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Robert Downey Jr. and Benedict Cumberbatch backstage at the 25th annual Producers Guild of America Awards at the Beverly Hilton Hotel

Benedict Cumberbatch and Robert Downey Jr compare Sherlock notes

Actors had 'a lot to talk about'

Harriet Walker: 'I will be in her life forever - because I fell over at her wedding'

No matter how hard you try to make your friends love you, there's never any guarantee, is there? You can be your funniest self, your most supportive self, your kindest, most understanding, coolest or most relaxed self, and there's still nothing to say your friends won't just desert you, like a smuggler's ship slipping its ropes in the bay at midnight.

Retired queen of the track Victoria “Sponge” Pendleton

Sport on TV: Doctor, doctor! This presenter is a pain in the, er, prostate

If anyone can complete a 127-mile cycle race through the Pyrenees called the “Bone Breaker”, having done no exercise for years, surely it would be a doctor. They might not have quite the depth of medical knowledge that Lance Armstrong possesses, but surely they can merrily prescribe themselves an assortment of finest pharamceuticals to get themselves over the hump.

Oaksterdam in Oakland, California, is the world's only university dedicated to the study and cultivation of cannabis

Cannabis cultivation: the world's only college course

After the decriminalisation of marijuana in two US states, a new crop of would-be drug barons is enrolling on a college course in cannabis cultivation

Teenage girl who survived Seattle drive-by shooting: ‘My glasses saved my life’

A teenage girl’s glasses saved her life when they incredibly deflected a bullet that would have hit her in the head in a US drive-by shooting.

Florence Knight is only 26 and head chef at Polpetto

A feast of reading for all kinds of cooks: Cookbooks of 2013

Every year I think “that’s it, I’ve got enough cookbooks”. But rather like a black cardigan, or pair of jeans, one can never quite get past the nagging feeling that the next one might just be the perfect one. And then the shelf collapses.

Grey matter: Inside Maria Hatzistefanis' Notting Hill home

Cosmetics queen Maria Hatzistefanis has found the perfect way to relax her mind after a day at work

PS4 and Xbox One: Live-streamed nudity and 'excessive profanity' highlights new problems

Next gen consoles allow users to share footage online, but this has already led to some worrying incidents

The 10 Best sofas

We spend a good proportion of our time sitting on our sofa, so it's a piece worth investing in. Here's our pick of the best

The property's historic bedroom

Stay the Night: Lendal Tower, York

Once part of the city walls, then a water tower, this medieval building now accepts guests. Holly Williams takes a step back

Close knit: James, here with his mother, Penny, was one of the patients featured on Channel 4’s ‘Bedlam’

Grace Dent on TV: Bedlam, Channel 4 // OCD Ward, ITV // OCD Cleaners, Channel 4

For all we learn about mental illness on TV, we may as well be gawkers at a 17th-century freak show

Grace Dent on TV: Storyville: Pussy Riot – a Punk Prayer, BBC4

Wave the flag for the fearless feminists whose anti-Putin protests have rocked Russia

Sympathy for the devils: Stephen Fry with Stosh, a victim of ‘corrective rape’ in Uganda

Grace Dent on TV: Out There, BBC2

Take that, homophobia. Stephen Fry is looking for a fight

Sofa, so good: ‘Gogglebox’ allows us to watch the TV watchers

Grace Dent on TV: Gogglebox, Channel 4

It's TV that brings the nation together, and this show is a glorious celebration of that

Blind date: Istanbullux’s stylish interiors are shielded from the sun by a wooden shell

B&B and Beyond: Istanbullux Suites, Turkey

Galata is a thriving area with a sleek collection of suites in a building that's cool ... in every way. Sarah Gilbert checks in

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Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
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Left to right: Stanley Tucci, Sophie Grabol and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
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Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald in the Doctor Who Christmas special
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Japanese artist Megumi Igarashi showing a small mascot shaped like a vagina
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The Queen delivers her Christmas message
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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
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
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