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Billy Connolly: ‘I’m not ready to go back on stage’



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Media captionBilly Connolly: “Nothing else will keep you going like laughter”

Comedian Billy Connolly says he would love to perform live again but he’s “not ready”.

The 76-year-old, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s six years ago, told the BBC: “I don’t know if I can do it with the state my mind is in.”

He added: “British comedy is in great shape now. I’d be scared to go on with these guys (current comedians).”

But the Big Yin said he would still “make it” if he was starting his career today because “it’s about attitude”.

He also said he was sanguine about the state of his health.

‘Just deal with it’

“I’m old, I’m 76 – my hearing, my eyesight, the way I walk, it’s all beginning to fail.

“It’s just about accepting what it is. You’ve got trouble getting into bed, trouble getting your socks on.

“Just deal with it. That’s who you are now. You’re a drooling, limping has-been! Get on with it. Enjoy it.”

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Billy Connolly/Castle Fine Art

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Connolly has recently written a book called Tall Tales and Wee Stories

In a recent documentary, Connolly said he’s not scared of dying: “It doesn’t frighten me – it’s an adventure and it’s quite interesting to see myself slipping away, as bits slip off and leave me, talents leave and attributes leave.

“It’s as if I’m being prepared for something, some other adventure, which is over the hill. I’ve got all this stuff to lose first, and then I’ll be at the shadowy side of the hill doing the next episode in the spirit world.”

Connolly announced he was being treated for the initial symptoms of Parkinson’s disease in 2013, admitting he had started to forget his lines during performances.

In the interview, he also discussed how the current political landscape in his home country of Scotland.

In an independence referendum held in September 2014, Scotland voted to remain part of the United Kingdom. Connolly has previously expressed support for the union.

“Politically, [Scotland] is in extraordinary shape,” he said. “It’s beginning to stand alone, and they won’t take crap anymore. They don’t want to settle for whoever England votes for.

Asked directly if he would support Scottish independence in the event of a second referendum, he replied: “I don’t know. If Scotland would like it, I would like it.”

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Dot Cotton: Actress June Brown says she has left EastEnders ‘for good’




June Brown as Dot Branning in EastEnders, sitting in an armchair drinking a cup of tea

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“You should appreciate your fans,” Brown told the podcast

Veteran EastEnders actress June Brown has said she has left her role as much-loved character Dot Cotton after 35 years.

“I’ve left for good,” said the 93-year-old in an interview with podcast Distinct Nostalgia.

She is one of the BBC soap’s longest-running characters and has become a firm favourite with viewers.

Her character Dot has not been in an episode since January. An EastEnders spokesman said the “door remains open”.

Brown joined the show in 1985, the year it was created.

In the last episode she featured in, aired last month, Dot Cotton – or Dot Branning – left a voicemail message for character Sonia Fowler saying she had moved to Ireland.

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Brown told the podcast she is hoping to do a documentary next

Asked by interviewer and former co-star Rani Singh whether EastEnders had put her on a retainer, Brown replied: “I don’t want a retainer. I’ve left. I’ve left for good.

“I’ve sent myself to Ireland and that’s where she’ll stay. I’ve left EastEnders.”

One of EastEnders’ best-known stars, Brown was in her late 50s when she joined Albert Square.

Actor Leslie Grantham, who played Dirty Den, suggested her for the role. Until then, Brown’s career had incorporated stage, film and television, with appearances in Coronation Street and Doctor Who.

“I think I got it because they thought I was a punctual actress,” Brown told the podcast, which aired a special episode to celebrate 35 years of EastEnders.

“I’m not really but I became so. In fact I became so punctual I used to be in an hour before I should be.”

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Media captionJune Brown: 90 years in 90 seconds

She said it “was a very strange feeling” leaving the soap.

“I was feeling rather down the other day,” she said. “I thought, ‘what’s the matter? Why do I feel so sad?’ It’s almost as if I’ve been bereaved.

“I’ve played two people simultaneously for 35 years. Really Dot wasn’t me, but spiritually she probably was.”

Brown took a four-year break from the soap between 1993 and 1997

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An episode from 2008 shows Dot being teased by a gang as she walks to the Tube

In 2008, Brown became the first actor in a British soap to carry an entire episode alone, with an emotional monologue dictated to a cassette for her screen husband to listen to in hospital following a stroke.

That same year she was made an MBE for services to drama and charity.

Last year, Brown revealed she was losing her sight after being diagnosed with age-related macular degeneration and could no longer recognise her friends.

An EastEnders spokesman said: “We never discuss artists’ contracts, however as far as EastEnders are concerned the door remains open for June, as it always has if the story arises and if June wishes to take part.”

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Caroline Flack: Met refers itself to watchdog over contact with star




Caroline FlackImage copyright
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The Metropolitan Police has referred itself to the police watchdog following the death of TV star Caroline Flack.

Scotland Yard’s directorate of professional standards (DPS) reviewed all previous contact with Ms Flack, 40, before it made Wednesday’s referral.

It was standard practice for a referral to be made when a person who had recent contact with police died, the Met said.

Ms Flack was found dead at her London flat on Saturday as she awaited trial for allegedly assaulting her boyfriend.

An inquest into the former Love Island host’s death was opened and adjourned on Wednesday.

A statement from the Met said: “No notice of investigation has been served on any officer and no conduct issues have been identified by the DPS. No officer is on restricted duties or suspended.”

An Independent Office for Police Conduct spokesman said: “We will make a decision on the level of our involvement after carefully assessing the information we have received.

“Receipt of a referral does not mean an investigation will necessarily follow.”

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Flowers were left outside Caroline Flack’s former house

Ms Flack left her role presenting the ITV2 dating show after being charged with assaulting her partner Lewis Burton in December and was due to stand trial next month.

In an unpublished Instagram post shared by her family, she said her “whole world and future was swept from under my feet” following her arrest.

Ms Flack pleaded not guilty to assault by beating at a court appearance in December, when it was heard her partner did not support the prosecution.

She was released on bail but was ordered to stop any contact with Mr Burton ahead of the trial.

Love Island did not air on Saturday or Sunday but returned on Monday with a tribute to the former X Factor presenter and Strictly Come Dancing winner, who started hosting the programme in 2015.

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Caroline Flack death: Hairdressers bin gossip magazines




Caroline FlackImage copyright
Getty Images

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Caroline Flack’s death has prompted hairdressers to bin gossip magazines

Hair salons have said they have stopped stocking celebrity gossip magazines after the death of Caroline Flack.

Some hairdressers posted the decision on social media after the former Love Island host was found dead.

Among them was salon owner Anita Donoghue whose Facebook post about binning “pages of fat shaming, slut shaming, celebs without make-up” was shared thousands of times.

A press regulator said it had received complaints over headlines about Caroline Flack following her death.

The Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) said it was investigating a number of complaints in line with its normal procedure.

Ms Flack was found dead weeks before she was due to stand trial for assaulting her boyfriend – a prosecution he did not support.

She wrote in an unpublished Instagram post: “I am suddenly on a different kind of stage and everyone is watching it happen.”

Ms Donoghue, salon director of Hair Cafe in Dublin, said hairdressers had been posting about their dislike of gossip magazines for years.

“I’m by no means the first to do this,” she said. “But I think I was one of the first to react in this way to the sad news about Caroline,” said the 41-year-old.

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Ciara Maher

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Anita Donoghue said she was proud hairdressers had boycotted gossip magazines

“I was unconsciously going out and buying these magazines because it was the norm to see them in salons, cafes, dentists’ waiting rooms.

“When I thought about Caroline and the impact these magazines have had on her life I wanted to make a change.”

Ms Donoghue’s post has been liked and shared thousands of times and other hairdressers have composed similar messages.

“It’s unbelievable how it’s been picked up,” she said. “It’s the right thing to do. I want to cry I’m so proud,” she said.

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Josie Kent

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Josie Kent said seeing Caroline Flack on magazine covers prompted her to make changes in her salon

Josie Kent, salon owner of Caribou Hair Ltd in Par Cornwall, said the star’s death made her rethink celebrity gossip culture.

“We came back into the salon after the news over the weekend and the first thing I did was go through our magazines,” said the 28-year-old.

“Every one had horrible things across the front about what Caroline was going through. These were stories written about her private life prior to her passing.

“It seemed wrong to have them in the salon and when I thought about it that’s exactly what drove her to do it.”

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Josie Kent

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Josie Kent and some of her team at Caribou Hair Ltd in Cornwall

Ms Kent said she swapped the magazines for health and fashion publications.

“Our clients absolutely loved having something refreshing to read instead of pointless rubbish always putting other people down,” she said.

How are magazines regulated?

The Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) regulates newspapers and magazines under a set of rules called the Editors’ Code of Practice.

All members of IPSO follow the same code whether they are a national newspaper, local paper or magazine.

Anyone can make a complaint to IPSO over a potential breach of the code.

If after investigation, IPSO’s complaints committee finds that the code has been breached it can order a correction or a longer form ruling to be published.

IPSO publishes its list of members here and its rulings here.

Social media has also come under scrutiny in the search for explanations and blame since Ms Flack took her life – as have the mainstream media, and the Crown Prosecution Service for pressing ahead with a trial.

An inquest will be held in August to investigate the causes behind Ms Flack’s death but the Samaritans maintain the reasons for any suicide are usually numerous and complex.

‘Be kind’

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Amelia Herbert

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Amelia Herbert said she needed a break from social media after Caroline Flack’s death

Amelia Herbert at Watkins Wright in Great Ayton, North Yorkshire, joined in after seeing other salons sharing similar statements.

“This weekend I felt really sad,” she said. “I felt like I needed a break from social media so I deleted my apps on my phone.

“I didn’t want to see magazines tearing celebrities down.

“If we can learn anything from this it’s that you’ve got to be nice to other people,” she said.

“It’s so important in the hair and beauty industry to promote wellbeing.

“It’s all well and good having your hair and make-up done but our ethos here is to make you feel good on the inside too.”

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Amelia Herbert

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Hairdressers at Watkins Wright in Great Ayton want to make their clients feel good

Jennie Galligan, owner of Jennifer Ashley Hair in Reddish, Stockport, said she wanted to be part of a shift in culture.

“I’ve never been one for gossip magazines but within hairdressers they’re just a given,” said the 28-year-old.

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Jennie Galligan

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Jennie Galligan said she had never been into gossip magazines

“My salon ethos is all about empowering women so actually we don’t want them,” she said.

“Lots of our clients have said we would rather look at home and wedding magazines.

“Half of them don’t even know who most of the reality TV stars in these magazines are.”

Information and support

If you or someone you know needs support for issues about emotional distress, these organisations may be able to help.

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