Arts and Entertainment

Shearsmith suggests new series would be with different characters

Dicks, right, with his writing partner Myles Rudge; they met after Dicks saw Rudge in a production of ‘Salad Days’

Ted Dicks: Co-writer of 'Right Said Fred' and 'Hole in the Ground'

The songwriter Ted Dicks wrote "Hole in the Ground" and "Right Said Fred", comic songs whose humour and vitality reflected his own personality and interests. He was a very pleasant and gregarious man with a passion for writing about the working man.

Jason Orange's feelings fizzed for Catherine

Jason Orange and Catherine Tate had "real sparks" between them from the moment they met.

Little Britain given a whole new meaning

I've spent more of my life playing music than speaking. If I ever really wanted to express an idea, emotion or even a storyline, music has always been my first choice. But having released eight albums, I was keen to find a fresh approach for my ninth so this album started as something quite different – a script.

Invisible Ink: No 91 - Charles Dickens

There was once a comedy sketch from the Monty Python precursor At Last the 1948 Show in which the annoying bibliophile Marty Feldman tried to buy a copy of Rarnaby Budge by Darles Chickens.

Comedy Rules, By Jonathan Lynn

Jonathan Lynn may be best known as the co-writer of Yes Minister (Margaret Thatcher's favourite sitcom, allegedly) but he has also turned his hand to comic acting, directing and screenwriting. Who better to ask, therefore, if you want to write, perform or direct comedy? Surely he'd know what to do and what not to do? Yet this compact and cheerful book isn't just a user's manual. It's also a charming memoir, full of amusing and insightful anecdotes about the many entertainers Lynn has worked with.

Idiots of Ants (4/5)/Late Night Gimp Fight (2/5)/Sheeps (4/5), Pleasance Courtyard, Edinburgh

If anyone has come up with a better beginning and ending to a sketch show on the Fringe this year than Idiots of Ants, I haven't seen it. Model Citizens opens with a tricksy Truman Show-inspired skit and ends with... well, that would be telling. Suffice to say it's a high-energy, feelgood finale to a high-energy, feelgood show.

Toby (4/5)/Lady Garden (3/5), Pleasance Courtyard, Edinburgh

Just when you think you've seen every possible permutation of sketch comedy – troupes of boys in suits or girls in matching frocks, sketches performed at super high-speed, to rock music or in gimp masks – the Fringe throws up another possibility. Toby are Sarah and Lizzie Daykin, real-life sisters who perform surreal sketches while barely keeping a lid on their sibling bickering. Having been spotted by the relentlessly innovative production company The Invisible Dot on the Free Fringe in 2010, they're one of the most refreshing and exciting new acts at the Pleasance this year.

Double Feature, Paintframe: National Theatre, London

This is the first time I have heard a version of "The Girl from Ipanema" in which the percussionist sports goggles and paint-spattered white overalls and provides a beat by sawing at a plank of wood. But then this is the first time the National has opened its Paintframe, a hangar of a workshop next to the Cottesloe, for a sort of mini-Fringe comprised of two double bills of hour-long plays by young dramatists.

Richard Herring: What Is Love Anyway?, Udderbelly's Pasture, Edinburgh

At the end of his Fringe show Christ on a Bike last year, Richard Herring usurped the atheism of the majority of his audience when he asked them if they believed in one true love. That concluding flourish in turn has laid the foundation for this discourse, one that has a simple mission; "to destroy love".

Whatever Happened to Benny Hill? Tron Theatre, Glasgow

The tragicomic circumstances of Benny Hill's life and death are familiar to anyone who remembers the comedian, and there's a narrative arc to them which doesn't require undue forcing. From wide-eyed young wannabe variety performer to internationally famous television superstar to unmarried and far out-of-fashion pensioner dying alone in his rented Teddington flat, the glory and the sadness of his life speaks for itself.

Beyond the Edinburgh Fringe: Meet the young comedians taking the internet by storm

The Edinburgh Festival is now so crowded that many comedy acts are instead taking to the web in their attempts to break through. But is it any easier – and are the results worthwhile? Matt Chorley asks YouTube's big hitters

This is a Book, By Demetri Martin

Life with the wolfman, and other sketches

Vic and Bob raise a cheer with Afternoon Delights

Following on from its partnership with Steve Coogan, which produced some acclaimed internet shorts featuring Alan Partridge, corporate comedy sponsor Foster's is about to unleash Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer's Afternoon Delights on the web.

Pajama Men: In the Middle of No One, Soho Theatre, London

With its American basement club vibe, it was apt that this excellent US duo were chosen to be the inaugural act for Soho Theatre's new downstairs venue. Assembled around tightly packed cabaret tables, tonight's audience faced a curtain backdrop on to which the Pajama Men's name was projected, something almost too fancy for this pretty no-frills (yet high-octane) act whose only props are their expressive voices and bodies.

The Sketch: Irritating Eds finally succeed in upsetting Cameron's composure

That may be the end of the PM's lordly ease at the dispatch box. It was a lovely act while it lasted. Week by week we had an exhibition from another era as Cameron showed us the upper-class skill of manners being the art of making other people feel uncomfortable.

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But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

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The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

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He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

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Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

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From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

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