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
News
Ben Little, right, is a Labour supporter while Jonathan Rogers supports the Green Party
general election 2015
News
The 91st Hakone Ekiden Qualifier at Showa Kinen Park, Tokyo, 2014
news
Life and Style
Former helicopter pilot Major Tim Peake will become the first UK astronaut in space for over 20 years
food + drinkNothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
News
Kim Wilde began gardening in the 1990s when she moved to the countryside
peopleThe singer is leading an appeal for the charity Thrive, which uses the therapy of horticulture
Sport
Alexis Sanchez celebrates scoring a second for Arsenal against Reading
football
Life and Style
health
Voices
An easy-peel potato; Dave Hax has come up with an ingenious method in food preparation
voicesDave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
News
Japan's population is projected to fall dramatically in the next 50 years (Wikimedia)
news
Life and Style
Buyers of secondhand cars are searching out shades last seen in cop show ‘The Sweeney’
motoringFlares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Latest stories from i100
Career Services

Day In a Page

Independent Travel
Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
Seven Cities of Italy
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence
Prague, Budapest and Vienna
Lake Garda
Minoan Crete and Santorini
Prices correct as of 17 April 2015
NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own