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TV & Film

First Dates barman Merlin Griffiths diagnosed with bowel cancer

He has vowed to not let the disease ‘get the better of me’

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Channel 4

Merlin Griffiths, the popular barman from Channel 4’s dating show First Dates, has revealed that he has been diagnosed with stage three bowel cancer.

Griffiths, who is known best for his cocktails making skills and friendly chit-chat with contestants as they wait for their dates, opened up about his diagnosis last week, noting that he had started experiencing pain back in June.

Speaking to The Mirror, he admitted to initially dismissing the pain, believing it to be caused by an injury he suffered years ago at the age of twenty but, after the pain persisted, he eventually went to get himself seen by professionals.

There, doctors found a 4.5cm stage three tumour which he describes as ‘looking like an alien’. He said on the devastating moment: “I thought, as most people must when they get a diagnosis, ‘Oh f**k, I’ve got cancer’. When I saw my tumour on a screen I could see this big, alien-like fleshy constriction. The doctors said, ‘It looks like a malignant tumour’.

Channel 4

“I knew what that meant – it was still alive and growing. But I was also relieved. I’d spent three months telling doctors something’s wrong. No one could give me an answer until now.

“I also wanted to know, what are my chances of surviving? It’s terrifying – of course I want to live. I’ve shed a tear in private. But you can choose ‘to do’ or ‘not to do’. I chose to lead my life as normal, to stick to the facts about it, and to keep putting one step in front of the other.”

Griffiths also spoke of the difficult moment he broke the news to his wife, Lucile, and their seven-year-old Alix, noting they were both ‘incredibly upset’ but remaining positive of his chances of survival.

He recalled: “I said, ‘Dad’s got cancer’. She said, ‘Is that bad, Dad?’ I said, ‘Yes, it’s very serious but I think it should be okay. Modern medicine’s great and if anything changes I’ll let you know.’

Channel 4

“She understands that people can die but I told her cancer comes in different varieties and in different ways too – and that many people come through it.”

Griffiths has vowed to not be drawn on the deep emotional impact of the diagnosis, saying: “I want to stack the decks in my favour, which means I’m going to remain broadly positive and resilient. I’m just not a whimsical person, I stick to the facts.

“My oncologist said, ‘Your five-year outlook is 75% [chance of survival], but we aim to cure. Obviously that’s a lot lower than I’d want but I have so much faith in medicine and the NHS in this country, which is just so incredible.”

Griffiths has started his first round of chemotherapy and his oncologist hopes to remove the tumour in three months’ time, with more treatment to follow.

Channel 4

Following his diagnosis, he has urged those with bowel concerns to go to the doctor, saying: “I’m not the type to normally, but I knew something wasn’t right. It’s easy, especially with embarrassing cancers, to brush it under the carpet.

“But we must all trust our instincts.If you are worrying about something, then get it checked. I’m keeping that positive outlook, but I’ve a morbid sense of humour. I tell people, ‘I have colorectal cancer… it’s a real pain in the arse!’.”

Despite his health issues, Merlin is still set on filming another First Dates this year, with strict Covid protocols and a room to shield in.

TV & Film

First look at new Channel 4 prison drama written by Killing Eve creator

The series will be based upon Williams’ real-life experience from working in prisons

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Channel 4

Channel 4 has given viewers the first glimpse at their upcoming new prison drama Screw, written by BAFTA nominated writer Rob Williams, one of the masterminds behind Killing Eve.

The new series will throw viewers into grisly mens prison Long Marsh, a place tinged with humour, emotional high stakes and an overwhelming danger for prisoners and officers alike.

Nina Sosanya will take on the role of Leigh, the head of the group of Long Marshes prison officers, who having devoted most of her adult life to the prison appears to have her fair share of dark secrets.

Derry Girls star Jamie-Lee O’Donnell will also play an integral part in the show as street-wise copper Rose.

Making up the team of ‘screws’, there will also be Line of Duty’s Faraz Ayub as Ali, I May Destroy You’s Stephen Wright as Gary, Game of Thrones’ Ron Donachie as Don and King Gary’s Laura Checkley as Jackie.

The series, which is said to have been inspired by writer Rob Williams’ real-life experience from working in prisons, will offer an insight into incarceration rarely seen before on British TV, according to producers.

