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Illustrator Chris Riddell accuses John Lewis over Christmas ad

Chris Riddell accuses the retail giant of copying one of his characters in its Christmas advert.

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John Lewis has been accused of copying a 1986 book by former Children’s Laureate Chris Riddell in its latest Christmas advert.

Writing on social media, the illustrator accused the retail giant of “helping themselves” to his book Mr Underbed in its festive campaign.

Both feature a small boy who discovers a giant cuddly monster under his bed.

John Lewis responded by insisting “the main thrust” of its advert’s story was “utterly different to Chris Riddell’s”.

It said: “The story of a big hairy monster under the bed which keeps a child from sleeping is a universal tale which has been told many times over many years.

“Ours is a Christmas story of friendship and fun between Joe and Moz the Monster, in which Joe receives a night light which helps him get a good night’s sleep.”

Image copyright Andersen Press Image caption Mr Underbed was originally published in 1986

Riddell’s story features a small boy whose attempts to find another place for Mr Underbed to sleep lead to the discovery that he shares his bedroom with various other hidden creatures.

Writing on Tumblr on Thursday, Riddell said it was “very generous of John Lewis to devote their Christmas advertising campaign to my 1986 picture book… in this age of shrinking publicity budgets”.

The author and illustrator said he was not interested in “a protracted and arcane legal action” but was merely concerned with having “the issue of accreditation” highlighted.

“Going forward, it’s important that young creative people have their work credited in the proper way,” he told BBC News.

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Riddell’s other books include the award-winning Goth Girl series

The writer conceded that the advert’s plot was “different to the underlying story in Mr Underbed” but still said he felt there were clear parallels.

“What piqued my interest was that the actual premise was remarkably similar,” he said. “There are similarities there and I was just pointing that up.”

His accusations attracted support from fellow author Frank Cottrell-Boyce, who likened John Lewis to “grinches [that] nick something from under the spreading tree of other people’s creativity”.

The John Lewis advert was created by advertising agency adam&eveDDB, is directed by Michel Gondry and features a cover version of The Beatles’ Golden Slumbers by Elbow.

Brighton-based Riddell was the ninth Children’s Laureate, holding the post between 2015 and 2017.

The 55-year-old is the creator of the award-winning Goth Girl novels, a three-time winner of the Kate Greenaway Medal for illustration and The Observer’s political cartoonist.

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Entertainment & Art

Fossilised eggs shed light on reign of pterosaurs

A collection of 200 eggs gives new insights into the development of the extinct flying reptiles.

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The largest clutch of pterosaurs eggs ever discovered suggests that the extinct flying reptiles may have gathered together in vast colonies to lay their eggs.

More than 200 eggs were discovered at one location in China.

Little is known about how the pterosaurs reproduced.

The find suggests that hatchlings were probably incapable of flight when they emerged from the egg, and needed some parental care.

Predator attack

Fossilised pterosaur eggs and embryos are extremely rare. Until now only a handful of eggs have been found, in Argentina and north-western China.

The large collection of eggs suggests pterosaurs may have nested in colonies, where they defended their offspring from predator attack.

Image copyright Zhao Chuang Image caption Reconstruction by Zhao Chuang

Pterosaur experts Xiaolin Wang of the Institute of Vertebrate Palaeontology and Paleoanthropology in Beijing and Alexander Kellner of the National Museum of Brazil in Rio de Janeiro discovered the fossils.

The 215-plus eggs could not have been laid by the same female, said Dr Kellner.

An almost complete skeleton of a hatchling shows that bones related to flight were less developed than bones of the hind limb, indicating that newborns might have been able to walk but not fly.

”That implies some parental help was needed for the hatchlings,” he told BBC News.

‘Crucial advance’

They will continue to search for new fossils, he added, to try to get a more detailed understanding of ”the first vertebrates that conquered the air some 225 million years ago and that went extinct, without leaving any descendants some 66 million years ago”.

Image copyright Alexander Kellner/Museum Nacional/UFRJ Image caption Pterosaur bones were found alongside the eggs Image copyright Alexander Kellner/Museum Nacional/UFRJ Image caption Paleontologists Kellner and Wang in the field

The eggs belong to a pterosaur species known as Hamipterus tianshanensis, which was first discovered in 2005 in the Turpan-Hami Basin of north-western China.

Geological evidence suggests large numbers of the flying reptiles died in a storm in the Early Cretaceous period, about 120 million years ago.

Commenting on the research, Charles Deeming of the University of Lincoln, said it raised many questions, such as how many eggs were laid at a time.

”The work is a crucial advance in understanding pterosaur reproduction,” Dr Deeming said.

”Hopefully additional finds of equally spectacular fossils will help us answer such questions for pterosaurs and allow us to paint an increasingly complete picture of reproduction in these extinct species.”

The research is published in the journal, Science.

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Celebrity Big Brother: All-female launch ‘to mark 100 years of women’s votes’

The CBB house will be man-free at first, marking the centenary of women getting the vote.

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The next series of Celebrity Big Brother is to launch with just female housemates “in a salute to a centenary of women’s suffrage”.

The show will begin in January with only women in the house before male contestants join them.

Channel 5 said it wanted to mark the 100th anniversary of women over 30 being given the vote.

But a descendant of suffragettes Emmeline and Sylvia Pankhurst said they would have laughed at the idea.

Dr Helen Pankhurst, an equality campaigner who is Sylvia’s granddaughter and Emmeline’s great-granddaughter, welcomed the fact the programme would raise awareness.

However she said people needed to realise there are still big problems in the entertainment industry and wider society.

‘Serious message’

“Anything that draws attention the centenary and allows a discussion and gets that message through to different audiences is a great thing,” she told BBC News.

“I’ll be really interested to hear what the audience have to say about it all and to hear the whole discussion it will promote.”

Asked what her grandmother and great-grandmother would make of the plan, Dr Pankhurst said she thought they would laugh, adding: “I really don’t know what they would make of the world we live in.”

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Sarah Harding won over British voters in the last series

Dr Pankhurst is publishing a book titled Deeds Not Words – named after the suffragettes’ slogan – in February to mark the anniversary.

“The message has to remain that there is a really serious issue behind the power imbalance that still remains,” she said.

“That is why we have a number of troubles, like the whole #MeToo issue, which is rife in the entertainment industry. So I think they would say, ‘fine, but let’s keep on with the messaging.'”

Channel 5 said the show “will initially explore how the all-female housemates interact”.

The male contestants will enter “over the course of the series”, but the broadcaster wouldn’t say how long the house would remain a man-free zone.

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption This will be the 21st UK series of Celebrity Big Brother

They also wouldn’t say how many contestants of each gender will eventually be inside, or whether it will end up with an equal split.

But their announcement said it would show “what happens when women hold the power”.

“The housemates will take part in a series of entertaining tasks and hidden experiments which will test their – and our – assumptions, challenge gender stereotypes and reveal fascinating truths about what it is to be a woman – and man – in the 21st Century,” it said.

Women over 30 gained the right to vote in parliamentary elections in the UK in 1918, following a long campaign by the suffragettes and after the contribution by women to the war effort during World War One was recognised.

The voting age for women was lowered to 21 in 1928, putting them on an equal footing with men.

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Cineworld to buy Regal cinemas in blockbuster deal

The $3.6bn (£2.7bn) takeover will create the second largest cinema chain in the world.

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Cineworld has agreed to buy US cinema chain Regal in a $3.6bn (£2.7bn) deal that will create the world’s second largest cinema group.

The new cinema giant will operate in 10 countries, and have 9,500 screens across the US and Europe.

The deal gives Cineworld access to North America, which has the largest box office market in the world.

Cineworld currently has more than 2,000 screens across 221 sites and also owns the Picturehouse Cinemas chain.

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The deal is a big bet on the cinema sector, which is under threat from streaming sites such as Netflix, Amazon Prime and iTunes which allow viewers to watch films at home.

In the US this summer’s takings at the box office were at their lowest level for more than two decades.

But annual takings have been more than $11bn for the last two years.

And in the UK, cinema attendance is up around 8% so far this year with around 165 million tickets sold each year.

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption The 1946 film Notorious was released in an era of record cinema attendance

The numbers are still a far cry from UK cinema-going’s peak after World War Two which saw a record 1.63 billion cinema admissions in 1946.

Cineworld chief executive Mooky Greidinger said he expected to bring Regal’s profit margins to nearer Cineworld.

Currently Cineworld has a 22% margin, while Regal has just short of a 20% profit margin.

Its main rival is AMC , which is majority owned by China’s Dalian Wanda Group.

This year, Cineworld’s audiences have been boosted by blockbusters Dunkirk and Despicable Me 3, with recent big releases including Paddington 2 and Justice League.

Mr Greidinger said: “Regal is a great business and provides Cineworld with the optimal platform on which we can continue our growth strategy.”

News of the deal saw shares in Cineworld drop 2.5% by midday.

Last week, the cinema chain’s shares plunged 20% when it revealed it was in takeover talks with Regal.

Cineworld has agreed to pay $23 a share for Regal, and is funding the deal mainly by asking investors to stump up £1.7bn by buying new shares through a procedure known as a rights issue. Issuing new shares typically depresses the price of existing shares.

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