Chris Evans may need to rein in TFI Friday reboot | Rebecca Nicholson

Chris Evans has suggested that his old music-and-chatshow TFI Friday will be returning later this year. But the raucous series, which ran on Channel 4 from 1996 to 2000, and came back for a brief revival in 2015, could appear in a very different format. “The thing is, you don’t need a TV channel now,” Evans told listeners of his Virgin Radio breakfast show. “TFI Friday doesn’t have to be an hour long, it could be longer, we could livestream it.” He said it could draw on its wealth of archive material, some unbroadcast, which made me personally very excited to see if there was a performance of a Kula Shaker B-side tucked away somewhere on a hard drive.

You can find compilations of the show in its 90s heyday on YouTube and some of it has aged better than I expected, based solely on my memories of sitting down to watch it after school on a Friday night. Many of its comedy “bits” are deliberately amateurish and would easily find a home on TikTok or Reels today. Its everything’s-a-joke, only-kidding tone dominates vast corners of the internet now. Its interviews are freewheeling, in a podcast kind of way. Considering it was on at teatime, there was a sense that anything could happen, though the worst that did happen was the odd celebrity saying “fuck” on air.

Its appeal was in its curated chaos, though that chaos existed within parameters: pre-watershed, a fixed run time. A livestream sounds like it would be aiming for unharnessed chaos, which is a very different prospect. When certain podcasts get so big that they start to run for however long the presenter feels like talking, they lose their sharpness and focus. When it comes to TV, on a channel or not, I have strong feelings that nobody needs more than an hour of anything. Yes, that even applies to Stranger Things.

What has changed most, though, is that despite TFI Friday feeling like a precursor of many elements of entertainment today, its mood is that of a long-gone age. Evans’s interviews with celebrities are a relic of a different time. Today, famous people are cautious, afraid of saying anything of interest, and celebrity interviews are mostly a bland tussle between fulfilling promotional purposes and avoiding controversy. The new Brad Pitt profile in GQ Magazine reported the actor talking about his dreams and revealed that when it comes to water, his friends have all gone “room temp”. A livestream has a lot to do if it must free us from celebrities telling us their dreams.

Jane Austen: I’m persuaded, but others still debate new film

Jane Austen: would she really be turning in her grave? Photograph: Stock Montage/Getty Images

They’re about as common as a resignation-worthy offence in the Conservative party, but even so I always look forward to another new Jane Austen adaptation. The latest version of Persuasion, Austen’s best novel, sounded great: Dakota Johnson as Anne Elliot, Cosmo Jarvis as Captain Wentworth and Carrie Cracknell making the move from stage to screen as director. Being playful with the original can lead to gems – I loved the recent-ish Emma, with Anya Taylor-Joy – but this Persuasion has led to a surprisingly fierce backlash online.

As always with trailer storms, it is impossible to judge the film based on a two-and-a-half-minute compilation of scenes and it could well be that it is not showing its best side. But Austenites are less than impressed with what they have seen so far, particularly objecting to the not very Austen-like line: “Now we’re worse than exes – we’re friends.” On the plus side, it might have led to one of the most considerate and enlightening comments sections on the internet, as viewers of the YouTube video debate Elliot’s interior life and the delicate craft of Austen’s language. It is an Austen symposium and it is gripping.

Anita Alvarez’s rescue was a work of art

Coach Andrea Fuentes reaches out to save Anita Alvarez during the Budapest 2022 World Aquatics Championships.
Coach Andrea Fuentes reaches out to save Anita Alvarez during the Budapest 2022 World Aquatics Championships. Photograph: Oli Scarff/AFP/Getty Images

The series of photographs showing the US artistic swimmer Anita Alvarez unconscious after fainting and sinking to the bottom of a swimming pool and her coach, Andrea Fuentes, diving in to rescue her, were so vivid and powerful that they remained at the top of many news sites’ most-read stories lists for a time last week.

“Instead of going up, she was going down,” Fuentes told the BBC, whose claim that she simply went into “problem-solving mode” might be the understatement of the year. “I’m just so grateful to have her as a coach,” said Alvarez, who comes a close second, particularly given that Fuentes has rescued her before, after a previous fainting episode. She is reportedly feeling much better.

The AFP photographer Oli Scarff captured the dramatic scenes and the images are remarkable. They have the considered composition of a painting or a series of paintings. The water gives them a painterly sheen, while the sequence tells a story of triumph over adversity. There is Alvarez, alone, in peril, until Fuentes, fully clothed, approaches and eventually pulls her swimmer to the surface. It was difficult to look away from what could have been a terrible situation, although it did feel better to see them knowing that Alvarez was OK.

Would it have had the same impact or reach if it had been a video? I don’t think it would. There was something about these still images that slowed it all down and asked us to pause and consider. Perhaps that’s why they stood out so much: they showed courage, and resilience, and steadiness, too.

Rebecca Nicholson is an Observer columnist



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