Robbie Williams sends parents wild as he stars on CBeebies Bedtime Story

‘This one is for all us mums’: Robbie Williams sends parents wild as he stars on CBeebies Bedtime Story and says his three children Teddy, Charlie and Coco love the episode

He’s a musical icon and looks set to score his thirteenth UK number one album.

But to many, Robbie Williams’ greatest screen triumph will be his CBeebies Bedtime Stories appearance. 

The singer, 45, sent mothers wild as on Monday as he announced that his episode of the popular show, first broadcast in November, is available on the BBC IPlayer.  

Fans: Robbie Williams, 45, sent mothers wild as he appeared on the show reading a story called Jazz Dog by Marie Voigt

Posting the news that his segment, in which he reads Jazz Dog by Marie Voigt, was now available, he said: ‘Calling all parents – check out my #BedtimeStory on @cbeebieshq.’ 

He added of his own children: ‘Teddy, Charlie and Coco approve x’ 

And, perhaps unsurprisingly, a lot of fans admitted they would be watching with or without their children. 

‘Oooh think my babies may be too young to appreciate it but I sure will try – for their benefit of course xx’ wrote one follower in response to the crooner’s post, which garnered nearly six thousand likes in just over an hour. 

Devoted: Robbie said his own children approved and his fans let him know that they would be tuning in with or without their own kids

Devoted: Robbie said his own children approved and his fans let him know that they would be tuning in with or without their own kids

‘Love u that much I may just sit and watch Cbeebies to see this anyway,’ admitted Jessica Connolly while another mother added: ‘This one is for all us mums.’ 

Another fan added, alongside a love heart and wink face emoji: ‘My kids are too old but I’d still tune in just to watch you.’ 

‘There will be a lot of mums listening to the bed time story,’ summarised another.  

Soothing: Posting the news that his segment was now available, he said: 'Calling all parents - check out my #BedtimeStory on @cbeebieshq'

Soothing: Posting the news that his segment was now available, he said: ‘Calling all parents – check out my #BedtimeStory on @cbeebieshq’

In honour of actor Tom Hardy’s 42nd birthday in September, the kids’ channel aired one of the star’s most popular story sessions, sending mums wild in a similar fashion. 

First aired on the channel in 2017, the episode saw the actor looking cosy in a cardigan as he read Ross Collins’ book There’s a Bear on My Chair.

‘My eldest child is 27 today but I’m watching CBeebies tonight alone lol,’ commented one on Facebook, while another added: ‘Thanks for the heads up, I’ll make sure I get home on time and put little man to bed early to watch it’ alongside a winking face emoji.’

Fan favourite: CBeebies aired Tom Hardy's Bedtime Stories appearance in September to celebrate the actor's 42nd birthday and sending fans wild

Fan favourite: CBeebies aired Tom Hardy’s Bedtime Stories appearance in September to celebrate the actor’s 42nd birthday and sending fans wild 

 

 

After her death at 46, we recount the inspirational story of Nell Gifford

She may not have been born to the life of the Big Top. 

But the circus was Nell Gifford’s raison d’etre, the drug that — even when more conventional therapies floundered as breast cancer took hold — kept her spirits up and fuelled her zest for life.

Blonde-haired, full of deep-voiced warmth and exuberance, Nell, 46, was the girl who really did run away to join the circus; deferring a place at Oxford at 18 in favour of joining a U.S. travelling show.

Nell, who shared her farm in Stroud, Gloucestershire for part of each year with her circus coterie, had been told earlier this year that the disease had spread to her bones and lymph nodes and that she had 12 months to live

She adored circus life so much that 19 years ago she co-founded her own with her then-husband, Toti — the eponymously named Giffords Circus, a deliciously traditional affair that captivated audiences with acrobatics, jugglers and most of all, horses, the animals closest to Nell’s heart.

Just three weeks ago she was in France, with her beloved twins Red and Cecil, nine, looking for new horses for next year’s show — an event that will mark the 20th anniversary of the circus she created. 

She was planning a suitable showstopper right up until she died on Sunday, surrounded by her family, immediate and circus.

