Halsey: Singer speaks about tour miscarriage trauma

US singer Halsey has spoken about the moment she realised she was having a miscarriage during a concert.

She was talking on a TV show in a segment about endometriosis, a condition she revealed she has in 2016.

“I was on tour, and I found out I was pregnant,” Halsey told The Doctors.

“Before I could really figure out what that meant to me and what that meant for my future… the next thing I knew I was on stage miscarrying in the middle of my concert.”

An estimated 1.5 million women in the UK live with endometriosis – where cells like those that line the womb develop in other parts of the body. It can cause painful and heavy periods, as well as infertility, fatigue and bowel and bladder problems.

Halsey continued: “The sensation of looking a couple hundred teenagers in the face while you’re bleeding through your clothes and still having to do the show, and realising in that moment… I never want to make that choice ever again of doing what I love or not being able to because of this disease.

“So I put my foot down and got really aggressive about seeking treatment and I had surgery about a year ago and I feel a lot better.”

During the interview, Halsey – real name Ashley Nicolette Frangipane – also revealed she plans to freeze her eggs so she can have children in the future.

“When I tell people that, they’re like, ‘You’re 23, why do you need to do that? Why do you need to freeze your eggs?'” she said.

“Doing an ovarian reserve is important to me because I’m fortunate enough to have that as an option, but I need to be aggressive about protecting my fertility, about protecting myself.”

She also discussed the “bittersweet” feeling when she was diagnosed with endometriosis – which she described in January 2016 as “excruciatingly painful”.

She told the CBS TV show: “My tour manager had to take me to a hospital. And the whole time I was there, no-one knew what to tell me. Dehydration, stress, anxiety.

“And I was saying, ‘What about my pain?’ A lot of the time they can make you think it’s in your head.”

Speaking about finally getting the diagnosis, she continued: “It was the relief of knowing that I wasn’t making it up, and I wasn’t being sensitive, and it wasn’t all in my head, but it also kind of sucked to know that I was going to be living with this forever.

“The thing with endometriosis is that it comes down to that doctors can tend to minimise the female experience when it comes to dealing with it,” she added.

“My whole life, my mother had always told me, ‘Women in our family just have really bad periods.’ It was just something she thought she was cursed to deal with and I was cursed to deal with, and that was just a part of my life.”

Halsey’s debut album Badlands reached number nine in the UK in 2015, while her most recent single Him & I – a collaboration with G-Eazy – peaked at number 22 earlier this year.


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Kelis says she was abused by Nas during their marriage

Pop star Kelis has claimed she was mentally and physically abused during her five-year marriage to rapper Nas.

In an hour-long interview, Kelis said the couple frequently traded blows, with Nas sometimes drinking heavily before becoming violent.

“I’m not afraid to throw a punch, but I wouldn’t have started it,” she told Hollywood Unlocked. “I was never that angry. He was angry. He was dark and he’s always been that way.”

Nas hasn’t responded to her comments.

When Kelis and Nas married in 2005, they were hailed as hip-hop royalty – his debut Illmatic is considered one of hip-hop’s classic albums, while she scored era-defining, trend-setting hits with Milkshake, Trick Me and Caught Out There.

But behind the scenes, their relationship was “tumultuous and toxic”, Kelis said, with both sides becoming violent.

“I’ve never painted myself as a saint,” she said. “I never just sat there. Did he hit me? Mmm-hm. Did I hit him back? Mmm-hm.”

The star, now 44, said a pivotal point in their relationship came when details emerged of Rihanna’s abuse at the hands of Chris Brown in 2009.

“I remember so clearly when the pictures came out,” she said. “And the only way I can describe it was like double-dutch.

“I felt like, ‘Do I jump in? Do I say it?’ Cause I had bruises all over my body at that time.

“Seeing her, the way she looked, and then looking at myself. I was embarrassed.”

‘I stayed for years’

Ultimately, however, she decided not to reveal her own story.

“I wasn’t ready to walk. I just wasn’t,” she told Hollywood Unlocked’s Jason Lee.

“I’m not weak. I’m really private. I don’t want people in my business. I felt like, ‘This is my partner. I chose this. I’m going to make it work.’ I stayed for years after that.”

The decision to leave eventually came when she became pregnant with her first child, Knight.

“At seven months pregnant, I was terrified. I was like, ‘I can’t bring a person into this. This is a mess,'” she said.

“I probably would have stayed longer had I not been pregnant.”

The singer filed for divorce over “irreconcilable differences” in April 2009 and gave birth that July. In less than a year, their divorce was finalised.

‘My life is good’

The couple are currently in the middle of a protracted custody battle over Knight, focusing on visitation rights.

Kelis remarried in 2014 and has a two-year-old son, Shepherd, with estate agent Mike Mora.

“I moved on,” she said. “I’m married. I have another baby. My life is good.”

The star said she had decided to share her story in the hope it would help other women confront their own experiences of abuse.

“Women can’t be afraid to fight,” she said. “I have edited myself for nine years and I woke up this morning and said, ‘Not today.'”

Nas’s spokesperson has not responded to a request for a comment.

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Kanye West defends pro-Trump sentiments in new song

After a week of controversial Twitter postings, Kanye West has defended his support of the US president in a new song.

The track Ye vs. The People sees the star trading lyrics with fellow-rapper T.I., who takes him to task over his support of Donald Trump.

“You representin’ dudes who seem crude and cold-hearted,” argues T.I., adding that West is emboldening “white supremacy”.

But the star stands his ground, insisting that he’s “fighting for the people”.

Alluding to a photo he posted of himself wearing Donald Trump’s famous Make America Great Again baseball cap, West raps: “Wearing the hat will show people that we are equal.”

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my wife just called me and she wanted me to make this clear to everyone. I don't agree with everything Trump does. I don't agree 100% with anyone but myself.

— KANYE WEST (@kanyewest) April 25, 2018

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“I love Hillary too,” he added in another post.

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If your friend jumps off the bridge you don't have to do the same. Ye being Ye is a fight for you to be you. For people In my life the idea of Trump is pretty much a 50 50 split but I don't tell a Hillary supporter not to support Hillary
I love Hillary too.

— KANYE WEST (@kanyewest) April 25, 2018

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‘Kind of a big deal’

Nonetheless, the president has seized upon this rare, A-list endorsement and tweeted his approval.

“Kanye West has performed a great service to the black community,” he wrote on Friday. “Big things are happening and eyes are being opened for the first time in decades – Legacy stuff!”

“Kind of a big deal,” added his son, Donald Trump Jr, on Instagram. “Seems like a cultural turning point.”

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Kind of a big deal. Seems like a cultural turning point. Nice to see some real influencers push back on the nonsense narrative and actually push for free speech and thought and not just thought that falls totally in line with Hollywood’s and the far left’s ideology. #kanyewest #maga

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However, West has come in for criticism from fellow musicians, including his friend and former protégé John Legend.

Legend pleaded with the rapper not let his support for Trump tarnish his “legacy” in a private text message, which West later posted online.

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pic.twitter.com/zxcloMEj9I

— KANYE WEST (@kanyewest) April 26, 2018

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“Think freely,” he advised West. “Think with empathy and context too. Your words and actions have consequences.”

Fellow Chicagoan Chance The Rapper initially defended West, saying “Black people don’t have to be democrats”.

But after President Trump praised his comments, the star issued a clarification.

I’d never support anyone who has made a career out of hatred, racism and discrimination,” he wrote.

“Unfortunately, my attempt to support Kanye is being used to discredit my brothers and sisters in the movement and I can’t sit by and let that happen.”

A prolonged publicity campaign?

Ultimately, it’s possible the entire controversy has been a bizarre, prolonged publicity campaign for West’s new music; but the exchange of views seems genuine.

T.I. even hinted that Ye vs. The People was recorded just two days ago, amidst the fallout of West’s return to Twitter.

“Yesterday spent the day with Kanye,” he wrote on Instagram on Friday.

“Still optimistic something from our discussion gon stick… I refuse to just give up on him.”

Before the release of Ye vs. The People, West trolled his fans by releasing another song – Lift Yourself – filled with nonsense lyrics.

The track opens with a sped-up sample of the 1973 Amnesty song Liberty, a soulful call to arms that states, “we need to strive for more liberty”.

However, West’s sole contribution was a verse built around the lyrics: “Poopy-di scoop / Scoop-diddy-whoop / Whoop-di-scoop-di-poop.”

The two releases are West’s first new music since 2016’s Life Of Pablo album.

He has hinted he will release a new album on 1 June, followed a week later by a collaborative record with Kid Cudi.

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Abba announce first new music since 1982

Pop group Abba have returned to the studio to record their first new music since the 1980s.

The Swedish quartet said the new material was an “unexpected consequence” of their recent decision to put together a “virtual reality” tour.

“We all four felt that, after some 35 years, it could be fun to join forces again and go into the studio,” the band said on Instagram.

“And it was like time stood still.”

No release date has been set for the new songs – but one of them, titled I Still Have Faith In You, will be performed in December on a TV special broadcast by the BBC and NBC.

The band have resisted pressure to reform since they stopped recording together in 1982, despite a reported $1bn (£689m) offer to tour in 2000.

In an interview with the BBC in 2013, Agnetha Faltskog said she preferred to leave the band in the past.

“It was such a long time ago, and we are getting older, and we have our different lives,” she explained.

News of the new material comes in a bumper year for Abba fans. An immersive exhibition based on the band’s career is running on London’s South Bank, while Chess, the musical Bjorn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson wrote with Sir Tim Rice, is being revived in the West End.

  • Will Abba’s new music ruin their legacy?
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  • 6 shocks from the Mamma Mia 2 trailer
  • Abba’s Agnetha comes out of retirement

    A sequel to the film version of Mamma Mia!, starring Amanda Seyfried, Lily James and Cher, will be released on 20 July.

    Speaking to BBC News, Rod Stephen, founder of Abba tribute act Bjorn Again, described the new material as “a whole new beginning”.

    “I heard about Abba releasing new songs and I was instantly, like everyone else in the Abba community, really excited to know what the songs were and how they’re going to sound. Will it have that 1970s sound or will it be up to date?

    “It’s brilliant really, because we love Abba’s music to death. I just hope they’re great songs, I hope they’re equivalent to Dancing Queen or Mamma Mia.”

    He added: “I know Benny and Bjorn wouldn’t release something in this way unless they were good songs.”

    Speaking to the BBC’s Adam Fleming last week, Ulvaeus had hinted that there could be new material. Here’s what he said:

    How did the Abba avatar idea come about?

    We were introduced to an idea by Simon Fuller who is, as you know, an entertainment entrepreneur – [creator of] the format of American Idol and manager of the Spice Girls and so forth.

    He came to Stockholm and he presented this idea to us that we could make identical digital copies of ourselves of a certain age and that those copies could then go on tour and they could sing our songs, you know, and lip sync. I’ve seen this project halfway through and it’s already mind-boggling.

    What does it actually look like? Does it look like a younger you?

    Yes. Real. And they say once it’s finished you’ll never see that it’s not a human being. And what attracted me personally to this is of course I’m always curious, scientifically-curious and this is new technology and we are pioneers. So I thought, ‘Yeah let’s go for it,’ and you know the other three went for it as well.

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    What is the actual format of the tribute show going to be? Is it going to be these Abba-tars all the way though?

    No, other people as well. And as for the format I’m not entirely sure what it’s going to look like but some sort of tribute show with these Abba-tars for want of a better word as the kind of centrepiece.

    Will you write new material for it?

    We don’t know what the Abba-tars will sing yet but there’s lots to choose from of the old stuff and yeah, I’m not ready to say that yet.

    So there could be new songs…

    I’m… it’s up in the air.

    Stay tuned…

    Yeah.

    Why not reform and have a reunion? The real you, rather than the virtual ones.

    Yeah, why not? Well… it never seemed like a good idea. It’s not that we haven’t had offers over the years. But somehow we always thought that the Abba that people have in their minds are the once-young and energetic group from the ’70s. And we just never felt the urge to go on tour, I guess.

    On the whole we toured very little. We had like 10 years together and of those 10 years maybe we toured, like, seven months. Not more than that. So to go on tour as a geriatric, I don’t know!

    Formed in 1972, Abba were essentially a Swedish supergroup, consisting of songwriters Ulvaeus and Andersson from The Hep Stars and singers Faltskog and Anni-Frid Lyngstad, who had scored success as solo artists.

    But their joint project completely eclipsed their previous successes. After winning the Eurovision Song Contest with Waterloo in 1974, the band sold almost 400 million singles and albums around the world.

    Mamma Mia!, the musical based on their hits and produced by Ulvaeus and Andersson, has been seen by more than 50 million people.

    During their most successful period, the band survived marriage break-ups between Ulvaeus and Faltskog, and Lyngstad and Andersson, but they finally called it a day in 1983.

    Their final recording sessions, in 1982, produced the hits Under Attack and The Day Before You Came, which featured on the compilation album The Singles.

    Their last public performance came three years later, on the Swedish version of TV show This Is Your Life, which honoured their manager Stig Anderson.

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SOS! Will Abba’s new music live up to their legacy?

It’s hard to imagine now but, once upon a time, people hated Abba.

Those spangly satin jumpsuits, their Eurovision origins, the wedding disco ubiquity of Dancing Queen – they all conspired to consign Abba to the cheesy-smelling scrapheap of pop.

The band were frequently misunderstood as kitsch because they wrote soft, optimistic pop songs. And, to be fair, some of their lyrics were pretty banal. (Nina, Pretty Ballerina, a weak tea version of Dancing Queen, is particularly awful.)

But a critical reappraisal began in the 1990s, with the release of the bewilderingly-successful Abba Gold compilation (30 million units and counting) and the emergence of tribute acts like Bjorn Again.

Some people embraced Abba ironically. But those people were wrong.

Abba are one of the most straightforwardly brilliant pop bands of all time.

SOS? Amazing. Mamma Mia? Amazing. So Long? Amazing. The Name Of The Game? Amazing. Chiquitita? You get the picture.

Anyone with a passing acquaintance with melody loves what Agnetha, Benny, Bjorn and Anni-Frid achieved.

“Purely from a songwriting point of view they were up there with the best,” said Noel Gallagher in 2004.

“They enter Eurovision singing about the battle of Waterloo in platforms [and] they were all shagging each other? Does it get better than that?”

Last year, Michael Eavis pledged he would un-cancel Glastonbury if Abba reformed, while artists including Portishead, Kylie, Sinead O’Connor and The Carpenters have covered their music.

The group never officially split up, drifting into the dusk in 1983 after recording sessions for a planned ninth album didn’t work out.

Since then, they’ve resisted the temptation to reform, through thick, thin and offers of $1bn in cash.

Until Friday, that is, when the band announced they’d gone back into the studio and cut two new songs.

“I’m half-thrilled and half-terrified,” says Kitty Empire, pop critic for The Observer.

  • Abba record first new songs since 1982
  • 6 shocks from the Mamma Mia 2 trailer
  • Abba’s Agnetha comes out of retirement

    “No matter what they produce, can it ever live up to this weight of expectation? But I’m cautiously optimistic.”

    And herein lies the problem. Can any band reform 35 years after their peak and recapture what fans loved about them?

    “I think a good parallel is when the surviving Beatles got back together to do Free As A Bird [in 1995],” says music writer Pete Paphides.

    “Some people were sniffy about it at the beginning, when they first heard it, and I was one of them.

    “I was in my early 20s and had that 20-something arrogance that you sometimes have. But, actually, I can barely get to the end of Free As A Bird now without my eyes watering.

    “I think it’s just a beautiful song and I’ve lived with it over the years. My youngest daughter plays it on the piano. And that feels as valid and important a part of their legacy as any other Beatles songs.”

    The Beatles aren’t the only ones who got it right, says Paphides, listing Blur, New Order and Take That as bands who bounced back from a break-up.

    “The Take That album was really clever because they weren’t trying to be the band that they were before,” he says. “It was like they’d stepped back and asked themselves, ‘Who are we as people, and how can we credibly do this?’

    “It was an album that honoured the fact that both their fans and they as people were older. So there was a bittersweet aspect to that record, which I think sort of touched people.”

    EDM banger?

    So what will Abba 2.0 sound like? Perhaps we can gather clues from the quartet’s recent solo material.

