Arts and Entertainment Brace yourself: Bob Mortimer and Vic Reeves in 'House of Fools'

Vic and Bob have done sketch shows (The Smell of Reeves and Mortimer), web series (Vic & Bob’s Afternoon Delights), comedy dramas (Catterick, Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased)) and the greatest quiz show of all time (Shooting Stars), but until now they’ve never done a sitcom as sit-commy as this. Their new show, House of Fools (BBC2), is filmed in front of a live studio audience, and the duo play Odd Couple-style flatmates in a home filled with bizarre bric-à-brac and beset by unwelcome visitors.

The Weekend's Viewing: Arena: Magical Mystery Tour Revisited, Sat, BBC2
The Beatles’ Magical Mystery Tour, Sat, BBC2

When the British public sat down to watch the latest Beatles film on Boxing Day in 1967, they might have expected similar fare to A Hard Day's Night and Help!, released a few years earlier, or maybe even something a bit more festive.

Hysteria, Richmond Theatre, London

Farce has its affinities with the Freudian psychoanalytic

method. Both are mechanisms for exposing the repressions and the guilty secrets we are desperate to hide – the former for sadistically comic, the latter for therapeutic purposes.

A point to prove: Guston's 'The Line' (1978)

When fingers point

Philip Guston's switch from abstract to figurative left critics and fans irate, but an exhibition of his work proves them wrong, argues Adrian Hamilton

History as a noisy party: Ned Beauman

The Teleportation Accident, By Ned Beauman

In prewar Berlin or madcap California, this mash-up of genres and styles has a serious intent

Album: Richard Rijnvos, Uptown/Downtown (Challenge Classics)

Dutch composer Richard Rijnvos believes that New York epitomises "the precarious equilibrium between chaos and order", a principle borne out in the two triptychs that comprise Uptown/Downtown.

Finnegans Wake By James Joyce

No one said it would be easy ...

DVD/Blu-ray: The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (15)

Luis Bunuel's absurdist and beautifully staged satire from 1972 centres on six conceited upper-middle-class pals who singularly fail to arrange a dinner party.

Voyager into uncharted waters: Sjón

The Whispering Muse, By Sjón, trans. Victoria Cribb

Iceland's maverick storyteller returns with a cruise into legend.

Subversive: Luis Buñuel’s film impressed critics and the public alike on its release in 1972

The Discreet Charm Of The Bourgeoisie - A dinner that charts civilisation's decline

Buñuel's The Discreet Charm Of The Bourgeoisie has been newly restored. It's still unsettling, says Geoffrey Macnab

Wagner, The Flying Dutchman, English National Opera

The front curtain at the London Coliseum is a rare sight these days and suggested that we might for once be about to experience Wagner’s celebrated Overture without “illustration”.

Illumination: David Gascoyne

Night Thoughts: The Surreal Life of the Poet David Gascoyne, By Robert Fraser

Many know about the death by drowning of WS Gilbert; others are aware that in 1933 Ernest Hemingway, incensed by a review, trashed the Paris bookshop in which he read it. Few could point to these incidents' one degree of separation. Such surprises regularly punctuate the soberly engrossing chronicle which Robert Fraser has created around the life of a poet whose modest fame has burned steadily, almost brightly, since his Thirties emergence as a teenage prodigy.

DVD: Black Pond

Shot on a shoestring, and barely released at cinemas last year, Black Pond nonetheless earnt its young writer-directors a Bafta nomination – and quite right, too.

Paul Merton: Out of My Head, Richmond Theatre

A leading light in British comedy and one of the most-proven funnymen on the planet, Paul Merton is back with his first UK solo tour since 1999, but Out Of My Head is far from the quality you might expect, being weak virtually from start to finish.

Rub Out the Words: The Letters of William S Burroughs 1959-1974, Edited by Bill Morgan

This long-awaited second volume of William Burroughs's letters spans 15 years, from the publication of Naked Lunch in Paris, to his mid-Seventies departure from London for a New York radically different to the one he knew in the 1940s. How strange it must have been to settle into a transformation that you, in part, had affected. For this is really what this volume of letters is about. The first, published in 1993 when Burroughs was still alive, covered 1945-1959. Junky aside, he was a largely unpublished but influential mentor to Kerouac, Ginsberg and co as the Beat generation assumed its shape – an entity as synthetic and modern as Beyer Pharmaceutical's heroin, a longtime companion in Burroughs's life.

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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
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

Marian Keyes

The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

Rodgers fights for his reputation

Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

Michael Calvin's Last Word

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