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Top of the Lake: this singular drama is still gloriously weird

6 hours ago

The second series features big budgets and huge stars – little wonder Cannes finally embraced a TV show

The barbarians have stormed the battlements. Television has arrived at Cannes. It’s a development that some swore would never come to pass, including the artistic director of the festival, Thierry Frémaux. “Cannes is a film festival,” Frémaux rather tersely said last year. Netflix is one thing, with its flouting of theatrical releases, but at least it still makes movies. TV is quite another.

Still, it seems that needs must, and Cannes have solemnly recognised that prestige TV is frequently beating arthouse cinema at its own game – in its budgets, its audiences, the stars it attracts, and, most crucially, the quality of the stories it tells. And so, this week two shows are being shown at the festival: David Lynch’s revived Twin Peaks, and Jane Campion’s Top of the Lake.

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- Gwilym Mumford

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Late-night hosts on Trump's orb ceremony: 'Like a David Blaine special'

9 hours ago

Comics, including Jimmy Fallon and Stephen Colbert, discussed the president’s awkward trip to the Middle East

Late-night hosts discussed Donald Trump’s first overseas trip as president and the strange viral moment when he touched a glowing orb.

Related: John Oliver on Trump: 'Literally every decision is the worst possible one'

Related: Saturday Night Live: the 10 best clips of the biggest season ever

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- Guardian staff

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Netflix and chill: how TV relaxed its view of dating

10 hours ago

After Sex and the City told audiences to wait for The One, contemporary shows such as Master of None and Casual have suggested that it’s better to keep swiping

There was a time when television shows about dating all moved in the same direction: toward The One. Sex and the City was about exploring the options, every last one of them, but ultimately, its gallivanting gals wound up with at least a degree of stability, and romance triumphed over loveless sex, even for Samantha Jones. Classic teen shows have always paired unlikely duos, who must melodramatically battle teachers, parents and friends to be together – Joey and Pacey, Marissa and Ryan, and, in the case of Buffy, an assortment of bad boys with no pulse. Chandler and Monica were the solid backbone of Friends, which also tried to match the philandering Joey with a woman he might actually fall for; sadly for viewers, »

- Rebecca Nicholson

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Roger Moore – Saint, Persuader and the suavest James Bond – dies aged 89

10 hours ago

The much-loved English actor, who made his name on the small screen before taking on the mantle of 007, has passed away in Switzerland

Peter Bradshaw on Roger Moore: a modest, self-deprecating James Bond who brought some serious aplomb

Bond actor Roger Moore: a life in pictures

‘A force of nature’: tributes pour in for Bond and The Saint actor Roger Moore

Moore on how to make the perfect Martini

He was the epitome of the suave English gent, quipping sweatlessly in a bespoke three-piece suit, who enjoyed an acting career spanning eight decades. On Tuesday, Roger Moore’s children announced his death at the age of 89 in Switzerland, saying: “he passed away today ... after a short but brave battle with cancer”.

Related: Roger Moore: ‘Being eternally known as James Bond has no down side’

Related: Why I'd like to be … Roger Moore, particularly in his non-Bond roles

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- Benjamin Lee

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Episode overload! From The Crown to The Oa, the TV shows that are too long

16 hours ago

Dramas used to have a beginning, a middle and an end – but today’s telly doesn’t know when to stop. Which shows would benefit from the kindest of cuts?

When did watching a drama series become like listening to a five-year-old describing, enthusiastically but tortuously, a really amazing thing that happened in the playground? Is economy no longer a narrative asset? Don’t programme-makers know we all have stuff to do? The art of storytelling is getting lost in the need to fill the infinite digisphere with shows that never get to the bloody point …

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- Julia Raeside

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Baywatch review – alpha-male chest-off is not worth the Hasselhoff

17 hours ago

Dwayne Johnson and Zac Efron go chest to chest in a limp big-screen update of the 90s TV show that doesn’t have the wit or stamina to stay afloat

Just as nobody ever bought a Pirelli calendar simply to find out the date, the world didn’t tune into Baywatch for over a decade purely for the lifeguarding instruction. Let’s face it: it was all about the fantasy American lifestyle of sun, sea and semi-naked flesh jiggling along beaches in slow-mo. Apart from that, and those little red floaty things they carried around, can anyone honestly remember anything else about Baywatch?

