Arts and Entertainment

Old luvvies act with gay abandon  in a classic festive sitcom

Pandora: Life Swap: Dorries does a Portillo

When Michael Portillo swapped the "reasonably rich" life of a former cabinet minister for the hard graft of a single mum as part of a BBC TV documentary, he won over viewers with a hitherto-unseen sensitive side.

Pandora: Balls and Bercow ready for a festive party piece

Rudolph, fetch those reins! Someone is striving to be a very good little boy this Christmas.

Tackles take their toll on Johnson's toilers

Could England beat New Zealand at Twickenham yesterday? It depended on whether you were a lifelong believer in Father Christmas. Throughout the first half, and in fact until the 57th minute, the dream survived. Alas, a simple twist of the screw in the final quarter took New Zealand comfortably clear and brought England back to reality.

Happy holidays – without Santa Claus or pumpkins

The Grinch stole Christmas back in the days of innocence, but today climate change and sexual alarmism are doing just as good a job as Dr Seuss's mean critter.

Business Diary: DCI Hunt's collar felt over 'sexist' M&S ads

It seems the humour police are hot on the trail of M&S and DCI Gene Hunt (aka Philip Glenister, of Ashes to Ashes and Life on Mars fame). The Advertising Standards Authority is looking into eight complaints about the chain's ad "Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without..." ads in which Glenister says "That girl prancing about in her underwear". Cut to French underwear model Noemie Lenoir who (of course) says "Moi?". Will Glenister get his collar felt for being demeaning to women? Will he and the M&S marketing team get "banged up" over Christmas for this horrendous blag? The ASA will reveal all next week.

Katy Holland: A painful Christmas experience

Are we there yet? Lapland is a tourist trap worth avoiding, but if you insist...

Tis the season for Christmas markets

These festive gatherings offer something to suit all tastes, says Simone Kane. And you can enjoy them at home or abroad

Carola Long: Halloween – the festival of our times

It's now a typically modern, pick-and mix, do-it-yourself sort of celebration

China's wholesale market: Christmas starts here...

Yiwu boasts the world's biggest market with 62,000 stalls, sprawled across 4 million square metres, selling 320,000 products to 200 countries. Clifford Coonan is spoilt for choice

Head to Finnish Lapland, the home of Santa Claus, the Sami people and...Lordi

In the depths of winter, daylight on or above the Arctic Circle is a precious commodity to be savoured in all its muted glory. The sky lightens for a few hours in the middle of the day, acquiring a silvery tinge before dwindling to gunmetal grey and finally surrendering to the greedy polar night. In Finnish Lapland, as the frozen sky melts into the horizon, you realise this is part of the appeal of midwinter at 66 degrees north.

Bob Dylan to release Christmas album for charity

Bob Dylan is releasing a Christmas album, and in the spirit of the holiday season, the legendary performer is donating his royalties to charity.

Town gets into the Christmas spirit - in August

Town hall bosses were accused of going Christmas crackers today after putting up festive lights - four months early.

Girls 13 Boys 0: Testing reveals gender gap in basic skills

Tests carried out on children before they start school at five show girls are still streets ahead of boys, writes Richard Garner

'I need something different – maybe another band,' says Noel Gallagher

Songwriter reveals he wouldn't mind moonlighting with someone other than Oasis
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Independent Travel
Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
Seven Cities of Italy
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence
Prague, Budapest and Vienna
Lake Garda
Minoan Crete and Santorini
Prices correct as of 17 April 2015
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions