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Amanda Abbington on Twitter bans and The Son’s West End transfer

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Amanda Abbington has previously starred in Sherlock and Mr Selfridge

To describe Amanda Abbington as outspoken would be putting it mildly.

“Stupid people on Instagram that want massive gaps between their legs: Go and EAT a Toblerone is my advice to you,” is one of her more printable recent tweets (and that’s only because we’ve taken the bad language out).

The actress, who is best known for her roles in Sherlock and Mr Selfridge, is particularly direct with her views on issues like politics, feminism, trophy hunting and animal rights.

But, as she speaks to BBC News ahead of the West End transfer of her current show The Son, Abbington acknowledges that today’s celebrities have to strike a delicate balance when it comes to social media.

“I’m so glad that Twitter has only been around in my 30s and 40s, because if it had been around when I was in my 20s… that would’ve been awful!” she laughs. “I was even more angry and vocal than I am now.

“But after a three-time Twitter ban, I’ve learned not to be quite so visceral in my anger or upset, just sit on it for a bit.”

Posting controversial comments online has come back to haunt many younger celebrities, who grew up with social media.

Emmerdale actress Shila Iqbal was recently fired from the soap for offensive historic tweets, while YouTuber Jack Maynard had to leave I’m A Celebrity for the same reason.

But Abbington explains she has developed a new strategy when it comes to posting her opinions online.

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Marc Brenner

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Abbington stars in The Son alongside John Light (left) and Laurie Kynaston

“As a general rule of thumb, if I’m going to tweet something that I think is quite inflammatory, I will write it and save it in my drafts,” she explains. “And then I’ll read it after I’ve had a night’s sleep and see what I think in the morning.

“It’s the same if I’m cross with someone, I’ll write a really stern email, and then put it in my draft, and sleep on it, and then wake up in the morning and think ‘thank God I didn’t send that!'”

Abbington is speaking as it’s announced the show she’s currently starring in – The Son, written by Florian Zeller – is set to move from The Kiln in Kilburn to The Duke of York’s Theatre.

The actress plays a mother whose divorce is weighing heavily on the mental health of her teenage son, Nicolas (played by Laurie Kynaston).

He has become depressed and prone to sudden bursts of rage as a result of the emotional toll the separation of his family is taking.

“Parents of teenagers will need to take a deep breath before seeing Florian Zeller’s new play,” said The Daily Mail’s Patrick Marmion. “It’s no cake walk.

“Yet curiously, although it is desperately sad, it’s not a depressing show. There are always rays of light.”

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Abbington says she hopes The Son will open up a conversation about mental health

“A compulsive, involving, emotionally stirring evening – theatre’s answer to a page-turner,” said The Guardian’s Kate Kellaway in her five-star review.

But Andrzej Lukowski from Time Out said the play relied on the strength of the actors to carry the script

“Zeller is always going to seem pretty good while he attracts casts and creative teams of this calibre, but The Son really would be in trouble without them,” he wrote.

The Son was originally written in French – Zeller’s first language.

It’s the third of a trilogy (after The Mother and The Father) – although the three plays are connected by little more than their titles, as each features different characters.

The playwright says he hopes the show will continue the public discussion around understanding mental health issues.

“What I do know is that many people are concerned by this kind of issue,” he tells BBC News.

“And when you go through these kinds of problems, you have this idea that you’re the only one. Especially parents, when you don’t know how to deal with this hard moment, and you try to do your best to help when you see your children suffering.

“There is something taboo about mental health. Not necessarily in the UK, but certainly in France, nobody speaks about those kinds of issues without taboo.

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Playwright Florian Zeller says mental health is a “taboo” subject in France

“It’s always like there’s a lot of shame and ignorance about these problems, and I think there are many young people that suffer, and I think it’s important to see that, show that, and share that.”

Abbington agrees: “I’m hoping people will see it as an amazing piece of storytelling and something that we need to highlight in mental health care, but it’s sort of done in a very interesting and sensitive way.”

“There are harrowing and heartbreaking moments in it. There are moments when it’s funny. But there is also something quite beautiful about it.

“And I think that’s what you need to play, you know, you need those peaks and troughs.”

She adds she’s “more than thrilled” about the show’s West End transfer, adding that audiences often comment afterwards how they found the show oddly positive given its subject matter.

“The general consensus with audiences was that they couldn’t really understand what they were feeling,” she says. “It opens up a dialogue about depression… but there is also a kind of hope.”

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Bafta Games Awards: Outer Wilds wins Best Game

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Screen shot of Mobius Digital's Outer WildsImage copyright
MOBIUS DIGITAL

Action-adventure game Outer Wilds has won the prestigious Best Game prize at the 16th annual Bafta Games Awards.

The title’s writer Kelsey Beachum credited its players saying: “Word of mouth has been essential in getting people to play the game, you’re all really beautiful”‘

The game where you explore a distant galaxy under threat from an exploding star claimed three awards in total.

It also won in the best design and original property categories.

It was a successful night for role-playing detective game Disco Elysium which also picked up three awards – winning in the best music, debut game and best narrative categories.

This year’s award ceremony had to be pre-recorded because of coronavirus restrictions.

Host Dara O’Briain pulled the strings from his house with every nominee required to submit a winners speech – just in case they won.

There was disappointment for mysterious adventure game Control.

It had 11 nominations going into the event and only won once.

Martti Suosalo was rewarded for his role in the supernatural title – he picked up a golden mask in the performer in a supporting role category.

Call of Duty: Mobile won the EE Mobile Game of the Year, the only award to be voted for by the public.

Best British Game was awarded to sci-fi thriller Observation. Jon McKellan, its creative director, spoke to Newsbeat after the ceremony saying: “Winning a BAFTA is a huge thing.

“What it’s done for us is give us the confidence to know that we’re doing something right. To have that seal of approval after being judged by your peers is a big confidence booster.”

Jon also discussed how the coronavirus crisis could impact gaming in the near future: “Pre-recording an acceptance speech is probably one of the weirdest things I’ve ever done!

“This industry is kind of lucky because we can do the majority of our work from home, but there are some aspects of it that will be impacted.

“But things like motion capture and voiceover recordings can’t really happen at the moment.

“We can’t get around some things which I think will have quite a big ripple effect over the next six months”.

‘I devote myself to creating for others’

Japanese game designer Hideo Kojima, creator of the Metal Gear franchise, was honoured with the Bafta Fellowship – the highest accolade the organisation can give.

The fellowship recognises exceptional contributions to the gaming industry.

In an emotional video message he dedicated the prize to his parents saying: “My determination is stronger than ever.

“For the rest of my life I will continue to devote myself to creating for others.

“Games are holding their own next to films, or perhaps fusing together with them, evolving into a huge medium of digital entertainment”.

His latest release, Death Stranding, was nominated for 11 awards and won only one award for technical achievement.

The game was Kojima’s first release since leaving his former employer Konami to set up his own studio.

Last year Radio 1 Newsbeat went behind-the-scenes to see the final hours of the game’s creation.

Media playback is unsupported on your device

Media captionKojima’s aim with Death Stranding was for players to “re-use their in-game experiences in the real world”

The Bafta winners in full were:

Animation: Luigi’s Mansion 3

Artistic Achievement: Sayonara Wild Hearts

Audio Achievement: Ape Out

British Game: Observation

Debut Game: Disco Elysium

Evolving Game: Path of Exile

Family Game: Untitled Goose Game

Game Beyond Entertainment: Kind Words (Lo Fi Chill Beats To Write To)

Game Design: Outer Wilds

Multiplayer: Apex Legends

Music: Disco Elysium

Narrative: Disco Elysium

Original Property: Outer Wilds

Performer in a Leading Role: Gonzalo Martin (Life is Strange)

Performer in a Supporting Role: Martti Suosalo (Control)

Technical Achievement: Death Stranding

Mobile Game of the Year (Audience Vote): Call of Duty Mobile

Best Game: Outer Wilds

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House House/Panic

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Untitled Goose Game won in the Family Game category

There are many people across the world living in lockdown at the moment and it’s thought that as a result more people are turning to gaming as a way to pass the time.

There are reports that games platform Steam is seeing record figures, streaming sites Twitch and YouTube Gaming have increased viewership and Animal Crossing has become the fastest selling single game in the history of Nintendo’s Switch console.

The Games Awards were an opportunity for the industry to showcase the variety of experiences gaming offers as a way to appeal to a broader audience.

With big blockbuster franchises like Call of Duty and niche independent titles like Untitled Goose Game winning golden masks , the industry will no doubt feel like it’s made the most of that opportunity.


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Coronavirus: Brighton Pride 2020 cancelled

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Mariah Carey has been giving online concerts in support of the US emergency services

Brighton Pride has announced that “with a heavy heart” the festival has been cancelled this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Mariah Carey had been due to headline festival this summer, playing Pride in the Park on Saturday 1 August.

The three-day event was due to run from 31 July to 2 August. On Sunday, The Pussycat Dolls – who recently reformed – were the headline act.

Brighton Pride said the decision “had not been taken lightly”

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This year’s event was marking Brighton and Hove Pride’s 30th anniversary

A Pride spokesman said: “It is with a heavy heart that Brighton and Hove Pride have taken the difficult decision to postpone our landmark 30th anniversary celebrations.”

He said the organisers had decided to cancel after evaluating the additional pressure the event would put on the emergency services.

Paul Kemp, director of Brighton Pride, said: “It’s been inevitable.

“We are postponing the anniversary celebration to next year and [for] anyone who has got a ticket for the park we’ll roll that ticket over.

“Pride is a celebration for the whole city and brings lots of people in, and of course the emergency services, the police, the NHS and all the other key workers who are often part of that parade,” he said.

“Our focus is on supporting them and supporting people who are going through tough times.”

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Brighton Pride

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The Pussycat Dolls are known for hits including Don’t Cha, and React

Alan Robbins, chairman of Brighton and Hove City Council’s tourism, equalities, communities and culture committee, said: “It’s a great shame.

“The message is going out ‘Don’t come to Brighton’ and we very much want to make sure when this is over everybody does come back to Brighton.

“We’re doing everything we can to make sure these things go ahead next year.”

Last year, Kylie Minogue headlined the festival, and in 2018 Britney Spears wowed a crowd of 57,000 with the more than 250,000 people visiting the city.

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Eddie mitchell

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Thousands of people went to Brighton Pride in 2019, celebrating the theme “Generations of Love”

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Coronavirus: Christopher Eccleston reads a poetic tribute to the NHS

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Matthew Kelly from Salford has written a poem paying tribute to the staff of the NHS fighting the coronavirus.

Mr Kelly said he was inspired to write after hearing the challenges his partner faces as a district nurse.

BBC Radio 5 Live asked actor Christopher Eccleston, a fellow Salfordian, to read Matt’s words.

This clip is from Chiles on Friday on 3 April 2020



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