EastEnders goes Disney for Children in Need

(left to right) Natalie Cassidy as Silly Girl, Maisie Smith as Silly Girl, Zack Morris as Aladdin, Lorraine Stanley as the Genie, Shona McGarty as Belle, Tilly Keeper as Jasmine and Stephen Rahman-Hughes as the Tavern Keeper, as the cast of Eastenders perform a medley of Disney songs in Albert Square for Children In Need. Image copyright PA
Image caption The cast of EastEnders put on a special performance with an Aladdin theme

Albert Square has had a Disney makeover for this year’s Children in Need.

The EastEnders cast have brushed up on their singing skills to perform a medley of Disney songs on the EastEnders set for the BBC fundraising night.

Their performance will be among the highlights of the charity extravaganza, which is on BBC TV and radio on Friday.

Doctor Who star Jodie Whittaker plays a part on the night, while Boyzone have taken to the Strictly dancefloor.

  • Follow BBC Children In Need live
Image caption Tilly Keeper as Jasmine and Zack Morris as Aladdin in Albert Square
Image caption Jessie Wallace swaps Kat Slater for Elsa to sing Let It Go from Frozen

Hosts for the TV marathon this year include Tess Daly, Graham Norton, Mel Giedroyc, Ade Adepitan, Rochelle and Marvin Humes and Rob Beckett.

As part of the Children in Need night Eddie Redmayne and Zoe Kravitz will be seen playing a joke on The One Show presenter Alex Jones, with the help of some children.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Eddie Redmayne, Alex Jones and Zoe Kravitz are helped by (left to right) Vidhit Nihal, Kelsey Wheatley and Lucy Subbiah

Jazz musician and broadcaster Jamie Cullum has written the official Children in Need single, Love Is In The Picture.

Friday’s BBC One broadcast runs from 19:30 to 00:30 BST – with a break for the news at 22:00, when Children in Need switches to BBC Two.

Children in Need is the BBC’s official UK charity and raised £60.7m for disadvantaged children across the country last year

The charity is currently supporting 2,400 projects helping children facing a range of disadvantages, such as poverty, abuse or physical disability.

It has raised more than £972m since the first Children in Need broadcast in 1980.

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White House ordered to restore CNN reporter Jim Acosta’s access

Jim Acosta Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Jim Acosta was in court to hear the judge’s temporary ruling

A judge in Washington DC has ordered the White House to return CNN reporter Jim Acosta’s press pass after it was revoked by the US Secret Service.

The judge’s order says that the pass must be reinstated as a CNN lawsuit against Donald Trump continues.

Mr Acosta’s press pass was taken after he clashed with the president during a news conference earlier this month.

The judge said the White House decision likely violated the journalist’s right to due process and freedom of speech.

Speaking outside the court, Mr Acosta praised the decision and told reporters “let’s go back to work”.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said they would comply with the order, and would “also further develop rules and processes to ensure fair and orderly press conferences in the future”.

“There must be decorum at the White House,” she added.

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Media captionDonald Trump and CNN’s Acosta clash

The ruling forces the White House press office to temporarily return Mr Acosta’s “hard pass”, the credential that allows reporters easy access to the White House and other presidential events.

Mr Acosta’s lawyer called the ruling “a great day for the first amendment and journalism”.

  • White House attacks CNN’s Acosta lawsuit
  • The Acosta affair: An unpopular opinion

How did the row begin?

Mr Acosta was barred from entering the White House a day after he had a heated exchange with President Trump during a news conference on 8 November.

A White House intern tried to take the microphone from Mr Acosta as he attempted to ask the president a follow-up question.

In a statement Mrs Sanders claimed that he had put “his hands on a young woman” during the exchange, during which Mr Trump called the reporter “a rude, terrible person”.

CNN sued to have Mr Acosta’s pass restored, and their lawsuit was joined by other media groups, including conservative-leaning Fox News.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Jim Acosta lost his White House access after a fiery exchange with President Trump

Winning the battle but not the war

Anthony Zurcher, BBC News, Washington

With Jim Acosta sitting in the front row of the courtroom, the media won the opening round of what could be an extended legal battle.

Judge Kelly said he was not ruling on the merits of this case, but that the White House did not provide sufficient justification for revoking Acosta’s credentials.

That shouldn’t come as much of a shock, given that the administration’s explanation for the move has shifted multiple times, from a tenuous allegation that the CNN reporter “placed his hands” on a White House intern to a more general assertion that he violated press conference decorum.

What’s left to be decided after further hearings and court filings – assuming the case proceeds – is how much power a president has in determining which reporters get to have, and keep, access to the White House.

An administration has discretion to limit the number of passes it gives out, but the balancing of executive power and press rights gets trickier when government officials try to take media credentials away.

What did the judge say?

Judge Timothy Kelly, who was appointed to the bench by Mr Trump last year, said Mr Acosta’s constitutional rights outweighed the White House’s right to have an orderly news conference, the Washington Post reported.

He also criticised the Trump administration’s decision, saying that the process was “so shrouded in mystery that the government could not tell me… who made the decision”.

He also called Mrs Sanders’ statement claiming that Mr Acosta had inappropriately touched an intern “belated efforts [that] were hardly sufficient to satisfy due process”.

But in court documents, the White House argued that the decision was made in order to preserve White House decorum and it did not claim impropriety towards the intern.

Judge Kelly added that the White House was required to restore his White House access, but is under no obligation to call on him during questions.

A hearing on the case is scheduled for next week, but it is unclear if the White House will once again seek to strip Mr Acosta’s access, or allow him to resume his work as CNN’s chief White House correspondent.

What has the reaction been?

In a statement, CNN said: “We are gratified with this result and we look forward to a full resolution in the coming days.

“Our sincere thanks to all who have supported not just CNN, but a free, strong and independent American press.”

Mrs Sanders said the judge “made clear that there is no absolute first amendment right to access the White House” and that her office planned to “temporarily reinstate the reporter’s hard pass”.

Ben Wizner of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) said that the White House’s attempts to silence Mr Acosta had backfired.

“The White House surely hoped that expelling a reporter would deter forceful questioning, but the court’s ruling will have the opposite effect.

“The freedom of the press is a bedrock principle, and our democracy is strengthened when journalists challenge our leaders rather than defer to them.”



England 3-0 USA: Wayne Rooney farewell appearance ends in victory

Rooney replaced former Manchester United team-mate Jesse Lingard in the second half

Manager Gareth Southgate saw “a glimpse of the future” as England celebrated Wayne Rooney’s final international appearance with a comfortable friendly win over the United States at Wembley.

Rooney, winning his 120th cap in a fundraiser for his charitable foundation, made a 33-minute appearance on a night England showed their appreciation for their 33-year-old record goalscorer.

But it was the players at the start of their international careers who stole the show, as Southgate fielded England’s most inexperienced starting XI in nearly 40 years.

“We wanted to use this game to look at young players,” he told BBC Radio 5 live. “We had a glimpse of the future, and were able to get Wayne on to show some wonderful touches.

“Some of our attacking play in the first half-hour in particular was really exciting.”

England’s starting XI had just 94 caps between them coming into the match – the last time they fielded a more inexperienced side was in May 1980 against Australia.

The young side were 2-0 up by the time Rooney was finally introduced – Jesse Lingard opening the scoring with a spectacular curling effort, and Trent Alexander-Arnold adding a low, angled drive for his first international goal.

If it was a memorable night for Rooney, who was denied a dream goal by Brad Guzan’s stoppage-time save, it was the same for Bournemouth’s Callum Wilson when he crowned his debut with a near-post finish 13 minutes from time.

It set England up nicely for Sunday’s Uefa Nations League game with Croatia at Wembley, which takes on great importance after the World Cup finalists’ 3-2 victory over Spain in Zagreb.

If England win they will finish top of Group A4 and qualify for next June’s semi-final and final. If they lose, they will be relegated.

Rooney’s special night

For all the mixed opinions evoked by the Football Association’s decision to give Rooney a sentimental final run-out for his 120th cap, there appeared no doubt in the minds of the Wembley crowd that this was a worthwhile exercise.

When the former England captain appeared before kick-off with his four children through a guard of honour formed by both teams to receive a presentation from FA chairman Greg Clarke and Harry Kane, it was the start of a genuine show of affection.

And Rooney beamed in appreciation as he warmed up near the touchline when Liverpool youngster Alexander-Arnold – another Merseysider – drilled in his first England goal.

The DC United striker was given a standing ovation when the big moment arrived, and he came on for Lingard for that final 33-minute appearance.

Rooney, who has excelled in Major League Soccer, looked trim and fit as the crowd cheered his every move, willing him to produce one more special England moment.

He almost delivered the dream finale in stoppage time when only the outstretched right arm of Guzan stopped him adding a 54th goal to his all-time England record. And, agonisingly, he was just unable to stretch enough to meet a cross six yards out seconds later.

Rooney took the acclaim of the crowd at the final whistle as the curtain came down on his England career.

Good night for Southgate and England

England’s night may have been partly ceremonial as Wembley paid that final tribute to Rooney, but it was also a night of serious business for Southgate.

He and his players needed to build on the momentum delivered by the superb win against Spain in Seville, which was one of the factors leading to the criticism this was effectively turned into a Rooney testimonial.

Southgate can certainly be satisfied with plenty of what he saw, albeit against a United States side that looked very poor, despite Christian Pulisic forcing a fine save from Jordan Pickford at 0-0.

England, though much-changed, played with pace and there was certainly plenty to take from the new-look side, including a debut goal for the hard-working Wilson and a solid performance from Brighton defender Lewis Dunk on his first appearance, although he was barely tested. The same applied to Southampton goalkeeper Alex McCarthy as he won his first cap as a second-half substitute for Pickford.

Southgate is now likely to select his strongest available side for what is a winner-takes-all final Nations League fixture here against Croatia on Sunday.

Croatia inflicted that second successive defeat on Spain while England were winning here so the equation is clear cut – and the World Cup finalists have demonstrated once more what a dangerous side they can be.

“We knew tonight would be tough for Spain,” Southgate said.

“Croatia have shown again their resilience, it sets Sunday up to be a very special tie. I’m sure who ever devised the Nations League is sitting smugly somewhere in Switzerland.

“We know not to underestimate Croatia, they have a huge lift tonight and the great thing is it sets up a brilliant game at the end of what has been a really exciting year.”

Man of the match – Trent Alexander-Arnold (England)

‘The players have taken on board Wayne Rooney’s humility’ – what they said

England manager Gareth Southgate said: “The players will have taken on board Wayne Rooney’s humility, even after everything he has given to the game. He mucked in during training and worked hard in the five-a-sides and in the game he was tracking back.

“We’ve got really good competition for places and it was a good test for them. We’ve got a brilliant game to come now, this is what the Nations League is all about.”

England debutant and goalscorer Callum Wilson: “There was a chance just before the goal when Trent Alexander-Arnold slid the ball in and I thought the chance might have gone because I saw Marcus Rashford on the side of the pitch warming up.

“But there was one last opportunity and I managed to get my foot around it which is one of the hardest finishes so I’m delighted it went in.”

Man-of-the-match Trent Alexander-Arnold: “A dream come true, first game at Wembley and for my country. It was exciting and we want to show what we are made of.

“It’s been exciting, looking back on Wayne Rooney’s career, he was one of the best players for the country and it was good to share the pitch with him. As a local Liverpool lad, it is good to show people in Liverpool that it is possible.”

Wilson’s Cherry on the cake – the stats

  • England have won all three of their games against USA at Wembley, by an aggregate score of 7-0.
  • England’s starting XI had just 94 caps between them coming into this match – the last time they fielded a more inexperienced side was in May 1980 against Australia (46).
  • This was England’s biggest home win since beating Scotland 3-0 in November 2016.
  • There were just 104 seconds between Lingard’s opener and Alexander-Arnold making it 2-0.
  • At 20 years 39 days, Alexander-Arnold became the youngest Liverpool player to score for England since Michael Owen against Luxembourg in September 1999 (19y 264d).
  • Wilson became the first Bournemouth player to score for England, and the first player to score on his debut for England since Marcus Rashford in May 2016.



Theresa May under pressure after Gove rejects Brexit Secretary job

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Media captionBBC’s Laura Kuenssberg asks the PM if she “in office, but not really in power?”

Theresa May will continue to sell her Brexit withdrawal deal on Friday as cabinet minister Michael Gove is understood to be considering quitting.

BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg said she understood Mr Gove had rejected the PM’s offer to make him Brexit secretary, because May would not let him renegotiate the deal.

Dominic Raab quit the role on Thursday over “fatal flaws” in the agreement.

Mrs May says the deal “delivers what people voted for”.

But she was warned by one of her own backbenchers it was “dead on arrival” and would not get the backing of MPs, during nearly three hours of hostile questioning in the Commons.

The government unveiled its long-awaited draft withdrawal agreement on Wednesday, which sets out the terms of the UK’s departure from the EU, over 585 pages.

  • Live: Theresa May defends Brexit deal
  • May: I am going to see this through
  • Raab quits over ‘flawed’ Brexit agreement

The prime minister will answer callers’ questions about the plan on LBC radio on Friday morning.

Asked about Mr Gove on Thursday, she said he was doing “an excellent job at Defra” adding: “I haven’t appointed a new Dexeu [Department for Exiting the European Union] secretary yet and I will be making appointments to the government in due course.”

But the BBC understands Mr Gove, a leading figure in the Leave campaign during the EU referendum, rejected her offer to make him Brexit secretary – saying he would only accept it if he could try to make changes to the negotiated deal, something Theresa May had made clear was not possible.

Former Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab and Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey have both quit over the withdrawal deal.

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Media captionWhat do the other parties think of PM’s Brexit plan?

And various Tory backbenchers, including leading Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg, said they had submitted letters of no confidence in Mrs May to the chairman of the Conservatives’ backbench 1922 Committee. Forty eight letters are needed to trigger a confidence vote.

It is understood that a group of cabinet ministers are considering whether to try to force Mrs May to make some changes to the withdrawal deal.

The agreement sets out commitments over citizens’ rights after Brexit, the proposed 21-month transition period, the £39bn “divorce bill” and, most controversially, the “backstop” to avoid a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

Mrs May issued a defiant message in Downing Street on Thursday, saying: “I believe with every fibre of my being that the course I have set out is the right one for our country and all our people.”

She added: “Leadership is about taking the right decisions, not the easy ones.”

  • No Brexit renegotiation, EU leaders warn
  • Reality Check: What does the draft withdrawal agreement reveal?

She acknowledged unhappiness among some with compromises made to secure a withdrawal deal but said it “delivers what people voted for and it is in the national interest” and vowed to “see this through”.

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Media captionHow the Conservative Party handles a leadership challenge

But Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn told her: “The government simply cannot put to Parliament this half-baked deal that both the Brexit Secretary and his predecessor have rejected.”

And some of her own backbenchers warned her it could not command support in the House of Commons, if it is put to a vote.


By BBC Political Editor Laura Kuenssberg

The government, for today at least, is at the mercy of events not in control.

Theresa May’s vow to stay does not make her deep, deep problems disappear.

With her party in revolt, her colleagues departing – some determined to usher her out of office – we can’t, and don’t know yet, if Brexit can happen as planned, perhaps, if at all.

This could be a gale that’s weathered in a few days, or a serious storm that sweeps the government away.

Read Laura’s blog

Tory MP Mark Francois said, with Labour, the SNP, the Lib Dems and the DUP planning to vote against it – alongside, he said, more than 80 Tory MPs, it was “mathematically impossible to get this deal through the House of Commons” and it was “dead on arrival”.

But, during a press conference in Downing Street, Mrs May said abandoning the withdrawal deal would be “to take a path of deep and grave uncertainty when the British people just want us to get on with it”, she warned.

But Liberal Democrat leader Sir Vince Cable suggested the prime minister was “in denial”: “The facts haven’t changed. There is no majority in Parliament for her deal, and she has rightly conceded that “No Brexit” is the real alternative to it.”



Croatia beat Spain in thriller to keep England’s Nations League hopes alive

Tin Jedvaj scored twice for Croatia – his first two goals for his country

Croatia gained a dramatic late winner to beat Spain in the Nations League – a result which keeps alive England’s hopes of winning the tournament.

It means all three countries can finish top of Group A4, with England taking on Croatia in the last match on Sunday.

Two goals from Tin Jedvaj, including one in the 93rd minute, gave the World Cup finalists the victory in Zagreb.

Andrej Kramaric scored the hosts’ opener, with Spain’s goals coming from Dani Ceballos and Sergio Ramos.

Whoever wins at Wembley will finish top of the group and advance to June’s finals, to have a chance of becoming Nations League champions and also to earn a place at Euro 2020.

However, if Sunday’s game ends in a draw, then Spain will finish top.

A goalless draw on Sunday would mean England finish second, with Croatia relegated. A score draw, however, would take Croatia above England on the head-to-head record – by virtue of having scored more away goals in the matches between the sides – and drop the Three Lions into the second tier.

If England and Croatia finish level on points, their positions in the table are decided on head-to-head record. It finished 0-0 in Croatia in October, with them meeting again at Wembley on Sunday, 18 November

It is set to be a thrilling conclusion to the group after a hugely entertaining clash in Zagreb, with Croatia still in contention despite losing 6-0 to Spain in their opening match back in September.

Ivan Perisic nearly gave the hosts a sixth-minute lead in Zagreb but his effort was pushed on to the post by Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea.

In a breathless second half, Kramaric was left unmarked to slot past De Gea, but Croatia’s lead only lasted two minutes before Ceballos finished off a beautifully worked team goal, which also involved Iago Aspas and Isco in the build-up.

Jedvaj scored his first goal for his country when he headed in at the back post from Luka Modric’s fine cross, but the Spaniards again equalised – through Ramos’ penalty after Sime Vrsaljko’s handball.

A Spain win would have guaranteed them top spot and Chelsea forward Alvaro Morata, on as a second-half substitute, had the ball in the net but was offside.

If it had finished as a draw then Croatia’s hopes of finishing top would have been over, but there was a late twist as Marcelo Brozovic’s low shot was parried by De Gea but into Jedvaj’s path and he won it for the home country.

‘Football has not been fair to us’ – what they said

Spain coach Luis Enrique said: “It shows it was a very difficult group. We still have a chance. The group was, as we expected, very difficult with two of the best teams in the world.

“I am obviously worried about the things we have to improve. I am quite happy with this match, but the result is undeserved and I think football today has not been fair to us.”

Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic said: “We were rewarded for a magnificent match.”



Prince William criticises social media firms

The royals on the One Show sofa Image copyright Getty Images

The Duke of Cambridge has accused social media firms of not being proactive enough about dealing with fake news, privacy issues and cyber-bullying.

In a speech given at the BBC, Prince William said social networks had allowed “misinformation and conspiracy to pollute the public sphere”.

“Their self-image is so grounded in their positive power for good that they seem unable to engage in constructive discussion about the social problems they are creating,” he warned.

The prince and the Duchess of Cambridge had been invited to the BBC to try out a new internet safety app.

During their visit, the royal couple met children and their parents who had helped design it.

“The tools that we use to congratulate each other on milestones and successes can also be used to normalise speech that is filled with bile and hate. The websites we use to stay connected can for some create profound feelings of loneliness and inadequacy,” said the Prince in his speech.

The prince said tech firms had a “great deal to learn” on responsibility.

“Social media companies have done more to connect the world than has ever been achieved in human history. Surely you can connect with each other about smart ways to deal with the unintended consequences of these connections,” he said.

“You can reject the false choice of profits over values. You can choose to do good and be successful.”

The BBC put the prince’s criticism to Facebook’s chief executive Mark Zuckerberg.

He said part of the challenge was figuring out how to balance the privacy users wanted against a desire to do more to crack down on bad behaviour.

“I do think there’s some trade-off on some of these issues between privacy and some of the safety work,” Mr Zuckerberg said.

“A lot of what we are trying to do is architect the systems to give people really good privacy too.

“This is why these are big and important questions, and why broadly across society people don’t necessarily agree on actually where you should draw the line.”

Another executive added that Facebook was using artificial intelligence to root out unacceptable behaviour, but it was harder to identify cases of cyber-bullying than other problems because the nature of the messages involved was so personal.

Analysis: Leo Kelion, technology desk editor

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Prince William and Catherine met parents and children at the BBC

This is far from the first time The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have spoken out about cyber-bullying.

They launched a taskforce to tackle the problem in June 2016, which involved Facebook, Snapchat and Google among others.

They have returned to the issue since, but this does represent a change of tone.

Rather than focusing on co-operation, this time the prince accused the tech leaders of posturing, being too proud and defensive, and having put their shareholders’ interests above those of their users.

Moreover, the prince said he was “disappointed” that the taskforce he had built had failed to achieve more.

For Facebook in particular, this couldn’t come at a worse time.

The firm has been beset by data breach scandals, claims its products encourage loneliness and depression, and evidence its apps have been used to meddle with elections.

And on Wednesday, the New York Times published a fresh series of claims about dubious backroom tactics as the social network tried to fight back against all the negative publicity.

During a lengthy press conference this evening, chief executive Mark Zuckerberg acknowledged that there had been a lot of issues his firm had been behind on and that “a lot of the critique of the company is fair”.

But he said that he was “very clearly involved” in addressing users’ concerns and pointed to an essay he had just published to update them on his efforts.

He added, however, that he and his team could not “snap our fingers” and resolve all the complaints quickly – rather it would likely take years.

The dangers for Facebook are that its members may not be willing to stick around that long and that politicians may feel the need to introduce tougher regulations in the meantime.

The BBC is a member of an industry-wide taskforce set up by the prince to tackle cyber-bullying.

After being greeted by excited crowds outside the BBC studios in central London, the royal couple were pictured with BBC director general Tony Hall and the director of BBC Children’s, Alice Webb.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Alice Webb (left) and Lord Hall (second left) hosted the royals for their visit to the BBC
Image copyright PA
Image caption The royals tried out an app designed to tackle online bullying
Image copyright Getty Images
Image copyright Getty Images

During Thursday’s brief visit, the couple also met young people who wrote and performed a new video for a campaign run by the Prince’s cyber-bullying taskforce.

The campaign, called “Stop, Speak, Support”, involves a national code of conduct for children on what to do if they come across bullying online.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The royal couple also met Radio 1 breakfast show presenter Greg James, who has changed job since their last visit to the BBC
Image copyright PA
Image copyright BBC RADIO 1

It is not the first time the royal couple have visited the BBC – in 2017 they dropped in on Radio 1 and helped read the UK’s Official Chart with Greg James.

And the Queen visited the BBC in 2013, when she was shown around the main newsroom.



Federer beats Anderson & reaches ATP Finals last four

Federer first lifted the season-ending title in 2003 but the last of his six wins was in 2011

Six-time champion Roger Federer beat Kevin Anderson 6-4 6-3 to secure his place in the semi-finals of the ATP Finals for the 15th time.

Federer’s victory means he tops his group to boost his chances of avoiding world number one Novak Djokovic in the last four in London.

The Swiss, 37, looked out of sorts when he lost his first match on Sunday but bounced back with two successive wins.

South African Anderson had already won two matches to reach the semi-finals.

Top seed Djokovic is already through to the semi-finals and can clinch top spot in his group by beating Marin Cilic on Friday.

Alexander Zverev, John Isner and Cilic are battling for the other semi-final berth.

Meanwhile, Britain’s Jamie Murray and Brazilian partner Bruno Soares completed a clean sweep of wins in their doubles group by beating Henri Kontinen and John Peers 3-6 7-6 (7-3) 10-3.

Questions were asked about Federer’s form and state of mind after he lost to Kei Nishikori in straight sets on Sunday but he gave himself a chance of reaching the semi-finals by beating Dominic Thiem on Tuesday.

And after Thiem defeated Nishikori earlier on Thursday, the Swiss knew he needed to win only six games to join Wimbledon finalist Anderson in the semi-finals.

“I’m very happy, my first match was tough and I never got going, but with my back against the wall maybe it’s easier for me to play,” said Federer.

“Kevin’s had a great year, but it’s been a fun group and I’m very happy to be in the semis.”

Group Lleyton Hewitt
P W-L Sets Games
Roger Federer 3 2-1 4-2 33-25
Kevin Anderson 3 2-1 4-2 32-22
Dominic Thiem 3 1-2 2-4 26-30
Kei Nishikori 3 1-2 2-4 19-33

Federer had three break points on Anderson’s formidable serve in the seventh game of the first set and secured the break when the world number six double-faulted.

Surprisingly Federer shanked two shots to lose his serve in the next game but the Swiss broke again to love as Anderson temporarily lost his range.

Federer had to save three break points at 5-4 but held his serve to take the set – much to the delight of the majority of the fans inside the O2 Arena.

The 20-time Grand Slam winner looked back to near his best in the second set, playing nearer the baseline and moving his opponent around.

And Federer went on to get a small measure of revenge for his Wimbledon quarter-final defeat at the hands of Anderson by wrapping up victory in one hour and 16 minutes.

“These round-robin formats are not straightforward, we’re used to it being you lose, you leave, you don’t hang around,” added Federer, who is aiming to win the 100th title of his career.

“Maybe it was difficult for Kevin having already qualified, whereas with Thiem winning it was maybe easier for me.

“But I’m happy I’m still alive and hope I can play a good match the day after tomorrow.”



Wasteful Northern Ireland draw with Republic of Ireland

The sides were meeting for the first time since 2011

Northern Ireland failed to take their chances and had to settle for a draw in their friendly match against the Republic of Ireland in Dublin.

Two fantastic saves by Republic keeper Darren Randolph prevented wingers Gavin Whyte and Jordan Jones from taking good opportunities for the visitors.

Shane Duffy had the best chance for the home side but his first-half header was saved by Bailey Peacock-Farrell.

It was a fifth draw in 11 meetings between the sides.

The result means Northern Ireland have won just twice in 12 games, having lost all three of their opening Nations League Group B3 matches.

With Austria having drawn on Thursday night with Bosnia-Herzegovina, Michael O’Neill’s men are relegated from the group before they play their final match against the Austrians at Windsor Park on Sunday.

Northern Ireland’s Jordan Jones had one of the best chances but failed to make it count

The Republic’s recent form has not been much better, with a 2-1 friendly victory over the USA in June now their only victory in their last 10 outings.

They are bottom of their Group B4 Nations League table, having drawn one and lost two of their three matches and will complete their campaign with a trip to Denmark on Monday.

Randolph to Republic’s rescue

Northern Ireland have been creating plenty of chances in recent matches without taking them and that was the case again in Thursday’s friendly.

Oxford United winger Whyte had the first big opportunity of the night in the 14th minute when Liam Boyce released Stuart Dallas down the left with a hooked pass and he showed great composure to square the ball to Whyte.

The former Crusaders man, who has been in fine form since joining Oxford in the summer, took a touch and Randolph raced off his line to make a superb save at his feet.

Darren Randolph’s saves earned him the man of the match award

Randolph had to show all of his awareness again in the 72nd minute to ensure a terrible mistake by defender Darragh Lenihan did not lead to a crucial goal.

Kilmarnock player Jones was not long off the bench when he pounced to rob Lenihan of possession to go through on goal, but his shot was too close to the advancing Middlesbrough keeper who once again made an excellent save.

Dallas shines for Northern Ireland

Playing on the left of Northern Ireland’s front three, Stuart Dallas was in sparkling form, particularly in the first half.

The Leeds United man is always full of running for his country and that was the case once more as he made sure Republic captain Seamus Coleman had a busy night on his return to international football after a long-term absence.

The 27-year-old former Crusaders man showed great composure in the 14th minute to set up Whyte for his great chance – and twice came close to scoring himself.

He curled an effort from the edge of the box just wide on 25 minutes and four minutes before half-time he was played in down the left by Davis. He beat Lenihan for pace and advanced into the box before curling a low effort that just didn’t have enough power and was saved well by Randolph.

Stuart Dallas, a star performer for Northern Ireland, in action against the Republic’s James McClean

Republic lacking firepower

Scoring goals had been a major problem for both sides coming into this friendly and hitting the net once again eluded them.

Of the six strikers named by Martin O’Neill in the Republic squad, a single Aiden O’Brien goal was all they had between them on the international stage, which perhaps helps explain why they have now scored only five goals in 10 matches.

Ronan Curtis has been finding the net for Portsmouth this season and came on for his international debut at half-time. The former Derry City man looked lively but could not carve out a goalscoring opportunity.

Their best chance of the night fell to Brighton defender Duffy in the 21st minute from a dangerous free-kick by Robbie Brady, who was making his first international appearance for a year after a serious knee injury.

Duffy rose well to get his head to the cross but he planted his effort straight into the ground, with the ball looping towards goal and visiting goalkeeper Bailey Peacock-Farrell tipping over the crossbar.

Whelan gets emotional send-off

The home supporters among the 31,000 crowd in Dublin did not have a great deal to shout about in a performance which will not have done much to lift the gloom which has engulfed the squad recently.

However, they came together to cheer Glenn Whelan in the 35th minute, when the Aston Villa midfielder was substituted on what was most likely his final appearance.

Glenn Whelan was given a send-off befitting his faithful service in the green shirt

The Dubliner has not been in the team recently but was made captain for his 85th cap, a decade after his debut under Giovanni Trapattoni.

The 34-year-old, who has not officially retired from international football and has said he will still make himself available for selection if required, delivered a neat and tidy performance in his customary holding midfield role before making way for Conor Hourihane and handing the armband to regular skipper Seamus Coleman.

The key stats

  • Republic of Ireland have lost only one of their last nine international matches against Northern Ireland (W4 D4) – a 1-0 loss at home in May 1999.
  • Republic of Ireland have won just one of their last 10 matches in all competitions (D4 L5) and are winless in their last five (D3 L2) since a 2-1 victory against the USA back in June.
  • Northern Ireland have won just two of their last 12 games in all competitions (D3 L7) scoring just seven goals and conceding 14 during this period.
  • Northern Ireland have failed to score in any of their last seven away games (D2 L5), a run dating back to October 2017 – they last went longer without a goal away from home between May 1981 and October 1983 (run of nine).



The battle of the Christmas adverts: what’s the magic formula?

Sir Elton John in the John Lewis Christmas advert Image copyright John Lewis
Image caption Sir Elton John stars in the John Lewis Christmas ad this year

It’s that time of year again – it might still be November but retail giants including John Lewis, Sainsburys, M&S and Iceland have already unveiled their Christmas adverts.

So what’s the secret to the perfect festive marketing campaign?

First and foremost, a strong, emotional story makes a intoxicating ingredient for many Christmas adverts, says Elias Jahshan, editor of Retail Gazette.

This continues to be a common theme with John Lewis and Sainsburys both opting for heart-warming stories this year.

John Lewis have drafted in Sir Elton John, with their advert tracing the pop star’s musical career in reverse – right back to the day he got his first piano as a young boy.

As the story unfolds, the singer’s enduring hit single Your Song plays in the background. (That also completes a bit of a musical circle as Ellie Goulding recorded a version of Your Song for the 2010 John Lewis Christmas ad).

Meanwhile the Sainsbury’s advert depicts a school Christmas show, following an eight-year-old girl who overcomes her nerves to deliver a knock-out performance.

  • Big retailers unveil Christmas ads
  • Petition to show Iceland ad on TV hits 670k

While it’s not always immediately obvious how these adverts promote products, retail expert Clare Bailey argues an emotional connection can still drive brand loyalty.

However, it’s not the only tactic, as some retailers are less reticent about putting their products front and centre of their advertising campaigns – and Mr Jahshan argues traditional sales techniques can still be effective if done well.

Waitrose’s “Too good to wait” festive advert for 2018 shows a couple abandoning their kiss under the mistletoe to rush to a table laden with food items available from the store. And Marks & Spencer squeezes in a dizzying amount of products in its “Must Have” advert starring Holly Willoughby and David Gandy.

Ms Bailey says: “If you look at the adverts from people like Marks & Spencer and Waitrose they’re talking product, product, product.

“It’s like ‘hey our Brussels sprouts are better than Aldi’s’. Whereas John Lewis is saying we’re just nice people and we want to make you feel good.”

Image copyright Sainsbury’s
Image caption The latest Sainsbury’s Christmas ad features children performing in a school production

Mr Jahshan says recruiting a big name can also create a feeling of excitement, calling the recruitment of Sir Elton is “a huge win” for John Lewis.

“It not only appeals to John Lewis’ core consumer demographic, but it’s also a clever marketing tactic given the #EltonJohnLewis hashtag the advert has now created,” he says.

The BBC’s arts editor and critic Will Gompertz agrees the “national treasure” is a smart choice and “the embodiment of the retailer’s values”.

Image copyright John Lewis
Image caption John Lewis’ advert looks back at Sir Elton John’s musical career, from stadium tours to school concerts

But Ellen Hammett, who covers retail for Marketing Week, points out that this approach could backfire.

“The concern is that it will be remembered as ‘that Elton John ad’ rather than being associated with John Lewis. Elton might see a spike in album sales though,” she says.

It hasn’t escaped notice that the pop star has a retirement tour scheduled for next year, while a film about his life, Rocketman, is also set to be released in 2019.

One advert that you won’t be seeing on TV any time soon is Iceland’s, which highlights the impact of palm oil on rainforests through the story of an orangutan whose home is destroyed.

Clearcast, the body that approves TV ads, said it wasn’t approved because the film was made by environmental organisation Greenpeace and so breached political advertising rules.

But Ms Hammet says the advert has still been hugely successful after going viral on social media.

Image copyright Iceland/Greenpeace
Image caption Iceland’s advert has had 13 million views on Facebook

“It’s generated a huge amount of praise for a retailer that would otherwise probably have struggled to gain cut-through during the Christmas period,” she says.

However Mr Jahshan warns that if brands are going to get political in their adverts they need to back it up with action or risk being branded opportunistic.

For example Iceland has committed to remove palm oil from all its own-brand products by the end of this year.

You could be forgiven for missing the Christmas message in Iceland’s ad – it doesn’t have a particularly festive theme.

But does that matter?

“I think people want Christmas ads to feel at least a little bit festive. That’s what’s going to get them in that all important ‘feel good’ Christmas mood,” Ms Hammet says.

However she says Iceland’s advert seems to be aiming to build support for the brand in the long-term rather than just over the festive period.

Image copyright PA
Image caption The John Lewis advert depicts the moment Sir Elton John received a piano as a gift from his grandmother when he was a young boy

John Lewis’s advert has also faced criticism on social media for being more about Elton John’s life than the Christmas spirit.

But Will Gompertz says it still has enough festive charm to warm the hearts of the public.

“We learn that a piano is for life, not just Christmas – and music can change lives,” he says.

“Not a bad message for Christmas.”



‘When you play the bassoon, no-one is going to punch you in the face’ – meet the classical musician fighting for a world title

Hannah Rankin has won five of her seven professional fights
WBC world title fight: Claressa Shields v Hannah Rankin
Venue: Kansas Star Arena, Kansas Date: Saturday, 17 November

“When you go out to play the bassoon, no-one is going to be punching you in the face.”

Scottish boxer Hannah Rankin is a classically-trained musician, more familiar with orchestra pits than fighting Olympic champions.

But on Saturday night, a long way from the farm near Loch Lomond where she grew up, the 28-year-old will bounce into a boxing ring to face Claressa Shields.

The unbeaten two-time Olympic champion’s IBF and WBA middleweight titles will be on the line, as will the vacant WBC belt. Rankin wants all three for herself.

“Nobody can take away what she has achieved, but we’ve seen flaws and we are going to exploit them,” she says, motivated by the chance to become Scotland’s first female world champion.

Here, Rankin tells BBC Sport Scotland about being the “black sheep” of her farming family, the similarities between the boxing ring and the stage, and how becoming world champion would “blow my brain”.

‘I was the black sheep of the family’

Rankin grew up on a sheep farm near Luss – “on a mountain in the middle of nowhere” – within sight of Loch Lomond. She spent most of her childhood summers with her two sisters and parents shearing sheep and rolling fleeces.

“It was really idyllic,” she says. “When I was a teenager it obviously was not as cool because I wanted to be out with my friends but now I really appreciate going back home.

“My two younger sisters have gone into farming and the running joke is that I’m the black sheep of the family. I was always interested in so many other things.”

One of those things was music. Rankin recalls “falling in love” at the age of 15 with a bassoon donated to her school.

She went on to study at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, travelled the world with the National Youth Orchestra of Scotland, and did a masters at the Royal Academy of Music, in London.

“The bassoon looked different and was the perfect instrument for me,” says Rankin, whose granddad was a music teacher and mum played the piano, cello and French horn.

“Music was something my mum was really passionate about. She was always at all of my concerts, but she was my biggest critic. She’s not with me anymore but she was my number one fan.”

‘Boxing and playing in an orchestra are just the same’

Rankin’s mum, who died of cancer in 2013, was not such an admirer of her interest in combat sports. She wanted her to protect her hands and preserve her musical ambitions.

But having taken up taekwondo as a child, the youngster graduated to Thai boxing before moving to London, and it was there that she was introduced to boxing.

“I started doing a little bit of boxing for fitness and I fell in love with it,” she says. “I did white-collar boxing to raise some money for charity, then the competitive instinct kicked in and I turned professional.”

All the while, her music career was growing in tandem, playing with the London Sinfonietta at Festival Hall, and Swan Lake at The Coliseum with the St Petersburg Ballet Theatre.

Indeed, once this fight is over, she will return to the UK to perform Hansel and Gretel, The Opera as part of a quintet.

But while those two worlds seem an odd juxtaposition, Rankin insists there are plenty of “transferable techniques”.

“It’s a similar adrenaline rush, and you’ve got to control the nerves and excitement and just enjoy the moment in both,” she says. “You’ve only got one chance to get it right on stage or in the ring.

“A classical music audience sit there nicely and listen, but once I get under the lights, it’s the same scenario. It’s you and your opponent, or it’s you and the orchestra, you’re a team or you’re one-on-one.

“Whenever I tell anyone from the boxing family that I’m a classical musician, they all think I’m a little bit nuts.

“And some of the orchestra were concerned about my hands and my mouth, but I think they can really respect the level of dedication it takes to be at the top level in sport.”

‘Becoming world champion would blow my brain’

Rankin’s last contest was in New York in August, when she lost by unanimous decision to Alicia Napoleon for the WBA super middleweight title.

That was only her seventh pro fight and second in the US, with her previous bout being when she beat Sanna Turunen in Paisley in June to claim the WBC silver middleweight belt.

The Scot acknowledges she will be expected to lose to double Olympic champion Shields – who has been threatening to “make her pay” – but is relishing the opportunity.

“Coming in as the underdog takes a lot of pressure off me and puts it mainly on Claressa,” says Rankin, who will find a quiet corner to “chat” with her mum before the fight.

“I’ve got an opportunity to win not just one, but three world titles – if you’re going to do it, go big. Once it’s over and I become champion, then I can think about everything else.

“I’m so proud to be going over to America to represent Scotland. No-one really understands how amazing a thing that is unless they’ve had a chance to do it.

“To be the first ever female in Scotland to have a world title would blow my brain.”