Saturday, April 16, 2016

Lush

It's time for all Sherlock fans to get really rather excited. As previously announced, filming is now very under way on the drama's fourth series. Mark Gatiss his very self shared a picture of yer actual Benedict Cumberbatch on Twitter on Monday, captioned simply: 'Back!' The first episode will pick up immediately from New Year's Day's episode, The Abominable Bride, with Sherlock Holmes back on British soil to investigate the mysterious resurgence of the, apparently, long-dead Jim Moriarty. Meanwhile, John Watson and his wife, Mary, will prepare for their biggest ever challenge - becoming parents for the first time. 'I'm genuinely thrilled to be back filming Sherlock with all the cast and crew, said Benny, who has just completed shooting on Marvel's Doctor Strange. 'I can't wait for everyone to see season four. But you will have to wait, though not for long. And it will be worth it."​'
Doctor Who is full of potential alternate histories, usually in cases of subsequent revelations about actors who were almost hired for a particular part. But, imagine a world where yer actual Matt Smith and Karen Gillan her very self starred not in Doctor Who, but in Merlin. Apparently, it nearly happened. 'The first time we ever met was in an audition for something else. We [both] got down to the last two for a show and then we got Doctor Who,' Smudger told an audience at The Wizard World Con in New York this week. 'And, that show was Merlin. At the time I remember thinking "that would have been good," her as Guinevere and me as Merlin. Then I got The Doctor. That's not to diminish the quality of Merlin. Merlin's fantastic and Colin [Morgan] is a brilliant, brilliant actor. But it's just funny, me and Karen often say "oh, you know ..."' National heartthrob David Tennant also took the opportunity, whilst appearing on-stage with Smudger to compliment his immediate successor in the role. 'Have I ever told you this? There's something that you brought to it, that encapsulated my favourite moment that you did. It's in the one with James Corden [The Lodger] where you get given a glass of wine then [mimes spitting it back into the glass]. It's pin-sharp comic timing, but it also has this kind of bewildered innocence that I just thought was absolutely fantastic.'
Broadchurch​ will be returning one last time for a third and final series in 2017. David Tennant and Olivia Colman will be back as ​Alec Hardy and Ellie Miller​ in the popular ITV drama, which begins filming this summer. Jodie Whittaker and Andrew Buchan are also returning to play Beth and Mark Latimer as are Arthur Darvill as Vicar Paul Coates and Carolyn Pickles as newspaper editor Maggie Radcliffe, alongside Adam Wilson as Ellie's son, Tom. Joining the cast for series three are Coronation Street​'s ​Julie Hesmondhalgh​ and BAFTA winner Georgina Campbell, alongside Sarah Parish, Charlie Higson and Mark Bazeley. The new eight-part series will see a new case for Miller and Hardy, as they reunite to investigate 'a serious sexual assault.' It was assumed that Broadchurch​ would end with its third series due to creator Chris Chibnall's recent appointment as Doctor Who's showrunner from 2017. 'This is the final chapter of Broadchurch,' Chibnall said. 'We have one last story to tell, featuring both familiar faces and new characters. I hope it's a compelling and emotional farewell to a world and show that means so much to me.'
Would I Lie to You? is returning for a tenth series. The BBC comedy panel show will once again be hosted by Rob Brydon, as two teams try to dupe one another into believing that lies are facts and vice versa. David Mitchell and Lee Mack are also back as captains. 'We're delighted to be welcoming Would I Lie to You? back to BBC1,' the BBC's commissioning editor Pinki Chambers said. 'It's hugely popular and just seems to get funnier and funnier. Be prepared for a lot of laughs coming your way!'
The final and consolidated ratings figures for the Top Twenty Seven programmes, for week-ending Sunday 3 April 2016 were as follows:-
1 Coronation Street - Wed ITV - 8.01m
2 The Durrells - Sun ITV - 7.86m
3= Ant and/or Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway - Sat ITV - 7.10m
3= EastEnders - Fri BBC1 - 7.10m
5 Countryfile - Sun BBC1 - 6.42m
6 Emmerdale - Wed ITV - 6.40m
7 Undercover - Sun BBC1 - 6.33m
8 Maigret - Mon ITV - 5.81m*
9 England Friendlies: England Versus The Netherlands - Tues ITV - 5.70m
10 Casualty - Sat BBC1 - 5.65m
11 MasterChef - Wed BBC1 - 5.59m
12 The A Word - Tues BBC1 - 5.41m
13= Home Fires - Sun ITV - 5.34m*
13= Antiques Roadshow - Sun BBC1 - 5.34m
15 BBC News - Sun BBC1 - 5.29m
16 The Voice - Sat BBC1 - 5.22m
17 Line Of Duty - Thurs BBC2 - 5.11m
18 Six O'Clock News - Tues BBC1 - 4.94m
19 Grantchester - Wed ITV - 4.78m*
20 Ten O'Clock News - Thurs BBC1 - 4.66m
21 Bake Off Crème De La Crème - Tues BBC2 - 4.43m
22 Gogglebox - Fri C4 - 4.33m
23 Holby City - Tues BBC1- 4.31m
24 Boomers - Fri BBC1 - 4.01m
25 The ONE Show - Thurs BBC1 - 4.00m
26 The Two Ronnies Sketchbook - Fri BBC1 3.94m
27 Match Of The Day - Sat BBC1 - 3.82m
These consolidated figures include viewers who watched the programmes live and on catch-up, but does not include those who watched on BBC's iPlayer or ITV Player via their computers. Those ITV programmes marked "*" indicate they do not include HD viewers. Among ITV's other figures for the week, Billy Connolly's Tracks Across America had an audience of 3.71 million punters. The Cruise was seen by 3.57m, Big Star's Little Star by 3.54m and Bear Grylls: Mission Survive by 2.90m. On BBC2, apart from the astounding success of Line Of Duty and the Bake Off spin-off - it's been a long time since BBC2 had two programmes of the twenty-something most watched shows of a particular week - University Challenge drew 2.59m, followed by Gardeners' World (2.48m), This Farming Life (2.40m), The Many Faces Of Ronnie Corbett (2.33m) and An Island Parish: Shetland (2.14m). The Mastermind finale attracted 1.65 million whilst a repeat of John Le Mesurier: It's All Been Rather Lovely had 1.63m. Edie Izzard: Marathon Man For Sport Relief was watched by 1.43m. Aside from Googlebox, The Island With Bear Grylls was Channel Four's second highest-rated broadcast of the week (3.33 million, over three hundred thousand more than Bear's ITV series achieved), followed by Guy Martin's Wall Of Death: Live (3.24m), F1: Bahrain Grand Prix Live (2.40m), The Supervet (2.22m) and The Last Leg With Adam Hills (1.99m). The fourth episode of series two of Indian Summers lost even more viewers, being watched by 1.29 million. Channel Five's top performer was a broadcast of the movie Snow White & The Seven Dwarfs (1.70 million), whilst The Tube: Going Underground had 1.67m and GPs: Behind Closed Doors 1.42m. Gotham attracted 1.23 million. Sky Sports 1's most-watched programme was Live Ford Saturday Night Football and Moscow Chelski FC giving relegation-bound Aston Villains (who are going doon with the Toon ... and, probably, the Mackems, it appears) a damned good hard shellacking, which was watched by 1.31 million viewers. The following day's coverage of Leicester City's draw with The Scum had nine hundred and ninety two thousand. Sky Sport 2's Live ICC T20 World Cup Final cricket and England's last over defeat to the West Indies drew 1.05 million punters. Gillette Soccer Special was, as usual, Sky Sports News's highest-rated broadcast with five hundred and twenty eight thousand. Foyle's War was ITV3's top-rated drama (six hundred and twenty thousand). Midsomer Murders drew five hundred and ninety five thousand and Agatha Christie's Marple had five hundred and seventy three thousand. The movie The Krays headed ITV4's top ten, with two hundred and ninety six thousand punters. Worthless steaming pile of rancid diarrhoea Celebrity Juice was ITV2's 'best' performer (one uses that word quite wrongly) with 1.08 million viewers. All of whom need their bloody heads examined for any sign of brain activity, frankly. The fourth episode of Houdini & Doyle couldn't even top ITV Encore's top ten with a staggeringly awful eighty one thousand viewers. It was beaten by the umpteenth repeat of an episode of Vera (one hundred and five thousand). BBC4's latest imported Scandi-noir drama Follow The Money had audiences of six hundred and forty five thousand and six hundred and eight thousand for its fifth and sixth episodes. Ireland's Treasures Uncovered was watched by five hundred and sixty two thousand, The Beginning & End Of The Universe by four hundred and eighty six thousand and Art Of Scandinavia by four hundred and forty five thousand. Treasures Of The Anglo Saxons drew four hundred and five thousand. Sky1's weekly top ten was headed by The Flash (nine hundred and ninety one thousand), Hawaii Five-0 (nine hundred and one thousand) and Modern Family (eight hundred and thirteen thousand). Sky Atlantic's list was topped by Blue Bloods (three hundred and fifty six thousand), Game Of Thrones Greatest Moments (one hundred and forty two thousand), Girls (one hundred thousand) and Happyish (eighty six thousand). Vinyl was seen by seventy six thousand, three thousand less than one of the daily repeats of the greatest TV show in the history of the medium that doesn't have the words 'Doctor' and 'Who' in the title - The West Wing. On Sky Living, Blindspot drew nine hundred and ten thousand, The Blacklist had seven hundred and thirty thousand and Elementary was seen by six hundred and ninety eight thousand. Sky Arts' broadcast of Jesus Of Nazareth had an audience of sixty eight thousand. Pet Shop Boys: Live At The O2 attracted forty thousand viewers. 5USA's Law & Order: Special Victims Unit was watched by five hundred and five thousand viewers. NCIS drew three hundred and sixty nine thousand. NCIS also featured in the weekly top tens of FOX - the latest episode of series thirteen attracting nine hundred and twenty thousand punters - CBS Action and the Universal Channel. Aside, from NCIS, FOX's top ten also included new episodes of The Walking Dead (1.59 million), the spin-off show Talking Dead (two hundred and eighty five thousand) and Marvel's Agent Carter (two hundred and seventy six thousand viewers). On CBS Action, Bad Girls was seen by two hundred and eighteen thousand. The Universal Channel's top ten was headed by Major Crimes (two hundred and sixty seven thousand) and Chicago Med (two hundred and thirty six thousand). On Dave, American Pickers was the highest-rated programme with three hundred and fifty two thousand punters. No, this blogger has no idea why either. That was followed by Red Bull Soap Box Race (three hundred and forty five thousand), Qi XL (three hundred and twenty five thousand), Mock The Week (three hundred and eight thousand) and Top Gear (three hundred thousand). Drama's Inspector George Gently was watched by five hundred and fifteen thousand viewers. Alibi's highest-rated programme was Rizzoli & Isles (four hundred and fifty one thousand), followed by Castle (four hundred and thirty eight thousand), Quantico (three hundred and fifty two thousand), Murdoch Mysteries (one hundred and ninety three thousand) and Death In Paradise (ninety two thousand). On W, the most-viewed programme was Grimm (four hundred and seventy two thousand), followed by Dynamo: Live At The O2 (three hundred and twenty four thousand. And, one trick than went somewhat wrong). Yesterday's repeat run of Porridge was watched by one hundred and ninety three thousand and Yes Minister by one hundred and eighty eight thousand. On the Discovery Channel, Mythbusters had an audience of two hundred and forty one thousand punters. Alaskan Bush People drew two hundred and twenty five thousand. Discovery History's SAS topped the weekly-list with audience of twenty thousand viewers. Battlefield Mysteries was watched by seventeen thousand. On Discovery Science, a different - older - episode of Mythbusters attracted thirty thousand viewers. Discovery Turbo's most-watched programme was Wheeler Dealers (fifty four thousand). National Geographic's top ten was headed by Story Of God: Beyond Death which had one hundred and fifteen thousand viewers. Supercar: Porsche was seen by ninety three thousand viewers. On The History Channel, Pawn Stars attracted one hundred and sixty thousand. Pirate Treasure Of The Knights Templar had an audience of ninety six thousand on Military History. Murder Comes To Town and Britain's Deadly Women were ID's top programmes of the week (sixty thousand and forty six thousand viewers respectively). Britain's Darkest Taboos headed CI's list (fifty five thousand). Wives With Knives was watched by fifty thousand. The latest episode of GOLD's repeat run of Mrs Brown's Boys attracted two hundred and forty four thousand. Comedy Central's largest audience of the week was for Impractical Jokers (three hundred and thirty four thousand). Your TV's Sensing Murder had sixty nine thousand viewers. On More4, The Good Wife was viewed by seven hundred and twenty nine thousand whilst E4's latest episode of The Big Bang Theory drew 2.58 million punters (by a huge distance the largest multichannels audience of the week). The Horror Channel's broadcast of the movie Outlander attracted one hundred and thirty thousand viewers. The Great Human Odyssey drew thirty one thousand on Eden.

On Sunday evening Countryfile (7pm, BBC1) was the most-watched programme of the night. An overnight audience of 6.21 million viewers watched as John Craven met a fisherman. Which was nice. Antiques Roadshow attracted 5.15 million viewers an hour later. There was an avalanche of 'comfort telly' on ITV, with a double dose of nostalgic Sunday family drama. The Durrells (8pm) continued with an overnight of 5.59 million viewers whilst Home Fires (9pm) was seen by 4.45 million. BBC1's paranoid crime drama Undercover (9pm) was watched by 4.21 million while Channel Four's Indian Summers (also 9pm) brought in seven hundred and seventy five thousand overnight viewers. On BBC2, Golf: The Masters 2016 took over the schedule from 6:30pm and went on and on and on, with an average audience of 1.95 million viewers staying tuned for five and a half hours of televised sky to, eventually, see Britain's Danny Willett winning the big prize. Sky Sports 1's coverage of the same event was seen by two hundred and ninety six thousand punters. Earlier, on BBC1, Paul O'Grady: The Sally Army & Me the latest vehicle for the professional mawkish-sympathy merchant and dog fancier attracted 2.53 million whilst the evening ended with Match Of The Day 2 with 2.36 million at 10.30pm. The Chase Celebrity Special on ITV had an audience of 2.96 million. The Secret Life Of The Zoo kicked-off Channel Four's primetime schedule with seven hundred and fifty one thousand viewers, followed by Hidden Britain By Drone (1.39 million). On Channel Five, Penn & Teller: Fool Us In Vegas attracted eight hundred and fifty thousand whilst the movie The Town was seen by six hundred and thirty thousand. E4's latest episode of Marvel's Agents of SHIELD drew four hundred and sixty one thousand. Sky1's new series of Wild Things began with a not particularly impressive one hundred and eighty eight thousand followed by Hawaii Five-O (four hundred and fifty one thousand. There were good rating for the football on Sky Sports 1. Stottingtot Hotshots versus The Scum attracted 1.85 million (with a peak audience of 2.49 million), whilst Blunderland's defeat to Leicester City was watched by 1.04 million (and a peak of 1.7 million. The opening episode of the much-trailed 11.22.63 on FOX was seen by seventy seven thousand punters at 9pm.
A fresh week of primetime kicked off on Monday night with a somewhat sobering batch of programming, ranging from hard-hitting dramas to a number of difficult-to-watch exposés. At 9pm, ITV broadcast the second episode of the hit psychological drama, Marcella, starring Anna Friel. Debuting last week to an overnight audience of 5.8 million viewers, the tale of a woman dealing with some worrying moments of uncontrollable rage followed by complete blackouts added something new to a well-worn genre. From the pen of Hans Rosenfeldt, ITV's new drama is a bit far-fetched but completely gripping, although the second episode did suffer a concerning week-on-week loss of ten per cent of its initial overnight audience. It total, 5.26 million viewers tuned in, the biggest 9pm audience across all channels. The commercial broadcaster's Monday night success actually kicked off earlier, with its deluge of soaps netting the day's top spots. Emmerdale brought in 6.05 million viewers at 7pm, helped no doubt by the soap's eagerness to show some bare arse in a teatime slot. A double trip to Coronation Street secured the day's top two audience spots despite the suspiciously exotic smell wafting from number twenty eight. A total of 6.91 million viewers watched at 7:30pm as Gary Windass secured some wacky-baccy for his suffering ex-girlfriend, Izzie, falling to 6.48 million viewers for the 8:30pm episode. Sandwiched between the two episodes of Corrie was Further Tales From Northumberland With Wor Geet Canny Robson Green (8pm) which saw Wor Geet Canny Robson looking at rock formations, with 2.88 million punters. It was very different on BBC1, with I'm Broken Inside: Sara's Story, part of the Panorama strand setting the tone at 7:30pm. Detailing tragic tales of young people with serious mental health issues and the state of our crumbling care system, the sad-but-important investigation attracted 2.70 million viewers. It deserved far more. BBC1 provided some light relief at 8pm, with another trip to Walford in EastEnders. 6.32 million viewers watched Ben Mitchell drag his half naked girlfriend, Abi Branning, around The Queen Vic. At 8:30pm, Abused: The Untold Story attempted to put a spotlight on the lasting damage dealt to the victims and their families of that dirty old scallywag and right rotten rotter Jimmy Saville, in an effort to put some personal weight behind the horrific headlines. The documentary attempted to look at the cover-up culture at the time while giving a voice to some of the countless victims. The harrowing hour-and-a-half predictably brought in 2.10 million viewers. On BBC2, University Challenge was watched by in 2.77 million viewers at 8pm while 9pm brought the penultimate episode of The People Versus OJ Simpson: American Crime Story with 1.10 million viewers, followed by Qi XL with eight hundred and ninety one thousand. The Great Benefits Row, part of Channel Four's Dispatches strand brought in eight hundred and forty four thousand at 8pm while the latest adventure on The Island With Bear Grylls (9pm) saw the fractured community finally catch a meal, watched by 2.13 million viewers. At 10pm, that wretched Sex Box continued. Returning for a second series which no one actually asked for after three years away, the latest episode saw a former Big Brother-type person pop in for a spot of spanking and sex-in-a-box. And, why not? Six hundred and ninety three thousand viewers should be damned well ashamed of themselves for gawping at the awfulness of it all. Channel Five once again broadcast Sinkholes: Buried Alive at 7pm for about the seventh time, bringing in five hundred and twenty four thousand viewers while Police Interceptors: The Fatal Four was seen by 1.07 million viewers at 8pm. The Tube: Going Underground continued at 9pm, drawing the broadcaster's biggest audience of the day with 1.33 million viewers. At 10pm, Gotham had five hundred and twenty two thousand. In the 7pm hour, The ONE Show on BBC1 drew 3.82 million and Grand Tours Of Scotland on BBC2 had an audience of 1.44 million. Later, An Island Parish: Shetland drew 1.96 million. BBC4's A History of Ancient Britain was watched by eight hundred and twenty one thousand punters at 9pm.

Heard the one about Wor Get Canny Robson Green and the heartbroken vicar, dear blog reader? No, it's not the plot of a forthcoming episode of Grantchester, allow the Daily Mirra to explain. Without hacking anyone's phone, obviously, because that would be wrong.
Tuesday evening's BBC1 line-up began at 7pm with The ONE Show drawing 3.62 million viewers, followed by EastEnders with 6.40 million, Holby City (4.60 million) and The A Word (continuing to hold steady with 4.15 million). ITV's traditional Tuesday night horrorshow showed no sign of abating once Emmerdale (5.28 million from 7pm) had finished. The latest list of flop factual formats included River Monsters (1.75 million at 7.30pm), How Not To DIY (1.85 million at 8pm) and, very satisfyingly, Drive (1.49 million at 9pm, one of the lowest-rated celebrity formats ever on ITV). And, thoroughly well-deserved to for the complete lack of originality or, indeed, brains on offer. By contrast, it was a terrific night for BBC2, with Grand Tours of Scotland attracting 1.85 million at 7.30pm, Bake Off Crème De La Crème once again pulling in a hugely impressive 3.26 million a 8pm and Europe: Them Or Us drawing an audience of 1.94 million at 9pm, all three of which beat their ITV opposition in their respective slots. This blogger can't remember the last time that happened. On BBC4, meanwhile, Britain's Treasure Islands was watched by five hundred and two thousand at 9pm. On Channel Four, Obsessive Compulsive Cleaners was seen by 1.10 million, One Born Every Minute by 1.35 million and First Dates by 1.10 million. The Yorkshire Vet kicked-off Channel Five's primetime at 8pm with 1.24 million, followed by Benefits By The Sea: Jaywick (1.07 million at 9pm). ITV3's latest Midsomer Murders repeat was watched by nine hundred and forty one thousand whilst Hollyoaks on E4 was seen by eight hundred and five thousand. Sheikh Yer Man City's Champions League victory over Paris Saint-Germain on BT Sport Europe attracted seven hundred and seventy three thousand. On Sky1, the latest episode of The Flash had an overnight audience of three hundred and ninety five thousand. 5USA's new episode of The Mysteries Of Laura at the same time - 9pm - also had the same-sized audience, three hundred and ninety five thousand. Sky Living's Blindspot attracted one hundred and eleven thousand viewers.

Manchester's crime fighting duo returned to ITV on Wednesday night at 9pm as a new series of Scott & Bailey began. The fifth series from Happy Valley creator Sally Wainwright saw the titular characters reunited after some time apart, with the new series consisting of three episodes, rather than the usual eight. The first series of the refreshingly feminist psycho-hunting show debuted with an impressive 7.3 million overnight viewers in May 2011. Opening episodes have since failed to match that achievement, with the second series falling slightly to 6.7 million. Despite continued critical acclaim each subsequent series has launched with a marginally lower audience. The latest episode saw Rachel Bailey (the wonderful Suranne Jones) return from her detachment in London to face the ridicule of her former colleagues though it wasn't long some corpses started to pop up. The drama bucked its downward trend, with 4.59 million overnight viewers. On BBC1, football coverage saw MasterChef propelled into the 9pm slot, as the twenty third series of the culinary show offered up another five wannabes out to show off their pure dead mad-skills. It had an audience of 4.25 million viewers. Elsewhere, the 9pm schedule was loaded with workplace documentaries of varying quality. BBC2 kicked off a new two-part look at women too posh to push in the first half of Five Star Babies: Inside The Portland Hospital. The behind-the-curtains look at Britain's only private maternity hospital brought in 1.32 million viewers. Channel Four's hospital of choice was London's St George's Hospital, in the latest bloody episode of Twenty Four Hours In A&E with 1.52 million viewers. Less rewarding than being a midwife, nurse or doctor was the task at hand on Can't Pay? We'll Take It Away (Channel Five) watched by 1.31 million viewers. Most of BBC1's evening schedule was handed over to the latest Match of the Day Live, with coverage of the FA Cup sixth-round replay starting at 7pm. An average audience of 5.32 million viewers tuned in to see West Hamsters United take on The Scum, resulting in a twenty seven per cent audience share and a 2-1 win for Louis Van Gaal's boys. The audience peaked in the final quarter of the game around 8:45pm, with 6.3 million viewers. On BBC2, Horizon (8pm) had 1.01 million viewers. On ITV there was a new variety show Tonight At The London Palladium at 8pm, with the Bradley Walsh-fronted fun securing 3.41 million viewers. There was more real-life medical drama on Channel Four and Channel Five at the same time with The Supervet and GPs: Behind Closed Doors bringing in 2.08 million and 1.12 million viewers respectively. Earlier in the day, there was more tense court action in Emmerdale (7pm), with 5.22 million viewers. Afterwards, the latest drama from Coronation Street (7:30pm) secured Wednesday's top overnight spot with 5.88 million viewers. Grand Tours Of Scotland on BBC2 at 7.30pm was watched by 1.38 million. On Channel Four at 10pm, What British Muslims Really Think attracted a fraction over one million.
Thursday night brought fresh primetime victory to BBC1 with a combination of an accomplished cooking competition and an educational magazine show taking the largest overnight audience share. At 8pm the broadcaster premièred a new episode of MasterChef, to an audience of 4.40 million punters, many of whom would've had a right good laugh at some of the antics therein (see below). At 9pm, the second half of the somewhat condescending magazine show How To Stay Young secured top place its time slot as Angela Rippon and Doctor Chris van Tulleken once again filled up an hour of telly with bite-sized experiments and some very vague advice. Last week's slice of secrets-sharing pulled in an overnight audience of four million viewers as van Tulleken donned some highly dodgy old-age make up to prove some point about something or other, with this week's second episode falling by over half-a-million viewers. A total of 3.52 million tuned in to see Rippon travel to Japan to try some food for the brain. And, indeed, the bum. On ITV, Bargain Shop Wars provided some mindless trivial entertainment at 8:30pm with the latest workplace documentary bringing in 2.5 million viewers. At 9pm, the former Lilly Savage was back with another bleeding-heart appeal and after last week's Sally Army programme was back in the more familiar territory of cuddly critters. Paul O'Grady's Animal Orphans was exactly what it said on the time, bringing in 2.4 million viewers. There were plenty more sick puppies on BBC2, both of the actual kind and the human variety. Jungle Animal Hospital, part of the Natural World strand, at 8pm, secured an audience of 1.39 million viewers, while the latest episode of corrupt police officer drama Line Of Duty (9pm) continued to perform superbly well with 3.26 million viewers, easily topping ITV's O'Grady vehicle. Channel Four honoured its remit and provided some investigative journalism at 8pm with the middle episode of Millionaire's Mansions: Designing Britain's Most Exclusive Homes, which featured more extremely lucky chancers selling their wares to the terminally wealthy. This attracted 1.14 million. At 9pm, it was the second episode of the patronising British Army Girls. The latest military recruitment spot from the broadcaster, which featured more drop-outs and even harder trials ahead, drawing nine hundred and ninety seven thousand punters. Alan Carr:Chatty Man continued with a mere five hundred and sixty thousand. Channel Five was attempting getting all highbrow with a flurry of medicinal programming. Medical Mysteries (8pm), which featured a plethora of unfortunate conditions, netted five hundred and eleven thousand viewers whilst the tense reality of Trauma Doctors: Every Second Counts (9pm) was watched by seven hundred and seventy four thousand. Earlier on ITV, Emmerdale brought its highly topical historical child abuse storyline to a close with two episodes, netting 5.8 million at 7pm and 5.4 million viewers at 8pm. BBC1's trip to Walford at 7:30pm won Thursday's top spot as it dawned on newly returned (and newly regenerated) Johnny Carter that Albert Square is actually a really awful and dangerous place to find yourself in, with EastEnders securing 5.96 million viewers. On ITV3, a repeat of Lewis was seen by four hundred and eighty two thousand whilst BBC4's Scotland's Vital Spark: The Clyde Puffer attracted four hundred and one thousand and, BBC: The Secret Files 2 had three hundred and twenty three thousand.

Thursday's episode of MasterChef once again highlighted the positive delight that the programme's producers seem to take in including within the episode soundbites from those contestants who consider themselves to be the next Michael Roux (senior or junior) but, despite their confidence in their own abilities, are about to have their boastfulness tested not only by John and Gregg but, also, by the nation. Case in point was Chris, a supermarket store manager. 'I'll run through brick walls to win, I'm horrendously competitive,' he claimed - like this was a good thing - adding that he was 'a terribly sore loser.' Oh dear, that was like a Big Red Flag to the entire audience to stick around for a bit of sore loser-watching later on. We've discussed this aspect of MasterChef before, dear blog reader, but have you noticed that whilst it's likely many of the programme's contestants display a bit of self-confidence bordering on 'everybody look at me, me, me, me, me' during their on-camera interviews it's rare that such clips featuring any of those contestants who aren't about to crash and burn ever seem to actually get used. Chris, sadly, was also cursed with one thing that you really don't want to have if you've just bigged yerself up in front of four million punters on national telly - a very smug-looking face. Not his fault, obviously this blogger hastens to add, one is sure that Chris is a very nice chap. But, what with his smug-mug and his, freely-confessed, 'horrendous' competitiveness, you kind-of knew he was heading for an early exit. And, so it proved. His 'take on a Shepherd's Pie' in the first round didn't wow the judges - despite some rather awkward banter with Wallace about how much his wife fancied John but his mother preferred Gregg and, later, some rather unappealing 'look at us, we've finished early aren't we, like, dead cool?' malarkey with another of the contestants, Nick, who also left the competition at the end of the episode. 'Work smart, not hard, that's my mantra in life,' Chris said with an especially smug grin. Just a suggestion, mate, but you might want to save such confidence and sagacity until you'd actually produced something worth bragging about. 'Bit of a mixed-bag. I thought it had gone a bit better,' Chris noted after John and Gregg criticised his creamy sprouts and bacon for not being, you know, cooked properly. 'It's sort of a cross between coleslaw and braised cabbage,' Tordoe told him. Forced to cook again in an invention test, Chris presented John and Gregg with marinated lamb rump in Moroccan spices and chilli, served with couscous and pomegranate. The lamb was a bit overcooked, picked up by Gregg, and the use of the chilli made it 'like Dante's Inferno,' according to John. 'It doesn't need that ferocious heat, it's just burning.' 'It don't think it was at hot as John was saying,' Chris suggested which seemed an odd thing to claim when someone's just told you something you've made was, you know, too hot. 'Gutted,' Chris said when told he would be leaving the competition. 'I thought I had enough. But, obviously other people disagreed.' Yes. The other people being the two judges. 'Going home at the first hurdle doesn't feel nice.' By that stage one felt rather sorry for the lad as his dreams of a chef's career and riches beyond avarice fell to the floor and were shattering into a million tiny fragments, something very much reflected on his - by now, no longer smug-looking - face. When will MasterChef contestants learn? Don't big yourself up on camera, you're only asking for trouble. At the episode's climax, the very impressive Liz and Jane and, also, Jamie, made it through to the quarter finals.

On Friday evening, EastEnders latest half-an-hour of sustained ennui attracted and overnight audience of 6.01 million viewers at 8pm, followed by the last of MasterChef's quarter-final episodes, which drew 3.91 million at 8.30pm. The half-hour episode saw Jane, Billy, Jamie, Annie, Hope and Liz prepare dishes based around duck breast in a challenge set by the food critic Jay Rayner. John Torode and Gregg Wallace watched, closely, as the contestants put together their efforts. Annie produced the dish of the day, while Jay enjoyed the sauces in Liz's professional-looking meal. Jane also impressed, but there was a mixed response to Hope and Billy's dish and none of the judges liked Jamie's Thai curry in the slightest. Hope and Jamie lost their places in the competition as a result. At 9pm, Have I Got News For You, hosted by Tracy Ullman, was seen by 4.20 million. On ITV, Emmerdale had an audience of 4.81 million at 7pm, followed by the evening's two episodes of Coronation Street which drew 6.38 million and 5.89 million at 7.30pm and 8.30pm respectively. BBC2's The Food Detectives attracted 1.43 million at 7.30pm, after which Celebrity Mastermind was watched by 2.11 million at 8pm and Gardeners' World with 2.21 million at 8.30pm. Channel Four's Friday line-up included Food Unwrapped (1.21 million at 8pm), Travel Man: Forty Eight hours In Berlin (1.03 million at 8.30pm) and, the channel's highlight of the evening, Gogglebox (3.14 million at 9pm). It was 'let's lick a Royal arse, that'll be good for an OBE' night on Channel Five; the first episode of Suzie Lipscombe documentary series Henry VIII & His Six Wives was seen by eight hundred and fifty one thousand at 8pm. That was followed by Inside Buckingham Palace: The Queen's Worst Year (nine hundred and ninety two thousand at 9pm) and Elizabeth II: Ninety Glorious Years (six hundred and seventy thousand at 10pm). Surely it must be eighty nine glorious years if, according to the previous programme, she had a 'worst' one? On BBC4, the opening episode of the fascinating The People's History of Pop had five hundred and thirteen thousand, followed by a repeat of Rock 'n' Roll Britannia with five hundred and thirty two thousand at 10pm. Sky1's Supergirl drew two hundred and one thousand, followed by the opening episode of new import drama The Five (three hundred and twenty nine thousand at 9pm). The Blacklist on Sky Living attracted one hundred and eighty three thousand.
Wretched piss-poor alleged 'entertainment' show, Can't Touch This attracted an overnight audience of 2.29 million for its latest, tragic, episode on Saturday, a fall week-on-week on over three hundred thousand punters. Going at its current rate, it should have about four people watching by the time this fiasco ends its first, and hopefully only, run in six weeks time. Because it is, when all is said and done, about as 'entertaining' as a long afternoon being repeated stabbed in ones tender-portions with a rust compass. BBC1's decidedly average evening continued with Pointless (3.56 million at 6.15pm), the opening episode of Michael McIntyre's Big Show (4.88 million at 7pm, in which the host was, as usual, moderately funny and extremely annoying, often both at the same time), The National Lottery: Win Your Wish List (2.51 million) and Casualty (a lower-than-usual 3.63 million at 9pm). Match Of The Day ended the night with 3.50 million to watch The Scum's victory over Aston Villains send the hapless Villa down among the dead men for next season whilst both The Mackem Filth and yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved (though unsellable and, seemingly, relegation-bound) Magpies had their largest victories in months, both winning 3-0 against Norwich and Swansea respectively. If BBC1 night was one of steady, and unspectacular, figures with a couple of very poor moments, on ITV it was more of the same. You've Been Framed attracted 2.02 million whilst, at 7pm, Bang On The Money had 3.09 million. Britain's Got Talent, of course, topped the night's - and, indeed, the week's - overnights with a huge 9.91 million punters ta 8pm but, at 9.20pm, crappy, unoriginal waste of oxygen Play To The Whistle managed to squander the vast majority of its lead-in audience, attracting but 3.02m. ITV were, therefore, at or below three million overnight viewers pretty much all night apart from BGT, even though the latter, seemingly did quite a bit of damage to Casualty audience. After ten years, wouldn't you think that ITV could have come up with a winning Saturday schedule to go along with BGT. Or, at last, shows either side that could manage to pull in say, four million viewers rather than two-and-a-bit million. On BBC2, the latest Dad's Army repeat was watched by 1.39 million whilst the start of Tom Jones' 1950's: The Decade That Made Me attracted 1.68 million. Channel Four's two Saturday night movies - Ender's Game and Die Hard 2 - drew rather disappointing audiences of nine hundred and eighty thousand and eight hundred and sixty nine thousand respectively. On Channel Five, The Championship: Football League Tonight had four hundred and thirty thousand. NCIS drew eight hundred and one thousand.

The BBC is winning the battle for the biggest shows of 2016 during the first quarter. Every one of the ten most-watched programmes of the year between New Year's day and the end of March has been broadcast by BBC1. In first place was Sherlock, which attracted a staggering 11.6 million viewers on New Year's Day. Once you're past that, however, something of a pattern emerges. In second place is Call The Midwife. Third place is Call The Midwife. Fourth place is ... Call The Midwife. Et cetera. Basically, Call The Midwife takes up every other place in the top ten apart from one and ten (which went to the New Year's Day episode of EastEnders).
1. Sherlock, BBC1 (1 January) 11.6 million viewers
2. Call The Midwife, BBC1 (6 March) 10.9m
3. Call The Midwife, BBC1 (28 February) 10.2m
4. Call The Midwife, BBC1 (7 February) 10.1m
5. Call The Midwife, BBC1 (17 January) 9.9m
6. Call The Midwife, BBC1 (24 January) 9.8m
7. Call The Midwife, BBC1 (21 February) 9.7m
8. Call The Midwife, BBC1 (14 February) 9.6m
9. Call The Midwife, BBC1 (31 January) 9.5m
10. EastEnders, BBC1 (1 January) 9.4m
All things considered, then, it's fair to say this has been a pretty good year for Call The Midwife.

ITV have recommissioned their hit Sunday night drama The Durrells for a second series after just two episodes have been broadcast. The series, produced by Sid Gentle Films Ltd, is currently ITV's best rating new drama of the year and its highest rating new show of any description since September 2014. Sally Woodward-Gentle, the CEO at Sid Gentle Films, said:'“The combination of Gerald Durrell's warm, witty stories and Simon Nye's brilliance at adapting them meant we always knew that we had created something special. The audience reaction has been fantastic and I am delighted that we are able to continue the story and reunite the fantastic cast and crew who have become a close-knit family on and off screen.' Keeley Hawes will return as Louisa alongside her fictional brood played by Josh O’Connor, Callum Woodhouse, Daisy Waterstone and Milo Parker. The series, of course, is based on Gerald Durrell's autobiographical books, is scripted by Simon Nye.
She has already led her team through some of the toughest questions on television, within reach of securing a historic third consecutive victory for Cambridge. But whatever happens in the University Challenge final this week, it appears the captain of Peterhouse College will not walk away empty-handed. Hannah Woods, who along with her teammates has become something of a cult figure among University Challenge fans, has disclosed how their new-found fame has had some unexpected results, including a marriage proposal and a surprise bottle of gin in the post. 'Fans on Twitter have variously suggested future career options from presenting history documentaries to appearing on Game Of Thrones and playing the next Bond villain. I'd just like to make it clear to anyone in charge of casting how very available I am.' Hannah, who will lead Peterhouse against a team from St John's, Oxford, said the students' stint on national television had also led to social media attention which had 'taken some getting used to.' While host Jezza Paxman is famed for his withering looks to students when they struggle to answer questions, Hannah has gone one further by having spoof Twitter accounts set up dedicated to her eyebrows, after viewers noticed their 'killer' arch while answering questions. 'It's absolutely bizarre. I do just have a naturally asymmetric face, but I think it's quite funny that people think I'm being terribly arch,' she said. Both teams have inspired something of a cult following on social media, with the expressions and gesticulations of St John's' Charlie Clegg and Peterhouse's Oscar Powell gaining particular attention. 'More strange still has been the mail sent to my college pigeon hole, which has included a Valentine’s day card from a fan, a marriage proposal, and even a bottle of gin,' Hannah told the Torygraph. She is the only woman left in the final on a programme notorious for its male-dominated line-up, but said she would encourage others to audition. 'It seems very daunting, but the production team were incredibly supportive, and there was a really friendly atmosphere on set,' she said. 'It has been a really positive experience for me – I’ve enjoyed every bit of taking part.' Peterhouse will have the chance to win a third consecutive University Challenge series for the Cambridge colleges, following successes for Trinity and Gonville and Caius, which both beat Oxford teams the last two years. But they will face formidable competition from rivals, St John's Oxford, have so far scored consistently better, with higher totals in the first round, quarter finals and semis. While the show is pre-recorded, the contestants have been sworn to secrecy about the results until the show has been broadcast, with most planning to watch the episode with friends, family and fellow students. Angus Russell, St John's captain, said that his team were 'quite surprised' to have made it so far, being relieved each time they got through one more round, while Hannah claimed it 'very surreal' adding: 'I don’t think any of us on the team could really believe that we’d made it that far.' On their new public profile, Russell said: 'Of course it’s odd seeing strangers who you've never met commenting on sites like Twitter, or getting random friend requests on Facebook, but personally I've found it quite funny really. 'There's nothing really malicious about most of it and I'm glad so many people find it entertaining watching eight people answer obscure general knowledge questions for half an hour.' Describing their various training strategies, Russell said his Oxford team - made up of Clegg, Dan Sowood, and Alex Harries - had practiced to try and speed up, but erred away from overdoing it after realising 'if there's a group of questions that won't come up again, it's the ones in the University Challenge book.' Peterhouse - Hannah, Oscar Powell, Thomas Langley and Julian Sutcliffe - preferred to 'open a bottle of wine and watch old University Challenge episodes on Youtube, buzzing in with abandon,' said Hannah. 'When we heard that we'd been selected to appear on the show, there was a vague intention to do a bit of revision - the idea was that someone would memorise lists of kings and queens, someone would look at Booker Prize winners, and so on, but I don't think anyone actually did the homework in the end. We're all good friends and quiz together whenever we can – I think we're all people who just tend to remember esoteric facts and odd bits of knowledge in case they ever come in useful. And Wikipedia also helps.' Both team captains played down the Oxbridge rivalry, saying that they had 'become good friends' during the process of filming and planning to visit one another in the future. 'It is, after all, only a TV quiz,' said Russell. 'Whatever the outcome, I imagine we'll finish the night propping up the college bar,' said Hannah.

Labour has called for the lack of culture secretary, the vile and odious rascal Whittingdale to withdraw from press regulation decisions after news of his relationship with a sex worker broke big-style(e) on Tuesday. Four national newspapers reportedly knew about the relationship, which ended in 2014, but decided not to publish the story. The shadow lack of culture secretary, the vile and odious rascal Eagle said that the relationship had left the vile and odious rascal Whittingdale 'vulnerable' to 'pressure' from the press. The vile and odious rascal Whittingdale, who says that he had 'not known' the woman was a sex worker, claimed it had not affected his decisions. Downing Street said the vile and odious rascal Whittingdale was 'a single man entitled to a private life' and had 'the full confidence' of the prime minister. Interestingly the didn't use the phrase 'a private matter.' One wonders why. As the lack of culture secretary, the vile and odious rascal Whittingdale's job is to regulate newspapers and he is currently overseeing a whole new regulatory framework under consideration in the wake of The Leveson Inquiry into press standards. The vile and odious rascal Eagle said the Conservative minister should 'recuse' himself from any further involvement in decisions relating to the inquiry. The vile and odious rascal Whittingdale told BBC's Newsnight: 'Between August 2013 and February 2014, I had a relationship with someone who I first met through match.com. She was a similar age and lived close to me. At no time did she give me any indication of her real occupation and I only discovered this when I was made aware that someone was trying to sell a story about me to tabloid newspapers. As soon as I discovered [this], I ended the relationship. This is an old story which was a bit embarrassing at the time. The events occurred long before I took up my present position and it has never had any influence on the decisions I have made as culture secretary.' At the time of the relationship, the vile and odious rascal Whittingdale was chairman of the Commons Culture, Media and Sport select committee. He was made lack of culture secretary in May 2015. Downing Street told Newsnight it was 'not aware' of the vile and odious rascal Whittingdale's relationship before his appointment to the cabinet job. Four newspapers - the People, part of the Mirra Group, the Scum Mail On Sunday, the Sun and the now online-only Independent - had investigated the claims but had concluded the story was 'not in the public interest,' Newsnight reported. Quite why, when seemingly every newspaper in the land is getting aal stroppy and discombobulated about their right to publish the identity of some - unnamed - celebrity's 'partner' and what he or she did with some olive oil in a paddling pool with a couple in a threesome (allegedly) is, probably, a question well worth asking the four newspapers involved in this decision. James Cusick, a former Independent reporter who looked at the story for five months, said: 'If this individual is making these decisions - decisions that would affect the way people look at newspapers, the way newspapers behave, the way the BBC is allowed to be - you have a right to know about this man's private life and whether there is something in it he is trying to hold back from you.' BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg said that the question for the vile and odious rascal Whittingdale was not about his relationship, but about his role in regulating the press when the newspapers had a story about his private life. It is a story which you imagine most tabloid newspapers would be licking their lips to publish under normal circumstances and many people will find it jolly curious that they chose not to do so in this case. Certainly it contrasts staggeringly with their current attempts to overturn the injunction barring publication of details of the celebrity couple. It is quite possible that in the new climate after The Leveson Inquiry newspapers simply thought 'no way are we going anywhere near this.'

A thirty foot model of the Loch Ness Monster built in 1969 for a Sherlock Holmes movie has been found almost fifty years after it sank in the loch. The model was created for the Billy Wilder-directed The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes. It has been seen for the first time in images captured by an underwater robot. Loch Ness expert Adrian Shine said that the shape, measurements and location pointed to the object being the prop. The robot, operated by Norwegian company Kongsberg Maritime, is being used to investigate what lies in the depths of Loch Ness. Visit Scotland and Shine's The Loch Ness Project, which gathers scientific information on the loch's ecology and the potential for a monster, is supporting the survey. Shine told the BBC News Scotland website: 'We have found a monster, but not the one many people might have expected. The model was built with a neck and two humps and taken alongside a pier for filming of portions of the film in 1969. The director did not want the humps and asked that they be removed, despite warnings I suspect from the rest of the production that this would affect its buoyancy. And the inevitable happened. The model sank.' Shine added: 'We can confidently say that this is the model because of where it was found, the shape - there is the neck and no humps - and from the measurements.' The model was floated out to a place in the loch where only a few months earlier claims of sighting of Nessie had been made. The Private Life Of Sherlock Holmes was made in 1969 and released in cinemas the following year. The film tells of the detective investigating the disappearance of an engineer. The case takes him to Loch Ness and an encounter with a monster. Sir Robert Stephens played Holmes, Colin Blakely was Doctor Watson and Sir Christopher Lee was the sleuth's brother, Mycroft. It wasn't a major success at the time but has, since, become something of a cult classic and is a well-acknowledged influence on the BBC's Sherlock. Talented special effects artist Wally Veevers, whose other work included 2001: A Space Odyssey, Superman and Local Hero, led the building of the Monster. It sank on its first outing on the loch while being towed behind a boat. Wilder is said to have went out of his way to comfort Veevers after watching his creation disappear beneath the waves. The director, who had also been dogged with problems lighting scenes at Loch Ness, had a new monster made - but just its head and neck - and moved the filming to a large water tank in the film studio.

Jezza Clarkson has ruled out his new Amazon TV show being called any name with the word 'gear' in it, revealing that the BBC has the legal right to stop the show copycatting Top Gear. There had been continued speculation that the new show might be called Gear Knobs or some such malarkey, despite denials by Jezza his very self and Amazon, or some other sort of play on the name of the BBC2 motoring show. Clarkson revealed the legal issue after fans inundated his Twitter feed with ideas for names for the show after he posted a spoof video about the struggle to find a suitable title. The video features Jezza, Richard Hammond and James May in a spoof brainstorming session for a name ahead of the launch of their Amazon series in the Autumn. Among the spoof names bandied about on the video include Hammond's punt of Auto-Mates, Tripod, a bunch of classic rock LP names punted by Clarkson and May's keep-it-simple approach of The Clarkson, Hammond and May Car Show.
Netflix has confirmed that it will show Chris Evans's Top Gear internationally which will put it in direct competition with Jezza Clarkson's new motoring show on rival Amazon. Ted Sarandos, Netflix's chief content officer, said on Tuesday of this week that the revamped BBC2 motoring show will be made available on the streaming service as it falls under the existing deal it has with the BBC. 'Theoretically, it should follow the deal of the old format where Top Gear is still under the terms of the old deal,' said Sarandos. 'So, in many parts of the world we already have it picked up and we'll continue to talk to them about doing it as well. The show is very popular on Netflix as you can imagine. There's a change in format but people definitely prefer the British Top Gear over the local Top Gear in almost every country in the world.' Sarandos said that Netflix, which has more than seventy five million subscribers globally, is also 'continuing talks' to make Top Gear available in as many of its international territories as possible.
Matt LeBlanc will soon have a bit more time on his hands to shoot Top Gearas his comedy series Episodes ​is ending. US network Showtime – which co-produces the series with the BBC – has confirmed that Episodes' upcoming fifth series will be its last. Writers David Crane and Jeffrey Klarik announced: 'We have had the best time making this show. Showtime has been the opposite of every network we write about. If it were up to them we could go on making Episodes forever. But we've told the story we set out to tell and we'd never want to outstay our welcome.' The final seven-episode series goes into production next week, with the finale tipped to be shown in 2017.
Silent Witness ​turns twenty later this year - with Emilia Fox promising that 2016 will be 'a big year' for the long-running crime drama. Fox - who has played the series lead, Nikki Alexander, since 2004 -​ has revealed that filming on a twentieth series will begin later this month. 'It's exciting,' she said. 'I mean, absolutely the focus is on that it will be a landmark year. I think everyone is very aware that it will be a big year."' Fox replaced Amanda Burton from the show's eighth series onwards - and has now appeared in over one hundred episodes.
​BBC1's The Musketeers will draw to a close with a third and final series. A third series was first announced back in February 2015 - but it has now been confirmed that the next ten episodes will bring the historical drama to an end. 'Season three of The Musketeers completes this thirty-hour series with ambition and energy,' said executive producer Jessica Pope. 'It is packed with action and adventure, fun and drama from the very first opening seconds of episode one to the very end. It is a season that will delight its fans and pay off everything they have come to love about the show. Bigger in scale and more serialised than before, it has been real privilege and a joy to produce such a fabulous piece of entertainment for the BBC.' 'My Musketeers adventure was truly an incredible experience, which will live with me forever,' said Luke Pasqualino. 'I had the most amazing time exploring this beautiful world with even more beautiful people. I feel very sad to see its end but have every confidence that the fans will love viewing it as much as we enjoyed making it. Huge thanks to all who made the show such a pleasurable journey and of course, thank you to the fans that saw the show for everything that it was.' Tom Burke promised that the final series of The Musketeers will explore 'a universe that is less stable than the first two. I suppose by that I mean that death and decay are casting a far bigger shadow than ever before from the very first episode,' he added. 'And, because of that characters come to really examine their motives and their fears, not only to save France but to find peace within. Time is running out and no-one is getting any younger.' Santiago Cabrera commented: 'Three seasons of The Musketeers was a true, action packed adventure, in every sense of the term. I will miss the world of Dumas, these rich characters, and many of the friendships made along the way. Hope you enjoy this third and final season as much as the first two. Your support has been wonderful. It's all yours now.' Howard Charles also expressed his appreciation for the show's loyal fans, adding: 'The Musketeers has been a truly wonderful experience, an enlightening challenge and a memorable three seasons. These characters will never cease to educate us on the notion of Liberty, Fraternity and Equality. They will live forever in our hearts and minds. A huge thank you to our fans of old and new, hope you enjoy the final season. Your loyalty and support is not lost on us.'
Katie Redford has landed a major role in the BBC's Keeping Up Appearances prequel. Redford was infamously sacked for the part of Sarah Platt's fourteen-year-old daughter, Bethany, last year, when 'a discrepancy about her age' was uncovered. Since then, apart from a minor role in four episodes of Sky's Mount Pleasant nothing further had been heard of her. But now, she's got a supporting role in a one-off special that explores Keeping Up Appearances character Hyacinth Bucket's early years. In the episode, Redford​ will play ​Hyacinth​'s younger sister Rose - portrayed by ​Shirley Stelfox and, later, Mary Millar in the original sitcom. The Keeping Up Appearances prequel is part of a large slate of revivals to mark sixty years of BBC sitcoms since Hancock's Half Hour, including remakes of The Good Life, Are You Being Served?, Steptoe & Son, Till Death Us Do Part and a truly horrifying-sounding sequel to Porridge.
An all-Irish cast will star in EastEnders spin-off Redwater, featuring the popular characters of Kat and Alfie Moon. Downton Abbey's Maria Doyle Kennedy and Ian McElhinney from Game Of Thrones are among those who will appear. Lost's Fionnula Flanagan, Shameless's Angeline Ball and Peter Campion will also feature. The series sees Kat and Alfie arrive in Redwater, a fictional Irish harbour village, in search of Kat's long-lost son. It will be broadcast on BBC1 in 2017. The six-parter's ensemble cast also includes Oisin Stack, Stephen Hogan, Susan Ateh, Ian Toner and Ebony O'Toole-Acheampong. Jessie Wallace, said: 'I walked into the drama read-through to a table full of wonderful Irish actors and it was thrilling. They all made me feel so very welcome as we started to read the first script. It's going to be a rollercoaster.' Award-winning Danish director Jesper Nielsen, also behind Borgen, is behind the camera on Redwater. He said: 'We have a really important and fantastic story to tell. About how one woman's search for a lost child opens Pandora's Box; revealing the terrible lies and secrets in the little village of Redwater. A story about how the strong bonds of love in a family can hold everything together and yet at the same time - destroy everything. It has echoes of a Shakespearean drama, told in a rich cinematic style, loaded with humour and suspense. I cannot wait to start shooting and see the characters coming to life.' Filming of the series begins next week.
You would have thought that his absence from the event would have put all the various Jon Snow rumours to bed, yet everyone still asked about Jon Snow. Game Of Thrones cast members whose characters are, you know, still alive, gathered for the series six première in Los Angeles on Sunday night. Once noticeable absentee was Kit Harrington, whose character was very stabbed at the climax of series five, with the blood and the screaming and all that. But, his absence is easily explained - Harrington was playing Doctor Faustus on the London stage at the time. Many fans of the show don't believe that Snow is gone after sightings of him on set and one or two vague answers by some of the cast in interviews. The actors were quick to crush the hopes of fans that Snow is still alive on Sunday,however. 'The man's had about twenty five knives in his chest. How much steel does he have to have in his body to be confirmed dead?' said Liam Cunningham. 'He's dead. Dead as a doornail.' Cunningham went on to note that David Nutter, who directed that episode, had told him that he was at a party in Washington and Barack Obama, came over to him. 'He said, "Are you David Nutter? I have a question for you." David said, "Mister President he's dead. Deader than dead. Dead, dead, dead.' So do you think I'm going to tell you something different to what the President was told? I think not!'
Netflix's one hundred million knicker drama The Crown will not give a 'toadyish' picture of the British royal family, yer actual Matt Smith, has said. The streaming service has announced that the eagerly awaited series starring Claire Foy as Queen Elizabeth II and Smudger, the former Doctor Who actor, as her husband will be broadcast in the UK from 4 November. Speaking at a presentation of Netflix's forthcoming shows in Paris, Smudger said that, having played the Duke of Edinburgh, he and Foy 'grew to love them, in a way.' He added: 'What's brilliant is you get to glimpse them as real human beings – getting ready for bed.' However, he denied a suggestion that The Crown will be sycophantic: 'I don't think they are toadyish. The writing is respectful but not overly reverential.' Scriptwriter Peter Morgan added: 'It's pretty bold but not sensationalising. I'm very vigilant about that, the tone – particularly to protect us and our independence.' Covering the first ten years of the Queen's reign, The Crown is inspired by Morgan's play The Audience and looks at her relationships with Prince Philip as well as Winston Churchill. Morgan, who also wrote the 2006 Oscar-winning film, The Queen, said that the palace has an agreement not to talk in public about meetings with Prime Ministers but said that there have been 'back channels' and 'we've had some feedback from them.' The Crown is Netflix's first original UK drama but Morgan said that the pressure was reduced and 'some of my nerves dissipated' by the success of The Queen: 'It's either good or bad and you do your best.' Andy Harries, chief executive of producer Left Bank Pictures, said that since making The Queen there was 'much more of a respect' between his company and the palace. 'There's been some contact,' said Harries. 'I've had tea with the key press people of the Queen's to outline the broad plan. [But] they've not read the script.' He said they have also not yet seen the show. 'I imagine they'll be filling in their Netflix subscription.' Harries declined to reveal how much The Crown cost but said 'it's a very, very good budget' and they hope to make more following the first ten-part season.

