Line of Duty: series creator Jed Mercurio interrogated

Line of Duty: series creator Jed Mercurio interrogated

Line of Duty

It’s had the nation gripped and now finally it’s time to find out who Balaclava Man is in the police drama Line of Duty.

Could it be DCI Roz Huntley’s husband Nick? Or lawyer Jimmy Lakewell? There are plenty of other suspects in the mix.

As the climax approaches, we caught up with series creator and writer Jed Mercurio to give him an AC-12 style interrogation.

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Keeper of secrets: Jed Mercurio

Is it true a sixth series is not confirmed?

We definitely have a fifth, not a sixth… but we haven’t started working on it yet. I need to think what the character is first.

Did you instantly think of Thandie Newton for the role of DCI Roz Huntley or were other people in the running?

It just evolved. I don’t normally think of a specific actor, I concentrate on the character and then when we get into pre-production that’s how names come up.

I always knew Thandie was top talent, she was a real laugh on set. It was the easiest casting process I’ve ever been through.

Did Thandie’s status as a Hollywood star have an impact?

We were flattered she wanted to do the role – most of her career she’s been doing Hollywood movies so it was a boost for the whole team.

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Thandie Newton as DCI Roz Huntley

How do you come up with the plots for Line of Duty?

I come up with the story ideas on my own. I like to sit at my desk… sometimes I get inspiration when I’m going about my normal day-to-day life.

Then when I’ve come up with some sort of story, I get the editorial team on board and we try to develop it.

I then write an outline of the first episode which takes about a week. Only when we are happy with the first episode do we start on the second.

Can we expect any surprises for the final episode?

(pauses, laughs) You will just have to watch!

How do real-life police officers react to the plot?

One of our intelligence advisers for the show said his team have been trying to crack who balaclava man is – it’s quite funny.

What would you like to explore in the next series?

I want to look at the personal lives of all the regulars in series five – they’ve taken a backseat in this series to Roz Huntley, so it would be good to explore that side of things a bit more.

The regulars are definitely up for doing more… that’s if they survive the final episode!

What’s more important, ratings or awards?

I always try and distinguish between facts and opinions. I am just pleased the show is being watched. Ratings are the most important thing.

What advice do you have for budding crime series writers?

Just write, write, write. Watch lots of shows and films in that genre. Read lots and think about story and characters.

Are you tempted to write over in the US?

I actually went over there for a while when my career was quiet over in the UK. I wrote pilots for shows over there for about five years. I like the differences between American and British television dramas.

The final of Line of Duty is on BBC One on Sunday night at 9pm.

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Patrick Swayze’s Dirty Dancing jacket fetches $62,500

Patrick Swayze’s Dirty Dancing jacket fetches $62,500

Leather jacket Patrick Swayze wore in 1987's Dirty Dancing filmImage copyright

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The leather jacket was bought on Friday by a Hollywood memorabilia collector

A leather jacket that the late US actor Patrick Swayze wore in Dirty Dancing has sold for $62,500 (£48,270) at an auction in Los Angeles.

Hundreds of other items belonging to Swayze – including a surfboard from Point Break and a shirt he wore in Ghost – also went under the hammer.

His widow Lisa Niemi said she had “a lot of mixed feelings” about selling the items.

Swayze died in 2009 from pancreatic cancer. He was 57.

The leather jacket was bought on Friday by a Hollywood memorabilia collector, who only identified himself as Glenn.

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Patrick Swayze received three Golden Globe Award nominations during his acting career

Speaking about the sale, Niemi told the Press Association: “No matter what, it’s still a letting go. There’s always a little bit of loss associated with that.

“While it’s a very positive thing to do, it’s a difficult thing to do.

“I’m such a lucky woman to have had a man who loved me as much as Patrick did.”

The auction went ahead despite strong opposition from Swayze’s niece.

“These were family heirlooms,” Danielle Swayze told the Press Association.

“It’s a slap in the face that she’s selling these precious memories,” she added.

Entertainment news round-up: 23 – 28 April

Entertainment news round-up: 23 – 28 April

Madonna got justifiably – and unjustifiably – angry over claims made in a film script; Friends star Matt LeBlanc may prove to be the saviour of a British TV brand; the sad passing of Silence of the Lambs director Jonathan Demme – and much more…

Here’s a round-up of some things you might have missed in the world of entertainment news this week:

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Pascal Le Segretain

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Madonna called out a copy of a screenplay about her early career as “all lies”. We took a look at Blonde Ambition and separated the fact from fiction.

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Has Matt LeBlanc saved Top Gear? That’s what fans and critics have been asking at the conclusion of the latest series.

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If you’re going spend money on a Darth Vader mask it may as well be gold. If you have over £1m to spend, of course.

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Russell Tovey on landing his dream role in the National Theatre’s revival in London of Tony Kushner’s 1990s play Angels in America. He says the gay drama was part of his life long before he signed up to star in it

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Dame Judi Dench says she loves Tracy Ullman’s comedy sketches that show her using her fame to get away with shoplifting and other petty crime.

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Zoe Saldana may, or may not, have let slip the name of the new Avengers movie.

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Elton John thanked his medical team after he suffered a “potentially deadly” bacterial infection during a tour, forcing him to spend two nights in intensive care and cancel concerts in the US.

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Jonathan Demme, the Oscar-winning director of The Silence of the Lambs, died in New York aged 73. He was also known for Philadelphia, Something Wild and the Talking Heads documentary Stop Making Sense.

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BBC presenter Diane Louise Jordan has had “a tough three years” trying to clear her name after being wrongly accused of harassment.

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‘Did you enjoy being pregnant?’ – Bananarama revisit old Smash Hits questions

‘Did you enjoy being pregnant?’ – Bananarama revisit old Smash Hits questions

Bananarama and some of their 1980s magazine covers

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Back together after 29 years: (L-R) Keren Woodward, Sara Dallin and Siobhan Fahey

What’s your favourite time of day? Have you ever worn odd socks? Why are you dressed as the devil?

Pop magazines took a very different approach to interviews in the 1980s and, as the decade’s biggest girl band, Bananarama found themselves fielding all of the above questions and more.

Smash Hits, Look-In and Number 1 devoted dozens of pages to the trio, many of which dwelt on the fact they lived together on the 11th floor of a block of flats in Holborn.

“It always looked better in the photos than it did in real life,” laughs Keren Woodward, now 56 and living in more comfortable circumstances in Cornwall.

“It was a dive,” recalls her bandmate and childhood friend Sara Dallin.

“You’re not house-proud when you’re young. But now I’d be like, ‘Take your shoes off!'”

Still, those irreverent, Python-esque profiles were often more revealing than the now-standard “tell me about your co-writers” pop interview.

So, to celebrate the reunion of Bananarama’s original line-up – and their first ever tour – we scoured the back issues and put a bunch [get it? – puns ed] of old questions to Sara, Keren and Siobhan to see how their answers have changed.

“Are these Neil Tennant’s questions?” asks Sara before we start.

“He always reminds us he interviewed us once, but I don’t remember it.”

When you were 12, what did you want to be? (Smash Hits, 1983)

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“Back then, every magazine wanted their own photos,” recalls Sara

Keren: A lot of my family were teachers, so that’s what I always thought I’d end up being. I think I’d have been quite strict – strict but fair – and, I like to think, hugely engaging.

Siobhan: I think I wanted to be [60s pop star] Melanie.

Back in 1983, Siobhan said she would like to be an “air hostess”, while Keren and Sara both talked about becoming “David Essex’s wife”.

Sara: Oh God, I’m sure I never would have said that. Aged 12? Not at 12.

Keren [to Siobhan]: Oh yes, you went for a job as an air hostess. We took your picture, standing on a pouffe.

Sara: In your mother’s skirt, trying to look elegant.

If you were an animal, what animal would you be?

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Media captionThe band give Chris Evans the lowdown on their big comeback

Sara: Did I say, ‘Dolphin’? No? For God’s sake. Dog? Lion? Pheasant?

Siobhan: I was going to say elephant because I love them so, but they get butchered, don’t they?

Keren: I would have said dog.

The original answers were actually dog (Siobhan), tiger (Sara) and horse (Keren).

Sara: But you hate horses.

Keren: I didn’t know that at the time! I hadn’t been thrown off one yet.

Did you enjoy being pregnant? (Number 1, 1987)

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Bananarama sold more than 40 million records worldwide making then, at the time, the world’s most-successful girl band

Keren: I absolutely loathed it.

Siobhan: I loved it. Whatever hormones kicked in, I got really happy.

Keren: I just felt very young and unprepared. I didn’t know anyone who’d been pregnant, and I didn’t know anyone who’d had a baby. Because everyone around me didn’t really get it, I just kept on as though nothing was happening, even though I was slightly scared and throwing up everywhere. Sara would say, ‘For God’s sake, you’re only pregnant, come out.’

Speaking in 1987, Keren said the only benefit of pregnancy was being sober, which had meant “I was handy for a lift now and then”. She recently revealed that having children had stopped Bananarama’s original line-up going on tour.

Keren: We were so desperate to get on stage. And, in a way, maybe it was good we didn’t, because we didn’t have the right people around us. We were just doing it ourselves.

Sara: If you look at the early performances, we look incredibly shy. We’d come straight from school, and then we were on Top of the Pops. We had absolutely no clue at all.

Siobhan: I think that was all part of the charm.

Sara: Even when we went on tour in [19]89 [with Siobhan’s replacement, Jacquie O’Sullivan], I couldn’t say we were hugely confident about what we were doing.

Keren: I mean, the only experience we had of being on stage was getting up, putting on a cassette and singing over the top.

Sara: But it’s like any job. If you work in a bank or an office, you’d be shy when you arrived, and then you’d learn and then you’d be fine. It’s just taken us 30 years.

Sara, did you enjoy covering naked men with your bat wings? (Smash Hits, 1986)

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The video for Venus saw the band dressing up as goddesses and devils from history

Sara: That’s about the Venus video. The costume was so uncomfortable. It was a really tight corset with two poles running down the side of my arms, and a black wig. It was not an erotic experience, I’m afraid.

Siobhan: That was the first time we really went for an extravaganza in the costume department; obviously triggered by the lyrics of the song. And I think that’s where we discovered our enjoyment of camp.

The video accompanied Venus, the first song the band produced with Mike Stock, Matt Aitken, and Pete Waterman’s “hit factory”, which also churned out hits for Kylie, Jason and Sinitta.

Keren: When it got really pop and quite camp, that was when Siobhan started to get disillusioned. But for me, personally, it just felt like I’d come alive. I enjoyed that period so much because it was just out-and-out pop. I’d just given up trying to explain we weren’t dimwits and that we were serious artists. So it was just like letting go, and I embraced the whole pop thing and I absolutely loved it.

Siobhan: Making [the album] Wow! with Waterman, Stock and Aitken, they had a very much production-line approach. I felt there wasn’t much room for musical experimentation with them, because they had their sound, and that was frustrating for me.

Sara: We always wrote with them. They would have preferred to write everything, but we wouldn’t let them.

Siobhan: But I have to say, in hindsight, Wow! is the album that hangs together the best.

When did you first realise you were famous? (Smash Hits, 1983)

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Rex / Shutterstock

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The band’s hits included Venus, Love In The First Degree and Really Saying Something

Keren: In Los Angeles, when Mike Tyson sang Cruel Summer.

Sara: We were walking back from breakfast to our hotel, where he was also staying. He was sitting in a limo, and he saw us and started singing Cruel Summer. We were just gobsmacked.

Keren: And he was world champ at the time. He was just the last person on Earth you’d expect to sing a Bananarama song. And you think, well, your reach must have got quite far with that sort of thing.

Siobhan’s original answer was that she didn’t feel famous, “apart from when you’re recognised on buses”.

Siobhan: I remember our first trip to Santa Monica, this girl got really excited when she saw us, and she came running up to me and shouted, ‘Oh my God, aren’t you the girl from Dexy’s Midnight Runners?’ And I was like, ‘No, that’s my sister.’ [Maire Fahey starred in the video for Dexy’s hit single Come On Eileen].

Don’t you get on each other’s nerves a lot? (Number 1, 1986)

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The original line-up split shortly after this performance at the 1988 Brit Awards

Keren: Now? No.

Siobhan: It’s been hilarious. We haven’t stopped laughing.

Keren: It’s back to the good old days before they turned… stale.

Sara: Stale – that’s a much better word than sour.

In 1986, Siobhan said: “It’s very hard working together and being mates sometimes, but no matter how hard it gets, you sort of understand each other.” She quit the band two years later, and the friends didn’t speak for almost a decade.

