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.

Television: Housekeeping, or how to keep up with the mess next door

Why is `Video Nation' peeping at our domestic habits? By Beverly Pagram

Football: For Hodd's sake, give it to the Invisible Man

IT IS five years ago, almost to the day, since I discussed the feasibility of the England football team being managed from a cell in Wormwood Scrubs and reached the conclusion that not only could it be done but that it would be a very good idea. Now I'm ready to advance the further theory that for the sake of English football's sanity the next coach of the national team should not only operate from behind closed doors but should be completely anonymous.

Why are they famous: Michelle Collins

Main Claim

The irresistible rise of curves

Do I want to get my hands on one of these groovy-looking objects? Yes, I do

Stars who never say diet

Imagine an agricultural world just one step away from our own, where the little chickens, realising that their puffy breasts are below accepted standard will prance about trying to enhance them. Happy porkers will trotter along treadmills to reduce their bellyfat and guzzle hormones and nutritional supplements for ever leaner, ever healthier meat. Cows will delay reproducing to improve their career possibilities in milk production. Sheep will still follow one another; but now they make sure you know they do it out of choice. Animals, after all, are bred for a purpose; surely if they could be encouraged to take that purpose to heart and follow a voluntary route to improved consumability we would be entering a perfect future?

Cinema: If you go down to the Tube today...

THERE ARE parallel universes out there where Rome never fell, where Hitler won the war and where Brad Pitt and Gwyneth Paltrow lived happily ever after. In Sliding Doors (15), writer-director Peter Howitt brushes up his quantum physics to demonstrate that the tiniest events can generate a variety of different futures. Navigating the sort of inter- dimensional anomaly that regularly plagues the cast of Star Trek, he pursues two possible versions of the life of his heroine Helen (played by Gwyneth Paltrow). In the first version of events, she misses her Tube, and so returns home too late to catch her boyfriend, Gerry (a beetle-browned John Lynch), in bed with old flame Lydia (Jeanne Tripplehorn, a terrifying woman with neck sinews as tight and prominent as Deirdre Barlow's). Or maybe it doesn't happen at all ...

Film: Wes, your number's up

The Big Picture: SCREAM 2 Wes Craven (18)

Moments that made the year: Fine romance proves that big isn't necessarily beautiful

The best films can take you back to the first time you were ever held in the spell of the cinema screen, with the smell of popcorn hanging in your nostrils, and the sound of the projector whispering in the distance. There were a handful of pictures this year that made me remember how intoxicating cinema can be. My favourite film of 1997 was Baz Lurhmann's Romeo & Juliet, which proved to be less a case of the film-maker adapting the text than lunging at it with a broad sword. Rather than simply updating the play, Luhrmann dragged the setting into modern times while audaciously keeping the language firmly plugged into the late 16th century. The results were sensual, witty and bold, with moments that made Fellini look like a master of understatement.

What is it with Wes Craven and teenage girls?

There's a specific moment in the horror film Scream, when you just can't believe that it was written and directed by two middle-aged men and not a teenage girl. Unmasking as a psychopathic killer the nice boy she happily lost her virginity to only three reels earlier, Sidney (Neve Campbell) spits, "F*** you". "No," replies her grinning tormentor, "we already played that. You lost."

why are they famous?; courteney cox

Main Claim: Playing uptight Monica, the least popular cast member of cult sitcom Friends. Cox displays a genuine talent for being neither funny nor likeable in a show where even the pet monkey is funny and likeable. But sated with Jennifer Aniston, glossy mags have had to resort to second- best Cox, hence her arrival on the pages of Tatler and Elle this month.

They'll be there for you

What do you do when you've got no Friends? Visit one of their 108 Web sites, says Nicholas Barber

Patten's gaffe brings windfall

John Patten's ill-judged remarks about Professor Tim Brighouse continue to bear fruit for education with the announcement that applications are invited from schools or groups of schools for a limited number of cash grants to help equal-opportunities projects.

The spies who loved each other

Theatre: Fry and Mayall: two performers who define the extremes of courtesy and rudeness Juliet Stevenson brings sensuality, fun, authority and guile to the Duchess of Malfi

Anglo-American treasure is saved: Benjamin Franklin's home set to become a museum, Matthew Brace and Guy Mansell report

One of the United States' leading historic treasures has been saved by an English conservation watchdog and an Anglo-American charity after congressmen in Washington declined from offering funds.

Building at the gallop for Anneka and Sister Mary Joy: The challenge was a riding school for disabled children in three days. They finished it with half an hour to spare

For several years Sister Mary Joy has been teaching physically and mentally disabled children to ride. Her school, however, could hardly be further from the frolicsome world of Thelwell, Betjeman and Home Counties' gels venting their aggression on bridled beauties, writes Jonathan Glancey.
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Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

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It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine