As to the crossword, a very pleasant offering which took me 35 minutes. To keep this short, I will do this without any Googling, so, please, no penalties at the breakdown.
1. SABOT - SOT around AB; two crosswordy bits give a crosswordy word.
4. STUCCOED - 'given decoration'; CUTS reversed + COED. My penultimate.
8. MISUNDERSTANDS - MISS around UNDER ('reporting to') + STAND ('bass').
10. FUNICULAR - [FUN for part]ICULAR. We had this last Monday, if I recall correctly.
11. THROB -'beat'; initial letters of five of the middle words. Ever since acting opposite Canon Harold Throbbing in Alan Bennett's Habeas Corpus, I have had a soft spot for this word.
12. NO-SHOW - NOSH + OW for the opposite of an 'appearance'.
14. LAWRENCE - LAW + RE + N + CE. Not over-taxing...
17. LONG SHOT - LONGS + HOT. Not likely to get you in a lather either.
18. COGENT - GENT after CO. Cheltenham types wouldn't even need to look at the clue for this one.
20. SHAKE - S + HAKE. Lots of hake eaten in the Basque Country, as I recall.
22. STAIRCASE - 'flight'; A in STIR ('prison', as in 'I did my stir, John, even though I was innocent like') + CASE. One thing I have learned in six years of intense crosswording is that you see 'flight' and you think 'stairs'.
24. A HARD DAYS NIGHT - 'picture' as in Academy of Motion Pictures and the Sciences; anagram* of HAT GARISH DANDY.
25. BRETHREN - 'society members' (especially in Plymouth); the article is THE (not A or AN), so we have R in THE surrounded by BREN. My ultimate and COD.
26. EERIE - [b]EER + IE.
1. SEMI-FINALIST - S + AS FILM TIE IN*. Unlikely to be England.
2. BOSUN - OB reversed + SUN. I liked this, as I was certain it must start AB.
3. TENACIOUS - NET reversed + AC + IOUS.
4. SEEMLY - 'proper'; the outside letters of the last three words.
5. UPSTREAM - PUTS* + REAM.
6. CHANT - CHAT around N; a Taverner one has no discernible melody, but I guess some chants do.
7. ENDURANCE - EN + [p]UR[e] in DANCE ('fling', as in highland).
9. ABBEY THEATRE - BABY TEETH ARE*.
13. SUNBATHER - HEAT BURNS*; a Yodaesque semi &-lit with 'if careless' as the anagram indicator acting.
15. RIO GRANDE - 'river'; O + GRAN in RIDE. Once famous for popping up in countless westerns, it is now better known as a crossing-point for those seeking a better life in the US of A - until the putative next POTUS encases it in a 30-feet wall.
16. CONSIDER - ON + SIDE in CR.
19. CANYON - 'defile'; YON after CAN. Also popped up in a lot of B movies.
21. EGRET - [r]EGRET[s].
23. ANGER - hidden.