Don't panic! Dad's Army turns 50 with set of stamps

Don't panic! Dad's Army turns 50 with set of stamps

Captain Mainwaring and his comrades are to feature on a new set of stamps to mark the 50th anniversary of the classic TV sitcom Dad’s Army.

The much-loved characters from the BBC comedy of the 1960s and 70s are featured alongside their catchphrases.

Philip Parker of Royal Mail, hoped they would “raise plenty of smiles”.

Ian Lavender, who played Pte Pike in the series, said it was “overwhelming” to be featured on a stamp. They’ll be available from 26 June.

Cpl Jones, Pte Walker, Pte Frazer and Pte Godfrey also feature in the set of eight stamps.

The hit series ran from 1968-77 and followed the antics of a World War Two home guard platoon, defending Walmington-on-Sea against a seemingly imminent Nazi invasion.

At its height, the programme attracted 18 millions viewers.

“I didn’t believe you could have someone still alive on a stamp apart from the Queen. Being on a stamp is not something you hope for simply because it is so unlikely,” Lavender said.

“You can hope for an OBE or a Bafta – those are things that happen. But to be on a stamp, well it really is so nice. What a lovely surprise.”

James Corden has given up meat because of animal abuse

James Corden has given up meat because of animal abuse

James Corden says he has given up meat but adds bread is now his “vice”.

The host of The Late Late Show in America explained he gave up meat after reading about abuse of elephants.

“I was upset about animal welfare while eating a bacon sandwich,” he told the Radio Times.

“I thought, ‘Well, you really can’t be upset about elephants and not think about the pigs.’ I hope I can keep it up. I will certainly try.”

The talk show host and actor is currently promoting his latest film, Ocean’s 8, which he stars in alongside the likes of Rihanna and Sandra Bullock.

He lost six stone before he took up his job in the US and plans to become a vegetarian next by phasing out fish.

“It’s going to be a gradual process” he said.

The former Gavin and Stacey star, 39, also said that in his younger years he did not imagine he would become the star he is today.

“No one is more surprised than me,” he said of his achievements, which include winning Emmy Awards and TV Bafta.

He said: “But I always knew I wanted to perform. The only time my school attendance record was 100% was when we were rehearsing a play.”


Snatches: Women-based TV show's name 'amused BBC'

Snatches: Women-based TV show's name 'amused BBC'

A theatre director has spoken of her disbelief that the BBC approved the name Snatches for her new TV series.

Vicky Featherstone, the Royal Court Theatre’s artistic director, has curated eight monologues for BBC Four to mark 100 years of women’s suffrage.

On the word Snatches – which can be a derogatory term for a vagina – she told the Radio Times magazine: “It’s reclaiming the word, isn’t it?”

She said BBC Four “were rather amused by it”.

“It was my first idea, and I thought, ‘There’s no way they’re going to let it happen,'” she said.

But it was allowed and Featherstone says it “fits very well”.

“Our monologues are literally snatches of women’s lives but a lot of those stories are about people and issues that aren’t really known, so we’re reclaiming the history and we’re reclaiming the word,” she told the magazine.

The eight short 15-minute episodes, directed by Vanessa Caswill and Rachna Suri, have been penned by writers including Abi Morgan and Tanika Gupta.

Atonement actress Romola Garai, Downton Abbey star Siobhan Finneran and Three Girls actress Liv Hill are among the stars involved.

One of the monologues is based on rape within marriage, while another is about an actress’s experience meeting a producer.

The series, which will air this summer as part of the broadcaster’s Hear Her season, marks the centenary of women over the age of 30, and who owned property, being able to vote in the UK.

Snatches: Women-based TV show's name 'amused BBC'
Snatches: Women-based TV show's name 'amused BBC'
Snatches: Women-based TV show's name 'amused BBC'
Snatches: Women-based TV show's name 'amused BBC'
Snatches: Women-based TV show's name 'amused BBC'
Snatches: Women-based TV show's name 'amused BBC'
Snatches: Women-based TV show's name 'amused BBC'
Snatches: Women-based TV show's name 'amused BBC'
Snatches: Women-based TV show's name 'amused BBC'
Snatches: Women-based TV show's name 'amused BBC'
Snatches: Women-based TV show's name 'amused BBC'
Snatches: Women-based TV show's name 'amused BBC'
Snatches: Women-based TV show's name 'amused BBC'
Snatches: Women-based TV show's name 'amused BBC'

Featherstone said working on the series had been a wake-up call in terms of gender equality.

“I’m an incredibly optimistic person,” she said.

“But I think the shock, for all of us who worked on Snatches, is that things maybe haven’t changed as much for women as we thought they had.

“Snatches shows how things can shift. We just have to make sure they don’t shift backwards.”

Gary Barlow takes that confetti criticism

Gary Barlow takes that confetti criticism

Take That legend Gary Barlow has apologised for firing confetti cannons during a concert in Cornwall.

The singer was criticised by environmental campaigners about the misuse of single use plastics.

Cornwall Against Plastic tweeted him to say they were “appalled to see plastic confetti littering the Eden Project”.

The Relight My Fire crooner apologised and cancelled all ticker tape at outdoor shows because “beyond the effect it just turns into litter”.

More Cornwall stories

He was performing in front of a sell-out crowd on 6 June as part of a UK tour.

Cannons were used to fire the ticker tape over the crowd during the show.

The Eden Project has been contacted for comment.

Some fans refused to let the row take the shine off the gig.

They responded to the star’s apology by downplaying the environmental impact, saying they enjoyed collecting the ticker tape.

Samantha Simmons said on Twitter: “Ticker tape is a lovely memory of the concert for fans!” and posted a picture of a memory frame she made from the concert.

'I blagged it!' – how a West End understudy saved Mamma Mia!

'I blagged it!' - how a West End understudy saved Mamma Mia!

When Mamma Mia! found itself without a leading lady following a leg injury during the first scene last Thursday, it looked like the show would have to be cancelled.

Especially because, wouldn’t you know it, both understudies had fallen ill.

But never fear – help was (literally) just around the corner.

Mamma Mia’s general manager had remembered that one of the show’s previous stars – Steph Parry – was currently working as an understudy in 42nd Street, which was playing just down the road.

He called Steph, to ask whether she could step in, and within just 18 minutes of Mamma Mia! being halted, she was on the stage playing Donna – the role made famous in the film of the same name by Meryl Streep.

As a stand-in for two of 42nd Street’s leading roles, she was sitting in the dressing room at the Theatre Royal on Drury Lane when she got the call.

The theatre is a hop and a skip from the Novello Theatre, the home of Mamma Mia!

“The general manager told the audience: ‘I’m really sorry, unfortunately Caroline has injured herself and is unable to carry on in the show and we have no understudy – however, we do have a lovely lady who will be carrying on for her shortly,'” Steph explains.

When the understudies took charge

“At the time, I didn’t know [the audience announcement] was going to happen. It meant they were totally on my side and any nerves just went. They were willing me on.”

But how on earth did she remember it all – the steps, the blocking (where to move) and the songs? (Although to be fair, we could probably all manage the latter – this is Abba we’re talking about).

“Last time I played the role I was on a cruise ship and it was the US version of Mamma Mia – the blocking and choreography are different, even the script is slightly different,” says Steph.

“I didn’t have time to worry, I just needed a wee! I remember sitting on the loo thinking about the lines for the next scene. After that I had no need to think, I just had to trust that it was somewhere in the back of mind. It was worse, the more I thought about!”

She says the dancing was the biggest challenge.

“The choreography was the biggest wing in the whole of my life – I blagged it!” she says, adding: “The cast were great, I knew they were on my side.”

And there were other challenges – she only knew one or two of the actors.

“Jacqueline Braun, who plays Rosie, I’d never met before. She came up to me just before I went on and said: ‘I just have to say hello, we’re about to play best friends of 20 years, nice to meet you!'”

So how has she managed to carve out a career as the go-to understudy?

“My whole career has been [like that] – on my second night in Wicked I had to go on as Madam Morrible. My costume wasn’t ready and I didn’t have a wig!

“Ten years ago I was in the Pyjama Game in the Union Theatre – the lead role Babe lost her voice on the afternoon of the opening night, they had asked me to understudy the role but not officially.

“So I had to go on with a script! The next day, the director said I had to learn my lines for that night because ‘Time Out were in’.”

And the jobs kept coming.

“You get known as someone who is reliable. I’d love to be a leading role, that’s where I’d like to be. But what’s great is you do get the moment to save the day. Moments like that are so special.”

And last week’s performance was a particular career highlight.

“It was like nothing I’ve ever experienced in my life. At the end of Winner Takes It All, I felt like Celine Dion!”

But Steph says she is genuinely surprised by all the media attention.

“I didn’t think it was anything special, I just did what I did. The publicity has blown me away.”

Welcome to the junction: Guns N' Roses star visits steam festival

Welcome to the junction: Guns N' Roses star visits steam festival

Guns N’ Roses bassist Duff McKagan showed an appetite for combustion by preparing for Download with a visit to a steam festival.

The band were staying at Stapleford Park, near Melton Mowbray, where neighbouring Stapleford Miniature Railway was holding a steam weekend.

McKagan bought a ticket for the miniature train but got caught up chatting with a fire crew.

Thousands watched the band headline Download on Saturday evening.

“It’s a shame Duff [McKagan] didn’t get the chance to ride on the miniature railway,” said Nigel Spencer, from the group that operates the ride.

Putting maybe a little too much perspective on the visit, Mr Spencer added: “He’s obviously quite keen on fire engines too.”

Later on Saturday, a chartered helicopter took off from a site adjacent to the 10 1⁄4 inch gauge line with lead singer Axl Rose on board.

The band were staying at the neighbouring luxury hotel while headlining the Download Festival at Donington Park.

Big crowds watched the band’s marathon three-hour-plus set on Saturday evening.

As well as hits such as Paradise City and Welcome to the Jungle, they covered classics like Live and Let Die and Wichita Lineman.

One rock fan named Deborah tweeted she had “never seen so many fans in one place”.