Arts and Entertainment Emma Thompson arriving for the National Board of Review Awards in New York

The actor Emma Thompson has spoken out this week in favour of gender-blind casting, admitting her particular desire to play the role of Sherlock Holmes.

Julia Roberts was asked to remove two freckles for a movie role

Julia Roberts asked to have 'dirty' freckles removed for film

The actress was once advised to get rid of her facial markings for a movie role

Old favourite: Judi Dench in 'The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel'

Rise of the silver-haired screen: Older people take largest share of cinema audiences

Likes of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel helped to drive the over-45s to the cinema

Andy McSmith's Diary: It’s hard being an MP and getting the flak for a pay rise that never comes

What really annoys MPs is that the executives at Ipsa who control their salary are so much better paid

Ruksana

Here come the girls: A new documentary follows nine girls around the world in their quest to get schooling

It’s been a surprise hit in the US, and not just because it has A-list narrators...

The 87-year-old former prime minister is expected to spend Christmas in hospital, after being operated on three days ago to remove a growth from her bladder after suffering pain earlier in the week.

Baroness Thatcher 'recovering' after minor surgery to remove bladder growths

Baroness Thatcher remained in hospital today as she recovered from minor surgery.

Baroness Thatcher to spend Christmas in hospital

Baroness Thatcher is said to be “in good spirits” as she recovers from minor surgery but is expected to spend Christmas in hospital.

Publicist to the stars Lois Smith dies

A long-time New York City publicist who worked with celebrities including Marilyn Monroe, Robert Redford and Martin Scorsese has died. Lois Smith was 85.

Nathan Cassidy is giving audiences £1 to see his show 'Free Pound' on the Free Fringe

Alice Jones' Arts Diary: Edinburgh acts' funny money offer could raise a smile on the Royal Mile

Murky things are happening on the Edinburgh Fringe – and it's not even August yet. This year's fastest-emerging trend is for bribery with three acts offering cash in return for bums on seats. Nathan Cassidy is giving audiences £1 to see his show Free Pound on the Free Fringe (ticket cost: "minus £1". Donations welcome). Elsewhere, Mark MacNicol has gone for a money-back clause: if audiences don't like his "sexy, sensual, dark" theatrical take on Fatal Attraction, he will refund the £8 ticket price from his own pocket. And Irish comedian Caimh McDonnell has taken the most audacious route, promising to donate £100 to Macmillan Cancer Relief for every review published in a "recognised media source" before 20 August (only one review per outlet, sadly). Will any of these stunts work? Or will it emerge that these are, in fact, shows you couldn't pay a man, woman or Arts Diarist to see? And whatever happened to old-fashioned flyering on the Royal Mile in the rain?

DVD: Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

When his father (Tom Hanks) is killed on 9/11, a precocious boy sets off around New York in search of people with the surname "Black", believing that one of them will impart a message from his dead dad.

Grant says: 'My five-year plan is to stay alive, and to stay working. And to stay married. A three-pronged attack on all fronts'

My Secret Life: Richard E Grant, 55, actor

My parents were... understandably worried when I told them that I wanted to be a professional actor, because in Swaziland, where I grew up, there was no prospect of earning a living doing that.

DVD: The Iron Lady

Weirdly, Phyllida Lloyd's Iron Lady devotes just half of its running time to Margaret Thatcher's upbringing and political career.

Julia Roberts in Mirror Mirror

Julia Roberts - Pretty woman shows her ugly side but still comes up smiling

Julia Roberts is cast against type as a wicked queen in her new film, Mirror Mirror. The Hollywood favourite has more starring roles coming up but tells Lesley O'Toole that she's now happy to treat acting more like a hobby

Julianne Moore plays Sarah Palin in the new US drama ‘Game Change’

Palin feared the worst about TV portrayal – and she was right

Juliannne Moore is cast as Alaska's presidential hopeful in a recreation of 2008 election race

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The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003