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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Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
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Lake Garda
Minoan Crete and Santorini
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General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

Typefaces still matter in the digital age

A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
Crisp sales are in decline - but this tasty trivia might tempt back the turncoats

Crisp sales are in decline

As a nation we're filling up on popcorn and pitta chips and forsaking their potato-based predecessors
Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

Ronald McDonald the muse

A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
13 best picnic blankets

13 best picnic blankets

Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
Barcelona 3 Bayern Munich 0 player ratings: Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?

Barcelona vs Bayern Munich player ratings

Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?
Martin Guptill: Explosive New Zealand batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Explosive batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Martin Guptill has smashed early runs for Derbyshire and tells Richard Edwards to expect more from the 'freakish' Brendon McCullum and his buoyant team during their tour of England
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'