News Hop to it: The penguin parade has been of the daily highlights at Edinburgh Zoo since the first one happened by accident in 1951

They remain one of its most popular attractions

Dunelm Mill coastal living: £19.99, dunelm-mill.com, pale blues and stained wood help to give this space a coastal feel. A Dunelm Mill Cool Lagoon cushion finishes off the scheme

Window shopping: A wave of designers are being inspired by the seaside

What do mermaids, anchors, sea horses and shells have in common? Apart from their watery heritage, they all feature large on fashion collections for spring/summer 2012.

Stormy seas batter the stricken container ship Rena which has been wedged on a reef off New Zealand’s North Island for the past three months

Oil spill disaster threatens New Zealand

New Zealand braced for a new oil spill last night after a storm broke up a cargo ship that has caused the country's worst maritime environmental disaster.

The mysterious bird deaths inspired Hichcock's film, The Birds

Mystery behind Hitchcock's Birds is solved at last

Scientists link eerie avian suicides of 1961, which inspired cinema classic, to poison in the food chain

Anna Calvi says of Wild Beasts: 'Their album Smother is great. It's full of subtleties; chords are implied rather than over-emphasised, and the drums are integral to the melodic interest of each song.'

The sounds and songs the stars fell in love with in 2011

Anna Calvi, Ghostpoet and Leslie Feist all made great albums this year. Here, they and others pick the music that rocked their year

Gripping yarn: Katherine Parkinson

'I prefer a less polite laugh'

Katherine Parkinson stars in a Dickens spoof over Christmas, then takes on Ayckbourn. Cosy comedy's not for this cerebral soul, as Alice Jones discovers

Gripping yarn: Katherine Parkinson

'I prefer a less polite laugh': Why cosy comedy's not for cerebral soul Katherine Parkinson

Parkinson stars in a Dickens spoof over Christmas, then takes on Ayckbourn.

DVD: Mr Popper's Penguins, For retail & rental (20th Century Fox)

When Jim Carrey inherits six penguins – don't ask – his children adore the flatulent little critters, so Carrey agrees to keep them, even if that means filling his swanky apartment with ice, snow and bird droppings.

DVD: Mr Popper's Penguins (PG)

Back in the mid noughties, you couldn't move for marching and dancing penguins, so there's something vaguely out-of-date about this Jim Carrey kids book adaptation.

Wild and wonderful: Scotland’s snow-capped peaks

Scotland: The perfect winter getaway

It's St Andrew's Day, a reminder that Scotland is now at its atmospheric best. Here's how to enjoy the majestic scenery – and stay warm at the same time

Football league round-up: LuaLua signs for Brighton

Kazenga LuaLua has joined Brighton on a permanent basis from Newcastle, having been on loan with the npower Championship side for the first part of the season.

E Jane Dickson: Some 'gay rights' just can't be infringed

Notebook: Who's to say Pedro and Buddy are not happy to bat for the other side?
Once more unto the beach: Massimo Vitali's 'Il Ciolo, Puglia' (2010)

Massimo Vitali: The seaside snapper who's making waves

When Silvio Berlusconi won the Italian election in 1994, Massimo Vitali packed his camera and headed to the beach. "I wanted to see who had voted for him," says the photographer. "It was such a shock for me when he won." Vitali, 67, has been working on his beach series ever since – setting up his large-format (11in by 14in) camera on clifftops or assembling 20ft-high scaffolding to shoot his "sociological" seaside panoramas.

Editor-At-Large: Seems we'll use any word today except a word of kindness

Ricky Gervais is smart – not a bully or a bigot, even though recent events might indicate otherwise. Now he's apologised for using the word "mong", let's get the affair in perspective. Sure, he was naïve, and posting oafish pictures on Twitter was dumb. They attracted a storm of protest – and Gervais was even accused of ramping up the controversy to promote his new television series. But after Nicola Clark, the mother of two teenage girls with severe autism, cried on the Jeremy Vine radio show as she described the insults she's had to deal with from the public, Ricky contacted her and they talked privately and he said sorry. He then offered her a "very public thank you" on Twitter. Unlike Frankie Boyle, with his revolting comments about Katie Price's disabled son Harvey, Ricky knows when to admit he got it wrong.

A patter of Happy Feet – and an emperor returns to the sea

He needed a little push before speeding backward down a makeshift slide.

Maggot, By Paul Muldoon

With sounds like these, who needs understanding?
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Super Mario crushes the Messi dream as Germany win the 2014 World Cup in Brazil

Super Mario crushes the Messi dream

Germany win the 2014 World Cup in Brazil
Saharan remains may be evidence of the first race war, 13,000 years ago

The first race war, 13,000 years ago?

Saharan remains may be evidence of oldest large-scale armed conflict
Scientists find early warning system for Alzheimer’s

Scientists find early warning system for Alzheimer’s

Researchers hope eye tests can spot ‘biomarkers’ of the disease
Sex, controversy and schoolgirl schtick

Meet Japan's AKB48

Pop, sex and schoolgirl schtick make for controversial success
Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over northern Iraq

A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

The evolution of Andy Serkis

First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

Blackest is the new black

Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor