We speak to an Oscar winner and a grime star this week, in the latest Backstage – the TV and film podcast from Sky News.
Claire Gregory is joined as usual by Stevie Wong, alongside Sky News’ arts and entertainment reporter Chris Robertson, as they look at the latest news and reviews in the world of film and TV.
The team discuss Netflix’s Tudum event, and all the new releases, trailers and sneak peaks that came with it, as well as delving into HBO’s latest big money project – The Last Of Us.
They also look at Avatar’s reclamation of the global box office top spot, and some creepy horror film marketing this week after a number of odd individuals were spotted at baseball games in the US.
Oscar-winning superstar Jeff Bridges chats to Backstage about his latest project The Old Man, where he plays a washed-up CIA operative on the run (listen to the end for the full interview!) and Big Narstie discusses the rise of grime and drill music ahead of the launch of new show Jungle.
This week Kenneth Branagh’s This England, where he plays Boris Johnson in Sky’s new COVID-19 drama, is reviewed, as is sandwich shop comedy The Bear.
And how could we let the new Hocus Pocus pass us by – find out if the team enjoyed the spooky Sanderson sisters sequel, 29 years on from the blockbusting original, as they run amuck, amuck, amuck!
Send in your questions: firstname.lastname@example.org || Click to subscribe to Backstage wherever you get your podcasts
The Pogues star Shane MacGowan, best known for Christmas hit Fairytale Of New York, dies at 65
Musician and singer Shane MacGowan, best known as the frontman of The Pogues, has died at the age of 65.
His wife Victoria Mary Clarke said in a post on Instagram: “Shane will always be the light that I hold before me and the measure of my dreams and the love of my life.”
The Irish star had suffered from several health issues in recent years.
Born in Kent on Christmas Day in 1957, MacGowan will forever be associated with the festive period thanks to The Pogues’ 1987 hit, Fairytale Of New York, featuring the late Kirsty MacColl.
Throughout the 1980s and early ’90s, the band also had hits including Dirty Old Town, The Irish Rover, A Pair Of Brown Eyes and A Rainy Night In Soho.
MacGowan was a punk rebel, almost as famous for his drinking and drug taking – and for the toll it took on his teeth – as he was for his music. But he was a gifted storyteller from a young age, winning a Daily Mirror literary prize when he was 13, and a scholarship to Westminster School for his essays.
“I didn’t last there very long,” he told the Guardian in a 2013 interview. “I got nicked for smoking a joint and was kicked out.”
He had been unwell in recent years, receiving treatment in hospital for encephalitis in December 2022, and spending time in intensive care in the summer. He was back in hospital in November, with former bandmates Spider Stacy and Terry Woods among those who visisted him.
MacGowan had also used a wheelchair since 2015 following several falls, breaking his pelvis and then his right knee.
The singer married his long-term partner, journalist Victoria Mary Clarke, at a ceremony in Copenhagen in 2018, with his friend Johnny Depp playing guitar at their wedding.
Writing for the Irish Independent ahead of their nuptials, about the first time she met MacGowan at the age of 16, Clarke said she was “awe-struck”, before going on to detail a complicated relationship that “makes the Fairytale Of New York couple from Shane’s Christmas song seem tame and orderly”.
She said: “When you meet ‘The One’, you have a choice. You can dive in, marry them while you are infatuated with each other and hope for the best. Or you can wait until you are sure that the honeymoon phase has worn off and you are seeing each other in the light of having lived, no longer young, beautiful and indestructible.”
Brookside actor Dean Sullivan, who played Jimmy Corkhill, dies aged 68
Actor and director Dean Sullivan has died at the age of 68.
Sullivan was the longest-serving member of the Channel 4 soap Brookside, playing Jimmy Corkhill between 1986 and 2003.
He died peacefully following a short illness on Wednesday, his agent said.
“To millions he was and very much still is remembered as ‘Jimmy’, to family and friends he was ‘Dino’. Dean’s family wants to thank Arrowe Park Hospital for their unwavering and consistent support. We ask that you respect their privacy in their time of grief,” a statement from Hamilton Management and his family said.
Brookside ran from 1982 to 2003 and followed the lives of the residents of Brookside Close in Liverpool. Stars included Anna Friel, who played Beth Jordache; Claire Sweeney, who played Jimmy’s daughter Lindsey; and The Royle Family’s Ricky Tomlinson and Sue Johnston, who played Bobby and Sheila Grant.
Sullivan, from Liverpool, was a graduate of Lancaster University and a primary school teacher before becoming a professional actor. He joined Brookside in 1986 and quickly made Jimmy one of the soap’s best-known characters.
He was involved in many of the show’s most memorable moments – including the discovery of the body of villain Trevor Jordache under a patio with his dog Cracker, two years after Jordache’s murder and cover-up by his wife Mandy and daughter Beth.
Sullivan played Jimmy until the soap was axed in 2003, winning two British Soap Awards during his time on the show – including a special recognition award. He filmed more episodes than any other actor and went on to narrate a Brookside DVD boxset.
His other TV drama roles included parts in BBC’s Doctors, ITV’s The Royal and ITV’s Crime Stories. In 2022, he appeared in the Netflix short film Wings opposite Emmerdale actor Tom Lister.
The actor also performed on stage, playing Scullery in the North West premiere of Jim Cartwright’s Road in Bolton, and starring in a one-man monologue tour of Chip In The Sugar by Alan Bennett. He also appeared in the world premiere of Stand Up! the Musical with the late Lionel Blair.
In pantomime, he played characters such as Smee in Peter Pan, Abanazar in Aladdin, the Dame in Cinderella, Starkey in Peter Pan, and King Rat in Dick Whittington, in venues around the UK.
Sullivan also had experience in theatre directing and writing, after running his own theatre production company and directing several shows for the National Trust and other clients, his agent Alan Hamilton said.
“Dean gave an immense immeasurable amount of his time over the years to support many global, national and regional charities, too many to mention individually,” he said. “He delivered speeches, took part in charity events and fronted important campaigns live, on TV, radio and in the press.
“The support he has given has helped raise many hundreds of thousands of pounds over the years for various causes and significantly increase awareness of important charitable campaign messages.”
Sullivan was one of seven brothers and sisters “and came from humble, working class Merseyside roots”, Hamilton added.
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Jamie Lynn Spears leaves I’m A Celebrity on medical grounds
Jamie Lynn Spears has become the second contestant to leave I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! on medical grounds.
She follows Grace Dent, whose departure was confirmed on Saturday. She told her fellow campmates that her “heart is broken” after leaving the programme early.
“Jamie Lynn Spears has left I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out Of Here! on medical grounds,” the spokesperson said.
“She’s been a fantastic campmate who has triumphed at trials and bonded well with her fellow celebrities.”
Sky News understands the 32-year-old has now left the camp and her fellow campmates are aware that she won’t be returning.
Her last appearance on the show will be on Wednesday night’s episode.
Spears had threatened to quit last week after just a few days when she became emotional because she was missing her children.
During the episode on 21 November, she told her campmates she was finding it difficult to be so far away from her family.
Her emotions bubbled up further when four celebrities were tasked with a challenge to win the contestants’ luxury items, with hers being a photo of her two daughters.
Spears also appeared to use the camp phone – which normally only rings during challenges – in last night’s episode to try to call her family in the US.
During her time on the show, Spears also discussed her relationship with her sister Britney, who she said she had talked to before entering the jungle.
Spears revealed the pair had a “very complicated upbringing” which lead to them having issues with each other.
However, she added that she felt Britney would be “worried” about her in the jungle and believed she would be “checking in” regularly.
“She’s (Britney) a good big sister, she is,” Spears said. Yeah, I love her… Me and her throw down. The world’s seen that.
“I’ve learned to stop talking about it publicly, but you know what, families fight. Listen, we just do it better than most.”
Spears also discussed the challenges she faced after falling pregnant as a teenager while starring on TV series Zoey 101, and how she became Catholic after her daughter survived a freak accident where she nearly drowned in a family pond.
Other celebrities on this year’s show include former UKIP leader Nigel Farage, First Dates star Fred Sirieix and JLS singer Marvin Humes.
The show has so far attracted a lower audience than last year’s series, which featured former health secretary Matt Hancock.
This year’s launch was watched by seven million people in its first week – down from a consolidated audience of nearly 12 million last year.
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