INDEPENDENT 2024-02-16 18:04:14


Lorraine Kelly responds to viral account tracking chat show absence

Lorraine Kelly has shared a stony response to a viral social media account that tracks her absences from her TV show.

The Scottish broadcaster has been a mainstay on morning television since the 1980s, fronting programmes such as Good Morning Britain, GMTV and, since 2010, her own ITV programme, Lorraine.

Recent months have seen Kelly, 64, take more regular breaks from daily presenting. In response, a satirical account on X (formerly Twitter) known as @LorraineKWatch has been tracking her absences, succinctly totting up the number of times she has appeared on her show.

The account regularly goes viral, with social media users being amused at the level of surveillance surrounding the presenter.

During her appearance on BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour on Friday (16 February), Kelly was asked her thoughts on the account.

After initially quipping that she found it “hilarious”, the presenter then noted that she’d been taking time off more regularly to spend time with her elderly, unwell mother.

“It’s fine, I don’t mind, I don’t care. I probably would have cared before, but I really don’t now, it’s absolutely fine,” she said of the account, before continuing: “To be honest… you should never comment on things like that if you don’t know what’s really going on in people’s lives.

“But I am having to take quite a few Fridays off, because my mum’s really not well.”

Kelly splits her time between her home in Buckinghamshire on weekdays and in East Kilbride in Scotland, where her mother lives, on the weekends.

“I can go home [to Scotland] now, and spend some more time with her, and help her a bit more than I’ve been able to. That’s happening just now, but that’ll change,” she told host Anita Rani.

Kelly then noted that she had been working five days a week “for 40 years, so I’m just taking a wee bit of time off”.

Last month, Kelly referred to missing out on a show in a post on X, in which she thanked Christine Lampard for stepping in as a relief presenter.

“Morning and huge thanks to the wonderful @clbleakley for stepping in on Fridays so I can get back home,” she began her message. “Great to see mum doing really well and I appreciate your kind words.”

In July, Kelly’s mother, Anne, was admitted to the hospital. Though Kelly didn’t divulge specific details about her mother’s condition at the time, Anne had been diagnosed with nephrotic syndrome, a kidney condition, earlier in 2023.

Kelly also was unveiled as the Owl on the current season of The Masked Singer, with host Joel Dommett calling her reveal one of the show’s best ever.

Amy Schumer addresses concern over ‘puffy’ face after show appearance

Amy Schumer has responded to comments about a change in her facial appearance after recent TV appearances.

The comedian and actor, 42, issued a statement on her social media on Thursday (15 February) after online commenters questioned the “puffiness” of her face during an appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.

Alongside a poster promoting the new season of her comedy series Life and Beth, Schumer began her message by encouraging fans to watch earlier runs of the show and added: “Thank you so much for everyone’s input about my face!

“I’ve enjoyed feedback and deliberation about my appearance as all women do for almost 20 years. And you’re right, it is puffier than normal right now.”

Schumer then noted that she lives with endometriosis, an often painful condition in which tissue similar to the lining of the uterus grows outside of the uterus. It can take several years for people with uteruses to get diagnosed with the condition, and research into the disorder is limited.

The comedian underwent a hysterectomy and an appendectomy to treat the disease in September 2021.

“There are some medical and hormonal things going on in my world right now but I’m okay,” she continued. “Historically women’s bodies have barely been studied medically compared to men.

“I also believe a woman doesn’t need any excuse for her physical appearance and owes no explanation. But I wanted to take the opportunity to advocate for self-love and acceptance of the skin you’re in.”

Schumer, who has spoken about body image and insecurities about her looks throughout her career, then went on to note that her confidence fluctuates, but would prefer people to focus on her work instead of her face.

“Like every other woman/person some days I feel confident and good as hell and others I want to put a bag over my head. But I feel strong and beautiful and so proud of this TV show I created. Wrote. Starred in and directed. Maybe just maybe we can focus on that for a little.”

Ending her message, she quipped that despite having backup dancers during her appearance on Jimmy Fallon’s show, “my face is the headline hahaha”.

Elsewhere, Schumer has been heavily criticised in recent months for using her large social media platform to campaign in favour of Israel’s assault on Gaza following the Hamas attack on 7 October.

Notably, the Trainwreck actor deleted a post that conflated Palestinian civilians with Hamas after it received considerable pushback across social media.

Steve Wright’s brother blames DJ’s sudden death on ‘lifestyle choices’

Steve Wright’s brother, Laurence, has broken his silence on the DJ’s sudden death.

The legendary BBC radio host’s death at 69 was announced by his family on Tuesday (13 February), although a cause of death was not disclosed.

Speaking to The Daily Mail, Laurence, 65, blamed his brother’s death on his diet and overall “lifestyle choices”.

“He was aware that he could have looked after himself better, in his lifestyle choices. Obviously, we all wish he had,” Laurence, a director of a company in the health industry, said.

“It’s like anyone who doesn’t look after themselves over an extended period. The normal stuff – diet, nutrition, exercise, sleep, stress – he was a very stoic kind of guy as well so if he had something wrong with him and he had to go to have some treatment or go to the doctors, he wouldn’t talk about it.

“He was the kind of guy who would just carry on, take care of it, not talk about it, not make a big thing, that kind of stoic sort of attitude.

“That’s just how he was – that probably didn’t help really, because he wouldn’t have help or take advice necessarily.”

Wright was found dead by paramedics at his central London flat on Monday morning, according to reports – but police say his death is not being treated as suspicious. A report will be prepared for the coroner.

Laurence also claimed that Wright had been taken aback by BBC Radio 2’s decision to replace him in the afternoon slot with ex-Radio 1 host Scott Mills in 2022. Wright continued to present Sunday Love Songs as well as various specials and podcasts until his death.

“Steve was very professional about it,” Laurence said of the transition with Mills.

“He felt that he’d been at the BBC for 40 years or whatever it was, and you’ve got to move on at some point, and he felt that he was kind of happy to move on and give someone else a chance.

“That was his view, although he also at the same time thought that it was a little of an unusual decision.

“The BBC, he said, were moving on to younger, more diverse audience, however, it does seem a little mad that the BBC, [which] is supposed to be an organisation for general entertainment for people, would take off a show that was clearly entertaining people, because of the listenership.

“If the show hadn’t been successful it would have been understood – the old DJ’s getting on a bit, listenership has plummeted, and it’s time he moved on – but that wasn’t the case, the show was still really successful.

“Everybody loved it. When he left he was aware of that – that everybody still loved the show, so he wasn’t a has-been. He still knew that he was vibrant, had loads more to give.”

Mills was among those to pay tribute to Wright, beginning his show on Wednesday by saying: “I wouldn’t want to start the show today and not talk about Steve. What an absolute legend.

“An absolute broadcasting titan. The man who made it sound so effortless, but worked the hardest out of everyone, to be in this slot will forever be an honour.”

Two arrested as migrants found in back of lorry at UK ferry port

Six migrants have been taken to hospital after they were found in the back of a lorry at Newhaven ferry port in East Sussex.

Police said they had arrested two men – one on suspicion of facilitating illegal entry to the UK, and the other for illegally entering the UK. The discovery at the Sussex port on Friday morning sparked a major emergency services response, with border force, police and the ambulance service all attending the scene.

The vehicle is reported to have arrived on a passenger ferry from Dieppe on Friday morning.

Footage circulating online appears to show someone wrapped in a foil blanket being wheeled off a ferry on a stretcher. No fatalies have been reported.

Martin Sinnock, 70, whose home overlooks the entrance to Newhaven Harbour, said he saw “a lot of activity” and a “large” emergency services presence including a helicopter landing on the quayside shortly after the ferry arrived. He said he was “deeply sad” to hear migrants were inside the vehicle.

A spokesman for ferry operator DFDS said: “We can confirm that migrants were found onboard Seven Sisters [ferry]. Immediate medical attention was provided and as per normal procedure, relevant authorities were contacted. From there on our crew followed their instructions.”

Responding to media reports about the incident, Lewes MP Maria Caulfield, whose constituency includes Newhaven, said in a post on X, formely Twitter: “Very concerned about these reports.

“From my office in Newhaven we can see lots of activity opposite at the port and thanks to the emergency services responding.”

A spokesperson for the south east coast ambulance service said they were called at 9:40am on Friday morning to an incident at the port. “A range of ambulance resources have attended, including our HART (hazardous area response team), alongside other emergency service partners,” they added.

A spokesperson for Sussex police said a number of people had been found on a lorry on a boat in Newhaven port.

A Home Office spokesperson said: “Border Force are supporting emergency services in response to an incident at Newhaven Ferry Port.

“While the incident is ongoing, it would be inappropriate to comment further.”

Madeleine McCann suspect trial suspended over judge’s tweet

The sexual assault trial of the prime suspect in the Madeleine McCann case has been suspended after one of the judges allegedly called for the killing of Jair Bolsonaro in a tweet.

Christian Brueckner was due to stand trial on Friday at the Braunschweig state court in northern Germany over multiple sexual offences he is alleged to have committed in Portugal between 2000 and 2017, which are unrelated to the British girl’s disappearance.

The convicted rapist – who has been named in the media but is known as Christian B in Germany because of the country’s strict privacy laws – is accused of three counts of rape and two of sexual abuse of children.

The start of the trial was delayed because of long queues to get into the courthouse, German news agency DPA reported. Then the trial was adjourned within moments of opening after the defence cited social media posts indicating a lay judge might be biased.

The court postponed the trial by a week to rule on whether the lay judge should be removed over tweets in which she allegedly called for the killing of the former Brazilian president and of an animal torturer.

Brueckner has called the trial “ridiculous”, mockingly telling Mail Online: “I hope [they] will find some answers to [their] questions soon.”

The 47-year-old German’s appearance at the trial on Friday marked the first time he had been pictured in public since being connected to missing Madeleine in 2020. However, Brueckner has not been charged in her case.

He spent many years in Portugal, including in the resort of Praia da Luz around the time when Madeleine, who was three at the time, vanished from her bedroom during a family holiday there in 2007. He has denied any involvement in her disappearance.

He is currently serving a seven-year prison sentence in Germany for a rape he committed in Portugal in 2005.

In October 2022, prosecutors filed charges in the case that has now been suspended. Defence lawyer Friedrich Fulscher has said the defence will seek the suspect’s acquittal on all counts.

Speaking outside court on Friday about the accusations that led to the adjournment, Mr Fulscher said: “Such a lay judge has no business participating in a fair criminal trial.”

German media reported that lawyers had also cited the lay judge’s work as a child psychologist as a potential source of bias in a case involving the sexual abuse of several children.

Prosecutors have said that, at an unspecified time between 2000 and 2006, the suspect allegedly tied up and raped an elderly woman in her holiday apartment in Portugal. He is accused of beating the victim several times with a whip and recording the incident on video.

During the same period, it is claimed that he tied a German-speaking girl aged at least 14 to a wooden post in the living room of his residence in Praia da Luz, allegedly beating her with a whip and forcing her to perform oral sex.

The defendant also stands accused of gaining access at night to the apartment of an Irish woman, then aged 20, in Praia da Rocha in 2004, before raping her, tying her to a table and whipping her.

In separate cases in 2007 and 2017, it is claimed that he exposed himself to girls aged 10 and 11.

The case is being heard in Braunschweig after a higher court ruled that judges in the city have jurisdiction, overturning an earlier decision that they did not. That ruling centred on questions about where the suspect’s last residence was in Germany before he went abroad and then to prison.

The court has set 29 trial sessions through to late June.

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Ukraine can still win this war – but it will need our help

Understandably, but unfortunately, overshadowed by the dynamics of the war in Gaza, which constantly threatens to escalate from fresh humanitarian disaster into a regional conflagration, the conflict in Ukraine seems set firmly in a pattern of indefinite attrition. As such, the balance of advantage is tipping towards Russia.

In line with some striking historical precedents, Russia’s armed forces, and especially its navy, may be poorly led, badly equipped, prone to corruption and incompetent – but there are lots of them. A seemingly endless supply of manpower, of varying quality, and of basic but serviceable materiel, supplemented by supplies from Iran and North Korea, means that it’s possible the Russian “meat-grinder” approach and well-dug-in defensive stance will exhaust the Ukrainians.

Smaller in population, and with reported difficulties in recruiting fresh troops, this is becoming an awkward situation for Ukraine. The summer offensive yielded less territory than hoped, and Kyiv’s allies are proving increasingly unreliable. Short of money, shells and the best fighter aircraft, the Ukrainians are not able to press home the substantial technological edge that Western weaponry has given them, and no matter how brave their soldiers and pilots, there is only so much that can be achieved with valour alone. They need help.

What is the fiscal ‘time bomb’ that awaits Labour?

Britain is in recession. Though hardly a shock, the bald headline and the facts that lie behind it certainly have a sobering effect and won’t help to maintain business and consumer confidence. It’s a mild recession by historical standards, and much of the West is in a similar kind of position. The relative performance of the British economy has been unsatisfactory for many years, and such growth as there has been is due to population increase and net migration, whereas much of the downward pressure on economic activity, especially investment and international trade, has been down to Brexit. In any case, whatever the reasons, the economic effects are being felt across the country and, before long, the political consequences of a weak economy will make themselves known…

Bad for the government, obviously. It goes against the “growth” narrative that ministers constantly push and feels like the prime minister has failed to deliver another of his promises. The downbeat media coverage will also affect the voters’ mood, as will the economic consequences of a stagnant economy – less room for pay rises, mortgages staying higher, property prices more depressed than otherwise and less cash for tax cuts or public spending. The “feel good factor” is dangerously absent in an election year: Tories certainly can’t deploy their traditional slogan of “Britain is booming – don’t let Labour ruin it!”. Instead, they have to “stick to the plan or go back to square one”, which is at best opaque and at worst makes a return to how things were in 2010 feel quite appealing.