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Junk food TV: why we can't stop watching My Kitchen Rules

4 hours ago

Australia should have had its fill by now but we keep coming back for more. How to explain the enduring appeal of Mkr?

“I’m secretly hoping that something goes wrong tonight,” says Cheryl serenely to a table of her fellow contestants, while their hosts pace around the kitchen. Cheryl knows that she and her boyfriend Matt will probably go home, but they’re still hoping for the best.

Related: My Kitchen Rules: comfort food ruined by attempting to be something spicier

Related: My Kitchen Rules: people pushed to breaking point screaming at food

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- Sinead Stubbins

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Happy Valley review: understated, refreshing – and with bodies already piling up

4 hours ago

The first episode of the eagerly anticipated second series has plenty of action, fantastic dialogue and even a few good laughs. Plus: rethinking a respectful Professor Green

It starts as a livestock-rustling story. Rustling, north Halifax-style, which means a bunch of local lads setting their dogs on a sheep, which may well have turned into a woolly mammoth as they’re all off their heads on acid. It is down to Sergeant Catherine Cawood to finish the unfortunate creature off, with a rock to the head. I imagine a sheep takes quite a lot of finishing off, pretty much like finishing off a person. In fact, Catherine hasn’t done it very well, and a vet has to come and refinish off the poor thing, with a lethal injection. But then the dogs also come back, for another go at the now poisoned carcass, inadvertently putting themselves down in the process. »

- Sam Wollaston

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Wednesday’s best TV: How to Die: Simon’s Choice; Violent Child, Desperate Parents; Occupied; Discovering Britain

5 hours ago

The story of Simon Binner, who ended his own life at a clinc in Switzerland; the therapist trying to help violent children and their parents; Classy Norwegian political drama. Plus: Maureen Lipman and Larry Lamb’s great British B-road trip

Last year, Simon Binner, a British man suffering from motor neurone disease, ended his own life at a clinic in Switzerland. This film follows his last months and moments, and is bracing viewing, as is clearly intended. In the background, as Binner narrates his final journey, is a parliamentary debate on assisted suicide, which reflects a conflict within Binner’s family; his wife, Debbie, has generally opposed assisted dying. How to Die depicts as exacting a test of the principle as might be imagined, or dreaded. Andrew Mueller

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- Andrew Mueller, Gwilym Mumford, Jack Seale, Jonathan Wright, David Stubbs, Mark Gibbings-Jones, Paul Howlett

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Here Come the Habibs review – well-meaning but underwhelming Lebanese-by-numbers

9 hours ago

It may be less offensive than its detractors predicted, but a show about race from a white perspective is a missed opportunity

They mangle the Arabic and say “falafel” like an Aussie. Nobody, his mother included, can pronounce “Elias”. And what kind of name is Fou Fou?

The Habibs are Lebanese like Crocodile Dundee is Australian, but they aren’t offensive. With Channel Nine’s Here Come the Habibs, which premiered last night, the worst fears of petitioners have not come to pass.

Related: Ditch the premature outrage: why I'll be giving Here Come the Habibs a chance

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- Michael Safi

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Happy Valley recap: series 2, episode 1 – scars, sheep-rustlers and a serial killer

14 hours ago

The critics’ top drama of 2014 is back with a vengeance: the mother of last season’s villain, Tommy Lee Royce, has been found dead by none other than Sgt Catherine Cawood

“Sheep-rustling?” Eighteen months after she rescued her grandson Ryan from the clutches of his biological father – the kidnapper, murderer and rapist Tommy Lee Royce – Sgt Catherine Cawood (Sarah Lancashire) is back on familiar ground. Sitting outside the house she shares with her meek sister Clare (Siobhan Finneran), Catherine enjoys telling her incredulous sibling the story of three lads in Halifax who, while “off their heads on acid”, stole a sheep and let it loose on a housing estate, where it was mauled by dogs.

A comic anecdote – even if it’s a bloody one involving savaged livestock – seems an audacious way for writer Sally Wainwright to open season two of a show that in 2014 was critics’ and audiences’ top new drama of the year. »

- Jack Seale

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Inbetweeners creators sign Film4 deal to make four comedy features

16 hours ago

Agreement with Iain Morris and Damon Beesley revealed as part of Channel 4’s plans to boost film arm’s budget by £10m this year

The duo behind hit TV series and film franchise The Inbetweeners have signed a deal with Film4 for four new comedy feature films.

The agreement was unveiled as part of an announcement by Channel 4 that it has boosted the budget of its film arm by £10m this year.

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- Tara Conlan

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No more Mr Nice Gay: how TV representation changed from Will & Grace to Empire

17 hours ago

Portraying gay men as witty and well-dressed makes them feel inadequate in real life, claims a new study. Really? There’s more to modern gay characters than the sexless sidekick

Threats to gay men’s self-esteem come in many guises, from Grindr chats that end abruptly after sending a shirtless pic, to the 16% of Britons who think gay sex should be made illegal (thanks guys), to the five remaining countries that believe we should be put to death. Until now, I hadn’t factored in that we may all be silently agonising over whether or not we compare favourably to Will Truman from TV relic Will & Grace – but according to new research, that is precisely what has been knocking our confidence.

Psychologists from Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge have found that the positive portrayal of gay men on TV “can be damaging”. Apparently, gay men may have been left depressed »

- Joe Stone

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Unfinished business: how Disney and Marvel killed happy ever afters

17 hours ago

Princess Leia thought the rebels had won. Iron Man had hung up his suit. Bruce Wayne had swapped Gotham for Florence. But the fans and the studios wanted more. Whatever happened to going out with a bang?

Star Wars: The Force Awakens may be one of the highest-grossing films ever released, but it is also one of the most depressing. However delighted our heroes are to destroy the Death Star – sorry, Starkiller Base – the overriding message is that such triumphs are meaningless; specifically, the triumph that rounded off the previous Star Wars episode, The Return of the Jedi. When we saw it in 1983, we couldn’t have envisaged a sweeter or more total victory. There were parties on every planet in the galaxy, Leia was cosying up with Han next to a bonfire, and Darth Vader had redeemed himself by chucking someone down one of those 100-storey maintenance ducts that »

- Nicholas Barber

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Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels set for TV adaptation

17 hours ago

The writer’s popular books are being adapted by the producers behind Sky’s Gomorrah, with each of the four volumes becoming an eight-episode series

Usually when a television show contains a giant mystery, it’s something that is revealed in the final episode of the season. But for a forthcoming Italian series, the mystery might never be solved.

Related: Elena Ferrante: the global literary sensation nobody knows

Related: The Story of the Lost Child by Elena Ferrante review – a tragic finale to a triumphant quartet

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- Brian Moylan

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The Bachelor season 20, episode 6: the manipulator learns she is not the master

19 hours ago

Some people never learn, writes Elizabeth Wurtzel, as Leah’s ploy to sabotage Lauren B’s chances with Ben backfire and Olivia and her delusions get stranded

Another week of The Bachelor, another two hours of watching survivors of the zombie apocalypse behave as if they are meeting another human being for the very first time.

Ok, that is not entirely fair. This week, on some especially windy island in the Bahamas, Ben went on a date with Caila the software rep – their second! – which was almost normal. Almost, except for the part where Ben decided he needed to “penetrate” Caila’s “bubbly” surface and find out how she feels deep down.

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- Elizabeth Wurtzel

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'Your government lies': why the X-Files revival is just right for our climate of extreme scepticism

19 hours ago

The new series airs as two outsider insurgents – Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders – appeal to voters who believe ‘the truth is out there’, rather than in Washington DC

Call me a conspiracy theorist, but I don’t think it’s a coincidence that The X-Files revival has come when there’s the same climate in global politics – extreme scepticism – as when it first aired.

The original series, which ran between 1993 and 2002, was conceived in 1992 – the Us election year in which the TV presenter Pat Buchanan came an unnervingly close second to George Hw Bush in the New Hampshire primary, and the wacky billionaire Ross Perot horrified the Republican party by running as an independent – and winning 18.9% of the vote in the most successful presidential bid of modern times by a non-politician.

Related: The X-Files review: underwhelming, though the chemistry is still there

Related: Is anybody out there? The real-life Fox »

- Mark Lawson

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Full Frontal with Samantha Bee review – potential wake-up call for late-night TV

19 hours ago

Bee’s weekly show meshes sketches, political satire and a very loud set to distinguish her from the boys’ club. But she’ll need to keep it fresh to stay afloat

“It’s true, we’re all witches,” Samantha Bee jokingly conceded in the opening sketch of her new late-night show, Full Frontal with Samantha Bee, which debuted last night on TBS. In her cold open, she addressed the elephant in the room – her presence as the only woman currently in late-night television – with some delightfully weird sorcery in an attempt deflect the incessant questions about her gender at a mock press conference.

It was a smart move, and a perfect introduction to Full Frontal, which will air Monday nights at 10.30 Et. She and her team have created a show that isn’t about being a woman, but couldn’t be hosted by a man. Standing on her desk-less set, »

- Elise Czajkowski in New York

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Rock and roll: the men who fled Alcatraz in a boat made of raincoats

20 hours ago

Three scientists have built a raft to row from Alcatraz to dry land – recreating a daredevil prison break in the 60s. And, as two new documentaries reveal, they’re not the only people delving into decades-old escapes

It has been 53 years since the famed three-man escape from Alcatraz, the outrageous endeavour immortalised in Clint Eastwood’s 1979 movie Escape from Alcatraz. All we know for sure is that inmates Frank Morris and brothers Clarence and John Anglin launched a raft made of raincoats from Alcatraz Island into San Francisco Bay – and that neither their bodies nor the raft were ever recovered. But new evidence floods to the fore in two upcoming documentaries, Surviving Alcatraz: Escaping the Rock and Alcatraz: Search for the Truth.

For all the fog that surrounds that night, one thing beyond dispute is the enduring public fascination with prison escapes. An emphatic reminder of this came in 2015 with »

- James Donaghy

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Mark-Francis Vandelli leaves The Jump after fracturing ankle

21 hours ago

Made in Chelsea star, who has had operation for injury, is fourth contestant to leave Channel 4 winter sports reality show

Made in Chelsea star Mark-Francis Vandelli has become the fourth celebrity to leave Channel 4’s The Jump after fracturing his ankle.