So much a part of Nell’s life was the circus, that her favoured home was not her beautiful farmhouse but a vintage circus wagon, decorated in deep blues and greens, which she used while touring

So much a part of Nell’s life was the circus, that her favoured home was not her beautiful farmhouse but a vintage circus wagon, decorated in deep blues and greens, which she used while touring

First diagnosed with breast cancer four years ago, Nell, who shared her farm in Stroud, Gloucestershire for part of each year with her circus coterie, had been told earlier this year that the disease had spread to her bones and lymph nodes and that she had 12 months to live.

Upbeat to the last, she promptly continued planning the Giffords summer show, in which she appeared on the back of a white horse, a long blonde wig hiding her cropped hair (she lost it three times with the bouts of chemotherapy she endured).

‘Cancer is boring,’ Nell would tell visitors. She was, nevertheless, always open about the disease that kept coming back for more.

Even her twins — conceived via IVF — knew what their mother was facing. 

‘It’s a lot for the children to take on, but if they didn’t know, they wouldn’t be processing it, and they will have to sometime,’ she said in an interview in the summer.

Nell did offer a glimpse of her inner turmoil, in a short interview with the BBC last month. 

‘Sometimes I get really scared and I think: ‘God, I’m going to die really soon and I’m not going to see the children get married.’ Sometimes I cry and feel really lonely and really bleak and think why is this happening to me . . .’

The circus buoyed her up — as it always had.

‘It’s a support system, I’m the happiest I am here on the show,’ she said. 

‘It probably props me up more than I prop it up. In the most calamitous times it’s been what I’ve turned to and what’s contained me and where I’ve felt safe. It’s the community, being by the horses; knowing you have your tribe; it’s cool.’

Upbeat to the last, she promptly continued planning the Giffords summer show, in which she appeared on the back of a white horse, a long blonde wig hiding her cropped hair (she lost it three times with the bouts of chemotherapy she endured)

Upbeat to the last, she promptly continued planning the Giffords summer show, in which she appeared on the back of a white horse, a long blonde wig hiding her cropped hair (she lost it three times with the bouts of chemotherapy she endured) 

Hardly surprising that the circus — in all its riotous, retro joy (Animal welfare officials once came calling after reports of a brown bear performing, only to discover it was a performer in costume) would be such a lifeline for Nell.

Growing up in Wiltshire, Nell’s childhood was blissfully Bohemian. Her father, Rick Stroud, was a television director and she lived with younger sister Clover and three half-siblings from her mother Charlotte’s first marriage, including the ceramicist Emma Bridgewater.

Nell was the ‘dramatic’ one in the family, breaking bones riding ponies, keeping a menagerie of rescued animals and flirting with dreams of being a monkey trainer.

Then, when she was 18 life was turned on its head when Charlotte fell from her horse, suffering a severe brain injury that left her in a coma for months and permanently brain damaged.

She died in 2014, having required nursing care for the rest of her life, and later Nell would say that her mother was lost on the day of the accident.

‘She went from a bright, energetic, hospitable person, with lots of friends and children, to a walking shell.’

Blonde-haired, full of deep-voiced warmth and exuberance, Nell, 46, was the girl who really did run away to join the circus; deferring a place at Oxford at 18 in favour of joining a U.S. travelling show

Blonde-haired, full of deep-voiced warmth and exuberance, Nell, 46, was the girl who really did run away to join the circus; deferring a place at Oxford at 18 in favour of joining a U.S. travelling show

Some teenagers would crumble or cling to home in the midst of such devastating upheaval. 

Nell — at her older half-brother’s suggestion — joined the circus. (His wife’s family owned it.)

‘I loved the visual elements,’ she would later say. ‘The tents, the sawdust, the elephants but, most of all, I loved the fact that it was really quite orderly.

‘My own family life had been railroaded by the accident. To walk suddenly into this complex world, which was all about families, was just great.’

Later, she would write about her time there in her first book, Josser: The Secret Life Of A Circus Girl. A ‘josser’ is a person from the outside world, who isn’t born into the circus. She was also intoxicated by the culture, ‘the multilingual travelling feel’. 

