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Extinction Rebellion Heathrow activist in court over drone plan

Roger Hallam

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Extinction Rebellion organiser Roger Hallam is charged with conspiring to cause a public nuisance

An Extinction Rebellion co-founder has appeared in court charged with attempting to cause disruption at Heathrow airport using a drone.

Roger Hallam, 53, who declared Heathrow expansion “a crime against humanity”, was arrested on Saturday.

He was applauded by a group of supporters as he entered the dock at Uxbridge Magistrates’ Court on Monday.

Mr Hallam faces one charge of conspiring to cause a public nuisance between 1 August and 14 September.

The charge relates to a plan to fly drones near Heathrow airport “in order to cause widespread disruption”.

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Activists are accused of planning to fly drones within the exclusion zone at Heathrow Airport

The action was part of ongoing protest activity by environmental campaign group Extinction Rebellion (XR).

A splinter group of XR, called Heathrow Pause, had threatened to interrupt flights by flying drones within the 5km exclusion zone around the airport.

Asked if he would like to say anything, Mr Hallam, of Putney Bridge Road, Wandsworth, told the court: “Heathrow expansion constitutes a crime against humanity, against the next generation.”

He was remanded in custody to appear at Isleworth Crown Court on 14 October.

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Fulham v West Bromwich Albion

Aleksandar Mitrovic has scored eight goals in eight appearances for Fulham and Serbia this season

Fulham will be without midfielder Harry Arter after he was sent off in the draw at Cardiff, so Stefan Johansen could come into the starting XI.

Striker Aleksandar Mitrovic is looking to score for the eighth successive game for club and country.

Unbeaten West Bromwich Albion will make a decision on Kieran Gibbs (groin) following his return to training.

Boss Slaven Bilic may bring in Kenneth Zohore up front for Charlie Austin, who is yet to score in the league.

But Bilic says it is still too early for Egypt defender Ahmed Hegazi, who has not played since his ankle operation after the African Cup of Nations.

Match facts

  • Fulham are unbeaten in their last seven league games against West Bromwich Albiob, although this is their first Premier League meeting since February 2014.
  • Albion are winless in each of their last 15 league trips to Fulham since a 2-1 victory in October 1967, when Jeff Astle and Tony ‘Bomber’ Brown scored the goals.
  • Fulham have put together 126 sequences of 10 or more passes in open play this season – 47 more than any other Championship team.
  • The Baggies have won the most points from losing positions in the Championship this season (11). The Baggies have gone behind in five of their six games and lost none.
  • The two teams to complete the most successful passes in the opposition half this season are Fulham (1,347) and West Brom (1,308).
  • Grady Diangana’s three Championship goals this season for Albion have been worth five points. No Championship player has won more points for their team this season.

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Super League: London, Hull KR, Huddersfield and Wakefield prepared for relegation fight

After 28 regular season games, Wakefield, Huddersfield, Hull KR and London Broncos have just one match left to secure their Super League status for another year

A social media blackout, a “crazy amount of belief” and a “table that does not lie” – welcome to the closest Super League relegation fight ever.

Four clubs, equal on points with one game to go, are all at risk of the drop.

One coach has simply labelled “the ramifications” of the do-or-die night on Friday the 13th as “destructive”.

BBC Sport looks at how Wakefield and London, two sides that face each other in a relegation showdown, as well as Huddersfield and Hull KR are dealing with the biggest week of their season.

How they line up on ‘fright night’

‘No need to ram message down players’ throats’

A social media blackout has been imposed on Wakefield’s players as head coach Chris Chester tries to get them to focus on the game and not its consequences.

“The players know enormity of what is at stake on Friday night,” he told BBC Radio Leeds.

“The social media blackout is to take pressure away from them and have them solely focused on getting a result.

“It (relegation) has not been discussed. They don’t need me ramming it down their throats.

“The one thing the guys will be on Friday is ready.”

A boost for Wakefield, who have struggled for long periods with an injury-hit squad, is that 33-year-old England centre Ryan Atkins is due to make his long-awaited return.

Atkins, who started his career with Trinity in 2006 before going on to spent a decade at Warrington, was to complete his more next season but Trinity brought his switch forward.

“He’s been a real positive influence on the group for the last three or four weeks since he’s been here,” Chester said. “He’s played in all the big games and knows what to say.”

What it will take to stay up? Wakefield’s home game against London Broncos has been billed as a relegation showdown, and victory certainly means Wakefield stay in Super League. If London beat Wakefield for the third time this season, then Trinity would go down if both Huddersfield or Hull KR win.

So, how do Wakefield find themselves facing the drop?

BBC rugby league reporter Matt Newsum

“Injuries have been the crux of Wakefield’s struggles against the drop, robbing Chester’s side of several major performers like prolific winger Tom Johnstone for pretty much the whole season, prop David Fifita for large chunks and as well as influential back-rower Tinirau Arona at a key time.

“Injuries have not helped their loss of form, with an alarming late-season slump remaining a concern for Chester – who at least acquired smart loan signings such as Morgan Escare for the run-in.”

‘An absolute write-off of a season’

A 48-16 defeat by league leaders St Helens a week earlier leaves Huddersfield fighting to avoid the drop in the final round

England winger Jermaine McGillvary said the players take responsibility for the relegation trouble Huddersfield Giants finds themselves in.

The winger said they “need to stand up and be counted” when they host Catalans Dragons, a side they have failed to beat in their last three meetings.

“The table doesn’t lie, we deserve to be where we are,” McGillvary said.

“I’m not sulking because I think we deserve to be higher, we have been shocking all year. The season has been an absolute write-off regardless of what happens.

“Everyone is hurting, not just the players but staff, fans and everyone involved. It’s all our, the playing staff’s, fault.”

The “positive”, the long-serving Giants winger added, is that they remain in control of their destiny.

“There are three other teams in the situation as well and it is still in our own hands,” he said.

“If we get a win against Catalans we stay up. It is all down to us.”

What it will take to stay up? A win at home against Catalans Dragons, a side who have nothing to play for, assures survival. Defeats for London or Hull KR will also mean they are safe – even if they fail to triumph themselves.

They cannot afford to lose by 13 or more points than Rovers, as that would swing their points difference.

What’s been behind Huddersfield’s woes, leaving them third from bottom and in real danger of relegation after 28 games?

BBC rugby league reporter Matt Newsum

“Huddersfield lost key playmaker Danny Brough last winter – coincidentally to Wakefield – and their chopping and changing in the halves since has not helped their attacking rhythm.

“They have one of the best wingers in the competition in McGillvary, who has again stood up with 16 tries, but it is defensively where Giants have struggled – conceding second most points in the league. Injuries have also hampered the Giants, limiting the outings for powerful forwards such as Joe Wardle and Seb Ikahihifo.”

‘Relegation causes destruction’

Former England and Great Britain coach Tony Smith took the job at Hull KR in June

Hull KR boss Tony Smith has refused to let his players get paralysed by fear as they try secure the club’s Super League status with a trip to play-off-bound Salford Red Devils.

A late Jay Pitts try for London in their 20-16 win against Rovers a week earlier set up the final-night drama for the four clubs, when a Broncos defeat would have relegated them and spared Smith’s men as well as Huddersfield and Wakefield.

“We understand the ramifications of this week, as we understood the ramifications of last week,” he told BBC Radio Humberside.

“It is not being taken lightly but we are not going to sit around an worry about things when we have to take them into our own hands.

“The best way to do things is in a positive manner, with a smile on your face and looking forward to the challenge rather than feel like the pressure is getting to us.”

Smith, who suffered relegation in his first season as coach in Britain with Huddersfield in 2001, said the drop would “cause destruction”.

“It can hurt, and hurt clubs for many years,” he said.

“We are determined to get things great here over the next few years and we will regardless of which competition, but we certainly want to be in Super League and have that as our starting position.”

What it will take to stay up? Stopping Salford’s seven-game winning run is a good place to start. If they upset the form guide in Greater Manchester they survive. But they could still lose and stay up, even if bottom club London Broncos win. That would involve Huddersfield losing at home to Catalans by 13 points more.

But why, with one of Super League’s leading coaches, are Hull KR dicing with relegation?

BBC rugby league reporter Matt Newsum

“Hull Kingston Rovers gambled on sacking veteran super coach Tim Sheens and bringing in Tony Smith, who has eked out some impressive results since arriving. Inconsistency, however, has plagued them.

“A bit like their city neighbours, you never know what to expect. Danny McGuire’s brains and guile work when the pack is firing, and the Robins are certainly capable if scoring points but as recent defeats from winning positions by relegation rivals Huddersfield and London show, they can struggle to finish teams off – and that lack of ruthlessness has cost them.”

Broncos ‘know’ they can survive

London won promotion from the Championship just 11 months ago by upstaging favourites Toronto in the Million Pound Game and their win at Hull KR last week was celebrated with equal gusto

Half-back Brock Lamb flew in to London to aide in their salvation – the former Newcastle Knights and Sydney Roosters play-maker just wishes he could have made it to the UK capital sooner.

The 22-year-old says the Broncos, the club with Super League’s smallest budget which has tried to stay in the top flight by keeping the promotion-winning side together, have quickly become “family”.

Resilience has been the hallmark of their campaign, and the 20-16 win over Hull KR to set up the desperate relegation situation on Friday night is the finest example of how they have defied the odds this season.

“The belief in the side at the moment is crazy,” Lamb told BBC Radio London. “It is a good squad and we just want to win.

“It is the last time this team will ever play together. We have people leaving and some staying. We want to send them out with a bang and hopefully stay up to do it for the club and the fans.

“I wish I had come here earlier so I could have experienced it from the start. It has been awesome in the last six weeks because everybody just believes. We have had a few poor games but the next training day everyone is ready to rip in again. Everyone knows we can do it.”

What it will take to stay up? Beating relegation rivals Wakefield in West Yorkshire is realistically the only thing that will keep London Broncos from making an immediate return to the Championship.

They were tipped to be easy pickings in Super League this season, but will London really escape relegation?

BBC rugby league reporter Matt Newsum

“London Broncos were barely expected to win a game this season let alone be in with a shout of survival. While they have shipped plenty of points, they have remained pretty competitive.

“They are not the biggest, or strongest, but they have won games and hurt teams by out-enthusing opponents, smothering them with aggressive line speed and then hitting them with quick breaks from a pacy back-line.

“Their fans have stuck with them, there is some pride in how their ‘behind-the-eight-ball’ side has got accustomed to Super League given their unexpected promotion.

“Unlike their fellow strugglers, they will not be dreading the end-of-season review, whatever happens. They have also recruited smartly for an end-of-season boost, as ex-Newcastle Knights and Sydney Roosters half-back Brock Lamb has already formed a smart understanding with lock Luke Yates – his former Knights team-mate.”

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Labour’s Harriet Harman to run for Commons Speaker

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Media captionHarriet Harman told Today she will run to become the next Commons Speaker

Harriet Harman has confirmed she will run to become the next Commons Speaker.

The Labour MP and Mother of the House – the longest continuously-serving female MP – made the announcement after the current Speaker, John Bercow, said he would stand down by 31 October.

Ms Harman told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme it was the Speaker’s job “to ensure Parliament can have its say”.

Other MPs intending to stand include Tory Sir Edward Leigh and the SNP’s Pete Wishart.

Ms Harman – who is known for her campaigning on women’s rights – said the next Speaker must be “scrupulously neutral” on debates, and praised Mr Bercow.

She told Today: “This is a Parliament in very difficult times. We have got very divided times in the country and Parliament itself is divided.

“I think what Parliament has to do, and the Speaker has to do, is to ensure that Parliament can have its say… and that is what John Bercow has sought to do.”

Asked if she would be able to remain neutral in the chair, Ms Harman said: “Once you offer yourself for election as Speaker, you are making a promise you will set [your party] aside and be neutral, so whoever [is Speaker] will have to go through that transition.

“I would be a champion for Parliament.

“I think the relationship between Parliament and public is very difficult at the moment, and I think a really confident, positive voice speaking about the importance of Parliament with the public is necessary at this time.”

Who is Harriet Harman?

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Harriet Harman on the campaign trail in 1982 with then shadow home secretary Roy Hattersley

Harriet Harman became the MP for Peckham (later Camberwell and Peckham) during a by-election in 1982 and has remained in her seat ever since.

She went to the exclusive St Paul’s Girls’ School in London and read politics at York University, before training as a solicitor.

She was rapidly promoted during Labour’s years in opposition in the 1980s and 1990s, before becoming Tony Blair’s secretary of state for social security and minister for women.

Despite being sacked over welfare reform, she returned to government in 2001 as solicitor general, then secretary of state at the department for constitutional affairs, and, under Gordon Brown, became deputy leader.

She has a reputation as a steely feminist, once joking she was unlikely to become prime minister as there was not enough space at airports for the men who would try to leave the country.

She is married to fellow Labour MP Jack Dromey and has three children.

The news comes after Mr Bercow announced he would be standing down as Speaker at the next general election, or at the end of business on 31 October (Brexit deadline day) – whichever comes first.

In an emotional speech to the Commons, Mr Bercow said his 10-year “tenure” was nearing its end and it had been the “greatest honour and privilege” to serve.

He has faced fierce criticism from Brexiteers, who have questioned his impartiality on the issue of Europe and claim he has facilitated efforts by MPs opposed to a no-deal exit to take control of Commons business.

He has also been criticised for not doing more to tackle allegations of bullying and harassment in the House of Commons – facing accusations himself about mistreating several members of his own staff, which he denies.

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Media captionIn full: Speaker Bercow announces resignation

Who else is running to be the next Speaker?

Harriet Harman is not the only one to put her name forward to become the next Speaker of the Commons when Mr Bercow steps down.

So who are the other candidates?

Sir Edward Leigh – Conservative MP for Gainsborough since 1983

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Sir Edward became the first MP to explicitly make a pitch to be the next Speaker, releasing a statement and a series of tweets on 25 April 2019.

He said he intended to stand when the vacancy comes up, saying that he would be “a traditional speaker who does not speak much”.

He added: “Like a judge I would, by my conduct and dress, submerge my personality into the office. I would be rigidly impartial.”

Chris Bryant – Labour MP for Rhondda since 2001

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Labour Party

As a parliamentary historian, Mr Bryant has often been touted as a future Speaker.

He wrote a three-volume biography of Parliament and often makes procedural points in Commons debates.

He announced his intention to run in The House magazine on 15 April 2019, but his pitch was slightly less conservative than Sir Edward’s.

He said he would not “belittle or diminish or lecture MPs”, but be “authoritative enough… to command respect”.

Eleanor Laing – Deputy Speaker and Conservative MP for Epping Forest since 1997

Ms Laing has been one of the three deputy speakers since 2013.

She revealed her intention on 28 February 2018, also in The House magazine, saying she would try for Speaker when Mr Bercow “finally decides to go”.

She said: “I am fortunate to have had five years’ experience in the Speaker’s chair. There is a lot to be done to take our democratic system onto the next stage.”

She has also talked about her desire to make Parliament more representative, particularly in its representation of mothers.

Pete Wishart – SNP MP for Tayside since 2001, then Perth and North Perthshire since 2005

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UK Parliament

Mr Wishart followed in Sir Edward’s footsteps to make his announcement on Twitter, but with a manifesto to bring “the Commons into the 21st century”.

His pledges include electronic voting, to allow MPs to wear what they like to the Commons and to stop using “honourable member” and “right honourable member” to address people.

He also wants Parliament to move around the UK, rather than just staying put in Westminster.

Lindsay Hoyle – Deputy Speaker and Labour MP for Chorley since 1997

After Mr Bercow announced he was stepping down on Monday, his deputy took to Twitter to announce his candidacy.

He said that MPs are “clearly in unprecedented times”, saying it would be “vital to have an experienced Speaker who can provide the stability and leadership the House of Commons requires in order to remain at the centre to our political system”.

Mr Hoyle said he had proved himself to be “independent and fair” and had “ensured all members of Parliament have been able to exercise their right to speak on behalf of constituents to hold the government to account – regardless of position or length of service”.

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London 20mph plan: TfL green light plan after consultation

20 mph speed limit sign

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TfL said the lower speeds were “vital to protect people walking, cycling and riding motorcycles”

Transport for London (TfL) will install a 20mph speed limit on all central London roads it manages from next year, following a consultation.

The scheme would see a new limit along 5.5 miles (8.9 km) of roads including Millbank, Albert Embankment and Borough High Street by May 2020.

There were nearly 2,000 responses to a public consultation which ran for five weeks until 10 July.

TfL said: “We know that lower speeds save lives; it’s that simple.”

The plan is part of the mayor of London’s Vision Zero scheme, which aims to eliminate all road deaths in the capital by 2041.

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Transport for London

The affected roads include all those managed by TfL within the congestion zone, along with the Aldgate Gyratory.

The height of pedestrian crossings will be increased in seven “high-risk” locations, such as on the Embankment and outside Tate Britain.

Of the 1,912 public responses, about half said the plans would lead to more people walking. Some 59% said many more people would choose to cycle.

Nearly 50% of respondents believed the proposals would have no impact on the number of car journeys. Some 58% believed the number business journeys would not be affected.

Penny Rees, of TfL, said: “It’s clear people agree that making our roads safer will encourage Londoners to travel in more active and sustainable ways.”

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “Every single death on London’s streets is one too many so I’m really pleased that Londoners have backed our plans.”

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Transport for London

Roads which would have the new limits are:

  • Albert Embankment
  • Lambeth Palace Road
  • Lambeth Bridge
  • Millbank
  • Victoria Embankment
  • Upper Thames Street
  • Lower Thames Street
  • Tower Hill
  • Aldgate gyratory including: Leman Street, Prescot Street, Mansell Street, Minories and Goodman’s Yard
  • Borough High Street
  • Great Dover Street
  • Blackfriars Road
  • Part of Druid Street (between Tower Bridge Road and Crucifix Lane)
  • Crucifix Lane
  • Part of Bermondsey Street (between Crucifix Lane and Tooley Street)
  • Part of Queen Elizabeth Street (between Tooley Street and Tower Bridge Road)

Transport bosses have said they also hope to introduce lower speed limits on 93 miles (150km) of streets run by TfL across London over the next five years.

Chair of the London Assembly Transport Committee, Florence Eshalomi, said: “We suggest the Mayor considers going further to areas outside of the Congestion Charge Zone where walking and cycling should be safer.

“Every life lost on the road is tragedy. Particularly when the cause is a driver not obeying the speed limit.”

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Stockwell Tube station passenger shoved on to track

Footage of a man being punched and pushed on to the track at a London Underground station has been released by police.

The victim, aged in his 50s, was attacked at Stockwell station following a short conversation with his assailant.

He was helped back on to the platform by a passer-by before any trains arrived and did not require medical attention.

Det Con Zoe Wornham, of British Transport Police, described it as “an extremely serious incident” and said it was “vitally important” to find his assailant who fled the station after the attack, at about 02:30 BST on Sunday 30 June.

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Elephant and Castle stabbings: Man dies and another seriously ill

A stock image of Elephant and Castle station

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Police said two men were knifed inside Elephant and Castle station in “a shocking act of violence” (stock image)

A man has died and another is in hospital following a stabbing at a Tube station.

Police were called to Elephant and Castle station at about 23:30 BST on Sunday and found two men with stab wounds in a street nearby.

A 24-year-old man died on Monday and a 25-year-old is in a serious condition.

British Transport Police said it was “a shocking act of violence” and two men had been arrested on suspicion of violent disorder.

Officers said they believed the stabbing happened during a fight between two groups of men and added they were treating the death as murder.

Keylin Tejeda, 32, from Elephant and Castle, said one of the victims was a regular customer at her pattie shop El Monte.

“I was coming from a restaurant with my partner and when we were passing by we saw him lying down.

“I could see who he was, I saw him. The ambulance were operating on him on the floor,” she said.

‘Senseless loss’

Det Ch Insp Sam Blackburn said: “This was a shocking act of violence and we are working tirelessly to identify and trace those responsible.

“While the investigation is still at an early stage, at this time we believe there was an altercation between two groups of men inside the Underground station and it is here the victims sustained their injuries before making their way on to the street.”

London Mayor Sadiq Khan called the death “a senseless loss of a young life” and urged witnesses to contact police or Crimestoppers.

The death bring the number of homicides in the capital to a total of 92 so far this year.

