Arts and Entertainment

Shearsmith suggests new series would be with different characters

Magnificent Bastards, By Rich Hall

Rich Hall, an American-born, Perrier award-winning comedian otherwise known as his grizzled alter ego, Otis Lee Crenshaw, shows flair for conjuring up an assortment of characters in smart, playful vignettes that are told in a tone which crosses the comic with the absurd and wry.

How We Met: Dan Clark & Noel Fielding

'I used to say, "Dan, you're so funny at a party, you've got to try to get that into your comedy"'

The Sketch: Ed the ruthless now reveals his true colours

This "human" thing Ed Miliband's supporters have identified – now we can start to see what they mean as the spotlight lingers on him. Never mind the values and aspirations, the positioning and the policies – the first and most important question is: will they warm to him in Wells and Warrington?

The Armstrong & Miller Show Live, Hippodrome, Bristol

I can't recall yet seeing a stage show derived from a TV series that has ever been a wholly satisfactory venture, though perhaps, like the pile of Armstrong & Miller merchandise on offer tonight, a live arm is deemed a necessary accoutrement to a brand, as much as it is an exercise in going back to one's original roots.

Pappy's / Idiots of Ants / The Penny Dreadfuls / The Real MacGuffins, Pleasance Courtyard, Edinburgh

Sketchy collection fail to deliver a knockout

The Fringe: Still crazy after all these years

Edinburgh wouldn't be Edinburgh without the annual offerings of creative lunacy. Alice Jones celebrates some of the maddest

Fringe Notes: 16/08/2010

*Nina Conti was a curious choice of headliner for the gimmicky 'Comedy in the Dark' at the Gilded Balloon. Somehow ventriloquism with the lights off loses a little of its magic.

Lady Garden: Top Secret Gig, Pleasance Courtyard, Edinburgh

Returning for their third Fringe, the all-female sketch sextet Lady Garden (featuring the daughter of Jennifer Saunders and Adrian Edmondson, Beattie Edmondson) offer another mix of the clever and the cursory without achieving the perfect blend of their talents and ideas.

Dom Joly: I am the victim of a dastardly art heist

I used to love Belgium, the nation about which General De Gaulle once snorted, "Two provinces don't make a country." So many of my passions – Tintin, Jacques Brel, frites with mayonnaise – come from there. Last week, however, my love for the Flems and Walloons was severely tested.

The Sketch: Bercow was called a 'stupid, sanctimonious dwarf'. Nobody was that suprised

Speakers always have a moment when they have to impose their will on the mob

Bremner fears joke about Islam would mean death

The political satirist Rory Bremner has claimed that the "chilling" effect of fundamentalism means that every time he writes a sketch about Islam he fears that he is signing his own death warrant.

Album: The Divine Comedy, Bang Goes The Knighthood (DCR)

Unstrapping his shin pads after last year's success with The Duckworth Lewis Method, Neil Hannon returns to his main day-job with Bang Goes The Knighthood, an album on which the cast of familiar Divine Comedy characters are targeted with his usual precision and urbanity.

BBC Trust apologises over Frankie Boyle's Jew joke

The BBC Trust's editorial standards committee (ESC) has apologised over a joke made by Frankie Boyle which compared Palestine with a cake being "punched to pieces by a very angry Jew".

Broad comedy: A new wave of funny women

Forget French and Saunders. There's a new wave of funny women hitting British television screens. Gerard Gilbert introduces the best of the next generation

Between the Assassinations, By Aravind Adiga

Aravind Adiga wrote these stories before his 2008 Booker-winning novel The White Tiger, and they contain in miniature those themes which are his forte: corruption and injustice; the gulf between the rich and the poor; and portraiture of a cross-section of society. They are set in the fictional town of Kittur, a microcosm of India, between two key historical events: the assassinations of Indira Gandhi in 1984 and her son Rajiv in 1991.

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Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... for the fourth time

Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... for the fourth time

I was once told that intelligence services declare their enemies dead to provoke them into popping up their heads and revealing their location, says Robert Fisk
Margaret Attwood on climate change: 'Time is running out for our fragile, Goldilocks planet'

Margaret Attwood on climate change

The author looks back on what she wrote about oil in 2009, and reflects on how the conversation has changed in a mere six years
New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered: What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week

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Oculus Rift and the lonely cartoon hedgehog who could become the first ever virtual reality movie star

The cartoon hedgehog leading the way into a whole new reality

Virtual reality is the 'next chapter' of entertainment. Tim Walker gives it a try
Ants have unique ability to switch between individual and collective action, says study

Secrets of ants' teamwork revealed

The insects have an almost unique ability to switch between individual and collective action
Donovan interview: The singer is releasing a greatest hits album to mark his 50th year in folk

Donovan marks his 50th year in folk

The singer tells Nick Duerden about receiving death threats, why the world is 'mentally ill', and how he can write a song about anything, from ecology to crumpets
Twitter accused of 'Facebookisation' over plans to overhaul reverse-chronological timeline

Twitter accused of 'Facebookisation'

Facebook exasperates its users by deciding which posts they can and can’t see. So why has Twitter announced plans to do the same?
Jane Birkin asks Hermès to rename bag - but what else could the fashion house call it?

Jane Birkin asks Hermès to rename bag

The star was shocked by a Peta investigation into the exotic skins trade
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Diego Costa biography: Chelsea striker's route to the top - from those who shared his journey

Diego Costa: I go to war. You come with me...

Chelsea's rampaging striker had to fight his way from a poor city in Brazil to life at the top of the Premier League. A new book speaks to those who shared his journey
Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

Turkish President Erdogan could benefit politically from the targeting of the PKK, says Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: Our choice is years of Tory rule under Jeremy Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

Our choice is years of Tory rule under Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

Yvette Cooper urged Labour members to 'get serious' about the next general election rather than become 'a protest movement'
Singapore's domestic workers routinely exploited and often abused in the service of rich nationals

Singapore's hidden secret of domestic worker abuse

David Cameron was shown the country's shiniest veneer on his tour. What he didn't see was the army of foreign women who are routinely exploited and often abused in the service of rich nationals
Showdown by Shirley Jackson: A previously unpublished short story from the queen of American Gothic

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