Outlander: Who was the inspiration for Jamie Fraser? Diana Gabaldon opens up

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Starz drama Outlander has built up a firm fanbase after first airing in 2014. The series took its cue from Diana Gabaldon’s best-selling novel series and follows time traveller Claire Fraser (played by Caitriona Balfe) and her husband Jamie (Sam Heughan).

Who was the inspiration for Jamie Fraser?

The series has been a huge hit with audiences the world over falling in love with Jamie and Claire’s epic love story.

Their romance is a tale for the ages and follows them from young lovers in their 20s to their later years.

Throughout it all, Jamie and Claire face many challenges which have seen them separated, facing war, famine and plague.

Yet their love has remained strong and they have always stayed true to each other.

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But who inspired the towering, dashing hero behind Gabaldon’s books?

Speaking at a Random House event in 2016, Gabaldon told the audience: “Well, I have been married to a tall redhead with a sense of humor [sic] for almost 45 years.”

She also revealed how her husband Doug Watkins read her writing before bed and would leave notes about her work, saying one of the messages read: “Nipples again?”

Gabaldon said her husband also inspired the last line of the novel The Fiery Cross in which Jamie tells Claire: “When the day shall come that we do part,” he said softly, and turned to look at me, “if my last words are not ‘I love you,’ you’ll ken it was because I didna have time.”

She has previously commented on the likeness between Jamie and spouse, saying at a literary event at the National Writers Series in Traverse City in 2014: “He is tall with red hair, like my children’s father.”

She added: “I’ve been married to (Jamie) for 42 years.”

Gabaldon revealed how her husband even once remarked to her: “Based on page 43, the whole world knows what I look like without clothes on!”

She said: “Physically, he does look a lot like my husband.”

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The American author said some of her own experiences had filtered into Outlander.

Explaining to Barbara Rogan in a blog post from 2013, Gabaldon said: “I’ve been in love, been married, borne children, had people near me die.

“Naturally bits and pieces of all these experiences filter through into the books I write. Be strange if they didn’t, wouldn’t it?”

However, on the whole the writer said she used her imagination to conjure up stories, admitting she didn’t plot and plan meticulously.

She said: “For me, characters are pretty organic. I don’t plot a story and insert characters; the story exists because these particular people have needs and desires and motivations, and finding themselves in a particular situation, act upon them.”

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Gabaldon was inspired to write the Outlander books after watching an old episode of Doctor Who.

She was watching an old episode featuring the Time Lord’s companion and a Highlander Jamie McCrimmon (Frazer Hines).

The Doctor’s assistant was part of the seed which inspired the Highlander with actor Hines later going on to have a small role in Outlander.

He portrayed the character of Sir Fletcher Gordon in season one of the drama series.

Outlander seasons 1 to 5 are streaming on Amazon Prime now

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Big Bang Theory: When did The Big Bang Theory start? Will it return?

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The Big Bang Theory is a classic comedy series which is available to watch on CBS and All4, following the story of socially awkward genius – Sheldon Cooper (played by Jim Parsons) and his friends. The series is no longer airing but fans have been revisiting some of their favourite episodes which are repeated regularly. They are wondering when the series first premiered, and Express.co.uk has everything you need to know.

When did The Big Bang Theory start?

The Big Bang Theory was created by Chuck Lorre and Bill Prady, and the sitcom first aired on CBS on September 24, 2007.

More than 12 years have now passed since the first episode aired, and a total of 279 episodes were broadcast across 12 seasons.

The series came to an end on May 16, 2019, and fans have been wondering whether another season will ever be on the cards.

Earlier episodes of the series focussed on physicist Leonard Hofstadter (Johnny Galecki) and Sheldon Cooper, who both lived together.

Penny (Kaley Cuoco) was the waitress who moved into an apartment across the hall and became part of their friendship group.

The two other friends and co-workers of Leonard and Sheldon were Howard Wolowitz (Simon Helberg) and Raj Koothrappali (Kunal Nayyar).

As the series progressed other main characters made their way into the friendship group, including Amy Farrah Fowler (Mayim Bialik) and Bernadette Rostenkowski (Melissa Rauch).

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The show was filmed in front of a live audience and the first season received an underwhelming reception, but the style of comedy started to grow on fans.

Despite the initial mixed reviews, by the 11th season, the series was ranked as one of the most-watched shows in America.

Jim Parsons won four Emmy Awards for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series, with the show winning seven Emmys in total.

The pilot which originally aired in September 2007 was not the only one made. A different pilot was produced in 2006 but it never aired.

The only two main characters who featured in both pilots were Leonard and Sheldon, who were named after producer and director, Sheldon Leonard.

The pilot which never aired included a character called Katie, a “tough as nails” woman who was to be played by Amanda Walsh.

Another female character called Gilda, one of the gang’s colleagues was also supposed to be played by Iris Bahr.

Viewer ratings went up as each season aired, with the first watched by 8.31million viewers and the final season, 17.31million viewers.

However, in an article for The Metro actress Mayim Bialik said she never watched an episode of The Big Bang Theory.

She said: “I’ve never seen most of the episodes. I don’t watch myself on television. I’ve never sat and watched an episode of our show, ever.

“I’ve seen snippets on stage when they would show them to the audience but no, I don’t watch myself. I saw pieces [of the last episode] but I was in it, you know?”

Speaking about how she felt when the series came to an end, she said: “There was a lot of conversation about do we film it in front of a live audience. Or, do we film it just us so we have that moment just us?”

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Will The Big Bang Theory return?

Kaley Cuoco shared a memory on her Instagram as this May marked the first anniversary of the final episode airing.

Die-hard fans of the series are still keen to know whether the show will ever be picked up for a 13th season after Jim Parsons said he wanted to leave.

There have been plenty of rumours for another season but nothing has been confirmed yet, much to the disappointment of fans.

There was news of a supposedly confirmed season 13 from an unknown employee of CBS on May 14, 2020.

They said there would be a two-part finale, which would show what happens to all the characters, but Parsons or Cuoco would not feature. However, the rumour has been confirmed as false.

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Fans of the series have been watching the prequel called Young Sheldon, which first started airing in September 2017.

A total of three seasons have aired so far and a fourth season has already been commissioned for CBS.

The prequel tells the story of Sheldon Cooper (Iain Armitage) as a child living in Texas with his family and navigating high school at nine-years-old.

The series stars the younger versions of some of the main characters in The Big Bang Theory, and it explains how Sheldon came to be the genius fans know him to be.

Season four is likely to air in September 2021, however, due to the coronavirus outbreak there may be a slight delay.

Big Bang Theory is available to watch on CBS and E4

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Emmerdale bosses reveal they have a 'huge challenge' with top secret storyline

Emmerdale bosses are having to be at their most creative to continue production of the soap with safety measures in place while also being able to keep going with pre-planned stories.

While everything is going extremely well and the producers told Metro.co.uk of the enthuisiasm and the rigorous safety on set, there is one storyline that is giving them a bit of a headache as they admitted they have gone too far with it to change it so late in the day.

However, they are confident that they can navigate around the issue.

Executive producer Jane Hudson told us when asked about how sexual scenes or violent scenes would be portrayed: ‘We have lots of looks of intent. Edging towards stairs. Arriving back with shirts tucked in. Fights replaced with menace. Things picked up in a menacing ways. We’re finding ways to do it.

We are intrigued indeed but Jane insisted throughout the interview that no storyline or work schedule would ever take precedence over the welfare of everyone at Emmerdale – even if that means the show coming off air for a while.

She stated: ‘In an ideal world, none of us wanted to have a break but nothing has come before safety. We did work towards not having a break but we will not compromise safety for anything.

‘Everything will become careful and seriously checked. If we do run out of TX, we do. But we are trying our best to get our schedules are on board.

‘Everybody in our industry were keen to get into work – but safety has been the key and it’s all we’ve talked about for 10 weeks so of course there were concerns.

‘We talked to health and safety, medical advisors, other programmes so we were nervous but we were sure when we started to film that we were safe, without reducing quality of the work and ready to go.’

If you’ve got a soap or TV story, video or pictures get in touch by emailing us [email protected] – we’d love to hear from you.

Join the community by leaving a comment below and stay updated on all things soaps at our homepage.

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Lumber worker, 34, killed in horror wood chipper accident after being pulled into machine as he tried to clear blockage – The Sun

A LUMBER worker was killed after being pulled into a wood chipper as he tried to clear a blockage.

Brandon Lee Van Dyke, 34, tragically died on Wednesday morning in Phenix City, Alabama, after becoming stuck in the machine.


Vandyke was responding to a jam alarm at the Phenix Lumber Company at the time of the accident said Phenix City Police, who responded to the emergency call at around 5am.

An an alarm went off at around 4.15 am to signal the auger was jammed, so the attendant Van Dyke went to check it out.

"Officers discovered partial remains of the attendant that went to check on an equipment malfunction," Capt. Darryl Williams said.

He was pronounced dead at the scene by the Russell County Coroner’s office.

No criminal investigation underway but agencies will be doing safety investigations into the mill's operations.

Van Dyke had a young daughter and was a boiler operator at the Alabama-based company, according to his obituary.

Every year in the US, around three people die in wood chipper accidents.

A further 204 people sustain injuries when they work with the lethal machines.



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Heather Chasen dead: How did Heather Chasen die? Cause of death

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Television veteran Heather Chasen has died at the age of 92, and her friend Amanda Barrie has announced the news on Twitter.

Her friend said: “Remembering the fabulous Heather Chasen who sadly left us yesterday. She was wonderfully eccentric, gloriously funny, and a very special actress.”

She added: “There’ll never be another like her. Will always miss her.” The Tweet was posted on Saturday, May 23.

Chasen played the role of Lydia in Eastenders between April 2011 and June of the same year, as her character was killed off.

She was also known for her roles in The Bill, Family Affairs, Marked Personal and Crossroads.

An official cause of death has not yet been given, but it is suggested she died from old age. 

Fans and colleagues have paid tribute to her on social media, with one writing: “Lovely Heather Chasen has left the party.

“A regular in #TheNavyLark with Jon Pertwee and Leslie Phillips she went on to play superbitch Valarie Pollard in #Crossroads.

“A proper jobbing character actress. You don’t get many of them any more. RIP.”

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Last Kingdom: Who is Aethelred? Is Aethelred of Mercia based on a real person?

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The Last Kingdom is a popular historical drama airing on Netflix and is based on The Saxon Stories by Bernard Cornwell. One of the main characters in the series is Aethelred (played by Toby Regbo), Lord of Mercia, who is married to Aethelflaed (Milly Brady). His story takes a dark turn in the fourth season and fans are wondering whether his character is based on a real person.

WARNING: This story contains spoilers for The Last Kingdom

Who is Aethelred?

Aethelred is one of the main antagonists in the series and he was first introduced in season two, when he was picked as a suitor to marry Aethelflaed.

Fans came to hate Aethelred as he treated his wife very poorly, forcing her to have sex with him and demoralising her.

He ordered his wife to be killed but as some of his followers realised how good a leader she was, they refused.

In the fourth season Aethelred was supported in his battle plans by Eardwulf (Jamie Blackley) and he had been having an affair with Eardwulf’s sister, Eadith (Stefanie Martini).

The brother and sister act have a plan to overthrow the Lord of Mercia, and Eadith is trying to win him over by acting as his mistress.

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Aethelred took his army to East Anglia in a bid to take over the lands while the Danes were supposedly in Ireland.

However the news was a lie and while he was away his own kingdom had been left undefended, and his people were dying.

The power-hungry Aethelred is later injured during the huge battle at Tettenhall, where his wife Aethelflaed had been fighting the Danes.

He is embarrassed about being late to the fight, and feels his men will look down on him as his wife is the more proactive fighter.

Still, he joins in the battle but is very nearly killed, when he is knocked into a ditch, hitting the back of his head.

Fans think he is unharmed as although he seems dazed, he stands up and continues to fight, but he is later carried back to camp on a stretcher, with the back of his head badly injured.

Viewers saw a whole different side to Aethelred after he learned he was not going to recover from his injuries, and he lay on his death bed.

Aethelflaed came to visit him, asking for his permission to let her choose a suitable man to marry their daughter, and to her surprise he agrees.

Fearing he does not have much time left in this world, he apologises to Aethelflaed for the way he treated her, and they end things on somewhat civil terms.

But wanting all the power to himself, his advisor Eardwulf enters his room and sits over him as he lay helpless in bed.

He starts pushing on the side of Aethelred’s head before his neck is heard snapping, and he lays lifeless.

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Is Aethelred of Mercia based on a real person?

Yes, Aethelred, Lord of the Mercians was a real person who came to rule Mercia following the death of its former king in the year 879.

Not much is known about his ancestors, but he went on to rule the western half of Mercia, as the eastern half was ruled by Danes.

His marriage is also a true story, as an alliance was formed between himself and King Alfred the Great of Wessex (David Dawson), with him marrying his daughter Aethelflaed.

Aethelred’s battle tactics were different in real life, as in 892 he led an army of Mercians, West Saxons and Welsh to victory against the Danes at the Battle of Buttington.

He is thought to have fought alongside Alfred’s son, Edward (Timothy Innes), until his health declined and he died.

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Like in the TV series, the real Aethelred also had a daughter with Aethelflaed, called Aelfwynn (Helena Albright) and she ruled Mercia for a short time.

Aethelred is thought to have died in 911, but the circumstances surrounding his death remain unclear as a large period of his life was not documented.

Historians believe his health deteriorated and his wife took over as the ruler of Mercia, and she joined forces with her brother Edward in battles.

He is thought to have taken part in some official meetings just before his death, but it seems he became too frail to continue ruling alone.

In whichever way the Lord of Mercia died, it seems it was not in the same way as in The Last Kingdom, and historians have found no record of the real Eardwulf of Northumbria killing him.

The Last Kingdom is available to watch on Netflix now

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Normal People: How did Paul Mescal and Daisy Edgar-Jones feel about first sex scene?

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BBC and Hulu series Normal People premiered earlier this year and has gripped viewers from the start. The show is an adaptation of Irish writer Sally Rooney’s best-selling 2018 novel of the same name. Normal People tells the rocky romance between teenagers Connell Waldron (played by Paul Mescal) and Marianne Sheridan (Daisy Edgar-Jones).

The 12-part series charts the ups and down of their romance after the pair start off in a sexual arrangement with no-strings-attachment.

However, it’s clear there’s a burgeoning romance amid their friends-with-benefits arrangement.

Thus begins a tale of the two lovers through their ups and downs, following them from the end of secondary school to their time at university at Trinity College.

Normal People features many sexual scenes, which depict the continually shifting relationship between Marianne and Connell.

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Their sexual liaisons are also a form of communication for the pair, who are constantly misreading one another.

Along with their own trysts, Normal People also sees both Marianne and Connell embarking on sexual relationships with other partners before finding their way back together.

Additionally, the series features much nudity including some full-frontal shots.

But how did the main stars of the show feel about filming their first sex scene?

Speaking at a recent online BAFTA Q&A attended by Express.co.uk, both Mescal and Edgar-Jones shed light on these more intimate moments.

An intimacy coordinator was also used on Normal People to help choreograph the sex scenes, so the actors could decide on how to film these moments.

Mescal explained: “I suppose because the process of doing intimate scenes was brand new to me as it was to Daisy, I think it was a matter of during that two-week rehearsal that we had prior to shooting, we did a kind of trial day that we could replicate a day on set.

“Suddenly, you’re not going to set on the first day you shoot those scene, worrying about what the actual mechanics of that day looks like.

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“So, anything that you can’t control and production can control in terms of making us feel more comfortable was put in place. Then you suddenly go to bed the night before, you’re thinking of the scene rather than the event. Because you know the structure is in place. You feel safe, you feel comfortable, you feel listened to.”

Reflecting on the nature of the sex in Normal People, Mescal said: “I think that’s the beauty of the sex scenes written in this is that they are written as moments of connection between two characters.

“They’re not, in my opinion, remotely pornographic. Two characters coming together, who love each other.

“So it’s about playing the scene rather than playing the event or the sex scene itself.”

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While Edgar-Jones explained: “I don’t think anything can really prepare you for that surrealness of what it is like on your first day. It is sort of a different thing.

“But as Paul said, we were so lucky to have had such a wonderful experience filming them. They ended up being a very positive thing. And as [director] Lenny [Abrahamson] and Paul said, it’s really refreshing to be able to experience them as any other dialogue scene.

“They don’t sit any different and I love that episode two scene because you can see those two people carry on communicating, it just becomes physical and it just meant that you were able to act it. You didn’t have to feel self-conscious.”

Normal People airs on BBC One on Mondays at 9pm and is available in its entirety on BBC iPlayer

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My Family cast: Who is in the cast of My Family? Where are they now?

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BBC sitcom My Family will be back on screens this evening (Friday, May 22) at the coronavirus pandemic has led the broadcaster to screen repeats due to production shutting down on new shows. Among the repeats to be airing is long-running comedy series My Family – here’s a look at the cast of the show.

My Family followed the exploits of the middle-class Harper clan, who landed themselves in all sorts of hilarious quandaries.

The show was a huge hit and aired between 2000 and 2011 following the family’s exploits.

My Family is one of the longest-running British sitcoms and aired over 100 episodes during its time.

The show is known for its central cast and even had some guest actors appearing over the years including Peter Capaldi, Frances Barber, David Haig and John Barrowman.

The BBC is repeating the show from scratch and all episodes are available to watch on BBC iPlayer now.

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Who is in the cast of My Family?

Ben Harper – Robert Lindsay

Leading the cast is dentist Ben Harper, played by acclaimed British actor Robert Lindsay.

Lindsay has had a distinguished career spanning the 70s with early breakout roles in Get Some In! and Citizen Smith.

More recently, he’s appeared in TV series including TV series Galavant, Bounty Hunters and Bull.

Among his film credits are Grace of Monaco, Wimbledon and Maleficent: Mistress of Evil.

Susan Harper -Zoë Wanamaker

Joining Lindsay in every episode of the show is Zoë Wanamaker as his long-suffering wife Susan Harper.

