Saturday, June 18, 2016

How I Learned To Stop Worrying

Matt Lucas is set to return to Doctor Who for its tenth series. Having taken part in the drama's 2015 Christmas special alongside yer actual Peter Capaldi and Alex Kingston her very self, Lucas will reprise the role of River Song's former assistant Nardole. 'I'm chuffed-to-bits that Nardole is returning to the TARDIS for some more adventures,' Lucas said. The actor will appear in the opening episode of series ten, which begins filming in Cardiff on 20 June. The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat (OBE) added that he was 'delighted and slightly amazed to be welcoming Matt Lucas back on to the TARDIS - and this time it's not just for Christmas, he's sticking around. One of the greatest comedy talents on planet Earth is being unleashed on all of time and space.' Lucas said that he was 'looking forward' to reprising his role in the popular long-running family SF drama because he 'loved acting with Peter and I'm excited to work with Pearl.' Moffat (Thou Shalt Worship No Other Gods Before He) is writing the first episode in the new series, which will be directed by Lawrence Gough (who directed Pearl Mackie's introduction in Friend From The Future, the online short). Peter Bennett returns as series producer, with Brian Minchin as executive producer. The second episode will also see the return of Frank Cottrell Boyce, who previously wrote In The Forest Of The Night in the 2014 series. Which this blogger thought was great though he seems to be in the minority in that regard. Further writers announced for the series include Sarah Dollard who wrote last year's Face The Raven, Mike Bartlett (writer for the multi-award winning Doctor Foster) and veteran yer actual Mark Gatiss. In addition to Lucas, Stephanie Hyam has also been announced for a guest role in the new series; the actress appeared in the New Year's Day Sherlock as Jane the Cheeky Maid and also played Charlotte in Peaky Blinders and Lily Clarke in Jekyll & Hyde. But, we won't hold the latter against her. This also saw the first read-through for the series take place. As this image proves!
Last year saw a missed opportunity for Doctor Who fans, as it has been revealed that Sean Pertwee had to turn down a role in the popular long-running family SF drama's ninth series. Sean's father, Jon, of course played The Doctor in the 1970s. You knew that, right? When asked by Radio Times whether he would like to follow his father's footsteps into the TARDIS, Sean replied: 'I'd love to. I've been asked before - I was asked actually last season. I couldn't do it because of Gotham. I'd love to be in some capacity be involved, as an ode to my father and to Roger Delgado, who was my dad's best friend. It'd be an honour to be involved in something like that. You know, it's a big thing! Doctor Who's a massive thing in America now, and also they're looking to the older Doctors, which I think is really kinda cool. They're looking back as well, not just forward.'
Patrick Ness has revealed that the forthcoming Class is to feature a LGBT character in one of the lead roles. The showrunner of the Doctor Who spin-off tweeted the news after attending a vigil held in Cardiff, remembering the victims of the Orlando massacre, where forty nine people were murdered in a sick terrorist attack against a gay nightclub. The news, perhaps inevitably, brought a few outrageous homophobic comments from some of the Special People about not enjoying having 'a gay agenda' shoved down their (collective) throat. Just one more reason, dear blog reader, to conclude that there are some good people in the world, some bad people, many shades of grey in between and then there are some people who are just scum. Class is, in case you didn't know, a spin-off from Doctor Who, set in Coal Hill School, and is currently filming in Wales. The series will be released onto the BBC3 online channel this Autumn, before being screened on BBC1 later in the year.
Poison Ivy is getting a makeover on Gotham. Clare Foley, the actress who played the teenage Ivy Pepper during the popular US dramas first two series is leaving ahead of its third series, according to TV Line. The fourteen year old's exit leaves the door open for 'a mystery actress' to pick up the character's development into the feared eco-terrorist she will eventually become. Show executives are said to be looking to recast the role with someone who is in their late teens - and when Ivy returns, she will also be a series regular rather than a guest star. Poison Ivy was previously played on-screen by Uma Thurman in the critically-reviled movie Batman & Robin. Other new characters you can expect in Gotham series three include Mad Hatter and Vicki Vale, who will make their series debut when the show returns to screens later this year.
The South Bank Show returned to Sky Arts for its latest series – hosted, as ever, by Melvyn Bragg – this week. New episodes will feature episodes on the likes of yer actual Benedict Cumberbatch and Russell Davies his very self.
England’s 2-1 Euro 2016 win over Wales on Thursday was watched live on the BBC Sport website by a record 2.3 million people and a peak audience of more than nine million on BBC1. This figure is more than double the BBC's previous biggest live streaming audience, an indication of the huge national interest in the game and the fact that many people were at work when it kicked off at 2pm. BBC1's Match Of The Day Live, which kicked off at 1.30pm, drew an average audience of 6.6 million viewers, a 61.6 per cent share of the available audience. It had a five-minute peak of 9.3 million. The online viewing figures, which include mobile, are a sign of the changing way the nation watches television. The 2.3 million audience includes everyone who clicked on the website and started to live stream the football, which England clinched with an injury time winner by Daniel Sturridge. An all-time high audience of 14.6 million unique global browsers visited the BBC Sport website on Thursday to follow coverage of Euro 2016, including Northern Ireland's victory over Ukraine. This breaks the previous record of 13.6 million browsers set on the final day of the 2015-16 Premier League season. Barbara Slater, director of BBC Sport, said: 'The BBC has pioneered live digital event coverage from London 2012 Olympics to Glastonbury, and our record breaking figures highlight its increasing importance to audiences.'
Upstart Crow - which this blogger must confess, he thinks is about as funny as a kick in the knackers but which, nevertheless, seems to have developed something of an audience - will be returning for a second series on BBC2 next year. Ben Elton's Shakespeare sitcom will be back for six more episodes plus a Christmas special in 2017. Starring David Mitchell, Liza Tarbuck, Mark Heap, Harry Enfield, Paula Wilcox and Helen Monks, the series followed the life of William as he began finding success while dealing with this difficult dysfunctional family. As with the first series, the next run will see each episode using a Shakespeare work as its central inspiration - with series two expected to feature elements of Othello and The Taming Of The Shrew among others. Elton will be particularly pleased, as his previous sitcom for the Beeb (2013's wretched The Wright Way) was universally spat on by critics - including this blogger who considered it the worst TV show of that year - and was very axed after just one series. He said: 'Making a sitcom for the BBC is the holy grail of British comedy writing. I am absolutely thrilled that Upstart Crow has earned a second series and am sorry for some of the things I thought about the Bard while studying for my English Lit O Level.'
Thursday's episodes of Question Time and This Week were cancelled by the BBC following the horrifying murder of Jo Cox, the Labour MP for Batley and Spen. Jo, who was forty one years old, died after she was shot and stabbed multiple times following a constituency meeting in Birstall. She was elected to Parliament last year, and in a moving statement, her husband Brendan urged people to 'unite to fight against the hatred that killed her.' Campaigning by both sides in the EU Referendum had already been suspended earlier after news of the shooting first broke. 'In light of the death of the MP Jo Cox, and the resulting decision by both sides of the European referendum debate to suspend campaigning, tonight's Question Time and This Week programmes, which would have focused on these campaigns, have been cancelled,' a BBC spokesperson said. Andrew Neil, This Week host, said: 'Huge sadness has descended across British politics tonight as one of its brightest lights - noted for her compassion and decency - is no more.' A fifty two-year-old man has been arrested in connection with Jo's murder and will appear in court of Saturday. Jo is survived by Brendan and their two young children, aged three and five. Everyone at From The North - and, one would hope, anyone with some much as a heart beating in their chests - wishes to send their most sincere condolences to Jo's family and friends at this most dreadful of times.
Staff on the BBC's Parliament channel staged a twenty four-hour strike in a dispute over 'unequal' pay grading. Members of the National Union of Journalists walked out on Wednesday after getting all stroppy and militant and voting, unanimously, for action. Most of those who took part were broadcasting assistants. A BBC spokesman said: 'We expect to offer a normal service including broadcasting PMQs on BBC Parliament as well as BBC News Channel and BBC2 as usual. There will be coverage of the select committee hearing with Sir Philip Green on BBC Parliament and the BBC News Channel. We have plans in place to maintain the scheduled programming.' Online coverage of the Scottish parliament, national assemblies and business in the Lords was also not affected.
Rowan Atkinson will return as Maigret in two new TV movies on ITV. The actor will reprise his role as the detective in 2017. The films will see Atkinson return to the lead role as Georges Simenon's sleuth Jules Maigret. The films will be based on Simenon's original stories Night At The Crossroads and Maigret in Montmartre. ITV's controller of Drama, Victoria Fea said: 'It's an absolute privilege to commission two further standalone Maigret films for ITV. We were thrilled to welcome Rowan Atkinson to the channel as Maigret. His superb performance, and the filmic execution from the production team ensured the audience greatly appreciated the first Maigret film which aired earlier this year.'

ITV should be 'required' to make more current affairs programming in return for increased support from regulators, according to an influential inquiry into the future of broadcasting in the UK. And, if they don't, they should be given a jolly good, old fashioned kick in the cobblers for their impertinence. Or something. The inquiry, led by film-maker and Labour peer Lord Puttnam, said that there was 'an opportunity' to strengthen the broadcaster's public service role and 'recapture the scale and ambition of the best of ITV's historic reputation for flagship current affairs programming.' The suggested increases in the minimum requirements for current affairs programming are modest, moving from fifteen minutes to thirty minutes a week of regional programming and the equivalent of ninety minutes a week on ITV's national network. ITV's licence currently requires forty three hours of current affairs programming a year on the national network and in 2015 it broadcast sixty three hours. Roughly the same number of hours as it devoted to The X Factor and Britain's Got Toilets. However, ninety minutes a week would be equivalent to seventy eight hours, the level required roughly a decade ago when ITV was still producing World In Action. Although still nowhere near the amount of time it devoted to current affairs when it still made This Week and Weekend World. In return, ITV would get 'additional support' including 'continued protection' for its prominent place on the electronic programme guide and on future online services. The inquiry also recommended that, along with other public service broadcasters, ITV should be paid by platforms such as Sky which currently host its channels for free. As well as increasing minimum requirements for non-news current affairs, the inquiry is calling for regulator Ofcom to embark on a review of ITV's role in the UK's 'broadcasting ecology' and create an 'imaginative proposal' for strengthening its 'contribution to democratic accountability.' Puttnam said: 'There is a great opportunity here to reinvent current affairs television content for the Twenty First Century, while building on the very best of ITV's traditions. This would have the additional benefit of raising the game of other broadcasters, not least the BBC, by restoring the competition for quality that was a hallmark of the public service television world in the recent past.' When ITV was established it had far more stringent public service commitments, but these have been steadily eroded as bosses argued they were 'hindering' its commercial performance and its possibilities for profit and, you know, greed. In 2013 Ofcom - a politically appointed quango, elected by no one - allowed ITV to reduce its weekday regional news bulletins from thirty minutes to twenty minutes but increased the number of regions targeted to fourteen from eight. The regulator said that audiences would 'benefit' from 'more targeted programming.' ITV currently runs twenty minutes of purely regional news as part of thirty minute programmes in all regions except London and Granada, where purely regional news makes up the full thirty minutes. In 2015 ITV recorded an eighteen per cent rise in pre-tax profits to eight hundred and forty three million smackers, on revenues that grew fifteen per cent. It has, in recent years, shifted increasingly into production through its ITV Studios arm, buying up companies such as The Voice creator Talpa Media. Though ITV has been criticised for reducing current affairs output over previous decades, it recently launched Peston On Sunday, a weekly politics show fronted by former BBC business editor Robert Pestinfestation, one of a number of high profile recent hires. Albeit, near enough nobody's watching the damn thing so, you know, one might regard that as merely an exercise in box-ticking. An ITV spokesperson said: 'ITV is proud to be a public service broadcaster with a strong commitment to very significant investment in original UK content, including international, national and regional news and current affairs. We welcome the inquiry's recommendation that ITV, and other PSBs, should receive a range of regulatory support, including continued EPG prominence and the payment of retransmission fees. We look forward to reading the full report when it is published later this month.' An spokesperson for Ofcom said: 'Ofcom welcomes discussion about the future of public service broadcasting, to ensure it continues to meet audience expectations and needs. We will review Lord Puttnam's report when published.' The full findings of the Puttnam inquiry, which are expected to focus on the future of the BBC and Channel Four, will be published on 29 June.

