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BBC swaps Eurovision Song Contest selection vote for record label deal

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Michael Rice gave it his all at Eurovision 2019, but finished 26th out of 26

The BBC is to drop the public vote to select the UK’s next Eurovision Song Contest entrant, instead teaming up with a record label for the first time.

It means there will be no Eurovision: You Decide, which has run since 2016.

Entrants were selected internally by the BBC for five years before that, but the broadcaster is seeking a new formula to boost the UK’s results after Michael Rice finished bottom last year.

For 2020, music company BMG will choose the entrant and song with BBC Studios.

BBC Studios, the corporation’s commercial arm, approached a number of record labels, and decided that BMG shared its “vision of selecting a song with broad international appeal and securing an artist who embodies the spirit and values of the Eurovision Song Contest”.

BMG has both a publishing arm, which handles songwriters, and a group of record labels. Artists signed to the firm for both recording and publishing include Kylie Minogue, Bring Me The Horizon, Peter Doherty, Boy George and Simple Minds.

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Duncan Laurence won the contest for the Netherlands in May

BBC Studios creative director Mel Balac said the deal with BMG, which will release and publish the chosen song, was a “turning point for the UK at Eurovision”.

“We very much hope this marks the start of an exciting new chapter,” Balac said.

Kate Phillips, BBC controller of entertainment commissioning, said: “Our commitment to finding the right song has never been higher and this collaboration with BMG, who have access to world class songwriters, is a genuinely exciting prospect and I am certain that together we can find the best song and artist possible for 2020.”

Alistair Norbury, BMG’s UK president of repertoire and marketing, said: “Eurovision plays to our strength as the only fully-integrated publishing company and record label. We can’t wait to get started working with the BBC to give it the best possible shot we can.”

The move was welcomed by some Eurovision pundits who had called for a shake-up of the selection process. Expert Paul Jordan, known as Dr Eurovision, told the BBC after this year’s contest: “Without the record companies’ involvement you’re not going to get the great songs and songwriters coming through.”

This move sees the end – for now – of the televised selection show, which has gone through various different versions over the years, including A Song For Europe, Making Your Mind Up and You Decide.

The UK has not won Eurovision since 1997, and has not finished in the top 10 since 2009. The next contest will take place in Rotterdam, Netherlands, in May 2020.

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Glee actress Jane Galloway Heitz dies aged 78

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Jane Galloway Heitz in the 2007 thriller I Know Who Killed MeImage copyright
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Jane Galloway Heitz played a nurse, opposite Lindsey Lohan, in the 2007 film I Know Who Killed Me

Actress Jane Galloway Heitz, best known for portraying show choir head Lillian Adler in the high school musical series Glee, has died aged 78.

She died of congestive heart failure in an Illinois hospital last week, her daughter Amie Richardson confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter.

She also appeared in shows like ER, Grey’s Anatomy and The Big Bang Theory.

Galloway Heitz helped launch the careers of actors such as Steve Carell via her own Chicago casting business.

Fans of Fox’s comedy-drama series Glee will recognise the face of Galloway Heitz’s character Lillian Adler, the one-time choir director, from the commemorative photo that was often seen in the choir room at William McKinley High School.

A plaque marking the character’s life and death, carried the phrase: “By its very definition, Glee is about opening yourself up to joy.” It inspired Will Schuester – played by Matthew Morrison – to take over the club.

The famous photo appeared in the show’s final scene, and Galloway Heitz only actually appeared in person on the show twice, in the same flashback scene in 2009 and 2015.

‘She had a starring role in my career’

Alongside her own acting, she helped to nurture the talents of a young Carell (well known for the US Office and films such as Foxcatcher, The Big Short and The 40-year-old Virgin), as well as chat show host Stephen Colbert.

Her casting also helped launch the careers of actors Richard Kind, who starred in Mad About You and Curb Your Enthusiasm, and Modern Family star Eric Stonestreet.

Stonestreet led the tributes, crediting Galloway Heitz for his success, while describing her as a “a great friend and mentor”.

She sold her agency in 1997 to pursue her own acting career.

As well as playing roles in other TV shows like the US version of Shameless, Galloway Heitz also appeared in films including the 2007 crime thriller, I Know Who Killed Me and David Lynch’s The Straight Story, in 1999.

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Barbara Taylor Bradford to be A Woman of (More) Substance with new novel

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Barbara Taylor Bradford said period TV dramas since A Woman of Substance were “junk”

Barbara Taylor Bradford’s blockbuster A Woman of Substance sold millions of copies and became a mini-series that is still Channel 4’s most-watched show.

Now, the author is writing a new novel that revisits the story – but from a different point of view.

The 1979 original followed Emma Harte from Yorkshire maid to business giant.

The new book will return to the young Emma’s era, but telling the story of her friend Blackie O’Neill – played by a young Liam Neeson in the TV version.

“I’m in the in the process of creating a life for Blackie which we never saw in A Woman of Substance,” she told BBC News.

The 86-year-old author was inspired to write Blackie and Emma while at her husband Robert’s bedside in hospital. She had been due to write a third instalment in her House of Falconer saga instead, but was unable to do the required research.

‘Bob’s gift to me’

Robert, a film producer, died in July. “I was sitting there, my mind wandering and knowing what was going to happen, and trying to think, what can I write that will be… no book is easy, but what would be easier than having to do a load of research? And I suddenly thought of Blackie.

“My editor said that was Bob’s gift to me. He made me think of Blackie as a book.”

Part of the new novel acts as a prequel to A Woman of Substance, following Blackie from 13-year-old orphan in Ireland until he meets Emma Harte on a Yorkshire moor. The story then runs in parallel to the original, following Blackie’s fortunes rather than Emma’s.

“Where does he go? What does he do? Is he really a good man? Has he any troubles? Has he had other women? It’s really Blackie’s book,” the Yorkshire-born writer said.

A Woman of Substance has sold 30 million copies, according to Bradford’s official biography, and spawned six sequels. The original mini-series was watched by almost 14 million people on Channel 4 in 1985 and was nominated for two Emmys.

Period dramas are ‘junk’

“I think it was ahead of its time in every way,” the author said. “There’s been no TV series made since that’s had any plot or drama. It’s all junk when it comes to those sorts of ‘big house’ stories.

“A Woman of Substance was very much a big hit with Channel 4. It took all the ratings and it’s a story that’s got everything in it. It’s got love, it’s got drama, it’s got death, it’s got success, it’s got tragedy.”

Taylor Bradford said she doesn’t watch much TV, and when she does she prefers factual programmes.

“I have watched some of Downton,” she said. “It’s very pretty. But I’m more for a documentary or news.”

The second book in her House of Falconer series, In the Lion’s Den, is published on 28 November.

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Radio 1 DJ: ‘I’m fighting now so other women won’t have to’

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Radio 1’s Tiffany Calver says she is constantly dealing with a feeling of “anxiety that comes from just trying to do my job”.

The 25-year-old became the first female DJ to host The Rap Show on Radio 1 and 1Xtra in January 2019.

Tiffany’s spoken out on social media over comments that she says suggest women in the music industry still aren’t seen as equals and get jobs by “being groupies” or sleeping with someone in power.

She adds: “I really hope we all grow up and evolve.”

“I’m learning to be ok with the ignorance and that’s not ok. We shouldn’t be accepting it,” she wrote.

Tiffany Calver became the first woman to host the prestigious Saturday night slot when she took over from Charlie Sloth 10 months ago.

She didn’t give details of the type of criticism she had faced but claimed it had been happening for some time, which is why she decided to address the issue publicly.

“I’m getting thicker skin, promise,” she wrote. “But I saw one comment too many today and I am starting to realise that by playing things down, saying nothing, and quietly trying to prove myself more because of insecurities that my male peers will never have to think about, is helping nobody.”

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Tiffany follows in the footsteps of Tim Westwood and Charlie Sloth in hosting The Rap Show

As well as presenting The Rap Show, Tiffany Calver has also been the official tour DJ for artists including Drake and Fredo.

She added that the situation has improved.

“Things are much better than they once were. But there are still many ways in which women feel that they are not given a fair crack of the whip.”

Gender equality researcher, Dr Jill Armstrong, agrees.

“It’s tougher for women both in terms of the criticism and the barriers they face to getting into whatever career they choose to do.”

She says women often feel they have to work harder than their male counterparts in order to be accepted. But she adds that the same pre-conceptions apply when the roles are reversed, referring to male nurses and primary school teachers as examples of that.

“It’s not a men versus women thing. It’s what we all do.

“When men are in a role that people normally associate with women, you get those same kinds of judgments.

“Unconscious bias is something that both women and men practice. It’s just about the attitudes we have and the way that we’ve been brought up.”

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