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Booker Prize: Five other times awards have been shared

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Sigourney Weaver with Jodie Foster, Margaret Atwood with Bernardine Evaristo and Glenn Close with Lady GagaImage copyright
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L to R: Sigourney Weaver with Jodie Foster, Margaret Atwood with Bernardine Evaristo and Glenn Close with Lady Gaga

For the third time in its 50-year history, the Booker Prize has been shared between two authors.

Margaret Atwood and Bernardine Evaristo were named joint winners on Monday and will each receive half of the £50,000 prize money.

The award was previously shared in 1974 and again in 1992, after which the rules were changed to prevent another tie.

Yet this year’s judges chose to overrule their own regulations and split the prize between Atwood’s The Testaments and Evaristo’s Girl, Woman, Other.

  • Atwood and Evaristo share Booker Prize

Here are five other notable occasions when more than one party ended up being crowned the victor in an arts and entertainment contest.

Academy Awards, 1969

Ingrid Bergman was as surprised as anyone when she opened an envelope on 14 April 1969 to discover the best actress Oscar would go to two people.

“It’s a tie!” she exclaimed, revealing to a stunned audience that Katherine Hepburn and Barbra Streisand would both be honoured for The Lion in Winter and Funny Girl respectively.

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“Hello gorgeous!” said Streisand as she accepted her best actress Oscar

Both actresses received 3,030 votes each, though only Streisand was present to accept. Hepburn’s Oscar – her third of four – was accepted on her behalf by her director Anthony Harvey.

A tie had previously occurred in 1932 when Fredric March and Wallace Beery were both named best actor.

March had actually received one more vote than Berry, but the rules at the time decreed a tie would be declared if any actor came within three votes of winning.

There have been four other ties in the history of the Academy Awards, though those all occurred in less prominent categories.

The most recent took place in 2013 when the best sound editing Oscar was shared between Skyfall and Zero Dark Thirty.

Eurovision Song Contest, 1969

For the first and only time in Eurovision history, the 1969 contest resulted in a four-way split.

France, Spain, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom were all named winners after ending up with the same points tally in Madrid.

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Lulu (far right) with the other winning singers and 1968 winner Massiel (centre)

At the time, each country had a jury consisting of 10 members who each awarded one point to their favourite song. An unlikely turn of events caused four countries to gain 18 points each.

Since there was no rule at the time to cover a tie, all four were declared winners and were invited to perform their respective winning songs.

Years later, Lulu called the situation “ridiculous” but admitted she was “so glad” her Boom Bang-a-Bang song had been one of the top four.

“If I’d have been five I’d have been desperate,” the Scottish singer told Australian talk show Today Extra in 2016.

Golden Globes, 1988

History was made twice at the 46th Golden Globe awards when two of its categories resulted in a three-way tie.

Jodie Foster, Shirley MacLaine and Sigourney Weaver all shared the award for best actress in a motion picture drama.

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Weaver and Foster (left) shared their triumph with the absent MacLaine (right)

“I don’t believe this,” muttered Michael Douglas as he declared the result with his Fatal Attraction co-star Anne Archer.

Weaver, for her part, said the award should have resulted in “a five-way tie”. MacLaine did not attend the ceremony.

The prize for best actor in a comedy or musical TV series, meanwhile, was jointly awarded to Michael J Fox, Judd Hirsch and Richard Mulligan.

Empty Nest star Mulligan was the only one of the three on hand to accept his award in person.

There were three other two-way ties on one of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s more bonkers nights.

Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize, 2016

The judges of the UK’s only literary award for comic literature couldn’t decide between two of the 2016 nominees. So they decided to honour both.

That meant authors Paul Murray and Hannah Rothschild both had Gloucestershire Old Spot pigs named after their respective winning novels.

  • Comic fiction prize unveils joint winners

It was the first time the award – presented annually to the book (or books) deemed to best capture the comic spirit of PG Wodehouse – had been split between two winners.

Jurist James Naughtie said it had been “impossible to separate” Murray’s The Mark and the Void and Rothschild’s debut novel The Improbability of Love.

Interestingly, the panel that year included Peter Florence, chair of the jury that chose to split this year’s Booker Prize.

Critics’ Choice Awards, 2019

Earlier this year, Glenn Close and Lady Gaga were both crowned best actress at the 24th annual Critics’ Choice Awards.

Close was recognised for her work in The Wife, while Lady Gaga was honoured for her performance in A Star is Born.