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- Steve Rose

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Amazon steps up battle with Netflix and Sky by adding new UK channels

18 hours ago

ITV and Eurosport to be on offer for the first time at extra cost, along with Discovery and reality TV channel Hayu

Amazon is to add more than 40 TV channels to its UK streaming service, including ITV and live sport for the first time, upping the stakes against rival Netflix and pay-tv operators such as Sky.

Amazon will offer the channels at an extra cost to Amazon Prime members, who pay £79 a year or £7.99 a month for on-demand video including exclusive shows such as American Gods, The Grand Tour and Man in the High Castle.

Related: Amazon moves into UK live music starting with Blondie London gig

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- Mark Sweney

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The Fifteen Billion Pound Railway review – like Top Gear for train fans

19 hours ago

This documentary about the engineering project to complete London’s new underground railway had amazing footage taken by drones flying along tunnels

You might describe it as hole-in-the-fence TV: an invitation to spend an hour watching other people build stuff on a vast construction site. Except, in this case, the hole looks straight down.

The Fifteen Billion Pound Railway: The Final Countdown (BBC2) is billed as “the exclusive inside story of the race to complete London’s new underground railway”. This is, in fact, the second series. The first concentrated on the drilling of deep tunnels – 42km of them – but that work has been largely completed. This series began with the final tunnel breakthrough under central London: a giant boring machine burst through a concrete wall, and, after a few minutes, a man in a hi-vis jacket crawled out from between its teeth. “Welcome to Farringdon!” shouted Linda Miller, »

- Tim Dowling

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Netflix viewers like comedy for breakfast and drama at lunch

20 hours ago

Streaming service users enjoy watching lighthearted shows early in the day, saving documentaries for late at night, data shows

Netflix viewers prefer a diet of comedy at breakfast, a portion of drama on their lunch break and a midnight snack of documentaries.

Netflix, which has more than 100 million subscribers worldwide, said analysis of viewing data found that users of its service were keen to start the day with a laugh by watching comedies such as The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Fuller House and How I Met Your Mother.

Related: War Machine: let battle commence in Netflix assault on cinema

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- Mark Sweney

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How Leah Purcell went from C-average student to $140,000 prize-winning playwright

21 hours ago

With a book, a film and a TV series on the horizon, the playwright and actor has reached a career tipping point – and has a teacher she’d like to thank

When Leah Purcell was in grade seven, her English teacher asked the class to write a story. Submissions were due for the local rotary club’s writing competition; the theme was “neighbours”.

At the time, Purcell didn’t much see the point of school. She lived three hours inland from Brisbane with six siblings and a single mum, in the small country town of Murgon. “What Murgon’s famous for is Steve Renouf, if you follow the Rugby League – which you probably don’t,” she says, laughing. Her mother had moved there from the Indigenous settlement of Cherbourg, where her grandmother – a member of the stolen generations – had been shipped after authorities wrenched her from her family’s camp »

- Steph Harmon

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Get kids telling stories to speak truth to power | Brief letters

22 May 2017 11:49 AM, PDT

Oral skills in schools | The Trial and The Law Machine | Alan Titchmarsh’s gravitas | Loose canon | Grannies

As a storyteller and speech and language therapist I was delighted to see Tim Lott’s article (Ditch the grammar and teach storytelling instead, 20 May). However, his emphasis turns out to be on story writing, not storytelling. Oracy has been fatally sidelined by government policies, yet we know that oral skills must be in place to ensure the development of literacy. So please, by all means teach the writing of stories, but get kids telling stories – not just myths, legends and fiction but the events and experiences of their own lives, which is the way we build empathy, resilience and the confidence to speak truth to power.

Nicola Grove

Horningsham, Wiltshire

Channel 4’s The Trial (Last night’s TV, 22 May) is far from being the first television series to show a trial using real barristers, »

- Letters

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Saturday Night Live: the 10 best clips of the biggest season ever

22 May 2017 8:41 AM, PDT

From Melissa McCarthy as Sean Spicer to Scarlett Johansson’s turn as a ‘Complicit’ Ivanka Trump, the show has been more relevant than ever

Saturday Night Live has been enjoying quite the resurgence this year. Presidential campaigns are always good business for the long-running sketch series, but it’s been the election and presidency of Donald Trump that has launched the show into mega-drive. Ratings are the highest they’ve been in 23 years, and stars including Alec Baldwin, Melissa McCarthy and Scarlett Johansson seem happy to stop by to reprise their roles in the current political melodrama whenever necessary.

Related: Saturday Night Live: Rock's solid guarantee of strong finale

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- Elise Czajkowski

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Tom Hardy's casting as Venom is a masterstroke for Sony's superhero universe

22 May 2017 8:15 AM, PDT

A leading man with the skill to illuminate Eddie Brock’s twisted soul, Hardy is sure to turn the limited raw materials of this antihero into a titan of cinema

How are we supposed to take the news that Tom Hardy has been hired to play Eddie Brock, Aka the comic book antihero Venom, in a forthcoming superhero adventure for studio Sony, once and future custodian of Spider-Man on the big screen? If this were a sporting signing, it would be roughly equivalent to footballer Lionel Messi turning out for Accrington Stanley. With one mighty stroke, Sony has rendered all arguments about Venom’s unsuitability to big-screen stardom – and I’ve made quite a few of these – utterly irrelevant.

For there is something about Hardy that seems to elevate the most unwieldy of projects to the gold standard. Who would have thought that Mel Gibson could be so casually replaced as Mad Max, »

- Ben Child

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Twin Peaks recap: episodes one and two – crazy town just got much, much weirder

22 May 2017 7:43 AM, PDT

A quarter of a century on, David Lynch’s show is still baffling, mystical and occasionally deranged … only now there’s a new crime to solve. Forget Laura Palmer – who killed Ruth Davenport?

Spoiler alert: this blog is for Twin Peaks viewers who have seen episodes one and two of The Return, showing on Showtime on the Us and Sky Atlantic in the UK. Do not read on unless you have watched.

There’s something horrible in Ruth Davenport’s bed. The severed head, which has been shot through one eye, is hers. But the torso below, the cops discover when they pull back the covers, belongs to someone else. Who decapitated her? Who put this grisly assemblage of body parts in her bed? And why are school principal William Hastings’ fingerprints all over this room in Buckhorn, South Dakota?

Related: It is deliberately, punishingly tedious – but that's why Twin Peaks »

- Stuart Jeffries

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Lucy Worsley webchat – your questions answered on Jane Austen, chastity belts and Arsène Wenger

22 May 2017 6:08 AM, PDT

The television historian answered your questions about presenting from a bathtub, her posh accent and dancing with Len Goodman

2.06pm BST

Thanks for the questions. And I see some of you have already read my book Jane Austen At Home. You are people with taste and intelligence, and I salute you. The rest of you, you know what to do.

Watch out for our BBC2 documentary on Saturday night - Jane Austen: Behind Closed Doors at 9pm. I've heard there is some football on, but you don't want to watch that.

2.05pm BST

badflower asks:

Given Hampton Court’s reputation for restless spirits, have you ever had a paranormal experience there – or anywhere else?

I have given people paranormal experiences at Hampton Court. Our curators office has a back door that opens on to a room called "the Haunted Gallery". Sometimes when we pop out, it freaks people out. »

- Guardian Staff

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It is deliberately, punishingly tedious – but that's why Twin Peaks is so beguiling

22 May 2017 5:01 AM, PDT

Twin Peaks, by design, is meant to frustrate and beguile you. Here’s how you can learn to watch David Lynch’s masterpiece in the online age

Warning: some plot points revealed

It’s easy to forget what an anomaly Twin Peaks was when it first arrived in 1990. It’s like forgetting how rebellious the Simpsons initially felt, or what the Beatles must have sounded like to a teenager in the 60s. Twin Peaks was such a huge leap forward for television – twisting and pulling the format into shapes nobody had previously thought possible – that the rest of the industry whooshed to catch up with it.

