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GameFace review - a show that sidesteps the singleton comedy cliches

4 hours ago

Roisin Conaty’s thirtysomething heroine is directionless, enthusiastic and, above all, funny

What is it? One of the best new comedies of 2017.

Why you’ll love it: If you don’t often find yourself straying on to youth-appropriate, bright-pinkly branded E4 (I am 42), you will probably have missed the first series, which has just finished. The non-specifically youthful packaging and title caused me to skim over it. Now I feel like a prize idiot because it is brilliant.

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- Julia Raeside

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BT Sport’s fine Ashes partnerships blighted by commercial breakdowns | Simon Burnton

7 hours ago

Matt Smith and co had a solid opening despite a late wobble, while there’s an Ashes bromance in the air for Graeme Swann and Damien Fleming, but the adverts did jar a little

Fade in. Interior, an extraordinarily messy room with a massage bed in the middle. Clothing and footwear are strewn across all visible surfaces and large bags are scattered haphazardly across the remaining floor space. Pads and bats are piled up, leaning against benches and walls. Exposed pipes meander around the ceiling, not in a trendy architect‑inspired Pompidou‑Centre way but just in a couldn’t-really-be-bothered-to-hide-them way. In the corner a television is attached tightly to the wall, so that instead of facing into the room it points straight ahead, allowing hardly anyone to watch it comfortably, especially given that it’s almost at ceiling height.

It is, anyway, off. Television is not being watched in this room, »

- Simon Burnton

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So long, Dennis Reynolds – you might just be TV's greatest monster

12 hours ago

If it’s true that Glenn Howerton’s character in It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia is off, we’ll be deprived of some chilling onscreen psychopathy. Perhaps his morally bankrupt worldview was just a little too close to reality

Dennis Reynolds exited the last series of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia on an uncharacteristically tender note. Having discovered that he had fathered a child, Dennis (played by Glenn Howerton) said goodbye to his awful friends and left the city in a newfound quest for maturity. And now it looks as if that’s how things are going to stay.

A recent Vulture festival panel hinted at a Dennisless future for It’s Always Sunny. Now that Howerton has a role in next year’s splashier AP Bio, it’s likely that he will be a bit-player at best. In response to a question about his future, Howerton answered with an ambiguous: “Eh, »

- Stuart Heritage

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Mary Berry’s Country House Secrets review: like a subpar Victoria Wood sketch

16 hours ago

School nativity plays contain more natural dialogue than this ill-judged look around ‘the real Downton Abbey’. Plus: Michelle Dockery trades Downton for dusty prairies in the bleak new western Godless

Much as I imagine vicars stand immobile in the shadow of the cloister all week until it is time to glide noiselessly up to the pulpit to deliver the Sunday sermon, I have always envisioned Mary Berry being laid gently away in a velvet case – or possibly popped on a plinth under a small glass dome – between programmes. And now, after a nice long rest since the end of her Bake Off time, she has been taken out, primped, buffed with a little lavender-scented polish and set before us again. This time it is in a four-part series called Mary Berry’s Country House Secrets (BBC One). It is technically a documentary, I suppose, but what it much more closely »

- Lucy Mangan

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Thursday’s best TV: The Search for a Miracle Cure; Love, Lies & Records

16 hours ago

Lawyer Mark Lewis travels to Israel seeking a way to beat Ms. Plus: intrigue and blackmail in Kay Mellor’s register office drama

The king of the self-explanatory property show, George Clarke, returns with more visionary transformations. We’ve seen his architect pals work their magic on 1960s estate homes, but tonight he’s off to Heathfield in Sussex to see if he can sprinkle some magic on a bungalow. Darren and Hannah have limited finances, a leaking roof and a baby on the way. Will architect Carl Turner deliver the project before the waters, in all senses, break? John Robinson

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- Ali Catterall, Phil Harrison, Paul Howlett, Ellen E Jones, Andrew Mueller, John Robinson, David Stubbs, Graeme Virtue

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Peaky Blinders recap – series four, episode two: Heathens

22 November 2017 2:00 PM, PST

Tommy proves what a great multi-tasker he is, but is it really all going his way? For one, Luca Changretta is causing trouble, as is the truly nasty Aberama Gold

Spoiler Alert: This blog is for those who are watching series four of Peaky Blinders. Don’t read on if you haven’t seen episode two.

The move back to Small Heath has definitely done this show the power of good. The plotting and writing feel leaner and the life-and-death stakes are free of grand, overarching conspiracies. It helps, too, that Peaky Blinders has always nodded to the conventions of the western and those conventions lend themselves to this year’s plot with the Shelby clan penned back in their old haunts and enemies approaching on all sides. To be honest, if the whole thing doesn’t culminate in a showdown along the lines of Howard Hawks’s classic Rio Bravo »

- Sarah Hughes

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Can’t hear the Blue Planet II commentary? Get your ears tested | Brief letters

22 November 2017 10:42 AM, PST

Blue Planet II | Charles Manson | Smoking in French films | Theresa May at church | Driverless government

As a sufferer of hyperacusis (extreme sensitivity to loud noise) I was anxious about watching Blue Planet II, following complaints about invasively loud music (Letters, 17 November). Having now enjoyed three episodes without issue, might I gently suggest that those struggling should get their hearing tested, as I suspect that, in order to hear the commentary (and not because of the music), they are turning the sound up way too high.

Jill Wallis

Aston Clinton, Buckinghamshire

Charles Manson was, according to your obituary (21 November), “responsible for the most infamous mass murder of the 20th century” yet “was never convicted of killing anyone personally”. I guess Adolf Hitler might surpass Manson by a factor of about a million in accomplishment of appalling actions. We, in the 21st century, might still need to focus on big issues and not minor events, »

- Letters

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'Sweet, innocent, good at ping pong? Screw that!' The new show savaging Chinese stereotypes

22 November 2017 10:21 AM, PST

Tired of being cast as gymnasts or great table tennis players, the women behind new sitcom Chinese Burn shaved their heads and came out fighting

‘Chinese girls,” says the voiceover. “Sweet, innocent, submissive Chinese girls. Conservative and virginal – good at maths, ping pong and looking after men.” The voice is accompanied by a sequence of appropriate images: a gymnast, an engineer, a table tennis player. Then we suddenly hear the sound of a needle scratching across a record and an unruly voice spits: “Screw that! Here are three Chinese girls who kick that shit in the ballbag!”

Which is pretty much the premise of Chinese Burn, a caustic sitcom in the style of Fleabag. Its ballsy leads – Jackie, Elizabeth and Fufu – are on a mission to shake up the way east Asian women are perceived.

In every TV role I’ve had, I’ve had to wear a cheongsam. I »

- Dale Berning Sawa

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Princess, love, girl – when is a term of endearment not welcome? | Rebecca Nicholson

22 November 2017 8:07 AM, PST

While it’s possible that Mel Giedroyc, Sue Perkins and Mary Berry enjoyed being referred to as ‘the girls’ by Paul Hollywood, gendered terms are usually patronising and possessive

When I think of Paul Hollywood, TV’s floury-haired fox and staunch upholder of a strong crumb, I think of a man who only ever seems to be one pint of bitter away from turning into your dad hitting the dancefloor at the end of a very long wedding. The Bake Off judge has been all over the tabloids this week – happily, not for wearing a Nazi uniform as fancy dress this time (it was an ’Allo ’Allo!-themed night and he’s sorry, Ok) – but it was one particular answer in one particular interview that raised the bristles on my broad, lefty, feminista chest. You’ll remember that when the Bake Off moved to Channel 4, Hollywood was the only »

- Rebecca Nicholson

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Late-night TV on Trump and Roy Moore: 'Sexual predators of a feather flock together'

22 November 2017 7:44 AM, PST

Comics, including Stephen Colbert and Seth Meyers, addressed allegations against Charlie Rose and John Conyers, and Trump’s defense of Roy Moore

Late-night hosts on Tuesday addressed the sexual misconduct allegations against both Charlie Rose, who has since been fired from CBS, and Roy Moore, who Donald Trump, after weeks of avoiding the topic, defended in comments to reporters.

“Every day there is another shocking revelation of sexual misconduct,” Stephen Colbert began. “If allegations of harassment were weather, this is hurricane season right now. And some towering figures have been blown over recently.”

Related: Late-night hosts: 'There is now a lower bar to entry for the Senate than a mall in Alabama'

Related: Donald Trump appears to back Roy Moore: 'Look, he denies it. He denies it'

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- Jake Nevins

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Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads?: a melancholy masterpiece of a TV theme tune

22 November 2017 7:09 AM, PST

Rodney Bewes, who died this week, will forever be remembered for the sitcom which captured the mood of the 70s - as did La Frenais and Hugg’s evocative intro music

Few British sitcoms have ever balanced comedy and melancholy as perfectly as Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads? It didn’t deal in black humour in the latterday manner of Human Remains or Nighty Night – there was sharp, witty writing, slapstick humour, it dabbled in farce – but equally, there was no mistaking the way every episode was shot through with wistfulness, nostalgia and regret. It was there in Bob and Terry’s tendency to lapse into reminiscence at the slightest provocation; in Terry’s inability to settle back into civilian life after five years in the army; and in the late Rodney Bewes’s face, which seemed to naturally arrange itself into a mournful expression.

And it was there »

- Alexis Petridis

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She's Gotta Have It review – an exhilarating examination of our attitudes to sex and race

22 November 2017 6:54 AM, PST

Spike Lee’s movie about an unashamedly polyamorous woman has been adapted into a Netflix 10-parter, taking in gentrification and everyday sexual harassment

In She’s Gotta Have It, Nola Darling is a figurative painter, living in Brooklyn; 31 years ago, when Spike Lee created her for the film that splashed his vision, vividly and indelibly, all over Hollywood, she was a graphic artist.

So, sure, there have been tweaks to her CV for this Netflix remake, not least because there are now 10 episodes; box sets can make films seem as fleeting as adverts, events that only remind you of the story. But the premise – the bit that made it arresting and sexy, combustible, stinging and talked-about – remains unchanged: Darling is sleeping with three men, a stable and mature one (Jamie Overstreet), a narcissistic and shallow one (Greer Childs), and an eccentric and playful one (Mars Blackmon). She’s not doing it for cutesy, »

- Zoe Williams

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Godless review – Netflix's wonderfully wicked western fires on all cylinders

22 November 2017 6:47 AM, PST

The seven-part miniseries, starring Jeff Daniels and Michelle Dockery, is visually spellbinding and filled with standout performances

Godless, Netflix’s new seven-part miniseries, opens in 1884, in Creede, Colorado, with a thick cloud of smog shrouding the camera. The haze slowly dissolves to reveal a chilling landscape: parched bodies being tended to by swarms of flies; a man, sedentary, with a gunshot through his head; a train-wreck near which a young boy hangs from a noose; and a woman, crouched over a corpse, singing mournfully about Christ. It’s a near-wordless several minutes, a triumph of mood and cinematography, that evokes the sort of rough-and-tumble anarchy of the great filmic frontiersman. Soon after, we’re in La Belle, New Mexico, where we learn who’s responsible for the massacre, and from thereon it’s guns blazing.

Related: Michelle Dockery: 'I consider myself a widow'

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- Jake Nevins

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Rodney Bewes: one of TV's great class acts

22 November 2017 5:03 AM, PST

The actor unforgettably captured the feverish social-climbing of the 1960s and 70s in two incarnations of The Likely Lads sitcom, but never equalled his success in the part of Bob

Although it is 43 years since Rodney Bewes last played his career-defining role on TV – as the Thatcherite social-climber Bob Ferris in the Geordie sitcom Whatever Happened to The Likely Lads? – fans of the series will feel sharp loss at the news of his death, at the age of 79.

Viewers will have particular memories of Bewes as Bob because it represented an unusually perfect piece of casting. He had previously played the character in The Likely Lads, a black-and-white BBC sitcom broadcast between 1964-66, with James Bolam as Terry, a former schoolmate whose downwards trajectory was as steep as Bob’s rise towards the middle class. But it was when writers Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais suggested a sequel, answering the question, »

- Mark Lawson

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Prue Leith relives moment of infamous Bake Off spoiler

22 November 2017 5:00 AM, PST

Baking show host describes going into ‘panic mode’ after naming winner on Twitter hours before final was broadcast

Great British Bake Off judge Prue Leith has said she felt “awful” after she accidentally revealed the name of this year’s winner ahead of the final.

The TV star, who congratulated winner Sophie Faldo on Twitter six hours before the show was broadcast, said it was “the most idiotic thing in the world”.

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- Press Association

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A ban on smoking in French films? The idea makes me fume | Stephen Leslie

22 November 2017 4:35 AM, PST

The great directors have always understood that cigarettes and the screen are inextricably linked, like movement and mortality

The French Socialist senator Nadine Grelet-Certenais has fired up a heated debate in France over the depiction of smoking in the movies. She wants it stubbed out, for good, on the basis that Gallic heroes puffing away on the silver screen makes the filthy habit seem cool and provides the evil tobacco industry with free advertising. Ban it, and everything will be made miraculously better – c’est simple. Her call has been taken up by the health minister, Agnès Buzyn, and suddenly film-makers have a fight on their hands.

The problem with this is that it totally ignores the venerable history of French cinema, which plays out as a long, drawn-out visual love letter to the act of smoking. Smoking a cigarette and cinema have always gone perfectly together – they are both ways of killing time, »

- Stephen Leslie

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James Bolam denies feud with Likely Lads co-star Rodney Bewes

22 November 2017 4:00 AM, PST

Actor admits pair did not speak for decades but says he has nothing but fond memories of Bewes, who died on Tuesday

The actor James Bolam has denied that there was a feud with his Likely Lads co-star Rodney Bewes, who died on Tuesday at the age of 79.

The hit sitcom followed the escapades of two young working class men in 1960s Newcastle. During the show’s running, Bolam and Bewes had been close friends, going out together for meals in the evenings with their wives.

Related: Rodney Bewes obituary

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- Clea Skopeliti

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Kezia Dugdale: I'll donate part of I'm a Celebrity fee to charity

22 November 2017 2:49 AM, PST

Scottish Msp admits sums involved are not ‘in any sense small’ as she defends her decision to appear in reality TV show

The former Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale has promised to donate part of her fee from appearing in I’m a Celebrity … Get Me Out of Here to a homeless charity as she defended her decision to appear in the show.

Dugdale rejected complaints from her Labour colleagues at Holyrood that taking part in the ITV reality show was akin to taking a second job, but admitted she would be well paid for it.

Watch: Kez's message to constituents, explaining why she is appearing on I'm a Celebrity. #TeamKez. pic.twitter.com/suOp0XeqWw

Related: Kezia Dugdale avoids Scottish Labour suspension over I'm a Celebrity trip

Related: I’m a Celebrity will be a nice little earner for Kezia Dugdale. But that’s it | Anne Perkins

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- Severin Carrell Scotland editor

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The Secret Life of 5 Year Olds review: these kids are kind, mean, adorable – and make great telly

21 November 2017 10:00 PM, PST

This endlessly fascinating fly-on-the-wall film follows Jack, Daisy, Tianno and all as they try on identities to see which one fits

The way a person enters a room says a lot about them. Tianno walks in calmly and confidently, then sits down. Daisy is less sure – she shuffles in, a bit frozen up, sits down as far from Tianno as possible, but then feels the need to say something. “Horrible weather out there,” she says. (These people are English ones.)

Brooke, too, is a little bit shy. She plays with her hair. Miylah is very confident. “I do not like girls,” she announces and sits next to Tianno, who isn’t one. And Jack struts in like a rockstar, swinging his arms and checking out the people in there already, before flopping nonchalantly into a chair.

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- Sam Wollaston

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Wednesday’s best TV – Peaky Blinders, Detectorists, Raped: My Story

21 November 2017 9:59 PM, PST

Tommy prepares to wage war on his enemies, and Andy and Becky’s house purchase is stunted. Plus: 10 survivors share their experiences

The mighty M-Bez brings her grace and tastebuds to some of the nation’s loveliest stately homes in this new series. Her first stop is Highclere Castle in Hampshire, the real Downton Abbey. As well as checking out both the upstairs and downstairs, Berry takes a trip to the kitchen and whips up a dinner including cannon of lamb and gooseberry fool with honey biscuits and raspberry tartlets. A gentle watch with delicious-looking food. Hannah Verdier

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- Hannah Verdier, Jonathan Wright, Graeme Virtue, Sophie Harris, Phil Harrison, Mark Gibbings-Jones, Ben Arnold, Paul Howlett

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