Sci-fi comedy Red Dwarf returns

Also: Emirates Novel Awards winners announced; Star Trek's Yeoman Rand dies; Avengers can't top box office; and Mumbai celebrations for National Award winner Kangana Ranaut.

Grace Lee Whitney, as Yeoman Janice Rand in the original Star Trek TV series, who died last week. Paramount Television
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Classic British sci-fi sitcom Red Dwarf is returning for two new seasons in the run-up to the show's 30th anniversary. Stars Chris Barrie (who plays Rimmer), Craig Charles (Lister), Danny John-Jules (Cat) and Robert Llewellyn (Kryten) will be reunited for seasons 11 and 12, which will be written and directed by co-creator Doug Naylor, and broadcast on cable-TV channel Dave next year and in 2017. Red Dwarf ran for eight seasons on BBC2 from 1988 until 1999. It tells the story of Dave Lister, who wakes up on the spaceship Red Dwarf after three million years to discover the human race is extinct. His only companions are a hologram of his dead roommate, a humanoid that evolved from the ship's cat, and a robotic servant. The show was revived by Dave in 2009 for a mini-series and for a 10th season in 2012. Charles, 50, has quit his role in the ITV soap opera Coronation Street, in which he appeared for 10 years. He said: "I have had an absolutely fantastic 10 years on Coronation Street and I will be very sad to leave. But I feel I owe it to my colleagues on Red Dwarf to join them in filming the new series and finding out what is in store for Lister and the others." – The National Staff

Emirates Novel Awards winners announced

The winners have been announced in the second Emirates Novel Awards. The Best Novel Award went to Ahmad Al Hammadi for The Last Day; while Nadia Al Najjar received the Best Short Novel Award for Cities of Eagerness during a ceremony at the Park Rotana in Abu Dhabi. Our Farm Conquers by Hessa Al Mansouri, and The Devil's Hut by Mohammad Al Habsi received commendations. Rashid Abdullah Al Nuaimi, the former minister of foreign affairs, received the Distinctive Emirati Author Award for Shahenda's Novel. The awards are held under the patronage Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Chairman of the National Media Council. The winners received a Dh60,000 prize and their novels will be available at the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair, which begins on Thursday. – The National staff

Star Trek’s ­Yeoman Rand dies

Grace Lee Whitney, who played Captain Kirk's assistant, Yeoman Janice Rand, in the original Star Trek TV series, has died at the age of 85. Her son, Jonathan Dweck, said she died of natural causes on Friday in Coarsegold, California. Whitney played Yeoman Rand in the first eight episodes before being written out of the series. In her autobiography, she told how she became an alcoholic before regaining her career with the help of Leonard Nimoy, who played Spock in the show. Whitney returned to Star Trek when it transferred to the big screen, appearing in Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home and Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. – AP

Avengers can’t top box-office record

The Avengers are mighty, but not mighty enough to defeat their own box-office record. Avengers: Age of Ultron earned a staggering US$187.7 million in its debut weekend, making it the second biggest US opening of all time according to estimates. But the sequel failed to top the all-time record of the first film's $207.4 million debut in 2012. Although Ultron was the only new film on wide release last weekend, it had significant small-screen sporting competition: The Kentucky Derby, the NBA playoffs, and the Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao boxing showdown. Disney's head of distribution Dave Hollis said the weekend was a "spectacular result" for the film, which cost a reported $250 million to make. "Having the second-biggest opening weekend in the history of the movie business is always going to be something you walk away overwhelmingly happy with. The momentum of the brand for Marvel at this point is really something to take a step back and admire," he said. Marvel and Disney now have the top-three opening weekends, with the two Avengers movies followed by Iron Man 3 in third. Furious 7 finally slipped off top spot in the weekly box-office chart, finishing third, with The Age of Adaline in second. – AP

Mumbai celebrations for National award winner Kangana

Bollywood star Kangana Ranaut, who won a National Film Award for her performance in Queen, says she is delighted with the honour. The actress added that she never expected the film to do so well and will celebrate her win in Mumbai. President Pranab Mukherjee honoured the actress on Sunday at the 62nd National Film Awards ceremony in New Delhi. It was her second award, the first being in the Best Supporting Actress category for Fashion. "We will have a big celebration party in Mumbai," she said. Queen, which tells the story of an inspirational woman who embarks on her honeymoon alone after being jilted by her fiance, also won the honour in Best Hindi film category. "I never expected Queen to get recognition at this level. We are very happy that the film was accepted on such a wide scale," said Ranaut. The film, directed by Vikas Bahl, also starred Rajkummar Rao and Lisa Haydon. Ranaut's next films will be Tanu Weds Manu Returns and Katti Batti. She will also star in a biopic about the late Indian screen icon Meena Kumari. – IANS