Arts and Entertainment What a racket: Conor Woodman in 'Scam City'

It's not just that the National Geographic documentary series Scam City is a pointless programme, it's that it's also a uniquely irritating one. Whereas most consumer watchdogs investigate scams at the instigation of aggrieved parties, in Scam City presenter Conor Woodman, travels the world looking for trouble and – what's more pitiful – often fails to find it.

Simon Slater as Derek in Bloodshot

Bloodshot and Tell Me On A Sunday, theatre reviews

St James Theatre, London

Credo: ‘Shawshank Redemption’ director Frank Darabont on potboilers, the immigrant experience and why he yearns for the ocean

I’ve always tried to pursue the things I’m most passionate about You have to follow your heart. That’s why I’ve written and directed [new TV show] Mob City [based on John Buntin’s book LA Noir: The Struggle For the Soul of America’s Most Seductive City]. I’ve always loved film noir, the potboiler aspect, the fact that everyone has an angle, a secret, and that the heat is always being turned up under the kettle.

Former Scotland manager Craig Brown offers his opinion on Manchester United 'target' Ryan Gauld

In conjunction with BT Sport's Life's A Pitch, we put questions from readers of The Independent to the former Scotland manager

Martin Freeman as John Watson and Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock Holmes

Sherlock series 3: Nearly 10m tune in to watch series three opening episode

The first episode of series three generated more than 300,000 posts on Twitter

What a card: David Blaine (right) entertains Will Smith and family in ‘Real or Magic?’

David Blaine: Real or Magic?: TV review - Blaine gets up to his old tricks and shows the stars he hasn't lost his magic touch

Last night, David Blaine – a man with so much warmth of personality that he turned citizens of one of the most sophisticated cities on the planet into turd-flinging zoo bonobos simply by sitting in a glass box – posited an interesting question. If all of the United Kingdom is watching Sherlock on the other side, then does anyone care what Blaino is up to?

Benedict Cumberbatch in the new season opener

Sherlock 'The Empty Hearse' review: So, how did the great detective fake his own death?

A thoroughly satisfying season opener

Invisible Ink: No 204 - Ghost writers

Remember the odd history of Virginia Andrews? Her Flowers In The Attic novels began appearing in 1979 and became surprise best-sellers. They were airless, claustrophobic works about four siblings locked in an attic in order to gain an inheritance. The incestuous melodramas appealed to teenaged girls, so when Andrews died in 1986 she was replaced by a ghost writer called Andrew Neiderman, who penned more than 40 further volumes in her name. They did so well that her estate kept her alive and earning, the Inland Revenue Service cannily arguing that her name was still a taxable asset.

Fiddler crabs: During mating displays, the males stand beside other males who have smaller claws to make their own claws look bigger

Just like that! Meet Mother Nature's magicians

Animal illusionists trick predators, win mates, even disappear – and there are more of them than we thought, says new research

A mad scramble by bargain hunters in one of the capital’s biggest

Online shopping ‘comes of age’ in time for Boxing Day as millions make most of the sales

Up to 118 million visits to UK retail websites estimated to have been made on each of Christmas Day and Boxing Day

A bin of corks used as evidence in the trial of wine dealer Rudy Kurniawan

US wine dealer who made $1.3m by selling ‘vintage’ stock made in kitchen facing up to 40 years in prison

Renowned seller made fortune from bogus bottles sold to rich American collectors

Steve McClaren’s failure convinced the FA that radical change was needed
Actor Patrick Robinson and his dance partner Anya Garnis have left the competition

Strictly Come Dancing 2013 semi-final: Patrick Robinson loses to Natalie Gumede

The Casualty actor and his dance partner Anya Garnis have left the competition

Thieves burgle home of Archbishop Desmond Tutu while he attends Nelson Mandela memorial service

It is the second time Archbishop Tutu’s home has been raided in less than four months

Career Services

Day In a Page

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