Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Market Forces

It's bloggerisationisms time again, dear blog reader but, first, a word from our sponsor.
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The lack of culture secretary the vile and odious rascal Whippingdale, sorry, Whittingdale has claimed that he was 'not to blame' for the BBC deciding to axe 'soft' content from its website, including thousands of recipes, pointing the finger instead at 'pressure from commercial rivals' such as newspapers. The vile and odious rascal Whippingdale, sorry, Whittingdale, who last week unveiled wide-ranging plans including challenging the BBC to be more 'distinctive' in a White Paper on the corporation's future, attempted to distance himself from rising public outrage over the website content cut backs claiming that BBC chiefs make the decisions and that it was nothing - na-thing - to do with him. Typical politician, really, a bloody snivelling coward despite the bluster - aal big of the gob until they do something which upsets people and then they shite in their own pants and run an effing mile. 'It's not my job to tell the BBC whether [or not] to broadcast The Voice, or Strictly Come Dancing or indeed to put recipes up on its website,' he weaselled like a weaselling weasel, speaking at radio industry body RadioCentre's annual conference on Tuesday. No one had the gumption to point out to the vile and odious rascal (and coward) Whippingdale, sorry, Whittingdale, that he had just spent the previous year doing more or less exactly that. 'We have said firstly that the BBC needs to be more distinctive. And also it has to be sensitive to its market impact and not be directly going out of its way to compete with commercial offerings.' The BBC and the government faced a huge backlash against plans to mothball the BBC recipes website – part of a range of plans to refocus its digital offering including axing the Newsbeat site and app – with more than one hundred and sixty five thousand people signing an online petition calling for the corporation to reverse its decision within hours of the public announcement. The vile and odious rascal (and coward) Whittingdale alleged that there has been 'vigorous lobbying' from commercial publishers, in particular newspapers, calling for curbs at home and abroad on the BBC expansion beyond its core news remit into traditionally commercial editorial areas such as 'soft' news articles, magazine 'lifestyle' content and celebrity columnists. So, shifting the blame, effectively. What a bloody hero, you are, pal. 'If people want to access news the BBC is a trusted brand for news provision and it is right there should be a BBC news website,' he said. 'Once beyond that there have been complaints about soft news [and] magazine-type content, newspapers in particular have been quite sensitive to the competition offered by the BBC online. That is something the BBC has taken account of and to some extent [mothballing digital recipes] is a reflection of that. But it is for the BBC [not government to decide]. How to go about that is for the BBC in the first instance and secondly for the new external regulator [Ofcom] if there are formal complaints.' A huge public outcry, including the petition, quickly provoked a climbdown at the BBC, which promised to keep many of its most popular recipes online less than twenty four hours after announcing the closure of one of its food website. In a statement issued late on Tuesday, the corporation said that it would move 'as much as possible' of the content currently on its BBC Food website over to the BBC Good Food site, which is owned by their commercial arm BBC Worldwide and is, therefore, not covered by the licence fee. 'In response to the massive public reaction, we have decided to accelerate our plans to move our content,' one alleged 'source' allegedly told the Gruniad Morning Star. 'People won't lose the recipes they love.' During the day more than one hundred and sixty five thousand people signed a petition calling for the BBC Food site to be maintained in its current form, while politicians and public figures expressed their outrage that the BBC was - under pressure from those with a vested interest - culling a service used by many millions of licence-fee payers. The plan to mothball the BBC Food site is part of a fifteen million knicker cost-cutting plan which is also driven by the corporation's attempts to make its services more 'distinctive' as laid out in the vile and odious rascal (and coward) Whittingdale's White Paper. The shadow lack of culture secretary, Maria Eagle, branded the move 'mindless destruction' while Labour's deputy leader, Tom Watson (power to the people!), said it would make the 'busy lives' of millions of citizens a 'little less easy.' Eagle said the move was 'an example of mindless destruction' caused by the lack of culture secretary's 'Obsession with diminishing the BBC. These recipes are a fantastic resource for thousands of people, which they have already paid for through the licence fee. Labour will continue to stand up for the licence fee payer and will fight any further government attacks on the BBC’s independence.' Watto weighed in on Facebook, saying hat 'nobody wins' out of the decision 'except John Whittingdale who represents the pre-Internet age and the politics of dogma. The government believe this undermines competition. John Whittingdale and the BBC executives he has bullied into submission think that the recipe site represents "mission creep." They want the markets to decide how you choose and pay for your recipes. Yet no market could offer access to so many recipes, free at the point of use because they can’t recreate the licence fee model. It's not the worst thing in the world, but millions of UK citizens will be mildly inconvenienced by this. Their busy lives made a little less easy as a result of the decision. Well done Mister Whittingdale. May your Yorkshires never rise.' Chef and food blogger Jack Monroe (no, me neither) described the service as 'vital' and said that to reduce it was 'an abomination.' Although the plan will see the recipes on the BBC Food website remain online, the homepage and other parts of the site were to be taken down and links to recipes removed, making them harder to find. Recipes associated with TV shows would be maintained, but only for thirty days after the show is broadcast. An alleged 'BBC source' had allegedly said the recipes would 'fall off the face of the Internet' after the food site was closed. However, moving them to Good Food would make them easy to find and help ensure they continue to appear near the top of Google search results. The BBC Director of News, James Harding, said of the review: 'We don't accept the argument that the BBC should step off the Internet. We are making the case for what we do online.' The review decided to remove duplication, halt publishing in areas where there are much bigger competitors, and cut bespoke services that are accessed online, such as youth-focused news site Newsbeat, which is being rolled into the main news operation. The local news index pages, travel section and the science-focused iWonder site, which was launched only two years ago, will also be axed, as will ring-fenced budgets for programming that will only be on iPlayer. One alleged BBC 'source' allegedly said that no more than fifty jobs would be affected. Separately, the BBC also announced on Tuesday that it was considering a new twenty four-hour channel to replace its two existing services, BBC News and BBC World News, as part of the cost-cutting measures.
The very excellent Toby Jones is to play a villain in the fourth series of Sherlock. Jones will join yer actual Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman his very self in the second episode of the new three-part series. Filming began on Monday. Jones said: 'I'm excited and intrigued by the character I shall be playing in Sherlock.' The internationally massive drama's co-creator The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat said: 'Delighted to have Toby Jones on board, bringing to life one of Doyle's finest villains.' Co-creator Mark Gatiss his very self added: 'We're thrilled to welcome one of our finest actors to the Sherlock family. I know Toby will embrace the part with true relish!'
If you were at all worried that The X-Files' return to TV would be short-lived, you can relax. But, it's probably going to be a while before we see the next series. While speaking to the press about FOX's 2016-17 schedule, CEO Dana Walden confirmed that there have been 'conversations' with creator Chris Carter and with David Duchovny and From The North favourite Gillian Anderson for another run. 'I believe everyone is on board to do another instalment of the show,' he said. However, Walden added that it will 'take a while' for the new episodes to be made, saying: 'Hopefully, this time next year we will have more news.' In February, Carter said that he was 'interested' in making more episodes, saying: 'I can't imagine, with the ratings that we've got and the way we ended this season, that there won't be more X-Files. They will find a way to get that done. Because I spoke about it briefly with Dana Walden so there's an appetite there and a chance certainly to find how we're gonna get ourselves off this precipice.'
Here, dear blog reader, are the final and consolidated ratings figures for the Top Twenty Six programmes, week-ending Sunday 8 May 2016 were as follows:-
1 Britain's Got Toilets - Sat ITV - 10.81m
2 Coronation Street - Mon ITV - 7.16m
3 EastEnders - Mon BBC1 - 6.94m
4 The Durrells - Sun ITV - 5.97m
5= MasterChef - Fri BBC1 - 5.91m
5= Marcella - Mon ITV - 5.91m
7 Emmerdale - Thurs ITV - 5.65m
8 Attenborough At Ninety - Sun BBC1 - 5.11m
9 BBC News - Sun BBC1 - 5.09m
10 Have I Got News For You - Fri BBC1 - 5.08m
11 In The Club - Tues BBC1 - 4.87
12 Ten O'Clock News - Thurs BBC1 - 4.79m
13 Casualty - Sat BBC1 - 4.77m
14 The British Academy Television Awards - Sun BBC1 - 4.67m
15 Six O'Clock News - Tues BBC1 - 4.39m
16 Countryfile - Sun BBC1 - 4.36m
17 Home Fires - Sun ITV - 4.39m*
18 Holby City - Tues BBC1- 4.30m
19 Michael McIntyre's Big Show - Sat BBC1 - 4.28m
20 Peter Kay's Comedy Shuffle - Mon BBC1 - 4.26m
21= Mrs Brown's Boys - Sat BBC1 - 4.15m
22= The Secret - Fri ITV - 4.15m*
24 Gareth's Invictus Choir - Thurs BBC1 - 4.08m
26 Match Of The Day - Sat BBC1 - 4.06m
These consolidated figures include all viewers who watched the programmes live and on catch-up during the seven days after broadcast, but does not include those who watched on BBC's iPlayer or ITV Player via their computers. Why? I dunno, they just don't. Those ITV programmes marked "*" do not include HD figures. That episode of Britain's Got Toilets incidentally, was the one featuring this blogger's old mucker and sometime writing partner Alfie Joey as one half of The Mimic Men. Keith Telly Topping always said that lad would go far. All four episodes of MasterChef's finals week drew audiences of more than five million. On BBC2, with Line Of Duty having ended the previous week, Bake Off: Crème De La Crème was the most-watched programme with 3.49 million punters. The return of the excellent Peaky Blinders was watched by 2.95 million, World Championship Snooker attracted 2.68 million, followed by Gardeners' World (2.12 million), Horizon (1.79m), Dad's Army (1.70m), Attenborough's Passion Project (1.67,), Hillsborough (1.61m), This World: Conspiracy Files (1.58m) and From The North favourite Mary Beard's Ultimate Rome (1.50m). The opening episode of The Hollow Crown: The War Of The Roses had a consolidated audience of 1.16 million. Aside from Googlebox (3.50 million), The Island With Bear Grylls continued as Channel Four's second highest-rated broadcast of the week (2.35 million), followed by The Windsors (1.90m), Twenty Four Hours In Police Custody (1.89m) and The Supervet (also 1.89m). The latest episode of Paul Merton's Secret Stations drew 1.26 million. Channel Five's top performer was The Secret Life Of Puppies with 1.65 million. Can't Pay? We'll Take It Away had 1.63m and Ian Brady: Fifty Years Behind Bars had 1.58 million. The latest episode of Gotham attracted 1.31m and NCIS attracted 1.25m. Sky Sports 1's most-watched programme was Live Ford Monday Night Football with Leicester City clinching the Premier League title after Stottingtot Hotshots could only draw with Moscow Chelski FC, watched by 1.58 million viewers. Sky Sport 2's top-rated broadcast was Live Fight Night which attracting one hundred and nineteen thousand punters. Clearly the first rule of Live Fight Night is that not many people talk about Live Fight Night. Gillette Soccer Special was Sky Sports News's highest-rated broadcast with four hundred and forty three thousand. On Sky Sports F1, Ted's Notebook: Russia had an audience of seventeen thousand. Midsomer Murders was ITV3's top-rated drama (seven hundred and sixty nine thousand). Lewis drew five hundred and sixty nine thousand. The movies Jaws and Double Jeopardy headed ITV4's top ten, with three hundred and thirty one thousand and two hundred and ninety one thousand respectively. Disgraceful steaming pile of rotten faeces, and the classic example of everything that is wrong with British television - and society - in the Twenty First Century, Celebrity Juice, was ITV2's most-watched programme with 1.22 million viewers. Every single one of whom needs to hang their heads in shame for watching such tripe. The not-much-more intellectually stimulating Britain's Got More Toilets had 1.10 million whilst witless Plebs drew 1.03 million. The latest episode of drama flop Houdini & Doyle headed ITV Encore's top ten with a tragic eighty one thousand viewers. For context, the nine hundred and twelfth repeat of an old episode of Agatha Christie's Poirot was watched by a mere thirty one thousand less viewers than Houdini & Doyle. BBC4's The Silk Road had an audience of six hundred and sixty five thousand in a top-ten list which also included Hinterland (five hundred and eighty two thousand), Caravans: A British Love Affair (five hundred and seventy eight thousand) and Timeshift: A Very British Map (five hundred and sixty nine thousand). A History Of Ancient Britain (With Scottish Neil Oliver & His Lovely Hair) attracted five hundred and sixty thousand. Forest Field & Sky: Art Out Of Nature drew four hundred and eighty five thousand, Jim Clark: The Quiet Champion, four hundred and twenty eight thousand, Balmoral, three hundred and ninety four thousand and The Dark Ages: An Age Of Light three hundred and fifty seven thousand. Sky1's weekly top-ten was headed by The Flash (1.03 million), Hawaii Five-0 (eight hundred and fifty five thousand) and Modern Family (eight hundred and forty one thousand). Arrow drew five hundred and fifty six thousand and DC's Legends Of Tomorrow seven hundred and six thousand. Much-trailed The Five shed even more viewers, the latest episode having an audience of six hundred and thirteen thousand. Sky Atlantic's list was topped, of course, by Game Of Thrones (2.47 million, the highest-rated multichannel audience of the week). The Monday repeat of the previous episode had 1.21 million. Penny Dreadful continued with four hundred and ninety nine thousand, Thornecast was seen by four hundred and sixty six thousand and The Tunnel, three hundred and one thousand. On Sky Living, The Blacklist drew seven hundred and fifty seven thousand, Blindspot had seven hundred and forty nine thousand and Elementary, seven hundred and forty eight thousand. Sky Arts' broadcast of the movie The Phantom Of The Opera had an audience of fifty six thousand. Coldplay Live 2012 was seen by fifty two thousand. Although, quite why anyone but the world's stupidest glake would wish to see a band made entirely of hummus is anyone's guess. Some people are, simply, weird. 5USA's The Mysteries Of Laura - recently cancelled in the US, of course - was watched by five hundred and sixty seven thousand viewers. NCIS drew three hundred and four thousand. NCIS also topped the weekly top tens of FOX - the latest episode of series thirteen attracting eight hundred and nine thousand punters - and CBS Action (ninety five thousand) and featured in the Universal Channel's list (one hundred thousand) as well as Channel Five's. And, all - as usual - with different episodes. Aside, from NCIS, FOX's list also included American Dad! (two hundred and thirty six thousand), the fifth episode of 11.22.63 (two hundred and twenty seven thousand) and Family Guy (one hundred and two thousand). On CBS Action, JAG was seen by eighty six thousand. The Universal Channel's top ten was headed by Chicago Med (two hundred and thirty seven thousand) and Bates Motel (one hundred and six thousand). On Dave, Room 101 was the highest-rated broadcast with three hundred and seventy seven thousand punters. That was followed by Mock The Week (three hundred and thirty five thousand), Dynamo: Magician Impossible (three hundred and thirty three thousand), Have I Got A Bit More News For You (three hundred and ten thousand) and Qi XL (two hundred and seventy six thousand). Drama's Inspector George Gently was watched by five hundred and twenty nine thousand viewers. Hetty Wainthropp Investigates had four hundred and four thousand. No, this blogger has absolutely no idea why either. Alibi's highest-rated programme was another programme to recently find itself part of the annual US TV cull, Castle (four hundred and eleven thousand), followed by Death In Paradise (two hundred and fifty four thousand), Quantico (two hundred and twenty thousand), Murdoch Mysteries (one hundred and fifty seven thousand) and Lie To Me (seventy six thousand). The latest episode of Yesterday's repeat run of Open All Hours was watched by two hundred and twenty four thousand. On the Discovery Channel, Marooned With Ed Stafford was seen by an audience of one hundred and forty three thousand punters and Deadliest Catch by one hundred and nine thousand. Alaskan Bush People had one hundred and three thousand viewers. Gold Divers - complete with that trailer featuring the really annoying woman who wants to get more gold than anyone else ('is that too much to ask?') - drew eighty four thousand. Discovery History's latest Time Team repeat topped the weekly-list with fifteen thousand viewers. Seven Ages Of Britain had thirteen thousand. On Discovery Science, Food Factory USA attracted fifty five thousand viewers. Discovery Turbo's most-watched programmes were Fast N' Loud (forty three thousand) and Wheeler Dealers (thirty six thousand). National Geographic's top ten was headed by Car SOS which had one hundred and forty five thousand viewers. Nazi Megastructures was seen by eighty thousand. On The History Channel, Black Sails attracted eighty thousand. Swamp People had an audience of seventy six and Forged In Fire, sixty five thousand. Pirate Treasure Of the Knights Templar on Military History had twenty two thousand, Alien Files Unsealed, twenty one thousand and A History Of Britain, also twenty one thousand. Copycat Killers and Nightmare Next Door were ID's top-rated programmes of the week (thirty three thousand and thirty one thousand viewers respectively). After The First Forty Eight headed CI's list (eighty two thousand). The latest episode of GOLD's repeat run of Mrs Brown's Boys attracted two hundred and thirty two thousand. Comedy Central's largest audience of the week was for Impractical Jokers (two hundred and ninety eight thousand). Your TV's Crimes Of The Rich & Famous had sixty thousand viewers. On More4, The Good Wife was viewed by seven hundred and nine thousand whilst E4's latest episode of The Big Bang Theory drew 2.34 million punters (beaten only by Game Of Thrones as the largest multichannels audience of the week). The Horror Channel's broadcast of one of this blogger's favourite Hammer movies, Twins Of Evil attracted seventy nine thousand viewers. Planet Earth had twenty nine thousand on Eden. Tanked was the Animal Planet's most watched programme with seventy thousand. On W, Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders was seen by three hundred and ninety six thousand. Say Yes To The Dress was TLC's most-watched programme (one hundred and eighty nine thousand) whilst the opening episode of Heartbeat drew but sixty eight thousand despite having had more trailers across various channels over the previous two weeks than just about every other programme in the history of the medium, put together.

This week saw the twentieth anniversary of the first broadcast of the 1996 Doctor Who TV movie and, yer actual Keith Telly Topping's very excellent friend Greg Bakun, has done a superb piece on the film at his From The Archives blog. Check it out, here. There is also quite a good piece on the same subject at the Doctor Who News site, here, which features a contribution from, among others, another of this blogger's old friends, Shaun Lyon.
Two former Doctor Who alumni are returning to the London stage this summer. Though, in different productions, obviously. Yer actual Billie Piper will make her debut at the Young Vic, playing the lead in a new production based on Federico Lorca's Yerma, about a woman whose inability to have a child tears her life apart. Meanwhile, Matt Smith his very self will return to the Royal Court in a new play by Anthony Neilson, which will be created in the rehearsal room. The story, which will be documented online as it evolves, will centre around an obsessive film director. Both plays will open in July.
Ukraine's Jamala won this year's Eurovision Song Contest, held in Stockholm. The country scored five hundred and thirty four points with the song '1944', about the deportation of Crimean Tatars under Josef Stalin. Not 'Waterloo' admittedly but, you know, Eurovision can be a broad church, occasionally. Australia - which, just in case you're wondering, is not in Europe - finished second with five hundred and eleven points, while Russia - which was the favourite going into the competition - was third with four hundred and ninety one points. Bet that put a smile of Putin's face. Expect some deportations to the Salt Mines over that malarkey. Joe and/or Jake, who represented the UK with their song 'You're Not Alone', finished in a massively disappointing - if somewhat predictable - twenty fourth place with but sixty two points. Jamala is the first Crimean Tatar to perform at the contest and her song caused some controversy because of its alleged 'political overtones.' It references the year when Stalin deported almost all of the Tatar ethnic group from its native region of Crimea in what was then the Soviet Union. The song had angered Russia, which annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, as tension between the two countries grew. There have been calls in Russia for 'a review' of her victory after someone described as 'a prankster' told Russian TV that Jamala had 'admitted' to him that her song had a political subtext while he posed as an aide to Ukrainian President, Petro Poroshenko. A Russian MP, Elena Drapeko, blamed Russia's defeat on what she called 'an information war' and 'general demonisation' of her country. She stopped short of calling for the nuclear obliteration of Kiev in revenge. Just. But Poroshenko hailed Jamala's victory and said that her performance had been 'incredible.' The juries from Russia and Ukraine did not award each other any points, which some might consider to be a bit 'my dad's bigger than your dad' but, when all is said and done, it was quite funny. However it seems that a large numbers of the Russian public voted for the Ukrainian song, awarding it ten points while the Ukrainian public gave Russia's entry the maximum twelve points. Good God, the general public are more inclusive and broad-minded than politicians? Who'd've thought it? Ukraine confounded the bookmakers and Eurovision commentators (for there are such people) who had been convinced that Russia - or possibly Australia - would win. Russia was the pre-event bookmakers' favourite for so long, possibly because their entry was considered to be similar to last year's Swedish winner. Ukraine appears to have slipped under the radar. Simon Bennett, head of the International OGAE Eurovision fan club, told the BBC News website that former Soviet countries that would 'normally vote for Russia' sent it a message by voting this year for Ukraine instead. The singer had dedicated the song to her great-grandmother who was forced to leave Crimea along with a quarter of a million Tatars, as a collective punishment for those who had collaborated during the Nazi occupation. Collecting her award, an emotional Jamala thanked Europe for their votes, adding: 'I really want peace and love to everyone.' Speaking about her win backstage after, the singer said: 'It's amazing. I was sure that if you talk about truth it really can touch people.' A new scoring system was introduced this year, providing separate scores for each country's jury and public votes, rather than combining them as in previous years. At the half way point after the juries' votes had been counted, Australia - which had been invited back to perform after last year's sixtieth anniversary celebrations - topped the scoreboard with three hundred and twenty points and a firm lead over Ukraine's two hundred and eleven points. But Dami Im's 'Sound Of Silence' (no relation) failed to strike the same chord with the public and was voted the fourth most popular song overall. It allowed Poland, which was in penultimate place with seven points from the jury, to leap to eighth when the public's two hundred and twenty seven points were taken into account. It also meant the UK, which had been placed seventeenth after the jury vote with fifty four points, was pushed down to twenty fourth out of twenty six when the public's mere eight points were added. Despite the low finishing position, the UK still scored more points than it has done since 2011, when Blue competed. Germany's Jamie-Lee finished in last place - her song 'Ghost' received eleven points. Tragically, this year, there were no Moldovans wearing pointy hats on unicycles. Which was the only reason this blogger was watching, frankly. Graham Norton, who provided commentary to viewers watching in the UK, paid tribute to his predecessor Sir Terry Wogan during the contest. He recalled Sir Terry, who died in January, advising him not to drink anything alcoholic until the ninth song had been performed. 'I would urge you at home to raise a cup, a mug, a glass and give thanks to the man who was, and always will be, the voice of Eurovision,' Graham said as the ninth competitor began. This year's contest took place at the Ericsson Globe arena in Stockholm and was hosted by last year's winner, Mans Zelmerlow and Swedish TV personality Mede. Justin Timberlake performed his new single during the interval of the show, which also included a sketch featuring Sir Ian McKellen and Sir Derek Jacobi as their Vicious characters. It was actually quite funny. Which is more than can be said for Vicious itself, obviously.

It might have been yet another in long series of dismal showings for the UK but Eurovision performed rather better for BBC1, with more than seven million overnight viewers, bouncing back from last year’s five-year ratings low. The annual song contest had an average of 7.1 million viewers on BBC1 from 7pm on Saturday, with a five-minute peak of 8.5 million. This was up on last year, when an average of 6.6 million viewers tuned in, but not as high as 2014, when that year's event was watched by 8.8 million people, or 2011 when it drew 9.5 million viewers. BBC1's Eurovision lost out to Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads' Britain’s Got Toilets on ITV which had an overnight of 7.8 million viewers, also from 8pm. When the two were head-to-head, Eurovision had an average of 5.7 million viewers. But Eurovision was on substantially longer, finally coming to a close after around three-and-a-half hours. Elsewhere on Saturday, the second episode of BBC2's star-studded The Hollow Crown: The Wars Of The Roses, had a fraction under eight hundred thousand overnight viewers from 9pm. This was slightly down from just over over million overnight viewers for the first episode of the Shakespeare adaptation. Earlier, nearly 1.2 million viewers watched a BBC2 repeat of a David Attenborough documentary from 2009. Charles Darwin & The Tree Of Life had 1.17 million viewers from 7.30pm. Broadcast to mark the acclaimed natural history broadcaster's ninetieth birthday, it followed another episode of Attenborough's Passion Project, Lost Worlds, Vanished Lives, from 1989, which had eight hundred and seventy five thousand viewers from 6.30pm.

The line-up for this year's Celebrity MasterChef has been revealed. One word to describe the line-up would be eclectic. Another, is that it appears to be every bit as 'z-list' as usual. Contestants include Strictly Come Dancing professional Gleb Savchenko, the pop singer and 'friend' of Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads, Sinitta and Tommy Cannon (but, not Bobby Ball). This is starting to soun just like the punchline of a Mad Frankie Boyle joke, is it not? They will be joined by Simon Webbe from Blue and Sugababe Amelle Berrabah, plus The Reverend Richard Coles, someone this blogger really respects. Oh Richard, mate, what were you thinking of? BBC Breakfast presenter Louise Minchin, Cherry Healey and antiques expert David Harper will also be showing off their cooking skills, or lack of them - alongside actress Donna Air, Little Jimmy Osmond and Amy Childs, who is a The Only Way Is Essex-type person. Shameless actress and professional reality TV regular Tina Malone and former EastEnders actors Sid Owen and Laila Morse will also feature. The world of sport is represented by Olympic gold medallist boxer Audley Harrison, former rugby World Cup winner Neil Back and paralympic swimmer Liz Johnson. Completing the line-up are 'YouTube vlogger' Marcus Butler (no, me neither, I'm afraid) and presenter Alexis Conran. Among their challenges this year will be cooking a five-course dinner for the Chelsea Pensioners to celebrate the Queen's ninetieth birthday. Last year's finalists Rylan Clark-Neal and Sam Nixon will be among the judges joining regulars yer actual Gregg Wallace and John Torode his very self.

The Blacklist is getting a full series spin-off on NBC, with the title The Blacklist: Redemption. The show will follow Susan Hargrave (played by yer actual Famke Janssen), the chief of Grey Matters and Tom Keen (Ryan Eggold). Their relationship is said to 'mirror' that of Ray Reddington (James Spader) and Elizabeth Keen (Megan Boone) on the main show. Janssen debuted on The Blacklist this week in a planted pilot episode, the spin-off having been heavily rumoured over the last few months. Redemption is also starring Edi Gathegi and Tawny Cypress.
Wor Geet Canny Tim Healy is reported 'recovering in hospital' after being taken ill during the filming of the ITV show Benidorm. He was flown to Manchester from Spain on Saturday after his condition improved enough to allow him to travel. The Mirra reported that Tim was taken ill 'almost a month ago' and had been 'fighting for his life.' An ITV spokesman said the sixty four-year-old was 'feeling much better' and that filming of the show had been 'adjusted to accommodate Tim's absence.' It is understood that Tim's former wife, Denise Welch, flew to Spain at one point to visit him in hospital, where his current wife, Joan, has been by his side. Wor Geet Canny Tim, who was born in Newcastle and, after a decade of mostly playing small parts, found fame in the 1980s' comedy drama Auf Wiedersehen, Pet, has played the cross-dressing character Les in Benidorm since 2010. The ITV spokesman, who did not confirm the nature of Tim's illness, said the show's team were 'currently mid-way through filming the new series,' which will be shown in 2017. He added that 'all the Benidorm cast and crew wish [Tim] a healthy recovery in his own time.'
It has already prompted a national debate about domestic abuse and a huge fundraising campaign, but now the story of Helen Titchener's treatment in the Radio 4 drama The Archers has led the justice secretary, the rat-faced loathsome wretched odious nasty slavver-merchant, George Formby lookalike (and tit) Gove, 'to push for greater prison reform.' At least, according to the Gruniad Morning Star albeit, their story appears to be based on a handful of quotes the rat-faced loathsome wretched odious nasty slavver-merchant, George Formby lookalike (and tit) Gove gave to the Radio Times three months ago. So, rather atypical of the 'journalism' that the Gruniad Morning Star appears to specialise in these days, in fact. In recent episodes of The Archers, the pregnant Helen has been refused bail after stabbing her abusive husband and has agreed to move to a dedicated mother and baby unit in a prison miles away from her home and her young child. The rat-faced loathsome wretched odious nasty slavver-merchant, George Formby lookalike (and tit) Gove told the Radio Times that the long-running Radio 4 drama and its 'gripping' storyline was 'required listening in our house. As well as being superb drama, it has exemplified one of the virtues of public service broadcasting,' he said. 'Helen's story has brought welcome attention to the real problems many women face from coercive and controlling men. Now Helen's plight has shone a light on the position of women in our prisons and reinforces the case for reform.' In February, David Cameron called for 'a rethink' of the way the prison system treats pregnant women and mothers with babies. Ministry of Justice figures suggest one hundred babies spent time living with their mothers in prisons in 2015. The Archers' storyline, which first introduced Helen's partner Rob as a charming man two years ago before slowly revealing his violent and coercive nature, has already led to a campaign to support 'real-life Helens' raising more than one hundred and thirty grand. Following the episode in which Helen was provoked into stabbing Rob, listeners have since learned that she faces either six years in the pokey for wounding with intent or twelve for attempted murder, as well as the certainty of giving birth whilst in custody. According to new figures, audiences requested three miliion five hundred and ninety nine thousand nine hundred and forty downloads of The Archers via BBC iPlayer in March, a forty two per cent increase from the previous year. In February, the rat-faced loathsome wretched odious nasty slavver-merchant, George Formby lookalike (and tit) Gove said: 'We need radically to reform how we treat women offenders. At the moment, too many women are in jail. A prison sentence not only punishes them, but also makes life much tougher for their children.' With only sixty four MBU places in England and Wales and fewer prisons for women than men, women are often held further from their homes than men, even though they tend to serve shorter sentences on average. The Archers' editor, Sean O'Connor, who will shortly leave the Radio 4 programme to take over at BBC1's EastEnders, made a direct comparison between the two very different shows. 'In the past, it's been soaps like EastEnders who have covered women in prison. We aimed to show how shocking it is when you are hit by the full force of the law. And we wanted to represent the greater injustice women experience in the prison system.' The BBC's Director General, Tony Hall, has already praised the storyline for achieving the highest appreciation figures in the show's sixty five-year history. 'The much talked-about Archers storyline has brought about unprecedented public focus on domestic violence,' he said. 'It's important that our programmes can tackle difficult issues – and the public seem to agree.' The programme has worked closely with several domestic violence charities such as Women's Aid and Refuge to develop the story over a long period of time. Sandra Horley, chief executive of Refuge, said: 'Now in custody, Helen is more isolated than ever. Like many abused women, Helen is struggling to resist Rob's narrative: that everything is her fault and that she is a bad mother. I hope that, as the storyline continues, Helen receives the empathy she deserves.' Women's Aid has previously reported a twenty per cent increase in calls to the National Domestic Violence Helpline in the year. Polly Neate, chief executive, said that she thought this was 'in part down to "The Archers' effect."'

Russia is 'very sorry' and 'ashamed' of cheating athletes who were not caught by its anti-doping systems, the country's sports minister has said. Although, one suspects that, actually, what they're even more sorry and ashamed about is the fact that they got caught in the first place. Russia was extremely banned from international competition after a damning report by the World Anti-Doping Agency. But Vitaly Mutko argued not lifting the ban for the forthcoming 2016 Rio Olympics would be 'unfair and disproportionate' and that clean athletes - if, indeed, any such creatures exist in Russia - should not be punished. They will have been 'rigorously tested' by Rio, he wrote in The Sunday Times. WADA's report depicted 'a culture of systematic state-sponsored cheating' by Russia's athletes, with even the secret services involved. It said the All-Russia Athletics Federation, the Russian anti-doping agency and the Russian Athletics Federation had 'failed to comply' with anti-doping procedures. 'We do not deny having a problem in Russia and we are doing everything possible at state level to eradicate doping, including punishing athletes and coaches found to have violated anti-doping rules,' Mutko claimed. One or two people even believed him. 'But, doping is a global problem, not just a Russian problem.' Mutko said by the time the Rio games get under way in August, Russian athletes hoping to compete will have 'been through a minimum of three anti-doping controls' by the sport's world governing body - the IAAF - in addition to in-competition testing. 'These are men and women who have sacrificed years of their lives striving to compete at the very highest level, who have dreamed of taking part in the Olympic Games and who now face having their sacrifice wasted and their dreams shattered,' he said. 'The reasons for the All-Russian Athletics Federation being suspended from the IAAF have been well documented. They are weighty. Serious mistakes have been made by the federation management, along with athletes and coaches who have broken anti-doping rules and neglected the principle of fair play, so fundamental to sport, for immediate benefits. Let us be clear. We are ashamed of them.' However, Mutko stopped suspiciously short of admitting that the doping scandal was 'state sponsored' as the original report had suggested. 'We are very sorry that athletes who tried to deceive us, and the world, were not caught sooner,' he weaselled. 'We are very sorry because Russia is committed to upholding the highest standards in sport and is opposed to anything that threatens the Olympic values.' He added that 'measures' put in place since the ban - including handing over all testing to the UK Anti-Doping Agency until Russia's own programme is restored, changing the leadership of Russian athletics and handing over alleged doping cases to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne - means testing is now 'extra transparent. No other country's athletes will have been placed under the spotlight to the same degree as ours will be,' Mutko wrote. 'Such an intense glare does not allow anywhere for cheats to hide. We have done everything that has been asked of us by the IAAF in order to be reinstated. It would be unjust to demand all these changes and measures, witness them happen, and then still punish Russia's athletes.'

Disrupting brain activity in sleeping mice, specifically during the rapid eye movement phase, can stop the animals remembering things they learned that day, a study suggests. It is the clearest evidence to date that REM sleep is critical for memory. By switching off certain brain cells, the researchers 'silenced' a particular, rhythmic type of brain function - without waking up the mice. If they did this during REM sleep, the mice failed subsequent memory tests. Like remembering who won the Battle of Crécy, that sort of thing. The research is reported in the journal Science. REM sleep is the phase during which, at least in humans, dreams take place - but the question of whether it is important for settling new memories has previously been difficult to answer. Recent studies have tended to focus on deep, non-REM sleep instead, during which brain cells fire in various patterns that reflect memory consolidation and 're-play' of the day's experiences. During REM sleep, while our eyes flicker and our muscles relax, exactly what the brain is doing has been something of a mystery. But, it is a type of sleep seen across the animal kingdom, in mammals and birds and even lizards. Especially in animals, REM phases can be quite fleeting. This and other complications have made it difficult to test what effect such sleep has. Simply waking up humans or animals when they enter the REM phase, for example, causes stress and other problems which can confound any memory tests. In addition to, you know, really pissing off the humans involved. Hence the mice, they tend not to complain quite as much. So Doctor Sylvain Williams, from McGill University in Canada, working with colleagues at the University of Bern decided to 'meddle directly' with the sleeping brain of mice. You know, for a laugh. 'What we did was we used a technique, in mice, to solely disrupt REM sleep activity,' Williams told BBC News. Using the system known as 'optogenetics', he and his colleagues were able to control a particular population of brain cells in the mice, just by shining light through a tiny, implanted optical fibre. Whenever they switched on the light, they drastically reduced a particular rhythm in the brain, called 'theta oscillations.' And, if that disruption was delivered during a mouse's REM sleep, there were consequences. 'Disrupting the activity only during REM sleep and not other sleep, basically obliterates consolidation and memory formation,' Williams said. For example, if it was shown one brand new object and one that it had seen the day before, the mouse would thoroughly investigate both, instead of concentrating - like a normal mouse would - on the unfamiliar one. Thus, it seems that REM sleep is crucial, in some cases, for laying down new memories. Williams said this arguably poses more questions than it answers. For one thing, the other, deeper phase of sleep is already known to be involved in memory consolidation. So what are their distinct jobs? 'I think at the moment we don't know the difference between the two phases,' he said. 'It's an eye-opener to say that REM sleep has this very central role.' Whatever that role is, the new findings suggest it involves the oscillations that the scientists disrupted - in which brain cells synchronise their activity, leading to a widespread and measurable rhythm with, in this case, about seven beats per second. That signature could be something to study in patients with dementia or other memory problems, Williams said. 'It'd be interesting to see, for example, how this normal activity might be affected, specifically, in Alzheimer's patients. To see if that contributes to memory impairments.'

Excavation work for a new metro line in Rome has unearthed a huge Roman barracks from the Second Century AD during the period of Emperor Hadrian's reign. The find is so impressive that Italy plans to create Rome's first 'archaeological station' at Amba Aradam, on the city's third metro line. The new station is being built while archaeologists brush the dirt away from artefacts and mosaics nine metres below street level. The ruins cover nine hundred square metres. The site, thought to have housed Hadrian's Praetorian Guard, includes a one hundred metre hallway with thirty nine rooms. Amba Aradam lies near an important metro interchange at the Colosseum, called Fori Imperiali/Colosseo. The new station, on Metro Line C, is scheduled to open in 2020. The head of archaeology in the Colosseum area, Francesco Prosperetti, said that work on the metro would not be delayed although there would have to be changes to the station's design. Amba Aradam is named after an Italian Fascist victory against Emperor Haile Selassie's Ethiopian troops in 1936, in the Abyssinian war. An Italian Culture Ministry official called the unearthing of the Roman Praetorian Guard barracks 'exceptional.' The Praetorian Guard was created by Rome's first emperor, Augustus and served as the emperors' bodyguards and private military force. Rossella Rea, quoted by the Associated Press news agency, said that it was 'near four other Roman barracks,' so 'we can characterise this area as a military neighbourhood.'

Philippines President-Elect Rodrigo Duterte - who sounds like a bit mental, to be honest - is to reintroduce the death penalty after his election victory. Murderers, rapists, robbers (and, presumably, people who look at El Presidente 'in a funny way') will be very hanged, he said. Those convicted of more than one crime will be hanged twice, 'until their head is severed,' he added. As for recidivists who are convicted of three capital offences, trust me dear blog reader, you really don't want to know what they'll be hanged by. It'll make your eyes water just thinking about it.
A bullet accidentally fired by a man with a gun stuffed into his sock hurt a woman who was sitting fifty feet away at a graduation ceremony, media reports have claim. The bullet is said to have gone through the man's foot before ricocheting into the woman's calf at Augusta High School in Kansas. Police described it as 'a knucklehead situation.' No kidding?

NASA's Kepler telescope has discovered more than one hundred Earth-sized planets orbiting alien stars. It has also detected nine small planets within so-called 'habitable zones,' where conditions are favourable for liquid water - and, therefore, the potentially for life. The finds are contained within a catalogue of one thousand two hundred and eighty four new planets detected by Kepler - which more than doubles the previous tally. NASA said that it was 'the biggest single announcement of new exoplanets.' Space agency scientists discussed the new findings in a teleconference on Tuesday. Statistical analyses of Kepler's expanding sample of worlds help astronomers to understand how common planets like our own might be. Doctor Natalie Batalha, the Kepler mission scientist at NASA's Ames Research Centre in California, said calculations suggested there could be more than ten billion potentially habitable planets in the Milky Way. 'About twenty four per cent of the stars harbour potentially habitable planets that are smaller than about 1.6 times the size of the Earth. That's a number that we like because it's below that size that we estimate planets are likely to be rocky,' said Batalha. 'If you ask yourself where is the next habitable planet likely to be, it's within about eleven light-years, which is very close.' Future observatories such as the James Webb Space Telescope could examine starlight filtered through the atmospheres of exoplanets for potential markers of biology. 'The ultimate goal of our search is to detect the light from a habitable exoplanet and analyse that light for gases like water vapour, oxygen, methane and carbon dioxide - gases that might indicate the presence of a biological ecosystem,' said Paul Hertz, the director of astrophysics at NASA. Of the telescope's finds to date, the planets Kepler-186F and Kepler-452B are, arguably, the most Earth-like in terms of properties such as their size, the temperature of their host star and the energy received from their star. Batalha said that the new finds Kepler 1638B and Kepler-1229B were 'intriguing targets' in the search for habitable planets. The NASA Ames researcher said the Kepler mission was part of a 'larger strategic goal of finding evidence of life beyond Earth: knowing whether we're alone or not, to know how life manifests itself in the galaxy and what is the diversity.' She added: 'Being able to look up to a point of light and being able to say: "That star has a living world orbiting it." I think that's very profound and answers questions about why we're here.' Doctor Timothy Morton, from Princeton University in New Jersey, said the overwhelming majority of exoplanets found by Kepler fell into the super-Earth (between 1.2 and 1.9 times bigger than the radius of Earth) and sub-Neptune sized (1.9 to 3.1 times bigger than Earth's radius). He noted that planets in this size range had 'no known analogues' in our Solar System. Scientists used a new statistical technique to validate the twelve hundred and eighty four new exoplanets from a pool of four thousand three hundred and two targets from Kepler's July 2015 catalogue of planet candidates. The technique folded in different types of information about the candidates from simulations, giving the astronomers a reliability score for each potential new world. Candidates with a reliability greater than ninety nine per cent were designated as 'validated planets.' The team identified a further one thousand three hundred and twenty seven candidates that are more likely than not to be planets, but do not meet the ninety nine per cent threshold and will require further study. Kepler employs the transit method to detect planets orbiting other stars. This involves measuring the slight dimming of a star's light when an orbiting planet passes between it and the Earth. The same orbital phenomenon was involved when Mercury passed across the face of the Sun on Monday. The Kepler telescope, named after the Renaissance astronomer Johannes Kepler, was launched on 7 March 2009. In May 2013, the second of four reaction wheels - used to control a spacecraft's orientation - failed on Kepler. This robbed the orbiting observatory of its ability to stay pointed at a target without drifting off course. However, engineers came up with an innovative solution: using the pressure of sunlight to stabilise the spacecraft, allowing it to continue its planet hunt. The resulting mission was dubbed K2.

A woman trying to navigate a foggy night in Ontario ended up driving straight into Lake Huron, according to police. The - unnamed - twenty three-year-old Kitchener resident was following her car's GPS when she 'somehow lost her way' at the Little Tub Harbour boat launch. It was after midnight when she took the fateful turn, and suddenly felt her Toyota Yaris filling with very cold water as it sank. Thinking quickly, the woman managed to roll down the windows before the vehicle disappeared below the surface, got out and swam to shore. 'How the launch works, it's not an airborne thing. It's not Dukes Of Hazzard. It kind of goes off the road and the launch just drops all of a sudden,' Constable Katrina Rubinstein-Gilbert told the Canadian Press. 'So, she would have been driving on the road and then, all of a sudden, just dropped and hit water.' Officials sent out a warning to all boats to avoid the area and news of the woman's embarrassing error spread quickly – police, the Ministry of the Environment and officers from the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre all rushed to the scene. Rubinstein-Gilbert said that the driver was 'a little embarrassed,' but generally 'in good spirits.' Apparently, no alcohol was involved in the incident and the driver will not be charged with anything.
A North Tonawanda man is facing charges after what has been described as 'a bizarre incident' at the Mid-City Plaza on Monday. A woman was in The Dollar Store in the Payne Avenue plaza with her child and a neighbour's child when police say that sixty seven-year-old Herbert Forrester began following them around the store. Seven Eyewitness News spoke to the woman who claims that Forrester followed her and the children around whilst 'wearing a clown nose.' Which, is a bit weird although not, I think, illegal, per se. When the woman and children left the store, police say, Forrester followed them out, ran to his van and put a toilet seat around his head and toilet paper in his mouth. Okay, that's very weird. Police say the woman ran to her car with the children as Forrester allegedly shouted, 'Yeah, run!' Once safely inside the car, the woman says she took a picture of Forrester for 'evidence' and then called the police. Authorities later arrested Forrester, charging him with 'harassment.' Officers say he told them that he 'has a strange sense of humour and I have to stop.' The woman told media reports that she did not consider the incident to be a joke. It was 'a frightening incident', she said, which was 'inappropriate and scary.' Forrester is currently free on one hundred dollars bail.
An 'urgent inquiry' has been demanded after a 'dummy' bomb used in a security exercise caused a Premier League match at Old Trafford to be postponed. The game - between The Scum and Bournemouth - was called off after the item was discovered shortly before kick-off. A controlled explosion was carried out on the device, which police said was 'accidentally' left by a private firm. Manchester Mayor and Police and Crime Commissioner Tony Lloyd called for 'a full inquiry' into 'the fiasco.' Bomb disposal experts were called to the seventy five thousand-seat stadium on Sunday after the replica device was found in a toilet. The Premier League match has been rearranged for Tuesday. Lloyd called the situation 'unacceptable' and demanded - demanded, no less - an inquiry to discover 'how this happened, why it happened and who will be held accountable.' He added that 'this fiasco' had: 'Caused massive inconvenience to supporters who had come from far and wide to watch the match' (not just from Bournemouth, obviously, but given that the majority of The Scum's support doesn't live within a hundred miles of Manchester, we presume he's talking about the majority of the crowd). It had also 'wasted the time of huge numbers of police officers and the army's bomb squad' and 'unnecessarily put people in danger,' he continued. The Premier League praised the way that the incident was dealt with. A statement read: 'We would like to thank Manchester United's staff, the police and other emergency services for all their efforts today as well as rearranging the match for this coming Tuesday. Both Manchester United and AFC Bournemouth's management has been extremely helpful in reaching a swift resolution, which is the best possible given today's events.' The Scum said that will refund all tickets and allow ticket holders from both clubs to watch Tuesday's re-arranged game for free, while season ticket holders would also be 'given a credit.' The gesture is estimated to cost The Scum around three million knicker. But, they can easily afford it, so what's the problem? A Greater Manchester Police statement read: 'Shortly before today's planned football fixture, staff from the Manchester United ground alerted police to a suspicious item that had been found in the toilets within the North West Quadrant, between the Sir Alex Ferguson stand and the Stretford End. Police quickly attended and explosive experts were called in to assess the item, which has been described as an incredibly realistic-looking explosive device.' The Sir Alex Ferguson Stand and the Stretford End were both evacuated and sniffer dogs brought in. Kick-off was delayed initially and shortly afterwards the match was abandoned on police advice. A bomb disposal team carried out the explosion at about 4.30pm. Assistant chief constable John O'Hare said: 'I am grateful to the Manchester United and Bournemouth supporters for their support and assistance today. Following today's controlled explosion, we have since found out that the item was a training device which had accidentally been left by a private company following a training exercise involving explosive search dogs. While this item did not turn out to be a viable explosive, on appearance this device was as real as could be, and the decision to evacuate the stadium was the right thing to do, until we could be sure that people were not at risk.' Just under two hours before the controlled explosion was carried out, an 'operation red code' alert was issued over the public address system. Fans were then advised that, because of the discovery of a suspect package in the ground, the match was being abandoned on police advice. Supporters who were still in the ground were advised to stay in their seats while the forecourt was cleared of fans who had been in the two evacuated stands.

