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Trevor Noah sent 8,882 tweets. Some weren't funny. Get over it | Lucie Pohl

7 hours ago

Jon Stewart’s replacement on The Daily Show has been accused of being an antisemite, racist and sexist. Noah should ignore the drama

Comedians exist to make people laugh, often by pushing boundaries and saying things that the rest of us don’t dare say. Comedians, like Shakespeare’s fools, speak a truth – even if it’s an ugly one, and even if it’s not their truth. Some jokes are real knee-slappers, some make us chuckle, some fall completely flat and others make us think. Anyone serious about being funny will at least attempt to go there, with the collective understanding that it’s not serious and that we’re all here to have a good time. No harm done.

On Monday Comedy Central unveiled the man set to replace Jon Stewart on their flagship comedy news program The Daily Show: 31 year-old South African comedian Trevor Noah, a relative unknown. »

- Lucie Pohl

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Mad Men's final season: the bittersweet joy of saying goodbye

12 hours ago

The excitement of the final seven episodes arriving on screen is matched by the emotional heartbreak that comes with letting go of Don, Betty and Peggy

As the final half of the final series of Mad Men nears, you have to ask yourself how you’re going to feel when it’s over. I wonder, indeed, whether this wasn’t part of the point of the show’s lengthy mid-season break – to elongate this period of imminent loss so that, as we watch these final episodes, we have already been incubating the sadness for some time.

Is it a spoiler, to report a rumour? No, sod it – if you care, then you will have already heard that someone will die. While I am on tenterhooks as to the cause of his or her mortality, the fact of their death – if it turns out to be one – is less important. When the series ends, »

- Zoe Williams

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The Fresh Prince to The Crystal Maze: standby for a bizarre VHS odyssey

13 hours ago

In Standby for Tape Back-Up, Ross Sutherland unspools hidden meanings from the programmes on a fuzzy video left to him by his grandfather

It’s extraordinary how potent cheap videotape is. That’s one of the lessons borne out by Standby for Tape Back-Up, a witty, resourceful and emotionally intense show by the 35-year-old performance poet Ross Sutherland. The stage is bare but for a chair, a TV and a wheezing Vcr machine. Looking like a lone Reservoir Dog in his black tie and white shirt, Sutherland paces the stage brandishing a remote control, zipping back and forth through the images projected on the wall behind him.

Related: Rewind and recoil: Joseph Morpurgo's twisted world of VHS comedy

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- Ryan Gilbey

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Michelle Phan goes beyond YouTube with Icon multi-channel network

13 hours ago

Online star teams up with Endemol Beyond for new lifestyle network, which will also be available on other video services and social networks

YouTube star Michelle Phan is launching her own online video network, Icon, which will cover beauty, fashion, food and other lifestyle topics – but not just on YouTube.

The network is a partnership with television firm Endemol, and will distribute its videos through a range of partners online and on TV, as well as through its own mobile apps for iOS and Android devices.

Related: Little Baby Bum: how UK couple built world's fifth-biggest YouTube channel

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- Stuart Dredge

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Alan Seymour obituary

14 hours ago

Australian playwright best known for his play about Anzac Day, The One Day of the Year, who went on to create memorable TV drama for the BBC

The dramatist Alan Seymour, who has died aged 87, made his name both in his native Australia and in Britain with his play The One Day of the Year, which examined the myths celebrated on Anzac Day. The play provoked death threats and a bomb hoax in 1961, but the controversy sparked interest at home and abroad, allowing the play to move to London, where it was well received. As a result, Seymour went on to become one of the busiest contributors to British television drama during the next three decades, writing, producing and script-editing a string of plays and dramatisations.

The One Day of the Year, written when he was 31, featured a young couple denouncing Australia’s hallowed Anzac day as “one long grog-up »

- W Stephen Gilbert

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Major Lazer's long-awaited cartoon premieres in April

15 hours ago

Featuring the voices of Charli Xcx, Ezra Koenig, Riff Raff, Aziz Ansari and Jk Simmons, Diplo’s animated series airs this month

Major Lazer’s long-awaited cartoon will get its official premiere in April. Shown on Fxx, Diplo, Jillionaire and Walshy Fire’s animated series will include a host of well-known names in film and music.

“It’s been almost five years in the making,” Diplo told Billboard, “but it was worth it to have such a succinct TV show for our music fans and cartoon fans alike.”

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- Guardian music

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Jamie Dornan: I stalked a woman to get into The Fall role

16 hours ago

The actor admitted the dubious method acting in an interview with the La Times, saying ‘it felt kind of exciting, in a really sort of dirty way’

Jamie Dornan, the actor known for Fifty Shades of Grey and The Fall, has admitted that he stalked a woman on the London underground to help prepare for the latter role.

Related: Jamie Dornan: 'I keep playing sick psychopaths. It worries me'

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- Ben Beaumont-Thomas

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Costa del Sol: Last Brits Standing; Teens review – ‘They look at us like we’re their Polish, over here, nicking their jobs’

20 hours ago

From grey skies, rain and a bleak tale of Brits stuck abroad to the most interesting and innovative programme on television right now

It’s a familiar scene: a taxi driver is moaning about the immigrants. They’ve made it like a colony, he says. They come over here, become residents in order to take advantage of free medical care, it should be paid for by the people using it, it’s ruining the economy. Another man calls them barbarians. They don’t adopt the local customs, they piss in the streets, behind cars, they smell, they’re mad, fat, slags …

Ukip manifesto perhaps? No, because this is actually southern Spain. There are Brits involved – they’re the immigrants, though, and this is Costa del Sol: Last Brits Standing (BBC1).

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- Sam Wollaston

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Adam Riches on Bill Murray: ‘Ghostbusters made me want to be funny’

20 hours ago

If Kevin Spacey looks like the guy who knows the punchline to the world’s greatest joke, then it must be Bill Murray who whispered it in his ear

Man, I love Bill Murray.

I couldn’t think of any other way to start this piece: I just love him. Have done ever since he first ran away from that library ghost, laughing. A frigging coward, that’s my kind of hero. It was love at first Venkman.

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- Adam Riches

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Wednesday’s best TV

20 hours ago

Martha Kearney retraces her ancestors’ footprints in Norther Ireland, a look at the infamous 1990 revolt in the Manchester prison and Stephen Tomkinson’s Dci Banks ventures into Breaking Bad territory

The second episode charting the journalist’s travels in her ancestral homeland. Delving into the works of 19th-century artist George Victor Du Noyer, who compiled numerous geological depictions of his country, Kearney discovers how its landscapes once looked, as well as exploring the changes that continue to occur. This week, she explores Northern Ireland, from Belfast’s Victoriana to the rugged nature of the Giant’s Causeway. It’s beautifully shot, and Kearney is an engaging guide. Hannah J Davies

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- Hannah J Davies, Jack Seale, Jonathan Wright, Ben Arnold, David Stubbs, Hannah J Davies, Hannah Verdier

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The Dovekeepers: latest Biblical epic goes easy on the tubthumping

31 March 2015 2:05 PM, PDT

It’s Easter, and a slew of religious TV dramas are filling our screens – but this retelling of the siege at Masada is subtler, and soapier, than the rest

In 2013, everyone was aghast when the History Channel, which had slowly become the home to some of the most popular “red state” entertainments in the country, delivered killer ratings with The Bible. The retelling of the Old and New Testaments garnered between 10 and 13 million viewers for each of its 10 installments. We’re finally starting to see the repercussions of its success.

Survivor producer Mark Burnett and Roma Downey (who starred as the Virgin Mary) produced The Bible. Their 12-part sequel, Ad, about the lives of early Christians, kicks off on NBC on this Easter Sunday. Killing Jesus, the controversial retelling of Christ’s death executive-produced by Fox News’s Bill O’Reilly, just became the most watched broadcast ever on NatGeo. »

- Brian Moylan

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Comedy Central stands by new Daily Show host Trevor Noah

31 March 2015 1:05 PM, PDT

Network dispels speculation that it might be considering replacing Noah after a series of controversial jokes from before his appointment were uncovered

Comedy Central is standing by its new Daily Show host Trevor Noah, after the 31-year-old South African comedian set to replace Jon Stewart was criticized for a series of controversial jokes he tweeted before his appointment.

The network dispelled any speculation that it might be considering replacing Noah in a short statement on Tuesday, saying the comedian has a “bright future at Comedy Central”.

To reduce my views to a handful of jokes that didn’t land is not a true reflection of my character, nor my evolution as a comedian.

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- Lauren Gambino in New York

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Thunderbirds are go as TV series returns with a makeover after 50 years

31 March 2015 12:00 PM, PDT

ITV’s take on children’s favourite blends computer animation with models and miniature sets – and even the original voice of Parker is coming back

5, 4, 3, 2, 1 ... Thunderbirds are go – but not quite how older viewers will remember. International Rescue has been given a makeover for the modern age, with the Tracy brothers, Brains, Lady Penelope and Parker smarter, fitter and with better gadgets than they ever had when the “supermarionation” show began on ITV half a century ago.

But fans fearful that its return, complete with Hollywood star Rosamund Pike voicing Lady Penelope, will trample all over their childhood memories can rest easy.

Related: Thunderbirds Are Go: first pictures of new Lady Penelope and Brains

Related: Gerry Anderson and his supermarionation superstars – in pictures

Related: Thunderbirds creator Gerry Anderson dies aged 83

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- John Plunkett

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Justin got roasted, but I'm still a Belieber

31 March 2015 11:02 AM, PDT

Sitting there unflinching while comics tore him apart was Bieber’s atonement – and a great publicity move showing his determination to get back in the game

Circa 2011, I was a reluctant Belieber. I made fun of Baby, mocked Justin’s hoodies and needed older, wiser friends to introduce me to the genius that was Never Say Never. (The movie, not the song – though that was good, too.)

But then I was hooked. On top of Stratford, Ontario, being just a quick drive from where I grew up, I admired the wee boy’s work ethic, enthusiasm and talent for penning serious jams. Upon their releases in 2011 and 2012, Under the Mistletoe and Believe were legitimate pop forces, so like the millions of other humans with working ears, I gladly (and unironically) championed the kid who’d conquered the game and the globe.

Related: Justin Bieber's roast: the best bits from »

- Anne T Donahue

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RuPaul's Drag race recap: season seven, episode five – the Despy awards

31 March 2015 8:20 AM, PDT

The ceremony involved a millennial meltdown and a queen wilting in the shade, but it was Miss Fame’s surprising chicken soliloquy that stole the show

Almost live from the slums of Hollywood, RuPaul’s Drag Race brought us the first annual Despy awards this week. The surviving queens had to impress with their impressions. This is usually one of the highlights of the competition and a chance to throw more shade than a solar eclipse. For the mini challenge the girls got to channel Cher, Björk, Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lopez and Lil’ Kim with paper costumes – good job they gave those bitches safety scissors. Mrs Kasha Davis and Katya won the mini with a bad Joan Rivers and a good Björk but Kasha failed to bring it at the Despys and sashayed away.

Dom: Millennial meltdown! In drag! This episode was all about polishing Pearl for me. Ru kicked »

- Dominic Rushe and Megan Carpentier

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Howard Smith obituary

31 March 2015 7:06 AM, PDT

In the 1970s and 80s it was hard to miss the innumerable television documentary series produced by Howard Smith, who has died aged 80. His prodigious output typified his passionate commitment to classic BBC public service ideals.

I knew Howard for more than 45 years, as colleague and friend in the BBC Further Education department,. He was a wise and handsome man who carried himself with a quiet distinction. Behind a guarded facade was a gentle warmth and kindness, with an irreverent sense of humour. He loved medieval history and once sent me a Christmas card reproducing an illuminated manuscript showing a saint blessing a king. Howard reckoned the man’s two raised fingers looked suspiciously like a V-sign.

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- Giles Oakley

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BBC's Andy Wilman tries to salvage unused Top Gear footage

31 March 2015 5:56 AM, PDT

Show’s executive producer – who has rejected reports he has quit – understood to be working with BBC2 chief in wake of Jeremy Clarkson’s departure

Top Gear’s executive producer Andy Wilman is working with BBC bosses to see what can be saved of the films shot for the three episodes of the show pulled after Jeremy Clarkson’s suspension.

A large amount of footage has already been shot for the three programmes which had been due to be broadcast earlier this month.

Related: Top Gear's Andy Wilman tells staff 'au revoir' after Jeremy Clarkson exit

Related: Top Gear: what should the BBC do without Jeremy Clarkson?

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- John Plunkett

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Stewart Lee, Russell Howard and TV's 'alternative' comedy experiences

31 March 2015 5:31 AM, PDT

Comedy Central has axed Lee’s programme and will broadcast a new one by Howard – leading critics and comedians to debate standup’s future on the telly

The state of standup on the telly is under the microscope this week, with the announcement that Stewart Lee’s Alternative Comedy Experience has been axed by Comedy Central, while a new Russell Howard-helmed standup show is to be broadcast on the same channel. Coincidence? The arts critic Bruce Dessau certainly didn’t think so, blogging on the subject under the headline Russell Howard 1, Stewart Lee 0. (Lee has mocked Howard, tongue-in-cheek or otherwise, in his live act.) Howard’s new show, writes Dessau, “sounds ominously like a cross between Live at the Electric and Live at the Apollo”, and diminishes the variety (and quality?) of standup on the small screen.

Related: Stewart Lee review – tricksy gags about liberals, rightwingers and ‘the Islams »

- Brian Logan

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The grey knight: Burt Ward and Adam West announce animated Batman film

31 March 2015 4:48 AM, PDT

Stars of the 1960s TV show reveal they will be voicing the comic-book characters for a forthcoming feature-length animation

Rumour has it that the new Batman movie will borrow from iconic graphic novel The Dark Knight Returns, featuring a grey-haired and jaded caped crusader. But 42-year-old Ben Affleck won’t be the oldest superhero around when he debuts in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice next year, as original crime-fighting duo Adam West and Burt Ward have announced they’ll also be returning in a new feature-length film.

West, 86, and 69-year-old Ward starred as Batman and Robin in a highly popular TV show between 1966 and 1968, followed by a movie which marked the feature-length debut of the dark knight in cinemas. Now they are to return to provide voice work for a new Batman film.

Related: Christopher Nolan's Batman movies will endure | Ben Child

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- Ben Child

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Trevor Noah: the South African comic who sails close to the wind

31 March 2015 4:23 AM, PDT

Known for his charm and commercial savvy, new host of The Daily Show will also need to watch what he tweets, says Rebecca Davis

One of the interesting aspects of You Laugh But It’s True, a so-so 2011 documentary on Trevor Noah’s attempt to make it in comedy, was the sense you got that the young man’s success was deeply resented by some of his fellow South African comedians.

Young black comics 'mustn’t come bitching about apartheid'

Related: Daily Show: now it's not all white on late night, but what about the women?

Happy Women's Day ladies. Hope you all have a great day. Even you Caster.

Originally when men proposed they went down on one knee so if the woman said no they were in the perfect uppercut position.

Behind every successful Rap Billionaire is a double as rich Jewish man. #BeatsByDreidel

Almost bumped a Jewish kid crossing the road. »

- Rebecca Davis in Cape Town

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