News Christmas Day 2013 was all about the battle for the other most worthy yuletide delivery: the alternative Christmas message.

While Channel 4 located the alabaster NSA whistleblower, several other household names came out of the tinsel

Rebecca Tyrrel: 'There is no record of what Mick Jones thinks of his MP cousin's squatter plans'

Who knew that Grant Shapps, the Tory Minister of State for Housing tipped for promotion in the imminent Cabinet reshuffle, was such an enemy of traditional Conservative family values?

John J Niven

One minute with: John J Niven, novelist

Where are you now and what can you see? In the office of the house I'm renting in Los Angeles. I can see palm trees and all sort of lush foliage. Also, the sparkly water of the hot tub.

Seasick Steve

Everybody's talking about...Strummer of Love Festival

Blackdown Hills, Somerset

Clare Fischer: Composer, arranger and conductor

Clare Fischer, a prolific composer, arranger, conductor and keyboardist active in jazz, R&B and pop music for more than 60 years, died on 26 January in Burbank, California at the age of 83.

Brooking: 'The issue is the timing, that is why we don't think we are in any rush'

New manager can come in 'a few days' before Euros

Brooking insists Fabio's replacement may be 'parachuted in' on eve of tournament

Mitt Romney shakes hands with the musician Kid Rock at a campaign event in Royal Oak, Michigan

Mistakes, I've made a few: Romney apologises for misfiring campaign

Republican frontrunner accuses rival Santorum of dirty tricks as Super Tuesday draws near

To mark the show's 500th episode, Alison Krauss has turned her attention to a reworking of 'The Simpsons' familiar theme tune
The original Khulekani Khumalo, the folk singer who, it is claimed, has returned from the dead

Witchcraft fans mob man claiming to be reincarnated singer abducted by zombies

A South African man who claims to be a famous Zulu folk singer returned from the dead after being held captive by zombies for the past two years has been detained on suspicion of fraud.

The Last Holiday: A Memoir, By Gil Scott-Heron

The better half of a poet's life

Album: The Maccabees, Given to the Wild (Fiction)

It's hard not to feel somewhat let down by The Maccabees' follow-up to 2009's Wall of Arms.

With Joe Strummer it was never about the past

Strummerville: A place where all the young punks can play to win

Nine years after his death, Joe Strummer is still supporting new talent

Joe Strummer in a still from Julien Temple's 2007 biopic, The Future Is Unwritten

Strummer Inc gears up for anniversary

Festivals, films and merchandise will go into overdrive in 2012 to mark 10 years since the Clash singer's death.

Penhall says: 'Australian cinema is producing some really gritty hard-boiled, honest film-making right now.'

Cultural Life: Joe Penhall, playwright

Theatre: Arnold Wesker's 'The Kitchen' is one of my favourite plays. I saw a matinee of Bijan Sheibani's revival at the National and was transported. It's a warm, penetrating study of working life and the bonds that hold society together. It's also a very funny, moving portrait of migrant life in London,not long after the Second World War.

Orlando Bloom wants Clash's Joe Strummer role

Orlando Bloom wants to play Joe Strummer in a biopic of the late singer.

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Independent Travel
Vietnam & Cambodia
Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
Bruges
India & Nepal
Japan
Berlin, Dresden, Meissen & Colditz
Prices correct as of 17 October 2014
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album