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Summary

  1. News and updates for 4 February 2016
  2. Matt LeBlanc named as co-host of Top Gear
  3. Muffin tops in The Great Sport Relief Bake Off
  4. British stars defend Academy against racism claims

Live Reporting

By Victoria Lindrea and Genevieve Hassan

All times stated are UK

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That's all folks

Victoria Lindrea

BBC Entertainment and Arts reporter

So - not for the first time - our live page has been dominated by Top Gear. 

We didn't even have time to tell you about that royal Doctor Who visit... Suffice to say Steven Moffat was made an OBE today for his services to drama. 

Receiving his honour from the Prince of Wales, the Sherlock creator and former Doctor Who boss told reporters: "I've got not one, but two dream jobs, so to get this lovely thing for already indulging myself in public, seems like an excess of good fortune."

Steven Moffat
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And talking of good fortune, those Top Gear production meetings look quite fun, don't they? Steak sandwiches all round...

Until tomorrow. Cheers.

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Indian teen flick moves away from traditional song & dance

Indian cinema is best known for its Bollywood song and dance extravaganzas, and not US-style teen sex comedies - but new film Brahman Naman is just that.

It's the story of a trio of nerdy teens - all quiz experts - who are determined to lose their virginity.

Talking Movies’ Tom Brook reports.

LeBlanc: 'an astonishing bit of secret-keeping'

Despite hundreds of wagers on possible presenters to join Chris Evans on Top Gear, bookmaker William Hill reported it did not receive one single bet on Matt LeBlanc. 

This is an astonishing bit of secret-keeping - nobody predicted Matt Le Blanc, and if anyone had enquired we would have made him a 500/1 outsider.

Rupert AdamsWilliam Hill spokesman

William Hill believe the duo will be joined by a female co-presenter and make Sabine Schmitz (pictured) their 1/3 favourite, although you can get 100/1 on any of the female Friends joining the team... 

Sabine Schmitz
YouTube

Bryan Singer to direct 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea

Bryan Singer is to direct a feature film of the Jules Verne classic, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, after signing a deal with Fox.

Last autumn, on his birthday, the X-Men director posted an image of a script he had written based on the book.

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He wrote: It's my 50th birthday (ouch), and I just put the finishing touches on the script for my next film. A story I've wanted to retell since childhood. I promise this will be an epic and emotional adventure for all ages! An adventure very dear to my heart.

Now it appears the deal is done. With shooting on the film due to take place later this year, after Singer has fulfilled his promotional commitments on the latest X-Men instalment - Apocalypse, which is released in May.

Singer told Deadline, he had "dreamt of retelling this classic story".

Without revealing too much, it contains not only the original characters of Captain Nemo, Ned Land and Professor Aronnax, but also some new and original characters and sci-fi plot twists culminating in a timeless adventure for all ages.

Big Issue seller Maxine Peake 'ignored'

Stage and TV star Maxine Peake said she was "surprised how people just ignore you" while taking a real-life role as a Big Issue seller in Manchester. 

She joined regular seller Monica outside the Royal Exchange Theatre to sell the magazine as part of Vendor Week, an international event which will see people around the world take a turn at street-selling for an hour. 

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Critics hail Hail, Caesar!

Hail, Caesar!
EPA

The results are in - and there is almost universal praise for Hail, Caesar!, the latest comedy from the Coen brothers.

The film features longtime Coen collaborators George Clooney, Tilda Swinton, Frances McDormand (Mrs Joel Coen) among an all-star cast including Ralph Fiennes, Scarlett Johansson, Channing Tatum and Josh Brolin.

Variety's Justin Chang called it "a gorgeously crafted romp through vintage Hollywood".

While the Guardian's Andrew Pulver praised the film's "lissom confidence and a breeziness that more than compensates for a gossamer lightness when it comes to substance". 

In The New Yorker, Richard Brody called it "superb... filled with fast and light touches of exquisite incongruity in scenes that have the expansiveness of relaxed precision, performed and timed with the spontaneous authority of jazz".

"The Coens aren’t just parodying Hollywood in the last spasms of its golden age. They’re paying tribute to it too," wrote the Independent's Geoffrey Macnab. "Hail, Caesar! isn’t the most profound film the brothers have ever made but it is certainly one of the most pleasurable to watch."

Hail, Caesar! - which will open the Berlin Film Festival - is released in the UK on 4 March.

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LeBlanc's Top Gear role: a 'stupid idea'

Here are some of the emails we've received regarding Matt LeBlanc's new presenting role on Top Gear - and it's fair to say, they are not entirely complimentary....

In other news...

Here are some of the other stories making headlines on our pages today:

  • Choreographer Benjamin Millepied - better known to some for being married to Natalie Portman - has confirmed he is stepping down as director of Paris Opera Ballet for "personal reasons".  [Read more]
  • Women took several of the top awards at the Music Producers Guild Awards, marking a sea change in a profession typically dominated by men. FKA Twigs won best single and best album, both of which she co-produced. [Read more]
  • Dame Zaha Hadid has received the Royal Gold Medal for architecture from the Royal Institute of British Architects in recognition of her body of work - the first woman to receive the honour. [Read more]
  • Taylor Swift is releasing a mobile game, made by the same people behind Kim Kardashian's app. [Read more]

Country star cancels shows due to ill health

Merle Haggard
Getty Images

Country star Merle Haggard has cancelled his shows in February because of health issues caused by pneumonia in both lungs. 

"Sadly I'm just not strong enough yet," he wrote on his Facebook page.  

A statement released by his publicist said the 78-year-old had decided to seek further treatment but was "hopeful he will be back on the road later in the spring".

The singer, best known for hits including Mama Tried and Workin' Man Blues, had a tumour removed from his lung in November 2008. He underwent follow-up surgery last year.

LeBlanc's next Episode

Stephen Mangan had this to say on his Episodes co-star's new job... 

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Episodes, a BBC/Showtime co-production, was renewed for a fifth season last year - and begins filming in April.

Matt has tweeted in response:

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Making a Murderer lawyer on his newfound fame

Steven Avery
Netflix

If you've been sucked into the real-life drama documentary Making a Murderer on Netflix, you'll be familiar with defence lawyer Dean Strang who represented Steven Avery during his murder trial.

He spoke with BBC Radio Ulster about the case, "armchair sleuthing", being compared to Atticus Finch from To Kill a Mockingbird and the fame he has found himself in thanks to the programme.

Be warned, if you've only just started watching it, the following links contain spoilers.

Read the full story or listen to the interview.

Miley Cyrus joins The Voice US

The Hollywood Reporter

Miley Cyrus has signed up to be an adviser on season 10 of The Voice US, which begins later this month.

The singer will reportedly offer her words of wisdom to all four of the show's coaches - Adam Levine, Blake Shelton, Pharrell Williams and Christina Aguilera.

Miley tweeted a picture of herself with her trademark sticky-out tongue expression by one of those big, red revolving chairs.

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Explaining her new position, NBC's Paul Telegdy said:

When Miley speaks everyone pays attention. Our artists are very lucky to have the benefit of her instincts and wisdom. Our viewers will be treated to an inside look at one of the brightest minds in music and the entertainment industry who is at the forefront of pop culture.

Matt LeBlanc in the reasonably priced car

In honour of the occasion, here's a reminder of Matt LeBlanc's lap around the Top Gear track in the reasonably priced car - the fastest lap by a celebrity to date.

Why Ralph Fiennes went to Oslo for his latest play

Tim Masters

Arts and Entertainment correspondent

Ralph Fiennes told last night of how he took a trip to Norway to prepare for his latest stage role in Henrik Ibsen's The Master Builder. The play, adapted by David Hare, opened at the Old Vic in front of starry audience that included Bill Nighy, Geoffrey Rush and Rosamund Pike.  Speaking after show, Fiennes told me how Ibsen's study in Oslo has been kept exactly as it was when the playwright died in 1906.

Linda Emond and Ralph Fiennes
Manuel Harlan

You can't even take a photograph of it. You see it through two glass panels. It's like you're looking into this space that's been held in time. You can wander through the rest of the apartment, which is very middle class and ordered. He's not Bohemian! I got the sense of someone very controlled and disciplined.

Written in 1892, The Master Builder is considered the most autobiographical of Ibsen's works. Fiennes plays Halvard Solness, a respected builder haunted by guilt and fears of his own obsolescence, who receives a life-changing visit from a young woman from his past, Hilde Wangel (played by Australian actress Sarah Snook). Fiennes says he was drawn to the play's "complex psychology". 

Linda Emond and Sarah Solness
Manuel Harlan

I think it's about an inner rebirth. I'm not an expert, but it's full of a Jungian sense of trying to inhabit your real self and being released from traumas of obligation and duty and guilt and what society expects of you...the cliche is that it's a midlife crisis.

There's no crisis or complexity about the strength of Fiennes' performance. The Guardian's Michael Billington said the actor was "at the height of his powers".The Master Builder is at the Old Vic, London, until 19 March.

Cosby assault case given go-ahead

Bill Cosby
Getty Images

US prosecutors can proceed with a sexual assault charge against comedian Bill Cosby, a judge has ruled.

Mr Cosby is accused of drugging and fondling Andrea Constand, who has waived her right to anonymity, in 2004.

On Wednesday, a judge in Pennsylvania rejected arguments made by his lawyers that a previous ruling in 2005 made him immune from prosecution.

Dozens of women have said the actor assaulted them, but the former TV star says the encounters were consensual.

The next step in this case will be a hearing to determine whether there is enough evidence for the actor to stand trial.

The comedian, once the highest paid US television star, could go to prison for 10 years if convicted.

Read the full story.

It's all in LeBlanc's tweets...

In fact, if you take a closer look at Matt LeBlanc's recent tweets, the star has definitely been dropping some clues...

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