Curb Your Enthusiasm will return for a ninth series, US network HBO has announced. The comedy, which stars Larry David as an exaggerated version of himself, last broadcast an original episode in 2011. Speaking about the show's five-year absence, David said: 'In the immortal words of Julius Caesar, "I left, I did nothing, I returned."' An official broadcast date for the new series has not yet been confirmed. The commissioning of a new series is the first major programming decision by Casey Bloys, who took over as president of programming at HBO last month. In a statement, he said: 'We're thrilled that Larry has decided to do a new season of Curb and can't wait to see what he has planned.' The show, which premiered in 2000 and stars David in a highly fictionalised version of his own life, is HBO's longest-running scripted comedy series. The actor, who also co-created Seinfeld, has maintained a high profile in the US since Curb Your Enthusiasm was last broadcast, parodying Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders on Saturday Night Live and recently appearing on NBC variety show Maya & Marty.
A first-look clip from ITV's upcoming series Victoria sees Jenna Coleman her very self getting acquainted with her new responsibilities. In the clip, we are introduced to Coleman's titular Queenie, as well as Rufus Sewell's Lord Melbourne.
It is a common misconception that the first lesbian kiss on British television was Anna Friel’s passionate embrace on Brookside in the early 1990s. In fact, that particular taboo was broken two decades earlier in the BBC drama Girl, featuring Alison Steadman and the moment is now being made available for the public to watch for the first time in nearly four decades. To coincide with the Pride In London festival, the BBC will make the half-hour drama, which tells the story of an affair between two female army officers, viewable on the BBC store. The kiss was shared between Steadman and Myra Frances and has not been aired since it was first broadcast as part of the Second City Firsts strand on BBC2 in February 1974. Steadman spoke about how proud she was to have been involved in such a watershed moment for equality on television, but said that she had found it quite shocking at the time. 'When I was offered the part I felt quite nervous. A completely new adventure. Never been offered anything like it before,' she said. 'The director, Peter Gill, was great because he didn't fuss about the fact they were two women or that they had to kiss. He said it was "just a love story."' The scene was, nonetheless, considered so controversial that the producer came to watch rehearsals to make sure things didn't go 'too far.' The broadcast was also preceded by an announcement by the controller of BBC2 obviously fearful that the sight of two women kissing would cause viewers' heads to explode. Steadman said that she had been 'most worried' about her parents watching the drama and being embarrassed by the comments it might received but, they took it well. 'My mum said she thought it was great and was very moved by it,' she said. It wasn't until five years later, in 1979, that the first gay kiss between two men was broadcast on BBC1 in Coming Out. The first pre-watershed lesbian kiss was between Anna Friel and Nicola Stephenson on Brookside in 1994. Wen several viewers' heads, actually did explode. Girl will be released by the BBC as part of its Pride & Prejudice collection of landmark LGBT dramas such as the adaptations of Jeanette Winterson's Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit and Hanif Kureshi's The Buddha Of Suburbia.

Now, here's something well worth thinking about, dear blog reader.
What He (or She) said.

Philip Glenister was none too pleased with US television networks for remaking his classic British shows Life On Mars and Mad Dogs. Neither American version gained a foothold across the pond - joining the US remakes of Broadchurch and Gavin & Stacey in being quickly dropped. 'They remade [Life On Mars] and messed it up,' Phil complained to the Mirra. 'They did it with Mad Dogs and they messed that up as well. It's a great source of frustration, I think, certainly for British actors. The one series that seems to have worked for them was The Office.' For what it's worth,this blogger though that the US remake of Life On Mars was, for the most part, a pretty decent effort, playing with a completely different set of generic cliches and doing a broadly decent job with them. That was, until about five minutes from the end of the final episode when it all went horribly tits-up! Phil's advice to US networks on how to handle UK hits is: 'They get shown on things like BBC America or PBS, but it'd be nice if they'd show it in their entirety on one of the networks.' Yeah, like that's going to happen.
It's still only June but NBC has already set autumn premiere dates for The Blacklist, The Voice, Chicago Fire, Law & Order SVU and other primetime shows. With its summer season only now kicking off, the network has announced that Blindspot will lead its post-Olympics schedule on Wednesday 14 September. The Blacklist moves to Thursdays at 10pm starting on 22 September for its fourth series, after an all-new Chicago Med at 9pm. Meanwhile, FOX has announced that another of yer actual Keith Telly Topping's favourite US dramas, Gotham, will return for its third series on Monday 19 September.
NCIS is beefing up its cast following the departure of Michael Weatherly. From Dusk Till Dawn and That '70s Show actor Wilmer Valderrama is the latest high-profile name to join NCIS's fourteenth series, in which he'll play a deep-cover intelligence agent. 'Fans are going to see [Wilmer] like they've never seen him before,' executive producer Gary Glasberg said on Thursday. 'This is going to be fun. We're thrilled he's coming aboard.' NCIS has also recently cast Duane Henry and 24's Sarah Clarke, to fill the void left by Weatherly whose character was written out of the CBS drama earlier in the year, so the actor could launch his own pilot, Bull, in the fall.

BBC News correspondent Caroline Wyatt has been forced to step down from her role after being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. The veteran war reporter, who has spent over two decades at the corporation, has been battling MS for the last few years but was only recently diagnosed the condition, symptoms of which can include fatigue and impaired mobility. Wyatt was embedded with British troops during the 2003 Iraq invasion and switched to her current role as religious affairs correspondent in 2014. She says that she intends to return to the BBC as a radio presenter in the autumn. 'I have been utterly overwhelmed by the support I've had from my colleagues, friends and family in recent days and months, and am so grateful for the support the BBC is giving me while I recover from my current relapse,' she said in a statement. 'After being diagnosed with MS late last year, I feel very lucky to live in a country where the NHS is able to do much to help people with MS, and where so much research is being done. I have lived with the condition for the past twenty five years, so the diagnosis came as a relief as it enables me to have treatment and to do all I can to manage it. I am tremendously sad to be stepping down from my current specialism as BBC religious affairs correspondent at a time that understanding religion has rarely been more important. It has been a privilege to cover the religious leadership of Pope Francis and that of the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, and to meet the many Muslims in the UK and elsewhere who are making clear that the theology and ideology of the so-called Islamic State does not represent the mainstream of their faith. I feel incredibly blessed in having been able to work as a BBC correspondent for the past 23 years, from telling the story of the UK's Armed Forces in Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan to highlighting the stories of those still battling with their injuries many years later, as well as reporting on the families and children caught up in conflicts around the world, from Chechnya to the Central African Republic. When I return to work in the autumn, I am really looking forward to starting a new chapter as a presenter for BBC radio, and I hope in the future to raise both awareness and money for more research into MS.'

ITV's Loose Women was, briefly, taken off air on Wednesday after protesters interrupted the live show. The disruption occurred as Ruth Langsford was speaking to full-of-her-own-importance Coleen Nolan about her struggles with weight loss. During the item, fathers' rights protesters were heard shouting: 'No kids, no cash!' as they burst into the studio. The show cut to a standby screen with the Loose Women logo for around twenty seconds, as the shouting faded away. Once back on-air, Nolan said: 'Can we get back to me?' Langsford said: 'Those gentlemen have left us, so where were we?' An ITV spokesperson said: 'The show was briefly interrupted today by three members of the audience who were making a peaceful protest.' A noisy, but peaceful protest.
The great Janeane Garofalo will lead the cast of E4's new series Foreign Bodies, which will start in early 2017. The eight-part comedy drama follows a group of travellers on a trek around Asia. Garofalo will play Sam, a seasoned traveller who has worked in the business for over twenty years. Over the course of the series, she encounters 'a number of eager and inexperienced backpackers,' and teaches them that travelling the world 'isn't all it's cracked up to be.' Ade Oyefeso, Brittney Wilson, Alice Lee and Anders Hayward will all appear in the series. Tim Key will also appear as Greg, who is 'out to experience the word following the breakdown of his marriage.' Foreign Bodies has been created by Fresh Meat writer Tom Basden, and will be broadcast early next year.

A service van for a fire prevention company reportedly burst into flames on a Vancouver street Monday afternoon. The Vancouver Fire Department said that crews responded to a vehicle fire on Southeast Marine Drive near Knight Street at 4:30 pm. They found a vehicle 'engulfed in flames' and managed to quickly contain the blaze. There were no injuries, though the van appeared to be a write-off. The van belonged to Vancouver Fire, which describes itself as 'British Columbia's largest, longest-established fire protection, fire safety and commercial security and monitoring company.' Investigators are currently looking into what caused the fire, but it is not said to be considered suspicious at this time. Vancouver Fire Department Assistant Chief Ron Coulson said there was 'likely' some fire prevention equipment in the van at the time of the blaze. 'I guess there would be [a sense of irony] seeing a service vehicle for a fire alarm company actually burning,' he said. 'I'm sure the vehicle itself was on fire, not the fire retardants.'
A hike in the Austrian Alps went alarmingly off-course for a party of tourists at the weekend when their guide, allegedly, got drunk and wandered off, leaving them lost on the mountains. The sixty-strong group from Hungary were forced to call mountain rescue services to help them find their way back to civilisation. The hikers set off at around 3pm local time on Saturday with an unqualified guide from a Hungarian trekking association to explore the Rax mountain range in Eastern Austria, according to local police quoted in the Torygraph. But, around an hour later Austrian emergency services received a call from 'a distressed member' of the group, who said that he was lost with his daughter in the mountains. The guide was 'drunk' and 'had disappeared,' the hiker claimed. Weather conditions in the area were deteriorating and a group of twelve mountain rescuers set off to bring the group back to safety. They were able to locate the lost hikers and lead them down the mountains without incident. But, when they returned to the valley they ran into the elusive guide, who appeared to have descended on his own, without his charges. He denied being drunk and claimed not to have touched 'a drop' of alcohol. Police said that, as no one was injured, they did not carry out a breath test. 'All the same, it was a fine line,' Gerhard Rieglthalner, a mountaineering expert for the police, told Krone newspaper. 'The man was unprofessional and he was not a trained mountain guide.'
Police believed that a man had barricaded himself in his Redford, Michigan home Saturday morning, shutting down a neighbourhood and leading to an eleven-hour stand-off with, what turned out to be, an empty house. The stand-off reportedly began around midnight. Tear gas canisters were fired into the home and a robot was used to try and find the fugitive man inside. The home was found to be empty when authorities finally entered it late on Saturday morning. The situation appears to have stemmed from a domestic disagreement. A husband and wife's argument is said to have became violent, sending the couple through the glass front door. The wife told police that her husband had stabbed her. The wife also said the argument started after she told her husband she wanted a divorce after about six weeks of marriage. The husband had, apparently, left the home before police arrived. Officers had asked the public to avoid the area and several streets were blocked off.
Iceland's first goal at a major tournament this week brought quite a reaction from commentator Haukur Hardarson of Icelandic national broadcaster RUV during the tiny nation's battling 1-1 draw with stroppy, full-of-their-own-importance Portugal.
Vasco Da Gama, João Infante, Christopher Columbus, Pêro Da Covilhã, Cristóvão De Mendonça, Tristão Da Cunha, Ferdinand Magellan, Pedro Fernandes De Queirós, Lúcia Santos, António Castanheira Neves, Amália Rodrigues, Fiama Hasse Pais Brandão, José Saramago, Carmen Miranda, Carlos Lopes, Eusébio, Fernando Pessa ... can you hear us? Your boys took a Hell of a ... drawing. And that.

