Saturday, February 24, 2018

Eeny-Meeny-Macka-Racka-Om-Pom-Push

BBC Worldwide have revealed the logo to accompany the forthcoming next era of yer actual Doctor Who. And, jolly tasty it is too. The 'insignia for the brand' (hands up anyone who loathes having their favourite TV series described as a 'brand'. Okay, you can all put your hands down now) was revealed 'to over seven hundred of the world's top TV buyers and international press at BBC Worldwide's annual showcase event in Liverpool,' according to the press release. 'In an evening devoted to the new incarnation of Doctor Who,' Jodie Whittaker her very self 'built excitement in anticipation of the new era of The Doctor, leaving global broadcasters in no doubt as to the sense of wonder, joy and mystery the forthcoming series promises audiences.' And all that. The Doctor Who logo is 'an iconic and powerful trademark for the franchise that is recognised all around the world.' BBC Worldwide commissioned creative agency Little Hawk to create the new designs, working closely with incoming showrunner Chris Chibnall and Executive Producer Matt Strevens. Apparently.
Jodie, meanwhile, has been spotted on location this week. And, it appears from a number of images shared on social media that she may be in a historical adventure.
The BBC has announced the first Target novelisations of episodes from the post-2005 series of Doctor Who. Both former showrunners of the BBC's popular long-running family SF drama, Russell Davies and The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat (OBE), will be writing novelisations of their own episodes - Rose and The Day Of The Doctor - to be published by BBC Books, under the Target imprint, on the 5 April. The series will also see the first Target novelisation of Douglas Adams's much-admired 1979's four-parter City Of Death, adapted by James Goss. This blogger will not be reading these novelisations on holiday in the Isle of Wight whilst recovering from a nasty bout of bronchitis like he did with the very first Target novelisations he bought - Day Of The Daleks, The Curse Of Peladon and The Daemons - in the summer of 1975. But, he will be buying them, nevertheless. (Necessary credit is due to the very excellent Danny Blythe for the covers montage.)
This week's 'Only Connect question which this blogger got right before - or, in this case, at the same time as - the contestants did' was this one.
Somebody of no importance at the Gruniad really doesn't like the new series of The X-Files it would seem. Mind you, that was before Channel Five had broadcast the Darin Morgan episode, obviously.
The BBC's popular police drama Waking The Dead is making a comeback. On radio. Creator Barbara Machin has written a new five-part story called The Unforgiven which will be broadcast on Radio 4 and explore how the Cold Case Unit first came together. The prequel series feature a serial killer-rapist launching an appeal and claiming police corruption, accusing a young DC Peter Boyd (played in the original series by Trevor Eve) and also implicating forensic scientist Frankie Wharton (From The North favourite Holly Aird). The police have just five days to stop the killer's acquittal and, as Boyd is forced to disappear, the remaining members of the soon-to-be-team - profiler Grace (Sue Johnston), Spencer Jordan (Wil Johnson) and Mel Silver (Claire Goose) - will have to clear their names and prove Boyd and Frankie's innocence. The pre-publicity suggests that the story is 'set in 1984' although, given that Mel Silver's year of birth was established in the TV series as being 1976, one imagines that might not be entirely accurate. Mind you, it wouldn't be the first time Waking The Dead got its continuity a bit screwed-up. The constant retconning of the story of Boyd's missing son, Peter, being a classic example. While Eve himself won't return for the prequel - which may, or may not, be a relief to his former co-stars - Johnston, Aird, Goose and Johnson will all reprise their roles in the radio series. Waking The Dead - a particular favourite of this blogger - followed a unit which specifically investigated cold cases. Now, nearly seven years after it ended its excellent nine-series run, it's back. Its popularity also saw the BBC order a spin-off called The Body Farm, which focused on forensic scientist Eve Lockart (Tara Fitzgerald). But that was cancelled after one series. Because it was crap and no one was watching it. The Unforgiven will be broadcast over five consecutive days from Monday 5 March at 2.15pm.
The BBC's trend of bringing back nostalgic comedies miay have worked well for the patchy-but-occasionally-brilliant Still Open All Hours, but the Porridge revival hasn't fared anywhere near as well with viewers. The broadcaster has this week decided to pull the plug on the series, which starred Kevin Bishop as the grandson of Ronnie Barker's Fletcher. A spokesperson for the BBC told the Digital Spy website: 'We are very proud of the show and delighted that we had the chance to connect comedy writing giants Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais back with a mainstream audience on BBC1. Whilst we currently don't have any plans for a second helping of Porridge there are lots of exciting new comedies coming soon to BBC1 ... blah, blah, blah, blah.' The revived Porridge was originally broadcast as a one-off 'special' as part of the 2016 Landmark Sitcom Season. And, to the surprise of many, as a one-off, it was actually sort of all right. Not great, but nowhere near as terrible as many of us had imagined it would be. Sadly, have dodged the bullet there, Porridge was then given a full six-episode series order, which broadcast last year. And that was sodding awful One of this blog's Worst TV Shows of 2017.
The BBC has taken the surprising decision to bring back Jodie Whittaker's medical thriller Trust Me ... without Jodie Whittaker. The four-part drama was originally broadcast last August, mere weeks after it was announced that Jodie would be replacing Peter Capaldi his very self as the lead on Doctor Who. Because Jodie is now going to be quite busy - saving the universe from The Daleks and all that - the BBC and Trust Me writer Dan Sefton have opted to go down the Ordinary Lies route by keeping the title whilst rebooting the entire cast between series. 'The thriller, set on the neurological unit of South Lothian Hospital, follows Captain James McKay, the sole survivor of a shock enemy attack on tour in Syria. Recovering from a spinal injury which has left him barely able to move and battling the psychological scars from losing his friends, he faces a new enemy as people on the ward die unexpectedly around him. But is the threat real, or imagined?' asks the pre-publicity release. 'I'm absolutely thrilled to be working on a new series of Trust Me for the BBC,' one-time NHS doctor Sefton said. 'The support the project received from both BBC Drama and BBC Scotland made it a hugely enjoyable process. It's also fantastic to be working with Red Production Company and Nicola Shindler again - a company that makes some of the best drama this country produces. This follow-up series will bring the same tension and twists of the original show to a brand new medical arena.' Filming is expected to start later this year.
Three of the BBC's most acclaimed dramas are to be remade in South Korea. Well, no actually, two of its BBC's most acclaimed dramas ... and Mistresses, are to be remade in South Korea; it's best to be completely accurate in these sort of situations. BBC Worldwide announced the remakes of Luther, Life On Mars and Mistresses in news which, the corporation said, 'demonstrated a growing appetite for British drama after the [international] successes of Doctor Who and Sherlock.' Luther, which stars Idris Elba - you knew that, right? - has been sold to over two hundred and thirty territories and a Russian version called Klim won a number of awards in 2016. Leading South Korean broadcaster Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation will broadcast a local version in October of this year. A Korean version of Mistresses, which followed the love lives of four friends in a style not even remotely exactly like Sex In The City, will premiere on Orion Cinema Network in April and will star South Korean actors Han Ga-In and Choi Hee-Seo in two of the leading roles. It has previously been remade by ABC in America with Alyssa Milano. That was crap. Retro detective series Life On Mars will be given a new title and set in Seoul in 1987, when the country was at the height of political change owing to its first democratic presidential election and forthcoming role as host of the 1988 Summer Olympics. Leading Korean actor Jung Kyung-Ho will take on the role of the main detective (Sam Tyler in the UK version, originally played by John Simm). That was also remade in the US and was actually quite good. Up to last episode. Which really wasn't. David Weiland, of BBC Worldwide, said: 'BBC drama has always found a large audience in South Korea. Series such as Sherlock and Doctor Who have grown fan bases with their original and intelligent story-telling that the British are so well known for. I'm delighted that this love of British drama has now transcended into scripted formats - with South Korean versions of Mistresses, Life On Mars and Luther starring Korean A-listers about to debut in 2018.' BBC Worldwide - the BBC's commercial arm - is charged with generating revenue from BBC content by commercially exploiting its original formats. Elba attended the previously mentioned BBC Worldwide Showcase in Liverpool on Tuesday to promote Luther. The BBC said that clients 'from Argentina to Australia' (presumably, they're speaking geographically rather than alphabetically) have travelled to the city, where they screen the best of British TV content and 'hear first-hand from A-list talent about their upcoming shows.' In the UK, filming has already begun on a fifth series of Luther. The drama will return for a new four-part series, written by Neil Cross. While international viewers develop a taste for original British dramas online, the BBC's Director General last year warned the future of British-made television programmes like Sherlock and Broadchurch was 'under serious threat' due to changes taking place in the industry, such as the rise of Netflix.
Stephen Fry is reported to be recovering from surgery for prostate cancer and has said 'it all seemed to go pretty well.' The broadcaster - and From The North favourite - who had his operation in early January, said on his website: 'They took the prostate out,' adding: 'So far as we know it's all been got.' He said that it was an 'aggressive' form of cancer and surgeons removed eleven lymph nodes. He added: 'For the moment I'm fit and well and happy and I just wanted to let you know because rumours had started to swirl.' In the video posted on his blog, Stephen said: 'You have to recover and that's what I've been doing.' He said his family and 'my darling husband' were 'just marvellous' and that the few friends who knew about his illness had been 'very discreet and kind about it. Here's hoping I've got another few years left on this planet because I enjoy life at the moment and that's a marvellous thing to be able to say and I'd rather it didn't go away,' he said. He added that had to get used to the idea, saying: 'I went around saying to myself, "I've got cancer. Good heavens, Stephen, you're not the sort of person who gets cancer." I know it's an old cliche but you don't think it's going to happen to you.'
Christopher Eccleston has claimed that his Northern accent held him back when trying to secure Shakespearean roles on stage. Even though lots of planets have a North, they reckon. The actor suggested this week that there is 'a perception in the industry' that 'people like me can't be classical.' Big Ecc was born into a working class family on a council estate in Salford in 1964. He will appear as Macbeth in a new production at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford, but he had to ask for the role. 'I'm never offered Shakespeare,' he says. 'I went after this. Nobody offered it me.' He wrote 'an old-fashioned letter' to the artistic director of the RSC, Gregory Doran. 'I said, since I was seventeen I've always wanted to play Macbeth at the Royal Shakespeare Company. So can I do it?' But the fifty four-year-old says that he 'resents' having to ask for roles. 'I should have been offered more but I didn't go the right university or the public schools. It needs to change,' he adds. He has played one other Shakespeare role on stage - Hamlet at the West Yorkshire Playhouse in 2002. But nothing since and he is convinced that his background is to blame. 'I think the people who run some of the big established theatres, particularly in London, they associate Shakespeare with white, middle-class men. It's discrimination and I loathe it.' For fans of his work on television, including Doctor Who, Cracker and Our Friends In The North and on film in Shallow Grave and Twenty Eight Days Later, Christopher has a surprising confession. 'I became a television actor and a film actor by default. But if I'd been offered the big classic roles which I wanted to do, I'd have done them. I've had a passionate love of Shakespeare since I was seventeen, but in a way, it's like the love that dare not mention its name.' Nonetheless, despite the fact it makes him 'very angry,' Eccleston says that he is 'fortunate' because he is white and male. 'It's a lot more difficult for women,' he adds. For that reason, he thinks gender-blind casting is 'the greatest thing to happen to British theatre since William Shakespeare wrote his plays. The fact that there are women who will one day play Macbeth and play Hamlet, with no second thought, is the most wonderful thing,' he says. 'But women still struggle. The roles are not there. There is still a long, long way to go.'
The Thick Of It will not be coming back for a fifth series creator Armando Iannucci has announced. Which, to be fair, most of us sort of suspected anyway so this isn't really 'news', per se. Starring Peter Capaldi as Downing Street hack Malcolm Tucker, The Thick Of It premiered in 2005 and quickly acquired a cult following. Iannucci had previously said that series four of the political satire would 'probably' be the last, but now he has stuck a final nail in the coffin. Speaking to the NME about the release of his latest movie The Death Of Stalin on DVD, Iannucci discussed his future plans and The Thick Of It. 'It's not on my agenda, no. If we came up with up with an episode where the Prime Minister was coughing throughout her speech while the letters on the wall behind her were falling off, you'd think "no, that's just basic." We'd shred that storyline,' he revealed. 'I'm so dumbstruck by what's happening. We have a government that thinks it has the luxury of fighting amongst itself when it doesn't command a majority – whose idea of doing a deal with Europe is just to tell Europe what to do and then be surprised that twenty six other countries are saying no. It's beyond any attempt to even try to explain it comedically.'
Ofcom is investigating ITV's Peston On Sunday after Miriam Margolyes swore live-on-air. Margolyes said 'fuck' last month while telling an anecdote involving the actor Warren Beatty. Ofcom said: 'We are investigating whether this programme broke our rules on offensive language before the watershed.' Which it almost certainly did although whether any professional offence-taker was crass enough to whinge about it to Ofcom is another matter entirely. The show's presenter, Robert Peston, had acceded to Margolyes' request to use 'a bad word,' which had the studio guests - the Tory MP Sarah Wollaston and the Labour peer Lord Adonis - giggling. Peston apologised to the audience and added: 'You've just got me sacked, which was a public service.' Margolyes appeared to put her hand over her mouth in surprise following the apology. Earlier, she described how she agreed with the principles of the 'Me Too' movement, which is shining a spotlight on sexual abuse, but said that it had the potential to 'lose sight' of its aims. 'It can overbalance and become a witch-hunt. I think people talking about hand-on-the-knee fifteen years ago is not serious enough,' she said. 'Rape and pushing into a woman - it's obvious what's assault and what isn't.'
An Aldi Christmas TV advert for alcohol, featuring the computer-animated Kevin the Carrot, has been banned for 'inappropriately appealing to children.' Not that there was much likelihood in it being showed any time soon, it being, you know, February. The supermarket's advert saw the character reference the horror film The Sixth Sense and ended with an alcohol-related voice-over rhyme. The Advertising Standards Authority ruled the advert was 'likely' to have 'strong appeal' to under-eighteens. Aldi said that the advert aimed to appeal to 'adults rather than children.' A spokeswoman for the supermarket's agency said that the advert was also 'subject to broadcast restrictions' so that it did not 'appear adjacent' to any programmes aimed at under-eighteens. 'Nevertheless, we will abide by the ASA's ruling on this matter,' she said. Which, to be fair, they have absolutely no choice about doing. So, that was a bit of superfluous information, really. The advertising watchdog acted after a - single - viewer whinged that the advert was 'irresponsible' in 'targeting children.' Appearing on TV as one of the supermarket's twelve-part festive campaign, the advert begins with Kevin saying 'I see dead parsnips,' in reference to a line of dialogue from the 1999 film The Sixth Sense. The advert ends with a voice-over rhyme: 'There were a few spirits that cold Christmas night. Award winning bottles for raising a toast and one frightened carrot had just seen a ghost.' The agency Clearcast, which cleared the advertisement for broadcast on behalf of Aldi, said that the advert was given 'the appropriate scheduling restriction' for featuring alcohol, ensuring it did not screen during or around children's programmes. However, the ASA ruled that the 'tone' of the dialogue and rhyme was 'reminiscent' of a children's story, while the end of the advert showing Kevin being 'frightened by another character dressed up as a ghost,' would be 'particularly funny' for younger children. 'Because of that, we considered the ad was likely to appeal strongly to people under eighteen and given that it was promoting alcohol, we concluded was irresponsible,' the watchdog concluded.
Emmerdale actor Danny Miller has criticised Twitter for not doing more to crack down on homophobic tweets he received in relation to the ITV soap. Miller, who plays the gay character Aaron Dingle on the popular drama, said that he had complained about homophobic slurs whichhe had received sixteen times. But, he claimed, Twitter told him that the messages 'did not violate its rules against abusive behaviour.' A spokesman for Twitter told the BBC that the user accused of sending abuse to Miller was 'no longer on Twitter.' And, if you look up 'examples of weasel-arsed excuses in relation to a lack of outrage at clear and despicable bigotry' on Google, dear blog reader, you'll find that one right at the very top of the list. The actor said that he had complained sixteen times about 'the same dead leg' - a user who was using multiple accounts. He added that he would quit social media if a solution wasn't found. He posted a screengrab of Twitter's response to his complaints, which read: 'We have reviewed your report carefully and found that there was no violation of the Twitter Rules against abusive behaviour.' Followers of the Stockport actor praised his public call to do more to stamp out homophobic abuse. A spokesman for Emmerdale told the BBC: 'We find any form of abuse totally unacceptable and abhorrent.'
The Blacklist's Megan Boone has claimed that her character will never use an assault rifle again. The actress made the declaration following the recent mass shooting at a Florida high school, in which seventeen students and faculty members were killed. Boone, who grew up Florida, posted on Twitter: 'Liz Keen will never carry an assault rifle again and I am deeply sorry for participating in glorifying them in the past.'
Some lucky punter is in with the chance to hang out with Jerome Flynn in Iceland, as a new competition is opening to tour locations from Game Of Thrones with one half of Robson and Jerome. And, it's not Wor Geet Canny Robson Green, in case you were wondering. A fan - and a friend - will get the opportunity to go to Iceland where many of the beyond-the-wall scenes are filmed and get a personal tour with the actor. It's all for a good cause, to raise funds for marine wildlife charity Whale and Dolphin Conservation. Part of the winning package includes a boat ride to a top whale-watching spot. 'As a passionate campaigner for whale and dolphin protection, I'm thrilled to be able to help WDC and offer someone the chance to join me touring some of the Game Of Thrones locations in this beautiful country, and also the opportunity to see Iceland's extraordinary wildlife up close,' Flynn said. 'It has long been a dream of mine to go to Iceland and I was always secretly praying that Bronn would make it North Of The Wall. Of course that hasn't happened (yet!) so this trip is very exciting for me, especially as I will have the chance to see the whales in such a spectacular natural environment.' To be in with a shot, you will need to go to this website and make a ten dollar donation to WDC. There are also other prizes available including tickets to a taping of the spin-off show Thronecast and campaign T-shirts.
Game Of Thrones is widely rumoured to be shooting multiple endings to its final episodes in order to combat online leaks. However, Maisie Williams has cast doubt on the idea, mainly because she thinks the network couldn't afford it. 'I heard this and I thought, "I don't think we've got the budget to shoot lots of different endings,"' she said in an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live! When Kimmel pointed out that it was the President of HBO that originally revealed the idea, Maisie added: 'But, as we know, sometimes Presidents don't always tell the truth.' Ooh. Contentious!
Luther fan favourite Alice Morgan will return for series five. Ruth Wilson had teased her comeback on the popular crime drama after her supposed (off-screen) death confirming that her character would be appearing in the forthcoming series. 'It's not what you expect,' she told the Independent. 'She's definitely back for a bit. [Alice is] back with a vengeance.' Speculation has been rife in fan circles over the exact nature of Alice's return, especially after Wilson was seen filming with Idris Elba on set. Series five will see John Luther face 'the ghosts of his own past,' Alice no doubt one of the biggest to fall in that category.
It looks as though Matt LeBlanc may be sticking with Top Gear for the long haul, as he is reported to be 'in negotiations' to renew his current contract on the BBC. The Mirra reports that talks are 'heading in the right direction' for Matt to continue on the show. Although where they got this information from, they don't say. Definitely not hacking people's phones, obviously. They don't do that any more.
Have you ever wondered if a person can be manipulated into committing murder? Derren Brown is making his US debut with a Netflix special called The Push, which looks to answer that very question. The Push - which was originally broadcast on Channel Four in 2016 - explores how 'social pressures and authority figures' can be used to manipulate a person to commit murder. 'I need him to feel like there's only one way out when he's told to commit murder,' Dazzling Dezza says of his subject, business owner Chris Kingston. He adds: 'The question we're asking is simple: Can we be manipulated through social pressure to commit murder? This show is about how readily we hand over authorship of our lives every day. Can social compliance be used to make someone push a living, breathing human being to their death?'
The BBC has - rather classily - ridiculed a column arguing that its drama is 'in crisis,' responding that we are living in 'a golden age of British drama.' The Daily Torygraph - such big fans of the BBC at the best of times, of course - published an 'opinion piece' by some Tory arsewipe of no consequence, Ben Lawrence (no, me neither), arguing that a number of series such as Troy: Fall Of A City were full of 'glossy, easily-exported blandness.' So, no - sick - politically-motivated agenda smeared all over that an inch thick, obviously. Oh, no. Very hot water. The Beeb, most satisfyingly, slapped down the insolent Lawrence into the gutter along with all the others floating turds, with the following response on Twitter from BBC Drama Controller Piers Wenger. It's about bloody time, frankly, that somebody at the BBC showed a bit of backbone in relation to crass and ignorant bullies like this character and gave those who sneer at their efforts both bloody barrels in the face. Good on ya, Piers.
Fresh from stellar roles on Peaky Blinders and the Black Mirror episode Hang The DJ, Joe Cole has landed what's described as 'a major role' in the new Channel Four drama Pure. The six-part series follows a woman's struggle with 'pure O' - a form of obsessive-compulsive disorder which takes the form of unseen mental rituals and intrusive sexual thoughts. In it, Cole will play the role of recovering porn addict, Charlie, opposite the lead Charly Clive as OCD-sufferer Marnie. The series follows Marnie's move from a small village to London to find out what is wrong with her, leading to her unwittingly discovering a whole new world. Anthony Welsh, Kiran Sonia Sawar, Niamh Algar, Arabella Weir, Ewan Stewart, Olive Gray, Tori Allen-Martin and Jacob Collins-Levy are also in the cast. Adapted from Rose Cartwright's biography of the same name, Pure will be directed by Aneil Karia and Alicia MacDonald.
Channel Five is reported to be 'open' to new format pitches as the future of the Big Brother franchise beyond 2018 remains up in the air according to Broadcast magazine. In the event of Big Brother and Z-List Celebrity Big Brother being cancelled - which has been widely reported as an option that the channel are currently considering - the broadcaster would have more than one hundred and ten primetime hours of programming to fill; half of which in the 9pm hour and the other half from 10pm. With such a large number of hours open if no new deal can be reached (and also bearing in mind that one of the two annual Z-List Celebrity Big Brother series is usually broadcast in January), Channel Five says that it is 'prudent' to 'have something prepared' just in case.
ITV's acclaimed thriller Unforgotten has a few more familiar faces as it starts filming its third series. From The North favourite Nicola Walker and Sanjeev Bhaskar are joined by The Crown actor Alex Jennings, the great Kevin McNally, Neil Morrissey and James Fleet in the new series. The four will play 'a close-knit group of old school friends that have stood by one another through thick and thin.' When the body of a teenage girl, who went missing at the turn of the millennium, is found at a building site off the M1, the four 'are placed under the spotlight and their relationships are tested to the limit.' 'We are delighted to once again welcome such a fantastic cast of hugely talented actors to join Nicola and Sanjeev for the third series of Unforgotten,' said executive producers and managing directors of Mainstreet Pictures, Sally Haynes and Laura Mackie. Well, presumably one of the said it. Unless they chanted it in unison, obviously. Which would be a bit weird but, Hell, this is the TV industry we're talking about, stranger things have happened. 'Chris Lang's complex and intricate scripts get better and better each year, and the new story is no exception. We also delve deeper into Sunny and Cassie's own personal lives this series, experiencing the effects that the cases have on their own relationships and well-being.'
Even professionals make mistake sometimes. And, if they do, you bet that some eagle-eyed Twitter-type individual will be there to pick them up before they've even fallen down. Twitter being, of course, The Sole Arbiter Of The Worth Of All Things these days. At least, according to some bell-ends at the Gruniad Morning Star. This week, BBC Breakfast hosted a segment on Serco, a firm which provides public services through outsourcing and has contracts with the Ministry of Justice, provides the Santander cycles in London. As the screen listed some of Serco's service behind business presenter Ben Thompson, viewers spotted a spelling error. And, then they took to Twitter to sneer about it. As if anybody actually gives a frigging stuff about such rank nonsense.
Good Morning Britain experienced 'a backstage incident,' this week which briefly interrupted the presenters. Horrible Kate Garraway, Charlotte Hawkins and Ranvir Singh were chatting about a clock - backed by Amazon's Jeff Bezos and designed to run for ten thousand years - when a crashing noise could be heard in the background. 'Oh, it's all kicking off over there,' Garraway. 'That's not something that's going to last forever, that camera. They just smashed into it.'
An award-winning comedienne is being sued for thirty grand by her ex-husband after using material about their marriage in a show at the Edinburgh Fringe. Louise Beamont, whose stage name is Reay, has been accused by her former husband Thomas Reay of defamation and breach of privacy. It follows her 2017 show, Hard Mode about freedom of speech, which was later performed in London. Reay is also understood to be seeking legal costs and an injunction against Beamont. The pair married in 2013, but separated before she wrote the script for the performance, which mentioned her previous relationship and focuses on what would happen if the BBC came under the control of the Chinese government. Beamont has now set up a fundraising page to pay for her defence of the legal action which, she says, could bankrupt her. On the Gofundme page, the comedienne wrote: 'During that show, I referred to my husband a couple of times - perhaps two minutes' worth of reference in a fifty-minute show. The main gist of those references was to tell the audience how sad I was that my marriage had broken down recently. He is seeking thirty thousand pounds damages, his legal costs (which I can only assume will be massive) and an injunction stopping me from publishing statements about him.' Beamont said that she 'would not comment on the case' beyond her statement on the fundraising page 'because of legal reasons.' She added: 'As stand-up comedians, I believe it's the very definition of our job to talk about our lives and social issues. So this has become a free speech issue.' However, Reay's solicitors denied the action was about preventing free speech and said that her material had suggested the couple's relationship was 'abusive.' In a statement, Taylor Hampton Solicitors Limited said: 'We have from the outset made clear to Ms Beamont that our client is not in any way seeking to restrict or "silence" her comedy or its content, except to the very limited extent that it involves the publication of unjustified false allegations and private information relating to him. For an extended period last summer, following their separation, Ms Beamont repeatedly performed a comedy show which identified our client verbally and in still and moving images, contained private information about him and his relationship with Ms Beamont and made very serious and inflammatory allegations of wrongdoing against him. These allegations included the entirely false suggestion that our client's relationship with Ms Beamont was an abusive one.' The solicitor said that their client was 'harassed' by the performances and that the material had caused him 'enormous distress.' Their statement added: 'No right to freedom of expression or artistic licence can extend to the publication of such seriously defamatory and false allegations, or the unjustified misuse of our client's private information.'
Channel Five has been ordered to pay a couple ten thousand quid each for the distress of broadcasting them being evicted. Shakar Ali and his wife Shahida Aslam, from Barking, were filmed by the production team of the programme Can't Pay? We'll Take It Away! after they fell into arrears on rent. Ali did not give consent for the footage to be used on TV, but it was not only shown but, subsequently, repeated thirty five times. The High Court ruled that the couple's privacy outweighed Channel Five's right to 'freedom of expression.' Mr Justice Arnold awarded the damages for distress caused in the filming and misuse of the couple's private information. Can't Pay? We'll Take It Away! is an horrific and depressingly long-running series which voyeuristically follows the work of a team of High Court enforcement officers. In 2015, Ali and Mrs Aslam were filmed by a TV crew and High Court officers who were wearing body cameras, whilst they were evicted from their home. Ali had fallen behind on rental payments for the house, which he shared with his wife and two children, as he recovered from a heart condition and a badly injured foot. The owner of the property had obtained a court order for repossession and used a team of enforcement officers to carry out the eviction. The court officers were joined by a TV crew who entered the house filming the couple's reaction and filmed in their children's bedrooms. During the eviction the landlord's son was seen to be 'taunting' Ali and complaining about how much money the rent arrears and eviction order had cost his family. Despite Ali asking the enforcement officers and the film crew why they were filming, no-one explained who the film crew were or why they were there. Ali did not give his consent to the filming but editors at Channel Five went ahead with the broadcast as planned. The programme was ultimately broadcast thirty six times on Channel Five and its various sister channels. It was also available to view online. The total cumulative audience was said to be over nine million people (including repeat viewers). Ali also contacted the production company after the eviction and before the programme was first shown to ask for it not to be broadcast. Mr Justice Arnold ruled that, despite Channel Five's claims that Ali had 'provided his consent' by talking to the producers and enforcement officers during the eviction, 'he unequivocally withdrew that consent' when he asked for the programme not to be shown. Ali claimed that the programme 'showed them at their lowest ebb in a state of shock and very distressed ... [and] caused them significant loss of dignity.' Channel Five argued that under 'freedom of expression' laws they were 'entitled' to show what happened during the eviction. However, the judge was having none of it and said that the Ali family had 'a reasonable expectation of privacy' and that 'the focus of the programme was not upon the matters of public interest, but upon the drama of the conflict' between the family and the landlord's son. The judge ruled the family's right to privacy far outweighed the documentary maker's right to freedom of expression. Christopher Hutchings, who represented the family, said that the ruling was 'one of the first legal actions' arising from 'an observational documentary.' He added: '[The] judgement will inevitably have wider ramifications for those broadcasting film of a similar kind.' Channel Five claimed that it 'welcomed' the judge's assessment, which recognised the show was 'made in good faith and in the public interest.' One or two people even believed them. A spokesman added that the case only related to 'a segment involving the Ali family and not the series in general.'
The UK's annual television licence fee is to rise to one hundred and fifty smackers and fifty pee from one hundred and forty seven knicker, the government has announced. The increase, which will come into effect on 1 April, follows last year's rise from one hundred and forty five notes. In 2017, the government announced that the licence fee would 'rise in line with inflation' for the next five years. Anyone watching or recording TV programmes as they are shown on TV, or watching or downloading BBC programmes on iPlayer, must have a licence. The charge applies whether they are using a TV set, computer or any other equipment. The fee also contributes to the costs of rolling out broadband to the UK population and helps to fund the Welsh Language TV channel S4C and local TV channels. The level of the licence fee, which covers all BBC services, is set by the government.
And now, dear blog reader, the only news story that anyone in Britain seems to have been interested in for the last few days; KFC has closed more than half of its nine hundred outlets this week after 'delivery problems' meant that they 'ran out of chicken.' Which, for a chicken-based franchise like KFC is - this blogger is sure all dear blog readers will agree - a bit of a bloody disaster, frankly.
Last week, the fried chicken chain switched its delivery contract to DHL, which blamed 'operational issues' for the supply disruption. It was unclear when the delivery problems would be rectified, a KFC spokesperson said. And, indeed, at the time of writing, it still is unclear. Workers are being encouraged to 'take holidays' during the disruption period but would not be forced to do so if they didn't want to, the spokesperson added, rather unconvincingly. 'Our teams are working flat out all hours to get the rest [of the stores] back up and running as soon as possible - but it's too early to say how long it will take to clear the backlog.' KFC has set up a webpage where 'fans' (or, you know, 'customers' as they're more commonly known) can find their nearest outlet which is still open. (For anyone that is interested, this blogger's local store, in Byker, appears to be unaffected at this time.) It said that in those restaurants owned by the chain, staff on short-term contracts would be 'paid the average hours worked per day over the past twelve weeks,' while those on salaries would be 'paid as normal.' However, eighty per cent of KFC outlets are, in fact, run on a franchise basis. 'Franchisees will be seeking their own independent advice, but we're encouraging them to adopt this policy too,' said the chain in a statement.
Until last Tuesday, KFC's chicken was delivered by the South African-owned distribution group Bidvest, which describes itself as 'the leading supplier of logistical and supply-chain solutions to the UK hospitality and restaurant sector.' But, after the change in the contract, many of the food giant's outlets began running out of chicken products early this week. 'The chicken crossed the road, just not to our restaurants,' KFC said on Twitter. And, oh how everyone laughed. 'We've brought a new delivery partner on-board, but they've had a couple of teething problems - getting fresh chicken out to nine hundred restaurants across the country is pretty complex!' it added, apologising to customers 'for the inconvenience.' No one had the heart to point out to them that, before they changed suppliers, Bidvest didn't seem to have too many 'problems' delivering. Well, actually, no that's a lie; the GMB union did have the heart to point out exactly that. Loudly and persistently. 'We won't compromise on quality, so no deliveries has meant some of our restaurants are closed and others are operating a limited menu or shortened hours,' KFC's spokesperson added. The distribution network uses software developed by the firm Quick Service Logistics. DHL said: 'Due to "operational issues," a number of deliveries in recent days have been incomplete or delayed. We are working with our partners, KFC and QSL, to rectify the situation as a priority and apologise for any inconvenience.' The BBC's reporting of this story incidentally was, as this blogger's Facebook fiend Paul noted: 'Followed by [three] random banal Twitter posts. Everything that's wrong with modern journalism in a nutshell.' And, he's absolutely correct. Albeit, this blogger did very much enjoy the reaction - mostly somewhat less than sympathetic - to the rather stroppy and discombobulated Twitter comments of one Caroline Collins who whinged: 'Had dinner planned but [KFC] shut at the moment in Harlesden and I want my fix of chicken.'
Well, you could always have gone to your local supermarket, bought a chicken and cooked it, Caroline. It's a somewhat radical suggestion, this blogger is aware, but modern ovens are capable of doing such things, apparently. Still, why do something as practical as that when you can just whinge about the situation on Twitter instead? That is modern life in a nutshell.
Meanwhile, KFC 'lovers' (or, again, 'customers' as they're more commonly known) are being urged not to call the police over 'the (lack of) fried chicken crisis'. 'For those who contacted the police about KFC being out of chicken ... please stop' officers in Manchester pleaded on social media. Police in London soon joined them in tweeting that the chicken shortage was 'not a police matter' however neither force could or would confirm - when asked to by various media outlets - whether they had received any calls on this subject or whether they were merely acting preemptively. And, if they had received any such calls, why they had not taken the opportunity to publicly name and shame the moronic individuals who had done so and announce that these people had been arrested for wasting the poliss's valuable time. So, that rather suggests they haven't had any such calls, they were just trying to be funny. Which is fair enough but, really, that's a comedian's job rather than plod's, isn't it?
Watching the Sheikh Yer Man City versus Wigan Not Very Athletic cup tie on the BBC earlier this week this blogger was, once again, delighted to note that Wigan have got a lad named Max Power playing for them. One would really like to see them sign Guy Incognito and Joey Jo-Jo Junior Shabadoo as well and then they'd have an entire midfield of Homer Simpson alternative identities. If they're playing four-three-three, obviously.
