Saturday, November 12, 2016

Strangely Brown

TV Comedy Moment Of The Week, number one: Sandi Toksvig asking the Qi panel to name a nobleman who invented a hot drink you might enjoy with a hob-nob. 'Coffee Annan,' suggested yer man Jezza Clarkson. Heh! The correct answer, of course was Earl Grey (1764-1845). Jason Manford, however, confessed that he wasn't particularly a fan of Charles Grey's tea. 'It tastes the same as it smells!'
TV Comedy Moment Of The Week, number two: The terrific Rich Hall opening Friday's episode of Have I Got News For You with a statement for everybody else in the world: 'Hi, I'm American. I'm sorry for everything!'
Almost as good was the episode's guest host Charlie Brooker's comment: 'In the news this week ... ARRRRRGGGGGHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!' And, Ian Hislop noting: 'We've got four years of comedy gold coming up. It may include nuclear war, admittedly, but it's going to be funny nuclear war!' In fact, Brooker noted later, the results could be taken as showing that US voters have been 'very progressive. Sure, it may be bad news for minorities and women and the other many, many people [Trump] has insulted. But, on the plus side, progressively, they've elected their first openly crazy man to the most powerful office in the world!' Brooker concluded the erection news section by saying America had discovered that, 'after all these years of trying to impose it on the rest of the world, democracy may, in fact, be shit.'
TV Comedy Moment Of The Week, number three: The Cookie Monster may have sparked 'a massive debate' by appearing on BBC's The ONE Show earlier this week wearing a remembrance poppy - at least, it sparked 'a massive debate' among a handful of sodding morons on Twitter with too much time on their hands and too few braincells in their head - but it gave Adam Hills and The Last Leg team an idea. 'Frankly, I think more children's TV characters should give their opinions on politics,' Adam said, before introducing the evening's guest, Basil Brush. Quality.
BBC Worldwide have confirmed that the Doctor Who Experience in Cardiff is expected to close next year. BBC Worldwide told the Doctor Who News website that the lease for the building that currently holds the exhibition, which opened in Cardiff in July 2012, will expire next summer. 'The Doctor Who Experience has enjoyed a fantastic five-year run in Cardiff Bay but, sadly, our five-year sub-lease from the City of Cardiff Council will come to an end in Summer 2017,' they said in a statement. The Doctor Who Experience first opened in London in 2011, before moving to a purpose-built building in the Welsh capital. It is currently situated at Porth Teigr in Cardiff Bay, near the BBC studios where Doctor Who its very self is made. The site is leased from Cardiff City Council and currently features sets and costumes from the fifty three-year history of Doctor Who. It is not known if BBC Worldwide will attempt to open the Experience at a different location.
Things we learned from Only Connect this week: Victoria Coren Mitchell said that she regards David as her 'dancer' as well as her husband. Just can't see it, personally. He never struck this blogger as a groove machine did Davie.
On Monday evening's University Challenge viewers were treated to a proper edge-of-the-seat finish as the team from Edinburgh beat the Open University on a tie-breaker after a thrilling contest. Open could - and, possibly should - have won it but they were fractionally too slow with their answer to the final question ('monosodium glutamate'), just as the gong to end the show sounded. Yer man Paxo sounded almost apologetic as he judged a tie-breaker necessary. Edinburgh's knowledge of Tolkien saw them through.
Meanwhile, a bunch of whinging students are reported to be 'boycotting' University Challenge over claims that an alleged complaint about alleged 'misogynistic and alleged sexist comments' allegedly made by Jezza Paxman his very self - he's not alleged, he definitely exists - during a recording of the show was 'not taken seriously enough.' Possibly, because it wasn't true. Possibly not. The University of Reading's students' union has voted not to take part in future series, after hearing allegations relating to a previous appearance on the show by a Reading team. One imagines that the BBC is gutted by this malarkey since, you know, they've only got about another hundred universities to chose from. But Reading university themselves says that the programme is 'a national institution' - which it is - and that it will 'step in' to ensure that Reading is represented in the contest. That's if the BBC want them, of course. Which, after all of this malarkey one imagines might not be as straightforward a question as Reading imagines. 'We want our brightest and best students competing against the top universities in the UK in front of millions of viewers - not waving the white flag and refusing to enter,' said a University of Reading spokesman. Reading teams have previously been organised by the university's students' union. 'The university now plans to step in and recruit a team, given the students' union has opted out,' said the university spokesman. He said that the university 'did not know the details' of the 'dispute' between the team and the television programme. The union's education officer, one Niall Hamilton - who sounds like a right militant little troublemaker - claimed that 'a confidentiality agreement' meant it 'could not specify the comments' which had 'caused concern' - but added, rather snootily, that the students' union believed that complaints had 'not been taken seriously enough.' 'This is due to misogynistic and sexist comments made to previous members of the University of Reading team by Jeremy Paxman. Misogyny and sexism are not about "offending" contestants, but undermining and oppressing individuals due to their gender,' he wrote on the students' union website. 'These forms of oppression should not be taken lightly,' wrote Hamilton. Rite on, Comrade! You stick it to The Man, daddio. The students' union voted one hundred and twenty votes to one hundred and five in favour of 'adopting a policy of boycotting' the show. Paxo's views on the row are not known. Although, they'll probably be well worth reporting if they become so. 'Oh, grow up,' or something similar, one imagines.
The return of MasterChef: The Professionals this week brought a predictable deluge of comments on Twitter, the vast majority of which can be dismissed as completely and utterly bloody pointless. Particularly those featured in this Daily Scum Mail article.
Aside from wondering what the bloody Nora scowly-faced Monica Galetti has done with her hair since the last series finished, however, and another couple of examples of that age-old MasterChef staple 'the producers deliberately including a clip of whichever contestant is going to have a twenty four carat disaster tonight bigging themselves and their abilities up before falling flat on their mush', two questions from Thursday's first quarter-final remain. Can you actually use the phrase 'braised faggots' on television these days without someone - probably from Reading University students' union - being grossly offended by it? And, secondly, when Monica said '[I] like Ali's desert, a little tart,' was she talking about the chef, or what she was cooking? Just wondering?
Yer actual Jezza Clarkson has described plans to make the BBC reveal the pay of employees who earn more than one hundred and fifty thousand knicker as 'disgusting', saying that management should be trusted to pay enough to keep the talent from joining commercial rivals. Asked about his own earnings from new Amazon show The Grand Tour, which has reportedly cost one hundred and sixty million smackers for three series, Jezza presumably told the interviewer to mind their own sodding business and then 'lashed out' at those whom, he said, were 'obsessed with money. Take the business of BBC talent. What country are we living in when we want to know how much people are paid? It's disgusting,' he told the Radio Times. 'It's Tony Hall's job, as the Director General, to say, "We're going to pay that person that much," and if we trust Tony Hall, and we must, because he's the Director General, then you trust him to be doing a good job. You can't be saying to him, "Why are you paying him that?" Because if you don't, he'll go to ITV. It's absolutely ludicrous.' Until he left Top Gear, yer man Clarkson his very self was reported - mainly the some nosey Middle-Class hippy Communists at the Gruniad Morning Star - to receive one of the largest salaries at the BBC. He had also earned millions in dividends from Bedder Six, the company he formed with long-time production partner Andy Wilman, which exploited the Top Gear brand globally. A brand which, let's remember, they created. In 2014 the pair sold their stakes in the company to existing shareholder BBC Worldwide, the corporation's commercial arm, taking Clarkson's total earnings for the year to more than fourteen million knicker. Or, enough to buy about seventeen Bugatti Veyrons if he had a mind to do so. Whether he did, or not, we just don't know. Because, it's none of our bloody business. Clarkson said that he wished the BBC would occasionally tell its critics to 'eff-off', adding: 'I will do it on their behalf if they like.' However, he renewed his attacks on the former BBC director of TV, Danny Cohen, whom Jezza appears to blame for his departure from Top Gear. 'Everybody thinks that the BBC was a bloody nightmare. It wasn't. Cohen was,' he said. 'The BBC was brilliant to work for until the arrival of Cohen. They never really interfered at all. But, he was a bloody nuisance and caused me an enormous amount of stress.' Cohen left the BBC in November last year and is now head of media investment company Access Entertainment. Jezza has been bullish in defending himself from accusations of bigotry. However, he said that an incident when he and Top Gear co-star Richard Hammond made a series of remarks about Mexicans was one instance where 'we definitely got it wrong.' He said that following the segment on Top Gear which included Hammond calling Mexicans 'feckless, flatulent and lazy' and a suggestion that the Mexican ambassador would be too lazy to complain about their comments, the trio had grovellingly apologised. 'Genuinely, if I look back at all the Top Gear Wikipedia section marked "controversy", then Mexico is the one where we definitely got it wrong. I went to see the Mexican ambassador and apologised to him. I didn't have to, the Beeb didn't tell me to, but it was out of order. If you're writing thousands and thousands of words and doing hours and hours of television, then occasionally you will tread on a landmine. So, we went down and said we were really sorry and got absolutely paralytic on tequila with him. That was a good day.' Clarkson, said that he still hopes to 'appear on the BBC all the time. I was never sacked from the BBC, they just didn't renew my contract on Top Gear. I haven't left. I've just done Qi and Have I Got News For You.' But, he said that he was enjoying one aspect of working with Amazon on The Grand Tour that he didn't experience at the BBC. 'The really big difference between Amazon and the BBC is when we finish a film on The Grand Tour, Amazon ring us up and squeak, "It's brilliant, we love it!" You never got that from the BBC.' In a separate interview, Clarkson praised the BBC for the way it nurtured talent. He said it is 'a brilliant organisation for letting you grow. Everything I know about making television I learned from the BBC,' he said. 'How long were we bumbling around on BBC2? Three or four years, I suppose? [We made] terrible mistakes and nobody was really watching and then after Richard Hammond went upside down, everybody started to watch. By then, the show had got quite good. So [the BBC] is very good at letting a show develop and grow, until it becomes the masterpiece that is Autumnwatch now.' He added: 'The Beeb was tremendous. They were bloody good people.'
