Arts and Entertainment Piers Morgan thinks he's a better interviewer than his rivals

The former Britain's Got Talent judge isn't known for his modesty

Auntie talks Parky back into chat

He flirted with Shirley Maclaine, was verbally assaulted by Muhammad Ali and almost castrated by Emu, the manic puppet. Now Michael Parkinson, doyen of chat show hosts, is being wooed back by the BBC. The corporation is expected to make an announcement about Parkinson, 61, in the next few weeks and he is poised to sign a lucrative deal. He is likely to interview some of the stars he has sparred with before, including Diana Rigg, Raquel Welch and Richard Harris.

Pupils on parade: the cadet corps remembered

Michael Portillo's call to create a new "lads army" may have stiffened the sinews in the Tory shires, but for others it has stirred a more shadowy pool of reminiscence. The Defence Secretary's proposal last week to expand the Combined Cadet Force into most British schools was supported by John Major on the grounds that it would increase discipline, self-esteem, team- work and responsibility.

3 TO SEE

Ivanhoe (Sun BBC1) More swashbuckling than an Errol Flynn Convention.

A novel route to Howard's end

John Mortimer must learn to be a little less Rumpole-ish. Creevey hears that on the Michael Parkinson show on Radio 2, he claimed to be president of the Penal League for Howard Reform. Yes, that's the right way round. It's a new society dedicated to the political downfall of the Home Secretary.

The Hester Lacey Interview: Terry Wogan

Most TV could be presented by a dachshund, he says (though he likes Chris Evans). But does it hurt, not being top dog now?

Red alert: I actually like Sue Lawley

RADIO

HOW WE MET; MICHAEL PARKINSON AND DICKIE BIRD

Michael Parkinson, 61, was born in Cudworth, South Yorkshire. Best-known for the television talk show he hosted between 1971 and 1982, he now does most of his journalism for Radio 5 Live and the Daily Telegraph. Married with three sons, he lives in Berkshire. Dickie Bird, 63, was born in Barnsley. After a brief career as a county cricketer, he began umpiring at 32 and went on to become the world's most celebrated Test umpire; he will umpire his final Test at Lord's next month. In 1986 he received the MBE. Unmarried, he lives in Barnsley

the human condition: tales from the cutting room floor

Hair is the first thing strangers notice when they meet you, and the last thing they forget. No wonder hairdressers can rise to celebrity status. Here, four writers go for a haircut

`We always depended on the plug. Do you think Bing Crosby would give me his time just for the pleasure of my company? Bullshit.' Michael Parkinson, pioneer of the chat show

The baffled woman on the gate at the BBC, running her finger down a long list of telephone extension numbers, wondered if the Michael Parkinson I was looking for ever went under another name. "Mike, maybe?" she said. "Or Mick?"

Illingworth keen to put record straight

'Myself, Fred Titmus and Brian Bolus were especially irritated to hear that Michael had not wanted Mike Gatting. He was picked unanimously, and all Michael expressed was a worry about whether Gatting was a potential rival for the captaincy'; The chairman

Profile: No mercy for the Big Man: Billy Connolly, the comedian Scotland can't forgive

'I F YOU LEAVE Scotland,' said a friend of Billy Connolly, 'then get successful and come back, it's Who do you think you are? If you don't make it and come back, they say, I could have told you you needn't have bothered.' The trouble with Billy Connolly is that his native Scotland can't decide which category he's in.

Billions spent fail to save inner cities: Flagship schemes founder, but smaller towns benefit. Nicholas Schoon reports

URBAN DEPRIVATION and decay in the core of England's largest cities worsened through the 1980s, despite billions of pounds of public expenditure on inner-city programmes, a government-sponsored study has concluded.

Quango chief faces questions over cash

THE CHIEF executive of the Merseyside Development Corporation has been ordered to appear before the Commons public accounts committee to explain why his quango, set up to revive inner-city Liverpool, spent pounds 300,000 of public money organising an opera recital.

LBC to stay on air as receivers called in: Rhys Williams reports on the latest troubles to hit Britain's oldest commercial radio station

Britain's oldest commercial radio station, LBC, has gone into receivership six months before its successor is due to take over.
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The spy mistress-general: A lecturer in nutritional therapy in her modern life, Heather Rosa favours a Byzantine look topped off with a squid and a schooner
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Day In a Page

Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – MS Swiss Corona - seven nights from £999pp
Lake Maggiore, Orta and the Matterhorn – seven nights from £899pp
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The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor
She's dark, sarcastic, and bashes life in Nowheresville ... so how did Kacey Musgraves become country music's hottest new star?

Kacey Musgraves: Nashville's hottest new star

The singer has two Grammys for her first album under her belt and her celebrity fans include Willie Nelson, Ryan Adams and Katy Perry
American soldier-poet Brian Turner reveals the enduring turmoil that inspired his memoir

Soldier-poet Brian Turner on his new memoir

James Kidd meets the prize-winning writer, whose new memoir takes him back to the bloody battles he fought in Iraq
Aston Villa vs Hull match preview: Villa were not surprised that Ron Vlaar was a World Cup star

Villa were not surprised that Vlaar was a World Cup star

Andi Weimann reveals just how good his Dutch teammate really is
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef ekes out his holiday in Italy with divine, simple salads

Bill Granger's simple Italian salads

Our chef presents his own version of Italian dishes, taking in the flavours and produce that inspired him while he was in the country
The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

If supporters begin to close bank accounts, switch broadband suppliers or shun satellite sales, their voices will be heard. It’s time for revolution