Roald Dahl wanted Charlie and the Chocolate Factory hero to be black


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Media captionRoald Dahl’s widow Liccy on the author’s favourite character

The hero of Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was meant to be black, the author’s widow has revealed.

Liccy Dahl told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme her husband had written about a “little black boy”.

But Dahl’s agent thought the idea a bad one and insisted the character be changed – something Dahl’s widow said was a “great pity”.

She said seeing the 1964 children’s book as her husband had intended it would be “wonderful”.

Image copyrightPA
Image caption A Lego version of Charlie – with his golden ticket – has been unveiled in Manchester

The programme’s interview with Mrs Dahl and her late husband’s biographer, Donald Sturrock, took place on the 101st anniversary of Dahl’s birth.

Sturrock told Today that Dahl knew both the British and American sensibilities and had “a foot in both camps” – the reason, his widow said, behind Charlie Bucket’s original ethnicity.

“His first Charlie that he wrote about, you know, was a little black boy,” she said. “I’m sure that was influenced by America.”

“It was his agent who thought it was a bad idea, when the book was first published, to have a black hero,” said Sturrock. “She said: ‘People would ask why.'”

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Media captionRoald Dahl: Can you spot your favourite character?

Dahl didn’t escape some controversy about depictions of race after Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was published in 1964. In the first edition, Oompa-Loompas were depicted as black pygmies.

But it was decided his description wasn’t acceptable and for the second edition they were changed and given “rosy-white” skin. For the first Charlie and the Chocolate Factory movie, film-makers made them orange.

Speaking to Radio 4, Mrs Dahl also revealed her husband had not enjoyed that original film.

“He wasn’t very happy about Charlie, the original with Gene Wilder,” she said of the film, released in 1971 as Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

In contrast, Dahl’s widow said his first meeting Sir Quentin Blake, who illustrated his books, was altogether happier.

“You knew straight away,” said Mrs Dahl. “I was witnessing a rather amazing union.”

Earlier this year it was announced that Dahl – whose birthday is now celebrated as ‘Roald Dahl Day”‘ – will be played by Hugh Bonneville in an upcoming film biopic.

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James Dreyfus pulls out of play on medical advice

James Dreyfus and Samantha BondImage copyrightPA/BBC
Image caption Dreyfus had been due to play Paul opposite Samantha Bond’s Alice

Actor James Dreyfus has pulled out of a London play on medical advice.

The Gimme Gimme Gimme star had been due to star as Samantha Bond’s husband in The Lie by France’s Florian Zeller.

His role at the Menier Chocolate Factory in south London will now be played by Alexander Hanson, Bond’s real-life husband.

The play was due to begin its run this week but is likely to have some of its preview performances cancelled. Ticket holders will be notified.

Hanson was previously seen at the Menier in The Truth, another Zeller play. The Lie is a companion piece to that 2011 work.

Dreyfus’s departure comes in the wake of another exit from a high-profile London production, again on medical advice.

Sarah Lancashire had been due to appear opposite Martin Freeman in Labour of Love, a play about divisions within the Labour Party.

Her role will instead be played by Tamsin Greig when James Graham’s drama opens at the Noel Coward theatre at the end of September.

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‘What is going on right now?’: Emma Blackery unexpectedly stars at iPhone X launch


“I’ve had the weirdest 12 hours of my life,” says Emma Blackery, after unexpectedly starring during the iPhone X launch.

“What happened last night was absolutely crazy,” she tells Newsbeat.

“I was at home just watching TV, and suddenly my phone lit up with about 20 of my friends all saying the same thing.”

The unsigned singer and YouTuber’s face was broadcast to millions.

The 25-year-old had no idea it was coming.

Emma Blackery's EP on screen at the Apple launch event.

“It was about 7pm in the evening, and I was already in bed, because basically I’m an old lady,” Emma explains.

She got a barrage of messages from her friends “and there was my face behind Eddie Cue [senior vice president of Apple], and my EP artwork with my name and the title.

“It was just absolutely mind blowing.”

Emma got on her own social media and caused a delightful Twitter storm expressing her delight – even if most of the posts aren’t suitable to publish here.


“I was completely shocked. But I wish I had perhaps reserved myself and been a bit more eloquent and polite,” she says.

But it didn’t stop her getting some new followers.

“Paris Hilton – I’m not kidding, she followed me and it made my life.”


And as we were talking, she just found out she’d gained another new fan.

“One of my favourite wrestlers just followed me just now; Titus O’ Neil. So this is crazy, I love wrestling.

“What is going on right now?”

Emma Blackery on stage

Emma’s not exactly a stranger to attention – she has 1.4 million YouTube subscribers after all.

“I started the channel to promote my music, which was home demos and really rough recordings,” she says.

“I just started watching these other people who were just talking to a camera and being really entertaining, and I thought ‘I could do this.'”

Emma is “completely happy” with some fans knowing her as a YouTuber and others knowing her for music.


Warning: Third party content, may contain ads

The fandom expanded when she supported Busted on their UK tour last year.

“It was the most amazing opportunity of my life, because I’ve loved Busted since I was 12 or 13,” she says.

“They were a band that I had dreamed of sharing the stage with.”

The song that Apple featured, Magnetised, actually came out in May and Emma says it’s about “a guy that I was really, really crazy about, but he had a girlfriend.”

“But now I’m on Apple events – so it sucks to be him.”

Emma Blackery

Emma’s still waiting for any contact from Apple.

“They’re like my silent knights in shining armour at the moment,” she says of all the attention it’s given her.

Would she fork out over £1,000 for an iPhone X, though?

“Maybe if this massive ride keeps up. If people keep streaming my music, then definitely,” she jokes.

Perhaps Emma should expect them to send a free one instead?

“If they want to, they most certainly can. I wouldn’t say no.”


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Jude Law sparks Bath Odeon cinema security alert

Connor Walter (left) with a hooded Jude LawImage copyrightConnor Walter
Image caption Connor Walter asked a hooded Jude Law for a photo

A man in a hoodie who alarmed cinema security turned out to be Hollywood actor Jude Law.

Cinema attendant Connor Walter was asked to keep an eye on a man “acting strangely” at Bath’s Odeon on Wednesday.

But Mr Walter recognised the hooded man as Law and arranged a photo with him, even placing a hand-written note in the actor’s pocket.

He later received an email from Law apologising for running off.

Law is currently thought to be filming JK Rowling’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them 2 in nearby Lacock, Wiltshire.

He plays a young Dumbledore in the sequel.

Mr Walter said the actor had come to the cinema to watch Detroit and was hoping to remain under the radar.

‘Kind note’

He said: “I was working as the ticket tearer stood at the bottom of the stairs, and my manager told me to keep an eye on a man acting suspiciously with his hood up in the main foyer.

“The man spent a good 10 minutes just standing around on the phone, then he came and bought a ticket from one of my colleagues and my colleague who served him the ticket did not recognise him, nobody did.

“Then he came to the bottom of the stairs and I tore his ticket, I looked at his eyes and recognised him, then he said ‘thanks’ and I just knew it was him within an instant.”

Image copyrightConnor Walter
Image caption Mr Walter received an email from the actor who said he was a “huge film obsessive”

Mr Walter waited for the film to finish before approaching Law and asking him for a photo.

He said he wrote the actor a “kind note praising his work over the years” and slipped it into his back pocket.

Mr Walter then received an email from the star half an hour later, apologising for running off and praising him for also being a “movie madman”.

“If I had not been working that night, nobody else would have recognised him as he was very unrecognisable with his black hoodie and beard,” he added.

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Booker Prize: Novelist and bookshop worker Fiona Mozley on shortlist


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Media captionFiona Mozley says she finds selling customers her own novel “strange and embarrassing”

A 29-year-old writer who works part-time at a bookshop in York has been shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize for her debut novel.

Fiona Mozley, the second-youngest author to be up for the prestigious literary prize, wrote Elmet while commuting between London and York.

Emily Fridlund, another debut novelist, is also up for the £50,000 award.

So are fellow Americans Paul Auster and George Saunders, Britain’s Ali Smith and Pakistan-born Mohsin Hamid.

The winning book will be announced on 17 October.

2017 Man Booker Prize shortlist

Paul Auster, 4 3 2 1

In a nutshell: A young man growing up in New Jersey in the 1950s and 60s leads four parallel lives.

Judges’ comment: “An ambitious, complex, epic narrative… that is essentially both human and humane.”

Image copyrightWeidenfeld & Nicolson

Emily Fridlund (above), History of Wolves

In a nutshell: A 14-year-old girl living on a commune in the US Midwest befriends some new arrivals.

Judges’ comment: “A novel of silver prose and disquieting power that asks very difficult questions.”

Mohsin Hamid, Exit West

In a nutshell: A boy and girl fall in love, move in together and consider leaving their unnamed country.

Judges’ comment: “A subtle, compact piece of writing about a relationship, its blossoming and digressions.”

Fiona Mozley, Elmet

In a nutshell: A boy remembers his life in a house his father built with his bare hands in an isolated wood.

Judges’ comment: “Timeless in its epic mixture of violence and love, it is also timely… with no punches pulled.”

Image copyrightBloomsbury

George Saunders (above), Lincoln in the Bardo

In a nutshell: President Abraham Lincoln goes to a Georgetown cemetery to grieve following his young son’s death.

Judges’ comment: “Daring and accomplished, this is a novel with a rare capriciousness of mind and heart.”

Ali Smith, Autumn

In a nutshell: A dying 101-year-old man is watched over by his closest and only friend.

Judges’ comment: “An elegy for lost time, squandered beauty but also for the loss of connections.”

Mozley, a PhD student at the University of York’s Centre for Medieval Studies, is one of three female writers on a shortlist evenly divided between the sexes.

The author told Woman’s Hour the issue of home ownership was on her mind while writing her novel, which takes its title from the old name for the West Riding in Yorkshire.

Veteran writer Paul Auster has been shortlisted at the age of 70 for 4 3 2 1. The book, which runs to 866 pages, is Auster’s first novel in seven years.

Image caption Hamid is best known for his 2007 novel The Reluctant Fundamentalist

Smith, who has been shortlisted for the Booker three times, makes the cut again with Autumn, the first in a quartet of books named after the seasons.

Hamid, shortlisted in 2007 in The Reluctant Fundamentalist, is once more in contention thanks to Exit West.

US writer Saunders, best known for his short stories and novellas, is shortlisted for Lincoln in the Bardo, his first full-length novel.

The shortlist is completed by History of Wolves, the first novel from US writer Fridlund.

The prize has been open to American writers since 2014 and was awarded to its first American winner, Paul Beatty, last year.

Image copyrightReuters
Image caption Auster’s 4 3 2 1 took him more than three years to write

Analysis by Rebecca Jones, BBC arts correspondent

This is a really interesting shortlist – a good mix of established literary names and newer voices.

At the top of the tree is Paul Auster, the oldest and most high-profile author. 4 3 2 1 took him three-and-a-half years to write, working six-and-a-half days a week.

Do not be put off by its 866 pages. It is a richly rewarding and entertaining novel, though probably easier to follow in physical book form than on an E-reader.

He is joined by his compatriots George Saunders and Emily Fridlund. Those who feared American dominance of the prize may raise eyebrows that half the authors on this year’s list are from the United States. No room, yet again, for Indian, African or Australian writers.

It is a huge achievement for Fiona Mozley to be shortlisted for her debut novel. It is a coup too for her editor Becky Walsh. It was the first book she acquired when she joined the small imprint JM Originals.

Four-times nominated Ali Smith is catching up with the perpetual Booker bridesmaid Beryl Bainbridge, who was shortlisted five times without winning.

Her novel Autumn is a timely book – a response, in part, to Brexit – while Mohsin Hamid’s Exit West is also topical, imagining a world where mass migration is the norm.

Image copyrightGetty Images
Image caption This is the fourth time Ali Smith has been shortlisted for the prize

Baroness Lola Young, chair of the 2017 judging panel, said the six shortlisted novels “collectively push against the borders of convention”.

She said: “The emotional, cultural, political and intellectual range of these books is remarkable, and the ways in which they challenge our thinking is a testament to the power of literature.”

Her fellow judges include novelist Sarah Hall, artist Tom Phillips and the travel writer Colin Thubron.

The shortlist was whittled down from a longlist of 15 novels that was announced in July.

Sebastian Barry, Arundhati Roy and Zadie Smith are among the big-name writers whose works were on the longlist but have not made the final cut.

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Shop worker shortlisted for Man Booker Prize


Fiona Mozley’s first book, Elmet, tells the story of two children and their father who want to live in peace and stay far away from everyone in their village – but trouble lands on the doorstep of their house in the woods and their idyllic life is irrevocably changed.

The 29-year-old’s debut has received numerous compliments from critics: “An explosion of a book, exquisite and unforgettable” (Economist); “Hansel and Gretel meets The Godfather” (Sunday Times).

Mozley, who works part-time in a small bookshop in York, has strong competition as she joins established authors Ali Smith, George Saunders, Paul Auster, Mohsin Hamid and Emily Fridlund on this year’s shortlist.

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Video:Fiona Mozley: “I still can’t believe it’s happened!”

The young author studied at Cambridge University before living in Buenos Aires for a year. She has a PhD in medieval studies.

“It’s absolutely extraordinary. I still can’t believe that it’s happened,” she told Sky News.

Mozley wrote the novel on her mobile phone while travelling from London to York on the train.

“If you want to be a writer you have to actually write something so that’s what I tried to do and it went much better than I thought it would,” she said.

Since the shortlist announcement, publishers JM Originals have printed an additional 15,000 copies of Elmet.

The Man Booker winner will receive a £50,000 prize. Previous winners include Hilary Mantel, Julian Barnes, Margaret Atwood, William Golding, Kingsley Amis and Ian McEwan.

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Booker Prize: Selling my book ‘strange and embarrassing’


Fiona Mozley, who works part-time in a book shop in York, has been shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize for her debut novel.

She told the BBC’s Colin Paterson that finding out about the nomination was “very exciting”, but she struggles to sell customers her own novel.

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Cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason donates £3,000 to his old school

Sheku Kanneh-Mason
Image caption Sheku Kanneh-Mason was the first black winner of the BBC Young Musician competition

Cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason has donated £3,000 to his old school so 10 other young people can continue having cello lessons.

The teenager made history in 2016 when he became the first black winner of the BBC Young Musician competition.

The 18-year-old donated money saved from his concerts after hearing cello teaching could end at Trinity Catholic School in Nottingham.

He told the Nottingham Post he knew it was “the right thing to do”.

“I have had amazing opportunities at Trinity School and to see other children not have the same opportunities as I had would be a huge shame,” he said.

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Media captionGrowing up in a very musical family

Assistant head teacher Steve Manderson said music was still a priority but the school had to make difficult decisions due to cuts from central government.

“It’s no secret that funding at the school is pretty dire at the moment and we are having to re-evaluate everything we offer,” he said.

“Sheku generously offered to fund a cello teacher and we are in a position where we had to say yes.”

Image caption Sheku Kanneh-Mason recently left Trinity Catholic School after gaining A-levels in music, maths and physics

Parents currently pay for their children to have instrument lessons at the school but these are subsidised by the school, to make them affordable for children from less advantaged backgrounds.

The cost of cello lessons was due to increase, meaning the money paid by the school and parents would no longer cover the lessons. Sheku’s donation will cover the shortfall for about three years.

Image caption Sheku Kanneh-Mason has a recording contract with Decca Classics

Sheku comes from a family of musical prodigies and he and his brother and five sisters all featured in the BBC documentary Young, Gifted and Classical.

His sister Isata was a semi-finalist in BBC Young Musician in 2014, performing on the piano.

Five of his siblings have attended Trinity School, either currently or in the past, and his youngest sister is due to go there too.

He is now studying full-time at the Royal Academy of Music, where he studied at weekends while growing up.

He also has a recording contract with Decca Classics. His debut album is due to be released in early 2018.

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Victoria Wood’s diaries inspire TV series on making of Dinnerladies

Maxine Peake as Twinkle , Anne Reid as Jean, Victoria Wood as Bren, Thelma Barlow as dolly and Shobna Gulati as Anita
Image caption The three-part documentary will explore how Dinnerladies was made

Previously unseen diaries and notebooks written by late comedian Victoria Wood have inspired a TV documentary about the making of her sitcom Dinnerladies.

Wood, who was born in Bury, Greater Manchester, died at the age of 62 in April 2016 after battling cancer.

Backstage photos will also be used for the three-part documentary, which will explore how the 1990s comedy was made.

Executive producer Lindsay Jex said it would “tell the definitive story” of the award-winning BBC show.

Fellow producer Iain Coyle said “extraordinary material” had been “uncovered”.

Called Dinnerladies Diaries, he said the programme “will give us a unique insight into how one our best-loved shows was conceived and produced”.

Image copyrightPA
Image caption Victoria Wood was made a CBE in 2008

Wood found fame in the 1980s for her TV sketches including Acorn Antiques with comedy partner Julie Walters.

She won five Baftas including for her ITV drama Housewife, 49.

The new three-part series, which will air on TV channel Gold, will also feature interviews with the Dinnerladies cast.

The channel said the notebooks, photographs and studio records had never been seen before.

Running for two series, Dinnerladies saw actress Maxine Peake make her TV debut and also featured Dame Thora Hird’s last performance.

Ms Jex said: “We have unearthed some truly amazing unseen gems from the archive combined with first-hand insight from the cast and crew.”

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