James May thinks that Top Gear 'bosses' should have their 'arses kicked' if they can't make the show a hit again. When asked if the BBC - and new presenter Matt LeBlanc - can 'bring the show back from the dead', following this year's slump in ratings which led Jezza Clarkson's replacement Chris Evans to quit, James said: 'I think they deserve to have their arses kicked if they don't, because it must be possible.' James believes Top Gear needs to make 'bigger and more ruthless changes' to win viewers back. He said: 'I don't think it went drastically well. They should reinvent it a little more ruthlessly. There must be another way of making a car show.' And, he insisted that he will only keep watching if the programme improves. He told Event magazine: 'I'd like Top Gear to do well, because I like to to watch it.'
It seems, however, that the 'bigger and more ruthless' changes to Top Gear could, essentially, involve bringing back more of the Clarkson-Hammond-May era items. As part of further changes to the show, BBC producers are reported to be scrubbing a lot of the Chris Evans era staples, including the very unpopular Star In A Rallycross Car feature. According to the Sun, 'Top Gear bosses' are 'itching' to return the show to its former glory - and they're planning to do that by bringing back features like The Cool Wall and Star In A Reasonably Priced Car. But whether this is true or not, the BBC isn't giving much away, simply saying: 'Any announcements about the new series of Top Gear will be made in due course.'

Stephen Fry is to host the BAFTAs again, despite quitting Twitter after his quip at this year's event about his friend the costume design winner Jenny Beavan was criticised by PC thugs. The comic came under fire - albeit from some bellends on Twitter whose opinions matter not a jot - after joking that Jenny was dressed 'like a bag lady' at February's ceremony. Following the crass criticism, he tweeted that she was a 'dear friend' who had 'got the joke.' The BAFTAs take place on 12 February 2017 at a new venue for the event, The Royal Albert Hall. Fry said he has not 'slammed the door' on Twitter after last year's incident, but said the site had become 'a stalking ground for the sanctimoniously self-righteous.' And, speaking of sanctimoniously self-righteous, have a gander at some - not doubt perfect - specimens of humanity on the Gruniad reader's comments section when reacting to this news.
Christopher Eccleston is to play Oedipus in a Radio 3 drama marking the centenary of the birth of author and composer Anthony Burgess. The actor said that he was 'honoured and proud' to take the lead role in Burgess's 'brilliant and daring' version of Sophocles's tragedy. Oedipus The King will be broadcast on 26 February 2017. A Radio 3 season will also feature essays from eminent writers about the A Clockwork Orange writer's work. Burgess's adaptation of Oedipus The King was first performed on stage in the US in 1972, with music from Grammy-winning composer Stanley Silverman. It has never been performed in the UK. The new radio version will feature Silverman's score performed by the BBC Philharmonic and Manchester Chamber Choir. 'The celebration of Anthony Burgess in his centenary year forms part of BBC Radio 3's seventieth anniversary, as part of our mission to connect audiences with remarkable music and culture,' the station's controller Alan Davey said. 'Having one of the UK's leading actors, Christopher Eccleston, playing the title role in the UK premiere of Burgess' Oedipus the King will be a treat for us all.' Born in Manchester in February 1917, Burgess is best known for his dystopian 1962 novel A Clockwork Orange, which was adapted into the controversial - and brilliant - 1971 film directed by Stanley Kubrick. Burgess's prolific output included more than thirty novels, twenty five works of non-fiction, two volumes of autobiography, three symphonies and more than one hundred and fifty other musical works. He died in November 1993, aged seventy six.
The final and consolidated ratings figures for the Top Twenty Eight programmes, week-ending Sunday 6 November 2016:-
1 Planet Earth II - Sun BBC1 - 12.26m
2 Strictly Come Dancing - Sat BBC1 - 11.43m
3 Coronation Street - Mon ITV - 7.86m
4 The Apprentice - Thurs BBC1 - 7.37m
5 EastEnders - Tues BBC1 - 7.13m
6 Emmerdale - Mon ITV - 7.04m
7 Poldark - Sun BBC1 - 6.88m
8 The X Factor - Sun ITV - 6.83m
9 The Missing - Wed BBC1 - 6.74m
10 Dark Angel - Mon ITV - 6.42m
11 Countryfile - Sun BBC1 - 5.84m
12 Casualty - Sat BBC1 - 5.55m
13 BBC News - Sun BBC1 - 5.44m
14 Six O'Clock News - Tues BBC1 - 5.20m
15 Have I Got News For You - Fri BBC1 - 5.14
16 Pointless Z-List Celebrities - Sat BBC1 - 4.88m
17 Holby City - Tues BBC1 - 4.47m
18 Gogglebox - Fri C4 - 4.42m
19 Watchdog - Wed BBC1 - 4.36m
20 The Daily Mirra Pride Of Britain Awards - Tues ITV - 4.30m
21 The ONE Show - Fri BBC1 - 4.28m
22 Tutankhamun - Sun ITV - 4.22m
23 Ten O'Clock News - Thurs BBC1 - 4.21m
24 This Time Next Year - Wed ITV -4.08m
25 Ordinary Lies - Tues BBC1 - 4.06m
26 Match Of The Day - Sat BBC1 - 3.88m
27 Would I Live To You? - Fri BBC - 3.87m
28 Paul O'Grady: For The Love Of Dogs - Thurs ITV - 3.86m
These consolidated figures include all viewers who watched programmes live and on catch-up during the seven days after initial broadcast, but do not include those who watched on BBC's iPlayer or ITV Player via their computers. Don't blame this blogger, he doesn't make the rules. Strictly Come Dancing's Sunday night results episode attracted 10.81 million punters. The X Factor's programme on Saturday had 6.42 million. On BBC2, University Challenge was the most-watched show of the week with 2.99 million viewers. Tuesday's opening episode of Arctic Live drew 2.92 million and Only Connect was seen by 2.81 million. The Choir: Gareth's Best In Britain attracted 2.28 million viewers and Strictly Come Dancing: It Takes Two was watched by 2.07 million. The Apprentice: You're Fired! was seen by 1.94 million, Operation Gold Rush With Dan Snow by 1.90 million and The Victorian Slum by 1.89 million. The latest episode of Qi drew 1.82 million, Antiques Road Trip had 1.66 million and Eggheads, 1.45 million. Aside from Gogglebox, Channel Four's next highest-rated broadcast of the week was the cult drama Humans (2.61 million), followed Grand Designs (2.56 million) and SAS: Who Dares Wins (2.33 million). The Last Leg With Adam Hills was seen by 2.25 million viewers, whilst Great Canal Journeys had 2.02 million, Married At First Sight drew 1.86 million whilst George Clarke's Amazing Spaces, was also watched by 1.86 million. Eight Out Of Ten Cats Does Countdown attracted 1.61 million. Channel Five's top performer was, Can't Pay? We'll Take It Away! with 2.19 million, ahead of Ben Fogle: New Lives In The Wild (1.61 million), Chris Tarrant: Extreme Railways (1.58 million), The Yorkshire Vet (1.47 million punters) and GPs: Behind Closed Doors (1.36 million). The Sky Sports channels got their shit into gear this week and actually bothered to send in their figures to BARB. On Sky Sports 1, Live Premier League coverage of The Liverpool Alabama Yee-Haws' six-one spanking of Poor Bloody Watford Haven't Got A Clue was watched by 1.14 million punters. The Champions Formerly Known As Leicester's game against West Bromwich Albinos attracted 1.01 million viewers. Monday night's coverage of Dirty Stoke versus Relegation-Haunted Swansea had four hundred and twenty two thousand. Sky Sports 2's coverage of Ross County against Glasgow Rangers had eighty three thousand punters. On Sky Sports 3, Live Tennis: The Paris Masters attracted one hundred and ninety six thousand for Andy Murray's victory. A repeat showing of Ted's Notebook: Mexico was Sky Sports F1's most-watched broadcast with thirty two thousand. Gillette Soccer Saturday was - as usual - simultcast across two channels, being seen by five hundred and eighty nine thousand on Sky Sports News HQ and a further four hundred and twenty thousand on Sky Sports 1. This blogger thinks we should take a moment to consider that.
And, now we're done. Meanwhile, Midsomer Murders was ITV3's top-rated drama (eight hundred and forty four thousand viewers). Endeavour was seen by six hundred and ninety eight thousand, Doc Martin by six hundred and three thousand and Long Lost Family by four hundred and fifty seven thousand. Coverage of The World Series Of Darts Finals headed ITV4's weekly list with five hundred and forty one thousand viewers whilst MotoGp Highlights followed with three hundred and twenty thousand. The movie Total Recall attracted two hundred and eighty one thousand. Benidorm had two hundred and ninety five thousand. Once again ITV2's most-watched broadcast was that disgraceful and worthless shower of rancid festering diarrhoea Celebrity Juice (watched by a properly tragic 1.62 million people, every single one of whom should be bloody well ashamed to show their faces in public after viewing some much as a second of this odious, smug nonsense). Scorpion drew six hundred and thirty two thousand viewers and Family Guy, five hundred and ninety four thousand. Vera headed ITV Encore's top ten with seventy four thousand viewers, ahead of Downton Abbey (sixty six thousand). BBC4's list was topped by Sisters In Country: Dolly, Linda & Emmylou and Television's Opening Night: How The Box Was Born (both of which were watched by five hundred and eleven thousand viewers), followed by The Good Old Dogs (four hundred and ninety seven thousand), Country Queens At The BBC (four hundred and eighty four thousand) and The Incredible Human Journey (four hundred and forty three thousand). Great Barrier Reef drew four hundred and thirty nine thousand and Sleuths, Spies & Sorcerers: Andrew Marr's Paperback Heroes, four hundred and twenty one thousand. Railways: The Making Of A Nation was watched by three hundred and eighty one thousand, Top Of The Pops 1982, three hundred and seventy thousand and The Code three hundred and sixty eight thousand. Sky1's weekly top-ten was headed by The Flash (1.22 million). Hooten & The Lady was seen by eight hundred and six thousand, Arrow by seven hundred and thirty two thousand, DC's Legends Of Tomorrow by seven hundred and thirty thousand and Supergirl by seven hundred and eleven thousand. Unfunny, full-of-its-own-importance spew A League Of Their Own was watched by six hundred and thirty two thousand, a figure which, even though it's far lower than new episodes of this rotten puddle of phlegm normally achieve, still makes this blogger Goddamn angry. Sky Atlantic's list was topped by the fifth episode of Westworld (1.18 million). The much-trailed Divorce had two hundred and forty six thousand whilst the second episode of The Young Pope was seen by two hundred and thirty three thousand and Last Week Tonight With John Oliver drew one hundred and seventy one thousand. One wonders how many more episodes John will get to make before President Elect (and Hairdo) Trump builds a wall around the studio, or something. The latest Game Of Thrones series five repeat had one hundred and thirteen thousand. On Sky Living, the beginning of a new series of From The North favourite The Blacklist drew 1.03 million, Criminal Minds attracted nine hundred and fifty six thousand, Conviction (which really is a waste of Hayley Atwell's considerable talent), six hundred and eight thousand and Grey's Anatomy, five hundred and fifteen thousand viewers. Chicago Fire attracted four hundred and seventy eight thousand and Nashville, two hundred and fifty nine thousand viewers. Sky Arts' Landscape Artist Of The Year was watched by two hundred and fifty eight thousand viewers - more than triple the usual slot average - whilst Too Young To Die had eighty eight thousand and Risible Balding Phil Collins: No Ticket Required (or, If You've Got Any Sense, Paid For), forty three thousand. Which is still forty three thousand too many, frankly. 5USA's Chicago PD was seen by six hundred and one thousand viewers. NCIS: Los Angeles attracted four hundred and seventy three thousand, Castle, four hundred and seventy two thousand, Criminal Minds: Suspect Behaviour, four hundred and sixty five thousand and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, three hundred and sixty five thousand. NCIS topped CBS Action's list (one hundred and thirty nine thousand) and also featured in the top-tens of FOX (one hundred and twenty six thousand) and The Universal Channel (one hundred and nineteen thousand). FOX's other most watched programmes were The Walking Dead (1.73 million), American Horror Story (three hundred and twenty five thousand) and Talking Dead (two hundred and ninety three thousand). The Universal Channel's weekly list was headed by Chicago Med (four hundred and forty thousand), Law & order: Special Victims Unit (three hundred and thirty eight thousand), Major Crimes (two hundred and forty nine thousand) and Private Eyes (two hundred thousand). On Dave, horribly unfunny Taskmaster was - inexplicably - the highest-rated programme with nine hundred and sixty eight thousand punters. No, this blogger has no idea why either. That was followed by Z-List Celebrity Storage Hunters (four hundred and twenty two thousand), Qi XL (three hundred and ninety six thousand), Have I Got A Bit More News For You (three hundred and sixty five thousand) and Would I Lie To You? (three hundred and eighteen thousand). The latest episode of Drama's repeat run of Death In Paradise was watched by six hundred and forty three thousand viewers. New Tricks had four hundred and ninety nine thousand, followed by Let it Bleed (four hundred and seventy two thousand), Father Brown (four hundred and sixty three thousand) and Murdoch Mysteries (three hundred and ninety five thousand). Alibi's highest-rated programmes were Rizzoli & Isles (four hundred and sixty five thousand), Crossing Lines (three hundred and eleven thousand), Rosewood (three hundred and six thousand) and Silent Witness (one hundred and twenty thousand). On The Sony Channel, Saving Hope was watched by eighty four thousand, [spooks] by fifty nine thousand, Hustle by forty six thousand and the movie Road To Perdition by forty five thousand. Yesterday's Only Fools & Horses repeat run attracted six hundred and twelve thousand. On the Discovery Channel, Gold Rush's latest series continued with four hundred and eight thousand viewers. Fast N' Loud drew two hundred and twenty one thousand whilst Alaska: The Last Frontier was seen by one hundred and thirty five thousand, Deadliest Catch by ninety nine and Street Outlaws by seventy two thousand punters. Discovery History's Bloody Tales From History topped the weekly-list with thirty four thousand. Killers Tanks had twenty three thousand and both Unsolved History and Time Team both attracted twenty two thousand. On Discovery Science, Food Factory was seen by sixty two thousand viewers. Discovery Turbo's most-watched programme was, as usual, Wheeler Dealers with forty thousand. Indeed, all