Monday, July 11, 2016

Remembrance Day

Sherlock's production team has confirmed its panel line-up for this year's San Diego Comic-Con. Yer actual Benedict Cumberbatch will apparently not be attending this year. In attendance instead will be executive producers and writers The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat (OBE) and Mark Gatiss his very self, producer Sue Vertue and Amanda Abbington. The Sherlock panel will be held in Hall H at 10am on Sunday 24 July.
Yeractual Matt Smith has described working on his new stage play - a film industry satire entirely devised in rehearsals - as 'a white-knuckle ride. Sometimes I thought, "Why the Hell am I doing this?"' said the former Doctor Who actor concerning Unreachable, which opened on Friday at London's Royal Court. 'There's so much stuff you're trying to process constantly, but somehow that adds to the aliveness of it.' The play is written and directed by Anthony Neilson. It tells the story of a young filmmaker whose perfectionism threatens to derail his latest project. Smudger, who last appeared on stage in London in the 2013 musical American Psycho, said that he was a long-time admirer of the Scottish playwright. 'I'm a fan of his work and the style of his work and I always have been,' said the thirty three-year-old, describing Neilson's methods as 'bizarre, mad and chaos.' Yet the actor - to be seen later this year as Prince Philip in Netflix drama The Crown - admitted there had been some hair-raising moments en route to Friday's press night. 'The only time we were off the script was [Thursday],' he revealed. 'We had scripts in our hands the previous four nights. There were scenes I didn't know. [Anthony] was literally doing rewrites right up to the last minute.' 'Six weeks ago, nothing existed,' said Neilson, who conceded that devising the show from scratch had been 'really tough. The fear is that it's going to be a very bad show. The prize is to do something people really respond to' Neilson, whose plays have often courted controversy and whose RSC production of Marat/Sade prompted walk-outs in 2011, said Unreachable had been the result of a collective effort. 'It's not down to me at all,' he said. 'Everybody who worked on this, from the sound to the design to the actors - it belongs to all of us.' Smudger's old pal Billie The Piper was among the audience on Friday night. The play has drawn qualified praise from the critics, with the Gruniad Morning Star saluting Smudger for his 'richly detailed performance.' Unreachable continues at the Royal Court in London until 6 August.
The first images of series three of The Fall have been released by the BBC. The two pictures from the upcoming final series of the dark crime drama sees Gillian Anderson's Stella Gibson looking a bit pensive on the phone and Jamie Dornan's Paul Spector in a tunnel. So, doesn't really tell you an awful lot about the plot, then. The Fall will return to BBC2 this autumn.
Here's the final and consolidated ratings figures for the Top Nineteen programmes, week-ending Sunday 3 July 2016:-
1 Euro 2016: Wales Versus Belgium - Fri BBC1 - 10.88m
2 Euro 2016: Germany Versus Italy - Sat BBC1 - 9.03m
3 Euro 2016: England Versus Iceland - Mon ITV - 8.02m
4 Coronation Street - Wed ITV - 7.13m
5 Ten O'Clock News - Fri BBC1 - 6.74m
6 Euro 2016: France Versus Iceland - Sun ITV - 6.73m
7 BBC News - Sat BBC1 - 6.30m
8 Emmerdale - Tues ITV - 6.24m
9 EastEnders - Thurs BBC1 - 6.00m
10 Euro 2016: Portugal Versus Poland - Thurs ITV - 5.93m
11 Six O'Clock News - Mon BBC1 - 5.34m
12 Countryfile - Sun BBC1 - 4.86m
13 Celebrity MasterChef - Wed BBC1 - 4.79m
14 Casualty - Sat BBC1 - 4.34m
15 Holby City - Tues BBC1 - 4.29m
16 Britain's Favourite Dogs - Wed iTV - 4.07m
17 The Living & The Dead - Tues BBC1 - 3.99m
18 Antiques Roadshow - Sun BBC1 - 3.93m
19 The ONE Show - Tues BBC1 - 3.88m
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. On BBC2, The Great British Sewing Bee regained its bragging rights as the channel's highest audience puller, attracting 2.80 million. The series finale of Top Gear attracted a truly disastrous 2.64 million despite it being, by a distance, the best episode of the series. The latest episode of Versailles drew 1.81 million punters. Gardeners' World was seen by 1.80 million whilst Mock The Week was watched by 1.66 million, followed by Dragons' Den: Pitches To Riches (1.49 million), Wednesday's coverage of Wimbledon (1.48 million), The Centenary Of The Battle Of The Somme (also 1.19 million), Today At Wimbledon (1.18 million) and Mr Versus Mrs: Call The Mediators (1.06 million). F1: Austrian Grand Prix Highlights was Channel Four's highest-rated broadcast of the week (2.54 million), followed by George Clarke's Old House New Home (1.97m), Twenty Four Hours In A&E (also 1.87m), The Last Leg With Adam Hills (1.76m), Inside Birmingham Children's Hospital (1.57m) and Gogglebox (1.37m). Channel Five's top performer was, again, The Hotel Inspector with 1.84 million, ahead of the highest-rated episode of Big Brother (1.77 million). The Dog Rescuers With Alan Davies attracted 1.57 million. Sky Sports 1's most-watched broadcast was Live Austrian Grand Prix seen by two hundred and eighty four thousand viewers. Sky Sports 2's coverage of the final Live England Versus Sri Lanka ODI was seen by two hundred and ninety nine thousand. Sky Sports Tonight was Sky Sports News's highest-rated broadcast with one hundred and thirty six thousand. On Sky Sports F1, Live Austrian Grand Prix coverage had seven hundred and fifty five thousand punters in addition to those watching the simultcast on Sky Sports 1. Endeavour was ITV3's top-rated drama (nine hundred and fifty nine thousand). Midsomer Murders was seen by eight hundred and thirty nine thousand, Foyle's War by seven hundred and five thousand and Doc Martin by six hundred and seventy two thousand. Tour De France Highlights coverage headed ITV4's weekly top ten with six hundred and seven thousand. Worthless steaming pile of rancid stinking shat Love Island was ITV2's most-watched programme with 1.66 million people, not a single one of whom would appear to have a shred of dignity or self-respect in them, watching the rotten goings on. Six episodes of worthless steaming pile of rancid stinking shat Love Island had an audience of more than one-and-a-half million viewers, the only good thing to be said about which is that at least a portion of these appear to have previously been regular viewers of Big Brother given the declining ratings of the Channel Five's own Victorian Freak Show. The Americans headed ITV Encore's top ten with ninety thousand viewers. BBC4's Thurs coverage of Wimbledon had 1.09 million viewers, in a top-ten list which also included Inside Porton Down: Britain's Secret Weapons Research Facility (a very impressive 1.06 million and almost six hundred thousand for the following day's repeat), Handmade: By Royal Appointment (four hundred and eighty six thousand) and Tankies: Tank Heroes Of WWII (four hundred and seventy nine thousand). Jet: When Britain Ruled The Skies attracted four hundred and sixty nine thousand, The Mary Rose: A Timewatch Guide four hundred and three thousand and War Of Words: Solider-Poets Of The Somme three hundred and ninety five thousand. Sky1's weekly top-ten was headed by Agatha Raisin (eight hundred and fifty six thousand), Limitless (five hundred and fifty six thousand), Rovers (three hundred and eighty two thousand) and The Simpsons (three hundred and sixty eight thousand). Sky Atlantic's list was topped by the Monday night repeat of the series finale of Game Of Thrones (1.32 million). Thornecast was seen by five hundred and sixty eight thousand, Last Week Tonight With John Oliver, by one hundred and seventy thousand and Billions by one hundred and fifty five thousand. On Sky Living, Bones drew eight hundred and forty seven thousand, Madam Secretary had four hundred and ninety eight thousand, Unforgettable, four hundred and forty six thousand and Chicago Fire, four hundred and six thousand. Sky Arts' Guitar Star had an audience of one hundred and five thousand. Sensitive Skin attracted eight six thousand. 5USA's The Mysteries Of Laura was watched by six hundred and ten thousand viewers. Chicago PD was seen by five hundred and fifty five thousand and NCIS, three hundred and forty eight thousand. NCIS also topped the weekly top tens of CBS Action (one hundred and thirty thousand) and featured in the top tens of FOX (one hundred and nine thousand) and the Universal Channel (one hundred and twenty two thousand) as well as Channel Five. Aside, from NCIS, FOX's list also included Outcast (three hundred and ninety three thousand), Wayward Pines (two hundred and ninety six thousand) and American Dad! (two hundred and thirty two thousand). The Universal Channel's top ten was headed by Chicago Med (three hundred and one thousand) and Second Chance (one hundred and seventy two thousand). On Dave, Taskmaster was the highest-rated programme - no, this blogger doesn't know why either - with seven hundred and sixty eight thousand punters. That was followed by Have I Got A Bit More News For You (three hundred and seventy nine thousand), Qi XL (three hundred and seventy three thousand), Mock The Week (three hundred and sixty five thousand), Would I Lie To You? (three hundred and twenty nine thousand) and the Top Gear India special (two hundred and ninety one thousand). 'Eat English Muff.' Heh! Drama's New Tricks was watched by four hundred and two thousand viewers. The Doctor Blake Mysteries had three hundred and night four thousand and Murdoch Mysteries drew three hundred and thirty five thousand punters. Alibi's highest-rated programme was Quantico (three hundred and forty thousand), followed by Father Brown (one hundred and ninety six thousand), Death In Paradise (one hundred and sixty six thousand), Inspector George Gently (one hundred and thirty one thousand) and Rizzoli & Isles (one hundred and one thousand). Yesterday's repeat of Porridge was watched by two hundred and seventy seven thousand and One Foot In The Grave by two hundred and thirty nine thousand. On the Discovery Channel, The Somme: The First Twenty Four Hours With Tony Robinson was watched by one hundred and twenty five thousand viewers. Mythbusters had an audience of eighty thousand. Discovery History's Planes That Never Flew topped the weekly-list with twenty nine thousand viewers whilst Death Machines attracted twenty six thousand and Time Team, twenty four thousand. On Discovery Science, Food Factory was seen by thirty two thousand viewers. Discovery Turbo's most-watched programmes was Wheeler Dealers (fifty nine thousand). National Geographic's list was headed by Wicked Tuna which had which had one hundred and four thousand viewers. The History Channel's top ten was lead by Vikings (two hundred and five thousand). On Military History, Ancient Aliens was watched by thirty seven thousand viewers. The Perfect Murder, Disappeared and I'd Kill For You were ID's top-rated programmes of the week (fifty three thousand, fifty three thousand and forty seven thousand viewers respectively). Homicide Hunter headed CI's list (forty nine thousand). The latest episodes of GOLD's repeat runs of The Royle Family and Absolutely Fabulous attracted one hundred and sixty four thousand and one hundred and thirty nine respectively. Comedy Central's largest audience of the week was for Impractical Jokers: Jokers Wild (one hundred and ninety eight thousand). Your TV's Corrupt Crimes had sixty six thousand viewers. On More4, Building The Dream was the highest rated programme with four hundred and thirty four thousand. E4's latest episode of Hollyoaks drew 1.25 million punters. The Horror Channel's broadcast of The Abandoned, attracted ninety seven thousand viewers. Another movie, One Hundred Degrees Below Zero, headed Syfy's top ten with ninety eight thousand. Wild Canada had thirty one thousand on Eden. Tanked was the Animal Planet's most watched programme with sixty one thousand. On W, Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders was seen by four hundred and ninety two thousand.

The Euro 2016 final drew nearly three million more overnight viewers than Andy Murray's win at Wimbledon on Sunday. An average 10.2 million overnight viewers watched Portugal beat France on BBC1, with a further - risibly small - 1.9 million tuning into ITV's - piss-poor as always -coverage of the match. Murray's second title-winning performance at the All England Tennis Club was seen by an average of 9.2 million viewers earlier on BBC1. Both events drew about fifty five per cent of the available audience at transmission. The build-up to the Wimbledon Men's Final on BBC1 was watched by about 2.2 million viewers. Sport featured heavily in the ratings throughout the day and across several channels, with BBC2's Today At Wimbledon and Golf: Scottish Open Highlights being the third and fifth most popular shows of the day on the channel, while Channel Four's highlights of the British Grand Prix being its fourth most popular programme.

Yer man Lewis Hamilton took a dominant victory in a hectic British Grand Prix to cut team-mate Nico Rosberg's championship lead to one point. Which was nice as it meant, for once, the German rather than Lewie was left with a sulky toys-out-of-pram boat-race at the end. Hamilton, twelve, led every lap of a race that started under the safety car in wet conditions but dried, to take his fourth career win at Silverstone. Rosberg in the other Mercedes was left to battle back to second past the Red Bull of the impressive young Max Verstappen, eight. But Rosberg was extremely demoted to third place after a very illegal radio transmission was slapped down upon by the authorities. With five laps to go, Rosberg hit a problem which required him to reset various systems in the car and, then, avoid seventh gear - shifting straight from sixth to eighth. He hung on in second place but lost it when race stewards handed him with a ten-second penalty after the detail of the help Mercedes gave him over the radio, which transgressed limitations on the amount of help drivers can be given by teams. Rosberg had said immediately after the race: 'It was a very critical problem because I was stuck in seventh gear and about to stop on track.' Hamilton's win sent the one hundred and thirty five thousand fans packed into the famous old track into paroxysms of groin-throbbing ecstasy as they cheered Hamilton's progress to the flag on the last lap. The world champion went over to celebrate with the fans at Club corner after parking his car up at the end of the race before soaking up their cheers on the podium.
It was a fascinating race, with action throughout the field, featuring wheel-to-wheel racing and a number of spins and off-track moments as drivers struggled on the tricky track surface. 'I am so grateful,' said Hamilton. 'We've got the best fans here, thank you so much. The good English weather came out. It was so tricky in those conditions. But that's what I love about this race - something always happens.' Hamilton drove impressively throughout on a track made treacherous by a heavy downpour about fifteen minutes before the start. The sun had come out before the race got under way, but the track was still wet and, disappointingly for the massive crowd and the millions watching on television, it was five laps before race director Charlie Whiting felt the conditions were safe enough to let the drivers off the leash. Which meant the first twenty minutes of what was supposed to be an entertaining spectacle was, in fact, about as interesting as watching ... well, concrete dry. Which it did, eventually. Once the race, proper, got underway, this triggered a series of rapid pit stops on successive laps as drivers swapped extreme wet tyres for intermediates and then slicks. Hamilton pulled out a three second lead on Rosberg in the first half-lap after the delayed start as a bunch of midfield drivers pitted immediately and he, Rosberg and Verstappen then pitted on the second lap. The Dutchman closed on Rosberg, catching him by lap fifteen and he passed him with a superb move around the outside of the daunting Becketts swerves one lap later. Verstappen held on to second place despite making his pit stop for dry-weather slicks a lap after both the Mercedes drivers, rejoining about five seconds ahead of Rosberg on lap eighteen. Both Hamilton and Verstappen were among a series of drivers who fell prey to a wet patch on the entry to the fast Abbey corner but were able to continue without damage to their positions. Rosberg inched closer and closer to Verstappen until he was on his tail by lap thirty. But it took the German another eight laps to get close enough on the exit of Becketts to close up on Hangar Straight and sweep past the Red Bull around the outside of Stowe corner. Verstappen, ultimately, recovered the place, after Rosberg was penalised for his naughty radio shenanigans. Daniel Ricciardo made it a three-four for Red Bull but he was out-driven by another starring performance from Verstappen, while Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen had a wild race, losing control at Abbey three times but still managing to pass Force India's Sergio Perez for fifth place in the closing stages. The Finn's team-mate, Sebastian Vettel, who also spun at Abbey, had a rotten time of it andfinished in a lowly tenth, after being hit with a five-second penalty for forcing Williams' Felipe Massa off the track while overtaking him. Jenson Button finished twelfth for McLaren, one place ahead of team-mate Fernando Alonso, who was challenging Massa for ninth when he became one of many to fall victim to Abbey.
Tom Dumoulin won stage nine of the Tour De France on Sunday as defending champion Chris Froome retained the overall lead and the yellow jersey. Froome was over six minutes behind the Dutch winner on a tortuous stage in the Pyrenees but finished alongside all of his main rivals, including fellow Briton Adam Yates, who stays in second place overall. In heavy rain, Dumoulin (Team Giant-Alpecin) finished thirty eight seconds ahead of Rui Costa and Rafal Majka in the Andorran mountains. Earlier, two-time Tour winner Alberto Contador was forced to quit the race through illness. Yates remains in the young riders' white jersey, while Mark Cavendish - with three stage victories earlier in the week - is still in the sprinters' green jersey despite a day spent at the back of the peloton. After the one hundred and eighty four kilometre stage, which started in Spain and comprised three category one climbs and the first mountain-top finish this year, the riders take a well-deserved rest day on Monday before resuming on Tuesday. In the race for the king of the mountains, France's Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) took the polka dot jersey from Poland's Majka (riding for Tinkoff). Dumoulin's victory came courtesy of a classic breakaway from a large group of riders, which reduced in numbers but kept the peloton at least five minutes behind them on a day when temperatures soared to thirty five degrees. With no general classification contenders among them, Team Sky and others hoping to make a yellow jersey challenge did not narrow the gap, which increased to eight minutes at the bottom of the last climb up to Andorre Arcalis. Majka and Pinot were neck and neck with Dumoulin, but the Team Giant-Alpecin rider burst up the hors category climb and quickly established a lead which his rivals could not close as a torrential downpour began. The twenty five-year-old is renowned as a time-trialist but his first Tour De France stage win means that he has now won a stage in each of the three Grand Tours, which the includes Giro d'Italia and Vuelta a Espana. He said: 'I am so tired I cannot speak, it was an incredible day and it was so, so hard but I did it. It's very special [to win on all three Grand Tours]. I'm of course a time-trial specialist but I showed that I can do more.' Despite a third consecutive days in the Pyrenees, defending champion Froome had a relatively stress-free day as his main general classification contenders failed to break free from the peloton for most of the stage. But, as the field became stretched up the final ascent, there were attacks from rivals including Yates, Movistar's Nairo Quintana, BMC's Richie Porte and Ireland's Daniel Martin of Etixx-QuickStep, all of which the two-time winner Froome coped well with in pouring rain. The biggest threat seemed to come from roadside fans, who ignored Froome's pleas to stay out of the way after he came into contact with one of them on Saturday. New Zealand rider George Bennett (LottoNL-Jumbo) collided with one supporter as he descended towards the end of the stage, but neither party was hurt. Froome, who had taken the yellow jersey after a thrilling and unexpected attack on the downhill section of stage eight on Thursday, said: 'That was a tough old day out there, going from the extreme heat to a hailstorm at the finish and ten degrees. In the back of my mind I was waiting for [Quintana's] attack all the way up the last climb. I thought he was saving it for one big one, but that never came. I would like to think he was on his limit. He just stuck to my wheel like glue. He seems to be going well but right now he's not showing any more than anyone else. The [Team Sky] guys have done everything, they have ridden from start to finish and I couldn't be in a better place right now - although the others are right up there in contention.' Spain's Contador - the 2007 and 2009 Tour winner who crashed twice in the opening two stages - had been suffering from a fever and got off his bike with about one hundred kilometres left of Sunday's stage. The Tinkoff rider started the day more than three minutes behind Froome and his rivals, but quit the race after dropping back four times to talk with his team during the stage. After a record run of seven stages without any withdrawals - with the first on stage eight - Sunday saw several abandonments, including that of Mark Renshaw, one of Cavendish's lead-out men for Team Dimension Data. Froome said of Contador's departure: 'We are not going to have to chase his attacks one hundred kilometres out any more. It's one less thing for us to worry about, but it's maybe a shame for the race.'

If Andy Murray's first Wimbledon title in 2012 had a giddy, dream-like quality, sealed with a tortuous final act, his second was sport as a peerless demonstration, a nerveless execution. As his three-set six-four, seven-six, seven-six victory over an outclassed Milos Raonic sank in, the twenty nine-year-old Briton buried his face in his towel and wept like a man overwhelmed by it all. Of course, if he'd lost, he'd have been 'the twenty nine year old Scotsman.' It was an image utterly at odds with everything that had gone before. This was a fortnight of total control for Murray, a campaign almost without flaws, a final assault where every objective was taken exactly as planned. A mere two sets lost in two weeks. Only two break points conceded in almost three hours. An opponent who had hit one hundred and thirty seven aces in his previous six matches kept down to just eight in the entire contest. If it appeared almost cold-blooded in its brilliance, the warm golden glow from this win will spread far beyond a celebratory Centre Court. Yer actual Keith Telly Topping wasn't particularly bothered though, dear blog reader. He effing hates tennis.
Meanwhile, some blokes get invited to all the best parties, don't they? I dunno, you appear in one world-class British TV drama series and, suddenly, everybody wants to be your friend!
