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Sarah Sands: Radio 4’s Today editor to stand down

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Sarah Sands is standing down as editor of BBC Radio 4’s Today programme after three years.

The news comes a day after it was announced that 450 jobs are to be cut from BBC News under plans to complete its £80m savings target by 2022.

Sands, who took over the reins of the flagship news show in 2017, said it was “a good time to move on”.

Sands previously edited the Evening Standard, where she was replaced by former chancellor George Osborne.

  • BBC News announces 450 job cuts

“I have decided that September is a good time to move on from editing the Today programme,” she said in a statement.

“I have loved being part of the Radio 4 team and am proud of what we have achieved, championing intelligent broadcasting and political independence.”

She added: “The Today programme is a beacon of news journalism and I wish it and the BBC well.”

Other outlets to be hit by the job closures announced on Wednesday include BBC Two’s Newsnight, BBC Radio 5 Live and the World Update programme on the World Service.

‘Fresh thinking’

“Sarah has brought new ideas and fresh thinking to the Today programme over the past three years,” said Fran Unsworth, the BBC’s director of news.

“Under her editorship she has broadened the programme’s agenda, putting a renewed focus on science and arts, and left the nation scratching their heads with the puzzle for Today.”

She added: “She has commissioned a series of formidable guest editors from Greta Thunberg to the Duke of Sussex. We thank her for all her hard work and wish her well for the future after she leaves the programme this summer.”

Sands, 58, made changes to Radio 4’s flagship programme, including fashion coverage and the introduction of Puzzle for Today, a “humiliatingly hard” morning quiz.

Writing in the i newspaper at the time, she said: “The puzzle speaks to the ingenuity of this country. We have a history of problem solving.”

Under her tenure, Sands also had to deal with the fallout from the publication of the BBC’s star salaries, which revealed that Today and Mastermind presenter John Humphrys earned between £600,000-£649,000 in 2016/17, while his Today co-host Sarah Montague received less than £150,000.

Humphrys took a pay cut and has since left the programme, while Montague has won back pay of £400,000 in an equal pay settlement.

As she made clear in her email to staff, Sarah Sands was never going to be a lifer at the BBC.

As editor of a paper like the London Evening Standard, she had huge autonomy and commercial obligations. Editing Today, there are fewer commercial obligations, but editorial freedom is more conditional. You couldn’t drop Thought for the Day, for instance, without getting sign-off from higher authorities.

Moreover, it’s a sad truth that running one of the BBC’s most high-profile shows comes with a daily dose of abuse and tedious conspiracies on social media.

Of course, it’s impossible to separate Sands’ departure from the wider travails of BBC News. A major reorganisation risks weakening programme editors. Big savings need to be made, including at Today. John Humphrys left recently.

And ministers are – for now – boycotting the programme. That’s despite the fact that Sands knows the prime minister very well. Not only were they on the Telegraph together years ago, but Sands ran London’s paper when Johnson was the city’s mayor.

Running any BBC show these days is tougher than it used to be. Abuse on social media, declining linear audiences, and smaller budgets hurt. But it is the political profile of Today that will make her successor’s job so tough.

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Bafta Games Awards: Outer Wilds wins Best Game

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Screen shot of Mobius Digital's Outer WildsImage copyright
MOBIUS DIGITAL

Action-adventure game Outer Wilds has won the prestigious Best Game prize at the 16th annual Bafta Games Awards.

The title’s writer Kelsey Beachum credited its players saying: “Word of mouth has been essential in getting people to play the game, you’re all really beautiful”‘

The game where you explore a distant galaxy under threat from an exploding star claimed three awards in total.

It also won in the best design and original property categories.

It was a successful night for role-playing detective game Disco Elysium which also picked up three awards – winning in the best music, debut game and best narrative categories.

This year’s award ceremony had to be pre-recorded because of coronavirus restrictions.

Host Dara O’Briain pulled the strings from his house with every nominee required to submit a winners speech – just in case they won.

There was disappointment for mysterious adventure game Control.

It had 11 nominations going into the event and only won once.

Martti Suosalo was rewarded for his role in the supernatural title – he picked up a golden mask in the performer in a supporting role category.

Call of Duty: Mobile won the EE Mobile Game of the Year, the only award to be voted for by the public.

Best British Game was awarded to sci-fi thriller Observation. Jon McKellan, its creative director, spoke to Newsbeat after the ceremony saying: “Winning a BAFTA is a huge thing.

“What it’s done for us is give us the confidence to know that we’re doing something right. To have that seal of approval after being judged by your peers is a big confidence booster.”

Jon also discussed how the coronavirus crisis could impact gaming in the near future: “Pre-recording an acceptance speech is probably one of the weirdest things I’ve ever done!

“This industry is kind of lucky because we can do the majority of our work from home, but there are some aspects of it that will be impacted.

“But things like motion capture and voiceover recordings can’t really happen at the moment.

“We can’t get around some things which I think will have quite a big ripple effect over the next six months”.

‘I devote myself to creating for others’

Japanese game designer Hideo Kojima, creator of the Metal Gear franchise, was honoured with the Bafta Fellowship – the highest accolade the organisation can give.

The fellowship recognises exceptional contributions to the gaming industry.

In an emotional video message he dedicated the prize to his parents saying: “My determination is stronger than ever.

“For the rest of my life I will continue to devote myself to creating for others.

“Games are holding their own next to films, or perhaps fusing together with them, evolving into a huge medium of digital entertainment”.

His latest release, Death Stranding, was nominated for 11 awards and won only one award for technical achievement.

The game was Kojima’s first release since leaving his former employer Konami to set up his own studio.

Last year Radio 1 Newsbeat went behind-the-scenes to see the final hours of the game’s creation.

Media playback is unsupported on your device

Media captionKojima’s aim with Death Stranding was for players to “re-use their in-game experiences in the real world”

The Bafta winners in full were:

Animation: Luigi’s Mansion 3

Artistic Achievement: Sayonara Wild Hearts

Audio Achievement: Ape Out

British Game: Observation

Debut Game: Disco Elysium

Evolving Game: Path of Exile

Family Game: Untitled Goose Game

Game Beyond Entertainment: Kind Words (Lo Fi Chill Beats To Write To)

Game Design: Outer Wilds

Multiplayer: Apex Legends

Music: Disco Elysium

Narrative: Disco Elysium

Original Property: Outer Wilds

Performer in a Leading Role: Gonzalo Martin (Life is Strange)

Performer in a Supporting Role: Martti Suosalo (Control)

Technical Achievement: Death Stranding

Mobile Game of the Year (Audience Vote): Call of Duty Mobile

Best Game: Outer Wilds

Image copyright
House House/Panic

Image caption

Untitled Goose Game won in the Family Game category

There are many people across the world living in lockdown at the moment and it’s thought that as a result more people are turning to gaming as a way to pass the time.

There are reports that games platform Steam is seeing record figures, streaming sites Twitch and YouTube Gaming have increased viewership and Animal Crossing has become the fastest selling single game in the history of Nintendo’s Switch console.

The Games Awards were an opportunity for the industry to showcase the variety of experiences gaming offers as a way to appeal to a broader audience.

With big blockbuster franchises like Call of Duty and niche independent titles like Untitled Goose Game winning golden masks , the industry will no doubt feel like it’s made the most of that opportunity.


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Coronavirus: Brighton Pride 2020 cancelled

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Mariah CareyImage copyright
Jamie McCarthy

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Mariah Carey has been giving online concerts in support of the US emergency services

Brighton Pride has announced that “with a heavy heart” the festival has been cancelled this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Mariah Carey had been due to headline festival this summer, playing Pride in the Park on Saturday 1 August.

The three-day event was due to run from 31 July to 2 August. On Sunday, The Pussycat Dolls – who recently reformed – were the headline act.

Brighton Pride said the decision “had not been taken lightly”

Image caption

This year’s event was marking Brighton and Hove Pride’s 30th anniversary

A Pride spokesman said: “It is with a heavy heart that Brighton and Hove Pride have taken the difficult decision to postpone our landmark 30th anniversary celebrations.”

He said the organisers had decided to cancel after evaluating the additional pressure the event would put on the emergency services.

Paul Kemp, director of Brighton Pride, said: “It’s been inevitable.

“We are postponing the anniversary celebration to next year and [for] anyone who has got a ticket for the park we’ll roll that ticket over.

“Pride is a celebration for the whole city and brings lots of people in, and of course the emergency services, the police, the NHS and all the other key workers who are often part of that parade,” he said.

“Our focus is on supporting them and supporting people who are going through tough times.”

Image copyright
Brighton Pride

Image caption

The Pussycat Dolls are known for hits including Don’t Cha, and React

Alan Robbins, chairman of Brighton and Hove City Council’s tourism, equalities, communities and culture committee, said: “It’s a great shame.

“The message is going out ‘Don’t come to Brighton’ and we very much want to make sure when this is over everybody does come back to Brighton.

“We’re doing everything we can to make sure these things go ahead next year.”

Last year, Kylie Minogue headlined the festival, and in 2018 Britney Spears wowed a crowd of 57,000 with the more than 250,000 people visiting the city.

Image copyright
Eddie mitchell

Image caption

Thousands of people went to Brighton Pride in 2019, celebrating the theme “Generations of Love”

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Coronavirus: Christopher Eccleston reads a poetic tribute to the NHS

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Matthew Kelly from Salford has written a poem paying tribute to the staff of the NHS fighting the coronavirus.

Mr Kelly said he was inspired to write after hearing the challenges his partner faces as a district nurse.

BBC Radio 5 Live asked actor Christopher Eccleston, a fellow Salfordian, to read Matt’s words.

This clip is from Chiles on Friday on 3 April 2020



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