welcome to bbc news, broadcasting at home and around the globe. i'm lebo diseko. our top stories: george michael, one of the biggest pop—stars of the last 30 years, has died at the age of 53. the music world is paying tribute. elton john described him as a beloved friend and a brilliant artist. a major search operation pinpoints a russian military plane that crashed into the water with 92 people on board. and from the slums of kenya to the ballet stage, the young dancer impressing in a new production of the nutcracker. it's been announced that the british singer george michael has died.
he was 53. police say they were called to his home in oxfordshire shortly before 2pm on christmas day. they've confirmed he was found dead at the scene. it's being treated as unexplained but not suspicious. george michael shot to fame in the 1980s with the group wham, and went on to have a hugely successful solo career. andy moore looks back at his life. # well, i hadn't seen your face around town a while so i greeted you, with a knowing smile... he burst onto the scene in the early 1980s when he formed wham with andrew ridgeley. the duo had number one singles around the world. they even conquered china, becoming the first western pop band to perform there. george michael loved fame but never became used to it. to be obviously a part of people's lives as an artist, that's what i dreamed of and that's what i'm still grateful for. but my god, i wish i could cope
with the other stuff the way other people do. i wish i'd been born with that particular suit of armour, you know, because i wasn't. # you know not everybody has got a body like you. but i gotta think twice before i give my heart away... as his career waned, he hit the headlines for other reasons. he was stopped for a series of traffic offences leading to a spell in jail. he was cautioned and fined for drug possession and received treatment for addiction. # time can never mend the careless whispers... in 2011, he suffered a life—threatening bout of pneumonia while on tour in austria. police said his death was unexplained but not suspicious. his family said he had died peacefully at home. they called him a beloved son, brother and friend.
george michael, who's died at the age of 53. tanya hart, the host of hollywood live spoke to me a little earlier from los angeles. she says george michael's death comes on a long list of talented musicians that the world has lost in 2016. when i heard about george michael today, my stomach started hurting. i can't imagine losing another person. i was thinking yesterday, it's almost the end of the year, can we get through without losing anyone else? apparently not. he was such an important person in the world of music, especially during the 80s and 90s and was really one of those transition people that made the world of pop music, he made that big transition leading into where we are now with the musical world and with a lot of the alternative music that they now call alternative
music, and a lot of the real club music we hear, george michael was at the forefront of that. some incredible collaborations with maryj blige and aretha franklin and he was doing it at a time others weren't. that's right, he was a leader in a lot of genres. you met him during his wham! days, tell us about that. i did, it was a long time ago. it was in the 80s when he and andrew was starting out. i was a reporter in boston and everybody came through boston in those days and they were so energetic and adorable. he was a handsome guy, let's face it, they both were, they lit up the stage and i got a chance to interview them and both of them but george was always the electric guy, there was something and electric about him. i've got to tell you, i feel today
like it is like the soundtrack of my life seems to be leaving, you know? he said that he loved being famous but he also struggled with being in the public eye and he wished he could do it like other people. tell us a bit about how he battled with that. it was a big battle for him. when i first met him he was very young and it was before the whole addiction thing took over his life. people have no idea how hard it is to be on the road like these guys are on the road constantly. you had no life of your own and everybody says that's what you get, if you're famous that's what you want and that's what you get and you have to stand up and do what you to do.
but we are now learning sleep deprivation is a really serious problem, nobody sleeps in the music business. you don't eat right, drink too much and you do other things too much and after a while it gets to you unless you have the right people around and most of the time celebrities don't. he was planning a comeback of sorts, he was about to work with a producer in a documentary coming out next year, what are your memories of him and how would you want him to be remembered? i think he should be remembered as first of all a very important artist. an important artist of our time and the 21st—century because of the way he crossed the bridge and led the way to the new music that we have now and literally led the way to the digital world. he came out of the analogue world and took us into the digital world, and i think that's very important.
younger people don't exactly understand that now but i think they will when they start listening to the original music that george michael and wham! were doing and how they crossed over and how everybody else, or many people at least, followed them in the digital world. many have expressed their grief on social media, including a lot of the singer's celebrity friends. singer elton john posted a picture of the two on instagram, with the caption: former super—model linda evangelista, who starred in michael's music video for the song freedom, also posted on instagram: and singer bryan adams took to twitter to say:
thom geier is managing editor of the entertainment magazine the wrap. he explained why george michael was such a significant musician. i think george michael came of age as a pop star in the early 1980s just as the music video phenomenon was really beginning to take off. it was the early days of mtv and he was really one of the pioneers that helped launch that format as a vehicle of expression for music and for pop music in particular. you think back to some of his early hits like careless whisper, faith, wake me up before you go—go, whether with wham or as a solo artist, he was really on the cutting edge of that whole phenomenon. he also managed to make the transition that a lot of people
don't quite make from boy band pinup to actual serious, respected artist. that is true. he started out as this kind of teenybopper star with andrew ridgeley and wham and transitioned very quickly to be this kind of new male sex symbol that we hadn't really seen before, a guy who goes from being the teenybopper pinup idol to the stubbly guy wearing the levi jeans in the faith video. it was really a remarkable transformation. that faith video was interesting, we saw him bringing in models and he went on to work with a number of other people from different types of music, collaborating with people from r&b, now that's quite a common thing to do but it was quite ahead of its time at the time, wasn't it?
absolutely. for him to work with artists of different genres, whether r&b artists or symphony orchestras more recently in 2014 in his collaboration with symphonica. the other thing too to remember is he was one of the early stars to come out as gay, first as bisexual and then as gay, so that whole evolution that we've seen in terms of the public acceptance of gay artists, he was really at the cutting edge of that phenomenon as well. i mean, it wasn't in the circumstances that he may have chosen. but as you said, it was hugely significant, wasn't it? absolutely. he became a face for that phenomenon somewhat reluctantly in some cases but his advocate interview in 1999 was really one of the seminal coming out moments that we saw in terms of a public figure of that stature accepting and embracing his status as a gay man. how was that reflected in his music and how did it go on to influence his career? there was a new openness that you saw in the 1990s.
his output at that point was not nearly as popular as his earlier stuff in the 1980s and yet there seemed to be a kind of legacy attachment and certainly among the gay community, he continued to be embraced as this seminalfigure. how do you think he will be remembered? one of the things that is remarkable is he died on christmas day and he's also associated with two of the biggest pop hits associated with christmas. last christmas, one of the last singles he did with wham, and do they know it's christmas?, the band aid phenomenon from 1984, he was one of the singers on the bob geldof hit. those two songs on this day is a kind of carol that calls to mind everything that made him successful and popular. the host of hollywood live, tanya hart, speaking to me earlier. in other news:
a huge search operation has been continuing through the night off russia's black sea coast for victims of a military plane crash on sunday morning. all 92 people on board were killed. the aircraft went down within minutes of taking off from sochi on its way to syria. vigils have been held in sochi and other cities as russia begins an official day of mourning. most of the passengers were members of the russian army's famous band, formerly known as the red army choir. the transport minister says investigators aren't ruling out any possible reasons for the crash, including terrorism. steve rosenberg reports from moscow. this is one of the final images of the tupolev 154 jet. it was taken by a journalist before he boarded the plane. the flight would end in tragedy. the aircraft crashed into the black sea. the russians scrambled helicopters and ships, but the search became a recovery operation. there were no survivors. the plane had taken off from a military airfield near moscow. it flew south, stopping in sochi to refuel.
the final destination was syria and russia's airbase near latakia, but minutes after leaving sochi it crashed. president putin offered his condolences to the families of the victims and promised them his full support. on board were more than 60 members of the russian army's famous song and dance ensemble once known as the red army choir. they'd been due to give a concert at the russian airbase in syria. translation: we all loved this ensemble, we valued them. they're our brothers, friends, colleagues. may they rest in peace. also killed in the crash, the prominent humanitarian activist and medic elizaveta glinka, known to millions of russians as dr liza. most civilian airlines have stopped using the tupolev 154, once the workhorse of the russian aviation industry.
