Tom Hiddleston and Taylor Swift are just the latest stars to use a wordy garment to have their say in public

Celebrity shirts: getting the message off their chest
The evolution of the slogan tee. Composite: Rex/Eagle Press/XPOSURE

The very public romance between singer Taylor Swift and actor Tom Hiddleston has been charted from their first meeting (awkwardly dancing at New York’s Met Gala last May), to an early beach date in June (long lensed, like a photo love story from a teen mag) and then, last week, Hiddleston wearing a “I ♥ TS” vest.

This spoon-fed narrative of Hiddleswift reached its ridiculous pinnacle in Hiddleston’s top – the words, just clear enough to be deciphered through the blurry snaps, declared to the world that this was the “next stage” of the couple’s relationship. In the age of the visually focused Instagram feed, the slogan or image-led garment has become the new press release.

“A slogan on a piece of clothing has instant impact on social media,” says Kay Barron, fashion features director at Porter magazine. “It becomes more relatable than another picture of a pretty dress. It’s the fashion equivalent of a dreadful inspirational quote that Instagram loves so much.”

A decade ago, with the rise of websites such as Perez Hilton, Just Jared and TMZ, the appetite for celebrity photographs increased. The link between publicists and photo agencies strengthened and clothes played a key role. “Forget ‘Frankie Say Relax’ – I lay the blame for celebs’ love affair with slogan tees directly at the feet of Paris and Nicky Hilton, who wore ‘Team Aniston’ and ‘Team Jolie’ outside LA boutique Kitson in 2005,” says Heat magazine news editor Issy Sampson.

Celebrities began to use this blurred private/public space to create a visual dialogue, whether it was wearing a slogan T-shirt, a baggy top to indicate a possible pregnancy, or being seen without a significant piece of jewellery (the celebrity missing wedding ring, a perennial tabloid story). It was perfect for websites: they could editorialise the pictures, creating a story around the garment.

“Before Twitter and Instagram, the best way to get your message out there without issuing a publicist-approved statement was to get caught by TMZ with a slogan T-shirt,” says Sampson.

As the online tabloids flourished, the sassily sloganed T-shirts of designer Henry Holland (who began his career on Sneak magazine, a teen version of Heat) gained popularity. Holland’s designs harked back to the tongue-in-cheek sensibility of Katharine Hamnett in the 80s and presaged the reflective, hall-of-mirrors world that Twitter and Instagram would create. In 2006, when designer Giles Deacon appeared at his London fashion week show in Holland’s black-and-white “UHU GARETH PUGH” shirt, it began a new age of sartorial commentary.

On the catwalk the slogan has never gone out of fashion. “Slogans on clothes have been used as a way of attracting attention and getting a point across (whether political or ironic) for years and years and years,” says Barron. “Recently it has been popular in menswear, mainly thanks to Christopher Shannon’s signature witty phrases or slogans, but that Vetements’ literal DHL T-shirt brought it into womenswear too, and now has become part of their repertoire.”

Celebrity shirts: getting the message off their chest
Rihanna wearing a Princess Diana top in New York. Photograph: Buzz Foto/Rex/Shutterstock

There seem to be three key types of celebrity T-shirt slogans. The first features an image of another celebrity and indicates a twinning with that person: Rihanna sporting a Princess Diana T-shirt, or model Jourdan Dunn casting herself as a supermodel with a top featuring the names Naomi, Kate, Cara, Jourdan. The second is the existential crisis top, such as Ben Affleck or Megan Fox signalling their marriage woes (“I give what I have. I make what I am” and “I need more space” respectively). The third, like Hiddleston’s shirt, indicates their relationship status, like the sartorial version of a Facebook update: Miley Cyrus wearing a T-shirt that sported Chris Hemsworth’s surname, or Kristen Stewart wearing Robert Pattinson’s “Irie” shirt, because a shared wardrobe means true love.

More recently, Rita Ora’s sheer bikini top featuring two lemon emojis fuelled speculation that she was the other woman in Jay Z’s life and part of the narrative of Beyoncé’s Lemonade album.

Back to Hiddleswift though, Sampson is sceptical. “If he really loved her, he’d be posting loved-up, carefully filtered selfies online – that’s how it works in 2016.”

Deaths of man and woman at Scotland’s biggest music festival being treated as separate and unexplained

Police investigate two deaths at T in the Park festival
Police at a campsite at Scotland’s T in the Park music festival at Strathallan Castle in Perthshire. Photograph:

Police are investigating the possibly drug-related deaths of two teenagers at the T in the Park music festival in Perthshire.

Police Scotland confirmed on Friday afternoon that investigations were ongoing into the deaths of a 17-year-old male from the west of Scotland and a 17-year-old female from the north of England.

