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Neighbours creator Reg Watson dies aged 93

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Reg Watson created the popular Australian television show in the 1980s

The creator of the popular Australian television show Neighbours, Reg Watson, has died aged 93.

The show announced his death on Friday evening.

Neighbours, set on the fictional Ramsay Street, is Australia’s all-time longest running drama and is due to celebrate its 35th year in 2020.

Executive producer of the show, Jason Herbison, described Mr Watson as “a pioneer of drama” and “a lovely person to work with.”

Mr Watson was born in Queensland but moved to the UK in 1955 and helped create television show Crossroads.

He was then headhunted in Australia to establish a new drama department for Grundy Television.

Aside from Neighbours, he also helped create Prisoner: Cell Block H, The Young Doctors and Sons and Daughters.

Mr Watson developed Neighbours in the 1980s, with television producer Reg Grundy.

It was originally screened on Channel 7 in Australia but was dropped after it underperformed. It was then picked up by the Ten Network who saw promise in the show.

Neighbours is also a popular show in the UK. It was first screened on the BBC before moving to Channel 5.

The show has launched many careers including Kylie Minogue, Margot Robbie, Holly Vallance and Jason Donovan.

Donovan, who played Scott Robinson in the soap drama, wrote on Twitter: “Many Australian careers have a lot to thank for this man. A legend….Mr Reg Watson.”

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Media captionAnne Charleston (Madge Bishop) returns for Neighbours’ 30th birthday

Russell Crowe also appeared for several episodes as former prisoner Kenny Larkin, so too did Hunger Games star Liam Hemsworth as Josh Taylor and singer Natalie Imbruglia as Beth Brennan.

In 2010, Mr Watson was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia for services to the media.





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Hitchhiker’s actor Stephen Moore dies aged 81

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Stephen Moore in the Student Prince

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Stephen Moore was described as the “most sweet, charming and affable of men”

Stephen Moore – known as the voice of Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy’s Marvin the Paranoid Android – has died aged 81.

He also played Adrian Mole’s father on TV, and the dad to Harry Enfield’s grumpy teenager Kevin.

Hitchhiker’s producer and director Dirk Maggs said Moore was the “most sweet, charming and affable of men”.

He paid tribute to “an amazing, varied career”, adding that he was best known for the role of Marvin.

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Moore was the voice of Marvin for five series of Hitchhiker’s on radio, and the 1980s TV adaptation

The first series of Hitchhiker’s appeared on Radio 4 in 1978, and after being adapted for TV in the 1980s, it returned to the airwaves in 2003.

In it Marvin is a failed prototype robot with “genuine people personalities”, which has led him to struggle with severe depression.

Maggs said: “That was the thing that won the hearts of people, Marvin is the most miserable character but people seem to love him.

“It was Stephen’s voice that made that happen.”

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The prolific actor also played teenage diarist Adrian Mole’s father George on TV

Alongside the paranoid android, Moore had a successful career on stage, TV and in film.

He was Major Robert Steele in Richard Attenborough’s A Bridge Too Far.

He played teenage diarist Adrian Mole’s father George on TV, and the dad of Melody and Harmony Parker on children’s show The Queen’s Nose.

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He also played the dad of grumpy teenager Kevin in Harry Enfield sketches

Maggs said: “I’ll always remember the story of him getting locked in a mic cupboard in the Paris studio at the BBC, and they forgot he was in there and went out to lunch.

“He was an infinitely professional actor, would put up with any discomfort and waited to play his part.

“And then outside the working situation he was the most sweet, charming and affable of men.”

Actor Ben Barnes – who worked with Moore in a West End production of The History Boys – wrote on Twitter that “he was a sensitive, brilliant actor and a funny, lovely man”.



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Robert Forster: Jackie Brown star dies aged 78

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Actor Robert Forster, who was nominated for an Oscar for his role in Quentin Tarantino’s Jackie Brown, has died in Los Angeles aged 78.

The actor, born in Rochester, New York state, died on Friday of brain cancer.

It happened on the same day that El Camino, a film in which he had a role and which is based on the TV series Breaking Bad was broadcast on Netflix.

Forster also appeared in the Breaking Bad TV series as well as David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive and Twin Peaks.

He was best known for his roles in the latter part of his career following his appearance in Jackie Brown.

  • Quentin Tarantino’s ‘brilliant’ Hollywood return

Starring alongside Samuel L Jackson, Pam Grier and Robert De Niro, his performance was nominated for a best supporting actor Oscar.

The award eventually went to Robin Williams for his role in Good Will Hunting.

Forster is survived by his partner Denise Grayson. children Bobby, Elizabeth, Kate and Maeghen and four grandchildren.

Jackie Brown co-stars Samuel L Jackson and Pam Grier were among those to pay tribute.





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Angelina Jolie: Strong women are ‘shaped by men around them’

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Angelina Jolie, pictured at the London premiere of Maleficent: Mistress of Evil on Wednesday

Angelina Jolie has championed the role men can play in shaping the personalities of young girls.

The actress, who stars in Maleficent: Mistress of Evil, also said female characters in films should not have to be portrayed as physically tough in order to be considered strong.

“I think that, so often, when a story’s told which says ‘this is a strong woman’, she has to beat the man, or she has to be like the man, or she has to somehow not need the man,” Jolie told journalists at the film’s launch.

Referring to her own character in the film and Princess Aurora, played by Elle Fanning, Jolie said: “We both very much need and love and learn from the men.

“And so I think that’s also an important message for young girls, to find their own power, but to respect and learn from the men around them.”

She added: “We have strong women, but the character that is wrong in the film and has to be taken out is also a woman. We show very diverse types of women, between our characters, but also we have extraordinary men in the film, and I really want to press that point.”

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil, the sequel to 2014’s Maleficent, is released in the UK later this month and also stars Ed Skrein, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Michelle Pfeiffer.

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Elle Fanning and Michelle Pfeiffer also star in the film, which is the sequel to 2014’s Maleficent

Fanning, who reprises her role of Princess Aurora in the film, echoed Jolie’s comments and said her character’s strength is not necessarily physical, unlike many princesses in children’s films.

“Aurora’s strength is her kindness, and she stays very true to herself, which is something I wanted to keep in the film. She is soft and feminine and wants to be a wife and have babies, and that’s a beautiful, strong thing that isn’t portrayed a lot on screen.

“A lot of the princesses are like ‘we’re gonna make her a strong princess! And make her tough, so we’re gonna make her fight!’ And it’s like, is that what being a strong woman means? Like, we just have to have a sword and have armour on and go fight? Aurora can do that in a different way, in a pink dress, and it’s beautiful that she keeps her softness and vulnerabilities.”

‘How to use that power’

Many of the female leads in action or children’s films focus on the character’s physical strength. Wonder Woman, for example, or Merida in the Disney’s 2012 film Brave. Indeed, one of Jolie’s previous roles was playing action hero Lara Croft in Tomb Raider.

Explaining the premise of the Maleficent sequel, Fanning said: “Five years have passed in her life, and she’s now Queen of the Moors, and she has this new responsibility, and she’s trying to figure out who she is as a ruler and how to use that power.”

The movie’s plot sees Jolie’s Maleficent conflicted over her maternal feelings towards Aurora, and facing competition from the neighbouring Queen Ingrith (played by Michelle Pfeiffer).

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Disney

Queen Ingrith causes a rift between Maleficent and Aurora, when her son Prince Phillip proposes to the princess. Ingrith intends to use the marriage to divide humans and fairies, and it falls to Maleficent to stop the impending war.

Official reviews are still under embargo, but critics who attended early screenings of the film have been allowed to share their first impressions on Twitter.

“Maleficent: Mistress of Evil is like Pirates of the Caribbean; there’s lots of convolution and contrivance, but has star power,” said Courtney Howard, who reviews films for Variety and Awards Circuit. “Angelina Jolie, Michelle Pfeiffer and Elle Fanning are a holy trinity with bumpy arcs.”

Scott Menzel, the editor of We Live Entertainment, described it as “a visually spectacular sequel that proves once again that Angelina Jolie was born to play the title character. [It’s] a modern day fairytale where badass women take centre stage. The battle sequences are epic and the costumes are stunning.”

“Angelina Jolie and Michelle Pfeiffer having a sass-off in Maleficent: Mistress of Evil is every bit as good as you’d hope,” said Digital Spy. “The movie needs more of it, but it’s still a visually bold, fun and superior sequel.”

The film received its London premiere on Wednesday.

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Elle Fanning and Angelina Jolie both say physical strength are not what should make female characters strong

Fanning said: “I definitely felt a real responsibility to do the second film, the first film was the first film I’d ever done of that scale, and so many young kids saw the film, and especially young girls would come up to me, and they’d look at me as the character.

“So hearing that we’d be doing the sequel, I felt a responsibility to those girls for sure, and just to get to show Aurora as a young woman growing up. Obviously in the first film, I was 14 when I did that, and Aurora still has the qualities that she does of kindness, innocence and sweetness that she embodies, but it was so fun to come back.

“The three of us [Fanning, Jolie and Pfeiffer], we were there in the beginning, our relationships have changed and grown, I’m 21 now, so I wasn’t the kid on set anymore. I really felt accepted on set in a way. Especially with Michelle and Angelina, I felt like they included me as if I was one of their peers.”

Jolie says the films have come to reflect the life cycle of a woman – something that wasn’t necessarily the intention when the first movie was conceived.

“One of the interesting things is, without realising, we’ve hit the chapters of the growth of a woman,” she said. “Her birth, her christening, to being a little girl, a teenage girl, to now being a wife. And so in a way the chapters are following a few things, but one of them is how a woman grows and evolves.”

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