Arts and Entertainment

When Alan Ball quit vampire drama True Blood at the end of its fifth season, he knew he was taking a risk. Few US show creators choose their exits – indeed The Walking Dead appears to sack one a season – and to leave, as Ball did, for an as-yet-untested show is the biggest risk of all.

Last night's television: Prodigy's passion is far from spent

Alex: A Passion for Life (Channel 4), Micro Men (BBC4), Scrubs (E4)

Don't call us Cougars

They're looking for 'fun and friendship' from younger men, and are found on TV, movies and in a bar near you. The 'C' word has caught on, but not everyone is happy about it, says Susan Daly.

Observations: MySpace singer Joshua Radin Scrubs up nicely

There's a man at the top of Carnaby Street singing "Don't Think Twice, It's Alright". No, it's not 1964. It's last Thursday. And the man in the floppy felt hat and sunglasses, strumming and singing for the benefit of a gathering crowd, is not Bob Dylan; he's 35-year-old Joshua Radin. Not everyone in the crowd knows who Radin is, but they stay to listen to his songs – and if they watch any US television, there's a good chance they've heard some of them before.

James Moore: Friends just says 'no'

Outlook: Cowdery's Resolution made institutional investors a fortune and they hope he can repeat the trick.

Last Night's TV: Gok's Fashion Fix, Channel 4<br />Scrubs, E4<br />Grey's anatomy, Five<br />Heroes, BBC2

Naturally, I get a lot of enquiries from members of the public eager, having seen the above photo, for my style advice. To save you the trouble of asking, this season's big look is: lots of hair! Corduroy suits! And glasses! Just like last season, in fact, and several seasons before that. Because style never goes out of fashion. Still, for those who can't carry off the corduroy look, there's always programmes such as Gok's Fashion Fix, in which Gok Wan offers fashion advice to the nation. He is assisted in this by Alexa Chung, who, I am assured by my friendly neighbourhood teenagers, is cool to a world-historic degree – so cool, in fact, that in dating the lead singer of the Arctic Monkeys, she is actually slumming it a bit. But it's undoubtedly Gok who is the main attraction here, partly because of his encouraging manner – where Trinny and Susannah would offer a sharp intake of breath, he's more likely to give a joyous shriek of "Girlfriend!" – but more because he is one of those few blessed or cursed beings who swim through television as naturally as an otter through a stream, never seeming as if he is consciously performing. In this, he is the natural heir to, say, Davina McCall and Robert Robinson (whose ability to stand utterly unfazed in front of a camera is the subject of some grousing in his memoirs). To be fair, I can't imagine Mr Robinson ever congratulating Geri Halliwell on purchasing a pair of gold shorts from River Island for a mere nine quid with the words "Girlfriend, that's a Gok high-five", and not only because his name isn't Gok.

Prom Night (15)

It's prom night for blonde teen queen Donna (Brittany Snow), but she's a bit jumpy from flashbacks to three years ago when her family were brutally slaughtered by a maniac obsessed with her.,/p>

"You're gonna have so much fun," her aunt tells her, but we know different: said maniac has just escaped from his maximum-security jail and is now inside the hotel where Donna and her friends are whooping it up. It's basically the sort of old-fashioned stalk-and-slasher one might have supposed the Scream movies had made obsolete. Some hope. I kept thinking of Woody Allen's line to the "crazy killer" in his play, Death: "You could be using your time constructively... Take up golf – be a crazy golfer!"

Celebrating Linda Smith, Crucible Studio, Sheffield

Linda Smith would be surprised and possibly even horrified at how busy Warren Lakin has been in celebrating her since the nation's favourite funny person died in 2006. He was, she stipulated, her "boyfriend" of 23 years (she reserved the word "partner" for business), giving him ample opportunity in their life together – as he did her typing and booked her gigs as well as driving her to them – to observe and appreciate her individuality.

Obituary: George V. Higgins

IT IS unquestionably unfair to dub any writer a one-book man, especially when he's published well over 20. Nevertheless in the case of George V. Higgins the fact has to be faced. He wrote superbly dialogued, complexly plotted, richly characterised novels - yet all just a slight variation on the same basic riff. And, as the years went by and the books stacked up, the similarities began to stand out, hardly helped by their author's reliance, more and more, on pure dialogue, to the point where narrative - scene descriptions, back-story, the intricate social hinterland against which the novels' events were played out - virtually disappeared. Until, in essence, all that remained was "two guys gabbing at each other" - or even one guy soliloquising for paragraph after paragraph, page after interminable page.

Regime at Scrubs faces total reform

THE PRISON Service has drawn up a 118-point action plan to save the notorious Wormwood Scrubs jail by turning it into one of the most progressive prisons in the country.

A dust-up with the Scrubbers

Councils may cast a greedy eye on London scrublands, but they are havens for animals and humans alike.

Guards? We're just good friends, say prisoners

SPARE A thought for the poor, misunderstood prison officers. It just isn't true they are a bunch of unfeeling tough guys and even harder women. New research shows they are as nice a bunch of people as you are likely to come across.

Scrubs staff back at work after sit-in

PRISON OFFICERS mounted an angry protest at Wormwood Scrubs jail yesterday after 25 colleagues were told they would be charged over alleged assaults on inmates. Prisoners were forced to remain in their cells as 100 officers staged an all day sit-in in the chapel.

Officers face jail beatings charges against Scrubs officers beatings

TWENTY-FIVE prison officers from Wormwood Scrubs are to be charged with offences linked to assaults on inmates after the biggest criminal investigation at a jail.

Officers to be charged over jail beatings

TWENTY-FIVE prison officers from Wormwood Scrubs are to be charged with assault-related offences on inmates after the biggest criminal investigation at a jail.
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Independent Travel
Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
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3.	Provence 6 nights B&B by train from £599pp
Prices correct as of 20 February 2015
Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
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Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
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8 best workout DVDs

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Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

Paul Scholes column

I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

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War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable