Sunday, July 06, 2014

Week Twenty Nine: Incomplete, There's A Punishment Needed

The Doctor Who production team will start the BBC's popular long-running family SF drama's so-called 'world tour' with a screening in Cardiff. Series eight will have its world première at St David's Hall, where audiences will be able to watch the feature-length episode Deep Breath more than two weeks ahead of its TV début. The Cardiff premiere will take place on 7 August, though the episode won't be shown on BBC1 until Saturday 23 August. 'Doctor Who is getting even bigger and even better - and it's a real thrill that the show's fans here in Wales will be the very first to see the new Doctor at this very special première screening,' said BBC Wales director Rhodri Talfan Davies. 'Doctor Who has been made in Wales for almost ten years - and we're so proud of its worldwide success.' New Doctor yer actual Peter Capaldi will be at the event alongside his co-star Jenna Coleman her very self. Doctor Who: The World Tour will visit seven cities across five continents in twelve days, where Peter and Jenna will attend fan events and take part in media interviews. Capaldi previously said of the tour: 'It's fantastic that so many people across the world love Doctor Who. After eight months solid filming deep in the world of monsters, Jenna and I are thrilled to be heading for the Planet of Fans.'
Another new teaser trailer for Doctor Who's upcoming eighth series has been released - it was first broadcast on BBC1 on Friday evening immediately after the Germany versus France World Cup quarter final. It appears to reveal that another classic enemy is returning. Go on, have a guess which one.
World Cup football was the highest rated primetime programme on Friday evening, with an average audience of 7.48m tuning in to ITV at for Brazil's 2-1 quarter-finals victory over Colombia. The audience peaked at 9.52m during the last fifteen minutes of the game, when Brazilian forward Neymar suffered a spinal injury which has ruled him out of the rest of the tournament. A further 5.19m saw Germany beat a hugely disappointing France 1-0 in the 5pm kick-off on BBC1. The audience peaked at 7.46m in the final fifteen minutes of the game. Odious Unfunny Plank James Corden Does Deal Or No Deal (Badly) attracted 1.25m to Channel Four at 8pm, as the wretched waste-of-space berk walked away with thirty two grand for charrriddeee. Eight Out Of Ten Cats Does Countdown received 1.27m at 9pm, while Friday Night Dinner was watched by six hundred and fifty six thousand punters at 10pm. BBC1 had an audience of 3.6m watching Celebrity MasterChef at 8pm, followed by 2.2m for a New Tricks repeat at 9pm. John Bishop's live tour Rollercoaster had 1.65m at 10.35pm. BBC2's highest rated show was Gardener's World, which was watched by 1.46m. Today At Wimbledon brought in 1.19m for the channel, with highlights of Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer's semi-final victories. The Big Brother eviction episode was watched by an average of 1.04 million sad, crushed victims of society.

BBC presenter Gary Lineker goaded two of his analysts - yer actual Ruud Gullit and Alan Shearer his very self - by bringing up a very touchy subject during Friday's Match Of The Day Live. As Germany led Didier Deschamps' France side 1-0 during half-time of their World Cup quarter-final, sitting opposite Lineker were Gullit and Shearer, who were part of the same Newcastle United set-up during the 1998-99 Premier League season – the Dutchman was in charge of the Magpies, with Shearer as their talismanic striker and captain. And it was during one particularly notorious fixture to which that naughty scamp Lineker alluded to. Complimenting Deschamps’s management skills in having the nerve to drop big-name players, Lineker asked whether Gullit had ever done such a thing during his managerial career. The presenter was, of course, alluding to the night when the Dutchman dropped Shearer for a huge derby against fierce rivals Blunderland - a decision which was, unsurprisingly, met with huge outrage and controversy on Tyneside (especially as The Dirty Mackems won the subsequent game 2-1 in a virtual monsoon, a result which, effectively, cost Gullit his job). As TV viewers across the country held their collective breath, unsure as to what the reaction would be from both men, an awkward pause was followed - thankfully for everyone - by raucous laughter. As it happens Rudi and Alan seem to get on quite well these days, which is probably more than can be said for Shearer - never a man to forget somebody taking a rise out of him without an elbow being involved - and Lineker. Expect further developments on this one!
The World Cup quarter-final between the Netherlands and Costa Rica was seen by an average of 7.70 overnight million viewers on BBC1 on Saturday. The game peaked with 9.18 million viewers as the Netherlands dramatically defeated Costa Rica 4-3 on penalties. BBC1's evening kicked off with 2.54 million for A Question Of Sport at 7pm, while 2.55 million tuned in for The National Lottery: Break The Safe immediately after. On ITV, Carol Vorderman's appearance on the returning Tipping Point: Lucky Stars attracted 3.34 million at 7.30pm, whilst a Midsomer Murders repeat was seen by 1.86 million at 8.30pm. ITV's World Cup coverage of Argentina versus Belgium entertained an average of 4.42 million punters at 5pm. Today At Wimbledon was BBC2's highest-rated programme of the evening, picking up 1.10 million viewers at 8.15pm. Qi XL followed with seven hundred and ninety thousand viewers immediately after, while evening movie, the wretched Dustin Hoffman/Emma Thompson vehicle Last Chance Harvey was seen by seven hundred and fifty thousand. Who probably wanted to kill themselves by the time it finished. An average of 1.47 million viewers tuned in to watch Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen on Channel Four at 7.10pm, while the excellent Attack The Block played to four hundred and eighty thousand at 10pm. She's Seventy Eight, He's Thirty Nine: Age Gap Love was Channel Five's highest-rated show with eight hundred and ninety eight thousand, narrowly beating the evening's episode of Big Brother, which had eight hundred and seventy nine thousand gawping voyeurs glued to it.

BBC Television News celebrated its sixtieth anniversary on Saturday. When the first ever twenty two-minute television news bulletin was broadcast at 7.30pm on 5 July 1954, topics of the day included Question Time in the house of Parliament, Princess Margaret visiting Lancashire and a mine workers conference in Blackpool. Since then, BBC News has reached a number of milestones - with Kenneth Kendall appearing as the first newsreader on screen in 1955, the first regional news bulletins being introduced in 1957 and Nan Winton becoming the first female BBC newsreader in 1960. 1972 saw the introduction of Newsround, the first regular news bulletin for children, while Newsnight was launched in 1980. It wasn't until 1997 that rolling news was introduced in the shape of News 24, and 2000 saw the night-time news moved from the 9pm slot to 10pm.
So, anyway ... a thought for the day.
Yer actual Darcey Bussell has admitted that appearing on live television can be 'terrifying.' Although, to the best of this blogger's knowledge, not so terrifying that she's ever shat in the own pants live on camera and ran around doing jazz hands and wailing for her mummy. So, not that terrifying, in that case.

And so, on that, somewhat comforting, note here are the latest batch of yer actual Top Telly Tips:-

Saturday 12 July
Tonight, mercifully, is the last occasion that anyone will have to tune in to ITV's wretched and worthless coverage if they want to catch any of the World Cup as the BBC haven't even bothered with the third-place play-off (kick-off 9.00pm), which is staged at the Estadio Nacional in Brasilia. And is, quite possibly, the single most pointless exercise in sport. The two losing semi-finalists face each other to determine the vitally important question of who finishes third and fourth - like that matters - in a contest which will be wholly overshadowed by tomorrow's final and forgotten about - even by those who played in it - within seconds of the final whistle. This, despite it historically being one of the higher-scoring matches of each tournament. The corresponding fixture in 2010 was a broadly entertaining affair, with Germany beating Uruguay 3-2. European teams have featured prominently in this contest over the years, with the continent providing the winner on all but three occasions and a continuous succession of victorious teams dating back to the 1982 tournament in Spain. Presented by Matt Smith (no, the other one), with commentary by Sam Matterface and Clarke Carlisle who knows about as much about playing football at an international level as this blogger does. In the event of extra-time and penalties, subsequent programmes are subject to change. And, insomnia could well be cured for good.

Elsewhere, it bit of a damned queer day on telly all round, quite frankly. ITV3 have a four episode back-to-back Endeavour marathon, BBC3 are covering the T In The Park festival for most of the evening - highlights include Scottish singer-songwriter Paolo Nutini, urban star Pharrell Williams and a bit of yer actual drum 'n' bass from Rudimental - whilst Dave got for three episodes of Have I Got A Bit More News For You and an old Qi XL. Which are always reliable fall backs if there's nothing of any interest to be found on your other six hundred and ninety nine channels. Drama, meanwhile, are showing the original 1990 BBC version of the acclaimed political drama House Of Cards with Ian Richardson and Susannah Harker (that one is hugely recommended if you've never seen it before) and there's also a brace of NCIS episodes on the Universal Channel. So, plenty to be going on with there if you're not going to be watching the football - and tonight, trust me, you will not be alone, even among football fans.

If you've ever read anything by the novelist William Boyd then you'll probably recognise the basic plot of Death In Paradise which begins a repeat run tonight on Alibi - 9:00. A buttoned-up Briton (in this case the wonderful Ben Miller at his most bumblingly Cary Grantesque) arrives in an unusual location and all manner of malarkey and shenanigans follow. A British police detective is murdered on the Caribbean island of Saint Marie and the local commissioner (the great Don Warrington) declares another officer from the UK must be flown over to lead the investigation into this mysterious and grisly crime. Enter Detective Inspector Richard Poole, a properly brilliant detective with a unique approach to cracking crime and just the man to solve the mystery of his colleague's death. The only problem is, he is totally unsuited to a life of sun, sea and sand - and worse still, it seems his boss back home would rather prefer it if he stayed out there. Miller - a fine actor as well as a terrific comedian and a very smart and funny man - stars as the fish-out-of-water detective, with Sara Martins, Lenora Crichlow, Danny John-Jules and Sean Maguire.

Sunday 13 July
And so, dear blog reader, we reach the end of a road well travelled; the Road to Rio as it were with coverage of the final of the World Cup at the Estadio do Maracana (kick-off 8.00pm), where the successors to 2010 champions Spain will be crowned. It's on both BBC and ITV, of course, but if you've got any sense you'll be watching the Beeb. I mean, who the hell tunes into odious greed bucket, horrorshow (and drag) Chiles unless they absolutely have to? This twentieth staging of the tournament has been, largely, lauded as a great success, with a glut of goals - at least, until it all got a bit serious around the quarter final mark - attacking football and some of the leading players in the world bringing their club form to the international stage. While several of the leading European nations embarrassingly made early exits, including Italy, the defending champions and, of course, England, the South American and CONCACAF sides demonstrated their ability, leaving few clues as to which team could find the consistency required to lift the trophy. A number of shock results added to the excitement and unpredictability of the tournament, but there have been relatively few surprises in the show-piece match over the years, with the last one probably being France's victory over Brazil in 1998 and, before that, Italy's triumph against West Germany in 1982 following their slow start to that campaign. A European success remains unlikely, especially as all four stagings of the World Cup in South America have been won by sides from that continent, with the last one being Argentina on home soil in 1978. On, for one last time - well, until the next major sporting event rocks up (that'll be the Commonwealth Games in a few weeks time) - in the event of extra-time and penalties, subsequent programmes are subject to change.

If you don't fancy that then how about The Sky at Night - 10:15 BBC4 - wherein Maggie Aderin-Pocock explores the sun's unique qualities as a star, and Chris Lintott conducts stellar archaeology as he investigates the cosmic nursery Earth's sun was born in. The team makes use of the extended daylight hours for a spot of daytime stargazing, and Lucie Green observes the changing seasons on other planets across the solar system.

BBC2's alternative to the footie is a repeat of Paula Milne's acclaimed 2011 adaptation of Sarah Winters' World War II drama The Night Watch (9:00) followed by repeats of Mock The Week and Qi XL. Sky Living has episodes of Elementary, The Blacklist and Bones (all of them decent ones as well, as it happens), there's a repeat of the superb Tommy Cooper biopic Not Like That, Like This on ITV Encore - David Threlfall at his absolute best - whilst T In The Park concludes on BBC3 with another night of highlights (well, if Tinie Tempah and Jake Bugg are your bag, anyway).
Monday 14 July
After last week's programmes charting the rigorous selection progress involved in whittling the entrants down to twenty eight teams, the main part of this year's University Challenge competition gets under way - 8:00 BBC2. As, a now mostly unemployed, Jezza Paxman his very self hosts the return of the academic quiz show in which students from UK universities answer questions on all manner of subjects and scared the living bejesus out of those poor students. The opening match of the first round sees two teams of four students battle it out for a place in the second stage of the contest.

Tonight sees the return of the dark conspiracy thriller Utopia - 10:00 Channel Four. In 1974, young scientific genius Philip Carvel meets idealistic security services agent Milner at a secret forum of political, industrial, financial and academic leaders. Milner is in charge of a powerful shadowy organisation known only as The Network. Together they hatch a radical plan they believe will save the human race from the horrific ramifications of over-population. Fast forward to 1979 and Carvel is beginning to lose his mind, tormented by his love for his daughter Jessica and his guilt over what he has done to his son Pietre. He has made an adjustment to Janus and is refusing to release it to Milner. Tom Burke, Rose Leslie and Ian McDiarmid star in this prequel episode, before the action returns to the present day in the next part.

In Chocolate Perfection with Michel Roux Jr - 9:00 BBC4 - the esteemed chef, former MasterChef: The Professionals judge and restaurateur sets out to create his own flavour of chocolate by considering the reasons why the foodstuff has been so popular around the world for so long. Charting the history of its development, the presenter finds out how it was a sacred drink of Aztec emperors, and the aphrodisiac of choice at the court of Louis XIV of France - making him, one supposes, The King Of Chocolate - before Michel gets to work trying to make a unique melt-in-your-mouth variety.

Brian Cox (no, the other one) and his second gem of popular physics, Wonders Of The Universe, gets a repeat airing with all four episodes going out back-to-back on the Eden channel from 8pm. Professor Brian's lucid but mind-blowing account of cosmic cause-and-effect bears repeating, too, even if he caricatures it himself as a lot of 'gazing wistfully at the sky.' There is a certain amount of that, admittedly, but there's also brain blowing imagery galore. Tonight's trippy lecture includes a sun temple in Peru, a Patagonian glacier and an eerie shipwreck on the Skeleton Coast — all illustrating aspects of 'the vast sweep of cosmic time.' As always the programme sparkles with insight, has visuals out of a Wim Wenders film, and is underpinned by a passionate belief in science as the heartbeat of everything.

Tuesday 15 July
Having spent some time down under of late, the Coast team returns to explore yet more locations on UK shores and far beyond, beginning by examining stories from both sides of the English Channel as a ninth series begins - 9:00 BBC2. Nick Crane is on the French coast to experience the secret life of hilltop monastery Mont St Michel and visits the historic walled citadel of St Malo, where a network of sea forts foiled repeated raids by the Royal Navy. Scottish Neil Oliver (and his lovely hair) investigates how the sinking of the troopship SS Mendi in 1917 became a potent symbol of racial inequality in post-apartheid South Africa, while Mark Horton reveals how Eighteenth-Century French mapmakers unwittingly gave birth to Britain's Ordnance Survey.

After torrential rain batters Las Vegas, Sara Sidle is called to a hospital to help identify a barely breathing man found in one of the city's storm drains, and discovers a bomb in his bag in the latest episode of yer actual CSI - 9:00 - Channel Five. Meanwhile, Greg Sanders finds himself under the microscope when attorney Jennifer Rhodes looks into an allegation that he planted evidence to secure the conviction of Gus Ellis, who served seven years of a life sentence for murder before the guilty verdict was quashed. Crime drama with Ted Danson, Elisabeth Shue, George Eads, Jorja Fox, Eric Szmanda, Robert David Hall, Wallace Langham, David Berman, Paul Guilfoyle and Elisabeth Harnois and guest starring Lea Thompson.

Ray Donovan - 9:00 Sky1 - the drama about a man who fixes the problems of the elite of Los Angeles society returns with the aftermath of the shooting on the dock, as FBI agent Ed Cochran starts asking questions. Ray is rapidly losing control and when things start spiralling further out of his grasp, he needs his dad's help - but Mickey can't be found and he has to to track him down. Meanwhile, Abby and the kids feel the effects of Ray's increasingly volatile life. Liev Schreiber and Jon Voight star.

Lecter spills the beans on Will and Margot's secret liaison, manipulating a paranoid Mason into seeking revenge against his sister in Hannibal - 10:00 Sky Living. Meanwhile, Jack Crawford learns of Freddie's disappearance and races against the clock to track her down, determined not to see the journalist suffer the same fate as Beverly. Featuring Hugh Dancy, Mads Mikkelsen, Caroline Dhavernas, Laurence Fishburne, Scott Thompson, Aaron Abrams, Michael Pitt, Katharine Isabelle, Lara Jean Chorostecki and Daniel Kash.
Wednesday 16 July
In the first of the two part Operation Cloud Lab: Secrets Of The Skies - 8:00 BBC2 - a team takes to the skies in one of world's largest airships for an exploration of Earth's most precious and mysterious environment - the atmosphere. Flying coast to coast across America, they undertake a series of experiments to shed light on the causes of extreme weather, how life exploits the atmosphere and the impact of humans on it. Expedition leader and meteorologist Felicity Aston examines how clouds capture and store water with an ambitious attempt to try to weigh one. Steven Mackintosh narrates. Sounds well worth an hour of everyone's time.

Oxford's last-surviving all-female college is holding a reunion to bid farewell to one of its most prominent professors in another classic Lewis - Old, Unhappy, Far Off Things repeated on ITV3 at 8pm. However, the evening leads to tragedy when a guest is found murdered and Robbie Lewis is convinced that the killing is connected to an attack that occurred at the same institution ten years previously. Whilst Hathaway stands around and broods a lot. as usual. And at this point, crime fans will no doubt be wondering if they've taken a wrong turn and strayed into Dorothy L Sayers' 1935 masterpiece Gaudy Night. Don't worry, you haven't. The detective calls in his former Detective Sergeant, Alison McLennan, to help with the investigation, but the case takes a twist when two more bodies turn up. Crime drama, guest starring Juliet Stevenson, Zoe Telford, Stephanie Street, Hattie Morahan, Antonia Campbell-Hughes and Saskia Reeves, with regulars Kevin Whately, Laurence Fox, Clare Holman and Rebecca Front.

It's certainly been a busy half-day for fugitive ex-anti-terrorist agent and armour-plated killing machine Jack Bauer in 24: Live Another Day, the last episode of which you can see tonight - 9:00 Sky1. Highlights have included escaping from the CIA, rescuing cyber-terrorist partner Chloe from torture, shooting several peaceful protesters in the legs (well, we've all wanted to do that), breaking into the US embassy, helping the president fake his own sacrifice by drone missile strike, throwing two terrorists out of a fifth-storey window and punching countless guards and random passers-by along the way. You know, blood soaked mayhem and tool-stiffening violence. So, just a normal day in the life, in other words. Now, with only sixty minutes left to save the day, Big Hard Crazy Jack will be desperate to tie up the last few loose ends before the big hand gets back round to the top. Kiefer Sutherland stars, with Mary Lynn Rajskub, Yvonne Strahovski (assuming Chloe and Kate have made it this far), William Devane and yer actual Stephen Fry.

The winning lady is announced in the final episode of I Wanna Marry "Harry" - 9:00 ITV2 - quite possibly the worst thing ever. And not just on television either. It remains to be seen whether the winning lady will wish to know Matthew when he comes clean about his true identity and the fact that he's not a member of the royal family and fourth in line to the throne but is, in fact, just some bloke was happens to look a bit like him. This is the final part of the crass and dreadful US reality series in which a dozen gormless ignorant American airhead birds come to the UK to compete for the alleged Prince Harry's affections in the hope of untold riches, a place on The Civil List and a wedding in Westminster Abbey. It would be funny, dear blog reader, if it wasn't so sick. Just when you think television has reached a new low, along come some Americans to convince you otherwise.

Thursday 17 July
Host Dara O Briain and regulars Hugh Dennis and Andy Parsons are joined by Ed Byrne, Milton Jones, Russell Kane (very popular with students) and this week's token female Zoe Lyons on the topical comedy quiz Mock The Week - 10:00 BBC2. The panellists give their take on the week's major news stories and participate in a series of stand-up spots and improvised games. And most of them will be quite funny. Except Russell Kane. Who never is funny or anything even remotely like it.

Family friend Shlomo Zahary has been rejected by Nessa as a future business partner because she believes he was corrupt in the past, but the Israeli rejects this and tells her she is being manipulated into working with a Palestinian company in the third episode of The Honourable Woman - 9:00 BBC2. Nessa's security adviser Nathaniel Bloom follows a lead he believes will help him uncover the names of Kasim's kidnappers, while Ephra discovers the true identity of the abducted boy's father. Political thriller, starring Maggie Gyllenhaal, Andrew Buchan and Tobias Menzies.

Britain's Poshest Nannies - 9:00 ITV - is a documentary following second-year students at a quintessentially British childcare training centre in Bath, renowned for its rigorous rules, traditional uniform and clean white gloves. I'm really not making this up, dear blog reader, that's exactly what it claims on the press release (which appears to feature words in capital letters for emphasis and two exclamation marks at the end of just about every sentence. Make of that what you will. The trainees at Norland College are taught a range of skills including cookery, sewing, self-defence and advanced driving and also face a forty eight-hour challenge to keep a virtual baby clean, fed and happy.
The latest episode of Horizon - 8:00 BBC2 - is called What's Wrong With Our Weather? Physicist Helen Czerski and meteorologist John Hammond investigate why the British weather appears to have become more extreme over recent years and if it has anything to do with climate change and that. They examine the impact of the jet stream's strange behaviour moving around all over the place as if by osmosis, revealing what is causing it and attempt to find out if severe winters are going to become more common. Personally, this blogger likes a bit of snow so, you know, what's the problem?

Friday 18 July
The final of Celebrity MasterChef is here - 8:30 BBC1 - and the three remaining z-lister contestants face the most demanding test of their culinary credentials so far when they enter the restaurant kitchen of Italian chef Francesco Mazzei, who guides them as they produce a meal for a quartet of Italian cookery experts - Antonio Carluccio, Giorgio Locatelli, Theo Randall and Aldo Zilli. Can they master the new techniques and unfamiliar ingredients in Francesco's recipes or will the pressure to deliver be too intense? The finalists then get one last chance to shine as they prepare a three-course meal for John Torode and Gregg Wallace, which should help them decide who has what it takes to be crowned Celebrity MasterChef champion.

The Joy Of The Guitar Riff - 9:00 BBC4 - is a documentary exploring how the guitar riff has impacted the past sixty years of popular music, including a look at how it became the foundation of what rock and/or roll music was built on. With stories from big-haired badger lover Brian May of The Queen Group, yer actual Dave Davies, yer actual Hank Marvin, Joan Jett, Nile Rodgers, Tony Iommi, Robert Fripp, The Godlike Genius of Johnny Marr, Mitch Benn, Nancy Wilson, Kevin Shields, Ryan Jarman, Tom Morello and more. Narrated by wor geet canny and lush Lauren Laverne. Followed, immediately afterwards by Great Guitar Riffs At The BBC (10pm), a compilation of clips and performances featuring some of the best guitar tunes of all time, including The Jimi Hendrix Experience, The Kinks, Cream, AD/DC, The Smiths, Rage Against The Machine, Radiohead, The Foo Fighters, The Pixies and The Stone Roses. Rak style.

Tony Hill's judgement is called into question by the scum tabloid press, which gleefully seizes on DNA evidence suggesting that he may once have unwittingly helped secure the conviction of an innocent man in Wounded Surgeon, the latest repeat of Wire In The Blood - 10:00 ITV3. When a young woman is raped and murdered after being kidnapped from a nightclub, Tony is convinced that Jason Eglee (Craig Conway) is responsible. Ten years previously Tony got Eglee to confess to the rape of Tracy Bradshaw in what was Tony's first case working for Bradfield police. Eglee was banged up in The Pokey but was released on parole, against Tony's advice, only three weeks before the most recent crime. The evidence notwithstanding, Tony is convinced that Eglee is guilty but he fears that his own recent brain tumour may have gotten worse and is clouding his judgment. Finding himself the subject of a media witch-hunt, he experiences a crisis of confidence - which is exacerbated by Alex Fielding's decision that she can no longer permit him to work for the police.

In the later stages of the Second World War a refugee German doctor arrived in Britain to treat paralysed soldiers at Stoke Mandeville Hospital. Doctor Ludwig Guttmann (played, beautifully by the excellent Eddie Marsan) finds a hospital where those with serious spinal injuries are heavily sedated, referred to as 'moribund' and left to rot with bed sores. But not for long. Guttmann launches a care regime that treats the patients as people, young men with a future. 'You have life waiting for you, a good life,' he promises the most despairing patient, then sets about creating it, using music, a bit of humour and, of course, sport. In The Best Of Men - 10:20 Drama - first shown in 2012, veteran writer Lucy Gannon recasts the Paralympics' creation story as a tale of prejudice defeated in the fusty 1940s. Marsan is terrific as the enlightened troublemaker treading on all the right toes, but a brilliant turn from Rob Brydon as ward joker Wynne Bowen steals the show from under him. It's a very moving story and you'll never see the Paralympics the same way again.

They forced us to scour the Internet for the key to The Yellow King after watching True Detective, convinced us to fall in love with fantasy via Game Of Thrones and even managed to make us eager to spend each week in Baltimore thanks to The Wire. Now HBO is hoping that audiences will tune in to find out what happens after the end of the world. Last week saw the US début of The Leftovers, which will be shown on Sky Atlantic this autumn. Adapted from Tom Perrotta's post-apocalyptic bestselling novel by Damon Lindelof, one of the men behind Lost, and starring Justin Theroux, Liv Tyler and yer actual Christopher Eccleston, it's arguably HBO's most risky drama yet, which is saying something from the channel that gave us the dragons and double-crossing of Game Of Thrones. On the surface The Leftovers appears a fairly straightforward proposition: there's a small town setting (in upstate New York), an attractive cast (Theroux, currently better known for his writing and as the partner of Jennifer Aniston, is particularly good as the troubled local police chief) and strong source material (Perrotta's 2011 novel was a New York Times Notable Book). Yet what makes it such a gamble is the subject matter. Set three years after two per cent of the world's population have disappeared in a mysterious Rapture-like event, The Leftovers is concerned not with what happened to the departed but rather, as the title suggests, how it affected those who were left behind. The result is a brooding, pain-filled examination of grief and loss that is, in the opening episode at least, quietly devastating to watch. 'We're really exploring the struggle to continue after an event like that and whether or not the world has completely changed,' says Perrotta, who helped adapt his novel for television. 'It's about whether each life has been completely interrupted in some permanent way and about the human hunger for answers.' Early reaction in the US has been mixed. The New York Times worried about the pace, arguing that 'not all viewers will have the patience for a slow, oblique narrative build-up' and while critics have praised the show's strong writing and almost hypnotic atmosphere, there have been suggestions that the premise is simply 'too bleak.' The opening episode drew a respectable - if not earth-shattering - 1.8 million US viewers, but industry eyes are on Sunday night's ratings with social media commentary suggesting the show may be 'too depressing' to be a breakout hit. 'This is a golden age of really dark storytelling, but I suppose it is possible that we may have gone too dark, we'll find out,' admits Perrotta. 'The question for us is does it make you think about things that you wouldn't otherwise think about?' Matters are further complicated by the legacy of Lost. Lindelof admits that he struggled to come to terms with the opprobrium that show's ambiguous, quasi-religious ending received and much of the early criticism surrounding The Leftovers centres on the fact it is a drama not about what happened to make these people disappear but rather one about what happens after they're gone. 'If you come into this show wanting to know where these people went and why then you're not going to like watching,' Lindelof admits. 'That's not the show we wrote, because the book Tom wrote was more interested in presenting a world where characters weren't going to get answers. Hopefully people invest in the characters and the story we are telling.' In fact, Lindelof and Perrotta are not alone in viewing The Apocalypse as a jumping-off point for discussing how we deal with loss and grief: a large swath of recent and upcoming fiction, from Sandra Newman's The Country Of Ice Cream Star and Louise Welsh's A Lovely Way To Burn to Emily St John Mandel's Station Eleven, which is due to be published in September, tackles the question not how does the world end but what happens to those who survive? 'I was interested in what remains after an event like this,' says Mandel, whose ambitious novel is set nineteen years after a pandemic has devastated the world. 'You can lose almost everything and still have memory, friendship and loss.' Perrotta, who wrote The Leftovers in part as a response to the events of 9/11 a decade earlier, agrees. 'I researched a lot of Rapture literature because millions of Americans believe this will happen in their time, and what struck me was that these books left out the grief. I felt that the main truth was that those who were left would feel grief, and bewilderment and a need to understand what ha occurred.' Yet while such dark and difficult themes are easily absorbed on the page, they can overwhelm on the television screen. The opening episode of The Leftovers contains numerous scenes that hit extraordinarily close to home for anyone who has experienced the devastating numbness of grief and the show's success or otherwise may ultimately be determined by our capacity to experience pain in the name of entertainment. 'It is possible people will be overwhelmed,' admits Lindelof. 'The question is, are these emotions that you want to experience? The answer may well be maybe not, but there is also a certain release in thinking, well I actually feel better about my life after having experienced theirs.'
The Crown Prosecution Service is considering whether to charge more Scum of the World staff in relation to phone hacking, it has been confirmed. Police files on eight suspects - who cannot be named for legal reasons - have been handed to the CPS for charging advice. The files emerged from a spin-off investigation from Scotland Yard's Operation Weeting, the inquiry which led to the conviction of the Prime Minister's former, if you will, 'chum' Andy Coulson and four others at the Old Bailey. On Friday, Coulson was extremely banged-up for eighteen months for plotting to hack phones while he was editor of the Scum of the World. Operation Pinetree was launched after a former reporter - and self-confessed hacker - Dan Evans pleaded guilty before the Coulson trial and became a crown prosecution snitch against the former editor of the disgraced and disgraceful Sunday tabloid. Evans testified that Coulson had listened to a hacked message which was left by Sienna Miller on Daniel Craig's phone, in which she declared her love for the actor. Evans was due to be sentenced along with Coulson on Friday but in a pre-sentencing hearing the crown decided to delay his sentencing until the CPS had made outstanding charging decisions on Operation Pinetree. If anyone else is charged, Evans will have 'a continuing obligation to give evidence', prosecutor Andrew Edis QC told Mr Justice Saunders on Friday. Another investigation, Operation Golding, into allegations of hacking at the Sunday Mirra, where Evans previously worked, is also still open. 'That is some way off a charging decision.' Edis said.
Australia is racing to distance itself from convicted kiddie fiddler and dirty rotten rotter Rolf Harris as the shamed Perth-born entertainer starts a jail term for abusing young girls and getting used to slopping out. The memory of 'The Boy from Bassendean' - a suburb of the Western Australian state capital - is being quickly erased by the local council. He has gone from favourite son to total outcast on a simple show of hands at a council meeting on Friday. Harris's artworks will be taken down from its chambers and his status as a freeman has been rescinded, while a plaque outside his childhood home was stolen before the local authority could remove it. 'We simply cannot tolerate the horrendous crimes for which he's been convicted,' Bassendean Mayor John Gangell told ABC radio. And the backlash is spreading. In Melbourne a public mural, The Entertainers Of The Century which features one hundred prominent performers, will be changed to feature just ninety nine when they paint over the disgraced scoundrel Harris's image. There is speculation, too, that Harris could be stripped of his Order of Australia award, one of the nation's most coveted honours. His conviction comes at a sensitive time for Australia, where the depravity of paedophiles is being scrutinised like never before. A Royal Commission into institutional responses to child sex abuse continues to uncover a terrible flood of atrocities and could take years to complete its task. Justice Peter McClellan, who chairs it, believes that victims who have suffered alone for so long are finally coming forward because of high-profile court cases, including the conviction of the disgraced and disgraceful Harris. Although Harris left Australia for England in 1952, he now faces the possibility of further charges being brought against him in his homeland. During the trial several Australian women came forward alleging that Harris had molested them during visits to the country of his birth. Two radio presenters claim that Harris groped them following interviews. Verity James, a radio host in Perth says Harris assaulted her following an interview in 2000. She alleged that the man she calls 'The Octopus' pushed her up against a wall, grabbed her buttocks and rubbed her breasts. A second journalist, Jane Marwick, alleges that she was groped as she posed for a photograph with Harris after an interview in 2001. For older Australians Harris was one of the country's best known exports and a household name. Despite living in the UK, he was a regular face on Australian television during the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. He was inducted into the Australian Recording Industry Association's Hall Of Fame. Until last year his famous wobble board sat in Australia's National Museum in Canberra. Now, it will wobble no more. After hearing the news of Harris's guilt, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott admitted that he was 'gutted' and described Harris's actions as abhorrent. 'I feel gutted and dismayed but it's very important that we do everything we humanly can to protect vulnerable young people,' Abbott told ABC radio.

Yer actual Sir Paul McCartney has resumed his latest concert tour after being forced to take nearly two months off due to a virus which left him in hospital. The seventy two-year-old played an arena in Albany on Saturday night as part of his Out There tour. The former Be-Atle (a popular beat combo of the 1960s, you might have heard of them) called off the Japanese leg of the tour and a show in South Korea after falling ill on 16 May and later postponed a number of US dates in addition. He spent six days in a Tokyo hospital being treated for the viral infection. Before his illness, Sir Paul had last performed on 1 May in Costa Rica. He opened the show at The Times Union Centre with 'Eight Days A Week' and, later, dedicated a song, 'My Valentine', to wife Nancy. Sir Paul has nineteen performances scheduled for the US, including one at Candlestick Park in San Francisco, where The Be-Atles played their final concert in 1966.

Pink Floyd will release a new studio CD this year, according to David Gilmour's wife Polly Samson and a spokesperson for the band. Samson broke the news on Twitter on Saturday that the new LP will be titled The Endless River and that it will feature the final work of multi-instrumentalist Richard Wright. Wright died in September 2008 at his home following a lengthy battle with cancer. 'Pink Floyd album out in October is called The Endless River. Based on 1994 sessions is Rick Wright's swansong and very beautiful,' Samson tweeted. Pink Floyd backing vocalist Durga McBroom also alluded to The Endless River's impending release by sharing a photograph from a recording session. A spokesperson for the band later confirmed to the Sun that the project's release will come this year, but stressed that no supporting tour was planned. Roger Waters apparently did not have any involvement in the sessions, given his acrimonious split from the group in 1985. Although the possibility that a deluxe limited edition version of the CD will come out later at some obscenely over-the-top price which will include a small veil of Waters' bitter tears (along with some postcards) cannot, at this time, be discounted. Gilmour, Wright and drummer Nick Mason's last record under the Pink Floyd name was 1994's The Division Bell.

Argentina reached their first World Cup semi-final since finishing as runners-up in 1990 with victory over Belgium in Brasilia. Gonzalo Higuain scored the only goal at Estadio Nacional, a thunderous early volley that ended his run of six international games without a goal. But Belgium's so-called 'golden generation' were undone by another quicksilver Lionel Messi performance, as Argentina set up a last-four encounter with the Netherlands in Sao Paulo on Wednesday. The two-time champions again failed to reach their fluid best, and it is significant that all five of their wins at this World Cup have been by a single goal. Belgium - every bit as disappointing as the French has been a day earlier in their quarter-final - went out with something of a whimper, lacking cohesion, creativity and precision and only threatening late on when they played one long ball after another towards Marouane Fellaini. But, on the day he equalled Diego Maradona's haul of ninety one caps for Argentina, Messi stood apart, with a performance of majesty that propelled his side into the last four. At times, he was balletic, at others he was bold. He played forty-yard passes with the precision of a master craftsman and pirouetted away from danger time and again. Sharper to the ball, more urgent in possession, Argentina started the quicker of the sides. With Brazil striker Neymar confined to a wheelchair for the rest of the tournament, there was a sense the tournament needed one of its superstars to produce a performance to remember. Messi did not disappoint. Belgium did not help themselves, however. Captain Vincent Kompany gave possession away carelessly inside his own half after eight minutes, the ball running to Messi. The Barcelona forward spun away from two defenders and clipped a pass to Angel Di Maria. His pass was deflected into the path of Higuain, who swivelled and volleyed unerringly beyond Thibaut Courtois to send the tens of thousands of Argentina fans in the stadium into raptures. There was more Messi magic to come. Argentina's talisman danced his way through a crowd of Belgium players before being clipped on the edge of the area. His resulting free-kick curled narrowly wide but Belgium were on the back foot. For much of the opening forty five minutes, the Red Devils were insipid, not inventive. Kevin de Bruyne stung Sergio Romero's palms from distance and Kevin Mirallas headed a Jan Vertonghen cross narrowly wide, but there was little pace or purpose. With Messi in the spotlight, Eden Hazard struggled to escape the shadow. Belgium were caught between wanting to throw caution to the wind and a fear of what Argentina might do on the counter attack. An example came ten minutes into the second half, when Mirallas lost the ball after a swift Belgium break. Higuain raced away, nutmegged Kompany and skimmed a curling shot onto the crossbar. The introduction of substitutes Romelu Lukaku and Dries Mertens was an attempt to change that dynamic. With time running out, Vertonghen found Fellaini, who headed over. Moments later, Ezequiel Garay almost deflected De Bruyne's cross into his own net. Hazard was replaced by Tottenham's Nacer Chadli as Marc Wilmots played his last card. Belgium poured forward in search of a goal that might take them to extra time, but failed to produce a moment that called Romero into serious action. Messi had a chance to cap his display with a late goal, only for Courtois to smother his shot when the pair faced each other one on one. With time running out, Belgium came again, Lukaku prodding a ball across goal before Axel Witsel fired the rebound over. But Argentina and Messi stood firm.

Goalkeeper Tim Krul came off the bench late in extra time and saved two penalties as the Netherlands beat Costa Rica in a shootout to set up a World Cup semi-final against Argentina. Yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved (though unsellable) Newcastle's Krul saved from both Bryan Ruiz and Michael Umana to send the Dutch through after the game finished 0-0. Wesley Sneijder had twice hit the woodwork for the Netherlands, while Robin van Persie also had a shot turned onto the bar. Netherlands boss Louis van Gaal, who will take charge at The Scum at the end of the tournament, brought Krul on for Jasper Cillessen in added time at the end of one hundred and twenty minutes. And Krul's two saves proved decisive as the Dutch - who had lost each of their previous four World Cup matches which went to extra time - coolly converted all four of their spot-kicks. It also, presumably, put a couple of noughts in his likely transfer fee when Mike Ashley decides to cash in on him later in the summer. Costa Rica had progressed as winners from a group containing Uruguay, Italy and England, and once again impressed with their organisation and energy. But just as they did against Mexico in the second round, Van Gaal's team found a way through despite being some way short of the fluency they showed in patches during the group phase. Twenty one minutes had passed before the Netherlands managed an effort on goal. A sweeping move down the right ended with Dirk Kuyt pulling a cross back and Memphis Depay laid the ball off for Van Persie, whose low drive was blocked by goalkeeper Keylor Navas, who also saved Sneijder's follow-up. Depay might have done better when he was slipped through by Van Persie, but the PSV Eindhoven forward's stab at the near post was turned away by Navas. Costa Rica's only threat came from Christian Bolanos free-kicks, with one flying just too high for midfielder Celso Borges to connect with, and another headed back across goal by Borges only for Johnny Acosta to fail to make contact. Navas showed his quality once again when he tipped a bending Sneijder free-kick away from the top corner, but the Netherlands offered little going forward as the second half developed. After forcing Giancarlo Gonzalez to head off target following a Bolanos set-piece, Ron Vlaar glanced a header high and wide from a whipped Sneijder free-kick at the other end. And when Navas was beaten, Sneijder's curling free-kick bounced away off a post. As the Netherlands exerted some late pressure, Navas turned away a low drive from Van Persie and The Scum's striker failed to make contact with a fine Sneijder cross. Yeltsin Tejeda then diverted a close-range Van Persie effort onto his own crossbar as a tiring Costa Rica took the game into extra time. The Dutch continued to push on, with Navas forced to palm away a Vlaar header, but they could not find a way through, and Costa Rica had a penalty appeal rejected when Vlaar challenged substitute Marcos Urena, who then forced a full-length save from Cillessen. There was still time for Sneijder's twenty-yard curling drive to strike the crossbar, but it went to a penalty shootout and after Van Persie, Robben, Sneijder and Kuyt all converted their penalties, Krul's save from Urena sent the 2010 beaten finalists through to the last four.

Netherlands coach Louis van Gaal says that Tim Krul's greater height and reach was the reason he sent the super-sub keeper on for the World Cup quarter-final penalty shootout win over Costa Rica. Krul, who is six feet four inches, replaced the six foot two inch Jasper Cillessen with seconds remaining in the 0-0 draw. And, as all the girls will tell you, two inches can make all the difference in a chap's worth. 'We all thought Tim was the best keeper to stop penalties,' said Van Gaal. 'He is taller and has a longer reach.' He added: 'It worked out. That was beautiful. I'm a bit proud of that.' Van Gaal, who will take over at The Scum after the World Cup, did not tell first-choice keeper Cillessen he might be taken off if the game went to a shootout after extra time. However, Krul was informed he might be called upon. Krul, whose saves from Bryan Ruiz and Michael Umana were his only two touches of the ball, told the BBC Sport website: 'I psyched them out. You try to do everything you can without being too aggressive. I tried to get in their minds. It is something I have dreamed about since I was a little boy - to have that moment when you make the crucial save and then all the boys are running towards you.' Despite Krul's match-winning saves he will be back on the bench for the semi-final, with Ajax's Cillessen in goal. 'There is no question about who will start the next game, it will be Cillessen, but we felt Krul was the better choice here,' said Van Gaal. Costa Rica midfielder Celso Borges said of the goalkeeping change: 'I never saw something like that. But they were right, he did his job.'

Real Madrid great Alfredo Di Stefano is in intensive care after suffering a heart attack on Saturday. Di Stefano, who turned eighty eight this week, was taken to the Gregorio Maranon hospital in Madrid after falling ill close to Real's Bernabeu stadium. He has had health problems in recent years and, in 2005, was fitted with a pacemaker after heart surgery. Real describe Di Stefano as 'the best footballer of all time' after a glittering eleven-year spell at the club. A hospital statement said Di Stefano was 'under sedation' after suffering cardiac arrest, adding that his 'condition remains serious.' After joining Real in 1953, Alfredo helped turn them into one of the world's leading sides. They won five straight European Cups, with Di Stefano scoring in each final between 1956 and 1960. The Argentina-born forward also won eight Spanish league titles and was voted European player of the year in 1957 and 1959. He left Real in 1964 at the age of thirty eight having scored more than three hundred goals across eleven seasons. Di Stefano played at international level for three nations but never appeared at a World Cup. He won six caps for Argentina and played four times for Colombia during a spell when he played in the country's league. However his Colombia caps are not officially recognised by FIFA. Once he joined Real in 1953, FIFA said that he could not play for Spain, but reversed that decision in 1957 after he was given Spanish citizenship and he went on to win thirty one caps, scoring twenty three goals. Real's official website carried a picture of club president Florentino Perez visiting Di Stefano at the hospital on Saturday. Former Real striker Gonzalo Higuain, whose goal sent Argentina into the World Cup semi-finals in Brazil on Saturday, said: 'I was told when I got to the dressing room. It is not good news for football, for those who know him, for those who are close to him. Alfredo was always very close to me, I feel for him, I have great respect for him and I hope that he will recover. I only have words of gratitude towards him.' Di Stefano also won four Colombian and two Argentine league titles as a player. As a manager he led Boca Juniors and River Plate to Argentine league titles and won La Liga and the Copa del Rey with Valencia. He also had spells at Sporting Lisbon, Rayo Vallecano and Castellon before taking over at Real in 1982, with the club runners-up in five competitions during his two years in charge. He managed the club again for five months from 1990, winning the Spanish Super Cup against Barcelona. Di Stefano became honorary Real president in 2000.

Ex-England cricket team captain Andrew Strauss has apologised after being overheard referring to his former teammate Kevin Pietersen as being 'an absolute cunt' during a televised cricket match on Saturday. The offending remark was, reportedly, heard in Australia during a break in Sky Sports' coverage of the MCC's match against the Rest of the World at Lord's, but was not broadcast in the UK. Strauss issued a prompt - and grovelling - apology to viewers, saying: 'I apologise unreservedly, particularly to Kevin Pietersen. I am mortified and profusely sorry.' Sky Sports Cricket also apologised on Twitter: 'Earlier comments were made during a break of play which were heard overseas. We apologise for the language used.' Strauss and Pietersen famously had a falling out in 2012 after Pietersen was caught allegedly sending derogatory text messages about Strauss and other teammates to the South African team.
Shane Warne had his hand broken by a Brett Lee beamer as the MCC beat the Rest of the World by seven wickets in the Lord's bicentenary celebration match. The Rest of the World captain Warne was hit by his former Australia team-mate in the final over of his side's two hundred and ninety three for seven, in which India's Yuvraj Singh struck one hundred and thirty two. Aaron Finch led the MCC reply, blasting one hundred and eighty one from one hundred and forty five balls. Sachin Tendulkar made forty four and Brian Lara twenty three before Finch finished the match with a six with twenty five balls to spare. The match was played to mark two hundred years of cricket at the current Lord's ground, the third to take the name of businessman Thomas Lord, who founded the original Lord's venue in 1787. 'It was a great day and a fantastic atmosphere,' said leg-spinner Warne, who took seven hundred and eight test wickets during a glittering career. 'I haven't seen Binga [Lee] for a while, so it was nice of him to say hello and put me out for six weeks. He didn't mean it, it's just one of those things that happens.' Warne arrived at the crease after Yuvraj rescued the Rest of the World from sixty eight for five, a collapse induced by Pakistani off-spinner Saeed Ajmal's spell of four for nine. Ajmal's victims included former England batsman Kevin Pietersen, who was stumped by Chris Read for ten. With Ajmal's brilliance threatening the spectacle - including bowling his former captain Shahid Afridi for a duck second ball - he was withdrawn, allowing Yuvraj to rebuild with stands of one hundred and thirty one with Paul Collingwood (forty) and eighty four with Peter Siddle (thirty three not out). When Yuvraj fell to the bowling of MCC captain Tendulkar, Warne came to the crease and suffered the blow which would prevent him from taking the field in the second innings, with the forty four-year-old appearing on the dressing-room balcony with his hand in plaster. Without him, the Rest of the World were punished by Australian Finch, who added one hundred and seven for the first wicket with Tendulkar before the latter was bowled by Muttiah Muralitharan, then sixty seven for the second with Lara. When Lara edged Collingwood behind, the former England all-rounder bowled Rahul Dravid with the next delivery. West Indies batsman Shivnarine Chanderpaul survived the hat-trick ball and supported Finch in an unbroken stand of one hundred and twenty two with Tino Best, in particular, taking some fearful stick. The MCC won by seven wickets, finishing with two hundred and ninety six for three.

