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“You’re nothing. You’re a ghost, a fat ghost,” says the critical inner voice of disillusioned housewife Sheila Rubin, who spends her days booking rooms in cheap motels to binge on fast food.

Beautiful, thin, privileged; on the outside, her life appears perfect. But inside, Sheila, played by Rose Byrne, is battling a complex eating disorder and plodding through a humdrum life in the shadow of her husband, a man who wants his wife to cook, clean, and have threesomes.

And then she discovers the shiny, spandex-wrapped world of aerobics. “Only you have the power to change you” becomes a new mantra.

Rory Scovel in Physical. Pic: Apple TV+
Rory Scovel plays Danny Rubin, Sheila’s husband

Set against the backdrop of sun-soaked 1980s San Diego, Byrne’s new series Physical is a dark comedy about a woman’s rise from dutiful wife to lifestyle guru, all the time while fighting her inner demons; it explores the pressures on women – and the pressures women place on themselves – to look a certain way.

The actress, best known for her role as alpha bridesmaid Helen in Bridesmaids, says Sheila is “an extreme version of the duality” of many women.

“She obviously has a terrible illness, an addiction that she’s living with, and we meet her at a breaking point,” Byrne tells Sky News. “But there is that idea of appearance; on the outside, she looks perfect and she’s skinny and pretty and white and all these things but yet she’s completely self-destructive inside. She has all these privileges… but yet it doesn’t matter.

“I think that is uniquely female in a way, having that kind of inner-destruction. Often I see depictions of, you know, external, and this and that – drinking and that kind of destructive side of women. But I feel like it’s often an inside job that we do.”

Rose Byrne as Sheila Rubin in Physical. Pic: Apple TV+
Rose Byrne stars as Sheila Rubin in Physical. All photos: Apple TV+

Physical shows that anyone can suffer from issues with their body image, no matter what they look like.

Created by Annie Weisman, known for her work on shows including Desperate Housewives, the story of Sheila’s eating disorder is based on the writer’s own experiences when she was younger.

“It’s uncomfortable and it’s not depicted [very often on screen],” says Byrne. “I don’t know, why it is that? I mean, it’s a hard thing to write about and it’s a hard thing to show. I don’t think it’s particularly something people gravitate toward. This is sort of an opportunity to start a conversation about it.”

Rose Byrne as Sheila Rubin in Physical. Pic: Apple TV+
Byrne’s character appears perfect on the outside but is fighting inner demons

Sheila’s story shows the “seediness of the illness and that addictive quality that it has”, Byrne adds. “Like any addiction, you know, it’s always: ‘That was the last time. I just had to do it one more time, and then I’m good and I won’t do it again.’ And you just keep falling back into this very destructive pattern.”

At first, it’s the exercise part of the aerobics that Sheila craves, but real empowerment comes when she harnesses the burgeoning technology of videotape to revolutionise the industry. While on-screen workouts are everywhere now, whether it’s celebrity DVDs or Instagram lives with wellness gurus, it all stemmed from the trend that emerged in the 1980s.

“It was really hard,” Byrne tells Sky News, of channelling her inner Jane Fonda. “You know, I’m not co-ordinated, I’m not a dancer. I’m lazy, essentially. So I really was daunted by this task.”

Weisman says she wanted to use the typically female space of aerobics as a force for empowerment.

“Having struggled for decades with eating disorders and feeling really disconnected from my body, aerobics and exercise were a place where you could really embrace a kind of strength and power,” she tells Sky News. “And like so many things that are specifically female spaces, I think it gets easily dismissed.

“Whether or not women – or men – have that specific struggle with food, I think a lot of people relate to the idea of having a kind of shameful secret, an obsessive habit that allows them to contain some really difficult and unmanageable feelings.

“We’re not interested in exploitation or anything lurid, but really just emotional truth. So I don’t think you have to have had an eating disorder to relate. But, you know, eating disorders certainly are a persistent threat in in our culture today.”

Another issue the show explores is the power dynamics between men and women.

Sheila masks her problems and her desires and is seemingly a meek and mild wife, taking a backseat to her husband as he bids for state assembly – but while her character lives in the background (at first, at least), Byrne is very much the star of the show.

The issue of female-led films and TV series has been highlighted in recent years as diversity in front of and behind the camera slowly improves, but it seems there are lots of male stars who aren’t happy about playing second fiddle to a woman.

“Worth knowing that one of the big reasons so many female-centred projects weren’t being made for so long wasn’t because they weren’t being written and commissioned but because they couldn’t find a bankable male star who would agree to play second string,” Succession and I Hate Suzie writer Lucy Prebble tweeted earlier in June.

