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
Seven Cities of Italy
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence
Prague, Budapest and Vienna
Lake Garda
3.	Provence 6 nights B&B by train from £599pp
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Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

Paul Scholes column

I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable