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It’s a book that the author felt was “unfilmable” due to its different time strands.

But both Shailene Woodley and Felicity Jones were so taken with the adaptation of The Last Letter From Your Lover that they chose not just to star in the film, but to work on it as executive producers as well.

Now Jojo Moyes’ story of two love affairs, decades apart, is being released in cinemas and its stars have told Sky News why they wanted to get so involved on the project.

Felicity Jones (L) executive produces her latest film. Pic: Studio Canal
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UK actress Felicity Jones (L) also executive produces her latest film. Pic: Studio Canal

“Any producer role, I think the main job – take out the day-to-day bits – is to protect the integrity of the story that you’re telling and to protect the creative people involved and to make sure that it doesn’t go off the rails any which way,” explained Woodley.

“For me, it has felt very important to be involved in that way, because as much as we as actors care about our characters, we really care about the stories that we’re telling and we care about the entire plot line as a whole.

“So it feels really like an honour to be a producer in a way, because you are there making sure that everything is protected – and it also feels a lot more fun because there’s other creative elements that you get to bring into the project.”

Last Letter From Your Lover. Pic: Studio Canal
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US star Shailene Woodley (L) also served as an executive producer on The Last Letter From Your Lover. Pic: Studio Canal

Felicity Jones, who plays a journalist in the modern-day strand of the movie, said while it was a natural transition to become a producer, it’s a role she’s really valued.

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“When you’re playing leads, you do tend to get more involved in the development side of things and you have a lot more input in the script and tend to get a little bit more involved in the behind the scenes stuff, so it did feel like quite a natural evolution to formalise what had been happening already,” she said.

“It’s a really special experience when you’re with a team where you feel listened to – we were both able to see the edit of the film and have an opinion on that, and were really listened to in the making of this film, which you sort of get used to and want that to continue on everything that you do.”

Shailene Woodley. Pic: Studio Canal
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Woodley plays Jennifer Stirling. Pic: Studio Canal

The book the story is based on first came out in 2008, and like so many of Moyes’ novels it won a legion of fans.

The best-selling author also worked on the movie, which should bring comfort to those concerned about seeing how the characters they love on the page have been brought to life on the screen.

Jones said she is all too aware of the weight of expectation from those who love the book.

“I have such empathy when you read something and then you see it and you think, ‘Oh, no, that’s so disappointing’,” she said.

“But Jojo Moyes was so closely involved in this film throughout its entirety, so it felt like we had her blessing, and what you seek to do is capture the essence of those characters and the book.

“There are definitely some changes that have happened, but essentially you want to get ‘what did Jojo want by writing that book?’ And it does feel, hopefully, that the film has achieved that.”

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While Jones’ character is set in modern-day London, Woodley’s narrative plays out in the 1960s.

The separate timelines meant Jones and Woodley – who are promoting the film together – didn’t actually spend much time with one another during production.

“It is funny, we would see each other very rarely on set, there would be a little bit of crossover or maybe we’d be leaving and entering a costume fitting at around the same time, and in a sense it was a bummer because I’ve wanted to work with Felicity for a really long time and I hope one day we have the opportunity to do that,” Woodley said.

“And at any given moment, it’s left a lot of mystery to this project because I myself have been excited to see what Felicity and Nabhaan [Rizwan who plays Jones’ character’s love interest] brought to their storyline and how they created that dynamic.

“And it’s funny when that happens in films, I think there’s an assumption if any given actors are in a project together that they got to spend a lot of time together, but I mean, we maybe had a few days at most when we saw each other.”

But despite not filming together, there does seem to be a genuine affection between the pair as Jones chips in with “It wasn’t enough, it wasn’t enough – there’s more to come!”

The Last Letter From Your Lover is out in cinemas on 6 August.

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Taylor Swift’s The Tortured Poets Department analysed: Marriage, babies, bad boyfriends and the price of fame

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Taylor Swift's The Tortured Poets Department analysed: Marriage, babies, bad boyfriends and the price of fame

As the title suggests, The Tortured Poets Department is a break-up album, and one that doesn’t disappoint in deconstructing Taylor Swift’s failed relationships and old boyfriends gone bad.

We hear about a chain-smoking man who tells jokes that are “revolting and far too loud” in I Can Fix Him (No Really I Can); a “coward” who pretends to be a “lion” in loml; and we learn about a ghosted Swift in I Can Do It With A Broken Heart, as she sings “I’m so obsessed with him but he avoids me like the plague”.

We’ve all been there, and that’s the trick to Swift‘s wide appeal.

Pic: Beth Garrabrant
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Pic: Beth Garrabrant

The not-so-subtly titled The Smallest Man Who Ever Lived paints a picture of a drug-taking partner who: “In public, showed me off, then sank in stoned oblivion,” tried to “buy some pills from a friend of friends” and “didn’t measure up in any measure of a man”.

Amid dealing with these waste-of-space men, we learn about a Swift – who contrary to her sparkling and strong public persona – is “depressed,” “crying at the gym,” eating “kid’s cereal,” “unstable… on my knees” and very much the owner of a “broken heart”.

Of course, not all of her songs are purely confessional – she also adopts different personas (for example in But Daddy I Love Him which shares the basic storyline of Madonna’s Papa Don’t Preach), but in each track, we firmly return to Swift and parallels in her much-publicly dissected ‘private’ life.

With a history of writing about her exes (past examples include Joe Jonas, Harry Styles, Jake Gyllenhaal and John Mayer), Swift hasn’t disappointed with seeming allusions to former British boyfriends Joe Alwyn and Matty Healy, plus throws forward to current beau NFL star Travis Kelce.

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So Long, London – positioned fifth in the tracklist, a spot Swift reserves for her most meaningful songs – is a choral ballad and seems to be about the end of her six-year relationship with The Favourite star Alwyn.

Her lyric – “I left all I knew, you left me at the house by the Heath” – references Hampstead Heath in north London where she lived with the star in the early 2020s.

As much a break-up song with the city as the man, she tells us “I’m just mad as hell cause I loved this place”.

In this song, we also get one of many references to marriage across the album – a theme which might be at the forefront of Swift’s mind?

Pic: Beth Garrabrant
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Pic: Beth Garrabrant

Wedding bells and babies

So Long, London’s emotional lyric – “You swore that you loved me but where were the clues, I died on the altar waiting for the proof” – rings out loud and clear.

The song that gave the album its title – The Tortured Poets Department – describes a moment that paints a vivid picture: “At dinner you take my ring off my middle finger and put it on the one people put wedding rings on, and that’s the closest I’ve come to my heart exploding.”

In loml (an acronym which stands for Love Of My Life) she sings: “You and I go from one kiss to gettin married… you told me I’m the love of your life.”

In But Daddy I Love Him – a ballad with country tones – she sings: “No, you can’t come to the wedding.”

And in imgonnagetyouback she says: “Whether I’m gonna be your wife or gonna smash up your bike, I haven’t decided yet.”

There’s even a reference to future family in The Manuscript – the final song on the album – with the lyric: “He said that if the sex was half as good as the conversation was, soon they’d be pushing strollers. But soon it was over.”

In Florida!!! (featuring Florence + The Machine) the topic of children comes up again, with Swift escaping to the Everglades, running from friends who “all smell like weed or little babies”.

Taylor Swift is expected to attend the Super Bowl to watch her boyfriend Travis Kelce play, both pictured. Pic: AP
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Swift and Travis Kelce in February. Pic: AP

Loves old and new

The 1975 singer Healy, who Swift is rumoured to have briefly dated following her split from Alwyn, appears to be alluded to in Fortnight – a song featuring Post Malone which will be the first single from the album.

She sings: “I touched you for only a fortnight… I love you, it’s ruining my life.”

In Guilty As Sin, a slow, drum-backed track, Swift describes “fatal fantasies,” “recalling things we never did” and looking back on a past relationship – “how I long for our trysts… How can I be guilty as sin?”

And in But Daddy I Love Him, it’s possible Swift’s hitting back at criticism of her never-officially-confirmed relationship with Healy, telling naysayers: “I’ll tell you something about my good name, it’s mine alone to disgrace.”

The penultimate track on the initial album, The Alchemy, pulls in a wealth of American Football terms – seeming to mark the introduction of her latest relationship with NFL star Travis Kelce.

A swirl of “chemicals” – including “white wine” and “heroin” – are used as metaphors to describe the rush of first attraction amid a slew of sporting analogies.

Read more:
‘Secret’ double album announced in ‘2am surprise’
The hidden meanings in the album’s lyrics

Pic: Beth Garrabrant
Image:
Pic: Beth Garrabrant

‘Self-harm’ and ‘wounds’

Swift told her social media followers the album was a reflection of “events, opinions and sentiments from a fleeting and fatalistic moment in time,” calling them “both sensational and sorrowful in equal measure”.

And for Swift, the album itself appears to be a form of closure – in her words: “This period of the author’s life is now over, the chapter closed and boarded up. There is nothing to avenge, no scores to settle once wounds have healed”.

She also refers to personal wounding in the cover slip for the album, calling the period of her life one of “self-harm” and “cardiac arrest”. And on her love battle wounds she told fans: “A good number of them turned out to be self-inflicted”.

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It’s a self-reflection she shares in Who’s Afraid Of Little Old Me, calling herself “fearsome,” “wretched” and “wrong,” singing in the chorus “I was tame, I was gentle, til the circus life made me mean”.

After over two decades in the music industry – a notoriously tough one to survive in let alone thrive in – we perhaps see a glimpse into Swift’s psyche in I Can Do It With A Broken Heart. She sings: “They said, ‘Babe, you gotta fake it til you make it’. And I did. Lights, camera, bitch smile. Even when you want to die.”

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The album features a song inspired by her NFL superstar boyfriend Travis Kelce

The original It Girl

And in Clara Bow (the name of a 1920s American actress for whom the term ‘It Girl’ was coined), the final track of the original album, she gives us a self-referring dig which touches on both the fickleness of the music industry and pokes fun at her own ever-inflating success.

We hear a young wannabe praised by “suits in LA,” telling her: “You look like Taylor Swift in this light, we’re loving it. You’ve got edge she never did.”

Always looking ahead, to her next era, perhaps when her “girlish glow flickers”, a now 30-something Swift is always one step ahead of the industry she’s currently dominating.

As she tells us: “The future’s bright… Dazzling.”

The Tortured Poets Department: The Anthology, featuring 31 tracks, is out now.

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Taylor Swift: How a country girl took over the world – as new album The Tortured Poets Department released

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Taylor Swift: How a country girl took over the world - as new album The Tortured Poets Department released

Taylor Swift is one of the world’s best-selling artists, a billionaire, and a record breaker. And she’s just 34.

With her 11th studio album – The Tortured Poets Department – out today (her follow up to 2022’s Grammy winning Midnights) the buzz around the singer is at fever pitch.

Update:
Swift reveals ‘secret double album’

Taylor Swift accepts the Global Icon award during the Brit Awards 2021
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Swift accepts the Global Icon award at the Brit Awards 2021. Pic: PA

Fans can expect 16 new tracks (addressing the five stages of heartbreak) and collaborations from the likes of Florence + The Machine and Post Malone.

With a history of writing about her exes (you know who you are, Joe Jonas, Harry Styles, Jake Gyllenhaal and John Mayer), there’s much interest over whether any songs will refer to her English ex-boyfriend, actor Joe Alwyn who she dated for six years until their split last year.

There’s a strong suggestion track number five (the slot she always gives to her most meaningful songs) – So Long London – may do just that.

And the very title of album may be referring to a WhatsApp group Alwyn previously set up with fellow actors Andrew Scott and Paul Mescal, called The Tortured Man Club.

More on Taylor Swift

Speaking about it in 2022, the actors joked that they’d not been using it much since becoming less tortured. Four months later news of Swift and Alwyn’s split emerged.

Meanwhile, in current boyfriend news, Swift’s latest beau – Travis Kelce – says he’s had a listen to parts of the album and says it’s “unbelievable”.

The US star’s rise from teen country pop singer to all-round global phenomenon has been – well – swift.

We take a look at the unstoppable rise and rise of Taylor Swift.

Taylor Swift was there to support Travis Kelce. Pic: Reuters
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Swift with boyfriend Travis Kelce in February. Pic: Reuters

Moving forward while reclaiming her past

She started out Taylor Alison Swift, born in Pennsylvania and named after singer-songwriter James Taylor.

Inspired to become a country singer after watching a documentary about Faith Hill (one of the genre’s best-selling stars), her parents upped sticks to move to Tennessee in 1993 to help her forge her music career, and Swift landed her first record deal aged just 13.

A musical chameleon, she’s switched up her genre a few times since then, moving from country to pop to alternative and folk.

And as well as moving forward artistically, she’s quite literally reclaimed her past too, re-recording her back catalogue since 2021 as a way to regain ownership of her music following a spat with talent manager Scooter Braun, who bought her former label Big Machine Records.

The MTV VMAs moment in 2009 when Kanye sparked his feud with Swift. Pic. Reuters
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The MTV VMAs moment in 2009 when Kanye stormed the stage. Pic. Reuters

Earlier this year, Swift made Grammy history when she became the first person to win album of the year four times with Midnights.

She’s come a long way since Kanye West infamously stormed the stage at the 2009 VMAs as Swift accepted her award for best video by a female artist, a stunt he later claimed in a lyric “made that b**** famous“.

Her fame has been on the rise ever since – reaching peak Swift over the last few years.

Taylor in 2006, when she was seen as the sweet girl of country music. Pic: Reuters
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Taylor in 2006, when she was seen as the sweet girl of country music. Pic: Reuters

Billionaire status

Swift is a billionaire, according to Forbes magazine, accumulating $1.1bn (£875m), based on earnings from her Eras Tour and the worth of her pop music catalogue.

It makes her the first musician to hit 10-figure status solely based on her songs and performances.

Following the start of her Eras Tour, kicking off in March 2023, she became the first artist to surpass $1bn (£800m) in revenue, breaking the Guinness World Record for the highest-grossing music tour.

Plus, she was the biggest-selling global recording artist of 2023, breaking another record by topping the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry’s (IFPI) global artist chart for a fourth time.

Taylor Swift accepts the award for Album of the Year for Midnights during the 66th Annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles, California, U.S., February 4, 2024. REUTERS/Mike Blake
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Swift making Grammy history. Pic: Reuters

In 2023 Swift was ranked as Spotify’s most popular artist, and she became the first female artist to have four albums on Billboard’s top 10 list concurrently.

Her Eras Tour – which started out with 53 shows played across the US before expanding to include 78 international dates – has sold out stadiums around the world, with an estimated $900m in ticket sales last year, according to Billboard.

It’s projected to become the highest-grossing tour in history by the end of this year, forecast to push Elton John’s Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour into second place.

Plus, the Swift magic touch has boosted the local economies her tour has passed through.

Fans arrive at the Tokyo Dome, for the Taylor Swift concert, as part of the Eras Tour .
Pic:AP
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Fans at the Tokyo Dome, for the Eras Tour. Pic:AP


Economic angel with the power to shake cities

Her seven sold-out concerts in Sydney and Melbourne in Australia in February were credited by the Australian Bureau of Statistics with increasing spending on clothing, merchandise, accessories and dining out across the month.

Six nights near Los Angeles added $320m (£257m) and 3,300 jobs to the area, according to the California Center for Jobs and the Economy.

And not content with ruling the music world or mending the economy, she has conquered the silver screen too, with a movie version of her concert tour taking over $250m (£200m) in ticket sales.

The movie generated the highest ticket sales at the UK and Ireland box office on its opening day, according to Vue International.

And did I mention, she can also cause minor natural disasters?

In July 2023, a Swift concert in Seattle was pointed to for setting off a nearby seismometer, registering the equivalent of a magnitude 2.3 earthquake.

A fan shows off his Taylor Swift T-shirt at a sing-a-long event in Singapore. Pic: Reuters
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A fan’s Taylor Swift T-shirt at a sing-a-long event in Singapore. Pic: Reuters

She’s across politics and sport too – and fellow celebs love her

While never telling her fans who to vote for, Swift has encouraged voter registration, with Vote.org reporting 35,000 signups after Swift urged her 282 million followers on Instagram to vote in Super Tuesday primary contests across the US in March.

And putting the super into Super Bowl, her high-profile relationship with Kansas City Chiefs star Travis Kelce has been credited with bringing more viewers to American Football. Indeed, sales of Kelce jerseys jumping 400% in one day, according to online seller Fanatics.

While she never went to college herself, numerous US colleges offer courses on her, including Harvard, Stanford and Bentley, while a university in Belgium offers a Swift-inspired literary class. Avoiding the hassle of years of study, in 2022 she received an honorary doctor of fine arts degree from New York University.

And earlier this year the Victoria And Albert Museum recruited for a Taylor Swift superfan adviser to help develop future Swift-themed programming.

Teenagers trade bracelets while waiting for the beginning of Taylor Swift's Eras Tour concert movie in a cinema in Mexico City, Mexico October 13, 2023. REUTERS/Alexandre Meneghini
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Teenagers trade friendship bracelets at an Eras Tour concert movie in Mexico City. Pic: Reuters


It’s no surprise that Time magazine named her 2023’s person of the year.

Known for her dedication to her fans – inspiring friendship bracelets, handmade signs, and all sorts of memorabilia – she has a legion of celebrity fans too including Jennifer Lopez, Julia Roberts and Adam Sandler.

And in good news for UK fans – she’ll be coming soon to a city near you.

This summer she will play 15 UK shows as part of her Eras Tour, kicking off on 7 June in Edinburgh before coming to London on 21 June. Her extended London run will conclude at Wembley Stadium on 20 August.

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Taylor Swift reveals ‘secret’ double album in ‘2am surprise’ – including track inspired by boyfriend Travis Kelce

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Taylor Swift reveals 'secret' double album in '2am surprise' - including track inspired by boyfriend Travis Kelce

Taylor Swift has revealed her latest release is a “secret double album” – with 15 more tracks than fans were expecting.

In a 2am surprise (around 7am UK time), the 34-year-old announced on social media that The Tortured Poets Department: The Anthology includes a second instalment.

She wrote: “It’s a 2am surprise: The Tortured Poets Department is a secret DOUBLE album. I’d written so much tortured poetry in the past 2 years and wanted to share it all with you, so here’s the second instalment of TTPD: The Anthology. 15 extra songs. And now the story isn’t mine anymore… it’s all yours.”

It’s the superstar’s 11th studio album and features a bumper 31 songs spilling over two hours.

Swift announced details of the record in February this year when she won the Grammy Award for Best Pop Vocal Album for Midnights.

At the time, she revealed the new album includes collaborations with Post Malone and Florence + The Machine who feature respectively on the tracks Fortnight and Florida!!!.

Taylor Swift fans check out a new pop-up opening to celebrate Taylor Swift's upcoming album "The Tortured Poets Department," at the Grove in Los Angeles on Wednesday, April 17, 2024. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel)
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The Tortured Poets Department features songs about Swift’s love life. Pic: AP

Swift is believed to have included songs about her break-ups with British actor Joe Alwyn and The 1975 star Matty Healy in the album, while a song full of American football references is thought to be inspired by her latest romance with NFL star Travis Kelce.

Read more:
Boyfriend hails ‘unbelievable’ album

Singer Taylor Swift performs at her concert for the international "The Eras Tour" in Tokyo, Japan February 7, 2024. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon ATTENTION EDITORS - NO COMMERCIAL OR BOOK SALES. NOT FOR USE ON ANY PRINT OR ELECTRONIC MAIN COVER OF MAGAZINES. EDITORIAL USE ONLY.
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Swift has been travelling the world with her Eras tour. Pic: Reuters

The 15th track, The Alchemy, appears to be a nod to her relationship with the Kansas City Chiefs star with references to American football terms including the team, warm benches, winning streak, and trophy, and also features the line: “So when I touch down, call the amateurs and cut ’em from the team.”

She began dating the athlete last year and her attendance at the Super Bowl made headlines around the world, including that kiss with Kelce after the Chiefs’ victory.

Kelce, who has recently landed a role as host of the game show Are You Smarter Than A Celebrity?, said he listened to parts of the album and said it’s “unbelievable”.

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Taylor and Travis unite after Chiefs win

So Long, London is number five in the tracklist – the slot reserved for the most meaningful song on each of Swift’s albums – and is thought to offer new insight into her split with The Favourite actor Alwyn after six years together.

In the lyrics, Swift hints at wedding plans, singing: “You swore that you loved me but where were the clues, I died on the altar waiting for the proof” – as well as being upset at having to leave London which she said she “loved”.

The very title of the album may be referring to a WhatsApp group Alwyn previously set up with fellow actors Andrew Scott and Paul Mescal, called The Tortured Man Club.

On Healy – who Swift dated for a few weeks last year after her split with Alwyn – several songs seem to reference him, including on Guilty As Sin, where she sings about having “fatal fantasies” for someone from her past while in a relationship.

Joe Alwyn and Matty Healy.
Pic: AP
Image:
Joe Alwyn and Matty Healy.
Pic: AP

Writing songs about past old flames is nothing new for Swift including Joe Jonas (Mr Perfectly Fine), Harry Styles (Style), Jake Gyllenhaal (All Too Well) and John Mayer (Dear John).

The singer posted the significance of the album on X as a flurry of fans commented their love for it.

Swift wrote: “The Tortured Poets Department. An anthology of new works that reflect events, opinions and sentiments from a fleeting and fatalistic moment in time – one that was both sensational and sorrowful in equal measure.

“This period of the author’s life is now over, the chapter closed and boarded up. There is nothing to avenge, no scores to settle once wounds have healed. And upon further reflection, a good number of them turned out to be self-inflicted.

“This writer is of the firm belief that our tears become holy in the form of ink on a page. Once we have spoken our saddest story, we can be free of it. And then all that’s left behind is the tortured poetry.”

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Other songs on the compilation include The Smallest Man Who Ever Lived, The Prophecy and Cassandra, while the bonus song is titled The Manuscript.

Swift’s sold-out Eras tour makes its way to the UK on 7 June, starting with three shows in Edinburgh.

The run of her London shows begins on 21 June.

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