Will Bananarama ever make a feature film? (Number 1, 1984)

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The band were regular guests on Top of the Pops and, here, Kenny Everett’s Television Show

Sara: Obviously not.

Siobhan: I’m writing a script at the moment, in between Bananarama things. It’s a historical epic, set in Elizabethan times. But I don’t want to give too much away.

Keren fielded this question in 1984, saying: “If we did, it would have to be one of those cheap musicals.”

Keren: We always had plans, on and off. We were approached to do the story of Bananarama as a film.

Sara: The trouble with us was we never had management that consolidated our ideas, so it never got put together. I mean, the Spice Girls made a film, which was kind of what ours was going to be like, but we never got it together.

Siobhan: It would be a TV series now. Things have swung that way.

Keren: We could play the mums.

Is there life on other planets? (Smash Hits, 1986)

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They did record a song called Venus, after all…

Siobhan: Well, for sure. There’s got to be.

Sara: We haven’t discovered any, though. You’d think we would have discovered something by now. All we hear about is water here and gas there.

Maybe this is because, as Siobhan said in 1986, we’d be unable to see alien life forms “because they’re bound to have a totally different chemical make-up”.

Siobhan: Oh yeah, they’re right here in this room but on a different frequency.

Keren: And they are really excited about the Bananarama reunion. They are desperate for it.

What’s your favourite single you’ve released so far?

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The trio were the only singers to appear on both the first and second Band Aid singles

Sara: Cruel Summer, just because that was such an odd little pop song. It was our first hit in the States, which was unbelievably exciting.

Siobhan: I think we all have that as a favourite, because it just sounds like nothing before or afterwards, really.

Sara’s answer remains the same, but in 1986 Keren plumped for the band’s debut single, Aie-A-Mwana, while Siobhan preferred Really Saying Something for its “shrieky vocals”.

Sara: We’re going to set aside some time this year to get together and do some [new music] for the tour.

Keren: It would be a shame to not have something new. Will it live up to the past? Well if it doesn’t, we won’t release it.

Keren, how often do you wash your hair? (Number 1, 1984)

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Take two bottles into the shower?

Sara: Every day. Every day, she washes her hair.

Keren: I’ve got greasy hair, what can I say? I never skip more than one day.

In 1984, Keren claimed the figure was “twice a week”, prompting general disbelief from her friends.

While walking along a deserted beach, you spy a couple making love. Do you stay and watch? (Smash Hits, 1986)

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Not in this climate, love

Siobhan: Ew.

Sara: I’d call the police.

Keren: I’d call all my friends over. I wouldn’t watch on my own. Take some photos.

Keren originally replied she’d “put some mirrored shades on” and watch while pretending to look the other way.

Sara: That’s a bit raunchy.

Siobhan: They were odd questions in those days.

What’s next for Bananarama? (Look-In, October 1987)

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Sara and Keren have kept the band going as a duo since 1992

Keren: I’m looking forward to doing the vocal arrangements for the tour. That’s my favourite bit. I’m hoping we can sing three-part harmonies on some of the songs, because we always used to sing in unison. It would be nice to do it in a more grown-up way.

Siobhan: The staging is all in the pipeline, but it’ll reflect our personality and “unique style” [everyone laughs].

Keren: I don’t want to be standing there with lasers going off. Our show will be about the camaraderie and the fun.

Speaking on the phone in 1987, Siobhan’s response to this question was simply: “I’m going to get out of this bath. The water’s gone horribly cold.”

The classic Bananarama line-up tours the UK for the first time this November. Tickets are on sale now.

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Steps fail to oust Ed Sheeran from number one – but Clean Bandit succeed

Steps fail to oust Ed Sheeran from number one – but Clean Bandit succeed

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Tears on the Dancefloor is Steps’ first album of new material in 15 years

Not since Blur v Oasis has there been a pop battle this epic.

With the release of their new album, reunited pop group Steps valiantly challenged Ed Sheeran’s dominance of the album charts and, at the start of the week, it seemed they would win.

On Monday, Tears On The Dancefloor was 4,000 sales ahead of Ed’s Divide.

But Ed refused to say Sheerio, overtaking his competitors at the last minute and claiming the number one slot for the seventh week in a row.

Divide eventually finished 16,000 units ahead of the Steps album, beating H, Faye, Claire, Lisa and Lee in both the streaming and physical charts.

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Official Charts Company

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Ed Sheeran’s Divide is the biggest-selling album of the year so far

Steps did, however, have the most-downloaded album of the week.

Their comeback follows a bitter break-up in the early 2000s. Before that, the band clocked up three number one albums and 14 top 10 singles, including three chart toppers.

Top five albums (source: Official Charts Company)
Artist Song
1) Ed Sheeran Divide
2) Steps Tears On The Dancefloor
3) Rag ‘N’ Bone Man Human
4) Imelda May Life Love Flesh Blood
5) Kendrick Lamar Damn.

Other new entries in this week’s album chart came from Imelda May (at number five), Texas (six), Maximo Park (11) and Ray Davies (15).

David Bowie also scored two new entries thanks to Record Store Day. Cracked Actor, which features a rare live performance from the 1970s, debuted at 20; while Bowpromo, an early assembly of tracks from the Hunky Dory album, landed at 38.

Top five singles (source: Official Charts Company)
Artist Song
1) Clean Bandit ft Zara Larsson Symphony
2) Ed Sheeran Shape of You
3) Ed Sheeran Galway Girl
4) Harry Styles Sign Of The Times
5) Drake Passionfruit

In the singles chart, Clean Bandit succeeded where Steps failed – ousting Ed Sheeran’s Shape Of You from the pole position with their Zara Larsson-featuring dance hit Symphony.

The song enjoyed a slow, six-week journey to the top and becomes the band’s second consecutive number one, after Rockabye, which topped the Christmas countdown last year.

“We are all amazed,” said the band. “After everything that happened with Rockabye, we didn’t think it would be possible to replicate that but now we’re Number 1 again!

“We’ve been in the US the last few weeks touring with Zara Larsson and we got the chance to tell her it was Number 1. She was so excited!”

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Clean Bandit, who were formed at Cambridge University, have notched up three number ones in the last three years

Clean Bandit’s chart success means a British act has had the number one single for each of the last 30 weeks.

It is the first time this millennium that homegrown acts have dominated the top 40 for so long.

Other artists making waves in this week’s singles chart included Canadian star Shawn Mendes, whose new single There’s Nothing Holdin’ Me Back, climbed 136 places to number seven; and Lady Gaga, who scored her 17th top 20 hit with The Cure, a non-album track she premiered at the Coachella music festival.

Further down the chart, Paramore’s Hard Times debuted at 34, just ahead of Lana Del Rey’s new single Lust For Life at Number 38.

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Cate Blanchett to star on London stage in All About Eve

Cate Blanchett to star on London stage in All About Eve

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Cate Blanchett will play Broadway star Margo Channing

Cate Blanchett is to return to the London stage in a new adaptation of the classic 1950 film All About Eve.

The Oscar-winning actress will take the role of Broadway star Margo Channing, originally played by Bette Davis.

The production will open in Spring 2018, with further details to be announced.

Ivo van Hove, whose recent plays include Hedda Gabler at the National and Obsession at the Barbican, will direct.

The last time she was on stage in London, Blanchett was hailed as “mesmerising”, “magnificent” and “beyond terrific”.

That was in 2012, in a play called Big And Small (Gross und Klein) produced by the Sydney Theatre Company.

Earlier this year, Blanchett received rave reviews for her Broadway debut in New York in The Present, a reworking of Chekhov’s play Platonov.

The plans for All About Eve were confirmed by Sonia Friedman Productions and Fox Stage Productions.

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Mum has hit with Ed Sheeran song parenting parody


A parody of Shape of You, which includes the lyrics “I gag at the smell of poo”, is a Facebook hit.

Mum-of-two Sophie McCartney from Warrington sings a parenting parody based on Ed Sheeran’s Shape Of You song.

The song details “the every day struggles of being a mum” and has had 14 million views.

It includes lyrics such as “stop wiping snot on my body” and “my bed sheets smell like poo”.

Caution! The celebs who are wary of Twitter

Caution! The celebs who are wary of Twitter

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Watson keeps a safe distance from reaction to social media content

Beauty and the Beast star Emma Watson has said she does not read social media comments for the sake of her sanity.