Thespian Wanamaker is no stranger to screens and has an impressive acting resume, which includes portraying Hogwarts’ Quidditch referee Madam Hooch in Harry Pottery and the Philosopher’s Stone.

She’s featured in movies including My Week with Marilyn and It’s A Wonderful Afterlife, however, she’s better known for her television projects such as Sky’s Britannia, Girlfriends, Mr Selfridge and Poirot.

Wanamaker has also trodden the boards at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre and on Broadway in New York.

Nick Harper – Kris Marshall

In the role of the clumsy yet loveable Nick Harper is Kris Marshall with My Family marking a breakout role for the actor.

He went on to become a star in his own right appearing in Love Actually, Death in Paradise, Death at a Funeral and Sanditon.

Janey Harper – Daniela Denby-Ashe

Daniela Denby-Ashe portrayed the feisty teenage daughter Janey Harper who ended up falling pregnant.

Prior to My Family, Denby-Ashe had roles in Absolutely Fabulous and EastEnders.

During her time on My Family, she also starred in period drama North and South and Torchwood, before later featuring in BBC series Waterloo Road.

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Michael Harper – Gabriel Thomson

The role of Michael Harper, the youngest of the children was Gabriel Thomson.

According to IMDb, star Thomson has had a few roles since My Family including The Lost Choices and A Little More Flesh.

Abi Harper – Siobhan Hayes

Portraying the comedic figure of cousin Abi Harper was Siobhan Hayes.

Along with starring in My Family, she’s also featured in EastEnders, Starting Out, The Bill and Little Britain.

Other cast members include Keiron Self as Roger Bailey, Rhodri Meilir as Alfie Butts and Tayler Marshall as Kenzo Harper.

My Family airs on BBC One tonight at 8pm

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Marianne Faithfull Says Medics 'Saved My Life' After 22-Day Hospital Treatment for Coronavirus


Marianne Faithfull has said an emotional thank you to everyone who helped her beat the coronavirus, following her 22-day spell in a London hospital.

“I would like to say to all the people who cared for me and thought of me, who sent me love, people I know, people I have never met, thank you for helping me to get better," the "As Tears Go By" singer shared on her social media pages Wednesday.

“I want to thank the doctors and nurses who were so good and basically saved my life!” she added.

“Thank you all again for all your care, love, thoughts, prayers and wishes. All my love. Marianne"

The British singer-songwriter, 73, was admitted to a London hospital with pneumonia in early April and subsequently tested positive for COVID-19.

A rep for Faithfull confirmed to PEOPLE at the time that she was “stable and responding to treatment.” Yet her condition was still serious enough for longtime friend, performance artist Penny Arcade, to post on Facebook “Please pray for her.”

Ian Bonhote, director of the upcoming biopic Faithfull, which will star Lucy Boynton, went on to share his best wishes to the singer on Twitter.

“All my thoughts and prayers. Get better soon @Faithfull_M,” Bonhote wrote.

Thankfully, Faithfull – who once dated Mick Jagger and has a long history of health struggles, including breast cancer, hepatitis C, anorexia and drug abuse – pulled through.

"We are really happy to say that Marianne has been discharged from hospital today, 22 days after being admitted suffering from the symptoms of Covid-19," said a social media statement shortly after she received the all-clear.

"Marianne thanks you all for your kind messages of concern which have meant a great deal through what is such a difficult time for so many. She is also very grateful to all the NHS staff who cared for her at the hospital and, without doubt, saved her life."

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Elderly woman gets fright of her life after finding snake in her TOILET when she went to the loo in the night – The Sun

A PENSIONER got the fright of her life after finding a 5ft python in her TOILET as she went to sit down on the loo.

The woman in her 80s called snake catcher Bryce Lockett, 25, to her home in Brisbane, Australia just after 10pm.


Bryce says he arrived to find the woman – who lives alone – in ‘a state of shock’ after the horrifying discovery.

The snake-busting expert donned a pair of gloves and gently pulled the 5ft carpet python out of the toilet and released it into nearby bushland.

And in a shocking admission, Bryce says he gets called out to retrieve snakes from people's toilets at least once a month.

He said: “She had already gone to sleep a few hours beforehand and got up to use the bathroom later that night.

“As she went to sit down she noticed it and it gave her a huge fright.

"She lives alone and called her daughter to come over and be with her."

Bryce believes the snake had entered the home through a broken pipe and was probably "looking for food."

He said: "Snakes can actually hold their breath underwater for a while.

“This type of thing happens a lot more than people realise, usually every month we will get a call out about a snake in a toilet."

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