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Gordon Ramsay ‘lucky to be alive’ after bike accident | Ents & Arts News

Gordon Ramsay has said he is “lucky to be alive” after a “really bad accident” riding his bike in the US.

The TV chef, 57, warned his 7.6 million followers on X and 17 million on Instagram to “wear a helmet” after the incident in Connecticut this week.

He thanked the “incredible trauma surgeons, doctors, and nurses” at the state’s private Lawrence and Memorial Hospital, but said he is “most thankful for my helmet that saved my life”.

In a graphic video, he revealed a huge bruise covering much of his torso and said: “I’m lucky to be standing here.

“I am in pain, it’s been a brutal week, but I am sort of getting through it.”

On Instagram, he referred to himself as “looking like a purple potato” but said he “did not break any bones or suffer any major injuries”.

“You’ve got to wear a helmet,” he added. “I don’t care how short the journey is. I don’t care that these helmets cost money, they’re crucial.”

He signed off by wishing people a happy Father’s Day.

“I want to wish you all a happy Father’s Day, but please, please, please wear a helmet. If I didn’t, honestly, I wouldn’t be here now.”

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Ramsay became a father for the sixth time in November when his wife Tana gave birth to their son Jesse James Ramsay aged 49.

The couple, who have been married for almost 30 years, are also parents to Megan, Matilda, twins Jack and Holly, and Oscar.

Ramsay is a keen cyclist and has completed several endurance challenges, including triathlons and Iron Mans.

He came under fire during the coronavirus lockdown for travelling to his second home in Cornwall, where he would often film himself cycling long distances.

Latitude Festival cuts ties with sponsor Barclays after acts pull out | Ents & Arts News

Latitude Festival has dropped its sponsor, Barclays, after a number of musicians and comedians dropped out in protest over the bank’s ties to the Israel-Hamas war.

Latitude Festival told Sky News: “Following discussion with artists, we have agreed with Barclays that they will step back from sponsorship of Latitude Festival”.

Comedians Joanne McNally, Sophie Duker, Grace Campbell, and Alexandra Haddow all announced they would be boycotting the event last week.

Musicians including CMAT, Pillow Queens, Mui Zyu, and Georgia Ruth had also pulled out of the event.

Palestine Action, a group whose members attacked 20 of the bank branches across England and Scotland last week, has accused Barclays of having financial interests in both Israel’s weapons trade and fossil fuels.

Barclays says while it provides financial services to “public companies that supply defence products to NATO and its allies” it does not directly invest in the firms.

Pic: Palestine Action/X
Image:
Pic: Palestine Action/X

Taskmaster star McNally, who had been set to close the festival wrote in an Instagram story last week: “I’m getting messages today about me performing at Latitude when it’s being sponsored by Barclays.

“I’m not longer doing Latitude. I was due to close the comedy tent on the Sunday night, but I pulled out last week.

“I’m on the old artwork but I haven’t been listed on the site since I pulled out a week ago.”

Duker had shared a photo of her at a previous Latitude Festival, and confirmed she would be boycotting the event.

She wrote: “I am committed to minimising my complicity in what I consider to be a pattern of abhorrent, unlawful violence”.

The 34-year-old comedian also said her pro-Palestinian stance “has gained me violent abuse, targeted pile-ons and death threats”.

Fellow comedian Grace Campbell, who is the daughter of Sir Tony Blair’s former spokesman Alastair Campbell, shared Duker’s post in an Instagram story, announcing she was also pulling out of the festival.

Meanwhile, comedian Alexandra Haddow said she too would no longer appear, writing on Instagram: “I can’t in good conscience take the fee.”

In a post shared on her Instagram account last week, Irish singer-songwriter CMAT said: “I will not allow my precious work, my music, which I love so much, to get into bed with violence.”

Barclays has been approached for a comment.

In response to the exodus of acts, Barclays previously defended its position, saying it recognised “the profound human suffering” caused by the Israel-Hamas war.

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“We provide vital financial services to US, UK, and European public companies that supply defence products to NATO and its allies,” it said in a statement.

“Barclays does not directly invest in these companies. The defence sector is fundamental to our national security and the UK government has been clear that supporting defence companies is compatible with ESG considerations.

“Decisions on the implementation of arms embargos to other nations are the job of respective elected governments.”

Tens of thousands of people are expected to attend Latitude Festival at Henham Park in Suffolk, held from the 25-29 July.

Tom Hardy keen on upcoming Peaky Blinders film | Ents & Arts News

Tom Hardy has said he would “100%” want to appear in the new Peaky Blinders film – but was not sure if his character will be involved.

The English actor played Jewish gang leader Alfie Solomons from season two of the hit series.

Despite falling at the hands of Cillian Murphy’s Thomas Shelby in season five, Hardy has fought for his character’s return.

Earlier this month, Netflix confirmed a Peaky Blinders film is in the works, with Oscar-winning Irish actor Murphy reprising his role.

Speaking to Sky News at the UK gala screening of his new film, The Bikeriders, Hardy appeared to show he was keen on being involved in the upcoming project.

He said: “100% Alfie will definitely make an appearance, but I don’t know when… and I don’t even know if he will, that’s just me punting.”

The return of Peaky Blinders follows on from the BBC show about a Birmingham crime gang created by Steven Knight, which ran for six seasons from 2013 to 2022.

It will be helmed by season one director Tom Harper.

No release date has been announced, but the storyline is rumoured to take the Shelby family into the Second World War.

“It seems like Tommy Shelby wasn’t finished with me,” Murphy said in a statement about the film.

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Stars talk to Sky News at the gala screening of The Bikeriders

Hardy made it clear about his eagerness to join the Peaky Blinders film while at a screening for The Bikeriders.

The Jeff Nichols film stars Hardy as the leader of a motorcycle club, called The Vandals, in 1960s Midwest America.

It looks at a love triangle of sorts between characters played by Hardy, Austin Butler and Jodie Comer.

“It’s not a bad triangle to be in,” said Butler on the red carpet in Mayfair.

“[Tom is] such a dynamic performer and I’ve also just really admired him for a long time.”

The Bikeriders is in cinemas on 21 June.

Giovanni Pernice: Strictly Come Dancing star will not return to show, BBC confirms | Ents & Arts News

Giovanni Pernice will not return for the new series of Strictly Come Dancing, the BBC has confirmed.

The 33-year-old Italian dancer has performed on the BBC 1 primetime show for nine years.

He was not announced as part of the show’s line-up of professional dancers for 2024 following reports he would not compete.

Pernice has rejected allegations he displayed “abusive or threatening behaviour” while working as a professional dancer on the show, following complaints about his conduct.

A legal firm acting on behalf of the complainants said the broadcaster is “evidence gathering” – but the BBC has not confirmed any probe has been launched.

This breaking news story is being updated and more details will be published shortly.

Please refresh the page for the fullest version.

You can receive breaking news alerts on a smartphone or tablet via the Sky News app. You can also follow @SkyNews on X or subscribe to our YouTube channel to keep up with the latest news.

Taylor Swift in pictures: US megastar kicks off 15-stop UK leg of Eras tour in Edinburgh | Ents & Arts News

Taylor Swift has kicked off the UK-leg of her tour in Edinburgh.

The pop megastar put on a colourful show for her fans in Murrayfield Stadium on Friday.

On the first of 15 stops in the UK, Swift wowed more than 70,000 fans with a show running over three hours.

Catch up: Taylor Swift’s Murrayfield Stadium performance as it happened

Friday is the first of three shows in Scotland before she moves on to Liverpool and Cardiff, with two stretches in London.

Fans sang along through the night as Swift moved through a grand tour of her 11 albums.

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Fans were wowed by the performance and sang along to some of her biggest hits. Pic: PA
Image:
Fans were wowed by the performance and sang along to some of her biggest hits. Pic: PA

Swift performed tonight at the Murrayfield Stadium. Pic: PA
Image:
Swift performed tonight at the Murrayfield Stadium. Pic: PA

Swift onstage during Friday's performance. Pic: PA
Image:
Swift onstage during Friday’s performance. Pic: PA

Tonight marks the first of 15 stops in the UK for Swift
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Tonight marks the first of 15 stops in the UK for Swift. Pic: PA

Fans sang along as Swift performed songs from across her discography. Pic: PA
Image:
Fans sang along as Swift performed songs from across her discography. Pic: PA

Swift wowed in Edinburgh Friday. Pic: PA
Image:
Swift in Edinburgh on Friday. Pic: PA

From Blank Space to Shake It Off, Swift performed some of her biggest tracks. Pic: PA
Image:
From Blank Space to Shake It Off, Swift performed some of her biggest tracks. Pic: PA

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The hotly-anticipated tour landed in the UK this week. Pic: PA
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The hotly-anticipated tour landed in the UK this week. Pic: PA

One Edinburgh business changed their name ahead of Swift's arrival in Scotland. Pic: PA
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One Edinburgh business changed their name ahead of Swift’s arrival in Scotland. Pic: PA

Taylor Swift v The Beatles: As the Eras tour hits the UK, how does the star compare against the biggest band of all time? | Ents & Arts News

Are you ready for it? Because this week, Taylor Swift rolls into town for the first UK dates of her record-shattering Eras tour, to dominate front pages, social media, and a large proportion of the national conversation for the foreseeable.

Something has shifted in the Swiftverse in the past few years. She now transcends even the highest echelons of pop fame, massively boosting everything from music sales to, well, the entire global economy.

The Eras tour is a cultural and economic juggernaut; the first to cross the $1bn mark, according to Pollstar’s 2023 year-end charts, and already beating the record set by Sir Elton John and his Farewell Yellow Brick Road goodbye, which ran from 2018 to 2023 and grossed $939 million. Several experts predict it could generate more than $4bn by the time it finishes.

Swift is the first arts and entertainment star to be named Time’s Person of the Year. The first ever music billionaire to reach the milestone solely through her songwriting and recording. A slick pop star who understands the power of This. Sick. Beat, but also a songwriter and lyricist whose words are studied as poetry around the world. She has long been the biggest modern music star on the planet – but could she now be the biggest of all time?

To answer that question, you have to look to The Beatles. The band that changed the nature of the industry, long regarded as the most influential music act in music history.

Taylor Swift v The Beatles

In October last year, Swift re-released her fifth album, 1989, the record that really marked her crossover from incredibly successful country star to pop phenomenon. Featuring re-records of tracks that remain among her biggest hits to date, including Shake It Off, Blank Space and Bad Blood, 1989 (Taylor’s Version) inevitably followed all her others in skipping to the top of charts around the world.

Three weeks later came reissues of The Beatles’ classic Red and Blue album collections following the surprise release of Now And Then, the first original single in years, finally finished by Sir Paul McCartney and Sir Ringo Starr after more than four decades.

Now And Then topped the singles chart, naturally. But when it came to taking on Swift on the album chart, the star held her spot – denying the biggest and most influential band in history an extension to their record-breaking UK number one tally of 16.

The unstoppable force of Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift performs during "The Eras Tour," Friday, May 5, 2023, at Nissan Stadium in Nashville, Tenn. She leads the 2023 nominations with eight ... seven for her ...Anti-Hero... music video and the Artist of the Year category  MTV announced on Tuesday, Aug. 8, 2023. (AP Photo/George Walker IV, File)
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Pic: AP/ George Walker IV

Of course, The Beatles albums were reissues, but it’s worth noting Swift’s re-recordings are also not entirely new – she is re-recording much of her early work to reclaim her rights, with the addition of “from the vault” tracks – plus, fans had already been buying 1989 (Taylor’s Version) for three weeks by this point.

To Swifties, she is undoubtedly the biggest music artist of all time. To fans of the Fab Four, there will never be another act that comes close. Can their achievements be compared?

It’s tricky. Swift and The Beatles reached the height of their fame (and Swift might not even be there yet) in different – ahem – eras. There are multiple caveats – inflation, population growth, streaming and the affordability of music, live music becoming more lucrative, social media, do we include the individual Beatles’ solo output (we haven’t), and so on – that mean there is no exact science here.

But, we’ve given it a go…

Topping the charts

Taylor Swift v The Beatles

In the battle of the number ones, The Beatles get the points.

When it comes to singles, surprisingly, Swift hasn’t had as many as you might think topping the charts in the UK. Her first was Look What You Made Me Do in 2017 – Shake It Off, her biggest-selling hit, reached number one in the US, but number two here. Anti-Hero, from Midnights, became her second UK number one in 2022, with Is It Over Now? (Taylor’s Version) and Fortnight, her recent collaboration with Post Malone, adding to the pile in the last year.

The Beatles, on the other hand, started scoring number ones early on. The first, From Me To You, was their third single, released in 1963, and was followed by hits including She Loves You, I Want To Hold Your Hand, Can’t Buy Me Love, Help!, All You Need Is Love, Hey Jude… the list goes on.

Album chart-toppers are more evenly matched. The Beatles actually have more in the US than they have in the UK, as different versions and more records were released across the pond. All apart from one of their 12 studio albums topped the charts in the UK – Yellow Submarine peaked at number three in 1969 – and they have also reached the top spot with live and compilation albums.

Apart from her debut, Taylor Swift, released in 2006, all of Swift’s albums have reached number one in the US. In the UK it was her fourth album, Red, that became her first chart-topper, and all others since have followed.

Record sales

Taylor Swift v The Beatles

This one is a tricky one as not all sales are certified. According to Guinness (and we’ll come to world records later), The Beatles have amassed the greatest sales for any group, with all-time sales estimated by record label EMI at more than one billion discs and tapes to date. Note this is worldwide, and estimated.

So we’ve looked at certified sales of the music star’s studio albums – no compilations or live album sales – in the UK and US. In the UK, The Beatles take the win, with more platinum and gold sales than Swift. But in the US, she’s way ahead.

Interestingly, they both add up to just under 295 million certified sales in the UK and US.

In the UK, the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) rates platinum sales for albums as those that reach 300,000 units, with gold sales at 100,000. In the US, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) rates diamond sales for albums at 10m units, while platinum is 1m and gold is 500,000.

The trophy cabinet

Taylor Swift v The Beatles

Swift wins this one – but there are a lot more awards up for grabs nowadays. She has 26 Teen Choice Awards, for example, and 40 American Music Awards, and neither were around in the 1960s.

The Grammy Awards were, though, and Swift is definitely the winner here – with 14 wins out of 52 nominations. Earlier this year, she became the first and only artist to win the Grammy for album of the year four times, for Midnights (2024), Folklore (2021), 1989 (2016), and Fearless (2010). She also has the most nominations for song of the year, with seven, but interestingly has never won in this category.

The Beatles have seven Grammy wins from 23 nominations, including best new artist and best performance by a vocal group, for A Hard Day’s Night, in 1964.

Despite her Grammys success, Swift is by no means the ceremony’s biggest winner – that accolade goes to Beyonce, who has 32 gongs from 88 nominations.

Deep space and earthquakes: Who’s the biggest record breaker?

Taylor Swift v The Beatles

In 2021, Swift’s re-recorded version of Fearless became the star’s third to top the UK charts in less than 12 months, breaking a long-held record by The Beatles.

In February, she surpassed their record for holding the most weeks in the Billboard 200’s Top 10 in the last 60 years. In April, she topped the UK album chart with The Tortured Poets Department, outselling the rest of the top 10 combined and beating The Beatles for the record of fastest artist to rack up 12 UK number ones.

And remember her billionaire status? Well, Sir Paul is also in the club – but having reached that point only earlier this year, a month after Swift, it’s taken him a lot longer to gain membership.

According to Guinness, Swift currently holds at least 77 records, while The Beatles hold at least 29. However, there is a chance there could be even more than this as records are constantly being set and broken – and it should be noted that with streaming, inflation and more awards shows now, it is easier to keep breaking records now than it was back in The Beatles’ day.

Some of Swift’s records include several for Spotify, such as being the most streamed act in 24 hours following the release of Midnights in 2022; most US singles chart entries (263); most million-selling weeks on the US albums chart; plus the greatest seismic activity caused by a music concert (equivalent to a 2.3 magnitude earthquake).

The Beatles’ records include the best-selling group ever worldwide; most consecutive weeks at number one on the UK albums chart – 30 weeks in 1963 for debut Please Please Me; most viewed Wikipedia page for a music group; and first song to be beamed into deep space with Across The Universe in 2008, courtesy of NASA.

Can’t Buy Me Love – but musicians can boost an economy

Taylor Swift v The Beatles

Now this one is pretty difficult to compare. So we won’t. But there are some impressive stats.

According to Barclays’ Swiftonomics report, released in May, the UK leg of the Eras tour is set to boost the UK economy by almost $1bn.

Eras Tour tickets sparked a 15.8% year-on-year increase in UK spending on entertainment when they were released last July, the bank says, and now the dates are here, nearly 1.2m fans attending 15 gigs taking place in Edinburgh, Cardiff, Liverpool and London are predicted to spend an average of £848 in total on tickets, travel, accommodation, outfits and other expenses.

The Beatles’ economic impact is harder to quantify. But there is information available on the band’s continuing boost to Liverpool alone – £81.9m to their home city’s economy each year, according to a report commissioned by Liverpool City Council in 2016.

This was set to grow by up to 15% each year, the report found at the time, with the band’s legacy also supporting more than 2,300 jobs.

Help! Is Swift bigger than The Beatles?

The Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show in New York in 1964. Pic: AP
Image:
Pic: AP

We asked some experts for their thoughts.

Dave Fawbert, founder of the Swiftogeddon club nights playing Swift, and nothing but Swift, says she is unmatched at the moment.

“She really does have it all,” he says. “She’s incredibly gifted melodically… you listen to Shake It Off, there’s literally about eight incredible hooks in that song.

“Most of the tracks, you hear the choruses once or twice, they’re so well written, you’ll be able to sing along by the third chorus. The other thing about her songs is they’re arranged so brilliantly, there’s never any wasted space in them.”

And then there’s her lyrics, he says, her ability to pick out universal emotions, specific details, and express them in song. “And she’s done it across virtually every genre. She’s a genius and she’s got the genius to work with good people as well.”

He says he would compare her dominance now to that of Michael Jackson in the 1980s and 1990s. But what about The Beatles? “I mean, they’re the best, I’m not sure they’ll ever be surpassed,” he admits. “But Taylor’s close.”

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UK tribute band The Bootleg Beatles say it’s too early to make a call.

“The music of The Beatles has already stood the test of time. The reaction we get as we continually tour around the UK – we’re back this month – and indeed the world, is testament to that,” they say. “So, while Taylor Swift is undoubtedly a wonderful talent, it’s probably around 50 years too early to judge her against the Fab Four.”

Hits Radio presenter Tom Green says they are two artists that “owned the zeitgeist” of their times. So is the comparison fair? “Yes and no.”

He elaborates: “I think it was probably a bit easier to be the whole zeitgeist in the ’60s, because there was only so many media outlets. Everyone was watching the same thing.”

Now, it’s a lot harder to create something that everyone is looking at, but Swift is constantly keeping our attention, he says. “I think the comparisons are really hard to do and music is so subjective. But I think the interesting thing about The Beatles is they brought in a genre of music, they ushered in the genre of rock and roll into pop music.”

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Dr Clio Doyle, a lecturer in early modern literature at Queen Mary University of London, teaches a module on Swift’s lyrics as literature. In her field, she says she would draw comparisons with artists such as Bob Dylan rather than The Beatles.

“It’s this kind of body of work that is really self-examining and self-revising and revisiting in a way that feels very dynamic and alive and intellectually interesting,” she says of Swift’s music. “I also think that one thing Swift has always done throughout her career is, she’s often talking about literature – from a very early song like Love Story, which is rewriting Romeo And Juliet, to a later song like The Lakes, which is thinking about romantic poetry.”

Dylan became the first musician to win the Nobel Prize for literature in 2016, she points out, a decision deemed controversial due to arguments over whether lyrics count as literature. “I think we have to say they do because they’re written texts,” says Dr Doyle. “I think those are very interesting conversations. And I think we see some of those conversations also now around Taylor Swift.”

And Amy Skjerseth, a lecturer in audiovisual media and a member of the Institute of Popular Music at the University of Liverpool, says that like Swift, The Beatles also had different eras, but Swift’s experience in the industry will have been different to theirs, as four male stars.

“For women-identifying pop stars, eras often are about survival in a music industry that does not make space for them, especially for artists of colour and queer artists,” she says. “There are also significant differences in class between Swift and The Beatles – Swift’s family had the means to support her career.

