Tuesday, 18 February 2020
Cultural Affairs - Oliver Dowden has been appointed culture secretary in the first major reshuffle since December’s general election. Dowden was an aide to David Cameron before becoming an MP in 2015 and joins the cabinet in place of Nicky Morgan, who stayed on as culture secretary after the election despite stepping down as an MP. Her continued position was temporary. Prior to the EU referendum in 2016, Dowden campaigned for the UK to remain within the EU.
Dowden will now lead the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, becoming the fifth person in little over two years to hold the secretary of state role in DCMS. Responding to the appointment, shadow culture secretary Tracy Brabin congratulated Dowden and said she hoped he would be a “force for change” on issues such as bridging the arts funding gap in the north. A statement from the union BECTU said Dowden must be a champion for the creative industries, with its members needing a government that is on their side.
Live Aid Reprise - Adam Lambert joined Queen to reprise the band's legendary 1985 Live Aid set for 75,000 people at a huge benefit concert in Sydney. The 22-minute set was part of a 10-hour fundraising event organised to raise A$10m (£5.15m; $6.71m) for communities devastated by bushfires. Joining Queen's Brian May and Roger Taylor on stage, Lambert filled in for the late Freddie Mercury as the band performed hits such as Bohemian Rhapsody, Radio Ga Ga, We Will Rock You and We Are The Champions.
Olivier Awards - Producer Thelma Holt and children’s casting director Jo Hawes are among the figures whose contributions to the industry will be celebrated at this year’s Olivier Awards. Holt will be honoured for her “long and prolific” producing career, which has included all of Japanese director Yukio Ninagawa’s UK performances across 30 years, and as associate producer of the Royal Shakespeare Company.
Fellow recipients include Stephen Jameson and Sarah Preece, who are joint chief executives of Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts. They are being celebrated for their achievements in relocating the school from Wood Green in north London to Peckham in south-east London and for promoting accessibility and diversity.
The final award will be presented to theatre consultant Peter Roberts, who is a former technical director of Delfont Mackintosh and is being recognised for his work in aiding theatre’s access to radio spectrum. The awards will be formally presented on March 13 at the Olivier Awards’ nominees celebration in London.
Massive Pruning - The BBC could be forced to sell off most of its radio stations in a "massive pruning back" of its activities, according to a report. The Sunday Times quoted a senior Downing Street source as saying that Prime Minister Boris Johnson is "really strident" on the need for serious reform at the national broadcaster. The number of TV channels could be reduced, the website scaled back and stars banned from taking well-paid second jobs, the newspaper said.
There will also be a consultation on replacing the licence fee with a subscription model, the source said, adding: "We are not bluffing on the licence fee. We are having a consultation and we will whack it. It has got to be a subscription model. They've got hundreds of radio stations, they've got all these TV stations and a massive website. The whole thing needs massive pruning back.
"They should have a few TV stations, a couple of radio stations and massively curtailed online presence and put more money and effort into the World Service which is part of its core job.”
Farewell - Andrew Weatherall, one of the UK's most respected DJs and record producers, has died aged 56. The musician, who was born in Windsor, rose to fame during the acid house era, and worked with the likes of New Order and Happy Mondays. His production and remix work on Primal Scream's Screamadelica turned it into an era-defining album, and earned the band the first Mercury Prize in 1992. Weatherall died in hospital on Monday morning, his spokesman confirmed. RIP.
18 February 2020