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Early years in Liverpool gave him the perfect voice for John Lennon in the animated ‘Yellow Submarine’ film

Volcano, Vaudeville Theatre, London

The eponymous volcano rumbles ominously in the distance and the skies darken. It’s the Pathetic Fallacy in full throttle as extramarital desire correspondingly seethes and churns amongst the cocktail-swiggers gathered on the verandah of Adela, a widowed forty-something plantation owner.

Lee Dickson prepares yesterday for England’s final Six Nations match against Ireland today

Lee Dickson: 'The entire squad hopes that Stuart gets the job full-time'

Outspoken scrum-half Lee Dickson tells Chris Hewett why Lancaster is the right man and why he always believed he could make it with England – even when others did not

The Importance of Being Earnest, Riverside Studios, Hammersmith

Has Gyles Brandreth – witty man of many parts though he is – met his Waterloo (“the line is immaterial”) with this attempt to portray Lady Bracknell in a new musical version of The Importance of Being Earnest? Well, not quite.

Tim Key: Masterslut, Pleasance Dome

Bard of the bath is making a big splash

Invisible Ink: No 86 - Clifford Mills

Once upon a time, this book was considered ideal for every child's bedroom.

Invisible Ink: No 84 - Michael Arlen

'For King and cocktails!" cries Marley, the aristocrat whose futile life is dissected in the novel Piracy.

Cyril Ornadel: Conductor and composer best known for 'Sunday Night at the London Palladium'

In the 1950s, as conductor of ITV's immensely popular Sunday Night at the London Palladium, Cyril Ornadel possessed the most famous back of the head on British television. He was also musical director on the West End productions of some of the greatest of all musicals, twice won a Novello Award for his own compositions and was awarded the prestigious Gold Badge of Merit by the British Academy of Songwriters and Authors for services to British music. His song "Portrait of My Love" is a standard as is "If I Ruled the World" from his musical Pickwick, which had the distinction of being, for a time, the longest-running British musical on Broadway.

Blithe Spirit, Apollo Shaftesbury, London<br/>The Tempest, Playhouse, Oxford<br/>Mogadishu, Lyric Hammersmith, London

No&#235;l Coward's celebrated repartee is elusive in this drawing-room tosh. But Shakespeare conjures up real magic

The Cherry Orchard, No&#235;l Coward Theatre, London

The best Chekhov productions that I've ever witnessed have, not unnaturally, been performed by Russian actors – Lev Dodin's matchless troupe at the Maly Theatre, St Petersburg and the Russian outfit directed by our own semi-expatriated Declan Donnellan. So I'm sorry to report that I was disappointed by the two Chekhov stagings that Moscow's Sovremennik Company brought to its now-completed residency at the Noël Coward Theatre, especially after the ensemble's masterly evocation of life in a Soviet prison camp in Into the Whirlwind.

Three Sisters, No&#235;l Coward Theatre, London

Galina Volchek's striking account of Three Sisters – the second production in the short nine-day residency in London by Moscow's renowned Sovremennik Theatre – begins with a determined departure from tradition. The titular trio are discovered standing at the crest of a large curved wooden bridge, their white scarves buffeted by an icy wind, in a tableau that offers an eerie premonition of that icon of stoic endurance which these siblings constitute at the end of Chekhov's masterpiece. Then the atmosphere suddenly switches to febrile gaiety. The circular revolve goes into overdrive; lights flicker as though in an electrical storm; and the Prozorov's drawing room whirls round with a wild abandon in preparation for the tensions of Irina's name day and the hectic lassitude (so to speak) of the play.

Into the Whirlwind, No&#235;l Coward Theatre, London

Expats flock for enduring home truths

Poisoned Pens: Literary Invective from Amis to Zola, ed Gary Dexter

From Aristophanes, who attacked Euripedes in his play The Frogs (Euripedes was safely dead by that point), to the critic Harold Bloom, who recently consigned Harry Potter to the "vast concourse of works that cram the dustbins of the ages", Gary Dexter's book compiles pithy put-downs and waspish jibes from writers.

Deathtrap, Noël Coward Theatre, London

I like to think that I would walk through fire to watch Simon Russell Beale recite the Argos catalogue. All the same, I did wonder how desperate I was to see him in this revival of Ira Levin's 1978 mega-hit, Deathtrap. But even if you're the kind of person for whom the term "comedy thriller" normally has all the appeal of, say, "morris dancing" or "make-over programme", you'll still find much to enjoy in Matthew Warchus's well-judged, witty production, which expertly balances the teasing tension and the arch, tongue-in-cheek humour.

How We Met: Dafydd Rogers & David Pugh

'We say that the ampersand is the only thing that comes between us'

Halfway to Hollywood: Diaries 1980-88, By Michael Palin

These diaries confirm Palin's TV image as intelligent and self-deprecatory, but can he be so modest if he's willing to publish diaries from 30 years ago? His entries from this distant era tend to bland geniality with spots of interest.

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There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
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File: James Woods attends the 52nd New York Film Festival at Walter Reade Theater on September 27, 2014
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Billie Whitelaw was best known for her close collaboration with playwright Samuel Beckett, here performing in a Beckett Trilogy at The Riverside Studios, Hammersmith
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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
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Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

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The man who hunts giants

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The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

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The male exhibits strange behaviour

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Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

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From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

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A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

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