BBC Three

Archives for March 2010

The World's Most Dangerous Place for Women

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Dana Stevens | 12:20 UK time, Tuesday, 30 March 2010

400x300_judith_face.jpg Just watching the preview clip for The World's Most Dangerous Place For Women made me feel angry, emotional, upset and intrigued. The programme follows Judith Wanga as she returns to the Congo twenty years after her parents sent her to live in the UK. I've interviewed musicians from the capital Kinshasa before, and heard many amazing stories of people trying to find hope amidst the devastation of war. But I hadn't heard about the heartbreaking injustices suffered by women in the country... until now.

The director of the programme, Fiona Lloyd-Davies, has been interested in the region for a long time, so she certainly knew what she was getting in to. I asked her to tell us more about making such a challenging documentary.

Fiona Lloyd-Davies writes:

Making The World's Most Dangerous Place for Women was the realisation of nearly ten years of work for me. I had first gone to eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in October 2001 post 9/11. I had been banned from Pakistan after making a film there about Honour Killing and as the worlds press flocked to cover the emerging situation, all poised on the border to flood Afghanistan, I found myself excluded.

So I looked for another story and found a virtually unknown but ongoing horror in eastern DRC. Mass rape against women. It was like a virus. In Shabunda, a town deep in the forest, I found that nearly 70% of the women had been raped. Since then I'd gone back to DRC on and off over half a dozen times to write articles and make short films. But I'd never been able to secure a commission to make a whole film about what was happening to these women. It was as though they had been forgotten by the world. The women had totally captured my heart. I felt I couldn't let them down.

200x200_judith_girl.jpg Then, last year, nearly ten years later, I was asked to join the BBC Three team to take Judith (known as 'Jude') back to her birth place to discover for herself what was going on. The channel was taking on difficult but important global issues and bringing them to an audience through the eyes of a young British woman. It was going to ask a lot of 23 year old Jude. She was not only going to meet her parents for the first time since she was three and a half; but she was also going to meet women who had survived the most brutal violence she could imagine.

(Photo: Judith Wanga with a three and half year old girl who was raped. Panzi Hospital, Bukavu, DRC.)

It seems inconceivable, but since I first went, the situation for women has got even worse. The sexual violence has now become generational. Women are being raped for the third or fourth time, and their children who they conceived through rape, are themselves being raped too. It was going to be quite a responsibility taking a young London woman to a hostile environment, immersing her in a culture so close to her but one which she had been away from for twenty years. It would be her first time in Africa since she left. Her total experience of foreign travel since leaving DRC had been Europe and a visit to New York.

I knew it would be a challenge. Working in DRC always is. It's not just the threat of physical danger, meeting a militia group that decides not to be friendly; running into a roadblock who want more than just money; the heat; and then the dust that gets everywhere - yes, really, everywhere, every nook and cranny. It's also dealing with the shocking truth of what's happening here. It's stressful, tense, emotionally draining, but also one of the most intoxicating places I've ever been to. The people, who have endured so much are totally inspirational and the country itself is breathtaking in its beauty, virtually untouched by human hand.

300x200_judith_parents.jpg The waiting for Jude was finally over. We arranged to go first to meet her parents in Kinshasa, the capital of DRC in the far west of the country. Like Jude, I was seeing Kinshasa for the first time and I was pleasantly surprised by how much calmer it seemed than the other places I had been to in DRC. Jude seemed to take the reunion in her stride, after hugs and kisses she settled into 'Kinois' life as if she'd never left.

(Photo: Judith with her parents, Pierre and Angela Ezalapa, at their home in Kinshasa, DRC.)

Her parents were warm and incredibly welcoming to us, the cameraman, Luke and I, who were invading their home and sharing such a special moment. Their modest house in the suburbs was filled with relatives and friends all eager to see the 'daughter from London'. Many of them remembered Jude as a child and there were enormous amounts of food cooked, barbecue goat and catfish; celebrations and all night dancing. There was lots of laughter and it couldn't have been a happier occasion.

300x200_judith_father.jpg But as arranged, after a few days it was time to head east. Jude would be coming back for a longer stay when we finished filming. Her parents were worried; they knew only too well what had and continues to happen in the east. It was a brief sombre moment before their goodbyes. After they wished us a safe journey, they looked me straight in the eye and said they trusted me to protect their daughter. It was a huge responsibility.

(Photo: Judith with her father Pierre in Kinshasa.)

Travelling across DRC is not as straight forward as it sounds. The troubled east is nearly 1,000 miles away and the only BBC approved direct airline is the UN mission in DRC, MONUC. But journalists are bottom of the pile and you can wait days to get on a flight. So the alternative is to fly to Nairobi, then to Kigali, capital of Rwanda and drive to the border. A journey of several days.

400x300_judith_boat.jpg (Photo: Judith Wanga on her way to mine on the island of Idjwi in Lake Kivu, DRC. She's about to discover what drives the conflict and the violence against women.)

But it's also a good way to psychologically start a gradual immersion process into DRC. Many of the problems in this region started in Rwanda after the genocide that saw the slaughter of over 800,000 people in 1994. Jude heard first hand from our local guide about what had happened and was knocked sideways by it all. It would be the first of a number of times when she wasn't able to hold back the tears.

200x300_judith_christine.jpg Jude met a bunch of extraordinary women on her trip to the east; there was 24 year old Delphine, a final year law student who was also going out to villages to record survivors' testimonies; Merveille a teenage former child soldier; and then Masika a survivor who has set up her own support network for other women. Some had survived terrible brutality; others were and continue to work through incredibly difficult and sometimes dangerous conditions to make sure people know what's happening. I think it would be fair to say that we all found these women totally inspirational.

And the best part is that we're not the only people that get to meet these amazing women. Our friends and family will too on BBC Three.


(Photo: Judith Wanga with Christine Schule Descriver, Director of V-Day Bukavu.)

Fiona Lloyd-Davies is the Director of The World's Most Dangerous Place for Women.


550_judith_thandie.jpg (Photo: Judith Wanga and Thandie Newton. The film is narrated by Thandie Newton, who is involved in the work of campaign groups in the UK to stop violence against women in the Democratic Republic of Congo.)

You can watch the programme TONIGHT at 9pm on BBC Three and afterwards on iPlayer.

Other similar programmes on BBC Three:

The Gemma Factor: Jeff's Fashion Fix Part 2

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Dana Stevens | 16:06 UK time, Monday, 29 March 2010

200x200_jeff_week13.jpg Previously on the blog I've introduced you to Jeff, Gemma's fabulous best friend from our new series The Gemma Factor. Thanks for all your comments, even though it seems he hasn't managed to convince all of you about jumpsuits just yet. And yes we're talking about you Janice.
He had so much advice for you that he's back for more. But before we get to that, I thought you might like to meet his dear mum Betty. She's not exactly the model parent.

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And now over to Jeff....

Jeff's Fashion Fix Part 2: Who's Got It and Who Just Hasn't.

Hello again readers!

I'm back with more tips for looking sensational in spring/summer 2010.

So in makeup news, bold statements are big this season. Eyes are popping out, hair is big and textured, and lips are receding. Rather like nude and dark red, coral is one of the few nail varnish colours that suits every skin colour. It looks great with a golden tan and goes with most outfits.

Which leads me to another thing. Tanning. Please do not start this summer looking pale. Pasty, milk-bottle white is so not a good look. Do everyone a favour and fake it. We all look better with a healthy summer glow and if you can't head off to the launch parties in Ibiza or the champagne parties in Marbella this summer, then at least look like you have. I'm sorry but there is just no excuse on this one.

And now without further ado here is my list of Who's Got It and Who Just Hasn't...

WHO'S GOT IT...
Lady Gaga
Cheryl Cole
Pixie Lott
Florence from Florence and the Machine
Fearne Cotton
WHO JUST HASN'T...
Leona Lewis
Calvin Harris (His outfit at the Brits this year looked like he was popping out for a pint of milk!)
Katie Perry (Because she is going out with Russell Brand and that is just disgusting.)

If you have any questions or need any fashion hints or tips to look fabulous, do get in touch. I am such a giving person I would like to heal all your fashion disasters. If I have the time.

And remember - if in doubt, ask yourself what would Gaga do?
Jeff Bowyer xxx
Stylist, Fashionista, Professional Celebrity Entourage in training, Bad Ass Bitch.

(Written by Ross Adams who plays Jeff)

On The Money with Robert Peston

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Dana Stevens | 10:00 UK time, Monday, 29 March 2010

When our credit got crunched and the media started talking about sub-prime this and fiscal that, I'm sure I wasn't alone in wondering what the hell they were on about.
Working out how to survive until payday takes enough concentration, let alone trying to work out what is behind the financial crisis. But even if we try to ignore it, it does have an impact on all of us, so admittedly it would be helpful to understand what is going on.

So award-winning business journalist Robert Peston has made a series of handy online videos explaining everything we need to know about money. In this animation about how the banks work he sets up his very own Pesto Bank (and no it isn't full of pasta sauce. Shame.)

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Watch more videos from Robert Peston:

Watch out for a related TV show coming soon to BBC Three called On The Money with Robert Peston. It will feature an audience debate exploring the issues around money and how the financial crisis affects us all.


Dana Stevens is content producer for BBC Three online.

Eddie Izzard: Million Pound Marathon Man

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Dana Stevens | 16:17 UK time, Friday, 26 March 2010

350x200_eddie_resized.jpg To be honest I'm lazy and doing any sort of exercise makes me grumpy. So I've been totally floored by the amazing 43 marathons that Eddie Izzard ran in just 51 days. That's 1,160 miles all around the UK. Just stop and think about that for a second... it's nuts! A crazy idea by anyone's standards. And I really didn't think that watching someone run for that long would make such compelling telly. But it seems that loads of you were as amazed as me, as the Eddie Izzard: Marathon Man reached OVER 10.3 MILLION of you. (If you missed the programmes you can still watch them now on iPlayer).

Of course Eddie Izzard was doing it all for charity and the best bit of this story is that he's raised well OVER A MILLION POUNDS for Sport Relief. That's a huge amount of money! (You can still donate here.)

So while the challenge will clearly have a lasting effect, what about the long term damage to Eddie's body? I can't believe he survived it! How did he cope with such a ludicrous amount of exercise? To find out I spoke to Greg White, fitness expert extrodinaire. Not only did he train Eddie for his marathons but he's also worked with Christina Bleakey for her water skiing challenge, trained celebs for the Million Pound Bike Ride, helped Chris Moyles and the other celebs hike up Mount Kilimanjaro last year and guided David Walliams to victory in his goose-fat covered swim across the channel. So he really knows what he's talking about.

Greg, how did you feel when you first heard what Eddie was attempting to do?

GREG: It's an incredibly tough challenge, even for a seasoned ultra-endurance runner. It's incredibly tough to run 43 marathons back to back. And then if you add on top of it that Eddie had very little running experience and importantly he'd only had about five and a half weeks to get ready. It made it extraordinary. It's something that even the ulta-endurance runners will look at and think that it's an incredible achievement.

So let's talk about what happened to Eddie's body, in the show we saw his body seizing up and loads of gross blisters being popped.....

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GREG: It's really all about adaptation. Exercise is an incredibly potent stimulus and actually it's an insult on the body. What the body does is it responds to cope with that insult. But over time it starts to adapt and that is what training is for. Obviously the problem for Eddie was that he actually didn't get that adaptation process as part of the training. He had to adapt during the challenge itself. And that's really what made it incredibly different for him.
In terms of his health, we had to deal with things like the blisters and loss of toenails but also things like calorie control. You get suppression of immune functions, so the likelihood of getting coughs and colds rises with this sort of exercise. Then, of course, you get orthopaedic injuries; injuries of ankles, knees and hips. So it's not just about performance itself, it's about keeping him healthy enough to repeat that performance day after day for 51 days.


I was really interested in the fact that even on his day off he had to walk for miles...it seemed almost cruel! I guess you can't just stop running after all that time?

GREG: I'll always remember one of the things that Eddie was disappointed about was that he didn't lose any weight. Actually that means that I was successful in the sense that what I'd done is given him an energy balance, and we've actually maintained his weight between 43 marathons which is no mean feat. It means consuming huge numbers of calories. He was probably consuming somewhere in the region of 6000 calories a day - which is absolutely enormous. And so I guess what you have to think about is that he moves from 43 marathons and he finishes on the final day in Trafalgar square, used to eating 6000 calories a day for a month and a half, and the following day he moves into nothing.
So what you have to have is a de-adaptation following the challenge to bring it back to a normal way of life, particularly with regard to calorie consumption, but actually with regard to exercise as well. So I set a programme for Eddie of running once we'd finished. So that he could effectively wean himself off an incredibly arduous challenge over an incredibly long period of time.


So how long after finishing did he have to keep running....a couple of weeks or days?

GREG: It's an interesting one as he's actually still running now. Not every day, but he runs as much as he can. What you tend to find with these guys is that it's a life-changing event taking part in these incredible challenges. Because what they start to do is they start to make exercise part of their daily routine and their culture and they actually continue to exercise once the challenge has finished.

Phew! I'm exhausted just thinking about it

Professor Greg White is a professor of Cardiovascular Physiology.
Dana Stevens is content producer for BBC Three online.

Jail Tales: Becky's Poem

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Dana Stevens | 18:35 UK time, Tuesday, 23 March 2010

One of the most inspiring stories to come out of the Jail Tales project is that of Becky, a young woman from Swansea. While she was in prison she started writing and she's agreed to share one of her poems with us exclusively on the BBC Three blog.

Before you read her poem watch her story...

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Here's the poem that Becky wrote while she was serving her second prison sentence.

We block out the past, and struggle through the present,
Hoping our future upon release will be at least pleasant.
We'll stay off drugs and get a job and believe life may be enjoyable,
Just to be refused from job to job and branded unemployable
But why? We've served our time, done our jail,
Just to be released by a system designed for us to fail.

So each job we are rejected, socially unaccepted,
So thoughts of drugs re-enter our brain and again we are infected.
So reaching in a pocket we pull out 30 pound,
That's a 20 stone of white and a ten bag of brown.
Now we're feeling happy, our troubles drift away,
But just one problem, we want more but can't afford to pay.

If we fall off track that's it, back into institutions,
That would mean losing our family, so we try prostitution.
But with not many customers by day, again we have to steal,
To buy the drugs to numb the pain that everyday we feel.
Guess what? Got caught, back in jail, it's a chain reaction,
Nobody stood up to offer help, nobody took action.
And no this is not passing the buck you only have yourself to blame,
But nobody tried to help us to deal with all the pain.
Maybe next time we'll think twice? So here we are again,
In Prisoner's Paradise.

But if you take our criminal records and strip us of our convictions,
You'll see girls underneath dealing with abuse and addictions.
And so we may be robbers and yes I am a thief,
But look hard enough and you'll see hearts of gold hidden underneath!!!

Mind-melting magic with Barry and Stuart

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Dana Stevens | 18:14 UK time, Tuesday, 23 March 2010

bands_resized.jpg I've got a tantalising treat for you today. If you want to see just how gullible your friends are and impress them with your mind reading, then you'll love this. The very smartly dressed Barry and Stuart have created this special online trick to amaze and astound your mates. Watch this video to see how it works and then start practising on your family, friends, enemies... whoever you can get your hands on. And don't forget to let us know how you get on!

Here are the guys to tell you how it works...

The Emotion Test
Hi, we are Barry and Stuart, two magicians who have created some amazing online magic tricks. In this video, you'll learn how to convince your friends that you can read their minds just by looking in their eyes.

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Ready to give it a try? Just click here to play the trick.

Blog Exclusive: Gemma and Jeff play Snog Marry Avoid?

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Dana Stevens | 17:47 UK time, Monday, 22 March 2010

If you're a regular reader of the blog (which of course you all should be!) you'll already be familiar with Gemma and her best friend Jeff from The Gemma Factor. And if this is your first time visiting the blog, welcome! And don't panic, you can learn all about these new characters right here. Today, I thought I'd give you the chance to get a glimpse behind the scenes, as the fame-hungry pair take time-out to play a quick game of Snog Marry Avoid?

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And if you're new to the show (where have you been?) then this is your chance to find out who's who in our special character guide....

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The Gemma Factor is on Tuesdays at 10.30pm.

Undercover Princesses: Cinderella's List

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Dana Stevens | 10:04 UK time, Friday, 19 March 2010

300x300_cinderella.jpgI'm gripped by the Undercover Princesses. There's something so refreshing about a programme that is so optimistic and hopeful. The princesses all get on so well with each other and seem genuinely lovely (contrary to the preconceptions I had about spoilt royals). Watching them gossiping and squealing excitedly as they share text messages from their dates shows just how similar we all are. The awkwardness, horror, laughs and emotional highs of dating are familiar to loads of us. I've managed to get my hands on some sneaky preview copies of the rest of the series and trust me it just gets better and better.

One thing that was obvious immediately was that Cinderella (real name Princess Nvannungi Sheillah from Buganda) is a rather picky princess. I'm all for a woman knowing what she wants but I was worried for her as she repeatedly gave her list of requirements for the man she was hoping to discover in Essex.

Cinderella's List: A man must be....

  • very handsome
  • not too pink!
  • posh
  • god-fearing
  • honest
  • not married
  • not a father
  • respectful
  • well-educated
  • a Christian
  • faithful
  • in good employment
  • attractive
  • successful
  • very loving
  • not a smoker
  • not a womaniser
  • not a drinker
  • willing to love her for who she is and not because she is a princess


...and did I mention handsome and god-fearing (these came up a lot!)

And just when I was thinking that she would never find her ideal man with a list like that...something amazing happened in the Basildon branch of Asda. Who knew?

(Watch out for the longest handshake ever!)

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How long does that handshake go on for??! Reminds me of Mr. Shake Hands Man from the Banzai show - remember him? (Check him out on You Tube.)

The fine people over at Heatworld.com seem to like that clip as well.

Undercover Princesses is on Sundays at 9pm.



Dana Stevens is content producer for BBC Three online.

Jail Tales: Maverick Sabre Lyrics

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Dana Stevens | 11:54 UK time, Thursday, 18 March 2010

Earlier this week I told you about the launch of the interesting new Jail Tales project on the BBC Three website. As part of the project ten musicians have created special tracks inspired by the Jail Tales series which you can find on You Tube and the Jail Tales website. We think they're so good that we've decided to post the lyrics here so that you can get a chance to read and digest the message of what these young artists are trying to say.

London born, Irish raised singer songwriter Maverick Sabre has written an exclusive acoustic track and he's kindly agreed to share the lyrics.

Watch 'These Walls'....

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The lyrics....

Maverick Sabre - 'These Walls'

CHORUS

These walls, these bars,
these halls, this prison yard,
that's all he sees, that's all he sees,

These walls, these bars,
these halls, these prison guards,
that's all he sees, no where to believe

VERSE 1

In the system since a young man,
caught him up at 15,
in and out for 2 years,
then spat him back..
back to normality,
bringing up his younger sister,
feeding her and clothing her so robbing was a must,
everyday there was a job,
either a box or shot, got stabbed, lost friends,
lost the lot in the end,
he got nicked so now he's sitting in his cell
with 4 years looking at these.....

CHORUS

These walls, these bars,
these halls, this prison yard,
that's all he sees, that's all he sees,

These walls, these bars,
these halls, these prison guards,
that's all he sees, no where to believe

VERSE 2

Scream and scars became a product of what he was seeing,
cold and hard, the only way he could live was to be them,
razor blades lightly pushed underneath his door at night,
locked away in the hole, the dark, too many times,
lyrics and words on tapes and books kept his mind awake
and free from this, they talked to him and taught him things
that no teacher ever did, now at 22 he's spat back out and
left alone at the prison gates, now he's 29 and making a
name for himself in a legal way, but he still sees

CHORUS

These walls,these bars,
these halls,this prison yard,
that's all he sees,that's all he sees,
These walls,these bars,
these halls,these prison guards,
that's all he sees,no where to believe

Written by - Michael Stafford (Maverick Sabre)

Jail Tales: Lioness Lyrics

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Dana Stevens | 14:24 UK time, Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Lioness is a female rapper who's been making music since she was 14. Although she's currently unsigned she's one of the top female MCs on the underground music scene and she's already appeared on Radio1, Kiss and 1xtra.

She's written a special track for the Jail Tales project called 'Girlfriend Perspective' which you can watch here.

The lyrics...

Lioness - Girlfriend Perspective

The first thing he said was,
Are you gonna wait 4me?
I was like..
Is this make believe?
You went down for helping your friend out,
You get 10 outa 10 for your deadout,
Mentality, like he's got you,
Knew this before,
Look where it got you,
Look where it got us,
Same kinda situ,
But still you're asking me to stick with you?
Babe you knew the last time he stitched you,
But you didn't wanna hear the term snitch used,
So you rid the time for him,
Lost your mind for him,
Took on the crime never mind if I'm crying,
Never mind if your Mum hurts,
You'd rather everyone think you done dirt,
Coz it won't really affect you,
You're inside so no one can get you,
But you didn't think that they would get me,
For two years every week I would get grief,
It's not even a bring up the past ting,
But can't you see the madness that you're asking?
When you go inside, you're meant to come out another guy and give the whole life thing another try,
Seems like you wanna live another lie,
Am I gonna wait?
Ain't you got another line?
And what about all of them other times,
When I stood by you,
I did good by you,
When you come out, did u move like a good guy moves?
Nah, you was on chasing girls,
But when things go wrong, you place yourself,
Beside me coz you can't even help yourself,
And I know that I'm here to help but,
You've gotta grow yourself,
HMP aint a holiday,
It's nuffin like Feltham,
I don't get why you think you can tolerate,
5 long years locked in a cell,
These prisons are no joke,
Visions of no hope,
You won't cope if you let that cloud you,
There'll be bare stuff going on around you,
But stay focussed and you'll be proud to,
Say that you came out a changed man,
But you don't wanna change man,
Coz you're going back in,
For the same thing,
I don't understand how you move with the same plan,
Babe you move with the same crowd,
And you really think that you've changed.. how?
And I'm pregnant, so are you gonna change now?

Fem Fel Lyrics

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Dana Stevens | 14:00 UK time, Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Fem Fel is a grime and hip lyricist who has performed an exclusive rap for BBC Three as part of Jail Tales. In 2002 he was sentenced to six years for robbery and firearms offences. He was released on parole in 2005 and has since learnt a professional trade while pursuing an interest in music.

Watch Fem Fel's video on You Tube.

The lyrics...

Rolling in a sweatbox this ain't me b
Rolled past my estate this ain't easy
Feeling like a kid, going off the ends
This time it ain't camping it off to pen.
Handcuffs to tight, tracksuit don't fit
Man I really can't see me getting used to this
Got me thinking 'bout cells, all the food and s**t
Man the thought of going in is still ludicrous.

Now I'm sitting in my cell
Thinking how long I have to put up with this hell
Trying to put in for my bail
Heard some other youths trying to put it on my girl
And you can't do nothing but put it in the mail.

All the shouting on the phone
Stressed with my co-d
Gov's trying to push it but I got to stay low key
First it's my letters, now they're saying no gym
Done my induction, still I got no pin (no phone calls).

Looking forward to my canteen
Lost in the system, plans turned gang green...
And I just wanna get in the court
But they put me on a cleaning and listeners course
Green mop for the landing, red for the toilet
Pressing on my buzzer just trying to annoy them
Truth hurts and I'm trying to avoid it
Sentenced for something I was trying to toy with...
Reception call kinda made my month
Couple air force 1s cd's to pump
So much canteen for the tapes I made
Had my prison cell looking like a takeaway...
And just when I thought I was settling in
Reality hit, such a terrible thing
One brother gave up and it was burning me
'Cos the poor kid had the same bird as me...
Felt sick in my belly,
Sat down on my bunk speechless,
Had to thank god for my telly
That's all you really got,
No friends, no henny
So I hate when I hear them say we don't deserve a penny
Freudian slips got me calling it home
Heard my boys on the strip still getting in doe
That's funny cos I ain't heard a peep from them.

One night left, nerves going crazy
Butterfly stomach when I hear keys waving
Guys coming back, caught slipping, got lazy
HOMETIME, man I hope somebody saves me!!

Jail Tales: Nolay Lyrics

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Dana Stevens | 13:53 UK time, Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Nolay is a young female grime and hip hop lyricist who's been making waves on the UK underground scene. You can watch the exclusive track that she's made for Jail Tales on You Tube.

Here are her lyrics...

Nolay's Bars

This is 64 Bars about prison
Guys behind less than 64 Bars but still living
Not to mention the chicks like in Holloway
Yeah they've gone away
But its far from a holiday
I can't imagine ya pain
I can't even stay in my room 4 a whole day
The smell of ya cell
Everyone's got a story to tell
I don't want you to rot in there
As for innocent there's a lot in there!
What is fair?
It makes some of you better
And some of you worse
The gift and the curse
His cuffs are too tight
They scuff and they fight
We fight for our rights
Our freedom of speech
But this is real life
And freedom is limited
Isn't it deep?
Isn't it sad?
No balance between the good and the bad
The impact it has!
I watched my dad go mad!!
I know prison helped knock him off of his tracks
And now there's no turning back
And some with convictions can't move forward
Get a suit do an interview
And the boss of the company makes you feel awkward
Just 4 now I'm the voice of the nation
4 those in relation
Stuck on probation
To my boys and girls locked away
I pray 4u
You must have patience
Its easier said than done
Blood shed with guns
Am I a hypocrite?
Let me know if you get my point
Or are you just missing it?
This is just my opinion
It's not like I think yours don't count
Each and every person is different when they get out
Some never get out
Some go back in
We gotta break that cycle

Russell Howard Needs You!

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Dana Stevens | 13:21 UK time, Wednesday, 17 March 2010

This is your chance to see your name in lights! OK, so not exactly in lights but your name could feature in the end credits of Russell Howard's Good News. All you need to do is send Russell any news stories that make you chuckle and forward on any funny stories that you read. If Russell and the team like your suggestion it could feature in the show and you'll get a lovely thank you in the end credits. Simple.

You can either message the team on Twitter @bbcgoodnews or head over to Russell Howard's Good News blog and post a comment there.

Here's Russell to tell you a bit more....

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Dana Stevens is content producer for BBC Three online.

Introducing Jail Tales...

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Dana Stevens | 13:54 UK time, Tuesday, 16 March 2010

The nick, the slammer, the inside - there's loads of ways of talking about prison but we very rarely talk about what it's really like. What about real people? Looking beyond the media headlines, how does it actually affect your life and those around you? That's what the new Jail Tales project on BBC Three aims to answer through a series of online videos, animations and tracks on You Tube. And it's compelling stuff; with everything from raps about how prison affects the girlfriend left at home, to a glimpse of the police on patrol and an inspiring boxing club set up to give young people a choice.

But the most moving video for me is actor and rapper Ashley Walters' return to Feltham prison. Have a look at this....

Ashley Walters: Back for The First Time

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Go to the Jail Tales homepage for loads more great videos and check back here soon for some exclusive content on the blog. Also there'll be a Jail Tales documentary coming soon to BBC Radio 1.

Dana Stevens is content producer for BBC Three online.

Missing George? Russell Tovey is coming back...

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Dana Stevens | 15:44 UK time, Friday, 12 March 2010

I'm very, very excited about the lovely video that I have for you today. The Being Human fans among you may be mourning the end of the second series, but do not fear, the lovely Russell Tovey (aka George) will be back on BBC Three very soon. He's starring in a brand new series called Young, Unemployed and Lazy, with a fantastic actress called Sarah Solemani. It's a comedy about a young couple who don't really want to do anything except hang out together in their flat. And from what I've seen so far it looks good. Actually, not just good - flippin' brilliant. It's funny, warm and very British, like the gentle bits of Being Human (when they weren't turning into vampires, werewolves and killing people obviously), but also a bit like The Royle Family.
Anyway that's enough from me; just watch this video diary and you'll soon get an idea of how great it is.

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Young, Unemployed and Lazy will be coming soon to BBC Three.

While you're waiting, watch some of the other great behind-the-scenes videos on Comedy Extra.



P. S. So how many of you noticed that Russell Tovey also does the voiceover for Undercover Princesses?

Dana Stevens is content producer for BBC Three online.

The Gemma Factor: Jeff's Fashion Fix

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Dana Stevens | 17:29 UK time, Tuesday, 9 March 2010

200_jeff_pose.jpgYou've met Gemma, now meet Jeff her fabulous best friend. He shares Gemma's dreams of a fantastic future full of fashion, fun and bitchy put-downs. In our new show, The Gemma Factor, he flaunts his flamboyant personality and dress sense to inspire the good people of Lumb (the fictional town where he and Gemma live). He's so keen to share his style advice for looking sensational this season that we'll be bringing it to you in parts.

So here's Jeff's Fashion Fix Part 1:

Hi readers!

Spring/Summer season is eventually here so I thought I would help you all out by doing a quick run-down of what's hot and what's not on the high street and beyond so you too can look FABULOUS!!!

I've just hot-footed it back from London Fashion Week with my Mum so not only have I loads of ideas to share with you all, but me and Mum have got new collections for the boutique too. I love the fact that no matter what the occasion, if you want to look like Lady Gaga at the Brits (OMG how sad was it when she started playing that piano and said "This is for Alexander McQueen". I was in bits) or Mark Ronson at an album launch, then our boutique, Betty B's, will sort you out. Mum once saw Mark Ronson at a catwalk show in New York and swears something happened between them. I'm just pleased it was him and not Daniel Merriweather because I don't like his big face.

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I have personally styled Gemma for years now. When we walk down the street in Lumb everyone stops and stares. I know how Amy Winehouse must have felt when she was in Barbados trying to get away from it all, and everyone was taking pictures of her trying not to get her beehive wet in the swimming pool. Which brings to me another note - NEVER go swimming. The chlorine ruins your hair and frankly sharing a big tub of water with other people's wee and veruccas makes me want to gip. And old people go swimming too. So just don't do it. Ever.

Back to fashion though and I think the key to knowing whether you are making good fashion choices is by asking yourself "Would Gaga do this?" If she would, then do it. If she wouldn't, scrap the idea and give yourself a talking to for even considering the idea.

This season the western trend is massive. It's all about casual basics, boots and acres of denim. Snap up cut-off waistcoats, distressed denim, and retro florals to get that Cowgirl look. Can I get a Yee-Ha??

Jump suits are back like a lingering STI this season too. Wear with sky high red heels and gold jewellery but be warned; if you are fat please do not subject yourself or others to this kind of abuse.

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Military jackets will play a big part in summer style this year thanks to the truly wonderful Cheryl Cole and the "Fight For This Love" video. OMG how AMAZING is that woman? I just know she's going to bounce back after the split from Ashley. I love her on those adverts - "Weak, limp, lifeless..." I don't know whether she's talking about her hair or her husband. Nevertheless, Cheryl has certainly got it. No-one can work killer acid bright pop heels and matching handbag like she can. Cheryl we salute you.

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So readers if you have any questions or need any fashion hints or tips to look fabulous, do get in touch. I am such a giving person I would like to heal all your fashion disasters. If I have the time.

Watch out for Part 2 of my fashion fix coming soon. I'll be filling you in on all the latest makeup news and sharing my list of 'Who's Got It and Who Just Hasn't'.

Stay fabulous everyone! And remember - if in doubt, ask yourself what would Gaga do?

Jeff Bowyer xxx
Stylist, Fashionista, Professional Celebrity Entourage in training, Bad Ass Bitch.

Written by Ross Adams who plays Jeff Bowyer in The Gemma Factor.

The Gemma Factor starts tonight at 10.30pm.

Dancing on Wheels: the nerves, excitement and terror...

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Dana Stevens | 11:32 UK time, Monday, 8 March 2010

400x350simonetop.jpgWhen I first heard that the new dance show on BBC Three was going to feature dancers in wheelchairs I have to admit I was sceptical and intrigued in equal measures. How were they going to pull that off I wondered? And in the very first episode of Dancing on Wheels the dancers who were asked to take part confessed they had the same concerns and worries about how the show was going to work.

But after watching the show it became clear that the personal journeys and commitment of the dancers was the real pull of this programme. Now that the finalists have been announced, I wanted to find out what it was really like to take part and why people would want to take on such a huge challenge. I caught up with Simone Milani the super bright, super lovely lady who danced with Kevin Sacre in the show.

So Simone, how did you first hear about the programme?

I'm a member of a casting agency for people with disabilities and I received updates about programmes looking for people with disabilities to participate in their shows. Dancing on Wheels was advertised and the rest, as they say, is history!

And why did you want to get involved with this show in particular?

I've always loved dance. I love the freedom and joy it evokes in most people and the creativity it calls upon. This show, for me, seemed like a fantastic opportunity to express that love and learn a new skill in a more formalised way of dancing. I also thought it presented a unique challenge and an opportunity to meet some other interesting and dynamic people. The prospect of featuring in a television show was also a draw, I think deep down we're all curious to experience our 15 minutes of fame!

Taking part in a competition like this must be an emotional roller coaster - what was the best part for you?

Emotional roller coaster is definitely the correct description! You really form strong bonds with the other participants and you come to understand how all-consuming it can be to dedicate yourself to the training, your partner, the competition and the show.
For me, the best moment was performing the first dance (the tango) and receiving the amazing responses from the judges and the audience. Before the dance you wait backstage pulsating with adrenaline, nerves, excitement and terror, internalising the routine and trying to get into performance mode. You know that you are putting not only your efforts and performance, but also yourself out there to be judged so there is no better feeling than when you perform the dance with conviction and impress the audience, the judges, your friends and family and ultimately the viewers at home.


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So what was your favourite dance and why?

My favourite dance was the tango. I loved how passionate, dramatic and theatrical the dance was. I really enjoyed the 'I want you - I hate you' extremes of the dance as it allows you to inject it with intensity and passion. The music, costume, lighting and routine really came together in that performance, it all seemed to fit together seamlessly. I think this dance was also the closest to the other forms of dance that I truly love. I adore traditional cultural dances from West Africa, South America and the Caribbean and the way they've amalgamated into modern hip-hop and 'street' dance.

Did you have any say in the 'look' and outfits that you got to wear each week?

We had a stylist for the show who did a brilliant job in dressing not only us but the dances we had, as I think the 'looks' were a vital component to the whole performance. We all had chats with her about which features we wanted to highlight with the clothes (and more importantly those we wanted to hide!) and she would try and accommodate that within the choice of outfits we had. The stylist was also great at adapting and accessorising the clothes as well as helping us in and out of them. Not being able to stand when you have to get on leotards with crotch poppers can make for some quite funny and compromising backstage changes!!!

What has been the reaction from your family, friends and the public since the show has been on air?

The reaction I've had has been incredible. Everyone has been utterly supportive and proud and really seems to be enjoying the show and the performances. I think a lot of people were sceptical or a bit unsure about how it would work in practice but I think most have been pleasantly surprised. People have also reacted very strongly to the characterisation of the participants especially Brian! It's been interesting watching how the show has been cut and edited, knowing what the dynamics were 'behind the scenes'. It's definitely challenged my perceptions of 'celebrity'!
It's a strange thing being asked for your autograph and being talked about on blogs but I think the 'public conversation' about the show and the issues around it - namely attitudes about disability and its depiction in the media - is a good thing. I think it's always progressive to get people thinking and talking about wider social issues and whilst opinion may be split as to the effectiveness and propriety of the show, I think overall most people have reacted positively.


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What next? Are you going to continue dancing?

I have to confess that I haven't continued with wheelchair ballroom dancing since filming the show but I'm really interested in pursuing hip-hop and street dance, so any interested choreographers out there....

Simone Milani is one of the contestants from Dancing on Wheels.

Watch the final of Dancing on Wheels Thursday at 9pm.

Coming of Age: Rap-a-long with DK!

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Dana Stevens | 17:28 UK time, Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Recently we asked all you Coming of Age fans for your questions for Joe Tracini who plays DK on the BBC Three Facebook page. It soon became clear that apart from his tracksuits the main thing you wanted to talk about was his rapping.

You demanded the lyrics and as we aim to please, we've got you the lyrics. But we've gone one better. We're not just giving you the words - oh no! We've made you two videos of DKs raps complete with the words on the screen so you can rap along karaoke style. Balamory!

So grab your tracksuit and start rapping.

Warning: As ever, DK's language is pretty strong and there are sexual references so if you think you're going to be offended don't watch this.

Some raps from the latest series:

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A selection of raps from the first series:

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If you think you've got skills and you can rival DK, then you can find out how to submit your own DK raps through the Comedy blog.
Dana Stevens is content producer for BBC Three online.

Gemma's Five Steps To Fame

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Dana Stevens | 13:06 UK time, Tuesday, 2 March 2010

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Meet Gemma. Gemma wants to be famous more than anything else in the world and she dreams of a life of glamour, glitz and Grazia beyond the dales of Yorkshire.

In our new programme The Gemma Factor, you can follow her exploits as she beats a relentlessly optimistic path towards the big time.
So for all you aspiring starlets, here are Gemma's Five Steps to Fame


  1. Always, always look the part. If you look like you've just stepped out of Heat or Grazia it's only a matter of time until you get in there. Jeff made me a copy of Lady Gaga's Brit Awards outfit which went down a storm at the Trades Club in Lumb. It was a little hard to dance, drink, walk or go to the loo but people def thought I was famous.

  2. Be prepared! Fame can hit at anytime. You might bump into Simon Cowell in a club in Manchester SO practice, practice, practice. I concentrate on red carpet walks, big brother entries, falling out of clubs wearing no pants, ice skating and eating gross insects ready for my stint in the jungle.
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  4. V IMPORTANT!!! As well as Heat and Grazia, read the sports section of The Sun everyday and memorise all the footballers' names so if any chance meetings occur you are ready to introduce yourself and make them fall in love and marry you (read 'Why Men Love Bitches' by Sherry Argov for advice on how to do this). Swot up on all the WAGS (where they go, what they eat/ all the things they don't, their favourite designers) so you can impress them on girly shopping trips away. Finally, google the offside rule and if you still don't get it, get a hot boy to explain it in the pub (be warned they might think you're interested in football asking this question so my advice is to make a sharp exit after he's finished explaining).
  5. Adopt a foreign baby from a really poor country like Zurich.


  6. Document everything about your life. Diary, YouTube, Facebook, Myspace and if poss get your friend to follow you round with a camera so your 'Road to Fame' documentary is ready to go when you hit the big time. Think about names for your books and perfume endorsements and an outfit for your fitness DVD. Work out your tragic life story for reality TV auditions and practice to the camera. Real tears are always a winner. See Katy Price's Piers Morgan interview and Heather Mills on GMTV for research.


I hope this advice is helpful and I'll see you all in Chinawhites very soon
Love Gemma :) xxx

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Written by Anna Gilthorpe who stars as Gemma Collinge.

The Gemma Factor starts on Tuesday 9th March at 10.30pm.

So what do you think of Gemma's guide? Do you have any top tips for preparing for fame and fortune?

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