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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Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
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Lake Garda, Venice & Verona
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Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project