Friday, October 28, 2016

Waiting For The Gift

Series four of Sherlock will debut in both the UK and America - as expected - on 1 January 2017. The first episode, the previously announced The Six Thatchers, will see the reunion of Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman as yer actual Sherlock Holmes and John Watson his very self. As with previous series, Sherlock's fourth will comprise three ninety minute movie-length episodes which promise 'laughter, tears, shocks, surprises and extraordinary cases,' the BBC said in announcing the start of shooting back last April. When yer man Benny, co-star Amanda Abbington and co-creators The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat (OBE) and Mark Gatiss were at Comic-Con this July, they unveiled the series four trailer and agreed that this year will be 'the darkest thing' that the showrunners have ever written for the characters - 'a real emotional roller coaster,' said Benny though, Gatiss added, 'with jokes.' Much as they have with previous series, Moffat (Thou Shalt Worship No Other Gods Before He) and Gatiss announced three 'keywords' for the forthcoming episodes: 'Thatcher', 'Smith' and 'Sherrinford'. Previously, in May, it had been announced that Toby Jones had joined the cast as a guest villain (probably in episode two as Culverton Smith from The Adventure Of The Dying Detective). Ghosts have also been said to 'figure heavily' in the new series. Produced by Hartswood Films for the BBC, the series made a triumphant return to television on New Year's Day this year with a special episode that scored 8.4 million overnight viewers on BBC1. It was the most watched programme over the holiday period with a final and consolidated Plus Seven audience of 11.6 million and the highest ever audience share for the series. The Abominable Bride also won the EMMY for Best Television Movie in September.
When he's not getting impressive reviews for his titular role in Marvel's Doctor Strange, yer actual Benedict Cumberbatch is of course the titular hero of the BBC's Sherlock. Fans - well, the more gullible ones, anyway - were 'dismayed' earlier in the year after rumours circulated that the show's upcoming fourth season will be its last. Last week, Cumberbatch used an interview with Associated Press to poo-pah such rank and silly nonsense and now, courtesy of BBC Radio 2, Cumberbatch himself has stepped in to clear up whether or not this will be Sherlock's final outing. When asked if there will be more Sherlock, Benedict said: "Yes. Listen I know where this [rumour] came from. This came from an arts desk or any kind of news outlet going, 'oh we really need a story', so they sort of shipped out this quote which said that I said, 'this is the last one', which is not what I said. I said, 'for the time being'. And you'll see when you watch [the new series], that there's a good reason why I said that. We won't be doing one immediately after this one airs. That's all I meant. We never ever say never on that show. We love doing it. There might come a time [when the show ends], or there might come a time when there's a big gap," said Cumberbatch. "That's a possibility. I suppose [it could end] but I never say never. I enjoy him too much. I enjoy the show too much and the people in it." During the interview, Benedict also revealed his expectations for the fourth series are high. "I can't wait, having read the scripts. They are the most amazing reads," he said. 'I think this series is going to be the best."
Superhero enthusiasts will perhaps be surprised to learn that yer actual Benedict Cumberbatch didn't know who Doctor Strange was until a journalist introduced him to the titular character he is currently playing on the big screen. Speaking to the BBC, Benny admitted he was 'late to the party' but was instantly felt a connection. 'It was a suggestion of a journo in LA who, during a Star Trek junket said: "You'd make a great Doctor Strange,"' Benny explained. 'I went, "Doctor who?" and he said "Oh yeah, that too!" I was, like, "no, come on – who is Doctor Strange?! He explained it a bit to me and I said, "Wow, that sounds completely out there."' The latest Marvel superhero blockbuster centres on revered American neurosurgeon Stephen Strange who loses his medical skills, after his hands are seriously damaged following a car accident. Desperate to heal himself, he seeks out a powerful mystic called The Ancient One (played by Tilda Swinton) in Nepal. She teaches him how to harness mysterious psychic and magical powers so he can help her protect the world from the mystical threats that The Avengers can't. The movie also stars The Notebook's Rachel McAdams and Twelve Years A Slave's Chiwetel Ejiofor. Cumberbatch said that he was 'drawn' to the role because he found the 'egotistical and materialistic' comic book character 'really intriguing. There were so many pulls for me' he explained. 'The other one really was the element of being an action hero and being an American lead in a film of this size, which was obviously a huge deal for me career-wise.' Meanwhile Benny - who is expecting his second child with wife, Sophie Hunter − shut down rumours that he preparing to make his directorial debut saying 'my life's quite busy as it is.'
BBC America has released a short video previewing this year's Doctor Who Christmas Special, The Return Of Doctor Mysterio.
BBC Worldwide has confirmed the additional material that will be included on the release of the animated version of The Power Of The Daleks. It will be released on BBC Store on Saturday 5 November, exactly fifty years to the minute after the first episode was transmitted on BBC1 at 5.50pm. The UK release of the DVD will follow on Monday 21 November priced at a perfectly obscene twenty quid and forty two pee. A wealth of extra material will be available with both the BBC Store and DVD releases. Extra treats fans can look forward to include commentaries and surviving footage clips, together with a documentary feature which stars members of the original cast and crew. Other bonus features include a gallery of artwork from the animation and the original shooting script. There is even a rare chance to hear the original Dalek recordings from the show. The Power Of The Daleks is one of The Doctor's most celebrated adventures. No complete film recordings of The Power Of The Daleks are known to have survived and, only a few short clips remain in the BBC's - shamefully incomplete - archives. The master negatives were destroyed in 1974. The six twenty five minute episodes feature the regeneration, or as it was then called 'renewal', of William Hartnell into Patrick Troughton, as The doctor and his companions Polly (Anneke Wills) and Ben (Michael Craze) do battle with The Daleks on the planet Vulcan (no relation). Animator Charles Norton said: 'It's been wonderful to have been able to track down so much rare and previously unreleased material and I hope that fans enjoy the excellent package we've been able to assemble.'
The Doctor Who Appreciation Society has honoured Jon Pertwee by unveiling a blue heritage plaque in his memory. The unveiling took place on Sunday at the New Wimbledon Theatre in South London. Mister Pertwee was the the first Honorary President of the Society and the event was hosted by the current Honorary President, Colin Baker, who welcomed guests to the theatre. Baker read tributes to Mister Pertwee - including one from yer actual Peter Capaldi - and introduced Jon's widow, Ingeborg and his daughter Dariel, who unveiled the plaque. Mister Pertwee worked at the New Wimbledon Theatre many times in his career, it was the venue for the launch of the 1989 Doctor Who play The Ultimate Adventure. The event was marked with a drinks reception attended by many of Mister Pertwee's friends and colleagues, including Terrance Dicks, Katy Manning, Richard Franklin, John Levene, Bob Baker, Timothy Combe, Michael Ferguson, Graeme Harper, Peter Miles, Stephen Thorne, Bernard Holley, Prentis Hancock, June Whitfield, David Banks, Barry Cryer and John Culshaw. The event was followed by a free-entry mini-convention at the theatre featuring a screening of The Claws Of Axos. DWAS has thanked the New Wimbledon Theatre and all fans who helped raise funds for the event via the eBay auction. The society has further items for auction which will be available soon. Proceeds will be donated to the DWAS 'plaque fund' which is to raise money for the plaque, the event and for The Grand Order Of Water Rats in memory of Mister Pertwee. The plaque is now on permanent display in the foyer at New Wimbledon Theatre.
Apparently, the entire plot for Game Of Thrones series seven has been leaked online. The FreeFolk site – which previously published reasonably accurate spoilers for a large proportion of series six – has collected together numerous plot details about the upcoming run of episodes and, if even only some of these turn out to be true, it all sounds rather epic and bigly shocking. To make things even more interesting, actress Nathalie Emmanuel – who plays Missandei on the series – complained of people trying to 'ruin' the popular drama for everyone, just a couple of days after the alleged spoilers first surfaced (as well as numerous on-location images from filming in Spain). If you really want to - potentially - spoil yourself something rotten then there's an 'uge summation of the alleged plots here. This is all unverified information, of course, and could well turn out to be a right load of old cock and bull malarkey. But, if the details are accurate and you search out the article in question, then you only have yourself to blame if you get totally spoiled. Don't blame this blogger, he merely reports the news.
The final of The Great British Bake Off gave the show its highest overnight audience ever. An average of fourteen million live punters tuned in to watch the last episode of the show to be broadcast on the BBC. The episode peaked just before 9pm, when Candice Brown was crowned the winner, with 14.8 million overnight viewers. The figures indicate more viewers watched this year's final than 2015's, when an overnight average of 13.4 million saw Nadiya Hussain win the series. After this year's Christmas specials have been broadcast on the BBC, the show will move to Channel Four, who bought the rights from Greed Productions earlier this year.
Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins have signed up for their first show since quitting The Great British Bake Off. They have been announced as hosts of a new Saturday night BBC1 show, Let's Sing & Dance For Comic Relief. Which sounds shite, frankly. The pair left Bake Off in September after it was announced the show would be moving to Channel Four (you might've heard about it). Let's Sing & Dance For Comic Relief, described as 'a singing and dancing extravaganza' (or, shite for short), will be broadcast on BBC1 next year ahead of Red Nose Day 2017. Perkins claimed that she was 'thrilled' to be co-presenting the show, 'not least because it will finally show the world why I was voted West Penwith's Krumping Champion (over Forties category).' Mind you, she said the same about her involvement with Don't Scare The Hare (well, except for that last bit about West Penwith). Giedroyc issued her own statement, which said: 'Since leaving the Royal Ballet twelve years ago, Mel is really looking forward to getting back on her points and showing the brave Comic Relief celebrity dancers how to split leap and ball change. She's delighted to be taking time out from her busy schedule at the Royal Opera House (she was recently called 'a complete and utter Tosca' in the starring role of the eponymous opera) to take part in co-hosting duties for Let's Sing & Dance For Comic Relief.' Kate Phillips, the controller of BBC entertainment commissioning, said that it was 'hugely exciting' to bring Mel and Sue to BBC1 on a Saturday night. She said: 'Their warmth, wit, charm and chemistry married with their genuine love of entertainment are all a perfect fit for Let's Sing & Dance For Comic Relief.' Which, to repeat, sounds shite. Let's Dance For Comic Relief has been a hit show in the past. The BBC is hoping the new format - including singing - will become an international format, like other shows such as Strictly Come Dancing. Nicki McDermott from BBC Worldwide is overseeing the international sale of the show format. She said: 'We've already seen how internationally appealing dancing has been, so we're confident that the multi-tasking opportunities and pitfalls that singing adds to the mix will see many other countries wanting to emulate the entertainment values this series affords viewers everywhere.'
An alleged 'rape' scene in Poldark has been criticised over its 'appalling message' by a charity that you've never heard of but, strongly defended by the son of Poldark's original author. In last Sunday episode, Ross Poldark pushed Elizabeth onto a bed after she rejected his forceful advances. Sarah Green, the co-director at charity End Violence Against Women, whinged: 'It is a really appalling message. They have made the representation of non-consensual sex ambiguous by making her appear to change her mind.' But Andrew Graham, the son of Poldark novelist Winston Graham, who is a consultant on the BBC's current screen adaptation, said: 'There is no "shock rape" storyline in the novels. To say so is to misconstrue my father's text. The BBC has cut nothing and Mammoth Screen's portrayal of these scenes is entirely true to my father's writing.' The BBC said that it had received seventeen whinges about the scene at the time of writing. Media regulator Ofcom has received seven whinges and they will be assessed before a decision is made about whether to launch an investigation. A third series of Poldark will be broadcast on the BBC next year. In the scene, Ross - played by Aidan Turner - bursts into the bedroom of his former fiancee, Elizabeth, played by Heida Reed, and demands that she cancel her wedding to his enemy, George Warleggan. She orders him to leave but he forcefully kisses her - twice - despite her trying to push him away. He then looked pointedly at the bed before Elizabeth said: 'You will not dare.' He replied: 'I would Elizabeth. I would and so will you,' before pushing her onto the bed where she, finally, appears to finally to his big hairy maleness. Green whinged: 'It is definitely portrayed very much as a rape. The female character says "no" and there are also non-verbal signs. She is moving away from him and pulling away from him. There is lots of stuff that is ambiguous.' Asked why she thought the character Elizabeth was seen appearing to change her mind, she said: 'The problem the producers have found, because this character is extremely popular, they can't represent him as doing something criminal.' But, Graham said: 'The point of departure for the relevant scene is indeed consistent with the potential for rape. But what then actually happens is not described but is left entirely to one's imagination. The only way to judge what my father intended is to read the novels as a whole. Doing so it becomes clear, from earlier scenes as well as from Elizabeth's immediate reactions and later mixed emotions, that what finally happened was consensual sex born of long-term love and longing. It was, as Aidan Turner has put it, "unfinished business emotionally."' Poldark screenwriter Debbie Horsfield said: 'One of the first things you learn when you're adapting a novel is that no two readers imagine a scene the same way. This is even more acute when a scene ends abruptly, as is the case in book three, chapter six of Warleggan, when the action cuts out and the rest is left entirely to the reader's imagination. However, as programme makers, we needed to decide what the audience would actually see. And, as far as possible, to bring to life what the original author intended the scene to depict. We were fortunate to have Winston Graham's son Andrew as our consultant on the series so we were able to clarify with him what his father's intentions for this scene were. What you saw on screen is consistent with what we believe those intentions to have been.' Earlier this year, Turner told the Sun that the scene 'seems consensual. He goes to talk, [not] to commit a crime,' the actor said.
Citizen Khan has signed up some guest stars for its upcoming fifth series. The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan (no relation) will appear in the series opener which will see Mister Khan (Adil Ray) forget his wedding anniversary and set off on a desperate mission to make amends, leading to a chance meeting with the Mayor. After boasting to Dave (Matthew Cottle) that he knows England cricketer Moeen Ali, Khan has no option but to head to an England cricket match to persuade him to appear at his wife's fundraiser. The episode will also feature Test Match Special's Jonathan Agnew and his college, the former England captain Michael Vaughan. Other guests during series five will include Harry Enfield, Niky Wardley, Ricky Grover, Lynda Baron and Baroness Warsi. Other storylines include a Peaky Blinders tribute, a memorable trip to Alia's university featuring flashbacks of Mister Khan's own university days and a family funeral which almost turns into several funerals. There will also be a Christmas episode, A Khanderful Life, which sees the Khan family go back in time in a take on Frank Capra's festive classic.
Fiona Bruce her very self has described how she heard her own bone break during a 'trampolining accident' which led to her presenting the BBC news in her trainers. The presenter 'caused a stir' (well, with 'some dill-brains on Twitter' and the Torygraph, anyway) in May when she was spotted wearing a pair of white sports shoes to read the evening news. Fiona told the Radio Times that her footwear was dictated because she had broken her foot trampolining with her daughter, Mia. She said: 'I was about ten feet up, then I landed and smashed my heel and dislocated the bone above it. I actually heard it. I was meant to go skiing three weeks later, so I was hoping I hadn't broken it. But, it was very painful and it swelled up to the size of my thigh. So I realised I needed help.' The newsreader underwent emergency surgery and now has a five-inch metal screw and bracket in her foot. She said: 'I was in a cast for nine weeks and an air boot for six. My surgeon said it will take a year to fully recover and it will never be the same.' However, the fifty two-year-old said she is now 'back to normal footwear' and has even started running again, although 'at a snail's pace.'
It didn't go unnoticed by some viewers and, now Ofcom are said to be assessing 'the F-bomb' on last weekend's episode of The X Factor. It occurred as Dermot O'Dreary revealed that Sam Lavery was the first act to be saved by the public vote. Gifty Louise - another X Factor type person, apparently - appeared to say 'I fucking told you' as Sam hugged her mentor, Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads. O'Dreary instantly shat in his own pants and issued a grovelling apology to viewers for the language which they may, or may not, have heard, adding that 'emotions are running high.' But, it seems this snivelling wasn't enough to stop some viewers from whinging to Ofcom like a bunch of snitchy Copper's Narks. 'We have had five complaints about this. We will assess these complaints before deciding whether to investigate or not,' an Ofcom spokesperson told the Sun.
If you believe the crass shriekings of 'some people on Twitter' then Strictly Come Dancing 'caused a huge stir' earlier this series when Anastacia was unable to perform in a dance-off. However, the BBC can now breathe a sigh of relief as Ofcom (a politically appointed quango, elected by no one) has decided not to investigate the malarkey. On 2 October, Anastacia found herself in the bottom two of that particular episode, but was unable to dance again because of an injury. An 'exploding boob' according to the Daily Lies. So, the show reverted to the public vote and Melvin Odoom ended up going home - prompting 'outrage' from a handful of viewers and a series of 'fix' claims which the tabloids got a few stories out of for about two or three days till they found something equally inane to write about. There 'seemed' to be a lot of outrage - whipped up by various tabloid scum - but, in fact, Ofcom confirmed that actually only six people - all of whom, presumably, had nothing more important to occupy their time - picked up the phone to whinge about it. And, this week a spokesperson for Ofcom confirmed that it won't be investigating the shenanigans. 'We assessed six complaints claiming it was unfair that Anastacia's injury stopped the dance-off and that, as a result, Melvin Odoom was voted off the show,' the spokesperson said. 'However, we don't regard this as a regulatory matter: the bottom two acts were determined by the voting audience.' In other words, if you were unhappy about Melvin getting sent home you, basically, should have voted more. Meanwhile, Ofcom confirmed it also won't be investigating Strictly for allegedly 'offensive' language after getting but one whinge from a viewer with again, seemingly, nothing better to do with his or her time - presumably because of Bruno Tonioli's inability to stop saying 'bollocks' (something host Tess Daly quickly apologised for). And, let us once again, dear blog reader, simply stand up and salute the utter crap that some people chose to care about.
Gearing up,if you will, for the launch of The Grand Tour, a new destination for the show has been announced. Nashville. Yer man Jezza Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May will be taking their travelling studio tent to the home of country music for the Amazon series, which premieres on Friday 18 November. And, to tie in with their newly announced destination, Amazon has produced a playlist for their Prime Music channel which features some of Jezza, Hamster and Mister Slowly's favourite tunes. In case you were wondering, the boys like listening to ... in no particular order David Bowie, Grace Jones, The Who and The Temptations. They have already recorded episodes in Johannesburg, California and Whitby, with trips to Lapland, Rotterdam and somewhere in Germany yet to come.
The firm behind the Top Gear Experience track days has gone extremely bust and has blamed the lacklustre relaunch of the BBC2 show following the departure of Jezza Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond for its financial woes. TGXP Limited cancelled all bookings for days at Dunsfold Park, where the series is filmed, saying: 'Despite good reviews and early strong sales for the Top Gear Track Experience, there has been a sharp decline in ticket sales and interest since the changes in the television show. We deeply regret the position this puts our remaining customers in, have posted refund advice on our website and will be contacting all our customers directly in the coming days.' A spokesman for BBC Worldwide, which runs the commercial operations of the corporation, said: 'We share the frustration of fans who've had their track day cancelled by TGXP. The operator has assured us that most ticketholders will be eligible for a refund from third party websites or their credit or debit card company.' An alleged BBC 'insider' allegedly told the Press Association that blaming the show for the Top Gear Experience's failure wasn't 'plausible.' The alleged 'source'allegedly said: 'The last series of Top Gear averaged five million viewers. It's still a massive show so for TGXP to blame everything on viewing figures simply isn't plausible. It's disappointing that fans who've booked were told by the operator at the very last minute that their days were being cancelled, especially as it's half-term. Hopefully TGXP will do the right thing by them.' Companies House records obtained by the Gruniad Morning tar suggest that TGXP has previously had difficulty making money from the track days even what Clarkson and co were still presenting Top Gear. It lost almost four hundred andseventy grand in 2015 and almost two hundred thousand knicker in 2014. The Top Gear Experience website currently shows an insolvency notice urging those with track days scheduled to contact the firms they made their bookings with. The statement said: 'It is anticipated that the company will enter a formal insolvency process and advice is being taken. We sincerely apologise for any inconvenience caused and would like to thank everyone who participated in the Top Gear Track Experience over the last two years – for their custom, enthusiasm, for great feedback and support.' Before the insolvency notice was posted, the site featured extensive Top Gear and BBC branding and an introductory text promising: 'Almost definitely the best track experience ... in the world. Be the Star in a Reasonably Priced Car. Earn your own place on our celebrity leaderboard. Hang around the actual hangar where Top Gear is filmed, complete with the presenters' chairs, car displays and old crisp packets. Sit in the presenters' chairs, re-arrange the Cool Wall, and check out some amazing cars that have featured in the show. It's not like all these other track days out there it's just like experiencing Top Gear on the telly. Except it's not on the telly.'
