Jake is a Culture Reporter at The Sunday Times

He covers everything from television and film to theatre and music. He has put Clive Myrie in the Mastermind hot seat, met the real people behind Top Boy, interviewed everyone from Basil Brush to Viola Davis, and even spoke to Ross Kemp about having an emotional breakdown over Bambi.

He attained a distinction on the Magazine Journalism MA course at City, University of London and achieved a first-class honours in Film and Television Studies from the University of Warwick.

He has written at multiple publications including The Times and The Sunday Times, The Evening Standard and OurCultureMag.

The best Australian TV shows right now

If you’re looking for a great new show to watch, perhaps it’s time you considered looking down under. Once a nation best known to viewers in the UK for lightweight sunshine soaps such as Neighbours and Home and Away, the Australian TV market has in recent years hit a purple patch, producing some seriously good comedies and drama.

Even film-makers are getting in on the act, with Baz Luhrmann spending lockdown re-editing his 2008 film Australia, starring Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman, to become

Billy Porter: I’m famous but still have money problems

You won a Tony for starring in Kinky Boots and producing the musical A Strange Loop. When was the first time you performed on stage?

I grew up in a Pentecostal family in Pittsburgh and started singing in church when I was about five years old. I’ve always been nervous on stage. But nerves don’t present themselves in the same way for me as they do for other people. I just want to be good for people.

First moment I realised I’d made it

I haven’t had that moment — that only comes when my bank ac

The 25 best spy television shows

State secrets, spies and espionage have long been a favourite backdrop for television shows. From the 1960s boom, driven by the popularity of James Bond on the big screen, to modern adaptations of brilliant spy thrillers, we have been treated to some superb tales through the years.

And now the espionage drama Slow Horses is back for a third series, with Gary Oldman returning as the MI5 rebel Jackson Lamb. But what are the best spy shows on TV? Which espionage thrillers, dramas and comedies are

The 10 best Louis Theroux documentaries you can watch right now

Louis Theroux, whose latest series of celebrity interviews is on the BBC, is one of Britain’s best-known and most-loved documentary makers. He started out in America presenting segments on Michael Moore’s TV Nation series.

In the late 1990s he rose to prominence in Britain with his first Weird Weekends series on BBC2. In these he embedded himself in communities and sub-cultures — usually in America — rarely seen on television. Theroux shed light on survivalists and porn performers, religious gr

Alan Cumming: Kate Bush made me realise I wasn’t the only weirdo

Rather tragically, as a child I used to put on shows on my own in a shed. I had a crazy upbringing; there are swathes of it that I don’t remember because it was so traumatic. [In his autobiography Cumming revealed the emotional and physical violence his father inflicted on him]. I do remember performing in the Christmas play at primary school and people laughing. I got a thrill out of that.

The Famous Five series by Enid Blyton. Her novels were always set in a rural situation, which I could rel

7 politicians who appeared on reality TV — and our expert’s verdict

At one time, the idea of politics and reality television mixing may have sounded absurd, perhaps even shocking. However, in recent years, a number of high-profile political figures retired and active in politics have used entertainment shows as a platform for self-promotion.

The latest in the long line of these political entertainers is the former Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage, who is heading to Australia as one of the I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! 2023 campmates. He’ll be joined in t

20 of the best film biopics — chosen by our critics

Since the very earliest days of cinema, film-makers have been telling the true stories of people with lives less ordinary. With Ridley Scott’s epic take on the life of Napoleon about to hit cinema screens, we have compiled 20 of our favourite biopics, taking in an eclectic range of subjects. There are politicians like Abraham Lincoln, musicians including Elvis Presley and Mozart and sports stars like Jake LaMotta and Tonya Harding. There are also some less well-known people, including Henry Hill

Louise Brealey: My first kiss with Sherlock’s Benedict Cumberbatch

I would like to say an unknown band called Blur in a tiny tent at Reading in 1994, but I accidentally took my first and very much last acid tab off an apprentice plumber called Tony from Swansea and watched the The on the big stage instead. It was all fine until the music started to creep up from the grass right up my legs and I was surrounded by terrifying gargoyles.

