Katherine Ryan discusses her civil partnership with high school boyfriend

Katherine Ryan discusses her civil partnership with her childhood sweetheart Bobby Kootstra after they reunited following 20-year absence

She’s known for her acerbic wit and no-holds barred stand-up routines.

But Katherine Ryan showed her sentimental side on Saturday when she told Peter Crouch about her low-key civil partnership ceremony to childhood sweetheart Bobby Kootstra. 

The comedian, 37, joined the former footballer for the BBC‘s new lockdown series Save Our Summer where she explained she and Bobby had dated as teenagers.  

Blushing bride: Katherine Ryan showed her sentimental side on Saturday when she spoke about her about her low-key civil partnership ceremony to childhood sweetheart Bobby Kootstra

The Mock the Week star said: ‘I decided to get married basically because I got together with my high school boyfriend. His name is Bobby and we were together when I was 15 or 16 and then we got back together 20 years later. Isn’t that pathetic??’ 

The pair were struck once again by Cupid’s arrow when they met by chance in Katherine’s local pub. 

The stunning blonde explained that 20 years on, they had both matured and quipped that her civil partner’s divorce had had a mellowing effect.

Revealing: The comedian, 37, joined former footballer Peter Crouch for the BBC's new lockdown series Save Our Summer where she explained she and Bobby had dated as teenagers

Revealing: The comedian, 37, joined former footballer Peter Crouch for the BBC’s new lockdown series Save Our Summer where she explained she and Bobby had dated as teenagers

Like a fine wine: The stunning blonde explained that 20 years on, they had both matured and quipped that her civil partner's divorce had had a mellowing effect

Romantic: The Canadian comic looked elegant in a black peasant dress sporting a plunging neckline a red heart motif which complemented her wavy blonde tresses

Like a fine wine: The stunning redhead explained that 20 years on, they had both matured and quipped that her civil partner’s divorce had had a mellowing effect

‘Katherine said: ‘Bobby had a life of 20 years while I wasn’t with him, he’s divorced. I love divorced men, it really humbles them. 

‘He he used to be cocky, he had some growing up to do and now I like him a lot more. He is very different from high school. He has this cool calm energy.’

In her trademark self-deprecating style, Katherine joked that she looks unrecognisable from her 15-year-old self and is unsure if Bobby has realised they used to date.

She said: ‘It’s very different. Literally speaking, a lot of my face is different. I don’t even know if he knows I’m his high school girlfriend.’ 

The Canadian comic looked elegant in a black peasant dress sporting a plunging neckline and a rather apt red love-heart motif which complemented her wavy blonde tresses. 

After an impromptu game of swingball with British rapper Tinie Tempah, Katherine told Peter that she and Bobby had held their informal ceremony in Denmark last September. 

She explained: ‘We had a civil ceremony in Denmark, then I got back on a plane because I had a gig that night. I wore the same dress that I wore to the wedding to the gig.’

Luckily for her fellow passengers, the Safeword star had shunned the traditional bridal meringue and opted for an elegant mint green midi dress with a flared skirt and a pearl encrusted headband. 

Green goddess: Katherine took to Instagram last September to share several images of her civil partnership in Denmark

Green goddess: Katherine took to Instagram last September to share several images of her civil partnership in Denmark 

When Tinie asked about her gown, Katherine answered: ‘It was a cool mint Valentino, just a dress. In the same way I’m not a birthday person, I’m not a wedding person. I didn’t want a white dress, that ship has sailed.’

The stand-up queen joked that she kept the ceremony small as she didn’t want to invite lots of people and be forced to speak to them.

The mother of one went on to reveal that the Canadian immigration service left no stone unturned when ensuring her relationship with Bobby was the real deal. 

She said: ‘They want to make sure your relationship is genuine, they take it very seriously, they’re like “where is this going to go? show us your texts.” I picked out the nastiest one because I wanted to get a civil servant a thrill.’ 

Sweet: Katherine and her civil-partner Bobby on their special day last September, after a ceremony attended only by their nearest and dearest

Sweet: Katherine and her civil-partner Bobby on their special day last September, after a ceremony attended only by their nearest and dearest

From Michaela Coel’s I May Destroy You to Cursed and Das Boot: The best on demand TV this week

BBC iPLAYER, ALL 4 & YOUTUBE

I May Destroy You

Although not exactly unknown before I May Destroy You – her E4 comedy series Chewing Gum was much admired and she gave the prestigious MacTaggart Lecture at the Edinburgh International Television Festival in 2018 – Michaela Coel is now being hailed as a TV superstar. 

Michaela Coel (above with Weruche Opia) is the writer, star and co-director of this frank, graphic 12-episode series which fictionalises the story of her sexual assault

She’s the writer, star and co-director of this frank, graphic 12-episode series which fictionalises the story of her sexual assault. She plays Arabella, a Twitter-famous millennial writer who is trying to finish her novel before the deadline. Arabella can’t remember how the previous night on the town ended but she has bruises and her phone is smashed. Then she starts having flashbacks… BBC iPlayer, boxset available from Monday

 

Amadeus

For more than 40 years, Peter Shaffer’s play has wowed millions across the globe; most know it via the Oscar-winning 1984 movie. But in 2016 the National Theatre brought it to a new generation with an acclaimed revival. Adam Gillen takes the title role of rowdy young upstart Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, whose genius enthrals and enrages his arch-rival, court composer Antonio Salieri (Lucian Msamati, who can be seen as Iago on Sunday in BBC4’s showing of the RSC’s 2015 production of Othello). National Theatre Live/YouTube, from Thursday

 

Behind The Filter

This sitcom pilot was released without fanfare a couple of weeks ago and is quickly gaining a following. Many have likened it to Fleabag – it’s about a single woman lacking in direction and some of the scenes are near the knuckle – but the lead character, Ruby, is more like David Brent from The Office. She’s so desperate to fit in and appear ‘cool’ that she regularly makes massive faux pas. Phoebe Walsh, who also co-wrote the show, plays her. BBC iPlayer, available now

 

Detective Cain

Detective Fred Cain is a cynical homicide detective who doesn’t do things by the book. Naturally, his partner, Lieutenant Lucie Delambre, is a sexy, younger woman and there seems to be a certain frisson between them. Oh, and Cain’s in a wheelchair. This is a long-running series in France, where it’s a big hit. And if it doesn’t push back the boundaries of the police procedural, it’s an enjoyably undemanding show enhanced by its sun-drenched locations around Marseille. Walter Presents/All 4, available now

 

AMAZON PRIME 

Absentia

Former Castle star Stana Katic returns as Emily Byrne, the FBI special agent who vanished while hunting for a serial killer, only to reappear six years later with no memory of what happened to her. This time, Emily is still serving her suspension while trying to be a better parent to her son. 

But she’s forced to rely on her old investigative skills when her family is threatened – and seeing as she’s still trying to work out what occurred during her disappearance, it’s a matter that’s far from straightforward. From Friday

 

Mad Men

Simply one of the greatest TV shows ever made. A decade of American history and social change – from 1960 to 1970 – is viewed through the prism of the lives of a group of New York ad agency employees. Is Don Draper (Jon Hamm), the philandering, flawed creative genius, the main character? 

Simply one of the greatest TV shows ever made, Mad Men centred on a group of New York ad agency employees during the 1960s. Above: Jon Hamm and January Jones

Simply one of the greatest TV shows ever made, Mad Men centred on a group of New York ad agency employees during the 1960s. Above: Jon Hamm and January Jones

Or is it actually Peggy Olson (a superlative Elisabeth Moss), who starts the series as Draper’s secretary but claws her way up the corporate ladder to become a creative powerhouse in her own right? From the acting to the storylines to the dialogue, the music to the costumes to the opening title sequence, this is pretty much flawless television. And, perhaps unusually for a long-running series, it has an ingenious and utterly satisfying finale. Available now

 

Unraveling Athena

A who’s who of women’s tennis down the years graces this documentary, which examines what it takes to get to the very top of the WTA rankings. Billie Jean King, Evonne Goolagong Cawley, Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova and the Williams sisters all contribute with their take on the journey from a kid with a racket and a dream to the coveted position of World No 1. The only omission: no Steffi Graf? From Monday

 

NETFLIX & STARZPLAY 

Cursed

Have you ever thought about the Lady of the Lake in Arthurian legend? What’s her connection with Excalibur, and what’s she doing in a lake? This is her origin story. King Uther Pendragon is doing nothing to stop the terrifying Red Paladins, led by the fanatical Father Carden (Peter Mullan), from harrowing the land and terrorising the Fey people, a religious minority. 

