Tuesday, December 01, 2020

"When I Was Green In Judgement, Cold In Blood"

Let us kick-off the latest From The North bloggerisationisms update, big style, with a brief, but necessary, housekeeping announcement. As some long-term dear blog readers may be aware, earlier this year yer actual Keith Telly Topping was forced to turn off the 'comments' section on From The North due to his being bombarded by a series of - genuinely stalker-like - nasty comments from one particular very silly (if jolly persistent) attention-seeking clown. However, due to popular demand (well, three people if we're being completely honest), this blogger has decided to turn the section back on again - at least for the remainder of 2020 - and, specifically, for comments on the recent Best and Worst TV Awards update. So, if you've got anything to say about this blog in general and all its many doings, dear blog reader, you've got a month!
Question: What do Little Mix: The Search, I May Destroy You, The Masked Singer, What's The Matter With Tony Slattery?, Normal People, Rich Kids Go Skint, The Salisbury Poisionings, The Go-Gos, I'll Be Gone In The Dark, Breeders, Endeavour, The First Team, Dracula, Chris Packham: Forever Punk, Schitt's Creek, Hitmen, Doctor Who, Celebrity Dogs Behaving (Very) Badly, Staged, Kermode & Mayo's Home Entertainment Service, A West Wing Special To Benefit When We All Vote, I'll Get This, A Greek Odyssey With Bettany Hughes, America's Choice 2020, Only Connect, The Sister, I Hate Suzie, The Chop: Britain's Top Woodworker, Quiz, Star Trek: Discovery, Match Of The Day Top Ten, We LOVE Gavin & Stacey, Two Weeks To Live, Devs, McMillion$, Total Wipeout: Freddie & Paddy Takeover, Vera, I'm A Z-List Former Celebrity Desperate To Get My Boat-Race Back On TV (Even During A Plaque) ... Please Vote For Me To Stay Here As Long As Possible (I'll Even Eat Worms If You Want) and Prodigal Son all have in common, dear blog reader? Answer: They, of course, all feature in the bloggerisationism event of the year, From The North's Fifty Extra-Primo Rad TV Highlights of 2020, Thirty Examples Which Were Neither Use Nor Flamin' Ornament and Four Curiosities Of The Year. If you haven't consumed it yet, you're, like, nowhere baby. Be there or be a rhombus.
This blogger is also immensely humbled and grateful to the wholly excellent Larry Brody of the TV Writer blog. Larry, a long-time supporter, promoter and fiend of From The North used a recenting posting on his own blog to highlight Keith Telly Topping Presents ... The From The North TV Awards (2020) to his dear blog readers. Which was jolly nice of him. 'The Most Honourable Keith Telly Topping His Very Self is the sole proprietor and writer of From the North, which is, hands down, my favorite [sic] blog written in the English language,' notes Larry, kindly. 'Keith has this terrific blog that you all should be reading regularly, or to be more accurate, "irregularly" because that's the interval at which it comes out.' Hey man, what can I say? This blogger does have a life, you know. Not much of a one, admittedly, but still ... Larry, you Da Man. So, if you do happen to be new in church here at From The North having arrived thanks to the latest of Larry's plugs and links, please do take Da Man's sage advice: 'Don't forget to tell Mister Topping that TVWriter™ sent you!' Do that and you will be assured of a warm and generous welcome round these parts. And, From The North readers are, also, highly advised to check out TV Writer on an entirely fair quid pro quo basis. That's yer actual Latin, that is.
Larry also notes in his piece on From The North that Keith Telly Topping Presents ... The From The North TV Awards (2020) is 'over thirty thousand fucking words' long! This blogger wasn't aware of that fact (having, long-since, decided that word counts are for zeroes). However, he is quite happy to take Larry's word for it; eighty four individual reviews written over the course of six weeks plus a - lengthy - introduction, that actually sounds about right. What may interest you, dear blog reader, is that The New Testament is, also, around thirty thousand words long. Thus, Keith Telly Topping appears to be roughly as verbose as God. And, just like God, he's best consumed in small doses. Amen.
During the lengthy delay following Romain Grosjean's horrific - but, thankfully, non-fatal - crash at the Bahraini Grand Prix on Sunday, this blogger idly wondered what the capital of Bahrain was. So, he asked The Muppets. And, they told him ...
And now, dear blog reader, various assorted malarkey which has occurred on the face of a dying planet since the last bloggeristionisms update occurred. There was, of course, at least one effin' 'uge telly-related anniversary which cropped up a few days after Keith Telly Topping Presents ... The From The North TV Awards (2020) went live. Exactly fifty seven years ago on 23 November, the greatest ever format in the entire history of the television medium (bar none) was first broadcast. But, enough about The Chars starring Elsie and Doris Waters, much has already been written and said. There was also some bonkers old toot about a madman in a box which started that very same day. Whatever happened to that?
Exactly fifty seven years ago the following morning, it should be noted, the very first 'The Ratings Are Terrible/I Thought It Was Rubbish/Verity Must Go!' posts started appearing on Outpost Gallifrey. Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose. And, that's yer actual French. Trust this blogger, the fact that he appears to be tri-lingual is as much of a surprise to him as it probably is to you.
And, it was exactly fifty seven years ago the following Monday, that the very first example of another fandom staple - the 'it's not as good as it used to be' thing - appeared. In the Gruniad Morning Star, obviously. Middle Class hippy Communists, dear blog reader. They're just never satisfied. A day simply wouldn't be a day if they didn't have something to whinge about. Loudly. To anyone that wishes to listen. And, indeed, anyone that wishes not to.  
'How many people in the universe get to meet The Doctor, let alone travel with her?' The BBC has released the first trailer for Doctor Who's upcoming festive special Revolution Of The Daleks. And, pretty damned sexy it looks too. The BBC has also confirmed that the show's next episode will, not unexpectedly, be broadcast on New Year's Day (as it has been for the last two years). It had already been confirmed that Revolution Of The Daleks would feature the return of That There Barrowman as Cap'n Jack Harkness, who will be loaning an experienced helping hand to The Doctor's companions as they do their best to foil The Daleks' evil plans and save the Earth. Or something. Another newly-announced guest star is the very excellent Dame Harriet Walter. 
    The Beeb also confirmed that Bradley Walsh and Tosin Cole would, indeed, be leaving the series which they have graced for the last two series in the forthcoming episode ... a mere nine months after this story was first, widely, reported in the media.
Mind you, dear blog reader, at least one report suggests that the plotline for the New Year's Day episode may be a bit unusual ...
There was also a rather fine interview with yer actual Jodie her very self in the Torygraph this week which is well worth a few moments of your time. If you can't get around the - very annoying - paywall, there's a summary of the best bits on the Digital Spy website. Which is good even if it does include usage of the hateful 'W' word. Listen, pal, it's very simple. No Doctor Who fan with an ounce of dignity or self-respect ever - ever - refers to themselves as a 'Whovian'. Not that 'dignity', 'self-respect' and 'Doctor Who fan' are words which are often found in the same sentence, admittedly. Trust this blogger, he's had over fifty years to come to that conclusion.
Another quick question for you all, dear blog reader: Is it possible to be innocently watching some news programme - as this blogger has been doing a lot of lately to while away the tedious hours whilst he awaits the inevitable extinction of humanity - to hear the name of the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu mentioned and not hear it in the voice of Stephen Fry-impersonating-Billy Connolly? Keith Telly Topping genuinely doesn't think it is.
There has, meanwhile, been some cautiously good news on one front, at least. For those who haven't been following the story, the Hollywood actor, The West Wing star and From The North über-favourite Richard Schiff has recently been released from a Vancouver hospital where he had been receiving treatment for COVID-19. Richard and his wife, the actress Sheila Kelley, both tested positive for the virus on US erection day (3 November). According to Richard's Twitter feed for a few days his condition was extremely serious but, mercifully, both he and Sheila appear to be recovering well from this awful experience. Everyone at From The North wishes to send both our very best wishes for a full and speedy recovery.
The Australian show Today has grovellingly apologised after mistakenly suggesting that Bob Dylan had died. Which he hasn't, just in case you were worried. The breakfast show was broadcasting a segment about many of the songwriter's documents being auctioned in Boston. However, an erroneous on-screen banner read 'Late singer's documents sell for four hundred and ninety five thousand dollars,' which led to host Richard Wilkins apologising the viewers. 'We need to make a correction now,' he said. 'About half-an-hour ago on our entertainment chat, we incorrectly ran a banner on your screen about Bob Dylan. It was false and we apologise for any confusion.' Bob himself, when asked for a comment, replied: 'He not busy being born is busy dying.' Probably.
In this week's 'let us stand up and salute the utter risible shite that some people chose to care about' moment, this blogger is constantly amazed by the number of - seemingly otherwise quite sensible - people who have an issue with Radio 1 deciding to play a (slightly) edited version of 'Fairytale Of New York' and wish to tell the world about their rank displeasure. That appears to consist of various Interweb rants that the BBC have 'banned' the song in question. Which, they haven't or anything even remotely like it. Most of these whingers seem to be straight, white, in their forties or fifties and - like this blogger - haven't listened to Radio 1 in decades (certainly since the late and much-lamented Saint John Peel was still alive). And they, also, seemingly don't mind at all being on the same side of this entirely Gammon argument as the Daily Scum Mail and that arch right-wing nutter Laurence Fox and on the opposite side to The Pogues, the people who recorded the damn thing in the first place. The fact that a decent-sized proportion of those doing the complaining appear to come from the Comrade Corbyn-wing of the Labour Party is equally perplexing. Getting Momentum and the Daily Scum Mail to agree on something. Is there anything pop music can't achieve? Listen, dear blogger, it's very simple; if this blogger wishes to play 'Fairytale Of New York' sometime between now and Christmas Eve, babe (which, he likely will, it's a jolly good song after all) then he will dig out his copy of The Best Of The Pogues CD and play it (words rhyming with 'maggot' and all). And, he will also do so in the full knowledge of the context in which the song was originally written, recorded, released and sold a million copies thereof. Jeez, has everyone taken The Stupid Pill this week, or what?
Not having an Amazon Prime subscription, the only way that this blogger could watch Saturday afternoon's rugby international between Wales and England was on the S4C channel. And, trust this blogger when he informs you that, until you've watched an England international with a Welsh language commentary track, you've never lived, dear blog reader. Roeddwn i'n meddwl ei fod yn wych. Isn't it?
On the same day, this blogger drew a - socially-distanced and fully masked-up - visit from his big brother to make sure that yer actual Keith Telly Topping was, you know, still alive and all that. Happily, this blogger could confirm to Our Colin Telly Topping that he was. So, that didn't last very long.
This, dear blog reader, demonstrates everything which this blogger most dislikes about the whole Christmas shenanigans; the way in which some people will manage to shoehorn religion into everything ...
Another question for the world at large and for From The North's dear blog readers in particular; when, exactly, did Mister Andy Warhol become Prime Minister of the UK? Did this blogger miss the memo when that malarkey occurred?
This blogger must admit, he really doesn't understand American politics at all - despite at least one previous bloggerisationisms update featuring lots of it; and, in particular, he doesn't understand those people who are furious (incandescently furious in their red-faced fury) that soon-to-be-former President Rump will shortly be losing his current job. Surely, from January, former-President Rump will have more time - as an ex-president - to do all of the many things which he so enjoys doing. Like playing golf. Spending time with his dysfunctional family and one or two friends. Tweeting mad conspiracy theories. Defending himself in lawsuits which could see him end up with an orange jumpsuit to go with his orange face. And, of course, getting spanked by prostitutes (allegedly). It's all a win-win-win-win-win, surely? Or is that too simplistic? Answers on a postal vote to the usual address, dear blog reader.
Speaking of soon-to-be-former President Ridiculous, dear blog reader, Mister Silly has, once again, been given a short, sharp lesson in how not to conduct oneself with dignity and gravitas on Twitter when he posted, on 16 November, a message claiming 'I WON THE ELECTION'. Which, of course, he didn't. Not even a close. This claim, needless to say, was met with a predictably amused outpouring of scorn, ridicule and more choruses of 'Oh! No! You! Didn't!' since the last pantomime season ended. As you can see for yourselves, here. The best of the replies, however, came from people mocking this ludicrous hairdo by claiming somewhat dubious allegations from their own lives. Take the Goddamn legend that is Gary Lineker, for one.
And, this classic from the Twitter feed of From The North favourite Neil Gaiman.
Once again, however - and not for the first time in living memory - the Godlike Genius that is Mark Hamill won the Interweb for his own, perceptive, reply.
Of course, soon-to-be-former President Rump has had a lot on his mind recently so one, perhaps, can't blame him for being a bit distracted from reality. Most notably, there was the stunning revelation that his lawyer Rudy Giuliani's brain has started leaking. Who'd've thunk it?
'The President? He's got two hopes of remaining in office after 20 January, ladies and gentlemen. Bob Hope and no hope ...'
Mad Rudy wasn't the only one with significant brain issues amongst soon-to-be-former President Rump's legal team it would appear. Or rather, in the case of that legend in her own lunchtime Sidney Powell (no, me neither), not amongst soon-to-be-former President Rump's legal team. That must've been one Hell of a blow to Sidney's colossal ego - the discovery that she appears to be considered too crazy even for soon-to-be-former President Rump. 'Oh no siree, Bob. She's not here with us. Honest. '
Calling all Brians out there in the wide, wide Interweb - were you aware (or, perhaps this blogger should ask, were you wholly unaware) of this - not in the slightest bit dubious - claim, recently made on Twitter? Twitter being, of course, The Sole Arbiter Of The Worth Of All Things according to various planks of no importance at the Gruniad Morning Star.
What else has soon-to-be-former President Rump been up to of late you may be wondering, dear blog reader? Apart from, you know, the usual - playing golf whilst America suffered one hundred thousand new cases of Coronavirus per day for over a fortnight. Also, tweeting some world-class fiction, sacking anyone that has ever disagreed with him (or, indeed, anyone that has ever looked at him 'in a funny way'), holding a press conference in which he looked ridiculous (or, to qualify that, looked more ridiculous than usual), got really annoyed when just how ridiculous he looked 'went viral' and took out his incandescent fury on one hapless CNN reporter (a well-respected one, at that). He's also played more golf, confirmed that he will leave the White House - only, not yet (in case they change the locks whilst he's out), took a right strop that he wasn't being praised, personally, for creating a COVID vaccine, played some more golf, continued to push baseless allegations of voter fraud even though neither he nor his lawyers have presented a single, solitary shred of credible evidence of this either inside or outside any court in the land, got angry at Republicans who refused to declare him a winner even when he wasn't, fueled Republican voter apathy in Georgia, failed to condemn sick threats of violence and intimidation from some of his supporters (and even, at times, appeared to encourage these) and, generally, acted like a spoiled little boy who has lost a game on Monopoly®™ and knocked the board over in a temper tantrum asa result. To the point where even his most vocal political allies are beginning to resemble rats leaving a sinking ship. He also described the recently announced 'bribery-for-pardons' investigation by his own Justice Department as 'fake news'. One or two people even believed him. All of which has provided Jon Sopel and Emily Maitless with an endless supply of quality comedy material for the BBC's - highly-recommended - Americast. So, just another normal couple of weeks in the life of soon-to-be-former President Rump, then? And we're supposed to be, what, surprised?
From a very nasty man to a much nicer one, dear blog reader. Des O'Connor once said that all he did in his career was to walk on-stage, chat to the audience and 'sing a few songs.' It was a formula which made Des one of Britain's best-known stars, an old-fashioned showman who could turn his hand to almost anything - fronting his variety programme, hosting chat shows or presiding over the popular quiz Countdown. An almost ever-present face on UK television from the 1950s, he is often said to hold the record for more mainstream appearances on the small-screen than any other performer. Des, who died last month aged eighty eight after a fall at his home in Buckinghamshire, also carved out a successful career as a singer including four top ten hits and more than thirty LPs. Desmond Bernard O'Connor was born in January 1932 in Stepney, the son of a Jewish cleaner and an Irish dustman. He contracted rickets whilst he was a child which resulted in him having to wear callipers on his legs until he was seven years old. He was also badly injured in a car accident and spent some time in an iron lung which disrupted his primary school education. During the war, the O'Connor family moved to Northampton where Des signed on as a schoolboy apprentice with the local football club making the Northampton Town junior team for a few games. It was while working in a shoe factory that Des discovered a talent for making people laugh, once recalling his ability to reduce the ladies in the firm's typing pool to giggles and to be the main source of entertainment on various works outings. His prowess as a performer came to the fore during his national service with the RAF, when his commanding officer insisted he take part in a talent show. After he was demobbed, Des secured a job as a Redcoat at Butlin's - a role which provided a springboard for many a famous show business name over the next thirty years - before he was signed up to appear in a variety show at Newcastle's Palace Theatre in 1953. He made his TV debut on the BBC's Music-Hall variety show the following year. His early success was gained by his astonishing ability to generate an instant rapport with his audiences, something that would carry him though the ensuing decades of his career. 'If you are not enjoying it,' he once said, 'how do you expect them to?' When rock and/or roll arrived, the variety theatres saw the potential of booking big name music stars and building a package show around them. In this way O'Connor found himself as the compere when Buddy Holly & The Crickets toured the UK in 1958. 'I was given the princely sum of a hundred pounds per week which was a lot of money in those days,' Des recalled. Holly, in a letter to his wife during the tour, reportedly said: 'The show was great but the comedian wasn't very good' though that didn't stop Des from dining out for years on the story about how he was the only one brave enough to turf Buddy out of bed whenever the tour bus was about to leave for their next engagement.
