Thursday, August 29, 2013

I Had Rather Hear My Dog Bark At A Crow Than A Man Swear He Loves Me

The Thick Of It's Joanna Scanlan has praised Peter Capaldi's casting in Doctor Who. The actress - who starred alongside Capaldi in the BBC's satirical political comedy - said that she was 'delighted' for her former cast mate. Capaldi was confirmed as Matt Smith's successor on the long-running popular family SF drama earlier this month. She told the Press Association: 'I'm delighted for him. It seems to me he's the essence of [The] Doctor. I think Peter is sort of like the Chippendale of Doctor Whos, he's the true thing. A true fine article.' Scanlan added that Capaldi's casting in Doctor Who makes the chance of a fifth series of The Thick Of It 'very difficult.' She explained: 'There was never much chance because I think Armando [Iannucci] very much felt that he'd completed one section of British politics if you like and there was a new stage in politics, and he's opened up into American politics, so I think there was very little chance in that respect. But now that Peter is The Doctor I would have thought that makes it very difficult to come back. You can't do The Thick Of It without Peter Capaldi.'

There's a very good interview with Doctor Who novel author Alex Scarrow in the Gruniad Morning Star. But, typically, it's utterly ruined by some sub-editor's inability to do a bit of proper research into how 'John Pertwee' and 'Christopher Ecclestone' are, actually, spelled. They only needed 'Peter Davidson' for a full set, dear blog reader.
Yer actual Celebrity MasterChef topped Wednesday's ratings outside of soaps, according to overnight data. The latest episode of the cooking competition dipped by over three hundred thousand punters from last week's equivalent episode to 4.4 million at 8pm. Nick Hewer's appearance on Who Do You Think You Are? was almost a million less than Gary Lineker's last week, attracting 4.08m at 9pm. On BBC2, Only Connect was watched by nine hundred and seventy four thousand at 7.30pm, followed by Restoration Home with 1.77m at 8pm. Documentary Martin Luther King and the March on Washington had an audience of 1.02m at 9pm. ITV's repeat of Midsomer Murders brought in but 2.88m at 8pm. On Channel Four, How Not To Get Old appealed to eight hundred and eighty nine thousand at 8pm, while Twenty Four Hours in A&E continued with 1.92m at 9pm. Channel Five's first live Celebrity Big Brother eviction attracted 1.79m at 9pm. Australian prison drama Wentworth premiered to 1.67m at 10pm.

Len Goodman has revealed that he has no plans to leave Strictly Come Dancing. The veteran judge explained that he fears the BBC could axe him and his fellow judges 'at any moment' if it wanted to. Which, since it's the BBC's bloody show and they pay for its production is factually correct. He told the Sun: 'The BBC will get rid of me before I want to get rid of the BBC. I have no desire to retire because once you retire you never have a day off. I'm happy doing this. But there will come a time when the bosses think, "We've had enough of old Len - he's getting dithery and doddery" and all that.' He continued: 'As long as I feel I do the show to the best of my ability, then I'll keep going until they kick me out. And I think I've got a few more series in me yet. But there are loads of people who could replace me. I'm sure they would find someone. The producer, Izzie Pick, once told me that if a plane crashed and all the judges were killed - with Bruce Forsyth and Tess Daly - the show would still go on. They would find new people to replace us. But I don't worry about that call saying that I am being dropped - it is what it is.'
The BBC Trust has described as 'unfortunate and regrettable' a moment in an episode of the BBC2 quiz show Qi in which host Stephen Fry recited a limerick which it described as 'about paedophilia' - although it was, actually, nothing of sort - minutes before a Newsnight report on the Jimmy Savile fiasco. The watchdog concluded that no subject should be absolutely off limits for humour, but said that context is vital – and that Qi was not making light of victims' suffering. An unspecified number of viewers - clearly with nothing more important to do with their time, it would appear - whinged in January that Fry's limerick 'trivialised the subject of paedophilia' when it was aired less than three minutes before a Newsnight report on the Savile saga. Which it didn't or anything even remotely like it but the Trust, showing their usual rank cowardice in the face of potential 'tutting' from the Daily Scum Mail, shat in their own pants and ran a mile. The Trust's editorial standards committee said on Thursday that the proximity of Fry's limerick to the news broadcast was 'unfortunate and regrettable' and 'capable of causing offence.' Which it was. To those who've had a sense of humour bypass. However the Trust's editorial standards committee ruled that the programme was not in breach of the corporation's editorial guidelines, adding: '[The ESC] considered this was at the margins of acceptability given the heightened sensitivities surrounding the Jimmy Savile case.' The ESC said that the decision to broadcast the limerick was 'finely balanced', but concluded that most viewers would not consider the the content strong enough to link it to Newsnight's subsequent Savile report. The Qi episode in question had been recorded months earlier, in May 2012, but was broadcast on 11 January, two minutes and fifty seconds before a Newsnight report summing up the allegations made in a police report against the former Jim'll Fix It host. The limerick, which Fry recited as the last item of the comedy quiz show, went, 'There was a young chaplain from King's, who talked about God and such things. But his real desire, was a boy in the choir, with a bottom like jelly on springs.' The ESC concluded that the limerick 'would not have exceeded generally accepted standards' given the audience's expectations of Qi. Ludicrous. Cowards and spineless weasels.
Meanwhile, back in the - slightly horrific - real world, TV presenter, artist and singer Rolf Harris has been charged with nine counts of indecent assault and four of making indecent images of children, police have said. Harris was first arrested in March by officers investigating historical allegations of child sexual abuse. Six offences relate to the indecent assault of a girl aged fifteen to sixteen between 1980 and 1981 and three relate to a girl aged fourteen in 1984. The indecent images of children were alleged to have been made last year. Harris will appear at Westminster Magistrates' Court on 23 September. Alison Saunders, chief Crown prosecutor for London, said: 'Having completed our review, we have concluded that there is sufficient evidence and it is in the public interest for Mr Harris to be charged with nine counts of indecent assault and four of making indecent images of a child. The alleged indecent assaults date from 1980 to 1986 and relate to two complainants aged fourteen and fifteen at the time of the alleged offending.'

Odious greed bucket, horrorshow (and drag) Adrian Chiles is returning to the BBC, three years after quitting for an ill-fated - albeit, effing hilarious - stint on ITV's breakfast fiasco Daybreak. Greedy scum Chiles has come crawling back to BBC 5Live to present the weekly Friday edition of Drive, alongside Anna Foster. He was one of the first presenters on 5Live when it launched in 1994. The station also revealed Christian O'Connell, Jonathan Pearce and Matt Johnson would be sharing hosting duties on sports panel show Fighting Talk. The trio will alternate presenting the irreverent Saturday morning discussion programme following the departure of the equally odious Colin Murray, who left for TalkSport last month, and good riddance. O'Connell currently fronts Absolute Radio's breakfast show and Pearce provides football commentary, while Johnson is a presenter on ITV's This Morning. Odious greed bucket (and drag) Chiles left the BBC's The ONE Show in 2010 for mucho disgraceful wonga to front ITV's re-launched morning show, alongside his ONE Show co-host The Curiously Orange Christine Bleakley. It was a total and utter bloody disaster and provided huge, thigh-slapping amusement for the entire country as it fell flat on its arse with spectacularly dreadful ratings and even worse audience appreciation figures. The pair got the tin-tack from Daybreak a little over a year later, which was even funnier. Chiles continues to present football coverage on ITV. Badly.

ITV2 is planning a post-apocalyptic sitcom from odious, unfunny, lanky streak of piss Jack Whitehall's writer Freddy Syborn. The channel has ordered a pilot of Cockroaches from independent production house Big Talk, makers of the pre-apocalyptic Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg movie The World's End. Syborn started writing jokes with Whitehall while at school - so, it's his fault that the the odious Whitehall is about as funny as a growth on the bell-end, seemingly. So, that bodes well for this production, doesn't it? Since leaving Cambridge University in 2009, Syborn has written material for Mock The Week, Dave's One Night Stand and Stand Up For The Week among others, as well as co-writing Bad Education and Channel Four's Hit The Road, Jack. Oh, how we wish he would do just that. The commission was announced by trade magazine Broadcast, which said that no other details were known. Which is probably just as well. ITV2 has just ordered a second series of Plebs instead of flushing it into the gutter along with all the other turds as every other network would have, will become home to The Job Lot, previously seen on ITV, and bought the first ten series of Two And A Half Men, as well as the new series from its creator Chuck Lorre, Mom.

Just when you think television has reached the bottom of the dignity barrel and can't, possibly, get any lower, along comes good old Celebrity Big Brother to prove you wrong. Geordie Shore-type person Charlotte Crosby woke up to find she had wet her bed on Tuesday. Crosby had needed to be carried to bed by her fellow housemates on Monday night, after she 'replicated her drunken antics' from the MTV show. As you do. Upon waking up the following morning reeking of piss, she announced: 'I've weed me bed. I'm having a disaster.' A wet disaster, at that.
Yer actual Bill Bailey has revealed that he was asked to write the Matilda musical – but turned it down. The comic and musician said that he was 'too busy' to work on the songs for the show, which were subsequently written by Tim Minchin. Bill said: 'I was approached to write the music for a musical called Matilda. But I couldn't do it because I was doing something else, so, I passed it over. [Minchin] did it great, and that turned out all right for him.' The critically acclaimed musical, produced by the Royal Shakespeare Company and with a script by Dennis Kelly has proved lucrative. It has been running in the West End since 2011, where it won seven Olivier Awards, and opened on Broadway in April – with US and Australian tours ahead. In the interview to promote his Qualmpeddler tour Bill also said that he was now 'at a crossroads' in his career, as his contract to produce live DVDs has ended, reducing the pressure on him to tour. He said: 'I've no more DVDs to make. So I can do what the hell I like. I think I'm gonna take a slight break and then a TV show. I've been writing a TV show for the last year, so that's in the offing. And I'm very pleased with it and the way it's turned out. It's nearly there. But I'm not going to go and blab it around until it's finished. It's a comedy drama. And it's very funny, I think. And it's something I've been working on for the best part of a year now.’

Peter Andre has revealed that he plans to quit his reality TV show next year. Oh dear. How sad.

