Arts and Entertainment Shock treatment: Billy Brown, Toni Collette and Dylan McDermott in ‘Hostages’

Just as well that this pilot episode got stuck straight into the action

Finally, some TV dramas that know when to end it

Something unusual happened on American television last week: a drama finished its first season with all the loose ends tied up. There were no cliffhangers. No teasing hints at stories to come. The show in question was Hostages, which started on Channel 4 last night, and it is adding to the stirrings of a television revolution.

Between The Sheets: What’s really going on in the world of books

Just to make you feel old, 2014 is the 25th anniversary of Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury’s classic children’s book, We’re Going On A Bear Hunt. “Swishy Swashy! Squelch Squelch! Hooo wooo!” and all the rest. The book has sold more than 8 million copies in 18 languages, but initially Rosen didn’t think that it would work: “The story seems to have originally been a folk song,” he says. “David Lloyd at Walker Books saw me perform it and asked me to write it down. So I added to the story and, 18 months later, I was stunned to see the beautiful pictures that Helen had created – the family adventure is from Helen’s imagination and I enjoy and admire the book almost as an outsider – but back then I couldn’t quite figure out how it would work as a book!” To celebrate, Walker will publish an anniversary edition in January and an interactive sound book in the summer, and in February the Royal Festival Hall in London will host a “promenade performance”, where children will be invited to dress up and take home a pair of bear ears. Oxenbury recalls illustrating the book: “Michael and I never met until after the book was finished, but what was wonderful about it was there was nothing described in a way that restricted me. I modelled the children and the dog on my own. The bear’s posture I modelled on a friend who had depression, with his dropped shoulders – I felt the bear was probably lonely and wanted company rather than eat the children!” So now we know. We’re not scared!

Julianne Moore stars in The English Teacher

The English Teacher: Julianne Moore is a quirky woman forced out of a straight-laced life

The Craig Zisk-directed movie is informed by his strong female TV characters Nurse Jackie, Weeds and The Big C

DVD & Blu-ray review: Mental (15)

PJ Hogan DVD/Blu-ray (115mins)

Cracking up: P J Hogan’s new comedy provides a fresh take on family life

IoS film review 2: Mental
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2

The hitchhiker's guide to staying sane and celebrating dysfunction

Movie review: Mental, starring Toni Collette, Liev Schreiber

PJ Hogan, 15, 116mins

ScreenTalk

Our contact at The Hollywood Reporter gives us the insider gossip from Tinseltown

Fright Night (15)

Starring: Colin Farrell, Anton Yelchin, Toni Collette, David Tennant

Embers: An Evening with Tunng and Friends, HMV Forum, London

East London collective Tunng were founded by Sam Genders and Mike Lindsay in 2003. Their winsome combining of folk melodies and harmonies with glitchy electronics soon won them fans, as well as the tag of "folktronica" (though don't let that put you off). After a few albums and growing success, however, Genders stepped aside, leaving female vocalist Becky Jacobs to step into the spotlight alongside Lindsay on their excellent new album ...And Then We Saw Land. Tonight's performance comes with support from their also rather talented "friends" – Hannah Peel, Gable and Sam Amidon – but Genders also makes a few guest appearances onstage. It's a fluid, familial set-up that lends a warm, inclusive atmosphere to the gig.

Rich Fulcher: An Evening with Eleanor the Tour Whore, Udderbelly's Pasture, Bristo Square, Edinburgh

At the end of Rich Fulcher's flawed show some members of the audience give him a standing ovation. They're probably the same people that started a Mexican wave before it even began. Such slavish behaviour is typical of fans of The Mighty Boosh, in which Fulcher famously stars.

NBC's pitch-perfect Community rarely falters

Sometimes it's hard to work out why television programme chiefs buy in certain foreign shows and completely overlook others. For example, why did E4 buy the dull One Tree Hill, but not the savvy Veronica Mars? Why has no one picked up the charming Bored to Death or the clever Party Down? Why was there no interest in United States of Tara, despite a script by Juno's Diablo Cody and the presence of Toni Collette in the lead role?

Nevin's Notes (07/05/10)

An alternative take on the election

Evening Session to return... on 6 Music

The show that chronicled the birth of Britpop is back – for one night only

Free Independent Drama: As We Forgive Them

As President Obama marks his first year in office, The Independent is giving you an exclusive opportunity to download an award-winning new drama about a subject that cuts to the very heart of American politics.

Ian Craig: Lobby journalist for the 'Liverpool Echo' and 'Manchester Evening News' for more than two decades

The sudden death of Ian Craig, who was a stalwart of the Westminster press lobby for more than 25 years, has generated a stream of tributes unusual both in their number and in their warmth.

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There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
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Mark Wright and Bianca Miller in the final of The Apprentice
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File: James Woods attends the 52nd New York Film Festival at Walter Reade Theater on September 27, 2014
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Martin Skrtel heads in the dramatic equaliser
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The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

Marian Keyes

The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

Rodgers fights for his reputation

Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick