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Lost Lives: Neeson, Branagh and Rea narrate Troubles ‘requiem’

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DoubleBand Films

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The film, Lost Lives, is a requiem for those killed in the Troubles

In 1991, four men sat down in Belfast to write a book of the dead.

They resolved to put on record the stories of what happened to every man, woman and child killed during Northern Ireland’s Troubles.

Their testament to suffering would take eight years of painstaking research. They detailed 3,700 lives shattered. Their book was Lost Lives.

Now, two film makers and a host of Irish actors have followed in those writers’ footsteps.

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DoubleBand Films

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Actor Stephen Rea was one of the narrators for the film, Lost Lives

Taking Lost Lives as their inspiration, they have created a requiem for the Troubles dead.

Liam Neeson, Ciarán Hinds, Kenneth Branagh, Adrian Dunbar and Bronagh Waugh are among a long list of acting talent from Northern Ireland who have given their voices to the film.

The book was written by veteran NI journalist David McKittrick, BBC journalists Chris Thornton and the late Seamus Kelters, and political commentator Brian Feeney. At a later stage, David McVea joined in.

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Lost Lives authors Seamus Kelters and David McKittrick pictured at the book launch in 1999

First published in 1999, it was an act of remembrance, lest a single life be forgotten.

It is considered the go-to reference book and an authority on the Troubles.

In the Irish Times in 2006, journalist Susan McKay wrote: “A Tyrone man bought five copies. Five members of his family, all in the security forces, had been killed.

“A Donegal man found out from the book that it was the UVF, and not the IRA, that had killed his brother – as his family had supposed for 30 years.

“It has been read out in churches, Protestant and Catholic. A woman wept so much over the book in a shop she left mascara stains on the page at which she’d opened it.”

‘War is Hell’

The new film, which had its premiere in London on Thursday night, tells individual stories from the book, using archive footage, music and the book’s words spoken by actors to bring them to life.

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DoubleBand Films

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A still from the film which combines beautiful imagery with the horrors of footage from the Troubles

Dermot Lavery and Michael Hewitt of DoubleBand film say theirs is not a documentary, but rather a “creative response” to the book.

They found their inspiration between the pages of the stout volume where each victim’s name and age are listed along with the date and the details of their death.

Their film melds strikingly beautiful images with the crackle of gunfire and the ugly thud of bombs.

“It is a reminder that war is Hell,” said Lavery.

“For us, it is a cinematic event that addresses the past, but looks to the future.”

Wrap my country up in cotton wool

Bronagh Waugh, actress

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DoubleBand Films

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Actress Bronagh Waugh narrating her part in Lost Lives

I felt deeply honoured to take part. I was born in Coleraine in 1982 and I knew friends whose parents had been killed in the Troubles.

I didn’t know that the book, Lost Lives, existed. When I held it in my hands, what struck me was the sheer volume of it. I wanted to read all of it.

How personal the stories were. People can become statistics. But here were the stories of real people. There were so many ordinary lives and what would those lives have been, if they had not been killed?

At the recording, I was reading the story of a mother and my voice kept breaking. It was so visceral and real.

What Lost Lives shows is how fragile peace is and how we must never take it for granted.

I want to wrap my country up in cotton wool.

Lost Lives – a production commissioned by BBC Northern Ireland with funding from NI Screen – is a film about humanity and inhumanity, about innocence and experience during the Troubles – a local story that played out for more than 30 years on a worldwide stage.

It marries the beauty of the natural world with old footage from past atrocities.

The camera holds the face of a toddler in a knitted bonnet sitting in her pram at a street corner, watching her world collapse.

A woman stares out from behind lace curtains as violence unfolds on her street.

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Pacemaker

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Filmmakers Michael Hewitt and Dermot Lavery as well as actors including Stephen Rea, Ciaran Hinds and Bronagh Waugh attending the Lost Lives premiere in London on Thursday night

A man is filmed abandoning his home, loading his worldly possessions on to a trailer with an air of resignation, lumping a huge statue of the Virgin Mary on the top.

The film is an elegy that flicks from children playing with toy guns to the crackle of real gunfire.

The viewer is brought back again and again to the fluttering pages of the Lost Lives book and to story after story of heartbreak.

We hear about the parents who left Belfast after their child was shot dead… but they had to come back.

“I wasn’t content knowing that Patrick was buried here, I wanted to be near him,” said Patrick Rooney’s mother.

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DoubleBand Films

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The authors of the book wanted to communicate the human cost of the Troubles

We hear the words of Mary Isobel Thompson’s widower: “She was a happy wee woman, the world’s best.

“There was just the two of us, we had no family, so we always went everywhere together. Now I am by myself. Sometimes I do not realise, I think I hear her calling for me…”

And there is Philip Rafferty, just 14, abducted, hooded and shot dead. He had been on his way to a music lesson.

His Jewish uncle wrote a letter to a newspaper. He said he had lost a cousin to Hitler’s gas chambers and now, more than 30 years later, another child had died needlessly.

He said Philip was a small frail boy who suffered from asthma. He was his parents pride and joy. He was barely 14.

“That’s all the years Philip Rafferty had… Why did he die?”

‘Nobody needed persuading’

Michael Hewitt, film maker

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DoubleBand Films

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Michael Hewitt and Dermot Lavery ensured that every name in the book Lost Lives appears in the film

We started making the film three years ago, but we were having conversations about it long before that.

Lost Lives is a reference book, but it represents much more than that. The challenge was how do you make a film from a book like that?

We made a commitment that every name in the book should be listed in the film.

Then we found extracts where there was a quote from a family member that reflected the hurt felt by those left behind. We were very much drawn to that.

The actors all came on board so readily. There was something of real value in the fact that they were lending their support and their voices to the film.

We felt enormously honoured. Nobody needed persuading or to be asked a second time.

We are very clear that we are living in troubled times. We need to remember the cost when things are settled through violence.

When you hold that book in your hand, you can feel the weight of all that was lost, all the lives.

You have to ask why.

Lost Lives, the film, is being released to mark 50 years since the Troubles began.

It received its world premiere at the BFI London Film Festival on Thursday, followed by a question-and-answer session with the film makers and narrators which will feature at UK screenings on 23 October.

Actors Stephen Rea, Brid Brennan, Roma Downey, Michelle Fairley, Brendan Gleeson, Dan Gordon, James Nesbitt, Conleth Hill, Susan Lynch, Emer O’Connor, Stephen Rea, Judith Roddy, Michael Smiley, Bronagh Waugh, Des McAleer, Martin McCann, Ian McElhinney and Sean McGinley also lend their voices.

The film is also being shown at Belfast’s QFT cinema from Friday 11 October. It will be shown on BBC television later this year.



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Rylan raises £845,000 with 24-hour Children In Need karaoke feat

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Media captionRylan’s karaoke challenge: The best bits

Rylan Clark-Neal has raised more than £845,000 for Children In Need by singing non-stop karaoke for 24 hours.

The presenter sang 231 songs, assisted by more than 90 celebrity guests, including Rick Astley, Nicole Scherzinger and Craig David.

He ate spoonfuls of honey every hour to keep his vocal cords coated – along with the occasional Pudsey donut.

“I am in such a state this morning,” Clark-Neal told Radio 2’s Zoe Ball as he approached the end of the challenge.

“It doesn’t feel real. None of it feels real.”

The crooning marathon was broadcast live on BBC Radio 2 and the BBC red button. In the last half hour of his challenge alone, the star raised more than £200,000 – with the tally reaching £845,239 by the time he finally finished.

“That’s unbelievable, thank you so much,” said the star.

Donations continued to flood in after Rylan took a well-deserved rest. The grand total will be revealed during Friday night’s Children In Need broadcast on BBC One.

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Rylan was joined by Denise Van Outen and Kimberley Walsh during his 24-hour challenge

Along the way, Rylan duetted with Dermot O’Leary on You Don’t Bring Me Flowers, rapped with Trevor Nelson and DJ Spoony on a version of Rapper’s Delight, and danced with Strictly contestants Saffron Barker and AJ Pritchard.

Rylan said he was inspired to keep singing by the memories of a recent visit to a Children In Need-funded youth club.

The star met the disadvantaged children helped by the Southend Association of Voluntary Services (Turning Tides) project in Essex – playing Hungry Hippos and taking part in arts and crafts lessons.

“It was amazing and, do you know what, I didn’t actually think about this when I signed up to do this,” said the Strictly: It Takes Two presenter.

“I didn’t really think that I would need that, but actually visiting the project and meeting all the kids and volunteers and speaking to them and understanding how much this money impacts their lives, when I am sort of dying at four o’clock in the morning trying to garble together a song I know what I’m doing it for now.”

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Media captionRylan Clark-Neal is reliving his X Factor days as he takes on a singing marathon.

His final song, shortly after 9:15 on Wednesday morning, was Tina Turner’s The Best – for which he was joined by M People star Heather Small.

As it ended, the 31-year-old sank to the floor in relief and Zoe Ball played him the bells of St Margaret’s Church in his hometown of Stanford-le-Hope, Essex, which were ringing in his honour.

Rylan’s charity feat came eight months after Tess Daly and Claudia Winkleman danced non-stop for 25 hours on Radio 2 in aid of Comic Relief.

In 2017, Sara Cox also boogied for 24 hours in an 80’s Danceathon, while Dermot O’Leary kicked off the challenges in 2015 with another 24 hours of dance – live on the plaza outside BBC New Broadcasting House.

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Le Mans ’66: Christian Bale and Matt Damon reveal truth behind Hollywood auditions

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Christian Bale and Matt Damon have teamed up for the first time in their latest movie – but the men reveal how they often go head-to-head for Hollywood roles.

In Le Mans ’66, the pair star as British racing driver Ken Miles and American car designer Carroll Shelby, who work with Ford Motor Company to try and end Ferrari’s dominance in the 24-hour race.



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Mel B: ‘Miscommunication’ led to Tesco advert complaint

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The image showed Mel B performing at the Brit Awards in 1997

Melanie Brown has clarified that a “miscommunication” with Tesco over the use of an image of her led to her complaining to the supermarket giant.

Tesco pulled an advert for Clubcard Plus which featured her as Scary Spice after she voiced objections on Monday.

The ad read: “Stop right now. You get 10% off two big shops a month for £7.99,” a play on the hit single Stop.

“I did this campaign for Women’s Aid to raise awareness and to raise funds,” Brown wrote in a new Instagram post.

“There was NEVER any issue about me being unhappy with my image being used and there was NEVER any issue about Tesco being given permission to use the image.”

It’s understood Brown had expected the charity, which supports women and children who have experienced domestic violence, to feature more prominently in the advertising campaign.

In a comment on the original post, Brown’s mother said the advert “should have had the Women’s Aid charity on it”.

But she said she could “hardly see the writing at the bottom” where it featured on the finished product.

Brown said: “There was a miscommunication between some of the parties dealing with it but luckily Tesco has been amazing. Women’s Aid sadly lost funding a few weeks ago which was why I decided to do this campaign.

“I’m really pleased that Tesco understands how important Women’s Aid is to me, and has agreed to match my fee in donation to the charity.”

Brown originally used her Instagram account to ask Tesco’s CEO to contact her “urgently”. Tesco said the image was cleared for use but pulled it as Brown was “unhappy”.

A Tesco spokesman said: “Here at Tesco we are really big fans of Mel B and were excited to feature her photo in our campaign.

“We had authorisation to use this image, but we’re sorry Mel B is unhappy so we’ve stopped using it.”

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Mel B pictured wearing leopard print earlier this year

The image was purchased by Tesco through Getty Images and a contract was signed with Getty and Brown’s agent.

The advert was part of Tesco’s latest campaign, featuring cultural references from the past century for its 100th anniversary with the tagline: “Prices that take you back.”

The photo of Brown in a leopard print catsuit was taken at the Brit Awards in 1997, during the Spice Girls’ heyday.

Other celebrities, including Morecambe and Wise, have also been used in the campaign.

The comedy duo replaced Mel B on Tesco’s Twitter banner on Monday evening.

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