An undercover Sunday Times reporter had sex with a dentist during a sting set up by so-called 'Fake Sheikh' Mazher Mahmood, a misconduct hearing has been told. The unknown journalist 'went to extra lengths' to get dentist, Omar Addow, to offer to perform female circumcision on her two young nieces. The hearing heard that Addow at first insisted he was against the illegal 'ritual' but then disappeared into a room with the woman for an hour. Of hot squelching noises, possibly. On his return he was recorded on her handbag camera saying: 'I will do it for you. Between you, me and Allah only'. Addow was arrested two weeks after the story appeared in The Sunday Times, but was not charged. The allegations emerged during a misconduct hearing before the General Dental Council in London on Tuesday. The Sunday Times stands by its story and claims that the journalist denies having sex with the dentist. 'The journalist in question was a freelance engaged in a legitimate undercover investigation by The Sunday Times into female genital mutilation, which is a matter of public interest. She categorically denies having had sexual intercourse or any other sexually intimate contact with Doctor Addow,' said a spokesman on Wednesday. Tom Kark QC, for the General Dental Council, which is investigating Addow, told the hearing that the basis for the article, which appeared in the newspaper in April 2012, was that the reporter, who has not been named, 'pretended to be looking for someone who would circumcise children, [and] was referred to Doctor Addow by a GP.' Initially, Addow appeared 'very reluctant' and refused her request, the hearing was told. Kark said Addow was then 'recorded undercover indicating that he was prepared to carry out female circumcisions on two girls', Kark said: '[Addow] says it is against the law. He claims that when he practised in Italy he campaigned against female circumcision. He talks about the danger in taking the girls to old women who perform the operation.' According to Kark, Addow told the reporter: 'It is dangerous. I am against the ritual circumcision of girls', but the dentist later agreed to describe the procedure in some detail and displayed the instruments needed for female circumcision – including surgical scissors and a clamp. When the reporter's stomach started rumbling Addow carried out 'percussion' and examined her abdomen and then other parts of her body, the hearing was told. Mahmood, whose targets have included Sarah Ferguson, the former Duchess of York (she had ten thousand quid), supplied his reporter with fresh batteries for her 'handbag cam' moments before she went to his flat, the hearing was told. Soon after arriving, she disappeared into the bedroom with Addow, reappearing after an hour wearing what appeared to be a sarong, the hearing was told. 'It appears he and the journalist had sexual intercourse,' said Kark. 'We may form the view that the journalist had gone to extra lengths to get her story.' Addow is then heard agreeing for the first time to perform the circumcisions. The journalist, referred to only as 'a female undercover investigator', claims on the secret video to be thirty three and of Ghanaian origin. Neither she nor 'senior investigator' Mahmood will be called to give evidence, the hearing was told. Both Addow and the GP who is said to have referred the journalist to him were arrested on 4 May for conspiring to perform female genital mutilation. They were both released without charge. 'It is the General Dental Council's submission that although he appeared to be very reluctant to take part in such a procedure, he was eventually persuaded to do so,' Kark said. At his police interview, Addow again claimed to be a vocal opponent of 'cutting', the tribunal heard. Addow told police he 'campaigned against it because his mother and his wife had both been badly circumcised in Somalia.' However, he freely admitted to police that he examined the reporter and had sex with her, the hearing was told. 'We did sex', Addow told police, matter-of-factly. Performing or assisting female genital mutilation carries a maximum jail term of fourteen years in pokey, although no successful prosecution has ever been brought in this country. Addow, who is not represented, faces no charges in relation to having sex with the journalist, as she was not his patient and they did not have sex in his surgery. But he is accused of performing a medical examination on the woman while unregistered with the General Medical Council, as well as planning to carry out the two circumcisions. The hearing is scheduled to continue to 3 September.

California is considering a law which would make it illegal to post 'revenge porn' in the state. The state assembly bill would make it a crime to post naughty pictures of anyone online in a state of full or partial undress. Crucially, the latest version of the bill makes it illegal to post pictures even with that person's consent. But prosecutors would have to prove 'the intent to cause serious emotional distress, and [that] the other person suffers serious emotional distress.' First offenders could expect up to six months in pokey, a thousand dollars fine, or both. Many websites have sprung up devoted to so-called 'revenge porn', which consists of intimate pictures of ex-girlfriends and ex-boyfriends or ex-partners. Many people partaking in 'sexting' can find the pictures of themselves taken in the naughty nuddy nude come back to haunt them some time later. New York City mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner recently found his campaign in trouble after admitting sending lewd images of himself via text - having resigned from Congress in 2011 over a similar scandal. A notorious site, IsAnyoneUp.com, which would publish the unwilling subject's full name and link to social networking profiles, attracted more than three hundred thousand hits per day. The owner, Hunter Moore, employed four people to help him administer the site and would refuse to remove the pictures, even if threatened with legal action. The site closed last year and its domain was taken over by an anti-bullying group. The picture-sharing phone app Snapchat, launched in 2011, allows users to send and receive images that 'self-destruct' after a few seconds, just like in Mission: Impossible. Snapchat users around the world send about two hundred million images a day - although, only some of them are filthy. But in May the company admitted that deleted data could 'sometimes be recovered.' It is also possible to save a photo by taking a snapshot of the screen before it disappears.

The Welsh rugby international and broadcaster Cliff Morgan has died after a long illness aged eighty three. Morgan was one of the most talented fly-halves in the game, before becoming a respected commentator, writer and head of BBC outside broadcasts. He won twenty nine caps for Wales, his first in 1951 and captained the British and Irish Lions. Morgan will be forever associated with his commentary on the Barbarians versus All Blacks match in 1973, particularly his breathless description of Gareth Edwards's early try, one of the great moments of sports broadcasting. Cliff's easy-going charm and passionate love of sport was familiar to both rugby supporters and radio and television audiences. He enjoyed a successful career as a mercurial fly-half for Cardiff, Wales, the Barbarians and the Lions before finding a new career in broadcasting. Clifford Isaac Morgan was born on 7 April 1930 in the village of Trebanog in the heart of the Rhondda. The son of a coal miner who turned down an offer to play football for Stottingtot Hotshots, the young Cliff combined a love of singing and woodwork with a burgeoning ability on the rugby pitch. His rugby master played the young Morgan at every position from prop to wing, before allowing him to excel at fly-half, a role which could have been created for him. Short, stocky and with an innate sense of balance, Cliff cut through opposition defences, often cheekily showing the other sides' players the ball before darting away and passing it. Aged nineteen, he was picked to play for Cardiff and proved to be an inspirational presence who, within a year, won the first of twenty nine caps for his country. He was a pivotal member of the Welsh Grand Slam-winning team of 1952, more than holding his own alongside giants of the game like Bleddyn Williams and Ken Jones. The following year, Morgan inspired first Cardiff, and then Wales, to victory against the All Blacks. In 1955, he dazzled for the Lions on their tour of South Africa, scoring a crucial try against the Springboks in Johannesburg. The Lions' 23-22 victory, in front of a crowd of ninety six thousand in the rarefied air of the Transvaal, was considered by Morgan to have been the greatest day of his sporting life. Three years later, he retired from rugby at just twenty eight, leaving behind many memories and admirers. He moved effortlessly from player to broadcaster, first with the BBC in Wales before making the move to London. If anything, his broadcasting career eclipsed his efforts on the rugby field. As editor of Grandstand and head of outside broadcasts, he helped define the way the corporation covered major sporting events. To the surprise of many of his colleagues, he quit the BBC to edit This Week, the successful current affairs programme on ITV. A stroke in 1972 left Morgan speechless and paralysed down one side, but he completed a remarkable recovery when, having returned to the BBC, he commentated on the legendary 1973 match between the Barbarians and the All Blacks at Cardiff Arms Park. As Gareth Edwards crashed over for that try, Morgan's commentary rose magnificently to the occasion: 'If the greatest writer of the written word would have written that story, you'd never have believed it.' Ironically it was rugby's other great voice, that of the late Bill McLaren, which should have told the story of the try, but the Scot was forced to withdraw with 'flu on the morning of the game. In many ways it was fitting that Morgan should have been in the commentator's seat. A true Barbarian, he played in the famous black and white shirt before ever being picked for Wales and his view of how sport should be played reflected the amateur ethos. He was uncomfortable with the flood of money going into sport and openly criticised those players who came to the game with a win-at-all-costs mentality. A spell as resident captain on A Question of Sport was followed by what for many was his crowning achievement, the eleven years behind the microphone on Sport on 4. For many Radio 4 listeners, the weekend had not properly begun until they had tuned in to Morgan's perceptive take on the sporting world, delivered in what fellow presenter Des Lynam described as 'one of the best broadcasting voices of all time.' In 2007 he received a lifetime achievement award from BBC Wales and a tribute from fellow Barbarian, Tony O'Reilly. 'He's a man apart because of his gaiety, his grandeur, eloquence, because of his skills as a football player and his generosity to other players, which was enormous,' said O'Reilly. Barbara Slater, director of BBC Sport said that Morgan was 'an inspiration' to fellow broadcasters. 'Cliff Morgan was not only a superstar in rugby union, but also a pioneer in sports broadcasting and an inspiration to so many of the great voices of BBC Sport,' said Slater. 'He was a scholar and a wordsmith, who had a wonderful understanding of the use of language in broadcasting. His commentary of the 1973 Barbarians match against the All Blacks, and in particular Gareth Edwards' famous try, was sublime in its simplicity and will be remembered for many years to come. Off-air, he played a huge role in the success of BBC Sport in the 1970s and 80s, across a number of senior positions, delivering coverage of huge events including World Cups, Commonwealth and Olympic Games. He will be sorely missed by all in the sports broadcasting community.'

Life may have started on Mars before arriving on Earth, a major scientific conference has heard. New research supports the theory that the Red Planet was a better place to kick-start biology billions of years ago than the early Earth was. The evidence is based on how the first molecules necessary for life were assembled. Details of the theory were outlined by Professor Steven Benner at The Goldschmidt Meeting in Florence. Scientists have long wondered how atoms first came together to make up the three crucial molecular components of living organisms: RNA, DNA and proteins. The molecules that combined to form genetic material are far more complex than the primordial 'pre-biotic' soup of organic (carbon-based) chemicals thought to have existed on the Earth more than three billion years ago, and RNA (ribonucleic acid) is thought to have been the first of them to appear. Simply adding energy such as heat or light to the more basic organic molecules in the 'soup' does not generate RNA. Instead, it generates tar. RNA needs to be coaxed into shape by 'templating' atoms at the crystalline surfaces of minerals. The minerals most effective at templating RNA would have dissolved in the oceans of the early Earth, but would have been more abundant on Mars, according to Benner. This could suggest that life started on the Red Planet before being transported to Earth on meteorites, argues Benner, of the Westheimer Institute of Science and Technology in Gainesville. The idea that life originated on Mars and was then transported to our planet has been mooted before, and not just in The X Files. But Benner's ideas add another twist to the theory of a Martian origin for the terrestrial biosphere. In Florence, Benner presented results that suggest minerals containing the elements boron and molybdenum are key in assembling atoms into life-forming molecules. The researcher points out that boron minerals help carbohydrate rings to form from pre-biotic chemicals, and then molybdenum takes that intermediate molecule and rearranges it to form ribose, and hence RNA. This raises problems for how life began on Earth, since the early Earth is thought to have been unsuitable for the formation of the necessary boron and molybdenum minerals. It is thought that the boron minerals needed to form RNA from pre-biotic soups were not available on early Earth in sufficient quantity, and the molybdenum minerals were not available in the correct chemical form. Benner explained: 'It's only when molybdenum becomes highly oxidised that it is able to influence how early life formed. "This form of molybdenum couldn’t have been available on Earth at the time life first began, because three billion years ago, the surface of the Earth had very little oxygen, but Mars did. It's yet another piece of evidence which makes it more likely life came to Earth on a Martian meteorite, rather than starting on this planet.' Early Mars is also thought to have had a drier environment, and this is also crucial to its favourable location for life's origins. 'What's quite clear is that boron, as an element, is quite scarce in Earth’s crust,' Benner told BBC News, 'but Mars has been drier than Earth and more oxidising, so if Earth is not suitable for the chemistry, Mars might be. The evidence seems to be building that we are actually all Martians; that life started on Mars and came to Earth on a rock,' he commented. 'It's lucky that we ended up here, nevertheless - as certainly Earth has been the better of the two planets for sustaining life. If our hypothetical Martian ancestors had remained on Mars, there may not have been a story to tell.'

A man targeted by marketing companies is making money from cold calls with his own premium-rate phone number. In November 2011 Lee Beaumont paid ten smackers - plus VAT - to set up his personal 0871 line - so to call him now costs ten pence, from which he receives seven pence. The Leeds businessman told BBC Radio 4's You and Yours programme that the premium line had so far made three hundred notes. Phone Pay Plus, which regulates premium numbers, tuttingly said that it 'strongly discouraged' people from adopting the idea. Well, of course they do, why am I not surprised by that? Beaumont came up with the plan when he grew sick of calls offering to help him reclaim payment protection insurance, or install solar panels. He said: 'I don't use my normal Leeds number for anyone but my friends and family.' Once he had set up the 0871 line, every time a bank, gas or electricity supplier asked him for his details online, he submitted it as his contact number. He added he was 'very honest' and the companies did ask why he had a premium number. He told the programme he replied: 'Because I'm getting annoyed with PPI phone calls when I'm trying to watch Coronation Street so I'd rather make ten pence a minute.' He said that 'almost all' of the companies he dealt with were happy to use it and if they refused he asked them to e-mail. The number of calls received by Beaumont has fallen from between twenty and thirty a month to just thirteen last month. Because he works from home, Beaumont has been able to increase his revenue by keeping cold callers talking - asking for more details about their services. He admitted the scheme had 'changed his attitude', saying: 'I want cold calls' and that he had moved on to encouraging companies to make contact. After a recent problem with his online shopping, he declined to call an 0845 number but posted his number on Twitter in the knowledge that the number could be picked up by marketing companies. But the premium number regulator Phone Pay Plus claims that the public should 'think twice' before setting up their own lines. They say phone line providers must meet consumer protection standards, which include transparency, fairness and complaint handling, which would mean clearly setting out the cost of each call to any organisation that rang. They told You and Yours: 'Premium-rate numbers are not designed to be used in this way and we would strongly discourage any listeners from adopting this idea, as they will be liable under our code for any breaches and subsequent fines that result.' A survey for charity Citizens Advice found that two-thirds of those asked had received unwanted calls, texts, e-mails or letters about PPI mis-selling. More than half said that they had been contacted more than ten times in the past year.

Late goals from yer actual Shola Ameobi and his younger brother Sammy Ameobi his very self sent yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved (though still unsellable) Magpies through to round three of the Capital One Cup at the expense of Morecambe on Wednesday night. Wouldn't it be beyond lovely, dear blog reader, to report that, in the next round, the Toon had been drawn against And Wise. But, they weren't. Although they are due to play another top quality comedy side, Dirty Leeds. Shola's deflected shot from twenty yards and Sammy's impressive individual effort in deep into injury time settled a contest in which the Premier League team were second best for long spells. Except when it came to, you know, putting the ball in the net - which is, after all, the whole point of the game in the first place. Dan Gosling made two goal-line clearances, while Padraig Amond was denied twice by goalkeeper Rob Elliot. Newcastle's late rally eased some of the pressure on Magpies boss Alan Pardew, who has had to deal with questions about his club's lack of transfer activity and the future of unsettled midfielder Yohan Cabbage in the early weeks of the season. A first win of the campaign will be a relief to Pardew, although his side were made to work extremely hard for victory by a team three divisions below them. Morecambe were probably the better side during a goalless first period and had their fair share of opportunities but, couldn't take nay of them. The visitors, who made eight changes from their weekend draw against West Ham, were twice indebted to Gosling, the former Everton midfielder clearing headers from Shrimps captain Mark Hughes and striker Amond off the line. Newcastle attacks were rare, with Gael Bigirimana's free-kick forcing the only save of note from home keeper Barry Roche. Shola Ameobi's half-time introduction almost brought immediate rewards, but after latching onto Gosling's defence-splitting pass, he blazed over from eighteen yards with only Roche to beat. A long-range shot from young defender Paul Dummett fizzed wide as the prospect of extra-time loomed, while Pardew turned to Hatem Ben Arfa to inject some life into Newcastle display. It was the French international who teed up the elder of the Ameobi brothers to fire the visitors in front and punish Morecambe for their wastefulness in front of goal. As the hosts pressed for an equaliser, the younger Ameobi broke clear and slotted underneath Roche from close range to secure Newcastle's place in the last thirty two, where they will host Championship outfit Dirty Leeds at yer actual St James' Park. .

