Independent Plus

Watch the videos below to see previews of some of the best shows, music and television events that are happening this autumn

Frank Zappa was one of rock's crossover musicians

Rock 'n' Roll in Four Movements, Radio 4, Thursday
BBC Proms, Radio 3, daily

Concerto for hairies and orchestra

Prom 52: LSO, Gergiev, *****/Prom 53: I Fagiolini, Hollingworth, ****

Prokofiev’s ballet score for 'Cinderella' had to wait nearly seventy years for its Proms premiere, and one had to wonder whether - at 105 minutes and without a visual component - it might be over-long.

Simon Calder: Foreign Office seeks to enlighten travelling fans

Think twice about drinking in Poland: "You can be taken to a drying-out clinic, where you'll be medically assessed and not released until sober. You will be required to pay the cost of any overnight stay."

Sir Frederick Ashton's Romeo and Juliet, Coliseum, London

From ball to tomb in under two hours, these star-crossed lovers scorch their trail

Massenet Cendrillon, Royal Opera House, London

The words are in French but still familiar - “Once upon a time...” – and the story which follows, Cendrillon (that’s Cinderella to you and me), is writ large across the surfaces of Barbara de Limburg’s set, opening like a pop-up book of fairytales whose sliding panels have our eyes hanging on to every word.

Cinderella, Royal Opera House, London

Classic tale could do with a polish

Cinderella, London Coliseum

Birmingham Royal Ballet's Cinderella has swift storytelling, marvellous designs and a tender heart. New last Christmas, it has been a success on tour and on television, and arrives at the London Coliseum looking as bright as ever.

Romeo and Juliet, Coliseum, London

English National Ballet's Romeo and Juliet is hard work. Rudolf Nureyev, who created it for this company in 1977, could always squeeze in one more step, one more plot point, until he barely has room for his star-crossed lovers. The dancers pour energy into this Romeo, but they can't make it engaging.

Susie Mesure: Nifty footwork takes our dancers to new heights

If it's Christmas, it must be The Nutcracker: Clara and her wooden soldier doll are our constant companions during a season otherwise observed in ever different ways. At English National Ballet, which has danced the work every December for the past 59 years, the latest version of the Hoffmann classic opens on Friday for 32 performances at the Coliseum in London, the company's Christmas home.

Cinderella, Hippodrome, Birmingham

A familiar tale, traditionally told, a sumptuous look and bewitching sound. It must be Christmas

In the red: A gift to myself is wrapped with guilt

For once, the hate mail was not forthcoming. Given that any mention of non-essential spending in this column tends to be greeted with a flurry of "well aren't you jammy!" emails, I had thought that talk of a not-at-all-necessary, entirely indulgent, £65 ballet ticket would guarantee at least one negative response. Apparently not. Not so much as a peep.

Bourne launches search for the real Billy Elliots

Choreographer sets up talent competition to inspire youngsters

Cinderella, Coliseum, London

English National Ballet celebrates its 60th birthday this year, with a summer season of Cinderella. And doesn't the company look good! Michael Corder's choreography is full of classical steps, showing off strong footwork, clean lines and a sense of shared identity. At 60, English National Ballet looks happy and confident.

Ted Durante: Comic strongman and stalwart of 'The Good Old Days'

Ted Durante was the Tommy Cooper of strongman acts, whose valiant efforts to lift a weight, or balance a tray of drinks on the end of a pole, usually collapsed into disaster.

Voices
Homeless Veterans charity auction: Cook with Angela Hartnett and Neil Borthwick at Merchants Tavern
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm tomorrow
Arts and Entertainment
J Jefferson Farjeon at home in 1953
booksBooksellers say readers are turning away from modern thrillers and back to golden age of crime writing
Sport
Amir Khan is engaged in a broader battle than attempting to win a fight with Floyd Mayweather
boxing Exclusive: Amir Khan reveals plans to travel to Pakistan
News
Stacey Dooley was the only woman to be nominated in last month’s Grierson awards
mediaClare Balding and Davina McCall among those overlooked for Grierson awards
Voices
Joseph Kynaston Reeves arguing with Russell Brand outside the RBS’s London offices on Friday
voicesDJ Taylor: The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a worker's rant to Russell Brand
News
Twitchers see things differently, depending on their gender
scienceNew study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Caroline Flack became the tenth winner of Strictly Come Dancing
tvReview: 'Absolutely phenomenal' Xtra Factor presenter wins Strictly Come Dancing final
Life and Style
A still from the 1939 film version of Margaret Mitchell's 'Gone with the Wind'
life
News
Xander van der Burgt, at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
scienceA Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
Career Services

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Independent Travel
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – Five-star MS Swiss Corona 7 nights from £999pp
Lake Como St Moritz & the Bernina Express 7 nights from £809pp
Vietnam
Lake Maggiore, Orta & the Matterhorn 7 nights from £939pp
South Africa
Spain
Prices correct as of 19 December 2014
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

Marian Keyes

The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

Rodgers fights for his reputation

Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick