Start your engines — one of the world’s best-loved reality TV shows is getting a local edition.
Australian streaming service Stan has announced RuPaul’s Drag Race Down Under, a spin-off of the Emmy-winning drag queen competition series, will air this year.
An Australian version was supposed to happen in 2020 but, like many productions, it was postponed due to the pandemic.
Stan said filming was now underway in New Zealand, with contestants hailing from Australia and New Zealand.
Both RuPaul, who was recently reported to be in hotel quarantine in New Zealand, and fellow judge Michelle Visage will appear in this new version from Stan.
That is somewhat of a coup for Australian fans, given most international spin-offs feature local hosts.
Stan said fans could expect all the usual challenges in the eight-part series, including the lip-sync-for-your-life battle between each episode’s two lowest-ranked contestants.
“I cannot wait for everyone to see that Down Under queens have some of the biggest charisma, uniqueness, nerve and talents in the world,” Ru Paul said in a media announcement.
Stan said more information on competing queens and guest judges would be announced later this year.
For now, we can only speculate on what local flavour the world’s most famous drag queen — whose husband is Australian — might give the show.
RuPaul’s Drag Race is currently in its 13th season.
It has won the Emmy for Outstanding Reality Competition Program each of the past three years, while RuPaul himself is a five-time winner of the Emmy for Outstanding Host for a Reality or Reality Competition Program.
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After a rain stopped play at tea on day two, India return to the crease more than 300 runs short of Australia’s first innings total with eight wickets in hand.
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It’s a fixture befitting the upside-down world in which we live – a January decider at the Gabba. Join us from 10.30am AEDT for blow-by-blow coverage.
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Shane Warne is standing by his comments about Marnus Labuschagne’s peculiar mannerisms – and says the Aussie batsman has no issue with what he said during a recent broadcast.
Warne and co-commentator Andrew Symonds were heard discussing Labuschagne’s quirky behaviour while they thought they were off-air.
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But a live microphone broadcast their comments, prompting Warne to contact Labuschagne to clear up the issue.
“Marnus bats best when he forgets all the exaggeration stuff, like calling, ‘No’, ‘Yes’ and ‘Wait on’ really loudly and waving his bat around,” Warne wrote, in an exclusive column for News Corp Australia.
“I like it when he just bats – and that’s why I said to Andrew Symonds that he should ‘just bat properly’.
“I’ve communicated with Marnus about what unfortunately went to air last week and I’d like to apologise for swearing on TV.
“Marnus had no issue. He thought it was funny and had a laugh about it and so did his teammates. Andrew has also apologised to Marnus for what he said, too.”
Warne isn’t the only one to comment on the over-the-top antics Labuschagne and Steve Smith display at the crease.
But the Spin King is confident the 26-year-old can continue his march to the very top of the sport.
“Labuschagne can challenge The Big Three – Kane Williamson, Smith and Virat Kohli – as the best batsman in the world,” said Warne, of the ICC’s number four-ranked batsman. “He is an outstanding player.”
Read Shane Warne’s full column where he also identifies the player poised to replace Matthew Wade at number five here
No one knew which state borders would open and close, and where matches would be played and whether anyone could attend, or that occupants of a Sydney cemetery would be specifically prohibited.
Not many would have guessed that Nathan Lyon would bowl well but struggle for wickets, taking six in three Tests, and that he would enter the fourth and final match in Brisbane with 396 to his name, a chance to reach 400 in his 100th Test.
We could have speculated the series would be close, poised 1-1 heading into the deciding Test. We couldn’t have guessed at the path to reach this point, with Australia going through five opening batsmen and India through an entire secondary squad.
(For clarity, the accusation of removing guard marks is nonsense given those marks were scored deep into the pitch and are clearly visible on the video before and after the event. There was no accusation from the batsmen at the crease, only backseat drivers on the internet.)
India’s team is physically battered. Two years ago while visiting Australia it was a five-strong squad of fast bowlers that underwrote a series win. Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami and Jasprit Bumrah played every game, with Umesh Yadav and Bhuvneshwar Kumar as bench strength.
This time India must finish the series with all five of them injured. As are all-rounders Hardik Pandya and Ravindra Jadeja, and batsmen Hanuma Vihari and KL Rahul, while captain Virat Kohli is absent on family business. Opener Mayank Agarwal is in some doubt after being hit in the nets, as is Ashwin with back problems.
That would make a very good international XII on the sidelines.
In Brisbane, Mohammed Siraj will be the attack leader having debuted two matches ago in Melbourne. Navdeep Saini will be his lieutenant having debuted last week in Sydney. Thangarasu Natarajan will likely make his debut. An entire attack with three Tests between them.
Wrist spinner Kuldeep could replace Ashwin if need be, while Prithvi Shaw could open and wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant could play as a specialist bat at six ahead of keeper Wriddhiman Saha. Any more injuries though and coach Ravi Shastri might be making a comeback.
However things work out, the lifting must largely be done by senior batsmen Rohit Sharma, Cheteshwar Pujara, and interim captain Ajinkya Rahane. Their team has fought hard so far and that must be kept going.
If India can cobble together a win or a draw, it will be one of the great touring triumphs. Either will mean the visitors will retain the Border-Gavaskar Trophy. It would also be key to India’s hopes of making the World Test Championship final in England in the middle of this year.
Australia is the side that must deal with expectation. All the talk has been of home advantage, of fortresses, of depleted opponents. But there would be an anxiety in the back of the mind about dropping this series after having destroyed the opposition in the first Test.
Paine has to get his head back in the game. Smith needs to keep on with his Sydney runs. David Warner had no influence in his first match back from injury and needs to find something. Matthew Wade might need a score to keep a spot in the team, Marnus Labuschagne needs to find a way to express his enthusiasm without being obnoxious.
The bowlers will have to dig deep after a power of work and a chaser of disappointment in Sydney, especially Lyon with his milestone in view.
“If I’d caught a couple, it could have been very different for him,” said Paine of his series.
“Nathan Lyon’s played 100 Test matches, that means you’re absolutely at the top of the tree. At times the Indians have played him very well, but at times we know looking at the footage he’s created plenty of chances. He’ll have a huge role to play in this Test for us.”
One more match then, to decide yet another absorbing series between two teams who have hardly played a bad one in the last 20 years. Predicting the result is pointless. It’s time to enjoy finding out.
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Indian legend Suni Gavaskar has forecast the Fourth Test at the Gabba as the end of an era for Australian cricket.
Tim Paine has found himself the focus of an extraordinary attack by Indian cricket legend Sunil Gavaskar, who says the Australian captain is “hopeless” and likely captaining his final game in Brisbane.
“As a captain, (Paine’s) got no tactical nous at all,” Gavaskar told India Today.
“I mean when you’re having somebody like a Mitchell Starc or a Pat Cummins, with the kind of pace and bounce that they generate, not to have a fielder in the leg gully to Indians who are not very tall, it just tells you that you have no idea about captaincy.
“Because when you fend the ball off around or under your shoulders, the odd ball is going to go up in the air. It happened in the first Test, now again in this Test there were a couple of opportunities, but he didn’t have anybody there.
“Even towards the end when it was clearly obvious that India was looking to save the game and not go and win it, he had a cover, when that man could have been brought in.
“Because even if a boundary had been hit, it wasn’t going to affect the Australians. He could’ve had two men around the corner … and there were a couple of chances that could have been taken if an extra man had been there.
“So as a captain, well, he’s hopeless and he’s probably captaining for the last time in this series from a tactical point of view.”
“If you allow the Indian team to bat 130-odd overs without getting wickets – this is a very good Australian attack,” he said.
“Everything could have made a difference. Paine was more interested in talking to the batsman rather than his field placing and bowling changes.
“So I won’t be surprised if there is a change in the Australian captaincy after the series. He was a little bit disturbed, his concentration was not there after that little episode.”
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Australia 338 (Smith 131, Labuschagne 91) & 312-6 dec (Green 84, Smith 81)
India 244 (Cummins 4-29) & 334-5 (Pant 97, Pujara 77)
Match drawn; series level at 1-1
India showed incredible defiance to bat out the final day in a memorable draw with Australia in the third Test and take a thrilling series into a decider.
The tourists resumed on 98-2, chasing an unlikely 407 to win, and lost captain Ajinkya Rahane early on.
Rishabh Pant countered with a sublime 97 and Cheteshwar Pujara dug in for 77 during an absorbing second session in which it seemed India could even pull off the third highest fourth-innings chase in Test history.
But after both fell before tea to leave Australia needing five wickets in the final session, Hanuma Vihari and Ravichandran Ashwin battled superbly to survive 256 balls to steer India to 334-5 at the close.
Vihari’s unbeaten 23 off 161 balls was even more impressive given he batted for most of his innings with a hamstring injury, while Ashwin made 39 not out off 128 deliveries.
Australia captain and wicketkeeper Tim Paine dropped three catches, while his vaunted fast bowlers and off-spinner Nathan Lyon toiled on a pitch that did not deteriorate as much as expected.
The series remains level at 1-1 heading into the fourth and final Test in Brisbane starting on 15 January.
India, who were bowled out for 36 in the first-Test defeat, need only a draw to retain the Border-Gavaskar trophy, while Australia have not lost at the Gabba since 1988.
This was an enthralling finale, but the third Test will also be remembered for allegations of racist abuse against India players by members of the crowd at the SCG.
Cricket Australia said on Monday it could issue “indefinite” bans to any spectators found to have racially abused India players.
Pant brings hope of the improbable
Given Rahane fell to Lyon in the second over of the day, that India looked on course to execute one of the greatest run-chases of all time during the second session underlined what a special knock Pant played.
He had not kept wicket since being hit on the elbow by Pat Cummins on day three, but was promoted to number five and played his natural attacking game with aplomb to put the pressure back on Australia.
Paine missed a catch to remove Pant for three and he punished the mistake ruthlessly, carting Lyon for three massive sixes as he reached his third Test fifty from only 64 balls.
He was dropped again by Paine on 56 – also off Lyon – and continued to attack, leading himself to the brink a stunning century and India to 250-3 with plenty of time to score the further 157 required.
But in the last over before the new ball, he skipped down the pitch to Lyon and sliced to Cummins at gully.
Pujara proved an excellent foil in characteristically watchful style as he steadily accumulated 77 off 205 balls before he was bowled by a sublime delivery from Josh Hazlewood.
Technical and mental defiance
Even after Pant fell, India still appeared determined to go for victory but began to change tack after Vihari injured a hamstring taking a quick single, a decision that was reinforced once Pujara was dismissed soon after.
That left India on 272-5, with 43.4 overs remaining in the day and several factors firmly in Australia’s favour.
Vihari was injured and out of form, Ravindra Jadeja would have had to bat with a dislocated thumb if required and India’s tail is weak.
But Vihari and Ashwin, who has four Test centuries, played a defensive masterclass to stave off Cummins, Hazlewood, Lyon and left-arm fast bowler Mitchell Starc, while substitute fielder Sean Abbott also dropped Ashwin on 15.
With their chances of victory fading, Matthew Wade and Paine in particular became increasingly vocal in trying to put off Vihari and Ashwin by sledging them, with the stump microphone picking up several barbed comments.
Yet the next over after an exchange with Ashwin, Paine dropped an edge from Vihari off Starc and, with it, Australia’s hopes of taking a 2-1 series lead, before he decided to shake hands on a draw with one over remaining.
Paine takes the blame – reaction
India captain Ajinkya Rahane: “Our talk this morning was all about showing character and fight to the end and not think about the result, so we’re really happy with the way we fought.
“Special mention to Vihari and Ashwin in the end showing that character – it was really great to see.
“Credit to Pant. We promoted him because it was about that left-hand, right-hand combination in the middle and it worked out.”
Australia captain Tim Paine: “We were pretty confident in forcing victory with our attack. We created enough chances all day so it’s a tough one to swallow, especially for me.
“I’ll cop the blame for that, move on and look forward to Brisbane.
“It was a wholehearted effort from the boys and things just didn’t go our way.”
Australia batsman Steve Smith, who was named player of the match, on ABC Grandstand: “They fought really hard. It was a pretty benign surface – it looked on day four it might start to play tricks, but it didn’t and India played really well.”
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Viewers have blown up after a close inspection of a DRS decision that nearly cost Steve Smith his wicket on day three of the SCG Test appeared to show a frightening error.
Smith and everyone watching Australia’s second innings were left bemused when Ravi Ashwin convinced his skipper to refer an LBW decision when the Aussie star missed an attempted slog-sweep when he was on just two.
The first replay had former Aussie opener Michael Slater declaring the ball had easily missed leg stump in commentary for Channel 7, but viewers were stunned when ball-tracking indicated it would have clipped leg stump.
It was harmless enough on this occasion because the field umpire had given Smith not out, meaning he survived.
But if you zoomed in on the image, there was a clear difference between where Smith’s off stump stood – and where DRS had overlaid the wicket.
Fans were fuming, fearing the technology had failed.
“There is no way that was hitting the stumps,” one wrote. “They’ve clearly overlaid the stumps here incorrectly. Look where the off stump is on the graphic compared to in reality.”
At a time when there’s been a renewed push by former cricketers including Sachin Tendulkar to alter the system to make the decision out as long as any part of the ball is going on to hit the stumps, this latest episode won’t exactly fill the cricket community with confidence the DRS can be trusted.
Not just content with breaking the opposition’s spirit, the Australian quicks also had India’s Rishabh Pant and Ravindra Jadeja being dispatched for scans on Saturday afternoon.
Cummins, who had already ended the series of Mohammed Shami when a delivery from the Australian fractured his arm in Adelaide, struck Pant on the elbow and Mitchell Starc had Jadeja clutching his thumb.
Both batsmen bit their lips and continued on in pain but, in a major setback for India’s hopes in Sydney and beyond, they were both sent for further medical examination as Australia began their second innings.
While back-up gloveman Wriddhiman Saha stood in for Pant behind the stumps, the absence of Jadeja may be felt dearly by the visitors.
The spinner was their star in Australia’s first innings, making key breakthroughs with the ball and eventually running out centurion Smith with a staggering direct hit.
“We are definitely missing him in the second innings but I hope he recovers for the next one,” India captain Ajinkya Rahane said.
Australia’s openers lasted less than 10 overs in their second dig, with Will Pucovski caught behind off Mohammed Siraj for 10 and David Warner lbw to Ravi Ashwin for 13.
But with Smith and Labuschagne looking untroubled for the rest of the afternoon, the hosts are right on top and heavy favourites to take a 2-1 series lead into the final Test in Brisbane next week.
Such a significant advantage hadn’t seemed on the horizon earlier when Tim Paine and Australia were frustrated by Decision Review System outcomes and half chances that didn’t go their way.
India’s wall of two summers ago, Cheteshwar Pujara, also looked intent on another lengthy occupation, gradually compiling a 174-ball 50 that was slow even by his standards.
But Hazlewood provided the circuit breaker with a breathtaking throwing down of the stumps from mid-off, flinging the ball at the non-striker’s end while still on his knees to catch Hanuma Vihari short of his ground.
“Jonty Rhodes, how good is he?” Cummins said, citing the former South Africa fielding maestro. “Unbelievable. The big fella getting it done after all those overs. I’m sure he’ll have that replay up tonight.”
Australia’s fielding woes did them no favours in their second Test defeat in Melbourne but they were in a different league here.
Labuschagne also produced an incredible direct hit, while a third run out complemented the top-class bowling of Cummins and company.
For all the time he was out there, Pujara in the end only managed 50, India’s equal top score of the innings. Pant, with 36, and Jadeja (28 not out) were the others to provide resistance, despite wearing injuries for their troubles.
“I thought both Josh and Marnus’ direct-hit run outs, especially getting rid of a guy like Vihari, came out of nowhere,” Cummins said. “The fielding at the MCG was spoken about a lot. And in between Tests, we did a lot of work on it.
“Not only the run outs, I thought the attitude was fantastic. You had everyone diving around in the outfield. It was a really good team effort today.”
While India are a bowler down without Jadeja, the match shapes as Nathan Lyon’s to wrap up as he bids to draw closer to 400 Test wickets.
“The big thing is to keep that lead, get it up over 300-odd and hopefully the wicket keeps deteriorating and make that a really tough total to chase,” Cummins said.
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Chris Barrett is Chief Sports Reporter of The Sydney Morning Herald.
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Director Michael Apted has died aged 79, his agent has said.
The British filmmaker was known for the Up series of documentaries which followed the lives of 14 children since 1964 when they were seven years old, as well as directing Coal Miner’s Daughter and Gorillas In The Mist.
He also directed the 1999 James Bond film The World Is Not Enough, which starred Pierce Brosnan, and several episodes of Coronation Street in the 1960s.
Thomas Schlamme, president of the Directors Guild of America (DGA), paid tribute to Apted in a statement, saying: “Our hearts are heavy today as we mourn the passing of esteemed director, longtime DGA leader and my friend Michael Apted.
“His legacy will be forever woven into the fabric of cinema and our Guild.
“A fearless visionary as a director and unparalleled guild leader, Michael saw the trajectory of things when others didn’t, and we were all the beneficiaries of his wisdom and lifelong dedication.”
“It is with very heavy hearts that we share the news of the passing of Michael Apted. He was a director of enormous talent and range and unique in his ability to move effortlessly and successfully between all genres. He was beloved by all those who worked with him. pic.twitter.com/DhazGUiIsp
Apted, who served as the president of the DGA from 2003 to 2009, was born in 1941 in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, before moving to London with his father after the Second World War.
As a child, he studied at the City of London School where he first developed an interest in cinema.
In 2008 he was made a companion of the Most Distinguished Order of Saint Michael and Saint George in the Queen’s Birthday Honours for services to the British film and television industries.
He won four Baftas, including three for Up.
A tweet from the film academy said the organisation is “very sorry to hear” of the news.
The producers of the James Bond film franchise paid tribute to his ability to move “effortlessly and successfully between all genres”.
A Twitter post signed by Michael G Wilson and Barbara Broccoli added: “He was beloved by all those who worked with him.”
The official Twitter page for the Oscars also paid tribute.
“Director Michael Apted will always be remembered for the groundbreaking documentary ‘Up’ series,” the post said.
Director Michael Apted will always be remembered for the groundbreaking documentary “Up” series. A past president of the Directors Guild and Academy Governor, he also made many acclaimed feature films, from “Coal Miner’s Daughter” to “The World Is Not Enough.” He will be missed. pic.twitter.com/5vtLfBJgmR
ITV managing director Kevin Lygo highlighted Apted’s long association with the broadcaster which included the Seven Up series.
He said: “The Up series demonstrated the possibilities of television at its finest in its ambition and its capacity to hold up a mirror to society and engage with and entertain people while enriching our perspective on the human condition.
“The influence of Michael’s contribution to film and programme-making continues to be felt and he will be sadly missed.”
Actor and director Paul Feig said: “He was always so kind to me and I was such a great admirer of his work.”
A post on the Twitter account of the band Garbage, who performed the theme for The World Is Not Enough, labelled Apted a “delightful, charming soul”.
The song’s composer David G Arnold, who worked with Apted on three other films including The Chronicles Of Narnia: The Voyage Of The Dawn Treader, tweeted: “A more trusting, funny, friendly and, most importantly, kind person you’d never meet.
“So pleased to have known him and so sad that he’s gone.”
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