hoebe Waller-Bridge exploded into our living rooms with Fleabag, her vicious comedy about an angry, awkward woman. As it returns, Guardian writers pick their TV heroines

Shonda Rhimes

Who gets to be the bitch?

This woman is such a rarity she is basically a unicorn. Shonda Rhimes is a black single mother who began as a freelance scriptwriter and struck gold in Hollywood when she created soapy medical drama Grey’s Anatomy, whose riotous success (15 seasons and counting), together with that of her political drama Scandal, made her one of the most powerful players in the business. She has her own production company called Shondaland and, most recently, scored a $150m deal with Netflix.

Rhimes is a born storyteller, but she also works to level the playing field regarding race and sex. Since Grey’s Anatomy, which was conceived as a way of showcasing a diverse cast, she has tried to address industry and national norms. And, for women, all her work has been informed by an absence: “Most of the women I saw on TV didn’t seem like people I actually knew. They felt like ideas of what women are. They never got to be nasty or competitive or hungry or angry. They were often just the loving wife or the nice friend. But who gets to be the bitch? Who gets to be the three-dimensional woman?” Anyone in a Rhimes show. Lucy Mangan

Sally Wainwright

A grip on the reins of life

Flawed, honest characters … Sarah Lancashire and Charlie Murphy in Happy Valley.
 Flawed, honest characters … Sarah Lancashire and Charlie Murphy in Happy Valley. Photograph: Ben Blackall/BBC/Red Productions

From At Home With the Braithwaites to Scott & Bailey to Happy Valley, there isn’t a Wainwright-penned drama that doesn’t put its women to the fore. Her characters are redoubtable, flawed, honest, passionate, determined to hang on to the reins of life even as it gallops away from them. They’re stickers and stayers, like Sarah Lancashire’s Catherine Cawood in Happy Valley, hunting the villain who took her daughter from her while bursting with warmth, humanity and dry rejoinders. While her men are no cardboard cutouts, she always gives the women the meatiest slice of the pie. Julia Raeside

Zeinab Badawi

She co-parented me

Zeinab Badawi
 Zeinab Badawi Photograph: BBC

When I was a girl, I went through a phase of wanting to change my name to Zeinab Badawi. My own south Indian name was too unpronounceable and foreign, my shame-infected teenage reasoning went. The solution was clear: to rebrand myself as a glamorous British-Sudanese journalist with an equally unpronounceable foreign name who, for most of the 90s, co-presented Channel 4 News and co-parented me because our telly was always on and she was always on it.

Watching the news, I saw faces a little closer to mine: Moira Stuart, with her amazing eyeshadow and mildly amused expression; Trevor McDonald, who I used to confuse with my dad; and Badawi, whose identity I wanted to steal. This holy trinity eventually prompted me to announce to my parents that I was going to become a newsreader with the existential question: “But if weget the news from Moira Stuart, where does she get it from?” Chitra Ramaswamy

Tina Fey

Hot messes and kickass bosses

Giving women permission to fail … Tina Fey as Liz Lemon in 30 Rock, with Oprah Winfrey.
 Permission to fail … Tina Fey as Liz Lemon in 30 Rock, with Oprah Winfrey. Photograph: NBCUPhotobank/Rex Features

Writer, actor and producer Tina Fey deserves a round of applause for the sheer number of women she’s put on TV’s payroll, first as Saturday Night Live’s head writer, then as the force behind 30 RockUnbreakable Kimmy SchmidtGreat News and Busy Tonight – all female-first shows. 

But her greatest contribution to the sisterhood is Liz Lemon, the character who, in the televisual sphere, gave women permission to fail. Based on Fey’s time at SNL, Lemon was 30 Rock’s protagonist who reflected our lives as kickass girlbosses in one arena and hot messes in another. By stepping into the Louboutins of the recently-defunct Sex and the City only to trip up disgracefully, Lemon led the way for flawed females thereon, from the life-juggling Julia in Motherland to Fleabag. Take that, manic pixie dream girl. Shilpa Ganatra

Julia Davis

Monsters on the prowl

The joy of a Julia Davis comedy is that you never quite know what you are going to get. Whether the setting is modern suburbia, as with Sally4Ever, or the candlelit grimness of 1830s village life that was Hunderby, Davis’s series are always populated with self-serving narcissists and painfully passive wet blankets who do horrible things to one another and incite chaos all around.

Nighty Night, her initial masterpiece, had an unparalleled opening that set the tone for the black comedy that was to come. On hearing grave news from the doctor, the deliciously monstrous Jill Tyrell starts to weep: “Why me?” “Jill, let’s keep it in perspective,” consoles her husband Terry. “It’s me that’s got the cancer.” A true original. Rebecca Nicholson

Issa Rae

Awesome rise of Awkward Black Girl

 A comedy about black women just being themselves … Insecure. Photograph: HBO

The US-Senegalese comic first showed a talent for nerdy dramedy with her crowdfunded web series The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl. Entering the industry by DIY means, Issa Rae proved you don’t have to be a Larry David or a Tig Notaro to create your own show.

HBO’s Insecure became a hit, supersizing Awkward Black Girl’s tales of workplace racism and relationship woes in pop-culture-packed fashion. It also emphasised that there was a market for a comedy about black women just being themselves, and, er, occasionally trespassing into the homes of men who’ve ghosted them to trawl their search histories.

Forthcoming series Him or Her – about a black, bisexual man – promises to be another Rae game-changer. “There haven’t been many flattering images of black males on television,” she told the Atlantic, “because there haven’t been a lot of flattering images of black people on television.” Here’s to continuing to change that. Hannah J Davies

Phoebe Waller-Bridge

Dark humour and female fearlessness

Subversive … Phoebe Waller-Bridge.
 Subversive … Phoebe Waller-Bridge. Photograph: Luke Varley/BBC

“I have a horrible feeling that I am a greedy, perverted, selfish, apathetic, cynical, depraved, morally bankrupt woman who can’t even call herself a feminist,” announces Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s Fleabag in the opening episode of the eponymous TV series. It was the line that so perfectly captured not only the essence of Waller-Bridge’s protagonist, but her writing in general.