in 2010, a tupolev 154 carrying the polish president crashed in russia while trying to land. the following year a similar plane caught fire in siberia before takeoff. throughout the day, muscovites brought flowers to the headquarters of the russian army choir. this disaster has left russia stunned and silent. steve rosenberg, bbc news, moscow. in other news: a powerful typhoon, nock—ten, is continuing to batter the philippines with strong winds and heavy rain. the storm has struck two central provinces, causing power cuts and travel disruption. it's moving slowly westward and is expected to reach the country's most densely populated areas, including the capital manila, later on monday. the israeli prime minister has held talks with the us ambassador to the country after summoning him to explain why the united states cleared the way for a un security council resolution criticising
israel. neither side made public what was discussed at the meeting. kick his thousands of protesters in the taiwanese capital, taipei, are taking part in a rally outside parliament in support of proposals to legalise same—sex marriage. if the plans are approved next year, taiwan would become the first part of asia to legalise same—sex marriage. stay with us on bbc news. still to come: christmas away from home — some of the people who didn't get to see their loved ones at this festive time. we saw this enormous tidal wave approaching the beach, and people started to run, and suddenly it was complete chaos. united states troops have been trying to overthrow the dictatorship of general manuel noriega. the pentagon said the operation had been 90% successful, but it's failed in its principal objective, to capture general noriega and take him to the united states to face drugs charges.
the hammer and sickle was hastily taken away. the russian flag was hoisted over what is now no longer the soviet union, but the commonwealth of independent states. day broke slowly over lockerbie, over the cockpit of the pan—am's maid of the seas, nose—down in the soft earth. you could see what happens when a plane eight storeys high, a football pitch wide, falls from 30,000 feet. christmas has returned to albania after a communist ban lasting more than 20 years. thousands went to midnight mass in the town of shkoder where there were anti—communist riots ten days ago. this is bbc news. i'm lebo diseko. the main headlines: the british singer, george michael, who shot to fame in the 1980s with the pop group wham!, has died. he was 53. tributes have been paid. elton john described him as a beloved friend and a brilliant artist. there's been growing discontent
in india since the government decided to get rid high—value banknotes. it was done to try and crack down down on corruption and tax—evaders. but it's ended up hurting those who are entirely dependent on cash in a country where most transactions are done with it. one group very badly hit is india's migrant workers, as sanjoy majumder reports. normally you would see a lot more people gathered here, three to four times more, all hoping to find some daily work. they get paid in cash and because there is so little cash in the system there's not enough work.
i've travelled 1,000 kilometres east of dheli to come to this village, in one of india's poorest states, and it is where most migrant workers come from. in fact, every household in this village has sent one person to work in the city. now they are all trying to figure out what to do next. one year since their arrival to the uk, the bbc has caught up with a syrian family who were one of the first to be brought over as part of the government's resettlement programme. the ayo family now lives in the english midlands but it is a big change to adjust to. two of their children have visible scars from a suicide bomb. frankie mccamley went to the city of coventry to see how they're settling in to their new home. and with the new addition to the family, this family were some of the first to come to the country under a
government scheme to resettle vulnerable refugees. translation: it isa vulnerable refugees. translation: it is a big change for us. it made us forget our concern, especially for the little girls. they are much happier now. the uk has been good to us. happier now. the uk has been good to us. the only issue is the language but we are trying. the family has spent the year settling in in coventry. translation: the community is nice, the people are quite nice. we miss home but what can we do? the children go to school, they are happy. we are happy. they were forced to live serie after a bomb exploded while they were out with others celebrating the kurdish festival. the two children were left seriously injured. they were taken to iraq for serious injuries before
being brought to this country. the government has pledged to resettle an extra 20,000 refugees last year, more than 150 people are making the city the new home. the girls now at a school in a new local area. it is really fu n. a school in a new local area. it is really fun. the teachers are good. it is very fun. is the weather different? yes, sometimes it rains and it is cold. both still need to undergo surgery but this family, their focus is on their new lives and what the future may bring. he is one of kenya's most promising young ballet dancers. noel kioko grew up in a slum in kenya, but now is training in dance in the united states. he returned to his home city this christmas to perform in a production of the nutcracker, as caroline davies reports. no bar, no mirrors and often no shoes.
