News Fortune was at his best in the Long Johns' sketches that poked fun at authority

John Fortune was the comedian and satirist best known for his work on the long-running television comedy series Bremner, Bird and Fortune, together with fellow comics Rory Bremner and John Bird, that ran for 16 series from 1999 to 2010.

John Fortune (right) with John Bird after they received their 1997 Bafta awards for Best Light Entertainment Performance

Farewell to the satirist whose comedy exposed uncomfortable truths: Bafta-winning comedian John Fortune dies aged 74

Not fame but curiosity drove Fortune to the peak of political satire

Interesting object: The speech balloon

From 18th-century caricaturists to Desperate Dan, the art of talking in picture-form has a long and (mostly) distinguished history

Invisible Ink: No 194 - The Three Johns

It’s odd how many collaborative teams wrote sparkling comedy together but not drama; John Wells teamed with John Bird for a series of inspired political duologues called “The Long Johns”, which managed to predict the seriousness of the banking crisis, while John Fortune and John Wells found common ground to produce a now-forgotten surreal comic masterpiece.

The 'Not the Nine O'Clock News's team (left to right), Rowan Atkinson, Mel Smith, and Griff Rhys Jones carrying Pamela Stephenson in 1980

Mel Smith, the man who made me howl with laughter

As so many people have said, Mel Smith, who has died at the age of 60, was a comedy giant. And his talent was evident – obvious – when I first saw him 40 years ago. I was then trying to make my way in comedy at Cambridge, and he, then president of the slightly loftier Oxford University Dramatic Society, had agreed to take part, rather to amuse himself, I suspect. He was by a mile the best thing in it. Clever, and very, very funny, as he always was subsequently.

The Chancellor's attempts to solve our housing crisis are unhelpful and unworkable

Let's build our houses for the way we live now

George Osborne's attempts to solve our housing crisis are heading in the same direction as Parliament's attempts to hijack press freedom – destined for the pending tray, criticised on all sides as unhelpful and unworkable.

A picture left at the scene in Hanham, near Bristol, in tribute to Ross and Clare Simons, who were killed yesterday when their tandem bike was struck by a car

Tandem couple killed in Bristol 'hit-and-run' crash 'were trying for children'

A Bristol couple killed after being knocked off their tandem bicycle in an alleged hit-and-run had been given the go-ahead to start IVF treatment shortly before the crash, it has emerged.

Andrew Lawrence

Review of 2012: Comedy

Remind me who I am again?

The Olympics minister, Hugh Robertson, got angry with London 2012 security operatives on Wednesday. He tried to get into the Games' Media Centre without his security pass and the doormen refused to admit him. Mr Robertson, whose face is more E-list than A, was annoyed, affronted even, not to be recognised. And so he demanded: "Do you know who I am?"

Corporate managers are being encouraged to unleash their inner air guitar and learn leadership skills from heavy metal luminaries at a seminar titled the Monsters of Rock'n'Roll Business

Rock stars re-form as business gurus (well, they can wield an axe...)

Corporate managers are being encouraged to unleash their inner air guitar and learn leadership skills from heavy metal luminaries at a seminar titled the Monsters of Rock'n'Roll Business.

Pointing the way: Russell Brand at the Secret Policeman’s Ball at Radio City in New York

Secret Policeman's Ball: Stand-up and be counted

Russell Brand stole the show as American and British comics vied for laughs in New York

Somali security forces take part in a detention of mock pirates during a training drill in Mogadishu

World leaders plan crackdown on Somali pirates

As David Cameron hosts summit to tackle threat to trade on the Indian Ocean, Britain is accused of soft-pedalling the issue

Kiss Me Chudleigh: The World According to Auberon Waugh, By William Cook

Oddly, many of the obituaries for Auberon Waugh claimed that his most significant achievement was the "Diary" he wrote over 13 years for Private Eye. The quote marks are required because it was a pungent combination of fact and fiction. One of his milder musings dates from 1975: "Rather unexpectedly, I found myself in Kathmandu with Prince Charles for the coronation of King Bihendra... the Prince looks particularly fetching in a yashmak with blue paint on his eyelids."

48 Hours: Graz

Now a Unesco 'City of Design', this Austrian gem is full of handsome medieval and striking modern architecture. Chris Leadbeater explores

Leaders urged to co-ordinate against piracy threat

World shipping leaders have been urged to co-ordinate the fight against piracy better.

Perry Pontac: A man of infinite jest

Not many of us have heard of playwright Perry Pontac. More's the pity, says Alan Bennett – his Shakespeare spoofs, now in print, are perfect parodies
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'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
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Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
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Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
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Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
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Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
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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
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Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
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Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
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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
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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?
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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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Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
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