Archive for April, 2017

Madonna got justifiably – and unjustifiably – angry over claims made in a film script; Friends star Matt LeBlanc may prove to be the saviour of a British TV brand; the sad passing of Silence of the Lambs director Jonathan Demme – and much more…

Here’s a round-up of some things you might have missed in the world of entertainment news this week:

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Pascal Le Segretain

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Madonna called out a copy of a screenplay about her early career as “all lies”. We took a look at Blonde Ambition and separated the fact from fiction.

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Has Matt LeBlanc saved Top Gear? That’s what fans and critics have been asking at the conclusion of the latest series.

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If you’re going spend money on a Darth Vader mask it may as well be gold. If you have over £1m to spend, of course.

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Russell Tovey on landing his dream role in the National Theatre’s revival in London of Tony Kushner’s 1990s play Angels in America. He says the gay drama was part of his life long before he signed up to star in it

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Dame Judi Dench says she loves Tracy Ullman’s comedy sketches that show her using her fame to get away with shoplifting and other petty crime.

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Zoe Saldana may, or may not, have let slip the name of the new Avengers movie.

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Elton John thanked his medical team after he suffered a “potentially deadly” bacterial infection during a tour, forcing him to spend two nights in intensive care and cancel concerts in the US.

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Jonathan Demme, the Oscar-winning director of The Silence of the Lambs, died in New York aged 73. He was also known for Philadelphia, Something Wild and the Talking Heads documentary Stop Making Sense.

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BBC presenter Diane Louise Jordan has had “a tough three years” trying to clear her name after being wrongly accused of harassment.

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Bananarama and some of their 1980s magazine covers

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Back together after 29 years: (L-R) Keren Woodward, Sarah Dallin and Siobhan Fahey

What’s your favourite time of day? Have you ever worn odd socks? Why are you dressed as the devil?

Pop magazines took a very different approach to interviews in the 1980s and, as the decade’s biggest girl band, Bananarama found themselves fielding all of the above questions and more.

Smash Hits, Look-In and Number 1 devoted dozens of pages to the trio, many of which dwelt on the fact they lived together on the 11th floor of a block of flats in Holborn.

“It always looked better in the photos than it did in real life,” laughs Keren Woodward, now 56 and living in more comfortable circumstances in Cornwall.

“It was a dive,” recalls her bandmate and childhood friend Sarah Dallin.

“You’re not house-proud when you’re young. But now I’d be like, ‘Take your shoes off!’”

Still, those irreverent, Python-esque profiles were often more revealing than the now-standard “tell me about your co-writers” pop interview.

So, to celebrate the reunion of Bananarama’s original line-up – and their first ever tour – we scoured the back issues and put a bunch [get it? - puns ed] of old questions to Sarah, Keren and Siobhan to see how their answers have changed.

“Are these Neil Tennant’s questions?” asks Sarah before we start.

“He always reminds us he interviewed us once, but I don’t remember it.”

When you were 12, what did you want to be? (Smash Hits, 1983)

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“Back then, every magazine wanted their own photos,” recalls Sarah

Keren: A lot of my family were teachers, so that’s what I always thought I’d end up being. I think I’d have been quite strict – strict but fair – and, I like to think, hugely engaging.

Siobhan: I think I wanted to be [60s pop star] Melanie.

Back in 1983, Siobhan said she would like to be an “air hostess”, while Keren and Sarah both talked about becoming “David Essex’s wife”.

Sarah: Oh God, I’m sure I never would have said that. Aged 12? Not at 12.

Keren [to Siobhan]: Oh yes, you went for a job as an air hostess. We took your picture, standing on a pouffe.

Sarah: In your mother’s skirt, trying to look elegant.

If you were an animal, what animal would you be?

Media captionThe band give Chris Evans the lowdown on their big comeback

Sarah: Did I say, ‘Dolphin’? No? For God’s sake. Dog? Lion? Pheasant?

Siobhan: I was going to say elephant because I love them so, but they get butchered, don’t they?

Keren: I would have said dog.

The original answers were actually dog (Siobhan), tiger (Sarah) and horse (Keren).

Sarah: But you hate horses.

Keren: I didn’t know that at the time! I hadn’t been thrown off one yet.

Did you enjoy being pregnant? (Number 1, 1987)

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Bananarama sold more than 40 million records worldwide making then, at the time, the world’s most-successful girl band

Keren: I absolutely loathed it.

Siobhan: I loved it. Whatever hormones kicked in, I got really happy.

Keren: I just felt very young and unprepared. I didn’t know anyone who’d been pregnant, and I didn’t know anyone who’d had a baby. Because everyone around me didn’t really get it, I just kept on as though nothing was happening, even though I was slightly scared and throwing up everywhere. Sarah would say, ‘For God’s sake, you’re only pregnant, come out.’

Speaking in 1987, Keren said the only benefit of pregnancy was being sober, which had meant “I was handy for a lift now and then”. She recently revealed that having children had stopped Bananarama’s original line-up going on tour.

Keren: We were so desperate to get on stage. And, in a way, maybe it was good we didn’t, because we didn’t have the right people around us. We were just doing it ourselves.

Sarah: If you look at the early performances, we look incredibly shy. We’d come straight from school, and then we were on Top of the Pops. We had absolutely no clue at all.

Siobhan: I think that was all part of the charm.

Sarah: Even when we went on tour in [19]89 [with Siobhan's replacement, Jacquie O'Sullivan], I couldn’t say we were hugely confident about what we were doing.

Keren: I mean, the only experience we had of being on stage was getting up, putting on a cassette and singing over the top.

Sarah: But it’s like any job. If you work in a bank or an office, you’d be shy when you arrived, and then you’d learn and then you’d be fine. It’s just taken us 30 years.

Sarah, did you enjoy covering naked men with your bat wings? (Smash Hits, 1986)

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Rhino Records

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The video for Venus saw the band dressing up as goddesses and devils from history

Sarah: That’s about the Venus video. The costume was so uncomfortable. It was a really tight corset with two poles running down the side of my arms, and a black wig. It was not an erotic experience, I’m afraid.

Siobhan: That was the first time we really went for an extravaganza in the costume department; obviously triggered by the lyrics of the song. And I think that’s where we discovered our enjoyment of camp.

The video accompanied Venus, the first song the band produced with Mike Stock, Matt Aitken, and Pete Waterman’s “hit factory”, which also churned out hits for Kylie, Jason and Sinitta.

Keren: When it got really pop and quite camp, that was when Siobhan started to get disillusioned. But for me, personally, it just felt like I’d come alive. I enjoyed that period so much because it was just out-and-out pop. I’d just given up trying to explain we weren’t dimwits and that we were serious artists. So it was just like letting go, and I embraced the whole pop thing and I absolutely loved it.

Siobhan: Making [the album] Wow! with Waterman, Stock and Aitken, they had a very much production-line approach. I felt there wasn’t much room for musical experimentation with them, because they had their sound, and that was frustrating for me.

Sarah: We always wrote with them. They would have preferred to write everything, but we wouldn’t let them.

Siobhan: But I have to say, in hindsight, Wow! is the album that hangs together the best.

When did you first realise you were famous? (Smash Hits, 1983)

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Rex / Shutterstock

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The band’s hits included Venus, Love In The First Degree and Really Saying Something

Keren: In Los Angeles, when Mike Tyson sang Cruel Summer.

Sarah: We were walking back from breakfast to our hotel, where he was also staying. He was sitting in a limo, and he saw us and started singing Cruel Summer. We were just gobsmacked.

Keren: And he was world champ at the time. He was just the last person on Earth you’d expect to sing a Bananarama song. And you think, well, your reach must have got quite far with that sort of thing.

Siobhan’s original answer was that she didn’t feel famous, “apart from when you’re recognised on buses”.

Siobhan: I remember our first trip to Santa Monica, this girl got really excited when she saw us, and she came running up to me and shouted, ‘Oh my God, aren’t you the girl from Dexy’s Midnight Runners?’ And I was like, ‘No, that’s my sister.’ [Maire Fahey starred in the video for Dexy's hit single Come On Eileen].

Don’t you get on each other’s nerves a lot? (Number 1, 1986)

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Rex / Shutterstock

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The original line-up split shortly after this performance at the 1988 Brit Awards

Keren: Now? No.

Siobhan: It’s been hilarious. We haven’t stopped laughing.

Keren: It’s back to the good old days before they turned… stale.

Sarah: Stale – that’s a much better word than sour.

In 1986, Siobhan said: “It’s very hard working together and being mates sometimes, but no matter how hard it gets, you sort of understand each other.” She quit the band two years later, and the friends didn’t speak for almost a decade.

Will Bananarama ever make a feature film? (Number 1, 1984)

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The band were regular guests on Top of the Pops and, here, Kenny Everett’s Television Show

Sarah: Obviously not.

Siobhan: I’m writing a script at the moment, in between Bananarama things. It’s a historical epic, set in Elizabethan times. But I don’t want to give too much away.

Keren fielded this question in 1984, saying: “If we did, it would have to be one of those cheap musicals.”

Keren: We always had plans, on and off. We were approached to do the story of Bananarama as a film.

Sarah: The trouble with us was we never had management that consolidated our ideas, so it never got put together. I mean, the Spice Girls made a film, which was kind of what ours was going to be like, but we never got it together.

Siobhan: It would be a TV series now. Things have swung that way.

Keren: We could play the mums.

Is there life on other planets? (Smash Hits, 1986)

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They did record a song called Venus, after all…

Siobhan: Well, for sure. There’s got to be.

Sarah: We haven’t discovered any, though. You’d think we would have discovered something by now. All we hear about is water here and gas there.

Maybe this is because, as Siobhan said in 1986, we’d be unable to see alien life forms “because they’re bound to have a totally different chemical make-up”.

Siobhan: Oh yeah, they’re right here in this room but on a different frequency.

Keren: And they are really excited about the Bananarama reunion. They are desperate for it.

What’s your favourite single you’ve released so far?

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The trio were the only singers to appear on both the first and second Band Aid singles

Sarah: Cruel Summer, just because that was such an odd little pop song. It was our first hit in the States, which was unbelievably exciting.

Siobhan: I think we all have that as a favourite, because it just sounds like nothing before or afterwards, really.

Sarah’s answer remains the same, but in 1986 Keren plumped for the band’s debut single, Aie-A-Mwana, while Siobhan preferred Really Saying Something for its “shrieky vocals”.

Sarah: We’re going to set aside some time this year to get together and do some [new music] for the tour.

Keren: It would be a shame to not have something new. Will it live up to the past? Well if it doesn’t, we won’t release it.

Keren, how often do you wash your hair? (Number 1, 1984)

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Rex / Shutterstock

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Take two bottles into the shower?

Sarah: Every day. Every day, she washes her hair.

Keren: I’ve got greasy hair, what can I say? I never skip more than one day.

In 1984, Keren claimed the figure was “twice a week”, prompting general disbelief from her friends.

While walking along a deserted beach, you spy a couple making love. Do you stay and watch? (Smash Hits, 1986)

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Not in this climate, love

Siobhan: Ew.

Sarah: I’d call the police.

Keren: I’d call all my friends over. I wouldn’t watch on my own. Take some photos.

Keren originally replied she’d “put some mirrored shades on” and watch while pretending to look the other way.

Sarah: That’s a bit raunchy.

Siobhan: They were odd questions in those days.

What’s next for Bananarama? (Look-In, October 1987)

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Getty Images

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Keren and Sara have kept the band going as a duo since 1992

Keren: I’m looking forward to doing the vocal arrangements for the tour. That’s my favourite bit. I’m hoping we can sing three part harmonies on some of the songs, because we always used to sing in unison. It would be nice to do it in a more grown-up way.

Siobhan: The staging is all in the pipeline, but it’ll reflect our personality and “unique style” [everyone laughs].

Keren: I don’t want to be standing there with lasers going off. Our show will be about the camaraderie and the fun.

Speaking on the phone in 1987, Siobhan’s response to this question was simply: “I’m going to get out of this bath. The water’s gone horribly cold.”

The classic Bananarama line-up tours the UK for the first time this November. Tickets are on sale now.

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Florence Pugh in Lady MacbethImage copyright
Protagonist Pictures

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Florence Pugh said she signed up for Lady Macbeth as soon as she had read the script

Ever since her breakthrough role in 2015′s film The Falling, Florence Pugh has been hailed as one of the UK’s brightest rising stars.

Lady Macbeth, which is released in the UK this week, sees the 21-year-old from Oxfordshire in her first lead role.

The film has been getting five star reviews, with The Telegraph calling it “a lusty, jaw-droppingly amoral bodice-ripper”.

The Guardian described it as “a daring journey into the darkest corners of the world of bonnets and bows”.

Pugh plays Katherine, a teenage bride in 19th-Century rural England, stifled by her marriage to a man twice her age.

The film is an adaptation of Nikolai Leskov’s 1865 Russian novella Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk.

It’s also the debut feature of theatre director William Oldroyd. Pugh signed up as soon as she had read the screenplay by playwright Alice Birch – despite it coming at the same time as another script.

Media captionFlorence Pugh has been hailed as one of the UK’s brightest rising stars.

“As actors we don’t have jobs for 90% of the year, and then suddenly you get two offers at the same time,” she said. “I remember my agent calling me about Lady Macbeth and saying you just need to read the script – so I did and I knew I didn’t have to read the other one!”

Pugh’s role sees her transform from innocent bride to calculating killer after she begins an affair with a farmhand (Cosmo Jarvis) on her husband’s estate.

“I think the wonderful thing about Katherine is that she is such a child,” said Pugh. “She doesn’t understand consequences and she doesn’t understand much about what she’s doing until it’s too late.”

The drama was shot “on a miniscule budget” in 24 days on location in Lambton Castle near Chester-le-Street in County Durham.

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Protagonist Pictures

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Lady Macbeth is Florence Pugh’s first lead role in a film

“It was made on very little and that’s rare for a period film,” said Pugh, who honed her on-screen accent by chatting to the locals during the two weeks of rehearsals.

“The accent was a bit of a fear of mine at the beginning,” she admitted. “It’s not Geordie and it’s not Newcastle, it’s Northumberland – we worked really hard on that beforehand.”

‘Great opportunity’

Pugh, who’s been acting and singing since the age of seven, made her film debut opposite Game of Thrones star Maisie Williams in Carol Morley’s The Falling, about a mysterious fainting epidemic at an all-girls school in 1969. It was shot in Oxford where Pugh was born and went to school.

Her role as the rebellious Abbie saw her nominated for the best newcomer award at the BFI London Film Festival.

“The Falling was a big, flashy bizarre experience,” she said. “I kept on saying at the time it was a fluke because I did the audition and I didn’t think anything would come of it.

“Now I’ve gone from working with Maisie to doing a lead role. Lady Macbeth is a great opportunity for me to prove that maybe the outcome of The Falling was not necessarily a fluke.”

In 2015 Pugh made a US TV pilot, Studio City, in California and she was seen on ITV last year in the detective drama Marcella, starring Anna Friel.

Lady Macbeth had its world premiere at the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival, but Pugh was unable to attend as she was shooting Liam Neeson thriller The Commuter, about a businessman who gets caught up in a criminal conspiracy on his way home from work.

‘Pretty cool’

Fellow cast members include Vera Farmiga, Elizabeth McGovern, Sam Neill and Patrick Wilson.

“It’s a proper full-on action film with lots of jumping and running,” Pugh explained.

“I play this hipster/punk/goth. She’s got lots of tattoos and piercings and pink hair. She’s pretty cool actually.

“And completely different to Lady Macbeth.”

Pugh has since played the lead role in another film, Fighting with My Family, written and directed by Stephen Merchant, about a family of professional wrestlers.

An earlier version of this interview was published in September 2016.

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Lord Sugar and Joseph ValenteImage copyright

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Lord Sugar invested £250,000 in Joseph Valente’s business

Apprentice winner Joseph Valente has split from Lord Sugar two years after winning the show.

Lord Sugar invested £250,000 into Valente’s plumbing business in 2015.

They’ve now announced that Valente will take full control of ImpraGas – but they’re parting on friendly terms.

Lord Sugar said: “I’ll still be on hand to offer any help and advice required. I wish Joseph and ImpraGas all the very best for the future and will follow their progress with much affection.”

Lord Sugar will now divest himself of his interest in the company, with Valente acquiring his shareholding and taking full control of the business.

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Joseph Valente beat Vana Koutsomitis in the 2015 final of The Apprentice

Valente added: “I am so grateful for everything Lord Sugar has done for me and I could not have asked for a better partner in the early stages of my business career.

“I owe him a great deal. I am confident that with the winning business model we created together, I can continue to grow the business successfully.”

So how many Apprentice winners does that leave who are still working with Lord Sugar?

Glad you asked, let’s take a look:

Still with Lord Sugar

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L-R: Alana Spencer, Ricky Martin and Leah Tatton

Of the 12 winners of the UK series of The Apprentice, five are still working with Lord Sugar.

They are Tom Pellereau, Ricky Martin, Leah Totton, Mark Wright and Alana Spencer.

Interestingly, all five won the show after a format change which saw Lord Sugar invest £250,000 in a business idea, rather than offering the winner a job in his own company.

After his time on the show, Pelleraeu used the investment to invent and bring to market a curved nail file, which is now stocked by major supermarkets.

Martin runs a science and technology recruitment company while Totton now has two cosmetic clinics offering botox and wrinkle reduction.

Wright is still working with Lord Sugar on his company which uses digital marketing to help small businesses grow.

And Spencer, who won the most recent series, is in the process of launching her own bakery firm.

Parted company

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BBC / Getty

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L-R: Michelle Dewbury, Lee McQueen, Stella English

Seven of the 12 winners have since parted company with Lord Sugar – many on perfectly good terms… others less so.

The very first winner, Tim Campbell, worked for Lord Sugar for a year before leaving (with his boss’s blessing) to set up a male grooming business, and more recently a digital marketing agency.

Michelle Dewberry worked for Lord Sugar for 11 months but left to set up her own company and a media career, appearing regularly on news programmes such as Sky’s weekly discussion show The Pledge.

Simon Ambrose worked for Lord Sugar for three years but left to pursue his own ventures, while Lee McQueen also left after two-and-a-half years to start his own sales recruitment and training agency.

Yasmina Siadatan stayed in her job with Lord Sugar for a year but became pregnant while she was there and didn’t return after maternity leave. She later set up her own restaurant.

Stella English’s departure from her job with Lord Sugar was far less friendly – she unsuccessfully sued him for constructive dismissal.

But she went on to work as a TV presenter and management consultant.

Lord Sugar has previously called on the BBC to commission a new TV series to catch up with former contestants and find out where they are now.

If such a show ever came to fruition, it certainly wouldn’t be short of material.

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Emma WatsonImage copyright

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Watson keeps a safe distance from reaction to social media content

Beauty and the Beast star Emma Watson has said she does not read social media comments for the sake of her sanity.

Watson is playing the lead role in The Circle, the film adaptation of Dave Eggers’s novel about an all-seeing tech corporation.

She plays a graduate who joins Hanks’s company and soon finds herself joining an experiment that pushes the boundaries of privacy and ethics.

Watson said at the New York premiere: “For my sanity, I cannot, I just cannot even go there (reading comments).”

“I have to create some distance because I’m human. I think there’s this way where technology can dehumanise.”

How to keep your kids safe online

She’s not the only celebrity who has had issues with social media in recent years:


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Rylan’s gameshow – a storm in a teacup?

The former X Factor contestant and current This Morning presenter quit Twitter earlier this week after receiving online abuse over his new gameshow.

Fans of successful ITV show The Chase mistakenly thought their favourite show was being taken off air to be replaced by Rylan’s Babushka.

In fact, The Chase was taking its usual yearly contractual break so the next series could be filmed and Babushka will fill that slot.

On Monday’s This Morning, Rylan, sporting an ‘I love The Chase’ T-shirt, told Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby: “I am not cancelling The Chase, it has not been axed. Please stop hurling abuse at me, it’s not fair, OK?

“I’m just someone doing my job. Everyone this weekend is in uproar that Rylan has ‘axed The Chase’ to make way for my new show. That’s a lie, The Chase has a break every single year guys, calm down.”

Later that day, he took himself off Twitter as the unwanted comments continued.

“Getting a bit ridiculous now. Just doing my job. Enjoy the show. Coming off here for a while. Babushka stars on Monday 1st.”

Lily James

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James also starred in last year’s BBC adaptation of War and Peace

The Cinderella actress felt the social media heat when she starred in ITV period drama Downton Abbey.

Lily – who played Lady Rose MacClare in the series – admitted that she’d left Twitter after being targeted by trolls who mainly criticised her appearance.

Lily, 25, told the Radio Times: “I was surprised people had an opinion about me, but now I don’t want to engage with that stuff. The internet is not a real person, so why would you want to read it? I did at first, but quickly got over it.”

Her last tweet was in 2015.

Stephen Fry

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Fry has taken several breaks from Twitter over the years

Stephen has had a volatile on-off relationship with Twitter.

He has quit the social media platform several times, including last year when he left after receiving criticism for joking that costume designer Jenny Beavan looked like a “bag lady” at the Baftas.

Stephen said he had not “slammed the door” on Twitter but said the site had become a “stalking ground for the sanctimoniously self-righteous”.

The star left the social media site from February to May 2015 without giving reasons. He also pleaded for fans to stop sending him direct messages saying “it was impossible” for him to look at them if he wanted to have “anything close to a life.”

In 2014, Stephen quit the site saying it was “unsafe” for him to tweet, adding he was filming “in a place whence I’ve been advised it is safest not to tweet”.

And in 2009, he said he was going to leave after another user called his posts “boring”.

Stephen is currently back on Twitter.

Lily Allen

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Allen described herself as a “lightweight” after attending last year’s Notting Hill Carnival

The singer left Twitter in February after receiving abuse relating to her son, who died during childbirth in 2010.

Trolls questioned her version of the event but the star was back on Twitter the following month.

It’s not the first time Lily has left Twitter temporarily.

Last year, she told her followers she would “steer clear of Twitter for a bit” and that she was going “off grid”.

That was following claims she had collapsed at Notting Hill Carnival, which Lily put down to being “just a lightweight, I had two cans of Strongbow on an empty stomach”.

Matt Lucas

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Getty Images

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Lucas has had a lot of support on Twitter as well as haters

Comedian Matt Lucas had a similarly unpleasant experience at the hand of Twitter trolls back in 2012.

His decision came shortly after another Twitter user tweeted an offensive joke about the suicide of Lucas’ ex-husband Kevin McGee, who killed himself in 2009.

He tweeted: “I appreciate all the support on here over the past couple of years but it’s time to shut down my Twitter account. Xx.”

Matt later rejoined but found himself a target again, telling his followers that he had contacted the police because of online homophobic abuse.

Ed Sheeran

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Ed Sheeran has a huge 18.3m followers on Twitter

Singer Ed Sheeran announced he was “taking a break” from social media in 2015 – not because of trolls but because he was “seeing the world through a screen and not my eyes”.

Writing on his Instagram account, the singer explained he was “taking the opportunity of not having to be anywhere… to travel the world”.

Ed returned to the social media universe exactly a year later, tweeting just an image of a blue square.

Cryptic, man.

Sue Perkins

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Perkins is back on Twitter, describing herself as “mutton dressed as mutton”

Former Great British Bake Off star Sue was hounded off Twitter in 2015 after false rumours spread that she was replacing Jeremy Clarkson on Top Gear.

“I am off Twitter for a bit. Love and peace,” Sue wrote after being sent death threats.

She told her followers that one troll had said they would “like to see me burn to death” and that her timeline had been “full of blokes wishing me dead”.


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Is Adele a liability on Twitter?

Back in 2015 Adele told the BBC she doesn’t have direct access to her official Twitter account.

“I’m not a drinker any more, but when Twitter first came out I was, like, drunk tweeting, and nearly put my foot in it quite a few times,” she explained.

“So my management decided that you have to go through two people and then it has to be signed off by someone, but they’re all my tweets.

“No-one writes my tweets. They just post them for me.”

But on the Brisbane leg of the tour she revealed how she gets around it.

“I was looking on Twitter last night. They don’t know I have a secret account. Well obviously they do now because I said that. By ‘they’ I mean my management.

“I’m not allowed access to my own Twitter because I’m quite mouthy and I say the wrong thing a lot of the time. So they took that privilege away from me.”

JK Rowling

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Rowling is more than ready to respond to her online critics

The Harry Potter creator has turned the table on the trolls – she’s become famous for her Twitter takedowns.

Following her criticism of Donald Trump last year, one Twitter user said they would now “burn your books and movies, too”.

To which JK responded: “Well, the fumes from the DVDs might be toxic and I’ve still got your money, so by all means borrow my lighter.”

James Blunt

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Getty Images

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Blunt has never been afraid to poke fun at himself

Singer James Blunt is also a fan of the troll put-down.

One of his corkers pointed to the fact that while some may not like his music or appearance, he was sitting pretty on top of a very healthy bank balance.

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Along with this self-deprecating gem: “Yup, it’s called “Greatest Hit” in response to a tweet which asked: “There’s a “best of” James Blunt? Really?”

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Hepworth Wakefield (top left), Sir John Soane's Museum (centre), National Heritage Centre for Horseracing (top right), Tate Modern (bottom right) and Lapworth Museum of Geology (bottom left)Image copyright
Marc Atkins

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Hepworth Wakefield (top left), Sir John Soane’s Museum (centre), National Heritage Centre for Horse-racing (top right), Tate Modern (bottom right) and Lapworth Museum (bottom left)

Britain’s most popular contemporary art gallery and a new horseracing heritage centre are in the running to be named the UK’s Museum of the Year.

Tate Modern in London and The National Heritage Centre for Horseracing and Sporting Art in Newmarket, Suffolk, are both nominated for the £100,000 award.

They are joined in the contest by the Hepworth Wakefield gallery and the Lapworth Museum of Geology, Birmingham.

Sir John Soane’s Museum in London completes the five-strong shortlist.

The Lapworth Museum of Geology

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Marc Atkins

This museum, operated by the University of Birmingham, re-opened last June after a £2.7m redevelopment that was designed restore it to its 1920s grandeur and create three new galleries.

It holds 250,000 specimens, ranging from dinosaur skeletons to volcanic rocks.

The National Heritage Centre for Horseracing and Sporting Art

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Marc Atkins

Officially opened by the Queen in November, this complex is home to the National Horseracing Museum, the Fred Packard Museum and Galleries of British Sporting Art, and a yard for the Retraining of Racehorses charity.

It is also home to two of the Queen’s former racehorses and a virtual Clare Balding.

Sir John Soane’s Museum

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Marc Atkins

Housed in the former home of 19th Century architect Sir John Soane, this gallery and museum has completed a £7m restoration intended to open up “lost” areas and return it to how it looked when he died and left it to the nation in 1837.

That includes creating 33 per cent more space and putting 10 per cent more objects on display.

Tate Modern

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Marc Atkins

Seventeen years after it opened on London’s South Bank, Tate Modern had a record 5.8 million visitors in 2016.

That was partly down to the opening of a 10-storey extension, the Switch House, and exhibitions of photographs owned by Sir Elton John and artwork by Georgia O’Keeffe.

Hepworth Wakefield

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Marc Atkins

The West Yorkshire gallery celebrated its fifth birthday last year and saw a 21% rise in visitors.

It also launched a major new award for British sculpture and staged exhibitions by Martin Parr, Stanley Spencer and Anthea Hamilton.

The winner of the Art Fund Museum of the Year will be announced on 5 July.

Art Fund director Stephen Deuchar said: “Each of these museums has had a remarkable year, reaching – in a range of ways – new heights in their efforts to serve and inspire their visitors.

“Whether unveiling new buildings, galleries, displays or public programmes, all the finalists have shown a real commitment to innovation and experimentation, offering fresh perspectives and new ways of seeing and understanding their collections.”

Last year’s prize was won by the Victoria and Albert in London.

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The Barber of SevilleImage copyright
Mike Hoban

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The Barber of Seville is one of the ENO’s new season revivals

If you’ve ever struggled to hear every word being sung at an opera, things may be about to improve.

The English National Opera is to bring in diction coaches to ensure its productions are loud and clear.

Speaking at the launch of the ENO’s 2017/18 season, artistic director Daniel Kramer said: “We want to make sure that when we do sing in English it is as comprehensible as possible.”

Coaches are currently being recruited to work with the cast on each show.

“It’s a huge space in there,” said the ENO’s new music director Martyn Brabbins of the company’s 2,359-seat home at the London Coliseum.

“Some singers are more predisposed to do it than others… some singers find it more challenging. It’s a difficult thing. But tell me where you hear every word in any opera.”

The new ENO season features four new productions and five revivals at the London Coliseum.

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Robbie Jack

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The Marriage of Figaro is also among the productions

It will open with a new production of Verdi’s Aida, directed by Phelim McDermott, whose Akhnaten won an Olivier award earlier this month.

Verdi’s La Traviata will end the season, with Kramer directing Irish soprano Claudia Boyle in the role of “fallen woman” Violetta.

‘Financially stable’

The ENO has been through turbulent times in recent years.

In February 2015, the Arts Council of England cut its core funding by £5m and placed the company under “special funding arrangements”.

Two months later, the ENO announced it was cutting ticket prices in an attempt to secure its financial future.

Artistic director John Berry quit the following July after 10 years in the post.

In February 2016 the ENO chorus was set to strike over a pay dispute which was later resolved. A month later music director Mark Wigglesworth resigned after less than a year in the job.

At Thursday’s season announcement, CEO Cressida Pollock said the company was “more financially stable than we have been in over a decade”.

She said ticket price cuts in the balcony and upper circle had boosted audiences, and would be extended to the dress circle this year.

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Tristram Kenton

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Daniel Kramer took over as ENO artistic director last year

Kramer added that a new funding model – in which the London Coliseum is rented out to commercial musical productions such as Carousel and Bat Out of Hell – helped finance his opera programme.

“Bat Out of Hell is buying me a world premiere,” he said. “That’s how I look at it on paper.”

Looking further ahead to the end of 2018, ENO will mark the the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I with Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem.

In 2019 it will team up with Opera North for the world premiere of Iain Bell’s Jack the Ripper, which Kramer said would “look at the myth from the female perspective”.

With Rupert Charlesworth in the title role, the central female roles will sung by Josephine Barstow, Lesley Garrett, Susan Bullock, Janis Kelly and Marie McLaughlin.

Other 2017/18 season highlights:

  • Marnie - the world premiere of Nico Muhly’s latest opera based on novelist Winston Graham’s psychological thriller, which was also made into a 1964 film directed by Alfred Hitchcock
  • Iolanthe – Gilbert and Sullivan’s fantasy political satire directed by Cal McCrystal, who was responsible for the slapstick sequences in the National Theatre’s comedy hit One Man, Two Guvnors
  • The Turn of the Screw – Benjamin Britten’s spine-chilling chamber opera, based on the Henry James novella, in a co-production with Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre
  • More revivals, including Jonathan Miller’s The Barber of Seville, Robert Carsen’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Fiona Shaw’s The Marriage of Figaro

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Madonna in 1984Image copyright
Rex Features

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Madonna has disputed the accuracy of the biopic

Not for the first time, Madonna is on the war path.

The focus of her rage is Universal Pictures, who snapped up a script about the singer’s early years in New York earlier this week.

Madonna sought out a copy of the screenplay, called Blonde Ambition, and immediately declared it to be “all lies”.

“Nobody knows what I know and what I have seen.” the 58-year-old fumed on Instagram.

“Only I can tell my story. Anyone else who tries is a charlatan and a fool. Looking for instant gratification without doing the work. This is a disease in our society.”

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Madonna / Instagram

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Madonna’s representative confirmed her Instagram post related to the Blonde Ambition script

Penned by first-time writer Elyse Hollander, Blonde Ambition topped last year’s Black List, Hollywood’s annual chart of the best unproduced screenplays.

The list has previously featured future Oscar-winners such as Spotlight, The Revenant, Argo and American Hustle – so it’s no surprise that Universal nabbed the rights.

Two major producers have already been attached to the project, Michael De Luca (The Social Network) and Brett Ratner (X-Men), who himself directed Madonna’s Beautiful Stranger video in 1999.

However, it’s clear that the project doesn’t have the star’s approval.

In theory, that’s not a barrier to the film getting made, but the script relies heavily on Madonna’s music, including Like A Virgin, Everybody and Lucky Star.

If the singer vetoes their use, the project would essentially be dead in the water.

But how inaccurate is Hollander’s script?

We read a publicly available draft to see how closely it stuck to Madonna’s story.

While the arc is broadly true, Hollander compresses and condenses events, even creating composite characters to keep up the momentum.

Here’s what’s true, and what isn’t.

True: Madonna was in a band called The Emmys

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The singer was in several bands before hitting the big time as a solo artist

The first act of the script focuses on Madonna’s pre-fame band The Emmys, which she formed with her boyfriend Dan Gilroy and childhood friend Stephen Bray, who went on to co-write Into The Groove, Express Yourself and True Blue.

Their name derived from Madonna’s childhood nickname, and video footage of their scrappy garage tunes can easily be found online.

The film insists the group were a cheap knock-off of new wave pop band Blondie, but their sound was more indebted to Britain’s ska and 2 Tone scenes.

Madonna can even be heard adopting a British accent in some of their early demos.

False: The Emmys were erased from history

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Getty Images

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The singer paid tribute to her bandmates in later years

One of the script’s biggest fabrications was that Madonna and The Emmys had a deal with Sire Records and cut an entire album before Madonna took the songs, erased Dan’s vocals and launched herself as a solo artist.

In reality, the band never got beyond making demo tapes; and many of the songs attributed to them in the film – including Borderline and Lucky Star – were written much later.

Madonna even paid tribute to Dan Gilroy when she was inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2008.

“He lived in an abandoned synagogue in Queens,” she recalled, “and he taught me how to play guitar.

“I practised those four chords that Dan taught me over and over and over again.”

Partially true: Madonna worked in a Russian tea room

At the start of Blonde Ambition, Madonna is seen waiting tables at New York’s prestigious Russian Tea Room.

While the star did work at the venue for two months, she was stationed in the cloakroom, and eventually let go for failing to adhere to the dress code.

“She was a hard worker, conscientious,” said restaurant manager Gregory Camillucci in 1991.

“I got the impression that the one meal we fed her was the only food she was getting.”

True: She dated her producer, Jellybean Benitez

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Rex / Shutterstock

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Madonna and Jellybean in 1983

Blonde Ambition’s biggest sub-plot is Madonna’s romance with dance producer John “Jellybean” Benitez, who produced her breakthrough single, Holiday, and remixed others, including Material Girl, Like A Virgin and Dress You Up.

They first met at the influential New York club Fun House, where, according to one observer, Madonna “walked right up to the DJ booth, grabbed him and kissed him”.

After that, they dated for two years, during which time Madonna’s career exploded – leading to inevitable tensions and the eventual breakdown of their relationship.

However, it’s unlikely that their courtship included the sort of “romantic” dialogue Hollander provides in her script.

“You’re the first Latin DJ to break out of genre in a heavily white industry and I’m a driven woman in [an] all boys club,” says Madonna during one encounter. “We’re both outsiders but I’m willing to work the system from within. Are you?”

True: (Most of) the things she said

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Getty Images

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Many of the quotes come from archive interviews with the singer

Throughout the script, entire lines of dialogue are lifted verbatim from Madonna’s interviews, including the pivotal quote: “It never occurred to me to get into this business and not be a huge success. I wanted the world to notice me, always have.”

In fact, Hollander’s reliance on archive clips caught Madonna out during her Instagram rant.

As an example of the script’s inaccuracies, the singer singled out a line of dialogue on the first page, in which Madonna tells US TV personality Dick Clark: “I was born in Detroit. I’m a famed high school dropout.”

“I was born in Bay City, not Detroit. And I did not drop out of high school. In fact, I went to University of Michigan,” Madonna said.

But the interview Hollander quotes is available on YouTube – which might explain why Madonna later deleted her comments.

However, some of her quotes have been placed in a new context.

On page 58 of the script, Madonna tells Jellybean: “I always knew I was going to be a nun or a star. Spending six months in a convent cured me of the first one.”

This superb (and untrue) piece of hyperbole actually comes from a handwritten letter Madonna sent to film director Stephen Lewicki, requesting an audition for his movie A Certain Sacrifice.

Partially true: She signed her record deal in hospital

One of the most well-worn Madonna stories is that Seymour Stein signed her to Sire Records in hospital, hours after having heart surgery.

In the script, this is all at Madonna’s behest. So desperate is she to sign the deal that she frog-marches to his ward and practically puts the pen in his hand.

But Stein insists hewas the one who summoned Madonna to him.

“I was caught with dirty pyjamas with a slit up the back of my gown,” he told Rolling Stone.

“”I needed a shave and a shower. But I got it together to meet with her.

“When she walked in the room, I could tell she wouldn’t have cared if I was like Sarah Bernhardt lying in a coffin.

“All she cared about was that one of my arms moved, that I could sign a contract.

“What I saw there was even more important than the one song I heard.

“I saw a young woman who was so determined to be a star.”

Uncertain: The abortion

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Getty Images

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Madonna later tackled the subject of abortion in Papa Don’t Preach

In Blonde Ambition’s final scene, backstage at the 1984 MTV Awards, Madonna coldly informs Jellybean that she has aborted their child.

“I won’t have to choose between my career and a family now,” she says, not even deigning to make eye contact. “And that’s how I want it.”

Madonna has never suggested she was pregnant in 1984, and Hollander’s claim would appear to be based on Christopher Andersen’s salacious 1992 biography Madonna: Unauthorized (you can read an excerpt here).

However, Madonnahas spoken about having an abortion during the early years of her career on several occasions.

“You always have regrets when you make those kind of decisions,” she told Times Magazine in 1996, “but you have to look at your lifestyle and ask, ‘Am I at a place in my life where I can devote a lot of time to being the really good parent I want to be?’

“I think you have to be mentally prepared for it. If you’re not, you’re only doing the world a disservice by bringing up a child you don’t want.”

(A group of New York Film Students have filmed Blonde Ambition’s final scene, should you be interested in watching an am-dram version of the movie).

True: The feud with Cher

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Getty Images

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Cher and Madonna have traded barbed words for the past 30 years

“I think Madonna’s vulgar and tacky,” says Cher on the 83rd page of Blonde Ambition. “She’s a flash in the pan at best.”

Amazing though it may seem, the quote is real.

Madonna even responded to the comment in a 1984 interview with her future biographer J Randy Taborelli, saying: “Who knows tacky better than Cher?”

False: Madonna auditioned songwriters in a swimming pool

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Holiday was Madonna’s breakout hit, and the UK’s introduction to the future Queen of Pop

Half-way through Blonde Ambition, Madonna is desperately seeking a final song to complete her debut album. So she and Jellybean hold an open audition in an indoor swimming pool at the YMCA.

After a montage of dismal musicians playing dismal songs, funk duo Pure Energy walk through the double doors.

Singer Lisa Stevens and bassist Curtis Hudson (bizarrely renamed Richard Curtis in Hollander’s script) nervously set up their instruments before playing what will become Madonna’s signature song, Holiday.

Great story – but it never happened.

The band originally submitted a cassette demo of the song to Mary Wilson, of The Supremes.

When she rejected it, Holiday was passed on to Jellybean, who presented it to Madonna.

“The song still generates money,” Curtis told blogcritics in 2006 .

“Can you live off of one hit? Yes, you can if you get the right hit. It can last you a lifetime. We’ve been living proof of that. If we did nothing else, the royalties from Holiday could support us.”

True: She fell over at the 1984 MTV Awards

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Warner Bros / Sire Records

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Madonna’s MTV performance echoed the cover of her second album, Like A Virgin

Madonna’s most public mishap came at the 2015 Brit Awards, when she was yanked off stage by a cape.

But it had happened once before – at the first MTV Awards in 1984, when she lost a stiletto while walking down a 17ft (5m) tall wedding cake in her wedding dress (it could happen to anyone).

Although the incident plays a pivotal part in Blonde Ambition – has she lost the baby? – it was never as serious as the script makes out.

“I thought, ‘Well, I’ll just pretend I meant to do this,’” Madonna later said. “So I dove on the floor and I rolled around. And, as I reached for the shoe, the dress went up. And [my] underpants were showing.”

The stumble-flash made television history and propelled Madonna to even greater heights. And that’s where the film drops the curtain.

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Jodie Foster with Jonathan Demme in 2011Image copyright
Getty Images

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Foster called Demme, pictured with her in 2011, a “brother of love”

Jodie Foster and Sir Anthony Hopkins have paid tribute to the late Jonathan Demme, who directed them in Oscar-winning film The Silence of the Lambs.

Foster said his death had left her “heartbroken”, while Sir Anthony remembered him as “one of the best”.

Actress Meryl Streep called his death “a big loss to the caring world”, while Talking Heads’ David Byrne said he had been “hugely inspirational”.

Demme died on Wednesday, aged 73, from complications from oesophageal cancer.

He won an Academy Award for directing The Silence of the Lambs, which also won Oscars for best picture, best screenplay and for Foster and Hopkins’ performances.

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Getty Images

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Both Foster and Hopkins won Oscars for The Silence of the Lambs

Foster, who played FBI trainee Clarice Starling in the 1991 thriller, remembered Demme as “a friend, a mentor, a guy so singular and dynamic you’d have to design a hurricane to contain him.

“Jonathan was as quirky as his comedies and as deep as his dramas. He was pure energy, the unstoppable cheerleader for anyone creative.

“Just as passionate about music as he was about art, he was and will always be a champion of the soul,” the actress and director continued.

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Demme’s last credit as a director was an episode of US TV show Shots Fired

“JD, most beloved, something wild, brother of love, director of the lambs. Love that guy. Love him so much.”

“I am really shocked and very sad to hear about Jonathan’s passing,” said Sir Anthony Hopkins in his own tribute to the film-maker.

“He was one of the best, and a really nice guy as well who had such a great spirit. Every day being with him was a high five.”

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Getty Images

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Demme made two films with Meryl Streep

In her tribute, Streep described Demme as “a big-hearted, big tent, compassionate man – in full embrace in his life of people in need – and of the potential of art, music, poetry and film to fill that need.”

The three-time Oscar winner worked with the director on his 2004 remake of The Manchurian Candidate and in 2015′s Ricki and the Flash.

  • Silence of the Lambs director Demme dies
  • Jonathan Demme: Five must-see films

In a lengthy tribute on his website, Byrne said Demme’s films had been “filled with so much passion and love” and that his world view had been “open, warm, animated and energetic”.

“He was directing TV episodes even this year, when he was in remission,” the singer and musician revealed.

The Talking Heads frontman worked with the director on concert film Stop Making Sense and also wrote music for his films Something Wild and Married to the Mob.

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Demme directed Anne Hathaway in 2008′s Rachel Getting Married

Further tributes have been paid by Reese Witherspoon, who remembered Demme as “a great film-maker and a lovely man”, and Anne Hathaway, who called him her “favourite rebel angel”.

Tim Robbins remembered him as “a lovely man, a great director and a kind soul”, while Robbins’ former partner Susan Sarandon said she was “devastated”.

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“Words just aren’t enough with heartache like this,” wrote pop star Justin Timberlake, who worked with Demme on a concert film last year.

“The time I spent with you away from a camera and a stage made a better human out of me. You are truly irreplaceable.”

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Justin Timberlake/Instagram

Demme’s publicist, Leslee Dart, confirmed on Wednesday that the director died on Wednesday morning in his Manhattan apartment.

A private family funeral will be held for the director, who is survived by his wife, Joanne Howard, and his children Ramona, Brooklyn and Jos.

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Media captionDiane-Louise Jordan: “I’ve been on the most horrible three-year rollercoaster”

BBC presenter Diane Louise Jordan said she has had “a tough three years” trying to clear her name after being wrongly accused of harassment.

The ex-Blue Peter presenter said her career suffered after she was issued with a PIN (Police Information Notice).

She was given a non-harassment order in 2014 for allegedly harassing Kayla Thomas, the partner of her daughter’s estranged husband.

Her accuser received a suspended 18-month prison sentence on Thursday.

Thomas was sentenced for perverting the course of justice. A spokesman for Cambridge Crown Court said Ms Thomas had given a false witness statement and was also subject to a three-month curfew.

Media captionBlue Peter star tells the Today programme that she felt “guilty until proven innocent” over harassment notice

The case has drawn attention to the issuing of PINs, which some claim are issued too frequently and without sufficient investigation.

Jordan, who currently co-presents the BBC’s Songs of Praise, told BBC Radio 4′s Today programme she felt “guilty until proven innocent”, adding: “It is a horrible thing to be hanging over you for three years, for something you know you haven’t done.”

Speaking to BBC Two’s Victoria Derbyshire programme, she said: “I’m still reeling from it now. My integrity has been questioned and my sense of trust has flown out the window.”

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She currently presents Songs of Praise alongside Pam Rhodes and Aled Jones

The presenter said she had signed the notice because she thought she had “no option”, without realising it would go “on some sort of record”.

She said the issuing of the notice and the media coverage it generated had had a “detrimental impact” on her charity work.

‘Can feel very unfair’

“Some of the charities I was working with I haven’t heard from again,” she told the BBC on Thursday.

Because signing a Police Information Notice does not mean admitting any wrongdoing, there is no right of appeal.

In 2015, a government report acknowledged that the lack of any procedure for appealing against a PIN “can feel very unfair to recipients”.

“If somebody takes a dislike to you, they can make an allegation and you can be slapped with one of these notices,” said Jordan.

“The notices last about a year, but I’ve since found out they can stay on your record for longer. The police are aware they are less than perfect.”

Jordan presented Blue Peter from 1990 to 1996 and was its first black presenter.

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