Watson is playing the lead role in The Circle, the film adaptation of Dave Eggers’s novel about an all-seeing tech corporation.

She plays a graduate who joins Hanks’s company and soon finds herself joining an experiment that pushes the boundaries of privacy and ethics.

Watson said at the New York premiere: “For my sanity, I cannot, I just cannot even go there (reading comments).”

“I have to create some distance because I’m human. I think there’s this way where technology can dehumanise.”

How to keep your kids safe online

She’s not the only celebrity who has had issues with social media in recent years:


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Rylan’s gameshow – a storm in a teacup?

The former X Factor contestant and current This Morning presenter quit Twitter earlier this week after receiving online abuse over his new gameshow.

Fans of successful ITV show The Chase mistakenly thought their favourite show was being taken off air to be replaced by Rylan’s Babushka.

In fact, The Chase was taking its usual yearly contractual break so the next series could be filmed and Babushka will fill that slot.

On Monday’s This Morning, Rylan, sporting an ‘I love The Chase’ T-shirt, told Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby: “I am not cancelling The Chase, it has not been axed. Please stop hurling abuse at me, it’s not fair, OK?

“I’m just someone doing my job. Everyone this weekend is in uproar that Rylan has ‘axed The Chase’ to make way for my new show. That’s a lie, The Chase has a break every single year guys, calm down.”

Later that day, he took himself off Twitter as the unwanted comments continued.

“Getting a bit ridiculous now. Just doing my job. Enjoy the show. Coming off here for a while. Babushka stars on Monday 1st.”

Lily James

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James also starred in last year’s BBC adaptation of War and Peace

The Cinderella actress felt the social media heat when she starred in ITV period drama Downton Abbey.

Lily – who played Lady Rose MacClare in the series – admitted that she’d left Twitter after being targeted by trolls who mainly criticised her appearance.

Lily, 25, told the Radio Times: “I was surprised people had an opinion about me, but now I don’t want to engage with that stuff. The internet is not a real person, so why would you want to read it? I did at first, but quickly got over it.”

Her last tweet was in 2015.

Stephen Fry

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Fry has taken several breaks from Twitter over the years

Stephen has had a volatile on-off relationship with Twitter.

He has quit the social media platform several times, including last year when he left after receiving criticism for joking that costume designer Jenny Beavan looked like a “bag lady” at the Baftas.

Stephen said he had not “slammed the door” on Twitter but said the site had become a “stalking ground for the sanctimoniously self-righteous”.

The star left the social media site from February to May 2015 without giving reasons. He also pleaded for fans to stop sending him direct messages saying “it was impossible” for him to look at them if he wanted to have “anything close to a life.”

In 2014, Stephen quit the site saying it was “unsafe” for him to tweet, adding he was filming “in a place whence I’ve been advised it is safest not to tweet”.

And in 2009, he said he was going to leave after another user called his posts “boring”.

Stephen is currently back on Twitter.

Lily Allen

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Allen described herself as a “lightweight” after attending last year’s Notting Hill Carnival

The singer left Twitter in February after receiving abuse relating to her son, who died during childbirth in 2010.

Trolls questioned her version of the event but the star was back on Twitter the following month.

It’s not the first time Lily has left Twitter temporarily.

Last year, she told her followers she would “steer clear of Twitter for a bit” and that she was going “off grid”.

That was following claims she had collapsed at Notting Hill Carnival, which Lily put down to being “just a lightweight, I had two cans of Strongbow on an empty stomach”.

Matt Lucas

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Lucas has had a lot of support on Twitter as well as haters

Comedian Matt Lucas had a similarly unpleasant experience at the hand of Twitter trolls back in 2012.

His decision came shortly after another Twitter user tweeted an offensive joke about the suicide of Lucas’ ex-husband Kevin McGee, who killed himself in 2009.

He tweeted: “I appreciate all the support on here over the past couple of years but it’s time to shut down my Twitter account. Xx.”

Matt later rejoined but found himself a target again, telling his followers that he had contacted the police because of online homophobic abuse.

Ed Sheeran

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Ed Sheeran has a huge 18.3m followers on Twitter

Singer Ed Sheeran announced he was “taking a break” from social media in 2015 – not because of trolls but because he was “seeing the world through a screen and not my eyes”.