13 Reasons Why’s Katherine Langford (above) plays magical teenager Nimue in this new fantasy series about the Lady of the Lake which is based on Frank Miller's graphic novel

13 Reasons Why’s Katherine Langford (above) plays magical teenager Nimue in this new fantasy series about the Lady of the Lake which is based on Frank Miller’s graphic novel

Nimue (13 Reasons Why’s Katherine Langford) is a teenager with magical powers. When her village is pillaged she is given a sword of power by her mother and told she must deliver it to Merlin. Based on the best-selling Frank Miller graphic novel. Netflix, from Friday

 

Doom Patrol

DC’s movie output has been somewhat hit and miss, but its small-screen outings – such as Harley Quinn and Pennyworth – have been excellent. Doom Patrol, about heroes who gained their powers following tragic events, joined the roster last year and now it’s back for a second series. 

This time, the group’s members have been miniaturised and must find a way to deal with that, as well as their feelings towards The Chief, a man they thought was on their side. The always watchable Timothy Dalton and Brendan Fraser star, while Abigail Shapiro joins the cast as The Chief’s rather unusual daughter. Starzplay, from Thursday

 

P-Valley

Olivier Award-winning playwright Katori Hall’s latest project is a no-holds-barred look at the larger-than-life characters working at a strip club in the Mississippi Delta. Among them is dancer Mercedes (Brandee Evans), whose incredible feats of athleticism on stage are mind-boggling; her colleagues may be less flexible but their backstories involve PTSD, survival against the odds, and battles against prejudice, which means there’s plenty of drama. And it all plays out against a backdrop of corporate greed as big companies arrive in the area, ready to suck its resources dry and leave the locals fighting to survive. Starzplay, from Sunday

 

Father Soldier Son

Brian Eisch is a decorated third-generation soldier. When he is injured in combat in Afghanistan, he and his sons, Isaac and Joey, have to deal with the challenging changes in their lives. 

Filmed over nearly a decade, this documentary follows Brian Eisch as he and his sons adapt to changes in their lives after he's injured in combat in Afghanistan

Filmed over nearly a decade, this documentary follows Brian Eisch as he and his sons adapt to changes in their lives after he’s injured in combat in Afghanistan

Filmed over nearly a decade, this documentary exploring the nature of masculinity, service and sacrifice is directed by two New York Times journalists. Netflix, from Friday

 

The Hater

Polish director Jan Komasa’s movie won the Best International Narrative Feature award at New York’s respected Tribeca Film Festival earlier this year. As a result, it was snapped up by the streaming giant’s bosses, who felt it had the power to become a cult hit. Now you can see if they were right. 

Polish director Jan Komasa’s movie starring Vanessa Alexander and Maciej Musialowski (above) won the Best International Narrative Feature award at the Tribeca Film Festival

Polish director Jan Komasa’s movie starring Vanessa Alexander and Maciej Musialowski (above) won the Best International Narrative Feature award at the Tribeca Film Festival

The plot focuses on Tomek (Maciej Musialowski), a disgraced law student who is determined to make something of his life – particularly if it enables him to win over his childhood friend Gabi (Vanessa Alexander) and her family. Tomek hopes a job with a PR firm will do the trick, but the amoral activities expected of him in his new role begin to have an unexpected impact on his personality and future. Netflix, available now

 

13th

An astonishing one in three African-American men will be jailed during their lifetime. That’s just one of the shocking statistics in Ava DuVernay’s powerful, Oscar-nominated documentary from 2016 exploring the link between systemic racism and incarceration in the US. 

The video of Eric Garner shouting ‘I can’t breathe’ while being arrested in 2014 is especially harrowing given the last words of George Floyd. As millions have now watched the film to educate themselves about racial inequality, Netflix has also made it available for free via YouTube. Netflix, available now

 

Down To Earth With Zac Efron

In 2019 he graced our screens as the vile serial killer Ted Bundy. This year, Zac Efron has opted for a somewhat lighter role – that of eco-show presenter. The former High School Musical star is on a trip around the world with wellness expert Darin Olien to learn about sustainable living. They’ll be travelling to Puerto Rico, Iceland, Costa Rica, France, Peru, the UK and Sardinia investigating where we get our food, water and power from – ‘putting new perspectives on some very old problems’, as Efron puts it. And by the looks of the trailer, eating well and having a very nice time along the way. Netflix, available now

 

Why is there such a buzz about..? 

Perry Mason (Sky/NOW TV) 

Defence lawyer Perry Mason was originally a character in detective fiction but is now best remembered from the popular TV series that ran from the 1950s until the 1960s. In that show, Mason (Raymond Burr) usually proves a client innocent of the murder with which they were charged – and he often discovers the real perpetrator.

Defence lawyer Perry Mason was originally a character in detective fiction. This noir, Chandler-esque reimagining starring Matthew Rhys is a prequel of sorts

Defence lawyer Perry Mason was originally a character in detective fiction. This noir, Chandler-esque reimagining starring Matthew Rhys is a prequel of sorts

But this noir, Chandler-esque reimagining – a prequel of sorts – is very different and bears the same relationship to the original as, say, Christopher Nolan’s brooding Batman films do to the daft 1960s TV series. It’s set in Los Angeles in 1931. First World War veteran Mason (Matthew Rhys) is a cynical private investigator with a serious drinking habit who sports a permanent five o’clock shadow. He’s eking out a living exposing the sexual shenanigans of Hollywood stars and starlets when he’s hired to investigate the murder of a baby.

Although the series is prefaced with the standard warning ‘Contains scenes some viewers may find distressing’, there was much social-media discussion about whether we really needed to see the dead infant, eyelids gruesomely sewn open. As his investigation progresses, Mason tangles with crooked cops, seedy establishment figures and religious fanatics.

The show looks fantastic – no expense has been spared recreating 1930s LA – and the cast is fabulous, with Shea Whigham as Mason’s sidekick, John Lithgow as the lawyer employing them and Scottish actress Gayle Rankin a standout as the dead child’s mother.

Neil Armstrong 

SKY/NOW TV, BRITBOX & APPLE TV+ 

Das Boot

The German Second World War drama starring Clemens Schick remains one of the most gripping shows around. In the second eight-part series the Gestapo is on the hunt for the French Resistance in La Rochelle, while boozy German submariners brawl and chase women in the port’s fleshpots. 

The German WWII drama starring Clemens Schick (above) remains one of the most gripping shows around. It's morally complex and as viscerally thrilling as the 1981 film that inspired it

The German WWII drama starring Clemens Schick (above) remains one of the most gripping shows around. It’s morally complex and as viscerally thrilling as the 1981 film that inspired it

Meanwhile, beneath the Atlantic a U-boat is on a secret mission that, for once, doesn’t involve attempting to destroy Allied convoys. But is its disillusioned commander about to go rogue? Morally complex and as viscerally thrilling as the revered 1981 film that inspired it. Sky/NOW TV, available now

 

Bafta: Screenwriters’ Lectures

Ever wondered where ideas for top-rated TV series and blockbusting movies come from, and what it takes to transform them from something inside a writer’s head into a fully fledged screenplay? If so, you’re in the right place. Four Weddings And A Funeral’s Richard Curtis, Julian Fellowes, of Downton Abbey fame, and Abi Morgan, creator of The Hour whose credits also include the films Shame and The Iron Lady, can be seen discussing their creative processes in a series of fascinating talks. BritBox, available now

 

Any Human Heart

Sam Claflin, Matthew Macfadyen and Jim Broadbent play the same character at different ages in this gripping adaptation of William Boyd’s much-admired novel. The story begins as 80-something Logan Mountstuart (Broadbent) looks back on his eventful life while reading through his old diaries. 

The tale then jumps between various flashbacks as Logan recalls how his time on Earth has intersected with major historic events and figures. The all-star supporting cast includes Tom Hollander and Gillian Anderson as the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, and Tobias Menzies as Ian Fleming. BritBox from Monday

 

Miracle Workers

The first series was a workplace comedy set in heaven. God (Steve Buscemi) had given up on Earth and had a new project in mind. Low-level angel Craig (Daniel Radcliffe), whose job was to answer prayers, was trying to save the planet. 

The first series was a workplace comedy set in heaven. This time around, it’s the same cast but a new story – set in a cod-medieval era – with Daniel Radcliffe as Prince Chauncley

The first series was a workplace comedy set in heaven. This time around, it’s the same cast but a new story – set in a cod-medieval era – with Daniel Radcliffe as Prince Chauncley

This time around, it’s the same cast but a new story – set in a cod-medieval era – with Radcliffe as Prince Chauncley, a sensitive, artistic lad who is a big disappointment to his violent warlord father, and Buscemi as Eddie, the town’s faeces collector. There’s a Horrible Histories vibe but this is amusing rather than laugh-out-loud funny. Sky/NOW TV, from Monday

 

Little Voice 

Bess King (Brittany O’Grady) is a talented young songwriter who jots down lyrics while doing her job as a New York dog-walker but lacks the confidence to perform her work to an audience. 

Bess King (Brittany O’Grady, above with Colton Ryan) is a talented songwriter who jots down lyrics while working as a dog-walker but lacks the confidence to perform to an audience

Bess King (Brittany O’Grady, above with Colton Ryan) is a talented songwriter who jots down lyrics while working as a dog-walker but lacks the confidence to perform to an audience

Whether you enjoy this coming-of-age story with music will largely depend on your tolerance for a show in which there’s a romantic encounter in the first five minutes, and when the guy asks Bess what one word best sums her up, she spells out ‘Mess’ in Scrabble tiles. We’re not talking kitchen-sink realism here. But stick with it, it’s not all schmaltz and it does get much better. Featuring original music by Sara Bareilles. Apple TV+, available now

 

FILMS

Scoob!

Older parents, brace yourself for changes. Not only can the snack-snaffling hound now talk in full sentences, the animation style has been updated and Dick Dastardly parachuted in from Wacky Races as the villain. But it does all just about work thanks to a strong voice cast led by Will Forte, Zac Efron and Mark Wahlberg. Various platforms, now

A game Rosamund Pike certainly captures radioactivity pioneer Marie Curie’s feisty character in Radioactive but overall this historical biopic disappoints

A game Rosamund Pike certainly captures radioactivity pioneer Marie Curie’s feisty character in Radioactive but overall this historical biopic disappoints

 

Radioactive

A game Rosamund Pike certainly captures radioactivity pioneer Marie Curie’s feisty character, but does so in a film that defies historical biopic convention by jumping between timelines and using distracting screen graphics – and generally blustering its way through the admittedly rather tricky science. Various platforms, now

Matthew Bond 

Carol Vorderman flaunts her eye-popping curves in a camouflage top as she arrives at BBC Radio Wales

Carol Vorderman, 59, flaunts her eye-popping curves in a tight camouflage top as she arrives to present her show on BBC Radio Wales

She’s long been known for her enviable physique.

And Carol Vorderman was proudly displaying her eye-popping curves in a tight camouflage top and jeans as she arrived at BBC Radio Wales on Saturday.

The former Countdown presenter, 59, finished her trendy look with funky pink sunglasses as she headed into the studio.

Stylish: Carol Vorderman, 59, was proudly displaying her eye-popping curves in a tight camouflage top and jeans as she arrived at BBC Radio Wales on Saturday

Carol showcased her iconic curves in a form-fitting camouflage top with a corset effect front, along with casual grey skinny jeans.

The maths guru finished her look with black lace-up boots and a matching leather handbag as she made her arrival.

Opting for a fun twist to her look, Carol accessorised with pink reflective sunglasses as she strutted into the studio to host her Welsh radio show.

Chic: The former Countdown presenter finished her trendy look with funky pink sunglasses as she headed into the studio

Chic: The former Countdown presenter finished her trendy look with funky pink sunglasses as she headed into the studio

Carol has long been known for her amazing curves and peachy posterior, but last month the star admitted she finds it ‘sad’ that people focus on ‘how big my bottom is’ instead of her fruitful career.

In a candid interview, the TV and radio presenter also detailed her romance life, confessing she’s not open to finding love anytime soon as she’s ‘not very good’ at dating. 

‘One of the sad things is that people think I am only ever talking about the way I look. I just choose to pay no attention to it. Instead it’s, “how big is her bottom?”‘, Carol told Platinum magazine.