Good Morning Britain presenter oily odious Piers Morgan has escaped censure over an interview about gay marriage, despite scores of viewers lodging complaints with the broadcasting regulator claiming that he had called all Christians homophobes. Last month, Morgan interviewed 'Christian magistrate' Richard Page on the ITV breakfast show. During the interview Morgan asked Page if he agreed with gay marriage. When Page said that he did not, Morgan said: 'So, you're a homophobe then?' Instead of, 'nice to see you're ignoring Matthew 7:1 and judging. Jesus really wouldn't like it,' which would have been accurate and funny. Not something one normally associates with Piers Morgan, admittedly. Still, you know, even a broken clock is right twice a day. Ofcom received seventy whinges from viewers who felt that Morgan's remarks were offensive and discriminatory towards Christians and implied that all Christians were homophobic. Which, they didn't. Just that 'Christian minister' Richard Page his very self was. Ofcom assessed the complaints to evaluate whether Morgan's actions warranted a full investigation of a potential breach of the broadcasting code. 'We assessed a number of complaints that Piers Morgan's tone was offensive and discriminatory towards Christians in an interview,' said a spokesman for Ofcom. 'We noted that the interviewee was given several opportunities to respond. He stated he was not homophobic and set out reasons why. Overall, the interview was balanced and we found no evidence of discrimination.'
The Wright Stuff has been cleared by Ofcom after offensive language was broadcast during an episode earlier this year. In the 8 February episode of the Channel Five morning chat show, a caller identified only as Paul was put on-air and responded to a question about widening the junk food ban with: 'Well, I think the obvious solution is just to fuck her right in the pussy.' An interesting contribution to the debate, some may feel. Others could have a different view, obviously. That's democracy for you. The call was immediately terminated (and, one suspects, if they could've got hold of 'Paul' at that point, so would he have been) and two grovelling apologies were given by Matthew Wright, one straight after the call and one at the end of the programme. Ofcom - a politically appointed quango, elected by no one - asked Channel Five to explain, using graphs if necessary, how the material complied with Rule 1.14 of the Code about pre-watershed offensive language. The broadcaster said that 'all protocol had been followed' and that the team 'had reacted quickly and responsibly. Although all the standard procedures were followed and there was no reason to suggest such conduct was likely, the caller unpredictably went on to use highly offensive language,' Channel Five explained. As should have been obvious to even the most stupid glake in the world. In their latest Broadcast Bulletin, Ofcom stated that while this was a 'clear example of the most offensive language' and a breach of Rule 1.14, they were satisfied with Channel Five's handling of the matter and considered it resolved. The broadcasting watchdog also referred to a 2014 decision in relation to The Wright Stuff when a caller stated: '... And then, I fucked her in the pussy.' They were even able to repeat the phrase, but Ofcom cleared Channel Five on that occasion too. Meanwhile, Ofcom cleared Emmerdale after complaints over David Metcalfe's naked bum, but found Channel Four's Frostgun Invitational extremely guilty of bad naughtiness. In case you've come across it, Frostgun Invitational was a series of programmes featuring highlights of the winter sports competition of the same name which took place in Val D’Isère in France between 16 and 18 February 2016. Ofcom received a single complaint that the episode broadcast on Channel Four on 27 February 2016 at 6.40am contained offensive language. Twenty-five minutes after the start of the programme the song 'Party Up' by DMX - a popular beat-combo, apparently - was broadcast during a winner's ceremony. The following lyrics were audible: 'Just gotta get my dick sucked and I don't know who the fuck you think you talkin' to.' Perhaps a question worth asking at this time is who the hell is up at 6.40am and watching Channel Four in the first place? The Licensee explained that its sports commissioning team have 'compliance processes in place' to check all pre-recorded content in advance of broadcast. In this case, however, Channel Four said that 'regrettably' this did not happen because 'this episode of the series was delivered later than anticipated' and a 'misunderstanding' by the commissioning team that resulted in 'the mistaken belief' that 'the Channel's programme management team would in any event be undertaking a "compliance check" that would pick anything up.' However, the Licensee explained that, in fact, this check is only 'for technical compliance, including the Harding test for flashing images and patterns, and not for content issues.' Such as dick sucking in this particular case.
An e-mail which it is claimed showed 'a senior Sun executive' asking a former Scum of the World journalist to hack the voicemail of Heather Mills's sister, Fiona, is part of new evidence presented by alleged phone-hacking victims in a bid to launch civil claims against the Sun. The claimants, who do not include Fiona or Heather Mills, allege that the 2006 e-mail shows the Sun executive editor, Geoff Webster, approving phone-hacking. It has been provided by the convicted phone-hacker and former Scum of the World news editor Greg Miskiw in support of an application to include the Sun in a tranche of phone-hacking claims against News Group Newspapers, the owner of the Sun and the now-defunct, disgraced and disgraceful Scum of the World. With the subject line 'fiona mills' the e-mail chain begins with Miskiw writing: 'Monitored over the weekend and there is nothing new. She may not be using it at the moment. Will keep on but not hopeful. Have a couple of other irons in the fire. Regards Greg.' Webster then replies: 'Okay, thanks Greg, keep looking mate.' Miskiw then asks for payment in the form of being put down 'for a shift, or two,' to which Webster replies: 'Of course.' Miskiw was, at the time, working for the news agency Mercury Press, having left the Scum of the World in 2005. He was one of five people who pleaded very guilty to intercepting voicemails for the Scum of the World, along with the former news editor Neville Thurlbeck, journalists Dan Evans and James Weatherup and private investigator Glenn Mulcaire, who is also providing evidence supporting the claims. Acting for the claimants, David Sherborne QC said: 'What's clear is these stories are being fed in ... at a high level by Mr Miskiw or Mr Mulcaire, straight to those at the top end of the tree.' He added that the e-mail shows voicemail interception was 'approved of at a very high level at the Sun newspaper.' Webster was never arrested or charged with phone-hacking and was cleared of charges relating to payments to public officials in 2015. The e-mail dates from the middle of the editorship of the Sun by well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Rebekah Brooks, who returned in September to become chief executive of News UK, which owns the Sun and The Times and Sunday Times. There is 'no indication' that well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks was aware of the e-mail. Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks was acquitted in 2014 of charges relating to phone-hacking at the Scum of the World, but her successor at the paper, Andy Coulson, was extremely convicted. The evidence is part of a broader set of statements and exhibits provided by the claimants designed to persuade Mr Justice Mann that they should be able to lodge civil claims against NGN for alleged phone-hacking at the Sun. They are also presenting evidence from two other convicted phone-hackers, Mulcaire and Paul McMullan, in support of claims that forty articles published in the Sun were obtained through phone-hacking. The defence have argued at earlier hearings that the witnesses are 'not credible' and that the Metropolitan police's investigations into phone-hacking have found no credible evidence of it taking place at the Sun. No journalists were arrested or charged with offences related to alleged phone-hacking at the Sun. A trial on the claims against the Scum of the World, brought on behalf of fourteen claimants, is due to take place in June. The claims against the Sun concern four of the claimants. If the court allows the case to go ahead, a trial date is likely to be set for early next year. The lead solicitors on the action, Hamlins, say there are around fifty other alleged victims preparing to join the Scum of the World claim, some of which will also relate to Sun articles if the case is allowed to go ahead.
Sir Alan Ayckbourn has whinged that the fast pace of modern TV is pressuring theatre writers to shorten their works. Oh great, another bitter old Red pissed off that it isn't the swinging Sixties any more. Speaking at the Oxford Literary Festival, Ayckbourn claimed that attention spans were now 'so poor' that a two-hour play felt like 'a marathon. A stage play asks a live audience to sit still in excess of two hours, which nowadays is a marathon,' the Daily Torygraph reported him as whinging. The playwright is best known for works such as Bedroom Farce. The play was his first to be staged a London's National Theatre in 1977 and set an early trend for the playwright to become known for focusing on the bitter-sweet world of Middle-Class Gruniad Morning Star reader domesticity. Which, of course, is always worth sitting through two hours of. With seventy nine plays under his belt, Ayckbourn has established he has a much wider range, taking in politics among other strong topics, most notably in A Small Family Business and musical theatre in The Boy Who Fell Into A Book. He said in his festival speech writing for the theatre now was 'not how it had been in the past' - yes, mate, that's called 'change'; it happens, deal with it - and was becoming more 'influenced by writing for television.' He whinged that TV shows depended on 'a series of short scenes changing quickly' because viewers had 'got the habit of flipping' from one scenario to another and as a result, had become much harder to attract audiences to long plays. 'Most television is short, sharp plays which flip, flip, flip, and then you've got a commercial break where you can get up and make tea,' he said. Not on the BBC,you don't. 'Then you're asking people to come in [to the theatre] and sit down.'
The BBC has signed a new three-year deal to broadcast the FA Cup until 2021. Live FA Cup action returned to the BBC after a six-year absence for the 2014-15 season in a shared-rights deal. BT Sport has also extended its current contract for the same period. About thirty six million people watched FA Cup coverage on the BBC so far this season, nine million more than during the previous campaign. Last season's final attracted a peak audience of 8.8 million for The Arse's four-nil win over Aston Villains. The deal with the Football Association again includes streaming of matches online as well as the network television coverage and highlights. The new deal will also see more women's football, with the BBC providing live coverage of international qualifiers, the Women's FA Cup final and one England women's friendly game per season alongside additional live matches and Women's Super League highlights. Barbara Slater, director of BBC Sport, said: 'FA Cup coverage on the BBC will continue to unite the nation through must-see sporting moments, captivating audiences of all ages. The renewed deal will bring audiences closer to the action than ever before via an innovative digital offering across all platforms and showcase our commitment to the women's game.'
Convicted sex offender Adam Johnson has formally lodged an appeal against his six-year jail sentence for grooming and sexual activity with a girl aged fifteen. The former Blunderland and England player was extremely jailed last month following a trial at Bradford Crown Court. An official at the court confirmed that Johnson's legal team had lodged an appeal against his sentence. The twenty eight-year-old has already begun an appeal against his conviction of sexual activity with a fifteen-year-old. Johnson admitted to grooming the girl and a separate, less serious charge, of sexual activity. Sentencing the player, Judge Jonathan Rose told Johnson that he had 'abused a position of trust' and caused his victim 'severe psychological harm.'

This Morning's Holly Willoughby - who can walk in a straight line and talk at the same time, apparently. Who knew? - and Phillip Schofield have 'addressed rumours' that they have mice in the studio after a viewer (with, seemingly, nothing better to do with their time) claimed to have spotted a rodent 'running riot' on the show this week. And this constitutes 'news', it would appear. 'Have you seen it this morning?' Willoughby told viewers as they opened Tuesday's episode. 'Can we stop talking about it, it's making me feel a bit jumpy.' Schofield who - of course, spent the first part of his career partnered by a small furry animal - said: 'I was thinking of putting bicycle clips on the bottom of my trousers just in case.'
Three senior judges have delayed their decision on whether to lift an injunction which could enable the media to identify a celebrity couple, one of whom was allegedly involved in a threesome. Lawyers for News Group Newspapers, on behalf of the Sun On Sunday, had told the court of appeal that the celebrity had already been named so widely online and in publications in both the US and Scotland that the injunction was 'effectively redundant and unenforceable.' The judges begged to differ. A least, for the time being. The court is now due to give its judgment on Monday morning and the injunction will remain in place in the meantime. The judges have indicated that even if they decided to lift the injunction, the court would not name the claimant in the case. Earlier on Friday, the Gruniad Morning Star won the right to report on the appeal hearing, which has raised the issue of whether injunctions restricting reporting can be enforced in the era of the Internet. Details of the supposed affair, involving one of the couple and another couple, have already been widely reported in publications beyond the jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales. Tabloids in London have printed headlines complaining that they could not report the story, with the Scum Mail whinging Why the law is an ass! on its front page just over a week ago. A court in London had originally granted the injunction, preventing identification of those involved, against the Sun on Sunday newspaper. Judges said that naming the celebrity couple could harm their children. According to the original anonymised judgment published in March, the case concerns 'an entertainer' who has prevented a tabloid newspaper from printing details of his extramarital affairs. The supposedly 'well-known' individual, who is referred to in the judgment by the initials PJS, and his partner, referred to as YMA, are described as 'public figures.' The latter is reported to have had 'a three-way sexual encounter' with another couple more than four years ago. That couple then approached the Sun on Sunday in January this year and snitched about their 'relationship'. The paper, which planned to publish the story, contacted the entertainer's lawyers, initiating the courtroom dispute. The earlier judgment said the Sun on Sunday could not publish their tawdy kiss-and-tell story because the entertainer, who has 'an open relationship,' had 'an expectation' that his sexual encounters would 'remain private.' At the time the ruling was seen as providing 'a more expansive interpretation' of privacy in terms of sexual activity. In court on Friday, Desmond Browne QC, for the claimant, said: 'A court should never abandon the protection it has given the litigant on account of widespread attempts to render the protection ineffective.' The court should not give in to 'widespread disobedience or defiance,' he said. 'It is defiance that is going on here.' Yep, that's about the size of it, mate. And, there's nowt you or your client can do about it, it would seem. Browne claimed that efforts by Google to remove URLs and online links to articles identifying the couple were 'being successful' in 'reducing' the availability of stories published outside England and Wales. 'There is some evidence that geo-blocking [restricting where links can be read] has been placed on some of the other URLs,' he said. 'And what is a URL?' one of the judges then asked, only to be told that 'they are a popular beat combo, m'lud.' Gavin Millar QC, for New Group Newspapers, said: 'The finger has been pointed at various media outlets, which Mr Browne characterised as an incitement to search for material on the Internet.' That was not true, Millar insisted. Rather, an American paper had published the details and then the story had spread across the Internet. 'What happens on the Internet, happens on the Internet,; he said. 'Then the press report what's happening on the Internet. Attempts can be made to plug the hole in the dyke but they tend to be hopeless. There is always the likelihood that if URLs are taken down, new ones will be started. The information has been published on foreign websites. Because of the [US constitution's first amendment guaranteeing free speech] it is not going to happen that any American websites are taken down.' In his written submission to the court of appeal, Millar said: 'At its heart is an argument about the hypocrisy of wealthy public figures who use PR agencies and the media to promote a favourable personal and family image and then use their resources to prevent unwanted coverage. This important debate would be furthered by the identification of PJS and YMA.' But Browne accused 'sections of the press' of 'whipping up hostility' to the courts. 'The media, and I refer particularly to... the defendants and publishers of the Mail, have sought to ridicule the granting of the injunction,' he said. One paper had printed a cut-out template for readers to send to their MPs demanding that restrictions on reporting the 'celebrity threesome' be lifted. 'Not all the secrecy has escaped,' Browne said. 'There has been no mainstream publication in this jurisdiction [England and Wales] that directly infringes the order.' He maintained that the accessibility of the information online was not the same as it being readily available. 'In this case the order is needed to prevent a media storm which would be devastating for the claimant and the children.'

Diana Ross was involved in car accident on Wednesday after an SUV crashed into the limousine that was taking her to a concert in Pennsylvania. Police who were called to the incident scene in the city of Bethlehem said Ross was treated by paramedics for head and neck pain. The seventy two-year-old sought further treatment on her own and was taken by another car to the concert venue, where she played as scheduled. Police said that the twenty two year-old driver of the SUV was given a traffic citation for running a stop sign. Rumours that, just before the impact, Diana turned to the driver of the SUV, held up here hand and asked him to 'Stop! In The name of love ...' cannot, at this time, be confirmed or denied.
A seventeen million quid painting has been sequestered in Geneva after leaked documents from law firm Mossack Fonseca appeared to reveal its disputed owners. An art dealer's estate wants the art-collecting Nahmad family to return the Amadeo Modigliani work, which it claims the Nazis seized during World War Two. The family said that the International Art Centre held the work. The papers showed David Nahmad owned that company. Geneva judicial authorities said 'a criminal procedure' had begun. Spokesman Henri Della Casa said that proceedings had opened 'within the framework of the revelations linked to the Panama Papers.' He added the 1918 work, Seated Man With A Cane, had been sequestered 'late last week' - meaning that it cannot be moved from its current location - in the Swiss city's Freeports. The family of Oscar Stettiner, a Jewish art dealer, claimed that he originally owned the painting before fleeing Paris in 1939 - an assertion which the Nahmad family dispute. Since 2011, Stettiner's grandson, Philippe Maestracci, has been attempting to recover the work through the US courts. However, American authorities have struggled to establish the ownership of the painting as the Nahmads claimed in court that the Panama-based IAC held it. After the leaked papers, obtained along with millions of others by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, revealed Nahmad as the owner of IAC, he told Radio Canada he 'could not sleep at night if I knew I owned a looted object.' Reacting to the leak, the family's lawyer, Richard Golub, said it was 'irrelevant' who owned the company, as 'the main thing is what are the issues in the case, and can the plaintiff prove them?'
A painting which may - or, may not - be the work of the Italian master Caravaggio and worth around one hundred million knicker has been found in the loft of a house in Southern France. It was found in Toulouse two years ago and passed to art expert Eric Turquin, who says that it is a version of the 1599 work, Judith Beheading Holofernes. Turquin said the painting was discovered by the owners when they investigated a roof leak in a part of the attic which they had never used. The French government has placed a ban on the work leaving the country for thirty months whilst tests are carried out to check the authenticity. The work, which depicts the Biblical heroine Judith beheading an Assyrian general, is thought to have gone missing about one hundred years after it was painted. Another version of it, which was also thought to be lost before its rediscovery in 1950, hangs in Rome's National Gallery of Ancient Art. Experts at Paris' Louvre Museum are examining the work to try and establish its creator, though Turquin said that there would 'never be a consensus' on who painted it. If it is assessed to be genuine, the French Government will be given the first opportunity to purchase the work. The Louvre Museum has already spent three weeks studying it. The painting, which measures fifty six inches by sixty nine inches was found in April 2014, in the rafters of a house on the outskirts of Toulouse.
England and Nottinghamshire batsman James Taylor has been forced to retire from cricket because of a previously undetected serious heart condition. Scans have shown that James, twenty six, has a condition similar to the one which affected the footballer Fabrice Muamba. Taylor, who has played seven Tests and twenty seven one-day internationals for his country, posted on Twitter: 'Safe to say this has been the toughest week of my life! My world is upside down. But I'm here to stay and I'm battling on!' James reportedly felt ill during the first day of his county's pre-season fixture against Cambridge MCCU last week and was taken to hospital as a precaution. It was initially thought that he had a viral condition, however, he has since been diagnosed with Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular Cardiomyopathy and needs an operation. England team director Andrew Strauss spoke about his 'shock and sadness' at the news. 'Throughout his career, he has constantly impressed with his determination to make the absolute most of his ability,' said Strauss. 'It is immensely cruel that such a hard working player will be unable to fulfil his great potential in the international arena.' Footballer Muamba collapsed when his heart stopped for seventy eight minutes while playing for Bolton Wanderers against Stottingtot Hotshots in 2012. He has since retired from the game. James made his first-class debut for Leicestershire in April 2008 as an eighteen year old whilst still studying for his A levels and joined Nottinghamshire before the 2012 season. The Burrough on the Hill-born batsman played the first of his seven Test matches for England against South Africa at Headingley in 2012. He averaged twenty six and his top test score was seventy six against Pakistan in November 2015. Taylor's one-day international debut came in 2011 against Ireland. He averaged 42.23 in twenty seven ODIs, scoring seven fifties and one century - one hundred and one against Australia in September 2015. In 2009, Taylor became the youngest player in Leicestershire's history to score one thousand championship runs in a season. At the time of his retirement, James had the fourth-highest limited-overs average - including international and domestic matches - in the history of the game.
A Toy Story fanatic who changed his name from Sam Stephens to to Buzz Lightyear now has a driving licence after a year-long battle with the DVLA. Buzz, from Devon, was told that his new name would bring the agency 'into disrepute.' To infinity and, indeed, beyond.
This blogger's copy of the latest issue of Wisden's turned up on Tuesday. That should keep Keith Telly Topping in bedtime reading matter for the next , ooo, year.
As usual, one of the first sections this blogger checked out was Cricket Round The World, a delightful collection of short pieces written by correspondents in some far-flung destinations. This year's gems included one by Timothy Abraham on Cricket in Albania which, in under one thousand words, managed to name-check CB Fry, Norman Wisdom, the comedian Tony Hawks and the late King Zog I. Quality. There was also an article by John McCarthy on St Peter's CC, the team made up of priests and seminarians studying in the Vatican who, with the help of The Lord (and, some decent middle order batting) defeated the Archbishop of Canterbury's XI by forty two runs to retain the Augustine Cup.

Also on Tuesday, it was the first time that this blogger had been back in the local pool since before Christmas; yer actual Keith Telly Topping had meant to start swimming again at the end of last month but, what with starting the new job and various other malarkey, this week was the first time that he'd managed to get his shit together. This blogger could only struggled through ten lengths that first day before exhaustion set in - all of those muscles which were developing quite nicely five or six months ago have, seemingly, wasted away to nowt. But, it was pure dead good to get back in the water again. From now on, yer actual is going to try to do at least two sessions per week (we'll see how long that lasts!) On Wednesday, Keith Telly Topping achieved fourteen lengths, an improvement on Tuesday and he felt far less knackered at the end too. Still a long way to go before he's pulling in the kind of numbers he was doing with relative ease last September and October, though.
Jailed kiddie-fiddler and rotten old scallywag Rolf Harris has pleaded not guilty at Southwark Crown Court to seven charges of indecent assault and one of sexual assault. The allegations date from 1971 to 2004 and relate to seven girls and women who were aged between 12 and 27. Some of the offences were allegedly committed at BBC Television Centre in west London. The 86-year-old will appear in court for a procedural hearing on 29 July. His trial has been set to start on 9 January 2017.

Anthony Horowitz's new crime series New Blood is to become the first primetime drama to première on BBC iPlayer ahead of transmission on BBC1. The seven-part series, set in London, centres on two junior investigators - one from the Serious Fraud office and one from the police - brought together by two seemingly unrelated cases. 'We have to recognise that young people don't watch TV the way we did,' Horowitz said. 'It's very much in the spirit of New Blood that the show will première on iPlayer. I couldn't be happier that we're going to be "out there" on demand - it's a great way to launch a show which is very much about the younger generation - before we settle into our seven-week, 9pm slot.' Newcomers Mark Strepan and Ben Tavassoli will play the roles of junior investigators Stefan and Rash, respectively. They are joined in the cast by Mark Addy, as Rash's police detective colleague and Anna Chancellor as Stefan's boss at the Serious Fraud Office. New Blood is described as 'a bold and surprising crime series' that 'sets out to show a unique side of modern London through the eyes of two outsiders.' Charlotte Moore, controller of BBC Television and iPlayer said: 'Anthony Horowitz is a master storyteller who has a unique ability to tell compelling stories that appeal to audiences of all ages. New Blood is the perfect fit to be the first prime time drama series to premiere on iPlayer and to help young audiences find a way to consume content online.' Horowitz's TV writing credits include Midsomer Murders, Poirot, Robin Of Sherwood and Foyle's War. He is the author of more than forty books including the Alex Rider series of spy novels, and he resurrected Sherlock Holmes in his 2011 novel The House Of Silk. Last year saw the publication of his official James Bond novel, Trigger Mortis, and the première of his satirical play Dinner With Saddam.
Midfielder Jonas Gutierrez was dropped by yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved (though unsellable and, seemingly, relegation bound) Newcastle United because of his cancer diagnosis, an employment tribunal has found. The thirty two-year-old was suing the Magpies for in the region of two million quid on the grounds of 'disability discrimination.' The tribunal also ruled the club 'made it impossible' for Gutierrez to trigger a further deal through appearances. Claims of 'unfavourable treatment' and another of 'harassment related to disability' were dismissed. A further remedy hearing will be held in due course, in which the issue of compensation will be addressed. Gutierrez, who joined Newcastle from Real Mallorca in 2008, was diagnosed with testicular cancer in October 2013. He had been a regular at St James' Park before that time, with ten goals in one hundred and seventy seven appearances at the time of the return of the illness and subsequent treatment. The Argentina international sued Newcastle over the way he was treated following his diagnosis and claimed the Premier League club saw him as 'a liability' after he returned from treatment. Gutierrez, now playing for Deportivo La Coruna in Spain, also alleged that he was not selected for some matches during the second half of the 2014-15 season, when the Magpies avoided relegation on the final day of the campaign, so that it would not trigger an automatic appearance-related one-year contract extension. Current MD Lee Charnley and former managers John Carver and Alan Pardew all made statements to the tribunal denying that the club had acted improperly. The tribunal's verdict said that Charnley's evidence: 'At times appeared to be evasive and lacking in credibility.' This has obvious echoes of the October 2009 tribunal which Kevin Keegan won against United, when evidence given by various NUFC officials was described as 'unclear' and had 'a lack of clarity, indeed confusion.' Charnley 'appeared reluctant to agree that the claimant had played in the World Cup – saying that "he thought the claimant had played some part" - and, when asked how many other international players were in the squad as at September 2011 his response was that "he could not say." Given that Mr Charnley (along with other members of the Board) was responsible for decisions as to the composition of the squad this seemed a rather surprising answer.' The tribunal also commented that Pardew's evidence was delivered in 'a confident, convincing and articulate way' but was less well received 'in relation to a crucial conversation with the player in November or December 2014, when his future was discussed. Ultimately, on the balance of probabilities and taking into account our assessment of the respective credibility of the claimant and Mr Pardew, we preferred the evidence of the claimant.' The tribunal concluded that Gutierrez was not considered for selection following his return to fitness until he could not achieve the eighty Premier League starts required over the length of his four-year contract to trigger the extension. As a result of his absence because of cancer, Gutierrez had only one hundred and twenty one games instead of one hundred and fifty two to earn his extended deal and the club had discriminated against him by failing to make reasonable adjustments. The ruling stated: 'It was in essence more difficult for the claimant to achieve the required number of games because in the periods of time that he was not absent for treatment or rehabilitation he had to be more frequently selected as a proportion of the total number of games available than his non disabled counterparts. We conclude that this was a substantial (more than minor or trivial) disadvantage. Had the possibility of a triggering of the clause not been an issue then Mr Charnley would not have needed to discuss it at all with Mr Carver and would not have needed to double check how close the claimant was to triggering the clause.' Claims of unfavourable treatment were rejected, as his move to Norwich City on loan in January 2014 was consensual. A claim of harassment which related to Gutierrez training and playing with the under-21s was also dismissed as the tribunal ruled that many players, such as Davide Santon, Siem de Jong and Gabriel Obertan were also required to do so to gain match fitness after injury. Although Gutierrez has not released a statement, he did post on social media, saying: 'Always in my heart Geordie nation. I love you.'
Yer actual Ringo Starr has joined a growing list of artists and businesses boycotting North Carolina to protest its change to transgender laws. The former Be-Atle (a popular beat-combo of the 1960s, you might've heard of them) had been due to play at the Koka Booth Amphitheatre in Cary, near Raleigh, in June. 'We need to take a stand against this hatred,' Ringo said in a statement. Good on yer, Ritchie. Bruce Springsteen pulled out of a gig on Sunday 'to fight against prejudice and bigotry.' Ringo added: 'I'm sorry to disappoint my fans in the area, but we need to take a stand against this hatred. Spread peace and love. How sad that they feel that this group of people cannot be defended. This law opens the door to discrimination everywhere by limiting anti-discrimination laws against people based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.' The new law, brought in three weeks ago, invalidated several local anti-discrimination measures which protected gay and transgender people. It also requires people to use public toilets that correspond to the sex listed on their birth certificates. Its implementation has drawn considerable ire from anti-discrimination campaigners, as well as companies including PayPal, Apple and Facebook. North Carolina governor Pat McCrory is now reported to be seeking to 'roll back' some of the measures included in the bill which he signed, to protect LGBT rights - but not those relating to public toilets in schools and government buildings.
An 'elaborate' Roman villa has been unearthed by chance by a homeowner laying electric cables in his garden in Wiltshire. It was discovered by rug designer Luke Irwin as he was carrying out some work at his farmhouse so that his children could play table tennis in an old barn. He uncovered an untouched mosaic, and excavations revealed a villa described as 'extraordinarily well-preserved.' Historic England said it was 'unparalleled in recent years.' Except for stuff discovered by Time Team, obviously. Thought to be one of the largest of its kind in the country, the villa was uncovered in Brixton Deverill near Warminster during an eight-day dig. It is being compared in terms of its size and its owners' wealth to a similar, famous site at Chedworth in Gloucestershire. Finds including hundreds of oysters, which were artificially cultivated and carried live from the coast in barrels of salt water, suggest that the villa was owned by a wealthy family. The dig also turned up 'extremely high status pottery,' coins, brooches and the bones of animals including a suckling pig and wild animals which had been hunted. 'We've found a whole range of artefacts demonstrating just how luxurious a life that was led by the elite family that would have lived at the villa,' said Doctor David Roberts, of Historic England. 'It's clearly not your run-of-the-mill domestic settlement.' Roberts said that the villa, built sometime between AD 175 and 220, had 'not been touched since its collapse fourteen hundred years ago,' which made it 'of enormous importance. Without question, this is a hugely valuable site in terms of research, with incredible potential,' he said. 'It's one of the best sites I have ever had the chance to work on.'
We've all been there before. After an enjoyable evening dining out with colleagues or friends the bill arrives and one of life’s unavoidable conversations begins. How are we going to pay for this? Usually it's a pretty tiresome affair – and someone always says 'I never had that' – but you might be relieved to know it's a debate that not even the richest sportsmen in the world are immune to. Diners at a Shanghai restaurant on Wednesday were treated to the sight of eighteen of the current Formula 1 drivers splitting the bill after initially disagreeing on how to pay up. It all looks pretty cheery in the picture from Nico Rosberg's Twitter account, but apparently things later got a little 'silly', at least according to Lewis Hamilton, when the bill came. Hamilton claims to have offered to settle the bill himself after making the booking at an Italian restaurant called The Kitchen. That idea was, apparently, shot down by the others and so the process of using eighteen different credit cards and handing out eighteen different receipts was endured. 'It was a little bit silly really, ridiculous because someone said, "Let's share the bill," so eighteen drivers shared a bill, which is just insane,' Hamilton said. 'It probably wasn't really that expensive. I did say "why don't I just get it now, or two of us get it now, and then the next time someone else gets it." And they are like "no, no, no. I want to pay individually." We all got a receipt, eighteen receipts, eighteen credit cards, it was the most ridiculous thing I have ever seen. I have never seen anything like that before.' Asked who made that suggestion? According to Hamilton: 'I am pretty sure it was Nico.' When Hamilton's version of events was put to his Mercedes team-mate, Rosberg said. 'Really? Interesting. From what I can remember, the hidden agreement usually is that the world champion pays, but that might just be my opinion.'
A man described as 'a perfect donor' by a sperm bank has turned out to be a mentally ill felon whose lies on his application form were not uncovered for more than a decade, according to families who are said to be 'terrified' for their children's futures. On its website, Georgia-based firm Xytex described Donor 9623 as 'a completely healthy man' with an IQ of one hundred and sixty who was working on a PhD in neuroscience engineering, the Toronto Star reports. In reality, he was college dropout Chris Aggeles, a thirty nine-year-old man who has been diagnosed as bipolar and with 'narcissistic personality disorders' and schizophrenia. He had also spent time in prison for burglary. His sperm was used to procreate at least thirty six children in Canada, the US, and the UK between 2000 and 2014. Families discovered his identity after Xytex accidentally included his name in an e-mail and they then Googled his name. Three Canadian families with children aged between four and eight years old are now extremely suing Xytex and lawyer Nancy Hersh says that she may also file suits for British and American families, according to the Gruniad Morning Star. The lawsuit, which notes that schizophrenia 'can be' hereditary, alleges that Xytex allowed Aggeles to keep selling his sperm even after problems surfaced. Angie Collins, one of the Canadian mothers suing, told the Star that her 'big problem' is not with Aggeles, but with the companies that sold his sperm without checking his background. Collins - described by Hersh as 'the Erin Brockovich of the sperm-bank set' - has devoted much of the last two years to pushing for greater oversight of the industry to make sure this never happens again.
A Brownwood, Texas woman was arrested Wednesday after police said that she 'pretended to be a bull' and 'charged' passing cars on the freeway. Police received a 911 call from a member of the public who said that 'an intoxicated woman' was charging passing cars 'like she was a bull.' By the time that police arrived Erika Lenz, thirty nine, had been dragged inside her house by her sister and teenage son. The report says that her son told police his mother had 'consumed large quantities of tequila.' The officer, whilst deciding to take no further action, warned Lenz to stay inside. According to the report, Lenz 'smugly' replied that she would. But, a short time later, she ran into the driveway but was stopped by the officer. Worried that Lenz was 'a danger to herself or others,' police extremely arrested her and charged her with 'public intoxication and assault (family violence).' Lenz disputes what police have said. She told KTXS that she was drinking vodka, not tequila. Oh, well, that makes all the difference. She also claimed that she was not 'charging cars like a bull.' Lenz said that she stepped into traffic without looking. This was not her first alcohol-related run-in with police. Jail records show that she was arrested last month for Driving Whilst Intoxicated.
