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.

Arts: Women on the verge

Advice to actresses in Hollywood: don't age. But as Michelle Pfeiffer turns 40, are female stars the only casualties of film's obsession with youthful beauty?

Motor racing: Doubt cast on Imola surface

Oreste Dominioni, the lawyer defending Frank Williams, the Formula One team owner charged with manslaughter after the death of Ayrton Senna, yesterday raised doubts about conditions at the Imola track.

Naughty parents? It's the children who are to blame

Everyone must by now be aware that Patricia Morgan of the Institute of Economic Affairs believes young children should never be allowed out of the house, and that they should be cared for, as in the old days, by their terminally bored mamas.

What kids want and what they get

Clothes and crisps, toys and fizzy drinks, fast food and magazines - and cigarettes, alcohol, lottery tickets, video arcades, drugs. The children's economy is booming, in ways good and bad. Six children, from a child film star to11-year-old Sam, pictured in the bedroom of her council flat, tell us of their lives. By Lesley Gerard. Photographs by Christine Sullivan

motherhood

Is the mother as great protector a misplaced ideal? Meg Carter reflects on the 'dingo baby' and ...

Kevin Kline: a real smoothie

They wanted Gerard Depardieu. They settled for Kevin Kline. And they got more than they bargained for. By Sheila Johnston

Every which way but looser

THE CRITICS CINEMA

Brief encounter of the third kind

Clint Eastwood's latest film shows you can be high-minded and satisfy your carnal desires - flies and all. By Adam Mars-Jones

Film : CLINT EASTWOOD INTERVIEW National Film Theatre, London

Before Clint Eastwood arrived in person on Tuesday night, the audience was treated to three clips from his films: the scene in The Outlaw Josey Wales where Wales treats with the Indian chief ("Dyin' ain't so hard for men like you 'n' me. It's living that's hard"); the big shoot- out from Unforgiven ("You shot an unarmed man." "Well he shoulda' armed himself"); and the scene from In the Line of Fire where Eastwood's old secret service hand is chaffing his woman colleague about the tiny number of women agents ("Pure window-dressing").

Signs and wonders

Film-makers are discovering sign language - but, says David Nicholson, the deaf are still more seen than heard

LEADING ARTICLE: The naked truth about America

In the long history of American conmen, WH Sheldon last weekend emerged as the most triumphant. It was revealed that, in the course of his career, this discredited academic had amassed a collection of 27,000 nude photographs of Ivy League students . The snapshots, which presently lie in dust in the vaults of the National Anthropological Archive in Washington, were taken during the Fifties and Sixties and include compromising studies of some of the greatest and best of American society.

CLASSICAL MUSIC / Upbeat: Out of Africa

WHEN the first black opera company in Britain launched itself last month, queues were turned away from the one performance. The Black Swan Theatre and Opera Company has now reassembled the cast of Purcell's Dido and Aeneas for a second show on Monday, again at the Tricycle Theatre in Kilburn. On the strength of the night we reviewed, expect a staging with no frills (but bright colours), African drumming at the beginning and for the curtain calls, and a lively atmosphere in the house - above all, some fine voices that you probably won't have heard in opera, the point of the whole exercise. Tickets pounds 5 from 071-328 1000; start time 8pm.

Underrated: Sharing the joke: The case for 'Last Action Hero'

It doesn't pay to be too clever.

Law Update: Out of Africa

Lester Aldridge, one of the top ten law firms in south England, has just completed a trading mission to South Africa. Its intention was to develop strong trading links and to attract new business to the UK, and the firm has received a number of immediate instructions. It has also set up a scholarship for a South African candidate attorney (trainee solicitor) to spend four weeks at its offices in Bournemouth.
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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