And in February, actress and director Olivia Wilde made headlines for praising her reported boyfriend Harry Styles for taking a supporting role in her female-led film, Don’t Worry Darling, saying that “the industry has raised [male actors] to believe it lessens their power (i.e financial value) to accept these roles, which is one of the reasons it’s so hard to get financing for movies focusing on female stories”.

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Comedian and actor Rory Scovel, who plays Sheila’s husband Danny Rubin, says he was more than happy to play a supporting role alongside Byrne.

“I like being employed, first and foremost,” he tells Sky News. “So I would do probably anything. I don’t relate to the sentiment of needing to be the lead or feel as though I won’t play a supporting character to a female lead. I do understand that that is something and I do understand that some people make their decisions and feel that way, but I truthfully just can’t relate to it.

“I don’t know that I’m so concerned where [a] character falls in the line-up or who the lead actually is. I think it’s just exciting to get to be a part of a show that is so well written, telling such an interesting story. It’s already fun that it’s set in the ’80s and we get to wear those clothes and have that look, but also, in quite the opposite sentiment, to get to follow someone like Rose and see her in action…

“I find it to be an education that I need as an artist. I would rather see someone like her showing me literally from the front row how she operates and what she brings to her roles so that I can, you know, hopefully try to educate myself in whatever that is, so that I can be better. So yeah, I feel quite the opposite. I feel very grateful that I got to be a part of the show.”

Apple Original series Physical, starring Rose Byrne, premieres on Apple TV+ on Friday 18 June

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BAFTA Games Awards: Baldur’s Gate 3 is the big winner, scooping five prizes




BAFTA Games Awards: Baldur's Gate 3 is the big winner, scooping five prizes

Baldur’s Gate 3 was the big winner at this year’s BAFTA Games Awards, taking home five prizes including the prestigious best game.

It also won BAFTAs for music, narrative, and performer in a supporting role for Andrew Wincott, along with the EE players’ choice award, which is voted for by the public.

The Dungeons and Dragons-based game faced strong competition from Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, Alan Wake 2 and indie hit Dave the Diver.

(L-R) Sarah Baylus, Swen Vincke and David Walgrave who won the best game award for Baldur's Gate 3
(L-R) Sarah Baylus, Swen Vincke and David Walgrave who won the best game award for Baldur’s Gate 3

Alan Wake 2 won two BAFTAs for artistic achievement and audio achievement, while Super Mario Bros. Wonder also scooped two for family and multiplayer.

Awards host Phil Wang told Sky News: “There are some real legends of gaming here. Sam Lake, you know? I played as Sam Lake, I used to play so much Max Payne and now he’s here, sipping a mimosa.”

Phil Wang hosts the BAFTA Games Awards 2024 at the Queen Elizabeth Hall on 11 April. Pic: BAFTA
Phil Wang hosted the ceremony. Pic: BAFTA

Sam Lake’s smash hit, Alan Wake 2, took him 13 years to create and over that time, it changed dramatically.

“There is very little from the original concept of Alan Wake 2 that still exists in what we have made today,” Mr Lake said.

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Games news was mostly just seen “on the business pages”, he said but “bit by bit, gaming has worked its way into culture”.

Alan Wake 2 creator Sam Lake attends the BAFTA Games Awards 2024. Pic: BAFTA
Alan Wake 2 creator Sam Lake attends the BAFTA Games Awards. Pic: BAFTA

One of the Baldur’s Gate 3 writers Lawrence Schick told Sky News how proud he was to work for the team after winning the narrative award.

He was joined at the event at London’s Queen Elizabeth Hall by a huge team, including narrator Amelia Tyler.

“[Baldur’s Gate 3] allows people to explore aspects of themselves in the game that they’ve never been able to explore,” he said.

“There are so many stories of players who have found out new things about themselves, about their sexuality, about their gender identity, about who they love or how they love them, from this game.”

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Hogwarts Legacy, the Harry Potter game played by more than 22 million people, lost in both categories it was nominated for, including the best family game section, and best animation – which was won by Hi-Fi Rush.

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Dave the Diver, the indie game where you play as a diver catching fish and working in a sushi restaurant, picked up one award for game design.

Best British game went to Viewfinder from Scottish-based studio Sad Owl, which also won a BAFTA for new intellectual property.

The creators of Dead Island 2, from Nottingham-based Dambuster Studios, were happy to be nominated for best British game.

“We tend to keep ourselves to ourselves, keep our heads down and get the work done so to get to the end of it all and get this [nomination] is really exciting.”

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Taylor Swift music ‘back on TikTok’ despite app’s public spat with singer’s record label




Taylor Swift music 'back on TikTok' despite app's public spat with singer's record label

Taylor Swift’s music is reportedly back on TikTok just weeks after the social media app and her record label Universal Music publicly exchanged furious messages.

Universal accused TikTok of bullying ahead of their agreement to license content on the video platform expiring on 31 January – while the social media firm dismissed the “false narrative and rhetoric”.

After the deal expired, TikTok removed the music label’s songs from its platform and muted videos featuring those songs, written by anyone signed on to Universal.

But the Financial Times reports Swift’s return to the Chinese short-video app had been in the works for some time, citing people familiar with the matter.

Swift owns the copyright to her songs thanks to a deal struck in 2019 with Universal Music that gives her control of where her music is available, the report adds, unlike many other artists.

Sky News has approached TikTok and Universal Music for comment.

The move would mark a return to TikTok less than three months on from a public spat between the app and Universal.

Tiktok. Pic: PA
Tiktok. Pic: PA

In a scathing open letter shared online, titled Why We Must Call Time Out On TikTok, Universal said it had pressed on “three critical issues”.

These included payment for artists and songwriters, protection from the “harmful effects” of AI and online safety.

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The video-hosting site responded to requests by the company, which is the biggest music label group in the world, “first with indifference, and then with intimidation”, the letter stated.

It also accused TikTok of attempting to “bully” Universal into accepting a deal “worth less than the previous deal” by removing music of developing artists while keeping the work of “audience-driving” global stars.

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TikTok hit back by claiming Universal put forward a “false narrative and rhetoric” and placed “greed above the interests of their artists and songwriters”.

The group walked away from the “powerful support of a platform with well over a billion users that serves as a free promotional and discovery vehicle for their talent”, the social media firm added.

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OJ Simpson has died at the age of 76




OJ Simpson has died at the age of 76

OJ Simpson, the former American football star and Hollywood actor who was cleared of murdering his ex-wife and her friend in a criminal trial, has died aged 76.

He was surrounded by his children and grandchildren when he “succumbed to his battle with cancer” on Wednesday, his family said on X.

Simpson was tried for double murder in 1995, in what was dubbed the “trial of the century”, which gripped the world.

He was found not guilty of killing Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman, but was later found responsible for the deaths in a civil lawsuit.

Simpson was then imprisoned in 2008 for nine years for armed robbery and kidnapping after an incident at a Las Vegas hotel.

Local 10 News in Nevada reported in February this year that Simpson was undergoing treatment for prostate cancer, but the former NFL running back said in a video at the time that “all is well”.

Posting on X, Simpson laughed as he said: “I’m not in any hospice, I don’t know who put that out there.”

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‘Hospice?’ OJ Simpson speaks in February

Caitlyn Jenner, whose ex-wife Kris Jenner was a close friend of the retired footballer and Ms Brown Simpson, said bluntly “good riddance” in response to Simpson’s death.

David Cook, attorney for Mr Goldman’s family, also told TMZ that Simpson “died without penance” as the family is still owed damages. He added that the Goldmans are exploring their options on what assets they can collect from Simpson’s estate.

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Simpson was acquitted after a 1995 criminal trial watched by millions worldwide, where Simpson famously tried on a pair of blood-stained gloves allegedly found at the scene of the crime.

The gloves appeared to be too small, leading defence attorney Johnnie Cochran to say: “If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit.”

Alan Dershowitz, another of Simpson’s lawyers at the time, said the defence was “a nightmare team” and that he did not want the former NFL star to take the stand.

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OJ: ‘It was a nightmare team’

“Ultimately it was the glove” that persuaded Simpson not to speak at the trial, Mr Dershowitz told Sky News.

“When he was able to go in front of the jury and show them that the glove didn’t fit, that led him to conclude, and he made the decision, not to take the stand.

“In the civil case, he took the stand and was immediately found liable.”

OJ Simpson grimaces as he tries on one of the leather gloves prosecutors say he wore the night his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman were murdered.
Pic: AP
OJ Simpson tries on one of the leather gloves allegedly found at the scene of the 1994 killings. Pic: AP

O.J. Simpson appears in a courtroom for his preliminary hearing in 2007. 
OJ Simpson appears in a courtroom for his preliminary hearing in 2007. Pic: AP

Nicknamed “The Juice”, Orenthal James Simpson rose to fame as a sports star in the Buffalo Bills team.

He was enrolled in the NFL’s hall of fame and was the first running back to gain 2,000 yards in a season in 1973.

He also became known as an advertising star, football commentator and Hollywood actor, appearing in a number of TV and film roles including the Naked Gun movie series.

O.J. Simpson, football player for the Buffalo Bills seen in 1969. (AP Photo)
OJ Simpson became famous as a running back for the Buffalo Bills. Pic: AP

O.J. Simpson poses for a photo in 1968
Nicknamed ‘The Juice’, Simpson became a star of TV and film after his NFL career. Pic: AP

Simpson was charged with two counts of first-degree murder after Ms Brown Simpson and Mr Goldman were stabbed to death at her Los Angeles home on 12 June 1994.

After he was accused of the killings, Simpson wrote a letter which insisted he was innocent, said goodbye to friends and made “a last wish” to “leave my children in peace”.

On 17 June that year, his lawyer Robert Shapiro feared Simpson was suicidal, while a white Ford Bronco carrying the former footballer led police on a 60-mile chase through Los Angeles.

OJ Simpson and Nicole Brown Simpson in 1993.
Pic: AP
OJ Simpson and Nicole Brown Simpson in 1993. They divorced in 1992. Pic: AP

A white Ford Bronco, driven by Al Cowlings and carrying OJ Simpson, being trailed by Los Angeles police on 17 June , 1994. Pic: AP
A white Ford Bronco carrying OJ Simpson was trailed by Los Angeles police on 17 June 1994. Pic: AP

Simpson was acquitted of double murder on 3 October 1995.

A civil wrongful death lawsuit later found him liable for the two deaths in 1997. He was ordered to pay $33.5m in damages, but he declared bankruptcy shortly after.

Simpson was later arrested in 2007 for armed robbery and kidnapping in a dispute over sports memorabilia at a Las Vegas casino hotel.

O.J. Simpson, center, is taken from the Las Vegas Police Investigative Services Division in Las Vegas, Sunday, Sept. 16, 2007. (AP Photo/John Locher)
OJ Simpson being taken from the Las Vegas Police Investigative Services Division, 16 September 2007. Pic: AP Photo / John Locher

Sky News’ Steve Bennedik recalls how Simpson’s trial was covered

It was the first few weeks of 1995 when Sky News’ live coverage of the OJ Simpson court case got under way. Each evening we showed the trial and invited questions. In those days, the main form of correspondence was by letter.

But there was also a new electronic method emerging, called email. And the first of these had the simple, but deflating, sentence: “Which one is OJ?”

We asked ourselves: Is our audience ready to follow the story of a very American tragedy unfold on British TV? We decided to stick with it.

In contrast, OJ Simpson was a household name in the US. So much more than an ex-football star. But the shock of this icon being arrested for murder, the bizarre Bronco highway chase, the high-profile celebrity defence team, and ultimately the “did he do it?” question had universal attraction.

Although the case stuttered through until October, the weak Judge Lance Ito was obsequious to lawyers’ demands for delays, but the interest among Sky News viewers surged and remained undimmed.

As the court camera panned to the state of California seal, signalling another adjournment, we and no doubt the viewer sighed.

More behind-the-scenes legal wrangling, but we had an ace up our sleeve – Professor Gary Solis. Gary is a Vietnam veteran, former military judge advocate, with alma maters including George Washington University and the London School of Economics.

At the time, he was in London and ready to give up his evenings. He calmly steered our presenters, Laurie and Vivien, and our often puzzled viewers through the complexities of the Californian legal system and became a firm favourite with the newsroom and the public alike.

The court characters emerged. Marcia Clark and Christopher Darden for the prosecution, and the “Dream Team” defence – Jonnie Cochran, F Lee Bailey, Alan Dershowitz and Robert Kardashian, whose children would go on to outshine his fame.

It was compelling court drama, but it was also the very tragic story of two young people who’d been savagely attacked and murdered, with their families devastated by the loss, and tormented by the lingering back and forth court battle.

The proceedings had lasted months, but the jury reached their verdict in just a few hours and when they returned to the courtroom to deliver it, an early evening audience in the UK was hanging on every moment. And then it was over. OJ was a free man.

The People of the State of California v Orenthal James Simpson faded as a memory, flickering back to life with the news of his death.

He was sentenced to up to 33 years in prison in 2008. After nine years in a Nevada prison, he was released on parole in 2017 and then discharged from parole for good behaviour in 2021.

Since then, Simpson regularly commented on politics and sports on social media. He lived in a gated community in Las Vegas where he played golf.

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