Using graphic detail about the alleged exploits of several exotic dancers, a group of nuns is continuing a legal fight to shut down a strip club next door to its convent. In a revised lawsuit filed this month, the Missionary Sisters of St Charles Borromeo and 'other plaintiffs' allege that overwhelming evidence of prostitution and drug-use should force the closure of Club Allure in Stone Park. The nuns' convent is situated within feet of the club. The nuns, along with three residents who live nearby, first sued club owners nearly two years ago. They claimed that the club's 'existence' near a residential area violated zoning law and noises and signs from the club were a nuisance. They later amended their complaint to include allegations of prostitution. Cook County Circuit Judge Peter Flynn in January dismissed the suit, saying that the plaintiffs needed to provide more detailed facts. Attorneys for the sisters and other plaintiffs filed the revised complaint describing what an investigator experienced when he visited the club 'almost a dozen times over a nearly two-year period,' posing as a patron and spending at least twelve hundred dollars in the process. He could have just gone once to check it out but, seemingly, he thought he'd be really thorough. The revised suit focuses on the claims that there is 'lewd, illegal activity' going on at the club - including prostitution - and that the club is 'generally a public nuisance to the neighbourhood.' Residents also claim the club has brought 'fighting, loud music, public urination, speeding cars and vandalism' to their neighbourhood. 'The sisters, who used to pray while tending their garden in their backyard, now must do so literally in the shadow of the club; the edge of its building is only a few feet from their back fence,' the filing states. 'Many of the nuns have found it impossible to experience the meditative atmosphere and spiritual renewal they used to experience while tending their garden as a result.' In one instance, a drunken nineteen-year-old man walked into the sisters' 6.45am Mass in the convent, telling the nuns he thought he was 'drugged at the club,' the complaint states. The sisters now lock their doors during Mass. 'This is something the state can and should address to shut down,' said Corrina Konczal, one of the attorneys for the plaintiffs. 'We think that it's a shame that the sisters have to struggle in court to get rid of something that is clearly a terrible place.' The filing details what the investigator found during elven - that's, eleven visits between June 2014 and earlier this month. During the visits, the investigator 'paid for lap dances in The VIP Room,' and other private rooms in the club, according to the complaint. The dancers would offer to take the investigator to various rooms in the club — each with varying price points — where they could do 'a lot more,' the complaint states. The allegations also claims that even though the investigator 'remained clothed' during these encounters, the activity during the dances 'rises to the level of prostitution.' The investigator also claimed that he was 'solicited' by one dancer, who offered him sex outside the club for two hundred and fifty dollars.
A FedEx Express worker is believed to have slept his way from Memphis to Lubbock after unintentionally falling asleep whilst loading a plane, officials said. The employee, who was not identified, reportedly woke up in mid-flight, knocked on the cabin door and communicated with pilots via telephone. The pilots didn't open the cabin door, but directed the employee to sit in a jump seat - an extra seat in the cargo hold - for landing, said Kelly Campbell, director of Lubbock Preston Smith International Airport. On the ground in Lubbock, the man was questioned by airport police and other law enforcement officials, but was not arrested, Campbell added. 'There was no criminal intent. He has been turned over to FedEx,' she said. 'This is very unusual.' FedEx spokesman Jim Masilak said in an e-mailed statement: 'We are aware of an incident involving FedEx Flight 1459 from Memphis to Lubbock. There was never any danger to our employees or cargo. We are fully cooperating with investigating authorities.' The Lubbock airport said that FedEx Flight 1459 was en-route when the flight crew was 'alerted' to 'an unexpected person' aboard the plane. 'That person was a FedEx employee from Memphis, who, it is believed, fell asleep on the plane before it departed. Air Traffic Control was notified of the incident by the flight crew and dispatchers at Lubbock Preston Smith International Airport were notified at 5.17am. The flight landed in Lubbock at 5.30am,' the airport said in a statement. Airport police and operations staff responded to the plane and Lubbock police, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Transportation Security Administration were notified, the airport said. The airport said the employee was released to local FedEx officials and there was 'no impact' to aircraft operations. Campbell said that she was told the plane was nearing Lubbock when the man woke up. 'In flight, he woke up and knocked on the cabin door. They didn't open the cabin door, but they did communicate with him,' she said.
Drug sniffer-dogs at Manchester airport have failed to find any hidden shipments very hard drugs in a seven-month period last year. But, the dogs did find lots of cheese and sausage, according to an inspector's report. The inspection of Manchester Airport, reported by the BBC News website, resulted in a recommendation that the airport 'improve security.' And, find some bread and wine and have a wine and cheese party, probably. Importing meat, dairy and potatoes from outside the UK is illegal, but inspectors from the Home Office suggested that using the dogs to detect meat from vacationers was 'a waste of resources.' Instead, they called for security forces to be directed to passengers arriving 'on higher-risks flights.' Whatever that means. The airport recently built a new kennel for its canine detection team at a cost of £1.25 million, according to the BBC.
A mother has been banned from naming her baby Cyanide after the poison which Adolf Hitler took before shooting himself. The woman, from Powys, also chose the name Preacher for the girl's twin brother - saying that she had 'a human right' to name her own children whatever the hell she liked. She said Cyanide was 'a lovely, pretty name' - which, it isn't - with 'positive connotations' as it was the poison taken by Hitler. The Court of Appeal ruled the 'unusual' choices might 'harm' the children. No shit? The court was told the mother had 'a history of mental illness, drug and alcohol abuse.' Again, no shit? The infant twins, as well as the mother's other children, have now been taken from her care. When Powys council social workers learned of the names the mother had chosen for the twins, they took the case to court. In June, a judge issued an injunction against the mother, forbidding her from formally registering the twins' forenames. Lawyers appealed, claiming a 'violation' of the woman's right to respect for family life. But Lady Justice King said that naming a little girl after a 'notorious poison' was 'simply unacceptable.' Although there was nothing 'seriously objectionable' about the name Preacher, she ruled that both twins' names should be chosen by their older half-siblings. Lady Justice King said 'even allowing for changes in taste, fashion and developing individual perception,' Cyanide was 'a very odd name to give to a baby girl.' The mother claimed that Cyanide was 'linked with flowers and plants' and was 'responsible for killing Hitler and Goebbels and I consider that this was a good thing.' Lady Justice King said that the courts would 'intervene' to prevent a parent naming a child 'in only the most extreme cases.' Or, in this particular case, because they felt like it.
An African man was arrested for 'casting a black magic spell' during Al Nasar and Al Fateh football match in Saudi Arabia, in which Al Nasar lost. Saudi authorities are 'investigating' the man who was arrested on Saturday while hiding among thousands of fans in the stadium. The suspect arrived at the stadium and, while they were searching him, they allegedly found 'black magic charms' on him. This story, needless to say, went viral on social media where it was suggested that it is because of the man using those 'magic charms' that the famous and successful Saudi football team, Al Nasar, lost the match in question. Wonder if that would work for this blogger's beloved (though unsellable and relegation-bound) Magpies? It's probably the only thing that could, potentially, keep them in the Premier League this season. The suspect was 'referred to the higher committee of investigations' (and, obviously, not locked up and torture by the religious police, oh no, Very hot water, to 'look into the case.' Some of those who commented on the case on social media made fun of the news, especially fans of the competing clubs. Many accused Al Nasar for 'trying to find excuses' for its poor performance in that particular game.
Two men who were angry over the quality of their food shot up a taco truck in Stockton, California on Sunday evening. Just after 9pm,. police were called about 'a person being shot' in the area of Fremont and Filbert Streets. Police arrived to find no employees at Tacos El Mayita had been shot, but that the dissatisfied customers - armed with a shotgun - did shoot at their taco truck. The customers were reported to be 'angry' over their food, according to police, but no details were given on what, specifically, got their dander up quite so biggly. No one was injured in the incident but police said that the employees inside the truck were the targets.
Gareth Thomas, star of the cult 1970s BBC SF drama series Blake's 7, has died aged seventy one. As Roj Blake, the Welsh actor led a group of rebels on the Liberator space ship fighting against the evil Federation which ruled the galaxy in the series conceived by Doctor Who writer and Dalek creator, Terry Nation. Thomas was also an accomplished stage actor who appeared in several Royal Shakespeare Company productions. Indeed, this blogger has a cherished copy of Shakespeare's King Lear signed by Gareth when he and Keith Telly Topping shared a panel at a media convention in the late 1990s and Gareth regaled the audience for over an hour with numerous amusing and revealing tales of his many years in the theatre. His later television appearances include playing Nathaniel Clegghorn in ITV's Heartbeat and David Baddiel's father in Sky's Baddiel's Syndrome. Gareth attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in the 1960s and later became a RADA associate. His roles at the RSC included Orsino in Twelfth Night, Cassio in Othello and Mat Burke in Eugene O'Neill's Anna Christie. Yet, he remains best known for Blake's 7, which ran on the BBC from 1978 to 1981. At its peak, the series was watched by over ten million viewers and was sold to forty countries. Thomas claimed never to have watched a single episode of the show, which was derided by elitist snobs for its allegedly shaky sets and 'basic' special effects, but it was way ahead of its time in terms of characterisation and plot, with its dystopian view of the future and its unlikely heroes who all had dark histories and flawed personalities. The drama had a distinctly pessimistic tone - typified by the final episode, Blake, in which all the main characters were, apparently, killed. In fact Thomas, as the title character, only appeared in twenty eight of the drama's fifty two episodes as, after two seasons, he told the producers he'd had enough. As a result Blake was missing in action for much of the show's final two years and his intergalactic crew spent the third and fourth series looking for him. He returned for and was one of those seemingly killed in the slaughter of a climax. Like many actors who become typecast, Gareth sometimes struggled for a while to get good parts, but he remained philosophical: 'One episode of Blake's 7 will have been seen by more people than all the Royal Shakespeare Company shows I've done put together. People stop me in the street and say, "Oi, you know who you used to be don't you?" I always answer, "yes and I still am."' Gareth was born in February 1945 in Aberystwyth, attended King's School, Canterbury, and trained at RADA. In later life he recalled being accident-prone as a young actor. In his first professional theatre appearance, his big scene involved walking on stage and opening a door. The door came off its hinges and he had to walk off stage with it. During an early appearance in pantomime, as King Rat, he lost his tail mid-performance. after making his television debut as Benvolio in a 1965 production of Romeo & Juliet. Two years later he appeared in the Hammer movie version of Quatermass & The Pit as the workman who discovers alien skeletons in the Underground. 'They built up this very expensive plaster of Paris tube station wall with real clay carefully put in and the alien skeleton set behind it,' he recalled. “'he director told me to take a pickaxe and hit the top of the clay so that the whole section of wall would fall away. He suggested a rehearsal first and warned me not to actually hit the thing. So I swung the pick, stopped it dead an inch from the wall ... and the head flew off and smashed the whole thing. There was a moment's absolute silence broken only by the director yelling "props!" It took three hours to rebuild!' A steady succession of TV roles followed, including parts in Coronation Street, Z-Cars, Harriet's Back In Town, Sutherland's Law, The Avengers, Bergerac, Taggart, Edward VII, Jackanory, Torchwood and How Green Was My Valley where he played the Reverend Gruffydd. In 1972 he was nominated for a BAFTA for his performance in the BBC Play For Today, Stocker's Copper. He played Adam Brake in the well-remembered 1977 HTV children's series Children Of The Stones, and Shem in the cult series Star Maidens. Thomas played Philip Denny in the 1983 version of AJ Cronin's The Citadel and took the lead in the BBC drama Morgan's Boy, about a Welsh hill farmer who finds himself looking after a teenage boy, a performance which won him his second BAFTA nomination. He also appeared in By The Sword Divided and Knights Of God and had a regular role in the ITV series London's Burning. Reports of the actor's death began to circulate after a Blake's 7 fan site announced that he had died on Wednesday from heart failure. 'Our thoughts are with his wife, Linda, and his family and friends,' the message continued. His death was confirmed by a friend who worked on a Blake's 7 remake, according to the Press Association. Fans, friends and former colleagues have been paying their respects on Twitter, among them Ruth Mitchell who said that she had appeared with him on stage in Salisbury. 'Our characters hated each other but he was a lovely actor and a lovely man.' The broadcaster Muriel Gray said that she 'adored' Thomas and called the news 'miserable.' Thomas's agent, Michael Hallett, said that Gareth was 'a wonderful and very powerful actor' whose 'fantastic career' had seen him play 'a huge range of brilliant and diverse roles.' Gareth's first wife, Sheelagh, was a make-up artist; the marriage ended in divorce, as did a second marriage. He is survived by his third wife, Linda and his son, Glyn.

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