Anything the chaps can do, it would seem, the ladies can do equally as well. England regained the Women's Ashes by thrashing Australia by five wickets in their second Twenty/20 match. Lydia Greenway rescued England with a match-winning eighty not out from sixty four deliveries after they had been reduced to nine for three, chasing one hundred and twenty eight for victory. Captain Charlotte Edwards hit twenty four in a fourth-wicket stand of sixty seven while Natalie Sciver's thirteen helped steer England home. Meg Lanning top scored for the tourists with sixty before she was run out by Holly Colvin as Australia posted one hundred and twenty seven for seven. England went into the game leading the new multi-format series eight-four and, with two points for a win, knowing a victory would be enough to regain the Ashes. England were always on top during the Australia innings with Katherine Brunt bowling through and taking one for fifteen from her four overs as the tourists were restricted to twenty six for one off the opening six powerplay overs. Lanning upped the pace midway through the innings, flicking Jenny Gunn for a leg-side six to bring up her third T20 half century but just as she looked set to push Australia on to a competitive total, she was run out in unfortunate fashion. Alex Blackwell drove a Holly Colvin delivery straight back down the pitch and in trying to field the ball, the England spinner deflected it onto the stumps with Lanning out of her ground to leave Australia ninety five for three. The wicket sparked a collapse as Australia scored just thirty five runs for the loss of five wickets in the final five overs. Danielle Hazell (two for eleven) took both her wickets in a final over which also saw Aussie captain Jodie Fields run out as three wickets fell in successive deliveries. However, England's reply was soon in tatters after Heather Knight was bowled by Julie Hunter in the second over, while in the next, Sarah Taylor was well caught by Sarah Coyte off her own bowling and the Australian then bowled Danielle Wyatt for a second-ball duck. Edwards and Greenway steadied the innings with the former pushing singles while the latter used the reverse sweep and deft leg-side flicks to keep the scoreboard ticking over. The pair moved the total on to seventy six before Edwards tried to hit a ball over the top but was caught by Jess Cameron at mid-off. Greenway continued to deflect the ball behind the stumps though and the left-hander brought up her fifty with a paddle sweep for four as she reduced the run-rate from eight-an-over to a run-a-ball. Sciver chipped in with a vital thirteen before being run-out in the eighteenth over but by then England had advanced to one hundred and sixteen and Greenway wasted no time in knocking off the remaining runs, cracking two boundaries in the penultimate over before fittingly hitting the winning run. The solitary test match between the two sides was drawn and, after Australia had won the first one-day match, England won the next two before wrapping up the series with victories in the first two Twenty/20 games. With two points for a win, England lead the series ten-four with just Saturday's final Twenty/20 game at Durham to come.
A giant tarantula is reportedly on the loose in Torquay. The creature, described as being 'brown and hairy and about the size of a man's hand', was spotted by a local landlady in the garden of her property in Ellacombe. 'I thought it was a mouse at first but then I saw these big hairy legs,' Sonia McGrath told the Herald Express. 'I dropped everything and went home,' she claimed, before adding: 'It's big and it's hairy and I be a'feared of it.' Probably. She returned with her husband, loaded with a large fishing net and broom handle, but the over-sized spider managed to escape through a fence panel and has been missing ever since. It is believed to have been left by a previous tenant and is not thought to be dangerous. '[Experts] told me it was harmless but won't survive if it gets too cold so I desperately want to find it,' McGrath added. 'I can't see myself picking it up but I want to make sure it is safe.'

Resiting the temptation to go for something from the Spiders From Mars oeuvre, for today's Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day dear blog reader we have, yer actual Keith Telly Topping is proud to say, quite simply one of the most shite records of the 1980s - the decade that taste forgot. And, the fact that the tune is a complete rip-off from The Jam's 'Circus' only makes it worse. All of this, however, is slightly made-up-for by the persistent rumour that it was actually Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads (on whose label, the single was released) in the doggy costume when it got performed on Top Of The Pops. Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads denies it, of course.

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