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Michelle Gayle talks Dusty Springfield and EastEnders

Michelle Gayle talks to RTÉ Entertainment's John Byrne about starring in Son of a Preacher Man at the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre, working with Strictly's Craig Revel Horwood – and what makes EastEnders such an enduring success.

Most people do well to be any good at one thing. This is where Michelle Gayle stands out. Singer, actor, TV presenter, novelist and writer are just five of her attributes, although she's probably best known for her role as Hattie Tavernier in the BBC's long-running soap EastEnders.

That was back in the early 1990s though, and since then she's had a run of chart hits as a soul and R&B singer (you can hear her top five 1994 hit Sweetness, below), before embarking on a theatrical career, taking up writing and working on television.

The 47-year-old Londoner is currently starring in Son of a Preacher Man, a musical built around the songs associated with the late, great Dusty Springfield, which runs at Dublin's Bord Gais Energy Theatre May 22-26. It revolves around a fictitious Soho club in the Swinging Sixties, its clientele and enigmatic owner.

John Byrne: Hi Michelle! Let's get this straight from the start: Son of a Preacher Man is not about Dusty Springfield?

Michelle Gayle: It features her songs, clearly, but it’s actually about three people who are experiencing heartbreak and unrequited love. And we bond over that – and our love for Dusty Springfield songs.

It enables us to use Dusty Springfield songs, but use them as our characters, and how we’re feeling, as opposed to copying Dusty’s vocals which, I think, is nigh-on impossible.

But the songs are great – that’s also an undeniable fact – and we interpret the songs through our stories.

She became a legendary singer throughout the 1960s and '70s – but do you think anyone under 40 knows who Dusty was?

While a sizeable section of our audience is older and has experienced her, but you have under-30s and under-40s. Her songs have crossed over! If you think about it… It’s almost impossible to not have heard some of her songs, because they were that good. They get played all the time.

For yourself, it must be a huge benefit being an actor and a singer, because you can do gigs such as this?

Exactly. So that’s my good fortune, of that being my bread and butter for a long time, and being able to combine the two is a pleasure. Especially with the cast we have in Son of a Preacher Man, because this cast is so talented.

And a great number of them also play instruments, so they can sing, dance, act and play instruments. And we’re not talking about any old instruments. You’re not talking about a tambourine here. They can play cello, violin, trumpet. So they’re such a multi-talented cast, it really is a pleasure to work with them.

It's very much a feelgood show, isn't it?

Yes. It’s a rollercoaster, but by the end everyone’s up in their seat and just partying. And Dublin? Hmm! May be known for partying somewhat? Come up to Dublin, come out in Dublin, and enjoy it, because 99% of the audiences, by the end, are standing up and dancing, singing along and that’s the joy of it.

Son of a Preacher Man (Michelle Gayle)

At this stage in your career, have you got a philosophy, a big plan, or do you take it as it comes?

I plot some things out in my head, because I write also. I kind of make plans for what I can do, so I can also write, but acting-wise you’re only as good as what you’re offered, aren’t you? So, you never know what you’re going to be offered.

But what I do get offered I definitely choose the things that challenge me, and get me to be with people I like – and also get me to be with people I want to work with, so I can learn – because you have to challenge yourself, and you have to keep learning, and keep pushing yourself.

And I really wanted to work with Craig Revel Horwood (Strictly Come Dancing's bad guy, who choreographed and directed Son of a Preacher Man) because I knew he would push me. And he has (laughs).

Craig Revel Horwood

I believe he’s a tough taskmaster?

He is, but it is rewarding when he’s happy because you know that he’s squeezed the best out of you.

We can't let you go without mentioning EastEnders. It's a long time since you've been in the show, which has been on TV for over 30 years – what you reckon has kept it going?

I think that people love the characters, and they’ve fallen in love with the pub! And the set. So many of these things you associate with the show. They’ve even fallen in love with the drums at the end. Duh, duh, duh, duh-duh-deh-duh!

All these things are quite iconic now, aren’t they? They’re part of the tapestry of your life.

Son of a Preacher Man runs at the Board Gais Energy Theatre May 22-26. Tickets available from Ticketmaster

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New Order singer: ‘Kids abandoned over mental health’

By Lucy Cotter, arts and entertainment correspondent

New Order's Bernard Sumner believes the "underfunding" of mental health services for young people is "disgusting" and a ticking time bomb for this country.

As the band showcases a new Sky Arts documentary about their work, called Decades, the musician said nearly four decades on from the suicide of Joy Division singer Ian Curtis that mental health provisions for young people haven't moved on.

"I'm not just talking about epilepsy but mental health issues for young people especially school kids it's criminally underfunded," he told Sky News.

"When the coalition government, after the banking crisis in 2008, formed they underfunded the NHS and they completely underfunded help for young people with mental issues."

Sumner continued: "And it's still the same way and it's young kids at school that really, really need help and they've just been abandoned.

"And that's going to create a time bomb for this government and this country – attention needs to be brought to it. It's disgusting."

Image: Bernard Sumner performing on stage in Italy earlier this year

Sumner, who was an original band member of Joy Division, said Curtis would have struggled with the pressures that bands now face.

He said: "It's obviously incredibly sad what happened and we wish Ian could have been around to enjoy all of this. But to be honest, I don't think his health was intact enough for him to be able to stand the rigours of touring, because it can be pretty punishing.

"It can be pretty tough, pretty exhausting and I don't think Ian's health was in a fit state to do any of that so there would have been some kind of implosion that happened."

Drummer Stephen Morris believes there has been a shift in attitudes and Ian Curtis was affected by the stigmas surrounding mental illness in the 1970s.

Bernard Sumner performing in May
Image: Sumner performing in May

He said: "Ian had epilepsy and it's an illness people have got much better at understanding nowadays and it's great that people are aware of all kinds of mental illness from getting really depressed to schizophrenia.

"It's much better understood than it was in the 70s. And I think that kind of attitude affected Ian a little bit because he had it and he knew that that was an attitude that existed at the time and thank god we've moved on a bit."

Decades airs on Sky Arts this week and follows New Order as they rehearse and stage a number of concerts as part of one of their most acclaimed collaborations with the artist Liam Gillick and a synth orchestra.

It was an idea which started out at the Manchester International Festival and the film gives a rare insight into the band and their creative processes.

Fans attend the live performance of English band New Order featuring artist Liam Gillick in May
Image: Fans at a live performance of New Order featuring artist Liam Gillick in May

Morris admits it was technically difficult to pull off but very satisfying. It also forced them to sit down and listen to all their old material and to reflect on the past.

They also talk about the importance of Manchester. They're are all originally from the city, and Joy Division did their first TV appearance nearly 40 years ago to this day at Granada Studios thanks to Tony Wilson.

Sumner continued: "The boss of our record label, Tony Wilson, who's sadly passed away – when he was alive was also a TV presenter and somehow we wangled to get on his TV show and he was so impressed he bought the band and put us on his label.

"And here we are we've come full circle, we're here at [arts centre] Home on Tony Wilson Way and it's strange how things turned out.

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"You would never have thought all this would have happened. Although Tony would have done – he would have had that vision".

Decades airs on Sky Arts on 22 September at 9pm.

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Downton Abbey film for September 2019 release

The highly anticipated Downton Abbey film has been slated for a September 2019 release date.

The hit period drama will take to big screens around the world on September 13, it has been announced.

Focus Features chairman Peter Kujawski gave an update on the release schedule saying: "Since the series ended, fans of Downton have long been waiting for the Crawley family's next chapter.

"We're thrilled to join this incredible group of filmmakers, actors and craftspeople, led by Julian Fellowes and Gareth Neame, in bringing back the world of Downton to the big screen next September."

Much of the original cast will return for the feature film

Downton concluded with a Christmas Special in 2015 after six seasons and a film was long hoped for by fans of the show, with an official announcement coming earlier this year that the Crawley family would be back.

Original castmembers Hugh Bonneville, Laura Carmichael, Jim Carter, Brendan Coyle, Michelle Dockery, Kevin Doyle, Joanne Froggatt, Matthew Goode, Penelope Wilton and Dame Maggie Smith are all back for the film, with new additions to the cast including Imelda Staunton and Geraldine James.

Downton's creator Julian Fellowes has written the film's screenplay, while Brican Percival, who directed the series' pilot, will helm the film. Fellowes will produce alongside Gareth Neame and Liz Trubridge.

Click here for more television news

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Here’s What You Need to Know About the Calorie Counts on Your Apple Watch

There are few things more satisfying than getting in some steps or a tough workout and instantly finding out how many calories you burned. If you're obsessed with checking your Apple Watch, you know what I'm talking about — but you may have noticed that there are quite a few numbers to track, including active calories and total calories. If you're unsure of the difference, we've got answers.

Simply put, active calories are those you burn while walking, climbing, jogging — whatever you do for exercise. Total calories include active calories and resting calories, those your body burns naturally, even when you're just lounging on the couch.

"Both numbers are affected by a number of factors, including age, current weight, medical conditions, activity level, and sex," said personal trainer Chris Kelly, NASM, CPT, CF, LI. "The Apple Watch uses the heart rate monitor and other features to track activity and resting heart rate."

ADVERTISEMENT Related: Apple Watch Series 4 Health Features The New Apple Watch Is Basically a Heart Doctor For Your Wrist — Here's the Lowdown

How to Boost Your Calorie Burn

The accuracy of fitness trackers (or lack thereof) has been a topic of discussion for years. From the treadmill to your Apple Watch, it's fair to say that the numbers probably aren't totally accurate. "Instead of looking for an exact number, these are great tools to show trends and track progress in the right direction," Kelly told POPSUGAR.

So, you might make it your goal to simply increase your average number of active calories burned each week. While these numbers are different for everyone, the key is to create a deficit between calories consumed and total calories burned. "One pound of fat is equal to 3,500 calories," Kelly said. "If an individual were able to create a calorie deficit of 500 and then 1,000 calories per day, they would lose between one and two pounds per week, which is safe and sustainable."

Fitness trackers may not be a perfect science, but they can certainly help keep you on the path to reaching your goals.

Image Source: Unsplash / Christin Hume

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We’ve Unwrapped the Calorie Counts of Your Favorite Halloween Candy

Who isn't tempted by a little fun-sized trick-or-treating candy? From the tiny Reese's Peanut Butter Cups to the Snickers bar you can wrap your hand around, there are Halloween candy jars everywhere these days. Go ahead and indulge in this tasty part of Halloween, just remember, the small little bites add up. Take a look at the chart below and see how your favorite fun-sized treat stacks up.

Related: '90s Candy 11 Reasons It Was Sweet to Be a '90s Kid

1 treat size (fun size) Calories Fat (g) Sugar (g)
3 Musketeers 63 2 10
100 Grand 95 4 11
Almond Joy 80 4.5 8
Baby Ruth 85 5 10
Butterfinger 85 4 10
Charleston Chew 30 0 10
Dots 70 0 11
Heath Bar 77 4.7 8.7
Hershey's Bar 67 4 7.7
Jelly Belly Jellybeans 35 0 7
Kit Kat 70 3 7
M&M's (Plain) 73 4 11.5
M&M's (Peanut) 90 4.7 9.1
M&M's (Peanut Butter) 95 4 11.5
Milk Duds 40 2 6.3
Milky Way 80 3 10
Milky Way Dark 81 3 11
Mike & Ike 50 0 9
Mounds 80 4.5 7
Mr. Goodbar 90 4 7
Nerds 50 0 12
Nestle Crunch 60 3 7
PayDay 90 5 8
Raisinets 67 2.7 9.7
Reese's Peanut Butter Cup 110 6.5 10.5
Reese's NutRageous 95 5.5 7.5
Skittles 80 .8 14.5
Snickers 80 4 8.5
Snickers (Peanut butter) 130 7 12
SweeTarts 10 0 2.4
Take 5 100 5.5 9
Twix 80 7 8.5
Whoppers 100 4 13
York Peppermint Pattie 60 1 11

Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Sheila Gim

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Harry, William, and Meghan Make Cameos in the Queen’s New Documentary, but Where’s Kate?

The official trailer for Queen Elizabeth II's new documentary, Queen of the World, has finally been released, and one person who is noticeably missing from it is Kate Middleton. While we get a glimpse of the moment Meghan Markle first laid eyes on her wedding dress and Prince Harry talking about how he panics every time he bumps into his grandmother in the corridor, Kate isn't featured in any of the clips, and there's a good explanation for it.

Kate welcomed her third child, Prince Louis, in April and then went on maternity leave shortly after. Most of the filming was conducted around that time, and Kate wasn't partaking in any royal engagements. "Kate was largely out of action during the main filming," People reported. "CHOGM (the British meeting of the heads of government from the Commonwealth) was a focal point and she was due to give birth any minute then."

But don't freak out just yet; Kate is actually in the film, she just isn't a part of any of the conversations. "There is film of events and receptions which she attended, so you do see her," a source told the outlet. Phew! Catch Queen of the World when it airs in the US on HBO on Oct. 1.

Related: How Well Do the Queen and Kate Middleton Really Get Along?

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