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
Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
Dubrovnik, the Dalmatian Coast & Montenegro
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence
Lisbon, Oporto and the Douro Valley
Lake Garda, Venice & Verona
Spain
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As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

Dame Harriet Walter interview

The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links