I’m afraid I was a relentlessly unfashionable child. I was a square and listened to 10cc I’m Not in Love and The Eagles’ Despera

The Crown’s best performances from seasons one to six — ranked

The Crown is one of the original global streaming hits. Peter Morgan’s fictionalised drama based on the reign of Queen Elizabeth II became the poster child for Netflix in 2016, showing that the streamer could make big-budget drama and in doing so attract a broader traditional TV-viewing audience to the platform.

The unusual structure of the show — in which each of the main characters is played by a new actor or actress every two seasons, to allow for decades on screen to pass — means that acros

Shaun Keaveny: ‘Why aren’t there any angry lefty radio stations?’

The best presenters are the ones that can relax you. People like Terry Wogan, Steve Wright and Tony Blackburn really had an impact on my presenting style. Experimental stuff by Chris Morris was always essential listening. I’m dipping into Vernon Kay on Radio 2. He’s filling that space comfortably. I was also wondering the other day: why are there so many alt-right radio stations? Why aren’t there any angry lefty stations? There’s a gap in the market there but I haven’t got the energy to do it my

The ultimate James Bond 007 trivia quiz

The James Bond franchise is about to enter a new era with the launch of 007: The Road to a Million (Friday, Prime Video), a new high-concept game show reality challenge that pits nine duos against each other to win a million-pound prize.

In true 007 style, the contestants travel the world at breakneck speed, flung into adrenaline-fuelled challenges from mountain tops to race tracks. But it wouldn’t be a Bond show without a shadowy villain, a part played in this series by Succession’s Brian Cox,

The top 20 Robbie Williams songs ranked

After 25 years as a solo artist and a record-breaking, chart-topping career, Robbie Williams is the subject of a new four-part Netflix documentary (out on Wednesday) in which he looks back at his life and career from Take That to the present day.

Robbie narrates the story of his rise to fame, and the highs and lows that follow, with hours of rare archive footage that give the viewer a fascinating insight into an often lonely life at the top of pop.

The documentary also tells the story of some

The Gruffalo’s Julia Donaldson: ‘I had a real crush on Mick Jagger’

First concert I attended

One of the first was a concert my father put on at Hampstead Theatre about the history of Hampstead. But a memorable concert as a teenager was seeing the Rolling Stones. I had a real crush on Mick Jagger. I wasn’t one of the screaming girls, but a girl staring in adoration.

First adult book I read

The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien was the first book I read that didn’t have a happy ending. That book, and La Peste by Camus, sent me into depression because that’s when

Geri Halliwell-Horner: the day I vowed I’d marry George Michael

Sometimes you meet people and you realise everyone’s just human. I recall meeting Shirley Bassey at Elton John’s party. She hugged me and told me that Michael Jackson had just died. It was quite overwhelming.

Writing the lyrics to the Spice Girls song Too Much. I was in the back of the car and we were struggling to get out of the filming of Spice World. The gates were locked and there were loads of fans in front of us. That inspired some of that song’s lyrics.

The Naughtiest Girl in the School

Elizabeth Day: ‘I wanted to write the next Great Gatsby — I failed’

I’ve always relied on books. With a book you’re never alone. My mother would read me the Meg and Mog series, written by Helen Nicoll and illustrated by Jan Pienkowski. The series made me fall in love with books as a concept and made me want to become an author.

The Great Gatsby when I was around 12, which makes me sound like a precocious brat. It was for a sponsored read at my secondary school in Belfast. I discovered such clarity in F Scott Fitzgerald’s prose. When I wrote my fourth book, The

The 16 best films to see at London Film Festival

Every October, the capital rolls out the red carpet for some of the hottest films, stars and directors. Now in its 67th year, the London Film Festival offers a jam-packed schedule of premieres and debut features — with films starring Julianne Moore, Bradley Cooper, Emma Stone, Jodie Comer and Anthony Hopkins all on this year’s menu.

But the festival is no longer exclusive to the capital. Nine cinemas in cities from Newcastle to Birmingham are hosting some of the year’s hottest films.