noel kioko's love of ballet started in a room just like this. he grew up in a shanty town in the nairobi suburbs. where i came from various poverty, there is stealing, drugs. it is like the lying in the jungle. it is like the lion in the jungle. you have to make sure you are the one who roars and everyone follows. so where i live, if you are not strong you just fall. now 16, he only discovered dance five years ago. from the beginning, he went to ballet classes and there was nothing he could talk about. it wasjust ballet, la, ballet. studying done to the us, he is back for holidays. faster! keep going! and couldn't resist a moment on stage, directed by the dance teacher who gave him his first break. he is the real deal, so we will have to see,
what i'm pushing him to go for the stars. the royal ballet, here we come! but wherever he ends up, he has already made a leap no one expected. now while it might be the festive season, not everyone is able to spend time at home with loved ones. some people of course have to work. tim allman takes a look at those who enjoyed a different kind of christmas this year. a long way from home but celebrating christmas as best they can — us soldiers at an iraqi army base near mosul. plenty of turkey and tinsel but thoughts are obviously elsewhere. it's kind of rough, honestly, ‘cause today is my first big holiday so i feel like a lot of people are getting really homesick and, i mean, i miss my family and i am sure everybody else does too. everybody‘s families are gettign together for the holidays and we're stuck out here.
some people who are stuck even further out — the crew of the international space station, orbiting the earth at a height of 400km certainly gives you a different perspective on this festive occasion. there is another very important aspect of being on iss and that is seeing the planet as a whole and it actuallly reinforces, i think, the fact that we should live as one people and strive for peace. from the expedition 50 crew, we want to wish you a merry christmas and happy holidays. back on earth, christmas was celebrated in different ways — in macedonia a fun run took place for 300 people dressed as santa claus. 0rganisers saying it brought a nice red ambience to the streets of skopje. in southern italy, these father christmases took to the water. kite surfing a great way to cut loose after a long night delivering presents. tim allman, bbc news a reminder of our top story:
the british singer, george michael has died at the age of fifty—three. police, who were called to his house in oxfordshire shortly before 2pm on christmas day, say his death is unexplained but not suspicious. his manager said the cause of the death was a heart failure. he was one of the most successful recording artist selling more than 100 million records worldwide. in a statement his publicist said that "it is with great sadness that we can confirm our beloved son, brother and friend george passed away peacefully at home over the christmas period. the family would ask that their privacy be respected at this difficult and emotional time." some parts of scotland had a dusting of snow, but for most it was very mild and that's because of storm conor. winds ensuring the mild air ahead of that. this is packing the punch.
notice an amber warning from the met office for boxing day because storm force winds are in the forecast in the north and north—east of scotland, and the northern isles. so even for this part of the world that's unusually windy. it will cause disruption, certainly damage and potentially power outages. 0vernight there are severe gales around the coast and lots of snow showers. so there'll be quite a bit of snow in some areas by daybreak as the showers come in thick and fast. ice as well in the northern half of the country. further south it will be a colder start on boxing day, compared to christmas day, but it will be a much drier and brighter day. what a tale of two halves on boxing day, with the lovely sunshine, but in the north we have the storm force winds to contend with. to add to that, with the snow showers, there could be blizzard conditions on the hills. come the afternoons, not the teens we saw on christmas day.
7—8, brisk winds noticeable in the northern half of england, even if you wintry showers over the hills, but they tend to fade later. the winds late morning, on mid—morning onwards, really packing a punch and later in the day starting to ease down. why they start to ease down is the arrival of a rather intense area of high pressure, in contrast. those storm force winds moving into scandinavia and on monday the high pressure builds northwards, so there will be ice around first thing and some fog, and plenty of sunshine as well. then the high pressure stays with us through tuesday. not warm, certainly not. 6-7. but where we have the lingering fog, more likely on wednesday, it really could feel quite cold. weather fronts never too far away from the far north of the country as we head towards the middle part of the week. and you can start to see the low cloud is lingering, so 3—4 degrees in some areas. pretty cold and grey.
but, with sunshine, pleasant enough. for the meantime, the warnings, amber warning, is on the website. this is bbc news, the headlines: the british pop—singer george michael, who shot to fame in the 1980s with the pop group wham!, has died. he was 53. his publicist said he died peacefully at home. wham! achieved worldwide success with hits such as wwake me up before you go—go and careless whisper. russia is beginning a national day of mourning for the 92 passengers and crew who died when the military plane taking them to syria crashed into the black sea shortly after take off. a huge search operation involving three thousand rescue workers a huge search operation involving 3,000 rescue workers continued throughout the night over a wide area. a powerful typhoon, nock—ten, is continuing to batter the philippines with strong winds and heavy rain. the storm's struck two central provinces, causing power cuts and travel disruption. it's moving slowly westward and is expected to reach