From property-guardian sitcom Crashing to psychological drama Killing Eve, Waller-Bridge has created women who are funny, subversive and wholly relatable. She has said she is drawn to writing women who are “transgressive”, those who break boundaries and flip expectations. Luke Jennings may have written the novel on which Killing Eve is based, but it was Waller-Bridge who laced the hit show with her trademark dark humour and female fearlessness.

Series one of Fleabag saw her bring to life women who time break-ups to coincide with their cleaning schedules, and admit they’d swap five years of their lives for the perfect body, women driven by desire and unwilling to conform to type. Fingers crossed for more of the same in series two. Leah Harper

Jenji Kohan

All hail the dykon!

A cultural icon among lesbians … Orange Is the New Black.
 A cultural icon among lesbians … Orange Is the New Black, with Laverne Cox second right. Photograph: Netflix/Everett/Rex

It’s no exaggeration to say that Orange Is the New Black was a game-changer. The popularity of Jenji Kohan’s show proved that diversity sells – that people aren’t just interested in the stories of conventionally attractive, thin white women. Laverne Cox’s portrayal of Sophia Burset, a transgender woman, was groundbreaking and led to Cox becoming the first openly transgender woman to be nominated for a primetime Emmy in the acting category. And the amount of sapphic activity in the show was much appreciated by gays like myself, making Kohan a cultural icon among lesbians – or, to use the technical term, a “dykon”. Arwa Mahdawi

The first TV critics

Something I wrote caused a strike

In the beginning, television critics worked from home because that’s where the TV set was. I had a home, a TV set and no excuse. So I became a TV critic. It was a nice little job for a woman. Everyone said so. When I was pregnant, my husband offered to project the TV image on the ceiling for me. I think he expected more gratitude than he got. I would watch the night’s TV, phone my copy in at midnight and the copy-taker, enraged by my version of the phonetic alphabet, would say: “Is there much more of this stuff?” (Who can remember their tango and foxtrot after midnight?)

So it was a relief to both of us when the TV companies started to show previews at their London headquarters or at shady dives in Soho. Snootily, in the case of the BBC (“Previews are a privilege, not a right”), and joyfully in the case of Yorkshire TV, who seemed to relish a day away from Leeds.

‘We did it for love’ … Nancy Banks-Smith.
 ‘We did it for love’ … Nancy Banks-Smith. Photograph: Linda Nylind/The Guardian

Sylvia Clayton, the Daily Telegraph critic, wrote a play for the BBC called The Preview based on us. One critic died unnoticed in the dark. This was inspired by the tendency of the Daily Express’s writer to drop off halfway through everything. I appeared as a critic “always encumbered with shopping bags, spilling packets of fish fingers and cornflakes”.

Sylvia – I forgive her – was simply brilliant. She was a prize-winning novelist and could speak any language from a cold country. I once heard her reprove a group of glorious young vikings, who were boasting about travelling without a ticket, in fluent Swedish. They all got off at the next stop. 

Mary Malone, TV critic of the Daily Mirror, had the exotic air of a foreign correspondent. The New Yorker writer SJ Perelman, tripping over her Scoop-like luggage, said there had been nothing like it since John Hanning Speke went up the Nile. She was the archetype of what I imagined a female journalist would be before I actually became one. You thought of Rosalind Russell sitting on Cary Grant’s desk in His Girl Friday and crossing her legs with a sizzle of silk stockings. Mary married George Gale, the archetype of a male journalist, also known as Lunchtime O’Booze.

We all did it for love. It must have been love. Every morning when everyone on the bus was discussing last night’s television, I felt so puffed up and proud to be part of something that mattered. When the Daily Herald’s entire cleaning staff went on strike and downed mops because of something I wrote about Up the Junction, a Wednesday play, I was thrilled. Because they must all have watched it. It was just bliss to be there at the beginning. Nancy Banks-Smith

Sharon Horgan

Too funny, too truthful, too brutal

Scabrous … Sharon Horgan and Rob Delaney in Catastrophe.
 Scabrous … Sharon Horgan and Rob Delaney in Catastrophe. Photograph: Mark Johnson/Channel 4

The gloriously deadpan Sharon Horgan made her name with Pulling (co-written with Dennis Kelly), a six-part comedy about a group of late-twentysomething women in meltdown that was axed so unexpectedly that the explanation of best fit remains that the BBC simply couldn’t cope with something so funny, truthful and brutal written by and about women.

She has continued in much the same vein, razing comforting lies, beloved myths and protective shibboleths about marriage: in Catastrophe (co-written with Rob Delaney), motherhood (in, uh, Motherland), ageing and failure (in Divorce) and all points in between (Women on the Verge, co-written with Lorna Martin).

Without Horgan’s scabrous voice insisting on making you laugh till you’re sick at the dark underbelly of women’s lives in particular and society in general, their frustrations, hypocrisies and utter idiocies, the world and its television would be a poorer place – and markedly less fertile for pitches like Fleabag hinged on that horrifying idea: the “unlikable female character”. LM

Oprah Winfrey

The queen of everything

They call it Oprahfication: emotional outpourings, opinion spoutings and coming outs. The Oprah Winfrey Show all but normalised candour in the 90s, sparking a boom in oversharing that has basically – for good or ill – become the bedrock of culture today. Winfrey started out in local radio while still at school, then promptly got hired by a Nashville TV station – as their youngest ever news anchor and the first of colour.

By 1986, she had turned around the fortunes of a Chicago talkshow and set up her own production company. In the intervening years, she has become America’s first and only female black multi-billionaire, nicknamed the Queen of All Media. She has also managed to star in copious TV shows and movies, transform America’s reading habits, launch a sideline as a mindfulness guru, and set up the Oprah Winfrey Network so brilliant auteurs like Ava DuVernaycan create such cinematic dramas as Queen Sugar. All this while being instrumental in getting the first black president elected. Yes She Can. Kate Abbott

Grace Wyndham Goldie

‘By God, you’ve changed politics!’

The First Lady of Television … Grace Wyndham Goldie.
 The First Lady of Television … Grace Wyndham Goldie. Photograph: George Konig/Getty Images

When Grace Wyndham Goldie joined the BBC in 1947, people spake the news and moved on, to the extent that, on a slow day, the bulletin would say: “There is no news.” She made TV more watchable by breaking the rules, making current affairs central to the very purpose of TV. She pioneered coverage of general elections back when it was illegal – indeed, she’s the reason we hold the vote count straight after polls close, rather than waiting until the next day. She created dynasties (she launched Richard Dimbleby and, with him, Panorama), maintained a much missed firewall between the BBC and government interference, and steadfastly resisted showbizification.

There’s a beautifully telling message from her boss in 1952, when she’d just launched Press Conference: “You did not invent the idea, my dear, of press people questioning politicians; this has already been done in the States. So you have not changed the nature of television, but by God you have changed the whole future of politics in Britain.” Even those who recognised her immense value still, apparently, had as their uppermost concern that she might get ideas above her station.

They call her the First Lady of Television, which is annoying, implying: a) an invisible president; and b) that she was in the service of the medium, rather than its radical creator. Still, at least people didn’t forget her. Beats being a lady scientist. Zoe Williams

Victoria Wood

‘Can I find it? Can I buffalo!’

Victoria Wood.

In her 20s, Victoria Wood was patronised by agents because, she recalled later, “I was fat and a girl – a double whammy”. She was northern, when the comedy scene was dominated by southerners. She was doing a cabaret act, which hadn’t been on anyone’s books since Noël Coward. But she ploughed her own furrow and, from the late 70s on, began to accrue success.

Her television work – most famously Victoria Wood: As Seen on TV – gave the world Acorn Antiques, Kelly Marie Tunstall and the line: “I’ve scoured this store from top to bottom. Can I find a side-winding thermal bodybelt? Can I buffalo!”

There was no one else doing what she did, never mind as brilliantly. She created new space for comedy, especially for female comedians. Her voice, her rhythms, the precision with which every line was crafted – not a missed beat, not an extraneous syllable – and the laser-like specificity of her jokes influenced a generation of writers, on top of the joy it brought to millions. What a legacy. LM

Biddy Baxter

The great get-it-done woman

Brought in to helm an ailing Blue Peter in 1962, Biddy Baxter ended up inventing interactive TV. She introduced the now iconic Blue Peter badge and the show’s charity appeal, which saw children up and down the land collecting milk bottle tops and holding bring and buy sales. The show that speaks directly to its young viewers, encouraging them to write in with thoughts, artwork and fundraising ideas, is still going strong, 60 years after the most formidable get-it-done woman at BBC TV Centre first click-clacked down its corridors. Many who worked for her say the sound of her heels on the studio steps reminded you to jump to it.

She gave equal weight to her presenters, challenging them to do equally harebrained things. If John Noakes could shin up Nelson’s column without a harness, of course Lesley Judd could abseil from a lighthouse on to a tiny boat. Well before her time in so many ways, she led where so many others still follow. JR

Susan Harris

Golden Girls made ageing look amazing

The Golden Girls.
 A lot of sex … The Golden Girls. Photograph: NBC/Getty Images

“When do you see passionate older people on television?” Susan Harrisasked, in a 1985 interview with the New York Times“When do you see people [over 50] in bed together? Eventually, on this show, you will. It’s kind of pathetic that this show is television’s baby steps.’’

The show was The Golden Girls, and Harris, the writer and creator, certainly made good on her promise. That The Golden Girls featured four female leads over the age of 50 was groundbreaking in itself, but their antics, which included a lot of sex, made ageing look amazing. And Harris didn’t just overturn stereotypes around age: The Golden Girls tackled everything from racism to Aids.

She didn’t shy away from important topics in her other shows either. In 1972, she famously wrote an episode for the series Maude called Maude’s Dilemma, which was the first time a lead character on a primetime TV show in the US had a legal abortion. TV can be an incredible tool to educate, but it takes a lot of talent to both educate and entertain. AM

Jo Brand


What could be more admirable than a trailblazer who emerged when female TV comics weren’t a thing, and effortlessly beat the men at their own game? In the late 80s, Brand was unapologetically herself the first time she was beamed into homes across the nations on Friday Night Live, and later when she fronted her own show, Through the Cakehole, and then when she nailed her guest appearances on Have I Got News For You, a tough gig at the best of times.

With her gobby personality and unshakeable self-belief, she played no small part in encouraging society’s acceptance of women in all our forms. More precisely, it means today’s female comics don’t have to be the butt of their own jokes on TV. Jo Brand took the hit for everyone who came after. SG

Eileen Diss

Cider with Eileen

Some time after the dawn of television, public broadcasting exploded and the BBC bust a gut to get and keep talent in-house. This led to quite an ambitious set-design department, which Eileen Diss defined, bouncing from programme to programme like an incredibly decisive squash ball.

She started in children’s programming, and with the sensitive eye on gender equality for which the 50s were renowned, was initially given the Grove Family, British TV’s first soap, plus her regular Billy Bunter, Zoo Quest work. The Grove sets look like a cross between early Corrie and Meet Me in Saint Louis, which is to say, brilliant.

She made her first big impact with Maigret, a proto box set based on the novels of Georges Simenon, which tangentially launched her as a stage designer, favourite of Harold Pinter, and by that time she’d gone freelance. But her influence on BBC design work, its slightly crazy mix of boarding-school perfectionism and free-spirited iconoclasm, was baked in. You can laugh at the production values of 60s and 70s TV, but you can’t watch Diss’s Cider With Rosie or Moll Flanders without seeing the values. ZW

Candace Bushnell

Amuse my bouche!

The search for love and shoes … Sex and the City.
 The search for love and shoes … Sex and the City. Photograph: HBO

Is there a show that has done more for women than Sex and the City? Twenty years on, it’s au courant to write off Candace Bushnell’s glossy, frothy portrait of four privileged white women searching for sex, love, shoes and themselves in New York. At best it’s a guilty pleasure, at worst a misogynistic mess. But for a generation of women, the show based on Bushnell’s books was, is, and always will be a fabulous, radical torchbearer for women.

Partly, it’s the sex and the punning about the sex: if you don’t find Samantha Jones willing a man to amuse her bouche over a trendy downtown dinner hilarious, you’re dead inside. But mostly, it’s the cumulative feminine power of Carrie, Miranda, Samantha and Charlotte. They may have been archetypes, but that was the point. I identified with none of them, but still I recognise their struggles, their quest for love and, above all, their friendship. CR

Verity Lambert

Just the one mistake

Verity Lambert
 Never afraid to speak her mind … Verity Lambert. Photograph: Graham Turner/The Guardian

A force of nature who cut her teeth on the first series of Doctor Who, Lambert was both the BBC’s youngest TV producer (she was 28) at that time and the only woman working in drama production. She was never afraid to speak her mind: writer Alan Bleasdale would later say he wanted to “kill her” during the making of GBH, while conceding that her cuts infinitely improved the drama.

Her CV reads like a history of the best of British drama programming: BudgieMinderThe Naked Civil ServantRock FolliesWidowsJonathan Creek. The much-mocked soap opera Eldorado was a rare misstep – she would later admit her chief mistake was “allowing it to be put out on air too quickly”. That it stands out so strikingly is a testament to her Midas touch. Sarah Hughes

Lynda La Plante

Bold, brash and big-haired

Oh-so-human … Helen Mirren as DSI Jane Tennison with Ben Miles as DCI Finch in Prime Suspect.
 Oh-so-human … Helen Mirren as DSI Jane Tennison with Ben Miles in Prime Suspect. Photograph: Granada TV

TV’s crime queen wrote her first series – the bold, brash, big-haired Widows – in response to the poor dialogue she was given as a jobbing actor. A fast-paced thriller about four women who pull off a heist, Widows became a huge word-of-mouth hit, establishing La Plante as a writer of style and substance. She went on to create one of television’s greatest characters, DI Jane Tennison, in Prime Suspect. The flawed, furious and oh-so-human Tennison transformed the TV landscape. SH

Winnie Holzman

She made us wear candy necklaces

My So-Called Life … Claire Danes, who played Angela, with executive producer Winnie Holzman
 My So-Called Life … Claire Danes, who played Angela, with executive producer Winnie Holzman Photograph: ABC Photo Archives/Getty Images

The maker of My So-Called Life gave millions hope. She made us wear candy necklaces and dye our hair Crimson Glow. She allowed us to believe we would make it through the hormonal tumult of our teenage years unscathed. She taught us it was OK to be awkward and flawed like Angela Chase, to be true to yourself and eccentric like Rayanne Graff. To be alert to everyone’s truths and faults, courtesy of the divine, troubled Rickie Vasquez and the gorgeous, illiterate Jordan Catalano.

My So-Called Life is key to my makeup, as well as the very fabric of television. But this beloved show was cut down after just 19 episodes, too ahead of its time to be countenanced. Holzman’s follow-up was shelved by HBO in favour of that other feminist masterpiece, The Sopranos. Oh what might have been. KA

Amy Sherman-Palladino

Eat it, Aaron Sorkin!

Revolutionary … Gilmore Girls.
 Revolutionary … Gilmore Girls. Photograph: Network/Everett/Rex/Shutterstock

Almost 20 years ago, Gilmore Girls revolutionised portrayals of young women by putting a woman’s inner monologue in her mouth. Mother-daughter leads Lorelai and Rory Gilmore chewed through matters of pop culture and privilege in TV’s densest scripts (eat it, Aaron Sorkin!), and upended norms about single mums and ambitious girls. TV had dorky heroines, but even homey Dawson’s Creek used a Jackie/Marilyn dichotomy. Rory’s rivalry with Paris unfolded like a seven-year presidential debate, empowering bookish viewers yet implicitly questioning the pressures of perfectionism.

Female high-achievers and ruptured lives became Sherman-Palladino’s defining themes: 2012’s Bunheads found teen ballerinas questioning their small-town values. Its sweetness counterbalanced TV’s antihero obsession – a trick Sherman-Palladino attempted with The Marvelous Mrs Maisel, but failed to realise in a show that wears its quirky defiance heavily. Still, two lightning strikes is more than most manage. Laura Snapes

Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson

Two women, one empire

Broad City … Jacobson, left, and Glazer.
 Broad City … Jacobson, left, and Glazer. Photograph: Comedy Central

I was introduced to Glazer via her YouTube channel, Chronic Gamer Girl, in which she played classic video games and cracked jokes. Soon, she started Broad City with Jacobson as a web series. Their effortless chemistry and perfect comic timing as two drifting millennials gained a dedicated fanbase, including Amy Poehler, who helped get the show on TV.

The fifth and final series of Broad City dropped in January. As it reaches the end, Glazer and Jacobson will be paying it forward. Variety reported the pair were “quietly building an empire of talent in the hope that they can change TV for the better”. Jacobson is developing a TV project with the essayist and author Samantha Irby, while Glazer is working further with 2 Dope Queens, Jessica Williams and Phoebe Robinson. “Women need to be in more decision-making positions,” Glazer has said, “and now we are.” Hannah Jane Parkinson

The Guardian

Barely any performers begin in pop, move into the cutting edge, create post-shake and afterward go quiet for quite a long time. Be that as it may, Talk's Hollis was no conventional artist

'The shout instigating distinction Talk were being prepared for wasn't going to sit right' ... Imprint Hollis performing on The Tube in 1986.

'The shout instigating distinction Talk were being prepared for wasn't going to sit right' ... Imprint Hollis performing on The Tube in 1986. Photo: ITV/Rex/Shutterstock

In the event that you were giving close consideration to the music that Talk discharged in the mid 80s, you may have understood that they were not a band removed to do what was anticipated from them. At the time, it was broadly held in pop magazines that the London group of four were here to test to Duran's stranglehold over high school affections. In reasonableness, they did as well as can possibly be expected. They postured for stick up cordial photos in the post-new sentimental clobber of the day: fresh white garments, shirts and ties, a look that drag an obligation to Roxy Music in contemporary refined mode.

They embellished their tunes with synthesizers and the modish sound of fretless bass: their drummer played one of those octagonal Simmons electronic units, de rigueur on Top of the Pops at the time. Their 1982 presentation collection The Party's Over was lustrous and subordinate, nothing to alarm the ponies, despite the fact that the verses of the title track proposed a specific jolting force: "Remove this discipline Lord … a lot of expectation I've seen as excellence." Its development, It's My Life, was a greater hit – a Top 10 crush on the mainland, its title track a US outline leap forward – however something about it recommended that the sort of shout instigating popularity Talk were clearly being prepped for wasn't going to sit right.

Frontman Mark Hollis' voice was all the while excessively anguished and excessively obscure; he obviously thought more about inclination than style. Underneath the creation gloss, the music on Such a Shame and Does Caroline Know? Or maybe suggested it was made by individuals with an affection for dynamic shake, not something you admitted to in a rush in the pages of Number One magazine: Talk bolstered Genesis when the last rejoined with Peter Gabriel for a coincidental gig.

And after that there was the adventure of the video for It's My Life itself. The main rendition comprised of natural life film intercut with shots of Mark Hollis scowling at the camera, mouth braced shut. At the point when their record mark challenged, Talk made a second form, emulating dramatically and lip-synchronizing intentionally out of time, as though deriding the entire business. You didn't prevail upon MTV acting that way.

Be that as it may, in the event that you may have worked out that Talk were illsuited to standard pop achievement, nobody could have anticipated what was going to occur. As it turned out, Mark Hollis wasn't only a cantankerous refusenik who didn't care for emulating in recordings and name-dropped Miles Davis and Béla Bartók in meetings. He was a craftsman with a totally solitary and inflexible melodic vision that would in the long run produce a whole melodic sub-class. He would go through the following six years following his own course with meticulous exactitude, in the process changing Talk's music so totally that, when they split up in 1991, they were absolutely unrecognizable as the band who'd once showed up on Top of the Pops singing their hit single Today to a crowd of people wearing deely-boppers.

The principal indication of his work day in course accompanied 1986's The Color of Spring. "That entire synth side," Hollis had proclaimed, "get it in the receptacle." The single Life's What You Make It was particularly out of control and euphoric – you could perceive any reason why it wound up a major record with Balearic DJs playing to happiness impacted dancefloors – however somewhere else, The Color of Spring drew on everything from jazz horns to kids' choirs. There were epic organizations, yet on Chameleon Day or the unimaginably lovely April fifth, there was additionally music that sounded inadequate and dynamic.

In the long run, Hollis would end up popular for the measure of music he recorded, at that point cleaned, before proclaiming a tune total. ("Before you play two notes, figure out how to play one note," he offered as clarification for this methodology, "and don't play one note except if you have motivation to play it.") A couple of years sooner, Talk had sounded urgent to fit in with the melodic zeitgeist: presently they sounded totally out of venture with current pop patterns – it was the time of complex pop-soul and huge AOR ditties – and lost in their very own reality. At the point when a journalist from Smash Hits went to the resulting visit, they detailed back with sickening apprehension that Hollis had distractedly meandered in front of an audience and began playing wearing no shoes, just a couple of socks. Nobody could ever recommend Talk were fundamentally the same as Duran again.

Chameleon Day recommended the heading Talk would pursue on 1988's Spirit of Eden, the collection that fixed their notoriety for being a standout amongst the most unprecedented groups of their period, in any event all things considered. Extraordinarily, given its present standing, Spirit of Eden was coolly gotten on discharge. "Careless," offered one pundit. "Self important," proposed another. Or on the other hand maybe that wasn't so mind blowing. A collection that took nine clearly anguishing a very long time to make and was, apparently, to a great extent recorded in obscurity – the main lighting in the studio originating from the sort of oil wheel well known with 60s hallucinogenic light shows – Spirit of Eden didn't such a great amount of play as continuously spread out. Cut free from standard section theme structures, its six melodies gradually yet irreversibly worked their way under your skin.

The music mapped out another domain somewhere close to cutting edge shake, jazz, current established and encompassing, a crossing point that would along these lines be named post-shake. That term would come to be connected to music that seemed like a parched scholarly exercise, which was not an allegation you could toss at Spirit of Eden. Its six tunes were as often as possible significantly moving, never more so than on the bewildering I Believe In You, a tune enlivened by Hollis' senior sibling's long plummet into heroin dependence. When the administrator of Eddie and the Hot Rods, Ed Hollis would kick the bucket before the collection was discharged. Unsurprisingly, the tributes to Mark Hollis via web-based networking media harp on the serious association audience members felt with his music, referencing how it had helped them amid mourning and times of enthusiastic change.

Q magazine called Spirit of Eden "the sort of record which urges showcasing men to submit suicide". Truth be told, its discharge incited a progression of occasions that finished in a court fight between Talk and their mark, amid which EMI endeavored to guarantee the collection was not finished in light of the fact that it was not "industrially acceptable". This was obviously not an analysis that discovered much support with Hollis. Recorded for another name, Spirit of Eden's successor Laughing Stock was, on the off chance that anything, much increasingly slanted and independent.

Tales about its chronicle sessions are army and amazing. Timekeepers were restricted from the studio so nobody comprehended what time it was. Visitor artists were advised to do whatever they felt without being played the tune they should perform on. Designer Phil Brown later guaranteed that Hollis eradicated 80% of the music he recorded. The outcomes were shapeless, however astounding: squalling clamor and free jazz nearby pacified beauty – the awesome New Grass – and snapshots of quiet, something Hollis asserted he would prefer to tune in to than music.Certainly, quietness came to characterize the most recent 28 years of Mark Hollis' life. Not long after Laughing Stock's discharge, Talk discreetly disbanded. After seven years, Hollis discharged an eponymous solo collection: quieted, scanty, wonderful and to a great extent acoustic, tuning in to it felt like clandestinely listening in on something close and individual. He gave a couple of meetings, at that point, to all plans and purposes disappeared, in spite of the fact that companions rushed to call attention to that his wasn't the tension ridden withdrawal of a tormented craftsman: he just would not like to make music any more, liking to invest energy with his family. "It resembled he changed employments," noted one.

In his nonappearance, the folklore around the music he had made developed: everybody from Radiohead to the Mars Volta to Elbow paid reverence. One fascinating hypothesis was that performers weren't just attracted to his work due to its quality, but since it spoke to something that had turned out to be optimistic and truly unattainable. Times had changed, thus had the music business: no significant mark would now spend that a lot of cash making collections as rigid and leftfield as Spirit of Eden or Laughing Stock.

The fantasy around Hollis developed to such extents that when he was lured into chronicle 90 seconds of accidental music for US TV show Boss in 2012, it turned into a news story, loaded with recommendations that it was a sign he would come back to discharging music. It wasn't. "I did it. Full stop," he disclosed to one associate who asked about the likelihood. He was correct. It's one thing to obstinately seek after your own way without trade off, something else completely to be so skilled and one of a kind that you relentlessly draw individuals into your reality at the same time. Imprint Hollis did it. Full stop.

In its prime the show was a TV masterclass. By the 10th series, it was just repeating itself

 The trouble with Harry… Hill’s TV Burp. Photograph: Avalon

If comedians were sandwich spreads (which they should be), then Harry Hill would indubitably be Marmite. To the lovers, he’s a comic genius who can have you guffawing out your Saturday teatime sausages just by turning to side camera, shrugging his shoulders and pulling a funny face. To the haters, he’s a grown man in an oversized shirt with an unhealthy badger obsession, who threw away a respected medical vocation to act like a primetime berk.

The TV Burp format was simple. Harry, sitting behind a desk, reviewed clips from the week’s telly, but entirely interactively. The stars and bit-part actors from the shows could turn up in the TV Burp studio. Harry could insert himself into the clips through ingenious re-filming. Someone would sing the show to a close. Harry repeatedly got covered in water/flour/flying sheep/pigswill. Millions tuned in every week to relish all the in-jokes. What was your favourite bit? Apprentice in a Nutshell? Freaky Eaters? (“Chippy chips!”) Any time another bald bloke in glasses appeared? Ear cataracts? The Knitted Character? Maybe you even entered The K Factor, TV Burp’s knitting competition, won by Peter the Duck. Well, you get the idea with that.

In its prime, TV Burp was a masterclass in scriptwriting, clip-editing, delivery, physical comedy, celebrity-booking, prop-buying, set-building, costume-making, jingle-writing, stuntwork, puppetry and (ahem) sexual innuendo. The workload on Harry and his “programme associates” was intense, requiring them to watch hours of soaps, reality shows, quizshows, dramas and documentaries to extract a single joke. Harry was also narrating You’ve Been Framed!, shown on ITV immediately before, which he did so brilliantly effortlessly that it sounded as if he made it all up in real time on the way to the TV Burp studio. It was no surprise that TV Burp could only run between six and 12 episodes before everyone needed an intense lie down and an eight-month holiday.

However, with success came greed. By the time TV Burp scooped its third Bafta in 2009, ITV had upped the Burps to whopping 21-week runs. By the 10th series you could see it, through the thick-rimmed specs, in Harry’s eyes: TV Burp was flagging. Harry and co just couldn’t keep up with the workload. The comedy was suffering. The jokes were repeating. The catchphrases were becoming tedious. Harry allegedly refused to do his “Chippy Chips” any more because he thought it was too childish. (A BBC producer has said that Freaky Eaters was only recommissioned because it was featured so heavily on TV Burp.) And then there was Wagbo, the unlovable lovechild of Mary Byrne and Wagner from The X Factor, seemingly created to do Harry’s dirty work for him, and insert himself into sketches so Harry could go home and have a rest. And so TV Burp jumped the Shark Infested Custard (Harry’s short-lived CITV kids’ show). After one more series (which certainly picked up, and ended on a spectacularly emotional finale), Harry pulled the plug forever. I liked TV Burp. I also liked its mainstream success. It’s just a shame they had to fight.

The Guardian

At the point when Miles Davis visited the UK in the harvest time of 1960, there was no huge ballyhoo about his as of late discharged collection Kind of Blue. The trumpeter played presently lost scenes, for example, the Gaumont Palace films in Kilburn and Lewisham, London – beginning and completion his sets with melodies from the collection – and at the time, he told a companion of my father's, an advertiser called Jim Ireland who was taking care of parts of his visit, that he expected to profit from Kind of Blue.

Sixty years on, the collection is hailed as an artful culmination of current music. It is the top of the line jazz record ever, having sold about 5 million duplicates and been guaranteed fourfold platinum. It was No 1 on the BBC's 50 biggest jazz collections survey in 2016, No 12 on Rolling Stone magazine's rundown of the 50 biggest collections ever and even, strangely, highlighted in VH1's "100 Greatest Rock 'n' Roll Albums".

Sort of Blue's 46 minutes of spontaneous creation and five star musicianship still pulls in aficionados all things considered. Jazz performer Courtney Pine said it was "the record I'm proudest to claim"; Quincy Jones called it "my every day squeezed orange"; Steely Dan's Donald Fagen depicted it as "the Bible" of music. Pink Floyd piano player Richard Wright said the collection affected the entire structure of The Dark Side of the Moon.

Music from Kind of Blue has highlighted in various famous TV arrangement, including The Wire, Dexter, Better Call Saul, True Blood, Mad Men, The Simpsons, Homeland, The West Wing and The Marvelous Mrs Maisel. On-screen character Judy Dench says that "the heavenly" track "Blue in Green" is one of her most loved bits of music. "I knew Miles Davis in New York, and the minute I hear Kind of Blue, I return in one of those awesome smoky rooms in New York," the Oscar-champ revealed to Desert Island Discs.In an important scene in the motion picture Pleasantville, in which Tobey Maguire and Reese Witherspoon's characters are transported back to the high contrast 1950s universe of an anecdotal network show, Kind of Blue is playing out of sight. Less amazingly, Davis' collection is additionally the ringtone on the cell phone of previous Tory MP Eric Pickles.

Sixty years back, as he was going to make a quantum jump in music, the notoriety of trumpeter and arranger Davis was discolored. He was 32, still meager in the wake of recuperating from a dependence on heroin, and broadly viewed as temperamental. Musically, he was stressed over being dominated by more youthful adversary Chet Baker, who had as of late won the DownBeat pundits survey for "best trumpet player". Regardless of this, the man Duke Ellington named "the Picasso of jazz" realized he included it inside him to make something as pivotal as Kind of Blue.

At 2.30pm on Monday 2 March 1959, Davis gathered a heavenly band at East 30th Street in New York, the site of Columbia's account studio. It was in a changed over Greek Orthodox Church, one in this way annihilated to clear a path for elitist pads. Aside from Davis himself, who plays remarkably well on the collection, Kind of Blue highlights John Coltrane on tenor saxophone, Julian "Cannonball" Adderley on alto saxophone, Bill Evans and Wynton Kelly on piano, bassist Paul Chambers and drummer Jimmy Cobb – every single sublime entertainer at the tallness of their forces. Dissimilar to numerous supergroup sessions, this was generally a working band and they were loose in one another's melodic organization. To them, it was simply one more independent booking.

The band were given portrayals of the initial three tunes, two of which Davis had been taking a shot at that morning. They had never recently played the organizations. "While I was setting up the drums, I was reasoning, 'I wonder what we are going to play today?'" Cobb said in 2009. "The tunes were simply something Miles had on an error of original copy paper. The folks needed to truly work to manufacture something from that smidgen."

The trumpeter, who is the subject of the inevitable film Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool, said the familiarity was purposeful. "On the off chance that you put a performer in a spot where he needs to accomplish something else from what he does all the time ... that is the place extraordinary workmanship and music occurs," he wrote in his 1989 collection of memoirs.

Davis needed to catch the artists' unadulterated immediacy. In the first liner notes, piano player Evans said the performers were willing "to twist for the outcome" and adapt to his testing interest for "amass act of spontaneity". Evans, whose flawlessly downplayed piano playing sets a great part of the melodic tone of Kind of Blue, composed a note to Adderley as they were playing "Flamenco Sketches" encouraging him to "play in the sound of the scale". Adderley obliged with some eerie impromptu "blue notes".

The collection's purported "modular jazz" – impromptu creation dependent on scales as opposed to a harmony movement got from the blues or a prominent tune – was progressive. Herbie Hancock says that even proficient artists wonder about the manner in which Davis and co ad libbed inside the sound and structure of the organizations and moved into "a new strange area". Chick Corea was likewise dumbfounded by the collection. "It is one thing to play a tune or a program of music, yet it's another to for all intents and purposes make another dialect of music, which is the thing that Kind of Blue did," said the piano player. Quincy Jones went similarly as calling it "a masterpiece that clarifies what jazz is".

Cobb said that a large portion of five tracks – "So What", "Freddie Freeloader", "Blue in Green", "All Blues" and "Flamenco Sketches" – were fixed in one take. "That is the thing that Miles enjoyed," included Cobb. "In the event that you continue doing it over, it gets the opportunity to be stale. He figured your first shot is your absolute best." The off the cuff idea of the sessions is clear from transcripts of the ace tapes. Similarly as "Blue in Green" is going to be recorded, Davis says to Coltrane: "For what reason don't you play on this?". His imaginative saxophone-playing changes the ballad.By 1959, swings groups were in decay and bebop was start to change the essence of jazz. "Out of the blue, everyone appeared to need outrage, coolness, hipness and genuine spotless, mean advancement," said Davis. Cobb trusts that piece of the intrigue of Kind of Blue was that "it was not quite the same as what was happening at the time ... show tunes or prevalent tunes, with a great deal of harmony changes and stuff that way. This was only a sort of curbed, simple listening sort of stuff that you didn't need to be truly saturated with the music to appreciate."

Cobb said Davis was a stickler. The trumpeter would lean in near a non-soloing artist to murmur directions in his ear amid a take. On the off chance that he didn't care for how a practice was going, he would call an end by blowing a whistle, an instrument he utilized as opposed to yelling directions, following changeless harm to his vocal lines caused four years before amid a yelling match with a club director.

The sessions for Kind of Blue were not tense undertakings, in any case. There was the typical artist talk. At a certain point, Davis gripes to co-maker Irving Townsend about the commotion from the squeaky floor, at a studio picked for the regular acoustic reverberation of the high roofs. Previous teacher Adderley answered that he ought not stress over the "surface commotion", before Evans tolled in with a brisk play on words, asking Davis for what valid reason he didn't care for the "surf-ass clamor".

Fred Plaut, the designer at the sessions, more often than not dealt with traditional music chronicles and was exact about the area of the four-recording devices he kept running in synchronization for a collection recorded in mono and stereo (a typical practice at the time). Lamentably, the mono tapes were lost during the 1960s, apparently until the end of time. The first Side A squeezing was issued at the wrong speed (a blame in one of the recording devices had been remedied constantly session in April), at a pitch that was a quarter-tone excessively sharp. These defects were adjusted when the collections were remastered and re-discharged during the 1990s. Furthermore, the principal collection sleeve bore wrong track postings.

In spite of these specialized flaws, Kind of Blue was discharged on 15 August, as a 12-inch vinyl record, to prompt praise. "This is an amazing collection," said DownBeat, giving it a most extreme five-star rating. "Utilizing basic yet successful gadgets, Miles has made a collection of extraordinary magnificence and affectability ... this is the spirit of Miles Davis and it is a wonderful soul."

Sort of Blue was all the while selling in huge amounts a couple of years after its discharge and it was at exactly that point, Cobb stated, that the performers started to acknowledge they had made "something uncommon". The drummer was resolute that none of them had the smallest thought in 1959 that they were making jazz history. "That never came up. It was simply one more incredible Miles Davis recording that everyone played well on," included Cobb. "In the event that Miles even had a suspicion that that was going on he would have requested a truckload of cash and four Ferraris sitting outside. That is the manner in which he contemplated things."

It is a calming imagined that the skilled artists passed up a decent amount of the benefits from this multimillion-selling treasure. Ashley Kahn, the creator of Kind of Blue: The Making of the Miles Davis Masterpiece, was once asked what the sidemen earned from this worldwide hit. "Miles' sidemen made generally $130 for the two sessions joined. In any case, another reminder uncovers that Miles demanded – fairly uniquely – that the three senior individuals from his gathering [Coltrane, Cannonball and Chambers] get an extra $100 each. After somewhat forward and backward between different divisions at Columbia Records, the checks were cut. Last sum paid to Coltrane, Cannonball and Chambers: under $250 each. Evans and Cobb: under $150 each. Wynton Kelly, who performed just on the principal session: under $75."

The film-maker gave a heartfelt and political speech after winning the best screenplay Academy Award for BlacKkKlansman

‘Let’s be on the right side of history’ … Spike Lee gives his Oscar acceptance speech.
 ‘Let’s be on the right side of history’ … Spike Lee gives his Oscar acceptance speech. Photograph: Valérie Macon/AFP/Getty Images

Spike Lee celebrated winning his first non-honorary Oscar in his long career as a film-maker with an explicitly political speech, during which he called on the audience to “regain our humanity” at the next US election.

“Before the world tonight, I give praise to my ancestors who built our country, along with the genocide of our native people,” Lee said. “When we regain our humanity it will be a powerful moment … The 2020 election is around the corner – let’s all mobilise and be on the right side of history. Make the moral choice between love versus hate.”

 Spike Lee jumps into Samuel L Jackson's arms as he wins Oscar – video

Lee was accepting the award for best adapted screenplay for his film BlackKklansman, with co-writers David Rabinowitz, Charlie Wachtel and Kevin Willmott. It is a satirical film loosely based on a true story about a black policeman who infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan by using a white, Jewish proxy.

Although it is set in the 70s, the film explores how racism has remained in America’s bloodstream since slavery, and how it has erupted into the mainstream with the election of Donald Trump. BlackKklansman concludes with real footage from Charlottesville, where Heather Heyer was killed when a car was driven into a crowd protesting against a “unite the right” rally of white supremacists.

Spike Lee jumps into Samuel L Jackson’s arms at the 91st Academy Awards.
 Spike Lee jumps into Samuel L Jackson’s arms at the 91st Academy Awards. Photograph: Rob Latour/REX/Shutterstock

It was Lee’s first Oscar win, not counting an honorary award he received from the Academy in 2015. The prize was given by Samuel L Jackson – an elated Lee jumped into his arms and shouted “Do not turn that motherfucking clock on!” to the Oscars producers who he thought might curtail his speech.

Lee began his speech by saying: “For 400 years, our ancestors were stolen from Africa and brought to Virginia and enslaved. They worked the land from ‘can’t see’ in the morning to ‘can’t see’ at night. My grandmother – who lived 100 years young, a college graduate even though her mother was a slave – my grandmother, who saved 50 years’ of Social Security checks to put me through college. She called me Spiky-poo …” Lee said that his grandmother had put him through film school.

Lee’s lack of Oscars recognition has long been noted. Do the Right Thing, about racial tensions in New York, was controversially snubbed at the 1990 Oscars in favour of Driving Miss Daisy, a fact that Lee alluded to when concluding his speech: “Let’s do the right thing – you know I had to get that in there!”

Lee was also wearing Love and Hate rings, worn by the Do the Right Thing character Radio Raheem, and a purple suit which paid tribute to Prince. A Prince cover of Mary Don’t You Weep plays over the credits of BlackKklansman.

The Guardian