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Mother knows best?

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Becky Want | 16:00 UK time, Wednesday, 7 September 2011

"Things I couldn't tell my Mother" is the memoir from one of the country's favourite actresses Sue Johnston.

Her mother died at 92 and Sue charts their difficult relationship. Her mother wanted to her to get a steady job, stay in her native Warrington, and marry a local plumber. Most of all, her mother didn't want her to draw attention to herself.

Sue hung out with the Beatles at the Cavern Club in Liverpool, gave up her steady job in a St Helen's factory, and embarked on the one career that was guaranteed to do just that.

Her mother didn't talk about her daughter's success, but when Sue cleared out her mother's house, she was absolutely amazed to find a huge stash of newspaper cuttings and theatre programmes which had been secretly collected over the years, charting her acting career.

"Don't wash your dirty linen in public" was the way Sue was brought up, so what would her mother have thought of the book?

"Not a lot", said Sue. In fact, the response to the book from her mother's remaining family has been deafening.

But was she glad she'd written it?

The star of "Waking the Dead" and "The Royle Family" said; "I'm being completely honest with you now. I really don't know".

John Barrowman

Becky Want | 13:03 UK time, Monday, 5 September 2011

I tested the accuracy of the internet this week on the entertainer
John Barrowman.

Celebrities all do the rounds of television and radio shows to promote their latest book or tour, so I try to ask them something that they haven't responded to10 times already that week.

So, was it true that as a student John Barrowman spent summers getting his hands dirty, shovelling coal in Illinois?

It was, and it was his Dad's idea to teach him the value of hard work. He reasoned that if his son didn't like manual labour, he'd go out and educate himself. John didn't like it, and you'd be hard pressed to meet a harder worker.

Was it true that Barrowman was considered for the role of Will in the US TV series, Will and Grace, but was turned down for being too straight? Yes, he said. That's what he'd been told via his agent - so another accurate report, courtesy of the World Wide Web.

John Barrowman's success was not of the overnight variety. It was reported that he had a bit part in the movie The Untouchables in 1987. But what didn't come to light was that the only person that recognised him on screen was his mother, because the bit part of him on show was his bare bottom.

A sad day for Manchester and Salford

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Becky Want | 08:47 UK time, Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Over the last few days, I have heard the phrase "going to hell in a handcart" repeatedly, and frankly, it seems to fit.

We opened the phone and text lines the morning after the trouble in London and asked this question: "Watching pictures of the riots, are you losing faith in law and order?"

There was a groundswell of support from our listeners for the police, along with frustration because the forces need to be able to act swiftly and with considerable force, and they are unable to do so. This, I was told, time and time again.

Many listeners thought the army should be brought in to deal with the riots, and even more were horrified and angry about "feral youths" looting and trashing neighbourhoods, seemingly, for sport.

There was much sorrow for the devastated communities and the burning businesses, especially the smaller ones, who were already struggling, before all this happened. What of them now?

The vast majority of people who spoke to me hadn't lost faith in law and order. But they did tell me they had lost faith in politicians, parents, the education system and humanity.

But what I heard over and over again was an echo of my own thoughts and prayers.

Don't let Manchester be next. Please don't let Manchester be next.

Sadly, our prayers weren't answered.

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