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One World: Together at Home, streamed live on 18 April, will support UN response fund

Lady Gaga is to curate One World: Together at Home, a live-streamed and televised benefit concert in support of the World Health Organizations Covid-19 solidarity response fund and in celebration of health workers around the world.

The lineup includes Lady Gaga, Billie Eilish and her brother Finneas, Lizzo, J Balvin, Stevie Wonder, Paul McCartney, Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day, Alanis Morissette, Burna Boy, Andrea Bocelli, Chris Martin of Coldplay, Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam, Elton John, John Legend, Kacey Musgraves, Keith Urban and Lang Lang.

The US talk show hosts Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel and Stephen Colbert will host the event, which broadcasts live across the US television networks ABC, CBS and NBC, as well as being streamed online, at 8pm EST on 18 April.

BBC One will show an adapted version of the concert on 19 April, including exclusive performances from UK artists and interviews with frontline health workers. The details of the broadcast are yet to be announced.

Other celebrities expected to appear include David Beckham, Idris and Sabrina Elba, Kerry Washington, Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Shah Rukh Khan and Sesame Street cast members.

The WHO and the social action platform Global Citizen have partnered to produce the event. The latters Together at Home series, launched last month, has featured performances from artists in isolation including Shawn Mendes, Camila Cabello and Rufus Wainwright.

In a WHO press conference, Lady Gaga said she had helped to raise $35m (28m) for Global Citizen in the past week. She clarified that One World was not a fundraising telethon and would focus on entertainment and messages of solidarity, with philanthropists and businesses urged to donate to the Covid-19 solidarity response fund ahead of the event.

The WHOs general director, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said:We may have to be apart physically for a little while, but we can still come together virtually to enjoy great music. The One World: Together at Home concert represents a powerful show of solidarity against a common threat.

This article was amended on 6 April 2020. Lady Gaga stated that philanthropists and businesses were being urged to donate to the organisation, rather than fans as an earlier version said. This has been corrected.

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A 40-minute special dropped by Netflix on Sunday checks in with some of the tangential players of the runaway hit, with only minor revelations

Calling all you cool cats and kittens Tiger King is back. Well, kind of. After the outlandish series took the world of memes and quarantine streaming by storm since its premiere in March, Netflix dropped a previously unplanned addendum on Sunday. The Tiger King and I, a special of short, softball interviews hosted by the comedian Joel McHale from his house in Los Angeles, featured interviews with eight people adjacent to Joe Exotic: Erik Cowie, Jeff and Lauren Lowe, John Reinke, Kelci Saff Saffery, Joshua Dial, John Finlay and Rick Kirkham.

McHale, a breezy interviewer in AirPods, mostly avoided the shows more controversial topics; if youre looking for further investigation into Joes crimes, the death of Carole Baskins ex-husband or the mistreatment of big cats in the US, this is not the place. But if 40 minutes of popcorn-style interviews (how many leather jackets does Jeff Lowe own? How are Finlays new teeth?) then Netflix has you covered. The Tiger King and I lacked the type of bombshells that characterized the series (as well as its directors, Eric Goode and Rebecca Chaiklin) but did provide some small updates on life after Tiger King memedom. What, if anything, did we learn? (For those who havent seen, Tiger King spoilers ahead.)

Disputed portrayals

Photograph: Netflix

Several participants have aired grievances with their portrayals in the series, most notably the big cat owner Bhagavan Doc Antle and Joes arch-nemesis Baskin, both of whom did not participate in the special. Baskin in particular took issue with the charge lobbied by several in the series (and fans online) that she killed her ex-husband, Don Lewis, in Florida. (Police have never charged her with the crime, though a sheriff in Florida has reopened the investigation; to date, tips have been fans with theories.)

On Sundays special, Lowe, the business partner who implicated Joe in his murder-for-hire conviction and took over his zoo, disputed his characterization. I think they tried to sensationalize the story a bit to give it a villain, he said. McHale was a light interviewer, treating Lowe more as a charming character rather than someone with a shady criminal history; he glossed over Lowes charges in Las Vegas (federal mail fraud and an illegal exotic animal business) but did ask about the couples nanny and Lowes wardrobe of leather jackets and Affliction T-shirts.

Dial, Joe Exotics campaign manager for his presidential and Oklahoma gubernatorial runs, disputed Lowes claim of unfairness: Truth hurts, he said, calling the series fair and balanced.

Saffery, a trans man who goes by Saff, said he wasnt too concerned about criticism of the show for misgendering him. I dont think it bothered me as much as it bothered everybody else, he said. I didnt really pay it any mind.

Joes ex-husband Finlay, who appeared mostly shirtless and with several missing teeth in the series (the result of meth use, which he discussed openly), told McHale he was not happy with his portrayal as a drugged-out hillbilly, since that was not me then. At that time, I was four to five years clean.

The toll of Joe Exotic

Photograph: USA TODAY Network/SIPA USA/PA Images

Of course, most of the conversations revolved around Joe Exotic, the center of the series who has become a controversial hero to some viewers. High-profile fans such as Cardi B have suggested he was set up, and a question of pardoning Joe, legal name Joseph Maldonado-Passage, for his 22-year sentence in a murder-for-hire scheme against Baskin, has made it all the way to Donald Trump. McHale asked most of his guests if they were more loyal to Joe or the animals; Joe didnt get any takers. I think that justice was served, but I still dont want to see that man die in prison, said Saffery (though he said he would trust the tiger who bit his arm off over Joe).

Several also spoke to the lingering damage from their time in the Joe Exotic universe. Dial revealed that hes raising money for therapy to deal with the trauma of witnessing Joes husband Travis Maldonado accidentally shoot himself, point-blank, in 2017 Dials expression the moment he realizes Maldonados prank has gone horribly wrong, captured on security footage, is one of the seriess darkest and most tragic moments. Kirkham, who produced Joe Exotic TV for several years, said the attention from the series has caught up with him in Norway, where he now lives, but so have the nightmares. Despite the newfound fame from the hit series, I regret ever meeting Joe Exotic, he said.

Information holes ahead

Photograph: Netflix

The absence of the two major players in the series besides Joe, Baskin and Antle, went unmentioned by McHale; perhaps its because both have roundly criticized the series. Antle dismissed Tiger King as sensationalized entertainment with paid participants in a series of Instagram and Facebook posts, while Baskin posted a 3,000-word defense against the claim she fed her ex-husband to tigers. Neither of these disputes were mentioned. Instead, McHale simply asked the Lowes whether they thought Baskin killed her ex-husband, as Joe and many in his orbit long claimed. Unsurprisingly, they said yes.

Also missing from the special were James Garretson, Lowes former partner last seen riding into the sunset on a jetski, and Allen Glover, the alleged hitman hired by Joe to kill Baskin. Joe recently filed a malicious prosecution suit against both men, as well as Lowe and several others, in which he claims Lowe lied to authorities and planted evidence against him. This also went unmentioned.

Fantasy casting

Photograph: Netflix US/AFP via Getty Images

McHale jumped in to one of social medias favorite games since the series aired: who should play these outrageous real-life figures in the Hollywood adaptation? A scripted miniseries is already in the works with Saturday Night Lives Kate McKinnon slated to play Baskin, but other roles remain uncast. In Facebook posts somehow written while in prison, Joe has suggested Brad Pitt should play him. Asked by McHale to cast himself, Reinke picked Matthew McConaughey, Kirkham offered Billy Bob Thornton and Saffery offered Brandon Baker of Johnny Tsunami fame.

Big cats, little attention to cruelty

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Forget Nordic murder noir. Continuing our look at European culture, we find Scandinavian TVs new obsessions are go-getting young girls, wartime Royals and the Swedish origins of Spotify

Before 2011, it seemed inconceivable that the British could be gripped in their living rooms by subtitled TV drama, night after fraught night. Surely that was the stuff of arthouse cinema, not edge-of-the-seat primetime viewing. Then along came a trilogy of Scandinavian exports The Killing, Borgen, The Bridge and what was once niche entertainment became a nationwide obsession.

Soon, a single item of clothing was getting more attention in the British media than most series get in their entire life: Sarah Lund, the detective at the heart of The Killing, was as relentless in her wearing of Faroe Isle jumpers as she was in her pursuit of the murderer at large on the streets of Copenhagen. Scandi noir had arrived in Britain, and the connections it tapped into went much deeper than knitwear.

Relentless jumper wearer Sofie Grbl as detective Sarah Lund in The Killing. Photograph: Tine Harden/DR

According to Walter Iuzzolino, of Channel 4s foreign-language, on-demand strand Walter Presents, these shows held up a very interesting, distorted mirror to the British soul. Scandinavia has the same level of slightly gloomy, desaturated, rainy, cold, foggy, darkness, he says. But it also has beautiful aspirational interiors. This pared-back Scandinavian look triggers something. Its almost us, but not quite us. Its a version you like to spend time with because its tidy, its orderly.

But are we still spending as much time with our Scandi mirror-selves in 2020? It is true that lifestyle magazines have got over their craze for hygge, a term meaning anything cosy, cuddly or convivial; and, yes, Ikea recently announced its first major UK store closure. However, Nordic noir still seems to be going from strength to strength. That 2011 invasion has now given way to a steady flow. Ifits harder to name the big breakthrough Scandi shows these days, that is only because there are so many more contenders.

Swedens latest export is The Truth Will Out, a gripping detective drama based on the true story of one of the countrys most famous miscarriages of justice. In classic Nordic-noir style, it uses the fraught relationship between demoted murder detective Peter Wendel and his public prosector ex-wife to expose high-level governmental corruption. Already a smash hit in Sweden, The Truth Will Out has just appeared on Walter Presents.

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‘We knew we were the best’: original drama from Sweden – video

In terms of architecture, The Truth Will Out fully conforms to genre expectations, from the functional exteriors of looming government buildings to the cool uncluttered premises of flustered suspects. Indeed, architecture is so integral to the Scandinavian TV canon that two of that founding trio were named after spectacular structures: the five-mile resund Bridge that connects Copenhagen in Denmark to Malm in Sweden; and the Danish governments Christiansborg Palace, known informally as Borgen.

Whats more, there is always a blanket of snow on The Truth Will Outs rural scenes, just as there is on otherwise disparate dramas such as Wisting (the Norwegian serial-killer series on BBC iPlayer), Fortitude (Sky Atlantics English-language Arctic homage to the genre) and Icelands Trapped (soon to air its third season).

Still, people, not places, continue to define the best Scandi TV. When it comes to Nordic noir, says Mattias Bergqvist, chief TV critic of Swedish newspaper Expressen, Im convinced it all began with the Beck books by Maj Sjwall and Per Wahl, a wave of writing that continued with Henning Mankells Wallander and reached its peak with Stieg Larsson. That tradition of having well-evolved characters has been important.

Overtones of The Crown Sofia Helin, who played Saga in The Bridge, as Princess Mrtha in Atlantic Crossing. Photograph: Julie Vrabelova/Beta Film

Its no coincidence, then, that the Danish producer behind the original screen adaptations of all these works, Sren Strmose, is also the producer of The Truth Will Out, developed with Swedish crime writer Leif GW Persson. Strmose credits his successes in part to the glimpses he provides of Scandinavias utopian or apparently utopian welfare society. International audiences are curious about the cracks, he says.

Also, in possibly another echo with Britain, Sweden has long enjoyed an influence disproportionate to its size. Its a small country economically, he says, but internationally, its a humanitarian big power. And now you have the Greta Thunberg effect showing no one is too small to make a difference.

The UK office of Yellow Bird, Strmoses production company, has just produced its first series for Netflix, Young Wallander, and its working on another, about the rise of Swedish music streaming giant Spotify. It is a typical example of how Scandinavias big public broadcasters SVT, DR, NRK are being joined by newer platforms and production houses, among them Swedish streamers Viaplay. And there is no shortage of international buyers, eager to follow a TV trend with proven staying power.

Norways answer to Girls Young and Promising. Photograph: Eirik Evjen

As the Spotify project shows, the results are not all crime series either. State-of-a-generation dramas include Young and Promising (Norways answer to Girls) and the web series Skam (its answer to Skins), both of which have been very popular. Netflix cannily combined the two strands in Quicksand, a drama about a high-school shooting in an affluent Stockholm neighbourhood. Curiously, Scandinavian audiences typically like their period dramas British, but shows such as SVTs Our Time Is Now and DRs State of Happiness are changing that. The latter has been acquired by BBC Four.

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Fans of The Bridges chief investigator Saga Norn who lives her life gloriously unaware of social norms, possibly because she has Asperger syndrome will be pleased to hear that Sofia Helin, who plays the much-loved character, will be appearing as Princess Mrtha in Atlantic Crossing, a drama about the Norwegian royals during the second world war with overtones of the Netflix hit The Crown.

Even with bigger budgets, though, Scandinavias relatively small industry is stretched. It takes time to get experience, says Strmose. To manage big budgets, complicated long-term shoots, and work with wonderful, great egos. His great success has lain in utilising this newfound spending power without losing the charm and craftsmanship of a cottage industry. Scandinavian drama has always had that enjoyable repertory theatre feel, with the same faces popping up again and again. Now the likes of Maria Sundbom (The Bridge, Quicksand, The Truth Will Out, Before We Die) and Sren Malling (The Killing, Borgen, Dicte, 1864, The Investigation) will be even busier. And there wont be many complaints about that.

This industry might not be the biggest, or even the best, in Europe but what they do, they do to perfection, especially where those thrillers are concerned. Scandi is unique in its ability to deliver a compellingly dark thriller, says Iuzzolino. Theyve mastered that art better than anywhere else in the world.

Gloriously unaware Helin as Saga in The Bridge. Photograph: Jens Juncker/BBC/Filmlance International AB, Nimbus Film

Even the most successful exponents of Nordic noir, however, do sometimes chafe against the constraints of the genre. If you think about the original French meaning of the word noir, says Strmose, you associate it with cheerless lightning. But our lighting is not cheerless! His latest show, Thin Ice, is a climate crisis thriller set among the melting ice caps of east Greenland. Im trying to introduce the subgenre Nordic blue, to show the cheerful colours of our snow, ice and the sky above us.

Of course, corruption, greed, cheating and treachery take place in Scandinavia all the time. But [noir] doesnt reflect the humanity of our protagonists, or our interest in equality between the sexes, and the welfare state. To have a real democracy you have to constantly attack the cracks in the judicial system and the crime genre is one way to do that, hopefully creating debates.

Brave new show Caliphate with Gizem Erdogan, left. Photograph: Johan Paulin/Filmlance

The Truth Will Out was the big talking point of 2018. This year, it is undoubtedly Caliphate, a thriller about Swedish Islamic terrorists. Its not perfect, but its a brave show taking on pressing questions, says Karolina Fjellborg, TV critic of Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet. She also recommends the dramedy Bonus Family and is not surprised by all of the appreciation of Scandinavian television. As a Swede who grew up watching all kinds of TV with subtitles, Ive never understood English-speaking peoples aversion to foreign-language shows. It was about time subtitles made a breakthrough.

Next year, meanwhile, perhaps the big show will be The Investigation, a drama about the real murder of Swedish journalist Kim Wall aboard a mini-submarine in Copenhagen harbour. It is written and directed by Borgens Tobias Lindholm.

Whether or not any of these shows will grip the UK, the international influence of Scandinavian TV is abundantly clear. In under a decade, these shows have created a global TV grammar, with seemingly every other talked-about show of the last few years boasting a Scandi feel. Black Mirror? Nordic. True Detective? Nordic with a Cajun twist. Succession? So, so Nordic. For a region famed for its tolerance and peaceful neutrality, Scandi TV has managed global domination.

Watch the season three trailer for Bonus Family

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After Democrats caucus chaos and Trumps Senate acquittal, SNL managed to make a memorable week forgettable

Saturday Night Live opens at Fridays New Hampshire Democratic debate. Following the Iowa caucuses results disaster and Donald Trumps Senate acquittal, the Democrats have a lot riding on this event.

Unfortunately for them, their presumed frontrunner, Joe Biden (Jason Sudeikis), just suffered a huge electoral kick in the nuts, although he promises to do what he does best and creep up from behind. Meanwhile, the current actual frontrunners, White Obama former mayor Pete Buttigieg (Colin Jost) and most popular guy on 4Chan Bernie Sanders (Larry David) are still duking it out over the Iowa results.

Struggling to keep from being totally overshadowed by all the raging male ego, Amy Klobuchar (Rachel Dratch) compares herself and fellow New York Times endorsee Elizabeth Warren (Kate McKinnon) to recent Super Bowl half-time performers Jennifer Lopez and Shakira in one of the worst jokes of the season (seriously, its so bad youd think the real Klobuchar came up with it).

Its still only the second most cringeworthy moment in the cold open, the first being the sneering chastisement of Sanderss army of internet trolls for their annoying behavior.

Its not that the show is wrong about them, its just that 1) any show that welcomed Trump on as host has no business moralizing from a centrist standpoint and 2) its just gonna cause the Bernie bros to become even more annoying.

Anyway, the sheer disgracefulness of this weeks political theater gives this otherwise boilerplate, shrug-worthy cold open an extra-foul aftertaste. Reality TV star and drag icon RuPaul hosts for the first time. Some viewers may be confused as to why hes not in drag for his monologue, but he assures us I am wearing my grandmothers panties.

He then reminisces about his early days in New York and runs down the three rules that have seen him through his various ups and downs: No 1: get the money up front. No 2: if they aint paying your bills pay them no mind. And finally: dont take life too seriously. Its all very life-affirming and inspirational, but its also distinctly lacking in laughs.

In Charades, two families one white, one black take opposing sides in the popular parlor game. The black family flagrantly disregards the rules, such as no talking and no pointing, and eventually steamrolls their competition. Its never clear whether the joke is that black people dont know how to play charades or that theyre really good at getting movie clues (this feels like the third or fourth time SNL has referenced Bad Boys for Life this season), though frankly, its never interesting or funny enough to matter.

RuPaul declares Chad, Pete Davidsons monosyllabic slacker, to be the future of drag. Hes given RuPauls patented makeover of The Tuck, The Look, and The Face, though it doesnt take in the end. Weighed down by two large chicken cutlets and a skintight dress, Chad just flops all over the place. This pre-filmed similarly sketch falls flat, although RuPaul is much more natural here than he is in a live one.

Then, in Check-Splitting, Cecily Strong and RuPaul play two sassy office temps decked out in 80s perms and blouses (its unclear if this is supposed to be a Designing Women reference, although it feels like it) who attempt to defend the honor of one of their coworkers during a pay dispute at a restaurant. All they end up doing is revealing how much of a pathetic closer she is, loudly exclaiming: Every night this woman goes home to nothing and NOTHING!. The audience is initially onboard, but the sketch keeps spinning its wheels, running out of steam long before it wraps up.

The same is true of Library, in which RuPaul visits childrens reading and teaches them how read the filth. According to RuPaul: Reading is throwing shade: a brutal insult wrapped inside a glorious wordplay. Unfortunately, any such glorious wordplay here is lost to bad timing and interminable bouts of awkward silence.

Justin Bieber is the nights musical guest. Sporting a terrible mustache and accompanied by a string trio, he performs the song Yummy.

Weekend Update kicks off with Colin Jost poking fun at the recent photograph of Trump making the rounds, in which the presidents grotesque tan lines are extra-visible. Per Jost: Its like the day at the nursing home where they let the patients put their own makeup on.

He and Michael Che trade shots at Trumps rambling acquittal speech; his confusing Kansas City, Kansas, for Kansas City, Missouri; and his penchant for slurring words all to the loud, self-satisfied applause of the audience. This material has already been driven into the ground on social media and across late night, and in light of Trumps recent victories and the Democrats recent debacles, it couldnt feel more pointless.

Series newcomer Chloe Fineman gets her first showcase by joining the hosts to discuss her favorite holiday, the Oscars. Its really just an excuse for her to do impressions some better than others of the actors Ana de Armas, Rene Zellweger, Saoirse Ronan, Timothe Chalamet, Meryl Streep, Scarlett Johansson and Laura Dern.

In a new episode of Thirsty Cops, RuPaul and Ego Nwodims horny officers take turns harassing a reckless driver. The last time the show used this setup, the Baltimore police department threw a hissy fit, but this one seems too milquetoast (and frankly, forgettable) to cause much of a stir.

The Old New York Show is a local-access program hosted by longtime drinking companions and shut-ins Madge and Dickie (Aidy Bryant and McKinnon). Theyre joined by their mutual ex-husband, Terry T (by day an unemployed shoe critic, by night an usher on Broadway where I yell at ladies to pee faster!). They all reminisce about the golden days of old New York (or, 1994), sing some quick show tunes and make prank calls/terrorist threats. Its all very scattershot, but also endearingly grungy and consistently funny.

The show obviously ran long, so rather than a closing sketch, things wrap up with Bieber (and guest rapper Quavo) performing Intentions.

Talented an overall performer as he is, RuPaul just didnt seem particularly well-suited to live sketch comedy. But the bigger issue with this episode, and with the show overall now that the primaries are well and truly upon us, is the political material.

This past week saw several major political car wrecks play out before our eyes, and yet Saturday Night Live couldnt craft one memorable sketch nor even a single memorable joke out of any of it. At this point, if the best it can do is show us an embarrassing picture of Trump that people have already been laughing at for two days, its fair to ask: what purpose is the show even serving?

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Horniness, confusion and grief combine to give a suburban teenager Carrie-like powers in Netflixs explosive teen drama

If there is one undeniable fact that young adult movies and TV shows have taught us, it is that teenage feelings are extremely powerful. From Carrie massacring a whole prom with telekinesis to Sabrina Spellmans Big Witch Energy, we must both respect teen emotions and fear them at the same time. That is why middle-aged men mock fans of One Direction and BTS: theyre scared that, if not cowed by embarrassment, the energy could cause some kind of world-ending weather event. Which is why, when Sydney in I Am Not Okay With This (Netflix, from Wednesday 26 February) destroys a whole forest with her mind because shes really, really horny, it sort of feels realistic?

Lets recap. The show follows 16-year-old Syd (Sophia Lillis), who has moved to a boring Pennsylvania town with her mum Maggie and little brother Liam. Im not special and Im OK with that, she writes in the diary she has been told to keep by the school counsellor, in the wake of her dad killing himself in their basement. Yes, the basement of the house the family still lives in. And, like the old Native American burial ground trope, the basement channels Syds teenage rage into Carrie-like powers that levitate objects when she is upset and kill her brothers pet hedgehog.(RIP, Banana Bigglesworth.)

I Am Not Okay With This is from the producers of Stranger Things and directed by The End of the F***ing Worlds Jonathan Entwhistle, and anyone who has seen those shows, or Netflixs other huge teen hits The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina or Riverdale, will recognise some familiar themes. A protagonist who feels like an outsider, powered by the boiling-hot rage of lifes unfairness (or, in Syds case, being asked to walk to the supermarket exactly once by her mum). A manic pixie dream boy; here, Syds neighbour Stan (Wyatt Oleff), who is every teenage girls ultimate fantasy a non-threatening weed dealer who drives a vintage car. Extremely stylish teenagers with impossibly good hair. A beautifully shot US town (Brownstone, where Syd moves, is a wash of 70s-style ochres). And a setting in that weird Netflix realm that could be any time in the last half-century (the characters go to 50s-stylediners, listen to 80s music, own 90s VHS tapes and have mobile phones).

At first, compared to its rival shows, I Am Not Okay With This feels a bit low stakes. Syd is not on the run for murder or fighting monsters created by shady corporations she has discovered that if she gets annoyed at someone, they might have a minor nosebleed. It doesnt have The End of the F***ing Worlds humour, or Stranger Thingss heart. But it soon becomes clear that Syds new supernatural powers might be fuelled not by grief but by the raging horn for her best friend, Dina. And thats where Syds EBTM (Extremely Big Teen Emotions) could actually save the show.

Instead of admitting she is gay, Syd goes into denial. Because shoving teenage feelings down under the bubbling lava of anger, horniness, confusion and grief wont result in them exploding out at the very worst moment like, say, the homecoming dance Syd agrees to go to with Stan, will it? Bring on the pigs blood and slam the fire exits shut: things are about to get interesting.

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Dave wins album of the year and fellow rappers Stormzy and Tyler, the Creator win best male categories as Capaldi crowns breakthrough year

Scottish singer-songwriter Lewis Capaldi has topped the winners at the 2020 Brit awards, though a strong year for rap music prevented a clean sweep of his four nominations.

Capaldi picked up best new artist and best song for Someone You Loved, which spent seven weeks at No 1 in spring 2019, later topping the US charts and earning a Grammy nomination.

His debut album Divinely Uninspired to a Hellish Extent its title typical of the dry self-deprecation that has won him millions of fans on social media was the biggest seller in the UK in 2019, but it lost the top prize of album of the year to south London rapper Dave and his emotionally fraught Psychodrama.

Dave, who in his performance earlier in the evening called Boris Johnson racist, decried the lack of support for survivors of the Grenfell tragedy and called attention to the disparity in the media treatment of Meghan Markle and Kate Middleton, used his acceptance speech to celebrate his fellow south Londoners, and to acknowledge incarcerated Britons including his brother, Christopher.

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Dave calls Boris Johnson ‘real racist’ in politically charged Brits performance video

In September 2019, Psychodrama won the other top album award in British pop music, the Mercury prize. Dave is only the second ever artist to win both, following the Arctic Monkeys wins for their 2006 debut Whatever People Say I Am, Thats What Im Not. Dave had been this years joint top Brits nominee with Capaldi on four.

Continuing a successful year for rap music, Stormzy beat a strong field Dave and Capaldi, plus Harry Styles and Michael Kiwanuka to be named best British male. His win follows a triumphant year in which he topped the UK singles chart three times, began a five-continent world tour, and played a headline set at Glastonbury that is already regarded as one of the greatest in the festivals 50-year history.

LA rapper Tyler, the Creator added to his best rap album Grammy award with a Brit for best international male, beating Bruce Springsteen and others. In his speech, he taunted former prime minister Theresa May, who as home secretary banned him from coming to the UK for five years. The restriction ended last year.

The rap wins show not only the current depth and breadth of the genre, but also that the Brit awards have adapted following accusations of under-promoting black talent. Following the #BritsSoWhite outcry of 2016, the Academy of voters was diversified to bring in more people of colour, and black British stars including Skepta, J Hus, Kano and Jorja Smith have all since appeared on shortlists.

Those Academy changes also brought in more women to move the gender balance of voters close to parity, but the awards have been criticised this year for not featuring enough women on its shortlists, as well as the longlists from which voters select nominees. Mabel was the only British woman to be shortlisted across 25 slots in the mixed British categories of best song, album, group and new artist. Voters could choose from 86 male artists for best British male, but only 26 women for best British female, while there were only 36 albums featuring women out of the 198 longlisted.

Mabels opening performance at the 2020 Brits. Photograph: JM Enternational/Rex/Shutterstock

The lack of female nominees was a theme of the evening, with host Jack Whitehall skewering the Brits for failing to recognise women, and Foals, winners of best British group an exclusively male category expressing their desire to see more female artists in the category next year.

Joy Crookes, nominated for the rising star Brit award, was among those criticising the ceremony, telling the BBC: You take one look at that list to go theres not enough women on it. Its as simple as that you can tick all the boxes, but [diversity] just isnt there yet.

In the end, Mabel lost out to Capaldi in the best song category, but won best British female. Scoring a UK No 3 single and album last year as well as reaching the US charts for the first time, she is the daughter of another pop singer, Neneh Cherry, who won two awards at the 1990 Brit awards. Billie Eilish won best international female, adding to the five Grammy awards she won earlier this year.

The rising star award formerly the critics choice award had previously been announced, and was won by soul singer Celeste.

Two award categories from previous years, best international group and best video, were cut to make way for more performances at the ceremony a sign that the Brits is attempting to remain a vibrant TV fixture in an increasingly fragmented media landscape, and intent on creating potentially viral performances to be shared online. Other changes include the introduction of three performance stages around Londons O2 Arena where the awards are held, reducing the number of industry tables by 50%.

Performers at the ceremony, hosted by comedian Jack Whitehall, included award winners Capaldi, Dave, Eilish, Mabel, Stormzy and Celeste, plus Harry Styles and US rapper, singer and sometime flautist Lizzo. Rod Stewart reunited with Faces bandmates Ron Wood and Kenney Jones to close the show.

Brit awards 2020 winners in full

Male solo artist: Stormzy
Female solo artist: Mabel
Group of the year: Foals
Rising star: Celeste
New artist: Lewis Capaldi
Song of the year: Lewis Capaldi Someone You Loved
Album of the year: Dave Psychodrama
International solo male: Tyler, the Creator
International solo female: Billie Eilish

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The actor on secondary school remorse, belly-button piercing and giving away spoilers

Born in Essex, Michelle Dockery, 38, studied at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. In 2004 she made her professional stage debut at the National Theatre, in His Dark Materials. From 2010-2015 she played Lady Mary in the ITV television series Downton Abbey, receiving three Emmy nominations. Her latest film is Guy Ritchies The Gentlemen, in cinemas now. She lives in London.

What was your most embarrassing moment?
Falling flat on my face during a curtain call at the National Theatre. The play was Pillars Of The Community and I tripped on my long skirts. Epic.

Aside from a property, whats the most expensive thing youve bought?
A very nice holiday.

What is your most treasured possession?
A St Christopher my mum gave me. I travel a lot and always carry it with me.

If you could bring something extinct back to life, what would you choose?
The dodo. I like birds.

What is your most unappealing habit?
Spoilers. I am the absolute worst for giving away the endings of films. It just happens. I cant control it.

What is your favourite word?
Apricity. It means the warmth of the sun in winter and reminds me of my childhood.

What did you want to be when you were growing up?
Many things. I remember wanting to be a vet, a ballet dancer and a hairdresser.

What is your guiltiest pleasure?
Keeping Up With The Kardashians or The Real Housewives any season, any time.

What do you owe your parents?

To whom would you most like to say sorry, and why?
A teacher at my secondary school. We used to write and sing songs about him. Sorry, Sir! You were a great teacher.

Have you ever said I love you and not meant it?
On a few occasions I act for a living!

Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?
Audrey Hepburn, Chris Lilley, Paul Newman, Walter Matthau, Gene Wilder, Celine Dion and Maggie Smith.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
Oh my God.

What has been your biggest disappointment?
Carrie and Aidan not ending up together.

If you could edit your past, what would you change?
Several haircuts and my belly-button piercing.

If you could go back in time, where would you go?
Woodstock 1969.

When did you last cry, and why?
Watching Big Little Lies season 2. Shailene Woodley made me bawl.

How do you relax?
Sitting on the sofa watching TV with a cup of tea.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
My friendships.

Where would you most like to be right now?
Anywhere in Italy eating pasta.

What keeps you awake at night?
Most things really. Im a night owl.

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Suits filed by James Safechuck and Wade Robson, who allege Jackson abused them as children, have been brought back

Two lawsuits filed against Michael Jackson accusing him of sexual abuse have been revived by the appeals court in California.

James Safechuck and Wade Robson, the focus of last years documentary Leaving Neverland, allege Jackson abused them when they were children. The trial court originally dismissed their lawsuits as they had not been filed before the pair turned 26. But a new law, which came into effect on 1 January, raised the age to 40.

On Friday, a panel of judges within Californias second appellate district reversed the initial ruling.

Were glad the appellate court recognized the very strong protection that California has for kids, and we look forward to litigating these cases to trial, said the pairs attorney Vince Finaldi.

The suits target Jacksons companies MJJ Productions and MJJ Ventures. Howard Weitzman, the companies attorney, has criticised the ruling, referring to the allegations as false and suggesting the lawsuits absurdly claim that Michaels employees are somehow responsible for sexual abuse that never happened.

Safechuck and Robson had also tried to sue the Jackson estate, but those suits were also dismissed because of the statute of limitations. They have not been revived as part of the new ruling. Finaldi said it was important to target the companies as these people that surrounded him enabled and facilitated this abuse.

The Emmy-winning documentary premiered at Sundance in January 2019 and detailed graphic claims from Safechuck and Robson about the alleged abuse inflicted on them at Jacksons Neverland ranch. We cant change what happened to us, Robson said after the first screening. The feeling is what can we do with that now.

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Weimar-era detective show has sold to 100 countries, firmly establishing Germany as a serious player in blockbuster series

It has been sold to 100 countries, spawned international interest in the fashions of 1920s Berlin and, in 2020, Germans first TV blockbuster of the streaming era returns for its third season, promising more murder and mystery in the turbulent days of the Weimar era.

Based on the bestselling detective novels by Volker Kutscher, Babylon Berlin is the most expensive non-English language screen production ever. Its cast is a whos who of Germanys best actors, headed by Liv Lisa Fries, playing the impoverished stenographer and aspiring detective Charlotte Ritter, and Volker Bruch, who plays her superior, chief inspector Gereon Rath.

Both investigators harbour secrets, with Ritter turning to prostitution at night to subsidise her family, and Rath battling PTSD triggered by his experiences in the first world war as well as leading a complicated love life.

The backdrop is 1929 in Berlin, a city in turmoil as it undergoes profound cultural, economic and political change. Nazis lurk in the wings, ready to exploit the desperation caused by poverty and unemployment. The foundations of the young republic show signs of crumbling and, as if in expectation of its imminent demise, the citys inhabitants, including the protagonists, indulge in a frenzy of dancing, drug-taking and cabaret parties.

From left, Meret Becker, Jenny Schily, Leonie Benesch, Hannah Herzsprung, Liv Lisa Fries and Fritzi Haberland at the premiere of the third season of Babylon Berlin in Berlin. Photograph: Hayoung Jeon/EPA

At its recent red carpet premiere in Berlin, and the after-party event in a dairy factory from the Weimar era, cast and audience members wore cloche hats, flapper dresses, spit curls and drag queen looks, underlining how the show has caught the publics imagination.

A 1920s musical, guided tours of Weimar Berlin, including many of the locations in the show, a rise in popularity of burlesque nightclubs and table telephone bars, as well as a flurry of books and music, are among the cultural spin-offs.

Liv Lisa Fries plays the aspiring detective Charlotte Ritter. Photograph: X Filme

Liv Lisa Fries, wearing a 1920s-style cinnamon taffeta gown at the premiere, has also become caught up in the craze. Its fascinating. I know a lot of people wanting to have their hair cut in a bob like Charlotte, who are wearing her cloche hat. They also like the real world of this film, and how my character boxes her way through this very male world to fulfil her goals.

Its creators, the director-screenwriter trio Tom Tykwer, Achim von Borries, and Henk Handloegten said they sometimes had difficulty keeping up with reality, citing economic and political upheaval around the world. Im reluctant to say it, but similar things are happening in the world today, said Tykwer. It has also been one of the big challenges. We have had to keep reminding ourselves to stick to the point of view of the characters in 1929, otherwise it will become cheap.

The production team on the set of Babylon Berlin. Photograph: X Filme

It has surprised some in the entertainment industry that Germany was so late in entering the field of television blockbuster serials, which has been dominated by the US, Scandinavia and the UK.

On the eve of the launch of the third season of Babylon Berlin, and with a fourth season in the pipeline, Germany is now considered to be firmly established in the genre.

A remake of Germanys hitherto most successful TV export, Das Boot, came out in 2018 to critical acclaim. Other series, such as Der Pass (Pagan Peak) and Acht Tage (8 Days) are also making an international impact. Deutschland 83, a drama based on recent German history, is particularly popular in the US and is also about to launch its third season. The sci-fi eco thriller Der Schwarm (The Swarm), based on a popular novel by Franz Schtzing, is creating a buzz even before shooting starts next year.

A scene from Babylon Berlin, season three. Photograph: X Filme

But critics in Germany have taken umbrage at the extent to which the compulsory TV licence fee, one of the highest in the world, has provided the bulk of the 40m (34m) funding for Babylon Berlin, which is co-financed and produced with Sky, whose subscribers will see it in January. German terrestrial television will not broadcast season three until the autumn.

Tykwer, also known for Run Lola Run and Perfume, defended the model. Many more people something like 10 times as many watched the first two seasons on the public television station ARD, he said. The year before it was shown on ARD, it didnt really exist for most German viewers, most of whom, I have to say, are still watching linear television.

Season three was kept under wraps until its premiere in December but the Guardian was allowed on to the Studio Babelsberg set. In reconstructed 1920s Berlin streets, with a pawn shop, a millinery, restaurants and brothels, fog, rain, the hoot of car horns and the stink of exhaust fumes, Tykwer was overseeing a key scene from the end of episode two.

Volker Ruth plays Chief Inspector Gereon Rath. Photograph: X Filme

We watched as Chief Inspector Gereon Rath, holding on to his trilby, dashed down the stairs of a tenement block, elbowing everyone out of his way, including a cartload of chickens. He caught the witness to the murder of a silent screen actress, bundled him into a car for the briefest of interrogations, before the man was immediately shot dead. Rath was left bewildered and sprayed in blood.

Its joyful to shoot, even if its physically draining, said Tykwer when the scene was finished. We shoot these 12 episodes in 100-120 days, whereas you would usually have 40 for cinema or 20 for a TV show. The dedication you need for something so long term is quite absurd.

After wiping the sweat from his brow, Bruch said he had learned a lot about the period while playing Rath. At school it was so squeezed between world war one and two, he said. So it was useful to have lots of historical experts to prepare us, everything from the police work to the politics, the psychology and the nightlife. They even taught us how to dance the Charleston.

My character is haunted by the past and that describes the era well because it was at this time, with German resentment over paying war reparations, and the suffering of living standards, that created political turbulence, which all leads to a horrific future we know too well.

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The former One Direction star talks about success at 16, dating normals and his right to rock a dress

Here he comes, one of the planets most conspicuous young men, stepping out of the London drizzle and into a dusty suburban pub. If there was an old vinyl record player in the place it would scratch quiet. Instead, the two-dozen punters turn hushed and intent, as if a unicorn has just trotted in off the street, and nobody wants to scare it off. Thats frickin Harry frickin Styles, whispers a young man at the bar, in this pub. The pop star is asked what he wants to drink and in a voice already inclined to undertones, quietly orders a cup of tea.

A former teen star who is now 25, a happier and rockier solo artist since his boyband One Direction split a few years ago, Styles has hidden himself inside a large, swamp-green parka. Hes tall, around the 6ft mark, and carries himself with a slight stoop. If Styles could only do something about his appearance from the neck up (elfin brow, wide Joker smile, a face thats recognisable across multiple continents) you sense he could drink in pubs like this anonymously enough. As it is, cover blown, he removes the parka. A woolly jumper beneath has a picture of the planet Saturn on it. Maybe theyve heard of Styles there, too.

We take a seat in the corner. On nearby tables, conversations start to sputter as people try to keep their own talk ticking along on autopilot while straining to hear what Styles says. I ask him about the sheer strangeness of this and other aspects of fame. Full stadiums, swooning admirers, an excess of opportunity and cash. Why isnt Styles an absolute ordeal of a human being by now? Keith Richards, at a comparable stage, imagined himself the pirate leader of a travelling nation-state, unbound by international law. Elton John was on vast amounts of cocaine. Meanwhile, heres Harry, known in the music industry as a bit of a freak, medically, having maintained abnormally high levels of civility in his system.

Boots, waistcoat and trousers, Gucci. Pearls, National Theatre costume hire. Necklace and rings, Styless own. Main image: top, waistcoat and trousers, Harris Reed. Photograph: Samuel Bradley/The Guardian

Styles tilts his head, flattered. There are others, he promises. People who are successful, and still nice. Its when you meet the people who are successful and arent nice, you think: Whats yer excuse? Cos Ive met the other sort.

Styles read Keith Richards autobiography a while back, and he recently finished Eltons, too. (Soooo much cocaine, he marvels.) We talk for a bit about whether extreme dissolute behaviour and artistic greatness go hand in hand. Styles, who has just released his second solo album, Fine Line, the penultimate track of which is called Treat People With Kindness, has to hope not. I just dont think you need to be a dick to be a good artist. But, then, there are also a lot of good artists who are dicks. So. Hmm. Maybe I need to start scaring babies in supermarkets?

A couple of lads hustle over to offer drinks. A photo is requested; they say theyll wait. Im weirdly anxious about Styless phone, which is slung on the table in front of him. What must be the black-market value of that thing? If fans were to get hold of it, would they want to open Styless music app first, to listen to tracks from the new album, or rush to see his messages and calls, to find out who Styles has been flirting with late at night? The interest in his music has always run at a ratio of about 50/50 with the interest in who he is dating.

Its a ratio Styles tries to adjust in favour of the music by being vague about his ex-partners, real and rumoured (Taylor Swift, Kendall Jenner, Parisian model Camille Rowe), diverting to discuss his songs about failed relationships. A year ago, when Styles was floating around near this pub in north London, where he lives, and California, where he tends to record, looking for inspiration for the new album, his close friend Tom Hull told him: Just date amazing women, or men, or whatever, who are going to fuck you up Let it affect you and write songs about it.

Styles, who writes in collaboration with Hull and producer Tyler Johnson, sounds as if he took the advice. The new album, Fine Line, is at its best when capturing late-hours moments, drunk calls, wandering hands, kitchen snogs. A golden-haired lover recurs. There are up tracks, down tracks, some with the trippy delirium of harpsichord-era Stones, others with the angsty Britpop swell of strings. While I listened, I couldnt help scribbling down names, possible subjects. On the lyric Theres a piece of you in how I dress I wrote: maybe Kendall? In a song about a lover way too bright for me: surely Taylor.

With Taylor Swift in 2012. Photograph: Rex/Shutterstock

Styles says he keeps to a general rule: write what comes and dont think about it too much afterwards. The only time he worries about an individual lyric is if it risks putting an ex in a difficult position. If a songs about someone, is that fine? Or is that gonna get annoying for them, if people try to decipher it? Has he ever got that judgment call wrong and taken a bollocking from an angry ex? Styles raises an eyebrow. Maybe ask me in a month.

I quiz him on something Ive often wondered about. Why are the very famous so inclined to hook up with the very famous? From the outside it looks twice the hassle, with twice the odds of ending badly. Dont we all do that, though? Styles asks. Go into things that feel relatively doomed from the start? I ask him why he doesnt date normals. He seems tickled: Um. I mean, I do. I have a private life. You just dont know about it.

Styles doesnt particularly like being asked about his love life, but is amused all the same, as he is about most things. When I ask about the logistics of someone as well known as him dating someone anonymous (Do you need to give them, like, some sort of primer?), Styles snorts with laughter.

Uh-h-h. Like any conversation, I guess, its easier if youre honest. But I try to let it come up when it comes up. Cos thats a weird thing to talk about, yknow? If youve just started seeing someone, and youre, like: [he adopts a throaty, mission-briefing voice] So! This is whats gonna happen! Styles holds out his hands: no, ta. I dont wanna have that conversation, man. It would be fucking weird.

And not very sexy, I say.

Not sexy, Styles says, no.

Shirt and H and S rings, Gucci. Other rings, Styless own. Photograph: Samuel Bradley/The Guardian. Nail artist: Jenny Longworth at CLM

A quick aside about his accent, which is hard to capture in print. (Nat sexy, no.) After a workout in a hotel gym recently, Styles says he was taken aback (taken abeck) to be asked by a stranger whether he was speaking in a fake voice. He was appalled. But after so long crossing borders and time zones, living and working between England and the US, the accent has undergone a jazzy remix, and tends to get farthest from its Cheshire roots when hes around strangers. Once Styles begins to get comfortable in the pub, the flatter, no-nonsense sounds of his youth return. Nowpe he says, for nope. Fook, for fuck.

What the fook are they? This was the response of his childhood pals, he remembers, back in the village of Holmes Chapel, when little Harry had the gumption to show up in the playground wearing Chelsea boots instead of the approved chunky trainers. Styless parents had separated when he was very young, but there is no origin-story trauma: he has always stayed close to both. His mother, Anne, would praise his singing voice in the car, and when Styles was 16 it was agreed he could audition for a singing contest on TV.

The craziest part about the whole X Factor thing, says Styles, who auditioned for the ITV reality show in 2010, is that its so instant. The day before, youve never been on telly. Then suddenly Suddenly youre a piece of national property. You dont think at the time, Oh, maybe I should keep some of my personal stuff back for myself. Partly because, if youre a 16-year-old who does that, you look like a jumped-up little shit. Can you imagine? Sorry, actually, Id rather not comment You dont know what to be protective of.

By the winter of 2010, Styles was a fan favourite, a key member of One Direction, a five-piece that enjoyed enormous national exposure and gathered millions of fans before any music had been released. Cameras filmed every part of their rise. There wasnt any time in the dark to practise, test things out, mentally brace. We didnt get to dip in a toe, Styles says. But, listen, I was a kid, all I knew was: I didnt have to go to school any more. I thought it was fucking great. He remembers having a lot of fun, and being well taken care of. He jokes: Maybe its something Ill have to deal with a bit later. When I wake up in my 40s and think: Arrrggh.

With One Direction in 2012 (far right). Photograph: Rex/Shutterstock

In February 2012, One Direction were feted at the Brit Awards, hours before they were due to fly to the US for the first time. On TV that night they looked young, silly, chuffed on the precipice of something huge, and with no clue at all. Their subsequent wonder-run (five platinum albums, four world tours) had its foundations in their ridiculous popularity in the States. Right away, Styles remembers, We were fuelling a machine. Keeping the fire going. He remembers it as a stimulating time; maybe overstimulating. Coming out of it, when the band stopped, I realised that the thing Id been missing, because it was all so fast paced, was human connection.

I first met Styles in 2014, around the time the lack of human connection was starting to bite. One Direction were promoting their penultimate album and Id been commissioned to write about themthe Guardian. Management felt the boys were so exhausted that my minutes in their presence had to be strictly counted. Inside a circle of cripplingly hot lights, while someone ran the stopwatch, we interacted as humanly as we could.

In Dunkirk (on left). Photograph: AP

I remember how jaded the best singer in the group, Zayn Malik, seemed. (Malik was weeks away from quitting.) I also remember how flattered and bewildered the others were to be asked a few grownup questions and not what Louis Tomlinson would later describe to me as whos-your-favourite-superhero all that shit. Styles was watchful and quiet that day. By total chance, a week later, we were in the same London cafe and he tapped my shoulder. He was having lunch with friends. Will ya join us?

It struck me as a quietly classy move. I was fascinated to see him interact with mates hed chosen for himself. Styles was dry and funny, older than his years. After lunch we said the usual things about keeping in touch, and followed each other on Twitter. I kept an eye on his updates, about leaving One Direction, releasing an impressive, self-titled debut album in 2017, playing for 36,000 people in Madison Square Garden in New York, acting in Christopher Nolans Oscar-nominated war movie Dunkirk. Meanwhile, I did my best to manage the mess that had been made of my own account after Styless Twitter follow ignited a small explosion of teenage longing in my mentions. For at least a year I received weekly, sometimes daily, pleas from people who wanted messages conveyed to H. Still now, every few days, fans in America, Asia and Europe follow me to see what H sees in their timeline.

He has around 50 million social media followers, and with that comes the ability to ripple the internet like somebody airing a bedsheet. Ive noticed, though, how rarely Styles directs people to support specific causes, last doing so in 2018, when he encouraged people to join a march against gun violence. Why dont you use your influence more, I ask? Because of dilution. Because Id prefer, when I say something, for people to think I mean it. He runs his fingertips across the table. To be honest, Im still searching for that one thing, yknow. Something I can really stand up for, and get behind, and be like: This Is My Life Fight. Theres a power to doing the one thing. You want your whole weight behind it.

Its one of the things that sets Styles apart, the way he puts his whole weight behind the different aspects of this strange job. If you watch footage of him as a guest host on Saturday Night Live last month, Styles plunges in, fully inhabiting the silliness of every sketch. He has good songs in his repertoire (2017s ballad Sign Of The Times stands out), and would probably admit to some middling songs that attest to his relative inexperience as a writer. But whichever of his songs Styles performs, he goes all-in, trusting that his zest and energy will hold an audiences attention. He approaches this interview in roughly the same spirit, not enjoying every question, fidgeting, pleading for clemency once or twice, but giving everything due consideration.

I bring up something Styles joked about earlier: the possibility of waking up in his 40s with deferred mental health problems.

Mm, he says.

Jacket and brooch, Maison Margiela. Photograph: Samuel Bradley/The Guardian

Have you thought about therapy, I ask, to get ahead of that?

I go, he says. Not every week. But whenever I feel I need it. For a really long time I didnt try therapy, because I wanted to be the guy who could say: I dont need it. Now I realise I was only getting in my own way. He shrugs. It helps.

Lately hes been reading a lot (Lisa Taddeos Three Women stood out). Hes watched a lot of Netflix (crime thrillers and music docs). He recently cried through Slave Play on Broadway. I sense in Styles, at 25, a pent-up undergraduate hunger, maybe a desire to make up for lost time. Ive definitely been wanting to learn stuff, try stuff, he says. Things I didnt grow up around. Things Id always been a little bit sceptical about. Like therapy, like meditation. All I need to hear is someone saying, Apparently, its amazing, and Ill try it. When I was in Los Angeles once, I heard about juice cleanses. I thought, yeah, Ill do a juice cleanse.

How messy were the results?

You mean? Styles raises an eyebrow, recalling the poos. They were all right. I was just hungry. And bored.

One notable feature of Styless solo career has been his headlong embrace of unconventional clothing. A 2017-18 tour could have been sponsored by the Dulux colour wheel: mustard tones in Sydney, shocking pink in Dallas. In a more serious sense, some of Styless choices have fed into an important political discussion about gendered fashion. In May, as a co-host at the Met Gala in New York, he stepped out in a sheer blouse and a pearl earring. One evenings work challenged a lot of stubborn preconceptions about who gets to wear what.

He says: What women wear. What men wear. For me its not a question of that. If I see a nice shirt and get told, But its for ladies. I think: Okaaaay? Doesnt make me want to wear it less though. I think the moment you feel more comfortable with yourself, it all becomes a lot easier.

With Kendall Jenner at the Met Gala in May. Photograph: Getty Images

What do you mean, I ask?

Styles is leaning forward, hands folded around his cup of tea. A part of it was having, like, a big moment of self-reflection. And self-acceptance. He has a habit, when hes made a definitive statement, of raising his chin and nodding a little, as if to decide whether he still agrees with himself. I think its a very free, and freeing, time. I think people are asking, Why not? a lot more. Which excites me. Its not just clothes where lines have been blurred, its going across so many things. I think you can relate it to music, and how genres are blurring

Sexuality, too, I say.

Yep, says Styles. Yep.

Theres a popular perception, I say, that you dont define as straight. The lyrics to your songs, the clothes you choose to wear, even the sleeve of your new record all of these things get picked apart for clues that youre bisexual. Has anyone ever asked you though?

Um. I guess I haaaaave been asked? But, I dunno. Why?

You mean, why ask the question?

Yeah, I think I do mean that. Its not like Im sitting on an answer, and protecting it, and holding it back. Its not a case of: Im not telling you cos I dont want to tell you. Its not: ooh this is mine and its not yours.

What is it then?

Its: who cares? Does that make sense? Its just: who cares?

Dress and shirt, Comme des Garons. Photograph: Samuel Bradley/The Guardian. Stylist: Harry Lambert at Bryant Artists. Hair: Paul Hanlon. Makeup: Florrie White. Set design: Samuel Pidgen

I suppose my only question, then, is about the stuff that looks like clue dropping. Because if you dont want people to care, why hint? Take the album sleeve for Fine Line. With its horizontal pink and blue stripes, a splash of magenta, the design seems to gesture at the trans and bisexual pride flags. Which is great unless the person behind it happens to be a straight dude, sprinkling LGBTQ crumbs that lead nowhere. Does that make sense?

Styles nods. Am I sprinkling in nuggets of sexual ambiguity to try and be more interesting? No. As for the rest, he says, in terms of how I wanna dress, and what the album sleeves gonna be, I tend to make decisions in terms of collaborators I want to work with. I want things to look a certain way. Not because it makes me look gay, or it makes me look straight, or it makes me look bisexual, but because I think it looks cool. And more than that, I dunno, I just think sexualitys something thats fun. Honestly? I cant say Ive given it any more thought than that.

In our musty corner of the pub weve somehow passed a couple of hours in intense discussion. Well lighten up, before Styles heads home, with some chat about clever films (Marriage Story), stupider viral videos (the little boy whos just learned the word apparently), that favourite-superhero stuff that, after all, has its place. He talks about the curious double time scheme of a pop stars life those crammed 18-hour days and then the sudden empty off-time when Styles might find himself walking miles across London to buy a book, afterwards congratulating himself: Well, thats an hour filled.

Before we stand up I ask if hes minded any of my questions.

He pushes out his lips, possibly recalling them one by one, then shakes his head. What I would say, about the whole being-asked-about-my-sexuality thing this is a job where you might get asked. And to complain about it, to say you hate it, and still do the job, thats just silly. You respect that someones gonna ask. And you hope that they respect they might not get an answer.

I tell him I do.


Styles has to find those lads who wanted a photo. He scoops his phone off the table and flicks his thumb around the screen. Lately, he says, when he messes around on his phone in an idle moment, its mostly to look at videos clips that his friends have sent him, in which their kids sing along to music hes made. Never gets old, Styles says, beaming.

A few years ago, when he emerged from the boyband, blinking, shattered, he set himself three tasks: prioritise friends, learn how to be an adult, achieve a proper balance between the big and the small. Full stadiums, provocative outfits Styles genuinely loves these things. But I guess Ive realised, as well, he says, that the coolest things are not always the cool things. Do you know what I mean? He grabs his parka and his phone and, a little stooped, heads for home.

Harry Styless album Fine Line is out now.

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