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Alternative Christmas Message

 John BercowJohn Bercow









Former Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow is to deliver this year’s Channel 4 Alternative Christmas Message.

In a tumultuous year in politics, Bercow will deliver a pro-democracy and pro-Parliament message of tolerance and respect from a classroom at his children’s state secondary school. 

Having stepped down in October from the bi-partisan role of Speaker and after ten years of chairing some of the fiercest and most fractious debates in recent political history, Bercow continues to be a champion for the role of Parliament. “It is not an earth-shattering revelation to say I believe in it. I passionately support Parliamentary democracy. For all the criticism and abuse lobbed at MPs, I’m still a cheerleader for them.” 

He candidly shares his view that “of late, democracy has come in for a pounding,” talking of how “it’s crucial for everyone to be free to say what they think and for politicians to respond” but stresses “democracy shouldn’t be about decibel levels.” Light-heartedly referencing the frequent need to raise his voice in his former role, He goes on to say, “an opinion is no more valid because it is expressed more loudly, repeatedly or abusively.” 

Bercow is a firm believer that we must better respectfully agree to disagree and feels strongly that “there are people… who cannot entertain the idea that anyone can honourably hold an opinion which differs from their own.” As a Remainer, Bercow cites the example of his relationship with his best friend, a Brexiteer, who he says is “not an extremist, a racist or a fascist” and that, despite their differing views, the pair “respect each other as patriots, wanting the best for our country and the world.” 

In The Alternative Christmas Message, which will be broadcast on Christmas Day at 14:25 on Channel 4, Bercow also shares his concerns over the role social media has come to play in our lives, particularly the impact on young people, commenting that while it can be “amazing” it can often “amplify hatred, racism, misogyny and abuse.” 

23 December 2019

Caroline Flack Pleads Not Guilty

 Caroline FlackCaroline Flack








Former Love Island presenter Caroline Flack has pleaded not guilty to assaulting her boyfriend with a lamp. 

Police found her partner Lewis Burton covered in blood after being called to reports of a man being assaulted at the 40-year-old's home in north London on 12 December, a court heard. 

However, Highbury Corner Magistrates' Court was told tennis player Mr Burton did not support the prosecution. 

Ms Flack will stand trial at the same court on 4 March. 

The court heard the alleged attack occurred after Ms Flack found texts on her boyfriend's phone while he was asleep, leading her to believe he was cheating. 

"He said he had been asleep and was hit over the head by Caroline with a lamp, causing a visible cut to his head," prosecutor Katie Weiss said. 

"She had also smashed a glass and she had sustained an injury." 

The court heard how Mr Burton made a call to 999 in which he was "almost begging the operator to send help". 

When a police officer arrived at the Islington flat, both Ms Flack and Mr Burton were covered in blood and the officer "likened the scene to a horror movie", Ms Weiss said. 

Ms Weiss told the court Ms Flack was disruptive while in police custody, saying she flipped over a table and had to be "restrained on the ground". 

Her solicitor Paul Morris told the court Mr Burton had "never supported" the prosecution's case, adding: "He is not the victim, as he would say, he was a witness." 

However, Ms Weiss replied: "Mr Burton is a victim, he received significant injury to his head." 

Ms Flack was due to present the forthcoming winter edition of the popular ITV2 show - which is expected to start on 12 January 

Ms Flack was released on bail on the condition she does not contact Mr Burton directly or indirectly and or attends his address.

23 December 2019

New EastEnders Character









A new cast member is joining EastEnders as a member of the Panesar family, it has been announced.

Balvinder Sopal will arrive on Albert Square in the New Year and play Suki Panesar, the BBC said.

Her on-screen family, consisting of Kheerat, Jags and Vinny, joined the long-running soap in October.

The newest addition is the family matriarch and she is expected to “cause chaos” when she arrives in Walford, producers said.

Sopal, whose previous TV roles include Doctors, Waterloo Road and Call The Midwife, said: “I grew up watching EastEnders religiously so to be joining the show and playing matriarch Suki Panesar is a dream come true – I am still pinching myself.

“I’m excited to see what’s in store for Suki as she joins her family on Albert Square.”

Suki will arrive in Albert Square “harbouring a number of secrets from her past,” the BBC said.

Sopal’s first scenes will air in the New Year.

23 December 2019

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