Voices President Obama with Vice-President Joe Biden

Oh Mr Biden! Who is it? A flame from the 60s? The classmate you used to moon with out the window of the school bus? Someone dressed in exactly the same suit? Hillary Clinton yawning? WHO MADE YOU SO HAPPY?

Letters: IT skills

IT skills are vital for today's young

Album: Various Artists, Lumières: Music Of The Enlightenment (Harmonia Mundi)

It might seem a fool's errand to attempt to encapsulate the musical developments of the 18th century in a single package, given the era's heavyweight talents include Bach, Vivaldi, Beethoven, Mozart and Haydn.

The Charity That Began At Home, Orange Tree, Richmond

The remarkable Orange Tree Theatre in Richmond will enter its fifth decade on January 1 2012. One of its many virtues is a knack for unearthing fascinating rarities, especially from the Edwardian era.

Music: I bet you think this book is about you...

Books Of The Year

Top Boy, Channel 4, Monday to Thursday
Louis Theroux: America's Most Dangerous Pets, BBC2, Sunday

Any drama about street-corner drug dealers will be compared to 'The Wire'. This one falls far short

Ofcom examines claims of bias at company used by BBC

Ofcom, the media regulator, is examining the circumstances surrounding the screening of programmes on Malaysia made by a London-based company allocated millions of pounds by that country to work on a global strategic communications campaign.

Virgin says bye to Dave with UKTV sell-off

Virgin Media has sold off its stake in UKTV, whose channels include Watch, Gold and Dave, following more than a year of speculation. The move marks the end of almost 15 years of the company owning television content.

Strike disrupts programming, but BBC sticks to redundancies

The BBC has refused to rule out compulsory redundancies in the face of "significant" government cuts, despite a second strike by thousands of the corporation's journalists yesterday protesting over job losses.

Album: Punkt, Crime Scenes (Jazzland)

Composers / programmers / producers Erik Honore and Jan Bang, who assisted Arve Henriksen on the superb Cartography, plough a similar furrow for Crime Scenes.

Olympic legacy pledge 'cannot be met'

The London Olympics will not be able to fulfil its promise of helping Britain's neediest young people, according to a report.

Geek Nation: How Indian Science is Taking Over the World, By Angela Saini

The average Indian teenager of my time would have sold his grandmother (with her enthusiastic consent) for a place in the fabled Indian Institute of Technology or even a medical school – and then, more often than not, left for some worthy but intellectually undemanding job in the West. Make up your own list of Indians who have had a global impact and there will be few scientists on it. Indian artists, writers and social scientists have achieved vastly more, and for a fraction of the state investment that has gone into science and technology. Has Indian science ever produced a Ravi Shankar or, for that matter, a Raj Kapoor?

BBC 'may cut overnight programming'

The BBC could cut back on its overnight programming in a bid to save money.

Rupert Cornwell: A shouting shop needs the quiet voices of truth

Out of America: Conservative blowhards have it in for the nation's public broadcasters

Radio 3 - 'Every listener won't like every editorial decision'

Independent readers have been critical of Radio 3's treatment of Mozart and Handel. Its controller, Roger Wright, answers them and outlines his plans for live broadcasts
Voices
There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
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Bianca Miller and Katie Bulmer-Cooke are scrutinised by Lord Sugar's aide Nick Hewer on The Apprentice final
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Elton John and David Furnish exchange marriage vows
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File: James Woods attends the 52nd New York Film Festival at Walter Reade Theater on September 27, 2014
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Independent Travel
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – Five-star MS Swiss Corona 7 nights from £999pp
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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
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

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
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

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
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

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?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

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
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

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
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'