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Amazon's new pilots: Sevigny shines in standout show The Cosmopolitans

2 hours ago

A couple of gems can be found in Amazons third annual pilot season, but the majority of shows are just not up to scratch

Its Amazons third annual pilot season, and their release of a whole slew of single episodes of shows theyre considering has turned into something of an event. Just as streaming services and on-demand platforms like Amazon are taking TV and changing it in great ways, for the past three years Amazon has taken all the shows theyre considering, slapped them online, and let the people vote for what stays and what goes. Its sort of like market testing writ large.

Their first pilot season yielded Amazons first original drama, the so-so political potboiler Alpha House, which debuted earlier this year. The second batch this winter featured 10 shows, four of which will be turned into series, including the excellent Transparent, whose first season will air later in September. »

- Brian Moylan

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Great British Bake Off: Ofcom rules out investigation despite complaints

3 hours ago

More than 800 viewers complained to the BBC over contestant Diana Beards alleged sabotage of Iain Watters baked alaska

Share your baking disaster photos via GuardianWitness

Communications watchdog Ofcom will not be investigating The Great British Bake Offs bingate row, despite complaints about the alleged sabotage of contestant Iain Watters baked alaska.

The bearded baker lost his cool when his pudding melted after rival contestant Diana Beard took it out of the freezer leading Watters to throw it in the bin.

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- Jason Deans and agencies

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From man buns to braids - in praise of 'wacky' hair on men

3 hours ago

When True Detective director Cary Fukunaga sported braids to the Emmy Awards, Twitter went wild. What is it about wacky hairstyles on men that causes such a fuss? A model (and male bun pioneer) explains

Man buns: a hair-raising trend

If the internet is ablaze with chatter about your hair, you know you have hit a nerve. After all, its rare that a hairstyle can be described as controversial. So what is it about True Detective director Cary Fukunagas hair at this years Emmys that has sparked so much discussion? In a word: braids.

Have you stopped screaming and crying yet? Good, now sit down and lets talk this through. Is it really so crazy that a man in a tuxedo would braid his hair? Some men have been styling their hair this way for years. What exactly is the issue here? Is it that guys should take a laissez-faire »

- Jack Guinness

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Sian Williams: My family values

4 hours ago

The journalist and television presenter talks about her love of all things Welsh and her mothers generosity of spirit

My mother, Kathy, was a nurse for 40 years. If there is anything I hope Ive inherited from her, it would be her compassion and generosity of spirit. She died in 2009 of liver cancer. She was only 70. When she knew it was terminal, she protected us from that initially. She always thought of others first.

My father, John, has an insatiable appetite for knowledge. Hes 76, fiercely intelligent and an inspiration. When my mum died, he couldnt cook. Instead of buying ready-meals, he enrolled on a cookery course. He enjoyed it so much that he progressed to a Cordon Bleu course. Now hes doing a degree in modern history. Thats how he tackles life with a fierce determination and a belief that theres always something you can learn. Id like to think that Ive inherited that philosophy and, »

- Interview by Richard Webber

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Dynamo: Magic makes you feel like a kid again

4 hours ago

We watch bamboozled with the locals in Mumbai as the Bradford conjuror takes Magician Impossible on the road, and hear how hes abandoning TV magic for something more interactive

Like popes and Latino pop stars, there is only room for one magician in popular culture at any one time. Paul Daniels started to feel a bit old hat when David Copperfield was making the Statue of Liberty disappear (and, even more amazingly, making Claudia Schiffer appear on his arm). But he too was forgotten when David Blaine levitated. Blaines aura popped when, fasting in a glass box by the Thames, someone suspended a burger beneath a remote-controlled helicopter and flew it up to his face. Derren Brown successfully entered the fray in the 2000s with his benevolent brainwasher schtick but his high-mindedness cleared the way for a neo-Daniels, someone who could make children gurn, nans coo, and the whole nation collectively boggle. »

- Ben Beaumont-Thomas

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BoJack Horseman review: shades of Curb Your Enthusiasm and Daria, but hard to love

5 hours ago

The Netflix animation about a washed-up celebrity horse, which stars Will Arnett and Aaron Paul, arrived this week. But is it any good?

Ever since Brian the dog was run over in Family Guy last year, there has been a hole in the schedules for a sophisticated talking cartoon animal who can stand on its hind legs for 25 minutes offloading wisecracks, ideally while drunk.

BoJack Horseman fills that cultural lacuna. The eponymous star of Netflixs new 12-part animated satire for adults is like a reverse centaur, and while having a human body rather than a horses has some drawbacks, it does mean he has the opposable thumbs to hold beer bottles and pour vodka into his blender for his morning pick-me-up. Waking up to find a horses head in ones bed was, according to Mario Puzo, one of lifes most terrifying ordeals, but BoJacks many lovers feel otherwise. True, his »

- Stuart Jeffries

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Great British Bake Off: watchdog may investigate as more than 800 complain

5 hours ago

Ofcom considers inquiry as BBC faces storm of protest over Diana Beards alleged sabotage of Iain Watters baked alaska

3pm update: Ofcom rules out Bake Off investigationShare your baking disaster photos via GuardianWitness

Communications watchdog Ofcom could launch an investigation into The Great British Bake Offs bingate row after viewers complained about the alleged sabotage of contestant Iain Watters baked alaska.

The bearded baker lost his cool when his pudding melted after rival contestant Diana Beard took it out of the freezer leading Watters to throw it in the bin.

Continue reading »

- Press Association

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Educating The East End: This will change the perception of London teenagers'

6 hours ago

After Educating Essex and Educating Yorkshire, Channel 4 turns its attention to London. But how will these Walthamstow kids deal with being featured on Gogglebox?

Frederick Bremer is a school in limbo. In assembly, pupils are being treated to a gigantic projection of the weeks remaining until their GCSEs as, just beyond the warm, silent corridors, a long, educationless summer stretches out before them. But theres another reason why the air here hangs heavy with anticipation. Until recently, the Walthamstow school was rigged with cameras cataloguing the staff and students every move, and soon it will be edited into primetime television.

I miss the cameras a little bit, says Year 9 pupil Alex, whos taking a moment out from her catering lesson to patiently explain to me how it feels to go about your school day under surveillance. Im really excited because, I dunno, its just really exciting to see your »

- Rachel Aroesti

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Ten years of The X Factor, the show-off show with a talent for survival

8 hours ago

Programme that sparked a few pop careers and became staple of family entertainment for British families begins its 11th series this weekend but has its brutal honesty and reliance on audiences changed the way we watch TV?

The trajectories of two men Simon Cowell and Steve Brookstein over the last 10 years neatly illustrate how talent TV shows are capable of both astonishing impact and terrible ephemerality.

The decade since he launched The X Factor has transformed Cowell from a minor record producer to one of richest and most recognisable figures in the entertainment industry. Brookstein, on the other hand, who went from obscurity to the top of the pop charts after winning the first series in 2004, has subsequently regained his privacy. One of the surest ways of guaranteeing ignorance among the teams at a pub quiz is to ask for the identity of the first ever winner of The X Factor. »

- Mark Lawson

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Is 2014 the year The X Factor finally stops being rubbish?

9 hours ago

The talent show has been out of puff for years, but with a new judging lineup including Cheryl, Simon Cowell and Mel B, and a revised voting system, this could be a chance to revisit former glories

The nine most ominous words in the English language are: If youd like to appear on next years series. They might look harmless enough written down, but when they are said aloud by a presenter during the final episode of an entertainment show, they instantly become a threat. And youre right to be scared, because the message behind If youd like to appear on next years series is always this: theres going to be more of this crap.

Your gut lurches when you hear these words. Your head spins. Youre gripped by an uncontrollable urge to take the producer by the sleeve and quietly ask them what the hell theyre playing at. The shows a spent force. »

- Stuart Heritage

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Ruby Tandoh on the Great British Bake Off: it's the editors who are 'sort of unacceptable'

10 hours ago

The Twitterstorm focusing on Diana who was probably innocent and has had to leave the show through illness is the fault of the show's cavalier producers

Even before the first clanger of a pun had been dropped, it was clear that Wednesday's episode of The Great British Bake Off would be a dramatic one. The previous show had ended on a preview of judge Mary Berry's noncommittal "that's sort of unacceptable", which only in the twisted world of Bake Off could be a thrilling portent. Rumours quickly began circulating of a great betrayal an act of deceit that would out-scandal even the great custard heist of series four.

And the scandal did not disappoint. It was everything a romantic could have hoped for: an old country house, heartbreak, melodrama, futility and a tormented, bearded young man striding moodily through the English countryside. A nation wrung its hands in glee. »

- Ruby Tandoh

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TV highlights 29/08/2014

11 hours ago

PGA Tour Golf: Deutsche Bank Championship | Marston's Brewery: One Ale of a Job! | Sweets Made Simple

8.30pm, BBC2 | Mickey Flanagan: Back in the Game | Blondie's New York and the Making of Parallel Lines | A League Of Their Own, 9pm, Sky1 | I Am Steve McQueen 9pm, Quest | Big School

Day one of the second FedEx Cup tournament of the year, at the Tpc Boston in Norton, Massachusetts. Rory McIlroy won this event in 2012 and was expected to retain his title in 2013 but was thwarted by Sweden's Henrik Stenson. However, McIlroy is riding high following his Us PGA win and will be looking to consolidate his position as world No 1. This event is managed by the Tiger Woods Foundation but the man himself, beset by back problems, won't dominate on the green. David Stubbs

Continue reading »

- David Stubbs, Mark Jones, Rachel Aroesti, Hannah J Davies, John Robinson, David Stubbs, Ali Catterall

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Stammer School: Musharaf Finds His Voice review: a great advert for the decency of humanity

11 hours ago

An emotional reunion with Educating Yorkshire's Musharaf Asghar and inspiring encounters with other stammerers as they fight to overcome their disability

During the final episode of Channel 4's outstanding school documentary Educating Yorkshire, Musharaf Asghar, a pupil with a severe stammer, applied tactics his teacher Mr Burton had picked up from The King's Speech (listening to music on headphones, tapping out words) and gave a slow, certain talk to a room full of his peers. His friends and teachers sobbed. Viewers collapsed into a soggy pool of joyful tears. It was a beautiful triumph, a moment of pure elation, and it was one of the defining moments of television in 2013.

We met up with Asghar again in Stammer School: Musharaf Finds His Voice (Channel 4), an hour-long documentary which followed him and other stammerers as they participated in a residential course designed to give them back their voices. »

- Rebecca Nicholson

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Simon Cowell accuses BBC of attempting to sabotage return of The X Factor

17 hours ago

Strictly Come Dancing scheduled to go head-to-head with ITV talent show, as Cowell returns as judge for first time since 2010

Simon Cowell has accused the BBC of trying to sabotage the return of his ITV show The X Factor after Strictly Come Dancing was pitched head-to-head against it in the schedules.

On Saturday, Cowell will return to The X Factor for the first time in four years in a bid to reverse the show's falling ratings. He will be part of a new look judging line-up featuring former Girls Aloud star Cheryl Fernandez-Versini (formerly Cole), who has buried the hatchet with Cowell after she was ignominiously dumped from the Us version of the show.

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- John Plunkett

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Diana Beard: I quit Bake Off after losing sense of taste and smell

23 hours ago

Contestant accused of sabotaging Ian Watters' baked alaska says fall left her without faculties and BBC left her to 'be shot at'

The Great British Bake Off contestant Diana Beard has said she was forced to leave mid-series after suffering a fall that left her without a sense of taste or smell.