The deaths are not thought to be linked and at this stage are not believed to be suspicious. Relatives have been informed.

Police Scotland’s gold commander for the festival, Ch Supt Angela McLaren, said: “We are continuing to investigate these deaths and are following lines of enquiry, including the possibility that they may be drug related. I would remind all persons attending the festival that there is no safe way of taking drugs.”

T in the Park director Geoff Ellis said organisers were shocked and saddened by the news. “Our thoughts are with the families and friends at this time. We are offering our full support and assistance,” he said.

Earlier on Friday afternoon, T in the Park’s official Twitter account had warned festival-goers not to risk taking illegal substances, to report suspicious behaviour to stewards and police officers and to seek help immediately should they feel unwell after taking drugs.

Campers began arriving on Thursday for the three-day event at Strathallan Castle, which will see the Stone Roses headline on Friday.

Besides the two deaths, police are also believed to be investigating a video that appears to show a mass brawl on Thursday afternoon, less than two hours after gates were opened. The brief clip, which was posted on social media, shows a number of bare-chested young men punching each other to the sounds of screams from onlookers.

In a separate incident, police have appealed for witnesses following the theft of an ATM from the main arena area at the festival. The ATM contained a “significant amount of cash” and was taken between midnight and 7am on Friday.

T in the Park is Scotland’s biggest music festival, and is expected to attract more than 80,000 revellers over the weekend. Jamie xx, Disclosure and the Courteeners are also scheduled to perform on Friday, before Calvin Harris and the Red Hot Chili Peppers headline on Saturday and Sunday.

The annual event, which has been a key fixture of Scotland’s festival calendar since 1994, was forced last year to move from its traditional site at Balado park after 18 years because of health and safety concerns over an oil pipe system running under the site.

Last year’s festival at the Strathallan site was plagued with problems, including complaints about crowd safety, chaotic traffic arrangements and antisocial behaviour. During the weekend, the body of a 36-year-old man was discovered in toilets. Police did not treat the death as suspicious.

Despite the difficulties caused by the Strathallan site, the number of arrests were reduced to 44, compared with 52 arrests in 2014, while the number incidents dealt with the Scottish ambulance service were also down to 606 compared with 858 the previous year.

Ellis said in an interview with BBC Radio 1’s Newsbeat earlier this week that he had learned “massive lessons” from the event in 2015.

“Moving a festival, that’s one of the biggest in the world, is a difficult feat,” he told the programme. “We listened to all the customer comments. We got a lot of them and we’ve acted on what people told us.”

He explained that the main stage had been moved to a more accessible location this year and that site planning aimed to reduce bottlenecks.

Williams in talks to play opera singer Jenny Lind in The Greatest Showman on Earth, Hollywood’s first live-action musical for 24 years

Michelle Williams and Zac Efron sought for PT Barnum biopic
Joining the circus … Michelle Williams. Photograph: Chris Polk/FilmMagic

The PT Barnum biopic The Greatest Showman on Earth, which will star Hugh Jackman as the celebrated American circus owner, is looking to cast Michelle Williams and Zac Efron in its remaining major roles.

According to Deadline, Williams is in talks for a role in the film, which is thought to be that of opera singer Jenny Lind, AKA the Swedish Nightingale, who toured with Barnum in the early 1850s with considerable success. Efron is also being sought, but there is no suggestion as yet as to who he might play.

The Greatest Showman on Earth is being billed as Hollywood’s first original live-action film musical in two decades (since 1992’s Newsies), and is due to be directed by commercials director Michael Gracey (best known for the Evian Roller Babies ad) with a script from Star Wars: The Force Awakens writer Michael Arndt.

Rapper releases song, Spiritual, with the lyrics ‘Got my hands in the air / in despair, don’t shoot’, while Beyoncé published statement saying: ‘We don’t need sympathy. We need everyone to respect our lives’

Jay Z and Beyoncé speak out after latest black killings by police
Black power couple … Jay Z and Beyoncé. Photograph: Mason Poole/Invision for Parkwood Entertainment

Jay Z and Beyoncé have both responded to the fatal shootings of two black men by police in the United States – Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, on Tuesday and Philando Castile in a suburb of St Paul, Minnesota, on Wednesday.

Jay Z has a released a new song called Spiritual on his Tidal streaming site, which is accompanied by a note from the rapper: “I made this song a year or so ago. I never got to finish it. Punch [Terrence Henderson, the co-president of Top Dawg Entertainment] told me I should drop it when Mike Brown died, sadly I told him, ‘This issue will always be relevant.’ I’m hurt that I knew his death wouldn’t be the last. I’m saddened and disappointed in THIS America – we should be further along … Blessings to all the families that have lost loved ones to brutality.”

The note ended with a quote from the 19th-century abolitionist campaigner Frederick Douglass: “Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organised conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe.”

The lyrics annotation website describes the song as one in which “Jay asserts his spirituality in dealing with issues of self-worth facing young black men in America”. The song’s hook is the most direct section to address police violence: “Yeah, I am not poison, no I am not poison / Just a boy from the hood that / Got my hands in the air / In despair, don’t shoot / I just wanna do good, ah.”

Beyoncé, Jay Z’s wife, posted a statement on her website on Thursday – before five police officers were shot dead during a protest in Dallas – which responded angrily to the killings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile.

“We don’t need sympathy,” she wrote. “We need everyone to respect our lives … These robberies of lives make us feel helpless and hopeless but we have to believe that we are fighting for the rights of the next generation. This is a fight for anyone who feels marginalised, who is struggling for freedom and human rights … The war on people of colour and all minorities needs to be over.”

The statement concluded with a request for fans to contact their politicians and legislators, and provided links to Congress as well as an invitation to voice protest on behalf of both Sterling and Castile.

At her concert in Glasgow on Thursday night, she held a moment’s silence and used the giant screens to display the names of victims of police violence.

On Wednesday, another superstar, Drake, had posted an open letter on Instagram about the killing of Sterling, in which he wrote: “It’s impossible to ignore that the relationship between black and brown communities and law enforcement remains as strained as it was decades ago. No one begins their life as a hashtag. Yet the trend of being reduced to one continues.”

Purple Rain-era lineup of the backing band will play at First Avenue in Minneapolis, the club featured in the movie’s concert sequences

The Revolution confirm Prince tribute shows in September
Purple patch … Prince in his mid-80s pomp, backed by the Revolution. Photograph: AP

Prince’s legendary backing band the Revolution are to reunite for two shows in memory of their former leader. The band will play at the Minneapolis club First Avenue – as featured in the concert sequences of Purple Rain – on 2 and 3 September.

The group went through 15 members during its initial lifespan of 1979-1986, but the reunited lineup will feature guitarist Wendy Melvoin, keyboard player Lisa Coleman, bassist BrownMark, keyboard player Doctor Fink and drummer Bobby Z. All those members were with Prince in 1984, at the time of Purple Rain. Guitarist Dez Dickerson and bassist André Cymone will make guest appearances.

“With profound loss and apocalyptic grief, we, along with the world, mourned Prince upon the news of his passing,” the band said. “After seeing the response outside of First Avenue and around the rest of the world’s monuments, we, as the Revolution – Wendy, Lisa, BrownMark, Dr Fink, and Bobby Z – have decided to pay tribute to Prince at home in the city of Minneapolis.”

The band had said in April, following Prince’s death, that they intended to play shows, but it has taken until now to schedule them.

Though the band backed Prince from 1979, they did not officially become the Revolution until the release of Purple Rain. With or without the name, the Revolution played on the classic 80s run of Prince albums – 1999, Purple Rain, Around the World in a Day and Parade.

The Revolution broke up in 1986, following the Parade tour. Wendy Melvoin had been unhappy about Prince hiring her twin sister, Susannah Melvoin. Wendy Melvoin and Lisa Coleman were fired in October 1986. Prince replaced Bobby Z with Sheila E. BrownMark left the band, though he was asked to say. Dr Fink played with Prince until 1991.

Meanwhile, John Blackwell, Prince’s drummer for 12 years from 2000, is undergoing hospital treatment in Japan. Blackwell was on tour in the country when he lost function in his left arm and leg. He posted on Facebook: “As many of you may be aware, I am in the process of getting tested for what the doctors think may be tumours in my brain. They are doing more testing and I have not been diagnosed with brain cancer as some may have been lead to believe. I do not want family and friends to be frightened by any rumours, but I will not be able to talk with everyone, nor will I be able to communicate daily through social media … I thank all of you for your love, support and prayers and will be up and funking in the very near future!”

Rapper responds to the death of the 37-year-old black man, shot dead by Louisiana police outside a convenience store in Baton Rouge

Drake publishes open letter in response to Alton Sterling killing by police
‘No one begins their life as a hashtag’ … Drake. Photograph: Jack Plunkett/Invision/AP

Drake has responded to the fatal shooting of Alton Sterling with an open letter commenting on the “strained relationship” between US police and “black and brown communities”.

Sterling, a 37-year-old black man, was shot and killed by Louisiana police following a confrontation outside a convenience store in Baton Rouge on 5 July. Mobile phone footage of the shooting emerged, which appeared to show Sterling being shot in the chest from point-blank range after being wrestled to the ground. A second video appeared to show officers removing a gun from Sterling’s pocket, after he had been shot. The Department of Justice is to investigate the killing, which has prompted protests in Baton Rouge.

Drake posted an open letter on Instagram in response to the killing. He wrote:

“I am grateful to be able to call America my second home. Last night when I saw the video of Alton Sterling being killed it left me feeling disheartened, emotional and truly scared. I woke up this morning with a strong need to say something.

It’s impossible to ignore that the relationship between black and brown communities and law enforcement remains as strained as it was decades ago. No one begins their life as a hashtag. Yet the trend of being reduced to one continues.

This is real and I’m concerned. Concerned for the safety of my family, my friends and any human being that could fall victim to this pattern. I do not know the answer. But I believe things can change for the better. Open and honest dialogue is the first step.

My thoughts and prayers are with the Sterling family and any family that has lost someone to this cycle of violence.

Be safe out there. More life.”

From a sci-fi horror masterpiece to an intergalactic disaster flick, movies shown to astronauts on the International Space Station may surprise you

What do astronauts watch in space? You don't want to know
Now screening at the International Space Station … Sandra Bullock in Gravity. Photograph: Allstar/Warner Bros

In space, no one can hear you scream. Unless, that is, they are your fellow astronauts on the International Space Station and you’re all sitting through a screening of Alien.

The unlikely choice of in-flight entertainment for the occupants of the ISS, which has been in orbit since 1998, has been revealed after a freedom of information request by Gizmodo’s Matt Novak. The list, which contains more than 500 movies and TV shows, includes some questionable entries. As well as all four Alien films – which essentially detail the plight of isolated space travellers picked off by near-unkillable xenomorphs, astronauts can watch Gravity (a tyro astronaut barely survives a traumatic accident in orbit), Starship Troopers (humanity menaced by near-unkillable alien insectoids), and Moon (after an accident, an astronaut realises he is a clone). On the upside, the ISS residents can relax with such apparently harmless comedies as Zoolander, A Room With a View and Dodgeball.

The movie-screening abilities of the ISS were revealed in 2015, when station commander Scott Kelly tweeted a picture of the HD projection facilities, showing a still from Gravity.

The full list of films can be found on Gizmodo.

Two dozen stars including Gwen Stefani, Mary J Blige and Selena Gomez have contributed to Hands, a song made to honor the victims of the Orlando attack

Britney Spears, Jennifer Lopez and Pink contribute to Orlando charity single
Britney Spears is one of the 24 artists who have contributed to a new charity single to honor the victims of the Orlando massacre Photograph: Jordan Strauss/AP

Pop stars including Britney Spears and Jennifer Lopez have recorded a new song that aims to raise money for victims of the Pulse nightclub attack, in which 49 people were killed and 53 injured by a gunman.

Jennifer Lopez, Gwen Stefani, Jason Derulo, Meghan Trainor, Pink, Mary J Blige, Selena Gomez and Britney Spears are among the 24 artists featured on the charity single, titled Hands, from Interscope Records with support from GLAAD. The song is the brainchild of hit songwriter Justin Tranter, best known for co-writing Justin Bieber’s Sorry. Funds from the song will aid families with medical care, counseling and will also be used for education.

According to Billboard, the idea for the track came together the day after the Orlando shooting. An earlier iteration of the song, co-written by Tranter’s songwriting partner Julia Michaels and BloodPop was partially completed before the massacre, but was shelved before being revisited as a charity effort.

Lopez, who is featured on Hands, has also contributed to another song created in honor of the Orlando victims. Lopez paired with Hamilton Tony-winner Lin-Manuel Miranda for the upcoming single Love Make the World Go Around, which they teased on their Twitter accounts over Fourth of July weekend. Proceeds for the single – which does not yet have a release date – will go to Somos Orlando, a not-for-profit organization that provides crisis intervention and mental health care to people affected by the tragedy and the community at large.

  • Hands is currently available to purchase on iTunes. Proceeds will be distributed by Equality Florida Pulse Victims Fund, the GLBT Community Center of Central Florida and GLAAD.

Unlike their 2014 comeback, Indie Cindy, this one was conceived and recorded as a complete album. Listen here to its first single

Pixies to release new album, Head Carrier, in September
Pixes … New bassist at left, not right. Photograph: Travis Shinn/PR

Pixies have announced the second album of their post-reunion phase. Head Carrier will be released on 30 September, via Pixiesmusic/Play It Again Sam. And unlike their last album, 2014’s Indie Cindy – whose songs had all appeared on three four-track EPs before the album – this was conceived of as a complete album.

The first single from the album, Um Chagga Lagga, is streaming now. For those fearing that sounds like a most unPixies-like title, the album also contains a song with the none-more-Pixies sounding title of Baal’s Back.

The band spent six weeks in pre-production, writing and arranging a selection of songs, which were whittled down to 12 for the final album. This is the first album since the start of the group’s career on which the songs were fully planned out before recording began in London in February.

“This was a wonderful luxury, for us to have the time to be able to really work these new songs out,” said drummer David Lovering. “By the time we started recording, we all knew the songs backwards and forwards, so it took half as long for us to make this album as it did to make Indie Cindy. ”

The artwork for the album is by longtime collaborator Vaughan Oliver, who was the art director at 4AD during the band’s 80s and 90s heyday. Inevitably, as well as the customary formats, the album is also available in a “special limited edition deluxe box set, featuring the CD, vinyl and a 24-page booklet. Should you wish, the band’s website will also offer a special bundle featuring the box set, a T-shirt and a print of the album cover.

This is the first Pixies album to feature bassist Paz Lenchantin, previously of A Perfect Circle and Zwan. She replaced Kim Shattuck in 2014, who herself replaced Kim Deal in 2013.

Label began as a family-run publishing company in 1884 and launched AC/DC, The Angels and The Easybeats

Australian independent music label Alberts sold to BMG
The Albert family will retain their interests in the catalogues of AC/DC (pictured) and Vanda, Young and Wright and BMG will administer the music publishing catalogues worldwide. Photograph: Chris Capstick/REX

Alberts, the longest running independent Australian music label, which launched AC/DC, The Angels and The Easybeats, has been acquired by international music company BMG, ending 131 years of history for the brand.

Alberts began as a family-run publishing company founded by a Swiss clockmaker in Sydney in 1884 before expanding to become a multi-functioning label, including a studio, publishing and management company, and home to the successful writer-producer team Harry Vanda and George Young.

Other Alberts artists included John Paul Young, The Easybeats, Flash & The Pan, Stevie Wright, Rose Tattoo, The Angels, Ted Mulry Gang, Megan Washington, Montaigne, San Cisco, The Cat Empire, Josh Pyke, Urthboy, The Delta Riggs and Paul Grabowsky.

Under the new deal, the Albert family will retain their interests in the catalogues of AC/DC and Vanda, Young and Wright and BMG will administer the music publishing catalogues worldwide.

Alberts chairman, Robert Albert, said: “These songwriters were an integral part of my late brother Ted Albert’s vision to take Australia’s music to the world. Retaining these catalogues will allow us to stay connected with an industry that has been an integral part of our lives for the last 131 years.”

Alberts CEO, David Albert, said: “This was a difficult decision to make, but as music grapples with its digital future, with new distribution models and the influence of global technology companies, we believe BMG is in the best position to take the business forward.”

BMG CEO, Hartwig Masuch, said the deal meant Australian artists and songwriters wishing to tap into the world market now had “a genuine alternative” to the major established record labels.

“BMG is very serious about the Australian market and this deal is an indication of our commitment.”

Chilcot report into Iraq war tells how intelligence agency feared a source’s information had been lifted from Hollywood thriller featuring Nicolas Cage

The Rock movie plot 'may have inspired MI6 source's Iraqi weapons claim'
Sean Connery and Nicolas Cage in The Rock. The film shows glass containers being used to carry nerve agents, a method the MI6 source suggested Saddam Hussein might consider. Photograph: Allstar Picture Library

An allegation in an MI6 report about Iraq’s supposed chemical weapons capability before the 2003 war to remove Saddam Hussein appeared to have been lifted from a Hollywood film, according to the Chilcot report.

A section of the inquiry’s findings about the build-up to the conflict in the autumn of 2002 found that MI6, formally known as the Secret Intelligence Service or SIS, feared a source might have taken inspiration from The Rock, a 1996 thriller starring Sean Connery and Nicolas Cage.

The report details how MI6 sent information to “a small number of very senior readers”, including Tony Blair and the then foreign secretary, Jack Straw, on 11 and 23 September 2002.

Based on what MI6 called “a new source on trial with direct access”, this alleged that Saddam’s government had accelerated the production of chemical and biological agents, and in particular that chemical agents might be carried in glass containers.

After some discussion on the reliability of the new source, in early October MI6 was questioned directly about this idea. The report says: “It was pointed out that glass containers were not typically used in chemical munitions; and that a popular movie [The Rock] has inaccurately depicted nerve agents being carried in glass beads or spheres.”

MI6 accepted this possible flaw to the intelligence, the report adds: “The questions about the use of glass containers for chemical agents and the similarity of the description to those portrayed in The Rock had been recognised by SIS. There were some precedents for the use of glass containers but the points would be pursued when further material became available.”

Chilcot’s team describe further doubts about the anonymous source’s reliability, noting that Sir Richard Dearlove, the then MI6 chief, was “following progress of the case”.

The report adds: “By 6 December, questions were being asked within SIS about whether there was any further reporting. It was suggested that that meant ‘a health warning’ on material from SIS’s source. Following further contacts, doubts were expressed on 9 December within SIS about the reliability of the source and whether he had ‘made up all or part of the account of his dealings’ with the sub-source.

Nonetheless, in December Straw asked Dearlove’s team about the possibility of this mystery source “producing silver bullet intelligence” to guide UN inspectors to weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

The response came that the sub-source did exist, but the main source “may not have written up the intelligence in the manner which was being claimed for him”.

Celebrated Iranian director, whose Taste of Cherry won Cannes’ top prize in 1997, remained in the country after the Islamic revolution and continued to flourish

Abbas Kiarostami, Palme d'Or-winning Iranian film-maker, dies aged 76
Abbas Kiarostami directing Certified Copy Photograph: Publicity image from film company

Abbas Kiarostami, the multi-award-winning Iranian director whose 1997 film Taste of Cherry was awarded the Palme d’Or at the Cannes film festival, has died aged 76.

“Abbas Kiarostami, who had travelled to France for treatment, has died,” reported the semi-official Isna news agency on Monday. Iran’s house of cinema confirmed the report, Isna said. Kiarostami had been diagnosed with gastrointestinal cancer in March 2016, and had undergone a series of operations, including in Paris last month.

Speaking to the Guardian from Tehran, Oscar-winning Iranian film-maker Asghar Farhadi – who had been due to fly to Paris to visit his friend later tonight – said he was “very sad, in total shock”.

“He wasn’t just a film-maker,” Farhadi continued, “he was a modern mystic, both in his cinema and his private life.” Farhadi said Kiarostami’s success enabled many generations of Iranian film-makers: “He definitely paved ways for others and influenced a great deal of people. It’s not just the world of cinema that has lost a great man; the whole world has lost someone really great.”

Mohsen Makhmalbaf echoed the sentiment, saying Iran’s cinema owes its global reputation to his fellow director, but that this visibility did not translate into a greater visibility for his work in his homeland.

“Kiarostami gave the Iranian cinema the international credibility that it has today,” he told the Guardian. “But his films were unfortunately not seen as much in Iran. He changed the world’s cinema; he freshened it and humanised it in contrast with Hollywood’s rough version.”

“He was a man of life, who enjoyed living and made films in praise of life – that’s why it’s so difficult to come to terms with his death,” he said.

Kiarostami’s rise to the status of one of the world’s foremost auteurs started from relatively humble beginnings. He was born in 1940 in Tehran, and originally studied painting at the University of Tehran; Kiarostami began working as a graphic designer and went on to shoot dozens of commercials for Iranian TV. In 1969 he joined Kanun (the Centre for the Intellectual Development of Children and Young Adults), where he ran the film department, and was able to make his own films. In 2005 Kiarostami told the Guardian: “We were supposed to make films that dealt with childhood problems. At the beginning it was just a job, but it was the making of me as an artist.”

Abbas Kiarostami, Palme d'Or-winning Iranian film-maker, dies aged 76
Palme winner … Taste of Cherry Photograph: Moviestore/REX Shutterstock

In the two decades he worked for Kanun, Kiarostami made films continuously, including his first feature, The Report, in 1977. He managed to negotiate the transition triggered by the Khomeini revolution, re-working the films he made to try and accommodate the demands of a new set of censors. Unlike many of his film-industry peers, Kiarostami decided to remain in Iran after the revolution, likening himself to “a tree that is rooted in the ground”. “[If you] transfer it from one place to another, the tree will no longer bear fruit … If I had left my country, I would be the same as the tree.”

It was while he was at Kanun also that Kiarostami embarked on what would become known as the Koker trilogy, the three films that established his international reputation as a director of considerable sensitivity and intellectual rigour. The first, Where Is the Friend’s Home?, was completed in 1987, and its sympathetic story of a schoolkid’s attempt to return a classmate’s exercise book, won Kiarostami’s first major award, the Bronze Leopard at the Locarno film festival.

Life, and Nothing More…, finished in 1992, saw him blend fiction and documentary in his account of his search for the earlier film’s cast after the devastating earthquake of 1990. Said Jean-Luc Godard after seeing the film: “Film begins with DW Griffith and ends with Abbas Kiarostami.” In 1994, Kiarostami made Through the Olive Trees, which revolved around the making of a fictional second instalment of Life, and Nothing More.

Abbas Kiarostami, Palme d'Or-winning Iranian film-maker, dies aged 76
Imapct … Close-Up Photograph: handout/Handout

However, the hostile censorship climate meant he had already left his job at Kanun, shortly after completing another film, Homework, in 1989. Close-Up, from 1990 was an agile docu-fiction about a man who had been put on trial for impersonating Kiarostami’s fellow film-maker Mohsen Makhmalbaf. At the same time, Kiarostami wrote and produced films by other directors, most notably The White Balloon, the 1995 directorial debut of Jafar Panahi, who had worked on Through the Olive Trees as an assistant director.

Kiarostami’s upward ascension as a major auteur was confirmed in 1997, when his seventh feature, Taste of Cherry – a study of a man driving around looking for someone to help him commit suicide – was awarded the Palme d’Or (jointly, with The Eel, directed by Shohei Imamura).

Kiarostami’s subsequent career alternated between formal features, such as the poetic drama The Wind Will Carry Us and Ten, which exploited Kiarostami’s fondness for filming and photographing in cars, and outside ideas such as ABC Africa, which arose after Kiarostami was invited to film Aids orphans in Uganda, and Tickets, a three-part film made with Ken Loach and Ermanno Olmi. He also moved into what can only be described as minimalist documentary with Five (subtitled Dedicated to Ozu), which comprised a series of lengthy shots of Spanish landscape, and Shirin, composed of a series of headshots of women watching an unseen film.

Abbas Kiarostami, Palme d'Or-winning Iranian film-maker, dies aged 76
Awarded … William Shimell and Juliette Binoche in Certified Copy Photograph: Publicity image from film company

Latterly, Kiarostami found it increasingly difficult to film in Iran, as political strife grew in the wake of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s rise to power. His next two films, Certified Copy and Like Someone in Love were filmed abroad, in Italy and Japan respectively, even if they dealt in Kiarostami’s familiar themes of authenticity and relationships. Both were screened at Cannes, and the former won the festival’s best actress award for Juliette Binoche.

Last week, Kiarostami was among 683 film-makers asked to join the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences; many commented on the belated nature of the invite. In 2003, The Guardian ranked him the sixth best working director.

Kiarostami was married once, in 1969, to Parvin Amir-Gholi, but they divorced in 1982. They had two sons together: Ahmad (a mulitmedia publisher) and Bahman (a documentary-maker).

Long-gestating adaptation of stage play Vita and Virginia by Eileen Atkins will be directed by Chanya Button

Virginia Woolf and Vita Sackville-West romance set for big screen
An affair to remember … Virginia Woolf, left and Vita Sackville West, the English writer who was the model for Woolf’s Orlando. Composite: AP/Getty Images

Vita and Virginia, Eileen Atkins’s fictionalisation of the friendship and affair of writers Virginia Woolf and Vita Sackville-West, is finally heading to the big screen.

No casting has yet been announced, but the director is Chanya Button, whose female buddy comedy Burn Burn Burn was a hit at last autumn’s London film festival.

The movie is an adaptation of Atkins’ play of the same name, which premiered in 1992, three years after she toured the world in a stage adaptation of Woolf’s collected lectures. The actor adapted her own script for the screen in 2000, shortly before she was cast in a minor role in Stephen Daldry’s adaptation of Michael Cunningham’s novel The Hours, which she was not wholly impressed by.

In 2007, Atkins said:

It’s not that the portrait of her is wrong, but it’s only her depression. It came as a real thrill to me that I made people go back and read it and see how witty she was. When I first got the script, I threw it from one end of my apartment to the other. I thought, right, OK, you’ve had your temper. It’s going to be done anyway, so grit your teeth, take the day’s filming, have a day with Meryl Streep and fuck everybody. And that’s what I did. It’s over and it was a success and that’s fine. But I just wish somebody would do my script.

The relationship between the two Bloomsbury luminaries began in 1922 and lasted around a decade, although they remained friends until Woolf’s death in 1941. The novelist dedicated 1928’s Orlando to Sackville-West; Vita’s son, Nigel Nicholson, called it “the longest and most charming love-letter in literature”.

With 6.1m copies sold, Queen’s 1981 compilation heads list marking 60 years of the album chart first topped by Frank Sinatra

Queen's greatest hits crowned as UK's biggest-selling album
‘I always thought we showed promise’ … John Deacon, Freddie Mercury, Brian May and Roger Taylor of Queen. Photograph: South Coast Press/Rex

Queen’s Greatest Hits has been revealed as the biggest-selling album in the UK.

To celebrate 60 years of the official album chart – “the UK’s official weekly snapshot of popularity” – has unveiled the 60 biggest-selling albums of all time in Britain, with the rock band’s compilation topping the list.

The 1981 album has long been a phenomenon in terms of sales, and in 2014 became the first sell 6m copies of an album in the UK, three decades after it was released. The best-of has now sold 6.1 million copies, with Queen’s Greatest Hits II also shifting enough sales to enter at No 10, with almost 4m copies sold.

“What a great bit of news to wake up to! The most popular album? Well, I always thought the band showed promise, but this is beyond our boyhood dreams!” Queen’s Brian May told

Queen's greatest hits crowned as UK's biggest-selling album
In at No 2 … Abba. Photograph: Andre Csillag/Rex

Just behind Queen’s compilation is another best-of – Abba’s Gold: Greatest Hits, which is the UK’s second-biggest-selling album, shifting 5.2m units since its release in 1992. At No 3 is the Beatles’ Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

The success of a new generation of artists is also reflected in the roundup. Ed Sheeran’s X is at No 49, while Adele’s 25 is among the top 30 bestsellers seven months after release. Meanwhile, her 2011 album 21 is at No 4.

Oasis’ (What’s The Story) Morning Glory? caps off the Top 5, with 4.7m sales.

Despite failing to crack the Top 10, Robbie Williams has the most entries – four – of any individual, including his solo albums I’ve Been Expecting You at No 48 and Swing When You’re Winning at No 56, and two Take That bestsellers: Progress (No 57) and Never Forget – The Ultimate Collection (No 59). Coldplay have three entries – A Rush of Blood to the Head (No 31), X&Y (No 40) and Parachutes (No 45), while Michael Jackson, Dido and Fleetwood Mac each have two entries.

The Top 60 chart is part of the Official Chart Company’s month-long anniversary celebrations. The first ever chart was published in the Record Mirror on 22 July 1956, and featured Frank Sinatra’s Songs for Swingin’ Lovers in the top spot.

“In celebration of 60 years of the UK’s official album chart, it is fantastic that we can crown Queen as the kings of the anniversary Top 60,” said Martin Talbot, chief executive of Official Charts. “With seven albums by British acts in the all-time Top 10, and Adele’s 21 now challenging the Beatles’ Sgt Pepper to be the biggest-selling studio album of all time, it is a great list for homegrown talent. And the fact that Adele’s latest album 25 is riding into the overall Top 30, along with Ed Sheeran’s X, underlines the power of the official albums chart in championing great British talent, young and old.”

Viewers can feel like they were sitting on the hillside during the Sermon on the Mount or right beside the crypt during the resurrection in VR re-enactment

Miracle of technology: story of Jesus to be released in virtual reality
Blessed is the headset: an actor plays Christ in London. Photograph: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

First came the scriptures; then the altarpieces. After that, stained glass windows and engravings of the Stations of the Cross. Last century brought biblical epics like Spartacus. Now believers will be able to experience the life of Jesus as if they were there themselves, thanks to advances in virtual reality technology.

Autumn Productions and VRWERX are set to release Jesus VR – The Story of Christ, a 90-minute virtual reality re-enactment of the New Testament, which includes Jesus’s birth and death by crucifixion, along with key moments like the Sermon on the Mount.

Enzo Sisti, who is executive producing the film, served the same role on The Passion of the Christ, the Mel Gibson film that raked in $370m back in 2004. Tim Fellingham will play the savior.

There are other connections with Gibson’s film. Jesus VR was filmed on location in Matera, Italy, the same location The Passion used, and also uses the same religious adviser, Father William Fulco. It remains to be seen whether the VR film will be as violent and bloody as The Passion was, though a virtual reality crucifixion may prove to be gruelling viewing.

Jesus VR was filmed in 360-degree 4K video, so viewers will be able to look all around the scenes and see action from every angle. When water is turned into wine, the producers promise, it will be as as if they were actually in the middle of the wedding at Canaan.

Jesus VR will be available for anyone who can figure out how to use a Google Cardboard, Gear VR, Oculus Rift, Playstation VR, or HTC Vine. However, in terms of memory the size of virtual reality movies, especially one that is 90 minutes long, is absolutely huge, so penitents may have to empty out their cell phones in order to fit this futuristic Bible on it.

“The viewers truly feel they are there with Jesus and his disciples,” director and producer David Hansen said in a statement. “This is the most powerful story of all time and virtual reality is the perfect way to tell it.”

While entertainment for Christian audiences can often result in huge viewing figures – like The Passion or History Channel’s The Bible miniseries – the big variable here is whether there will be enough early adopters of VR technology by this Christmas, when the movie will be released, for the film to be a hit. But perhaps every devout Christian will also be getting an Oculus Rift from Santa this year.