This blogger spent an interesting couple of hours watching ITV4 one morning this week. Firstly, there was that episode of Minder - Windows - featuring Patrick Troughton and Janet Fielding. That was followed, immediately, by this blogger's favourite episode of The Sweeney - the brilliant Hard Men. The main point of interest in this particular juxtaposition being quite literally watching the career of Dennis Waterman (whose seventieth birthday it was this week) going downhill faster than Aksel Lund Svindal (or, faster than Franz Klammer if you're a dear blog reader of an older generation). A necessary lesson to all TV producers - never let your male lead sing the theme song. Slippery slope, guys, slippery slope.
Sunday afternoon telly in the UK, meanwhile, this week featured several episodes of Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased) on one channel (True Entertainment) and a trio of quality episodes of Columbo - A Friend In Deed, Lovely But Lethal, A Stitch In Crime - on another (5USA). It's like the eighties, nineties and noughties never happened, really, is it not dear blog reader?
MTV has extremely fired a reality TV regular type person from its show Teen Mom 2 for making allegedly 'derogatory comments' about gay and transgender people. The network said that it was extremely 'ending our relationship' with David Eason, who is the husband of Jenelle Evans. No, me neither. Eason reportedly tweeted that gay and transgender parents should 'start teaching their kids better morals' and that he would not let his own children 'associate' with gay and trans people 'or be that way.' Which rather suggests that he's either a homophobic scumbag or, perhaps, a very homophobic scumbag. MTV said that his 'personal comments' do 'not reflect the views of MTV.' Eason's comments came in exchanges with members of the public about parenting following the mass shooting in a Florida high school a week ago. He has since deleted his Twitter account. Although quite why people who post ludicrously bigoted and twatty comments online think that by pretending they never made them in the first place, the whole thing will just go away is unknown at this time. Oh, it's because they are idiots, right? That explains it.
A woman has been fined in connection with an offensive note left on an ambulance which told the paramedics to 'move your van.' The - badly spelled - hand-written message was placed on an emergency vehicle in Tunstall in Stoke-on-Trent, angrily demanding that paramedics move. It read: 'If this van is for anyone but Number Fourteen then you have no right to be parked here. I couldn't give a shit if the whole street collasped [sic]. Now move your van from outside my house.' The case subsequently received a lot of media attention, with many people simply shaking their heads in abject disbelief that anyone could be so utterly selfish and so ignorant as that. But, that's the modern world, it would appear. Full of arseholes. And, to be fair, this blogger is probably one of them. No one is innocent dear blog reader, though a smidgen of self-deprecation usually helps a bit. Anyway, John Owen, Commander of policing in Stoke, confirmed that an arrest had been made. He wrote on Twitter: 'We have arrested a twenty six-year-old female for public order offences. Emergency Services must be able to carry out their roles without fear of abuse/intimidation of any kind.' The woman - who also admitted shouting at paramedics to 'move your fucking van' - was subsequently fined one hundred and twenty notes for her bad and naughty ways in a virtual textbook example of justice being seen to be swift and severe.
Roman boxing gloves unearthed during an excavation near Hadrian's Wall have gone on public display. Experts at Vindolanda, near Hexham, believe that they are 'probably the only known surviving examples from the Roman period.' Doctor Andrew Birley, Vindolanda Trust director of excavations, described the leather bands as 'an astonishing find.' The gloves were discovered last summer along with a hoard of writing tablets, swords, shoes and bath clogs. Made of leather, they were designed to fit snugly over the knuckles and have the appearance of a protective guard. Birley said: 'I have seen representations of Roman boxing gloves depicted on bronze statues, paintings and sculptures, but to have the privilege of finding two real leather examples is exceptionally special. The hairs stand up on the back of your neck when you realise you have discovered something as astonishing as these boxing gloves.' The larger of the two is filled with natural material, which would have acted as a shock absorber. The smaller glove, found 'in near perfect condition,' is filled with a coil of hard, twisted leather. It is understood they would have been used for sparring sessions as they do not have metal inserts used in ancient boxing bouts.
Cardiff council taxpayers have been left with a million knicker bill following the closure of The Doctor Who Experience, which ran in the city for five years. The building housing The Experience was built by Cardiff City Council, using money from the Welsh Government's Invest To Save Fund, which provides financial support, on a competitive and repayable basis, to public service organisations across Wales. The cost of £2.4 million, was intended to be repaid by receiving a percentage of the exhibition ticket sales. However, it appears that ticket sales were 'not sufficient' for the council to cover its costs, leaving ratepayers to pick up the shortfall. Councillor Russell Goodway, Cardiff's cabinet member for investment and development, said: 'In 2011 when the deal was done to subsidise the Doctor Who attraction in order to bring it to Cardiff, the then-administration worked on the basis of ambitious projections for visitor numbers. Unfortunately the projected visitor numbers failed to materialise leaving the shortfall which should have been made up in ticket sales. This has left the council having to make up the £1.1 million which will have to be absorbed by the council's budget. We are, however, working on plans for the building with the Welsh Government although nothing has yet been finalised.' The building, next door to the BBC Studios at Cardiff Bay, has been empty since the exhibition closed last September. A spokeswoman for BBC Worldwide said: 'The Doctor Who Experience was enjoyed by fans for five years in Cardiff Bay during its lease with Cardiff Council.The lease ran for its full, five year term and there was no additional loan agreement. We cannot comment on Cardiff Council's own business plan in relation to the site.' Adrian Robson, leader of the Conservative opposition on Cardiff Council whinged: 'I still don't know how we managed to lose over a million pounds on Doctor Who. Somewhere the council and [BBC Worldwide] have not got their projections right for visitor numbers. It's very strange because this is a global brand.'
