Even when she’s talking about cold, hard cash, Dolly Parton manages to seem down to earth.
She’s promoting her new children’s album “I Believe in You” and is in top, self-deprecating form, talking to the BBC.
“It’s hard for me to spend money on tonnes of stuff because I’m going to look the same, no matter what I wear. If I wear diamonds I’m still going to look like a rhinestone,” she tells me.
Still, if Dolly was inclined to buy diamonds, she could afford them. She’s known as much for her business acumen as her song-writing skills.
At the start of her career she took lessons from her dad, she says: “Even though he wasn’t an educated man, he wasn’t able to read and write, daddy had a great sense of business.
“He said, ‘Don’t let other people take advantage of you, keep your mind on your business.’ So when I got into the music business I thought of it as a business.”
Early on she launched her own publishing company and hung on to the rights to her songs, and she says that other artists should do the same.
“As soon as you start making money, you should invest and get into other businesses that you can fall back on if you don’t make it big, or if you make it big and you fall on hard times.”
That attitude has served her well over the years and continues to do so, according to Forbes magazine’s Celebrity 100 list.
It claims Dolly earned $37m (£28m) in the year to June 2017, with most of this coming from her Pure and Simple concert tour and income from her Dollywood theme park in Tennessee.
Brian Warner, founder of website CelebrityNetworth.com, estimates her total fortune to be $500m (£379m) but says this is conservative.
“We think that Dollywood alone is worth around $200m; $100m for the land itself and $100m for the brand – you could class it as an intangible asset.
“On top of that she makes a lot of money from touring and has had a 50-year career in which she’s sold millions of records and has also written songs for other artists.”
Mr Warner says “I will always love you”, a hit Dolly wrote and recorded in 1973, has made her more than $20m in total.
He explains that although individual music contracts may vary, “as the writer of a song you might be keeping 50% of the revenue or more and as a writer and performer you could be getting 80%”.
Dolly’s own version of “I Will Always Love You” was a big commercial success, topping the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart twice, in 1974 and 1982.
Whitney Houston made the song a hit all over again when she recorded a version for the 1992 film The Bodyguard. It was number one for 10 weeks in the UK charts and for 14 weeks in the US. The song had another resurgence in 2012 after Ms Houston’s death.
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The proceeds from Dolly’s latest album won’t be adding to her fortune, though; instead they’ll be going to the Imagination Library.
Set up in 1995 it aims to improve child literacy by distributing free books to children in the US, Canada, the UK and Australia.
Dolly says her own impoverished childhood in Tennessee inspired the library and has shaped her attitude to money in general.
“Being brought up poor means I don’t take things for granted, and no matter how much money I make, I’ll always count my blessings quicker and more often than I count my money.
She has “always realised the value of a dollar”, too.
“Even now if I go in a store it’s hard for me to pay a huge amount of money for one item. I say ‘good Lord’, what could mummy and daddy have done with that!”
At 71 years old, Dolly’s career has spanned more than five decades and following her Glastonbury performance in 2014 she’s reached a whole new audience. So what’s the secret of her longevity?
“I think a lot of people can relate to me, because of my upbringing and because I’m from a big family. I think people see me as an aunt, an older sister or a cousin. I’ve been around so long I’m part of their family.”
Dolly will be hoping that this loyal fan base will support ambitious plans to expand her empire.
The DreamMore hotel at Dollywood, opened in 2015, is “doing well” and she is thinking of franchising it. She’d also like to do more kids projects and launch a line of wigs, cosmetics and clothes.
“I’ve still got a lot to do… I’m going to be an old lady before I get it done but at least I’m going to be working till I fall over dead!”
Dolly Parton is a force of nature and a tremendously successful one at that; it’s hard to imagine her ever stopping.
Doctor Who’s first female Time Lord will be joined by three new companions, the BBC has announced.
Jodie Whittaker, who takes over as the 13th Doctor next year, will be joined by new cast regulars Bradley Walsh, Tosin Cole and Mandip Gill, as well as Sharon D Clarke in a returning role.
Walsh will star as Graham, Cole will play Ryan and Gill will play Yasmin.
Walsh said he was looking forward to being part of the show – some 50 years after first becoming a fan.
The former Coronation Street actor and presenter of quiz show The Chase said: “I remember watching William Hartnell as the first Doctor. Black and white made it very scary for a youngster like myself.
“I was petrified, but even though I’d watch most of it from behind the sofa through my fingers, I became a fan…
“Am I thrilled to be part of this whole ground breaking new dawn for the Doctor? Oh yes!”
Doctor Who’s 13th Time Lord to be a woman
Whittaker ‘didn’t see’ Doctor Who reaction
Gill, who has appeared in Hollyoaks and Casualty, said she was “over the moon” to join the “iconic” show, adding: “Certain roles seem unattainable and this is one of those, so much so I didn’t believe it to be true for the first few weeks.”
Cole, who had roles in EastEnders and Star Wars: The Force Awakens, said he was looking forward to “jumping in this Doctor Who universe”.
Chris Chibnall, the show’s new head writer, said those chosen as companions were “three of Britain’s brightest talents”.
“The new Doctor is going to need new friends,” he added.
The BBC also confirmed the series will have a 10-week run of 50-minute episodes in autumn 2018, starting with a feature-length hour show for the launch.
No details about the new characters beyond their names have yet been revealed.
Whittaker was revealed as the next Time Lord in a trailer broadcast at the end of the Wimbledon men’s singles final in July.
The Broadchurch star succeeds Peter Capaldi, who took over the role in 2013 and leaves in the forthcoming Christmas special.
The reaction to Whittaker’s casting was mostly positive – but a sizeable minority protested that the Doctor shouldn’t be played by a woman.
The appointment also sparked a war of words between two former Doctors.
Peter Davison, who played the character from 1981 to 1984, said he felt “a bit sad” the character might no longer be “a role model for boys”, but his comments were dubbed “rubbish” by his successor, Colin Baker.
Wim Wenders became a major film-maker when, in the 1970s, German cinema became cool around the world. His hits included The American Friend and Paris, Texas. But Wenders was privately experimenting with one of the most straightforward of visual technologies – the Polaroid stills camera. Thousands of those shots were thrown away – but now a selection of surviving images has gone on display in London.
Wenders says when he started taking Polaroid pictures in the mid-1960s it had nothing to do with art.
“It was just part of my life. I would photograph things to do with movies I was making, or when I travelled. It was useful and fun – which I think is what Polaroids were for most people.”
Instant photography – doing away with a separate and lengthy process of developing film outside the camera – arrived commercially in 1948. It was the creation of Polaroid’s founder Edwin Land. In the early years the images were black and white.
The big step forward was the arrival of the Polaroid sx-70 camera in the early 1970s.
“It was science fiction and nobody had seen anything like it. You pointed the camera and took the picture and then it came out – an empty, blank bit of white paper.
“And before your eyes it slowly turned into the image you had shot a few moments before. It was exhilarating in its colours and brightness.
“You have to remember that at this time people didn’t have even VHS tape – we were in a simpler, analogue world. So to be able to create and record a visual image almost immediately seemed extraordinary.”
Now some 200 of the images are on display in London, under the title Instant Stories. Some of them show well-known people the director worked with such as the actor Dennis Hopper. Others are landscapes or pictures of odd corners in places Wenders visited such as New York or Sydney.
There are also close-up images of a TV set showing the 1956 film The Girl Can’t Help It, with appearances from Eddie Cochrane and Gene Vincent.
“It’s still my favourite rock and roll movie. And suddenly with a Polaroid you could photograph something you enjoyed and you had it in front of you to hold, almost at once. At the time it was extraordinary.
“The other great thing is that if friends were in the image you could give it to them – and that’s what happened to many of the pictures I took.
“I’d had traditional cameras since I was six or so and I enjoyed using them. But there was a whole new spontaneity with the Polaroid which I think some people are now starting to rediscover the way they’ve rediscovered music on vinyl.
“Everyone says, ‘oh the kids aren’t interested in physical objects any more: they don’t want a book or a newspaper or a CD.’
“But the kids will regret it when they’re older: if you’re 25 you have to realise that the phone which seems so great now will one day be yesterday’s technology and lots of the digital images we all have will be hard or even impossible to look at.”
But doesn’t a modern smartphone produce images far more sophisticated than any Polaroid camera did 40 years ago? Wenders says the basic character of the technology was part of the appeal.
“I think people who look at the images will find a sort of beauty here. The colours the process produced are great, though the monochrome images are attractive too.”
The director points out a particular black and white picture. “It’s the Hoboken Terminal in New York and I was shooting a film 30 years ago there called Lightning Over Water. These places are mainly gone.”
For a long time the pictures just went up on Wenders’ refrigerator and then were stored away in cigar boxes.
“But they remain unique: they only existed once and there’s no negative and you can’t duplicate it. Forty years later they seem quite precious.”
Wenders remembers that at the time a new Polaroid model or a big technical development was the equivalent of an Apple launch today.
“So when the sx-70 came out we were delighted to get hold of it early to use in the film Alice in the Cities (1974).”
The new show in London plays on a loop the scene from The American Friend in which, says Wenders, “Dennis Hopper invents the selfie with a Polaroid camera.”
There was also a use behind the camera. “So at this time there’s no video playout and you only see your rushes three days later. The Polaroid camera can be a real help setting up a shot.”
But in the 1980s Wenders abandoned Polaroids entirely. “I was starting to take stills photography more seriously and I started to use large-size cameras”.
But he retained one of his old Polaroid cameras and only recently gave it to Patti Smith to replace one she was having problems with.
Wenders thinks digital photography is now so problem-free and so cheap that a lot of the creativity has gone.
“It’s so easy for a professional photographer to take hundreds or even thousands of pictures of a particular face or of a scene and of course a few of them will be good and the rest are wiped. It can be an impersonal, industrial process.
“The Polaroid was instant but it was still connected to the original idea of photography. There was always something sacred about the act of stealing an image from the world.”
Instant Stories: Wim Wenders’ Polaroids is at the Photographers’ Gallery in London until 11 February 2018.
“There’s a tide and it’s coming in now,” sings Jonathan Higgs on Night Of The Long Knives, the latest single from Everything Everything.
The title refers to Hitler’s bloody purge of the Nazi party in 1934, drawing a parallel to the rise of the right-wing politics in the last two years.
Only Higgs isn’t convinced that fascism will sweep everything in its path.
“They’re saying it’s a wave but it feels like a dribbling mouth,” he sneers in the single, questioning whether the alt-right are a powerful force, or just a bunch of idiots.
“And the answer is both,” he says.
“It depends how we react to it. If everyone [panics and] says, ‘Oh God!’ the next thing you know, they’re the prime minister.
“But if you go, ‘Ha, ha, ha, you’re idiots,’ well… they’ll probably still become prime minister. But you have to keep your head about it.”
It’s surprising to hear Higgs make a plea for perspective. After all, this is a man whose last album, Get To Heaven, was a “wretched and anxious” response to Islamic State militants, beheadings, mass shootings and political corruption.
“I was in a dark place,” he told the BBC on its release. “I was essentially trying to inhabit the minds of the [extremists] and that’s a really horrible thing to face.”
Everything Everything’s new album dials back on the paranoia and dread – partly because Higgs thinks the world has caught up with him.
“I’m not less in that headspace, but I think everyone else is in it more,” he says.
“But the album’s a bit more abstract, a bit more personal. Away from politics and all that stuff, it’s about the human relationships we all have.”
The album is called A Fever Dream, a reference to the “surreal, nightmarish things happening, day after day” – especially the absurdity of modern politics.
It’s there in Big Game, a pomposity-pricking parable about Donald Trump (“Even little children see through you”), and it’s there in Run the Numbers, a song that explores Michael Gove’s comment that “people in this country have had enough of experts“.
“Is it the first song to be inspired by Michael Gove? Yes, and it should be the only one. Let’s leave it at that.”
Higgs is smart enough to be aware that he comes from a position of privilege, and his liberal views are out of step with the prevailing political climate.
There’s a song on the album called Ivory Tower, where people threaten to “come and crush me in the Waitrose aisle”. On the title track, he sings: “I hate the neighbours, they hate me too / The fear and the fury make me feel good.”
“It’s admitting that I sort of enjoy arguing,” he explains. “I think we all do on some level. It’s certainly popular.”
“With anonymity you can go much further than you ever could in real life,” Higgs agrees.
“People become very extreme very quickly. It feels good to give yourself over to that emotion.”
This leads to a discussion of the fake news stories that spread in the wake of this month’s mass shooting in Las Vegas.
“I just can’t begin to find a way into that mindset,” says Higgs. “But the whole idea about what’s true has been thrown up in the air: Who do we trust? Why do we trust our journalists? Is it just because we’re used to it?”
“There are codes of practices in place, right?” interjects his bandmate, Jeremy Pritchard. “But does the Daily Mail care? Does Fox News care? I don’t think so.”
Higgs says keeping up with the news “feels like a bad dream – sometimes it’s scary and frightening and sometimes it’s electrifying and exciting”.
He adds: “That’s why there’s a reference to being asleep or dreaming or waking up in every single song. There’s a feeling of ‘is it real, or is it not?’”
If this all sounds pretty heavy, it’s worth noting that Everything Everything have always dressed up their angst in a cathartic explosion of melodic pop.
That’s how they sneak songs like Cough Cough (about greed for oil), My Kz Ur Bf (airstrikes) and Night Of The Long Knives onto daytime radio.
In concert, this results in fans bellowing out the lyrics to No Reptiles – a song about feeling passive and useless and alienated from society.
There’s something bizarre, I observe, about hearing 3,000 people chanting: “It’s alright to feel like a fat child in a pushchair.”
“You’re telling me,” laughs Higgs.
“We’re always surprised by what people’s favourites are,” adds Pritchard. “And we’re still towards the beginning of that process on this album.
“We’ve written them, we’ve recorded them and now we’re seeing what works in the live arena – where the energy is, how to play it.”
But the “fat child in a pushchair” remains the bassist’s favourite part of the set, every night.
“I don’t have to play anything at that point in the song,” he says, “So I always take my earphones out and listen to the crowd. It’s incredible.”
Puppets used for some of the best-loved children’s TV characters of the 1970s and ’80s are to get urgent repairs to stop them falling apart.
The puppets come from the archive of animation studio Cosgrove Hall, which made shows like The Wind in the Willows and Chorlton and the Wheelies.
A project has begun to preserve and display the Cosgrove Hall archive.
Sixty percent of the latex puppets, including characters from The Wind in the Willows, are “at serious risk”.
And 20% are past saving, according to Westley Wood, a former Cosgrove Hall employee who has rescued the treasure trove.
Cosgrove Hall also made such classic shows as Danger Mouse, Count Duckula, Terry Pratchett’s Truckers and Noddy’s Toyland Adventures. But its characters were put into storage when the studio shut in 2009.
According to Wood, the hand-drawn acetate cells used to animate the likes of Danger Mouse and Count Duckula have lasted well.
But the 3D puppets that were employed in stop-motion animations have deteriorated with age, with parts of the latex falling off some to expose the steel skeletons beneath.
“The film cells are well preserved,” said Wood. “They can be saved quite easily. But unfortunately a lot of the puppets were made of foam latex, and over time it dries out.
“As they’ve all dried out and become quite stiff, these puppets have started losing half of their face or part of their arm.
“There’s a big process at the moment of identifying important pieces in the collection, and ones which we think need immediate restoration.
“At least 60% of it is at serious risk and at least 20% of that is past being saved,” he went on. “It’s in a pretty bad way.”
The archive has been awarded a £42,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, with contributions from Sale Waterside and Arts Council England taking the fund over £50,000.
But that won’t stretch to restoring the hundreds of items in the archive.
“To restore everything would probably cost millions, unfortunately, so we need to identify key pieces that we think have significant cultural heritage,” said Wood, while insisting the deterioration was “nobody’s fault”.
“Personally I’d love to restore it all, but that’s just not possible at this stage.”
The Cosgrove Hall exhibition at Sale Waterside runs from 21 October to 17 February.
The result, says Screen Daily’s Tim Grierson, is “a grinningly goofy comic-book movie that reverberates with boyish delight”.
The Independent, however, does take issue with the film’s “convoluted” plot and bemoans its lack of “dramatic urgency”.
Thor: Ragnarok, which also stars Tom Hiddleston and Jeff Goldblum, opens in the UK and Ireland on 24 October.
Analysis, by entertainment reporter Neil Smith
The Marvel Cinematic Universe that kicked off in 2008 with the first Iron Man film now spans nine years, 17 movies and a vast cast that expands with every new instalment.
Success stories don’t come much more successful than this one. Even so, though, there have been some parts of this epic superhero tapestry that have been less welcomed than others.
Thor is a case in point. Whether toplining his own films or chipping in as part of the Avengers ensemble, this relic from Norse mythology has always seemed out of step with the rest of the extended franchise.
By recognising and embracing his core ridiculousness, though, Thor: Ragnarok may have finally found a way to integrate the character and his world into the wider MCU landscape.
Despite taking its title from a Norse word for apocalypse, the latest Marvel film is a joyously irreverent hoot in which superhero heroics are almost an afterthought.
The scenes in which Chris Hemsworth’s Thor banters and bickers with the now-talking Hulk are a delight, as are any in which Jeff Goldblum appears as the ostensibly villainous but actually rather affable Grandmaster.
If there is a downside to the film’s tactic of constantly deflating its moments of tension, threat and menace, it’s that it leaves Cate Blanchett with very little to do as chief antagonist Hela.
The two-time Oscar-winner snarls her dialogue with aplomb and sports an antler-like headpiece that could put your eye out. No sooner is her character introduced, alas, than she is promptly relegated to the sidelines.
It’s a Hela of a waste of a great actress that does little to dispel one’s feeling that the MCU – and the superhero genre in general – remains something of a boys’ club.
A script for Coronation Street creator Tony Warren’s previously unknown first attempt at a soap opera has been found.
Before Warren changed the TV landscape with Coronation Street in 1960, he started writing Seven, Bessie Street.
His friend David Tucker said it centres on a terraced street but is otherwise very different from Coronation Street.
The script was found in his possessions after he died in 2016 and is now part of an exhibition dedicated to Warren at Salford Museum and Art Gallery.
Warren left his estate to Mr Tucker, a friend of 22 years, with an instruction to destroy all creative works that weren’t already in the public domain.
But Mr Tucker decided to keep the Seven, Bessie Street – with the proviso that no one else could read it.
The script is in a frame in the Salford exhibition with just the cover page, billing it as “a new soap opera in half-hourly episodes”, on show.
Mr Tucker has read it, however, and says it was “quite obviously planned as a soap opera”.
“The only thing really that relates to Coronation Street is the setting of a terraced street and the fact that it jumps a little bit between peoples’ lives,” he told BBC News.
“But there are no characters that relate to Coronation Street at all, and no scenarios. It’s very different.”
Seven, Bessie Street revolves around a family – perhaps inspired by Warren’s own – who all have theatrical connections.
“That’s what Tony did know about in his youth,” Mr Tucker said. “That’s probably why it would never have worked as it was, because there was so much in the stories about theatre.
“He was writing from what he knew in that Bessie Street script, but it probably wasn’t going to relate that well to everybody else.
“So he then shifted the focus to the more mundane aspects of terraced street life.”
Although Warren cast the script aside, Bessie Street did make its way into Coronation Street. Weatherfield’s local local primary school is called Bessie Street School.
The exhibition also includes the typewriter Warren used in his early years.
After jettisoning Seven, Bessie Street, Warren pitched a drama titled Our Street to the BBC. But he didn’t hear back, so he reworked it as Florizel Street for Granada.
Florizel Street was changed to Coronation Street because – as legend has it – a tea lady named Agnes remarked that Florizel sounded like the name of a disinfectant.
Coronation Street launched in September 1960 and soon became one of the most popular programmes on television.
The exhibition also traces Warren’s early life and career, which included acting in the BBC’s Northern Children’s Hour and writing for police series Shadow Squad.
According to a 1958 receipt, he was paid £150 for the latter.
The exhibition also shows his past as a male model, appearing on the cover of a 1957 edition of Knitters Digest and on the packet for a pullover knitting pattern.
There are many mementos from the Corrie years too, including his MBE, various awards, his red This Is Your Life book and letters from former poet laureate John Betjeman describing it as his “favourite programme”.
Betjeman and Laurence Olivier were such fans that they were chairman and president respectively of the British League for Hilda Ogden, established in 1979.
Tony Warren’s Coronation Street runs at Salford Museum Art Gallery until 3 July.
“I’m not talking about the voices in my head, they’re just people,” she laughed.
After about two minutes, the singer was lowered manually to the ground, but could not get all the way down without crushing the audience.
Instead, she dived into the crowd and walked back to the stage.
“I guess I’m just going to have to get down and walk amongst my people. I love this so much, This is what you get for trying to bring out all of space to Nashville.
Perry has become known for her elaborate stage shows, and the Witness tour features several moveable platforms, larger-than-life mannequins and a pneumatic hand that grasps the star and pulls her beneath the stage,
“Left shark” – her famously un-coordinated dancer from the 2015 Super Bowl – also makes a cameo.
The first seven shows of the Witness tour were postponed due to “production issues” but subsequent dates have proceeded without a hitch.
The UK leg of the tour takes place next June, with dates scheduled in London, Birmingham, Sheffield, Liverpool, Manchester, Glasgow and Newcastle.