The series is also said to tackle contemporary stories ‘head-on with through a vibrant and multi layered cast of characters’.

Williams said on his new project: “Screw is a real passion for me; I’ve wanted to write about prisons ever since teaching in that environment in a former life.

“I’ve maintained close links since then and the idea has grown.  After the experience of working with Sarah Brown and her team at STV Studios on The Victim, I wouldn’t want to pursue a project that means so much to me with anybody else.

“I feel very lucky to be working with Channel 4 on the show and I can’t wait to introduce the world of Screw to as wide an audience as possible.”

Screw will air on Channel 4 and E4 in early 2022.

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TV & Film

Corrie teams up with Eastenders and Emmerdale for first ever soap crossover

For the first time ever, characters from Corrie, Emmerdale and Eastenders will be on the same screen…

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ITV & BBC

British soaps will be teaming up in a series of crossover episodes for the first time ever, it has been announced today.

Coronation Street, Emmerdale, EastEnders, Doctors, Holby City and Casualty will all be joining forces in a new week-long storyline that aims to tackle climate change.

The news, that is bound to ruffle the feathers of many die-hard soap fans, was revealed today by TV journalist Sharon Marshall, who appeared on ITV’s This Morning to discuss what the new episodes may look like.

ITV

Talking to hosts Phil and Holly, Sharon explained that the soaps will be coming together to all tell the same story at the same time about climate change. Each soap will film a scene with a climate change reference and then nod to the other, and characters will start to pop up from one soap in another on screen.

For example; a social media video featuring two of Emmerdale’s residents will be shown to Coronation Street characters.Casualty will also be discussed in The Woolpack, and a social media clip from Weatherfield will be chatted about Eastender’s The Queen Vic.

Jane Hudson on behalf of Emmerdale and ITV Studios, said: “Never before have all five soaps and both continuing dramas come together and united in telling one story. And we certainly haven’t seen characters pop up in other shows before.

“This is a real treat for our audience, whilst also allowing us to get across a very important message.”

BBC

Similarly, the head of continuing drama at BBC Studios Kate Oates added: “I’m thrilled that our soaps and serial dramas have all come together to help highlight the issue of climate change amongst our millions of viewers.

“We’re grateful to the teams that made this happen, and hugely look forward to seeing the talent from our own shows popping up in other iconic programmes.”

The new crossover storyline will begin on Monday November 1st.

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TV & Film

Peaky Blinders creator confirms season 6 will be released early next year

The sixth and final season will be returning to our screens very soon…

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Netflix

The creators of Netflix smash hit Peaky Blinders has revealed when we can expect to see the sixth and final season back on our screens.

During a panel at the BFI London Film Festival, Steven Knight said he is hoping for a Spring-time release, which will be sometime between March and May next year.

Knight also teased some further information about the highly-anticipated Peaky Blinders film, saying as per Variety: “And then I am going to write the feature which will be set in and shot in Birmingham… And that will probably be the sort of the end of the road for Peaky Blinders as we know it.”

Netflix

Knight explained that the upcoming film and TV studio and academy in Birmingham he is backing will feature an initiative called ‘Second Unit’ which enables students to get practical and paid experience on productions.

He said: “For too long productions have taken very enthusiastic, very talented young people, and paid them nothing and had them making coffee and running around and doing nothing. It’s a real shame.”

The writer also said that there could be ‘shows related’ to the Peaky Blinders universe, preferring not to use the term spin-offs, something he ‘is not fond of’.

Knight added that production for the movie adaptation of the series is expected to begin in 2023, meaning we can expect a release date the following year.

Netflix

A couple of months ago, the series’ director Anthony Byrne announced that the sixth season was a wrap, sharing a picture from the set on Instagram stating that the cast and crew are ‘Done & Done & Done.’

Throughout the production of the final season, film crews were seen transforming Manchester’s Castlefield into a post-World War One era Birmingham, with several members of the cast – Cillian Murphy included – been seen around the city.

Several wooden scaffolds, market-style props, trader signs, sacks, barrels and more were seen dotted around the area, with the Shelby’s famous ‘The Garrison’ pub being the most notable sight to viewers.

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