Now, more than ever, in a divided world, it is the job of artists, of writers, of TV comedy and drama, not only to entrain us, but to reflect the things happening in our world, on screen. To show us not only what is familiar, but also wildly different.
In the latest episode of 'Into It', we're still recovering from the shock news Lee Ryan is joining the cast of 'EastEnders'. With the news splitting fans right down the middle, we ask whether stunt casting is ever a good idea in soapland. We're also getting our teeth into Katy Perry's new brand of 'purposeful pop', as well as putting our money where our (big) mouths are, as we predict who will triumph at next week's Brit Awards.
On Monday (February 13), I couldn't believe what I was watching. A show that has portrayed mental health incredibly over the years and been rightly praised for Lee's storyline at various points, ripped up everything and set it on fire.
Even the most ardent of fans will admit 2016 wasn't exactly a vintage year for 'Easties', with both 'Emmerdale' and 'Coronation Street' outshining it in terms of ratings and quality of stories. But while next week's actioned-packed episodes will give the show a boost in the short term, there's some much larger problems that need fixing if it is to regain its rightful crown as the nation's favourite soap.
Jake Maskall as King Cyrus in The Royals. Photos: E! The Royals, the over-the-top TV series about a fictional, out-of-control English royal family,...
I am deeply disappointed that Eastenders, a national institution with such a great record in positive disability representation, and so much power over its audience, has covered such an important disability issue so negatively. In two minutes of storyline, it has done the exact opposite of everything I work hard to do every day.
I strongly feel that when difficult and heart-wrenching moments in people's lives are depicted on TV, it shouldn't lead me to say in a disappointed voice with eyebrows raised "that is not what actually happens!" Is it too much to ask that one of the country's most watched, prime time television programs researches its storylines thoroughly and sensitively? When one in four women experience miscarriage, I think not.
I first visited Colombia 10 years ago, when covering the demobilisation of right-wing paramilitary groups that had emerged some two decades earlier to fight Marxist guerrilla soldiers. Since then, I have remained very attached to Colombia and its fate. This month, and a decade on from my first visit, the Colombian government has signed a historic peace agreement with leaders of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, otherwise known as FARC. This accord brings Colombia closer to peace than ever before. Like everyone, who knows and loves Colombia, I wish both parties every success as they try to convert the deal from a piece of paper signed by old commanders tired of war, to a meaningful peace on the ground. But I hold my breath.
I am very much in favour of transparency. If all broadcasters had to declare how much they are paying their biggest stars, I would have no complaints... But I should be clear about why I am in favour of transparency: it enables those who are paid less than their peers to demand an increase. It means wage bills go up, not down. As an ex-employee, I am a strong believer in equal pay for equal work - but I suspect that is not quite what the culture secretary Karen Bradley, who in her former life was a tax consultant, had in mind.
The first day of our shoot was April 20th - Hitler's birthday. We had heard that Mongolia's far right groups sometimes gathered to celebrate the event with a procession through town. Nothing, however, could have prepared me for the sight that greeted us on a patch of waste ground on the edge of the city. Dozens of Mongolian Nazis were gathering in cars and motorbikes - dressed in replica SS uniforms. Filming this event was to open a window on a shocking subculture of fascists not afraid to use violence to preserve what they saw as the purity of the Mongolian race against pollution by foreigners.
London artist Doug Pledger has found an unusual muse in Phil Mitchell, and his memes dedicated to the EastEnders hard man often go viral in social media, collected at www.utterphilth.com which went live earlier this year.
I watched Friday's episode. I didn't know the back stories of the characters. But yet I did. I knew how those women felt. I never got my day in court, I was one of the 1 in 15 who did report the rape but I was one of the many that the CPS decided not to prosecute over.
Although we've seen an increase in soap couples that stray from the traditional cis-hetero narrative taking a prominent place in the four main British soaps, parenthood for these characters remains a topic that's yet to be explored fully. I want to know why this is, particularly given how many gay couples we've now seen get together, often played by gay and trans actors who are actually parents themselves.
In the two years they've been on screen, Mick, Linda, Lee, Nancy and Johnny (and not forgetting little Ollie) have weathered rather a few storms, but have always managed to come out of it stronger and more together than ever.
I know EastEnders isn't real [it isn't is it?] but I hope that all who are faced with organising a funeral will know that the Church of England is there for them, meeting their needs with compassion, humour, love and grace.
1. New EastEnders executive producer Sean O'Connor was responsible previously for such storylines as Kat and Zoe Slater's "You're not my mother!" 2...