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Howard Jacobson: ‘Larry David is a warped version of Don Quixote’

1 hour ago

Where would comedy, or indeed philosophy, be without the easily hurt?

The Germans have an expression for that maddening song or melody that invades your brain and won’t leave it. They call it an Ohrwurm. We translate that as earworm, but the German more effectively suggests the impending insanity, the way a tune can twist like a drill bit into your inner ear and lodge for what you fear will be forever. In my experience, a single word can do the same. Take “incommensurate”.

Incommensurate snaked into my ear during a recent episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm, the theme tune of which is pretty Ohrwurmy itself. I am not the devoted watcher I once was. The pleasure Larry David takes in his own comic diabolism can wear a little thin. The devil isn’t always the irresistible companion in mischief he thinks he is. Sometimes, you’d prefer a »

- Howard Jacobson

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Roy Orbison: Love Hurts review – enough tragedy to fill several lifetimes

2 hours ago

This Friday-night music documentary by Orbison’s sons tells the story of a songwriter haunted by the loss of his children and wife – and the heartache of a son left behind

Roy Orbison thought his son Wesley took after his mother, Claudette. She was killed in a motorcycle accident in 1966, when the boy was a year old, and Roy found it hard to talk to Wesley about her, because he reminded him of her so much. Watching Roy Orbison: Love Hurts (BBC Four), though, you were struck more by his resemblance to his father, and by his sadness.

Wesley didn’t lose only his mum (and Roy his wife). In 1968, when Orbison was playing in Bournemouth, he received news that his Nashville home had exploded. His two eldest sons had been killed. Wesley and Roy’s parents survived. The following year, Orbison remarried, to a German teenager named Barbara Jakobs, »

- Michael Hann

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Alexandra Burke and the trouble with reality TV and race

3 hours ago

As a brilliant dancer fails to win votes on Strictly week after week, an unsettling interpretation emerges: that racial anxieties are the problem

Few contestants have dominated the Strictly Come Dancing dancefloor like Alexandra Burke has this year. She received the first 10 of the season for her jive to Tina Turner’s Proud Mary, performed a flawless, Mary Poppins-themed charleston and impressed the judges with her salsa and her Viennese waltz.

Despite her technical brilliance, Burke has found herself repeatedly in the bottom two – as voted for by the British public. And some observers have perceived a contempt for her, from both the media and the public, that is unlike anything directed towards her fellow contestants.

Have to say the thinly veiled racism directed at @joannajarjue on this seasons Apprentice was hard to watch. She was no more “confrontational” than anyone else.

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- Hannah Ellis-Petersen

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Late-night hosts on Trump's net neutrality repeal: 'Absolutely despicable'

17 hours ago

Comics, including Jimmy Kimmel and Stephen Colbert, discuss the FCC’s decision to end net neutrality and Omarosa Manigault-Newman stepping down

Late-night hosts discussed the FCC’s decision to repeal net neutrality, criticizing the move as “absolutely despicable”.

Related: Late-night hosts on Roy Moore's defeat: 'The real loser here is Donald Trump'

Trevor reacts to calls for a systemic overhaul of the FBI after ex-Mueller aides are found to have sent anti-Trump texts.

Full episode: https://t.co/XOM22OPxOy pic.twitter.com/uOxSyUHV0Q

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- Guardian staff

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The League of Gentlemen announce 2018 UK tour

21 hours ago

The dark comedy foursome are to hit the road, taking new show to ‘all the wonderful local places in our increasingly local country’

Their three forthcoming reunion specials for the BBC are among this Christmas’s most anticipated television shows. Now, the League of Gentlemen have announced that they will be touring the UK for the first time in over 12 years.

The League of Gentlemen Live Again! tour starts in Sunderland on 25 August 2018, offering local entertainment for local people around the UK, culminating in three nights at London’s Eventim Apollo, from 27 to 29 September.

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- Chris Wiegand

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The best TV this week: The League of Gentlemen returns

21 hours ago

After 12 years away, it’s time to go back to the carnival of the grotesque that is Royston Vasey. On a lighter note, it’s the Strictly final

What horrors will have been stewing in the sordid imaginations of Dyson, Gatiss, Pemberton and Shearsmith since we last saw them in 2005? Expect the proudly local people of Royston Vasey to have grown even more grotesque as one of the more singular comedies in recent TV history returns.

18-20 December, 10pm, BBC Two

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- The Guide

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Why it’s time to switch off The Apprentice, and ditch pitch culture | André Spicer

23 hours ago

The show has a lot to answer for. From schoolchildren to unemployed adults, we’re all at it – but there are much more productive ways to be productive

This weekend two budding entrepreneurs will pitch their business ideas while more than 7 million viewers laugh at them. These two aspiring captains of industry are finalists on The Apprentice, a television show in its 13th season in the UK. It first aired in 2005, like Dragons’ Den – a show where entrepreneurs pitch business ideas to venture capitalists, and on to its 14th season.

One solution is elitism. Instead of accepting pitches, you could simply rely on a small circle of trusted people to do the work

Pitching can be appropriate. But all too often it can end up being a waste of time, effort and money.

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- André Spicer

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Graham Linehan confirms The It Crowd is set for Us remake

23 hours ago

Writer is on board for NBC’s ‘reimagining’ of the British comedy, which will be the channel’s third attempt to deliver the show to an American audience

Graham Linehan and Us network NBC are teaming up for an American version of the British comedy The It Crowd.

Variety has reported that Linehan will write and executive produce a “reimagining” of the original that will move the setup, about the creaking It department of a large corporation, to the Us.

Related: Only Fools and Horses USA – and other failed TV remakes

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- Guardian staff

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The Tunnel: Vengeance review – intriguing sleepover kid-swap

14 December 2017 11:00 PM, PST

The final series of the rebooted Scandi noir has Syrian child refugees appearing on the Kent coast – and English kids going missing in return

A fishing boat drifts somewhere between England and France. There are children hiding on deck. Stowaways? Refugees, perhaps? The boat is set on fire, by someone wearing a gas mask; it’s not clear if the kids are still on board.

One man is found when the charred vessel is towed into Ramsgate, he’s in the hold, alive, bound and gagged. But when the gag is removed by Dci Karl Roebuck (Stephen Dillane), he’s still not saying much, because his tongue’s been cut off. Ew.

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- Sam Wollaston

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Friday’s best TV: The Sweet Makers at Christmas; Roy Orbison: Love Hurts

14 December 2017 10:20 PM, PST

Its sugar mice and all things nice as the confectioners whip up some traditional treats, while a look back at the life of the Big O is both touching and jaw-dropping

A festive edition of the series in which confectioners recreate period treats while dressed in appropriate garb. The Victorians invented Christmas as we know it by curating existing traditions and placing children – and sweets, the manufacture of which had recently improved – at the heart of the party. The team start slowly with sugar mice, before experimenting with fruit-shaped chocolate and an incredible show-stopper: a boar’s-head cake. Jack Seale

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- Jack Seale, Mark Gibbings-Jones, Andrew Mueller, Ali Catterall, Sophie Harris, David Stubbs, John Robinson and Paul Howlett

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The 50 best TV shows of 2017: No 3 Twin Peaks: The Return

14 December 2017 10:00 PM, PST

Weird and weirdly wonderful, David Lynch’s maximalist reboot was smarter, funnier, stranger and more perplexing that anything else on TV

More on the best TV of 2017More on the best culture of 2017

Twin Peaks: The Return might not have been the best TV series of 2017 (according to this poll, at least). Then again, it might not be a TV series at all. Earlier this month, Sight and Sound’s critics’ poll of the finest films of 2017 put David Lynch’s drama at No 2, ahead of Call Me By Your Name, The Florida Project and Dunkirk. The decision prompted howls of rage from snooty cineastes – but it was also quite fitting. Twin Peaks wasn’t interested in being constrained by categories and boxes; it could be anything you wanted it to be.

Still, The Return made most other TV series look small by comparison. It was smarter than most shows, »

- Gwilym Mumford

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'It sounds like Michael Bubbly!' Big Shaq rates his rivals for Christmas No 1

14 December 2017 10:00 PM, PST

The coat-obsessed Man’s Not Hot rapper has made the viral pop hit of the year – and could now be the Christmas No 1. So does he think he can beat Ed Sheeran, Mariah Carey and Gregory Porter?

Amid the usual sleigh bells, string sections and festive lyrics in this year’s Christmas No 1 race comes a man in a big coat, adamant that he is not overheating. Big Shaq’s Man’s Not Hot has become a snowballing breakthrough hit during the last few months: a parody of hardnut London rappers who use ridiculous slang, impersonate gunshots, and never, ever take off their coats. The knowingly witless aggression of its lyrics – “take man’s Twix by force” – makes them endlessly quotable, earning the track more than 100m views on YouTube and 74m streams on Spotify. It’s even been repeated in parliament by Peterborough MP Fiona Onasanya.

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- Ben Beaumont-Thomas

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Late-night hosts on Roy Moore's defeat: 'The real loser here is Donald Trump'

14 December 2017 7:55 AM, PST

Comics, including Stephen Colbert and Samantha Bee, covered the Republican loss in Alabama and how the president is coping with the news

Late-night hosts have discussed Roy Moore’s loss in the Alabama Senate election and how the result will affect Donald Trump.

Related: Late-night hosts to Roy Moore: 'Hello you and the horse you rode in on'

Tonight at 11/10c, America breathes a sigh of relief knowing that Alabama isn’t sending Cowboy Roman Polanski to the Senate. pic.twitter.com/RK9e8w7dnH

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- Guardian staff

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Thursday’s best TV: Amazing Spaces Snow and Ice Special, Love, Lies & Records

13 December 2017 10:20 PM, PST

The offbeat property programme goes festive as it visits an ice hotel in snowy Norway. Plus: Kate wrestles with others’ emotions while her own love life is in turmoil

George Clarke launches the seventh series of his offbeat property programme, confirming an apparently bottomless market for such shows. In search of what is doubtless considered a fittingly festive backdrop – ie, snow – Clarke and Will Hardie head to Norway, where building habitable habitats is a challenge, what with it being cold, damp and dark. Solutions contemplated include a mountain retreat, a geodesic dome and a snow hotel. Andrew Mueller

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- Andrew Mueller, Ellen E Jones, Graeme Virtue, Ali Catterall, Ben Arnold, David Stubbs, Jonathan Wright and Paul Howlett

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The 50 best TV shows of 2017: No 4 Blue Planet II

13 December 2017 10:00 PM, PST

This majestic ocean tour was not only gorgeous viewing, but brought scientific discovery and a timely reminder of ecological fragility

Top TV of 2017 - our pick of the best in one place

With Blue Planet II, Sir David Attenborough captivated audiences once again and helped the BBC grab more viewers than Strictly, Simon Cowell doling out stink or indeed any other TV show in the UK. And all with the magic of the natural world.

Four years in the making, and 16 years on from his original series, this latest seven-episode tour of the oceans came complete with a portentous soundtrack from composer Hans Zimmer and Radiohead, plus specially curated playlists and an excellent accompanying podcast. It also served as a reminder of the danger that our fragile world is in. “We’ve also recognised an uncomfortable fact,” said Attenborough. “[The oceans are] changing at a faster rate than ever before in human history. »

- Hannah J Davies

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Vanished by the Lake review – all the coincidences of a classic French thriller

13 December 2017 10:00 PM, PST

Walter Presents’ latest Gallic import has the requisite good-looking cop and a close-knit-community riddled with secrets. Plus: Penelope Keith goes coastal

How do you like your foreign-language thrillers? Period-set and perfectly plausible? Psychologically astute with a side of gruesome violence? Or Scandi-influenced, but mostly in English. From Broadchurch to The Bridge, Witnesses to Wallander and Dicte to Dark, there is now enough choice to cultivate some pretty recherché tastes. Personally, I won’t lift the remote for anything without a fortysomething, single-mother protagonist investigating serial murder in a mid-sized Jutland community, with a gaping class divide and stark, functionalist architecture for a backdrop. And still, I’m spoilt for choice. So how does Walter Presents’ latest French import Vanished by the Lake (Channel 4) measure up?

It’s got the looks, that’s for sure. The titular lake is a brochure-worthy expanse of twinkling turquoise in Provence that makes Broadchurch »

- Ellen E Jones

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Choose your own adventure – how tech is changing TV

13 December 2017 10:20 AM, PST

Streaming networks such as Twitch and Amazon are working on interactivity - the industry’s next big thing

At the start of the latest season of a hit TV detective series, interviews are taking place to find a new recruit to the murder squad. As the Dci grills the contenders, viewers decide, via an app, which character/actor combination will get the gig. Later, as the cop we have employed looks at the whiteboard listing persons of interest to the investigation, we highlight a name on screen and pick the prime suspect to be quizzed.

This scenario may not be far off. The California-based network Twitch – which began as an interactive gaming site before moving into original programming – is exploring the possibility of viewer-influenced TV dramas. Its boss, Kevin Lin, says: “The studio would script a drama to be performed live and – at certain points in the plot – there would be forks, »

- Mark Lawson

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Three Billboards leads Screen Actors Guild nominations as The Post is snubbed

13 December 2017 8:19 AM, PST

Dark comedy-drama picks up four nominations, but there’s no room for The Post’s Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep or Phantom Thread’s Daniel Day-Lewis

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri leads the way in nominations for the Screen Actors Guild awards, historically one of the key indicators of which films will triumph at the Oscars.

Martin McDonagh’s dark comedy-drama, which stars Frances McDormand as a mother who takes desperate measures to bring her daughter’s killer to justice, received a total of four nominations in total, with nods for McDormand (best female actor), Woody Harrelson and Sam Rockwell (supporting actor) and best ensemble.

Related: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri review – violent carnival of small-town America

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- Gwilym Mumford

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Judd Apatow: The Return review – Netflix stand-up special is a bit of a trainwreck

13 December 2017 3:48 AM, PST

Hollywood super-producer’s attempts at self-deprecation don’t combine well with boasts about schmoozing the president

We have Amy Schumer to thank for the filmmaker Judd Apatow’s return to standup. Apatow directed Schumer’s movie Trainwreck, and found himself envious when, after a day’s shoot, Schumer kept stealing off to perform live comedy. Twenty-five years previously, his younger self quit standup, convinced of his inferiority to his peers, such as Jim Carrey and Adam Sandler. “Looking back,” he said in a recent interview, “I’m surprised how bad I was.” Fellow comic – and co-producer of Apatow’s new Netflix special The Return – Wayne Federman is more upbeat about his friend’s standup skills. But only slightly. “Judd,” he says, “was not that bad at all.”

Related: ‘Life is messy’: Judd Apatow on Freaks and Geeks, Lena Dunham and his return to standup

It’s about tone – and »

- Brian Logan

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The Twilight Zone review – a spooky ride into the supernatural

13 December 2017 3:35 AM, PST

Almeida, London

Anne Washburn has adapted the TV show for an inventive production featuring tales of vanishing children, amnesiac teachers and alien interlopers

Anne Washburn is clearly haunted by American popular culture. In Mr Burns she implied the most enduring relic of western civilisation would be The Simpsons. Now she has hewn a drama out of the iconic TV series that mixed sci-fi and the supernatural, and that ran on CBS from 1959 to 1964, and has been endlessly repeated. I admired the inventiveness of Richard Jones’s production: the big problem is that, while many of the stories explore the mysteries of the fourth dimension, the characters barely exist in two.

Related: Anne Washburn on watching 156 Twilight Zone episodes for freaky remake

Related: Thirty Christmases review – a merry little comedy about festive stress

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- Michael Billington

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