Nell flirted with conventionality and returned to complete an English degree at New College, Oxford, but on graduating it was the circus that called: her first job was selling popcorn for the Chinese State Circus.

She drove elephants, rode horses, donned a top hat and tails as the ring-mistress, but also put in the hard graft. 

‘Behind the scenes I was also driving lorries, swinging sledge hammers and raking sawdust,’ she wrote.

‘Struggling through mud in the middle of the night, my throat burning with the fumes of elephant pee wasn’t exactly what I had in mind.’

In 1999, she married landscape gardener Toti Gifford, who she had met on a friend’s farm the same year. They immediately decided to start their own circus.

There was an incentive to get things moving quickly, in the shape of the Hay-on-Wye Literary Festival; Nell had persuaded organisers to book Giffords Circus even though it barely existed. 

The couple spent every last penny pulling a spectacle together and the show went ahead to sell-out performances and great acclaim.

The twins were born in 2010 and seamlessly slid into the fabric of the circus (performers like their mother, they sometimes appear in the show).

So much a part of Nell’s life was the circus, that her favoured home was not her beautiful farmhouse but a vintage circus wagon, decorated in deep blues and greens, which she used while touring. 

Nell flirted with conventionality and returned to complete an English degree at New College, Oxford, but on graduating it was the circus that called: her first job was selling popcorn for the Chinese State Circus

Nell flirted with conventionality and returned to complete an English degree at New College, Oxford, but on graduating it was the circus that called: her first job was selling popcorn for the Chinese State Circus

Endlessly creative, she published her own memoirs and a children’s book, sewed costumes and was often sketching or painting.

Then, in 2015, came the discovery of the first lump in her breast. Nell was struggling with the breakdown of her marriage at the time.

After a year’s remission, she developed the same cancer in her right breast, then in January this year came the shock of learning it had spread.

Ever the optimist, she said: ‘I’ve had lots of really heavy diagnoses, which each times makes you stagger, and you think you’re going to collapse because there is just no way to process it.

‘For me, that mental turmoil lasts about two weeks. Then you get more information and develop more understanding, and within a few weeks, the world stops spinning and I get control back.’

Her Instagram page is peppered with videos about treatment, staying positive and, recently, the ‘relentless rollercoaster of health’.

She once said her motto was ‘take things to the extreme’. ‘Push your ideas as far as possible, you cannot overdo things. The most far-out ideas very rarely seem that bold when you put them into practice.’

A Giffords Circus spokesman said yesterday: ‘It is with broken hearts that we announce the death of Nell — the co-founder, driving force and visionary behind our circus.

‘We know many tears will be falling as Nell touched so many hearts. Her vision for Giffords Circus was to bring happiness, imagination and enliven people’s souls.

‘Giffords Circus shall continue to do just that. Whilst the world is a dimmer place today, Nell will continue to live through the circus.’

She may have been a ‘josser’, but to anyone who watched and loved one of her circus spectaculars, Nell Gifford represented everything there is to love about the big top.

The X Factor: The Band: Viewers claim new show is ripping off Popstars

The X Factor: The Band viewers poked fun at the new show’s ‘scaled-back’ format as judges Simon Cowell and Nicole Scherzinger kicked off the first round of auditions in his office on Monday’s opening episode.

Social media users claimed the competition took inspiration from 2002’s Popstars: The Rivals, which saw female band Girls Aloud and male group One True Voice win the spin-off series.

The music mogul’s latest talent show – which is direct competition to Little Mix‘s 2020 series The Search – featured a range of aspiring singers eager to land a position in the next big supergroups, including students, an Instagram influencer, and even a reality star.

Scaled back: The X Factor: The Band viewers poked fun at the new show’s format as Simon Cowell and Nicole Scherzinger kicked off auditions in his office on Monday’s opening episode

Alongside Simon, 60, and Nicole, 41, the initial round boasted appearances from DJ Naughty Boy, songwriter Carla Williams and producers Lil’ Eddie and Fred Ball. 

The group ditched the country’s biggest arenas and stadiums in favour of the media personality’s moderate office at Sony HQ in London, and fans were left amused at the contrast between the new series and the show’s main edition.

One wrote: ‘ #XFactorTheBand Why is this on? They’re going back to the Pop Idol rivals days. It didn’t last then, it won’t now. Find something new pleeeeeease!’ [sic]

Another added: ‘I feel like I’m watching pop idol from 2001 #XFactorTheBand.’ [sic] 

Tough competition: Contestant Kelli-Marie Willis, 17, blew the judges away as she sang her original song Asta La Vista in the mogul's office, which featured sofas and a portrait of himself

Tough competition: Contestant Kelli-Marie Willis, 17, blew the judges away as she sang her original song Asta La Vista in the mogul’s office, which featured sofas and a portrait of himself

Low-key: The group ditched the country's biggest arenas and stadiums in favour of the media personality's moderate office at Sony HQ in London

Low-key: The group ditched the country’s biggest arenas and stadiums in favour of the media personality’s moderate office at Sony HQ in London

Similar: Social media users claimed the show took inspiration from 2002's Popstars: The Rivals (judges Pete Waterman, Geri Halliwell and Louis Walsh pictured on the show)

Similar: Social media users claimed the show took inspiration from 2002’s Popstars: The Rivals (judges Pete Waterman, Geri Halliwell and Louis Walsh pictured on the show)

Star-studded: Alongside Simon, 60, and Nicole, 41, the initial round boasted appearances from DJ Naughty Boy, songwriter Carla Williams and producers Lil’ Eddie and Fred Ball

Star-studded: Alongside Simon, 60, and Nicole, 41, the initial round boasted appearances from DJ Naughty Boy, songwriter Carla Williams and producers Lil’ Eddie and Fred Ball

A third quipped: ‘Isn’t this just Pop Stars the Rivals just watered down #XFactorTheBand’. 

‘They’re totally ripping off pop stars the rivals…. who owned that format?! Ha #XFactorTheBand’, a viewer claimed.

Another added: ‘Not gonna lie but the format does feel very much like Popstars (The Rivals) which is interesting because didn’t #XFactor get in trouble for being too much like Pop Idol back when it first started #XFactorTheBand.’

A cheeky fan joked: ‘X Factor Celebrity, come back, all is forgiven. #XFactorTheBand #XFactor.’ 

Others insisted they enjoyed the more low-key arrangement of the show as they tweeted: ‘I’m liking this audition format. Showing it a bit more true to life in his office. Having industry experts involved on the sidelines is a good choice too #XFactorTheBand.’ 

Another shared: ‘I actually really like this back to basics scaled down version. Will be really interesting to see how it fares on a weekday timeslot #XFactorTheBand.’

‘The room setting, the stamped piece of paper, family waiting outside watching on screens… it feels very American Idol/early X Factor… and I like that format. This could have been made into a pretty good series, but 4 days isn’t enough. It’s messy & rushed. #XFactorTheBand’, a third shared.

A fourth explained: ‘The format for #XFactorTheBand is actually pretty good, as of now anyway. Although, the reception scenes are unnecessary it works for The Greatest Dancer but not #XFactor.’ 

'Isn't this just Pop Stars just watered down?' Fans were left amused at the contrast between the new series and the show's main edition

‘Isn’t this just Pop Stars just watered down?’ Fans were left amused at the contrast between the new series and the show’s main edition

Telling his team of music experts what he’s looking for, Simon opened the show by declaring: ‘We’re looking with people with personality, humour, a sense of where they are going… we’re not looking for puppets.’

First up was Fred Roberts, 17, who gave the audition his all in a bid to become the next Harry Styles.

The Hertfordshire native wowed music mogul Simon and Pussycat Doll star Nicole by singing Treat You Better by Shawn Mendes.   

BGT star Simon praised: ‘I have a real issue with an image that they think want, you genuinely came in as yourself. You remind me of Harry Styles when he first auditioned, this is a no-brainer… a yes from me!’  

Not holding back: Social media users continued to share their honest thoughts on the debut episode

Not holding back: Social media users continued to share their honest thoughts on the debut episode 

Social media influencer Rosie Bragg, 18, was the first female contestant to audition, who admitted she felt pressured as she belted Rihanna’s Love on the Brain in front of the song’s writer Fred Ball.

Overwhelmed with emotion, Simon told the contestant: ‘I saw Fred’s goosebumps from here! Your image is what we see on Instagram all the time… you don’t need to come with an image. I have to give this yes or no to Fred.’

As Fred sent Rosie sent through to the next round, the Buttons hitmaker enthused: ‘You’re beautiful with a beautiful voice, I can see you in one of these groups.’

With the first two contestants landing a position in the next round, Sven Smith, 22, Moe Jamie, 23, and Tia Urquhart, 20, unfortunately didn’t advance past the audition stage. 

'I actually really like this': Others insisted they enjoyed the more low-key arrangement of the show

‘I actually really like this’: Others insisted they enjoyed the more low-key arrangement of the show

Bringing a sense of hip-hop to the show, The Lewis Sisters, aged 21 and 17, raised the roof with their own track, The Beat Goes.

A range of hopefuls – including Reece Wiltshire, Seorsia Leagh Jack, and Adam Moloney are also set to perform in front of thousands at an arena in Birmingham.  

Coventry native Kelli-Marie Willis, 17, was a stand-out performer as she blew the judges away with her original song Asta La Vista. 

Essex singer Virginia Hampson, 17, was sent away to refine her vocal talent after her rendition of Ariana Grande’s Problem hit a bum note, and was eventually sent to the next round as she returned to sing Say You’ll be There by The Spice Girls.

Viewers also saw a surprise appearance from Celebs Go Dating star Tallia Storm, 21, who sang her own single Break It. 

Despite boasting a joint performance with Elton John at the age of 13, Tallia struggled to impress Nicole and Simon during her audition, but the duo stamped her audition paper and gave her a second chance. 

Both Little Mix and One Direction were put together on the show during the bootcamp stage, having all auditioned as solo artists.

One Direction, who placed third on the 2010 edition of the programme, are The X Factor’s most successful contestants to date, with a total of 65 million records worldwide.

The boys – Harry, Niall Horan, Liam Payne and Louis Tomlinson – went on an indefinite hiatus in 2016, less than a year after Zayn Malik left the band.

Little Mix are the only band to have ever won the show, taking home the title in 2011, and are have become one of the biggest selling girl bands ever.

The girls – Perrie Edwards, Leigh-Anne Pinnock, Jade Thirlwall and Jesy Nelson – have amassed estimated sales of over 50 million albums and singles. 

US group Fifth Harmony were formed by Simon in 2012, but split in May 2018, two years after lead singer Camila Cabello quit.

JLS – formed of Marvin Humes, Ortisé Williams, JB Gill and Aston Merrygold – came second to Alexandra Burke in 2008 and had five number one singles and sales of 6.5 million before their split in 2013.

Simon decided to axe the X Factor All Stars series ITV planned to launch this month, featuring ex-winners such as Leona and Alexandra Burke.

The show is direct competition for Little Mix’s BBC1 show The Search, which will launch in early 2020.

Simon, who no longer represents Little Mix because of a feud with their managers, told The Sun he came up with the concept for the new show first.

He claimed: ‘I was approached to co-produce that show last year by Little Mix’s management.

‘I told them the problem was we have a conflict of interest because we are launching X Factor The Band in 2020. We were told their show was going to launch in 2021.

‘Then we had the fallout and find out Little Mix were bringing their show forward. Was that intentional because we are doing our show? I have no idea.’ 

Arlene Foster warns Boris Johnson he may NOT be able to count on DUP support

‘Once bitten twice shy’: Arlene Foster warns Boris Johnson he may not be able to count on DUP support after the election as she demands written guarantees there will not be customs checks between the UK and Northern Ireland after Brexit

  • Arlene Foster said the DUP is still opposed to the Prime Minister’s Brexit deal
  • Ms Foster suggested DUP needs written guarantees on customs arrangements
  • Mr Johnson has insisted ‘there’s no question of there being checks on goods’
  • But Ms Foster said words were not enough with her party ‘once bitten twice shy’ 

Arlene Foster has warned Boris Johnson he may not be able to count on the DUP’s support unless he provides them with cast iron guarantees there will not be customs checks between the UK and Northern Ireland after Brexit.  

Mr Johnson said yesterday that ‘there’s no question of there being checks on goods’ travelling between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK or the other way around. 

But there is growing confusion over whether that would be the case with suggestions that the Prime Minister’s Brexit deal would see checks carried out on goods travelling from Great Britain to Northern Ireland. 

Ms Foster said today her party would continue to oppose the premier’s divorce accord as she said Mr Johnson’s statements were not enough to win the DUP’s support. 

She suggested her party would need something in writing to confirm Mr Johnson’s claims before it would consider backing another Tory government as she accused the PM of breaking his word on Brexit.  

Arlene Foster, the leader of the DUP pictured in Belfast last Friday, has warned Boris Johnson he cannot count on her party’s support after the election

Mr Johnson had stood alongside the DUP leadership at the Conservative Party’s annual conference in October and stressed the importance of the Union. 

But the DUP believe Mr Johnson effectively sacrificed the Union in order to secure a deal with Brussels which the party believes will see Northern Ireland treated differently to the rest of the UK. 

Asked this morning if she would take Mr Johnson at his word, Ms Foster told the BBC: ‘I think once bitten twice shy we will certainly be looking for the detail of what this is going to look like. 

‘That is why in the week leading up to the deal we were engaged with trade officials, we were engaged with officials from Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs to make sure that what was being said was actually factually correct. 

‘We will continue to do that.’

Opinion polls suggest Mr Johnson is on course to win a majority at the general election on Thursday. 

But should the polls narrow and the PM fail to win a majority then the DUP and its likely handful of MPs could be key to whether he is able to stay in power. 

But as it stands the party is adamant that it cannot support Mr Johnson’s Brexit agreement.    

Ms Foster said: ‘It is very important for us in Northern Ireland not just to have the word but to have the detail. 

‘We want to see the detail. We did see the detail of that week when we spoke to HMRC officials and they said that this would be what would happen, that there would be checks between the mainland and Northern Ireland, something which will cause economic instability in Northern Ireland which will lead to higher costs for retailers, which will lead to less choice for our consumers in Northern Ireland. 

Mr Johnson, pictured at a fish market in Grimsby today, has insisted there would not be checks on goods travelling between GB and Northern Ireland after Brexit

Mr Johnson, pictured at a fish market in Grimsby today, has insisted there would not be checks on goods travelling between GB and Northern Ireland after Brexit 

‘All of that leads me to say that we need to, after this election is over, and I am not prejudging the election in any one way, every vote will count, but what is important is that we have a strong team of DUP MPs back in Westminster to speak up for Northern Ireland. 

‘Because in the event of a hung Parliament or in the event even of a small majority for a Conservative leader we will be wanting clarity and we will be wanting to make sure that we deal with this customs issue.’

It came as a leaked government document suggested delivering the customs arrangements related to Northern Ireland’s post-Brexit relationship with the UK by December 2020 would be a ‘major challenge’. 

Nervous investors pull almost £100m from property funds in two days

Nervous investors pull almost £100m from property funds in two days after M&G suspension

Nervous investors pulled out almost £100million from property funds in just two days after the suspension of the UK’s biggest commercial property fund, it has emerged.

Savers were locked out of the £2.5billion M&G Property Portfolio last Wednesday after it was unable to raise cash quickly enough by selling property to repay investors rushing for the exit.

The knock-on effect saw panicked investors pull £61million on Thursday and £36million on Friday from similar funds, financial technology firm Calastone said.

After savers were locked out of the £2.5bn M&G Property Portfolio last Wednesday, panicked investors pulled £61m on Thursday and £36m on Friday from similar funds

Last Thursday marked the biggest day for outflows in the commercial property sector so far this year. 

The figures will stoke fears that other property funds could also be suspended. 

Withdrawals have ballooned this year as property values have been battered by plunging visitor numbers to bricks and mortar shops, as well as uncertainty caused by Brexit and the General Election.

Edward Glyn of Calastone said fears of further suspensions were likely to be stoking withdrawals from other funds at the moment.