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Bill Turnbull backs cannabis for medicinal use ahead of cancer doc

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Bill Turnbull discusses living with cancer in his new Channel 4 documentary Staying Alive

Broadcaster Bill Turnbull says there should be a “proper conversation” in the UK about the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes.

The former BBC Breakfast presenter, who was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2017, discusses the issue in a new Channel 4 documentary.

“It’s legal, to a greater or lesser extent, for medicinal purposes in more than 20 countries,” he said.

“Intelligent, advanced countries. And I think we should be one of them.”

The Classic FM presenter is seen trying cannabis oil in Bill Turnbull: Staying Alive, which follows the presenter as he adjusts to life after his cancer diagnosis.

Producing cannabis oil in the UK can result in a prison sentence of up to 14 years, even if it is for medicinal purposes.

However, cannabis can now be legally prescribed to some patients in the UK, although this is carefully monitored and regulated.

The treatments can be prescribed only by specialist doctors in a limited number of circumstances, where other medicines have failed. They can be prescribed for children with rare, severe forms of epilepsy, and adults with vomiting or nausea caused by chemotherapy, or with muscle stiffness caused by multiple sclerosis.

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Sian Williams, Turnbull’s former co-host, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2014

The documentary sees Turnbull try several techniques, including altering his diet, to fight the cancer and ease his pain. The cannabis oil he samples is made for him illegally by an activist who produces it for free for those he considers to be in need.

Turnbull acknowledges he is breaking the law as he tries the oil. But, he says, given his prognosis, he’s willing to “break the rules, just this once”.

“I do think we need to have a proper conversation in this country about the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes,” Turnbull told journalists ahead of the film’s broadcast next week.

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“We have something that has been used for thousands of years for medicinal purposes, which has only been illegal for 100 years, if I remember correctly.” (Cannabis was made illegal in the UK in 1928.)

He continued: “We need to start conversations about, ‘How can we usefully get the best out of what could be very beneficial to us, without causing damage to other people?’

“And understand, I’m not talking about recreational use. I’m simply talking about, ‘Let’s have a look at it for medicinal reasons’.” He describes it as an “unlit” area of the law, which “needs a lot more examination”.

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Some MPs predict the UK will fully legalise cannabis use within 10 years

The government’s decision to relax the laws on cannabis treatments last year followed an outcry when two boys with severe epilepsy were denied access to cannabis oil.

Canada became the first G7 country to allow recreational use of the drug in 2018. Some MPs predict the UK will fully legalise cannabis use within 10 years.

‘One bacon roll a month’

Speaking at Channel 4’s London headquarters in advance of the documentary’s broadcast, Turnbull made light of how much crying there is in the film.

“I’m a bit embarrassed, it’s a bit of a blub-a-thon, isn’t it? ‘God, he’s crying again!‘” he laughed. “But it’s a very emotional business.

“First of all, I am on a hormone treatment to suppress the testosterone, which does make me spill over. It makes you more emotional, more likely to cry, and crying is an important thing to do when you’re under this kind of stress.”

Since the documentary was filmed, Turnbull has continued with some of the lifestyle changes he’s seen making – particularly with watching what he eats.

“The diet is the biggest thing. I really try not to eat meat… I do have one bacon-egg roll a month, just to make life worth living,” he said.

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Turnbull left BBC Breakfast in 2016 and now presents a weekend show on Classic FM

“And I’ve pretty much given up alcohol as well, because I was getting a lot of pain. I’m not sure if this was to do with the cancer or something else, I don’t know, but I was getting big pain attacks in the middle of the night. So I thought, right, stop alcohol, and funnily enough, since I did that, I haven’t had any more [attacks].

“I try not to have sugar either. So yeah, I’m living a really exciting life!”

The film sees Turnbull speak to his former Breakfast co-host Sian Williams, as well as BBC Radio 4 Today presenter Nick Robinson – both of whom have spoken about their own cancer diagnoses.

The reason he was keen to front the documentary was “to give people a picture of what it’s like”, Turnbull said.

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“A few years ago, cancer was a subject nobody wanted to go near or talk about. And I’m a big believer in shining a light on it actually, a bit like cockroaches, if you shine a light then they run away.

“And we need to talk about it more, because people who’ve got it need to talk about it. So I thought it would be useful to show people what it’s like to be on that journey, and show what that journey consists of.

“I’d like to think other people would do the same thing I do, which is to say, ‘I’ve got cancer, so apart from conventional medicine, what else can I do? How can I help myself?’ And the process of helping yourself is also therapeutic, rather than being totally dependent on other people.”

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Turnbull with other former Breakfast presenters in 2008, on the show’s 25th birthday

Turnbull added that he only decided to get himself checked by his GP after encouragement (or “nagging”, as he put it) from his youngest son, Will.

“He lives in London, we live in Suffolk, and so every time he would see me I had a problem,” Turnbull said. “And he’s always been quite good at telling us what to do. I think because of that, he said, ‘Well you’ve still got this thing, what’s the matter with you?’

“And through the summer I said, ‘Oh I don’t need to’. And then finally, he said, ‘You really should go and see the doctor’. And so partly to stop him nagging I went to my GP, and he gave me a blood test just to be sure. And he called me back to the next day because he knew what was up.”

Bill Turnbull: Staying Alive is broadcast on Channel 4 at 22:00 BST on Thursday 24 October.



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Jacqueline Jossa wins I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!

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Jacqueline JossaImage copyright
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Former EastEnders star Jacqueline Jossa has won I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! after spending three weeks in the Australian jungle.

The actress was named queen of the jungle, following in the footsteps of previous winners like Harry Redknapp, Stacey Solomon and Kerry Katona.

Co-presenters Ant McPartlin and Declan Donnelly revealed the winner at the end of the final of the ITV reality show.

Actor Andy Whyment was the runner-up, with radio DJ Roman Kemp in third.

Jossa played Lauren Branning in BBC soap EastEnders between 2010 and 2018.

After she was named queen of the jungle, she said: “I have no words.”

This year’s series – the 19th – was the first not to have live insects eaten as part of the show’s “bushtucker trials”.

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PA Media

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Coronation Street actor Andy Whyment took part in a “bushtucker bonanza” before he came second

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ITV

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Radio host Roman Kemp came third

Any insects consumed on the show were already dead – though live creepy-crawlies were still dumped on its celebrity contestants.

But the show was not without controversy, with former sports stars James Haskell and Ian Wright being accused of bullying their fellow campmates.

Viewers also contacted media watchdog Ofcom to complain that some of the show’s challenges were too hard and thus unfair.

There was contention before the series even aired, with former Commons Speaker John Bercow demanding a newspaper apologise for claiming he had asked for £1m to appear.

DJ Tony Blackburn was the first celebrity to be crowned King of the Jungle when the show first aired in 2002.

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Juice Wrld: US rapper dies aged 21 ‘after seizure at airport’

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Juice Wrld, real name Jarad Anthony Higgins, was considered to be a rising star of rap musicImage copyright
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Juice Wrld, real name Jarad Anthony Higgins, was considered to be a rising star of rap music

Juice Wrld, a US rapper who shot to fame on music streaming platforms, has died at the age of 21.

Celebrity news website TMZ said he died after suffering a seizure at Chicago’s Midway airport on Sunday morning.

The Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office said the cause was unknown.

Juice Wrld, real name Jarad Anthony Higgins, was best-known for his viral 2018 hit Lucid Dreams. Mental health, mortality and drug use were common themes in his music.

Chicago police told the BBC a 21-year-old man suffered a medical emergency at around 02:00 local time (08:00 GMT) and was taken to hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

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Anthony Guglielmi, a police spokesman, told the Chicago Sun Times there were “no signs of foul play” and it was unclear whether drugs played a role in his death.

Who was Juice Wrld?

Born in Chicago, Illinois, in 1998, Juice Wrld started rapping in high school, using online music streaming platform SoundCloud to upload and promote his music.

He went on to release his debut full-length EP, 999, on the platform in 2017, garnering him attention from fellow Chicago-based artists such as G Herbo and Lil Bibby.

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Getty Images

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Juice Wrld shot to fame in 2018, when hit single Lucid Dreams reached number two in the charts

The rapper rose to fame in 2018, when hit singles All Girls Are the Same and Lucid Dreams, which peaked at number two on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, drew the attention of music fans and record labels.

More plaudits followed the release first studio album, Goodbye & Good Riddance, in 2018, cementing his himself as one of the rising stars of US rap.

In early 2018, he was signed by Interscope Records, landing a record deal reported to be worth more than $3m (£2.2m). He topped the Billboard chart this year with his second album Death Race for Love.

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Getty Images

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Juice Wrld celebrated his 21st birthday last week

In one of his songs, Juice Wrld rapped about the short lives of artists, saying “all the legends seem to die out”.

The song, titled Legends, was dedicated to two late rappers, 20-year-old XXXTentacion and 21-year-old Lil Peep, who died in 2018 and 2017, respectively.

In the song Juice Wrld rapped: “What’s the 27 Club? We ain’t making it past 21. I been going through paranoia.”

Juice Wrld had celebrated his 21st birthday last week. In a tweet, he said it was “one of his best” birthdays yet.

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Media captionGrime artist Ransom FA spoke to the BBC about the challenges of breaking into the music industry

His music has been described as emo rap, a genre that draws influences from hip hop and alternative rock.

In a four-star review of his second album, music publication NME said the rapper “makes songs that stick, his vocal dissonance capturing what it feels like to be young and in pain, and feeling a sense of indifference towards authority figures”.

In a 2018 interview with the New York Times, Juice Wrld opened up about his use of cannabis and Xanax, an anti-anxiety medication.

“I smoke weed, and every now and then I slip up and do something that’s poor judgment,” he told the paper.

Who has paid tribute?

In a tweet, British singer-songwriter Ellie Goulding, who collaborated with Juice Wrld on her 2019 single Hate Me, described the rapper as “such a sweet soul” who had “so much further to go”.

Chicago-based artist Chance the Rapper paid a heartfelt tribute on Instagram, writing: “Millions of people, not just in Chicago but around the world are hurting because of this and don’t know what to make of it.”

“Wow, I cannot believe this. Rip my brother juice world,” tweeted fellow rapper Lil Yachty.

US rapper Lil Nas X, also writing on Twitter, said it is “so sad how often this is happening lately to young talented rising artists”.

Hip hop artist HaHa Davis wrote on Twitter: “Heartbroken @JuiceWorlddd I love you bro.”





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Star Wars: The Leicestershire factory at the centre of a toy galaxy

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Tie fighterImage copyright
Bob Brechin

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Palitoy executives visited the United States to see the very first Star Wars toys

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, released on 19 December, is sure to set tills ringing just as loudly in toy shops as in cinemas. But the decades-spanning success of Star Wars toys owes much to the early hard work and vision of a group of British workers.

In 1977, Star Wars was still little more than a rumour. The first film in the franchise would not get its UK premiere until 27 December, seven months after it opened in the United States.

Among the first people to see previews of the movie were executives from Leicestershire firm Palitoy, tasked with rendering George Lucas’s celluloid galaxy in plastic.

Kenner, the company’s US sister firm, had bought the rights to Star Wars but needed a factory to manufacture the toys for the UK.

“I’d never heard of Star Wars, but they said ‘There’s a film. We can give you a quick look-see’,” said Bob Simpson, Palitoy’s managing director.

“I was amazed. It was just a toymaker’s dream.”

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The Star Wars range quickly became must-have toys

Mr Simpson was among the Palitoy employees tracked down for a new documentary that tells how its Coalville factory found itself at the centre of a manufacturing phenomenon.

But initially, with no guarantee that the first film would be a box office success, let alone spawn a smash-hit series, and with no actual toys or market data to show potential buyers, Palitoy had a tough job to convince retailers to invest.

“You have to remember, this was a film people weren’t sure about… they were reluctant to take stuff because it was what they thought was a B-movie – you know, science fiction, all that business,” said Bob Brechin, the firm’s chief designer.

Salvation came in the form of Action Man. Retailers were offered discounts on the firm’s hugely popular soldier figures if they would take Star Wars toys.

Sales manager John Nicholas recalled how one chain’s whisky-loving buyer was handed a bottle of Scotch and asked how many Star Wars figures he wanted.

About half an hour later, and with a third of the bottle gone, he had decided. He would take a million.

“Well, it was my biggest order ever. I’ve never taken an order for that, and, you know, when Woolworths came along and said, ‘All right, I’ll have 100,000’, it was ‘Oh, is that all?’.”

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Palitoy offered retailers discounts on Action Man if they would stock the new Star Wars range

As the first film became a hit with audiences, demand grew. An entire cast of figures, at pocket-money prices, and a selection of spaceships and vehicles, helped confirm Star Wars as the must-have toy, boosting Palitoy’s sales to £20m in 1978.

Production line worker Gina Morton remembers a supervisor called Wendy urging the workers on. “She was rather like a schoolmistress, actually because, we were young girls – 17, 18… You know, if your Millennium Falcons weren’t touching, ‘Come on girls, what’s going off here? We’ve got to get this out!'”

Image copyright
Coalville Heritage Society

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Demand for the toys meant production line employees had to work quickly

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Coalville Heritage Society

By the time Return of the Jedi, the third movie, was released in 1983, 20 million Star Wars figures had been sold in the UK, and half of those in that year alone.

But with some parts of its empire posting losses, parent company General Mills, a food producer, was questioning its involvement in the traditionally volatile toy business.

The Palitoy brand was discontinued, production of Star Wars toys at Coalville ended, and in just under 10 years, the company was sold three times.

Image copyright
Coalville Heritage Society

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The former Palitoy factory is now a business centre, but its history is marked with a green plaque

The factory closed in 1994. Its last owner was Hasbro, which still manufactures Star Wars toys today.

“Devastating” is how designer Brian Turner remembers the effect on the town, already reeling from the decline of coal-mining. “I think the life went out of the place,” he said.

Although they initially sold for a pound or two, original Star Wars figures can today fetch hundreds – even thousands – with Palitoy products, rarer than their US counterparts, particularly sought after by some collectors.

“I mean, I wish I’d put a few in the garage. I’ve always thought that,” said Bob Brechin.

Marketing manager Geoff Maisey said: “I think we’ve a lot to be proud of. We actually launched Star Wars and made it what it is.

“Other companies now have taken it and extended it. But without those efforts in the early days, it wouldn’t be here. So yeah, I’m really proud.”

Toy Empire: The British Force Behind Star Wars, will be shown on BBC 1 in the East Midlands on 9 December at 19:30 GMT, and then on BBC iPlayer. It will be shown on BBC Four on 16 December at 21:00 GMT.



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