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Diane Keaton and Jude Law to star in The Young Pope

3 hours ago

Oscar-winning star takes first-ever series regular television role in joint HBO, Sky and Canal+ production

Oscar-winning actor Diane Keaton is to star alongside Jude Law in the eight-part Paolo Sorrentino-directed series The Young Pope, it has been announced.

The Annie Hall star will play Sister Mary, an American nun living in Vatican City, while Law is in the lead role as Pius Xiii, formerly known as Lenny Belardo – a fictional American pontiff.

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- Kevin Rawlinson

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Tom Beard obituary

6 hours ago

Deft, poised supporting actor on stage and in popular television series

The actor Tom Beard, who has died aged 50 from cancer, was a handsome, robust supporting player generally admired for his athleticism, onstage and off. He was also, as his brother Alex, chief executive of the Royal Opera House, expressed it, the moral backbone of any company he joined.

He shared qualities of wit, poise and deftness with Colin Firth, an actor he physically resembled, without attracting a similar limelight. The role that brought him to theatrical prominence was Laertes, opposite Stephen Dillane’s Hamlet, directed by Peter Hall, which opened the renamed Gielgud theatre (formerly the Globe) on Shaftesbury Avenue in 1994, after he had featured as Marlowe in Hall’s West End production of She Stoops to Conquer.

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- Michael Coveney

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Children's TV pretends disability doesn't exist

8 hours ago

One in 20 children in the UK have a disability but major commercial channels such as Disney and Nickelodeon don’t feature any prominent disabled characters

Fireman Sam and How to Train Your Dragon feature the only disabled characters currently on long-running children’s television franchises.

Other characters crop up here and there – the Disney Channel introduced double-amputee Aussie explorer, Wildlife Will to its Doc McStuffins show, and it featured wheelchair user Johnny McBride (voiced by Shia Labeouf) in The Proud Family – but both appeared for one episode only.

We need to get away from this idea of ‘perfection’, the handsome prince and beautiful princess

Related: BBC, ITV and Sky get green kick up the arts with new sustainability mark

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- Tim Smedley

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Helen Mirren fails to mind her Ps and Qs on Good Morning Britain

9 hours ago

Ben Shephard apologises as the The Queen star tells of how it ‘pissed with rain non-stop’ when she went camping

Helen Mirren was the prime suspect in the latest four-letter blooper to afflict ITV’s Good Morning Britain, after she told viewers on Tuesday how it “pissed with rain non-stop” when she went camping.

Presenter Ben Shephard swiftly brought the anecdote to a halt, apologising to viewers during the interview with the Oscar winning actor who recently won her first Tony award for her stage role as the Queen in Peter Morgan’s The Audience.

Related: Bill Turnbull in C-word slip-up on BBC Breakfast

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- Monkey

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Wet Hot American Summer: the obscure cult favourite is about to get a TV reboot

11 hours ago

It was a flop when it first came out but now this surreal comedy has been turned into a Netflix series. Could the A-list cast members like Paul Rudd and Amy Poehler have anything to do with it?

It started in 2005 with a double-sided DVD, found by a friend in the bargain bin of a local discount shop. On one side was The Independent, a Jerry Stiller comedy about a B-movie director (“excruciatingly unamusing” – The Miami Herald). The other side didn’t look terribly promising, either: the film’s title, Wet Hot American Summer, sounded like top-shelf smut. On its sleeve was what looked like a crudely drawn knock-off of a National Lampoon poster. It seemed at best like it would be a bawdy, brainless comedy in the manner of the 80s cult favourite Porky’s, and at worse its sequel, Porky’s Revenge.

Related: Wet Hot American Summer is »

- Gwilym Mumford

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Great British Bake Off: new contestants poised to serve up sixth series

13 hours ago

BBC1 programme crowned the biggest entertainment hit of 2014 is set to return to screens next week

The most popular show on television, The Great British Bake Off, will return to BBC1 next week with a Lithuanian bodybuilder, a London firefighter and this year’s youngest contestant, a 19-year-old arts student from Scotland, among those vying for the coveted master baker prize.

With its mixture of spectacular recipes, soggy bottomed disasters and relentless double entendres by presenters Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins, the primetime cookery show may sound an unlikely TV hit.

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- John Plunkett

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Life in Squares review: ‘absurd, beautiful characters in a ridiculously golden world’

13 hours ago

Art, literature, exquisite interiors and copious copulation – do try to keep up with Virginia Woolf and the Bloomsbury set

If only their passions had been as muted as their palettes – how different life could have been for the Bloomsbury set. By the end of the opening episode of Life in Squares (BBC2), the three-part dramatisation of the Stephen-Bell-Strachey-Keynes-Sackville-Woolf lot’s attempts to fit their life into their art, their art into their life and their genitals into anyone who was passing through WC1, we had had two deaths, at least four affairs (depending whose terms you use) and a handful of criminal assignations, all set against the most exquisitely tasteful interiors you could hope for. I don’t know how they found time to handpaint half the lampshades they did.