O'Connor's fame as a performer soared firstly when he replaced Bob Monkhouse as the host of ABC's For Love Or Money in 1960 and, subsequently, when he was recruited by ITV to host The Des O'Connor Show, which ran - in various guises - from 1963 to 1971. The show followed the format of variety theatre with Des wisecracking to the audience, singing a few songs and introducing a stream of guest stars. When the show was first filmed in colour, in 1970, ATV did a deal for it to be shown on network television in the US bringing Des to a whole new audience. It led to a strig of live appearances in Las Vegas. By the end of the 1960s, Des was one of Britain's best-known TV stars and was chosen as the first victim when This Is Your Life was resurrected by Thames in 1969. Fittingly he was surprised on-stage at The London Palladium, a venue where he performed on more than a thousand occasions. In 1977, O'Connor began hosting Des O'Connor Tonight, a variety chat show. It began on BBC2 where it ran for five years before switching to ITV, eventually ending in 2002. It was notable for showcasing the work of comedians. Ken Dodd and Benny Hill were among the established comics who appeared and new talent, such as the not-even-slightly-funny Cornish act, Jethro, got their breaks on the show. It was broadcast live, something which occasionally provided for some controversial moments. There was a memorably foul-mouthed appearance by an obviously bladdered Oliver Reed on one episode while, on another the - again, not-even-remotely-amusing cheeky-chappy Scouser Stan Boardman told his risqué joke about 'Fokkers' which subsequently saw him banned from ITV for a period (though, tragically, not in perpetuity). 'I just looked at the ceiling,' O'Connor later recalled, 'then I held my head in my hands.' Des was also, of course, a regular guest on The Morecambe & Wise Show, usually as the butt of jokes about his abilities as a singer. The pairing had its origins in a running joke in some of the first BBC Morecambe & Wise episodes. A little old man, originally billed as 'Frankie Vaughan's son' and played by Rex Rashley, was a regular guest on the show. Vaughan - who had actually guest-starred in a couple of episodes - became the source of numerous jokes like this. With a spectacular underestimation of the value of such weekly publicity, the singer took exception and had his lawyers threaten the BBC with legal action if this nonsense continued. The answer turned out to be stunningly simple; the premise of the comedy was simply transferred to O'Connor whose singing career for the next few years appeared to exist entirely as the punchline to a vast number of Eric and Ernie's jokes ('If you want me to be a goner, buy me a record by Des O'Connor!') Des, of course, took such slagging in tremendously good spirit, memorably appearing on the 1975, 1976 and 1979 Christmas episodes of the show and sending himself up something rotten on each occasions. In fact, Des had been a close friend of the duo since their days on the variety hall circuit in the early 1950s (Eric used to love telling the story of how Des once pretended to faint at that notorious graveyard for English entertainers, Glasgow's Empire Theatre, so he could get off-stage early as the audience was less than impressed by his act). Famously, Des was appearing in concert on the evening that the news of Eric's first heart-attack in 1968 broke and he, reportedly, asked his audience to pray for Morecambe's speedy recovery. 'Tell him those six or seven people probably made all the difference,' Eric subsequently noted. Actually, O'Connor had four top ten singles including a cover of 'Careless Hands' and 'I Pretend', which went to number one for a week in July 1968 (knocking The Equals' 'Baby Come Back' off the top spot). Having become a game show host again on Take Your Pick in 1992, O'Connor spent a year as co-host of Countdown, with Carol Vorderman and also co-hosted the popular daytime chat show Today With Des & Mel for five years with Melanie Sykes. He was awarded a CBE in 2008. His autobiography, Bananas Can't Fly!, was published in 2002. Away from the stage, he was a keen racegoer as befitted a man who once held an amateur jockey licence. Having dated Shirley Bassey for a time early in both of their careers, O'Connor was later married four times, describing the end of his first three relationships as casualties of his 'obsession with work.' In 2007, he married his long-term girlfriend Jodie Brooke Wilson, thirty seven years his junior who had given birth to his son Adam when O'Connor was into his seventies. Des O'Connor was the consummate professional, a natural performer who never lost his love of simply standing in front of an audience and giving them some good old entertainment, as demonstrated by one of his final TV appearances as a guest on Would I Lie To You? in 2013. 'If it ever became work, I'd pack it up,' Des once said. 'I've never done a day's work in my life.' Des is survived by Jodie and his five children, Karen, from his first marriage to former Butlins entertainer Phyllis Gill, Tracy and Samantha, with the dancer Gillian Vaughan, Kristina, with model Jay Rufer and Adam.
Ken Spears, the co-creator of Scooby-Doo Where Are You! and its numerous spin-offs, has died at the age of eighty two. Spears, who created the animated characters alongside his creative partner Joe Ruby, died of complications from Lewy Body Dementia. The original show, Scooby Doo, Where Are You!, only ran for two series in 1969 and 1970, but established a template that spawned fifty years of spooky stories. Spears' death came three months after that of his co-creator, Ruby. Spears' son, Kevin, confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter that his father had died in Los Angeles on Friday. Warner Bros president Sam Register said in a statement: 'Warner Bros Animation is saddened to learn of the passing of Ken Spears and we send our warmest thoughts to his loved ones. He was a true innovator in the industry whose gifts of humour and storytelling continue to delight audiences. You cannot find a screen in the world that has not played a version of Scooby-Doo. We continue to be inspired by his work at Warner Bros. Animation and are honoured to carry on the legacy of his beloved characters.' Ken Spears was born in Los Angeles in March 1938 and met Ruby when both were sound editors and staff writers at animation studio Hanna Barbera. While there, the pair created Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!, which debuted on CBS in September 1969. It followed the adventures of the titular cowardly but good-natured Great Dane who travelled America solving spooky mysteries with a group of plucky teenagers - Daphne, Fred, Velma and his slacker sidekick, Shaggy. Spears and Ruby wrote and story-edited all but four of the first twenty five episodes. The pair went on to create characters including Dynomutt, Dog Wonder and Jabberjaw and were asked to supervise the Saturday morning cartoon line-up at CBS and later did the same job at ABC. In 1977, ABC set up Ruby-Spears Productions, which went on to spawn series such as Mister T and Alvin & The Chipmunks. 'Ken will forever be remembered for his wit, his story-telling, his loyalty to family and his strong work ethic,' Kevin Spears said in a statement to Variety. 'Ken has not only made a lasting impression on his family, but he has touched the lives of many as co-creator of Scooby-Doo. Ken has been a role model for us throughout his life and he will continue to live on in our hearts.'
Dave Prowse, the actor best known for playing Darth Vader in the original Star Wars trilogy, has died at the age of eighty five. Agent Thomas Bowington said: 'It is with great regret and heart-wrenching sadness for us and million of fans around the world, to announce that our client Dave Prowse MBE has passed away.' Jason Joiner, an events producer who worked with Prowse, announced the death on a Facebook page dedicated to the actor, adding: 'Dave was dedicated to meeting the fans for decades and lots of fans' first ever guest they met was Dave in the early days of Comic Cons and collators' events. Dave was larger than life and he will be so very much missed. Our love and thoughts go out to his family.' Prowse was a former bodybuilder who had a series of roles as monsters and villains before being invited by George Lucas to audition for the roles of Vader and Chewbacca in 1976. He chose Vader and, when asked why, replied: 'Everyone remembers the villain.'
Born in Bristol in 1935, Prowse was, according to IMDB, raised by his mother and never knew his father. He developed a passion for bodybuilding and weight training in his early teens and competed in Mister Universe competitions, where he became friends with both Arnold Schwarzenegger and Lou Ferrigno. He also shredded phone books under the stage-name Jack the Ripper. He won the British heavyweight weightlifting championship three times and was selected to represent England at the 1962 Commonwealth Games in Perth. Prowse's first film was 1967's Bond spoof Casino Royale, where he played Frankenstein's Creature. Although the casting was based on Prowse's stature, he developed a strong interest in acting and decided to pursue it as a career. His CV included roles in A Clockwork Orange and several Hammer films - The Horror Of Frankenstein, Vampire Circus - and he was the personal trainer who prepared Christopher Reeve for the role of Superman in 1978. He also appeared in the notoriously wretched Reg Varney vehicle Go For A Take, Terry Gilliam's Jabberwocky, Confessions Of A Pop Performer and Crossplot. On TV he featured in The Tomorrow People, Doctor Who (playing The Minotaur in the 1972 six-part adventure The Time Monster), Ace Of Wands, Arthur Of The Britons, Up Pompeii, The Two Ronnies, Callan, Department S, The Champions, Softly Softly, Hark At Barker, The Morecambe & Wise Show, The Hitch-Hikers' Guide To The Galaxy, The Dick Emery Show and The Rose Medallion.
Prowse was in the Vader suit for much of the Sith Lord's screen time and, reputedly, spoke the character's lines on-set, though his West Country tones were overdubbed with those of American actor James Earl Jones in post-production and many of the lightsabre fight scenes featured British Olympic fencer Bob Anderson. When Vader's face was finally shown to audiences as he lay dying in 1983's Return Of The Jedi, producer George Lucas chose to cast the British stage actor Sebastian Shaw instead, much to Prowse's reported chagrin. Prowse and Lucas later spectacularly fell out, leading to Prowse being banned from official Star Wars activities in 2010. Despite the fame he won as Vader, Prowse said that he was most proud of his role as The Green Cross Man in a long-running British road safety campaign, for which he was awarded an MBE in 2000. In a column for the Gruniad Morning Star in 2014, Prowse wrote: 'Many people will know me for being the ultimate screen villain, Star Wars' Darth Vader. But being a "goodie goodie" and heading up the Green Cross Code campaign, helping to save thousands of lives has always been the ultimate honour.'
The former England, Liverpool and Tottenham Hotshots goalkeeper Ray Clemence has died aged seventy two. Clemence, who won five league titles and three European Cups with Liverpool between 1967 and 1981, was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2005. In a statement on Sunday, the Clemence family said that he 'passed away peacefully today surrounded by his loving family. After fighting so hard, for such a long time, he's now at peace and in no more pain,' they added. As well as league and European Cup success, Clemence also won the FA Cup, the League Cup and two UEFA Cups during his time at Anfield. Clemence was signed by Bill Shankly in June 1967 from Scunthorpe United for a fee of eighteen thousand pounds as understudy to Tommy Lawrence. Ray made his debut in a League Cup tie in September 1968 against Swansea Town. He was nurtured through the reserve side over the next two years, with the occasional senior appearance, until 1970, at which point he took over from Lawrence and became the club's first choice goalkeeper. The 1978-79 League success saw Clemence set a record which was never beaten under the two points for a win system, conceding only sixteen goals in the forty two league matches (and just four at Anfield). The signing of Bruce Grobbelaar put Clemence's place in the side under threat for the first time in eleven years (during which period he played more than six hundred and fifty matches in all competitions and missed a mere six) and, he decided to leave Liverpool to join Tottenham for a fee of three hundred thousand smackers. During his seven-year spell at White Hart Lane, Clemence helped the club retain the FA Cup in 1982 and clocked up three hundred and thirty appearances in all competitions. Spurs won the UEFA Cup in 1984 - Clemence missed the final against Anderlecht through injury, but was on the bench as substitute goalkeeper in a match famously won when his understudy Tony Parks saved twice during the penalty shootout. Ray also won the respect of many critics who had rather sniffily claimed that his success at Liverpool had been founded on playing behind the meanest defence in the country. At Spurs, he didn't have that luxury. The legendary goalkeeper, capped by England on sixty one occasions, also worked on the North London club's coaching staff and was inducted into the Tottenham Hall of Fame in November 2014. Clemence made his England debut in 1972 and spent the majority of his eleven-year international career in a constant battle with Peter Shilton for the number one shirt. He captained the Three Lions for the first and only time in a narrow defeat to Brazil at Wembley in 1981 and later took up the role of goalkeeper coach with the Football Association. His wife Veronica, son Stephen - a former Spurs midfielder and current assistant coach at Newcastle United - and daughters Sarah and Julie said: 'The family would like to say a huge thank you, for all the love and support that he's received over the years. He was loved so much by us all and he will never be forgotten.'
Onto more mundane matters now, dear blog reader. This blogger. Today's general mood at the Stately Telly Topping Manor Plague House is thus ... As, indeed, is pretty much every day's general mood at the Stately Telly Topping Manor Plague House in these strange and baffling times. It's nice to know, is it not dear blog reader, that in an uncertain, frightening world, some things remain reliably permanent?
This blogger had the results of his six monthly Type-Two Diabetes blood and wee-wee tests last week over the phone from the very lovely Doctor Brad (Doctor Chris was off on - a no doubt jolly well-deserved - holiday). Everything was spankingly in order, as it happens; this blogger's weight was slightly up on last time, admittedly, although he was assured by Doctor Brad that this was something afflicting pretty much everyone at the moment due to lockdown. Everything else however was, as they used to say on Happy Days, perfectamundo; blood sugar levels, cholesterol, blood pressure, kidney and liver functions et cetera, were all heading in the right direction and all are easily within acceptable limits. Yet again, it was a case of 'I don't know what it is you're doing but, whatever it is, keep doing it!' In fact, Doctor Brad was so happy with the results that he said the next check up for yer actual Keith Telly Topping would be in a year's time rather than six months. So, that was rather good news. To celebrate, this blogger went out for his - entirely government-allowed - weekly shopping. And, he had a couple of nice walks into the bargain whilst doing so.
Leaving the Stately Telly Topping Manor Plague House to go down to ALDI to get in the - government-allowed - weekly shopping, yer actual Keith Telly Topping stuck his MP3 player on random for the walk. The first two songs to emerge were 'Alligator Man' followed by 'Crocodile Rock'. This blogger took this as a sign from high a-top the thing and so, upon getting to the till with his basket Keith Telly Topping told the lad, 'scan 'em through, pal. And, make it snappy." Nah, lissun ...
Last evening, for us tea at yer actual Stately Telly Topping Manor Plague House, dear blog reader it was chicken and sweetcorn soup and salt and chilli spare ribs and a nice bottle of raspberry pop. Which were really, really deserved. Would Keith Telly Topping lie to you? (Okay, don't answer that ...)
Once Upon A Time in the Stately Telly Topping Manor, dear bog reader, this blogger really deserved this Yorkshire pudding, pork slices and fried spring onions with geet thick gravy. And, another bottle of raspberry pop. 
Of course, on the evening of 23 November, dear blog reader, there was only one thing that this blogger really deserved. Chicken and King Prawn Curry with boiled rice and episode one of An Unearthly Child, obviously. 'I know that free movement in time and space is a scientific dream I don't expect to find solved in a junkyard.' 
