Arts and Entertainment Elton John will duet with Gary Barlow on the final show of The X Factor

The star will duet with Gary Barlow despite attacking the show in the past

Album: Hard-Fi, Killer Sounds (Necessary/Atlantic)

Hard-Fi's third album certainly talks a good fight, with tracks titled "Feels Good", "Excitement" and, of course, "Killer Sounds", which perhaps reveals their ambition to become the British equivalent of The Killers.

Album: Big Talk, Big Talk (Epitaph)

Big Talk is the side project of Ronnie Vannucci, eccentric drummer with, and everyone's favourite member of, The Killers.

John Walsh: Is university going to be worth it?

The Coalition is going degree-tastic. They're expanding the number of university places available to students with fewer than three As at A-level; they're going to allow universities which charge less than £7,500 per annum to attract more students – up to 20,000 more. Not only that. Students, according to this week's Government White Paper, will soon be giddy with empowerment. New measures will "allow" them to rate their lecturers as part of a students' charter or review; and "allow" them to complain about their courses.

Hard Rock Calling, Hyde Park, London

Despite Glastonbury's moves ever further mainstream, London's mud-free alternative remains distinctive. Who could imagine Somerset hosting a tent-full of fans crooning "Lifted" by Nineties soul-poppers Lighthouse Family?

The Killers, Scala, London

It's a treat to see a multi platinum-selling band in such a small venue. Tonight, the intimacy of the Scala's modest space is magnified by the presence of the world-famous musicians who take to the stage with a smile.

America's first Mormon president?

The Church of the Latter-day Saints is one of the fastest-growing and wealthiest religions in the world. But can the Mormons convince America to vote one of their number into the White House?

The ski season starts here: Three more months

After a promising start at the end of 2010, the ski season in the Alps and Pyrenees stalled for two months with little fresh snow. That's changed now, with big falls – up to a metre in 48 hours – in recent weeks. So the last two months of the season are looking excellent. Snow depths at Engelberg ( engelberg.ch) in the Swiss Alps are above 3.3 metres and touching 2.5 metres at the snowiest resorts in the French Alps, such as Flaine ( flaine.com).

Kuyt ensures reward for Liverpool’s effort

Liverpool 1 Sparta Prague 0 (Liverpool win 1-0 on aggregate)

Ski news: Hot topics on the slopes

Elton's Heroes: No. 4 - Brandon Flowers

The unlikely idol with the killer tunes

Amy Macdonald, Hammersmith Apollo, London

"Ordinary Life" is a somewhat ironic choice of opener for Amy Macdonald. The Glaswegian sings: "I don't care about the spotlight" in a voice that matches Dolores O'Riordan for stridency and adds KT Tunstall's huskiness. Amy, there is a spotlight 40 feet above your head, pointing right at you. It is not the only odd moment in a slick but ultimately underwhelming set.

Album: Mt. Desolation, Mt. Desolation (Island)

Keane's Tim Rice-Oxley has shown a commendable desire to break new ground in recent months, with the African and Japanese elements of Night Train now followed by this debut album from the country-rock project he's hatched with Jesse Quin and members of The Killers, Mumford & Sons and Noah And The Whale.

Mt Desolation, Scala, London

The fantasy of starting again made Paul McCartney turn up on college campuses asking if his new band Wings could get a gig, and Stephen King publish books as Richard Bachman. Keane's songwriter Tim Rice-Oxley hasn't quite gone that far with his new country band Mt Desolation. Still, he is stretching himself beyond Keane's stadium confines.

Brandon Flowers, The Garage, London

It is a strange thing, watching one of the very biggest pop stars in the world mere metres from the stage at one of London's smallest venues. And yet, it is happening: Brandon Flowers, sometime of the Killers, is performing his new solo album for the very first time to at most 500 people.

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There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
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Mark Wright and Bianca Miller in the final of The Apprentice
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File: James Woods attends the 52nd New York Film Festival at Walter Reade Theater on September 27, 2014
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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

Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick