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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.

Mother defends helping her son buy heroin

A 62-year-old Women's Institute member and school governor yesterday defended making daily trips to buy heroin from back-street dealers to feed her son's addiction.

Blackadder's grand tour: Books

OP NON CIT by Alan Isler Cape pounds 12.99

Books: A blast of Jacobson's Organ

John Lloyd sizes up a theory of comedy that stretches its point

Have I got 'Who's Who' for you: Paul Merton joins the top people

It used to be the Establishment bible, chronicling the details of archbishops, peers and dons. But as the 149th edition of Who's Who is published next month, the great and the good have been joined by the naff.

Books you listen to

Humour is the best-selling category of audio books. Talkies Best Comedy Award went to The Long Johns (Laughing Stock, c 1hr, pounds 5.99), John Bird and John Fortune's brilliant mock interviews satirising political cynicism and expediency from the Rory Bremner Show. Blackadder's Christmas Carol (BBC, c 1hr, pounds 5.99) turns Dickens's story on its head with predictably hilarious results.

Profile: Ben Elton: Older, wiser quieter?

Writer and comic BEN ELTON talks with James Rampton

Mr Bean discovers silence is golden

He may be a mute oaf on television but in the boardroom Rowan Atkinson, alias Mr Bean, hatches the kind of money-making schemes of which Blackadder would be proud.

TV's taste for humiliation under attack

The rise in "victim entertainment" by broadcasters who exploit unsuspecting members of the public through hoax calls was severely criticised by the industry's watchdog yesterday.

What me? I'm off to lunch

The officer class at the Somme was cruel and stupid. And their modern equivalents can be as disgusting

One day Boff is going to snap and make Sir eat the Barclaycard

Boy, you'd think that by now Rowan Atkinson would be convinced of the benefits of the Barclaycard. His assistant, Boff, could stick the card in a donkey's mouth and make money come out of its nose, and still Atkinson would run around, selling his hat to toothless men, firing tranquilliser darts into his leg, or taking off all his clothes in a woman's hotel room and then pretending to jog. In that one I think he actually says: "Damn you, Barclaycard!" (How did this man reach such a position of authority in MI5?)

Comedy: The Umbilical Brothers Arts Theatre, London

'Imagine Robert De Niro animated by Hanna Barbera, and you get some idea of the cartoon mania'

The accidental humorist

His name will be on the credits of Steve Coogan's new show tonight. Lucky Coogan: Geoff Posner is Britain's most successful comedy director. By Robert Hanks

LETTER : Criticism ignores Unison's skills

From Mr Roger Bannister

. . . even if you set your Tuareg carpet on fire

The promise to reimburse credit card holders in respect of faulty goods bought abroad should not be confused with the purchase protection cover that many card companies already offer. This service, admirably promoted by comedian Rowan Atkinson in Barclaycard advertisements, is one of the "free perks" reflected in the overall charges you pay for your card.

And the strand plays on

Gregor Fisher lost his shirt as a drunken Glaswegian philosopher and now he's been Rab'd of his hair in The Baldy Man.
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Prices correct as of 21 November 2014
Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

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24-Hour party person

Photographer Richard Young has been snapping celebrities at play for 40 years. As his latest book is released, he reveals that it wasn’t all fun and games
Michelle Obama's school dinners: America’s children have a message for the First Lady

A taste for rebellion

US children have started an online protest against Michelle Obama’s drive for healthy school meals by posting photos of their lunches
Colouring books for adults: How the French are going crazy for Crayolas

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Ed Harcourt on Romeo Beckham and life as a court composer at Burberry

Call me Ed Mozart

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Phil Hughes had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

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'It just came to us, why not do it naked?' London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital

'It just came to us, why not do it naked?'

London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital