RIP Larry Hagman. Dallas’ JR Ewing hangs up his cowboy hat

ALL IMAGES: PRESS ASSOCIATION

Larry Hagman has died at the age of 81.  The actor who spent more than a decade playing TV villain JR Ewing suffered from cancer and cirrhosis of the liver. He died in hospital on Friday afternoon according to a family statement.

Born in Texas, Hagman battled alcoholism for many years. Even on the hardworking set of Dallas, he consumed five bottles of champagne a day for years and was finally diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver in 1992.

Three years later he had a liver transplant and kept a photo of the organ donor above his mirror. “I say a prayer for him every morning,” he said.

Despite this, Hagman continued to drink secretly until a further life-saving operation in 2003 forced him to stop.

Hagman  first performed as JR Ewing in 1978 and became its highest-paid star, as the programme came to define 1980s excess. During 13 years as the most scheming oil tycoon in Dallas, JR in his Stetson became one of the most distinctive faces on television screens across the world.

It quickly became one of the network’s top-rated programmes – with its 356 episodes being seen by an estimated 300 million people in 57 countries . It was revived this year and is currently screened on Channel 5.

 

The truth about Brian Conley’s I’m A Celeb exit finally revealed

Conley left I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here has been revealed, by Conley himself.

Speaking on Daybreak he said that producers had removed him from the show after he refused to take prescribed anti-depressants.

Conley was only allowed to take part in the show if he took his pills so producers were given no choice but to remove him when he refused. He left shortly after being seen crying as a result of an argument with fellow contestant David Haye.

He says that exhaustion and malnutrition also played a part in the deterioration of his condition: “Two days after six days of not eating, I didn’t have antidepressants. They said if I did not comply with these regulations, then I would not be on the show. I started feeling really bad, and very shortly after that I did have to leave. I found out I was malnutritioned (sic) and I was suffering from exhaustion, that’s what the doctor said. They then sedated me for two days, they gave me a tablet that could knock out a horse and I woke up with a saline drip in my arm. I was thinking, ‘What on earth has happened here?’ All because of a fluffy show that Ant & Dec do. I can tell you it’s not fluffy out there, it’s the real world. It’s tough, real tough.”

The reason for Conley’s exit wasn’t mentioned during the ITV show, only that he had left the jungle and was recuperating.

Conley also says that the jungle experience has helped him with his depression and his reliance on medication to deal with it: “I’ve taken those for 15 years, I’ve had people say, ‘You probably don’t need them now’. I’m proud I stuck to my guns and I got through it, and it’s made me a much stronger man. You’re looking at a man who doesn’t need antidepressants.”

Bill Tarmey’s funeral details announced

The funeral of the late Bill Tarmey will take next Tuesday at the Albion United Reform Church in Ashton-Under-Lyme, Greater Manchester.

Bill died at his home in Tenerife on November the 9th at the age of 71, he was, of course, famous for playing legendary Corrie character Jack Duckworth.

His family have asked that, in lieu of flowers, members of the public who wish to honour Bill’s memory do so by making a donation to the Brain Tumour Research charity. Bill’s son was diagnosed with a brain tumour in 2009 and Bill subsequently became a patron of the charity. Donations can be made on a specially set up Justgiving page.

The Tarmey family released this statement: “Bill’s family are very grateful for the messages of condolence, comfort and support they are receiving from Bill’s friends, colleagues and members of the public at this very sad time.”

 

Comedians Morecambe and Wise recreated by artists as, er, breakfast. Why, of course.

Here’s Morecambe and Wise as you’ve never seen them before – as breakfast. OK it’s a stunt to raise awareness for TV channel’s Gold latest tribute to the late, great comedians, Bring Me Morecambe and Wise. But as stunts go it’s quite impressive.  The theme for the picture follows a survey of 2000 comedy fans who named the breakfast scene as the most iconic of the duo’s sketches. Whatever next? The Two Ronnies as lunch or The X Factor as a dog’s dinner?

The artwork was painstakingly built by artist Carl Warner and his team of four food stylists over two days.  The team used a variety of foods which featured in the original sketch, from scrambled eggs to sausages and grapefruit.

The lapels on Eric and Ernie’s suits were created from the fillets of 17 smoked mackerel and complemented with stylish 70s jackets made from six kippers. More than two dozen eggs were also employed for the pairs’ shirts – with one half scrambled to recreate the frilly fronts, and the other cooked into an extra buttery omelette to form the retro collars.

One of the most challenging things for Carl was to ensure a likeness of the British comedy legends. A variety of sausages, from cocktail and chipolata to Lincolnshire were used to create the duo’s facial features, with gammon steaks forming the shape of their heads and bacon contouring their cheeks and chins. Carl finished off the masterpiece with a smattering of All Bran for Eric’s hairline and an abundance of Shredded Wheat for the luscious locked Ernie.

Blanched almonds, mushrooms and sultanas created remarkably realistic eyes and teeth, whilst Eric was finished off with a pair of his infamous glasses – courtesy of vanilla pods. The duo were finally lit in their on-stage setting by several white grapefruits, complemented by seven cans of baked beans and an astonishing 150 roasted tomatoes.

The stunning artwork was commissioned to mark the launch of the channel’s new series Bring Me Morecambe & Wise – featuring rare and unseen footage of Britain’s favourite comedy duo alongside the much loved extracts they are most famous for. Here’s the full list of ingredients:

•           Heads: 3 x gammon steaks

•           Faces: 15 x back and 15 x streaky bacon rashers

•           Eric’s glasses: 6 x vanilla pods

•           Eric’s hair: All Bran

•           Ernie’s hair: Shredded Wheat

•           Jacket lapels: 17 x smoked mackerel fillets

•           Jackets: 6 x kippers

•           Shirts: collars (omelette) / frilly fronts (scrambled) – total of 2 dozen eggs

•           Eyes: 1 x mushroom, 4 x sultanas

•           Teeth: 20g of blanched almonds

•           Bowties/noses/lips: 25 sausages (a mixture of cocktail, chipolata and Lincolnshire)

•           Background: 1.5 x white grapefruit, 7 x cans of baked beans, 150 x tomatoes

The making of Morecambe and Wise can be found here: [www.youtube.com/GOLDTVchannel]

The 10 best Christmas TV adverts

‘It’s the most wonderful time of the year’ sang Andy Williams sang of Xmas. It’s certainly the best time of the year for TV ads. Traditionally, the big firms pull out all the stops in an attempt to grab attention in the build up to the festive period. Big budgets, big stars and big piles of fake snow are the order of the day when it comes to creating convincing the public to open their wallets.

Here are 10 of the best:

Coca Cola ‘Holiday’s are coming’

While Coca Cola isn’t Christmassy per se, we should remember that we have them to thank for Santa Claus being red and white. Per Noel had, in fact, generally been pictured in green or brown before Coke’s ad men got hold of him. This ad ran for quite a few years, mainly thanks to its horribly addictive tune.

Toys R Us ‘Magical Place’

Another one with a diabolically memorable earworm of a tune. Maybe music is the key to a great Xmas ad?

John Lewis Xmas 2011

John Lewis have now created a tradition of making mini-features for their Xmas ads, emotion-filled short films with a touching message. This year it’s a glove-buying snowman, last year it was this blub-causer.

Irn Bru Snowman Ad

Funny, clever and affectionate – If only all Xmas ads were as fantastic as this one.

Ferrero Rocher ‘The Ambassador’s Reception’

Yeah, we know, we didn’t realise this was a Christmas ad either. But not only is it a Christmas ad it’s probably the only one on the list that was shown outside of the festive period and that has become a cultural touchstone. That big pile of foil-covered sweets has been seen in everything from Father Ted to Little Britain and the line ‘with these Ferrero Rocher you are really spoiling us’ has entered the language.

Marks & Spencer ‘Xmas wouldn’t be Xmas without…’

M& S must have spent a small fortune on this campaign featuring numerous expensive-looking celebs expounding its virtues.

John Lewis 2007 ‘Shadows’

This very clever ad could have worked at any time of year but there was just something Christmassy about the concept.

Yellow Pages ‘Mistletoe’

Super-cute, super-schmaltzy, super-Christmassy.

Woolworths ‘Cracking Christmas’ Back when Woollies was still a thing they used to corral the big TV stars of the day and film then merrily gambolling around that year’s hot gifts while a terrible tune played in the background. It was the beginning of the end, probably.

Boots 1981

No stars, no big budget, just a decent song and a Christmassy feel. Warms the cockles, dunnit?

A Beginner’s Guide To Helen Flanagan – All you need to know about the jungle babe

She may be currently ‘wowing’ the nation by wearing a series of very revealing bikinis and crying at the sight of anything that comes within 10 feet of her, but Helen Flanagan did, in fact, have a life before joining I’m A Celebrity Get me Out Of Here. Not a very varied one, but a life just the same.

 

Helen was born in 1989 in Bury and went to school until she was 10 years old. She then joined Coronation Street (in 2000) and continued to go to school while playing Kevin and Sally Webster’s daughter Rosie.

 

Rosie, you may remember, had been born in a taxi on Christmas Day. Helen was not, as far as we can ascertain, born in a taxi. But she might have been. We can’t rule it in or out, to be honest.

 

Nothing much then happened to Rosie (or Helen) for a few years until she suddenly turned into a schoolgirl minx and started seducing her teacher John Stape (this is Rosie now, not Helen. Again, as far as we know). Then, almost overnight, Rosie turned into complete flibbertigibbet. The producers seemed to take any opportunity to include scenes where Rosie needed to appear wearing just her underwear, she started trying to pull all the men in Weatherfield, wearing very skimpy outfits and behaving, generally, like a bit of a gold-digging slapper.

 

Helen, meanwhile, started dating footballer Scott Sinclair.

 

After Helen took a 3-month break from the soap in 2011 life started to imitate ‘art’ as Rosie was a fairly unsuccessful model in the show and Helen decided to quit Corrie to become a sort-of unsuccessful model. She has dedicate the last few months of her life to a couple of fairly low profile modelling jobs that involved her wearing very few clothes and tweeting pictures of herself wearing very few clothes.

 

And now she has returned to our screens! Wearing very few clothes and squawking. Welcome back, Helen!

 

 

Have I Got News For You makes another attempt to break US TV

British TV institution Have I Got News For You has been piloted in a third attempt to sell the show to the US.

 

The BBC show, which features long-term team captains Ian Hislop and Paul Merton, has been made by production company Hat Trick since 1990. They have made two previous unsuccessful attempts to get an American version of the show off the ground and now a third pilot, featuring talk radio presenter Sam Seder as host, has been made for US station TBS.

 

Hat Trick boss Jimmy Mulville tweeted: “It’s the third pilot made for US TV. Hopefully, third time lucky.”

 

The US pilot was shot last weekend in New York but there are no plans to show it on UK TV

Coronation Street’s Jack Duckworth dies. RIP Bill Tarmey

One of Corrie’s greatest stars, the man who played Jack Duckworth for more than 30 years, Bill Tarmey has passed away.

Bill left the soap in 2010 to spend more time with his family after suffering with heart problems for many years. Details of his death are not yet available.

Bill Tarmey joined Corrie after a career as a singer and acting extra. Brow-beaten Jack and his battle-axe wife Vera swiftly became one of the greatest double acts in soap and beloved by the nation. The constant battles they had with wayward son Terry and combative yet loving relationship they shared ensured they stayed at the heart of the show right up until Liz Dawn, who played Vera, left in 2008. Bill stayed with the show for a couple of years after but Jack was killed off and he retired.

Goodbye, Bill. Creator of one of the funniest, most touching and universally-loved characters that British TV has seen.

 

 

You can see the final touching scenes from Coronation Street when Jack Duckworth passes away below:

 

Meet the I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here contestants

It’s that time again. A smatterin of C list celebrities don khaki and spend a couple of weeks sweating, rowing, starving, sulking and eating animal testicles. I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here is back. Ace.

The show starts on Sunday at 9PM on ITV1 but today the line-up was officially announced and the runners and riders revealed to a faintly interested public.

Here’s our guide to who’s who, who isn’t who and who isn’t who you thought they were.

Helen Flanagan

See Helen Flanagan in the Jungle Shower above! ALL PICTURES: ITV.com

Helen is probably best known for playing Coronation Street ‘model’ and flibbertigibbet Rosie Webster. She left the show earlier this year and since then has concentrated on his new career of posting pictures of herself in skimpy clothing on Twitter.

Expect to see Helen in a bikini with seconds of the show starting and shots of her checking her reflection in any available mirrored surface.

You can see her in the jungle shower in the gallery below!

David Haye David used to be a WBA world boxing champion but since retiring has concentrated on his first love – worm charming. David spends up to 14 hours per day wandering around his garden using various implements to mimic the sound of rain on the ground, this tempts the worms to the surface and David then collects them. ‘I don’t do anything with them’, David told us ‘I just find the activity relaxing. Normally I just take the worms round to Ricky Hatton’s house and release them in his raised vegetable beds. It drives him crackers.’

Colin Baker Former Doctor Who Colin has found it very difficult to let go of the role that made him famous. Though hasn’t played the Doctor since 1986 he still wears the costume every day and insists on calling his bathroom ‘The Tardis’. He also has a sonic screwdriver (which is actually a normal Philips that he’s painted silver) and a cat called K-9. This used to be a dog but he had to give it away when he found he was allergic to it.

Brian Conley Brian Conley started began his comedy career while still welder in the shipyards of Glasgow. He used to play banjo and sing in folk clubs and found that his between song banter was lasting longer than the songs so he started getting gigs as a comic. After he appeared on the Parkinson chat show in 1975 he became a household star and swiftly rose to become on of the best loved comedians in the UK. He married Pamela Anderson, stopped drinking and found fame in the US before returning to the UK to play Buttons in Cinderella every year since 1993. No, wait, we’re getting confused here.

Eric Bristow Darts legend Eric Bristow is also known as ‘The Craft-obsessed Cockney’ as he dedicates his spare time to various undemanding handiwork pastimes. He makes model planes, enjoys decoupage and is renowned for his quilling. In 2002 he was given a lifetime membership of Hobbycraft’s loyalty scheme and celebrated by learning to crochet. He now makes all his own clothes.

Hugo Taylor No idea who this bloke is.

Charlie Brooks Better known as ‘Janine off of Eastenders’ Charlie is hoping that her experience in the jungle will open up new career paths. ‘I really want to be a snake wrangler’, she says ‘I hope that I will get to handle a few while in Oz and learn more about them. I tried to get the producers of Eastenders to write a snake into the soap but they wouldn’t have it. I wanted Janine to carry a snake round her neck everywhere she went, like as a character trait, but they said it would prove “logistically difficult” and kiboshed the idea. Good job really cos I’m terrified of them. Slimy little buggers.’

Linda Robson It seems Linda Robson was booked by the I’m A Celeb production team in error. ‘We thought we were getting the dark haired one who played Dorian’, an insider told us ‘but I guess we’ll have to make do. Shame really, Dorian would have been funnier but there you go, she’s here now.’

Nadine Dorries The inclusion of serving MP Nadine Dorries in this series has already caused great controversy. Not because no one has really heard of her, or because she will be missing important parliamentary business to appear in the show, ut because it’s obvious that no-one else will get voted to do a bush tucker trial. Expect at least the first five publicly voted trials to feature Nadine and absolutely every eating trial. There’s going to be a tory MP eating kangaroo cock on our TV’s for weeks. Great, innit?

Ashley Roberts Used to be in Pussy Cat Dolls, or something. Meh.

 

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Felix Baumgartner breaks sound barrier and most YouTube live streams ever

Regardless of what you think about the ridiculously named Felix Baumgartner (translates as tree gardener apparently) crazy stunt, there’s no denying the guy has got some balls doing what he did.

Jumping out a balloon-powered space capsule from 128,000 feet, spinning apparently out of control for part of the plunge – yet still not passing out or screaming for your Mum – is a truly incredible feat. Personally I get a bit giddy on top of a kids’ rollercoaster so I can’t imagine what free falling at Mach 1.24 (833 miles per hour) at temperatures of -68 degrees centigrade must feel like. All on the 65th anniversary of Chuck Yeagar breaking the sound barrier for the first time – though of course he did in a plane, the wimp.

Apparently Baumgartner, his sponsor Red Bull and YouTube have set another record too. During last night’s stunt there were more than two million concurrent livestreams of the event going out around the world. The previous record for a single web video service was around 500,000 concurrent streams, which Google served up during the Olympics this summer.

You can see the whole thing here:

And you can see highlights here:

(By the way rumours of RyanAir’s Michael O’Leary introducing parachute drop offs from aircraft as a way of saving on landing fees are completely unfounded)

For more information on the world record breaking jump go here.