Portugal overcame the early loss of captain Sulky Cristiano Ronaldo to beat hosts France in the Euro 2016 final and win their first major tournament thanks to substitute Eder's superb extra-time strike. The Real Madrid forward Ronaldo was carried off in tears - which, to be fair, was funny - in the twenty fifth minute at Paris' Stade De France, eighteen minutes after injuring his knee in a clash with France's Dimitri Payet. France, the firm favourites, were unable to capitalise on Ronaldo's absence, despite strutting about like the owned the gaff (which, technically, they do, of course) although they almost won it at the end of normal time when substitute Andre-Pierre Gignac turned and hit the inside of the post with a scuffed shot. Raphael Guerreiro hit the bar with a free-kick for Portugal after one hundred and eight minutes of, mostly, tedium, but seconds later the Portgueuse were ahead when Eder fired a low, twenty five-yard drive past Hugo Lloris. Ronaldo, who had given his Portugal team-mates animated encouragement in the break before extra time, was offering as much tactical advice as coach Fernando Santos in chaotic closing moments - and he was reduced to blubbing like a big girl again at the final whistle before lifting the trophy that has eluded his country for so long. And, which he did so little to help them win.
A dwarf planet roughly half the size of Britain has been found tumbling through space in the most distant reaches of the solar system. The giant ball of rock and ice lies nine billion kilometres - or a bloody long way - away from Earth on an orbit that swings far beyond the realm of Neptune, the most remote of the planets in our cosmic vicinity. Astronomers first noticed the new world when it appeared as a bright spot moving slowly across a sequence of images taken in September 2015 by a telescope on Mauna Kea in Hawaii for the Outer Solar System Origins Survey. 'It was really remarkable to see how bright this object was,' said Michele Bannister, an astronomer on the team at the University of Victoria in Canada. 'It's far brighter than the objects we normally find.' In a formal note released on Monday, the International Astronomical Union designated the dwarf planet 2015 RR245. Catchy. The name will be replaced when astronomers come up with a better one. Which, you know, shouldn't be hard. While discussions have begun about possible names for the object - this blogger would like to nominate Beardsley ... Just, because - Bannister said that it was 'too early' to share them. So, it's a secret list. That should have the conspiracy theorists out in force as to why. The scientists can propose a name only when the dwarf planet's orbit has been observed 'for several years' and its trajectory 'more clearly defined.' The name will then be voted on by an IAU committee. 'As long as the proposal is reasonable and a bit mythological, it's generally fine,' Bannister said. This blogger repeats, Beardsley. I'm telling you, it's a winner. In an act of linguistic gymnastics, the IAU created the term 'dwarf planet' in 2006 to describe heavenly bodies which it - and no one else - had decided were not 'proper' planets. Pluto - much to a lot of people's real annoyance - became the first dwarf planet that year, when some IAU members voted to demote it from full planetary status. A dwarf planet must circle the sun and be large enough to be rendered spherical by its own gravity. Though five dwarf planets are already recognised by the IAU - namely Ceres, Pluto, Haumea, Makemake and Eris - there are believed to be many hundreds of bodies similar to 2015 RR245 on the fringes of the solar system beyond the orbit of Neptune and in the Kupier Belt.
The newly-found dwarf planet is on a highly elliptical seven hundred-year orbit which comes as close as five billion kilometres to the sun before heading out to twice as far as Neptune at its apex. Having spent hundreds of years more than twelve billion kilometres away, the body is swooping inwards for its closest approach which will occur around 2096. Based on the make-up of other dwarf planets, 2015 RR245 is likely to have an exotic landscape covered with frozen water and nitrogen, perhaps some carbon monoxide and what Bannister described as 'hydrocarbon gunk.' Gosh, they've got such a way with words, these scientists. While OSSOS was not designed to discover dwarf planets, Brett Gladman, a member of the team at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, said that he was 'delighted to have found one on such an interesting orbit.' Dwarf planets and other bodies beyond Neptune lurk in the some most frigid regions of the solar system. Unlike the inner planets that are more warmed by the sun, the distant dwarf planets are cold enough at minus two hundred and twenty degrees Celsius to preserve chemical ingredients that were present when the planets first formed. Even Bruce Forsyth would have difficulty surviving in such an environment. 'Pluto is the largest known trans-Neptunian object and the recent images from the New Horizons mission that flew past it show these worlds are extremely rich and complex,' said Pedro Lacerda of the Astrophysics Research Centre at Queen's University Belfast. 'They are the closest thing to a time capsule that transports us to the birth of the solar system. You can make an analogy with fossils, which tell us about creatures long gone,' he added. '2015 RR245 is much smaller than Pluto, about one third as wide, so it tells us things that Pluto cannot.'

Now, much as this blogger is a well-known loather of Twitter and all that it stands for, as well you know dear blog reader, this single tweeterisation almost - almost but not quite - justifies its existence.
This blogger knows that not everyone is exactly an appreciator of women's football dear blog reader. But, surely, there's no need for name-calling is there?
In an era when words such as 'hero' and 'brave' are thrown about with little thought to what they actually mean, it is all too easy to forget the sacrifices made by previous generations who really did live up to that sort of billing. When the British Army launched its disastrous Somme offensive in the summer of 1916, few people could have envisaged the devastation the campaign would bring. The opening day alone saw British casualties of almost sixty thousand and by the time the slaughter had ground to a bloody halt in the November mud, Britain and her dominions had lost a staggering four hundred thousand men - the cream of a generation. Among the dead was twenty five-year-old Donald Simpson Bell, a second lieutenant in the Ninth Battalion Yorkshire Regiment – known today as the Green Howards - who was the only English professional footballer to receive his country's highest military award for gallantry, the Victoria Cross. Born in the North Yorkshire town of Harrogate in 1890, Donald attended the local grammar school and, it was there that he first came to prominence as a talented all-round sportsman. A keen cricketer, Bell was captain of his school side and, it is said, had the attributes to go further in the sport had he wished. But, football was Donald's first love and a move to London's Westminster College in September 1909 saw him sign amateur forms with the then Southern League side Crystal Palace. Despite establishing himself as a regular in the college football team, in addition to its rugby XV and cricket XI, Bell would leave London on completion of his studies in 1911 having made no first team appearances for Palace. He subsequently returned to Harrogate where he taught English at Starbeck College. Nevertheless, football continued to occupy a significant part of his life and, after brief spells with Newcastle United's reserve side (making his debut for the Magpies' second string in a Northern Infirmary Cup tie against Spen Black & White at St James' Park in March 1911 and playing several times in the side that won the North Eastern League title that season) and later Bishop Auckland, Bell joined Mirfield United. In October 1912, the twenty two-year-old earned his first professional contract when he signed with Second Division Bradford Park Avenue, reportedly earning a princely two pounds and ten shillings a week. Comfortable in both defence and midfield, Donald made his Bradford debut against Wolverhampton Wanderers in 1913 and went on to make five more first team appearances for the club as he helped them secure promotion to the English top flight. Events further afield were about to impact on both Donald Bell and the country as a whole, however, as Europe was plunged into bloody conflict in August 1914. With a promising footballing career ahead of him, Donald instead asked Avenue to release him from his contract so that he could answer Lord Kitchener's call to arms. (It is often claimed that Donald was actually the first professional footballer in the country to join up although this is difficult to verify; certainly it's fair to say he was one of the first.) He enlisted as a private in the Ninth (Service) Battalion of the West Yorkshire Regiment in November 1914. Bell excelled in military service and was soon commissioned as a second lieutenant into the Ninth Battalion, The Yorkshire Regiment (Alexandra, Princess of Wales' Own) – the regiment now known as the Green Howards. By late 1915 the British Army had suffered debilitating casualty figures and Kitchener's army of volunteers, newly-married Bell among them, were being sent across the channel to prepare for the summer offensive Field Marshall Haig had planned North of the Somme Valley. Bell and his battalion arrived in France in August 1915 and were initially sent into a relatively quiet sector of the line near Armentieres, before heading South to begin preparations for the upcoming battle. The opening day of the Battle of the Somme saw the Green Howards placed in reserve near the town of Albert, however, they were soon thrown into the front line when they attacked a German defensive position called Horseshoe Trench on 5 July. It was during this action that Donald was recommended for the Victoria Cross. As Bell and his men made their way towards their objective, they immediately came under heavy German machine gun fire. With his men caught in the open, Bell traversed down a communication trench with a junior NCO and a private - Corporal Colwill and Private Batey. According to the official Yorkshire Regiment records. 