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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Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor