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Actor Bernard Hill, who played roles in Lord Of The Rings and Titanic, has died aged 79, his agent has confirmed.

Hill also featured as Yosser Hughes in the iconic drama series Boys In The Blackstuff.

He was given a number of awards for his role as King Theoden in the Lord of the Rings trilogy and played Captain Edward Smith in the 1997 Oscar-winning film Titanic.

The actor was born in Blackley, Manchester, in 1944 and graduated with a diploma in theatre in 1970.

He was married to fellow actor Marianna Hill, with whom he shared a son. His agent Lou Coulson said he died in the early hours of Sunday.

Hill will return to TV on Sunday night starring in the second series of Martin Freeman’s The Responder.

Fans have already started to pay tribute to him on social media.

Scottish musician Barbara Dickson wrote of their time working together: “It’s with great sadness that I note the death of Bernard Hill. We worked together in John Paul George Ringo and Bert, Willy Russell marvellous show 1974-1975.

“A really marvellous actor. It was a privilege to have crossed paths with him. RIP Benny x.”

At a London premiere in 2005. Pic: PA
Image:
In London in 2005. Pic: PA

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Bruce Springsteen cancels shows over ‘vocal issues’

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Bruce Springsteen cancels shows over 'vocal issues'

Bruce Springsteen has cancelled a series of dates due to “vocal issues”, days after performing in what he described as “hellacious” weather in Sunderland.

The US star, 74, postponed shows in Marseille, Prague and Milan over the next fortnight, with his European tour set to resume in Madrid on 12 June.

In an Instagram post on Sunday, he said he was “recuperating comfortably” and he and the E Street Band “look forward to resuming their hugely successful European stadium tour”.

With “further examination” and “consulting”, the statement also said, doctors determined Bruce “should not perform for the next 10 days”.

Springsteen had played at Sunderland’s Stadium of Light on Wednesday, where he admitted the weather was particularly wet.

As he was honoured at London’s Ivor Novello Awards on Thursday, he said: “We just… came out of the plane in Sunderland last night, (it was) hellacious weather.

Dave Hogan/Hogan Media/Shutterstock

Ivor Novello Awards, Portrait Studio, Grosvenor House, London, UK - 23 May 2024
Bruce Springsteen with his Fellowship of The Ivors Academy and Sir Paul McCartney pose in the Studio at The Ivors with Amazon Music - May 23, 2024 in London United Kingdom. (Photo by Hogan Media/Shutterstock)

23 May 2024
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Sir Paul McCartney presented Bruce Springsteen with the Fellowship of The Ivors Academy. Pic: Dave Hogan/Hogan Media/Shutterstock

“Driving rain storm, the wind blowing, blowing, blowing, and standing… in front of me, in the rain, I realised: these are my people.”

Springsteen also treated the audience to his song Thunder Road, after Sir Paul McCartney presented him with his Ivors Academy fellowship.

New dates for his postponed shows will be announced shortly, according to his Instagram account, and anyone seeking a refund “will be able to obtain it at their original point of purchase”.

Read more:
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Nicki Minaj fans blame venue – not her arrest – for gig cancellation

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He rescheduled dates in August last year in the US after he was taken ill, and cancelled planned concerts in March 2023 over other issues.

His first major tour in six years saw him play a headline gig in London’s Hyde Park in July 2023.

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Nicki Minaj fans blame venue – not her arrest – for last minute gig cancellation

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Nicki Minaj fans blame venue - not her arrest - for last minute gig cancellation

Nicki Minaj fans who queued to see her in Manchester only for her arrest to lead to the concert being cancelled at the last minute have blamed the beleaguered venue for the fiasco.

Ticketholders queued outside the Co-op Live arena from as early as 9am on Saturday and were allowed inside at 7pm.

Minaj, however, had been arrested at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport on suspicion of possession of “soft drugs” and was not released until 9pm – when the gig was due to start.

Once inside, her fans, also known as Barbz, claim security staff told them she was already in the building. But at 9.40pm promoter Live Nation announced the event was being cancelled.

Nicki Minaj at the Met Gala in New York earlier in May. Pic: AP
Image:
Nicki Minaj at the Met Gala in New York earlier in May. Pic: AP

Alvin Christie, 29, from Liverpool, was among those who had camped out since Saturday morning.

He said: “I would say it was very poorly managed. When we arrived… they were actively telling fans that she had arrived and that everyone was going to dance tonight.

“For a lot of people that were asking those questions, that’s obviously [keeping] people’s hopes up. I understand that maybe they wanted to get people into the arena for health and safety risks to stop people being outside.

“But I think most importantly, they maybe could have advised people as soon as they’ve known that the show was postponed and we should be turned away when we’re outside the arena, rather than holding loads of people in the arena.”

Mr Christie said he does not blame Minaj, and says fans wanted her to be “in a good place” for the show.

“Die-hard Nicki fan” Charu, who also travelled from Liverpool for the concert, said the evening was “so ridiculously disappointing”.

“My sister and I had been looking forward to this for months. I’m in the middle of taking my medical school exams and I had been working around this day and was so looking forward to it,” they said.

“People around us said they’d travelled from Ireland and Scotland, paid for hotels for the night in Manchester, which is not cheap.

“So the fact that tickets will be refunded or still valid for another concert doesn’t really put into perspective the time and money that we have all spent on this night.”

PABest A view of the Co-op Live arena in Manchester. The £365 million venue, the biggest indoor arena in the UK, has postponed its opening numerous times after rescheduling performances from Peter Kay, The Black Keys, and A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie, as well as shows by Olivia Rodrigo scheduled for this Friday and Saturday. Picture date: Thursday May 2, 2024.
Image:
Co-Op Live arena in Manchester. Pic: PA

No toilets for those queuing for hours

Fan Eileen Allardyce also claimed there were “no toilets” while she queued outside from around 4pm.

“I’m very disappointed, more so [with] the venue because, obviously, everyone was unravelling on social media, everyone knew what the situation was and the venue completely let us down,” she said.

Dutch Police told Sky News Minaj was detained and eventually fined for “illegally exporting soft drugs from the Netherlands to another country”.

The rapper claimed she arrived at her hotel in Manchester early on Sunday after spending “5-6 hours” in a cell in Amsterdam.

She then invited fans to her hotel, where according to videos on social media, she spoke to the crowds outside.

“I wanted to honestly tell you that I love you,” she said.

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On X, the 41-year-old said the venue was “willing to go past 11pm”, but unidentified members of staff had “succeeded at their plan to not let me get on that stage tonight”.

A new date should be announced on Sunday, she added.

“One July option & one June option is currently being discussed. I’ll find a way to not only make up the date with the performance but I’m going to create an added bonus for everyone that had a [ticket] for this show. Promise,” she wrote.

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The new £365m Co-op Live arena has been plagued with problems even before it opened on 14 May.

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

The arena then planned for US rapper A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie to open the arena on 1 May, but that was called off an hour before his performance, when the ventilation system fell from the ceiling.

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

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Sir Elton John’s next album ‘won’t be his last’, songwriting partner says

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Sir Elton John's next album 'won't be his last', songwriting partner says

An album of “incredibly personal” new songs from Sir Elton John won’t be the singer’s last, according to his long-term songwriting partner Bernie Taupin. 

“It’s a pretty amazing project, very cool…it tells a lot of stories and it’s incredibly personal, but it’s certainly not final.”

Few details are known about what fans can expect from Sir Elton‘s new music, but the legendary lyricist says he thinks it will be released before Christmas.

Bernie Taupin speaking at an event earlier this week. Pic: Mark Allan
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Bernie Taupin speaking at an event earlier this week. Pic: Mark Allan

“It’s all done, it’s all in the can and ready to come out, I think, at the end of this year,” Taupin told Sky News.

While Sir Elton, 77, announced his retirement from touring last year, bowing out with a performance on the Pyramid stage at Glastonbury, Taupin says they have no plans to stop making music together.

“You always think ‘is the next album going to be the last?’ but, I think, both Elton and I, we just have this creative drive and we have this ultimate total love for music on every different level.”

Taupin, who’s lived in California since the 70s, has been back in England after being invited to speak at The Other Songs Live, an evening celebrating songwriters old and new.

More on Elton John

“Anything that nurtures talent, you know, gets my ear,” Taupin insists.

He remains one of the most successful lyricists in the world, having collaborated for more than half a century with Sir Elton, selling more than 300 million records globally, and together writing more than 30 albums.

Bernie Taupin receives the Musical Excellence Award from Elton John during the 38th Annual Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony in Brooklyn, New York, U.S., November 3, 2023. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz
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Bernie Taupin receives the Musical Excellence Award from Sir Elton John at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony last November. Pic: Reuters

And while Taupin’s lyrics are firmly embedded in modern pop culture, he says he struggles to explain what his secret is.

“It’s very difficult for me because, in a nutshell, my answer is I don’t know, I just do it.”

Bernie Taupin receives the Musical Excellence Award during the 38th Annual Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony in Brooklyn, New York, U.S., November 3, 2023. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz
Image:
Bernie Taupin told Sky News Sir Elton’s next album won’t be his last. Pic: Reuters

But one thing he’s certain of is that it’s a skill a computer just can’t replicate.

“I loathe and detest the whole idea of AI… from a creative musical standpoint, it cannot write songs as well as the human heart can because it’s got no heart.

“I’ve seen the product of AI, you know, when they’ve said write a song in the style of so-and-so and it’s complete shit.”

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For Taupin, one-half of one of the world’s most successful songwriting partnerships, he’s not ready to be written off by technology.

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