Arts and Entertainment The true face of England and Englishness? PJ Harvey performs in Auckland, New Zealand in 2013

Yes, the programme skewed to the left but, no, it wasn’t tosh

Michael Palin, Sir Tim Berners Lee and PJ Harvey will guest edit Radio 4's Today show this Christmas. But do we need to listen?

They’ll just be promoting their pet schemes and ideas - not editing in any real sense

Eliza Manningham-Buller, former head of MI5

Former MI5 head Eliza Manningham Buller takes hotseat as guest editor of Today programme on Radio 4

After months of concern over interference in the media by the intelligence services, the BBC has invited the former head of the security service MI5 to be guest editor of the Today programme.

Coming soon in rock and pop: from Lady Gaga to Jay-Z

Praise be – the festival season is almost over, which means we can all go back to enjoying music just as the gods intended: comfortably, and with a roof over our heads.

Jeremy Kelshaw (right) with the rest of Cloud Control

Fantasy band: Jeremy Kelshaw, Cloud Control

'This band is just going to want to terrorise and make very loud noises'

Cat Power smoulders at the Roundhouse

Music review: Cat Power provides smoky vocals at the Roundhouse, London

Stop mumbling, former RSC star Imogen Stubbs has advised aspiring actors, though the same counsel could apply to the singer heading to the rear of the stage to light a not-so-crafty cigarette. For while capable of reaching earthily soulful heights, the voice of Chan Marshall, aka Cat Power, disappears between numbers.

Night Engine, a four-piece from London fronted by Phil McDonnell

Music review: The Great Escape, Various venues, Brighton

It’s hard to shake the feeling that The Great Escape, the annual three-day gigathon for new bands and Brighton’s answer to Texas’s South-By-South-West, has grown too unwieldy for its own good. Certainly, the queues outside venues that snake all the way to Eastbourne offer little hope to the majority of seeing the year’s buzz bands such as The Strypes, Swim Deep or Parquet Courts.

Album: Rokia Traoré, Beautiful Africa (Nonesuch)

The exciting thing about this Malian singer-songwriter is that she's always moving on.

Cold Specks, Union Chapel, London

When Al Spx sings away from the mic, her earthy vocal carries through the airy nave, proving this a fine match of venue and performer: a cavernous church, with its hard, cramped pews, and the stark spirituality of this Canadian singer/songwriter.

Album: Sweet Billy Pilgrim, Crown and Treaty (EMI)

Last seen picking up a Mercury nom with the folk-rock-styled Twice Born Men, Buckinghamshire band SBP return for their third album with a far more complex musical palette.

Album: M Ward, A Wasteland Companion (Bella Union)

This Oregonian 38-year-old, perhaps best known as the "Him" to Zooey Deschanel's "She" (who guests here), hasn't reinvented any wheels with his seventh album.

Festival Guide 2012: 'Bestival's for adults as well as kids'

If the term family festival conjures the unwelcome image of bouncy castles and entertainers, Camp Bestival might change your view.

Album: Blood Red Shoes, In Time to Voices (V2)

ITTV is the third album from the Brighton duo of Laura-Mary Carter and Steven Ansell and, while they haven't quite justified their claim to have thrown away the rulebook, they're executing their spooked alt-rock with added poise and class.

Metronomy

Metronomy - That Riviera touch is a winner

Metronomy's third album wasn't just a huge success because of its summery feel – it also had killer tunes. Mainman Joseph Mount tells Gillian Orr his plans

PJ Harvey's 'Let England Shake' won the Mercury Prize

The Critics: The Best of 2011

The most memorable albums of the year, plus the top DVD releases

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