Writing on his Instagram account, the singer explained he was “taking the opportunity of not having to be anywhere… to travel the world”.

Ed returned to the social media universe exactly a year later, tweeting just an image of a blue square.

Cryptic, man.

Sue Perkins

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Perkins is back on Twitter, describing herself as “mutton dressed as mutton”

Former Great British Bake Off star Sue was hounded off Twitter in 2015 after false rumours spread that she was replacing Jeremy Clarkson on Top Gear.

“I am off Twitter for a bit. Love and peace,” Sue wrote after being sent death threats.

She told her followers that one troll had said they would “like to see me burn to death” and that her timeline had been “full of blokes wishing me dead”.


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Is Adele a liability on Twitter?

Back in 2015 Adele told the BBC she doesn’t have direct access to her official Twitter account.

“I’m not a drinker any more, but when Twitter first came out I was, like, drunk tweeting, and nearly put my foot in it quite a few times,” she explained.

“So my management decided that you have to go through two people and then it has to be signed off by someone, but they’re all my tweets.

“No-one writes my tweets. They just post them for me.”

But on the Brisbane leg of the tour she revealed how she gets around it.

“I was looking on Twitter last night. They don’t know I have a secret account. Well obviously they do now because I said that. By ‘they’ I mean my management.

“I’m not allowed access to my own Twitter because I’m quite mouthy and I say the wrong thing a lot of the time. So they took that privilege away from me.”

JK Rowling

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Rowling is more than ready to respond to her online critics

The Harry Potter creator has turned the table on the trolls – she’s become famous for her Twitter takedowns.

Following her criticism of Donald Trump last year, one Twitter user said they would now “burn your books and movies, too”.

To which JK responded: “Well, the fumes from the DVDs might be toxic and I’ve still got your money, so by all means borrow my lighter.”

James Blunt

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Getty Images

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Blunt has never been afraid to poke fun at himself

Singer James Blunt is also a fan of the troll put-down.

One of his corkers pointed to the fact that while some may not like his music or appearance, he was sitting pretty on top of a very healthy bank balance.

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Along with this self-deprecating gem: “Yup, it’s called “Greatest Hit” in response to a tweet which asked: “There’s a “best of” James Blunt? Really?”

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Lord Sugar splits from Apprentice winner

Lord Sugar splits from Apprentice winner

Lord Sugar and Joseph ValenteImage copyright

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Lord Sugar invested £250,000 in Joseph Valente’s business

Apprentice winner Joseph Valente has split from Lord Sugar two years after winning the show.

Lord Sugar invested £250,000 into Valente’s plumbing business in 2015.

They’ve now announced that Valente will take full control of ImpraGas – but they’re parting on friendly terms.

Lord Sugar said: “I’ll still be on hand to offer any help and advice required. I wish Joseph and ImpraGas all the very best for the future and will follow their progress with much affection.”

Lord Sugar will now divest himself of his interest in the company, with Valente acquiring his shareholding and taking full control of the business.

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Joseph Valente beat Vana Koutsomitis in the 2015 final of The Apprentice

Valente added: “I am so grateful for everything Lord Sugar has done for me and I could not have asked for a better partner in the early stages of my business career.

“I owe him a great deal. I am confident that with the winning business model we created together, I can continue to grow the business successfully.”

So how many Apprentice winners does that leave who are still working with Lord Sugar?

Glad you asked, let’s take a look:

Still with Lord Sugar

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L-R: Alana Spencer, Ricky Martin and Leah Tatton

Of the 12 winners of the UK series of The Apprentice, five are still working with Lord Sugar.

They are Tom Pellereau, Ricky Martin, Leah Totton, Mark Wright and Alana Spencer.

Interestingly, all five won the show after a format change which saw Lord Sugar invest £250,000 in a business idea, rather than offering the winner a job in his own company.

After his time on the show, Pelleraeu used the investment to invent and bring to market a curved nail file, which is now stocked by major supermarkets.

Martin runs a science and technology recruitment company while Totton now has two cosmetic clinics offering botox and wrinkle reduction.

Wright is still working with Lord Sugar on his company which uses digital marketing to help small businesses grow.

And Spencer, who won the most recent series, is in the process of launching her own bakery firm.

Parted company

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BBC / Getty

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L-R: Michelle Dewbury, Lee McQueen, Stella English

Seven of the 12 winners have since parted company with Lord Sugar – many on perfectly good terms… others less so.

The very first winner, Tim Campbell, worked for Lord Sugar for a year before leaving (with his boss’s blessing) to set up a male grooming business, and more recently a digital marketing agency.

Michelle Dewberry worked for Lord Sugar for 11 months but left to set up her own company and a media career, appearing regularly on news programmes such as Sky’s weekly discussion show The Pledge.

Simon Ambrose worked for Lord Sugar for three years but left to pursue his own ventures, while Lee McQueen also left after two-and-a-half years to start his own sales recruitment and training agency.

Yasmina Siadatan stayed in her job with Lord Sugar for a year but became pregnant while she was there and didn’t return after maternity leave. She later set up her own restaurant.

Stella English’s departure from her job with Lord Sugar was far less friendly – she unsuccessfully sued him for constructive dismissal.

But she went on to work as a TV presenter and management consultant.

Lord Sugar has previously called on the BBC to commission a new TV series to catch up with former contestants and find out where they are now.

If such a show ever came to fruition, it certainly wouldn’t be short of material.

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Museum of the Year: Tate Modern to race horse museum for £100,000 prize

Museum of the Year: Tate Modern to race horse museum for £100,000 prize

Hepworth Wakefield (top left), Sir John Soane's Museum (centre), National Heritage Centre for Horseracing (top right), Tate Modern (bottom right) and Lapworth Museum of Geology (bottom left)Image copyright
Marc Atkins

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Hepworth Wakefield (top left), Sir John Soane’s Museum (centre), National Heritage Centre for Horse-racing (top right), Tate Modern (bottom right) and Lapworth Museum (bottom left)

Britain’s most popular contemporary art gallery and a new horseracing heritage centre are in the running to be named the UK’s Museum of the Year.

Tate Modern in London and The National Heritage Centre for Horseracing and Sporting Art in Newmarket, Suffolk, are both nominated for the £100,000 award.

They are joined in the contest by the Hepworth Wakefield gallery and the Lapworth Museum of Geology, Birmingham.

Sir John Soane’s Museum in London completes the five-strong shortlist.

The Lapworth Museum of Geology

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Marc Atkins

This museum, operated by the University of Birmingham, re-opened last June after a £2.7m redevelopment that was designed restore it to its 1920s grandeur and create three new galleries.

It holds 250,000 specimens, ranging from dinosaur skeletons to volcanic rocks.

The National Heritage Centre for Horseracing and Sporting Art

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Marc Atkins

Officially opened by the Queen in November, this complex is home to the National Horseracing Museum, the Fred Packard Museum and Galleries of British Sporting Art, and a yard for the Retraining of Racehorses charity.

It is also home to two of the Queen’s former racehorses and a virtual Clare Balding.

Sir John Soane’s Museum

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Marc Atkins

Housed in the former home of 19th Century architect Sir John Soane, this gallery and museum has completed a £7m restoration intended to open up “lost” areas and return it to how it looked when he died and left it to the nation in 1837.

That includes creating 33 per cent more space and putting 10 per cent more objects on display.

Tate Modern

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Marc Atkins

Seventeen years after it opened on London’s South Bank, Tate Modern had a record 5.8 million visitors in 2016.

That was partly down to the opening of a 10-storey extension, the Switch House, and exhibitions of photographs owned by Sir Elton John and artwork by Georgia O’Keeffe.

Hepworth Wakefield

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Marc Atkins

The West Yorkshire gallery celebrated its fifth birthday last year and saw a 21% rise in visitors.

It also launched a major new award for British sculpture and staged exhibitions by Martin Parr, Stanley Spencer and Anthea Hamilton.

The winner of the Art Fund Museum of the Year will be announced on 5 July.

Art Fund director Stephen Deuchar said: “Each of these museums has had a remarkable year, reaching – in a range of ways – new heights in their efforts to serve and inspire their visitors.

“Whether unveiling new buildings, galleries, displays or public programmes, all the finalists have shown a real commitment to innovation and experimentation, offering fresh perspectives and new ways of seeing and understanding their collections.”

Last year’s prize was won by the Victoria and Albert in London.

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