ten entries in the channel's top-ten list were episodes of the popular car restoration series. National Geographic's list was headed by Air Crash Investigation which had one hundred and sixty thousand viewers and Wicked Tuna (sixty seven thousand). Car SOS was watched by forty five thousand. The History Channel's top-ten list was topped by Mountain Men (one hundred and ten thousand). Ice Road Truckers was seen by eighty two thousand and American Pickers attracted an audience of seventy six thousand. On Military History, Ancient Aliens was watched by thirty eight thousand. Evil Lives Here, Six Degrees Of Murder and Deadline: Crime With Tamron Hall were ID's top-rated programmes of the week (with sixty six thousand viewers, fifty two thousand and forty four thousand murder-lovers respectively). Homicide Hunters, Robbie Coltrane's Critical Evidence and The Jail: Sixty Days In headed CI's list (ninety eight thousand, ninety four thousand and eighty thousand). Crimes That Shook Britain drew fifty seven thousand. GOLD's repeat of Mrs Brown's Boys attracted two hundred and thirty nine thousand. Comedy Central's largest audience of the week was for Impractical Jokers (four hundred and five thousand). Your TV's Behind The Screams was seen by fifty one thousand and Corrupt Crimes by fifty thousand. On More4, Vet On The Hill was the highest-rated programme with three hundred and eighty one thousand. Eight Out Of Ten Cats Does Countdown attracted three hundred and sixty thousand punters, Grand Designs, three hundred and fifty nine thousand and Homes By The Sea, three hundred and thirty five thousand. E4's latest episode of the new series of the massively popular The Big Bang Theory drew 2.47 million viewers, by a distance the largest multi-channels audience of the week. Hollyoaks had 1.19 million. The Horror Channel's broadcast of Cockneys Versus Zombies attracted one hundred and seventy thousand. No, this blogger has no idea why, either. Their top-ten list for the week also included Landmine Goes Click (seventy seven thousand), the excellent 5ive Girls (seventy four thousand), the cult classic Horror Express (fifty seven two thousand), Night Creatures (also fifty seven thousand) and Death Proof (fifty six thousand). The Exorcist, headed Syfy's top-ten with two hundred and seventy seven thousand whilst Lara Croft Tomb Raider had one hundred and ten thousand. Planet Earth and Deadly Sixty were watched by sixty thousand and thirty three thousand respectively on Eden. Attack Of The Killer Dragons was the Animal Planet's most-watched programme with fifty nine thousand. On W, The Strain attracted three hundred and fifty three thousand punters. The movie The Player was watched by one hundred and ninety seven thousand and The X-Files drew one hundred and twenty nine thousand on Spike. Cake Boss was seen by two hundred and six thousand people on TLC. The Vault's Saved By The Bell drew thirty one thousand punters. The Foster& Allen Show attracted an audience of twenty seven thousand on Irish TV. Shed & Buried was seen by one hundred and three thousand on the Travel Channel.
Melvin Odoom is returning to the Strictly dance floor, weeks after leaving the BBC show. The DJ, the first contestant to be voted out of this year's competition, will take part in the Strictly Come Dancing Christmas Special alongside five other former contestants. The Christmas Day broadcast will be the final time that Len Goodman will be seen on the judging panel. He announced in July that this series of Strictly would be his last. The festive episode will be hosted by Tess Daly and Claudia Winkleman, with regular judges Craig Revel Horwood, Darcey Bussell and Bruno Tonioli. Odoom will be competing for the Christmas Silver Star trophy alongside Olympian Denise Lewis, Saturdays singer Frankie Bridge and Pamela Stephenson. Celebrity chef Ainsley Harriott, who competed in the 2015 series and TV presenter Gethin Jones complete the line-up. Their professional dance partners - and the theme of the show - are yet to be announced. The show will also feature a musical performance of some description.
The Vicar Of Dibley co-writer Paul Mayhew-Archer has won an award for a documentary he made about 'the funny side' of having Parkinson's disease. Mayhew-Archer, who wrote The Vicar Of Dibley with Richard Curtis and has also worked on Miranda and Mrs Brown's Boys, was diagnosed with Parkinson's in 2011. He fronted Parkinson's: The Funny Side for BBC's Inside Out strand in March. He has now been named best documentary presenter at The Grierson Awards, which celebrate the UK's best documentaries. Jury chair Liesel Evans said: 'What sets our winner apart is his use of humour in tackling a complicated subject in a way that felt genuine and persuasive whilst being completely charming and insightful.'
Danny Baker once hinted that he was about to join The Great British Bake Off so one is not sure whether to take his latest tweets that he's not going on I'm A Z-List Former Celebrity Desperate To Get My Boat-Race Back On TV ... Please Vote For Me To Stay Here As Long As Possible (I'll Even Eat Worms If You Want) with a pinch of salt or not. Dan posted a tweet denying that he is set to appear on the crass ITV reality show and even joked that he had turned down the opportunity when producers wouldn't let him take a bottle of wine into the jungle as a luxury item. 'Sitting here seeing I am going in the Jungle next week,' he wrote on Twitter. 'The very idea is preposterous.'

ITV is extremely calling time on two major drama series DCI Banks and Brief Encounters. Based on Peter Robinson's crime novels, DCI Banks starred Stephen Tompkinson and has broadcast five series since 2010. The most recent run of episodes concluded last month, killing off long-running character Annie Cabbot (Andrea Lowe). 'After five series, ITV has taken the decision not to recommission DCI Banks,' the broadcaster said in a statement. 'We're grateful to the production team at Left Bank Pictures for creating the world of DCI Banks and the actors Stephen Tompkinson, Andrea Lowe and Caroline Catz for the commitment and dedication they've shown to their roles.' Brief Encounters - which launched on the channel in July - has also been dropped. Set in the early 1980s, the drama starred Sophie Rundle, Angela Griffin, Penelope Wilton and Sharon Rooney as four women whose lives change forever when they start selling Ann Summers lingerie and sex toys. 'As a broadcaster we seek to commission a diverse range of drama and as a consequence continually refresh our drama portfolio,' ITV weaselled, whatever the Hell all that means. 'We'd like to thank the writers Oriane Messina and Fay Rusling, the production team at CPL Productions and the Brief Encounters cast for their commitment and hard work in creating the drama.'
Peaky Blinders actress Charlotte Riley has been cast as the Duchess of Cambridge in the TV adaptation of the award-winning play King Charles III. The play, written by Doctor Foster's Mike Bartlett, is being adapted into a one-off drama for BBC2. The Olivier Award-winning play imagines Prince Charles's accession to the throne following the Queen's death. Tim Pigott-Smith, who played King Charles on stage, is reprising the role for television. Charlotte Riley, who has also appeared in the mini-series Close To The Enemy and the film London Has Fallen, said that she was 'really excited' to take on the 'challenge' of playing Kate Middleton. She said: 'It's such a unique project. To be both modern and rich in verse and to play someone who is real but yet totally re-imagined for this story is an exciting prospect for an actor. Kate Middleton is a really interesting woman, particularly within the context of this play, and it is a challenge I am really looking forward to.' In the play, King Charles refuses to sign a controversial bill into law, leading to political chaos, a constitutional crisis and rioting in the streets. Pigott-Smith said that it was 'important' the play, which also transferred to Broadway, was filmed. 'It is a drama about us, now, who we are, and the relevance of our monarchy,' he said. 'Television gives it an important democratic voice.' Other cast members from the stage version also starring in the adaptation are Oliver Chris as Prince William, Richard Goulding as Prince Harry and Margot Leicester as Camilla. Bartlett said the production was 'now fully cast' and is about to begin shooting. 'We have an exceptional team, both in front of and behind the camera, and I'm looking forward to bringing this very contemporary royal tragedy to a national television audience,' he said.
Sir Bruce Forsyth still has 'a bit of a problem moving' his wife has said, following major surgery a year ago. Sir Bruce, eighty eight, underwent keyhole surgery after doctors discovered he had two aneurysms following a fall at his Surrey home last year. Lady Forsyth said that her husband was 'in incredible shape mentally' but that the 'operation took his energy. He's the man I fell in love with because his brain is there,' she told the Daily Scum Mail's You magazine. She said: 'The operation took his energy because of his age, there's no question about it. Some days are better than others. On the not-so-good days, he tries to rest.' An aneurysm is a potentially serious blood vessel swelling. If left untreated, larger abdominal aortic aneurysms - the type which Sir Bruce has had - can be fatal. Lady Forsyth said that she 'hoped' Sir Bruce would be able to perform again, but added: 'He doesn't want to do anything publicly until he's one hundred per cent well. I respect that.' She said she found it 'hard' to contemplate a future without her husband, who she has been married to for thirty three years. 'I don't think about it too much. I hope I'll be prepared somehow, but it doesn't feel real. He has a bit of a problem moving, but we still laugh and talk. I pray, I believe. The main thing is that he's doing well. The pain is more emotional; sometimes we cry, but mostly we laugh.' Lady Forsyth said that Sir Bruce was 'still enjoying puzzles' and the Internet and programmes including the Olympics, The Apprentice and Question Time, as well as spending time with his grandchildren. Sir Bruce has not been seen in public recently, having been too frail to attend the funerals of close friends Ronnie Corbett or Sir Terry Wogan. He left Strictly in 2014 after nearly ten years fronting the show with Tess Daly.
Emmerdale is the 'booziest' British soap, according to a study on the depiction of alcohol consumption and healthy habits on TV soaps. Emmerdale, EastEnders, Coronation Street and Hollyoaks were 'examined over a two-week period.' By people with nothing more important to do with their time, apparently. The study also looked at exercising, drinking water and healthy eating. Emmerdale characters managed to consume forty six alcoholic drinks during the research period, with Coronation Street not far behind on forty beverages. In a statement, a spokesperson for Emmerdale said it was 'a small community' - and also, you know, fictional - adding: 'Characters regularly meet in the pub where the focus is on story as opposed to alcohol intake. We present a balanced view of alcohol as we take our responsibilities for portraying alcohol consumption seriously.' Hollyoaks was named the 'healthiest' UK soap overall - as well as the worst - while EastEnders came second. In total, forty eight per cent of activity in Hollyoaks was 'considered healthy,' with EastEnders on thirty six per cent, Emmerdale on eighteen per cent and Coronation Street on fifteen per cent. And, this shite constitutes 'news', apparently. The Hollyoaks characters were the most active, with characters sitting down for just fifteen per cent of the episodes compared with Coronation Street's cast, who spent thirty one per cent on the couch. EastEnders characters enjoyed the most nights out, with eleven in total, while there were no evenings out on the town on Coronation Street. Corrie's characters also consumed the most takeaways, while Emmerdale consumed the least. A spokesperson for Coronation Street said: 'Oh, grow the fuck up!' Well no, they didn't, although it would have been excellent if they had. Instead, they said: 'We present a balanced view of alcohol consumption, healthy eating and the lifestyles of our characters as we take our responsibilities for these issues seriously. Characters do frequent the pub but we also see them engaging in exercise and we have explored lifestyle related health issues through many different storylines.' Lee Matthews of Fitness First (whoever they are), which conducted the study, said: 'While studying Hollyoaks, we saw that despite there being three big nights out, there were zero instances of smoking shown on screen. In comparison there were thirteen instances of jogging, walking and playing a sport. Hollyoaks has demonstrated perfectly that we can play hard and still incorporate healthy habits along the way.'