It's been a bloody weird Euro 2016 so far, dear blog reader; Hungary, Wales, Iceland and Northern Ireland all springing surprises of Major, Brigadier-General and Rear Admiral proportions, England actually playing half-way decent for three out of four halves thus far, the Italians looking brilliant in their opening game and the Germans looking merely ruthlessly efficient (so, no change there, then). And, everybody wondering which France and which Spain are going to turn up. So, it was really comforting on Friday afternoon to watch a terminally dull Italy versus Sweden game where the Italians looked exactly like the Italians usually look in the opening round of a tournament ('0-0. Good result, that!') And then Eder scored. With a shot. What's that all about? It's nice that, in an uncertain world some things, seemingly, never change.
Tory tax avoider Gary Barlow will front a new Saturday night BBC1 show leading a talent search for the cast of a new nationwide Take That musical. Let It Shine, co-presented by Graham Norton and Mel Giedroyc, will search for a band to take part in a stage show featuring the music of Take That. Barlow will be joined by three mentors each week in the eight-week run. The announcement comes after the BBC lost the rights to their Saturday night talent show The Voice to ITV. A statement about the show said they will be looking for people who 'exude the charisma, showmanship and stage presence' of Take That. So, that shouldn't take very long. Barlow said that the 'secret' to the band's success was their chemistry, which is what they will be looking for with the new show. 'Back in 1989, we were just a group of normal guys from Manchester who came together. The secret to our success was that each of us brought something different to the group and that the five of us had real chemistry. Now with Let It Shine we're looking for people from all walks of life to form another unique group who can recreate that magic. If you think you've got what it takes, we want to see it!' Graham Norton has hosted a number of talent search shows for the BBC, including finding stars of Oliver!, The Sound Of Music and The Wizard Of Oz. He said he believes the new show will 'follow in their successful footsteps.' Or, in the case of Over The Rainbow, their 'less than successful footsteps.' 'The combination of the BBC, everyone's favourite band and Saturday nights made this an offer I simply couldn't refuse. If I wasn't a part of Let It Shine, I know I would be watching it at home - this way I just get the best seat in the house.' Charlotte Moore, the BBC Controller of TV Channels said she hoped the show 'will bring families together to celebrate Britain's love of musical theatre, combining singing, performance and dance in a hotly contested search to find a new group.'

Miss Great Britain, Zara Holland, has been stripped of her title after having naughty sex on the risible ITV2 reality show Love Island. The organisation said it was 'with deep regret' that she had been 'de-crowned.' Scenes showing the twenty-year-old getting intimate - and then being boned - with Vicky Pattison's ex, Alex Bowen, were broadcast on Wednesday. To an audience of about twelve, let it be noted. 'We pride ourselves on promoting the positivity of pageants in modern society and this includes the promotion of a strong, positive female role model in our winners,' said a statement. 'The feedback we have received from pageant insiders and members of the general public is such that we cannot promote Zara as a positive role model moving forward. We wholly understand that everyone makes mistakes, but Zara, as an ambassador for Miss Great Britain, simply did not uphold the responsibility expected of the title.' She will be replaced by runner-up Deone Robertson, who had been crowned Miss North Lanarkshire, and will now compete in the Miss World competition. Holland said that she 'regretted' the decision in Thursday night's show. She told the cameras: 'You know when you're in the moment and it just happens. That's really not like me at all. Why couldn't we have just gone to sleep?' The organisation said that they would meet Zara on her return to the UK from the house in Majorca 'to fully explain our decision and will wish her the very best going forward.' A spokesman for the show said that a decision 'hadn't been made yet' about when Zara would be informed. Alex Bowen entered the Love Island house earlier this week with James Khan. Holland was given the chance to go on a date with one of the two new men and chose Bowen, despite the fitness coach having spent the day flirting with fellow contestant Olivia Buckland. The pair decided to spend the night together in the Hideaway and were then filmed having the sex. Big Hot Sweaty the sex at that.
Taylor Swift's very recent ex boyfriend Calvin Harris has 'unfollowed' her on Twitter, after images of the singer kissing Tom Hiddleston appeared online. And this constitutes 'news', apparently. Truly, dear blog reader, we are living in a world that is, quite quite mad.
Indiana Jones his very self will not be killed off in the fifth film, director Steven Spielberg has confirmed. The newest movie of the franchise, which stars Harrison Ford in the title role (you knew that, right?), is scheduled for release in 2019. Spielberg told The Hollywood Reporter: 'The one thing I will tell you is I'm not killing off Harrison at the end of it.' Spielberg has directed all four of the previous films in the series - two of them very good, one of them ... just about okay and one of them really terrible - and is 'super excited' about the new project. 'I think this one is straight down the pike for the fans,' he said. The as-yet-untitled film will come eleven years after the most recent movie in the series, 2008's Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull. Ford will be seventy seven when the new film arrives in cinemas. Earlier this year, Ford told the BBC: 'I've always thought there was an opportunity to do another. But I didn't want to do it without Steven. And I didn't want to do it without a really good script. And happily we're working on both.' He added: 'Steven is developing a script now that I think we're going to be very happy with.'
Residents living in a Nottinghamshire village sharing its name with Batman's home city were told their address 'did not exist' when they phoned the local council. The villagers of Gotham were desperately trying to get hold of some sandbags to stop their homes from flooding, but the advisor they spoke to claimed that he could only find a 'Gotham City in New York' on his database. Rushcliffe Borough Council has since grovellingly apologised for such rank and stupid glakery. It claimed, unconvincingly, that the calls were answered by 'someone outside of the area.' As if that nonsense made any difference. 'He said the only Gotham he could find is Gotham City in New York,' said Racheal Webster, one of the residents who phoned up. 'I said "are you trying to be funny? Is that some kind of joke?" and he said "no, that's the only Gotham I can find."' The conversation became 'quite heated', Webster added, when the man said that he could not help her. 'I said "well we do exist, obviously, we are getting flooded, the water is starting to come in. He said the same thing to my neighbour when my neighbour called as well.' There is no such city as Gotham in the real world, but New York is sometimes referred to as Gotham. The villagers phoned a local emergency number printed on the council's website when flooding began in Gotham on Wednesday evening. However, the council said that its out-of-hours service is 'provided by a national company.' David Banks, the executive manager for neighbourhoods, said: 'Unfortunately, the advisor Mrs Webster spoke to wasn't familiar with the area and wasn't able to locate Gotham on the system to log the call. He tried to help by doing a Google search of "Gotham" which returned results referring to the Gotham in America.' Which, as we've already established, doesn't exist outside of the pages of DC Comics. 'We understand that experiencing flooding is stressful and upsetting and we are working with our out-of-hours provider to ensure that this doesn't happen again.'
A series of never-before-seen letters written by Audrey Hepburn will be auctioned later this month. The ten letters were written between 1951 and 1960 to her mentor and lifelong friend Sir Felix Aylmer. They reveal details of a dramatic decade of the screen siren's life as she rose from an unknown ballerina to Hollywood superstardom. In them, she mentions her broken engagement, marriage, miscarriages and the birth of her first child. The letters are estimated to sell for up to four thousand knicker. In one of the letters, dated 1951, a then twenty two-year-old Hepburn, wrote: 'Would you believe it. I'm in Monte Carlo working on a French picture. The place is heavenly and this is the best thing that's ever happened to me.' The actress was referring to filming Monte Carlo Baby, one of her first movies. A year later she wrote that 'with a heavy heart' she had broken off her engagement to the socialite James Hanson. 'It is all very unhappy-making,' she said. 'I fear I thought it possible to make our combined lives and careers work out.' This was followed by joy at finding her future husband, the actor Mel Ferrer, whom she married in 1954. 'We want to keep [the wedding] a dark secret in order to have it without the press,' she confided a few weeks before the ceremony, which was to be held 'in a tiny chapel with a wedding breakfast after.' Hepburn and Ferrer went on to become co-stars in War & Peace after they were married. Following two miscarriages, the final letter in the collection ends on a celebratory note as the actress celebrated the birth of her first child, Sean Ferrer. 'Sean is truly a dream. I find it hard to believe he is really ours to keep. I long to show him to you. We all three send our love and kisses,' she wrote. The letters will go on sale at the Bonhams Entertainment Memorabilia sale in London on 29 June.
A third woman has come forward to claim that she was sexually abused by the late Liberal MP and TV personality Sir Clement Freud. Vicky Hayes told ITV News that the politician, who died in 2009, had raped her in the mid-1960s when she was seventeen. Her allegation follows accusations from two other women who say that they were abused by Freud as children. In response to those claims, Freud's widow Jill Freud, said that she was 'deeply saddened and profoundly sorry for what has happened to these women.' Hayes told ITV News that Freud would frequently visit her father's Lincoln seafood restaurant, known as Syd's, in the mid-1960s and that she had first met him when she was fourteen. She said she was seventeen when he took her on an overnight trip to the races and raped her. She said: 'I just lay there afraid, scared, and he forced himself on me and took my virginity.' Hayes said she did not tell her parents, because her father would have 'killed' Freud. 'You don't expect a friend of your parents to rape you,' she said. She reported the incident to Suffolk Police in 2010, two years after Freud's death. A spokesman for the force confirmed that it had received a historic allegation of rape dating back more than forty years, but added: 'This was formally recorded but as the suspect was no longer alive, there were no further lines of inquiry.' Hayes is the third woman to make claims against Freud, with the earlier allegations prompting his widow to apologise. Sylvia Woosley, who first met Freud when she was ten in the late 1940s and was sent to live with him at fourteen, told an ITV Exposure programme that he had abused her 'for years.' In the documentary, Exposure: Abused & Betrayed - A Life Sentence, broadcast on Wednesday, Woosley, now in her late seventies, said: 'I just want to clear things up before I die. I want to die clean. Having been so hard on myself, trying to destroy myself so many times, you can't bury the truth forever, it needs to be heard.' A second woman, who wished to remain anonymous, claimed that Freud abused her as a child and raped her when she was eighteen in 1978. Born in Vienna in April 1924, Clement Freud was a grandson of Sigmund Freud, the founder of psychoanalysis. Clement's elder brother was the artist Lucian Freud. A droll wit, his idiosyncratic pet food commercials with Henry the dog launched him on a long career as a television and radio personality. As well as becoming a celebrity chef, he contributed to BBC Radio 4's Just A Minute for more than thirty years and featured on shows including Have I Got News For You. Freud was Liberal MP for North East Cambridgeshire from 1973 to 1987 and was knighted in 1987. He had five children, including the TV personality, Emma, and the Public Relations guru, Matthew. Freud died at his desk aged eighty four in 2009. In a statement released in response to the first two women's claims, Mrs Freud said: 'This is a very sad day for me. I was married to Clement for fifty eight years and loved him dearly. I am shocked, deeply saddened and profoundly sorry for what has happened to these women. I sincerely hope they will now have some peace.' A statement from the Liberal Democrats called the allegations 'horrific' and said the party was 'deeply shocked and horrified by this news.'

Sir Cliff Richard will face no further action over allegations of historical sex abuse, prosecutors say. The Crown Prosecution Service said that it had 'carefully reviewed' the case and decided there was 'insufficient evidence to prosecute.' Sir Cliff said he was 'obviously thrilled that the vile accusations and the resulting investigation have finally been brought to a close.' Four men claimed that offences involving Richard had taken place between 1958 and 1983, the CPS said. In a statement, Richard said: 'I have always maintained my innocence, cooperated fully with the investigation and cannot understand why it has taken so long to get to this point.' He criticised the 'high-profile' fumbling of his case 'from day one. Other than in exceptional cases, people who are facing allegations should never be named publicly until charged,' he said. 'I was named before I was even interviewed and, for me, that was like being hung out like "live bait." It is obvious that such strategies simply increase the risk of attracting spurious claims which not only tie up police resources and waste public funds, but they forever tarnish the reputations of innocent people.' He added: 'Ever since the highly-publicised and BBC-filmed raid on my home I have chosen not to speak publicly. Even though I was under pressure to "speak out," other than to state my innocence, which was easy for me to do as I have never molested anyone in my life, I chose to remain silent.' Last year an independent investigation concluded that South Yorkshire Police should not have released 'highly confidential' information to the BBC about a planned search of Richard's home. BBC film crews, including one in a helicopter, filmed the raid in August 2014. The BBC were cleared of any wrongdoing in relation to their coverage of the raid. In a statement, South Yorkshire Police grovellingly apologised 'wholeheartedly for the additional anxiety caused' to Richard by the force's 'initial handling of the media interest' in its investigation. The force added: 'Non-recent allegations are, by their very nature, complex and difficult matters to investigate and can take a considerable amount of time. We appreciate that waiting for a conclusion will undoubtedly have caused additional distress to all those involved and we have made every effort to ensure this has been as timely as possible. However, it is in the interests of justice to investigate such matters thoroughly.' Prosecutors received the full evidence file from police on 10 May and the BBC home affairs correspondent Danny Shaw said that meant the CPS had made its decision 'quite quickly.' But he added that the CPS had been 'working alongside the police' for many months and there would now be 'serious questions for the police in particular about why this has taken so long.'

Two lawyers involved in a sex act have both admitted outraging public decency. But, whilst the man can be named as Graeme Stening, the woman cannot, for legal reasons according to the Metro. They were caught 'in the act' outside Waterloo Station during rush hour in August last year. He was due to stand trial next week but has now admitted the charge and accepted a caution. Three months after the woman barrister accepted the caution, she appealed it, claiming that she had 'not consented' to the sexual contact. Police carried out a review but decided not to prosecute due to insufficient evidence. A Scotland Yard spokesman said: 'Detectives at Lambeth CID began investigating this allegation as sexual assault. A man was interviewed under caution as part of police inquiries. He was not arrested. A file was submitted to the Crown Prosecution Service and a decision was subsequently taken by police that there was insufficient evidence of a realistic prosecution. The complainant invoked a Victim's Request for Review and the matter was reviewed by a detective superintendent who upheld the original decision that there was insufficient evidence to proceed.' Stening had been due to stand trial at Camberwell Magistrates' Court on June 23 in relation to the incident, which took place in Spur Road on August 20 last year. A spokesman for private equity firm Doughty Hanson, where Stening is an in-house lawyer, said: 'He is not commenting on this any more and wants the whole thing to move on.' Police say they are not investigating allegations of perverting the course of justice or wasting police time in relation to the alleged victim.
An X-ray technician in Central Turkey was shocked when she saw the jewellery which she owned on the X-ray image of a patient's rectum. The patient, a twenty four-year-old, was one of two thieves who allegedly broke into her house earlier that day. The unidentified X-ray technician in the Beyşehir district of Konya Province was assigned to do the imaging, after the police suspected the man they caught in the aftermath of the break-in might be hiding something up his bottom, because of his 'peculiar' walk according to the Daily Sabah. The truth was revealed when the X-ray detected two gold rings, two gold earrings and two necklaces deposited up the man's anal cavity. The technician said that she recognised the jewellery's 'specific embellishments' and was 'shocked' to learn that her own house had been broken into when she asked the police where they found the suspect up to his naughty ways. The man and his accomplice, both of whom have lengthy criminal records for theft, were very arrested following the discovery of their nefarious skulduggery.
In a genuinely horrific moment for every chap that's ever been assure 'you can't get her pregnant if she takes it up the Gary Glitter, trust me,' a woman has, reportedly, become pregnant through anal sex in case which is believed to be one of the first recorded of its kind. While it would appear to be a medical impossibility, a US doctor has spoken of his 'surprise' - no shit? - at discovering such a thing had occurred to one of his patients. Doctor Brian Steixner, Director of the Institute of Men's Health at Jersey Urology Group in Atlantic City, explained that one of his patients had a condition termed cloaca. This occurs in the womb when a female foetus' bladder, vagina and rectum do not develop normally and instead intestinal, urinal and reproductive functions are all performed from the same orifice. The woman was referred for surgery to correct this awkward affliction when she was younger, as is standard treatment for cloaca cases. However the surgery was seemingly botched, resulting in the lady's uterus being 'wrongly connected to her rectum.' Urgh. Years later, the woman became pregnant, to the surprise of Doctor Steixner and his colleagues. He told Men's Health: 'We knew about her condition and we had followed her for a decade. After doing a whole bunch of X-rays, we determined that she got pregnant from having anal sex.' The condition raised 'the urgent question' of whether a safe birth would be possible for both mother and child as she did not have a viable vaginal passage. Steiner said: 'The obgyns couldn't figure out a way to effectively deliver the baby through the rectum safely. So she had a C-section.' A happy outcome to a unique medical discombobulation.
A video of a Portuguese couple having The Sex in public while a child sat next to them has 'drawn the attention' of thousands of Internet commentator. With nothing better to do with their time, seemingly. A local police investigation has also, reportedly, been launched into the incident. Or, as the Daily Lies headlined it Cops probe couple's park sex session INCHES away from young girl. That's not the only probing going on by the look of the video. Anyway ...
Members of Led Zeppelin have appeared in court to deny 'borrowing' from another song for their 1971 hippie dirge 'Stairway To Heaven'. Guitarist Jimmy Page and singer Robert Plant are expected to give evidence at the civil case in Los Angeles. They are accused of lifting the song's opening notes from 'Taurus', a 1967 instrumental by the band Spirit. Page and Plant are being extremely sued by a trust acting for a founding member of Spirit who died in 1997. And are, obviously, not in any way motivated by sick greed. Oh no, definitely not. The case began with the jury being played various performances of both songs. In his opening statement, the plaintiff's lawyer, Francis Malofiy, said that the case could be summed up in six words, 'give credit where credit is due.' Page and Plant were both 'incredible performers, incredible musicians but they covered other people's music and tried to make it their own,' he alleged. The band's lawyer, Robert Anderson, insisted that the two men 'created 'Stairway To Heaven' independently without resort to 'Taurus' or without copying anything in 'Taurus'.' There was 'no proof' that they had even heard 'Taurus' until decades after creating 'Stairway To Heaven', said Anderson. He also claimed that the part of the song at issue - a sequence of notes in the opening bars - was a 'descending chromatic line something that appears in all kinds of songs.' Like this one, for instance. Such a 'commonplace' musical device which 'goes back centuries,' was, he claimed, 'not protected by copyright' which, in any case he argued, was not actually 'owned' by the plaintiff. As the room filled with the familiar strains of 'Stairway To Heaven', Jimmy Page leaned back and closed his eyes, his head nodding gently as he listened to his own performance and to the vocals of Plant, seated beside him at the front of the court. The two men looked relaxed and attentive, at one point pulling on their spectacles as they leaned towards each other to discuss a concert bill which had been produced in evidence. The Be-Atles (a popular beat combo of the 1960s, you might have heard of them), Elvis Presley and The Sound Of Music were all invoked in the opening statements of a trial which is scheduled to last four or five days. At an earlier hearing, US district judge Gary Klausner had ruled that the two pieces of music were 'similar enough' to let a jury decide whether Page and Plant had infringed copyright. 'Taurus', a two minute and thirty seven second instrumental with a distinct plucked guitar line, was released by Spirit in January 1968. The copyright infringement action is being taken by a trust set up to manage the legacy of the late guitarist Randy California, a founding member of Spirit who played on the same bill as Led Zeppelin later that year. He died in 1997 while saving his son from drowning. Lawyers for California's trust claim that Page and Plant wrote 'Stairway To Heaven' after hearing their client play 'Taurus' and that he should be given a writing credit. Page and Plant say the song was their masterpiece, written in a remote cottage in Wales. The plaintiff is reportedly seeking royalties and other compensation of around forty million dollars. And are, definitely, not motivated by greed. No, siree Bob.