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Glenn and Gaga celebrated their joint triumph backstage

“I was so thrilled [to tie] with Gaga,” Close told reporters afterwards. “Maybe one year everyone in the same category will all be up there together, because how do you choose?”

This was actually the second tie of the night as the award for best actress in a TV movie or limited series was also bifurcated.

“I actually can’t think of a more beautiful thing than a tie, because there really isn’t a winner when we get to do such great work and we have such wonderful opportunities,” said Amy Adams as she shared the stage with fellow winner Patricia Arquette.

Ties are relatively common at the Broadcast Film Critics Association’s awards, though this was only the second time two occurred at the same ceremony.

It was a case of mixed emotions for Gaga, who rushed from the January ceremony to “say goodbye” to her dying horse Arabella.

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

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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!'”

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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.

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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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Vienna opera house stages first opera by woman

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Kate Lindsey as OrlandoImage copyright
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Kate Lindsey will play the title role of Orlando

For the first time in its 150-year history, the Vienna State Opera is staging an opera by a woman.

Austrian composer Olga Neuwirth has written a new opera based on Virginia Woolf’s 1928 novel Orlando which deals with themes of gender fluidity and duality.

The title role is played by the singer Kate Lindsey.

Orlando lives for centuries, beginning as a man in Elizabethan England and then changing into a woman.

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Wiener Staatsoper/Michael Pöhn

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The story by Virginia Woolf has been updated for the 21st Century

Olga Neuwirth says androgyny and the rejection of gender stereotypes have inspired her ever since she first read Woolf’s novel as a teenager.

“Not only is it a journey through centuries, but it is a journey of constant questioning of imposed norms by society, and society is made by man,” she told the BBC.

Olga Neuwirth

Wiener Staatsoper/Michael Pöhn

Orlando, for all of us, should be a symbol of freedom, humanity and freedom of opinion, but in a very playful and ironic way – which I like so much

“Each human being is allowed to choose what they feel is inside them,” she said. “There is no binary role model anymore.”

Conductor Matthias Pintscher says the ‘in-betweenness” of the story of Orlando is reflected in the music.

“She is mixing it all up,” he said. “We have a traditional orchestra in the pit. On top of that we have three keyboards, a jazz band and a lot of pre-recorded samples that interestingly, beautifully blend into the texture of the live instruments.”

Olga Neuwirth says “it feels a little bit strange” to be the first female composer to have a work staged at the Vienna State Opera.

The opera house cancelled her previous attempt to put on an piece with a libretto by the Nobel Prize winning author Elfriede Jelinek.

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Wiener Staatsoper/Michael Pöhn

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The opera has special significance for Justin Vivian Bond, who plays Orlando’s child

“One hundred and fifty years is a long time. But I’ve always said it’s never too late. So it’s good that they finally have thought about it. And at least if you’re the first, there has to be a second and a third and so on. So it’s always good to have a starting point.”

The costumes are by another woman, designer Rei Kawakubo, of Commes des Garçons.

The story has been brought up into the 21st Century.

For transgender and trans-genre artist Justin Vivian Bond, who plays the role of Orlando’s child, this opera has a personal significance.

“Conceptually, I am the legacy of what the novel Orlando began to express about gender and transgression and about the difference between what it’s actually like to be a man or a woman, if indeed there is that much of a difference,” said Bond.

“And since I’m a non-binary person who’s trans-feminine, I guess you could say I am happily stepping into a moment and I’m the sort of representation of where we’ve come.”

You may also be interested in:

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Media captionLucia Lucas tells the BBC what it’s like to be a transgender opera singer but still have to play male roles
  • Child prodigy’s opera thrills Vienna
  • Royal Opera House fires tenor after ‘brawl’



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Panipat: The Bollywood battle over a 400-year-old war

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The film posterImage copyright
Panipat film

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Sanjay Dutt (R) plays Afghan leader Ahmad Shah Abdali

The argument over a 400-year-old war began in a modern way: with a tweet.

“Death strikes where his shadow falls,” wrote Sanjay Dutt, the veteran Bollywood actor who plays the Afghan leader, Ahmad Shah Abdali, in the film Panipat, which opened in cinemas on Friday.

It was supposed to stir up excitement for the film, which was released on Friday. Instead, it came close to instigating an international incident, angering an entire country of once-loyal Bollywood fans.

But what exactly has got Afghans so riled up?

Panipat tells the story of a 17th Century battle between an Indian empire and an Afghan army, led by Abdali, with the trailer leaving viewers in no doubt that this will be a high-octane ride from start to finish.

But it was certain to cause some controversy: after all, to Afghans Abdali is their founding father and hero, but to Indians he’s an invader who killed thousands of Maratha warriors in the historic battle of Panipat, north of Delhi.

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AFP

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Arjun Kapoor (L) and Kriti Sanon also appear in the film

Concerns were initially raised when the film was first announced. In 2017 the Afghan consulate in Mumbai reached out directly to the Indian Information and Broadcasting Ministry.

“Ahmad Shah Abdali holds great regard in the hearts and minds of Afghan people,” said Naseem Sharifi, Afghanistan’s consul general in the city. “When the film was being made we requested to watch it without exposing the plot. Despite our constant efforts, we didn’t get any response from the filmmakers.”

But then came Sanjay Dutt’s tweet, complete with a picture of his character, the man Afghans refer to as Ahmad Shah Baba (father). The uproar was immediate.

“He’s vicious. He wears kohl. Abdali wasn’t like that. From the way he dresses to the way he speaks; it’s not even Afghan, he’s portrayed as an Arab,” Elaha Walizadeh, an Afghan blogger, told the BBC.

For generations, Afghans have grown up with Bollywood films such as Khuda Gawah, starring Amitabh Bachchan as a brave and patriotic Afghan protagonist. They were a source of joy and hope for many refugees during the dark Taliban era. They played the songs at their weddings, danced to the tunes, memorised famous dialogue and even learned Hindi from it.

But then came films such as the 2018 epic Padmaavat, which saw superstar Ranveer Singh playing Alauddin Khilji, a Turko-Afghan ruler who invaded and ruled Delhi in the 12th Century. Though the film garnered positive reviews, the portrayal of Khaliji as a cruel and vicious ruler offended many Afghans – although they were far from the only group to take issue.

Media playback is unsupported on your device

Media captionDeepika Padukone received death threats for her role in Bollywood epic Padmaavat

Similarly Kesari, a 2019 period drama about an epic battle between 21 Sikh soldiers from the British Indian Army and more than 10,000 Afghans, was criticised for stereotyping and vilifying Afghans as invaders who forcibly took land.

Platforms like Twitter and Facebook mean those offended can easily find others who share their disillusionment.

“People are seeing the issue of misrepresentation because of social media. More young Afghans are noticing a trend and having conversations about it,” Walizadeh said.

“Whereas before they were elated at the slightest mention of Afghans in Hindi movies, they now watch it with scrutiny. Though misrepresentation is a global problem, given Afghans’ relationship with Bollywood they expect better.”

More on Bollywood

Some film critics say however that the changing portrayal of Afghan characters could be down to more than just rising awareness on the part of Afghan filmgoers.

Instead they link the rising number of films with negative Muslim characters as an attempt by Bollywood executives to align the industry with India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) – a Hindu nationalist party led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

“We have a Hindu majority party which is quite conscious of exploiting the soft power of Bollywood,” said Ankur Pathak, entertainment editor of Huffington Post India.

“Whether that is the prime minister clicking selfies with the top stars, organising meet-and-greet events or the ruling party encouraging Bollywood to show films about nation-building, there’s an invisible incentive to make films to depict India in a positive light – and by India that means it’s Modi’s idea of India or the BJP’s idea of India, which is pro-Hindu.”

It is a dangerous path, Pathak adds.

“Misrepresentation of any community does immense damage. Given the current climate it’s something we need to steer clear from,” he said.

Film director Ashutosh Gowariker has dismissed the claims.

He told online channel Film Companion: “This film is not about a Hindu-Muslim battle. It’s about stopping an invader. It’s about protecting your borders, your land, that’s the patriotic theme of the film. In the wake of that we have to show that Abdali did invade but we have kept the dignity of the character.”

But Mr Sharifi, the Afghan consul-general, remains worried about the possible fallout from Panipat – despite assurances from Sanjay Dutt that he would not have taken the role if the portrayal was negative.

The consul-general, who also acts as an advisor to the Afghan president, says he wants a panel of experts from both countries to review the film before its release.

The BBC asked Sanjay Dutt for a response to the criticism but did not receive a response.

For some of Bollywood’s most loyal Afghan fans, the film is likely to disappoint.

“Historically Indian cinema has been instrumental in strengthening Indo-Afghan ties,” Dr Shaida Abdali, the former Afghan ambassador to India, tweeted.

“I very much hope that the film ‘Panipat’ has kept that fact in mind while dealing with this important episode of our shared history!”



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