Arts and Entertainment David Neilson and Julie Hesmondhalgh in Monday's episode

Actress Julie Hesmondhalgh was only meant to work on Coronation Street for two months. Her character was intended as little more than a gimmick to help the Manchester-based soap opera compete in the ratings battle with then-dominant EastEnders. Fifteen years later, her character’s story has finally come to a close, and with it, one of soap’s most enduring and touching romances: that of oddball Roy and his kind-hearted wife, Hayley.

Letter: An atheist's funeral

Sir: Peter Stanford's essay on his mother's funeral (The Independent Magazine, 13 November) appeared the day after my own father's funeral, and I was struck by the difference in our experiences.

Letter: Prayer without God

Sir: Andrew Brown's review of Russell Stannard's The God Experiment (Monday Book, 15 November) overlooks an obvious comment. If the human targets of prayer really do benefit and "God" is simply a term for this effect, then "God" is a product of human activity. And if Stannard interposes a deity who hears and responds to the prayers then he violates the economy of hypotheses with an extra assumption for which no evidence is offered.

Books: Picture of a city redeemed by its less harmful excesses

The Belfast Anthology edited by Patricia Craig Blackstaff Press pounds 20

Book review: Hearts are trumps in a long winning streak

Where Did It All Go Right? An autobiography by A Alvarez Richard Cohen Books, pounds 20, 344pp

Letter: Bigots of Dover

Sir: Ann Widdecombe claims to be a committed Christian. I am a committed atheist but I have always regarded the Good Samaritan as an admirable example. It seems that I was wrong: the foolish man was merely a "soft touch".

Books: The last tango in parish

The Faithful Tribe by Ruth Dudley Edwards, HarperCollins pounds 17.99 Orangeism by Kevin Haddick-Flynn Wolfhound Press pounds 30

Founder quits pro-life group over strategies

THE PRO-LIFE movement in Britain has lost one of its most respected campaigners over a disagreement on the best way forward for the future.

Letter: When life begins

Sir: If Andrew Brown has a problem with finding a clear enough meaning for the term "human being", why doesn't he simply apply the definition "a member of the species Homo Sapiens Sapiens"?

Book review: In a city of light

The Angle of Incidence by Alex Benzie Viking, pounds 16.99, 406pp

Words: Simplistic

WHAT MADE a couple of high school kids go on a killing spree, and what can be done about this sort of thing? Cindy Brown, who runs an anti-school-violence group in the States, had the answer. "The cause of this problem," she told the Guardian, "is real simplistic. You have troubled youths with access to weapons and access to schools." Makes every sense, except that she couldn't have meant "simplistic".

BOOKS: Wine, women and aggrieved angels

The Vintner's Luck by Elizabeth Knox Chatto pounds 10

columns: The borne-up-by-invisible-hands stunt

I SHOULD have been in Rome today. Last Easter of the Millennium; the room booked and by the grace of God or bribery, tickets for the Maundy Thursday papal mass. But no. Things, you see; stuff; events. They always intervene, events. We should put a stop to them, issue an Order in Council, get in the enforcers: Enough is enough. No more events.

A good idea from ... Job

WHY DO some people have happy lives and others disastrous ones? Why are some people rich and others poor? A traditional way to answer the question, associated as much with the Old Testament as with Conservative governments, is that good things happen to people when they are good (hard- working, righteous etc), and bad things (poverty, unemployment) to people when they are bad. In the book of Deuteronomy, the Bible assures us that the godly person "shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water ... and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper. The ungodly are not so: but are like chaff which the wind driveth away."

Letter: No role for God

No role for God

God. But not as you know Him

God has no future, not if we have to believe in the Christian idea of a Big, Holy Bloke. So claims an ex-nun
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After the wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, elephant populations are finally recovering
The London: After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

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Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

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New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art
Ashes 2015: Nice guy Steven Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

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He was man-of-the-match in the third Test following his recall to the England side
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Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

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VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
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Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
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Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

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Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
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Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

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Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

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