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While politicians agonise over the size of the Government’s debt, one of the most expensive publicly funded projects in recent years is quietly getting under way.

Wild? A National Park warden sits with an orphaned mountain gorilla

Mike Unwin: Too late to be a purist over The Not-Really-WildShow

Something to Declare

Rowan Atkinson and Tony Robinson in Blackadder

Baldrick bites back: Sir Tony Robinson calls Michael Gove 'irresponsible' over criticisms of Blackadder as propaganda tool for the left

Actor says comments by Education Secretary amounted to 'slagging off teachers'

Inside television: Why the battle is not just for ratings

This year marks 100 years since the start of a four-year war which claimed 16 million lives around the world. In October, the BBC laid claim to this anniversary announcing an ambitious slate of over 2,500 hours of First World War programming. Clearly, Adrian Van Klaveren needn't worry whether he's commissioned enough programmes, but if anything keeps the BBC's Controller of the World War One Centenary up at night over the next four years, it will be the tone of these documentaries and dramas.

Labour adviser turned stand-up comedian Matt Forde

Acerbic Ed Miliband jokes have Jack Straw rolling in the aisles

The Labour adviser turned stand-up Matt Forde came face-to-face with one of his subjects when Jack Straw showed up at his show this week. "I was just kicking my shoes off in my dressing room after the show and the former Foreign Secretary popped his head around the door", he said.

Dan Carter was named Player of the Year for a second time, at the IRB's annual awards

New Zealand fly-half Dan Carter to follow Richie McCaw in taking six-month sabbatical

Carter will take time out from the game after the Kiwi's November European Tour

David Walliams and Lara Stone have had their first child, a baby boy.

David Walliams says sexuality 'can change for people over the years'

Funnyman David Walliams says sexuality "can change over the years".

John Lloyd: The Liff of QI

Edinburgh 2013: John Lloyd's The Liff of QI does exactly what it says on the tin

The comedy producer and QI founder John Lloyd does exactly what he sets out to do with this show - at least according to the blurb on his flyer: to take the audience on a journey via The Meaning of Liff (the spoof lexicon he co-wrote with Douglas Adams) and his constant search for quite interesting facts.

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.

Rowan Atkinson in his Comic Relief sketch as Archbishop of Canterbury

Rowan Atkinson's brother slams 'adolescent' comic relief sketch

Rowan Atkinson’s Archbishop of Canterbury sketch for Comic Relief has received another complaint-this time from his own brother.

Tony Robinson, presenter of 'Time Team'

Tony Robinson 'frustrated' after Channel 4 axes Time Team

TV star Tony Robinson has admitted Channel 4's decision to axe its archaeology series Time Team has left him "frustrated".

2013's red nose - Comic Relief has raised £75m so far

Red faces: Not everyone sees the funny side of 'lewd' Comic Relief

It has raised over £800m in all, but this year's pre-watershed language wasn't funny, say furious viewers

Rowan Atkinson as St John Quartermaine
and Conleith Hill as Henry Windscape in Quartermaine's Terms by Simon Gray at the Wyndham's Theatre

First Night: Quartermaine's Terms; Wyndham's Theatre, London

Atkinson gives a masterclass in awkward for return to the stage

Bean downplays Bank QE move

Charlie Bean, the deputy governor of the Bank of England and key interest rate setter, has poured cold water on the chances of an imminent expansion of the £375bn quantitative easing programme.

Blackadder in Bethlehem: ‘Lost’ Christmas special from 1988 revealed

We’ve seen Rowan Atkinson as Blackadder going forth in the First World War, ruffed-up and ruffled as a courtier to Elizabeth I and trussed up in a wig as a stroppy Prince Edmund in the middle ages. But a ‘lost’ episode due to be revealed this week presents the character as we’ve never seen him before: Edmund Blackadder the Bethlehem innkeeper.

Ben Elton: Live From Planet Earth, has ended after a mere three
episodes

Ben Elton pens new sitcom about local government

Ben Elton has written a new sitcom set in the dysfunctional world of local government.

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Harry Potter actor suffered 'severe flu-like symptoms' on a flight from London to Orlando

Sport
Kim Sears is reported to have directed abuse at Berdych
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Rap music mogul accused of running two men over in his truck

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Gywneth Paltrow proposed that women seek out a special herbal steam-treatment service
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Toronto tops the charts across a range of indexes
news

World cities ranked in terms of safety, food security and 'liveability'

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First full-length look is finally here

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The veterans Mark Hayward, Hugh Thompson and Sean Staines (back) with Grayson Perry (front left) and Evgeny Lebedev
charity appealMaverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
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Peppa Pig wearing her golden boots
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"Oink! Oink! Hee hee hee!" First interview with the big-screen star

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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