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Hilary Mantel, author of Wolf Hall trilogy, dies aged 70 | UK News

Double Booker Prize winner Dame Hilary Mantel, author of the epic Wolf Hall trilogy, has died aged 70.

In a statement, her publisher 4th Estate books said: “We are heartbroken at the death of our beloved author, Dame Hilary Mantel, and our thoughts are with her friends and family, especially her husband, Gerald.

“This is a devastating loss and we can only be grateful she left us with such a magnificent body of work.”

The British writer won the Booker Prize for Wolf Hall, and its sequel, Bring Up the Bodies.

The conclusion to the trilogy, Mirror and the Light, was published in 2020. It was an instant number one fiction best-seller and longlisted for Booker Prize the same year, winning the Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction, which she first won for Wolf Hall.

The trilogy, which charts the rise and fall of Thomas Cromwell in the court of King Henry VIII, has been translated into 41 languages, with sales of more than five million worldwide.

The first two books were adapted for the BBC and broadcast on BBC Two in January 2015, earning huge critical acclaim.

The six-part series, directed by Peter Kosminsky, starred Mark Rylance as Thomas Cromwell, Damian Lewis as Henry VIII and Claire Foy as Anne Boleyn.

At the 2016 TV BAFTAs, it won best drama series, while Rylance picked up the award for best actor. At the Golden Globes the same year, it was named best mini-series.

Paying tribute, publishers HarperCollins described Dame Hilary as “one of the greatest English novelists of this century”.

“Her beloved works are considered modern classics. She will be greatly missed.”

Bill Hamilton, Dame Hilary’s agent at literary agency A.M. Heath, said it had been the “greatest privilege” to work with her throughout her career, adding she would also be remembered for “her capacity to electrify a live audience”.

He said: “Her wit, stylistic daring, creative ambition and phenomenal historical insight mark her out as one of the greatest novelists of our time.”

“Emails from Hilary were sprinkled with bon mots and jokes as she observed the world with relish and pounced on the lazy or absurd and nailed cruelty and prejudice,” he said.

“There was always a slight aura of otherworldliness about her, as she saw and felt things us ordinary mortals missed, but when she perceived the need for confrontation she would fearlessly go into battle.

“And all of that against the backdrop of chronic health problems, which she dealt with so stoically. We will miss her immeasurably, but as a shining light for writers and readers she leaves an extraordinary legacy. Our thoughts go out to her beloved husband Gerald, family and friends,” he added.

Harry Potter author JK Rowling shared a tweet from 4th Estate Books announcing Mantel’s death, writing “We’ve lost a genius.”

EastEnders star Ashvin Luximon dies aged 38 | Ents & Arts News

Ashvin Luximon, who played Asif Malik in EastEnders, has died aged 38.

The actor – who appeared on the long-running BBC soap between 1999 and 2003 – died on 23 July “due to an aneurysm”, his family have said.

His character, who appeared in 146 episodes of EastEnders, was a school friend of Martin Fowler, with the pair often getting into trouble together.

A webpage set up by his family paid tribute to a “loving son, brother and friend”.

“This site is a tribute to Ash, who passed on the July 23, 2022, due to an aneurysm,” they wrote.

“Ash’s unexpected passing has hit us all hard, but we want to take the time to remember his larger-than-life spirit.

“He loved and was loved by so many.

“He sang a mean karaoke tune and had a voice loud enough to hear from space.

“He brought laughter and the best cuddles.”

Luximon, who was from Enfield, north London, also had minor roles in Grange Hill and Hope And Glory.

Darius Campbell Danesh: Former Pop Idol contestant and theatre star found dead aged 41 | Ents & Arts News

Former Pop Idol contestant and theatre star Darius Campbell Danesh has died at the age of 41, his family has announced.

The singer was found dead in his US apartment in Rochester, Minnesota, on 11 August – but his cause of death is not yet known.

“It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Darius Campbell Danesh,” a statement issued by his family read.

The singer pictured on Popstars. Pic: ITV/Shutterstock
Image:
The singer pictured on Popstars. Image: ITV/Shutterstock

“Darius was found unresponsive in bed in his apartment room.

“The local police department have confirmed that there were no signs of intent or suspicious circumstances. The cause of his sudden death is unknown at this stage, while medical examinations continue.

“We ask that you kindly respect our wishes for privacy at this time whilst we come to terms with the tragic loss of our son and brother.”

'Pop Idol' - Darius Danesh in 2002. Pic: Fremantle Media/Shutterstock
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Darius Campbell Danesh on Pop Idol in 2002. Pic: Fremantle Media/Shutterstock

Born in Glasgow to a Scottish mother and Iranian father, Campbell Danesh was the eldest of three boys and went to Bearsden Primary School before studying English literature and philosophy at the University of Edinburgh.

He first rose to prominence on the ITV show Popstars in 2001, where he became known for his audition performance of Britney’s Baby One More Time.

He later came third on the first series of Pop Idol, which was won by Will Young, with some of his memorable performances including renditions of Tom Jones’s hit It’s Not Unusual and Atomic Kitten’s Whole Again.

His debut single, Colourblind, was released in July 2002 and went straight to number one.

The Scottish singer-songwriter later had a successful theatre career, appearing in the West End shows such as Chicago, in which he played Billy Flynn, Guys And Dolls, Gone With The Wind and Funny Girl.

Campbell Danesh starred opposite Ugly Betty star America Ferrera in the musical set in prohibition-era Chicago.

Speaking about his role as Flynn, the actor had previously said he based his portrayal of the character on his old mentor and Pop Idol judge, Simon Cowell.

Darius Campbell and Sheridan Smith in the musical Funny Girl in 2015. Pic: Dan Wooller/Shutterstock
Image:
Darius Campbell Danesh and Sheridan Smith in the musical Funny Girl in 2015. Pic: Dan Wooller/Shutterstock

“He’s the consummate businessman and a wonderful guy and there’s a lot of Simon Cowell in Billy Flynn in terms of the way he approaches things and I recognise that in terms of the character,” he said.

He credited Mr Cowell with persuading him to take on the role in the first place, saying he was “incredibly grateful” for his the opportunities he had been given and “to be able to call Simon Cowell a friend”.

After Pop Idol, he won the first series of ITV’s Popstar To Operastar contest in 2010, beating Bernie Nolan of the Nolan Sisters in a close final.

A few months after his win, which featured Welsh singer Katherine Jenkins and Mexican-born tenor Rolando Villazon as judges, he landed his first major opera role in the production of Carmen at London’s O2 Arena, playing the principal role of toreador Escamillo.

Darius Campbell Danesh
Image:
Pic: James Gourley/Shutterstock

Read more: Coronation Street star and comedian Duggie Brown dies aged 82

In the same year, Campbell Danesh spoke to Hello! magazine about a car crash in which he broke his neck.

He had been a passenger in a Porsche when it crashed into a wall at 70mph in Spain after skidding on oil.

In 2011 in Santa Barbara, California, he married Canadian actress Natasha Henstridge, known for her role in the sci-fi film Species.

However, the couple were divorced a few years later.

‘A true gent with a kind soul and a mischievous twinkle in his eye’

News of his death prompted tributes from figures in music and television, with fellow pop star Michelle Heaton saying her thoughts were with his family.

The Liberty X member, who also competed on Popstars, tweeted: “So sad… thoughts with Darius family right now, always our Britney.”

English-born actor Matthew Marsden described the news as “truly heartbreaking”.

He added: “I first met Darius when he auditioned for the Big Breakfast weather many years ago. He was a terrific human being. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family.”

TV and radio presenter Nicki Chapman, who starred as a judge on Popstars while Campbell Danesh was a contestant, described him as a true gent with a kind soul and a mischievous twinkle in his eye”.

“There will only ever be one Darius Campbell Danesh,” she added.

“From that eventful first audition on Popstars to him kindly inviting me to see him perform on the West End stage. Thoughts are with his family at this sad time.”

After both of his parents were diagnosed with cancer and recovered, Campbell Danesh became a supporter of several charities, including Cancer Research UK.

Nicholas Evans, author of The Horse Whisperer, dies aged 72 | UK News

Author Nicholas Evans, who wrote The Horse Whisperer, has died following a heart attack at the age of 72, his agents have said.

Born in Bromsgrove, Worcestershire, his career saw him work in newspapers and television as well as becoming a bestselling author.

His first novel, The Horse Whisperer, published in 1995, has sold more than 20 million copies worldwide and been translated into 36 languages.

The story was adapted for the big screen in 1998 by Hollywood star Robert Redford, who starred as the title character, with Scarlett Johansson playing young rider Grace MacLean in her breakout role.

During the 1970s Mr Evans worked as a journalist on the Evening Chronicle in Newcastle upon Tyne before moving into broadcasting media.

He specialised in US politics and foreign affairs and spent time covering the war in Beirut

In September 2008 Mr Evans nearly died after consuming poisonous mushrooms and had to have a kidney transplant, with his daughter donating the life-saving organ.

In a statement, his agents said: “United Agents are very sad to announce the sudden death of the celebrated bestselling author Nicholas Evans who died suddenly on Tuesday this week following a heart attack, aged 72.”

The Snowman author and illustrator Raymond Briggs dies aged 88 | UK News

Author and illustrator Raymond Briggs, best known for the 1978 classic The Snowman, has died aged 88.

The announcement was made by his publisher, Penguin Random House.

The Snowman was first released as a picture book – and has sold more than 5.5 million copies worldwide – before it was turned into a much-loved animation in 1982. The show was made for Channel 4 and has since become a festive staple and shown every Christmas since.

Briggs also created beloved children’s books Father Christmas and Fungus The Bogeyman.

A statement from his family said: “We know that Raymond’s books were loved by and touched millions of people around the world, who will be sad to hear this news. Drawings from fans – especially children’s drawings – inspired by his books were treasured by Raymond and pinned up on the wall of his studio.

“He lived a rich and full life and said he felt lucky to have had both his wife Jean and his partner of over 40 years Liz in his life.

“He shared his love of nature with Liz on South Downs walks and on family holidays to Scotland and Wales. He also shared his sense of fun and craziness with his family, and with his family of artist friends – at get-togethers, fancy dress parties, and summer picnics in the garden.

“He played practical jokes and enjoyed them being played on him. All of us close to him knew his irreverent humour – this could be biting in his work when it came to those in power. He liked the Guardian editorial describing himself as an ‘iconoclastic national treasure’.”

An extraordinary legacy

Raymond Briggs At His Sussex Home.
Image:
Raymond Briggs at his Sussex home


Born in Wimbledon in 1934, Briggs studied at the Wimbledon School of Art and the Slade School of Fine Art before briefly pursuing painting.

After becoming a professional illustrator, he worked and taught illustration at the Brighton College of Art.

His won numerous prizes across his career, including the Kurt Maschler Award, The Children’s Book of the Year, the Dutch Silver Pen Award. He was made a CBE for services to literature in 2017.

Francesca Dow, managing director at Penguin Random House Children’s, said: “I am very proud that Puffin has been the home of Raymond’s children’s books for so many years.

“Raymond’s books are picture masterpieces that address some of the fundamental questions of what it is to be human, speaking to both adults and children with a remarkable economy of words and illustrations.”

She said he was “a brilliantly observant, funny storyteller, honest about how life is rather than how adults might wish to tell it to children”.

“A kindness, integrity, and generosity run through all his books,” she added.

“And so in life: Raymond was a generous, unjealous spirit who was a pleasure to work with, as well as to visit in his Sussex cottage and experience his teasing genius in its home. He was funny! He made us laugh a lot. I will miss him. All of us who had the privilege of working with him will miss him.”

Ms Dow said Briggs had been “unique” and had “inspired generations of creators of picture books, graphic novels, and animations”.

She added: “He leaves an extraordinary legacy and a big hole.”

THE SNOWMAN  - Raymond Briggs

A ‘titan of industry’

Illustrator Rob Biddulph, whose titles include Dog Gone and Blown Away, paid tribute to Brigg’s influence on the industry.

“A titan in our industry and a true one-off,” he said.

“The Snowman was a work of undeniable genius – a game-changer, not just in the world of children’s books, but books full stop. Thank you for inspiring me, Mr Briggs. RIP.”

The Book Trust, which awarded Briggs a lifetime achievement award in 2017, said it was “devastated” to hear of his death.

Cressida Cowell, author and illustrator of How To Train Your Dragon, said: “Deeply sad to hear of the death of Raymond Briggs.

“What a magnificent legacy he leaves, from his iconic Father Christmas and the Snowman to the terrifying Where the Wind Blows. His books brought so much joy and inspired so many, touching, hilarious, and heartbreaking work “

British author Lara Maiklem called Briggs “a genius”.

Maiklem, who has worked with Briggs, tweeted alongside a picture of his illustration of Fungus the Bogeyman: “So sad to hear about Raymond Briggs this morning.

“A huge fan since I was a child, I had the great fortune of working with him a few years ago.

“Grumpy and difficult, he was nonetheless a genius.

“Nothing is permanent but woe.”