Labour leader, the incompetent wazzock Jeremy Corbyn, has likened would-be supervillainess Theresa May to Baldrick over her approach to Brexit negotiations, telling MPs her 'cunning plan is to have no plan.' Blimey, did you think that up on your own,Jezza or did you have help? He said that the Prime Minister's position owed less to 'great philosophers' than the hapless sidekick of Edmund Blackadder. May sneeringly noted that Sir Tony Robinson, who played Baldrick, was a Labour member. Sir Tony later described the pair as 'a beardy man and a grumpy lady' which proves one thing above all else, that Tony Robinson is far more perceptive than either of those two and, frankly, would probably be far better at running the country as well. During Prime Minister's Questions, Corbyn and May argued over the government's yet-to-be-announced stance for when negotiations for leaving the European Union begin next year. The Labour leader accused the Prime Minister of presiding over 'a shambolic Tory Brexit' and called for 'clarity' and warned of the effect of it might have on the Irish border. May pledged no return to 'the borders of the past' - whatever the Hell that means - saying a Common Travel Area had existed since 1923 and accused Corbyn of trying to 'frustrate the will of the British people' over the EU referendum. And of being 'avery silly man with a very silly beard.' Probably. The government has said it will formally trigger Brexit talks by the end of next March, but has consistently refused to offer 'a running commentary' on its negotiating stance. Which, basically, means they're making it up as they go along. Prime Minister's Questions took an unusual turn when Corbyn made reference to Baldrick, the turnip-loving and intellectually challenged servant to Rowan Atkinson's Blackadder. He said: 'When you're searching for the real meaning and the importance behind the prime minister's statement (on the recent European Council summit), you have to consult the great philosophers. The only one I could come up with is Baldrick, who says, "Our cunning plan is to have no plan."' A reference, obviously, to Baldrick's frequent claim to have 'a cunning plan' to deal with the trickiest situations, but which nearly always turned out to be less than brilliant. You knew that, right? May responded: 'I'm interested that you chose Baldrick. Of course, the actor playing Baldrick was a member of the Labour Party, as I recall.' He was and, indeed, still is although quite what the fuck that has to do with anything is another matter entirely. Sir Tony is a long-serving activist who has chaired proceedings at the party's annual conference - he has also been a recent critic of Corbyn's ineffectual leadership. Although not, necessarily, the comedy way in which he's been ruining the party. The reference prompted yer man Tone to tweet, mocking May's oft-used pledge that 'Brexit means Brexit', by saying 'Baldrick means Baldrick.' He added: 'I'm in the hairdresser's. Suddenly a lot of people seem to want to talk to me!' Returning to his put-upon alter-ego, he wrote: 'I never said nuffin' at PMQs, it was the beardy man and the grumpy lady.'
Sir Tone's old Blackadder cast-mate Huge Laurie said he has 'lived a life of extraordinary good fortune' as his star was unveiled on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Huge, of course, made his name in the US for his award-winning title role in the medical drama House between 2004 and 2012. His long-time collaborator and, if you will, 'cool' Stephen Fry was the guest speaker at The Pig 'n Whistle British pub on Hollywood Boulevard (yer actual has been there, dear blog reader). Laurie joins famous Britons including Emma Thompson, Colin Firth, Sir Ridley Scott and Dame Helen Mirren to have stars on the street. His is number two thousand five hundred and ninety three on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Huge became TV's highest-paid actor and won Golden Globe awards in 2006 and 2007 for his portrayal of grumpy genius Gregory House. The fifty seven-year-old from Oxford was already well-known in Britain for his TV sketch show with Fry and Blackadder and Jeeves & Wooster. More recently he starred opposite Tom Hiddleston in the BBC drama The Night Manager. Laurie said: 'This is not a fair world. I'm fifty seven now and I've lived a life of extraordinary good fortune from start to finish, so-much-so I'm anticipating a piano falling on my head to redress the balance. I've been incredibly lucky. I'm going to bask in this extraordinary honour and my extraordinary good luck and I'll set to work first thing tomorrow on the global unfairness problem.' Stephen paid tribute to his friend, saying: 'While he may not be the first wise and kind star to be set in a paving slab in old Hollywood, I venture to suggest no star was ever wiser or kinder. I can say like Doctor Watson of his friend Holmes, the kindest and wisest friend I ever knew.'
BBC1's recent - 'not quite as awful as we thought it might be' - revival of Porridge could have featured an additional link to the original series beside the authors Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais. Nicholas Lyndhurst, who played Norman Fletcher's son, Raymond, in the sequel to the original Porridge - Going Straight - was, reportedly, 'eyed' to reprise his role in the revamp. The character would have been reintroduced as the father of Kevin Bishop's Nigel Fletcher, protagonist of the new Porridge. 'Originally we were hoping that Nicholas Lyndhurst would play [the new] Fletcher's dad,' Bishop told the Digital Spy website. 'He was Ronnie Barker's son in Going Straight and he was a very straight character - so that's where they had the idea for the boring dad, where it skips a generation.' When Lyndhurst wasn't available, the role of Raymond was recast, with Inbetweeners actor Martin Trenaman taking up the part.
Channel Four is partnering with AMC for a new comedy drama called Loaded starring Doctor Who's Samuel Anderson and The West Wing's Mary McCormack. The show will follow four British tech entrepreneurs and childhood friends who become multi-millionaires overnight. Jim Howick, Jonny Sweet and Nick Helm also appear. Based on the award-wining Keshet International series Mesudarim created by Muli Segev and Assaf Harel, Jon Brown is writing and executive producing, with Ian Fitzgibbon from Moone Boy directing the first three episodes. Howick is taking on the role of Josh - the fretful and insecure member of the group, with a decent moral compass, while Anderson plays Leon - the charismatic chap in charge of securing investment. Ewan is played by Jonny Sweet - an awkward introvert, while the eccentric Watto is played by Nick Helm. McCormack is Casey, Vice President for Acquisitions at the parent company that has bought the mens company, Idyl Hands. Casey is described as 'ruthless and immaculate but she's prone to sudden bursts of feeling.' Phil Clarke, Head of Scripted at Channel Four, said: 'We can't wait to see the brilliant cast bring to life the motley crew at Idyl Hands.' Joel Stillerman, president of programming at AMC and SundanceTV, added: 'A smart and somewhat lighthearted look at all of the things that can go wrong when you're suddenly very, very rich; and very, very young felt like a perfect show for our times.' The series will go into production early next month and is set to premiere on Channel Four and AMC in 2017.
A BBC documentary about a bodybuilder is being investigated for allegedly inciting racial hatred. The investigation relates to a programme about Akinwale Arobieke, from Liverpool, called The Man Who Squeezes Muscles: Searching For Purple Aki, broadcast on BBC3 in September. Merseyside Police confirmed that officers were 'investigating an allegation of a race hate crime.' A BBC spokeswoman said that it could not comment on the investigation. She added: 'This is a serious and considered film made in line with our usual editorial standards and we stand by it. As a matter has been raised with the police we are unable to comment further.' The documentary examined the life of Arobieke, who completed several jail sentences over a fetish he has for touching young men's muscles. His reputation spread across North West England and his story was considered by many to be an urban myth.
Former Eggheads-type person, CJ De Mooi will 'continue to co-operate with the Dutch authorities' after a failed attempt to extradite him to the Netherlands over an alleged killing. The ex-quiz show panellist, from Caldicot in Monmouthshire, is accused of manslaughter, murder, assault and battery in Amsterdam in 1988. He was detained under a European arrest warrant at Heathrow Airport last month. Dutch authorities reportedly abandoned a bid to bring him to the Netherlands. De Mooi, whose real name is Joseph Connagh, was said to be 'very pleased' with this outcome. His manager said in a statement: 'CJ is obviously very pleased with the result of today's hearing and will continue to co-operate with the Dutch authorities until this matter is finally concluded. He would like to thank the tens of thousands of people who have contacted him via social media and in person, for their lovely words and support during this traumatic time for him.' De Mooi's autobiography, published last year, described an alleged incident in which he said that he 'may' have killed a man while he lived on the streets in Amsterdam. He said that he punched a man who approached him with a knife before throwing him into a canal in or around 1988. In his book, De Mooi wrote: 'He caught me on the wrong day and I just snapped. I fully suspect I killed him. I've no idea what happened to him.' De Mooi, originally from Barnsley, adopted the name De Mooi when he was modelling. He became a panellist on Eggheads in 2003 after winning a series of game shows.
ITV 'bosses' (that's tabloid-speak for executives only with less syllables) have denied that uncouth prick Jeremy Kyle was 'floored' by a guest during a heated debate on one of this week's episodes of The Jeremy Kyle Show. Footage from the Salford-filmed freak show appeared to show the host picking himself up from the stage after a hot-headed guest raced onto the stage and pushed him over. Well, who hasn't, idly, wanted to do that at least once in their life? However, executives at ITV have denied that Kyle was punched or shoved during the incident. They claimed that the fifty one-year-old full-of-his-own-importance host was 'so surprised' when the stage was 'stormed' by a guest from backstage, that he 'fell off his chair.' One or two people even believed that. Kyle 'hit the headlines' after ending up on all fours during Wednesday's episode when an angry guest rushed onto the stage at Salford's MediaCityUK studios to 'argue with his own sister.' The camera had cut away and spun back to catch Kyle being helped up from the floor by security staff - making it appear as though he had been attacked. But, a spokeswoman for The Jeremy Kyle Show said: 'Jeremy was shocked when the guest ran on the stage and [he] fell off the chair.' As you do. It was during a segment on I'll prove we're not sisters - can you prove you're not on drugs? that the drama unfolded. As President Barlet says during an episode of The West Wing: 'These people don't vote, do they?' A guest called Emma (last name unknown) was on the show to warn her sister, Kelly, that her behaviour was 'spiralling.' Kyle said: 'I'm just back from holiday. I opened my mouth and get flattened by that. Steve, where were you? I'm supposed to be the reason this show stays together,' added Kyle to his head of security. 'Where were you?'
This Morning's Holly Willoughby 'struggled to hold back tears' as she revealed that her beloved pet cat Roxy died last week. And, this constitutes 'news', apparently.
And, speaking of worthless people on television, famous for nothing, Kerry Katona has made 'a shocking confession' that she once encouraged her mother to make a suicide attempt. The thirty six-year-old former Atomic Kitten and reality TV regular-type person was 'incredibly frank' when appearing on Channel Five'5’s In Therapy series where she discussed a range of - mostly self-inflicted - troubles in her life. On the show – which will be broadcast next week – Katona discussed her own struggles with drugs and how her mother's repeated attempts to kill herself 'got too much.' And, we're supposed to, what, feel sorry for her?
This blogger had the new Stately Telly Topping Manor telly delivered on Wednesday, dear blog reader. And, lo, it is massive in yer actual Keith Telly Topping's sight, so it is.
An influential imam has lost a libel action against the BBC after a judge ruled that he had promoted violence. London-based Shakeel Begg sued the corporation after being accused on The Sunday Politics show of 'espousing extreme beliefs.' The judge said that Lewisham Islamic Centre's chief imam had 'hidden his true views' behind 'a cloak of respectability.' Mr Justice Haddon-Cave said that he 'clearly promotes and encourages violence in support of Islam and espouses a series of extremist Islamic positions. On occasions when it has suited him, he has shed the cloak of respectability and revealed the horns of extremism.' A spokesman for the BBC 'welcomed' the ruling against the imam, who now faces an enormous legal bill. Imam Begg is extremely influential among followers of hardline conservative Islam in the UK. He has been involved in inter-faith work with Jewish and Christian leaders but has also faced accusations of extremism, including supporting organisations which have campaigned on behalf of suspected terrorists. He personally appealed to the self-styled Islamic State group to spare the British hostage Alan Henning - a sign of his theological credibility within their paticular branch of Islam. In November 2013, BBC presenter Andrew Neil alleged on The Sunday Politics that the imam had said jihad was 'the greatest of deeds.' Jihad typically refers to a personal struggle to do good - but violent extremists use it to refer to fighting 'holy war.' Despite the imam's protestations during the libel trial, Mr Justice Haddon-Cave said that four of his speeches showed he had 'promoted such violence' and two that he had 'espoused' extremist positions. 'Shakeel Begg, is something of a Jekyll and Hyde character,' he said. 'He appears to present one face to the general, local and inter-faith community and another to particular Muslim and other receptive audiences. The former face is benign, tolerant and ecumenical. The latter face is ideologically extreme and intolerant.' In one speech in 2006, Imam Begg encouraged a student audience to fight in the Palestinian territories. Two years later he praised Muslims who had travelled abroad to fight 'enemies of Islam.' A third speech outside the maximum security Belmarsh Prison, which holds some of the most dangerous terrorism convicts in the country, was described by the judge as 'particularly sinister.' He said: 'The various core extremist messages which emerge from the claimant's speeches and utterances would, in my view, have been quite clear to the audiences. The claimant's ostensible cloak of respectability is likely to have made his [extremist] message in these speeches all the more compelling and seductive. For this reason, therefore, his messages would have been all the more effective and dangerous. It is all too easy for someone in the claimant's position of power and influence as an Imam to plant the seed of Islamic extremism in a young mind, which is then liable to be propagated on the Internet.' A spokesman for the BBC said: 'We were right to stand by the journalism of The Sunday Politics. The judge has concluded, based on the evidence, that Imam Begg has preached religious violence and an extremist worldview in his remarks.'
Two former Scum of the World executives will not be summoned to parliament to be reprimanded for giving misleading evidence over phone-hacking, amid 'concerns' that they could not be compelled to turn up. A group of MPs had called for the highly unusual step against the disgraced and disgraceful newspaper's former editor Colin Myler and its former legal manager Tom Crone after they were found to be extremely in contempt of parliament. A motion formally admonishing the men was approved unanimously by MPs but the Speaker of the House of Commons did not select the amendment to be debated. The leader of the Commons, David Lidington, said findings by the privileges committee that parliament had been knowingly misled were 'of serious concern.' However, he warned that 'some believed' hauling the two men to the bar of the Commons to be publicly admonished by the Speaker risked 'creating a pantomime.' He said that 'some lawyers' considered the Sergeant At Arms, who is responsible for keeping order in the Commons, does not have the power to compel people to turn up to parliament. He said: 'The problem I have in moving today to accept the arguments is that we would be testing, without some careful thought and consideration, the House's power to enforce such a summons at all. The Sergeant At Arms does not have a power in law to take someone by the shoulder and force them to attend the House if they choose not to do so. Indeed, I've certainly seen advice that suggests under such circumstances the Sergeant or the Sergeant's team would, themselves, be at risk of criminal proceedings were they to seek to effect the forceful attendance of somebody summoned to the bar of the House.' The last time a non-MP was given the punishment was in 1957 when the then editor of the Sunday Scum Express, John Junor, was admonished for publishing an article that 'cast doubt' on the integrity of MPs over their petrol allowances. The privileges committee is set to look at what powers parliament has to punish those who are found to be in contempt.

NBC are in talks to reboot Will & Grace, after the success of a US election-themed video, according to reports. The Hollywood Reporter has confirmed that talks about a ten-episode revival are under way. There are said to be no deals in place with the show's cast or creators yet. Eric McCormack, Debra Messing, Megan Mullally and Sean Hayes were together again in Los Angeles on Thursday night for a Hillary Clinton fundraiser. The cast were brought together for the first time in a decade in September by one of the show's creators, Max Mutchnick, for a short film based around the US election. The ten-minute clip has had more than six million views on YouTube. Speaking at the time, Messing told The Hollywood Reporter she would 'never say never' about a revival. She said that a streaming channel 'could be a natural fit' because a return to network TV 'could be a problem,' due to the cast members' busy schedules. 'I think that the logistics of all of our lives - there would just be way too many things to hammer out. But for something shorter-lived and maybe having the limitations of being on network TV lifted may give us a fun, fresh opportunity because we could be really, really naughty!' Will & Grace ran for eight seasons between 1998 and 2006 and won sixteen EMMY awards. The comedy, about interior designer Grace and her gay flatmate Will, earned praise for bringing gay television characters into the mainstream.
There's a very interesting interview with The Crown's author Peter Morgan and the Netflix drama's director Stephen Daldry in the Gruniad this week which you can check out here.
Lesley Joseph is insisting that producers chose her for Strictly Come Dancing to be 'the comical older woman.' Well, of course they did you bloody stupid woman, why did you think they'd picked you? Because you were such a fantastic dancer? Jesus, another person who has, seemingly, been taking The Stupid Pill this week.
Horribly vile comments about bisexuality made by that awful Biggins chap on Channel Five's Celebrity Big Brother have been found not in breach of broadcasting rules. Forty-four people complained to Ofcom about the 1 August episode. Biggins had said: 'The worst type though is, I'm afraid to say, the bisexuals. What it is is people not wanting to admit they are gay.' Ofcom said that the comments 'could cause offence' - no shit? - but were 'likely to be within the audience's expectations.' The openly gay actor was removed from the Big Brother house a few days after his views were broadcast. The show's producers said that they took the decision because he had made 'comments capable of causing great offence.' The sixty seven-year-old was warned three times by Big Brother over the comments. The final incident involved a conversation where he claimed that AIDs was 'a bisexual disease.' After he was removed from the house, Biggins said he was 'very sorry and very sad.' Albeit, many people speculated that he wasn't so much sad about what he'd said as the fact that his comments have now, effectively, made him unemployable. Meanwhile, BBC1's DIY SOS: The Big Build, is being investigated by Ofcom over comments made by presenter Nick Knowles. In an episode shown on 29 September, full-of-his-own-importance Knowles made comments to female designer Julia Kendell including: 'Fighting talk from Kendell there, who used to be a boxer when she was a man.' Oh, what a funny chap he is. An Ofcom spokesperson said: 'We're investigating whether comments made by a male presenter were justified by the context of the programme.' Six complaints suggesting Knowles' comments were 'offensive' were received in relation to the episode. Two complaints were also made to the regulator about a segment on ITV's Good Morning Britain, which Ofcom is also said to be 'looking into.' An Ofcom spokesperson said: 'We are investigating whether the broadcaster took due care of a four-year-old girl, when featuring her in the programme which discussed her medical condition.' ITV featured the girl, who has early-onset puberty, in a live interview with her mother on 15 September. The girl appeared to be trying to hide her face throughout the segment.
ITV has announced plans to cut one hundred and twenty jobs due to 'political and economic uncertainty”,' particularly concerns over the possible impact of Brexit. UK commercial broadcasters are facing the worst year for TV advertising since 2009, with total revenues set to decline by up to two per cent. The announcement on Monday comes three months after ITV's chief executive, odious gnome Adam Crozier, said that the broadcaster would look to make twenty five million knicker in cost savings next year following the Brexit vote on 23 June. ITV intends to make the cuts 'across the business,' but said that it does not plan to reduce its annual programming budget of more than one billion smackers. The company has three thousand staff in the UK, out of six thousand globally, with US-based employees forming its next largest workforce. 'At a time of political and economic uncertainty in our key markets, it's important that we are in the strongest possible position to continue to invest in our strategy, and to meet any challenges and opportunities ahead, as we continue to grow a successful business,' an ITV spokesman said. Fears about the impact of Brexit and a rapid softening of the UK advertising market are the paramount reasons for the job cuts. ITV is dependent on the performance of the UK market, which accounted for eighty five per cent of the near-three billion quid the broadcaster made last year. Crozier has spent hundreds of millions of pounds attempting to reduce the company's reliance on the UK, primarily by building a large TV production operation in the US. But ITV's historical dependence on advertising meant that last year, TV advertising and sponsorship accounted for more than half, around £1.7bn, of revenues. 'We have taken costs out across ITV in a managed and sensible way over the past six years and we must continue to keep a tight control on spending to ensure that we are operating as efficiently and effectively as possible, while maximising our ability to invest in the high-quality programming that drives ITV's success,' the ITV spokesman said. The company has estimated that in the first nine months of 2016, advertising revenue would be down one per cent year-on-year. Prior to the EU referendum, the advertising market had been expected to grow by more than seven per cent, after a 7.4 per cent increase in 2015. Media agencies, which book advertising on behalf of clients, have said the TV advertising market has become 'considerably worse' in the past five or so weeks amid concerns about 'a hard Brexit.' Last month, ITV's share price tumbled after Crozier and the finance director, Ian Griffiths, cashed in two million knicker of shares, as some investors worried that this could be a sign its stock market price may be close to peaking. Last month it emerged that Daily Scum Mail & General Trust, the owner of the Daily Scum Mail, has cut more than four hundred jobs over the past year. Oh, the irony. Fewer than half came from DMG Media, the division that includes the Daily Scum Mail, the Scum Mail on Sunday and Metro, as newspaper publishers continue to face a tough advertising market. This month, the BBC said it would make redundant more than three hundred programme makers as part of a move to spin off its four hundred million notes TV production operation.
A pair of red slippers worn by Judy Garland in 1939 film The Wizard Of Oz will be preserved thanks to a three hundred thousand dollar Kickstarter campaign. The Smithsonian National Museum of American History had run a campaign to save its pair of the famous shoes from deterioration and discolouration. The slippers are one of the most viewed items at the Washington DC museum. But, age has taken its toll and they have turned from a sparkling red to a dull brown. Officials at the museum said that they reached their goal late on Sunday night thanks to more than five thousand supporters in over forty countries. The campaign started on 17 October and had thirty days to reach its target. The museum is also planning to announce another fundraising goal shortly involving one of the characters from the famous film. The funds raised by the Kickstarter campaign will be used for immediate conservation care and a new, state-of-the-art display case designed to protect the slippers from environmental harm and slow their deterioration. Future plans include moving the slippers into a new exhibition on American popular culture, scheduled to open in 2018. The shoes contain a dozen different materials. The sequins are made of gelatin with a primitive plastic coating and their red colour has faded because the coating has flaked off, partly due to the effects of light and moisture. 'We're going to have to do a lot of scientific research to come up with a treatment plan that is compatible with all of the different materials,' Machado said. The shoes also include glass beads and red felt on the soles, which was used to muffle their sound when Garland wore them during dance sequences. They were donated anonymously to the museum in 1979. A number of identical pairs were made, with five pairs believed to have survived.All of the others are, if you will, somewhere over the rainbow. Sorry. Next ...
Most sports fans in England, Wales and Scotland say that they would be 'comfortable' with their club signing a gay player, according to a BBC Radio 5Live survey. It found that eighty two per cent of supporters who expressed a preference would have 'no issue' with a gay player (so long as he was a good one, obviously). However, eight per cent of those questioned - homophobic scum, essentially - said that they would 'stop watching their team' in such circumstances. Bye then, you waste-of-space turds. This blogger must admit that I've always been rather curious by the assumption that many people have that would not be able to accept gay players in the game as though those making statements to this effect had bothered to ask all of us. Given that even according to the most conservative of estimates anywhere between one in ten and one in twenty men are, probably, gay or bisexual, that suggests that most people have got at least one in their football team and, probably one in their family. Why is this even an issue in the Twenty First Century? Last week, Football Association chairman Greg Clarke told MPs that he was 'cautious' of encouraging a player to come out because they may suffer 'significant abuse' from fans. Again, as though he'd asked all of us how we would feel. Clarke said that he was 'personally ashamed' there were players who did not feel 'safe' to come out and promised to 'stamp down hard' on homophobic behaviour in the game. Good words, mate, genuinely. Now, follow it up with some action, please. In an online survey of more than four thousand people commissioned by Afternoon Edition and carried out by ComRes, seventy one per cent of football fans said that clubs 'should do more to educate' fans about homophobia. And forty seven per cent of all sports fans - fifty per cent of football supporters - say they have heard homophobic abuse at matches in the past. Former Premier League striker Chris Sutton told Afternoon Edition that Clarke had 'taken the easy way out' by being 'dictated to by eight pr cent of cavemen.' Sutton, who played for Norwich City, Blackburn Vindaloos, Moscow Chelski FC and Glasgow Celtic, said: 'Coming out wouldn't be a problem in the workplace. Working at a football club is just like anywhere else. Players I played with wouldn't bat an eyelid. This eight per cent shouldn't be allowed in football grounds. By not taking it on, the eight per cent are the winners in all of this. Greg Clarke should be taking these people on. It's bonkers in our society that people like this can dictate whether someone can come out or not.' Simone Pound, head of equality and diversity at the Professional Footballers' Association, told BBC Sport that the PFA and the FA were not 'blaming any one particular group' for a lack of visibly out gay players. 'I have worked in the game for over fifteen years and I have certainly seen a shift in the culture as well as greater understanding and acceptance of LGBT people,' she said. 'Coming out is a personal journey that is up to each and every individual. The PFA will continue our work tackling homophobia until someone does come out and thereafter.'
Sick crowd violence marred West Hamsters' EFL Cup fourth-round home win over Moscow Chelski FC on Wednesday, with police making seven arrests and kids getting sparked and all sorts. Plastic bottles, seats and coins were thrown during The Hamsters' two-one victory at The London Stadium as hundreds of supporters clashed and riot police entered the concourse. and got their peace-keeping on, big-style. It is the latest outbreak of disorder at West Hamsters' new ground this season. Hamsters boss Slaven Bilic called the behaviour 'unacceptable,' adding: 'We are totally against it.' The Premier League club says it will ban any fans involved for life and is confident it can identify those responsible for the sick thuggery via its high-definition CCTV system and through fans' ticket purchasing history. Security was boosted for the derby and an alcohol ban imposed as part of a 'robust policing plan' following crowd trouble at the stadium this season, the theory being that only punters whose minds have been poisoned by booze can be revved-up for a geet barny. That proved not to be the case. Until Wednesday's match, the Metropolitan Police have not deployed officers inside the stadium because the radio system emergency services use to communicate will not be operational until 2017. This season, the Hamsters' first at the former Olympic Stadium following their move from Upton Park, twenty three fans have been banned from the ground for a variety of naughty-related doings. Four people were arrested following disorder at the Premier League match against The Smoggies on 1 October, while there were 'clashes in the stands' during the Hamsters' defeat by Watford in September. The Metropolitan Police, who made seven arrests for alleged 'public order offences,' described Wednesday's incidents as 'unacceptable' and said that thirty people were 'prevented from attending the match.' It said part of its investigation will include 'a leaflet handed out before the match containing homophobic contents.' Images on social media before the game appeared to show a song-sheet being distributed with homophobic lyrics aimed at Chelski defender John Terry and striker Diego Costa. Bilic added: 'For those kind of things to happen, especially in England, is unacceptable.' Moscow Chelski FC manager Antonio Conte said: 'I don't really like to see these situations.' One fan at the game told BBC Radio 5Live it 'was an absolute nightmare,' adding: 'If they don't close that stadium someone will get killed there.' West Hamsters said in a statement they 'unreservedly condemn' fans' behaviour and will 'work to identify' those supporters involved, while Moscow Chelski FC said they were 'extremely disappointed to see disturbances.' Police commander BJ Harrington said: 'There were a minority of people who attended the match that were clearly intent on being involved in confrontation and violence. Despite extensive work with both clubs and a large and robust policing operation, there were unacceptable incidents inside and outside the stadium, before, during and after the game. Moscow Chelski FC season ticket holders Paul Streeter and his eight-year-old daughter, Victoria, were sitting in the disabled section and got caught up in the violence. 'My daughter was hit with seven coins all over her body,' said Streeter. 'We were watching the game in the front row near to the home fans - suddenly there's a whole load of coins coming over. Other kids were hit, it was not just my daughter. Victoria has been going to football since she was two, she's never experienced violence like this before or the aggression we have had to suffer. We want to take this matter further. It is disgusting. Stewards and police were not reacting. They should have dragged the crowd back and dealt with them.' With West Hamsters cruising towards the quarter-finals of the EFL Cup their fans were taking great delight in taunting Moscow Chelski's five thousand-strong travelling support. Then tension and vitriolic chanting turned malevolent into sick violence. The atmosphere turned toxic, with attention focused not on the pitch but on events in the stand. A Moscow Chelski FC fan broke through a line of stewards into the area dividing supporters, balancing on the tops of seats covered in claret tarpaulin and goaded his rivals in a 'come and have a go if you think yer hard enough'-style, before hurriedly retreating when it looked as though they, you know, might. It took a number of stewards, eventually backed up by riot police, to quell the stand-off.
Disgraced former England manager Sam Allardyce used a video link from his Thai holiday today to tell a court how he was allegedly conned out of thirteen grand in a sixty thousand smackers 'Christmas hampers and champers' scam.' Allardyce was allegedly fleeced out of two hundred and seventy knicker after paying for six bottles of wine and six bottles of champagne while in charge of West Hamsters FC in December 2014. He was later stung for a further thirteen grand when his bank account was plundered using the card details he used to make the Christmas purchases, jurors were told. Last month, Allardyce got the old tin-tack from the England job after just sixty seven days in the hot seat following a newspaper sting which filmed him advising undercover reporters on how to circumvent FA rules on third party ownership. Which was funny. He gave evidence against alleged fraudster Stephen Ackerman today via video-link from Thailand. Ackerman, attended West Hamsters' Chadwell Heath training ground under the alias 'Mark Kingston' offering the luxury goods on 12 December 2014, Snaresbrook Crown Court heard. 'It was an impressive display, which normally happens,' described former West Hamsters manager Allardyce. 'Many different people come in and around Christmas.' Ackerman allegedly targeted a host of players and staff including striker Andy Carroll, who forked out two and half big ones for bogus goods before his account was raided for a further ten grand. Former defender James Tomkins, now at Crystal Palace, handed over seven hundred and fifty knicker before another thirty thousand notes disappeared in unauthorised transactions, the jury was told. Defender Aaron Cresswell is also said to have said one hundred and eighty large while former full-back Joey O’Brien, who left the club in July, is alleged to have lost just under two thousand smackers in total. Ackerman denies seventeen counts of naughty fraud and one of possessing an article for use in naughty fraud relating to a chip and pin device. The con, which took place the day before West Hamsters' draw away at Blunderland, is said to have netted Ackerman over sixty one thousand notes. Others said to have been targeted include Allardyce’' former assistant and newly appointed Hull City assistant coach Neil McDonald who lost sixty quid after paying for bogus goods. West Hamsters' Head of Performance Analysis Jamie Osman and Head of Academy Performance Analysis and Technical Scouting Jamie Benson lost ninety quid and one hundred and eighty smackers respectively. Performance Analysts Oliver De Gruchy, Joshua Andall and Charlie Radmore are also said to have paid two hundred and seventy quid, sixty quid and one hundred and eighty quid respectively. Head of Medical Sport and Science Stijn Vandenbroucke also shelled out eleven hundred and thirty notes, the court heard. Prosecutor Richard Milne said: 'In the run-up to Christmas, West Ham, at their training ground, were visited by a well-dressed businessman. He had all the trappings of success.' Jurors heard that the players and staff at the club were offered 'luxury hampers' including Fortnum & Mason and Harrods champagne. 'He persuaded these players at West Ham United to buy that champagne - that is to pay for it - with the promise of delivery, of course in time for Christmas,' continued the prosecutor. 'There was no champers and there were no hampers there for Christmas because nothing was delivered.' Allardyce told jurors that his former personal assistant had his credit card and was asked to pay for the goods after he himself had spent 'about ten minutes' chatting to the salesman. 'I was on my way out to training at the time,' he said. 'It was in the foyer. He had put his display on in that area which many firms did when they came in and around that time of year.' Allardyce described the fraudster as 'a white male' who was 'smartly dressed' aged 'around the forty mark' but he 'could not be as sure' regarding the fraudster's accent. 'I can't remember him having a huge cockney accent like many of my players at West Ham at the time,' he added. 'I wouldn't say posh - well spoken.' When asked if he ever received his champagne and wine, Allardyce replied: 'No, I didn't.' Pity, a bottle might have come in handy when the FA gave him the push. Jurors heard that the fraudster 'had bigger fish to fry' by accepting the payments on the chip and pin device he took along with him. 'The bigger fish to fry was the hope, and indeed the success, in persuading these players, well-paid players, and staff to use their bank cards, credit cards, in his chip and pin machine,' Milne said. 'What the Crown say the fraudster did on that occasion was that he managed to obtain not just their card details but their chip and pin numbers, their secret numbers, for use thereafter. The Crown say Andy Carroll, on or after 12 December had his bank card used, or misused, fraudulently in the sum of ten thousand five hundred pounds for purchases that he did not authorise were made until he was notified by his bank. Sam Allardyce, his account cards were compromised in the sum of thirteen thousand pounds. The frauds on the card afterwards of James Tompkins was in the sum of thirty thousand pounds. And lastly, Joey O'Brien [was defrauded in] a rather more modest figure of seven hundred and fifty pounds.' Ackerman is alleged to have reached out to trendy Essex nightspot Club 195 owner Scott Cummings to get in touch with Hamsters' representatives. The club named it's VIP Suite after then-club captain Kevin Nolan who is said to have lost nine hundred and twenty knicker in the same scam. Jurors were told that 'there will be no dispute that in fact it was this defendant who attended the club on 18 November.' However, Ackerman is expected to deny giving the name 'Mark Kingston' at the meeting. 'The Crown's case is he was using the name Mark Kingston then,' said Milne. 'The same name he used later, but there is no dispute it was Stephen Ackerman.' Ackerman, of Loughton, denies the charges. The trial extremely continues.
