Eric Simms: Ornithologist who presented 'The Countryside Programme' on the BBC for nearly 40 years

Eric Simms was for nearly 40 years a familiar voice as the presenter of BBC radio's The Countryside Programme. He produced or presented more than 7,000 radio programmes and made about 700 appearances on television. Simms was above all a devoted field ornithologist and a noted amateur authority on bird migration. He championed the familiar birds of town and street, especially the blackbird (whose song he chose for his appearance on Desert Island Discs), and was also an apologist for that much reviled bird, the street pigeon, whose canniness and adaptability he much admired.

Professor Michael Majerus: Geneticist who defended Darwin in the battle against creationism

Michael Majerus was a gifted Cambridge scientist and teacher, and a doughty defender of Darwin and his theory of natural selection. Hissubjects were moths and ladybirds, which he saw as perfect tools fordigging into evolutionary questions, but he also loved them for their own sake. He was that increasingly rare phenomenon, a scientist who was also a field naturalist (he was running a moth trap in his garden from the age of 10). Perhaps it was this instinctive "feeling for the organism", allied to his natural vitality and infectious enthusiasm for insects, that made Majerus such a popular teacher, and one in demand by the media.

Teenagers: A Natural History, By David Bainbridge

Should you have a difficult teenager in your life, this book might just help everyone co-exist. Friendly and light-hearted, it attempts to explain why those years are so challenging. David Bainbridge is convinced that the teenage years are something to celebrate. Were it not for teenagers, we oldies wouldn't even be around to complain: "human longevity has evolved because we need to bring up our intensively supported, slowly developing offspring". So adolescence is not "an irritating transitional phase, but... the fulcrum about which the rest of our life turns".

Last Night's TV: No one lifts the spirits like Attenborough, and nothing lowers them like children left alone to reveal the horridness of our species

Charles Darwin and the Tree of Life, BBC1<br/>Boys and Girls Alone, Channel 4<br/>La Boh&egrave;me Backstage, Sky Arts

Words & Pictures, By Jenny Uglow

Sun and shade in a sketch of British art

Last Night's TV: Life and Death on the NHS, ITV1<br />Born to Be Wild, BBC4<br />Lab Rats, BBC2

Though I keep grumbling about television being rubbish these days, the truth is that just lately things have been improving. The tide of awfulness seems to be on the ebb. Take Life and Death on the NHS, a thoughtful, sober, gimmick-free medical documentary that wouldn't have looked out of place on BBC2, even BBC4, occupying a prime slot on ITV1. How did that happen?

Amazing Rare Things: Attenborough on the original naturalists

David Attenborough pays homage to the original naturalists in his latest show. They had some wild ideas, says Sophie Morris

No extinctions at the BBC when it comes to broadcasting natural history

Job cuts don't mean the BBC is abandoning its commitment to great natural history programming, insists the man in charge Keith Scholey

Gavin Bridson: Bibliographer and librarian

As the son of a book-collector and grandson of an antiquarian bookseller, Gavin Bridson had bibliophily in his blood. His bibliographical output in graphic art printing and natural history illustration was prodigious. A Guide to Nineteenth Century Colour Printers (1975), jointly with Geoffrey Wakeman, was followed by Printmaking & Picture Printing: a bibliographical guide to artistic and industrial techniques in Britain, 1750-1900 (1984). After Wakeman's death in 1987, Bridson continued alone. His last letter announced the impending completion of his "Historical Directory of Graphic Arts Printers in the British Isles, 1750-1900" – if over-large for paper publication, then to be available online.

Last Night's TV: Night of the iguana was unforgettable

Life in Cold Blood, BBC1; Nation on Film &ndash; Munich Remembered, BBC4

Backpackers ditch adventure for tried and tested holidays

Britain's backpackers are playing it safe in their quest for adventure by swapping off-the-beaten-track destinations for tried and tested favourites.

Gloucester 36 London Irish 34: Forrester's extra dimension defeats Irish at the end of magical marathon

The European Challenge Cup may be unwieldy, unsponsored and deeply unloved by those clubs who fail to make the final, but by heaven, it has its moments. Yesterday's contest between two of the Guinness Premiership's more adventurous teams lasted two hours, every minute of it played in strength-sapping wind and rain, yet in the closing stages of extra time, James Forrester produced something so special - so wildly above and beyond anything his colleagues had a right to expect, or his opponents had reason to fear - that it was worthy of the winning of any tournament in world rugby.

Country Life: The responsibilities of snake-keeping

In many ways we count ourselves lucky to have a wildlife consultant as a neighbour.

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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
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A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

Who remembers that this week we enter the 150th anniversary year of the end of the American Civil War, asks Robert Fisk
Homeless Veterans appeal: Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served

Homeless Veterans appeal

Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served
Downfall of Dustin 'Screech' Diamond, the 'Saved By The Bell' star charged with bar stabbing

Scarred by the bell

The downfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Security breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Cuba's golf revolution: But will the revolutionary nation take 'bourgeois' game to its heart?

Will revolutionary Cuba take 'bourgeois' golf to its heart?

Fidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
The Locked Room Mysteries: As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor Otto Penzler explains the rules of engagement

The Locked Room Mysteries

As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Amy Adams on playing painter Margaret Keane in Tim Burton's Big Eyes

How I made myself Keane

Amy Adams hadn’t wanted to take the role of artist Margaret Keane, because she’d had enough of playing victims. But then she had a daughter, and saw the painter in a new light
Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

Parting view of Ofcom chief... we hate jokes on the disabled

Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog, Ed Richards
A look back at fashion in 2014: Wear in review

Wear in review

A look back at fashion in 2014
Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015. Might just one of them happen?

Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015

Might just one of them happen?
War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?