Another day last week, for us tea at the Stately Telly Topping Manor Plague House, there was home made pork, mushrooms and peanuts in oyster, spring onion and garlic sauce with basmati rice. That was pure justice, dear blog reader.
At the time this blogger ordered this particular KFC Gravy Burger Box via Deliveroo, he was pure dead Hank Marvin so he was and thought that he would really deserve it when it arrived. Sadly, when it did - eventually - arrive, it was a bit of a disappointment. Still, at least there was no need to get the knives out to eat it, he did that with his fingers.
'Would you like a cake or a meringue, Keith Telly Topping?' 'No, you're absolutely correct ...' Yes, dear blog reader, the old ones are always the best ... 
And now, a new semi-regular From The North feature: Things not to say when coming out of a cinema and there are people waiting to go in to watch the movie that you've just seen. 
     Number one: Murder On The Orient Express. 'So, let me get this straight, they all did it?'
Not one but two of the daftest headlines in BBC News history appeared on the same day recently, dear blog reader. It was quite a sight to see.
Although, Covid: Alcohol Ban For Welsh Pubs And Restaurants From Friday and Covid-19: Drinkers In Tier Two 'Could Order Scotch Egg' As Substantial Meal prove that The Plague remains a source of 'humour for the cynical' which just keeps on giving.
And as for Hungarian MEP Jozsef Szajer Quit After Police Raided 'Gay Sex Party' ... Probably best to draw a discreet veil over that one.
Now, dear blog reader, here is proof that crime strikes in many of the most unexpected places.
It's time, perhaps, to round up the usual suspects, as it were.
Moving swiftly on to clicky - this blogger has been particularly enjoying this last week's three T20 internationals in South Africa covered, live, on the ky ports Cricket channel (which England won, three-nil just in case you missed them). It's nice, occasionally, to have something vaguely entertaining and sporty on the TV to take ones mind off the impending Death of Hope.
People, as has been discussed previously on this blog, appear to find comfort in the strangest of places. Certainly, the continuing increase in From The North's regular daily traffic during these dark days suggests, once again, that The Tremeloes were correct all those years ago: Even The Bad Times are, you know, Good.
And finally, dear blog reader, just occasionally, something occurs which kind-of restores ones faith in human nature. If only briefly. Tocut a very long story somewhat shorter, this blogger gets his repeat drug prescriptions (seven items in total) via the world-famous Pharmacy2U in the post every two months. And, usually, there is no problem with this - Keith Telly Topping doesn't even have to do anything, they just send the drugs out in the post (albeit, they usually send them in two separate batches a week apart which can be a bit of a pain in the dong at times). However, this month - for reasons far too complicated to go into (and not, really, anyone's fault, per se) - there was a bit of a communications snafu between this blogger and his local medical centre and between the local medical centre and Pharmacy 2U. All of which meant that Keith Telly Topping is, currently, only three or four days away from running out of a couple of items (usually, the next batch would have already been sent out and delivered by this stage). So, this blogger rang up the surgery this morning and they referred him onto Pharmacy 2U. Keith Telly Topping sent them an nice, polite e-mail explaining what appeared to have happened and asked them for some further advice on how we could resolve this. Shortly before posting this bloggerisationisms update, this blogger received a phone call from a delightful young lad at Pharmacy2U called Karib who sorted out the problem for this blogger in next to no time, meaning that this shouldn't be an issue again. As for the items that this blogger is currently awaitingr, Keith Telly Topping would have been quite happy for said items just to be sent out by post as normal and, if they arrive at the Stately Telly Topping Manor Plague House a couple of days late, no problem. However, Karib said that he was reluctant to go down that route since Royal Mail are currently advising delays of three-to-five days for items sent out even by Special Delivery (due to both lockdown and Christmas coming up). Understandable, this blogger quickly noted. So, instead, Karib gave Keith Telly Topping a reference code and told him to take it into his local pharmacy tomorrow morning - after 10am - and they'd be able to fill it for this blogger as a one-off. Then, from January, everything should be back to normal. It's not often you get someone who is prepared to go that extra mile for the customer, spot any potential issues in advance and have a solution to hand even before the customer has actually asked for one. Keith Telly Topping certainly never did that in any of the jobs he's had! Bugger that, dear blog reader, the customers were always something of an unwanted inconvenience to this blogger. So, Karib is currently top of this blogger's Christmas card list (that's if Keith Telly Topping was sending any out - which he's not as it happens). And, this blogger has, right now, got a stupid smile plastered all over his mush for absolutely no reason whatsoever except that someone has done this blogger a favour which he wasn't expecting. Life, eh? It's a jolly curious mixture of the 'okay' and the 'totally shite', is it not?