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9 articles

'My brain was on fire': David Thewlis on Naked, Fargo and creeping out the Coens

2 hours ago

From a prophet of doom in Naked to a wolfish wizard in Harry Potter, David Thewlis has carved out a career as a blistering character actor. Now he’s joining Fargo as a Trumpian baddie with terrible teeth

With the third season of Fargo, the Coen brothers spin-off, comes a new threat: Vm Varga, a verbose and baleful businessman with bad teeth, an eating disorder and a capacity for raining unimaginable misery on to his enemies. The Blackpool-born actor David Thewlis plays him with an English accent and an air of chippy entitlement. “Varga has no scruples,” he says, drinking iced water in a London members’ club. “He doesn’t care. He is absolutely and irredeemably predatory.”

Thewlis read Economics for Dummies to grasp the business side of his character, but it was rolling news that really did the trick. “You’ve got four days off, but you can’t »

- Ryan Gilbey

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Prophetic TV and a bluer shade of pale | Letters

3 hours ago

The Handmaid’s Tale | Procol Harum and the Tories | Jimi Hendrix | Shunning plastic | Messiah warning

I often read through G2 before the main paper, so first read Sam Wollaston’s review of Sunday night’s television production of The Handmaid’s Tale. He highlighted how the story’s line of the not so ordinary becoming the ordinary rings chillingly loud and true today. Then I turned to the front page and saw your photograph of two smiling young girls having their photo taken posing with two heavily armed policemen at the Great Manchester Run. Who thought doing that was a good idea? Very chilling.

Andrew McKeon

Otley, West Yorkshire

• It’s useful to be reminded that the general election is to be held on the 50th anniversary of A Whiter Shade of Pale topping the charts (Letters, 26 May). How very appropriate given that the song shares a major characteristic with »

- Brief letters

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The Handmaid's Tale tops book charts after TV series UK debut

5 hours ago

Margaret Atwood’s 1985 novel rockets to number one on Amazon after Channel 4 begins airing series starring Elisabeth Moss

The Handmaid’s Tale, the 1985 novel by Margaret Atwood envisaging a hellish dystopia where the Us is ruled by an ultra-far-right regime that treats women as chattels, has rocketed to the top of the bestseller charts after the UK broadcast of the first episode of the TV adaptation.

Channel 4 aired the debut episode of the series, starring Elisabeth Moss and Joseph Fiennes, at 9pm on Sunday, and within hours the paperback of the Canadian author’s novel had reached number one in the Amazon charts.

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- David Barnett

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When good TV goes bad: the straw that broke Downton Abbey's back

8 hours ago

Matthew Crawley’s implausible recovery from paralysis reduced disability to a plot device and ignored the dramatic potential of the first world war

Julian Fellowes’s series was destined to divide opinion from the first shot of its opening credits: Hugh Bonneville’s Earl of Grantham strolls towards his country pile, steadfast labrador Pharaoh (the unfortunately named Isis came later) trotting alongside while a string-drenched theme tune blarts away over the top. The name of that theme: Did I Make the Most of Loving You? I know, I know.

Yet there was more to Downton than met the monocle. Those who dismissed it at face value missed out on a first series groaning with mega-budget magnificence, carefully researched stories and sizzling dialogue, delivered by a fine cast of young bloods and old hands anchored by Maggie Smith and her imperious mic drops. It was sentimental, camp and daft, certainly (this »

- Gabriel Tate

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Blue Peter’s daredevil: John Noakes obituary

9 hours ago

Children’s TV presenter whose can-do attitude marked him out from his more sensible Blue Peter co-hosts

In 1977, the television presenter John Noakes, who has died aged 83, climbed Nelson’s Column without safety harness or insurance, for an episode of the BBC’s enduring children’s show Blue Peter. After shinning up one ladder, Noakes swung himself dauntlessly on to another, tilted 45 degrees from the vertical. “At this level,” said Noakes in a voiceover, “the plinth on which Nelson stands overhangs the column. I found myself literally hanging on from the ladder with nothing at all beneath me.” Nothing, that is, but a 52-metre drop to the slabs of Trafalgar Square. Truly, they don’t make television presenters like Noakes any more. “It’s a long way up, really,” he said as he stood on the plinth with Britain’s naval hero, a remark so refreshingly banal as to prove »

- Stuart Jeffries

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Who said it: Donald Trump or Frank Underwood?

10 hours ago

As House of Cards returns we look at how Frank Underwood’s sound bites hold up against Trump’s – and more importantly, if you can tell them apart

The leader of the free world is a brazen narcissist, backed by a team of underlings who would literally walk over your face without a second thought if it got their boss four more years in the Oval Office.

Related: Has House of Cards been well and truly Trumped?

Democracy is so overrated

Frank Underwood

Donald Trump

The point is, you can never be too greedy

Frank Underwood

Donald Trump

As long as you're going to be thinking anyway, think big

Frank Underwood

Donald Trump

I’ve always said that power is more important than money, but when it comes to elections, money gives power, well, a run for its money

Frank Underwood

Donald Trump

A lot of people don't like to win. »

- Stuart Jeffries

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Let's make House of Cards great again

10 hours ago

It’s gone from genius crackpottery to soapy camp. Here are all the ingredients required to give Frank Underwood his grim, glorious swagger back

It’s hard to get excited about the return of House of Cards. Not because, as has been endlessly posited for months now, it’s impossible to create a fictional president more shocking than the real-life one. No, instead it’s difficult to get excited about the return of House of Cards because it hasn’t been good for some years now.

Sure, I’ll be watching the new series this week, but only out of rote obligation. There is a chance it will rediscover the form and swagger of its first series, but that seems unlikely. After all, that series had some solid source material to work from, which prevented it from spinning off into the soapy, hollow camp of its later years.

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- Stuart Heritage

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Monday’s best TV: May v Corbyn Live; Springwatch 2017

14 hours ago

Jeremy Paxman hosts a grilling in the battle for Number 10. Plus: the start of a three-week long wildlife surveil from the Cotswolds

More boing for your buck as the reliably great Springwatch operation relocates to sprawling Sherborne Park in the Cotswolds. For the next three weeks, Chris Packham, Michaela Strachan, Martin Hughes-Games and Gillian Burke will enthusiastically surveil the wildlife that inhabits the farmland, woodland and riverways of the expansive National Trust property, with streaming available daily from 4am on the Springwatch Live web portal. Graeme Virtue

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- Graeme Virtue, Phil Harrison, Ali Catterall, Jack Seale, Hannah J Davies, Mark Gibbings-Jones, Jonathan Wright, Paul Howlett

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The Handmaid’s Tale review – the best thing you’ll watch all year

15 hours ago

Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel gets the chilling and brilliant TV adaptation it deserves, including a standout performace from Elisabeth Moss

‘Blessed are the meek, dear,” says Aunt Lydia to a young woman called Janine in the extraordinary, affecting new TV adaptation of The Handmaid’s Tale (Channel 4, Sunday). Then she Tasers her for insubordination, before Janine is taken away to have her right eye plucked out.

They are in the Rachel and Leah Centre, also known as the Red Centre, where handmaids are instructed in the ways and belief system of the Republic of Gilead, and in their role as servile surrogate breeders. “Ordinary is just what you’re used to,” continues Aunt Lydia (a terrifying Ann Dowd) to the now fully attentive handmaids, including Offred (Elisabeth Moss). “This might not seem ordinary right now, but after a time it will. This will become ordinary.”

Related: The Handmaid's Tale »

- Sam Wollaston

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