Thursday, December 3

Dolly Parton’s gift could put a song in all of our hearts | Rebecca Nicholson | Opinion

IIt was the week that Dolly Parton helped the world with a vaccine for Covid-19, because, of course, it was. There couldn’t be a finer coda for this gruesome year than to reveal that Parton had partially funded the research that led to the Modern vaccine, currently topping the charts 94.5% effective.

In April, Parton donated $ 1 million (£ 750,000) to Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Tennessee. He discovered that this had been intended to fund the vaccine when the name of his foundation, the Dolly Parton Covid-19 Research Fund, appeared in the report – arguably the funniest name for a scientific research body.

I’ve recommended this more times than I can remember, but for an in-depth look at how Parton manages to pull across almost every division, the 2019 podcast Dolly Parton’s America it is fascinating and vital. (In a vaccine / podcast crossover, the host is Jad Abumrad, whose father, Dr. Naji Abumrad, is a professor of surgery at Vanderbilt and a friend of Parton, who inspired her to donate the million dollars.)

She paints a portrait of a cunning and kind woman, politically adept and supernaturally intelligent, and explains to a great extent why she is so loved by so many people, from all walks of life, in many countries. I find that I am suspicious of those who say they don’t like Parton or its music and I suspect that it is largely a contrary position to take for her sake, such as not having a television or insisting that you enjoy the taste of mustard.

“This could be his most significant contribution to the world so far,” Alex Jones told Parton on The only show when talking about vaccine news, which was a bold statement about the woman who wrote Jolene and I Will Always Love You in one sitting.

“I’m sure many millions of dollars from many people went into that,” Parton noted, modestly, because she is Dolly Parton. Of course, everyone knows that Parton didn’t usher in the end of the pandemic on its own, although frankly, if that were the news, I doubt it would be a huge surprise. But somehow it feels fitting and appropriate that Parton’s philanthropy, which has had a special focus on educating children from poorer backgrounds, has manifested itself once again, this time when I needed it most, all over the world.

She plays an angel in her next holiday movie, Christmas in the squareAnd who could take that away from him?

Ant and Dec: a surefire ability to make us laugh

Ant and Dec

Ant and Dec: “Your jokes have brightened my week.” Photograph: ITV / PA

There’s more laughter in five minutes of I’m a celebrity… Get me out of here! than in most new sitcoms.

Not that the contestants facing their phobias are inherently funny, although Radio 1’s Jordan North yelling about his “happy place” while trapped underground in a box does have its own charms. (Not for the snakes that are there with him: the RSPCA has again criticized the use of live animals in the program). It’s more that after 18 years, Ant and Dec continue to be the funniest presenters on television. No wonder they win every annual submission award. His jokes have brightened my week.

In normal times, I find it difficult to stick with programs like I’m a celebrity or Strictly come dance because they require a lot of time and attention. It’s a compromise. But with little else to do in the evenings, at least little more that requires leaving the house, the entertainment they provide has been strangely comforting and communal, in a way I didn’t anticipate it would be. I can join in familiar texting, say, about who did what in which rehearsal for the first time in years.

The Great Briton Bake Off ends this week, but with that, Strictly Y I’m a celebrity, it feels like the UK’s light entertainment titans really rolled up their sleeves and ruined when it came to doing their part for the national vibe.

The opening episode of I’m a celebrity was the The most seen Non-news show of the year, with 12 million viewers tuning in at its peak. It doesn’t surprise me at all.

Nigella Lawson: Makes Even Toast Taste Better

Nigella Lawson

Nigella Lawson: Using her bread. Photograph: Anne-Marie Jackson / Toronto Star / Getty Images

In a short segment of his new cooking show, Cook, eat, repeat Nigella, Nigella Lawson changed my relationship with Toast. That relationship is long-lasting and devoted, I honestly think my death row meal would be a thick slice of hot buttered toast, but this second block has taken it to the next level and I can only describe November as “fuel.” (I read an article on “how to stay healthy this winter” that advised avoiding bread and pasta, which, for my gluten-tolerant appetite, seemed like a direct path to misery.)

Last Monday Nigella showed us how she makes toast. (To be fair, “call this cooking?” Naysayers, she made the bread). Butter it once. She leaves him. Then he butters it again. Unsalted butter. Sea salt sprinkled last. She called it a “platonic ideal of the toast.” I felt strangely unplatonic towards that.

His televised method demonstrated controversial, but the next morning I found myself staring at my own toast, buttered just once, with salt, thinking: should I? Could? Reader, I did.

It’s the best of both worlds toast, hot and cold, to quote the great Katy Perry, and double butter is here to stay.

Rebecca Nicholson is a columnist for Observer

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