Extras

Here are the answers to this week's quiz...

Spam, spam, spam, spam... er, no more spam

Spam, Spam Spam, Spam, lovely Spam and ... er, no more Spam. The favourite Monty Python meal is under threat. Yesterday the last factory in Britain producing the much-loved and much-laughed at luncheon meat has closed.

Christmas '97: What the cool are reading this winter: guide to a stress-free lifestyle dominates the book-sales league

A health guide on how to keep your cool is the nation's favourite book this Christmas. David Lister looks at what people are buying to read over the holidays.

Channel 4 urged to expand ethnic programming

Comedians Lenny Henry and Michael Palin and Booker-winning novelist Ben Okri have joined a campaign to force Channel 4 to broadcast three hours of ethnic minority programming during peak time each week.

Education: Passed/failed: Michael Palin

Michael Palin, 54, is an actor and writer. Originally one of the full Monty (Python) team, he is currently presenting `Full Circle: With Michael Palin' on Sunday evenings and is also autographing copies of his book of the BBC1 series. Previous travel documentaries include `Pole to Pole'. He wrote the script of the film `American Friends', the West End play `The Weekend' and the novel `Hemingway's Chair'.

Box Clever: Natural born thrillers

The BBC's Natural History Unit is in the mood for celebration. Not only is it 40 years young; it also stands alone in having avoided the Birtist axe. Sir David Attenborough, now 71, is the man most closely associated with the unit's success

Fry's Oscar, Mailer's Jesus, the Lazy River Cafe, and other future best-sellers

The contenders for the Christmas bookseller list are already edging their way into the bookshops, and as a service to readers I am bringing you a first selection of the hottest new candidates on the bookshelves.

Python star takes to the rails

Rail buff and Monty Python star Michael Palin, who recently admitted on television to being a former trainspotter, is to have an engine named after him.

Python with no venom; profile; Michael Palin

Hester Lacey on the seriously nice television traveller who takes 10 million fans on his journeys

TODAY'S TELEVISION

You've got to admit that cosmologist Stephen Hawking is a pretty extraordinary man. I don't mean in the accepted sense of genius - I have no idea whether or not the author of A Brief History of Time should be taken at his own estimation as the spiritual heir to Galileo and Isaac Newton. I mean in the shallower sense that he has got to be by far the most disabled man to have fronted a major TV series.

Lumley and Palin go round the world for Auntie

Joanna Lumley and Michael Palin, whose globetrotting adventures proved to be ratings winners for the BBC, will be off on their televisual travels again this autumn.

Rich and famous find their summer idyll ... in West Cork

Many of the rich and famous prefer to take their holiday later in the year, particularly in winter, when the rest are coping with the British weather.

Married and still speaking, after a fashion

When people have been married or living together for 10 or 20 years, what on earth do they find to say to each other? (asks an anxious reader who is about to get married). Well, anxious reader, I have done a survey over the years of the favourite dialogue used in the average happy marriage in different conversations and here, in no particular order, are a few of the commonest:

'The first stepping-stone to a professional career'

What do Sue Pollard, Lord Attenborough, Peter Bottomley, Compo, Betty Boothroyd, Sean Connery, Alan Bennett, Seamus Heaney, Michael Palin, and, it is rumoured, Maureen Lipman and Alan Rickman have in common? They could, in a small way, help decide the fate of the Co-op, writes Chris Hughes.

'Crash' is passed for uncut release

The highly controversial film, Crash, which depicts characters being sexually aroused by graphic car crashes, was yesterday passed for release uncut by the British Board of Film Classification.

New lease of life for Brian

New lease of life for Brian
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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