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Sacked Emmerdale actor ‘devastated’ at being fired over awards clash

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Emmerdale actor Asan N’Jie says he is “devastated” after being fired from the soap, following a clash with a Hollyoaks star at an award ceremony.

Asan swore and threw a punch at Jamie Lomas after the TV Choice Awards, held in London on Monday night.

“ITV executives have met with him this morning and as a consequence Asan’s contract has been terminated with immediate effect,” says a spokeswoman.

Asan has played Ellis Chapman on the soap since September 2018.

“My behaviour at the TV Choice Awards was completely unacceptable,” the actor said in a statement.

“I sincerely apologise to everybody who has been affected especially Jamie Lomas, the whole Emmerdale team, our audience, ITV, my family, and the organisers of the TV Choice Awards.

“I am devastated, accept full responsibility for my actions and I am determined to learn from this.”

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Asan N’jie and Jamie Lomas, pictured at this week’s TV Choice Awards

So what actually happened?

Kelly Allen has been a freelance showbiz journalist for 13 years and was covering the event.

She says she has never seen anything like this at an awards ceremony.

If anything, normally, there is “jovial competitive banter” between soap stars, she says.

But, this time, she heard a “sort of scuffle” and saw the two actors shouting at each other.

She claims she heard Asan N’Jie say: “I’m going to kill you, I’m going to kill you”.

“I heard the knife threat – I couldn’t believe in this day and age, someone would make that sort of threat.”

Rising star

In August, Asan tweeted that he was “grateful for the opportunity flying my way” when his nomination for Best Newcomer was announced.

Asan was nominated as Best Soap Newcomer at the awards, but lost out to Kara-Leah Fernandes, who plays Bailey Baker in EastEnders.

Jamie, who has starred in Hollyoaks, EastEnders and Coronation Street and was an I’m a Celebrity finalist in 2017, wasn’t nominated.

He has not commented since the incident took place.

Emmerdale’s knife-crime storyline

Asan was involved in a knife-crime storyline earlier this year in which his character, Ellis Chapman, was stabbed.

He said he was “glad” that the soap was exploring the topic.

“In London, the knife crime rate is through the roof at the minute,” he told Digital Spy.

“So to explore a sensitive issue like this can only be a positive thing. If we put light onto these issues, hopefully the quicker it will stop.”

Hollyoaks has told Newsbeat it will not be commenting on the incident.

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BBC swaps Eurovision Song Contest selection vote for record label deal

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Michael Rice gave it his all at Eurovision 2019, but finished 26th out of 26

The BBC is to drop the public vote to select the UK’s next Eurovision Song Contest entrant, instead teaming up with a record label for the first time.

It means there will be no Eurovision: You Decide, which has run since 2016.

Entrants were selected internally by the BBC for five years before that, but the broadcaster is seeking a new formula to boost the UK’s results after Michael Rice finished bottom last year.

For 2020, music company BMG will choose the entrant and song with BBC Studios.

BBC Studios, the corporation’s commercial arm, approached a number of record labels, and decided that BMG shared its “vision of selecting a song with broad international appeal and securing an artist who embodies the spirit and values of the Eurovision Song Contest”.

BMG has both a publishing arm, which handles songwriters, and a group of record labels. Artists signed to the firm for both recording and publishing include Kylie Minogue, Bring Me The Horizon, Peter Doherty, Boy George and Simple Minds.

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Duncan Laurence won the contest for the Netherlands in May

BBC Studios creative director Mel Balac said the deal with BMG, which will release and publish the chosen song, was a “turning point for the UK at Eurovision”.

“We very much hope this marks the start of an exciting new chapter,” Balac said.

Kate Phillips, BBC controller of entertainment commissioning, said: “Our commitment to finding the right song has never been higher and this collaboration with BMG, who have access to world class songwriters, is a genuinely exciting prospect and I am certain that together we can find the best song and artist possible for 2020.”

Alistair Norbury, BMG’s UK president of repertoire and marketing, said: “Eurovision plays to our strength as the only fully-integrated publishing company and record label. We can’t wait to get started working with the BBC to give it the best possible shot we can.”

The move was welcomed by some Eurovision pundits who had called for a shake-up of the selection process. Expert Paul Jordan, known as Dr Eurovision, told the BBC after this year’s contest: “Without the record companies’ involvement you’re not going to get the great songs and songwriters coming through.”

This move sees the end – for now – of the televised selection show, which has gone through various different versions over the years, including A Song For Europe, Making Your Mind Up and You Decide.

The UK has not won Eurovision since 1997, and has not finished in the top 10 since 2009. The next contest will take place in Rotterdam, Netherlands, in May 2020.

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Jack White and The Raconteurs: Gigs are for ‘making memories, not videos’

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The Raconteurs music has appeared on the soundtrack to Peaky Blinders

For the past few months US rock ‘n’ rollers The Raconteurs have been traversing their homeland belting out blistering and ever-changing live renditions of their tracks, old and new.

If you were to search online now though for evidence, I’m afraid you would find precious little.

That’s due to the fact guitar hero Jack White insists all mobile phones are handed in at their gigs on arrival and stashed in a Yondr pouch, which means they can’t be used and are only unlocked when fans and journalists alike leave the venue.

The idea is to salvage the sanctity of the collective live music experience by moving fans’ focus and energy away from their cameras and social media and back into the room.

Grime star Skepta took a similarly zero tolerance approach to phone use at his Manchester International Festival show, and Madonna is reportedly planning something similar on her new tour. Meanwhile Billie Eilish asked her audience to down tools and share a moment together during her Reading + Leeds festival sets this summer.

Another young artist, Mabel, went the opposite way last week, performing on a bespoke Instagram-inviting vertical stage, but the Nashville-based Raconteurs say it’s better for their followers to have their fingers on the pulse rather than the keypad.

“The real testimony is these crowds are just having a blast,” says co-frontman Brendan Benson.

“In turn we’re having a blast and so it’s just this great kind of storm.

“I’m convinced it’s just because they’re disconnected.”

He adds: “They’re just connecting with other humans and interacting and having an experience. Making memories.

“I think they love it. Anyone who comes to our shows, I think I would venture to say 99% of the people probably would do it every time – just hand over their phones.”

‘No two shows alike’

The Raconteurs emerged in 2005 out of the ashes of White’s old band The White Stripes and since then, they’ve been coming up with innovative ways to make each one of their shows a unique occasion.

One of their first UK tours saw them churn out live CDs – complete with sleeve artwork – so fast fans were able to drive home from venues like the Manchester Apollo listening back to what they’d just witnessed. Now during their recent three-night residency in their adopted hometown, the band teamed up with nugt.tv to livestream the gigs for free, and for White’s Third Man Records archive.

“We’re going to just be releasing certain things that we think are interesting and let the fans follow along,” explains White – the man responsible for the first vinyl record played in space.

“Because I think that with all the bands that have followings out there like that for live [concerts], the jam bands – the Widespread Panics, Grateful Deads and Pearl Jam – because of the style of music… In all my projects, we’ve never had setlists and we play differently every time we play a song.

“So it’s right for that kind of following of people who like to hear a different version of each song every time they come and no two shows we’ve done this year have been alike.

“That’s that’s a cool thing to be part of, I think.”

That sense of attempting to regain lost connections runs right through their rootsy, bluesy and soulful new album Help Us Stranger. No more so than on its title track, which finds both singers crying: “Help me, stranger / Help me get it off my mind / Get me back on my feet / Brother, can you spare the time?”

Incredibly their first album in 11 years gave The Raconteurs their first US number one – at the third attempt – fending off Lil Nas X’s EP, which contained the summer smash Old Town Road.

“I think a lot of people were kind of surprised to see a rock ‘n’ roll record be number one,” notes White.

The 44-year-old believes putting out a Raconteurs record on his own label for the first time “reinvigorated everyone”, while the impetus to get the old band back together initially came from a song left off his experimental last solo album, called Shine the Light on Me.

“I thought ‘that sounds like a Raconteurs song to me,'” he declares.

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Steven Sebring

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(L-R) Bassist Jack Lawrence, Jack White, drummer Patrick Keeler and Brendan Benson.

“So I started working on it, I played it for [fellow solo act] Brendan and he thought so too.”

To help “kick-start” their creativity, White then employed “an old trick I’ve been using for a long time” by covering a song he’d just heard on the radio while driving into the studio. This just so happened to be Hey Gyp (Dig the Slowness) by Scottish singer-songwriter Donovan and the band’s brilliant bluesy take on it made the cut.

And while White’s exhilarating guitar-playing and raw vocals remain the main draw, many of the album’s more composed moments come courtesy of Benson. Like the wonderfully world-weary Somedays I Don’t Feel Like Trying and the wistful Now That You’re Gone, which was released as a double A-Side lead single next to the psych rock stomp Sunday Driver.

The band – who are known to Australian readers as The Saboteurs (there was already another band Down Under with the same name) may have been around the block a few times before but they’ve still enjoyed a “wild” tour, playing to phone-free audiences around the world.

(They stopped off only once in the UK to catch-up with “great guys” The Strokes at London’s All Points East Festival).

With plenty of new memories stored safely in the analogue brain bank, The Raconteurs had a night they won’t forget too soon in Washington last month.

‘One in a million’

After attending the start of the Washington Nationals v Milwaukee Brewers baseball game, they left to go and play their own show half a mile away, before realising it was a tie and hot-footing it back to the stadium to catch the decisive extra innings with a beer.

“I checked and I saw the score was on my computer,” recalls Detroit Tigers fan White. “‘Oh, my God – the baseball game is still going on!’

“‘If they get to the end of this innings we gotta go back!’ And they did and we did it – ‘Let’s get in the car right now.'”

After getting through two police blockages in place to keep the traffic flowing, they were finally let back in just in time for the thrilling finale.

“It was the most exciting part because everyone’s fighting to the death. It was hilarious, that’ll never happen again – it’s just a one in a million.”

The Brewers won, by the way, but that’s not quite the end of the story folks…

“Then we went back to the venue and the after-party was still happening,” Benson remembers, “So we just joined that again!”

Surely one for the band’s Instagram story, right?



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Pet Shop Boys bring a pop masterclass to Hyde Park

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The Pet Shop Boys are the UK’s best-selling duo of all time

“He smiled!” shouted a member of the audience in astonishment, as the Pet Shop Boys headlined London’s Hyde Park.

And he was right: Chris Lowe, the band’s inscrutable keyboard player, was sporting a big old grin as he bashed out the bassline to West End Girls.

It was a sign of how much the show meant to the band, who were headlining a day of music put on by BBC Radio 2.

They’d even tweaked their usual setlist to “put more hits in”, said singer Neil Tennant.

“It’s quite exciting doing an hour-long set with more hits – but I think it’s a set you want the audience to feel energised by.”

  • Radio 2 In Hyde Park – full coverage

The 40,000-strong crowd returned the generosity by joining in with classics like Suburbia, It’s A Sin and Left To My Own Devices.

Never natural showmen, the duo provided visual spectacle via a large troupe of dancers, who energised Vocal with a spectacularly kinetic push-pull routine, and provided dashes of colour in their inflatable balloon costumes during the encore.

There were a few surprise guests for good measure – Years & Years’ Olly Alexander duetting on the band’s new single Dreamland, and Beverley Knight stunningly recreating Dusty Springfield’s vocals on What Have I Done To Deserve This.

“OK, we’ll do another old song,” announced Tenant towards the end of the set. “But which old song? There are so many to choose from.”

He teased the audience with fragments of Opportunities and Rent before the unmistakable synth riff for Go West chimed out – prompting another mass singalong, with some fans even donning the video’s unforgettable conical hats.

The set ended with a snatch of 2016’s The Pop Kids, a song that acts as a potted history of the band: “We were young but we imagined we were so sophisticated / Telling everyone we knew that rock was overrated.”

With rock all but edged out of the charts, and artists like Charli XCX, Billie Eilish, and Years & Years building on the Pet Shop Boys’ pop template, it’s no surprise Chris Lowe was smiling: The gig felt like a lap of honour and a pop masterclass rolled into one.

Setlist

  • Suburbia
  • Burn
  • Se a vida é (That’s the Way Life Is)
  • West End Girls
  • Dreamland (with Olly Alexander)
  • Vocal
  • Heart
  • It’s A Sin
  • Left to My Own Devices
  • Go West
  • Domino Dancing
  • What Have I Done to Deserve This? (with Beverley Knight)
  • Always On My Mind
  • The Pop Kids

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Media captionWestlife – Flying Without Wings

The band’s set came at the end of Radio 2’s Festival In A Day, where the bill also included Simply Red, Clean Bandit and Status Quo – who performed with an empty microphone stand on the stage, in honour of guitarist Rick Parfitt, who died in 2016.

Playing the support slot, Westlife drew the biggest crowd of the day for a vocally-impressive set of torch ballads, including You Lift Me Up and Flying Without Wings.

Soul star Emeli Sande, however, had to pull out of the event, saying: “I woke up this morning and my voice just wasn’t there.”

Here are some of the other moments worth noting:

Bananarama’s lunchtime carnage

At a conservative estimate, more than 2,500 picnics were trampled into the ground as fans jumped around to Bananarama’s glossy 80s pop hits: Venus, I Heard A Rumour, Love In The First Degree… The list goes on.

Speaking backstage, Sarah and Keren revealed that the last time they’d been in Hyde Park it was as fans, watching Barbra Streisand’s comeback show earlier this summer.

“Actually, the first song we ever recorded was Evergreen by Barbara Streisand, on a cassette player when we were at school,” Keren recalled.

Sadly, though, this pivotal moment in pop history has been lost in the mists of time.

“I’ve got loads of old cassettes but my brother tended to record over most of them. Bruno Brookes doing the Top 40 and that sort of thing,” said Keren.

So how about recreating the cover for their next album?

“A disco version?” asks the singer. “I’ve just tried to imagine it in my head and… maybe not.”

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Media captionBananarama perform Venus at Radio 2 Live in Hyde Park 2019

Francis Rossi had a gruelling training regime

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Status Quo were one of the day’s biggest hits – with hundreds of fans beerily recreating the hands-on-hips swivel dance for Down Down; followed by a rousing singalong to Rockin’ All Over The World.

Frontman Francis Rossi seemed decades younger than his 70 years as he strutted around the stage – but that sort of athleticism doesn’t come easy.

“I like to be match fit, so I had to swim double this morning to try to get myself ready,” he said in his dressing room, as he limbered up his fingers on a spring-loaded grip strengthener.

“I ate at 11:30 this morning because I like to leave six hours between a meal and a show; and I do a few crunches, because that helps pop the chest and the diaphragm, for some reason.”

Who said rock stars have an easy life?

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Media captionStatus Quo – Rockin’ All Over the World

Kelsea Ballerini premiered a brand new song

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US country star Kelsea Ballerini took the opportunity to play her recent single, Homecoming Queen, as well as premiering Better Luck Next Time, a spunky break-up song that’ll feature on her upcoming third album, due early next year.

So was she nervous about playing untested material to 40,000 people? Not especially.

“I think this is probably an audience that I’ll have to introduce myself to, anyway,” she said modestly before the show.

“I’m prepared for none of them to know any of my songs – so it takes the pressure off of the one actual new song when all of them are seemingly new.”

Clean Bandit have been working in China

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Fresh from the success of composing Shawn Mendes and Camila Cabello’s Senorita, Clean Bandit have been off to China, where they’ve been writing with two up-and-coming stars Henry Lau, and Tia Ray.

Travelling to Shanghai was a bit of an eye-opener for the band.

“We were really shocked at the studios we got taken to out there,” said Jack Patterson. “They were phenomenal, you don’t see new studios being built like that anywhere else in the world. It’s a different level of investment in the music industry.”

The band did encounter a few difficulties, though, with messaging services like WhatsApp banned in China.

“We were like, ‘Why isn’t anyone replying? Do they hate us?'” said cellist Grace Chatto.

“In the end, we had to use a special app.”

Meanwhile, the band revealed that work had started on their third album, which could herald a change of direction.

“There are quite a few songs that we’re working on finishing now that are more towards a hip-hop tempo and style,” said Grace.

“That’s kind of solidifying as a plan over the last couple of weeks.”

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Media captionClean Bandit perform Rockabye at Radio 2 Live in Hyde Park 2019

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