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New and notable British dramas to watch in 2018

Doctor Foster won’t be returning for a third series, but the drama’s title star Suranne Jones will be back on our screens in 2018. The actress takes on a significantly different role as Miss Pinkerton in ITV period drama Vanity Fair, which finishes filming in February. After her award-winning performance in ITV’s Cilla in 2014, Sheridan Smith returns to front another drama for the channel. The much-loved actress will play the lead role in Clean Break, which follows a cleaner struggling to mak
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Zawe Ashton: I can't sleep at night if I feel I'm hindering women

To many, Zawe Ashton will always be known as Vod, the zany English student in Channel 4’s Fresh Meat. In real life she relates to Vod’s general “rage against the machine” attitude, but definitely doesn’t share her character’s poor work ethic. It seems as if Zawe (pronounced Zaw-ee) never stops. Since her break-out role in Fresh Meat, she has edited an edition of Woman’s Hour, starred in Channel 4 comedy, NSFW, directed an art documentary for the Tate, appeared in the West End, and written, prod
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Nadiya Hussain: I suffer with panic, some days I can't get out of bed

Nadiya Hussain is still smiling – for good reason. Two years on from winning The Great British Bake Off, the 32-year-old has released three cookbooks and a novel, presented two of her own TV series, and baked the Queen a birthday cake, all while earning herself one-name celebrity status. It’s quite a transformation for “Nadiya”, whose self-esteem was once so low she avoided going out in public for fear of being judged. When she told the camera in tears after winning Bake Off, “I’m never going t
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Broadchurch is back on fine form - it's about time

Broadchurch is back on fine form, finally. After an implausible second series that struggled to deliver sensitive storylines with subtlety, Chris Chibnall’s popular drama has returned to its best. I’m sure I wasn’t the only person to feel a pang of concern when I heard that Broadchurch was going to focus on sexual assault. Might another rape drama risk desensitisation? The clumsy handling of a character’s violent ex-partner in the last series also added to my fear. In one of the worst-scripted
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Hotel Miro: The perfect setting to explore Bilbao's Guggenheim Museum

Located on the doorstep of Bilbao’s Guggenheim Museum, you’d be forgiven for thinking Hotel Miro was named after Spanish painter Joan Miro. Although the artist’s surrealist paintings hang two minutes’ away in Frank Gehry’s magnificent art gallery, the hotel is instead named after Spanish fashion designer Antonio Miro, who designed its 50 rooms. Opened in 2002, five years after the Guggenheim Museum took its place on the banks of Bilbao’s run-down port, Hotel Miro is one of a collection of buil
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Julie Walters: I'd be letting myself down if I had a facelift

Julie Walters talks candidly to Daisy Wyatt about the iniquities of plastic surgery,  the impact of Brexit on her family’s farm and the spectre of sexual harassment In her four-decade career, Julie Walters has sung from the Greek rafters in Mamma Mia!, taught Billy Elliot how to dance, posed nude in Calendar Girls, dabbled in Harry Potter’s dark arts and shaved her head to play Mo Mowlam. Yet of the 100 characters she has portrayed, it is Victoria Wood’s tea-pouring Mrs Overall who still holds
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Bake Off will be better on Channel 4

Stop all the clocks. The Great British Bake Off is moving to Channel 4. Co-hosts Sue Perkins and Mel Giedroyc have left the show. The nation’s most-loved, highest-rated TV show will never be the same again. Could this be 2016’s Top Gear? At least that was the reaction from fans that followed news the popular baking competition will no longer be broadcast on the BBC. Cue viewers likening Bake Off leaving the BBC to the UK leaving the EU (only worse), former contestants bewailing the “commercial
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The Couple Next Door is the next Girl on the Train - but much better

Gone Girl has changed the face of women’s fiction. Since the success of Gillian Flynn’s 2012 thriller, white book covers with high heels and flicky pink writing have been replaced by dark images and bold, monosyllabic titles. Chick-lit has given way to a wave of accessible psychological thrillers aimed at women. The British author Paula Hawkins had comparable success to Flynn with her novel The Girl on the Train, which Barack Obama had on his reading list this summer. Now the Canadian writer Sh
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Novelist Anne Tyler tries to update Shakespeare for young people

To celebrate the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death, the publishing imprint Hogarth Shakespeare has asked some of today’s best-known novelists to pen modern-day versions of his plays. The Taming of the Shrew has been given a 21st-century twist by Anne Tyler, whose most recent novel, A Spool of Blue Thread, was shortlisted for the Man Booker prize last year. Readers who were teens in the 1990s might well remember that the Shakespearean comedy was famously adapted into the 1999 movi
The Independent

10 best feminist books

With International Women’s Day around the corner, we take a look at some of the best feminist reads promoting women in the workplace and on the sports field. From laugh-out-loud memoirs to accessible academic essays, these recent releases and re-issues are a must-read for women and men alike. Is modern feminism anti-men? Is feminism still a shameful word? Twenty five women under 30 explain why they consider themselves feminists in this series of essays by writers including Everyday Sexism’s Lau
The Independent

10 best book club reads for 2016

If you’re not sure what to suggest for your book club in 2016, try one of these accessible novels due to be released this year. From best-selling author Helen Dunmore’s Cold War spy novel Exposure, to newcomer Claire Vaye Watkins’s dystopian debut Gold Fame Citrus and psychological thriller The Widow by Fiona Barton, there are plenty of new releases to stoke the imagination and get the conversation started. 1. The Museum of You by Carys Bray: £12.99 hardback and ebook, Random House Written by
The Independent

What's it like to work as a sewage flusher?

The smell of human waste isn't as bad as you might think, says sewage flusher Nick Fox. The project manager for Thames Water walks around London's sewers for hours a day, but says it isn't as disgusting as it sounds. "The smell is more like earthy compost. It's like being stood in a slightly brown stream, and not much higher than your ankles," he says. The worst part of the job isn't the human waste, but dealing with "fatbergs" that accumulate in the sewers full of oils, grease, hand wipes and
The Independent

The Robert Galbraith story: How JK Rowling was uncovered

How long JK Rowling wanted to keep her crime writer pseudonym a secret, we will never know. The Harry Potter author released her first Robert Galbraith novel, The Cuckoo’s Calling, in April 2013 under the guise of a very British sounding man who was said to have previously served in the army. But her nom-de-plume was uncovered three months later after an indiscreet tweet divulging the true identity of Galbraith was sent by “@JudeCallegari”, a family friend of Christopher Gossage, a partner at Ro
The Independent

10 best Indian novels and travel books

There is such a wealth of information available for travellers heading to India, it is often hard to know where to start.  While travel guides offer useful travellers’ tips, nothing can get under the skin of the country quite like these books. From classic novels that have been reprinted several times to Man Booker prize-winners and contemporary accounts of modern-day India, fiction offers a rich insight into India’s diverse culture and complex history. While novels can often seem more realisti
The Independent

An artist is using famous masterpieces to draw attention to the tragedy of Syria

Syrian artist Tammam Azzam has found his own way of speaking out against the Syrian crisis. Using famous paintings from the Western world projected against bombed buildings, Azzam aims to “draw attention to the tragedy of Syria”. His most popular work, “Freedom Graffiti”, shows Gustav Klimt’s well-known painting “The Kiss” superimposed onto a bombed Syrian building. “I chose it as an icon of love, a way of looking for the stories of love behind this wall that was completely obliterated by the
The Independent

Artist Jamie McCartney explains why he created The Great Wall of Vagina

Scientists have now answered one of these great unknowns. According to a new study, “general cosmetic appearance” is the most important penile aspect when it comes to what women value down there. This is swiftly followed by the appearance of pubic hair, penile skin, and girth. Length comes in at number six, with the look of the scrotum trailing closely behind. The least important facet of the phallus, say the scientists, is the “position and shape of meatus”, the vertical slit at the opening of
The Independent

Diary of a Teenage Girl star says film 'does not promote under age sex'

The Diary of a Teenage Girl is a coming of age film about a 15-year-old discovering her sexuality, but the movie has been at the centre of controversy after being given a “disappointing” 18 certificate by an all-male British Board of Film Classification panel. The film follows school girl Minnie, played by British actress Bel Powley, who becomes obsessed with her sexual feelings after her mother’s 35-year-old boyfriend has sex with her. Despite only showing one scene of full frontal nudity, in
The Independent

Lily James plays 'the most kickass Elizabeth Bennet yet'

Lily James is best known for playing the demure Lady Rose in Downton Abbey, but her portrayal of Elizabeth Bennet in the upcoming film Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is much less decorous. The actress will play “the most kickass Elizabeth Bennett we’ve ever seen”, according to her Mr Darcy co-star Sam Riley. The premise of the film sees the Pride and Prejudice characters transported to an alternative version of Regency era England, where an under-class of zombies threaten to overtake the Brit
The Independent

Wireless 2015 review: Urban music festival surrenders to EDM

Videos of gatecrashers storming Wireless and Nicki Minaj turning up late to her set overshadowed this year’s festival, but what about the music itself?  While Damage and Mary J Blige warmed up the crowd for those who remember a time when R&B music had a melody rather than a thumping bass, headliners Avicii and David Guetta catered for a new generation of fans that have pushed the definition of urban music into house and EDM. Sunday night headliner Guetta was a better fit than Aviici, who rarely
The Independent

Amy Winehouse film shows 'happy, healthy' singer we never got a chance to know

Amy Winehouse is best remembered as a frail, tragic singer whose musical talents were eclipsed by alcohol and drugs - but new documentary Amy seeks to readdress the image of the late artist that lives on in our minds. From the filmmakers behind Senna, Amy gives a heart-warming portrayal of the young artist from north London before taking a devastating turn as it examines Winehouse’s self-destructive streak that led to her untimely death at the age of 27. Director Asif Kapadia, who created the
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