The conversation: Former England cricketer Ian Botham gets down to (beefy) business and assesses our chances at The Ashes

You're working with Beefeater at the moment as their 'Boss of Beef'. What does that involve?

Postcard from... Szentendre

Yom Kippur: Why I'll be fasting and reflecting for the first time since I was 13

It wouldn't do any of us any harm to fast completely for a day - not just on the Jewish Day of Atonement

Musician Luke Haines

Music review: Luke Haines, The Borderline, London

"Hangman hangman, hang me a man, any old man will do," Luke Haines maintains on "A Badger Called Nick Love" from the 45-year-old's characteristically eccentric (and menacing) new concept record, Rock and Roll Animals.

Lamb's liver with herb freekeh

Serves 4

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard

'Gender wars' flare with vengeance over Australia opposition's crude joke at Prime Minister Julia Gillard

Australia's "gender wars" have reignited with a vengeance, with the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, warning that politics will be dominated by "men in blue ties" if her Labor government loses power, and the opposition Liberal Party embarrassed by revelations about a fundraising dinner menu containing crude references to Ms Gillard's physique.

Before The Party by Rodney Ackland
based on a story by Somerset Maugham
directed by Matthew Dunster

Theatre review: Before the Party, Almeida, London

Sheer, spiky bliss

Great British Menu: Foie gras is neither great nor British

Why would the BBC be willing to appear to support such a barbaric process?

Harriet Walker: Why I don’t like to let go of anything

I have never been very good at letting go. I hoard emotions and belongings like a squirrel facing polar night. I consign dates and events to eternal memory. I etch them on my heart, and use them the way you do a counter in snakes and ladders; I never let anything go.

Anthony Rose: Could wine be embroiled in a similar scandal to horsegate?

Is there an ideal wine match for horse? Of course we all prefer a spot of dressage or a flutter at William Hill to eating them, and the sentimental taboo creates panic when we find horsemeat in our processed foods. How could you eat a Black Beauty, an Arkle or a Dobbin? I was horrified when I went to France as a teenager and came across shops called Chevaline. Not cheval, I whinnied: how could they? But staying with a family that reared horses in Africa, I soon learnt to live with the idea and wash it down with their mature claret.

GrEAT British, 14 North Audley Street, London W1

British food 'barbarous'? Clearly, Orwell never got to eat at this Mayfair café

Celebrity chef and restaurateur, Raymond Blanc

Raymond Blanc's lamb's liver 'risked lives'

Chef's brasserie continued to serve dish despite food poisoning, court is told

Being Modern: Meaty fads

That a certain dish or ingredient should be in fashion is no new thing: think 1970s, think fondue and Black Forest gâteau, while anyone who dinner-partied their way through the 1990s may still be sick of the sight of a sun-dried tomato. But we do seem to live in ever more faddy times. Despite the recession, restaurants keep popping up, and we'll queue around the block for whatever is deemed hot stuff.

Hagman says: 'I did bring a lot to the role of JR. I'm from Texas in real life, see, and I have that state of mind. It’s a type of arrogance. You Brits used to have it; the arrogance of imperialism'

Larry Hagman: 'I was drinking five bottles of champagne on set, but I was never drunk'

My accountant was very happy when they told me They were bringing 'Dallas' back and wanted JR to return I said yes. Why? I wasn't doing anything else, Linda [Gray, who plays Sue Ellen] and Patrick [Duffy – Bobby Ewing] told me they were interested, so how couldn't I be?

Loyd Grossman quit 'Masterchef' in 2000

Food: Loyd Grossman to star in 'Eggs Factor' show

He has deliberated, cogitated and digested for long enough. More than 10 years after he quit the original Masterchef, Loyd Groooossman of the long vowels will activate his TV tastebuds again as a judge on Simon Cowell's new cookery show.

Career Services

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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
South Africa
Spain
Prices correct as of 19 December 2014
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
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
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
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