More from Robert del Naja on the Israel boycott

The Massive Attack frontman elaborates on his recent comments to the NS.

As my interview with Robert del Naja, which appeared in last week's magazine, has generated quite a bit of debate on the NS website, readers might be interested in some further thoughts from the Massive Attack frontman on why he has joined the cultural boycott of Israel:

The main reason I will not play Israel at this time is out of frustration. In my opinion, Israel has the right to its security in as much as the Palestinians have the right to resist occupation. Israel has the power in this perpetual stalemate, as it also has the power to break it and begin a meaningful peace process. Surely, to stop rocket attacks you freeze settlement building and ease the economic shackles. To expect Hamas to recognise [Israel's] legitimacy, you open a meaningful dialogue on the right of return of refugees and their national legitimacy - then, I feel, you may have a chance to sit everybody at the table and remove the need for further armed struggle, remembering and respecting that this is an occupied land looking for the right of its own sovereignty.

If the EU and the US pressured Israel for change and forced the end of the blockade, we might get somewhere. That pressure should also come culturally, with from without and within. So it doesn't sit right for me to go back to Tel Aviv while there is a giant wall and an economic stranglehold on a whole nation of people.

Massive Attack have played in Israel twice before, as well as in Lebanon and Syria. The band have also played a number of gigs to support the Hoping Foundation, which works with young Palestinian refugees, after del Naja met Karma Nabulsi, the charity's co-founder, at a Primal Scream benefit gig in 2005. Del Naja sees Hoping's work as a way of lending the band's support in a way that would produce tangible results: "Hoping went beyond [the politics] and dealt with the issues," he told me.

I also asked del Naja if the rest of his band were behind the boycott:

Absolutely. All of us feel very dismayed and saddened by [the ongoing conflict] and frustrated that Britain doesn't seem to be able to put together a coherent foreign policy in the region and do something positive.

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How did Don’t Tell the Bride lose its spark?

Falling out of the love with reality TV’s wedding planning hit.

Steph, 23, from Nottinghamshire, is standing in a drizzly field wearing a wedding dress. Her betrothed, Billy, is running around in a tweed flat cap trying to make some pigs walk in “a continuous parade”. A man from Guinness World Records is watching with a clipboard, shaking his head. Bridesmaids gaze sorrowfully into the middle distance, each in a damp pig onesie.

Thus ends the second wedding in E4’s new series of Don’t Tell the Bride – and the programme’s integrity with it.

When the classic programme, which follows grooms attempting to plan their wedding (punchline: human males doing some organising), began a decade ago on BBC Three, it had the raw spark of unpredictability. For eight years, the show did nothing fancy with the format, and stuck with pretty ordinary couples who had few eccentric aspirations for their wedding day.

This usually resulted in run-of-the-mill, mildly disappointing weddings where the worst thing that happened would be a reception at the nearest motorway pub, or an ill-fitting New Look low heel.

It sounds dull, but anyone who has religiously watched it knows that the more low-key weddings expose what is truly intriguing about this programme: the unconditional commitment – or doomed nature – of a relationship. As one of the show’s superfans told the Radio Times a couple of years ago:

“It’s perfect, and not in an ironic or post-ironic or snarky way. The format has the solemn weight of a ceremony . . . Don’t Tell the Bride is not about ruined weddings, it’s about hope. Every wedding is a demonstration of how our ambitions curve away from our abilities. It’s a show about striving to deserve love and how that’s rarely enough.”

It also meant that when there were bombshells, they were stand-out episodes. High drama like Series 4’s notorious Las Vegas wedding almost resulting in a no-show bride. Or heart-warming surprises like the geezer Luke in Series 3 playing Fifa and guzzling a tinny on his wedding morning, who incongruously pulls off a stonking wedding day (complete with special permission from the Catholic Church).

For its eight years on BBC Three, a few wildcard weddings were thrown into the mix of each series. Then the show had a brief affair with BBC One, a flirt with Sky, and is now on its tenth year, 13th series and in a brand new relationship – with the more outrageous E4.

During its journey from BBC Three, the show has been losing its way. Tedious relationship preamble has been used to beef up each episode. Some of the grooms are cruel rather than clueless, or seem more pathetic and vulnerable than naïve. And wackier weddings have become the norm.

The programme has now fully split from its understated roots. Since it kicked off at the end of July, every wedding has been a publicity stunt. The pig farm nuptials are sandwiched between a Costa del Sol-based parasail monstrosity and an Eighties Neighbours-themed ceremony, for example. All facilitated by producers clearly handing the groom and best men karaoke booth-style props (sombreros! Inflatable guitars! Wigs!) to soup up the living room planning process.

Such hamminess doesn’t give us the same fly-on-the-wall flavour of a relationship as the older episodes. But maybe this level of artifice is appropriate. As one groom revealed to enraged fans in The Sun this week, the ceremonies filmed are not actually legally binding. “It makes a bit of a mockery of the process that the bride and groom go through this huge ordeal for a ceremony which isn’t even legal,” he said. Perhaps we should’ve predicted it would all eventually end in divorce – from reality.

Don’t Tell the Bride is on E4 at 9pm

Anoosh Chakelian is senior writer at the New Statesman.