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.

The Gospel of Us (NC)

Starring: Michael Sheen, David Rees Talbot

Mikhail Bulgakov's Stalin-era satire, <i>The Master and Margarita</i>, at the Barbican

The Master and Margarita, Barbican, London
Sweeney Todd, Adelphi, London
Filumena, Almedia, London

Simon McBurney brings dazzling technology to his Bulgakov adaptation but little clarity. A Sondheim evergreen, meanwhile, is as fresh as ever

The Blagger's Guide To... Gulliver's Travels

'It is read from the cabinet to the nursery'

Letters: The history of Secularism

The ancient world of disbelievers

Book Of A Lifetime: The End of the Affair, By Graham Greene

The epigraph to Graham Greene's 'The Lawless Roads' is a magnificent quote from Cardinal Newman: "If there be a God, since there is a God, the human race is implicated in some terrible aboriginal calamity." Just as mad Ireland hurt Yeats into poetry, it was the frictions of faith that brought Greene's novels to life. 'The End of the Affair' is his masterpiece: an astonishing, painfully moving interrogation of the contradictions in a Catholicism he couldn't live without but struggled to live with.

Mark Steel: If religion's marginal,I'm the Pope

If you're going to complain that religion is becoming "marginal", as Baroness Warsi did yesterday, it's genius to do it when you're a member of the Cabinet on a visit to the Pope. Maybe Warsi said to him, "For example, your Holiness, look how these days you're tucked away in a backstreet in Rome which hardly even shows up on the A to Z."

The Bellwether Revivals, By Benjamin Wood

Deft rendition of a sinister soundtrack
Tapies next to one of his pieces during an exhibition of his work in Madrid in 2004

Antoni Tapies: Catalan artist celebrated for his use of found materials

Antoni Tapies was the most important Catalan artist of the 20th century. He was a self-taught painter and sculptor, his later works instantly recognisable for their stark contrasts of colour, incorporation of found materials and widespread use of written language and geometric symbols.

Religion for Atheists, By Alain de Botton

For English writers and thinkers, the urge to rescue the core values of a waning Christianity for secular culture drove literary explorations and educational ventures for over a hundred years. This aching nostalgia for an impossible faith and its masterworks has itself left some fine monuments, from Matthew Arnold in the 1860s listening to the "melancholy, long, withdrawing roar" of the ebbing "Sea of Faith" on "Dover Beach", to Philip Larkin, "Church Going" as a respectful sceptic to "A serious house on serious earth... In whose blent air all our compulsions meet".

Man threatens students at debate

Students attending a debate about sharia law were told they would be "hunted down and killed" by a man who burst into their lecture theatre and filmed them on his phone.

Feast Day of Fools, By James Lee Burke

Graham Greene's religious faith was often fragile. When in one of his periodic moments of doubt he suggested to Evelyn Waugh that he was considering resigning from the Catholic novelist coterie to which the two belonged, Waugh was outraged and insisted Greene carry on writing novels with a religious basis, however uncertain his belief had become.

Mark Steel: Just because you're an atheist doesn't make you rational

Once you make it your primary aim to refute the existence of God, you miss what's really fundamental

Letters: Atheism

Defining the true atheist. Or not

Letters: Is that blue teapot still out in space?

I share entirely the humanitarian thrust of John Badcock's letter (20 December) criticising Richard Dawkins, but I have to take exception to his statement that a belief or a non-belief in a deity have "equal intellectual validity".

Simon Kelner: Blaming society's ills on Godlessness is senseless

I wonder what Christopher Hitchens, who died some 24 hours earlier, would have made of David Cameron's speech, in which he implored Britain to follow the values espoused in the Bible. In fact, there's no need to wonder. He'd have employed his most excoriating polemic.

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