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Employment news now, and the comedian Jack Dee has announced he is to take up the role of “the nation’s psychotherapist and agony uncle”. The position is, he adds, “self-appointed”. Which explains a lot. It’s certainly an interesting change of direction for the distinctively acerbic comic who is often billed as “Britain’s little ray of sleet”. “My dear friend Jeremy Hardy [the comedian, who died in 2019] coined that phrase, so I use it as a nod of respect to him,” says Dee. “And also because it’s true.” But the new gig makes (marginally) more sense when Dee explains the...

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I’ve caught Richard Osman in a lie (“Awkward,” he admits) and, just for a moment, I feel like a member of his Thursday Murder Club. The Club – in case you’re one of the few remaining people in Britain not to have read the Pointless presenter’s first crime novel, which has sold more than a million copies – is a quartet of 70-somethings at a Kent retirement home who solve cold cases for fun… until fresh murders start dropping on their doorstep.   Osman’s untruth concerns the secret identity of the Club’s real-life inspiration. He’s previously claimed to have got...

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The peak of British television light entertainment,” declares Louis Barfe, “began at 8.55pm on Sunday 25 December 1977.” And who would dare disagree with the author and expert on vintage British comedy?   The 1977 Morecambe and Wise Christmas Show – featuring Elton John, Angela Rippon, the cast of The Good Life and a host of heavyweight broadcasters dressed as sailors singing There Is Nothing like a Dame – encapsulates everything we still hold dear about Britain’s greatest comic duo: their daftness, daring and deceptive guile. “Affectionate mockery was what they did best,” says Barfe , author of Sunshine and...

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Nearly six years on from her run to the semi-finals of Strictly, there remains a question in Anita Rani’s mind. “I still find myself wondering whether I would have got into the final if I didn’t have a brown face,” she says. It’s not just Strictly, either. “There are various points in my career where I wonder what would have happened if I was blonde-haired and blue-eyed, and sometimes I don’t think things would have played out the same way if I was white. I’ve put that Strictly question into my book to leave people pondering, because I’m just not sure.”...

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In less than 12 months I’d recovered from a long spell of debilitating illness, left the family home in which I’d lived all my life, sold my beloved wood, moved into a hermit’s cell in a Norfolk farmhouse, fallen in love, and begun – for the first time – a shared life.   This jump-starting all happened in a radically new landscape, and my book Nature Cure was the result: a compulsive, written-in-real-time account of a hectic rite of passage [and being republished to mark Mabey’s 80th birthday]. I’d roamed the Chilterns’ ancient beechwoods and chalk hills for half a...

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