'They crept towards [the trench] and then, suddenly, made a dash across open ground. Bell, who was a superb athlete, moved with incredible speed and surprised the occupants of the machine gun position, shot the gunner with his revolver and blew up the remainder with Mills' bombs. He then threw bombs into the nearby trench, killing over fifty of the enemy.' Donald's bravery allowed his battalion to capture their objective. Bell was a reluctant hero, however, and sent a letter to his mother soon after the action in which he wrote: 'I must confess that it was the biggest fluke alive and I did nothing. I chucked the bomb and it did the trick.' In another letter to his sister, Nancy, he wrote:, self-deprecatingly: 'I was lucky enough to knock out a machine-gun which was causing the lads some bother.' If it was luck, Bell's finally deserted him just five days later. On 10 July during a similar attack on another German stronghold, leading his troops across open ground near the village of Contalmaison, the twenty five-year-old was cut down by machine gun fire and died where he fell. His body was later buried by his men and a wooden cross erected in his memory at a position soon to become known as Bell's Redoubt. Just weeks after his death, Donald was posthumously awarded the British Army's highest decoration for gallantry. The awarding of the Victoria Cross was officially announced in the London Gazette on 9 September 1916 and read: 'For most conspicuous bravery (Horseshoe Trench, France). During an attack a very heavy enfilade fire was opened on the attacking company by a hostile machine-gun. Lieutenant Bell immediately, and on his own initiative, crept up a communication trench and then, followed by Corporal Colwill and Private Batey, rushed across the open under heavy fire and attacked the machine gun, shooting the firer with his revolver and destroying gun and personnel with bombs. This very brave act saved many lives and ensured the success of the attack. Five days later this gallant officer lost his life performing a similar act of bravery.' The medal was presented to Donald's widow, Rhoda, in a private ceremony at Buckingham Palace five months later by King George V. After the war, Donald's body was moved from its initial resting place and reinterred at Gordon Cemetery located in the valley below Ovillers-La Boiselle. In 2000, a memorial co-sponsored by the Players Football Association was erected on the site of Bell's Redoubt to commemorate the actions of Donald in 1916. Almost one decade later, the PFA also bought his Victoria Cross and campaign medals at auction for a price of twenty one thousand pounds. They are now on display at the National Football Museum in Manchester. On 10 July 2016, to mark the centenary of Donald Bell's death, a game took place at Bradford Park Avenue's Horsfall Stadium between two of his former clubs, Bradford and a Newcastle United XI.
     In the event, United's young reserve side - which included a handful of first-team squad members like Haris Vučkić and Gael Bigirimana - won three-nil. Ivan Toney put Newcastle ahead after thirteen minutes when Callum Roberts pulled the ball back and Toney tucked a shot inside the post. Sean Longstaff doubled United's lead early in the second half with a low curling shot. Former Plymouth winger Tyler Harvey added a third, six minutes from time. Aside from Harvey, the Magpies included three other debutants in their line-up, recent signing Stuart Findlay and two trialists, George Ede and Flavio Da Silva. The game saw United renew acquaintances with Park Avenue over half-a-century after the two clubs last met in a senior competitive game. Dropping out of the Football League in 1970, Bradford later went bust but reformed as a Sunday League side and then, happily, re-entered the non-league pyramid in 1989. Aside from Donald Bell, other player links between the two clubs include the great Len Shackleton (who signed for United from Park Avenue in 1946) and Jimmy Scoular (who was appointed Bradford's manager after finishing his distinguished playing career at St James' in 1960).
In common with most clubs in the country, five Newcastle United players lost their lives during the 1914 to 1918 war. Tommy Goodwill and Dan Dunglinson, who had both joined the Northumberland Fusiliers, were killed on the first day at the Somme. Their team-mate, George Rivers also lost his life during in the same offensive, a few days later. Midfielder Richard McGough, an acting bombardier with the Royal Artillery, was killed in April 1917 at Pas-de-Calais whilst inside-forward Tom Cairns died six months later whilst serving with the Royal Field Artillery at Arras during the build up to the Cambrai offensive. They are commemorated on a rather beautiful brass memorial plaque which is on public display at St James' Park opposite the Milburn Stand on Barrack Road, along with dozens of other players and club employees who saw active service during the war. Several former United players, including Jock Findlay, Tom Hughes, Charles Randall, Tom Rowlandson, Richard Harker and John Fleming, also perished during the conflict.
And finally, dear blog reader ...
Of course, many people are saying 'give her a chance, she might be all right.' Yeah, well, they said that about Hitler, didn't they? 'Give her a chance, she might be all right. That Doris Hitler might turn out to be the best manager Rochdale ever had,' they said. And, look how that turned out. Just sayin' ...

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