A nice guy gets his revenge

David Benedict meets Philip Franks, actor and director

Baby Abbie's abductor put on probation

Julie Kelley, 22, who took Abbie Humphries from hospital five hours after she was born, in an abduction that gripped the nation, was yesterday put on probation for three years.

The night of the big wigs

Forget old-style rugs: false hair's fashionable again. Andrew Tuck on n ew party pieces

Blonde Ambition: This year's crop of debutantes came out at the Queen Charlotte's Birthday Ball on Monday. Emma Forrest polished her social graces and cut along, only to find that she was the right age but the wrong face

The Independent photographer points to the girls he has just photographed for our cover, looks me over and says sternly, 'I'd take your jacket off before you speak to them, if I were you.'

A patch on the real thing

When Sam revealed his bald patch to Carla near the end of the last series of Cheers she was shocked and viewers were horrified. So the rumours about his thinning pate were true. He had, all along, been wearing a 'weave.

Law Update: No wigs allowed

Solicitors may have won the right to appear as advocates in the higher courts, but wigs are out. The decision was made by the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Taylor, on behalf of the Lord Chancellor. The practice direction published earlier this week says: 'Queen's counsel wear a short wig and silk (or stuff) gown over a court coat. Junior counsel wear a short wig and stuff gown with bands. Solicitors wear a black stuff gown with bands but no wig.' The Lord Chancellor is to consult further, with a long-term decision expected in the autumn.

Oh Tranny boy, the tights are calling

Shopping for clothes can be nightmarish if you're a woman, let alone if you're a man who likes dressing as one.

MUSIC / 30-something to write home about

PERIOD performance has worked like an abrasive on the public ear, scouring out the waxy accretions of 19th-century romanticism that made everything sound - well, like 19th- century romanticism. But more than this, it has had a radical effect on the sociology of music-making. It has shifted the focus of choral singing away from amateurs and on to small professional ensembles that provide Oxbridge choral scholars with a worthwhile alternative to careers in accountancy. It has spawned a breed of entrepreneurial conductors who have created their own performing environments: self-made empires run by self-made men (not many women, I'm afraid). And now these choirs and conductors have broken free of their early-music ghettos, importing the lessons of period performance into broader repertory.

Orthodoxy is . . . a brand new Hillary wig: Straight or curly, nylon or real, traditional or trendy, a sheitel is the crowning glory of an orthodox Jewish woman's wardrobe. Jack Shamash reports

There's a big wedding coming up and you've bought the dress, the shoes and the matching handbag. So what's left? For many orthodox Jewish women the next stop would be a trip to the salon to buy a new sheitel - a wig.

Flat Earth: Between the sheets

CAMEROONIANS thought something was up when they noticed that their president, Paul Biya, 61, had dyed his grey hair black and covered his bald patch with a toupee. They reckoned they knew why when police seized all copies of a newspaper in Yaounde, which had published a picture of a 24-year-old woman on its front page. Then its editor was threatened with death - and they knew for certain that President Biya, a widower, had married again. But officially it is still a state secret.

Judges rule in favour of wigs

AN UNLIKELY profession will no doubt be delighted by yesterday's announcement that judges and barristers are to keep their wigs and gowns.

In or out, I'm well mannered: William Donaldson's Week

YOU'LL remember the film in which Naunton Wayne, accused by his pal, the other old buffer (Basil Bedford, was it?) of being in love with his umbrella, said: 'Nonsense] Fond of it, yes. In love with it, no.' Now I'm obliged, it seems, to clear up a similar misunderstanding with regard to Pete the Schnoz.

William Donaldson's Week: Lost adjectives are no joke

JUSTIN JUDD, who is hard at work producing a situation comedy for Joan Collins, is being sued by Common and Ball - and not before time, if you ask me. More about that in due course, however.

TELEVISION / One goes mad at Balmoral

HIGHGROVE, FEBRUARY 1993: Frankly One was bemused. There was One's mater carrying on like Edward G Robinson. And One could barely recognise pater who looked like a valet. Dear Uncle Dickie was played by that fellow from the drinks advert: Schhhh, One Knows Who. Granny had the gait of Will Carling in slingbacks, while One's self was naturally shown making chums with the rhubarb. And all because of One's ghastly wife. Diana: Her True Story (Sky) came in a brace of two-hour episodes. One was more than One could stand.

TELEVISION / BRIEFING: Nothing like a dame

WITHOUT WALLS: J'ACCUSE (9pm C4), the would-be Fray Bentos of sacred cows, returns with comic Rory Bremner out to defrock Dame Edna Everage. Cruelty and laziness are the principal charges: a victim from the Dame's recent Neighbourhood Watch series found the housewife superstar 'extremely threatening and uncomfortable to be with', while Bremner's co-accusers (critic Nicholas de Jongh, writer Anne Karpf and the Independent's John Lyttle) highlight the underlying misogyny of Humphries' act. 'He uses the disguise of a woman to humiliate other women in a way he couldn't as a man,' says Karpf. Dame Edna's much-vaunted satire on celebrities is written off as a cosy collusion of the famous, while his/her jokes at the expense of 'Paups, nips and the tinted' are nothing but pure Rottweiler in a wig and dress. It's an interesting idea, but would be more persuasive if Bremner could drop the po- face and stop leaving Dame Edna the best lines.
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Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

Paul Scholes column

I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game