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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Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

The secret CIA Starbucks

The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

One million Britons using food banks

Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

How to run a restaurant

As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Usher, Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert

The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
10 best tote bags

Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

Paul Scholes column

I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England
Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

The heptathlete has gone from the toast of the nation to being a sleep-deprived mum - but she’s ready to compete again. She just doesn't know how well she'll do...