So what a

Michelle Keegan: ‘I always gravitate towards strong female characters’

Why did you decide to go into acting?

When I was younger, television was my everything. We still have lots of home videos of me, sitting in front of the TV in our home in Salford. I was obsessed with performing in front of my family, and very confident at my school in Greater Manchester, especially when we were in drama class. Drama was the only subject that I did quite well in. When I left college, I didn’t know what to do apart from acting. It was my only passion.

How did you end up starrin

Bake-Off’s Nadiya Hussain: ‘Lenny Henry asked to have a picture with me’

First film I saw

My father banned us from going to the cinema. I’m from an immigrant background and had lots of friends from similar backgrounds who also didn’t go to the cinema, which meant I never felt left out. College introduced me to boys and a world outside of my close, comfortable community — that was a culture shock. When I was 17 I went to the cinema for the first time to watch the rom-com Serendipity.

First interest in cooking

My mum is an amazing home cook and my dad owned an India

Mel Giedroyc: my first performance with Sue Perkins was shambolic

I watched a lot of male comedians with my dad, who was a Polish-Lithuanian civil engineer. We loved Les Dawson, Morecambe and Wise and The Two Ronnies. One day I joined our lodgers upstairs to watch Not the Nine O’Clock News and that blew my mind. Then the women who pioneered the way for female comedy came along: Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders, Victoria Wood, Julie Walters.

The annual pantomime at the Thorndike Theatre in Leatherhead, where I grew up, was the most important day of the year.

Starstruck’s Rose Matafeo: Rob Lowe, Nelson Mandela and me

Despite Bridget Jones’s Diary centring on a thirtysomething in London, I related to it as a 16-year-old growing up in Auckland, New Zealand. It’s a comfort watch, it calms me down. I’ve seen every Richard Curtis film. If you’re making a rom-com set in London, like I did with my series Starstruck, you’re open to comparisons to that world. There are bad rom-coms out there — but people who make good rom-coms, or comedy films in general, know how to do a story well and Curtis is one of them.

My dad

The best Star Wars films and TV shows ranked — and the worst

It would take almost six days — about 140 hours — to watch every Star Wars film and television series made since the original space opera began 45 years ago.

Here are the best 18 Star Wars shows and films ranked, from worst to best (all available to watch on Disney+).

This movie is special effects in overdrive with almost every shot filmed on a green screen. But not even whizzing spaceships can make up for the clanking dialogue (“I don’t like sand. It’s coarse and rough and irritating — and it

Hozier: fame, faith and baggy skater jeans

I went to gigs when I was very young because my dad, John Byrne, was a drummer and blues musician. My first concert was Sting in Dublin when I was about six. Two years later it was Van Morrison. I channelled my dad’s interests, clearly.

JRR Tolkien’s The Hobbit because I’ve always loved escaping into fantasy worlds. Later, George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four really affected me. The chapter that explains the nature of war really resonated — I was reading it at the time of the Iraq war. As a chi

Stephen Fry: ‘I fell for a boy and was never the same again’

At school, I absolutely fell for a boy. Completely dominated my life from then on. Every waking moment. Guessing his paths to and from this lesson to that. Contriving opportunities for “accidental” meetings. I was never the same again. I know — it’s soppy, clichéd and absurd. Calf love is, I suppose. But it’s heartbreakingly real too. To that agonising catastrophe I owe my discovery of whole oceans of literature. Books were the only sources I could consult back then. Suddenly, pop lyrics, love p

The 50 best hip-hop tracks ranked

As hip-hop turns 50 this summer, we pick the songs that define a music genre that changed the world. Our expert panel includes Romesh Ranganathan, comedian; Nick Grimshaw, radio presenter; rapper Stefflon Don; Kenny Allstar, host of the Radio 1 Rap Show; M1llionz, Birmingham rapper; Big Narstie, British MC and more.

Drake (2011)

We weren’t to know it at the time but this track essentially mapped out Drake’s career: mumbled vocals, a nagging hook and lyrics dealing with the drawbacks of fame. I
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