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Page last updated at 07:06 GMT, Saturday, 31 December 2011
Today: Saturday 31st December

Guest edited by the comedian Stewart Lee, Today's programme features a look at whether the music we love should be used in TV adverts, the optimum audience size, and Norse myths. Musical accompaniment is provided by avant-garde trombone player Alan Tomlinson.

An introduction to today's guest editor, the award-winning comedian, writer and director Stewart Lee.

Opposition activists in Syria say security forces have opened fire to try to stop tens of thousands of protesters from demonstrating in front of Arab league observers. Middle East correspondent Jon Donnison reports from Beirut. Read the news story

What is the link between a disgraced and rehabilitated property tycoon, a Sky News journalist, two golfers and Helena Bonham Carter? BBC correspondent Angus Crawford takes a look at the New Year Honours list. Read the full list of honours

According to a report by the Royal College of Physicians, young people visiting sexual health clinics should be warned about their attitude towards drinking. Report author Dr Simon Barton discusses the findings.

While many detect an increasing hostility to organised religion in British culture, our guest editor Stewart Lee is intrigued by the consistently positive spin vicars have received in recent years. He asked the BBC's religious affairs correspondent Robert Pigott to investigate.

Sports news with Jonathan Legard

The advent of instant, online consumer appraisals of everything from live shows to music, books, hotels and restaurants has transformed the review process. Stewart Lee, who often uses some of his worst reviews in his publicity material, discusses the fate of the professional critic with Kate Copstick, chief comedy reviewer for The Scotsman who is a regular judge at the Edinburgh Fringe and Matt Trueman, a theatre blogger and critic who writes the Guardian's Noises Off round-up of theatre blogs.

The paper review.

Big stage, stadium and festival performances are more popular than they have ever been, but is there an optimum audience size, beyond which you fail to get your point across? Today's guest editor Stewart Lee, who thinks big venues can be tricky the more complicated your material, discusses the idea with the big venue comedian Tim Minchin and cult performer and small venue fan Billy Childish.

Thought for the day with the writer Rhidian Brook.

Trading Standards officers have issued an alert for fake vodka which is potentially very serious - the contents of the fake bottles can kill or blind you. Cllr Paul Bettison, from the Local Government Association, outlines the dangers.

An avant-garde trombone interlude.

This Christmas, the songs of respected bands and artists such as Bob Dylan, The Pixies and Steve Earle have been cropping up in unlikely places - in ad breaks during Downtown Abbey and Coronation Street. Today's guest editor Stewart Lee wonders whether attitudes have changed towards letting your music be used in TV adverts. Arts Correspondent Colin Paterson investigates.

The cousin of the boys convicted for the manslaughter of Damilola Taylor, Chris Preddie, has been awarded an OBE in the New Years Honours list for his youth work. Damilola's father says he is totally against him being given the award. Chris Preddie tells the programme how he has turned his life around after his brother was shot dead.

Today's guest editor Stewart Lee wasn't keen to suggest a guest for our Thought for the Day slot, but instead offered an Alternative Thought for the Day for his programme from writer Alan Moore.

Security forces in Syria are being accused of using nail bombs and live rounds to quell widespread demonstrations throughout the country and activists say at least 35 people were killed in cities which are being visited by Arab League observers. Correspondent, Mike Thomson has been talking by phone to Syrian people caught in the conflict and Dr Chris Phillips, a Syrian analyst from Queen Mary University in London, analyses the situation.

The paper review.

Today's guest editor is intrigued by how certain narratives - such as the Nativity story - can provide solace even for those who do not believe them to be true. It is something he thinks comes through in AS Byatt's novel Ragnarok, a book which retells the Norse myths she was "obsessed" with as a child. Stewart met the author and asked her whether when she was growing up - during World War II - the gods in the Norse myths resonated with her more than Christianity.

Stewart Lee, today's guest editor, commissioned a rare interview with one of his favourite musicians, the front man of band The Fall, Mark E Smith.

Stewart Lee reflects on his time as guest editor and avant-garde trombonist Alan Tomlinson provides a musical close to the programme.



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