The 26-year-old was taken to hospital after injuring himself in a tumble during a challenge on Sunday’s show and will not be returning to the competition.

Related: Channel 4 launches safety review of The Jump as celebrity casualties mount

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- Press Association

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Matt LeBlanc a friend for hire for $150,000

22 hours ago

You can find the sitcom actor and Top Gear co-host for hire on Celebrity Talent International

Fancy hiring new Top Gear host Matt LeBlanc to be your friend? Ok, Monkey exaggerates a bit. But you can hire the Friends actor and Top Gear host for your private party, event, corporate event etc if you have over $150,000 to spare. LeBlanc is apparently for hire in the Us for a minimum of between $150,000 to $299,000 according to website Celebrity Talent International. That’s in the same bracket as Al Pacino and Huey Lews and the News, but cheaper than Lionel Richie ($300,000 – $499,000) and slightly more expensive than Alec Baldwin. However a search for Jeremy Clarkson on their books brings up … er … nothing.

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- Monkey

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Matt LeBlanc to juggle Top Gear co-host role with Us sitcom pilot

23 hours ago

Actor set to star in and executive produce CBS pilot I’m Not Your Friend having just signed contract with BBC2 car show

New Top Gear co-host Matt LeBlanc is to star in a Us sitcom pilot, prompting questions about how he might juggle his commitments on either side of the Atlantic if both his new shows take off.

The former Friends actor is to appear in and executive produce CBS pilot I’m Not Your Friend, having just signed what is understood to be a year-long contract with the relaunched BBC2 hit motoring show.

Related: Matt LeBlanc as Top Gear host – what’s not to love? | Anne T Donahue

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- Tara Conlan and Mark Sweney

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X-Files gives Channel 5 highest rating Us drama launch since 2009

9 February 2016 2:20 AM, PST

First new episode of sci-fi series in 13 years draws 3.35m, highest launch figures for Us drama for the channel since it took up NCIS and CSI in 2009

The return of The X-Files on Monday drew almost 3.5 million viewers giving Channel 5 its highest-rating show in over a year.

The eagerly anticipated debut episode, the first new X-Files in 13 years, drew an average of 3.35 million viewers and a 15% share of total TV viewing between 9pm and 10pm.

Related: The X-Files review: underwhelming, though the chemistry is still there

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- Mark Sweney

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Better Call Saul’s Bob Odenkirk: ‘Trump is hilarious. Until he wins'

9 February 2016 1:17 AM, PST

As Saul Goodman in Better Call Saul, Bob Odenkirk plays one of Us TV’s most beloved characters. So why couldn’t his mum watch him in Breaking Bad?

On the way to meeting Bob Odenkirk, I see him in the bright California sky. Not a vision, but a huge advertising billboard, floating above Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood. I half expect to see a tiny him up there, too, reaching down to rescue ... “rescue” the man who went up to take the billboard down, on legal grounds, and who slipped (“slipped”). You’ll know what I’m talking about if you’ve seen Breaking Bad spin-off prequel Better Call Saul; it’s one of the most memorable scenes from a memorable first season. If you haven’t seen Better Call Saul, here’s what you need to know: Breaking Bad (if you haven’t seen Bb then God help you, »

- Sam Wollaston

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Happy Valley: there’s no one tougher than a middle-aged mum

9 February 2016 12:59 AM, PST

The return of the BBC’s police drama means more multitasking misery for Sarah Lancashire’s sergeant, her family and, well, everyone really

“Our Catherine had an exciting day at work today,” says her sister Claire, making polite conversation. “She found a dead body.” It’s the little things in a job that make it worthwhile: friendly colleagues, a ready supply of name-brand instant coffee, grand-scale stationery theft etc. Finding a putrefying corpse in a lock-up might not feature on most people’s list of job satisfaction criteria, but things are different in Happy Valley (Tuesday, 9pm, BBC1).

The BBC drama – whose first series gripped viewers when it aired in 2014, and which went on to win Baftas before being adopted by Netflix for the subtitled enjoyment of Us audiences – brings into focus the unique problems troubling the grandmothers/police sergeants of northern England. For Catherine Cawood (Sarah Lancashire), these problems »

- Filipa Jodelka

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The X-Files review: underwhelming, though the chemistry is still there

9 February 2016 12:25 AM, PST

The truth is out there – if you can keep up with Mulder’s monologues

Downtown Washington DC, and Agent Mulder, looking a little dishevelled, steps out of a dark car. “Uber?” asks Agent Scully, who has been waiting for him. “Hitchhiked,” says Mulder. He’s kidding. They circle each other, looking each other up and down and practically sniffing, like animals in season. “I’m always happy to see you,” says Scully. “And I’m always happy to find a reason,” says Mulder.

What is the reason, apart from to reopen The X-Files (Channel 5), and in so doing reboot one of the most successful science-fiction shows of all time? In short, new evidence.

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- Sam Wollaston

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