Kele Okereke of Bloc Party at Xfm's Winter Wonderland concert at the O2 Apollo Manchester

Bloc Party, Maximo Park, Everything Everything, Delphic, Spector and Findlay, Xfm Winter Wonderland, Apollo, Manchester

Bloc Party’s Kele Okereke is in fittingly combative mood, given how he has bulked up during his band’s three-year hiatus.

Claire Beale on Advertising: Fizz is forced out of Soda Stream ads

We're used to TV ads using colour and noise so you might have noticed a new ad for Soda Stream for precisely the opposite reason.

Luke Blackall: It's the return of wood panelling, but wood panelling with a sense of fun

I had been planning to eat healthily. You see, I am getting married in two weeks and while I am not concerned that I'll block the aisle with my girth, I also think it's a good day to try to look one's best.

Comic-book rockers strip away the music

Superheroes and cartoon characters have always featured in pop. Today the genres are merging in new ways, says Nick Hasted

Judy Chicago (with works by Tracey Emin, Helen Chadwick & Louise Bourgeois), Ben Uri: The London Jewish Museum of Art, London

“You are here to serve your masters.” This is a line from the S&M classic Story of O (1954), a tale about a career woman who succumbs to sexual slavery in a secluded château at the behest of her lover, René.

Philip Roth said Nemesis will be his last novel

There's another Bridget Jones in the diary, but no more Philip Roth

Roth captures Jewish experience in a way few others can manage, and the world is a poorer place without another novel of his to anticipate

M83, Brixton Academy, London

The word “epic” doesn't pack as much punch as it used to, what with everything being termed an epic fail or an epic win… which is possibly why M83's Anthony Gonzalez described their last record as “very, very, very epic”.

Battle of the brands: Britain's biggest retailers launch their Christmas campaigns

The festive battle to tug at the nation’s heartstrings – and loosen shoppers’ purse-strings – has begun after Britain’s biggest retailers unveiled rival blockbuster television advertising campaigns designed to induce a collective “aaah”.

Uncle Vanya, Noel Coward Theatre, London

The coincidence looks as if it might have been contrived by some ironic wag. A mere three days after the opening of Lindsay Posner's revival of Uncle Vanya at the Vaudeville, the West End now plays host to this wildly alternative approach to the same play by Rimas Tuminas and the Moscow-based Vakhtangov company.

Beard to Tail, 77 Curtain Road, London EC2

Shoreditch was the original home of London's theatreland and, in mid-Victorian times, it positively vibrated with 'penny gaffs' – pop-up, makeshift theatres staged in converted warehouses for audiences of rowdy young people. Sound familiar? You can find the same phenomenon in EC2 today, except the pop-ups are now bars and restaurants. Wherever you look, once-alarming or darkly unpromising side-street gaffs have been re-made as trendy eating houses.

Alt-J won the Mercury Prize for their debut album An Awesome Wave

Awesome! Alt-J win as Mercury Prize seeks lost youth

Three years ago they were playing gigs in the upstairs rooms of student pubs in Leeds. Today they wake up as the next big thing in British pop. Such are the whims of the Mercury Prize.

Claude Pinoteau grew up around film sets

Claude Pinoteau: Director of popular French cinema

The film director Claude Pinoteau helped launch the careers of two of France's most successful screen actresses: Isabelle Adjani and Sophie Marceau. In La Gifle (The Slap, 1974), he cast the young Adjani as a headstrong medical student determined to move in with her boyfriend, to the dismay of her father, played by Lino Ventura.

Lyrikal Fearta. Lilian Baylis Studio, Sadler’s Wells, London

For his first solo theatre work in 17 years, hip hop dance leader Jonzi D looks at being offered an MBE in the New Year Honours list. As subjects go, it’s hardly hip, but he’s well aware of that. “Of course it won’t harm your image,” a colleague tells him. “You’re already mainstream. That’s why you’re here.”

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Armstrong, left, and Bain's writing credits include Peep Show, Fresh Meat, and The Old Guys
TVThe pair have presented their view of 21st-century foibles in shows such as Peep Show and Fresh Meat
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Keys to success: Andrew and Julian Lloyd Webber
arts + entsMrs Bach had too many kids to write the great man's music, says Julian Lloyd Webber
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footballMan City manager would have loved to have signed Argentine
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Hand out press photograph/film still from the movie Mad Max Fury Road (Downloaded from the Warner Bro's media site/Jasin Boland/© 2014 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.)
films'You have to try everything and it’s all a process of elimination, but ultimately you find your path'
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Imelda Staunton as Dolores Umbridge in the Harry Potter films
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New essay by JK Rowling went live on Pottermore site this morning

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Top Gear presenter is no stranger to foot-in-mouth controversy

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Russia Today’s new UK channel began broadcasting yesterday. Discussions so far have included why Britons see Russia as ‘the bad guy’
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New UK station Russia Today gives a very bizarre view of Britain

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Bryan Adams' heartstopping images of wounded British soldiers to go on show at Somerset House

Bryan Adams' images of wounded soldiers

Taken over the course of four years, Adams' portraits are an astonishing document of the aftermath of war
The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

Commons debate highlights growing cross-party consensus on softening UK drugs legislation, unchanged for 43 years
The camera is turned on tabloid editors in Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter'

Gotcha! The camera is turned on tabloid editors

Hugh Grant says Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter' documentary will highlight issues raised by Leveson
Fall of the Berlin Wall: It was thanks to Mikhail Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell

Fall of the Berlin Wall

It was thanks to Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell
Halloween 2014: What makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?

What makes ouija boards and demon dolls scary?

Ouija boards, demon dolls, evil children and clowns are all classic tropes of horror, and this year’s Halloween releases feature them all. What makes them so frightening, decade after decade?
A safari in modern Britain: Rose Rouse reveals how her four-year tour of Harlesden taught her as much about the UK as it did about NW10

Rose Rouse's safari in modern Britain

Rouse decided to walk and talk with as many different people as possible in her neighbourhood of Harlesden and her experiences have been published in a new book
Welcome to my world of no smell and odd tastes: How a bike accident left one woman living with unwanted food mash-ups

'My world of no smell and odd tastes'

A head injury from a bicycle accident had the surprising effect of robbing Nell Frizzell of two of her senses

Matt Parker is proud of his square roots

The "stand-up mathematician" is using comedy nights to preach maths to big audiences
Paul Scholes column: Beating Manchester City is vital part of life at Manchester United. This is first major test for Luke Shaw, Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao – it’s not a game to lose

Paul Scholes column

Beating City is vital part of life at United. This is first major test for Shaw, Di Maria and Falcao – it’s not a game to lose
Frank Warren: Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing

Frank Warren column

Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing
Adrian Heath interview: Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room

Adrian Heath's American dream...

Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room
Simon Hart: Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manuel Pellegrini’s side are too good to fail and derby allows them to start again, says Simon Hart
Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities