News

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.

Now please press 6 for phone fury

"HELLO, you're through to Bunhill. If you have a touch-tone keypad please press '1' after the tone ... Thank you for calling Bunhill; please press '2' for a schedule of my engagements today ... Please press '3' for details of the full range of services provided by Bunhill ... Please press '4' if you'd like to know the capital of Peru ... Hello, you're through to Bunhill ..." (repeat ad infinitum).

Word of Mouth

Shake-up at Kingston

Boxing: Holyfield the giant for all Bean's talk

Bob Mee reports on a world title fight with the look of a mismatch

Comedy: EXTRA

While his erstwhile double-act partner, Henry Naylor, swans around the world - no doubt making full use of the credit card he advertises so enthusiastically with Rowan Atkinson - Andy Parsons embarks on his first solo show. He will endeavour to take the audience through The Seven Levels of Sitting in a Slightly Uncomfortable Seat, so they end up "breathless, uplifted and as legally high as possible".

Week in the arts

MR BEAN, rubbery-limbed and accident prone, is a lovable sort of chap. He also says very little. Perhaps that comes from studying the outbursts of his alter ego, Rowan Atkinson. The latter has taken a snipe at Bafta in advance of next month's awards, because the British Academy had failed to nominate the Bean film. And as with all notable comedians, it's the way he tells 'em.

In the News: Rowan Atkinson - The recluse who engineered his way to stardom

BACK in his student days, Rowan Atkinson wanted to be an electrical engineer. It is an image that is hard to match with the rubber-faced comedian whose alter-ego, Mr Bean, is one of the best-known comic creations on British television, writes Kate Watson-Smyth.

Rugby Union: The serious side of Blackadder

The captain of the team they call the second best in the world has one ambition - to play for the best team; David Llewellyn talks to the leader of the first-rate All Black Second XV

Mr Bean takes America by storm

It would be best not to talk to Rowan Atkinson about the swathe of British art house movies like Trainspotting and The Full Monty that have triumphed at the American box-office in the last two years. He probably doesn't care.

CINEMA: A half-baked Bean who should have stayed in Britain

Mr Bean is the world's most popular in-flight entertainment, and understandably so. Half-asleep between bouts of air-sickness is undoubtedly the best way to watch it. But now Rowan Atkinson has brought his creepy TV character to the big screen, his audience no longer has the option of taking off the headphones and reading a book instead.

The disaster that really worries Mr Bean's brother

Foreign adventures are no laughing matter for a less celebrated Atkinson

Mr Magoo with malice

The puerile Mr Bean has made it from TV to the big screen, from London to Los Angeles. But the idiot's-eye outlook he offers remains the same

Mr Bean turns the handle of money-making machine

The pathetic comic character has a serious side, writes Chris Blackhurst

Mr Bean goes to Hollywood

Rowan Atkinson's new film, The Ultimate Disaster Movie, starring his alter ego, the gormless Mr Bean (pictured), has already taken Australia, New Zealand and Holland by storm and looks set to do the same in the United Kingdom.

A HEADY COMBINATION

Comedian MEL SMITH talks with James Rampton

Four weddings and a sequel

Hugh Grant to play himself again in a film called Notting Hill
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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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Caroline Flack became the tenth winner of Strictly Come Dancing
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Elton John and David Furnish will marry on 21 December 2014
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Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – Five-star MS Swiss Corona 7 nights from £999pp
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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
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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...
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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