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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peoplePerformer had recently been diagnosed with prostate cancer
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The surrealist comedian at the Q Awards in 2010
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Media baron Rupert Murdoch owns News Corps and 20th Century Fox
theatrePlaywright David Williamson is struggling to find a big name to star as the media mogul
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The comedian, 42, made the controversial comment following the athlete’s sentencing to five years for the culpable homicide of Reeva Steenkamp on Tuesday
peopleComedian's quip about Reeva Steenkamp was less than well received at music magazine awards
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Cumberbatch spectacularly photobombs U2 at the Oscars
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Could you tell the difference between this and an organic alternative?
food + drink

Culinary experts in The Netherlands thought it was 'fresh' and 'tasty'

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One Direction
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Will menus with calorie counts really deter junk-food addicts from eating junk?
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Prices correct as of 17 October 2014
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
The 10 best smartphone accessories

Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

Liverpool v Real Madrid

Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?