition to South Africa until he is fit to stand trial.

Victims of rape face a potential 'culture of disbelief' when they report to the police

'A culture of disbelief': New figures reveal wide variations in how different police forces treat reported rapes nationwide

Lincolnshire registered a third of reported rapes as 'no crimes'

Face facts: ‘Easter Island: Mysteries of a Lost World’ with Dr Jago Cooper

Easter Island: Mysteries of a Lost World, TV review: Archaeologist digs deep to prove that a lost tribe can hold their heads up high

When most of us think of Easter Island, or Rapa Nui, we think of moai, the 887 magnificent statues that guard its shores. But the mystery of BBC4's Easter Island: Mysteries of a Lost World wasn't how these monoliths were made, or how they were moved into place (aliens, obviously) or even whether the ancient Rapa Nui people were responsible for their own decline, it's why the myths have persisted for so long.

The Good Wife, TV review: Is this smart, glossy legal drama really that good?

The Good Wife on More4 is in the midst of a reputation revision. Long-term fans of the smart, glossy legal drama, which began its fifth season on More4 last night, often complain it's not given the recognition it deserves. It's true that among crime and law procedurals (TV shows where a problem is raised and solved within a single episode) this is a show of unusual quality. But is The Good Wife really that good?

According to reports, federal prosecutors will seek the death penalty against Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev

US prosecutors to seek death penalty for Boston bomb suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev

The twin blasts killed three people and wounded more than 260 others at the end of the city's marathon in April 2013

The Prime Minister's authority was challenged by his own backbenchers as they demanded a tougher line on deporting foreign criminals from Britain

David Cameron beats Conservative Immigration Bill rebellion – with the help of the Opposition

More than 80 backbenchers had demanded a tougher line on deporting foreign criminals from Britain

Donald Macintyre's Sketch: Dominic Raab’s not rabid but he is dangerous

For an MP, let alone one with high-calibre experience as a government and business lawyer, Dominic Raab, first leafing busily through his papers, then shifting his position on the bench, seemed weirdly fidgety and nervous. So much so, you wondered if you should call the cops, who after all keep exhorting us: “If you see someone acting suspiciously. Don’t hesitate. Call 999.”

Liverpool's home, Anfield

Liverpool reveal next step in Anfield redevelopment

The Premier League side are looking to redevelop their existing ground

Backbench Conservatives MPs have been criticised for supporting a proposed ban on HIV positive immigrants entering Britain

Ban on HIV positive immigrants entering the UK proposed for Immigration Bill by Tory MPs

HIV and AIDs campaigners have called the amendment "draconian"

First drone-assisted arrest in America began with a dispute over six cows

The drones were used to locate suspects after an armed stand-off developed

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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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File: James Woods attends the 52nd New York Film Festival at Walter Reade Theater on September 27, 2014
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Martin Skrtel heads in the dramatic equaliser
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Mark Wright has won The Apprentice 2014
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Independent Travel
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – Five-star MS Swiss Corona 7 nights from £999pp
Lake Como St Moritz & the Bernina Express 7 nights from £809pp
Vietnam
Lake Maggiore, Orta & the Matterhorn 7 nights from £939pp
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Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
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'