The host revealed she maintains her size 10 figure with lengthy strolls, three gym sessions a week, and performs approximately 20,000 squats a year.

Gorgeous: Carol proudly showed off her sense of style in her tight camouflage top as she headed into the radio studio

Gorgeous: Carol proudly showed off her sense of style in her tight camouflage top as she headed into the radio studio

Boasting a successful TV career, the media personality, who was the face of Channel 4 competition series Countdown from 1982 until 2008, also stressed the importance of educating children from working class backgrounds. 

‘I got to Cambridge from a comprehensive. That just didn’t happen in the 70s. Now I do a lot of work with kids from a similar background to me. I have my online maths school, I sell I-don’t-know-how-many education books a year.’  

Carol’s last high-profile relationship was with PR consultant Des Kelly, who she dated for five years until December 2006. 

Legendary: She has long been known for her for her amazing curves and peachy posterior, but last month Carol admitted she finds it 'sad' that people focus on 'how big her bottom is'

Legendary: She has long been known for her for her amazing curves and peachy posterior, but last month Carol admitted she finds it ‘sad’ that people focus on ‘how big her bottom is’

Jewish blogger wins start of legal battle against Jeremy Corbyn

Jewish blogger wins first stage of legal battle against Jeremy Corbyn after suing the former Labour leader for claiming he lacked ‘English irony’

  • Richard Millett complained about remarks made by Jeremy Corbyn on the BBC
  • He claims Mr Corbyn defamed him by saying he was ‘disruptive and abusive’ 
  • Mr Corbyn disputes the Jewish blogger’s claim and said it was an ‘opinion’
  • However, a judge concluded today Mr Corbyn’s words were in fact defamatory 

A Jewish blogger has won the first stage of his legal battle against Jeremy Corbyn after suing the ex Labour leader for claiming he lacked ‘English irony’. 

Richard Millett complained about comments made by Mr Corbyn in a BBC television interview with broadcaster Andrew Marr nearly two years ago.

He says Mr Corbyn defamed him by accusing him of being ‘disruptive and abusive’ at a 2013 meeting featuring a Palestinian speaker.

Mr Corbyn disputes Mr Millett’s claims and denies defaming him.

Lawyers representing Mr Millett argued that the allegations were ‘factual’, lawyers representing Mr Corbyn argued that the ‘words conveyed a statement of opinion’. 

Mr Justice Saini, who oversaw a preliminary hearing in June, ruled on Friday that Mr Corbyn was making ‘factual’ allegations ‘as to Mr Millett’s behaviour’, rather than a statement of opinion.

Richard Millett complained about comments made by Jeremy Corbyn, where he said Zionists did not 

Mr Justice Saini had heard that, shortly after a meeting involving the Palestinian speaker, Mr Corbyn, who was then not the Labour leader, had addressed a conference, organised by the Palestinian Return Centre.

Mr Corbyn had said ‘the Zionists’ who had attended the meeting had ‘berated’ the Palestinian speaker.

He had said these ‘Zionists’ did not want to study history and did not understand English irony.

The judge concluded that the ‘words complained of’ referred to Mr Millett and ‘bore a meaning defamatory of Mr Millett’.

He said what had been said suggested ‘conduct falling below the standards expected of citizens in modern British society’. 

Mr Millett’s lawyers argued that to accuse someone of being ‘disruptive and abusive to the degree in issue’ must have ’caused him to have been defamed’.

Mr Millett's lawyers argued that to accuse someone of being 'disruptive and abusive to the degree in issue' must have 'caused him to have been defamed'

Mr Millett’s lawyers argued that to accuse someone of being ‘disruptive and abusive to the degree in issue’ must have ’caused him to have been defamed’

Lawyers representing Mr Corbyn disagreed and argued what had been said did not lower Mr Millett in the ‘estimation of right thinking people’. 

In August 2018, when Mr Corbyn had become leader of the Labour Party, a video of that ‘irony speech’ was made public.

William Bennett QC, who led Mr Millett’s legal team, said there had subsequently been ‘huge publicity’ about ‘the fact that’ Mr Corbyn’s ‘statements during the irony speech’ had been directed at Mr Millett.

Marr had then asked Mr Corbyn about the ‘irony speech’, during an interview on The Andrew Marr Show, in September 2018.

The judge heard how Mr Corbyn had told Marr that he had not been ‘anti-Semitic’.

He said ‘the two people’ had been ‘incredibly disruptive’ and he had accused them of not understanding English irony, because he wanted to defend the Palestinian speaker.

Mr Millett says people who had read media articles saying statements Mr Corbyn made during the ‘irony speech’ were directed at him, would have realised that the Labour leader was referring to him when telling Marr about ‘two people’ who had been ‘incredibly disruptive’.

MPs say BBC’s rush to axe free licences for over-75s is a mess

BBC’s rush to axe free licences for over-75s is a ‘dog’s breakfast’ that will leave many of them scared and confused, warn MPs

  • MPs hit out at BBC’s rush to scrap free TV licences for millions of over-75s 
  • More than three million households who do not get pension credit must now pay
  • Over-75s have been given three weeks’ notice of scheme starting next month

The BBC’s rush to axe free licences for millions of over-75s is a ‘dog’s breakfast’ that will leave many confused and scared, MPs warned last night.

Even though the controversial scheme comes into effect on August 1, many pensioners will not receive a formal letter about what to do until later that month – which is likely to be stressful for many.

The Mail has campaigned against the move, but more than three million households who do not get pension credit must now pay the £157.50 fee.

Over-75s have been given only three weeks’ notice that the scheme begins next month, leaving them little time to plan for the change [File photo]

Conservative MP Andrew Rosindell said: ‘The implementation sounds like a dog’s breakfast. A lot of people are going to be very muddled.’

His Tory colleague Giles Watling, who sits on the Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, said the plan had been ‘poorly handled’, adding: ‘It’s not beyond the wit of man to get this messaging right. It’s creating worry for people who shouldn’t be put in that position.’

Dame Esther Rantzen said the timing of ending free licences for over-75s was ‘insensitive’. Blaming politicians, she called it a ‘slap in the face to older people’.

Over-75s have been given only three weeks’ notice that the scheme begins next month, leaving them little time to plan for the change.

The BBC and TV Licensing, which collects the payments, insist no over-75s need to do anything until they get a letter – but many will be concerned at the lack of information.

The Mail has campaigned against the move, but more than three million households who do not get pension credit must now pay the £157.50 fee. Broadcasting House in London is pictured above

The Mail has campaigned against the move, but more than three million households who do not get pension credit must now pay the £157.50 fee. Broadcasting House in London is pictured above 

Bosses had planned to bring in the changes, which restrict the free TV licences to those over-75s on pension credit, last month. But it delayed the introduction by two months as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, saying it would keep the situation under review.

On Thursday it confirmed August 1 would be the start date. The BBC is desperate to introduce the scheme by then as the two-month delay has already cost it more than £70million.

Age UK charity director Caroline Abrahams said: ‘Making sure that communication to the public happens well in advance and is crystal clear is a prerequisite for the successful introduction of any new scheme, especially when the recipients include many thousands who are ill, physically and mentally, who are in and out of hospital, dying, or living with a partner going through all of this, as is the case with many over-75s.

‘It doesn’t look as though this element has been fully worked through. The likely result is that there will be much confusion as well as concern among some older people, who will worry they have to have done something by the beginning of August or be at fault.

‘Making a big announcement of this kind with less than a month to go, and with many older people still shielding and preoccupied with protecting themselves from the virus, was too much of a rush.

Bosses had planned to bring in the changes, which restrict the free TV licences to those over-75s on pension credit, last month. But it delayed the introduction by two months as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, saying it would keep the situation under review [File photo]

Bosses had planned to bring in the changes, which restrict the free TV licences to those over-75s on pension credit, last month. But it delayed the introduction by two months as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, saying it would keep the situation under review [File photo]

‘If the Government had tried to do this with a benefits scheme it would have been criticised. Nothing could better demonstrate the folly of making our national broadcaster responsible for administering a welfare entitlement which should have remained where it belongs – with Government.’

In the absence of official letters before the start date, some pensioners are expected to seek guidance from TV Licensing’s customer service department, which is operating under a reduced Covid-19 service.

But the BBC said yesterday there would be a separate customer service operation dedicated to helping the over-75s.

TV Licensing said: ‘No one needs to take any immediate action until they hear from us.’