Voices

This definition of anti-Semitism has been too stretched for too long

It's time to reassess Gilbert and Sullivan

They are musical geniuses, says Jessica Duchen, so why won't the Royal Opera House or Glyndebourne touch them?

Claire Skinner: From washing up to the West End

Claire Skinner's apprenticeship under Mike Leigh made her a natural choice for the semi-improvised TV hit Outnumbered. Now she's returning to her first love – theatre. Claire Allfree meets her

Politically charged finale as jury honours Thai and Binoche stages protest

Festival's top prize goes to Asia for the first time since 1997

British realism amid the glamour of Cannes

Mike Leigh makes a triumphant return to the festival

Nobody's mug: How did Eddie Marsan become Hollywood's go-to man for great British character acting?

Eddie Marsan would probably agree that his face is his fortune. He is one of those film actors you can't always put a name to, but you'll instantly recognise that cartoon countenance: wide with low ears, flattened nose and crestfallen mouth, liable to look meek or mean depending on how the wind is blowing. It is the sort of face that nature has provided with its own stocking mask.

Mike Leigh film in running for Palme D'Or

British director Mike Leigh's new film, Another Year, is in the running for the Cannes Film Festival's top prize the Palme d'Or, it was announced today.

Tony (18)

Gerard Johnson's low-budget streets-of-London downer is nominally about a serial killer, but in Peter Ferdinando's remarkable title-role it becomes rather more about urban loneliness and alienation.

Our culture critics’ picks for 2010

From Picasso’s politics to ‘The Prisoner’ and Beethoven to Big Boi, our experts choose their cultural highlights for the next 12 months

Philip Hensher: Gaffes that can be a boon to Cameron

Peter Hobbins is a member of the Conservative association in Orpington, Kent, and a local councillor. In the past, he was a Conservative Party candidate, failing to win the Rhondda seat in the 2001 General Election. He was struck by the changing nature of aspiring Tory politicians, and put his thoughts in a series of e-mails to fellow Orpington conservatives. Candidates included, he said, "a Mr Dilon Gumraj and a Zerha Zaidi and others ... not one of them has a 'normal' English name ... Maybe I should change my name to something foreign – how does Petrado Indiano Hobbinso sound to you?" Startling stuff, and Mr Hobbins has been suspended from the party forthwith.

Last Night's Television: Spanish flu &ndash; the forgotten fallen, BBC4<br />Silverville, BBC1

It's Manchester in 1918 and there's trouble outside t'mill. A little girl has just dropped dead, her earlobes and lips a fetching shade of cyan and Dr James Niven has a bad feeling about it. "This may signify the beginning of a new outbreak," he says, before asking that Manchester be closed until further notice. "I want all public assemblies curtailed, I want the Sunday schools closed, I want the trams stopped and the mills shut down," he tells his boss, who takes the view that this is all alarmist nonsense and what they really need to be worried about is an epidemic of VD when the boys get back from the trenches.

Simon Channing Williams: Film producer who worked with Mike Leigh for 20 years

Simon Channing Williams played a major part in the British film industry by producing all the films directed by Mike Leigh for the past 20 years. In 1988 he and Leigh formed Thin Man Films, the company that funded and made possible Leigh's projects, including the multi-Oscar nominated Secrets and Lies (1996) and the equally acclaimed Vera Drake (2004). Channing Williams also produced the controversial story of a whistleblower, The Constant Gardener (2005), directed by Fernando Meirelles, which won Rachel Weisz a supporting actress Oscar for her portrayal of an activist whose uncovering of corporate corruption – the testing of drugs on Africans by pharmaceutical companies – leads to her murder.

Alison Steadman: 'I hear the character in my head'

Candice Marie, Pam, Mrs Bennet and the immortal Beverly &ndash; all great roles that only Alison Steadman could have created. But her latest on stage is the toughest yet

Mommy dearest: Claire Skinner transforms into a monster of a mother

She's the sweet, dippy mum in the hit comedy 'Outnumbered' &ndash; so how does Claire Skinner get over coping with the worst-behaved children in television? By playing one of the worst-behaved parents in drama

Editor-At-Large: Another butterfly broken on a wheel

It's hard to think of Boy George as a butterfly, but try. What on earth was the judge doing when he sentenced the former Culture Club singer and songwriter to 15 months in prison for handcuffing a male escort to a wall in his London flat after a row, when both men have admitted they were taking drugs? Was this meant to send a message to other men who might pick each other up via the internet and indulge in a spot of sado-masochism? Or a warning that drugs are bad for us? It all sounds so horribly familiar to my generation. Has our justice system really nothing better to offer Boy George as a way out of his misery with substance abuse than a spell in the slammer?

Read all about it: Tales from the bright side of life

Recession needn't mean depression &ndash; in fact, the first weeks of 2009 brimmed with heart-warming, gloom-busting stories. John Walsh unearths accounts of serendipity, misfortune overcome and downright silliness that you may have missed
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Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee