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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Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London