It has long been believed by many fans of this blogger's beloved (though unsellable) Newcastle United that the club's disastrous relegation rom the Premiership in 2009 was due, in no small part, to the allegedly malingering behaviour of that worthless sodding disgrace Michael Owen in the season-closing defeat at Aston Villains. Named as a substitute, The Little Shit was - as the nufc.com website wrote - 'clearly reluctant to warm-up and seemed to deliberately ignore signals from the bench that he was coming on.' Finally getting on the pitch after sixty six minutes ('playing' would be a ludicrous over-statement of the facts - something which can also be said of the overwhelming majority of Owen's appearances in a black and white shirt), Owen contributed absolutely nothing to United's cause that afternoon. The Magpies eventually lost the game one-nil and were duly relegated. Now it has been claimed by the former Magpie physio Paul Ferris, that Owen 'refused to play' in the penultimate game of that season, against Fulham at St James' Park a week before the Villa match. Ferris was part of Alan Shearer's staff for that eight game spell during 2009 - returning to the club he had served for almost two decades as a player and an assistant physio - and talks about the period in his autobiography, The Boy On The Shed. In it, Ferris claims that despite a groin scan revealing absolutely no damage, Owen was still reluctant to face The Cottagers in what was a must-win game for United, allegedly for fear of acquiring an injury which would potentially prejudice Owen's chances of securing a contract at another club. He got his way and was absent from the squad which lost to Roy Hodgson's side at Gallowgate - leaving Newcastle with one foot in the Championship. And, at the end of the season, when Owen's Newcastle contract finally ended, he was off, as this blogger noted at the time 'faster than he'd ever moved at Newcastle,' managing to acquire himself a three year deal with The Scum. 'Normally, I wouldn't even bother to comment, save for perhaps a wry passing observation that never have a player and team deserved each other more than this,' this blogger opined at the time. 'But, having read his first interview at his new club, I now feel somewhat differently. "I probably had a poor spell up at Newcastle," he noted, in passing, before moving on to other subjects. So, that's it is it? That's the last four years of my life summed up in nine words. That's somewhere in the region of six-and-a-quarter million quid in wages justified? Not a single solitary word of apology or regret to the fifty thousand mugs who paid the vast majority of those wages on a weekly basis. Not a trace of an "I'm sorry I helped to get you guys relegated." Nothing. Just "a poor spell" ... Bye, Michael. Hope we didn't inconvenience you too much.' Speaking in 2013, Owen denied widespread claims on Tyneside of him having 'pulled a sickie' at Villa. 'I was not one hundred per cent,' he claimed. 'I had not trained all week, it was just a case of being okay for the day. From that point of view I was restricted. I was hurt and it is ridiculous to suggest anything else. I had a lot of pride. I wanted to do it for the fans and the friends I had made up there.' One or two people even believed him.
A female plane passenger reportedly decided to dry her knickers using an overhead air vent. And, someone took video footage of it and now, this constitutes 'news' apparently. Does anyone else despair of this sick and sorry world we live in and the utter shite that some people chose to care about? You do? Glad it's not just this blogger.
The woman, 'whose identity is not known,' was apparently flying with Ural Airlines from Turkey to Moscow, when she 'caught the eye of fellow passengers,' some of whom decided to snitch her up to the Interweb like a bunch of filthy, stinking Copper's Narks. 'Eyewitnesses' (for which read grasses) said that the woman 'did not seem remotely embarrassed' as she spent 'at least twenty minutes' drying her underwear under the vent.
A Conservative MP has grovellingly apologised for posting a tweet in which he claimed that Jeremy Corbyn had passed British secrets to a spy from communist Czechoslovakia. Ben Bradley also donated 'an undisclosed sum' to a charity supported by the Labour leader and agreed never to repeat the allegation, Labour said. Whether Bradley paid his - one hopes, eye-wateringly huge - donation by cheque is unknown. Although it would be thigh-slappingly hilarious if he did. Bradley has agreed to say in a tweet: 'I fully accept that my statement was wholly untrue and false.' Corbyn is alleged to have had contact with a Czech spy in the 1980s although how much contact and what sort of contact is, currently, the subject of much heated debate. It comes as a file from the Communist era StB - the Czech intelligence agency - said that Corbyn was 'a person of interest' during the period but was most definitely not an informant, contradicting claims made by Jan Sarkocy, a spy who alleged that Corbyn was 'a very, very good source.' Corbyn has denied ever acting as a Czech spy. In his apology tweet, Bradley will say his repetition of the claims was 'seriously defamatory' and add that he has deleted the original tweet. Although what relevance that has is entirely unclear. He will write: 'I accept that I caused distress and upset to Jeremy Corbyn by my untrue and false allegations, suggesting he had betrayed his country by collaborating with foreign spies. I am very sorry for publishing this untrue and false statement and I have no hesitation in offering my unreserved and unconditional apology to Jeremy Corbyn.' Corbyn has criticised several - scummish right-wing - newspapers for their coverage of the revelation that he once met Sarkocy. He suggested the reporting showed how 'worried' Tory-supporting media bosses were by the prospect of a Labour government.
Several US companies have cut ties with the National Rifle Association amid calls for a boycott of businesses linked to the powerful gun lobby in the wake of the Florida school shooting. The firms include car rental giants Hertz and Enterprise, which had offered discounts for NRA members. The murder of seventeen people has prompted renewed calls for tighter gun controls. Florida Republican Governor Rick Scott has backed calls to raise the minimum age for buying a gun from eighteen to twenty one. Scott has been widely seen as an ally of the NRA who has previously opposed stricter laws in the state. However, he has come under mounting pressure to respond to the demands of students who survived the shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Activists have tried to put pressure on the NRA since the shooting by targeting firms that offer discounts and other benefits to its members. They have flooded its corporate partners with comments on social media under the hashtag 'BoycottNRA.' Firms under pressure include delivery company FedEx and tech giants such as Amazon, which distributes NRA television programmes. On Thursday, the family-owned First National Bank of Omaha said that it would not renew NRA-branded credit cards, citing 'customer feedback.' The firm, which announced the move in response to comments on Twitter, declined to say why it had taken such a step but told a customer that the firm 'doesn't sponsor, endorse or take a political stance on any organisations.' Other companies distanced themselves from the NRA on Friday. Those included MetLife Insurance, the Avis Budget Group, home security firm Simplisafe, two moving brands - Allied Van Lines and NorthAmerican Van Lines - and Symantec Corp which had offered discounts for its LifeLock identity theft product. Insurance firm Chubb also said it had stopped underwriting an NRA-branded insurance policy three months ago. In Florida, the president of the Florida Education Association, which represents teachers' unions, also called on the state to look at pension holdings in gun companies in a statement to the Miami Herald newspaper. However other companies continue to offer discounts to NRA members. On its website, the NRA says US airlines Delta and United are offering special flight discounts to NRA members travelling to Dallas for the organisation's annual meeting in May.
A discussion among students at Oberlin High School in Oberlin, Louisiana, about a mathematical symbol led to a police investigation and a search of one of the student's homes, according to the Allen Parish Sheriff's Office. On the afternoon of 20 February, detectives investigated a report of 'terroristic threats' at the school, where they learned that a student had been completing a maths problem that required drawing the square-root sign. Students in the group began commenting that the symbol, which represents a number that when multiplied by itself equals another number, looked like a gun. Which it - sort of - does. After several students made comments along those lines, another student said something the sheriff's office claimed 'could have sounded like a threat out of context.' Police were called and searched the student's home, where they found no guns or any evidence that he had any access to guns. Authorities also wrote that there was no evidence the student had any intent to commit harm. 'The student used extremely poor judgment in making the comment, but in light of the actual circumstances, there was clearly no evidence to support criminal charges,' the department wrote, adding that the school board had been contacted to determine any disciplinary action for the student. So, seemingly everybody has taken The Stupid Pill this week, it would appear.
A man who was just trying to get some skunks to leave him alone ended up burning down the rental home where he was living in Ferndale. The man told investigators that he'd 'had enough with the skunks,' who made a home in his crawlspace and was attempting to drive them out with a smoke bomb when 'things went awry.' The bomb triggered a fire which quickly spread through the crawlspace and onto the first floor of the home. The fire was burning for roughly fifteen minutes before the man called nine-one-one for help, the Detroit Free Press reported. The fire eventually spread up through the walls of the home and to the attic. Firefighters extinguished the blaze, but the home is now totally uninhabitable. The skunks appear to have run away - like rats leaving a sinking ship. Or, you know, skunks leaving a burning building - before the flames consumed the home, as no carcasses were found at the scene. If residents have issues with pests or rodents, Ferndale Fire Chief Kevin Sullivan suggests 'hiring professionals' to deal with the problem. 'However if one is an absolute die-hard do-it-yourselfer, please read and understand the directions and warning labels before applying an incendiary to your home or garage,' Sullivan told the newspaper.
One person was reportedly taken to hospital after an alleged altercation took place at a property in Port Macquarie. Police were called to investigate after 'a neighbour dispute' left one man with severe hand and leg injuries, caused by a lawn mower. Police had been told a large knife and a lawn mower were used during the fight. On arrival, officers found an eighty one-year-old man with injuries to his hands, torso and legs. A seventy two-year-old man was said to be helping police with their enquiries.
From The North favourite Richard E Grant has been treated in hospital after he was hit on the head by a metal bar. The actor and broadcaster praised two nurses at Stroud General who 'cleaned me up' and 'glued me together again.' Richard wrote on Twitter: 'Am truly indebted to nurses Holly and Theresa at Stroud NHS hospital for sorting out my head wound this evening. Heavy metal bar clonked my cranium and they kindly cleaned me up and glued me together again like Humpty Dumpty!' The sixty-year-old later posted an image of himself wearing a cap. 'Thank you for all the kind messages of support. Wearing a cover-up till I'm Peaky Blinder better!' he said. All of us at From The North, obviously, wish Richard all the best for a speedy recovery.
Eddy Amoo, one of the members of 1970s soul band The Real Thing has died. Wikipedia suggests that Eddy was born in May 1950 although various different media sources - in reporting his death - gave his age as seventy three or seventy four. Amoo was vocalist and songwriter with the pioneering Liverpool quartet. His friend Simon Sheridan said that he had died suddenly in Australia and paid tribute to him as 'an inspirational character.' Sheridan said that The Real Thing were 'huge pioneers of black music in the UK' and were the first all-black British band to have a UK number one single. 'You To Me Are Everything' topped the charts in the summer of 1976. The song returned to the charts in 1986, when it again reached the top five. Amoo started his career as a teenager leading the Merseyside a-capella group The Chants in the 1960s. John Lennon and George Harrison championed them, they supported The Be-Atles on a number of occasions at The Cavern and they were represented by Brian Epstein for a short time. Like just about everyone else in Liverpool, The Chants got themselves a record deal during the Merseybeat explosion of 1963-64, in their case with Pye Records (and later, RCA), but - as Eddy later pointed out - 'they had no idea what to do with a black doo-wop group.' Over the next few years they released a string of singles, some of them - their debut 'I Could Write A Book' (produced by Tony Hatch) and 1968's 'Man Without A Face' - really rather good, but all of them were unsuccessful. After their demise, Amoo joined his younger brother, Chris, in The Real Thing, formed in 1972. Their other hits included 'Can't Get By Without You' (the follow-up to 'You To Me Are Everything' which was a number two hit in 1976), 'Can You Feel The Force?', 'You'll Never Know What You're Missing', 'Let's Go, Disco' and 'She's A Groovy Freak' while French house duo The Freeloaders took them back into the charts in 2005 by sampling their song 'Love's Such A Wonderful Thing'. Another of their songs, the sublime 'Children Of The Ghetto', was covered by artists including Philip Bailey and Mary J Blige. Sheridan, who has been making a documentary about the group, said that Eddy's death was 'a complete shock.' He added: 'These were four working class boys from a tough neighbourhood, from Toxteth and they completely changed the face of British music in 1976.' A statement from the band said: 'It is with great sadness that we share the passing of our brother and inspiration, Eddy Amoo. Eddy was a showman, a songwriter, and a legend in British music.'
The Crystals' singer Barbara Ann Alston has died at the age of seventy four. Her band, along with The Ronettes and The Shirelles, were among the definitive girl groups of the 1960s and they helped to construct Phil Spector's Wall of Sound. Barbara sang lead vocals on the vocal group's first three singles, including the US top twenty hit 'There's No Other Like My Baby'. She died on Friday 16 February after contracting 'flu, her daughter said. 'She loved The Crystals,' Donielle Prophete told BBC News. 'She always talked about singing with them, the work they created together. She loved the sisterhood part of it, the travelling.' The Crystals were originally a quintet consisting of Alston, Dee Dee Kennibrew, Mary Thomas, Patricia Wright and La La Brooks - all of whom grew up singing in the church. They were put together by big band sideman Benny Wells - Alston's uncle - while they were still at school. They were later discovered by Spector while cutting demos for the publisher Hill & Range. Brooks was initially seen as the lead singer, but Spector disagreed and championed a reluctant Alston instead. 'I just found out recently [that] she had a real problem with being the lead,' recalled Prophete. 'They loved her voice and they kept pushing her to the front but she was shy. My sister says mum wanted to do the choreography and stuff like that.' Nonetheless, Alston's innocent-but-sensuous vocals propelled their first single, 'There's No Other Like My Baby', into the charts in 1962. It was followed by the dramatic, flamenco-inflected 'Uptown'. However, the band's third single, 'He Hit Me (And It Felt Like a Kiss)' with its depiction of domestic violence, led to a public outcry and Spector swiftly pulled the single from sale. Speaking to Mojo magazine in 2010, Brooks recalled that Alston had been 'a little uneasy' about recording the song and the band were 'taken aback' by the subject matter. Carole King, who wrote the music to her husband Gerry Goffin's lyrics, subsequently disowned the composition, saying 'it's the one song I kind of wish I hadn't had any part of writing.' After that, Spector took The Crystals name and gave it to another of his proteges, Darlene Love, who sang on two subsequent Crystals singles, including the hit 'He's A Rebel' (taking The Crystals by considerable surprise when they first heard 'their' new single on the radio). In 1963, the original quintet were allowed to sing on their own records again and scored their two biggest hits with the twenty four carat classics 'Da Doo Ron Ron' and 'Then He Kissed Me' and on their contributions to A Christmas Gift For You From Phil Spector including the definitive version of 'Santa Claus Is Coming To Town'. By this point, Alston had ceded the limelight to Brooks, who took the lead vocal on those recordings and on later hits like 'I Wonder' and 'All Grown Up'. But Alston remained proud of the band and stayed involved with their career into her seventies, her daughter said. 'She would always sing around the house, especially around Christmas,' she recalled.
The actress Emma Chambers has died aged fifty three, her agency has confirmed. Known for playing Alice Tinker in the BBC's The Vicar Of Dibley, the Doncaster-born actress also had roles in Notting Hill and the TV adaptation of Martin Chuzzlewit. Her agency said that Chambers, who died from natural causes on Wednesday evening, would be 'greatly missed.' It added: 'Emma created a wealth of characters and an immense body of work. She brought laughter and joy to many.' Chambers is survived by her husband, the actor Ian Dunn.