Meat Loaf is said to be 'stable and in good condition' after collapsing on stage during a concert in Canada. Video footage from Thursday's concert in Edmonton shows the singer falling on stage during his performance. Earlier in the week Mister Loaf had cancelled shows in Moose Jaw and Calgary, saying he was ill. He was performing 'I'd Do Anything for Love (But I Won't Do That)', when he dropped his microphone and fell to the floor, video footage showed.
Status Quo guitarist Rick Parfitt is being treated by doctors in Turkey following a suspected heart attack. The sixty seven-year-old was taken to hospital in the early hours of Wednesday morning after a concert in Antalya. The band's manager, Simon Porter, said: 'Whilst his condition is serious, he has already demanded his customary cup of tea with two sugars and a sweetener.' Status Quo had been playing a gig at the Expo 2016 festival. Porter added: 'No further comment will be made at this stage until the completion of the next round of tests and assessments to be made over the next few days.'
The Northern Irish guitarist, Henry McCullough, died on Tuesday morning aged seventy two. Henry grew up in Portstewart, County Londonderry and recorded with a number of well-known musicians, most notably Sir Paul McCartney & The Wings. Henry was part of the Wings line-up from 1971 to 1973 featuring on the James Bond theme, 'Live & Let Die' and the hit single 'My Love' as well as the LPs Wild Life and Red Rose Speedway. In 1967 McCullough moved to Belfast where he joined the proto-psychedelic group The People. Later that year the band moved to London, were signed by Chas Chandler's management team and changed their name to Éire Apparent. Under Chandler's guidance they recorded several singles and toured with acts such as The Pink Floyd, Soft Machine, The Move, The Jimi Hendrix Experience and Eric Burdon & The New Animals. In Vancouver, in February 1968, while the band was touring with The Animals, McCullough suddenly returned to The United Kingdom, officially because of 'visa problems'. Back in Ireland McCullough joined what was primarily a folk group called Sweeney's Men. He later played with Joe Cocker's Grease Band at Woodstock in 1969, the only Irishman to perform there and appeared as lead guitarist on Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice's original Jesus Christ Superstar recording (1970) and on the Spooky Tooth LP The Last Puff (1970). Sir Paul McCartney said that he was 'very sad' to hear of Henry's death. 'He was a pleasure to work with, a super talented musician with a lovely sense of humour,' Macca told the BBC. 'The solo he played on 'My Love' was a classic that he made up on the spot in front of a live orchestra. Our deepest sympathies from my family to his.' Sir Van Morrison said that he was 'very sorry' to hear about McCullough's death. 'I know he had some difficult times recently, but he will be remembered for his long and productive career in music,' he said. McCullough spent eighteen months touring and recording with The Wings in the 1970s. McCullough's spoken words 'I don't know; I was really drunk at the time' can be heard on the Pink Floyd LP The Dark Side Of The Moon (1973), at the end of the song 'Money' (Floyd and Wings were both recording in Abbey Road at the time). He was recalling a fight he had the night before with his wife. In 1975 McCullough joined The Frankie Miller Band. Later the same year he released a solo LP Mind Your Own Business on George Harrison's Dark Horse label. McCullough later played as a session musician with Roy Harper, Eric Burdon, Marianne Faithfull, Ronnie Lane and Donovan. In 1977 he temporarily joined Doctor Feelgood, following the departure of Wilko Johnson.

Janet Waldo, who voiced numerous cartoon characters including Penelope Pitstop and Judy Jetson has died aged ninety six. Her daughter confirmed to ABC News that Janet had died on Sunday morning, having been diagnosed with a benign but inoperable brain tumour five years ago. Born in Washington in 1920, Janet was spotted as a student actress by Bing Crosby and signed a deal with Paramount Pictures. She appeared on shows like The Adventures Of Ozzie & Harriet and, later, on I Love Lucy and The Lucy Show. But, it was her prolific voice work for which she was best known. As well as starring in The Wacky Races, The Perils Of Penlope Pitstop and The Jetsons, Waldo also had a variety of roles in The Flintstones including Pearl Slaghoople, Fred's mother-in-law. As well as voicing Josie McCoy in Josie & The Pussycats, she also voiced Morticia Addams in a short-lived cartoon version of the TV series in 1973 and a character called Hogatha in The Smurfs during the 1980s. One of her final roles was in 1998 in the popular adult animated TV series King Of The Hill. She began acting in 1938 with small roles in several films but by the 1970s she worked almost exclusively in animation. She is survived by her sister, the composer Elisabeth Waldo Dentzel, a son, daughter and two grandchildren.
And finally, dear blog reader, astronaut Major Tim Peake - and his two colleagues - are returning to Earth this weekend. This blogger reckons, before they get here, we should all put on ape masks. You know, for a laugh. It will only work if we all do it. Pass it on.

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