Featured articles


Why Doctor Who is secretly Tony Benn

Who inspired Who? Leave aside for one moment the hyperventilating BBC enthronement of Peter Capaldi, though we shall return to him later. I mean way back at the beginning, 50 years ago. The Doctor was invented by a committee of middle-ranking BBC executives — but who was the role-model for this anti-establishment, vaguely dotty but

Attack of the nudist lawyers

Carla, my Italian wife, has a small house in a little town on the Adriatic near Ravenna called Lido di Dante, right next to one of the last unspoilt beaches in Italy. But we cannot go to this spectacular beach because even though it is una spiaggia libera (open to all and free) and therefore

You’re never really on holiday with a smartphone

I was sitting on some rocks by the Cornish coast when a teenager swanned by on the sun-warmed boardwalk in front of me. The boy stood on the burning deck, preparing to dash across the sand, dive. Then his phone rang. ‘Luce! Yes, I’m at the sea… Was just going to plunge… Ran back to

Notes on…The Peloponnese

Island-hopping is for backpackers and binge-drinkers; if you want a real Greek holiday, the place to go is Koroni, Messenia, on the southwestern tip of the Peloponnese. It’s an old town — founded by the Greeks before Christ, absorbed into Byzantium, then squabbled over by Ottomans and Venetians. Its geography is ancient history: Olympia to

Sorry – the Vikings really were that bad

Sometimes the really obvious take on history turns out to be the right one. For generations, we all assumed that the atrocities perpetrated by the Germans in Belgium at the outset of the first world war and enthusiastically reported in the British press were Allied propaganda. Yet recent research suggests that quite a lot of

Welcome to Big Venice: How London became a tourist-trap city

Queuing to gain admittance to the pavement of Westminster Bridge on a ferociously hot Sunday afternoon recently, I found myself trapped. Pinioned by a road to one side, a stall selling models of Big Ben and snow-dome Buckingham Palaces to the other, and bordered by the great bronze statue of Boudicca, I was caught in