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Appeal to trace Newcastle schoolgirl letter writers 60 years on

The letters written by Brenda Barker and Sheila Scott

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Abbeyfield Society

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The schoolgirls’ letters were “very emotive”, the Abbeyfield Society said

A charity is appealing for help tracing two former schoolgirls who penned touching letters to an elderly stranger more than 60 years ago.

Sheila Scott and Brenda Barker, of Newcastle, were 12 when they contacted an 80-year-old living in a London home run by the Abbeyfield Society.

The hand-written messages were discovered in a scrapbook which belonged to the organisation’s founder.

The charity described them as a “wonderful snapshot in time”.

The girls – pupils at North Heaton Secondary Modern School and St John Ambulance Brigade cadets – wrote to a pensioner called Mr Halnan in May 1956.

The former newspaper seller, losing his sight due to cataracts, was set to undergo an operation.

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Abbeyfield Society

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Mr Halnan (left) was one of the first two residents at the society’s Bermondsey home

Sheila, a fan of needlework and swimming, told him: “I took it upon myself to write to you. I hope it is a comfort to you.”

Brenda said she was 5ft 7in tall with light brown hair and hazel eyes, that her form mistress was named Miss Booth and her favourite lesson was maths.

Mr Halnan lived at an Abbeyfield property in Eugenia Road, Bermondsey, the first to be opened by the society set up by Richard Carr-Gomm.

Mr Carr-Gomm, who had given up his military career to help the homeless and lonely and was later awarded an OBE, kept the letters in a scrapbook.

He died in 2008, aged 86, and his family donated it to the society two years ago.

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Abbeyfield Society

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The letters were kept alongside correspondence from Princess Anne, politicians and showbusiness figures.

Abbeyfield research manager Sarah Heaney said the girls possibly wrote the letters after seeing publicity around the home’s opening.

“He [Mr Carr-Gomm] was very well networked, was friends with Audrey Hepburn and her mother who were benefactors of the first home, knew Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh, and was close to King Freddie, the deposed king of Uganda,” she said.

“Yet amongst all this we find two extraordinary letters from two ordinary schoolgirls.”

Anyone with information is asked to contact the Abbeyfield Society’s national headquarters.

Follow BBC North East & Cumbria on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Send your story ideas to northeastandcumbria@bbc.co.uk

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Fleabag: Six things to know about the original play

Phoebe Waller-Bridge

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Matt Humphrey

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The play is being broadcast across cinemas in the UK next month

Fleabag must have sounded like an odd prospect on paper when it was first performed in 2013.

A monologue about an unnamed woman with a considerable sexual appetite who runs a guinea pig-themed cafe while mourning the death of her best friend is an unconventional premise to say the least.

But the TV series which the original play birthed has since become hugely successful and made a bona fide star out of its creator Phoebe Waller-Bridge.

The second and final series concluded earlier this year and now Waller-Bridge is back in the West End performing the original play. “As a hot ticket, it’s on a par with Harry Potter, as high on the list as Hamilton,” wrote Dominic Cavendish in The Telegraph.

It’s a fair assessment – the press night on Wednesday evening was an A-list event. Cast members from the TV show like Andrew Scott (the “hot priest”) and Fiona Shaw rubbed shoulders with Oscar-winner Rami Malek, 6 Music presenter Lauren Laverne and journalist Caitlin Moran.

But it’s the fans queuing at the stage door every night to meet Waller-Bridge who are the real testament to just how much the show has connected with audiences on a deep, emotional level. Young women in particular saw a lot of themselves in Fleabag, and grapple with the issues surrounding dating and feminism raised by the show.

For fans who don’t have tickets, Fleabag is also being broadcast live in cinemas on 12 September and it could be the last chance to see Waller-Bridge play her most famous role.

Here are a few things to know about how Fleabag differs on stage and screen.

1. The core storyline is the same as the first TV series

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The opening scene of the play has similarities to a scene in the TV series with Hugh Dennis

Ironically, considering the theatre show came first, those who have watched Fleabag as a BBC series will feel like they’ve had several spoilers for the play.

Whether it’s the dates Fleabag goes on, the interactions she has with her family, or the underlying grief and guilt she feels about the death of Boo, there won’t be many surprising twists for Fleaophiles.

“After the TV show, the play felt like going to a gallery and looking at the artist’s sketchbooks,” said Kate Wyver in The Guardian. “The show is just so much more developed, so the play can’t help but feel a little disappointing.”

“I liked seeing the original source material,” added Laura Snapes in the same article. “But the play was originally such a bolt from the blue. If you see it now, you’re always aware: that’s Phoebe Waller-Bridge. When it’s freighted with the phenomenon, it doesn’t work.”

2. There’s no hot priest

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Andrew Scott played the Hot Priest in the second series of the TV adaptation

The second series of Fleabag focused on the lead character’s relationship with a priest, played by Andrew Scott. The pair’s relationship was the focus of scrutiny from fans and critics alike.

“Why are we so horny for Fleabag’s Hot Priest?” asked The Huffington Post in one of many, many think pieces about the storyline.

“The real bedrock of [series two] was tied up with the idea of religion,” Waller-Bridge told BBC News earlier this year. “I was starting to write jokes about perspectives on the Christian faith and Catholicism, and that bled into the show.

“I liked the idea of Fleabag meeting her match in someone with the same intelligence and wit she has who leads a completely different life.”

Sadly, however, the hot priest is nowhere to be seen in the stage show. While some jokes and plotlines from the play are sprinkled through the second series (such as Fleabag’s sister’s disastrous haircut), the central storyline involving the hot priest was entirely new and written specifically for TV.

There was only ever meant to be six episodes of Fleabag, which is why the play has far more similarities to the first series than the second.

3. But there are still some surprises in the stage show

Many of the jokes in the play haven’t featured in the TV series, so there’s still plenty to enjoy with the stage version.

But that also applies to some of the more heart-breaking elements of the plot.

“There’s one emotional absolute gut-punch in the stage version that – presumably having been deemed just too upsetting for telly – may be new to much of the audience, noted Holly Williams in The Independent. “Guinea pig lovers be warned: it destroyed me.”

4. The staging is minimal, but effective

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Matt Humphrey

A monologue show in the West End is a pretty rare event, particularly in a large theatre space, and its success is reliant on a powerhouse performance from a single actor.

Speaking about seeing the play in the Wyndham’s Theatre, Holly Williams in The Independent wrote: “She probably wouldn’t have written this kind of show for such a grand old space. It inevitably feels rather small, just Waller-Bridge sat on a tall stool on an empty stage.”

Although Fleabag darts around from her cafe to job interviews to taxi rides to dates, those surroundings are left entirely to the theatre audience’s imagination as Waller-Bridge barely shifts from the tall stool she’s sitting on for the 65-minute duration.

The only aides are the changes in lighting and a few audio clips of some of the other characters, to help viewers with the different scenarios.

5. The “fourth wall” dynamic is different

A key element of the TV series was when Fleabag “broke the fourth wall” to speak to the viewer directly, adding in-jokes and her own analysis to the situation she was in.

The play is different, insofar as Fleabag is effectively addressing the audience for most of the show, but she does still clearly separate the moments where she’s speaking to another character. There are benefits and drawbacks to the slightly different dynamic she has with the audience on stage.

“Delivering a manner of monologue – she does many voices, and there is disembodied dialogue at certain moments – Waller-Bridge shows herself to be skilled at story, deadpan comedy and one-liners” wrote Craig Simpson of the Press Association.

“Added to this is a stunning ability to mime and do impressions which sets the stage show apart from the restrictions of a TV show, where her sudden comic personifications become scenes and other characters, actors with faces of their own.”

6. There’s just as much sex

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Fans have been queuing up to meet Waller-ridge every night

From literally the first scene of the first TV series, it was clear Fleabag wasn’t a show to watch with your family. But that is partially what has driven its appeal.

While the impact of porn on young people felt like more of a hot topic in 2013 than now – other elements of the show haven’t dated, and if anything feel more relevant now.

“I now wince a little at all the reviews of its original run – mine included – describing it as filthy, as if female sexual desire was inherently unclean,” acknowledged Natasha Tripney in The Stage.

“The show would never have achieved quite such a level of success if it were simply a collection of gags about anal sex and [pleasuring herself] over Obama. It’s subtler and smarter than that, incisive about self-sabotage, grief and the endless pressures women put upon themselves.”

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