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Elijah Wood and other Lord Of The Rings cast members have paid tribute to their co-star Bernard Hill, who died on Sunday aged 79.

Hill played King Theoden in the Oscar-winning fantasy franchise directed by Sir Peter Jackson.

Wood, who played Frodo Baggins, said on X: “So long to our friend, our king. We will never forget you.”

He also shared a quote from JRR Tolkien‘s novel, on which the films are based, writing: “For he was a gentle heart and a great king and kept his oaths; and he rose out of the shadows to a last fair morning.”

Dominic Monaghan, who played Merry Brandybuck in the trilogy, wrote: “The Broken king has passed to the grey havens but he will always be remembered. #ripbernard.”

Hill joined the franchise’s cast for the second film in the series, 2002’s The Two Towers, which won two Academy Awards for best sound editing and best visual effects.

He returned to the franchise for 2003’s The Return Of The King, which picked up 11 Oscars, including best picture and best director for Sir Peter.

The actor had been due to attend Comic Con in Liverpool over the weekend but the event announced on Saturday that he had to withdraw at the last minute because of his partner becoming “very ill”.

The post on X added: “He sends his sincere apologies and thanks you all for your understanding.”

Later footage from the event shows Hill’s co-stars paying tribute to him on stage, with Sean Astin, who played Samwise Gamgee in The Lord of the Rings, saying: “He was intrepid, he was gruff, he was irascible.”

Billy Boyd, who played Peregrin “Pippin” Took, said: “We were watching the movies and I said to Dom, I don’t think anyone spoke Tolkien’s words as great as Bernard did.”

Actors (L to R) Sean Astin, Billy Boyd, Bernard Hill and Elijah Wood pose for photographers as they arrive at the National Board of Review of Motion Pictures 2003 annual awards gala in New York City, January 13, 2004. The group from the film "Lord of the Rings" and was presented the award for Best Acting by an Ensemble. REUTERS/Jeff Christensen PP04010037 JC
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Lord of the Rings stars (L to R) Sean Astin, Billy Boyd, Bernard Hill and Elijah Wood in 2003. Pic: Reuters

Hill first made a name for himself as Yosser Hughes in Alan Bleasdale’s BBC drama series Boys From The Blackstuff, about five unemployed men, which aired in 1982.

The role earned him a BAFTA TV nomination in 1983, the same year the show picked up the BAFTA for best drama series.

He went on to play Captain Edward Smith in the Oscar-winning 1997 epic Titanic, which starred Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet.

Hill as Captain Edward Smith in Titanic. Pic: Shutterstock
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Hill as Captain Edward Smith in Titanic. Pic: Shutterstock

In the 2015 BBC adaptation of the Hilary Mantel novel Wolf Hall – about the court of Henry VIII – he played the Duke of Norfolk, uncle to Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard.

He can currently be seen in the second series of BBC drama The Responder starring Martin Freeman, which began on Sunday night.

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Bernard Hill dies aged 79

Lindsay Salt, director of BBC Drama, described him as an “incredible talent” who “blazed a trail across the screen” during his career.

“From Boys From The Blackstuff, to Wolf Hall, The Responder, and many more, we feel truly honoured to have worked with Bernard at the BBC.

“Our thoughts are with his loved ones at this sad time.”

Hill in Return of the King. Pic: Shutterstock
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Hill in Return of the King. Pic: Shutterstock

Actress and singer Barbara Dickson, who starred with him in a musical based on The Beatles, described him as a “marvellous actor”.

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Alongside a picture of them together, she wrote on X: “It’s with great sadness that I note the death of Bernard Hill.

“We worked together in John, Paul, George, Ringo and Bert, (by) Willy Russell marvellous show 1974-1975.

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

Meanwhile, Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham said: “Boys from the Blackstuff was massive in my early life. God love you, Bernard Hill.”

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P Diddy: Rapper Sean Combs says video of him assaulting singer Cassie is ‘inexcusable’

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P Diddy: Rapper Sean Combs says video of him assaulting singer Cassie is 'inexcusable'

Sean “Diddy” Combs has said CCTV footage showing him attacking singer Cassie in a hotel hallway in 2016 is “inexcusable” and that he is “disgusted”.

Warning: This story includes images readers may find distressing

“It’s so difficult to reflect on the darkest times in your life, but sometimes you got to do that,” the rapper said in a video on Instagram.

“I was f***** up – I mean I hit rock bottom – but l make no excuses. My behaviour on that video is inexcusable. I take full responsibility for my actions in that video. I was disgusted. I was disgusted then when I did it. I’m disgusted now.

“I went and I sought out professional help. I got into going to therapy, going to rehab. I had to ask God for his mercy and grace. I’m so sorry. But I’m committed to be a better man each and every day. I’m not asking for forgiveness. I’m truly sorry.”

Pic: CNN via AP
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Pic: CNN via AP

Pic: CNN via AP
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Pic: CNN via AP

The 54-year-old, whose homes in Los Angeles and Miami were raided by Homeland Security Investigations agents in March, has faced a series of public allegations of physical and sexual violence.

Footage obtained by CNN this week shows Combs also known as P Diddy and Puff Daddy – wearing only a white towel as he punches and kicks Cassie in a Los Angeles hotel hallway on 5 March 2016.

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The footage also shows Combs shoving and dragging Cassie and throwing a vase in her direction.

Pic: CNN via AP
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Pic: CNN via AP

Cassie, an R&B singer whose legal name is Cassandra Ventura, was his protege and girlfriend at the time.

The 37-year-old sued Combs in November with the lawsuit accusing him of rape and violent behaviour during their decade-long relationship.

The suit was settled the next day, but it lead to intense scrutiny of Combs, who has since been named as a defendant in several sexual abuse lawsuits, along with a federal criminal sex-trafficking investigation that led authorities to the raid in March.

Sean Combs and Cassie in 2017. Pic: PA
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Sean Combs and Cassie in 2017. Pic: PA

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Diddy’s homes raided

He denied the allegations in the lawsuits, but neither he nor his representatives had responded to the newly emerged video until Sunday.

After the footage emerged, Douglas H Wigdor, lawyer for Ms Ventura, said in a statement in response: “The gut-wrenching video has only further confirmed the disturbing and predatory behaviour of Mr Combs.

“Words cannot express the courage and fortitude that Ms Ventura has shown in coming forward to bring this to light.”

Combs’ Instagram apology is the hip-hop mogul’s most direct response after six months of allegations that have threatened his reputation and career.

Sean 'Diddy' Combs. Pic: AP
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Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs. Pic: AP

Previous statements have been released through his lawyers.

The security camera video, dated 5 March 2016, closely resembles the description of an incident at an InterContinental Hotel in the Century City area of Los Angeles described in Ms Ventura’s November lawsuit.

The suit alleges that Combs paid the hotel $50,000 (around £39,000) for the security video immediately after the incident.

Neither he or his representatives have addressed that specific allegation.

CNN did not say how it obtained the footage.

Combs is not in danger of being criminally prosecuted for the beating.

The statutes of limitations for the assault and battery charges he would be likely to face expired years ago.

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Strictly Come Dancing star Giovanni Pernice denies claims of ‘abusive or threatening behaviour’ on show

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Strictly Come Dancing star Giovanni Pernice denies claims of 'abusive or threatening behaviour' on show

Strictly Come Dancing star Giovanni Pernice has rejected allegations that he displayed “abusive or threatening behaviour” while working as a professional dancer on the show.

The 33-year-old Italian dancer said he was “surprised” amid reports the BBC is looking into complaints about his conduct.

A legal firm acting on behalf of the complainants said the broadcaster is “evidence gathering” – but the BBC has not confirmed that any probe has been launched.

In the statement shared on Instagram, Pernice wrote: “To my dear fans, you will be as surprised as I am that allegations have been made about my dance teaching methods in the media this week.

“Of course, I reject any suggestion of abusive or threatening behaviour, and I look forward to clearing my name.”

He added: “Those who have followed my journey on Strictly Come Dancing over the last decade will know that I am passionate and competitive.

“No one is more ambitious for my dance partners than me.

“I have always striven to help them be the very best dancers they can be.

“This has always come from a place of love and wanting to win – for me and my dance partners.”

Pernice signed off the message by writing: “Thank you all once again for your continued love and support! Giovanni.”

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A statement from law firm Carter-Ruck to the PA news agency said: “There have been numerous serious complaints made to the BBC who are now in the process of evidence gathering.

“As it is still an ongoing matter no further comment can be made at this stage.”

The Sun, which first reported suggestions that an investigation was underway, also claimed Pernice had quit the show.

Neither the BBC nor Pernice has confirmed his departure.

Sicily-born Pernice has been on the BBC One celebrity dancing show since 2015.

In 2021, he lifted the Strictly glitterball trophy for the first time alongside EastEnders star Rose Ayling-Ellis, who was the first deaf contestant to win. He had appeared in three show finals previously.

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He also holds the Guinness World Record for most jive kick and flicks in 30 seconds, which he achieved on the BBC’s Strictly It Takes Two show in 2016.

The BBC was approached by Sky News but declined to comment.

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Sarah Harding breast cancer research project is successfully identifying at-risk young women

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Sarah Harding breast cancer research project is successfully identifying at-risk young women

A groundbreaking breast cancer research project launched in memory of the late Girls Aloud singer Sarah Harding is already successfully identifying young women at increased risk of getting the disease.

The BCAN-RAY (Breast Cancer Risk Assessment in Young Women) was launched a year ago in the singer’s name after she died from the disease in 2021 at the age of 39.

While she was having treatment, the star said she was “really keen” for more research into why young women are being diagnosed without a family history of the disease.

One of the singer’s final hopes was to find ways of spotting the disease early when it’s easier to treat.

The BCAN-RAY is one of the only projects in the world trying to identify which women in their 30s are most at risk.

About 2,300 women under 40 are diagnosed with the disease each year in the UK, according to Breast Cancer Now.

The two-year study is using money from Cancer Research UK, the Christie Charity, and the Sarah Harding Breast Cancer Appeal – backed by her family and former bandmates.

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It looks at risk factors most commonly found in young women with the disease and will form a model to identify them in future.

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Anna Housley, 39, from Hale, Greater Manchester, is one of the women taking part in the trial. After being tested last year the mother of two was surprised to find she’s at increased risk.

With no history of the disease in her family, she told Sky News: “I’m really grateful that I have been found because now I know that I’m going to be looked after and I can be screened.”

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Speaking about the work of Harding, she said: “All I can say really is thanks to her for being such a brave advocate to young women.”

The new information means she’s now eligible for annual mammograms and medication should she want it.

It’s hoped all women will eventually be able to have a risk assessment when they reach 30.

Pic: David Fisher/Shutterstock
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Girls Aloud kicked off a reunion tour on Saturday dedicated to the late bandmate. Pic: David Fisher/Shutterstock

A thousand women in the Greater Manchester area will take part, including 250 with breast cancer who don’t have a family history of the disease.

Saliva samples will hopefully help experts identify certain types and patterns of genes that could raise a woman’s risk.

These will be considered with factors such as period timing, breast tissue density, alcohol consumption and use of the pill.

Harding’s consultant Dr Sacha Howell from Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust, who is leading the study, said of the singer: “I think she’d be absolutely thrilled that she was part of this and her legacy is that we will be helping more and more young women like her.

“But what we’re all hoping is that by detecting those cancers earlier, they won’t unfortunately have that end result that Sarah did, which was to pass away with the disease.”

Harding’s legacy won’t just be her successful music career, it will also be her work in raising awareness around breast cancer and potentially giving many more women in their 30s a future.

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