    Agnetha Faltskog made an accomplished return to the studio with 2013’s A, which included the single When You Really Loved Someone.

    Her sole writing credit, I Keep Them On The Floor Beside My Bed, found the singer scattering photos of an old lover across her bedroom floor, wondering what happened to their relationship.

    A pleading, age-appropriate ballad, it feels connected to the wistful melancholy of Abba’s swansong The Visitors – an obvious jumping-off point for new material.

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    Benny Andersson’s recent album of solo piano pieces, released on classical label Deutsche Grammophon, reinforced his profound gift for melody. However it seems unlikely to inform the Abba reunion.

    A better indicator is the Benny Andersson Orchestra (BAO), which combines his passion for pop, rock and the oompah rhythms of Swedish folk with surprisingly intoxicating effects.

    The band’s 2009 single Du Ar Min Man (You Are My Man) – which spent four years in the Swedish chart – wouldn’t sound out of place on one of the earlier Abba albums.

    Anni-Frid Lyngstad, meanwhile, has largely avoided the recording studio since the ’80s.

    However, her 2010 cover of Morning Has Broken, recorded with Swedish musician Georg Wadenius, shows how effective her voice would be over the sort of stripped-back acoustic arrangements Benny and Bjorn favoured in their 1990s musical Kristina.

    Thankfully, then, no-one seems inclined to give Abba an EDM makeover.

    The one song title they’ve revealed so far – I Still Have Faith In You – suggests a timeworn romance perfectly suited to Agnetha and Frida’s strong-but-vulnerable vocals.

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    Can we safely assume the crisis has been averted, then?

    “I think their filter is very good,” says Kitty Empire. “I think their quality control will be impeccable.

    “But my personal fear is that it will be the cheesy end of Abba rather than the kind of Abba songs that very gently twist a knife into your innards and make you cry.”

    Rod Stephen, founder member of Bjorn Again, agrees.

    “Yes, there is a risk to their legacy being undone [but] I know Benny and Bjorn wouldn’t release something in this way unless they were good songs.

    “Even if they do misfire, I don’t think anybody would blame them for trying.”

    For his cover-bandmate Agnetha (she doesn’t like using her real name), the chance to put new songs in the set list comes as something of a relief.

    “After doing Abba for 20 years every weekend, it would actually be quite nice to learn new material!” she laughs.

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    But for Paphides, the arrival of new music is less compelling than the story of how it came about.

    “I’m happy for them,” he says. “I’m happy they felt so relaxed in each other’s company, that it didn’t seem like an onerous thing for them to even countenance the idea of making music together.

    “It’s a lovely thing – not just in terms of the creative merit, but because making music with people you love is a joyful thing.

    “And they don’t owe us anything, they’ve given us more wonderful music than we could’ve reasonably asked for, and it’s sustained us over the decades.

    “And in a weird way I don’t care if it turns out not to be as good as some of my favourite Abba moments, because they’ve given us way more than we could’ve asked them for.”

    Abba-solutely.

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Mark Sorryberg 1, Congress 0 – for now

Many of us could probably lay claim to a split personality, but few people are as blatant about it as Mark Zuckerberg.

Facebook doesn’t have one CEO – it has two.

There’s Mark Zuckerberg, the Ultimate Millennial. He wears t-shirt and jeans, is a Harvard dropout, happiest in New York and San Francisco, who talks a good game about connecting the world. He’s an engineer and geek who built perhaps the most remarkable network in human history, innovating his way to astronomical wealth. This guy is shy, but has a public persona that accommodates it.

Then there’s a chap I call Mark Sorryberg – the Big Tech Villain. He wears an ill-fitting suit, squirms when in Washington, is blamed for damaging all we hold dear – from rigging elections (“He’s killing democracy”!) to promoting extremism (“He’s unweaving society”!) and not paying enough tax (“He’s screwing the poor”!). This guy is so shy he comes across as awkward and uncomfortable when he should be projecting authority.

As the excellent Zeynep Tufekci wrote in an entertaining blast for Wired, we’ve seen a lot of this second character since the company was founded. In fact, over the past fourteen years, “sorry” seems to have been the easiest word for Facebook’s leader.

In 2006, after the launch of News Feed annoyed users, Sorryberg wrote in a blog: “This was a big mistake on our part, and I’m sorry for it.” In 2007, failures in the Beacon advertising system prompted another grovelling blog: “We simply did a bad job… and I apologise for it.” As Tufekci notes, by 2008, all of his blogs for Facebook were in effect apologies, and we saw several other examples even before he said about the Cambridge Analytica leak to CNN: “I’m really sorry this happened”.

So Mark Sorryberg is a familiar figure by now. He was on display in Washington this week, following the biggest crisis in the history of his company. There were several open goals in front of his interrogators, and opportunities to make him squirm and wriggle were not in short supply.

Yet, for the most part, they missed. After nearly 10 hours of grilling, Facebook is – for now – a richer company, Zuckerberg’s authority as CEO is re-asserted, and the potential disaster this week might have been was averted. These are all very short-term interpretations. There could be big trouble ahead. But the lawmakers fluffed it.

Ineffective questioning

The format didn’t help. For non-partisan reasons that are laudable in principle but ludicrous in practice, each lawmaker was given a maximum of 5 minutes on Tuesday and 4 minutes on Wednesday. You simply cannot build pressure, interrogate answers, or pursue a line of inquiry in the way necessary over such a short time.

