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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The spy mistress-general: A lecturer in nutritional therapy in her modern life, Heather Rosa favours a Byzantine look topped off with a squid and a schooner
fashionEurope's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln
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Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – MS Swiss Corona - seven nights from £999pp
Lake Maggiore, Orta and the Matterhorn – seven nights from £899pp
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The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor
She's dark, sarcastic, and bashes life in Nowheresville ... so how did Kacey Musgraves become country music's hottest new star?

Kacey Musgraves: Nashville's hottest new star

The singer has two Grammys for her first album under her belt and her celebrity fans include Willie Nelson, Ryan Adams and Katy Perry
American soldier-poet Brian Turner reveals the enduring turmoil that inspired his memoir

Soldier-poet Brian Turner on his new memoir

James Kidd meets the prize-winning writer, whose new memoir takes him back to the bloody battles he fought in Iraq
Aston Villa vs Hull match preview: Villa were not surprised that Ron Vlaar was a World Cup star

Villa were not surprised that Vlaar was a World Cup star

Andi Weimann reveals just how good his Dutch teammate really is
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef ekes out his holiday in Italy with divine, simple salads

Bill Granger's simple Italian salads

Our chef presents his own version of Italian dishes, taking in the flavours and produce that inspired him while he was in the country
The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

If supporters begin to close bank accounts, switch broadband suppliers or shun satellite sales, their voices will be heard. It’s time for revolution