A senior policewoman is reportedly 'under investigation' amid claims she had a heated argument with a colleague about which of them has the most attractive breasts. Well, to be fair, we've all done it at one time or another. Assistant Chief Constable Rebekah Sutcliffe has been very suspended by Greater Manchester Police after the reported late-night row in a hotel bar. The forty six-year-old is said to have got into 'a loud disagreement' with Superintendent Sarah Jackson about who had 'the best boobs' while attending the Senior Women In Policing conference. It is unknown which of the two women started the row, but the Scum Mail on Sunday reported that an alleged - though, suspiciously nameless and, therefore, probably fictitious - 'source' claiming Sutcliffe had been 'comparing' breasts with Jackson. Sutcliffe has now been suspended for allegations of 'inappropriate behaviour' by the force. Sutcliffe is said to not be facing any sanctions over the argument. The alleged row took place during the three-day event designed to improve the 'profile and perception' of female officers at Manchester's Hilton hotel. Sutcliffe gave one of the speeches at the conference, which was attended by female police chiefs from across Britain and where other speakers included Sara Thornton, chairman of the National Police Chiefs' Council and Victims' Commissioner Baroness Newlove. Greater Manchester Police Chief Constable Ian Hopkins later tweeted that he was 'so proud' of the officers who organised the event. Sutcliffe told the Scum Mail on Sunday: 'I have nothing to say. This is an incredibly stressful time.' A Greater Manchester Police spokesman said: 'A senior officer has been suspended following allegations of inappropriate behaviour. An investigation is under way and it would be inappropriate to make further comment.' As to the answer to the original question, which of them has the best bobbies, the spokesman declined to comment. Probably.

The French actress Madeleine Lebeau, the last surviving cast member of the classic 1942 film Casablanca, has died at the age of ninety two, her family says. Her stepson, the filmmaker Carlo Alberto Pinelli, told The Hollywood Reporter that she had died on 1 May in Spain. In Casablanca, Lebeau played Humphrey Bogart's spurned lover. In one of the movie's most famous scenes, she tearfully shouts 'Vive La France,' after the clientèle in Rick's Café have sung 'La Marseillaise' to drown out singing by German soldiers. Born in 1923 near Paris, Leabeau fled Nazi-occupied France with her then husband, the prominent actor Marcel Dalio, in 1940. The couple ended up in Hollywood and both appeared in Casablanca. They had met while performing a play together. In 1939 she appeared in her first film, the melodrama Jeunes Filles En Détresse (Girls in Distress). In June 1940, Lebeau and Dalio (who was Jewish) fled Paris just ahead of the invading German Army and reached Lisbon. They are presumed to have received transit visas from Aristides de Sousa Mendes, allowing them to enter Spain and journey on to Portugal. It took them two months to obtain visas to Chile. However, when their ship, the SS Quanza, stopped in Mexico, they were stranded, along with around two hundred other passengers, when the Chilean visas they had purchased turned out to be forgeries. Eventually, they were able to get temporary Canadian passports and entered the United States. Lebeau made her Hollywood debut in 1941 in Hold Back The Dawn. The following year, she appeared in the Errol Flynn movie Gentleman Jim. Lebeau appeared in two more American films after Casablanca, a leading role in the war drama Paris After Dark (1943, again with her, by now ex-husband, Dalio) and smaller role in Music For Millions. before returning to France after the war. Her subsequent work includes the role of a temperamental French actress in Fellini's (1963). She also worked in Britain, appearing with Jean Simmons in Cage Of Gold (1950). In 1988, she married the Italian screenwriter Tullio Pinelli who had written script for .

The former press officer for The Be-Atles (a popular beat combo of the 1960s, you might have heard of them) and, allegedly, the man who first coined the phrase 'The Fab Four' to describe them has died. Tony Barrow represented the band between 1962 and 1968 and also wrote sleeve notes for some of their early LPs, as well as the strip cartoon for The Magical Mystery Tour EP booklet and the scripts for their early fan club records. Tony died on Saturday, aged eighty, at his home in Morecambe. In the late 1950s, whilst the teenage John Lennon, Paul McCartney and George Harrison were getting their shit together in one part of Liverpool, Tony Barrow was presenting jazz, skiffle and folk groups at local dance halls and clubs across town in Crosby. Born in 1936 and educated at Merchant Taylor's School, Tony studied languages at Durham University. In 1954, when he was still a seventeen-year-old sixth form schoolboy, he landed his first regular freelance writing job as pop record reviewer for the Liverpool Echo. After university, Barrow moved to London to work for Decca Records where he wrote liner notes which appeared on the back of LP covers. He also continued to contribute a weekly record column to the Liverpool Echo and, when Brian Epstein signed The Be-Atles at the end of 1961, he contacted Barrow for professional advice. In a 1968 interview, Tony recounted that Epstein asked him to write a column about the band. This led to an informal arrangement whereby Barrow became The Be-Atles' part-time publicity consultant, which involved promoting the launch of the EMI band from behind a desk at their rival record company (and one that had, infamously, already rejected the group). His earliest task for Epstein was to co-ordinate a media campaign for the release of The Be-Atles first single, 'Love Me Do' in October 1962. He was paid a freelance fee of around fifty quid to compile The Be-Atles' initial press kit. When Epstein promised to double his Decca salary, Tony left the company to join Epstein's artists' management company, NEMS Enterprises, in May 1963. Tony opened Epstein's first London office and as head of the Press and Public Relations Division, began to promote the careers of not only The Fabs but also Epstein's other artists, from Cilla Black to Gerry & The Pacemakers, Billy J Kramer & The Dakotas and The Fourmost. In view of his previous writing experience with Decca, it was taken for granted that he would do the same job for The Be-Atles and Epstein's other acts (a job he shared for a time with Derek Taylor). Barrow saw Beatlemania as beginning with the band's appearance on the London Palladium on 13 October 1963. It was Barrow's idea to give out Be-Atles Christmas greetings in the form of a flexi-disc to their fan club members. He thought this goodwill gesture might limit the damage done to the group's reputation by delays in replying to an ever-increasing volume of fan mail. At the time he said that he noted how the Queen always sent out yuletide greetings to her subjects and decided that the Be-Atles should 'follow her fine example but in their own way.' In 1965 and 1966 Barrow travelled around the globe with The Be-Atles' on their international concert tours, conducting their massive and chaotic press conferences wherever they were on the road, accompanying them on their meeting with Elvis Presley at his home in Bel Air and setting up media interviews and photoshoots when they returned home. One of Barrow's final tasks as The Be-Atles' Press Officer was to compile and edit the strip-cartoon story booklet which was part of The Magical Mystery Tour EP at the end of 1967. When The Be-Atles set up their own self-management operation, Apple, in 1968 after Epstein's death, Tony left NEMS to set up his own independent PR consultancy, Tony Barrow International. Headquartered in Mayfair, TBI represented many of Britain's entertainers and recording artists in the 1970s, including Paul McCartney & Wings, The Kinks, The Bay City Rollers, The New Seekers, Bob Monkhouse and Hello and American artists, like David Cassidy, Gladys Knight, David Soul, The Monkees, Tony Bennett, The Jackson Five, Andy Williams and Neil Sedaka, for their European tours. In 1980 returned to freelance journalism, writing various books including a highly successful career guide, Inside The Music Business (co-authored with Julian Newby) and John, Paul, George, Ringo & Me, his memoir of the 1960s. He is survived by his widow, Corinne, and his two sons.

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