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When Rory Graham, the artist better known as Rag’n’Bone Man, performed on stage at the Brit Awards earlier this year, he was wearing the same sunglasses as he is for our interview.

He needed them, he tells Sky News. Singing Anywhere Away From Here, his duet with Pink, in front of an audience filled with excitement and expectation for the first major live music event for more than a year in the UK – and alongside an NHS choir to mark the period in which health workers have saved thousands of lives and been pushed to their absolute limits – it was an emotional moment.

I had these glasses on when I was doing that,” says Graham. “And by the end of the performance I was really fighting away tears. It was an amalgamation of stuff: being at the Brits performing, having Pink – not there, on screen, but it was amazing – and then also having this NHS choir. It was probably the most emotional thing I’ve ever done on stage. It was amazing but kind of difficult at the same time. I’ll never, ever forget it, it was a beautiful moment.”

The Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Choir perform with Pink and Rag'n'Bone Man at the Brit Awards 2021, held at the O2 Arena in London
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Rag’n’Bone Man on stage at the Brit Awards in May 2021. He performed alongside the Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Choir, while Pink (below) appeared virtually
Pink and Rag'n'Bone Man perform with the Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Choir at the Brit Awards 2021, held at the O2 Arena in London

Graham, who worked as a carer himself before his music career took off, working with people with autism and Down’s syndrome, can perhaps understand better than many what health and care workers have been through since the COVID-19 pandemic took hold. “That’s why I have such a profound respect for them,” he says, “and why it was so much more emotional having them on stage with us that night at the Brits.”

It has been a difficult time for the music industry, but slowly live shows are returning. Some festivals are going ahead – many, like the Brits, as part of government test events – and Graham recently played three back-to-back intimate shows at London’s Jazz Cafe in Camden, performing songs from his second album, the chart-topping Life By Misadventure, for the first time since its release at the beginning of May.

“It was really, really nice to be on stage,” he says. “It was really nice to be back with the band again. I mean, slightly strange having people sitting down the whole time and I got in trouble once for asking people to dance because you’re not allowed to do that, apparently.” You can’t stop people singing, though. “If I’m on stage singing and they’re not allowed, that would seem quite weird.”

Like millions of England fans around the country, Graham has been cheering Gareth Southgate‘s side on throughout Euro 2020. While it’s been “amazing”, he says seeing fans cheering from the stands only highlights the disparities in how different industries are being opened up once again.

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“I guess everyone’s a little bit frustrated because they see on TV that everybody’s jumping up and going crazy at the football, but still live gigs, we’re not allowed to dance. So that part’s quite frustrating.” Is it unfair? “I think it’s undoubtedly unfair, because, you know, what’s more important? You can’t say one’s more important than the other. So, yeah, I think it’s time.”

Rag N Bone Man. Pic: Fiona Garden
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Rag’n’Bone Man released second album Life By Misadventure earlier this year. Pic: Fiona Garden

To musicians, it feels like the government has neglected the arts, he says. “It feels like that to us because it feels like the arts are like last chance saloon. Everywhere else seems to be opening apart from the music industry, the live industry. So they need to hurry up.”

Graham has gigs in the diary and is keeping his fingers crossed, looking forward to performing to “a proper crowd” following the small shows. He is itching to showcase Life By Misadventure, the follow-up to the platinum-selling 2017 debut, Human, and lead single of the same name, which propelled him to fame. His life has changed quite a bit since then.

“Nobody knew that it was going to be the kind of phenomenon that it was,” he says. “I mean, one week we were just slowly releasing stuff and then the next I had friends calling me up from different countries all over the world saying, you’re playing on the radio and… it hit so fast, you know, that it really, totally changed my life in a very short space of time. I had a career before Human, it was a living, but it changed so much. It went from like, ‘oh cool, I’m playing to a thousand people in Brighton’, to ‘I’m playing to 12,000 people in Paris’. It really did change stuff forever.”

Rag N Bone Man. Pic: Fiona Garden
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The singer says it feels like the music industry has been left behind when it comes to reopening following lockdown. Pic: Fiona Garden

Now in his mid-30s, Graham is glad fame and the success didn’t happen earlier in life. “I don’t know if I would have been mentally capable of dealing with that. In fact, I know I wouldn’t have been. So I’m glad I was a bit older…

“I probably just would have partied myself to death, I reckon. I feel like I’d already done quite a lot of that stuff so I had my feet kind of firmly pressed on the ground and I wasn’t in a position to believe my own hype or anything. I think going through that stuff, travelling the length of the country with a guitar on your back or doing shows for beer, those things make you appreciate the bigger things.”

Since Human made him a household name, Graham has been through a lot in his personal life. He married his long-term girlfriend and mum to his three-year-old son, Rouben, in 2019, but the couple split up not long afterwards.

The title of his second record, Life By Misadventure, sums it up, he says. “All the songs seem like a kind of timeline. I’ll talk about a lot of stuff from my childhood and adolescence and how my teenage years were quite wild. But also, around the time that Human happened, it was a crazy few years and then I became a dad… so I kind of went through a lot of emotions and went through trying to grow up a bit quite quickly and be more responsible. So… the title, it makes sense to me.”

Graham was determined not to make a break-up record, he says; just one song on the album, Talking To Myself, addresses the split. Instead, many of these songs were inspired by other people’s struggles.

“Must be a thousand times she told you, that your body’s getting oldеr, don’t you know?” he sings on new single, Alone, which came about following a conversation with a female friend about the pressure of the biological clock. It is perhaps an unusual subject for a male singer to tackle, but Graham says he felt compelled to address the different ways men and women are treated when it comes to having children.

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“It just seems like a problem that men don’t have, I’ve never had that pressure put on me,” he says. “It seems that a lot of women go through those kind of pressures from family or friends or whoever it is, who say, like, ‘isn’t it about time to settle down?’ ‘When are we going to get grandchildren?’ Those kinds of things. It just seemed a bit archaic. I’d never really written a song like that, it was kind of hard to put into words at first, but I think it came out well. I think hopefully people will understand it.”

Graham is enjoying being a dad and the time lockdown has given him with his son. He has spent the day in the garden with Rouben and is getting ready to take him swimming, he says, after the interview. But lockdown has also taught him that he needs to keep busy. “I learnt that I’m not necessarily great with a lot of free time. I like to work.”

He has discovered a new found love of baking, however, so cakes have kept him occupied. “My son enjoys cakes, like a lot of three-year-olds do. So we got into making all sorts of different kinds of cakes, I’ve kind of become quite good at baking, which is not necessarily a bad thing.”

It sounds like Celebrity Bake Off could be on the cards.

“If they want me, I’ll be there,” he says. “I don’t really like the idea of reality shows, but I reckon I’d give Bake Off a go. If Big Narstie can do, I can do it.”

But before Paul Hollywood and co come knocking, Graham is hoping more than anything to get back on stage properly. When those big gigs, to big crowds of people able to sing and dance and hug once again, just like the Brits, it’s going to be “incredibly emotional again”, says Graham.

“I feel like the Road Runner at the moment, just on the spot. But we’re all just so ready to do it. We’re ready to go.”

Rag’n’Bone Man’s new single, Alone, and album, Life By Misadventure, are out now

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BBC defends ‘misjudged’ Saltburn BAFTA red carpet question to Andrew Scott

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BBC defends 'misjudged' Saltburn BAFTA red carpet question to Andrew Scott

The BBC has apologised for a “misjudged” question to Andrew Scott in an awkward red carpet interview at the BAFTA film awards last week.

During the starry event, which honours the best films of the past year, Scott was questioned about the film Saltburn, and more specifically about fellow Irish star Barry Keoghan’s genitals.

Barry Keoghan - whose dance at the end of Saltburn is a wonder to behold - posing on the red carpet. Pic: Reuters
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Barry Keoghan. Pic: Reuters

After chatting to Scott, 47, about his film All Of Us Strangers, BBC entertainment correspondent Colin Paterson moved onto the popularity of other Irish performers, including Saltburn star Keoghan.

Paterson asked: “Do you know Barry well?”

To which Scott replied: “I know Barry, yeah.”

Paterson then asked Scott: “Can I ask your reaction when you first saw the naked dance scene at the end of Saltburn?”

Deflecting the question Scott replied: “Oh gees, I won’t spoil it for anybody.”

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Not letting it drop, Paterson persisted: “There is a lot of talk about the prosthetics… how well do you know him?” at which point Scott pulled a face and awkwardly walked away.

Paterson then asked: “Too much? Too much?”

The interview led to complaints, some of which expressed concern that the line of questioning was homophobic, due to Scott being a high-profile gay actor.

Andrew Scott and Paul Mescal in ALL OF US STRANGERS.  Photo Courtesy of Searchlight Pictures. .. 2023 Searchlight Pictures All Rights Reserved.
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Scott and Paul Mescal in All Of Us Strangers. Pic: Searchlight Pictures

In response, the corporation issued a statement, which read: “Saltburn is a film which has had cultural impact, with Barry Keoghan’s scene at the end gaining a lot of attention in particular – something the actor has addressed himself.

“Our question to Andrew Scott was meant to be a light-hearted reflection of the discussion around the scene and was not intended to cause offence”.

The BBC said Saltburn director Emerald Fennell and singer Sophie Ellis-Bextor – whose song Murder on the Dancefloor features in the scene and who performed at the BAFTA ceremony – also faced the same line of questioning.

The statement added: “We do, however, accept that the specific question asked to Andrew Scott was misjudged.

“After speaking with Andrew on the carpet, our reporter acknowledged on air that his questioning may have gone too far and that he was sorry if this was the case.”

Barry Keoghan stars in Emerald Fennell's Saltburn, which explores class, power and sex and is something of a modern take on Brideshead Revisited. Pic: MGM/Amazon Studios
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Keoghan in Saltburn. Pic: MGM/Amazon Studios

All Of Us Strangers received six BAFTA nominations, including outstanding British film, best supporting actor for Paul Mescal, best supporting actress for Claire Foy and best director for Andrew Haigh.

Despite a widely praised lead performance, Scott did not receive a nomination for best actor in a leading role. He did however, present the animated film award on the night alongside co-star Mescal.

Saltburn had five BAFTA nods including outstanding British film, best supporting actor for Jacob Elordi, best supporting actress for Rosamund Pike, and best actor in a leading role for Keoghan.

Both films left empty handed.

Scottish reporter Paterson, 50, first began reporting on The Big Breakfast, before writing for the Guardian and later presenting on Liquid News on BBC Three.

He has covered the BAFTAs, Oscars and Glastonbury Festival multiple times.

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Ellie Goulding confirms split from husband Caspar Jopling

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Ellie Goulding confirms split from husband Caspar Jopling

Ellie Goulding has announced that she has split from her husband Caspar Jopling.

The 37-year-old Starry Eyed singer, and the 32-year-old art dealer tied the knot at a celebrity-packed ceremony five years ago.

Ellie Goulding has revealed she is 30 weeks pregnant with her first child
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Pic: PA

They welcomed a son, Arthur, in 2021.

Posting a statement in an Instagram story, Goulding said she had been left with “no choice” but to publicly announce that they have been separated for “some time”.

The Hertfordshire-born singer wrote: “In light of recent stories, I feel I have been left with no choice but to let you all know that Caspar and I privately separated some time ago.

“We remain the closest of friends and have been successfully co-parenting with our son’s best interests at heart.

“We are committed to protecting our family privacy and thank people in advance for respecting our wishes – we won’t be commenting further.”

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She also shared a story which Jopling had posted on his Instagram account, also confirming their separation.

It read: “Hi people – hope you’re having a good day.

“I feel (sadly) that I need to say something on mine and Ellie’s current relationship… that I hope more than anything will make any final tabloid speculation disappear.

“Ellie and I made the decision to separate some time ago.

“Our immediate family and close friends have known for some time – otherwise we chose to do what we could to keep this private.

“Ellie and I remain the closest of friends, most importantly ‘co-parents’ to the best kiddo in the world, Arthur.

“This is the last I want to say on this – and please ask that you respect mine and Ellie’s privacy. Thanks a lot. Caspar.”

Singer Ellie Goulding marries her finance Caspar Jopling in York Minster
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Pic: PA

Their glamorous wedding ceremony at York Minster in 2019, featured an impressive guest list ranging from pop stars to royalty.

Celebrities including Katy Perry, Orlando Bloom, James Blunt, Sienna Miller, Jimmy Carr and artist Tracey Emin were in attendance.

Princesses Eugenie and Beatrice were also guests along with their mother Sarah, Duchess of York and Eugenie’s husband Jack Brooksbank, who was one of the groomsmen.

Katy Perry and Orlando Bloom arrive at York Minster for the wedding
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Katy Perry and Orlando Bloom. Pic: PA

File photo dated 31/8/2019 of Princess Beatrice and Mr Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi, whose engagement has been announced today, attending the wedding of singer Ellie Goulding to Caspar Jopling. Issue date: Thursday September 26, 2019. See PA story ROYAL Beatrice. Photo credit should read: Peter Byrne / PA Wire.
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Princess Beatrice and Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi. Pic: PA

The ceremony was followed by a lavish reception at Castle Howard, a stately home near Malton, North Yorkshire.

The couple first became an item in early 2017, getting engaged the following year.

Goulding had previously been in relationships with McFly star Dougie Poynter, radio presenter Greg James, DJ Skrillex and actor Jeremy Irvine, and is also rumoured to have dated singer Ed Sheeran.

She has had four chart-topping albums in the UK, including her most recent collection, Higher Than Heaven, released in 2023.

Goulding toured the UK and Europe late last year with songs from the new album.

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Rod Stewart labels Vladimir Putin an ‘a******e’ and urges support for Ukraine ‘right to the end’

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Rod Stewart labels Vladimir Putin an 'a******e' and urges support for Ukraine 'right to the end'

Sir Rod Stewart has lashed out at Vladimir Putin on the eve of the second anniversary of Russia’s war on Ukraine.

The music veteran branded the Russian president an “arsehole” in an interview with Sky News on Friday night.

And he said revealed his fears about the consequences of the US “pulling money away from Ukraine” as the conflict enters its third year.

Ukraine-Russia war latest

Sir Rod told Sky News’s Friday Night With Niall Patterson: “You let that arsehole into Ukraine, he’ll get into every NATO country.”

“And we’ll have to join the army,” he added.

“We have to support Ukraine right to the end,” he continued, adding: “Peace in the Middle East as well.”

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Sir Rod appeared on Sky News alongside friend and fellow musician, Jools Holland to discuss their new album, Swing Fever.

“We need joy, we live in very dark times,” he told Sky News.

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‘Music brought us together’

Sir Rod described how the album “brought them together”, while pianist and composer Holland revealed how, when Sir Rod first called him to discuss the project, he believed it was a crank call.

Read more on Sky News:
What we know about Putin and his motives
Putin on invading Poland, the war in Ukraine, American ‘spies’

Sir Rod is no stranger to speaking his mind.

In January last year, he called into Sky News to donate for medical scans after hearing NHS crisis stories.

He said it was ridiculous people had to wait long periods for essential treatment and called for a change in government.

Sir Rod said: “I personally have been a Tory for a long time but I think this government should stand down now and give the Labour Party a go, this is heartbreaking.

“In all my years in this country I’ve never seen it so bad… change the bloody government.”

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