Mark Cavendish dislocated his right shoulder and suffered ligament damage after crashing near the end of the Tour De France's opening stage in Yorkshire. Cav collided with Simon Gerrans during the sprint finish in Harrogate, which was won by Marcel Kittel. Cavendish was due to have an MRI scan with a decision on whether he will continue racing made on Sunday. 'It was my fault, I'll apologise to Simon,' he said. 'I tried to find a gap that was not there, I wanted to win.' Cavendish added: 'I felt really strong and was in a great position to contest the sprint thanks to the unbelievable efforts of my team. Sorry to all the fans that came out to support. It was truly incredible.' German Kittel raced clear to win the stage from Slovakia's Peter Sagan and Lithuania's Ramunas Navardauskas. However, the vast majority of the thousands of people lining the finishing straight in Harrogate were focused on Omega Pharma Quick-Step rider Cavendish, who has won a staggering twenty five stage wins in the race. The twenty nine-year-old Manxman spent several minutes on the floor before being helped back on to his bike and he gingerly rode over the finish line. He had been among the favourites to win the stage, which would have seen him wear the leader's yellow jersey for the first time. 'It's an unfortunate way to end what could have been a dream scenario,' said Team Sky boss Sir Dave Brailsford, who has worked with Cavendish both on the road and track in his former role as head of British Cycling. 'He's a great champion and he's done an awful lot for this country. He's one of the best cyclists we've ever produced, he's given us great moments of pleasure and I'm sure he'll get better soon.' The Grand Depart was held in Yorkshire for the first time with more than one million fans estimated to have attended stage one. Police say that two hundred and thirty thousand spectators were in Leeds and ten thousand more were on one of the climbs at Buttertubs. When told there were around a million people lining the route, Brailsford added: 'It looked like more to me. It was just incredible. I've never seen so many people in my life. The amount of people was unreal. It's amazing that cycling can attract so many people.' After a ceremonial start at Harewood House, with the Duchess of Cambridge cutting the ribbon to signal the beginning of the action, the race headed out into the Yorkshire Dales, reaching the Northern-most point in its one hundred and eleven-year history in the village of Reeth. Veteran Jens Voigt, racing in his seventeenth - and final - Tour at the age of forty two, led a breakaway from the start. Initially, it was a three-man attack with French duo Benoit Jarrier and Nicolas Edet, but Voigt broke clear on his own after an intermediate sprint in Newbiggin and at one stage held a five-minute advantage over the one hundred and ninety five other riders in the race. He was eventually reeled in by the peloton with sixty kilometres to go in the one hundred and ninety kilometre opener. The race geared up for a hotly contested sprint but Fabian Cancellara, who is more renowned as a one-day specialist rider, caused confusion when he launched a solo bid with a kilometre to go. The sprinters reacted and heading into the final straight, Cavendish collided with Orica GreenEdge's Australia rider Gerrans and both of them crashed to the ground. Team Sky's Chris Froome, who is the defending champion, finished safely in sixth place. Team-mate Geraint Thomas was seventeenth, with the fourth Briton Simon Yates sixty first, four seconds behind Giant-Shimano's Kittel. Brailsford said: 'The first stage of the Tour is about getting through unscathed; Froomey finished sixth. Job completed.' For Kittel, it was a fifth stage win and a repeat of last year's opening stage victory in Corsica. 'I am incredibly proud of this victory,' he said. 'It happened pretty easily. It was like coming out of a tunnel. I was able to accelerate like never before. It's really awesome. Deja vu.'

Sour-faced cry baby and sore loser Lewis Hamilton was sour-faced no more on Sunday as he revived his F1 title hopes by winning something of a classic British Grand Prix as his Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg retired with gearbox failure. Rosberg was leading and being chased down by Hamilton as his gearbox started to develop a fault and then failed just before half-distance. The German's first retirement of the year means his lead over Hamilton in the championship is just four points. Williams' Valtteri Bottas was second from Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo. The Australian held off a great charge from McLaren's Jenson Button in the closing laps as Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel won a thrilling battle with Ferrari's Fernando Alonso for fifth. Hamilton started sixth on the grid, with his team-mate on pole after making a mistake in aborting his final qualifying lap on Saturday. He was up to fourth after the first four corners when the race was red-flagged following a heavy crash involving Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen. The Finn ran off the track through Turn Four and spun as he rejoined. Williams driver Felipe Massa clipped the Ferrari as it spun across the track and Raikkonen speared into the barriers. The race was stopped to repair the barriers damaged by the heavy impact from the Ferrari and Raikkonen was taken to the medical centre, where he was diagnosed with bruising to his ankles but, thankfully, nothing worse. The race re-started behind the safety car after an hour's delay and Rosberg built up a five-second lead in the two laps it took Hamilton to pass Button's McLaren. Hamilton conserved his tyres for a few laps, letting the lead go out to almost six seconds by lap nine, before starting to haul Rosberg back. The 2008 world champion was 2.8 seconds behind by the time Rosberg made what was scheduled to be his first pit stop on lap eighteen of sixty two. He reported 'problems on the downshift' two laps later. Hamilton stayed out for a further six laps, with the intention of having a shorter stint at the end of the race in which he could attack his team-mate. He rejoined just under six seconds behind after another slow pit stop, something which has afflicted him this season more often than Rosberg. Hamilton took a second out of his team-mate on lap twenty seven and then a further two seconds next time around as Rosberg started to report up-shift problems. Two laps later, going through Turn Three, Rosberg lost his gears. He cruised around as far as Becketts trying to reset the gearbox but had to pull off and retire. That left Hamilton in a comfortable lead from Bottas, who had powered through the field in the first stint, moving up to third place behind the two Mercedes and Button by lap sixteen. 'I honestly feel I had the pace today,' said Hamilton on the podium. 'I was catching Nico in the first stint and was feeling pretty comfortable. I never want to see my team-mate fail like that. I was looking forward to a wheel-to-wheel battle but I'm sure we'll get many in the future.' Ricciardo made up places after starting eighth by choosing a one-stop strategy and driving beautifully to make his final set of tyres last from lap fifteen to the end and take the final podium place. Vettel and Alonso enlivened the late stages with a superlative wheel-to-wheel battle for fifteen laps before the world champion finally found a way past. Vettel rejoined from his second pit stop just ahead of Alonso, who was on a one-stop strategy and on older tyres. The Spaniard had fought through superbly from sixteenth on the grid, making a series of skilled overtaking manoeuvres, but was delayed by a five-second stop-go for having only half his car in his grid slot at the start. Alonso passed Vettel on the German's out-lap from his final pit stop in a brave move around the outside of the one hundred and sixty mph Copse Corner, but then had to fight off the Red Bull on its fresher tyres. Time and again Vettel would get close into Brooklands and Luffield and Alonso would hold him off, as each repeatedly complained about the other - Vettel about Alonso's defence and exceeding track limits, Alonso just what he saw as Vettel doing the latter. Vettel eventually got through by holding on the inside line at Luffield, getting alongside Alonso through Woodcote and on the run to Copse and forcing the Spaniard to finally give way, in a move that matched Alonso's earlier one for skill and bravery. McLaren's Kevin Magnussen took seventh, ahead of Force India's Nico Hulkenberg and the Toro Rossos of Daniil Kvyat and Jean-Eric Vergne.

For the latest Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day, dear blog reader, here's a little dark, sinister ambient trip-hop masterpiece from the Sneaker Pimps.

1 comment:

KW said...

'A which is best - murder or cancer type thing'. So wrong it made me laugh out loud! Thanks, I needed it.