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TV series sheds light on the dark WWII stories of Chanel and Dior

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The fashion world makes for eye-catching TV, but the makers of “The New Look”, about the origins of Dior and Chanel, show there were dark moral challenges behind the glossy facade.

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Fashion-based dramas are a hot trend right now.

Disney Plus is already showing “Balenciaga”, and will soon release “Kaiser Karl”, a lavish series about Karl Lagerfeld, adding to a glut of films such as “House of Gucci”, “Saint Laurent”, “Phantom Thread” and “Mrs Harris Goes to Paris”.

For those unfamiliar with the history of French couture, “The New Look”, streaming on Apple TV from Wednesday, may seem a sombre addition to the genre.

Focusing on Christian Dior and Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel, played by Ben Mendelsohn and Juliette Binoche, it tracks the grim years of the Nazi occupation of Paris.

Chanel’s behaviour during the war is an ongoing source of debate among historians, with many accusing her of collaboration.

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Read moreHistorian debunks claims that Coco Chanel served in the French Resistance

She closed her business when the Nazis took over but continued to live in luxury at the Ritz hotel, took a German officer as her lover and used anti-Jewish laws to try to wrest control of her company from Jewish business partners.

“It’s easy to believe you would do the right thing in that situation, but these characters were terrified for their lives, and I think it’s very hard to judge them,” producer Todd Kessler told AFP.

“Dior, Chanel, Balenciaga, Balmain — all these people were making decisions of how they could possibly survive,” he added.

‘Painful story’

“Maybe audiences will feel one way about a character halfway through an episode, and feel very differently by the end. But that’s inspiring for storytellers.”

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Ben Mendelsohn plays Christian Dior, traumatised by the arrest of his sister during the war
Ben Mendelsohn plays Christian Dior, traumatised by the arrest of his sister during the war. © Fadel Senna, AFP

The makers admitted they were nervous about approaching Binoche to play Chanel.

“We wanted a French icon to play a French icon, but we didn’t know how a French actor would react given France’s mixed feelings about Chanel,” said co-producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura. “It was very gratifying how quickly Juliette embraced it.”

Dior, meanwhile, suffers through the trauma of his sister being taken to a concentration camp, but his “new look” designs came to symbolise France’s sense of recovery and hope after the war.

“It’s a very beautiful, ambitious series on fashion,” said Pierre Groppo, head of lifestyle for Vanity Fair.

“It gives an image of Dior that we don’t have. We picture him as a genius in his workshop. Many don’t know this painful story that he, and many others, lived through,” he told AFP.

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Binoche’s “subtle” performance was particularly gripping, he said.

Chanel “made decisions that were not always right, certainly, but don’t forget this was a woman, alone, from a very modest background. We get the sense of someone overwhelmed by events.

“I look forward to a second season where we see her making her comeback.”

(AFP) 

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Gaza ceasefire talks to resume as US official says ‘deal is on the table’

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Gaza’s health ministry collects data from the enclave’s hospitals and the Palestinian Red Crescent.

The health ministry does not report how Palestinians were killed, whether from Israeli airstrikes and artillery barrages or errant Palestinian rocket fire. It describes all casualties as victims of “Israeli aggression”.

The ministry also does not distinguish between civilians and combatants. 

Throughout four wars and numerous skirmishes between Israel and Hamas, UN agencies have cited the Hamas-run health ministry’s death tolls in regular reports. The International Committee of the Red Cross and Palestinian Red Crescent also use the numbers.

In the aftermath of war, the UN humanitarian office has published final death tolls based on its own research into medical records. The UN’s counts have largely been consistent with the Gaza health ministry’s, with small discrepancies. 

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For more on the Gaza health ministry’s tolls, click here.

(FRANCE 24 with AP) 

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Luis Enrique ‘told Kylian Mbappe he isn’t being punished for wanting to leave PSG in clear-the-air talks’ despite subbing the striker off in their last two matches

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  • Mbappe has been substituted off during Paris Saint-Germain’s last two games 
  • Luis Enrique reportedly told striker he wants to save him for bigger matches 
  • Is Kevin De Bruyne’s confidence uncouth or should we champion self-belief of the world’s best? It’s All Kicking Off podcast 

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Kylian Mbappe has reportedly held clear-the-air talks with Paris Saint-Germain coach Luis Enrique after being substituted off early in his past two matches.

The French striker was taken off at half-time during PSG’s goalless draw with his old club Monaco on Friday, having been subbed after 65 minutes of the draw against Rennes a week earlier.

Enrique said it was his decision to take Mbappe off against Monaco with the 25-year-old watching the second-half from the stands instead of from the bench.

It comes with the 25-year-old forward expected to join Real Madrid on a free transfer when his PSG contract expires this summer.

According to ESPN, Mbappe was unhappy to be taken off and asked to speak with his coach to address the matter amid tensions between the pair.

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Kylian Mbappe and Luis Enrique (right) have reportedly held clear-the-air talks after the PSG coach took the striker off early in their last two matches

Kylian Mbappe and Luis Enrique (right) have reportedly held clear-the-air talks after the PSG coach took the striker off early in their last two matches

Kylian Mbappe and Luis Enrique (right) have reportedly held clear-the-air talks after the PSG coach took the striker off early in their last two matches 

Mbappe, who looks set to join Real Madrid this summer, was taken off at half-time during PSG's goalless draw at Monaco on Friday night

Mbappe, who looks set to join Real Madrid this summer, was taken off at half-time during PSG's goalless draw at Monaco on Friday night

Mbappe, who looks set to join Real Madrid this summer, was taken off at half-time during PSG’s goalless draw at Monaco on Friday night

He duly watched the second-half from the stands rather than with his team-mates

He duly watched the second-half from the stands rather than with his team-mates

He duly watched the second-half from the stands rather than with his team-mates 

Enrique reportedly told the forward it wasn’t personal and nothing to do with his decision to leave the Parc des Princes. Instead, he believed Mbappe wasn’t fully fit and wanted to save him for upcoming games of greater importance.

But ESPN said the feeling in the player’s camp is that he’s being punished for wanting to leave.

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Despite dropping four points in their last two games, PSG remain a comfortable 12 points clear of Brest at the top of Ligue 1.

On Tuesday, they head to Real Sociedad in the Champions League last-16, second leg with a 2-0 advantage. Mbappe scored the opening goal in the first leg in Paris.

Despite the constant speculation about his PSG future, Mbappe has scored 32 times in 33 games this season.

At Monaco, Mbappe emerged from the dressing room having changed out of his kit following the substitution on Friday evening.

He was wearing all black, including a cap, and was followed by photographers as he stopped to speak to the fans in attendance, even posing for a selfie.

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Enrique has argued that PSG will have a better side next season in Mbappe's absence

Enrique has argued that PSG will have a better side next season in Mbappe's absence

Enrique has argued that PSG will have a better side next season in Mbappe’s absence

Mbappe was seen on the phone in the tunnel at the start of the second period at Monaco

Mbappe was seen on the phone in the tunnel at the start of the second period at Monaco

Mbappe was seen on the phone in the tunnel at the start of the second period at Monaco

He made his way up to the stands in changed clothes as his side could pick up only a point

He made his way up to the stands in changed clothes as his side could pick up only a point

He made his way up to the stands in changed clothes as his side could pick up only a point

Mbappe watched the second half of PSG's draw with former side Monaco from the stands

Mbappe watched the second half of PSG's draw with former side Monaco from the stands

Mbappe watched the second half of PSG’s draw with former side Monaco from the stands

The game finished 0-0 in what was a fairly even game in terms of chances despite the visitors dominating possession.

Mbappe went to sit in the stands with his entourage – including his mother – and could be seen in the tunnel on the phone at the start of the second half. He had gone down injured in the 27th minute of the game but played the rest of the first period.

Speaking on the substitution, Enrique said: ‘I have been in football for quite a long time, you must know that everything is important in this kind of club. Sooner or later we will play without Mbappe, we have to get used to that.’

Enrique had hinted before the game that PSG would be a better side without Mbappe next year as they look to finally put the long-running distraction around his future behind them.

‘I know that if everything goes well, next season, we will have a better team from all perspectives,’ Enrique said. ‘Offensively, defensively, tactically. I have no doubt about it.’

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LeBron James becomes first player in NBA history to score 40,000 points

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LeBron James became the first NBA player to reach 40,000 career regular-season points on Saturday, the 39-year-old superstar scoring nine against defending champion Denver to achieve the milestone.

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But the historic effort came in a losing cause as Nikola Jokic scored 35 points to rally the Nuggets late for a 124-114 victory over the Lakers, stretching their win streak to six games.

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“I’m glad we’re playing good,” Jokic said. “We’re doing the things we want to do. We don’t have too many breakdowns. I just like how we’re playing the game right now.”

James, who just over a year ago overtook Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for the NBA’s all-time scoring mark, is a four-time NBA champion and four-time NBA Most Valuable Player as well as the league’s oldest active player, now in his 21st campaign.

“Just happy for him. It was a hell of an accomplishment,” Lakers coach Darvin Ham said. “Wish we could have got the win to cap it off.

“But my hat’s off to him. Amazing, amazing run that continues to this day. And you know, everyone in our program, everyone within our organization, is extremely excited and happy for him.”

After scoring five points in the first quarter, James sank a layup 14 seconds into the second quarter to pull within two of the milestone, then missed a free throw and on the next Laker possession missed a 3-point shot.

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James scored the historic basket with 10:39 remaining in the second quarter, banking in a driving layup from the left side of the basket to give the Lakers a 37-32 lead.

The crowd gave James a standing ovation after he made the basket. The ball James used to score the milestone hoop was removed from the game, but with the replacement he added a layup late in the period on the way to the Lakers seizing a 66-58 half-time lead.

James scored his first basket of the game on a fast break layup 6:20 into the opening quarter to give the Lakers an 18-12 edge, then added a 3-pointer from the left corner 63 seconds later for a 23-14 advantage.

In anticipation of reaching the milestone, James said it won’t rank among his greatest feats but the 40,000-point mark is meaningful.

“No one has done it. And for me to be in this position at this point and time in my career, I think it’s pretty cool,” James said.

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“Is it one of the top things I’ve done in my career? No. Does it mean something? Of course. Why wouldn’t it?

“To hit feats and have milestones throughout my career, they all mean something to me. Absolutely.

“Obviously, there’s a pecking order of which ones are higher than others, but I would be lying to you if I said no, it doesn’t mean anything. It absolutely does.”

Porter ‘was amazing’

The Nuggets equalized at 89-89 entering the fourth quarter and seized command with a 9-0 run in the final minutes to lead 117-110, Denver hitting 15-of-22 from the floor in the final quarter.

“They had control the first half,” Jokic said. “They had a really good energy. We didn’t play really good in the first half. They were getting to the paint. They were having open looks.

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“We kind of were battling a little bit in the second half and we scored 124, which is a lot, but I’m just glad we won the game.”

Michael Porter Jr. went 10-for-10 from the floor and scored 25 points while matching Jokic’s 10 rebounds.

“He was amazing,” Jokic said. “It’s always a good thing when you have a guy on your team that can shoot like that.”

The Lakers, 33-29, rank 10th in the Western Conference, the final play-in spot, while the Nuggets are 42-19, third in the West but only a half-game behind leading Minnesota.

In other games, Mikal Bridges scored 38 points to lead host Brooklyn over Atlanta 114-102 while Jimmy Butler netted 37 points to power the Miami Heat over visiting Utah 126-120.

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Anfernee Simons hit 30 points to lead Portland’s 107-100 overtime triumph at Memphis.

(AFP)

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Why that lime in your Margarita could be soaked in the blood of a farmer murdered by Mexican gangsters

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The attack began in the early hours of Tuesday. Residents woke to the rattle of gunfire, which continued into the day. Four powerful blasts, thought to be from explosives dropped by drones, shook their houses. By the end of the terrifying onslaught, no one knows how many had died, as the casualties were dragged away by the two rival cartels whose gang war had spilled so bloodily into the streets of the small Mexican town of Buenavista,

Yet this savagery was not over the huge profits to be had from smuggling illegal drugs, but for control of the region’s production of limes.

Mexico is the world’s second biggest producer of the fruit, exported around the world – including to Britain – where they flavour margaritas, salsas and tacos and much more besides.

Gangs are fighting a deadly turf war to control that lucrative business, running protection rackets to impose ‘taxes’ on farmers trying to earn a living. Workers defying their threats and extortion demands run the risk of being killed, kidnapped, losing their homes or banishment.

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An armed member of Pueblos Unidos poses in front of the Welcome to the municipality of Ario de Rosales sign

An armed member of Pueblos Unidos poses in front of the Welcome to the municipality of Ario de Rosales sign

An armed member of Pueblos Unidos poses in front of the Welcome to the municipality of Ario de Rosales sign

A woman buys lemons at a market in Morelia, Michoacan State, Mexico

A woman buys lemons at a market in Morelia, Michoacan State, Mexico

A woman buys lemons at a market in Morelia, Michoacan State, Mexico

One prominent local figure suggested to me that up to 3,000 lime farmers may have been slaughtered in Michoacan, the western state that includes Buenavista, in the past decade.

And it’s just like the war over Sicilian lemons that started the Cosa Nostra 

Fruit farming and organised crime have a long shared history.

The Mafia, or Cosa Nostra, emerged on Sicily in the 1800s after lemons became popular when medics realised they contained vitamin C that could combat scurvy. Farmers on the island saw the business opportunity and began to expand their production and export their lemons all over the world.

But criminals also knew the value of the lemons and began to seize the crops from the defenceless farmers. And so the first of the Mafia’s infamous protection rackets was born. Farmers agreed to pay for ‘mafiosos’ to stop their fruit being stolen.

They would protect the groves, the country paths used to transport the fruits, and the docks from which the lemons were exported. But by the 20th Century protection rackets had expanded to include bars, gambling and trade unions

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The Grecos – one of the most powerful criminal families in Italy and, later, the US – got its start by renting a lemon grove.

have been slaughtered in Michoacan, the western state that includes Buenavista, in the past decade.

It is believed 150,000 people have fled the state’s bloodletting and into America. ‘The whole of the lime industry is controlled by the gangs and there is a lack of freedom for producers,’ Buenavista’s mayor Sergio Baez, 59, told me. ‘So in a way when people in Britain buy their limes, there is a contribution to organised crime.’

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The fighting for this market is so intense that landmines and grenade launchers have been used by gangsters. Last week, security forces in the municipality seized at least 130 home-made explosive devices to be dropped by drones.

According to Michoacan’s governor at least 14 organised gangs operate in the state, but a defiant Baez said: ‘We cannot be betrayed by fear.’

One lime farmer told me: ‘Criminal groups have taken control of our town, control of our economy, control of our lives. This is not a life, living under the rule of a criminal enterprise in the face of authorities who seem complacent.’

Last week’s nocturnal attack involved hitmen tied to the Tepalcatepec cartel trying to oust Los Viagras, a group notorious for its savagery reputedly led in the town by a man nicknamed La Sirena (The Mermaid). This gang won national infamy with a video entitled No Mercy In Mexico, showing the gruesome execution of a father and son accused of collaboration with rivals. The gangsters cut off the head of the father before ripping out the heart of his son.

A RIVAL clan released videos six months ago of a new armed wing named Lime Special Forces. These showed gangsters in armoured vehicles with badges on military-style uniforms featuring two pistols and a skull set inside a yellow lime. Such is the state of terror that the farmer said if Los Viagras were driven out by rivals or by the military, they might be replaced by even more deranged gangsters – as seen so often in Mexico’s tragic recent history.

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‘The Viagras got too ambitious, too nasty and aggressive against the people,’ said another source in the town, adding that many locals supported the insurgents in the hope of reducing the extortion and violence inflicted on them.

Security forces patrol the streets after the murder of Armando Perez Luna

Security forces patrol the streets after the murder of Armando Perez Luna

Security forces patrol the streets after the murder of Armando Perez Luna

Lemons are washed at a packaging warehouse as the government sets up a police operation to curb extortion from criminal groups demanding protection money from lemon producers

Lemons are washed at a packaging warehouse as the government sets up a police operation to curb extortion from criminal groups demanding protection money from lemon producers

Lemons are washed at a packaging warehouse as the government sets up a police operation to curb extortion from criminal groups demanding protection money from lemon producers

‘But why do people have to choose the least evil?’ they added. ‘There should be no evil at all – no quotas, no extraction of wealth, no controlling of people’s lives and the economy.’

The cartels also have their claws into the avocado business, having initially seen the trade in both fruits as a way to launder drug money. But they rapidly realised the potential for hefty profits from the control of these agricultural markets. With Buenavista producing 220,000 tons of lime a year, the gangs’ levy on producers and packers earns them £22 million annually from this single scam in this single municipality.

‘The equation is very simple: you pay up or run the risk that the criminals will stop your next shipment on the road and burn it,’ said one farmer. ‘So it is cheaper to pay the extortioners.’

Most victims are poor rural labourers without the resources to escape. Gangs dictate pricing, transport and even which days of the week farmers are allowed to harvest crops The workers, who typically earn about £20 a day selling their limes to packing plants, are permitted to harvest their fruit only on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

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‘It is all about control,’ said Gregorio Lopez, an outspoken priest and lime farmer from Buenavista who wore a bulletproof vest during services before being forced to flee for his life. ‘It’s a show of power. They call the shots.’

He said the harvesting ban allowed gangs to impose penalties such as taking over cars or homes if disobeyed, with landmines sometimes planted to prevent work on prohibited days. Lopez, said the lime growers felt ‘betrayed, abandoned and at the mercy of crime’ and that they were ‘disposable cannon fodder’ in the gang wars ravaging so much of Mexico.

He added that four years ago the entire 5,000 population of one lime-growing town left overnight after threats intensified and gangsters began using drones armed with explosives. About 500 have since returned to the ‘ghost town’.

Limes are exported from Mexico to the UK where they flavour margaritas, salsas and tacos and much more (stock image)

Limes are exported from Mexico to the UK where they flavour margaritas, salsas and tacos and much more (stock image)

Limes are exported from Mexico to the UK where they flavour margaritas, salsas and tacos and much more (stock image)

At the end of our conversation, he asked if I wished to buy his lime grove – an offer I easily refused. When I was in Michoacan four years ago to investigate the gangs taking over avocado plantations, nine people, including boys as young as 12, were slaughtered by gunmen who sprayed bullets around a video game arcade near my hotel.

A study last year found that drug cartels behind such massacres are Mexico’s fifth biggest employer with about 175,000 members.

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Other analysts have identified almost 200 armed gangs in the country, the number soaring after a crackdown on kingpins led major cartels to splinter. The violence is expected to intensify ahead of forthcoming elections as gangs fight for influence.

The drug cartels first muscled in on the lime trade in 2010 by burning down packing stations, demanding protection money and stealing land. This sparked a revolt three years later by armed vigilantes led by a farmer named Hipolito Mora, which drove the cartels from the region and caught global attention.

His self-defence movement was quickly corrupted and his son killed, but he remained a vocal critic of both the gangs and the government’s insipid response.

The narcos finally managed to assassinate Mora last June, shooting him and his bodyguards in an ambush as the vigilante leader drove to his home which had been strafed by gunfire three days earlier. The bodies were torched in his pick-up truck in a grim display of strength by the cartels.

Mora’s killing sparked national condemnation, followed by another flare-up of the extortion and terror rackets inflicted on lime and avocado farmers.

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Despite the risks, Mora’s younger brother, Guadalupe, has returned home after almost half a century in California to continue the fight against the cartels, seek justice over his sibling’s murder and tend to his own lime groves.

‘Hipolito was killed since he raised his voice. He spoke out about how organised crime was once again taking over the entire economy,’ said Guadalupe, 64. ‘Now I am speaking out.’

He knows the danger he faces, but says. ‘I am willing to risk my life for this just cause. There is no other way.’

Such is the life of a lime farmer in this land soaked in blood.

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Women of all ages who receive hugs are more likely to be satisfied with their relationships, study shows

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  • Women who receive more embraces are happier in relationships, says study

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Trust, communication, respect, laughter… the list of factors cited as being key to a happy marriage is a long one – but it could all be down to lots of hugs, say scientists.

Women who receive more embraces, cuddles and touches are more likely to be satisfied with their relationship, according to research based on more than 1,000 women aged 18 to 72.

Hugs or just holding hands work, say the researchers, because physical contact boosts women’s body satisfaction.

‘Ours is the first study to show that the physical nature of affectionate touch is a form of communication about one’s body,’ say the scientists writing in the Journal of Sex Research.

‘Recipients see it as a message of positiveness about their body, in part because the affection was placed there.’

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Women who receive more embraces, cuddles and touches are more likely to be satisfied with their relationship (File photo)

Women who receive more embraces, cuddles and touches are more likely to be satisfied with their relationship (File photo)

Women who receive more embraces, cuddles and touches are more likely to be satisfied with their relationship (File photo)

Previous research has suggested that around 40 per cent of women are dissatisfied with their bodies.

In the latest study, researchers asked 1,156 women – 75 per cent of whom were married – about how often they experienced affectionate touches, including hugging, hand holding, caressing, massaging, cuddling, and spooning. 

They were also asked about how satisfied they were with their relationship and bodies.

The survey found that women who reported more affectionate touches from their partner had a greater satisfaction with their relationship, and had higher levels of sexual and body satisfaction.

Relationship satisfaction was scored one to five, with the highest score – one or more touches a day – linked to the highest levels of contentment.

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The average score was 3.61, suggesting a few times a week.

Hugs or just holding hands work, say the researchers, because physical contact boosts women's body satisfaction (File photo)

Hugs or just holding hands work, say the researchers, because physical contact boosts women's body satisfaction (File photo)

Hugs or just holding hands work, say the researchers, because physical contact boosts women’s body satisfaction (File photo)

‘The significant link between body satisfaction and relationship outcomes emphasises how a romantic partner’s messaging – both verbal and non-verbal – can impact body image,’ said the researchers from Indiana University and other centres.

‘Affirming messages of body satisfaction – communicated through affectionate touch – may buoy the relationship by providing frequent, positive non-verbal feedback that makes the recipient feel as though they are a valued relationship partner.’

The researchers added: ‘Our results offer possible avenues for bolstering an individual’s sense of comfort with their body by encouraging gentle, voluntary (rather than requested) affirmative touch, such as holding hands or hugging, on a regular basis.’

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Meet the 21st Century entrepreneurs cashing in on vaping craze in Blackburn

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It was once called ‘the weaving capital of the world’. But with the textile industry long gone, Blackburn has a new – and perhaps more dubious – claim to fame as Britain’s vaping hotspot.

The former mill town in Lancashire has the country’s highest concentration of shops selling controversial e-cigarettes. There are 22.56 registered vape outlets per 100,000 residents, according to online vape retailer Go Smoke Free.

The North-West is the worst place in Britain for underage vaping.

Blackburn and the neighbouring town of Darwen are also home to some of Britain’s richest vaping barons.

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These businessmen are profiting handsomely from the vaping boom amid concerns about the effects on young people – despite a ban on sales to under-18s – and the environmental impact of discarded e-cigarettes.

Success story: Vape Dinner Lady founder Mohammed Patel sells dessert-inspired products in 115 countries

Success story: Vape Dinner Lady founder Mohammed Patel sells dessert-inspired products in 115 countries

Success story: Vape Dinner Lady founder Mohammed Patel sells dessert-inspired products in 115 countries

The vaping tycoons of Blackburn have carved out a lucrative niche in an industry dominated by brands such as Chinese-owned Elf Bar, which has 70 per cent of the market, and giants such as British American Tobacco.

Soaring numbers of vapers have helped to line their pockets. The number of people who vape grew by 9 per cent to 4.7 million in 2023, according to anti-smoking campaign group Ash. Some 230 specialist vape stores opened last year, taking the total across the UK to 3,573, according to the Local Data Company.

Separately, market research company NIQ and trade magazine The Grocer found vape sales were worth £897 million in 2023. The Government, which has encouraged vaping as a way to help cigarette smokers to quit, has spotted a much-needed revenue-raising opportunity. Ministers are said to be mulling a new vape tax, which might be introduced in next week’s Budget.

There is no obvious reason why so many unrelated vaping companies, whose owners are not linked, have formed a cluster in a small area of Lancashire.

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However, Blackburn can boast of being the home of other high- profile entrepreneurs, including the Issa brothers, Zuber and Mohsin.

In the 1960s their parents moved from India to Blackburn. The siblings, who grew up in a terraced house, now own supermarket chain Asda.

Blackburn was named as one of the UK’s most entrepreneurial towns in 2022, based on the number of new small business start-ups.

Another Blackburn business founder making waves is Mo Isap, a tech entrepreneur who recently secured a deal for his award winning business IN4 Group with energy giant Saudi Aramco, one of the world’s biggest companies.

Philip Boyle (pictured) and his business partner Nathan Walton set up Flavour Warehouse 12 years ago

Philip Boyle (pictured) and his business partner Nathan Walton set up Flavour Warehouse 12 years ago

Philip Boyle (pictured) and his business partner Nathan Walton set up Flavour Warehouse 12 years ago

Philip Boyle

Estimated worth: £114 million

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Company: Flavour Warehouse 

Sales: £140 million

Profit: £22.2 million

Philip Boyle and his business partner Nathan Walton set up Flavour Warehouse 12 years ago.

It now produces 30 million liquid bottles per year and sells in more than 80 countries. As well as its base in Darwen, it has a factory in Guildford, Surrey. The firm employs 300 people and aims to be ‘the most trusted vaping company worldwide’ by taking ‘full control of the entire production process’.

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According to its most recent accounts, turnover rose by 95 per cent to £140 million in 2022, and profits nearly trebled to £22.2 million. Boyle netted the majority of a £3 million dividend, up from £42,253 the previous year.

Its flagship brand is Vampire Vapes and export sales go as far afield as Eastern Europe and the United States.

It also acts as a wholesaler for brands such as Elf Bar and it has extended into retail, running its own Vapestore shops.

The company owns convenience store brand Premier Retail. Boyle, 40, sits on the board of the Independent British Vape Trade Association. That organisation ‘exists to give the independent vaping sector a voice with government bodies, regulators, enforcement agencies and many other interested parties’ – while being ‘free from control from any tobacco business’. 

Former salesman Boyle now lives in a £1.2 million mansion in Clayton-le-Dale, an upmarket village nestled in the Ribble Valley near Blackburn.

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Mohammed Patel

Company: Vape Dinner Lady

Sales: £24 million

Profit: £2.9 million

Another huge Blackburn success story is Vape Dinner Lady – which boasts of selling its dessert-inspired liquids in 115 countries. Its unusual flavours include Berry Blast, Melon Twist and Kiwi Melon. Founded in 2005 by Mohammed Patel, 43, it was named Best Vaping Brand in 2022 at the ‘Vapouround’ industry awards and employs 200 people.

Turnover grew to £24 million in 2022, up from £15.3 million the previous year, while profits nearly doubled to £2.9 million.

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Total dividends of £8 million were paid over the last three years. The firm is rebuilding its Blackburn base after a devastating fire last September and it has shifted production to ‘multiple international centres’. Patel said he set it up because he was ‘captivated’ by the booming business of vaping as an alternative to smoking. ‘But the real motivator was driven by my own experience of using e-liquids,’ he said.

‘Despite the myriad of products and flavours available, the selection on offer simply wasn’t up to much, in my opinion.’

Christopher Parker stayed as finance director

Christopher Parker stayed as finance director

Christopher Parker stayed as finance director

Matthew Moden, Christopher Parker and Abraham Spain

Estimated worth: £14.5 million

Company: Liberty Flights

The three founders of vape company Liberty Flights shared up to £14.5 million when they sold their Darwen-based business to retail group Supreme in 2022. Founded in 2009, the firm had grown its annual sales to £9million and profits to £1.5million.

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By the time of the sale, it had a thriving business selling in convenience stores. It had also launched a rechargable vaping device called the Dot Pro. Liberty Flights has seven shops and a brand which sells dozens of varieties of liquids used in e-cigarettes.

Christopher Parker, 36, stayed as finance director after the sell-off, but Matthew Moden, 50, and 46-year-old Abraham Spain headed for pastures new with their fortunes.

Jason Cropper and brother Fraser, pictured, founded Totally Wicked in 2008

Jason Cropper and brother Fraser, pictured, founded Totally Wicked in 2008

Jason Cropper and brother Fraser, pictured, founded Totally Wicked in 2008

Jason and Fraser Cropper

Estimated worth: £107 million

Company: Totally Wicked

Sales: £90 million

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Profit: £1.6 million

Jason Cropper and brother Fraser founded Totally Wicked in 2008 and are thought to have a fortune similar to Boyle’s. The Blackburn-based firm, which employs more than 370 people, has seen sales balloon – nearly doubling to £90.4 million in 2023, up from £54.4 million the previous year. Profit surged from £360,000 to £1.6 million in 2023.

Former smoker Jason, 59, once even kept gold bars in his home. He stepped down from the business in 2013 after refusing to retract comments about e-cigarette licensing in a controversial email to regulators.

Fraser, 57, remains at the helm as managing director. He lives with his wife in a £700,000 home in a village in Somerset.

But the sibling entrepreneurs remain close to their East Lancashire roots and they sponsor Blackburn Rovers Football Club.

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Jason was the victim of a shocking robbery at his home in Samlesbury, Lancashire, in 2013. Four masked raiders armed with crowbars broke into his home, before tying him up, dousing him with bleach and covering his head with a towel.

They made off with his £60,000 Range Rover, two gold bars worth £50,000, plus £70,000 in cash and three expensive watches.

The tycoon suffered head injuries and could not walk properly for a week.

He said he believes the gang robbed him because they thought he had £4 million of gold in his house.

After the raid, he spent about £20,000 on advanced security for his £750,000 home, including 10 cameras, lights, 8ft fencing, a monitored alarm system and a guard dog.

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The local vape firms mentioned were contacted for comment.

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Woman who was almost sent to ‘CRUISE jail’ for fighting with fellow passenger aboard a ship reveals what REALLY happens to those who misbehave at sea

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A woman who revealed she was almost sent to ‘cruise jail’ for fighting with a fellow passenger has sparked a fierce fascination into what really happens to those who misbehave while out at sea.

Theresa Rowley, from Dallas, Texas, recently went viral after she admitted that she nearly came to blows with another woman on a seven-day Carnival Cruise she had taken with her mom.

But when she said that the events could have landed her ‘locked up in the belly of the ship,’ it left people wondering if cruise ships really do have a place to detain unruly travelers, what it’s like, and what you would have to do to be sent there.

In a video uploaded to her TikTok account, which got more than 22 million views, Theresa began, ‘I almost spent three days of my cruise locked in the belly of ship in what I now know is referred to as “cruise jail.”‘

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A woman who revealed she was almost sent to 'cruise jail' for fighting with a fellow passenger has sparked a fierce fascination into what really happens to those who misbehave while at sea

A woman who revealed she was almost sent to 'cruise jail' for fighting with a fellow passenger has sparked a fierce fascination into what really happens to those who misbehave while at sea

A woman who revealed she was almost sent to ‘cruise jail’ for fighting with a fellow passenger has sparked a fierce fascination into what really happens to those who misbehave while at sea

Theresa Rowley, from Dallas, Texas, recently went viral after she admitted that she nearly came to blows with another woman on a seven-day Carnival Cruise she had taken with her mom

Theresa Rowley, from Dallas, Texas, recently went viral after she admitted that she nearly came to blows with another woman on a seven-day Carnival Cruise she had taken with her mom

Theresa Rowley, from Dallas, Texas, recently went viral after she admitted that she nearly came to blows with another woman on a seven-day Carnival Cruise she had taken with her mom

But when she said that the events could have landed her 'locked up in the belly of the ship,' it left people wondering what cruise ship jails were really like. Carnival's 'brig' is seen

But when she said that the events could have landed her 'locked up in the belly of the ship,' it left people wondering what cruise ship jails were really like. Carnival's 'brig' is seen

But when she said that the events could have landed her ‘locked up in the belly of the ship,’ it left people wondering what cruise ship jails were really like. Carnival’s ‘brig’ is seen

She told her followers that she and her 67-year-old mom were enjoying a live performance at a bar on the third night of their cruise, when a woman who was sitting next to her ‘wouldn’t shut the f**k up.’ 

‘She talked to the entire time, bro. She’s yelling across the bar,’ she recalled. ‘It was a distraction and so rude. 

‘[At one point], some girl requested a specific ballad and the performer started playing it, and [the lady next to me] goes, “Boo. Boring.” She even pretended to fall asleep. She was a terror, truly.’

A furious Theresa said she made a ‘passive aggressive’ comment to the woman about her non-stop chatting. 

As soon as the performer took a break, she said the lady started talking badly about her to her friend – and it sparked a fierce feud between them. 

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‘My mom said to me, “Just ignore her Theresa she’s being rude,”‘ she continued. ‘But one thing about my mom is, she’s not great at volume control. 

‘She’s an angel but she doesn’t know much about noise levels. So this girl heard my mother call her rude, and she whips around and she goes, “Oh, I think you’re the rude one, b***h.” 

‘She said this to my 67-year-old mother. Every good thought, every good intention I’ve ever had left my body and flew away into the ocean.

Back in September 2022, a lawyer who specializes in 'suing cruise ships' per his TikTok bio, named Spencer Aronfeld, lifted a lid on the topic in a viral video

Back in September 2022, a lawyer who specializes in 'suing cruise ships' per his TikTok bio, named Spencer Aronfeld, lifted a lid on the topic in a viral video

Back in September 2022, a lawyer who specializes in ‘suing cruise ships’ per his TikTok bio, named Spencer Aronfeld, lifted a lid on the topic in a viral video

‘My spine straightened, I hopped down off my stool, I looked down at her and I said, “What did you say?” 

‘She goes, “You heard me.” I said, “Yeah, I wanna hear you say it again.” She was like, “Well you guys are being really disrespectful.” 

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‘I said, “That’s so crazy, because I think everyone in this bar knows that you were the one being disrespectful, so say it again.”‘

‘I said, “Let’s go outside.” Never in my life have I been in a physical fight, okay? But I felt like at this moment, every SoulCycle class, every Barry’s Boot Camp, every SolidCore, yoga class that I had taken had prepared me to throw a b***h into the Gulf of Mexico.’

Thankfully, Theresa said she didn’t end up getting into a physical brawl with the woman because the lady stopped talking and left soon after.

But her story left many wondering if ‘cruise jail’ was a real thing – and what you would have to do to end up there.

Back in September 2022, a lawyer who specializes in ‘suing cruise ships’ per his TikTok bio, named Spencer Aronfeld, lifted a lid on the topic in a viral video.

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He added that brigs are 'not typical' jail cells with 'bars or sliding doors,' but instead, they're 'cabins on lower decks with no windows that lock from the outside.' Carnival's 'brig' is seen

He added that brigs are 'not typical' jail cells with 'bars or sliding doors,' but instead, they're 'cabins on lower decks with no windows that lock from the outside.' Carnival's 'brig' is seen

He added that brigs are ‘not typical’ jail cells with ‘bars or sliding doors,’ but instead, they’re ‘cabins on lower decks with no windows that lock from the outside.’ Carnival’s ‘brig’ is seen

Spencer explained that if you get in trouble for something less severe, you might be 'confined to your' own cabin with a 'guard posted outside' instead (stock image)

Spencer explained that if you get in trouble for something less severe, you might be 'confined to your' own cabin with a 'guard posted outside' instead (stock image)

Spencer explained that if you get in trouble for something less severe, you might be ‘confined to your’ own cabin with a ‘guard posted outside’ instead (stock image)

‘Do cruise ships have jails? Absolutely, they’re called brigs and it’s where passengers and crew end up if they violate the code of conduct or commit violence against another passenger or crew member,’ he shared.

He added that brigs are ‘not typical’ jail cells with ‘bars or sliding doors,’ but instead, they’re ‘cabins on lower decks with no windows that lock from the outside.’

‘They have minimal things inside – a mattress, some toiletries, and that’s it,’ he continued.

‘Passengers will stay there until they can be disembarked and handed over to authorities in port.’

Spencer explained that if you get in trouble for something less severe, you might be ‘confined to your’ own cabin with a ‘guard posted outside’ instead.

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A UK-based cruise content creator, named Emma Le Teace, previously spoke to ‘a former cruise ship security officer,’ whose identity was not revealed, about the subject for her blog.

She explained that the jail cells are only used for ‘serious incidents’ and for people ‘suspected of breaking the law or those who are acting dangerously or recklessly.’

If a guest is ‘drunk and disorderly,’ on the other hand, she said they will be placed on ‘cabin arrest.’ 

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Men who wake in the night for 30 minutes are 20 per cent more likely to get prostate cancer, study reveals

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Men who wake in the night are 20 per cent more likely to develop prostate cancer, a study has revealed.

Researchers found that broken sleep patterns could be a major risk for the onset of the disease.

But the analysis suggested no link between late nights and cancer – nor any connection with problems getting to sleep in the first place.

Yet the dangers soar in men who consistently stir for at least half-an-hour when the lights go off.

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Prostate cancer affects some 50,000 men every year in the UK, and kills almost 12,000.

Men who wake in the night are 20 per cent more likely to develop prostate cancer , a study has revealed

Men who wake in the night are 20 per cent more likely to develop prostate cancer , a study has revealed

Men who wake in the night are 20 per cent more likely to develop prostate cancer , a study has revealed

Prostate cancer affects some 50,000 men every year in the UK, and kills almost 12,000

Prostate cancer affects some 50,000 men every year in the UK, and kills almost 12,000

Prostate cancer affects some 50,000 men every year in the UK, and kills almost 12,000

Major risk factors include getting older, a family history of the disease, obesity and ethnicity – with black men about twice as likely to develop a tumour. 

Disrupted sleep has been proposed as a cause of prostate cancer before, but most of the testing relied on patients accurately recalling how well they slept – a typically unreliable research method.

Experts at the US National Cancer Institute in Maryland instead analysed data on 30,000 British men who had taken part in studies where they wore a watch-like monitor to measure night-time movements and sleep disruption.

None of the men had prostate cancer at the start of the investigation.

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The results, published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, showed those recording 30 minutes or more of wakefulness in the night were 15 to 20 per cent more likely to develop a tumour on the prostate later in life.

Scientists believe the danger comes from disruption to the circadian rhythm – the body’s internal clock – which in turn lowers levels of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin. 

Previous studies have linked reduced levels with an increased risk of the cancer.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer even lists sleep disruption as a ‘probable’ carcinogen – or cause of cancer.

In a report on the findings, the scientists said: ‘These results suggest frequent sleep disturbances may be a prostate cancer risk factor.’

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NRL in Las Vegas LIVE: Updates and scores as Souths, Manly, the Roosters and Broncos make footy history

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G’day and thanks for joining Daily Mail Australia for our live coverage of footy’s history-making Vegas double header. Stick with us for all the latest updates, scores, photos and eye-catching video from Sin City’s Allegiant Stadium as Souths take on Manly, followed by the Roosters’ clash with the Broncos in what will be a season opener like no other.

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Record-breaking Raye sweeps up SIX gongs at the BRIT Awards to complete one of music’s greatest-ever comebacks: Barefoot star fights back tears as she makes history just three years on from being snubbed by her own record label

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Raye’s journey from musical obscurity to global pop star reached a new height tonight as she made history by sensationally winning six Brit awards. 

The London-born singer, full name Rachel Agatha Keen, was overwhelmed as she broke the record for winning the most gongs in one night, going up each time to collect her awards barefoot. 

She was nominated seven times – the most ever for a single artist in a year – but couldn’t possibly have won more than she did as she was shortlisted twice for song of the year – for Escapism, which won the title, and for Prada.

At the ceremony at London’s O2 arena, the 26-year-old collected prizes for best artist, new artist, R&B act and songwriter as well as a song and album of the year.

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The songwriter’s success represents one of music’s greatest ever comebacks, coming just three years after her former record label Polydor refused to release any of her albums.

This led to Raye leaving the company and releasing her critically acclaimed, and now award winning, debut My 21st Century Blues as an independent artist. 

The London-born singer, full name Rachel Agatha Keen, was overwhelmed as she broke the record for winning the most awards in one night

The London-born singer, full name Rachel Agatha Keen, was overwhelmed as she broke the record for winning the most awards in one night

The London-born singer, full name Rachel Agatha Keen, was overwhelmed as she broke the record for winning the most awards in one night

Raye won the first BRIT Award on Saturday night during a star-studded ceremony at London's O2 arena.

Raye won the first BRIT Award on Saturday night during a star-studded ceremony at London's O2 arena.

Raye won the first BRIT Award on Saturday night during a star-studded ceremony at London’s O2 arena.

At the ceremony at London 's O2 arena, the 26-year-old collected prizes for best artist, new artist, R&B act and songwriter as well as a song and album of the year

At the ceremony at London 's O2 arena, the 26-year-old collected prizes for best artist, new artist, R&B act and songwriter as well as a song and album of the year

At the ceremony at London ‘s O2 arena, the 26-year-old collected prizes for best artist, new artist, R&B act and songwriter as well as a song and album of the year

She also scooped the first ever BRIT Award for R&B act, which is voted for by the public via Instagram and is a new standalone genre category

She also scooped the first ever BRIT Award for R&B act, which is voted for by the public via Instagram and is a new standalone genre category

She also scooped the first ever BRIT Award for R&B act, which is voted for by the public via Instagram and is a new standalone genre category

The 26-year-old has been shortlisted in seven categories - the most by any artist in one year- including two separate nods in the Song of the Year category for 'Prada' and 'Escapism'

The 26-year-old has been shortlisted in seven categories - the most by any artist in one year- including two separate nods in the Song of the Year category for 'Prada' and 'Escapism'

The 26-year-old has been shortlisted in seven categories – the most by any artist in one year- including two separate nods in the Song of the Year category for ‘Prada’ and ‘Escapism’

Raye was seen in floods of tears as she collected her awards and even brought her grandmother on stage to collect Album of the Year

Raye was seen in floods of tears as she collected her awards and even brought her grandmother on stage to collect Album of the Year

Raye was seen in floods of tears as she collected her awards and even brought her grandmother on stage to collect Album of the Year

The star went barefoot, kicking off her red carpet heels, for her many trips to the podium

The star went barefoot, kicking off her red carpet heels, for her many trips to the podium

The star went barefoot, kicking off her red carpet heels, for her many trips to the podium

Raye was seen in floods of tears as she collected her awards and even brought her grandmother on stage to collect Album of the Year. 

The star of the night also took to the stage to perform a trio of hits – Ice Cream Man on piano, an orchestral version of Prada before ending with Escapism.  

The singer/songwriter scooped the Song of the year award for her hit Escapism ft 070 Shake, shortly before also taking home the R&B Act gong and Best New Artist.

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‘I’m shaking. I don’t really know what to say right now, but… thank you. I’ve always dreamed of saying that,’ she said as the reached the podium to accept her first award of the night.

Accepting Best New Artist just minutes afterwards, the emotional star told the crowd: ‘What is actually happening right now ’cause I just don’t understand!’

Raye’s recent success comes after she parted ways with her former label, Polydor, and released her critically acclaimed debut My 21st Century Blues as an independent artist. She referenced her new beginning in her Best New Artist Speech. 

‘I have to thank my mum and my dad who are also part of my team, and my grandma. Yes grandma! I, in ways, do feel like a new artist. I released my first song when I was 15, my first mixtape when I was 16, don’t go and listen to it because it’s not that good any more.

‘But I do feel like a new artist, I got to start again. The artist I was three years ago would not believe what she’s seeing today. I’m my own boss now, I’m in control. Thank you!’

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The singer/songwriter scooped the Song of the year award for her hit Escapism ft 070 Shake, shortly before also taking home the R&B Act gong and Best New Artist

The singer/songwriter scooped the Song of the year award for her hit Escapism ft 070 Shake, shortly before also taking home the R&B Act gong and Best New Artist

The singer/songwriter scooped the Song of the year award for her hit Escapism ft 070 Shake, shortly before also taking home the R&B Act gong and Best New Artist

Her success comes after she parted ways with her former label, Polydor, and released her critically acclaimed debut My 21st Century Blues as an independent artist

Her success comes after she parted ways with her former label, Polydor, and released her critically acclaimed debut My 21st Century Blues as an independent artist

Her success comes after she parted ways with her former label, Polydor, and released her critically acclaimed debut My 21st Century Blues as an independent artist

She also scooped the first ever BRIT Award for R&B act, which is voted for by the public via Instagram and is a new standalone genre category after musicians and fans complained about R&B being conjoined with the pop last year.

Raye acknowledged the the uproar in her speech, telling the crowd: ‘Look I just wanna say, when I was about 16, 15 years old, I wanted to be an R&B artist, that’s what I would say. And I was told, I think, a lie that R&B doesn’t sell in the UK so I needed to learn how to make different kinds of music.’

‘I know that’s a bit shady but I need to say R&B is so important and there are so many R&B artists in the UK eating it up. I wanna shout out to Mahalia, who campaigned for this award, Cleo Sol, who’s immaculate, Sault. This really is a lot – thank you.’

Raye also won Songwriter of the Year, which was announced ahead of the live ceremony, with host Clara Amfo handing her the gong in a surprise moment after her Best New Artist win.

The prize, which began in 2022, has previously been won by Suffolk singer Ed Sheeran and British record producer Kid Harpoon, who worked with Harry Styles on the album Harry’s House. 

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The artist then gave an impassioned plea to the music industry, taking the mic to declare: ‘Whilst I’m here, British record music industry please, I just wanna have a brief conversation about normalising giving songwriters master royalty points. 

‘It can be net costs, it doesn’t have to be at your expense, but it means if songs win big the writers win big too. Please allow that to happen.’

Later in the show, the star scooped one of Saturday night’s top prizes – Artist Of The Year.

The non-gendered Artist Of The Year Award sparked outrage last year, after it replaced individual Male and Female categories, but then failed to include any female or non-binary artists among its five nominations.

Stranger Things star Joe Keery preseneds Raye with the award for Best New Artist

Stranger Things star Joe Keery preseneds Raye with the award for Best New Artist

Stranger Things star Joe Keery preseneds Raye with the award for Best New Artist 

Raye looked incredible as she changed into a plunging white dress for her performance

Raye looked incredible as she changed into a plunging white dress for her performance

Raye looked incredible as she changed into a plunging white dress for her performance

Raye performing on stage during the Brit Awards 2024 at the O2 Arena

Raye performing on stage during the Brit Awards 2024 at the O2 Arena

Raye performing on stage during the Brit Awards 2024 at the O2 Arena

Raye vowed to celebrate the night away at the after-parties at exclusive locations such as Soho House's 180 venue where record label Universal hosted a bash, and the Nomad hotel

Raye vowed to celebrate the night away at the after-parties at exclusive locations such as Soho House's 180 venue where record label Universal hosted a bash, and the Nomad hotel

Raye vowed to celebrate the night away at the after-parties at exclusive locations such as Soho House’s 180 venue where record label Universal hosted a bash, and the Nomad hotel

Born in Tooting to a Ghanaian-Swiss mother and English father, Raye began singing in the church choir

Born in Tooting to a Ghanaian-Swiss mother and English father, Raye began singing in the church choir

Born in Tooting to a Ghanaian-Swiss mother and English father, Raye began singing in the church choir 

Raye's recent success comes after she parted ways with her former label, Polydor, and released her critically acclaimed debut My 21st Century Blues as an independent artist

Raye's recent success comes after she parted ways with her former label, Polydor, and released her critically acclaimed debut My 21st Century Blues as an independent artist

Raye’s recent success comes after she parted ways with her former label, Polydor, and released her critically acclaimed debut My 21st Century Blues as an independent artist

This year however, thanks in part to the category being doubled in size, there were six female nominees out of the 10, including Raye.

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Arlo Parks, Jessie Ware, Lil Simz, Olivia Sims and Dua Lipa made up the female nominees, while Central Cee, Dave, J. Hus and Fred Again… were also nominated.

‘There are so many ridiculously incredible artists here tonight, so this is especially overwhelming,’ Raye told the crowd after her fifth win. 

‘Man, what is happening? What the hell is happening? Shoutout Croydon! South London! What! Shoutout my team! My sisters! My best friend Carly, I love you so much Carly, don’t start me off!’

‘Thank you, this is unfair, this is unfair, this is wild. Somebody take this mic off me, I’ve had my first drink. Thank you to the Brits, thank you so much!’

Raye bought her grandmother on stage as she won Album Of The Year, which was presented to her by her BRIT School headteacher Stuart Warden, who she had earlier given a shout out to.

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Speaking on the red carpet before the ceremony at London’s O2 on Saturday, Raye admitted she was struggling to take it all in.

She told red carpet hosts Layton Williams and DJ Harriet Rose: ‘It’s a joke. I was trying and hustling for years. It’s too much. My main thing tonight is that I have to enjoy it. Otherwise what is the point.

‘It’s really hard to process things in real time.’

The barefoot star wowed with her incredible vocals set against a full orchestra

The barefoot star wowed with her incredible vocals set against a full orchestra

The barefoot star wowed with her incredible vocals set against a full orchestra 

Raye vowed to celebrate the night away at the after-parties at exclusive locations such as Soho House’s 180 venue where record label Universal hosted a bash, and the Nomad hotel.

Born in Tooting to a Ghanaian-Swiss mother and English father, Raye began singing in the church choir. At the age of 14, she was accepted into the Brit School for performing arts, but dropped out after two years saying she felt ‘confined’.

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She first found fame in 2016, aged 19, when she featured on Jax Jones’s You Don’t Know Me which peaked at No 3 on the UK singles chart.

But in 2021 she revealed that record label Polydor had refused to release any of her albums, despite having signed her seven years earlier. She took to Twitter to say : ‘I have been on a four album record deal since 2014. And haven’t been allowed to put out one album.’

Her debut album My 21st Century Blues was released independently last year made No2 in the charts – as well as securing her the Brit Award last night.

Raye has previously told how she was assaulted by a music producer who forced his hand between her legs when she was 17 – an experience she drew upon for the album track Ice Cream Man.

Born in Tooting to a Ghanaian-Swiss mother and English father, Raye began singing in the church choir. At the age of 14, she was accepted into the Brit School for performing arts

Born in Tooting to a Ghanaian-Swiss mother and English father, Raye began singing in the church choir. At the age of 14, she was accepted into the Brit School for performing arts

Born in Tooting to a Ghanaian-Swiss mother and English father, Raye began singing in the church choir. At the age of 14, she was accepted into the Brit School for performing arts

Raye also won Songwriter of the Year, which was announced ahead of the live ceremony, with host Clara Amfo handing her the gong in a surprise moment after her Best New Artist win

Raye also won Songwriter of the Year, which was announced ahead of the live ceremony, with host Clara Amfo handing her the gong in a surprise moment after her Best New Artist win

Raye also won Songwriter of the Year, which was announced ahead of the live ceremony, with host Clara Amfo handing her the gong in a surprise moment after her Best New Artist win

Raye bought her grandmother Agatha Dawson-Amoah on stage as she won Album Of The Year

Raye bought her grandmother Agatha Dawson-Amoah on stage as she won Album Of The Year

Raye bought her grandmother Agatha Dawson-Amoah on stage as she won Album Of The Year

'I wanna thank my grandma for her prayers. My grandma is awake til 3am praying for me and my beautiful sisters, I love you so much,' she sobbed

'I wanna thank my grandma for her prayers. My grandma is awake til 3am praying for me and my beautiful sisters, I love you so much,' she sobbed

‘I wanna thank my grandma for her prayers. My grandma is awake til 3am praying for me and my beautiful sisters, I love you so much,’ she sobbed

Her history-making night comes after the singer, real name Rachel Keen, delivered a show-stopping performance on the main stage at Glastonbury last summer and received a Mercury Prize nod for My 21st Century Blues.

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But the Brit School graduate has been climbing her way through the ranks for many years, having signed to Polydor Records as a teenager. 

She later lent her vocals to top five hits by David Guetta and Jax Jones and wrote lyrics for Beyonce and Rihanna. 

Despite her obvious talent, her solo work did not reach the same heights and in 2021 she expressed frustration at her label not letting her release her debut album yet.

In a series of posts to X, formerly Twitter, she wrote: ‘Imagine this pain. I have been signed to a major label since 2014… and I have had albums on albums of music sat in folders collecting dust, songs I am now giving away to A list artists because I am still awaiting confirmation that I am good enough to release an album.’

She said she had ‘done everything’ they asked her to do, including switching genres and working long weeks.

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‘I’m done being a polite pop star. I want to make my album now, please that is all I want,’ she said.

She told the Sunday Times she was resentful of the music industry executives who took advantage of her youth.

She said: “When you’re young your mind is malleable, your opinions not always your own.

“As a kid in this industry I had horrible paranoia and insecurity projected on to me. I was told to fear all of the women doing well at the time, like we were competition.

“Apparently there was only one seat at the table and I had to fight to make it mine. That was such a confusing narrative for me.”

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THE BRITS WINNERS AT A GLANCE

SONG OF THE YEAR – Miracle Casso x RAYE – Prada 

ARTIST OF THE YEAR – RAYE 

ALBUM OF THE YEAR – RAYE, My 21st Century Blues 

GROUP OF THE YEAR – Jungle 

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GLOBAL ICON – Kylie Minogue 

DANCE ACT – Calvin Harris 

ALTERNATIVE ROCK – Bring Me The Horizon 

HIP HOP/GRIME/RAP ACT – Casisdead

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 INTERNATIONAL GROUP OF THE YEAR – Boygenius

INTERNATIONAL SONG OF THE YEAR – Miley Cyrus, Flowers 

INTERNATIONAL ARTIST – SZA 

POP ACT – Dua Lipa 

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BEST NEW ARTIST – RAYE 

BRIT RISING STAR – The Last Dinner Party 

R&B ACT – RAYE 

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Raye’s stunning success on a strong night for female musicians will delight Brit Awards organisers after last year’s controversy. 

Then, not a single woman was nominated for artist of the year – which was ultimately won by Harry Styles – after organisers scrapped separate male and female awards in favour of gender-neutral categories.

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Producers also changed the gender balance of presenters this year, replacing 2023 host, Mo Gilligan, with Love Island anchor Maya Jama, and radio DJs Clara Amfo and Roman Kemp. 

A record 98 artists were up for the new 2024 BRIT award, which has been designed by British visual artist and painter Rachel Jones. 

As well as Raye’s huge successes, Dua Lipa won best pop act while Kylie Minogue – who had a massive comeback hit last year with Padam Padam – picked up the global icon award.

Dua Lipa picked up the fan-voted Pop Act gong, gushing to her fans: ‘I guess for more reasons than one my fans are the reasons why I’m standing here today, so I wanna say a massive thank you to each and every single one of you who have voted for me.’

‘This means so much, I’m so, so happy to be here. You guys give me this radical sense of confidence that I can do anything, I can try and experiment … and all the love and optimism and support is what inspires me, so thank you so much. Beyond that, it takes a village, so I want to thank my dad-ager.’

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American singer-songwrier SZA, 34, won international artist of the year while Miley Cyrus, 31, won international song of the year for her hit, Flowers. American feminist indie band Boygenius were named international group of the year.

All three performed at the show too, with Ms Lipa opening the ceremony with her hit Training Day as more than 30 dancers twisted and span from invisible wires 50ft above the stage.

The only men to get accolades were Calvin Harris for dance act; Sheffield quartet Bring Me The Horizon in the alternative/rock category; Casisdead for best hip-hop, grime or rap act; and duo Jungle for group of the year.

Collecting their first Brit, frontman Oli Sykes said: ‘We don’t know what to say, we didn’t think we would be winning this.

‘Thanks to the Brits for making a voting system so complicated only our fans could be a**** to vote.’

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Calvin shouted out Ellie in his speech, telling her: ‘I wouldn’t be on this stage this year if it wasn’t for you. What you brought to Miracle was unbelievable, I couldn’t have done this with anybody else.’

The Producer category was won by Chase and Status shortly before taking to the stage with Becky Hill.

The second gong of the night went to Jungle for Group of the Year

The second gong of the night went to Jungle for Group of the Year

The second gong of the night went to Jungle for Group of the Year

Meanwhile Bring Me The Horizon got another early win for for Alternative/Rock Act

Meanwhile Bring Me The Horizon got another early win for for Alternative/Rock Act

Meanwhile Bring Me The Horizon got another early win for for Alternative/Rock Act

Maya Jama, Roman Kemp and Clara Amfo were the hosts of the night

Maya Jama, Roman Kemp and Clara Amfo were the hosts of the night

Maya Jama, Roman Kemp and Clara Amfo were the hosts of the night 

Dua Lipa pulled out all the stops as she led the performances for the 2024 BRIT Awards at the 02 Arena on Saturday night

Dua Lipa pulled out all the stops as she led the performances for the 2024 BRIT Awards at the 02 Arena on Saturday night
Ellie Goulding, 37, stormed the stage in a white ruffled bodysuit and thigh-high leggings

Ellie Goulding, 37, stormed the stage in a white ruffled bodysuit and thigh-high leggings

Dua Lipa (left) and Ellie Goulding(right) pulled out all the stops as they led the performances for the 2024 BRIT Awards at the 02 Arena on Saturday night

Double nominee Dua, 28, opened the ceremony with her new song Training Season from her upcoming her third studio album

Double nominee Dua, 28, opened the ceremony with her new song Training Season from her upcoming her third studio album

Double nominee Dua, 28, opened the ceremony with her new song Training Season from her upcoming her third studio album

Dua captivated the audience with the ceremony's opening number

Dua captivated the audience with the ceremony's opening number

Dua captivated the audience with the ceremony’s opening number

Dua Lipa picked up the fan-voted Pop Act gong, gushing to her fans: 'I guess for more reasons than one my fans are the reasons why I’m standing here today'

Dua Lipa picked up the fan-voted Pop Act gong, gushing to her fans: 'I guess for more reasons than one my fans are the reasons why I’m standing here today'

Dua Lipa picked up the fan-voted Pop Act gong, gushing to her fans: ‘I guess for more reasons than one my fans are the reasons why I’m standing here today’

'This means so much, I’m so, so happy to be here. You guys give me this radical sense of confidence that I can do anything,' she said

'This means so much, I’m so, so happy to be here. You guys give me this radical sense of confidence that I can do anything,' she said

‘This means so much, I’m so, so happy to be here. You guys give me this radical sense of confidence that I can do anything,’ she said

Calvin Harris picked up the Best Dance Act gong, which follows the success of his hit collaboration with Ellie Goulding, Miracle spending eight weeks at number one last year

Calvin Harris picked up the Best Dance Act gong, which follows the success of his hit collaboration with Ellie Goulding, Miracle spending eight weeks at number one last year

Calvin Harris picked up the Best Dance Act gong, which follows the success of his hit collaboration with Ellie Goulding, Miracle spending eight weeks at number one last year

The singer announced last week her four-year marriage to Caspar Jopling, 31, had ended after she was pictured cosying up to hunky surf instructor Arrmando Perez

The singer announced last week her four-year marriage to Caspar Jopling, 31, had ended after she was pictured cosying up to hunky surf instructor Arrmando Perez

The singer announced last week her four-year marriage to Caspar Jopling, 31, had ended after she was pictured cosying up to hunky surf instructor Arrmando Perez 

     BRIT AWARD NOMINATIONS AT                                A GLANCE  

ARTIST OF THE YEAR  

Arlo Parks

Central Cee

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Dave

Dua Lipa

Fred Again… 

J Hus

Jessie Ware

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Little Simz

Olivia Dean

Raye

GROUP OF THE YEAR  

Blur

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Chase & Status

Headie One and K Trap

Jungle

Young Fathers

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SONG OF THE YEAR 

Calvin Harris – Miracle

Ray – Prada

Central Cee – Let Go

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Dave – Sprinter

Dua Lipa – Dance the Night

Ed Sheeran – Eyes Closed

J Hus – Who Told You

Kenya Grace – Strangers

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Lewis Capaldi – Wish you the best

Pink Panthers – Boy’s a Liar

Raye – Escapism

Rudimental – Dancing is Healing

Stormzy – Firebae

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Switch Disco – React

Venebee – Messy in Heaven

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Before the show started, stars walked the red carpet, with 28-year-old Ms Lipa wowing in a plunging leather Versace gown.

She said: ‘It does feel like a particularly strong year [for women] and it’s wonderful to see so many incredible female artists who I love and I admire and I listen to.To be alongside them feels really special and we need more girl energy. It’s great.’

Ellie Goulding, 37, made her first public appearance since she confirmed she had split from husband Caspar Jopling after nearly five years of marriage.

Fresh off the plane from Costa Rica where she was seen frolicking in the sea with surf instructor Armando Perez, Ms Goulding was dressed in a stunning nude coloured floor-length silk gown by Italian label Alberta Ferretti and a pair of £954 Jimmy Choo Max Bing shoes.

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She also took to the O2 stage with Harris to perform their Brit-nominated hit Miracle.

Other stars to stun in on the red carpet included actresses Joanne Froggatt, Jaime Winstone, Isla Fisher and Marisa Abela, who plays Amy Winehouse in the forthcoming biopic of the tragic singer, Back To Black.

Also on the red carpet were model Abbey Clancy with ex-footballer husband Peter Crouch, former Spice Girl Mel C and singer Charli XCX.

Comedian Rob Beckett left guests stunned and amused when he arrived in an inflatable giraffe outfit – apparently plugging his forthcoming stand-up tour, which is called Giraffe.

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