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Great British Bake Off row: here's one the BBC prepared earlier

3 hours ago

The baked Alaska 'bin-cident' is scandalising the nation: but the whole affair was done and dusted several months ago

Reality is what's happening now, this minute: except on TV. So a smiley, bearded chap from Northern Ireland is making baked Alaska and a jolly 69-year-old mum from Shropshire takes his ice cream out of the freezer to put her own mix in. How long for? Maybe 40 seconds, but nobody can quite tell because this scene, like everything, is edited.

Sabotage? Surely not. Just one of those things. Irate Iain dumps his melted mess into the bin. He's part of the Great British Brassed-Off. Smiley Diana gets a nasty turn a bit later and leaves the show. Newspapers explore every sweet and sour angle. Twitter goes into troll overdrive. Poor Mrs B talks "scapegoat" and "stitch-up". Is this Freezergate?

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- Peter Preston

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Red = danger, luxury, revolution and religion. And it's back in vogue

4 hours ago

From cardinals to the Whore of Babylon, the colour is rich in symbolism and a parade of stars at the Emmys last week proved it has a renewed power to grab our attention

From Jessica Rabbit to Scarlett O'Hara, only a certain type of woman wears red and she's on the increase. At the Emmys on Monday, no fewer than seven leading ladies from all your favourite DVD box sets turned up in dresses that matched the carpet. Meanwhile, French actress Julie Gayet wore red to the opening of the Venice film festival, breaking the recent event-dressing trend for safe and tasteful beige and white.

Ladies in red are something of a cultural event, from Mary Magdalene to Princess Diana, serenaded by Chris de Burgh on that very topic from a cherry-picker during the mid-80s. They capture the imagination; any celebrity choosing to wear it demands our attention.

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- Harriet Walker

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Doctor Who recap: series 34, episode two Into the Dalek

7 hours ago

As the new series beds in, we were treated to explosions, a guest star, some great stuff from Peter Capaldi, and the promise of a new romance for Clara. Oh, and Daleks too

Spoiler Alert: This weekly blog is for those who have been watching the new series of Doctor Who. Dont read ahead if you havent seen episode two Into the Dalek

Read Dan Martins episode one episode blog here

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- Dan Martin

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Dan Stevens: no more Mr Nice Guy

19 hours ago

It's two years since Dan Stevens took the plunge and left the lords and ladies of Downton. He tells us how Hollywood toughened him up

So, Downton Abbey. You're well out of it, right? "Well out of it? What do you mean?" Dan Stevens knows exactly what I mean, but he is too loyal to say. It's gone off the boil a bit, I say, since you left. Did he get out of the UK's most popular costume drama in recent history at just the right time? "I felt it was the right moment to leave and I went with that feeling," he says, earnestly. "It is what it is. It was a fun thing to be a part of. I like the way people enjoy the show with a mixture of affection and humour."

This is an excellent description of the peculiarly British phenomenon that made Stevens' name as Matthew Crawley, »

- Viv Groskop

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Blondie's New York and the Making of Parallel Lines TV review

19 hours ago

Blondie's hit album was broken down for the viewer in this show about the group's rise from out the grime of New York

"They thought we were trashy unmusical," said bassist Nigel Harrison. "A novelty band." Fortunately for them and us they weren't. They were Blondie. Even more fortunately for them and us they were discovered playing in Cbgb which was, in the early 1970s, the heart of punk music in New York City and then brought into conjunction with pop music maestro Mike Chapman.

Their evolution from 70s underground band to chart-topping, still-not-wholesome 80s pop band was traced on Friday night in Blondie's New York and the Making of Parallel Lines (BBC4). Chapman a cheery man with much to be legitimately cheery about, which is itself cheering basically picked them up, shook the worst of the city grime off them and put them to work, building their »

- Lucy Mangan

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The new Belvita advert

21 hours ago

Suddenly you can see our future, where all we eat are tiny foil-packed biscuits, and 20-foot hipster girls prowl the earth

Its 2014, and what were doing now is eating big rusk-like biscuits for breakfast. No more getting croissant crumbs down you on the train! No more boiling an egg! You can get all of your breakfast needs met with one vast fibrous disc, sealed in a foil packet. This is spacefood. This is the future. And its a future that our hero, Peppy Girl In Bright Jumper #1, loves. As she tells us through the medium of song, breakfast biscuits give her the energy to perform mundane tasks like feeding the dog and attending meetings and even getting dressed, before she morphs into the Deschanel-esque, pointing at owls and picking up pins and threading little needles with orange yarn. This is fine. Twee is fine. Listen, we all like gin. But its right at the end, »

- Joel Golby

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Catch-up TV guide: from Boardwalk Empire to Suspects

21 hours ago

Boardwalk Empire | Reading And Leeds Festival | Marina At Midnight: Serpentine Diaries | Neighbours | Suspects

Boardwalk Empire is a show people are forever saying gets better with age, and theres more than a grain of truth in that. Early seasons were bogged down by the minutiae of Nucky Thompsons diplomatic dealings and the pious preaching of prohibition cop Nelson Van Alden. But the Shakespearean rise and fall of those characters as well as Nuckys peeved older brother Eli and ambitious protege Jimmy Darmody gave depth to the shows third and fourth seasons. Those later episodes see showrunner Terence Winter give more time to under-used characters such as Stephen Grahams Al Capone and Anatol Yusefs Meyer Lansky and set up a fifth season that could go just about anywhere.

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- Rachel Aroesti, Lanre Bakare, Tshepo Mokoena & Gwilym Mumford

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Crimes Of Passion: you dont have to be dark to be dark

21 hours ago

Not everything Nordic is noir. BBC4s new Scandi import proves the Swedes can do perky period whodunnits too

Roald Amundsens polar supremacy, the frank 1950s nudity of Ingmar Bergmans Summer With Monika, Abba, crispbread, The Moomins, self-assembly furniture, Olof Mellberg, a model postwar economy based on high taxation and a generous welfare state, Swedish House Mafia the culture of the Scandinavian peninsula has long been regarded as a force for good in the world. But the entries on that list engender only a passing admiration next to the knitwear-copying gusto with which we have embraced 21st-century Scandinavian crime drama, from Swedish detectives to Danish whodunnits, even the Swedish-Danish two-detective one-whodunnit.

The Bafta International TV category was an accepted euphemism for American until 2011, when The Killing beat Boardwalk Empire and Mad Men. Since then, no shortlist has been without at least one Scandi entry. (This year, a frankly disappointing third »

- Andrew Collins

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The X Factor lowers its age limit to 14 despite Dermot O'Leary's reservations

29 August 2014 4:01 PM, PDT

Presenter said the decision did not make sense to him 'on paper' but that he has been silenced by maturity of some children

Simon Cowell has defended his decision to lower the age limit for The X Factor contestants to just 14 after its presenter Dermot O'Leary admitted he had "reservations" about it.

The search for the next, potentially even younger, One Direction will return to ITV on Saturday with Cowell back on the talent show for the first time in four years, as part of a new-look judging line-up which also sees the return of Girls Aloud star Cheryl Fernandez-Versini (formerly Cole).

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- John Plunkett

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Strictly Come Dancing confirms Gregg Wallace among final three in lineup

29 August 2014 11:30 AM, PDT

MasterChef presenter, Bargain Hunt's Tim Wonnacott and Mrs Brown's Boys actor Jennifer Gibney named contestants for show

MasterChef presenter Gregg Wallace is among the final three names confirmed for this year's Strictly Come Dancing, joining a lineup of contestants that also includes Wimbledon champion Andy Murray's mother, Judy.

The south London greengrocer turned TV star, Bargain Hunt's Tim Wonnacott and Mrs Brown's Boys actor Jennifer Gibney were the final three contestants to be announced by the BBC on The One Show on Friday evening.

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- Jason Deans and agencies

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

29 August 2014 7:47 AM, PDT

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

29 August 2014 6:54 AM, PDT

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.

Continue reading »

- Jason Deans and agencies

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

29 August 2014 6:25 AM, PDT

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

29 August 2014 5:00 AM, PDT

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

29 August 2014 5:00 AM, PDT

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

29 August 2014 4:27 AM, PDT

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

29 August 2014 4:22 AM, PDT

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'

29 August 2014 3:00 AM, PDT

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

29 August 2014 1:00 AM, PDT

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?

29 August 2014 12:17 AM, PDT

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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