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Wednesday, October 9, 2019
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The Oxbridge problem: is it time to shake up University Challenge? 9 Oct 7:43am The Oxbridge problem: is it time to shake up University Challenge?
For decades, Oxford and Cambridge have been allowed to dominate the quiz by entering individual colleges. Here’s why we need to end this unfair advantage If the rules of University Challenge are as constant as the North Star, so is the format. Every series since time immemorial has featured an array of questionable knitwear, a student who can correctly identify Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony in E Minor but go blank at George Michael’s Faith, and a seemingly endless barrage of Oxford and Cambridge teams. While the predictability of contestants floundering in the face of pop music will forever prove entertaining, the domination of various Oxbridge colleges is anything but. And dominate they do: across the show’s 48 series finals, only 10 have been between two non-Oxbridge institutions, most recently Manchester’s victory over UCL in 2013. Last series, 11 of the 28 teams were Oxbridge colleges. Thankfully, due to clever match scheduling, it has been 32 years since we’ve had a single institution final (Oxford-only finals occurred in 1965, 1972 and 1987, and Cambridge-only finals in 1970, 1973, 1978). So, fingers on buzzers: is it time we stopped Oxbridge colleges competing individually?
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A Bump Along the Way review – charming late-pregnancy comedy 9 Oct 7:00am A Bump Along the Way review – charming late-pregnancy comedy
Bronagh Gallagher is terrific as the fortysomething mother of a teenager who unexpectedly finds she’s expecting again Lovely, warm performances from Bronagh Gallagher and Lola Petticrew are at the heart of this pregnancy comedy set in Derry in Northern Ireland, written by Tess McGowan and directed by Shelly Love – both feature first-timers – and produced by Louise Gallagher (sister of Bronagh). Gallagher plays Pamela, a good-natured optimist by nature, working hard to bring up her teenage daughter on her own, after her partner ran out on them. This is Ally – a smart, focused, sensitive performance from Petticrew. But Pamela is not just a placid boring mum; she likes a good time and the occasional drink and a laugh and after a one-night stand with a younger guy, she finds to her astonishment that she is pregnant again at 44, having been assured long ago by the medical profession that she was infertile.
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Who Am I Again? by Lenny Henry review – a raw, touching memoir 9 Oct 6:59am Who Am I Again? by Lenny Henry review – a raw, touching memoir
The comic reflects on prejudice, being a ‘political football’ and his suspicion he’s neither black enough nor manly enough It was the way
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The Wall: proper nonsense – but proof that Danny Dyer is now a national icon 9 Oct 6:09am The Wall: proper nonsense – but proof that Danny Dyer is now a national icon
His new Saturday night gameshow is far from gamechanging, but it cements the former wideboy as hot TV property ‘I’m Danny Dyer and this is The Wall – the ultimate game of risk and reward!” So begins the newest chapter of Britain’s most unexpected national treasure, and the moment is notable for a couple of points. The first is that, as he says this, Dyer somehow manages to manspread extravagantly, despite standing alone on an empty stage the size of an aircraft carrier. And, second, The Wall is definitively not the ultimate game of risk and reward. Rather, it’s an identikit, luck-based Saturday night BBC One gameshow, which means it doesn’t even scrape into the top nine tenths of risk v reward. Going outside in October without an umbrella is risk v reward. Brexit is risk v reward. Committing to a poo before checking for toilet paper is risk v reward. This is just a barely warmed-up version of one of those convoluted parlour games they used to pad out the results of the National Lottery draw. It could quite easily have been presented by Shane Richie, or Jason Manford, or Rylan, or a spoon with a face drawn on it.
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PlayStation 5 v Xbox Scarlett: the next console war begins in 2020 9 Oct 5:07am PlayStation 5 v Xbox Scarlett: the next console war begins in 2020
Sony’s PS5 will have haptic feedback, while Microsoft’s competing console will have four times the power of Xbox One. Here’s how the two high-end machines compare The next console war has a start date – or at least a start
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Muslim drag queen Amrou Al-Kadhi: ‘Whenever the drag came off, I’d have a nervous breakdown’ 9 Oct 5:00am Muslim drag queen Amrou Al-Kadhi: ‘Whenever the drag came off, I’d have a nervous breakdown’
The Eton-educated, non-binary British Iraqi had always struggled with their identity, until they discovered drag. Yet the 29 year old says the performances come at a high price There is nowhere to sit and talk in the Soho members’ club, but just as we are heading elsewhere, Amrou Al-Kadhi peels away to greet a member of staff. From their warmth, they appear to know each other well. But when we step outside, Al-Kadhi beams and whispers: “We just swiped right on each other!” Al-Kadhi – who is a screenwriter 60% of the time, a drag queen the rest
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Deep River by Karl Marlantes review – an epic tale of migrant struggle 9 Oct 3:59am Deep River by Karl Marlantes review – an epic tale of migrant struggle
This massive saga about Finnish immigrants in early 20th-century America combines fascinating detail with overlong narrationKarl Marlantes’s previous novel, 2010’s
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Margaret Thatcher: Herself Alone, Vol Three by Charles Moore – review 9 Oct 2:30am Margaret Thatcher: Herself Alone, Vol Three by Charles Moore – review
The final volume of this monumental biography is gripping and revealing but fails to grapple with Thatcher’s uneasy legacy In 1991, less than a year after Tory MPs deposed her as party leader and prime minister, Margaret Thatcher appeared on the platform at the Conservatives’ annual conference with her successor, John Major. Thatcher was not scheduled to speak, Charles Moore explains, but the Tory hierarchy realised that her standing with the party membership meant that a brief appearance couldn’t be avoided. Yet the event did not go according to plan. For six minutes, the audience cheered, applauded, stamped, and chanted, “We want Maggie!” Her parliamentary assassins looked on miserably. It’s a great moment in a book full of them. But arguably it’s also a moment the Conservatives have been stuck in ever since. With their ever escalating hostility to the EU, their stubborn faith in free-market capitalism, their unease with urban and northern Britain and their yearning for a mighty leader, the Tories are still the party Thatcher largely created during her epic leadership from 1975 to 1990. Moore’s monumental official biography – three volumes, almost 3,000 pages, the books published at regular intervals since her death in 2013 – has played a significant part in maintaining Thatcherism’s hold over the party. All three books are measured in tone and have their critical passages but Moore is, at bottom, a believer. Near the end of this concluding volume, when he finally lets his hair down, he calls her “the greatest genius ever to direct the affairs of the United Kingdom”.
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Parasite: how Bong Joon-ho returned home to make his masterpiece 9 Oct 1:00am Parasite: how Bong Joon-ho returned home to make his masterpiece
The director’s wildly acclaimed, Oscar-buzzed thriller marks a fascinating high point in a career that’s recovered from a Hollywood struggle There’s no place like home. It’s a cliche that sounds pretty cruel applied to Parasite, Bong Joon-ho’s brilliant, insidious twist on the home-invasion thriller, in which a frostily modernist luxury house serves as several different things to different people – a status symbol, a shelter, a prison – but doesn’t offer homely comforts to anyone, exactly. Yet it’s true, in a funny way, for Bong himself. A globally minded film-maker with big-dreaming genre nous, he has spent the last few years making a bid for mainstream Hollywood clout, only to finally make an international phenomenon from his own doorstep.
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Tinuke Craig on capitalist families, panto and The Color Purple casting row 9 Oct 1:00am Tinuke Craig on capitalist families, panto and The Color Purple casting row
The fast-rising director talks about staging Maxim Gorky’s Vassa with a last-minute lead, her passion for musicals and the joy of brain-digging in rehearsals When I meet the director Tinuke Craig she’s just finished the final run in the rehearsal room for Mike Bartlett’s version of Vassa by Maxim Gorky. Now it’s time to take it to the Almeida in London, a bit later than planned, with a couple of previews cancelled. Lead actor Samantha Bond has had to withdraw due to injury and her replacement is Siobhan Redmond. Craig is upbeat despite these difficulties. “She’s played a blinder, learned lines at the speed of light, been extraordinary!” This isn’t the first time the director has dealt with cast changes. This year, her production of The Color Purple at Leicester Curve hit the news when actor Seyi Omooba was
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