Queen Olivia, Stormzy and Wagatha Christie: the biggest showbiz stories of 2019

Taylor Swift, ASAP Rocky and the Spice Girls also made headlines.

The final year of the decade saw Olivia Colman nab an Oscar for the first of two royal performances, Stormzy bring grime to Glastonbury and Coleen Rooney prove her chops as a private detective with the Wagatha Christie debacle.

2019 proved to be a golden year for Broadchurch star Colman, who collected a haul of statues for her turn as Queen Anne in The Favourite, collected a CBE, and then finished the year with glowing reviews and awards nominations for her performance as the Queen in the third series of The Crown, taking over the role of the monarch from Claire Foy.

The 91st Academy Awards – Press Room – Los Angeles
Olivia Colman with her Oscar (Alberto Rodriguez/PA)

It was also a banner year for her friend and co-star Phoebe Waller-Bridge, who brought the stage show of her TV series Fleabag back to London for a final run after a sell-out stint in New York.

The second series of Fleabag also aired on the BBC, featuring a romance between Waller-Bridge’s central character and a man of the cloth frequently referred to as “the hot priest”, played by Andrew Scott.

The second raft of episodes was so rapturously received it elevated the series from cult hit to award-winning phenomenon.

Fleabag at Wyndham’s Theatre – London
Phoebe Waller-Bridge at Wyndham’s Theatre in London (Matt Humphrey/The Corner Shop)

Other famous faces making headlines were Coleen Rooney and Rebekah Vardy, who sparked an internet firestorm after Rooney claimed Vardy’s Instagram account was the source of leaked stories about her private life.

The saga made headlines around the globe, with onlookers comparing the wife of Wayne Rooney to a famous sleuth, leading to the hashtag #WagathaChristie trending worldwide.

War of the wags
Coleen Rooney (bottom) with Rebekah Vardy (top) (John Walton/PA)

Vardy, the wife of Leicester City striker Jamie, denied any wrongdoing and has said she has hired a cyber security expert to clear her name.

In music, Stormzy proved grime was a permanent part of the mainstream as he became the first black British solo artist to headline the Pyramid stage at Glastonbury festival.

He wore a stab vest emblazoned with a union flag designed by the artist Banksy for his set, which saw him lead the crowd in a chant of “F*** the Government and f***Boris” during his hit Vossi Bop.

Glastonbury Festival 2019 – Day 3
Stormzy performing on the Pyramid Stage during the Glastonbury Festival (Yui Mok/PA)

Prime minster Boris Johnson, who was then a candidate for the Tory leadership, later joked that he actually said “Back Boris”, but was misunderstood.

The grime star also released his second album, Heavy Is The Head, in 2019, a follow-up to the acclaimed Gang Signs & Prayer.

There was also room for nostalgia too, as the Spice Girls reunited for a tour without Victoria Beckham.

But it was their off-stage antics that attracted the most attention after Melanie Brown claimed she had a one-night stand with Geri Horner at the height of the pop group’s fame.

Spice Girls reunion tour
Melanie Chisholm, Emma Bunton, Melanie Brown and Geri Horner of the Spice Girls in concert at Wembley Stadium in London (Andrew Timms)

Horner later denied her claims, which came just before the group were due to start rehearsals for the tour, and Brown admitted it made things “awkward” between the two.

Another musician at the centre of controversy in 2019 was Taylor Swift, who was embroiled in a long feud with the music manager Scooter Braun over the sale of her back catalogue.

Braun’s company, Ithica Holdings, bought Swift’s first record label in a deal reportedly worth more than 300 million US dollars, about £222 million.

Capital’s Jingle Bell Ball 2019 – Day Two – O2 Arena – London
Taylor Swift (Isabel Infantes/PA)

The deal – which Swift furiously opposed – gave Braun the rights to Swift’s first six albums.

Swift, who signed with Big Machine Records as a teenager before switching to Universal Music Group last year, released the first album she owns the masters for, Lover, in 2019.

There was also trouble for rapper ASAP Rocky, who spent time behind bars in Sweden as he awaited trial for assault for a violent street brawl.

Wireless Festival 2013 – Day 3 – London
ASAP Rocky (Yui Mok/PA)

He was convicted alongside his bodyguards but they all received conditional sentences, sparing them prison time unless they commit similar offences in the future.

Empire actor Jussie Smollett was at the centre of a legal controversy in January when he claimed he had been a victim of a racist and homophobic attack.

He alleged he was beaten by two masked men who looped a noose around his neck before fleeing, but 16 felony counts were later announced against Smollett, related to making a false report.

The charges were subsequently dropped but the city of Chicago has been told by a US judge it can proceed with a lawsuit which seeks to recoup 130,000 dollars (£100,000) that officials say the police department spent investigating Smollett’s claim.

In March, TV presenter Lorraine Kelly won a £1.2 million battle with HMRC after a tax tribunal judge ruled she was not an ITV employee and was in fact a “theatrical artist” who presents a “persona of herself” on her show.

Lorraine Kelly comments
Lorraine Kelly (Ian West/PA)

In May, The Jeremy Kyle Show was cancelled for good following the death of guest Steve Dymond, which sparked an inquiry into reality TV by the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee.

Kyle largely disappeared from the public eye in the wake of the cancellation of his confrontational tabloid talk show, which had been a regular fixture on the daytime TV schedule since 2005, but he said he was “devastated” about the death of Mr Dymond.

Another ITV show, Love Island, also came under increased scrutiny over the aftercare it offered following the deaths of former contestants Sophie Gradon and Mike Thalassitis.

Meanwhile, Love Island host Caroline Flack was charged with assaulting her boyfriend Lewis Burton in December.

Caroline Flack charged with assault
Caroline Flack leaving Highbury Corner Magistrates’ Court (Jonathan Brady/PA)

The TV star pleaded not guilty to the charge, and was released on bail with conditions that stop her having any contact with Burton ahead of a trial on March 4.

Irish TV presenter Laura Whitmore will take over hosting duties on the dating show and its companion show Aftersun when filming commences in South Africa in January.

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