And so watching the first episode of Twin Peaks: The Return in today’s landscape is actually a little unsettling, because at first all you can see are its imitators. The glass box, the one that has to be perpetually monitored to keep »

- Stuart Heritage

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When good TV goes bad: how Empire lost its crown – and found it again

22 May 2017 5:00 AM, PDT

How long could the hip-hop drama get away with its flimsy plots? One season seemed enough – then Rhonda was thrown off a balcony at the start of the third

Soapy hip-hop sensation Empire was a one-show TV revolution when it hit our screens back in 2015. Call it “the black Dynasty”, call it groundbreaking, call it trash, but the glossy tale of a power struggle within a musical family was brilliantly addictive. Lee Daniels’s glitzy treat depicted a Shakespearean battle between three sons for the record company built by ailing father Lucious Lyon (Terrence Howard). Spoiled rapper Hakeem, number-crunching Andre and trapped-in-the-closet Jamal all battled to be heir.

It was dramatic, hypnotic and chic. Ok, so the characters were as over the top as the glass-walled offices where scantily clad dancers would take to the desktops for an impromptu lunchtime celebration, but the whole thing was like a party on your telly. »

- Hannah Verdier

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Susanna Reid is all that stands between us and nuclear Armageddon | Jack Bernhardt

22 May 2017 4:00 AM, PDT

Without her reining in her Good Morning Britain co-host Piers Morgan’s worst excesses, there’d be nothing stopping him from becoming Britain’s Trump

As a people we often put too much emphasis on the importance of individuals in history. Churchill wasn’t the only person who stopped the Nazis. Henry VIII wasn’t the only person who turned England into a Protestant nation. Tony Blair wasn’t the only reason people stopped listening to Oasis. It’s very rare for one person, in fact, to be in such a uniquely powerful position, where their actions could change the course of history for ever. However, right now, there is one such person in the country, the last bulwark against tyranny and oppression, the last hope for liberal democracy. It’s not Theresa May, or Jeremy Corbyn, or Tim Farron. It’s Susanna Reid, co-presenter of ITV’s flagshipwreck show, »

- Jack Bernhardt

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Fargo creator Noah Hawley: ‘I'm Stanley Kubrick without the Ocd’

22 May 2017 1:00 AM, PDT

On the eve of the third season of his freewheeling Coen brothers spin-off, the superstar showrunner talks us through his ‘20-year overnight success’

Confidence doesn’t seem to be something that Hollywood’s current golden boy, Noah Hawley, is short of. When I suggest that he’s being heralded as “the Kubrick of television” – pushing the boundaries of prestige programming and its visual effects in a not dissimilar way to that in which Dr Strangelove, The Shining and A Clockwork Orange did in 20th-century cinema – he does not (as I suspect a British counterpart might) dismiss the mantle with protestations of humility, false or otherwise. “I’m Kubrick without the Ocd,” he chuckles instead, and proceeds to recommend Jon Ronson’s documentary Stanley Kubrick’s Boxes to me, about the celebrated film-maker’s obsession with achieving the perfect storage solution.

But with two critically acclaimed and publicly popular TV shows »

- Jane Mulkerrins

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Monday’s best TV: The Andrew Neil Interviews: Theresa May; The Fifteen Billion Pound Railway

21 May 2017 10:00 PM, PDT

Will a grilling provoke the prime minister into uttering anything other than ‘strong and stable’? And how much railway does £15bn buy you?

Assertions of strength and stability are likely to figure prominently during this first of a series of interrogations of the major party leaders (and Paul Nuttall). Theresa May has resembled a malfunctioning robot for most of this election campaign. Maybe tonight she’ll throw off her shackles and reveal herself as a politician of charm and substance. Or maybe she’ll just say “strong and stable” a lot and wait for the votes to roll in. Phil Harrison

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- Phil Harrison, Mark Gibbings-Jones, Jonathan Wright, David Stubbs, Ali Catterall, Andrew Mueller, Paul Howlett

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