But the representatives didn’t help themselves. In his allotted time, Senator Roy Blunt first told a boring story about his business cards, then gave a shout out to his 13 year-old son Charlie who is “dedicated to Instagram… [and] he’d want to be sure that I mentioned that while I was here”, which was sweet.

I’ve transcribed what followed.

Blunt: “Do you collect user data through cross-device tracking.”

Sorryberg: “Er, Senator, I believe we do link people’s accounts between devices in order to make sure that their Facebook and Instagram and their other experiences can be synced between devices.

Blunt: “And that would also include off-line data? Data that is tracking, that is not necessarily linked to Facebook but linked to one… some device they went through Facebook on?”

Sorryberg: “Senator, I want to make sure we get this right. So I want to have my team follow up with you on that afterwards.

Blunt: “That doesn’t seem that complicated to me. You understand this better than I do. But maybe you can explain to me why that’s complicated. Do you track devices that an individual who uses Facebook…has… that is connected to the device they use for their Facebook connection but not necessarily connected to Facebook?”

Sorryberg: “I’m not, I’m not sure [of] the answer to that question.”

Blunt: “Really.”

Sorryberg: “Yes”.

A work of literature that penultimate question was not. I don’t understand it, Zuckerberg didn’t understand it – and Blunt definitely didn’t understand it. He seemed poorly briefed, despite the gravity of the occasion.

Unfortunately, it was emblematic of the meandering, ineffective mode that dominated Tuesday. Wednesday’s interrogation was better, but still not as good as it should have been, not least because there were many questions that weren’t asked. The Facebook CEO’s weaknesses weren’t really exploited.

For instance, he should have been pushed harder on how hard it is to retrieve data that has fallen into the wrong hands. He should have been pushed harder about Facebook’s reaction to news that The Observer newspaper was publishing a story on the subject. His claims that something awry may have been going on at Cambridge University – vigorously denied by the institution – deserved more of a probing.

And the long history of errors at the company, plus its initial denial that there had been a data “breach” when it came to Cambridge Analytica, were worthy of a mauling that was never heard.

First do no harm

Given the scale of the recent controversy, and the courtroom theatrics of these cross-examinations, there was much to fear for Facebook this week. It was Zuckerberg’s first time getting grilled by the Senate and Congress, and his awkwardness in such public arenas was clear for all to see.

His facial expressions garnered comment on social media – but it was his body language and garb, over which he exercises more control, that struck me. On Tuesday, Zuckerberg’s tie knot was chunky and loose; and his halting responses and nervous smiles didn’t project much authority.

But he maintained his composure and politeness throughout. Investors gave a clear enough verdict: the two days added $26bn, or 6 per cent, to the company’s value.

There is some gridlock in Congress, and America’s politicians have a range of very big problems on their plate. That means that for the time being, the regulatory threat to Facebook – though of course they would say they welcome the chance to work with regulators – comes from Brussels and GDPR, rather than Washington.

In terms of new law or regulation, the question is: what kind? One of the great intellectual challenges in this field is in devising regulations that can keep pace with technological innovation: a very hard task. It is wrong to think, for instance, that you can just import the kind of regulation that Ofcom do for broadcasters, and apply it to video content on social media platforms.

The interrogation to come

While this week has not been the disaster for Facebook that many anticipated, and some wanted, the medium-term threats certainly haven’t gone away. And events of recent months have fundamentally changed the level of scrutiny the company is getting, while making perhaps hundreds of millions of users aware of the trade-off between their free use of Facebook and the digital footprint they leave behind.

As my esteemed colleague Dave Lee has noted, there are plenty of deferred questions that the CEO and his team will need to address. And the demands of British regulators that he gives evidence here, too, won’t quieten any time soon.

In particular, perhaps Congress members who realise this week was a missed opportunity will invite their guest back to clarify several of the points he made. If they are smart, they should see this as the beginning of a process, rather than the end.

But in adopting his apologetic posture with an efficacy his interrogators sadly lacked, Mark Sorryberg got one over America’s lawmakers when they should have scored an easy win. If he came to Britain, he wouldn’t get such an easy ride – which is the main reason he probably won’t.

Worzel Gummidge and other classic kids’ TV makeovers

Worzel Gummidge is set to make his return to the small screen – in a new BBC series, starring Mackenzie Crook.

The show will be based on the books by Barbara Euphan Todd, rather than the late 1970s TV show.

Crook will play the lead, a talking scarecrow, who was previously played by Doctor Who’s Jon Pertwee.

A statement for the star of The Office confirmed he is working on “a new contemporary adaptation of the original Worzel Gummidge books.”

“It’s in the very early stages of development, so scripts have not yet been written,” the spokesperson said.

The BBC has yet to confirm the remaking of the show.

Pertwee played Worzel from 1979 to 1981 over the course of four ITV series. He went on to make a further two series when the show was reprised in 1987.

But what other classic kids and teen shows have been remade? We take a look at some of our favourite shows that have been given new life, so that a new generation of young viewers can enjoy them for the second (or third… OR FOURTH) time round.

Well, if you’re onto a good thing…


Sabrina the Teenage Witch

Worzel Gummidge isn’t the only classic kids TV show to be getting a makeover at the moment. The first photo from Netflix’s new version of Sabrina the Teenage Witch was released last week.

It’s getting a darker format than the ’90s show so will be more like The Exorcist than Lizzie McGuire.

Doctor Who

Doctor Who first made its way onto screens in 1963 and ran for 26 series before being retired in 1989.

Tom Baker, Peter Davison and Sylvester McCoy are some of the most well-remembered Doctors in the original series.

The sci-fi show was brought back in 2005 with Christopher Eccleston as a Doctor for the 21st Century.

The latest – and first female – reincarnation of the Doctor, Jodie Whittaker, will be seen taking the reins in a new series reported to hit screens this autumn.

Charmed

Charmed followed three sisters who were known as The Charmed Ones because they were the most powerful good witches of ALL time.

The show, which aired from 1998 to 2006, is set to be rebooted by American network The CW. It’s being written by Jennie Urman, creator of Jane the Virgin.

The Mickey Mouse Club

The Mickey Mouse Club will be best remembered for launching the careers of Ryan Gosling, Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera and Justin Timberlake back in the late ’80s and early ’90s.

This was actually the third reboot of the show, with the variety show previously running from 1955 to 1958 and from 1977 to 1979.

It returned again in 2017, this time as a Facebook exclusive broadcast.

Beverly Hills, 90210

This American drama followed the transition from high school to college of some of the most privileged teens in California.

It ran for 10 series from 1990 to 2000, with as much drama happening behind as in front of the camera.

Shannen Doherty famously didn’t get on with the other female cast members, with physical fights ensuing between them.

The show was remade in 2008 with a new cast and new name – 90210. It followed the same premise as the original and ran for five years.

Knight Rider

David Hasselhoff played Michael Knight alongside talking car KITT in ’80s classic Knight Rider. The show first aired in 1982 and lasted four series.

It went on to spawn two remakes: Team Knight Rider in the late ’90s, and a series in the ’00s – also called Knight Rider – that followed Knight’s estranged son.

Last year The Hoff revealed he was working on a new Knight Rider series with James Gunn, director of Guardians of the Galaxy.


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The thriller writers who are making a killing with crime fiction

British readers have become more gripped by crime and thriller novels, with sales up by 19% between 2015 and 2017, new figures suggest.

The rise has been fuelled by the growth of psychological thrillers and the success of big names like Lee Child, James Patterson and Dan Brown.

Last year, 18.7 million crime books were sold – 19% more than in 2015, data company Nielsen Bookscan says.

They overtook sales for general and literary fiction, which were down 16%.

Relative newcomer Shari Lapena is among the female authors to enjoy the boom. Her book The Couple Next Door was the bestselling novel in the genre last year.

Overall, Child topped the UK crime sales chart in 2017, selling 1.2 million books worth £7.5m – followed by Patterson and Brown.

Paula Hawkins, whose 2015 novel The Girl on the Train led the recent wave of psychological thrillers, was in fourth place after publishing her follow-up Into the Water.

She’s one of a number of authors who have enjoyed recent success with intense personal stories centred on troubled female characters. They include:

Shari Lapena

A Canadian author who switched from comedy to thrillers with 2016’s The Couple Next Door, about Anne and Marco whose baby goes missing while they’re having dinner with neighbours. Her follow-up, A Stranger in the House, came out last year.

2017 UK sales: 445,005.

Clare Mackintosh

The former police officer’s 2014 debut I Let You Go, which starts when a boy slips out of his mother’s grasp and runs into the road – and is knocked down by a hit-and-run driver – was a huge success. Her second book I See You arrived in 2016.

2017 UK sales: 233,719.

Sarah Pinborough

After establishing herself as a fantasy author (and screenwriter for the BBC’s Torchwood), Pinborough switched to psychological thrillers. The twist-tastic Behind Her Eyes took her career to the next level at the start of 2017.

2017 UK sales: 135,459.

Julia Wisdom, crime and thriller publisher for HarperCollins, said the rise in sales of crime fiction was mostly down to the “phenomenal popularity” of psychological thrillers.

“People have got sucked into these stories which are told from the first person, usually, and often with an unreliable narrator. It immerses you straight into someone’s psyche rather than seeing them from the outside,” she said.

“They often don’t have very complicated plots but it’s all about the build-up of suspense and fear, and you have to be completely immersed in the voice.”

Wisdom, who is also on the programming committee for the annual Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival, which takes place in Harrogate in July, said big names like Lee Child and David Baldacci “just get bigger and bigger”.

And people “still take comfort from crime novels where bad is punished and good comes through in the end”, she said.

“There’s also intrigue, suspense and mystery solving en route. But in the end, right wins out. There’s some comfort in that. Those sorts of stories tax your brain a bit but they’re not miserablist. In the end they make you feel better.”

2017 best-selling crime and thriller authors Name UK sales

Lee Child1,181,937James Patterson1,150,856Dan Brown482,176Paula Hawkins472,469John Grisham449,138Shari Lapena445,805David Baldacci380,191Martina Cole288,653Peter James274,009Michael Connelly244,905

Source: Nielsen Bookscan

Crime author Ian Rankin said that as well as having fascinating characters and gripping stories, crime fiction can show us “the darker side of ourselves”.

He told BBC News: “Crime tells us a lot about our society, it tells us a lot about ourselves as human beings… All we human beings are capable of doing good, but we’re also capable of doing terrible things to each other.

“There is a rise in these domestic noir novels, where it’s pretty much ordinary people caught in these extraordinary situations. So the reader goes, well, that could be me.”

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Lady Leshurr: How tooth brushing made a YouTube star

Ten years ago, Lady Leshurr would’ve been considered a rapper, pure and simple.

But today, the 29-year-old’s hugely successful online videos make her difficult to categorise.

“I never thought I’d be classed as a YouTuber, but I guess I am technically,” she tells BBC News. “YouTube has done everything for my career.”

Leshurr (whose stage name is a play on her real name, Malesha O’Garro, and nothing to do with being a lady of leisure) is gearing up for her debut album this year after releasing a string of viral videos.

Just a few years ago, the Birmingham-born star was an underground rapper – you’d have been more likely to catch her playing small gigs or releasing mixtapes than uploading YouTube clips.

But then, she launched Queen’s Speech – a series of videos, inspired by battle rap, each filmed in one continuous take.

“I never expected Queen’s Speech to do what it did,” Leshurr says.

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“I took a year out before I started those. I used to just fling out songs here and there, but I took a break, and started to get to know myself.

“Because, even though I had been doing music for ages, I didn’t feel like I had a proper trademark sound.

“So I was watching a lot of people that came out in 2015, and I just realised what’s missing from the music industry is fun. A sense of humour, like old-school Eminem.”

Each of the Queen’s Speech videos took a different theme, and sees her rapping in locations as diverse as the Woolwich tunnel, a residential street in Los Angeles, an underground car park – or while riding a camel on a dual carriageway.

(As you do.)

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But the lyrics of the songs attracted just as much attention as the videos she filmed for them. Their playful, comedic element rapidly became a crucial part of her identity.

“People associate grime with violence and aggression, and I wanted to be the person to change that,” she says.

“The lyrics that I use – I don’t swear, I don’t talk about drugs and violence.”

Instead, garlic bread, Tetley’s tea, Postman Pat, cheesy Wotsits, Brexit, Snapchat, beans on toast and The Jeremy Kyle Show are among the things she has referenced in her songs.

Her lyrics blend such pop culture references with politically-conscientious rhymes while also reading like an etiquette bible for the social media age.

“I can’t stand girls who take their heels off when they’re in a rave / I’ll step on your big toe, just to remind you how to behave,” she spits on Queen’s Speech 3.

“What you Snapchatting in the club for? Just dance man,” she advises on Queen’s Speech 4.

“And there is just one thing, that I never understood / Girls are learning to twerk, but don’t know how to cook,” she raps on Queen’s Speech 6

However, lyrics such as these – and others where she refers to girls who go to sleep with their make-up on or whose “lips look like crispy bacon” – have earned her criticism from some quarters, who have accused her of being anti-feminist.

But Leshurr says her words are intended to be read as light-hearted and funny rather than aggressive.

“Some people just think I’m trying to slander women and put girls down. And it’s not that – it’s just the fact of me loving battle rap,” she says – referring to the live hip-hop clashes where two MCs take turns to diss their opponent.

“It’s never that I’m trying to put someone down. It’s always like ‘Oh my friend always walks around in the club with no shoes on, that’s funny’, it’s not a thing where I’m trying to go directly at someone.

“I say certain things in Queen’s Speech because I know it’s going to be relatable to the common man.”

It was the fourth instalment of QS – complete with the catchy “brush your teeth” chorus – that took her to the next level.

It racked up more than 100 million views across all platforms, including 40 million alone from DeLorean, a prominent US Facebook account which shared it.

Leshurr credits DeLorean with giving her the exposure that eventually led to Samsung using the song in one of their commercials.

She had initially planned the Queen’s Speech series to be a quartet of videos, but after the fourth instalment went viral in such a big way she decided to continue them – and they got considerably more ambitious.

“We went to Woolwich tunnel pretty late one night because we thought people wouldn’t be going through, but there were,” she says of the filming of Queen’s Speech 6.

“So that took us about four hours to shoot because we wanted to do it without anybody else there.

“And a lot of Americans thought that tunnel was CGI, because they didn’t believe we’ve got long tunnels like that in the UK,” she laughs.

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Another key Lady Leshurr trait is her distinctive accent, which shines through on every song.

She was born in Birmingham, but her parents are originally from St Kitts.

“When I was really young, I was rapping in an American accent, I didn’t really embrace my own accent back then,” she says.

“But when I heard Ms Dynamite, I just thought, I respect what she’s doing, I wanna be like that – she’s using her accent, I should be able to use mine.

“And now I love it, I’m happy that I’m from Birmingham, and it did work to my advantage eventually.”

But perhaps the most striking thing about speaking to Leshurr is how removed she is in person from the loud, brash, flamboyant personality you see in her videos.

“I’m basically the opposite person of who I am on stage,” she says. “I keep to myself, barely go out.”

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She’s hinted at her introverted nature in songs before.

On her Unleshed 2 freestyle, she rapped: “Nowadays I’m low, feeling sad… my anxiety is killing me, making my mind go mad. I’m scared to go to the shop because people know who I am… so I lock myself away.”

A year on from its release, she says little has changed.

“I’m shy, I’m nervous, I don’t look in people’s eyes when I’m talking to them,” she explains.

“I decided to put that song out because it’s how I felt, and it’s powerful. If I’m going through something, I’ll write sad music… I have to write it just to turn the page.”

“But when I’m doing a Queen’s Speech I just come out of myself, and I’m down to try everything.”

As she works towards the release of her first full-length studio album, Leshurr is now winding down the Queen’s Speech project (although she does say she’ll continue to do them “now and again”).

In the meantime, she’s releasing freestyles and stand-alone videos (the most recent of which have included Black Panther, filmed on London’s DLR network, and the brilliantly-titled New Freezer) to keep her brand alive and fans happy.

She also recently lent her support to a campaign to encourage responsible drinking, and has a number of live dates lined up – including an appearance at the Reading and Leeds festival this August.

“Now I think it’s going to be more just proper music,” she says, adding that her first full-length album should hopefully be released this year.

“A lot of people think I can’t make songs, they just think I’m a comedian rapper, but I’m still delivering punch lines, content, flow and technique so it’s a bit frustrating, but I definitely want to show the grown-up side now.”


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Millionaire cough scandal: ‘The most British crime of all time’

James Graham’s latest play, Quiz, tells the story of what the playwright describes as the “most British crime of all time” – the Who Wants To Be A Millionaire coughing scandal of 2001.

Charles Ingram, a former British Army major, was accused of cheating his way to the jackpot on the ITV show by conspiring with his wife, Diana, and another contestant, who would apparently cough when the correct answer was mentioned.

Ingram maintained his innocence throughout his court trial. Now, West End audiences are (literally) being asked to decide for themselves whether or not he was guilty – by voting via a keypad at the end of both the first and second half.

“I think quizzes and game shows are fascinating, they’re a very British obsession and I love that,” Graham tells BBC News.

“But I think the story about whether or not a few middle class people tried to steal a million pounds with questions and coughing, feels like the most British crime of all time. And almost ludicrous in its simplicity.

“It just felt really delicious to me, and I thought if we could just try and turn that into an Ocean’s Eleven-style thriller, but with a major and a Welshman coughing, that felt really exciting as a proposition.”

Ingram was found guilty but did not go to jail – the judge instead gave him a 20-month suspended prison sentence.

Quiz, which transferred to London’s Noel Coward Theatre this week after a run in Chichester last year, has received broadly positive reviews from critics.

When it was playing in Chichester, The Telegraph advised readers to “phone a friend and go,” while The Stage described it as “a fascinating, multi-textured and very entertaining play”.

After the show’s London press night on Tuesday, Fiona Mountford awarded it four out of five stars in her review for The Evening Standard.

“I was a lone naysayer for Quiz’s Chichester premiere, finding the play frantic and unfocused,” she said.

“It’s not perfect now – there are still too many distracting bells and whistles; tantalising ideas are left hanging – but it’s sharper and more streamlined and, vitally, more sure of its central thesis: what is ‘true’ when so many aspects of modern life have become a type of blended reality?”

Writing for The Independent, Paul Taylor also awarded it four stars.

“Quiz manages to register the personal tragedy of the Ingrams, analyse the notion of fair play, touch on present politics, overflow with information and ideas – and to be huge fun,” he wrote. “Another hit for Graham? No question.”

But Alun Hood of WhatsOnStage said: “Quiz is a lot of fun but it lacks the warmth, clarity and sometimes surprising emotionalism of Graham’s finest work,” he said.

Speaking to BBC News after the show’s London premiere, director Daniel Evans says: “I’m feeling very relieved, because it was a nerve-wracking evening.

“There were many challenges bringing it from Chichester, because the Minerva theatre is a 300-seater, whereas the Noel Coward is a 900-seater.”

  • Who Wants To Be A Millionaire’s best bits
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    Several changes have been made as a result, and the show is now more ambitious.

    “We put audience members on stage to replicate the studio conditions from the TV show,” Evans says.

    Graham, meanwhile, estimates that around 40% of the play has been rewritten between its staging in Chichester and London.

    “Not because we weren’t happy with what happened in Chichester, but you learn so much when you do a tryout for a show, so we streamlined the narrative, I reordered some of the structure, we had to think about a West End proscenium Victorian theatre, which is very different to a studio theatre in Chichester.

    “Also, so many people involved in Who Wants To Be A Millionaire came to see it, and they called me, asked to meet up, and I learned new stuff, new facts, new anecdotes, so it evolved because of that as well.”

    Theatregoers are invited to vote via keypads on Ingram’s guilt or innocence, both at the end of the first half (when the case for the prosecution is put forward), and the second (after his defence has been heard).

    It’s a case of quite literally asking the audience.

    Evans advises: “Audiences should stay to the very end of the show, because we display some data about the last 10 performances, so people can compare the votes on the night they see the show, to previous ones, which is really interesting.”

    The results, of course, vary each night – but Evans and Graham both say that audiences generally vote guilty after hearing the prosecutors’ case, but are more likely to take Ingram’s side after hearing the defence.

    Presenter Chris Tarrant left little doubt about his own feelings towards Ingram this week, writing in The Daily Mail that he was “guilty as sin”.

    Graham explains: “[Tarrant] came to see the show in Chichester. He came in disguise so we didn’t know he was there. The actors knew when he was leaving because his driver was there.”

    Will Graham reveal his own thoughts on Ingram’s guilt or innocence? “I wouldn’t dare,” he laughs.

    Several of Graham’s plays – such as Ink, This House and Labour of Love – have been staged in London over the last two years, cementing his status as one of the industry’s most prolific and sought-after current playwrights.

    In 2016, Graham revealed he was also working on a TV drama about Brexit – a project he now confirms should hit screens before the UK leaves the EU in March 2019.

    “There is a script, we have a director, we have a channel, we’ll start shooting, we think, over the summer,” he says.

    “And we’ve now focused it down. We now know that it’s very much about the campaign behind the scenes, so we go behind the scenes of the Leave and the Remain offices.

    “We’re very lucky to have source material from people like Tim Shipman of The Sunday Times, who wrote two books [on Brexit], and Craig Oliver, who was David Cameron’s communications director [during the referendum].

    “It’s not necessarily an adaptation, but they’re sources for us, they’re consultants on the show, so hopefully it feels like an authentic behind-the-scenes [portrayal].”

    Quiz is playing now at London’s Noel Coward Theatre.


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