Season seven doesn’t even start airing until next week, but that hasn’t stopped network AMC renewing its zombie-apocalyptic ratings winner The Walking Dead for another series already, and its partner programme, talk show The Talking Dead, has been renewed too.

Season eight, consisting of 16 episodes, is thought to premiere late next year and open with the drama’s 100th episode.

In a statement, AMC president Charlie Collier said of the shows’ renewal:

“Eeny, meeny, miny, more. What a joy to partner with Robert Kirkman, Scott Gimple and some of the hardest-working people in television to bring The Walking Dead to the fans. And, most important, thanks to those fans for breathing life into this remarkable series right along with us.”

Despite ratings slipping a little last season, The Walking Dead remains considerably ahead of its TV rivals, and while a viewing record was set during season five, season six still averaged 13.5 million viewers. The season six finale also ended on a cliffhanger, leaving fans wondering which one of the much loved characters on the show met their demise at the hands of Negan, played by Jeffrey Dean Morgan.

Season seven of The Walking Dead premieres next Sunday in the US at 9pm.




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Having already been a session musician for Paolo Nutini and others, artist and producer Rory Simmons, AKA Harlequiin, is no stranger to the music industry, and his own work reflects everything he’s learnt since he first starting playing instruments at the age of 10. With his third EP due out later this year and as ThisIsTheLatest proudly premiere his new track “Bandit”, he chatted to us about the artist he’d most like to produce for, his upcoming performance plans and his thoughts about the impact of social media in the music business.

TITL: Hi Rory. First of all, what would you say your unique selling point as an artist is? What makes you different from your many other artistic counterparts?

Rory (Harlequiin): I’m a musician who’s come from the jazz world as a performer, but now I really feel I fit into electronic music and alternative pop as a producer. But being an instrumentalist that brings perhaps a different dimension of live performance to the music I make as Harlequiin.

TITL: Has music always been your career plan or did you have other ideas and ambitions growing up? 

H: No, music has always been the thing for me really, as a young Cornish slip of a man, I basically just wanted to play in as many different environments as I could. I started playing brass instruments and guitar in local bands and school bands in the small town I grew up in and when I was 18, I got a place at Trinity College of Music in London.

TITL: You’ve been a session musician for the likes of Paolo Nutini and Blur among others, so at what point did you ultimately decide it was time to focus on your own musical ambitions? What did your time working/touring with those artists teach you?

H: Being on the road with any big successful artist is really interesting both in terms of the everyday workings of a large operation like that, i.e. all the different people it takes to keep it rolling, but also the way the artist and management approach the overall arc of their career. It’s really interesting seeing different audiences being cultivated and various territories being prioritised. Quite often this is a more sub-conscious thing; it’s not as if these are always first hand conversations being had with artists – being in that environment is a real eye opener I guess on how you become really successful in the music industry as an artist.

TITL: You’re both an instrumentalist and producer – which of the two did you get into first and is it hard or fun to juggle/work the two? 

H: I was an instrumentalist first. I started playing trumpet and guitar at about 10, and then only started getting into production and music tech at about 25. I’ve always been very much into writing but until getting my head into music software, it was always a pencil and manuscript that helped me channel that.

TITL: If you could produce music for any other band or artist, who would it be?

H: There’s an amazing kind of macabre country singer from the US I love called Lera Lynn, I saw her playing on True Detective a while ago and totally fell in love with her vibe. I’d love to do something a bit heavier and produced sounding with her….she lives probably 3000 miles away – but you never know, it might happen.

TITL: Is there a story behind your latest single “Young One”? Can you remember when and where you wrote it, and what made you decide it’d be a good choice for a single release?

H: I wrote “Young One” with an amazing vocalist called Amelka May who also features on the track, and we kind of wrote the track with another artist in mind – but it was languishing on my hard-drive and when I revisited it 6 months later, I felt like – “no, I’m keeping- this is meant to be a Harlequiin track.”

TITL: You’ve released 2 EP’s so far and are soon to release a third. What can you tell me about this latest collection, and how would you say it differs from its predecessors?

H: This third EP is maybe a bit tougher sounding than the others, and perhaps a bit more psych too.  I’m just trying to write songs and develop the production in a way that serves the song. I think this EP has twists and turns but still very much sounds like Harlequiin. Caribou, Jamie Liddell and Fourtet are still big influences, but I’m also trying to include as much live instrumentation as possible – as long as it sits sonically within the music.

TITL: You’ve received recognition and support from the likes of BBC Introducing and Wonderland, among others. How much of an impact on your career has such reaction/responses had, and which outlet/individual would you most love to hear praise you and your work?

H: It’s been great getting support from the people you mentioned of course – but really it’s people listening and connecting with the music that’s important. That might sound trite, but that’s what really connects for me. There’s something visceral and exciting about seeing Harlequiin tracks being DJ’d. The idea that people connect with the emotion of the song by moving or dancing is huge for me.

TITL: How do you feel about social media, and do you feel it is still possible for bands and artists to achieve success without being socially interactive with their fans/potential audiences?

H: Difficult to say. Probably if you are big enough, you don’t need to engage with those platforms to remain connected. However, a lot of those people that are big enough probably aren’t of the generation that naturally would use social media in that way. And for those artists it would feel contrived and un-natural. If Thom Yorke starts using Snapchat, I’m out….

TITL: Are there any tour or performance plans in the works? 

H: We are playing a show in Paris next month as part of Disquaired Day, and there are a couple of festivals coming up over summer too. We are also planning on a London headline show later in the year, along with another release…. a London headline show has been a long time coming!

If you could play one venue anywhere in the world with three other bands or artists who can be living or dead, who would they be and where would you perform?

H: The Filmore in San Francisco is a venue that I’ve already had a chance to play, but would love to go back there. It’s got so much history and it’s an amazing sounding room. It’s pretty difficult to choose 3 musicians, and I want to avoid saying Miles, Hendrix etc., so I’m going to say Slim Harpo, Captain Beefheart and Andy Stott, at the Filmore. That would be a weird gig – but hopefully quite fun!

Check out “Bandit” below and for more information on Harlequiin, give his page a like on Facebook or follow him on Twitter.


Hollyoaks are set to launch a powerful new mental health storyline for Alfie Nightingale as he starts hearing a voice and is diagnosed with Schizoaffective Disorder.

The teenager has been struggling to cope with life since the loss of his soulmate Jade Albright and his loved ones started to fear that he was exhibiting odd behaviour when he worked on a robot to replace Jade.

But in coming weeks, when a voice in Alfie’s head starts communicating with him and ordering him to do things, it becomes clear that things are extremely serious. And Hollyoaks has been working with the charity Mind to ensure that it represents the condition with sensitivity and accuracy.

The storyline, which will form part of the soap’s award-winning #DontFilterFeelings campaign

In episodes due to air at the beginning of April, Alfie will freak out when a voice in his head tells him not to trust his family and when he tries to ignore it and goes stargazing with Ellie, he is continuously plagued by the voice which is warning him off.

It is just the beginning of a difficult journey for Alfie who will be given the diagnosis, which involves patients experiencing psychotic symptoms not dissimilar to schizophrenia and the mood symptoms of bipolar disorder.

Richard Linnell who plays Alfie said: ‘I feel deeply honoured to have been trusted with such a strong and complex story for Alfie. We’ve been working closely with both Mind, and talking to people who have been kind enough to share their personal experiences of the condition.

‘It’s going to be a tumultuous road ahead for Alfie and in telling a deeply truthful, powerful story we hope to continue to break down the stigmas surrounding mental health as a whole.’

A spokesperson for Mind added: ‘We are so pleased that Hollyoaks are tackling the mental health condition Schizoaffective Disorder and have enjoyed working with them over many months. We know that when done well soap storylines can have a really positive affect on a huge audience, changing attitudes and encouraging people to seek help.’

As part of the #DontFilterFeelings campaign, which has included other storylines such as Scott’s depression and Lily’s self harm, Hollyoaks also sought the help and advice of mental health campaigner Jonny Benjamin, who helped to create the acclaimed Channel 4 documentary Stranger On A Bridge.

He said: ‘It was a real privilege to work with Hollyoaks on this storyline. The soap has done fantastic work in increasing understanding and reducing stigma attached to mental health issues in the past. The team I worked with were wonderful.

‘I really hope this storyline will make an impact on public perception of Schizophrenia and Schizoaffective Disorder, which has for too long been misconceived and feared. I’m so pleased Hollyoaks have been brave and bold enough to tackle this sensitive subject.’

The storyline kicks off on Wednesday 4th April at 7pm on E4.