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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Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam