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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Minoan Crete and Santorini
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Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement