Authors aren’t always pleased by adaptations of their books. Yet Cowell said she had found the process “really enjoyable”.
“I’ve loved the whole thing,” she declared. “It has been really fascinating to have an insight into a world I wasn’t really intending to end up in.”
Another bonus is the number of new young readers the films’ success has brought her way.
“Often people see the films as a sort of rival,” she said. “But I’m passionate about getting books in the hands of all children and the films have been wonderful for doing that.”
Two Netflix titles, Klaus and I Lost My Body, are also nominated this year, as is stop-motion animation Missing Link.
If the latter film doesn’t win, it will be the fifth time that Laika – the studio previously nominated for Coraline, ParaNorman, The Boxtrolls and 2016’s Kubo and the Two Strings – goes home empty-handed.
Missing Link was crowned best animated film at the Golden Globes in January, while Klaus – an alternative version of the Santa Claus origin story – won the equivalent prize at the Bafta Film Awards last weekend.
Those films are generally considered to be the front runners in a category that has only been part of the Academy Awards since 2002.
Director Chris Butler was nominated, alongside fellow Brit Sam Fell, when ParaNorman was shortlisted for the animated film Oscar in 2013.
The Liverpool native describes Missing Link as “a kaleidoscopic travelogue” in which a 19th Century English explorer goes in search of a fabled Sasquatch creature.
“I started writing this 15 or so years ago, and the idea was to have a stop motion version of Indiana Jones,” he told the BBC last year.
Hugh Jackman provides the voice for the heroic Sir Lionel Frost, while Zach Galifianakis voices the Yeti he discovers in America’s Pacific Northwest.
“Stop motion has a grand tradition of animated ape-men going all the way back to King Kong , so I thought he was the perfect fit for this medium,” Butler continued.
Missing Link was not a box office success when it came out last April, barely recouping a quarter of its reported $100m (£77m) budget.
Toy Story 4, in contrast, made more than $1.07bn (£821m) worldwide, narrowly exceeding the $1.06bn (£813mn) that Toy Story 3 grossed in 2010.
The 92nd Academy Awards will be held at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, Los Angeles on 9 February.
More than 600 Christmas presents for children have been stolen from a community Santa’s grotto.
The gifts were being kept in buildings at the bowling green in Eastville Park, Bristol, after Father Christmas was unable to deliver them on Sunday.
High winds cancelled the event so the wrapped presents were being stored while organisers worked out what to do.
Volunteers called police and said the theft overnight on Monday and Tuesday had “knocked them for six”.
Friends of Eastville Park had planned a wildlife winter wonderland themed Santa’s grotto along with entertainment and crafts for its first Christmas event for children.
Volunteer Chrissy Quinnell, said: “It’s really hard to conceive that somebody would take children’s presents.”
“Hundreds of people were involved in the preparations but we had to cancel the event because of really high winds,” said Ms Quinnell. “So the fact the event didn’t take place was a bit of a low point for us and then to find this as well.
The 2019 Turner Prize was a crazy contest between human effigies and a futuristic feminist city and a film about Northern Ireland and a sound installation about Syria.
So, before Tuesday’s prize-giving ceremony, the nominees got together and decided they didn’t want an individual winner to be chosen, instead asking the judges to let them share the coveted art award.
That wasn’t just because it was so hard to compare their works, but because they wanted to make a show of unity in divisive times, and didn’t want one nominee’s political message to be judged as more worthy than the rest.
There had never been a tie for the Turner Prize before. But the prize has changed since the headline-making days of the mid-1990s. Out have gone the indulgent, attention-grabbing sensations by Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin, and in have come the socially conscious, message-driven works of recent years.
The gesture and the reasons behind it have been warmly received. But now this precedent has been set, will next year’s nominees feel they need to do the same thing?
And after the Booker Prize judges failed to choose one winner this year, is the notion of competition in the arts going out of fashion?
“Everyone agrees that competition is the enemy of art,” wrote Charlotte Higgins in the Guardian after the Booker in October. “And yet, on the whole, there is also an agreement to conspire in the notion that it isn’t.”
After all, a competition brings a certain amount of excitement and attention that wouldn’t have been there otherwise – if, for example, the Turner Prize was just another group exhibition.
BBC arts editor Will Gompertz said: “Maybe annual awards like the Turner Prize and the Booker Prize, which also didn’t have a single winner this year, are reaching their sell-by date: an anachronism from a bygone binary age of winners and losers.”
But Turner Prize head judge Alex Farquharson, who runs Tate Britain, told BBC News that Tuesday’s result was “very specific to this year”, and that the award had always evolved in order to stay relevant.
Here are four more recent examples of when artists or judges have decided to share the love – and one where they withheld their love altogether.
Turner Prize 2016
Until this year, the closest the Turner Prize had come to a split award was when the 2016 winner, sculptor Helen Marten, decided to share her prize money (if not the prize itself) with her fellow nominees.
“Promoting a hierarchy is never the most useful thing for anyone involved, or the public,” she told BBC News at the time.
“To a certain extent I believe in light of the world’s ever lengthening political shadow that the art world has a responsibility, if not to suggest a provisional means forward, then at least show an egalitarian platform of democracy,” she told BBC Radio 4’s Front Row.
Marten was following the example of the winner of the 2015 Artes Mundi prize, the Chicago artist Theaster Gates, who announced he was sharing his £40,000 prize with the nine other shortlisted artists.
James Tait Black Prize for Fiction 2019
Billed as Britain’s longest running literary awards, the James Tait Black Prizes recognise the best fiction and biography books of the year. Olivia Laing won the fiction award in August for her debut novel Crudo, and said she would share the £10,000 prize with her fellow nominees.
“I said in Crudo that competition has no place in art and I meant it,” Laing told the awards ceremony, according to the Guardian.
“Crudo was written against a kind of selfishness that’s everywhere in the world right now, against an era of walls and borders, winners and losers. Art doesn’t thrive like that and I don’t think people do either.
“We thrive on community, solidarity and mutual support and as such, and assuming this is agreeable to my fellow authors, I’d like the prize money to be split between us, to nourish as much new work as possible.”
Booker Prize 2019
It was the judges rather than the nominees who decided to split this year’s Booker Prize between Margaret Atwood and Bernardine Evaristo.
The Booker rules say the prize must not be divided, but the judges insisted they “couldn’t separate” the two works. Peter Florence, the chair, said: “It was our decision to flout the rules.”
He twice told organisers the judges wanted to declare a tie, and twice the organisers said no. The third time, the organisers relented. “We tried voting, it didn’t work,” Florence said. “There’s a metaphor for our times.”
But the decision was criticised by many, with some suggesting Evaristo would have benefited from having the spotlight to herself, whereas Atwood didn’t need it.
One of the judges was writer Afua Hirsch, who said the panel struggled to judge “the titanic career” of Atwood against “the quality and consistency” of Evaristo. That also raised hackles, because they were supposed to be judging individual novels, rather than careers.
Princess Beatrice is engaged to her boyfriend Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi, her parents have announced.
The 31-year-old daughter of Prince Andrew and Sarah, Duchess of York, got engaged to the 34-year-old property tycoon in Italy earlier this month.
The princess, who is ninth in line to the throne, will marry Mr Mapelli Mozzi next year.
“We are both so excited to be embarking on this life adventure together,” the pair said in a statement.
“We share so many similar interests and values, and we know that this will stand us in great stead for the years ahead, full of love and happiness,” they added.
Beatrice said on Twitter she was “so excited” by the announcement, while her fiance said on Instagram: “You will never be alone my love, my heart is your home.”
The Duke and Duchess of York said: “We are thrilled that Beatrice and Edoardo have got engaged, having watched their relationship develop with pride.”
“We are the lucky parents of a wonderful daughter who has found her love and companion in a completely devoted friend and loyal young man. We send them every good wish for a wonderful family future,” they added.
“It’s been a long time coming and you two are meant to be,” Eugenie added.
Who is Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi?
Mr Mapelli Mozzi – known as Edo – is descended from Italian aristocracy, according to AFP.
He is the son of former alpine skier Count Alessandro Mapelli Mozzi, who competed for Britain in the 1972 Olympics.
His mother, Nikki Williams-Ellis, was formerly known as Nikki Shale, from her marriage to the late Christopher Shale – Edoardo’s stepfather.
Mr Shale – who died from heart disease at Glastonbury Festival in 2011 – was a senior Tory and close friend of former prime minister David Cameron.
Mr Mapelli Mozzi has been a friend of Beatrice’s family for some time.
The BBC’s royal correspondent, Jonny Dymond, said he believed the pair had been together for about two years – and that they have only been seen together in public a handful of times. He said things have “moved pretty quickly”.
After US talkshow host Bill Maher called for fat shaming to “make a comeback”, fellow host James Corden’s impassioned response won widespread support online.
“It’s proven that fat shaming only does one thing,” he said. “It makes people feel ashamed and shame leads to depression, anxiety and self-destructive behaviour – self-destructive behaviour like overeating.”
“If making fun of fat people made them lose weight, there’d be no fat kids in schools.”
Fat shaming might not be healthy for all but I owe my whole entire career to being fat shamed. Coaches and scouts passed on me because of my body type for years. So I went out and did all the necessary things in order to prove them wrong. Wasn’t easy but nothing is in life! https://t.co/YHWyhv3WzI
That experience, though, is atypical, says Jane Ogden, a professor of health psychology at the University of Surrey.
“Shaming is the wrong way forward,” she told the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme on Monday.
“All of the evidence is that fat shaming just makes people feel worse. It lowers their self-esteem. It makes them feel depressed and anxious and as a result of that what they then do is self-destructive.”
Victoria Abraham, 19, lives and studies in New York city, but grew up in Florida.
She says that her first hand experience shows Mr Maher is wrong about fat shaming.
“I have been shamed my entire life for my weight and I am still fat. When nasty comments were made to me as a child I used to go home after school and eat food to make myself feel better.
“It’s not like people were saying these comments from a place of caring. They just wanted to make me feel small and negative about my body.
“The people who cared about my health were my parents and my doctor and that’s it. They were the only people who had the right to talk to me about my body. The kids on the street were just teasing me for being different.”
Victoria stresses that she is now very confident about her body and reflects that if her younger self could have seen her now then her childhood would have been much happier.
“Back then you weren’t allowed to be fat and happy,” she said. “You weren’t allowed to love yourself no matter what you looked like”.
It was changing the media she consumed that made all the difference.
“After I finished middle school I started reading books with fat characters and watching TV with fat women which started to change the way I viewed myself. If you only see media with thin white women then you think something is wrong with you. But when you see beautiful fat women you start to see the beauty in yourself.”
Victoria also acknowledges the health impacts of obesity.
“Losing weight is good for your health but I am anti-diet. I have tried most of them and you just put the weight back on after the diet. Now I just try and do more exercise and eat healthier things.”
“It’s a very hard conversation to have,” Professor Ogden told the BBC.
“The evidence out there for the impact of excess bodyweight and obesity – on cancer, on diabetes, on heart disease – is very clear. And that’s education we need to have out there.
“But because the line between getting that message out there and then actually making someone feel ashamed of who they are is so fine, those conversations are very difficult.”
Even if you do lose weight, fat shaming can negatively impact health in other ways.
Will Mavity, 25, lives in Los Angeles. Growing up in Atlanta, Georgia, he was, he says, “extremely chubby”.
It is not a description you would use about him today.
“They would call me double d, and this stuff added up. When I started high school I decided the only way I could avoid this was to never be fat again,” he told the BBC.
But Will developed an eating disorder.
“Fat shaming caused me to lose weight, but not in a healthy way. I started to purge after every meal,” he said.
“I injure myself over and over again because of over-exercise. I feel I have to. I start getting angry whenever I cannot work out. I can’t shake it. Because of the fat shaming, I associate my value as a human being with the way I look.”
“Shaming anybody for anything doesn’t help you – whatever the thing is that is being shamed,” Professor Ogden explained.
The fifth series of Peaky Blinders has seen the arrival of the Billy Boys from Glasgow.
The gang sent a gory warning to Tommy Shelby (played by Cillian Murphy) and his family as they made their mark on the BBC TV series, which is set in 1920s Birmingham.
Who were the real Billy Boys?
Like Birmingham, Glasgow was famous for its razor gangs.
Author Robert Jeffrey told BBC Scotland the two main gangs in the 1930s were the Billy Boys and the Norman Conks.
“It was a religious divide,” he said.
“The Billy Boys were protestants and the Conks, who centred on Norman Street, were Catholics.”
Mr Jeffrey said the main aim of the Billy Boys was to terrify the Catholic population, who were mainly Irish immigrants, and make them feel as unwelcome as possible.
Their name came from William of Orange (King Billy), whose victory at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690 secured Protestant rule in England and Scotland, as well as Ireland.
The Billy Boys came from an area to the east of Glasgow city centre called Bridgeton, or Brigton as it was known.
The staunchly protestant gang was initially set up to fight against Irish immigrants but as well as the rampant sectarianism, the gang ran the entire neighbourhood, operating illegal scams, protection rackets and providing “stewards” for political meetings and open-air boxing bouts.
Who was their leader?
The gang took their orders from Billy Fullerton.
Former journalist Mr Jeffrey, who has written a number of books on Glasgow’s gangs, said: “Like in gangster films and TV shows, such as Peaky Blinders, you needed someone at the top who has got to have the guts and the respect and carry the troops with him.”
Fullerton always claimed he had been attacked by a gang of Irish Catholic immigrants after performing well in a football match against their team.
He regularly gave overtly sectarian speeches which aimed to inflame feelings against immigrants.
More than half of England’s universities have fewer than 5% of poor white students on their books, says an analysis of university entry figures.
The report, from the National Education Opportunities Network (Neon), shows white students from deprived areas in low numbers in many top universities.
There are 3% at the University of Oxford, compared with 28% at Teesside.
The study says too few universities have clear targets to recruit white working-class students.
Education Secretary Damian Hinds has previously warned of the risk of communities feeling “left behind”.
The study, from an organisation promoting wider access into higher education, calls for a “national initiative” to tackle the educational underachievement of disadvantaged white youngsters across schools, colleges and universities.
The university figures show the problem in recruiting white students from poorer backgrounds – and how many universities have very low proportions of them.
It warns that fewer than a fifth of universities have targets for admitting more poor white students – and that there are only “variable” efforts to improve participation.
Even if a target of 5% of poor white students were to be set across universities, it would mean another 10,000 students going to university, says the research.
The study looks at white students from so-called “low-participation neighbourhoods” – areas where few people usually go to university.
In total numbers, white students, of all social backgrounds, are the biggest group going to university, show figures from the Ucas admissions service.
But in terms of a proportion of the population, white youngsters are less likely to go to university than Asian or black teenagers.
The latest application figures, for courses in the autumn, show that applications from white students are declining, while they are increasing for Asian and black youngsters.
Cutting across this is a widening gender divide – with women much more likely than men to apply to university.
When these factors combine, it means that white, working-class men become among the most under-represented groups in university.
The study says projects to widen entry into university might need to be “redefined”.
The report shows a starkly divided picture in where poor white students are likely to attend.
They are particularly likely to take higher education courses in local further education colleges.
Among those going to university, 70% go to new universities, with low numbers going to some high-ranking institutions.
Cambridge has 2%, Warwick and Bristol 3%, Durham 4%.
At University of Sunderland, 27% of acceptances are from white students from deprived areas and the figure is 22% in Staffordshire University.
The numbers are particularly low in London universities – many of them 1% or 2%.
But these figures might be affected by the high overall levels of young people in London going to university – much higher than elsewhere in England.
Because of such high entry rates, even from deprived youngsters, there are relatively few “low-participation neighbourhoods” in London, or young people who would fall into this category.
The high cost of living in London could also deter some poorer students from elsewhere from coming to study in the capital.
Graeme Atherton, report co-author and director of Neon, warned of “big variability” in the chances of different groups to get to university.
“We need to know more about why this variability exists and do more to eliminate it,” he said.
A spokeswoman for Universities UK said that universities were “committed to widening access to higher education and ensuring the success of all their students, regardless of their background”.
The spokeswoman for the universities’ organisation said that “18-year-olds from the most disadvantaged areas in England are more likely to go to university than ever before” – and that this could be further helped if the government restored “maintenance grants for those most in need”.
Mr Hinds has highlighted the importance of supporting education in communities that might feel “left behind”.
In a speech in the autumn, Mr Hinds said: “White British disadvantaged boys are the least likely of any large ethnic group to go to university.
“We need to ask ourselves why that is and challenge government, universities and the wider system to change that.
“It’s vital that we do this to make sure that no part of our country feels as though it has been left behind.”