The drama took a certain effort of will to get into. You just have to accept that you are in »

- Lucy Mangan

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Tuesday’s best TV

14 hours ago

The five remaining child geniuses try to out-precocious each other; Whistlestop discipline at the hands of the Three-Day Nanny; Not Safe For Work arrives at the ministry. Plus: Dave (the channel) proves a tough Taskmaster

The final, in which the five pocket encyclopedias left are allowed to choose a specialist subject, Mastermind-style. Thomas, who has blitzed every test and holds the integrity of the series in his hands – because, so far, he looks at ease with his impossible gifts – goes for ancient cryptography (“Which ninth-century Muslim scientist, known as ...” “Al-kindi!”) and dares the others to challenge. Leading the underdogs: Sasha and Giovanni, whose tough dad hits an emotional wall before his son does. Jack Seale

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- Jack Seale, Hannah J Davies, Jonathan Wright, John Robinson, Andrew Mueller, Mark Jones, Paul Howlett

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Taskmaster: ‘Nato should be informed of its molten-hot banter’

20 hours ago

What the world needs is another comedy panel show, right? But wait... Dave’s Taskmaster has added convoluted parlour games to the mix!

I don’t know what makes a person turn to a career in comedy – perhaps those promising Hollyoaks auditions came to nothing, or they have a natural proficiency for lax personal hygiene – but I know that the ultimate aim is to appear on a panel show. In turn, the panel show exists to support these same lost souls, like a Royal Hospital Chelsea for people who disappoint their mums.

New Dave project Taskmaster started out at the Edinburgh festival fringe. Created by Alex Horne, it featured various comedians having to perform spurious tasks. Somehow, thanks to the lurid gymnastics of production company presenter allocation, Horne has been reduced to an administrative role on TV, holding stopwatches and noting scores onto clipboards for the Demon Head Taskmaster Greg Davies. »

- Filipa Jodelka

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Hudson Valley Ballers: SNL writers hit the country with a few funny guests

23 hours ago

Featuring ad-libbing star guests, surreal jokes and a rural idyll, this web show from two Saturday Night Live writers is becoming a cult favourite

“It’s just a such strange little show,” said Paula Pell, fondly. It’s an apt description for Hudson Valley Ballers, the web series that Pell, a writer for Saturday Night Live and 30 Rock, created with fellow SNL writer James Anderson and cinematographer and writer Michelle Lawler.

The show stars Pell and Anderson as comedy writers who leave their high-stress jobs for a more low-key life in the country as bed-and-breakfast owners. What happens is anything but laid-back, with a stream of strange guests (think an intense Natasha Lyonne demanding wine), stranger love interests (Paul Rudd as a muralist for Olive Garden who does voiceovers for porn), and household horrors (did that doll just move?) interrupting their country idyll.

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- Melissa Locker

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Dear America, it's not just TV we're good at. Take a look at this lot

27 July 2015 10:27 AM, PDT

There’s quite a tradition of Us producers remaking British shows – but, my American friends, may I also point you towards dogging. And brown sauce

News reaches these shores that HBO, the American network behind Game of Thrones and Sex and the City, is considering a remake of British comedy classic All Creatures Great and Small.

According to a “production insider”, the new version, if it goes ahead, will be “sexier and glossier”. It’s hard to see how this could be possible, given the original was set in the steamy Yorkshire Dales, but we wait in hope.

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- Hannah Jane Parkinson

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I Am Cait panel review - five trans writers give their verdict

27 July 2015 10:20 AM, PDT

Caitlyn Jenner’s reality TV show, which debuted Sunday night, has been hailed as a landmark in trans visibility – but how representative was it really?

You wake up with Caitlyn Jenner at 4am as she fulminates over her sense of responsibility to the trans community, fretting about “getting it right”. As I sat through the gauzy opening titles of I Am Cait I found myself feeling just a touch ill at ease about the media phenomenon Jenner has become – a phenomenon that always seemed crafted for the curiosities and pleasures of a non-trans audience. What I Am Cait revealed to me is how seriously Jenner herself seems to take this, how morally conscious she is of her role and its obligations. Contrary to most close-ups of an individual trans woman’s life, the documentary does afford Jenner the opportunity to weave its personal subject matter into larger political issues.

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- Meredith Talusan, Katherine Cross, Andrea Jenkins, Buck Angel and Luke Stavrand Woolf

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The enduring social shorthand of Harry Enfield characters

27 July 2015 10:01 AM, PDT

When the Lse published a report about rich, useless children being protected by cash and connections, newspapers illustrated the story with Tim Nice But Dim. Why, 25 years on, are Loadsamoney and Waynetta Slob still go-to references?

The report from the London School of Economics called it “opportunity hoarding”: the way that well-off parents create a “glass floor” to protect their untalented offspring and, in the process, stop the poor from rising up. They were good phrases, but Britain already had a name for it. What the report really described, as the Mail put it, was “the triumph of Tim Nice But Dim”.

There’s perhaps a slender chance that you won’t know who the Mail – along with the Express, the Sunday Times, the Telegraph and, naturally, the Guardian – were talking about. Tim Nice But Dim was a character originally created by Ian Hislop and Nick Newman, but brought »

- Leo Benedictus

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Taschen's Favorite TV Shows: at least it gives fanatics something to argue about

27 July 2015 8:04 AM, PDT

The publishing house’s ‘best of’ book would make a brilliant makeshift anchor, but as a comprehensive list of the most impressive television of the past 25 years it’s weighed down by its own impossible mission

Creating a “best of” list is always a dicey proposition, as many writers can attest. As soon as the list is published online, someone has to pop up in the comments to say: “How could you leave out my favorite?” or “Since you included this, there is no way I can trust your list”. The rage at such lists is part of what makes them so popular; people skim the selections hoping to have their own opinions ratified, and if they are not, well, look out.

It’s even harder when the list is a permanent object like a book. Just look at Taschen’s Favorite TV Shows, the coffee table book giant’s »

- Brian Moylan

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True Detective: season two, episode six recap – Church in Ruins

27 July 2015 7:10 AM, PDT

This straightforward episode, bookended by two great set pieces, is the easiest to digest so far. But there are still an awful lot of loose ends to tie up …

Spoiler alert: this blog details events in the sixth episode of the second season of True Detective, which airs on Sunday nights on HBO in America, and Mondays in the UK on Sky Atlantic at 9pm & 2am.

For the episode five recap, click here.

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- Gwilym Mumford

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Top Gear remake to launch in Italy

27 July 2015 6:43 AM, PDT

Show continues global expansion despite Jeremy Clarkson’s exit, with Sky Italia airing local series fronted by Guido Meda and Joe Bastianich

Top Gear is going to Sky. Not in the UK but a remake of the hit BBC motoring format for Sky Italia on its pay-tv entertainment channel, Sky Uno.

Italy becomes the fifth overseas territory to adapt the show and the first since Jeremy Clarkson’s axing following a fracas with a producer earlier this year.

Related: BBC’s Top Gear launches local version in China

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- John Plunkett

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The Doors and Neil Young cleared to be played on BBC radio

27 July 2015 5:17 AM, PDT

The corporation has settled the licensing disagreement that forced them to ban DJs from playing the artists’ music

The Doors and Neil Young are back! In news that is unlikely to trouble the DJs at Radio 1 very much, but which may cheer their counterparts at Radio 2 and 6Music, the BBC has reached an agreement with their publisher which will enable them to return to the BBC airwaves.

Earlier this month, the Guardian reported that the BBC had told DJs and programme makers to stop using music by four acts – the Doors, Young, Journey and Bonnie Raitt – because all four had withdrawn from the Mechanical Copyright Protection Society (McPs), meaning the BBC could not pay them for plays under its collective agreement with McPs and therefore could not play their music without breaching copyright. The ban extended to covers of those artists’s songs and tracks that sampled them.

Related: Don't »

- Guardian music

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Lydia Leonard’s favourite TV: ‘I watched every episode of Neighbours in the 90s’

27 July 2015 4:00 AM, PDT

The Wolf Hall stage actor reminisces about Jeeves And Wooster and looks forward to starring as a 23rd-century ghostbuster with Bill Murray

It used to be Neighbours. I think I watched every single episode for about six years in the early 90s. Is it even still on? Now it’s probably Black Mirror, which is funny, insightful and scathing. They make bold original choices with the content and the format, and always have fantastic actors in them. I wish they’d make more. I’m really enjoying House Of Cards, too. I’ve just started series three. The scripts are brilliant and those two lead characters are just total antiheroes. It makes it feel quite dangerous and you feel a bit complicit in it.

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- Gwiliym Mumford

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Top Gear cleared over Jeremy Clarkson’s ‘Pikey’s Peak’ sign

27 July 2015 3:01 AM, PDT

Media regulator Ofcom rules sign put up by ex-bbc presenter was more likely to be construed by viewers as comment on car driven by Richard Hammond

Top Gear has been cleared of breaching broadcasting regulations by media regulator Ofcom after an episode in which Jeremy Clarkson held up a sign saying “Pikey’s Peak”.

The Traveller Movement complained to Ofcom after the programme was broadcast on 2 February last year, claiming it was an “offensive and derogatory term for Gypsies and Travellers”.

Related: BBC's Top Gear investigated over use of word 'pikey'

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- John Plunkett

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HBO considering All Creatures Great and Small remake

27 July 2015 2:13 AM, PDT

Us broadcaster behind Game of Thrones and True Detective said to have picked up the BBC drama about a vet in the Yorkshire Dales

HBO, the American broadcaster behind Game of Thrones, is considering a remake of All Creatures Great and Small, the BBC drama which began in the 1970s about a vet in the Yorkshire Dales.

The original BBC1 version made a star of Christopher Timothy, who played vet James Herriot in a cast that also included Robert Hardy as his boss and future Doctor Who Peter Davison as his brother.

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- John Plunkett

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