Student

22-year-old adult James Ashford recently visited Harry Potter World on his own. This is his sorry tale

Rian Johnson: How I went from Brick to Brothers Bloom

Californian writer and film director Rian Johnson achieved critical acclaim in 2005 for a low budget neo-noir murder mystery movie inspired by Dashiell Hammett detective novels called ‘Brick.’ His second film, ‘Brothers Bloom,’ which hits cinemas in the UK tomorrow, is an intense departure from the edginess and careful stylisation of Johnson’s debut. It is instead a light-hearted conman movie, filled with slapstick capers and cons within cons, which might miss the mark for early converts to Johnson’s initial Wes Anderson-alike style, but which possesses a kooky, if self-aware, charm.

DVD: The Gruffalo (U)

A ridiculously starry cast – including Helena Bonham Carter, John Hurt, Tom Wilkinson, James Corden and Robbie Coltrane – voice this witty adaptation of Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler's children's tale of a shrewd little mouse who outwits a ravenous snake, owl and a fox with the threat of a gruffalo, a creature with terrible claws, orange eyes and purple prickles all over its back. In the old days, one voice – Bernard Cribbins, say – would have voiced the whole lot, no trouble, but this was the centrepiece of the BBC's Christmas schedule so they threw the kitchen sink at it.

DVD: Harry Potter & the Half-Blood Prince

Unlike the first few filmsin the Potter franchise,the sixth instalmentdoesn't have a completestory of its own: it's reallyjust a small piece ofa large jigsaw. It's stilla colourful piece, mindyou. There's no doubtingthe quality of thewondrous productiondesign, the magicalspecial effects, and thehamming theatricalgrandees. But thatdoesn't make up for thelack of plot. The identityof the mysterious "Half-Blood Prince" is an irrelevance– and so is almosteverything else.

Murderland, ITV1<br/>Modern Family, Sky 1

Robbie Coltrane makes a welcome return, but haven't we seen this character somewhere before?

The ten best Harry Potter landmarks

As film-goers psyche themselves up for the release of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, the sixth film in the series, the flight search engine Skyscanner picks the best spots to experience some of that wizard magic.

Harry Potter stars to remember Knox at premiere

The stars of the new Harry Potter film are expected to wear white ribbons on their wrists at the movie's world premiere as a mark of respect for murdered actor Rob Knox.

Chris Maume: Incredible 'Hulk' the retiring type after growing tired of Tyre Flip

World's Strongest Man: Five, Friday

Rowling's latest: reduced from &#163;1.95m to &#163;6.99

A new work previously available only at auction goes on sale in the shops today

Potter film release delayed by eight months

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, the sixth instalment in the blockbuster film franchise about boy wizard Harry, is moving from its planned 21 November US release to 17 July next year, distributor Warner Bros said.

Sixth-formers to take Harry Potter test

It is enough to leave traditionalists spluttering into their tea – Harry Potter is about to be placed on the school curriculum.

Coltrane used to catch thief, 16

Police in New Zealand are hoping that posters featuring a photo of Robbie Coltrane will help them catch a teenage burglar.

The Weekend's TV: A brief spell in the chamber of secrets

JK Rowling: A Year In The Life, ITV1; The Shadow In The North, BBC1

Athletics: Gatlin makes fast riposte to Powell

A day after Asafa Powell demonstrated his awesome capabilities in toying with the field at the Bislett Games, where he won the 100m with contemptuous ease in 9.98sec, his co-world record holder Justin Gatlin responded with an equally impressive performance on the other side of the Atlantic, running 9.87sec at the Reebok Grand Prix in New York on a evening when Meseret Defar of Ethiopia set a women's 5,000m world record of 14min 24.53sec.

Voices
Homeless Veterans charity auction: Cook with Angela Hartnett and Neil Borthwick at Merchants Tavern
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm tomorrow
Arts and Entertainment
Caroline Flack became the tenth winner of Strictly Come Dancing
tvReview: 'Absolutely phenomenal' Xtra Factor presenter wins Strictly Come Dancing final
Life and Style
A still from the 1939 film version of Margaret Mitchell's 'Gone with the Wind'
life
Arts and Entertainment
J Jefferson Farjeon at home in 1953
booksBooksellers say readers are turning away from modern thrillers and back to golden age of crime writing
Sport
Amir Khan is engaged in a broader battle than attempting to win a fight with Floyd Mayweather
boxing Exclusive: Amir Khan reveals plans to travel to Pakistan
News
Stacey Dooley was the only woman to be nominated in last month’s Grierson awards
mediaClare Balding and Davina McCall among those overlooked for Grierson awards
Voices
Joseph Kynaston Reeves arguing with Russell Brand outside the RBS’s London offices on Friday
voicesDJ Taylor: The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a worker's rant to Russell Brand
News
Twitchers see things differently, depending on their gender
scienceNew study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
News
i100
News
Xander van der Burgt, at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
scienceA Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
Career Services

Day In a Page

Independent Travel
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – Five-star MS Swiss Corona 7 nights from £999pp
Lake Como St Moritz & the Bernina Express 7 nights from £809pp
Vietnam
Lake Maggiore, Orta & the Matterhorn 7 nights from £939pp
South Africa
Spain
Prices correct as of 19 December 2014
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'
Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

Marian Keyes

The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

Rodgers fights for his reputation

Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick