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Demis Roussos obituary

1 hour ago

Greek singer loved by fans worldwide for his kaftans and 1970s hit Forever and Ever

Few pop artists of the past 50 years achieved such global recognition as Demis Roussos, who has died aged 68. The kaftan-clad, middle-of-the-road crooner was reported to have sold more than 60m records in his long career. Yet despite his huge success, his portly stature and tousled beard attracted criticism and mirth – in Mike Leigh’s 1977 play Abigail’s Party, for instance, the hapless hostess Beverly, played by Alison Steadman, is revealed to be one of his most ardent fans.

One of Roussos’s most enduring signature songs – and one beloved by Beverly – was the title track of his 1973 album Forever and Ever. The album reached No 2 in the UK charts in 1974. It was followed by Happy to Be On an Island in the Sun, a specially written number by David Lewis shrewdly aimed at the British fondness for Mediterranean holidays, »

- Dave Laing

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Hands on with Vessel, the app providing a 'first window' for YouTubers

4 hours ago

New short-form video service is promising 72-hour exclusives on new content from creators, but are those exclusives worth watching?

YouTube is massive. More than one billion people visit its site and apps every month, watching more than 6bn hours of video. Its top channels count their annual views in billions.

That’s why even though some grumble about the amount of money they make from ads on YouTube, for now the idea of those stars ditching Google’s online video service for a rival isn’t a serious prospect.

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- Stuart Dredge

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Pauline Yates obituary

5 hours ago

Stage and screen actor who played Reggie Perrin’s long-suffering wife in the television comedy

The gentle good nature of the BBC’s anarchic 1970s comedy The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin that made it such a hit owed much to the innocent yet tacitly conspiratorial support of Reggie Perrin’s wife, Elizabeth, played by Pauline Yates, who has died aged 85. She was a spirit of domestic calm in the mayhem created by David Nobbs’s other characters, led by Leonard Rossiter as the erratic Reggie Perrin, whose bizarre behaviour she treated as normal and in need of no explanation.

The show ran for three series between 1976 and 1979, in the course of which Elizabeth became almost as serenely batty as Reggie. Although she was practically teetotal, Yates needed a large gin and tonic at the end of each recording.

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- Simon Tait and David Nobbs

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Shaun the Sheep the Movie review – Aardman have woolly mammoth hit

5 hours ago

The big screen version of Shaun the Sheep sees our four-legged hero going on the lamb in an intricate off-farm adventure that will further swell the Brit studio’s flock

Baa-hind the scenes on the Shaun the Sheep movie: ‘In a good week we can shoot two minutes’

In retrospect, turning their immensely successful TV series into a feature film seems like a no-brainer on the part of Aardman, the Bristol-based animation house who have steadily progressed into a major global force over the two-and-a-half decades since the appearance of their Oscar-winning short Creature Comforts in 1989.

Having pushed out 130 seven-minute episodes since 2007, and sold to dozens of territories all over the world, Shaun has astutely turned its non-language-specific articulation and predilection for slapstick and visual comedy into the kind of show that can entertain Moroccan toddlers as easily as metro passengers in Beijing. It’s what you might call the Mr Bean equation. »

- Andrew Pulver

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Wolf Hall: a challenging book should also be challenging TV

7 hours ago

The BBC’s adaptation of Hilary Mantel’s novels has been criticised by some for its tricky plot. But what’s wrong with treating viewers like grownups?

• Read John Sutherland’s episode one recap

A notable aspect of the opening episode of Wolf Hall (Wednesdays, 9pm, BBC2) was the crisp clarity of the actors’ delivery. This is partly because the dialogue was being spoken by some of the nation’s greatest stage actors – Mark Rylance, Jonathan Pryce, Anton Lesser – but may also have been a response, conscious or sub-conscious, to last year’s row over alleged incomprehensibility in the BBC’s Jamaica Inn. (A controversy repeated, after Wolf Hall had finished filming, by the start of series two of Broadchurch.)

But having avoiding a “mumblegate row”, Wolf Hall has stumbled into “candlegate” – complaints that the realistic period lighting made scenes hard to see – and “tanglegate”. The latter an objection from »

- Mark Lawson

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Bitter Lake – review: Adam Curtis’s beautiful, gripping film unravels a story of violence, bloodshed and bitter ironies

11 hours ago

Beginning with a fateful meeting between President Roosevelt and King Abdulaziz of Saudi Arabia, Curtis delves into a mass of historical archives to shed light on Afghanistan and the west

‘Increasingly, we live in a world where nothing makes any sense,” says Adam Curtis. “Events come and go like waves of a fever, leaving us confused and uncertain. Those in power tell stories to help us make sense of the complexity of reality, but those stories are increasingly unconvincing and hollow.”

So Curtis – who made The Century of Self, The Power of Nightmares, and The Trap: What Happened To Our Dream of Freedom – has made a new film, called Bitter Lake (BBC iPlayer, now), about why those stories stopped making sense, and to try to make sense of them. It’s available only on BBC’s iPlayer, because that means it doesn’t have to fit in with tedious constraints »

- Sam Wollaston

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Monday’s best TV

12 hours ago

David Starkey scrutinises the Magna Carta, the Broadchurch case continues and Sharon Horgan and Rob Delaney try to cope with Catastrophe. Plus: Matthew VanDyke’s Arabian Motorcycle Adventures and fame-hungry teens in South Side Story

Question Time’s regular bile duct returns to his Dr Jekyll day job. In Starkey’s latest constitutional history lecture, the Magna Carta is sealed within 15 minutes; the focus instead is on the enduring legacy of that sheepskin inked with Latin. After our civil war it was cited as parliament nudged monarchy aside, while at the birth of the United States it guided Thomas Jefferson’s thinking. To his credit, Starkey provides a withering critique of how America and Britain are now placing its fundamental principles under threat. Jack Seale

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- Jack Seale, Jonathan Wright, Ben Arnold, Tom Howells, Bim Adewunmi, Julia Raeside and Gwilym Mumford

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Let us all rejoice in Cahill's kick and honouring women, for a change

18 hours ago

Stand up at midday and sing an anthem? What a baffling concept, but at least there’s some brilliant sport on TV to give viewers some notion of national pride

• Australia Day 2015: live coverage

Australia Day – known in more than 150 countries as Monday – is the perfect opportunity to dress like the lesser-known reject from The Avengers, Captain Australia. His superhero uniform is several Southern Cross sarongs he picked up on the beach, his special power the ability to manipulate by his own will literally anything made out of lamb, and his kryptonite the second verse of the Australian anthem (you know, the one that mentions how nice we should be to “boat people”).

To someone who abandoned their arbitrary loyalty to borders some seven years ago, the notion of national pride seems rather an odd one. Stand up at midday and sing an anthem to an abstract concept? Utterly baffling. »

- Jazz Twemlow

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