Patsy Palmer hopes her 'EastEnders' alter ego Bianca Butcher is "softer" when she is released from prison.

When the bubble bursts for soap stars

Why do EastEnders and Coronation Street actresses struggle to replicate their success on mainstream TV? By Gerard Gilbert

Ramsey's wife is crowned 'Mum of the Year'

The wife of television chef Gordon Ramsay was crowned celebrity mum of the year today and said "patience" was the most important virtue for a parent.

Last Night's Television: The funny guys go red in the face

Comic Relief Does The Apprentice, BBC1<br/>Red Riding, Channel 4

Blood and Guts: A History of Surgery, BBC4<br/>Pedigree Dogs Exposed, BBC1<br/>Who Do You Think You Are? BBC1

The history of surgery is gory viewing &ndash; not to mention what they do to dogs

Let's hear it one more time for Biancaaaaah and Rickaaaay

It is the most eagerly awaited reunion since Pink Floyd took to the stage at Live8: Ricky and Bianca are coming back to Albert Square. But the EastEnders couple, played by Sid Owen and Patsy Palmer, say the decision to return to our screens was not easy. Some aspects of soap stardom can prove a lasting headache. "For me, it's like a swear word, the shouting of 'Rickaaaay!'," said Palmer last week. "Not a day has gone by in nine years when someone hasn't shouted that from cars and even up at my bedroom window at night. Even my daughter said it... making fun of me." According to Palmer, the scriptwriters haven't been kind, so when the pair appear again, cover your ears. "Biancaaaaah!"

The Friary Newsletter: More words than trains from the Transport Secretary

Patient 73429 will be strapped to a chair and his eyes held open until several simple phrases are imprinted on his mind

WHAT'S ON AROUND THE UK: PC presents and a chocolate fest

It's the season of goodwill to all men - and animals (the turkey aside). The Christmas Without Cruelty Fayre at Kensington Town Hall in London today includes a celebrity auction and the chance to win a walk- on role in The Bill. A number of items will be donated by Van Morrison, Martin Amis, Peter Gabriel and Gary Lineker. Proceeds from the auction go to Animal Aid. It kicks off at 10am and you can splurge without guilt as you stock up on cruelty-free, ethically produced and politically correct Christmas presents. Admission: pounds 1.

Someone's Got To Do It: Keith Betton Is Head Of Corporate Affairs At Abta

How long have you been doing your job?

THE FRIARY NEWSLETTER: Our small part in making Michael come clean

I bet there's a lot of folks out there desperate to face up to youthful indiscretions in a healthy, positive, opinion-poll-friendly way

Film: Young persons guide to pitching

The ins and outs of a trip to the US with the First Film Foundation. By Hannah Lewis and Morag McKinnon


Main Claim

Real living: We're just good friends. Honest

Boy meets girl. They click immediately. But they never have sex. It can happen, says Mike Gayle

Croydon cuts short film festival

A wealth of highly acclaimed UK and international films are being screened this weekend as part of the Croydon Cuts Short Film Festival. The two-day programme features more than 80 films, which are thematically arranged into eight groups which the organisers dub "Encounters", and in addition, there are masterclasses given by directors and producers. Martin Clunes, Sean Hughes, Patsy Palmer and Paul Nicholls all appear in the "urban" category, while Kathy Burke contributes her writing talent for another. Ewan McGregor appears in a "Bizarre Encounter" of weird and wonderful dimensions, and a "Sexual" film features Press Gang's Dexter Fletcher. Local film-makers such as Adam Whitehall and Keith Claxton also make their mark in the programme "Night and Day" section, which opens the Festival and provides a balance with the climactic finale; a multimedia cabaret and celebratory best of the fest vote.

They may be short, but they're perfectly formed

Some of our most imaginative film-makers are working within the confines of the short film format, as two new television slots show. By Meg Carter
Arts and Entertainment
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Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
Seven Cities of Italy
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence
Prague, Budapest and Vienna
Lake Garda
3.	Provence 6 nights B&B by train from £599pp
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Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
How to make your own Easter egg: Willie Harcourt-Cooze shares his chocolate recipes

How to make your own Easter egg

Willie Harcourt-Cooze talks about his love affair with 'cacao' - and creates an Easter egg especially for The Independent on Sunday
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef declares barbecue season open with his twist on a tradtional Easter Sunday lamb lunch

Bill Granger's twist on Easter Sunday lunch

Next weekend, our chef plans to return to his Aussie roots by firing up the barbecue
Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

The England prop relives the highs and lows of last Saturday's remarkable afternoon of Six Nations rugby
Cricket World Cup 2015: Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?

Cricket World Cup 2015

Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?
The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing