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Snobbery that hasn’t been kicked into touch since David Storey’s playing days | Brief letters

1 hour ago

Rugby league v union | Civilian casualties | Incompetent TV detectives | Office thieves | Alcohol intake

The obituary of David Storey (28 March) mentioned that he attended Wakefield’s Queen Elizabeth grammar school. A council house boy, he actually won a state scholarship to this fee-paying establishment which was (and still is), of course, strictly rugby union. I have a letter he sent a few years ago in which he recalled that when he signed professionally with Leeds rugby league club, in 1951, the deputy head of Quegs wrote to him to say that he had let the school down. “I think rugby league in those days was seen as a species of prostitution,” Storey added. Such attitudes undoubtedly informed his outlook and writing. It is a pity they still persist in some quarters.

David Hinchliffe

(Former Wakefield MP), Holmfirth, West Yorkshire

• President Obama may well have set up rules of engagement that insisted on »

- Letters

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A dying habit: why the average BBC1 viewer is 61

2 hours ago

Broadcasters may be desperate for younger audiences but older telly-watchers dominate – the average ITV fan is 60, 55 if they prefer Channel 4. How worried should programme-makers be?

If you are 61 and taking a break from watching something on BBC1 to read this, you can congratulate yourself on being entirely average. That is, the average age of a BBC1 viewer, according to the latest estimates published by the BBC Trust (in its death throes – the arms-length regulator will be replaced by hands-free Ofcom next week). On BBC2, it is 62. In 2014, the Trust reported that average ages were 59 and 60 respectively.

It’s not that young people aren’t watching BBC content. The report also reveals that last year the broadcaster reached 91% of 16 to 34-year-olds in one way or other. But with the proportion of those young people watching BBC TV dropping now to 66%, greying audiences are causing yet more demographic consternation in broadcasting headquarters. »

- Simon Usborne

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Late-night TV roasts Trump on climate: he 'surrendered Florida to the ocean'

3 hours ago

Comics including Stephen Colbert and Seth Meyers discussed the executive order rolling black environmental protection and further Russian connections

Late-night hosts on Tuesday decided to focus on Trump’s latest decision to remove many of Obama’s environmental regulations and further revelations about possible Russian connections.

Related: Late-night hosts on Trump: 'How to Lose Friends and Influence No One'

Related: Fox & Friends in the henhouse: how Trump's beloved show wields power

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- Guardian staff

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Bolshie businesses watch out – the David Brent approach has had its day | Peter Bradshaw

3 hours ago

A theme park’s tweeted response to artist Scottee’s complaint about homophobic graffiti just made things worse. In the internet age, the customer is king

For connoisseurs of power, PR and the politics of complaint, there was an exquisitely horrible moment on social media this week. The writer and artist Scottee saw some homophobic graffiti on a wall in the Southend theme park Adventure Island, and tweeted a photo and a polite request for it to be removed.

Related: The past is another country Theresa May should visit | Peter Bradshaw

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- Peter Bradshaw

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The Good Fight: a courtroom drama for the era of Trump and fake news

7 hours ago

The Good Wife spinoff maintains the high standards and agenda-setting of its parent show – while adding police brutality, corporate evil and white privilege

The Good Wife’s creators, Robert and Michelle King, have never been afraid of silence. Their heroine, Alicia, mostly operated via crisply disdainful turns on her work-appropriate heels, the careful raising and putting down of a large glass of red wine or a single styptic blink when faced with another sudden revelation that was about to rain down disaster on her professional or personal life (most often both).

The Good Fight, their spin-off, arrives a year after seven more-or-less superb series of Alicia’s adventures came to an end, and takes things to the next level; in the opening 30-second scene, Diane Lockhart (Christine Baranski) stares in wordless horror at her television screen as Donald Trump’s inauguration takes place. Then she stands up, smooths down her skirt and exits, »

- Lucy Mangan

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Wednesday’s best TV

13 hours ago

Gregg Wallace and John Torode turn up the heat on 64 new contestants, a sublime compilation of spoof rockstar hits, and ‘the ultimate test for any man’

A 13th helping of the culinary contest that sees Gregg Wallace salivate wildly and John Torode preside effectively, as 64 amateur cooks do their thing. As the series kicks off, the first eight must create a dish with ingredients from the new “MasterChef market” – imagine a rather more upmarket version of Ready Steady Cook’s “quickie bag”. What follows is more of the same, as the heat of the kitchen inspires some and scares the bejesus out of others. Hannah J Davies

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- Hannah J Davies, Mark Gibbings-Jones, Andrew Mueller, Jack Seale, David Stubbs, Ben Arnold, Jonathan Wright and Paul Howlett

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Rio Ferdinand: Being Mum and Dad review – a moving account of loss

21 hours ago

The footballer invites the cameras in to witness him dealing with grief after the death of his wife. It is a bold and important film

It’s usually so much fun snooping around a footballer’s house on television, seeing where all that money goes. Steven Gerrard’s and Wayne Rooney’s stand out from recent times. Rio Ferdinand’s looks like a good one, too – massive kitchen, gym, pool etc. But Rio hasn’t invited the cameras in to show off.

While grand, the most striking feature of the house is its sadness and silence. In the sunny holiday home in Portugal as well – even though the kids splash about in the pool, happy and noisy– something is off. It’s the empty space left by Rio’s wife, Rebecca, who died nearly two years ago, aged 34, from breast cancer.

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- Sam Wollaston

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All autistic people have equal value | Letters

28 March 2017 10:13 AM, PDT

While echoing the positive reaction to the new autistic Sesame Street character and the call for more research into language difficulties in autism, I object to the assumptions inherent in Professor Boucher’s remark that people with “high functioning” autism (how she defines that is not stated in the published letter) can make a contribution to academia and “for these people” it is possible that a high quality of life can be achieved (Letters, 24 March). This intimates that for autistic people not deemed to be “high functioning” the quality of life is impaired and their value to society diminished. My son is probably not what Professor Boucher would classify as “high functioning”. He has no verbal speech – although he does have language – and he has other difficulties which limit some areas of academic learning. Despite this, he has an excellent quality of life and contributes positively to the lives and »

- Letters

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Monkman v Seagull: friendship is winner in University Challenge showdown

28 March 2017 9:46 AM, PDT

Eric Monkman’s team beats Bobby Seagull’s in semi-final of TV quiz show, but Bobby is there to lend support in the final

It was billed as a titanic final battle between two implacable enemies. After months of cerebral combat on BBC2’s University Challenge, two of the series’s breakout social media stars – the intensely focused Canadian Eric Monkman, of Wolfson College, Cambridge, and the expressive east Londoner Bobby Seagull, of Emmanuel College, Cambridge – would come face-to-face in a hotly-anticipated semi-final.

Fans on Twitter called it “the showdown of the century” and the two men “the Ronaldo and Messi of University Challenge”, spawning countless online jokes and (inevitably) a trending hashtag – #Monkmania. “Seagull v Monkman, 8pm tonight,” tweeted one viewer. “I haven’t been this excited since Pacino and De Niro finally came face to face in Heat.”

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- Esther Addley

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Late-night hosts on Trump: 'How to Lose Friends and Influence No One'

28 March 2017 8:13 AM, PDT

Comics, including Jimmy Fallon and Trevor Noah, discussed the collapse of the healthcare reform bill and the president’s inability to accept responsibility

Late-night hosts discussed the embarrassing collapse of the proposed healthcare reform and Trump’s ongoing difficulty with accepting blame.

Related: Fox & Friends in the henhouse: how Trump's beloved show wields power

Trump plays the blame game after the Gop health care bill fails. https://t.co/aRCrLFt62M pic.twitter.com/I40N4gH382

Related: Late-night hosts on Trump's healthcare bill: 'Insane, cruel and reckless'

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- Guardian staff

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Nerd-shamers and perverts: why University Challenge is going viral

28 March 2017 7:35 AM, PDT

With his emphatic answering style, Eric Monkman is the latest contestant on the show to light up Twitter. But too often, the contestants are mocked for their eccentric brilliance – or worse, leched over

Eric Monkman – answering fast and fiercely to win a semi-final last night for Wolfson, Cambridge – has become the latest University Challenge contestant to go viral. Sharers were drawn to the Canadian economics student’s furrowed concentration-face from which he machine-guns answers at a pitch suggesting a fear that Jeremy Paxman, at 66, may be struggling to hear the answers.

Monkman joins previous fabled Cambridge reply-machines including Ralph Morley of Trinity, who correctly answered a question before Paxo had asked it; Ted Loveday of Caius, who won 10 opening 10-pointers in a single round; and Oscar Powell of Peterhouse, who, while trying to identify the singers on the hit song Je T’aime, performed a curious charade of a someone »

- Mark Lawson

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Who pushed Ken Barlow? Why soap operas love a whodunnit

28 March 2017 7:33 AM, PDT

Coronation Street’s longest-serving resident came a cropper on a staircase last night – reviving one of the genre’s favourite gimmicks

Who pushed Weatherfield veteran Ken Barlow down the stairs, leaving him for dead? The shoving of Coronation Street’s longest-serving character on Monday night marked the moment the carousel of British soap-opera gimmicks clacked around once more to one of the genre’s mainstays: the whodunnit.

It’s a trope that dates back to 1980, when internationally popular Us saga Dallas ended its third season with the shooting of Jr Ewing, leaving viewers to wait months for the new series to reveal the culprit. Soaps have been recycling the formula ever since, with EastEnders’ “Who shot Phil Mitchell?” storyline of 2001 and Neighbours’ 2010 “Who pushed PR?” arc among the most blatant homages.

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- Jack Seale

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Decline and Fall on TV – would Evelyn Waugh have approved?

28 March 2017 2:00 AM, PDT

The prospect of a new BBC adaptation of Decline and Fall, starring Jack Whitehall and Eva Longoria, is stirring mixed feelings – will Waugh’s wit be sold short once again?

The new BBC1 adaptation of Decline and Fall, with Jack Whitehall as Paul Pennyfeather and Eva Longoria as Margot Beste-Chetwynde, has already stirred the usual mixed emotions among Evelyn Waugh fans. On the one hand, warm satisfaction at the prospect of a 20th-century classic brought to a TV channel otherwise graced by Mrs Brown’s Boys; on the other, a faint but congenital wariness, born of the fact that so many dramatisations of the Waugh oeuvre have defied the best intentions of director and cast alike to produce films that, for all their enthusiasm, have sold their onlie begetter woefully short.

Waugh, it turns out, had the same mixed feelings about adaptations. His early novels – notably Vile Bodies (1930), with its »

- DJ Taylor

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24: Legacy's Corey Hawkins: 'These questions are atrocious!'

28 March 2017 1:00 AM, PDT

Can the star of the 24 reboot fill Jack Bauer’s shoes? He takes our quiz to find out how will he fare against awol presidents, pumas in the Oval Office and deadly steaks

Related: The risk paid off! 24 is back without Jack Bauer – and it's incredible

Corey Hawkins says he was “scared shitless” to step into the blood-splattered shoes of Kiefer Sutherland in the 24 reboot, 24: Legacy. Not because the career choice was likely to involve simulated torture, given and received, as well as the punishing schedule of a Fox mega-franchise. But also because: Jack Bauer.

Related: 24 under Trump: why the hit show's use of torture is all-too-relevant

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- Simon Usborne

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Harlots: a blast of grim authenticity from ITV – or just period porn?

28 March 2017 1:00 AM, PDT

From Ripper Street to Black Sails, costume dramas are fixated on street walkers and depravity. As Harlots muscles in, we ask: why is TV obsessed with sex workers from any century but this one?

The year is 1763. One woman in five makes a living selling sex. This is the premise of ITV’s Harlots. I immediately want to quibble with the data analysis: is that 20% of all women, or 20% of women who work? Since female workforce participation was pretty low at the start of the 18th century, this distinction is key, and don’t even get me started on the age-weighting of the sample, since presumably they mean one woman in five under 30.

I have fallen into that famous viewer-trap: distracted by shoddy statistics, I failed to notice all the luscious flesh bursting out of satin. The year is 1763, remember! That means the moral majority has to just shut up. »

- Zoe Williams

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Amazing Hotels: Life Beyond the Lobby review … Giles Coren does his dirty laundry – badly

27 March 2017 11:20 PM, PDT

Welcome to the hotel with 9,500 staff – plus Coren messing about on a trolley

Giles Coren is working in the laundry of a hotel in Singapore. (I know, how the mighty have fallen!). His job is to press the pool towels – actually harder than it sounds, and he gets it wrong a few times. He has to place the towel, square and fold-free, on to a fast-moving conveyor belt, which feeds it into the enormous press.

Are you thinking the same as I am? Go on, Giles, a bit closer … oops, a bit too close! The press has grabbed him by his fingertips and dragged him in (screaming, if you like). Then, seconds later, he’s spat out the other end, free of wrinkles, warm, possibly fluffy, certainly flat.

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- Sam Wollaston

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Tuesday’s best TV: Stargazing Live; Rio Ferdinand – Being Mum and Dad

27 March 2017 10:10 PM, PDT

Brian Cox goes down under and stares up at southern skies; Rio Ferdinand explores grief and emotional struggles. Plus: Jim Al-Khalili investigates gravity

For this new series, Brian Cox and Dara O Briain trade Jodrell Bank for its equivalent on the other side of the world: the Siding Spring Observatory, situated on a mountaintop in New South Wales. As the dawn approaches, Brian and Dara are joined by Liz Bonnin to discuss what they spotted overnight, along with input from outback astronomer Greg Quicke, who is acting as their guide to the sprawling southern skies. Ben Arnold

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- Ben Arnold, Phil Harrison, David Stubbs, Graeme Virtue, Andrew Mueller, John Robinson, Jack Seale and Paul Howlett

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The Rutles: All You Need Is Cash review - archive, 1978

27 March 2017 9:00 PM, PDT

28 March 1978: Nancy Banks-Smith reviews a spoof on the career of the Beatles and the commoner cliches of TV documentaries

Those of you who have been hiding from the rain in reference libraries will have noticed that, while Newsweek is overwhelmed by The Rutles “the world now has The Rutles... Yeah, Yeah,” Time is underwhelmed – “makes one nostalgic for The Monkees.”

This proves that TV critics are absolutely right 50 per cent of the time. Or 50 per cent are right 100 per cent of the time. Depending.

Related: DVD review: The Rutles – All You Need Is Cash

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- Nancy Banks-Smith

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Broadchurch recap: series three, episode five – never lie about mackerel

27 March 2017 2:00 PM, PDT

The net of potential suspects widens further – as does the number of potential victims. Are the crimes linked, perhaps even with earlier Broadchurch storylines?

Blimey. I think I might need to set up a spreadsheet to work out where we’re up to with everything. Perhaps I can ask Creepy Aaron to help. He’s good with data. But then so is Ian, the highly suspect ex-husband. And here he is, breaking in, presumably to steal his daughter’s computer which has something dodgy on it.

And what’s this? A new piece of evidence? “It’s Arthur Tamworth. I don’t know whether my dog might have found something pertinent...” Ah, the old buffer. He was my No1 suspect, but I suppose this counts him out. Unless he likes drawing attention to himself. And here it is, the old sock. And look! The fishing twine emporium heir is a collector of dirty football kits! »

- Viv Groskop

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Positive images of Africans are missing from Comic Relief | Letters

27 March 2017 11:18 AM, PDT

Related: Africa deserves better from Comic Relief | David Lammy

I read David Lammy’s article (Africans deserve better from Comic Relief, 24 March) with “earnest relief” at this overdue challenge to our attitudes and beliefs about Africa. Our national discourse about a diverse and complex continent is reduced by Comic Relief to the “us” and “them” narrative of western celebrities, and it’s time we changed our tone. Having worked as a doctor in Malawi in 2014, when I watch Comic Relief the images evoke a few of my memories, but where are the rest? Where is my savvy and articulate medical colleague telling me about the barriers to export trade in her cash crop? Where are the middle-class Africans at all, and why aren’t we hearing from them about their priorities for their countries – about trade, about governance? Where are the African pop stars? What about talking about the effects »

- Letters

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