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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Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee