Arts and Entertainment Elton John performing at his 'Brits Icon' concert at The Palladium in London

Sir Elton John has become the recipient of the first Brits Icon award after being presented with honour by Rod Stewart at a special concert at the London Palladium.

Thomas flotation steams ahead

The two creators of the Thomas the Tank Engine television series, who bought the rights to the character from the Rev W Awdry for pounds 50,000 in 1981, are to float the company on the stock market next month for pounds 30m.

Next stop London: Thomas heads for the stock market

Thomas the Tank Engine and the Fat Controller are steaming off to the London stock market in a flotation that should value the Britt Allcroft group at about pounds 25m.

Heterosexuality? Who needs it?

Right. That's it. Last straw, camel's back, had enough, coming out. Out. You know: like one of these homos you read about.

Shopping Bazaar: Checkout/Bjorn Borg, 70 Sloane Ave, London

What is It? Not the Seventies tennis champ's fan club, but a Swedish- owned "underwear palace" in London. There's nothing below the belt about this: it's licenced to use Bjorn's legendary name. Deliciously cheesy promotional postcards show Svenska sirens Inga-Britt and Ulle giving nerdy Uffe a good birching. "A sauna gives the Swedes an opportunity to `pusta ut' (take it easy)," explains a caption.

My life in gor blimey trousers at

Jonathan Sale celebrates skiffle king Lonnie Donegan's 65th birthday

OBITUARY : Wes Farrell

At a time when the charts are dominated by Beatles re-releases, Beatles sound-alikes, disco acts and prefabricated teen stars like Take That, the death of Wes Farrell, the American songwriter and music entrepreneur, helps us put these trends into perspective.

Train to glory

Fifty years ago, as Britain emerged triumphant from a gruelling six-year war, the Reverend Wilbert Awdry published his first book and created one of the world's most enduring fictional characters. The Three Railway Engines introduced Thomas, a talking steam engine. With his irreverent sense of humour and winning smile, he muddled through some 30 adventures between his inception and the Rev Awdry's death in 1972. Originally conceived as an entertainment for the vicar's bed-bound son, Thomas the Tank Engine is now big business with some 200 book titles to his name as well as a television series. (Who could forget Ringo Starr's deadpan voice-overs?) An exhibition currently at the National Railway Museum in York explores the continuing appeal of the brave little engine and his friends. You can climb aboard a model of Thomas, watch Thomas videos and examine the Rev Awdry's collection of Thomas memorabilia, including the wooden model which originally brought the train to life for his son and a relief map of Thomas's imaginary country.

Imagine - the elder brother I never knew

Where were you when John Lennon was killed 15 years ago today? The playwright Alan Bleasdale remembers where he was - and how he felt, and why it still hurts to think about the hero he never met

Fab Four finally come together in spirit for one last song

Mersey's new beat: Security was tight and tempers frayed at the launch of the first new Beatles single for 25 years

Guru in need of a C-change

Whatever they say about the Beatles, Terry Riley's In C was the sound of the Sixties. But where's he at today? Apart from in Huddersfield. By Keith Potter


John Lennon said that Ringo was the one to worry about when the Beatles finished. He was not wrong. Trauma and bad behaviour were what followed. Then things started to get better

With the Beatles

but where are they now? Insiders, outriders, relatives and friends. 30 brief lives compiled by Miles

Heavenly: A new Mercury album

Rock legends: Queen and Beatle releases featuring songs by late, great stars are set for a macabre battle, reports David Lister

A long time since last orders

Years ago, she tottered around a Boston bar like a bossy prefect on library duty. Now she's Mrs Brady, immaculate mom to the obnoxious Brady Bunch. And in between? Ryan Gilbey talks to Shelley Long about her disastrous career

ROCK / Thirty years on, and worth their wait in gold

'WE WERE in an elevator, me and Mick Jagger and Ringo Starr,' says Ronald, lead singer of the Isley Brothers. 'Ringo said, 'Can we make a record of your 'Twist and Shout'?' We said, 'Sure, as long as you do it like we do it, with the oohs.' '
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Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
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