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  1. The Thorn Birds author Colleen McCullough dies, aged 77
  2. Tom Stoppard's first play in nine years gets mixed reviews
  3. Natural History Museum to replace its famous Diplodocus skeleton

Live Reporting

By Mark Savage and Victoria Lindrea

All times stated are UK

Get involved

Ta-ra for now!

Victoria Lindrea

Arts and entertainment reporter, BBC News

That's it for today, but we'll be back again tomorrow with the best of the news from the world of arts and entertainment. See you then!

No hard feelings

Sam Smith and Tom Petty

Tom Petty has revealed it's all good between him and Sam Smith, days after it was revealed Smith has given Petty a songwriting credit over the

similarities between Stay With Me and I Won't Back Down.

In a statement, Petty said: "About the Sam Smith thing. Let me say I have never had any hard feelings toward Sam. All my years of songwriting have shown me these things can happen.

"Most times you catch it before it gets out the studio door, but in this case it got by. Sam's people were very understanding of our predicament and we easily came to an agreement."

He went on to add: "I wish Sam all the best for his ongoing career. Peace and love to all."

Arctic role

Chi Chi Izundu

Newsbeat entertainment reporter

Billed as the most expensive British drama ever made - with a reported price tag of £30m - Fortitude starts on Sky Atlantic tonight.

Michael Gambon in Fortitude

Starring Michael Gambon, Christopher Ecclestone, Stanley Tucci and The Killing's Sofie Grabol, the 11-part drama is set in a small town in the arctic circle.

Its makers say they are not chasing "cult" status, but could it be the next True Detective or Broadchurch?

Read all about it here

Corrie re-cast

Gail, Bethany and David Platt

Coronation Street bosses have recast the role of Bethany Platt, following on from the dismissal of the previous actress before she had even properly started work.

The part has gone to 19-year-old Lucy Fallon, who started filming on the famous cobblestones this week.

Producers dropped Katie Redford from the part after learning she had pretended to be 19 at the audition, when in fact she was 25. The character of Bethany is just 14.

Bieber's growing pains

Justin Bieber

Justin Bieber has apologised for his bad behaviour over the past year, in a video posted on Facebook.

"I didn't want to come off arrogant or conceited, or basically how I've been acting the past year, year and a half," he says in the video. "I'm not who I was pretending to be."

The 20-year-old singer issued the video shortly after appearing on the TV chat show Ellen - confessing he was "really nervous" ahead of the show "because I was afraid of what people are thinking of me right now".

"Just being young and growing up in this business is hard. Just growing up in general is hard."

Read the full story


Jack's Back

Kiefer Sutherland on Top Gear

24's Kiefer Sutherland is set to join the Top Gear team as the "Star in a Reasonably Priced Car".

Let's hope he had more success on the track than Ed Sheeran - this is Jack Bauer after all - and that hanging out with Jeremy Clarkson didn't end up feeling like "the longest day of his life"...

Sykes excites

Nathan Sykes
Getty Images

Twitter went a little crazy yesterday when we

mentioned we'd heard some new solo tracks from The Wanted's Nathan Sykes.

One Brazilian site even translated our tweet and sent it around Latin America.

Brazilian The Wanted Tweet

Well, we're suckers for flattery, so here's a few more tidbits from our chat with Mr Sykes.

"There are few ballads on the album," he told us. "Famous is a very personal song about my life and I get to showcase vocals as well, which is very exciting."

He also denied that he'd been itching to launch a solo career during his time in The Wanted.

"I'm one of those people who puts 100% into everything. So when I was working with The Wanted I put 100% into it.

"I didn't even think about going solo until we decided to have a break."

So now you know.

More from Morris:

Mark Savage

Entertainment reporter

Rae Morris
Record label

Singer-songwriter Rae Morris was one of the artists featured on the BBC's

Sound of 2015 longlist late last year, and her debut album, Unguarded, is out this week.

I spoke to her about her about the record (and her childhood ambition to be a waitress)

in this article.

During our interview, Morris also revealed her first ever gig was S Club 7, and that she once managed to go to the Leeds Festival without seeing a single band.

She said that writing lyrics was the hardest part of being a musician: "You've got to make a choice and live with it forever," she said. "I always find that task very daunting."

Downton's demise?

Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary, left, and Joanne Froggatt as Anna Bates in Downton Abbey

Reports of the demise of Downton Abbey may prove premature.

The Mirror newspaper claimed on Thursday that the award-winning show will conclude after its sixth series because creator Julian Fellowes wants to start work on a new show.

But ITV have said they "wouldn't comment on speculative stories about our programmes".

Fellowes has previously talked about his plans for NBC drama The Gilded Age, set in 19th century New York.

"It will happen when Downton finishes, because I just couldn't do both at once," he told

the Wall Street Journal in December 2013

"Downton is not going to go on forever. It won't be Perry Mason," he added.

The sixth series of Downton is due to be broadcast in the autumn.

Around the BBC

Here are some of the arts and culture stories being covered by our colleagues:

  • The Welsh Assembly is
    seeking legal advice after allegedly breaching copyright over its use of a photograph of Dylan Thomas.
  • Former Coronation Street star Julie Hesmondhalgh has been
    awarded the freedom of her Lancashire borough, Hyndburn.
  • An exhibition dedicated to Zeki Muren - Turkey's answer to David Bowie - has been
    pulling in huge crowds in Istanbul.

Ladies first

BBC Radio 3 is to mark International Women's Day by devoting all of Sunday 8 March to music written and chosen by women.

"The station will be championing the next generation of female talent, as well as analysing the contribution of some of the great women of classical music - like Fanny Mendelssohn and Clara Schumann - who often worked in the shadow of their male counterparts," said Helen Boaden, director of BBC Radio.

Spacey's feline great!

The Wrap

Kevin Spacey is set to play a man trapped inside the body of cat for a film called

Nine Lives.

Although it sounds like it's treading the familiar ground of bodyswap films such as Big and Vice Versa, it's being described as a high concept comedy which director Barry Sonnenfeld says will be "funny, emotional, commercial".

Stieg Larsson sequel

Rooney Mara in Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
Film company

The long-awaited sequel to Stieg Larsson's Millennium trilogy - featuring the troubled Lisbeth Salander - will go on sale in some 35 countries on 27 August this year.

That Which Does Not Kill - the follow-up to The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest - has been completed by writer David Lagercrantz, following Larsson's death in 2004.

"What I wanted to make use of in the book was the vast mythology that Stieg Larsson left behind, the world he created," Lagercrantz told the

Dagens Nyheter newspaper.

Swedish publisher Nordstedts claims some 80 million copies of the series have sold around the world since the first book, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, went on sale in 2005.

How hot, exactly?

Weather map
Fox 10

Arizona is pretty darn hot. In 1990, thermometers even recorded a temperature of 50 degrees Celsius.

But not even that could prepare Fox 10 presenter Cory McCloskey for last night's weather forecast, when his map went haywire and started showing temperatures of 2,960 Fahrenheit.

But the meteorologist played it cool, commenting: "I think steel boils at that temperature, so there's probably nothing left up there".

You can

watch the clip on YouTube.

This sick beat™

Taylor Swift
AFP / Getty Images

Pop star Taylor Swift has been granted trademarks for phrases such as "this sick beat" and "party like it's 1989" in the US.

It means other people will be prohibited from using the sentences (which crop up on her recent album) on t-shirts, calendars and... er, walking sticks.

Read more on the story.

Bafta dinners

We all assume actors starve themselves to squeeze into those award ceremony outfits - something that was (partially) confirmed by Into The Woods star Anna Kendrick in her hilarious

2014 Oscar Diary.

But did you know that the nominees all get a slap-up meal at the Baftas? Associated Press reporter Hilary Fox has spent the morning with chef Nigel Boschetti, who's putting together the menu, and

tweeted the results.

Here's what the stars will be scoffing as they break their diet.

Bafta starter
Hilary Fox / Twitter

Starter: Terrine of Roasted & Smoked Salmon with Avocado & Crab Salad.

Bafta main course
Hilary Fox / Twitter

Main course: Trio of Beef: Braised Short Rib, Shin with Herb Crust and Fillet, with Beans, Carrots and Dauphinoise.

Bafta dessert
Hilary Fox / Twitter

Dessert: Cacao Nib Parfait, Hacienda Chocolate Mousse, Milk Puree and Kirsch Cherries.

Bart biopic announced:


Geoffrey Rush
Getty Images

Geoffrey Rush is to star in the musical biopic Consider Yourself: The Lionel Bart Story, alongside Stephen Fry, Olivia Colman and Eddie Marsan.

It tells the story of an untrained musician who couldn't read or write music, yet became the first person to have three West End musicals running.

The title comes from one of the best-known songs from Oliver! - Bart's musical adaptation of Charles Dickens' Oliver Twist.

Read the full story.

Kasabian conspiracy

BBC Newsbeat

Radio 1 and 1Xtra


Kasabian have hit back at the Brits, after they failed to pick up a single nomination for this year's awards.

"It's a conspiracy. They're trying to shut rock'n'roll out," said guitarist Serge Pizzorno.

"What sort of message does that send to working class rock'n'roll bands which the industry is in dire need of?"

But the band, who headlined Glastonbury's Pyramid Stage last year, will get to play one awards show. They've just been announced as the opening act for the Baftas.

Read the full story.

Horrible writing prize

James Herbert Award - shortlisted novels
Press Release

A six-strong shortlist has just been announced for the James Herbert Award, a new literary prize celebrating horror writing.

We were expecting creepy titles like The Hell Claw or Brains of Death but, sadly, they're much more mundane: Bird Box and An English Ghost Story are among the nominees.

Chair of judges, Tom Hunter, says: "The first year of a new literature prize is always viewed with one eye on the past of the genre and one on the future and, given this is a horror prize, perhaps a third eye watching behind to check for unspoken things lurking in the dark."

Find out more on the

official website.

Perry's SuperBowl secrets

Katy Perry's SuperBowl manicure
Katy Perry / Instagram

Katy Perry's painted her toenails to look like American footballs as she prepares to play the SuperBowl half-time show this Sunday.

Everything else is a closely-guarded secret, but director Hamish Hamilton - who previously oversaw the London 2012 opening ceremony - says Perry will bring "her personality, flair and humour" to the 12-minute performance.

The British director, who is also in charge of the Oscars telecast,

also told The Wrap about the difficulty of staging a large-scale show in the middle of a major sporting event.

"The size of the tunnels in the stadium have a huge impact, as it's a logistical exercise getting a large amount of people out onto the stage and the grass at one time," he said.

"If the stadium has fat tunnels that is great; if they are skinny and winding then that can be a problem."

Subtitle snafus

You've been getting in touch to convey your frustration (or delight) with subtitling errors on TV.

David Wrigglesworth tweets: This was a favourite of mine on "Match of the Day".

Match of the Day subtitles
David Wrigglesworth / Twitter

Dom Graham tweets: "Subtitles are always on the TVs in my gym. Almost every programme contains some complete gobbledygook, usually relating to names."

And Alex Fletcher

reminds us of this gem.

BBC Breakfast subtitle
Alex Fletcher / Twitter

Well, I never.

If you have any other examples, tweet us at

@BBCNewsEnts or email

Book diversity charter discussed

The Bookseller

More than 50 representatives of the book industry met yesterday to discuss a new diversity charter for children's publishing.

Zanib Mian, director of Sweet Apple Publishing, said bookshops often ghettoised books that celebrate diversity and difference.

"Publishers are trying to publish unself-consciously, but booksellers are selling them self-consciously," she told delegates. "Children reading should see those characters as being like them, not as an issue to be understood."

The initiative, called

A Place At The Table, is supported by authors including Julia Donaldson, Michael Morpurgo and Children's Laureate Malorie Blackman.

Read the full story.

Geezer arrested

Black Sabbath

Black Sabbath's Geezer Butler (above, left) has spent the night in jail after being arrested in a US bar.

According to police in California's Death Vallery, the bassist was involved in "an argument that escalated into a physical confrontation - resulting in an individual being struck, and a broken window".

The British star, whose real name is Terence Michael Butler, was given a citation and released "after detox".

Tributes to Colleen McCullough

Colleen McCullough
Getty Images

Friends and colleagues have been expressing their grief over the death of The Thorn Birds author Colleen McCullough,

who has died aged 77.


Tara Moss tweets: "So sad to hear of the passing of Colleen McCullough. She was fierce, funny and so supportive of other writers. Irreplaceable. RIP Colleen."


Richard Glover tweets: "RIP Colleen McCullough. I can't think of anyone who took such a miserable childhood and turned into a life of such luminous achievement."

Writer Angie Andrews tweets: "Didn't we all decide that Colleen McCullough wasn't allowed to die? Sadly, she was mortal after all."

Wolf Hall viewing drops

Damian Lewis in Wolf Hall

Wolf Hall lost one million viewers between its first and second episodes, early overnight figures suggest.

Starring Mark Rylance and Damian Lewis, the opening episode of the historical thriller became BBC Two's most-watched drama in a decade, with 3.9 million viewers last week.

Wednesday night's episode saw that figure fall to 2.9 million. ITV's Midsomer Murders won the timeslot, with an average audience of 4.8 million (not including ITV+1).

Coronation Street was again the evening's most-watched show, drawing in 7.8 million soap fans.

Game of Drones:

Will Gompertz

Arts editor

Tweeting from from the Old Royal Naval College in London, Will says: "First time a drone has ever been allowed to fly in The Painted Hall, Wren / Thornhill's masterpiece".

Will Gompertz tweet

Ronson sales conundrum

via Twitter

Music journalist

Michael Cragg tweets: "This is mad: Mark Ronson's album 'sold' 48,582 copies in US last week, but only 9,640 of that were actual album sales. It's at Number 10!"

For those of you not versed in the dark art of the Billboard charts, the compilers

now count streaming and download data to decide what position an album gets.

Nielsen Soundscan counts 10 downloads of any track from an album as the equivalent of one album sale; and 1,500 song streams as the equivalent of one album sale.

In other words, someone's been playing Uptown Funk a lot on Spotify this week.

Problem play?

Tim Masters

Entertainment correspondent, BBC News

Olivia Vinall as Hilary in The Hard Problem by Tom Stoppard
johan persson

Tom Stoppard's much-anticipated new play The Hard Problem opened at the National Theatre last night.

The story, which centres around a young psychology researcher Hilary (Olivia Vinall) at a neuroscience institute, poses big questions about the nature of consciousness.

It's undoubtedly a mental work-out over its 100 minutes, but there's an affecting human story at its core.

Early reviews are mixed.

The Guardian's four-star review called the play a "stimulating work that occasionally suffers from information overload".


The Telegraph found it "a major disappointment" and awarded two stars.

The play, at the Dorfman theatre, is the last to be directed by Sir Nicholas Hytner, who steps down at the NT later this year.

We'll have a full round up of reviews later.

Get involved:

Ofcom has criticised subtitles on live TV shows - saying people who are deaf or hard of hearing get an "inferior service".

Among the clangers it mentions are Princess Leia being called "Present Cesc lay ya" and lemon transcribed as "lepl on".

Have you spotted any egregious errors? What's your favourite subtitle slip-up? Get in touch by tweeting

@BBCNewsEnts or emailing us at

Thornbirds author dies

Colleen McCullough
Getty Images

Australian author Colleen McCullough, whose 1977 best-selling novel The Thorn Birds became a hit TV show, has died at the age of 77.

A former neuroscientist, McCullough stumbled into writing after her mother sent her on a shopping trip.

"I went to town with the five pounds to buy an overcoat, and I saw a Blue Bird portable typewriter for five pounds so I bought that instead," she told Australia's Radio National.

The author had lost her sight in recent years and resorted to dictating her novels.

Publisher Harper Collins Australia

said on Twitter her contribution to Australian writing "has been immense".

Colleen McCullough

One killed on Scorsese set

A construction worker has been killed, and two people injured, on the set of Martin Scorsese's new film, Silence.


Taiwan Daily reports that a ceiling collapsed during the building of wooden structures for the movie, which is based on Shusako Endo's novel.

A spokesperson for the film said the incident occurred after a building on the CMPC Studios backlot was deemed unstable and an independent contractor was hired to "reinforce and make it safe".

"Everyone is in shock and sorrow and expresses their deepest concern and sympathy to the families of the individual who died and those who were injured," they added.

Children to write Proms

Children at the launch of the Proms in 2006

Schoolchildren are being given the chance to write music for this year's Proms, the BBC has announced.

Two special concerts will be staged at the Royal Albert Hall, featuring music from the "

Ten Pieces" initiative, which encourages pupils to respond to classical music in the classroom.

Some of those responses - whether they're music, dance, art or animation - will be selected and performed at the Ten Pieces Proms on 18 and 19 July.

You can find out more on the

Ten Pieces site.

Kanye's new video

Kanye West video

Kanye West popped up on Ellen de Generes' US chat show last night, to unveil the video for his collaboration with Sir Paul McCartney.

Only One is sung from the perspective of West's mother, Donda, who died in 2007 during a surgical procedure. The lyrics have her talking to West from heaven, giving advice on how to raise his daughter, North.

The one-year-old appears with her father in the clip, which was shot by Oscar-nominated director Spike Jonze (Her, Being John Malkovich).

You can watch it on the Ellen show's website.

Goodbye, Dippy

The NHM's diplodocus skeleton

London's Natural History Museum is re-modelling its entrance, moving out the dinosaur and moving in a blue whale.

The decision to replace the much-loved Diplodocus was made, in part, because it is just a plaster-cast model.

"Everyone loves Dippy, but it's just a copy," says Sir Michael Dixon, the NHM's director.

"What makes this museum special is that we have real objects from the natural world - over 80 million of them - and they enable our scientists and thousands like them from around the world to do real research."

Read the full story.

Rise and shine:

Mark Savage

Entertainment reporter, BBC News

Good morning and welcome to our live coverage for Thursday, 29 January.

We'll be bringing you the latest news from the worlds of entertainment, culture and media. And maybe some daft YouTube links as well.