A letter alcoholic wife-beating Scouse junkie John Lennon wrote to the Queen explaining why he was returning his MBE has been found tucked in a record sleeve from a ten pound car boot haul. The anonymous owner took the document to a valuation day at The Beatles Story in Liverpool on Wednesday and discovered it was worth about sixty thousand quid. Albeit, it's only worth that if he can find some mug willing to pay such an amount to acquire it. Which, given that it's Lennon-related, he probably will. One 'expert' believes that the text is a draft of the letter Lennon eventually sent, which remains in the Royal archives. Lennon returned the MBE in protest at Britain's involvement in a civil war. And, the poor sales of his latest single which sort of undercuts the noble, idealistic nature of the gesture. The letter reads: 'I am returning this MBE in protest against Britain's involvement in the Nigeria-Biafra thing, against our support of America in Viet'Nam and against 'Cold Turkey' slipping down the charts.' The letter, which was recently unearthed in the owner's attic, has been described as 'an incredible find' by music memorabilia expert Darren Julien. It was originally discovered inside the sleeve of a record that was part of a collection of singles, picked up for a tenner at a car boot sale twenty years ago. 'My theory is that John Lennon never sent this draft because of the smeared ink,' said Julien. 'If you're writing to the Queen, you want the letter to look pretty perfect, you don't want the ink to be smudged. This suggests that he wrote a second version of the letter, which was the one that was actually sent.'
An artwork commemorating The Pink Floyd legend Syd Barrett is being unveiled in his home city of Cambridge following years of campaigning by fans for a permanent memorial. So, why has it taken so long for the city to fully honour its Crazy Diamond? 'He wasn't in any way a pop star - he never understood celebrity.' Rosemary Breen prefers to think of her late brother as Roger, a man who lived a quiet life in Cambridge and who was at his happiest when he was painting. But Roger, who died in 2006, had spent the early part of his life as someone else entirely: Syd Barrett. Adored by fans across the globe, he was the guitarist, singer, principal songwriter and driving creative force in the early days of The Pink Floyd, the band he was a founding member of in 1965. But, just when the band's career was taking off, Barrett's drug use and mental health issues resulted in increasingly erratic behaviour. It led to his departure from the band in 1968 and his eventual return to Cambridge as a semi-recluse. Following his death from cancer in 2006, there were calls for the city where he had spent both his formative years and later life to commemorate him in some way. Now, in a year that is both the seventieth anniversary of his birth and the tenth anniversary of his death, the calls have been answered. Working alongside Syd's family, arts and events charity Cambridge Live is unveiling a specially-designed artwork in memory of the former Cambridgeshire High School for Boys pupil. It will be installed in the foyer of the Cambridge Corn Exchange, the venue where Barrett played his last ever live gig, remembered for being a disastrous performance by a very different man to the bright, dynamic young performer he had once been. The commemorative events at the venue will also include a sold-out concert by Swedish band Men On The Border, who play cover versions of Barrett's solo work, accompanied by a fifty-piece orchestra. The plans have been a year in the making and have been spearheaded by Cambridge Live's operations director Neil Jones, himself a big fan of The Pink Floyd. 'When I first moved here, I couldn't believe there was no memorial or legacy for the city's biggest musical export,' he said. 'Now it feels like the planets are aligned with the significance of the year and it's all just come together.' Barrett's sister Rosemary will be participating in the celebrations, but says if her brother were alive, he would probably have stayed at home. 'He wouldn't have been interested in it - he wouldn't have turned up and just let people get on with it,' she said. 'I'm proud of the fact he could have given so many people pleasure through his music, but I know he wasn't proud of himself - he was just having fun.' Barrett's musical journey began in Cambridge in the 1950s where he won a piano duet competition with his sister, aged seven. At school he was friends with Roger Waters and David Gilmour - both of whom would later play in The Pink Floyd - and in his teens he began adopting the nickname Syd. After honing his craft in a few local bands and making a name for himself in the city, he attended the Camberwell College of Art at a time when London was the epicentre of the UK underground music scene. The band he joined there, which included Waters and Richard Wright, would later evolve into The Pink Floyd - a name Barrett devised. By 1967, the band had signed a record deal with EMI and released two gloriously weird hit singles - 'Arnold Layne' and 'See Emily Play' - both of which were written by Barrett. But their early success coincided with the onset of serious issues for Barrett, whose use of LSD and other psychedelic drugs was well-known. After erratic performances in the US and troubled behaviour in rehearsals he left the band in 1968 and moved back to Cambridge to live with his mother, Win, in her three-bedroom house in Cherry Hinton. Meanwhile, The Pink Floyd continued on without him, going on to pay tribute to their former bandmate in their 1975 composition 'Shine On You Crazy Diamond'. Barrett embarked on an erratic - though often brilliant - solo career releasing two acclaimed -LPs before that bizarre performance at the Cambridge Corn Exchange in 1972, the last live show he played. 'It's no secret that it was far from the finest performance of his career,' said Neil Jones. 'Notoriously, it was shambolic and, from what we gather, it was abandoned midway through.' Jack Monck, the bass player who was on stage with Barrett that night, said: 'It's become this iconic moment, but at the time it was the opposite. I didn't spend time regretting it, but I do regret we weren't more savvy and prepared.' Jones says that unveiling a memorial at the venue would not involve 'brushing what happened under the carpet. The fact remains, it was his final ever live performance. It was a moment in history - and that's what we're remembering, he said. The artwork itself, named CODA and to be unveiled later, was chosen from a shortlist by Barrett's sister and her nephew. They picked it, she said, because it seemed 'the right choice for what we were doing - very bright and sparkly, but quite basic. It is what it is without any extra bits,' she added, describing her brother - who reverted to the name Roger in the 1970s, and would answer the door to strangers by saying 'Syd doesn't live here any more' - as 'a very straightforward, ordinary guy. I would like him to be remembered for what he was - fun,' she said. 'He only got into that world because he enjoyed music - he didn't know why people were interested in him. I've never liked or understood Pink Floyd, but I love his paintings and he was at his happiest when he was doing that,' she said. As part of the tributes, previously unseen footage of Syd was screened as part of the Cambridge Film Festival. The documentary film, Get All That, Ant?, was put together by Anthony Stern, a former school friend of Barrett and Waters who worked as a professional photographer capturing images of London's 1960s counterculture scene. He remembers Barrett as 'very charming, very bouncy, very youthful,' and said that he did not think the musician 'ever really grew up. He was self expressive and didn't let go of the dreams, memories and affections of his childhood.' Monck recalls the influence Barrett's home city had on a man he described as 'a creative spark. I think there's no doubt Cambridge had a profound effect on him. He was absolutely umbilically linked to the city,' he said. 'It's surprising there hasn't been a memorial as yet, but that's all going to change now.'
The Velvet Underground's John Cale is to perform the band's legendary debut LP The Velvet Underground & Nico live in Liverpool and New York next year for the fiftieth anniversary of its release. Cale and some other people will play the seminal group's debut in full. The Liverpool date will take place at Clarence Dock on 26 May. Cale told BBC News: 'We were all really proud of what we did so it was time to have a look at it with some new voices and new presentations.' The Velvet Underground & Nico, with its famous banana LP cover designed by Andy Warhol, was not a commercial success when it was first released in March 1967. But it has come to be seen as one of the most influential records of all time, with songs including 'I'm Waiting For The Man', 'Femme Fatale', 'Venus In Furs', 'All Tomorrow's Parties' and 'I'll Be Your Mirror'. Brian Eno once said that the LP only sold thirty thousand copies during its first five years but that 'everyone who bought one of those thirty thousand copies went out and started a band.' The Velvet Underground formed after Cale moved from his home in Carmarthenshire to New York to study music in the city and met singer and songwriter Lou Reed in 1964. Thursday will be the third anniversary of Reed's death. Cale, who played viola, piano and bass guitar on their first and second LPs before leaving the band in 1968, said that it was time to put the record 'into perspective.' He continued: 'I'd shied away from looking at it for a long time but it really deserved to get its due. It stands up. It still encapsulates everything we were trying to do, which was take rock 'n' roll in a different direction and talk about subject matter that generally wasn't talked about and using arrangements and atmospheres and noises that weren't generally in the vocabulary of the day.' Speaking about next year's shows, he said: 'We're going to do our best to keep everything as it was, but not keep out any new ideas of what the songs are about. There will be a lot of characters. I'm going to find some really good personas to come and join and it will be great.' Cale performed the LP in Paris in April with special guests including The Libertines, Animal Collective, Mark Lanegan and Lemon Jelly.
All four members of ABBA are to reunite for a new digital entertainment project. The Swedish pop group have not formally performed together since they split up more than thirty years ago but did appear at a fiftieth anniversary party in June. The project, which will involve virtual reality and artificial intelligence, has been described as 'a new entertainment experience.' It will be developed in collaboration with music manager Simon Fuller. 'We are exploring a new technological world that will allow us to create new forms of entertainment and content we couldn't have previously imagined,' Fuller said in a statement. Full details of the project will be announced in 2017. Agnetha Faltskog, Bjorn Ulvaeus, Benny Andersson, and Anni-Frid Lyngstad parted ways in 1983 after more than a decade years together. The group announced that they will work with Fuller, who rose to fame managing The Spice Girls, on what is being described as 'a groundbreaking venture that will utilise the very latest in digital and virtual reality technology.' Lyngstad said that fans around the world always ask about a reunion and added: 'I hope this new ABBA creation will excite them as much as it excites me.' Andersson added: 'We're inspired by the limitless possibilities of what the future holds and are loving being a part of creating something new and dramatic here. A time machine that captures the essence of who we were and are.' The project will aim to take the ABBA experience to a new generation of fans and will enable them to see, hear and feel the band 'in a way previously unimagined,' a press release said. In June this year the band performed together for the first time in thirty years to celebrate the fifty-year partnership between songwriters Ulvaeus and Andersson.
A planned statue of yer actual David Bowie as Ziggy Stardust will 'sing on the hour, every hour,' supporters claim. A crowdfunding appeal has begun to raise one hundred grand for the statue in Aylesbury - the town where Ziggy was first performed. Speakers above the coloured bronze will play one of two thousand songs every hour. The Grand Dame unveiled two LPs and her Stardust persona during gigs at the Friars music venue in the early 1970s. Leading campaigner for the effigy, David Stopps, said it was going to be 'a stunning work of art' with audio that 'brings it to life. We'll have two thousand tracks but you just don't know what you'll get, you might get an obscure B-side from 1972 or you might get one of the big hits,' he said. Although given the fact that in his entire career David didn't record two thousand songs or anything even remotely like it (closer to about five or six hundred, actually), that suggests quite a considerable chunk of the statue's potential repertoire could actually be made up with the work of others. Which, admittedly, has much comedy potential. The artwork, designed by sculptor Andrew Sinclair, will have Ziggy Stardust as the main figure, but behind that will be sculpted references to some of the other characters Bowie created. It is due to stand under the arches in the Market Square which Bowie referenced in 'Five Years', the opening song on The Rise & Fall Of Ziggy Stardust & The Spiders From Mars. Bowie played a - much bootlegged - gig at the Friars club in September 1971 where he premiered live many of the songs from Hunky Dory. Four months later, he played the venue again where the majority of the set was made up of songs which would eventually appear on Ziggy Stardust. The campaign to build a statue has the support of all the local authorities but none of the funds will come from council tax payers. Organisers must raise the one hundred and fifty thousand smackers needed through grants and the appeal. Cheap at half the price if you want to see a David Bowie statue singing 'Long Haired Lover From Liverpool' this blogger would venture.
Imagine stumbling on a rock and/or roll photographic goldmine? A punter from the New York had found a bunch of old thirty five millimetre photos he took of David Bowie, Lou Reed and The Jam in the 1970s. Ed Rosenbaum spent a portion of his formative years living in New York City and going to gigs. He was seventeen in 1977, a time where Manhatten's music scenes were bubbling away fiercely. During this time, Rosenbaum took his trusty Panamax to every show he went to. Throughout the late 1970s and early 1980s, he photographed everyone from David Bowie, Lou Reed, Elvis Costello & The Attractions, Blondie, Bruce Springsteen & The E-Street Band, AC/DC, The Pretenders, The Jam, Blue Öyster Cult and others at rock and/or roll venues like CBGBs, The Palladium and Madison Square Garden, usually from the Mosh Pit. For years, his shots have never seen the light of day until recently when he came across the long-discarded thirty five millimetre negatives and shared them with a student he knew. Whispers of these golden images made their way to Esopus Magazine editor Tod Lippy, who immediately saw their potential. The incredible photos are now being released as a collection called Golden Years, a forthcoming fifty six-page book published by Esopus. Check some of never before seen shots below.
The mysterious hexagon at Saturn's Northern pole has changed colour from blue to gold, scientists have said. The hexagon is essentially a rotating cloud pattern; its shape may originate as the result of large differences in the speeds of Saturn's winds. The observation was made by NASA's Cassini spacecraft, which has been exploring the planet since 2004. The change in colour is thought to be the result of seasonal changes on the planet. In particular, the amount of sunlight falling on the poles affects the production of suspended particles - aerosols - in the atmosphere. Scientists think that the shift from a bluish colour to a golden one may be due to more aerosols being produced through reactions involving sunlight and the atmosphere. This could be happening as the planet's North pole reaches its summer solstice in May 2017. Cassini was launched in 1997, to better understand the processes operating on Saturn and its many moons. Using computer simulations, scientists have shown that small perturbations in winds flowing around the north pole can form a hexagon shape rotating at speeds close to those of the real one.
A waiter working at the British Museum knocked the thumb off a priceless Roman sculpture, it has emerged. The accident occurred in December last year, according to The Art Newspaper, but has only just come to light after someone snitched it up like a Copper's Nark. The waiter, who was from an external company, had reportedly bent down underneath the Townley Venus and knocked its right hand with his head 'whilst getting up again.' Bet that hurt. The thumb was knocked clean off the statue and fell to the floor intact. The statue has now been restored. The British Museum said it had 'taken the incident seriously.' Though whether the waityer got the old tin-tacvk for his carelessness has not been revealed. 'This was an unfortunate incident. The preservation of the collection is of fundamental importance,' a spokesman for the museum said in a statement. 'Our expert conservators have been able to fully restore the object and it has remained on public display. We have retrained all individuals responsible for events.' The Townley Venus is already missing its index finger, which was broken before the sculpture came to the British Museum. The sculpture, which depicts a half-naked figured of the Goddess of love, is a marble copy of the Greek original and dates from the First or Second Centuries. It was excavated in 1775 from the baths at the port of Ostia in Rome and bought by English collector Charles Townley. It was sold to the British Museum in 1805. The Greek original dates back to the Fourth Century BC.
Police arrested a forty eight-year-old man for allegedly taking merchandise from a Walmart, according to the Facebook page of the Winter Haven, Florida, Police Department. When police asked Brian Crume why he took three packs of electric wire and walked out without paying, he said that he was going to sell the merchandise on the street as he needed the money to bail out his wife. Who was arrested earlier that day, charged with ... shoplifting. 'File this under: "You Just Can't Make This Stuff Up,"' the police officer said.
A US college student has crashed into a police car while taking a topless selfie behind the wheel, say officials. Miranda Rader, nineteen, rear-ended the patrol vehicle while allegedly sending nude photos to her boyfriend through the social media app Snapchat, police say. Curiously the selfie does not seem to have appeared on the Interweb yet which makes it probably the only self in the history of selfies not to have been shared with, you know, everyone whether they wanted to see it or not. The accident on Wednesday in Bryan, about one hundred miles North of Houston, caused the airbag to deploy. The Texas A&M University student, also had an open bottle of wine in a cup holder by her, according to police. No one was injured in the incident. The officer whose car had been hit approached Naughty Miranda to find that she had 'an unclasped brassiere' and was 'trying to put on her blouse,' police claim. The freshman reportedly told the officer that she had been driving back to her residence on campus. The arresting officer wrote in an affidavit: 'I asked her why she was not dressed while driving and she stated she was taking a Snapchat photo to send to her boyfriend while she was at a red light.' She was very arrested on suspicion of driving while intoxicated and released from jail on Thursday morning on a two thousand dollars bail bond, police said.
Now, dear blog reader, is Police Officer On LSD Attempts To Save Anti-Masturbation Dolphin Mascot From Imaginary Fire the greatest headline in the history of journalism? Whaddya reckon?
Brazil footballing legend Carlos Alberto Torres, the captain of the 1970 World Cup-winning side, has died aged seventy two. Carlos scored one of the greatest goals in World Cup history in the 1970 final against Italy, rounding off a sublime team move with a powerful low finish. Right-back Alberto was capped fifty three times by Brazil between 1964 and 1977 and won domestic titles with both Fluminense and Santos. He died in Rio de Janeiro following a heart attack. The 1970 Brazil side - which also contained Pele, Jairzinho, Tostao, Rivelino, Gerson and the rest - is widely regarded as the finest (certainly one of the finest) in history. Alberto was named in the world team of the Twentieth Century in 1998 and the FIFA One Hundred for the greatest living players in 2004. Born in Rio, Carlos Alberto joined his local side Fluminense at the age of nineteen in 1963. He made a name for himself in his debut season, not only because of his great tackling and reading of the game, but also for his outstanding ball control, dribbling and playmaking abilities, which were rare at the time for a defender, even in Brazil. In 1966, he moved to Santos, where he became Pelé's teammate, eventually playing over four hundred games for the São Paulo club. He was unable to participate in the 1974 World Cup due to a persistent knee injury. Later that year, he returned to Fluminense and helped the club capture two consecutive Campeonato Carioca championships. In 1977, he moved to Fluminense's arch-rivals Flamengo. After finishing his playing career in North America with New York Cosmos, he managed clubs in several countries as well as the national sides of Oman and Azerbaijan. He won the 1983 Brazilian Championship with Flamengo and ended his coaching career with Azerbaijan in 2005. Carlos Alberto had a huge influence in Brazilian football not only for being one of the best right-backs to ever don the Brazil shirt, but also for being one of the most uncompromising voices on the game in his native country. As a leader, his qualities were unquestionable, wearing the captain's armband and exerting command over a team full of strong-minded individuals. Alberto was a product of Brazil's famous marauding full-back lineage, but the difference was that he united fitness with the art. Brazilians learned the hard way in the 1966 World Cup in England that style was not enough when they were easily outmuscled by European opponents and went out at the group stage. The Captain, as he was nicknamed by most Brazilians, did not have the same success as a manager, though fans of Flamengo, the most-supported team in the country, still have fond memories of his role in winning the 1983 national title. As a coach and, in his later role as a TV pundit, Alberto took no prisoners thanks to a fiery temper and a sharp sense of humour. In his trademark raspy voice, he would lambast directors, players and express certain despair with what he considered a fall in standards in Brazilian football. His son Carlos Aexandre Torres was also, briefly, a Brazilian international.
Bobby Vee, best known for hits including 'Rubber Ball', 'Take Good Care Of My Baby' and 'The Night Has A Thousand Eyes', has died at the age of seventy three. Vee released more than twenty five LPs during his career, retiring in 2011 after being diagnosed with early on-set Alzheimer's disease. His son, Jeff Velline, said that the singer 'died peacefully surrounded by family' on Monday. It was 'the end of a long hard road,' Velline said. He described his father as 'a person who brought joy all over the world,' adding: 'That was his job.' Vee's big break came about in 1959 at the age of fifteen when he filled in for Buddy Holly after the singer's death in a plane crash. A call went out for local acts to replace Holly at his next scheduled show at the Moorhead National Guard Armory. Vee and his band, which had only formed two weeks previously, volunteered. Vee, born Robert Velline, also famously gave a young Bob Dylan his start in professional music. The then Robert Zimmerman played piano briefly with Vee's band and he was reportedly the one who suggested Velline change his last name to Vee. In a show in 2013 in Minneapolis which Vee attended, Dylan paid tribute to his former mentor and performed a version of Vee's first single, 'Suzie Baby'. Bobby Vee & The Shadows were signed with local independent Soma Records in autumn 1959, later moving to Liberty and Vee had his first hit in the Billboard charts in 1960 with 'Devil Or Angel?' A string of hits followed, including Gerry Goffin and Carole King's 'Take Good Care Of My Baby', 'The Night Has A Thousand Eyes', 'More Than I Can Say', 'Run To Him', 'Come Back When You Grow Up', 'Please Don't Ask About Barbara' and 'Punish Her'. Vee and his wife Karen were married for more than fifty years and had four children. Karen died of kidney failure in 2015, aged seventy one. Vee had been in a care home near Minneapolis for just over a year and had been receiving hospice care before his death, his son said.
The singer Pete Burns has died at the age of fifty seven after suffering a heart attack, his management said. Pete had been due to appear on Loose Women on Monday. A statement on Twitter said it was 'with greatest sadness' it had to break the news that Pete 'died suddenly on Sunday.' The statement added: 'All of his family and friends are devastated by the loss of our special star. He was a true visionary, a beautiful talented soul and he will be missed by all who loved and appreciated everything he was and all of the wonderful memories he has left us with.' Pete had become something of a TV regular in recent years, appearing on reality formats like Z-List Celebrity Big Brother, Z-List Celebrity Wife Swap and, most infamously, Z-List Celebrity Botched-Up Bodies.
Peter Jozzeppi Burns was born in Bebington, Cheshire in August 1959. His mother, Evelina Maria Bettina Quittner Von Hudec (1913–1987), was born in Heidelberg. As her father was Jewish, she moved to Vienna to escape the anti-Semitic laws of the Nazis. It was in Vienna that she met Pete's father, Francis, a soldier from Liverpool. Pete wrote of his childhood in his autobiography Freak Unique. He described his mother's alcoholism and her suicide attempts, but maintained that she was 'absolutely the best mother in the world. I lived, I know now, a very solitary childhood. I had nothing to compare it with, so it seemed fine to me. I rarely left the house. I didn't need to; I had a secret world I shared with my mother. In those early years, I couldn't possibly have wished for a better friend. She gave me the power to dream, the power to remove myself from where I might not be having any fun and go inside my head and be somewhere else.' However, he watched helplessly as Evelina battled with alcohol and drug addcition. Traumatised after surviving the Holocaust, she turned to substance abuse when her son was a teenager. Many years later, Pete told OK! magazine: 'I couldn't take it. I'd come home and find her with her wrists slashed and blood splattered all over the place.' Never one to conform to the rules, Pete dropped out of school at the age of fourteen after he was summoned to the headmaster's office 'with no eyebrows, Harmony-red hair and one gigantic earring.' Before he was a pop star or a regular presence on reality TV, Pete was a clothes designer and the proprietor of a shop in Liverpool's Casey Street, catering to the city's burgeoning punk scene. He took what one might charitably call a unique approach to the business of selling clothes, regularly abusing his customers and informing them that the gear they'd just bought were 'crap.' He was always something of an outsider: 'My ex-wife, Lynne and I were the social outcasts of the city. We were ostracised by everyone. We didn't fit in. Well, it was us and Paul Rutherford. The three of us stuck together because no-one else would speak to us.' Pete also worked for a time at the legendary Probe Records shop in Button Street - being served by Pete was, reportedly, a notoriously difficult and often scary experience as this wonderful series of Twitter memories from Scouse punters of a certain age proves!
Probe became a meeting place for the city's musical hopefuls at a time when Liverpool was undergoing something of a second musical revolution. Along with many of the Probe punters, Pete also became a regular at Eric's nightclub in Mathew Street where he and Rutherford - both gay but six feet plus and hard as nails - worked as bouncers. Many of the regulars would go on to form successful bands - most notably after The Clash played a gig at Eric's in May 1977 and fired the imaginations of Pete Wylie, Julian Cope, Ian McCulloch, Holly Johnson et al. Eric's eventually spawned the likes of Deaf School, Echo & The Bunnymen, The Teardrop Explodes, Wah Heat!, The Wild Swans, The Lotus Eaters, The Cherry Boys, The Icicle Works, Big In Japan, Pink Military, Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark, It's Immaterial, Dalek I Love You, The Pale Fountains, The Lightning Seeds and Frankie Goes To Hollywood among many others. Julian Cope, in the first volume of his autobiography Head On: Memories Of The Liverpool Punk-Scene & The Story Of The Teardrop Explodes (1976-82) recalled Pete mercilessly mocking people that he spotted around town wearing his own clothes designs: '"The state of 'er," Peter would cackle in his camp posh-Scouse whinny,' wrote Copey.
Pete took a similarly confrontational approach to music. His musical career began when he formed The Mystery Girls, which featured fellow Liverpool punk scenesters Pete Wylie and Cope. The latter said that Burns had 'as snotty a voice as you could wish to hear' and that his performance style was influenced by Wayne County, the infamous transgender US glam punk best known for onstage shock tactics and for a song called '(If You Don't Want To Fuck Me, Baby) Fuck Off'. The Mystery Girls' solitary gig was, apparently, something of a desultory affair, but Pete's willingness to affront the audience was similarly evident in his next musical venture, the goth-rock band Nightmares In Wax. The band was originally named Rainbows Over Nagasaki and their solitary EP was titled Birth Of A Nation, a name it shared with DW Griffith's infamously racist 1915 movie. But, the music on it was more intriguing and idiosyncratic than the provocations suggested. 'Black Leather' married post-punk guitars with a furious Euro-disco beat (influenced, Pete later noted, by Giorgio Moroder), a raw, vaguely Marc Bolan-inspired vocal, lyrical interpolations from both Iggy Pop's 'Sister Midnight' and KC & The Sunshine Band's 'That's The Way (I Like It)' and homoerotic lyrics: 'I do big muscle boys on motorbikes/I like a filthy, greasy cock.' Heard today, it sounds not unlike a proto-punk precursor of the kind of thing that Frankie Goes To Hollywood - featuring Pete's old friend, Paul Rutherford - would later streamline into multi-platinum success. Nightmares In Wax later changed their name to Dead Or Alive: if a single like 1982's 'The Stranger' had nothing musically in common with that year's big new pop sensation Culture Club – it stuck fast to a post-Siouxsie & The Banshees goth-disco template – then the appearance in the charts of a dreadlocked, make-up sporting androgyne like Boy George proved that Burns' similarly striking appearance was no barrier to commercial success. (Pete, of course, later claimed that George had 'stolen' his look).
Dead Or Alive gradually shed their guitars in favour of a more pop-friendly sound, marrying the Gothic grandeur to dancefloor beats and the slap bass, as heard on their 1983 debut LP Sophisticated Boom Boom. It was only a minor success - as were singles like 'Misty Circles' and a fairly straight cover of 'That's the Way (I Like It)' - and, in Pete's recollection, their company Epic hated his idea for Dead Or Alive's next single, despite the fact that the band had recruited Stock, Aitken and Waterman, a production trio in the first flush of chart success with Divine and Hazel Dean. Pete claimed that he had to pay for the recording out of his own pocket. 'You Spin Me Round (Like A Record)' turned out to be both a transatlantic smash hit - a number one in Britain - and a brilliant pop single, partly because it was a better song than anything Dead Or Alive had released before and partly because Burns caught Stock, Aitken And Waterman at just the right moment, before the trio's sound became too generic and cheesy, when their productions still bore the frenzied influence of hi-NRG, the pounding, electronic off-shoot of disco that was the main soundtrack of early-80s gay clubs. Indeed, 'You Spin Me Round (Like A Record)' is one of a handful of SAW productions that even people who revile the trio as the apotheosis of everything that was wrong with music in the 1980s will, if pushed, admit that they, you know, quite like! It still sounds thrilling, a piece of commercial dance music that captures the hedonism and hysteria of a nightclub in the small hours of the morning, particularly in Pete's eye-popping, breath-defying vocals in the final verse ('I want your luuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu-uh-uh-uh-uh-uh-uuuuuuv').
During this period, Pete was a regular face on the covers of both teen-pop magazines like Smash Hits and the more student-orientated indie-dominated music weeklies; he straddled a lot of boundaries being on both the Radio 1 daytime playlist and The John Peel Show. He formed a close friendship with fellow androgynous Northern chart star Morrissey (once famously joining The Smiths on-stage at the Royal Albert Hall for a furious rendition of 'Barbarism Begins At Home'). By now, Pete had moved to London along with many of his contemporaries, Liverpool having become too limiting for someone of his ambitions. In a 1995 episode of the BBC's Rock Family Trees, The New Mersey Sound, Pete was both amusing and sad about being considered 'a freak' in his home city, with particular reference to an incident where he was attacked - rather than mobbed - by a gang of schoolgirls as he came out of his flat. 'Schoolgirls?' asked the incredulous interviewer. 'And, they were big fuckers!' Pete recalled. Burns became famous for his androgynous style and his progressive approach to gender. He often wore women's clothes and, speaking to the Gruniad in 2007, said: 'Everyone's in drag of some sorts, I don't give a fuck about gender and drag. I'm not trying to be a girl by putting on a dress – gender is separated by fabric. I was brought up with an incredible amount of freedom and creativity. Society has put certain constraints on things.' Dead Or Alive never really equalled their breakthrough, although both the ensuing LP Youthquake and its follow-up Mad Bad & Dangerous To Know had their moments – not least the 1986 single 'Something In My House'; 'Lover Come Back To Me' and 'In Too Deep' were top twenty hits too and they continued to be hugely successful in Japan, long after Britain had lost interest.
Pete had always been scabrously good value in interviews and after his musical career waned, reinvented himself as a reality TV regular, famed for the sharpness of his tongue and the preponderance of cosmetic procedures he subjected himself to. There was clearly a sensitive side to him - he became a spokesman for a charity organisation which dealt with violence in homosexual relationships - but it, perhaps understandably, tended to be overshadowed by the confrontational side to his character: if Noughties reality TV seemed a very different world from the nascent Liverpool punk scene, the man who caused uproar and ended up being investigated by the police for gleefully informing his fellow housemates in the Z-List Celebrity Big Brother house that his coat was made of unlicensed gorilla fur (it wasn't, of course, that was just Pete winding people up) didn't seem that different from the kid in the Casey Street shop, informing customers that the clothes they'd just bought from him were hideous. He admitted to having an addiction to cosmetic surgery, having over three hundred operations in his lifetime, mainly on his face and, in 2006, almost died on the table during nose surgery. He once said that 'changing my face is like buying a new sofa' and that there was 'not a part of me, apart from the soles of my feet, which has not had work done. For me, plastic surgery is a matter of sanity, not vanity.' However, his decades-long obsession with surgically changing his appearance eventually led to bankruptcy after he had to pay out thousands for eighteen months of corrective surgery in Italy when one too many operations on his lips went disastrously wrong. Despite various attempts, Pete's solo career never reached the mainstream success of Dead Or Alive. His last single, 'Never Marry An Icon', was released in 2010. He married his first wife, Lynne, a hairdresser, in 1978. The pair separated in 2006 and Burns married his partner, Michael Simpson, soon after, inviting television cameras to their wedding.
On Thursday evening, dear blog reader, yer actual Keith Telly Topping - as is his wont - attended the latest Record Player event at The Tyneside; a totally cush playing of Parallel Lines at obscene volume in a small room. (Well, he did that after he'd been to KFC for a regular popcorn chicken meal. And then, done a quick bit of shopping at Morrison's across the road. And, then went to the bank on his way into town.) Anyway, point the first about Parallel Lines; every single time that this blogger hears that particular glorious pop classic, Keith Telly Topping is yet again reminded of what a sodding great drummer yer man Clem Burke was/is. Point the second, not only was it a lovely night, spent with chums, but yer actual Keith Telly Topping and his good mate Christian only went and won the bleedin' quiz didn't he/they? With lots of Blondie goodies plus five English pounds as the top prize(s). So, a jolly terrific night all round, topped off by yer actual Uncle Scunthorpe's impressive accompanying slide-show featuring a bunch of images from a legendary August 1980 NME photo-shoot featuring The Queens Of Punk; Deb her very self, the Goddess that is Viv Albertine, Chrissie Hynde, Siouxsie Sioux, Pauline Black and Poly Styrene. And, as great as Parallel Lines is, this blogger could simply have sit all night and looked at those images without the accompaniment of the record quite happily.