“And while Beatlemania was heavily stereotyped back in the day, Swift’s fans have an increased ability to push for social justice and social change, connect with each other, and create a larger sense of community.

“Beyond Taylor Swift, the Eras concept might help attract wider attention to artists who have worked tirelessly under the radar to transform their musical messages across changing times.”

So are we any closer to saying whether Swift is the biggest artist of all time?

Some of the stats suggest she might be. Beatles fans will disagree.

Will there be an answer? Maybe in 50 years, as The Bootleg Beatles say. For now, we’ll let it be.

Nicki Minaj arrested at Netherlands airport hours before Co-op Live show in Manchester | Ents & Arts News

Music star Nicki Minaj has been arrested at an airport in the Netherlands hours before she was due to perform in front of thousands of fans at Co-op Live in Manchester.

The American rapper, 41, was detained at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport on suspicion of possession of soft drugs.

She was later released from custody just before 9pm but she will have to pay an undisclosed fine for “illegally exporting soft drugs from the Netherlands to another country”, Dutch police told Sky News.

In a series of social media posts on X and Instagram, Minaj earlier claimed police said they found drugs in her luggage after items were checked by customs.

She wrote on X that “they said they found weed”. She also claimed “they took my luggage without consent” and “they’re trying to keep me from MANCHESTER”.

The messages also included one where she wrote: “This is Amsterdam btw, where weed is legal.”

The star, whose hit songs include Starships, Super Bass and Anaconda, also filmed what appeared to be an airport official asking her to have her luggage checked.

Minaj later wrote: “It’s a 45 minute to an hour flight. So they’re probably trying to stall for about 4 hours.”

And she added: “Now they said I have to go 5 mins away to make a statement about my security to the police precinct.”

She has not posted on X since.

Asked about Minaj, Robert van Kapel, a spokesman for the Royal Netherlands Marechaussee military police, earlier told Sky News’ US partner network NBC News: “We can confirm that we have arrested a 41-year-old American woman at Schiphol Airport because of possession of soft drugs.”

The Co-op Live in Manchester. Pic: PA
Image:
The Co-op Live in Manchester. Pic: PA

It is unclear if Minaj’s show at Co-op Live has been affected.

A post on the venue’s X account said shortly after 5.15pm: “Please note that general admission and premium doors for tonight’s Nicki Minaj show will now open at 19:00.”

Connor Wynne, who is a fan of the singer, was in the front row and was hopeful he would see her perform tonight.

He told Sky News: “So the organisers… haven’t really told us anything at the moment, like what’s going on with it. But we’re waiting to find out if she’s going to come. We’re hopeful because we’ve all been let into the arena and it’s filling up nicely as well. And we’ve got a good space. So let’s pray and hope that she does arrive.”

Nicki Minaj fan, Connor Wynne
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Connor Wynne, a Nicki Minaj fan, is at the arena tonight

As part of her Pink Friday World Tour, Minaj is due to perform in Birmingham on Sunday, followed by a concert at London’s O2 arena next Tuesday.

Then on Wednesday, she is due to play in Glasgow followed by a gig on Thursday, again at the Co-op Live in Manchester.

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The beleaguered £365m arena – the UK’s largest indoor entertainment venue – opened earlier this month after it was plagued by a series of problems.

There had been weeks of setbacks, cancellations and postponements, before live music finally got under way there on 14 May when Manchester rock band Elbow took to the stage.

The problems included part of the building’s ventilation and air conditioning system falling to the ground from the ceiling during a soundcheck in early May.

The 23,500-capacity venue was initially due to fully open with two Peter Kay stand-up shows on 23 and 24 April, but these dates were pushed back when problems emerged at a test event headlined by Ricky Astley.

The arena then planned for US rapper A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie to open the arena on 1 May, but it was called off just over an hour before his performance and after doors had opened to fans – because the ventilation system became detached.

The ventilation issue meant scheduled performances by US pop star Olivia Rodrigo and British band Keane were postponed, while a series of shows by Take That were moved to the AO Arena in Manchester.

Ian Gelder: Game Of Thrones actor dies at 74 after being diagnosed with bile duct cancer | Ents & Arts News

Games Of Thrones actor Ian Gelder has died at the age of 74.

His death was announced by his husband, fellow actor Ben Daniels, who paid tribute to the “kindest, most generous spirited and loving human being”.

Daniels, 59, said Gelder was his “absolute rock” during their relationship of more than 30 years.

The British actor, who played Kevan Lannister in the hit fantasy drama series, was diagnosed with bile duct cancer last December and died just after 1pm on Monday, Daniels said.

Ben Daniels and Ian Gelder. Pic: Rex/Dan Wooller/Shutterstock
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Ben Daniels and Ian Gelder in 2012. Pic: Rex/Dan Wooller/Shutterstock

The star wrote on social media: “It is with huge huge sadness and a heavy heart broken into a million pieces that I’m leaving this post to announce the passing of my darling husband and life partner Ian Gelder.”

Alongside his announcement on Instagram, Daniels shared a picture of the couple which he said was taken at Christmas after Gelder had left hospital.

(L-R) Ian Gelder and Ben Daniels. Instagram pic: Ben Daniels
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Daniels has posted this image on Instagram of him and Gelder at Christmas. Pic: Ben Daniels

Daniels said that “even though he’d gone through the worst three weeks there you can still see his joy and love shining through”.

Gelder first played Kevan Lannister in the opening season of Game Of Thrones in 2011.

He was the younger brother of Lord Tywin Lannister, and was one of his most loyal and trusted officers in the Lannister armies.

After a noticeable absence, Gelder reprised his character in later seasons, meeting his demise in the final episode of season six.

During his decades-long career, the actor also starred as Mr Dekker in Torchwood: Children Of Earth, as well as guest starring as Charles, the Librarian scholar in His Dark Materials, and Zellin in Doctor Who.

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Daniels said he had stopped work to be his carer “but neither of us had any idea that it would all be so fast”.

He added that Gelder was “the kindest, most generous spirited and loving human being”.

“He was a wonderful wonderful actor and everyone who worked with him was touched by his heart and light.”

“I honestly don’t know what I’ll do without him by my side. He coped with his dreadful illness with such bravery, with no self pity. Ever. He was remarkable and will be so missed.”

Olly Alexander addresses ‘extreme’ remarks from fans on Israel’s Eurovision inclusion | Ents & Arts News

The UK’s Eurovision Song Contest representative has addressed “extreme” remarks from fans over Israel’s inclusion in the competition.

Olly Alexander was selected as this year’s representative for the UK for the popular singing competition.

It’s set to take place in Malmo, Sweden, next week but tens of thousands are expected to protest Israel’s involvement and its ongoing war in Gaza.

Alexander, the Years & Years singer, has found himself facing criticism from some who called for him to withdraw amid the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas.

Queers for Palestine circulated a letter, signed by thousands including actors Indya Moore, Brigette Lundy-Paine, and Maxine Peake calling for the It’s A Sin actor to pull out of the show.

In March, along with Irish hopeful Bambie Thug, Danish entrant Saba and other Eurovision artists, Alexander released a joint statement, backing “an immediate and lasting ceasefire” but refusing to boycott the event.

Now, speaking out in a new documentary which has followed the 33-year-old as he prepares for the show, he has described some of the comments he and other participants have faced as “very extreme”.

Bambie Thug, the Irish entrant in the 2024 Eurovision Song Contest. Pic: Pa
Image:
Bambie Thug, the Irish entrant in the 2024 Eurovision Song Contest, who also signed a statement backing an immediate ceasefire, but is refusing to boycott the event. Pic: Pa

He said: “A lot of the contestants and myself have been having a lot of comments that are like ‘You are complicit in a genocide by taking part in Eurovision’ which is quite extreme. It’s very extreme.

“I understand where that sentiment is coming from but I think it’s not correct.

“It’s an incredibly complicated political situation, one that I’m not qualified to speak on.

“The backdrop to this is actual immense suffering. It’s a humanitarian crisis, a war.

“It just so happens there’s a song contest going on at the same time that I’m a part of.”

Speaking in the BBC’s documentary titled Olly Alexander’s Road To Eurovision ’24, he continued saying that people should boycott Eurovision if they didn’t feel comfortable watching and he respected their decision – but would be taking part himself.

He added: “My plan is to just focus on putting on a good performance in Malmo.

“My team, everyone’s worked so hard, and we’re in the final stretch now.”

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Earlier in the week, Alexander broke down crying during an interview with The Times when discussing the pressure he had come under for participating in Eurovision.

He told the paper he knew a number of signatories of the petition against him, and none had reached out to him.

He said: “This is so much bigger than me and Eurovision, it really is. But, obviously, I wish there wasn’t a war or this insane humanitarian crisis.

“I wish for peace and I have found this experience, at times, extremely … I’ve just felt really sad and distressed.”

Olly Alexander. Pic: PA
Image:
Pic: PA

Speaking on Sky’s Sunday Morning with Trevor Phillips, deputy director general of the European Broadcasting Union who organises Eurovision, Jean Philip De Tender, defended Israel’s inclusion in the competition.

He said: “We do understand the concerns and deeply held views around the war in the Middle East.

“The song contest is a music event organised and co-produced by 37 public broadcasters, it’s not a competition between nations or governments.

“Our governing bodies reviewed the participation of Kan [Israel’s public broadcasting corporation] and found that they met all of the competing rules.”

Phillips pointed out incidences when Kan came under fire for their broadcasting.

This included, he said, when Kan published a video of children singing, in the public broadcaster’s own words, for the “annihilation of Gaza” and when one of their presenters was seen writing “I want to send the people of Gaza artillery shells”.

Mr De Tender said they had been in contact with Kan about the content they published and their editorial output, and had expressed concern on occasion.

He added that Eurovision had competition rules which they had to follow, and taking action beyond these rules to exclude Kan would have been a “political decision as such which we cannot take”.

Line Of Duty actor Brian McCardie dies aged 59 | Ents & Arts News

Line Of Duty actor Brian McCardie has died aged 59, his family has confirmed.

Best known for playing mafia boss John Thomas ‘Tommy’ Hunter in the police procedural, he had also recently joined the cast of Outlander prequel, Blood Of My Blood.

His sister confirmed his death on X, writing: “It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Brian James McCardie, beloved son, brother, uncle and dear friend to so many.

“Brian passed away suddenly at home on Sunday 28th April. A wonderful and passionate actor on stage and screen, Brian loved his work and touched many lives, and is gone much too soon.

“We love him and will miss him greatly; please remember Brian in your thoughts.”

She said funeral arrangements would be announced in the days ahead.

No cause of death was given.

McCardie’s agent, United Agents, paid tribute on social media, writing: “We are shocked and so deeply saddened by the tragic news of Brian McCardie’s sudden death.

“He was an actor of such great talent who we were lucky to represent, and our thoughts are very much with his family and friends at this difficult time.”

Producer Paul Larkin posted on social media, saying he was “shocked and devastated” to learn of McCardie’s death, adding: “Brian was a brilliant friend and we had many discussions about mental health issues where he was a fantastic help to me. As well as that; he was a phenomenal actor. Sleep tight Brother.”

Writer Alec Bowman Clarke said he was “saddened” by the news, and wrote: “I spoke to him a few times about projects & always found him genuine, passionate, generous & funny. I wrote a part for him in a future project.”

With a career stretching over three decades, McCardie had appeared in numerous TV shows over the years – but it was his role in Line Of Duty for which he was best known.

One of the show’s original characters, despite Tommy Hunter meeting a violent end in series two, the character went on to been mentioned in both series three and and series five.

A Scottish actor, McCardie appeared in an episode of Outlander, playing Sir Marcus MacRannoch, before being cast as the chief of Clan Grant in the forthcoming Outlander prequel.

The show, which centres around the lives of Outlander character Jamie Fraser’s parents, is currently filming in Scotland according to Starz network.

He starred opposite Sean Bean in the 2021 BBC prison drama Time and in Irvine Welsh’s TV series Crime in the same year.

He also appeared in Sky Atlantic’s Domina, set in Ancient Rome playing Roman statesman Cicero.

His film appearances included Rob Roy, Irvine Welsh’s Filth and the thriller Low Winter Sun alongside Mark Strong.