She told the Guardian: "I don't want people to think I've wimped out. It's very sad that I had to go. Yes, it was hard work, of course it was, but the reason I had to leave the show was because I was down in Newbury and I fainted in the restaurant on the Friday night and I bashed my head and spent a night a night in Basingstoke A&E and I've lost my sense of taste and smell. It's an absolute bummer. My neurologist says it may never come back."

Continue reading »

- Hannah Ellis-Petersen

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Great British Bake Off: Iain Watters speaks out as Diana Beard quits

28 August 2014 8:39 AM, PDT

Engineer sceptical about showmakers' claims over baked alaska, as BBC reveals Beard left programme 'due to illness'

Share your baking disaster photos via GuardianWitness

The man at the heart of the biggest scandal to hit the Great British Bake Off since Custardgate has said he has no regrets about throwing his baked alaska in the bin but challenged the programme's account of how it came to be ruined.

Wednesday night's controversial episode saw Iain Watters, a construction engineer from Northern Ireland, eliminated from the show by judges Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood, after he threw his show-stopper baked alaska in the bin because the ice-cream had melted. The programme appeared to show that fellow baker Diana Beard had removed his batch from the fridge leading to the episode to be labelled Bingate.

Iain's Alaska was out of the freezer for 40 secs. That's it. No sabotage. 40 secs of normal temp would »

- Hannah Ellis-Petersen

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Top of the Lake: an engaging crime drama that pushes females to the fore box set review

28 August 2014 8:00 AM, PDT

Jane Campion's six-part series sees Elizabeth Moss deliver a stunning performance as an idealistic detective hunting for the truth in a male-dominated world

The first thing that grabs you about Top of the Lake is the scenery the beautifully framed shots of the area surrounding Moke Lake on New Zealand's South Island. But beyond the vistas lies an intriguing and boundary-pushing story that is every bit as engaging.

Oscar-winning writer and director Jane Campion helms the six-episode mini series, marking her first work on the small screen in nearly 25 years. With films such as The Piano on her CV, Campion is renowned for pushing strong female characters to the fore, as well as boasting an eye-catching visual style and a tendency to veer toward the more esoteric end of story-telling. Top of the Lake is no different and sees Elisabeth Moss deliver a stunning central performance as an idealistic »

- David Renshaw

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Doctor Who lesbian-lizard kiss will not face investigation

28 August 2014 5:30 AM, PDT

Six viewers complained that scene from Peter Capaldis first full episode as the Doctor was gratuitous and unneccessary

The controversial lesbian-lizard kiss in Saturdays Doctor Who episode will not be investigated by the media regulator, which said it did not discriminate between scenes involving opposite sex and same-sex couples.

Six people complained to Ofcom after Saturdays series opener, Peter Capaldis first full episode as the Doctor, in which lizard woman Madame Vastra kissed her human wife, Jenny Flint.

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- John Plunkett

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Great British Bake Off presenters fend off sabotage claims

28 August 2014 4:11 AM, PDT

Hundreds take to Twitter after Iain Watters is sent home over meltdown and suspicion that rival took pudding from freezer

It is perhaps the most British of scandals.

But claims of baking sabotage rocked the Great British Bake Off on Wednesday evening after Iain Watters became the latest contestant to be sent home, following a meltdown where he threw his molten baked alaska in the bin.

Continue reading »

- Hannah Ellis-Petersen

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Diy Sos is back: is this the most emotional show on TV?

28 August 2014 3:25 AM, PDT

Strap yourself in for the new series featuring Nick Knowles and the gang this insanely heartfelt makeover show is the saviour of summer television

Now that the nights are drifting in and the air has become more autumnal, television can finally roll up its sleeves and start delivering the big hitters. No more documentaries about compulsive shoppers, or endless consumer shows about men from the council who seek out trace amounts of imported tobacco in corner shops.

Now is the time for the real TV shows. Shows that make you laugh. Shows that make you cry. Shows that make you laugh and cry at the same time, until you find yourself involuntarily screaming and flailing around like Faye Dunaway in Mommie Dearest.

Continue reading »

- Stuart Heritage

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