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.

Season's !*@!* greetings

Books Of The Year: Humour: Here's proof that comedy has survived Python

In the last, dying weeks of the second millennium of the Christian era, you'd have thought that at least one publisher would have been low and venal enough to cash in on this unique marketing opportunity for "humour" books. A Thousand Years of British Poo Jokes or A Thousand Apocalypse Gags or even TV's Maureen Lipman's Millennium Schmillennium. Anything, in fact, to allow that doughty army of British publishers to do as they do every year, and flog opportunistic crap to an undiscriminating public and then roll about in money and party like it's 1999.

Radio: Imagine there's no costumes

There is an advert, running on a commercial station whose name escapes me, which is one of those desperate attempts by the medium to drum up advertising custom. "That's the power of radio," it concludes - although as I can't remember the examples it chooses to illustrate that, and I really have been racking my brains, it cannot be that powerful an ad. Most depressing is the implicit suggestion that radio is an inferior and overlooked medium that needs to squawk about itself to be heard. (You get adverts for individual television programmes, but you don't have adverts that say, in effect, "Hey! Companies with money to burn! Try flogging your stuff on the telly. Who knows? It might even work!")

Architecture: A smart house to take care of you? Coming up

Will electronic sensors make your home hell? Nonie Niesewand looks to the future

BBC releases Peter Cook tape

CHRIST PRACTISING resurrection by dropping dead regularly as a child and an ice dance extravaganza with Esther Williams swimming under the frozen surface are the more lucid topics covered by comedians Peter Cook and Chris Morris in Cook's last radio performance.

BBC releases Peter Cook's last radio show

CHRIST PRACTISING resurrection by dropping dead regularly as a child and an ice dance extravaganza with Esther Williams swimming under the frozen surface are the more lucid topics covered by comedians Peter Cook and Chris Morris in Cook's last radio performance.

Obituary: Agnes Bernelle

ANYONE WHO ever met the actress and singer Agnes Bernelle could not fail to be impressed by her courage, energy and dedication, qualities which she showed all her life; it was these qualities which enabled her to make the transition from a comfortable and highly cultured upbringing in Berlin to a new life in Ireland, where she created a special place for herself in artistic Dublin.

Football Interview: George Graham, Fear is the spur for the mythical hard man

Image is now a tool for tough-guy trouble-shooter who judges only by results.

Words: lava, n.

HAGGERTY ENTERPRISES Inc's complaint about my innocent quoting of Lorrie Moore's brilliant reference to somebody's blood moving "around his face and neck like a lava lamp" brings to mind Peter Cook and Virginia Woolf - an odd couple, who would be sure-fire clients for Relate.

Cheltenham festival of Literature: Weekend Highlights

BIG NAMES discussing even bigger subjects abound this weekend. Today's highlights include a rare appearance by the much-loved children's illustrator Quentin Blake, who talks about his 50-year career (10am); the controversial novelist and biographer DM Thomas lecturing on the work of the Nobel prizewinner Alexander Solzhenitsyn (10am); the writer and journalist Patrick Marnham discussing the turbulent life and art of Diego Rivera (1pm); and the editor of The Oldie, Richard Ingrams, talking to Harry Thompson, TV producer and creator of Have I Got News For You, about his old friend Peter Cook (5.30pm). Tomorrow will see, among others, the actor Steven Berkoff "perform" his latest short stories (12noon); Jeremy Paxman discuss what it means to be English (2.30pm); and Judi Dench in conversation with her biographer, John Miller (5pm).

The Independent Recommends: Edinburgh 98 - Theatre

TONIGHT SEES the unveiling of New York Theatre Workshop's much- admired staging of Eugene O'Neill's More Stately Mansions, a rough draft that survived against his wishes. Part of an unfinished epic historical cycle about "a far from model family" embarked on during the Thirties, the play receives an appropriately Expressionist treatment from Flemish director Ivo van Hove.

Accidental Heroes of the 20th Century: 2: Peter Cook, Comic Actor

HARRY THOMPSON'S magisterial biography of Peter Cook runs for 500 pages. Cook's version of the story - produced at the suggestion of a publisher in 1993 - was a few sheets of writing-paper covered in rough scribble. "I thought we might flesh it out with a few photographs," suggested Cook typically.

The Independent Archive: A short upper cut from a cowering position

19 August 1989 In the latest instalment of William Donaldson's weekly column, he takes up the art of restaurant-critic reviewing

Comedy: The men who like to say `Boosh'

Like you, James Rampton gets tired of the Edinburgh hype. But Julian Barratt and Noel Fielding just might be all they're cracked up to be

Theatre: Blood simple

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A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

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Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

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In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'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

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He's behind you, dude!

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From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

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Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

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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Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
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