ITV has suffered its worst performance in the run up to Christmas in almost a decade, as advertisers become 'increasingly cautious' about the economy. 'In recent weeks the political and economic uncertainty has increased and we are currently seeing more cautious behaviour by advertisers,' said the ITV chief executive, the odious gnome Adam Crozier. The broadcaster said TV advertising revenues across the first nine months of 2016 were down by one per cent. But, for the final quarter they fell seven per cent after 'a drastic softening' in the market as jittery advertisers held back spending after 'the uncertainty caused by the Brexit vote.' The seven per cent decline in the final months of the year is the worst year-on-year fall ITV has reported since recording a nine per cent drop in the fourth quarter of 2008. The underlying performance is even worse given that ITV is now adding-in revenue from UTV, the Northern Ireland ITV franchise it acquired for one hundred million knicker last year, which analysts say adds 1.5 per cent to two per cent. Crozier has already announced twenty five million smackers in cost savings for 2017 and last month cut one hundred and twenty jobs, citing 'the political and economic uncertainty of a potential Brexit slowdown.' He now expects TV advertising revenue for the full year to be down tree per cent but expects the group to still outperform the UK TV advertising market as whole. 'Our strong on-screen performance and continued ability to deliver mass audiences gives us the confidence that based upon the deals we have done we will also outperform our estimate of the TV ad market in 2017,' he slurped. The odious gnome Crozier said that ITV's one billion quid-plus programme budget will be twenty five million knicker lower next year as the broadcaster will not have to pay the rights cost for a major sports event; this year it broadcast Euro 2016 matches - terribly, as usual - and in 2015 the Rugby World Cup. In a call with analysts ITV said that the combined fifty million notes in cost savings will be enough for it to offset a fall of up to three per cent in TV advertising revenue next year. ITV's total revenues grew five percent to £2.15bn in the nine months to the end of September. Crozier said that despite the TV advertising slump he expected ITV's full year earnings to 'remain resilient', citing the growth in its online, pay and interactive business and ITV Studios production arm. 'Even against the current uncertain economic backdrop we expect 2016 earnings to be broadly in line with last year,' he said. 'ITV is now a much more balanced and resilient business.' Despite this claim, ITV still relies on TV advertising and sponsorship for more than half of its total annual three billion smackers revenues, and eighty five per cent of revenues come from the UK market. ITV Studios, which makes shows from Coronation Street and Come Dine With Me to Victoria and Poldark, boosted its revenues by eighteen per cent to nine hundred and twenty three million quid in the nine months. The broadcaster said that it received a thirty three million wonga boost from ITV Studios in the US thanks to the drop in the value of the pound. It also admitted that the growth was 'driven' by revenue from new acquisitions, which last year included The Voice maker Talpa Media and Poldark and Parade's End producer Mammoth. Stripping this out, ITV Studios saw revenues decline nine per cent 'on an organic basis' in the first nine months. Analysts at Jefferies said that this was 'a disappointing performance.' ITV put this down to factors including there being no series of fifty million quid global franchise Hell's Kitchen this year – two are scheduled for 2017 – and cancelled dramas including Texas Rising and Best Time Ever. 'We remain committed to our strategy of rebalancing and strengthening ITV and building a global content business of scale and we see clear opportunities to continue to invest for further growth across the business both organically and through acquisitions,' said Crozier.

A retrospective exhibition of the life and work of the late David Bowie has become the most visited show in the V&A's history. More than one and a half million people have visited David Bowie Is across eight venues around the world so far, the museum said. About three hundred and twelve thousand of those visitors were to the exhibition's debut in London at the Victoria and Albert Museum in 2013. The show will complete its international ten-stop tour next year. It is currently in its final weeks at the Museum of Modern Art in Bologne and will open in Tokyo in January before completing its tour in Barcelona in May. Until now, the V&A's most successful touring shows included Art Deco, (which received 1.17 million visitors) Vivienne Westwood (eight hundred and forty thousand) and Surreal Things: Surrealism & Design (eight hundred and eighty thousand). Geoff Marsh, co-curator of David Bowie Is, said: 'We are absolutely delighted that the exhibition has been seen by so many people worldwide. It's been an amazing journey to go from our first visits to the archive to transporting the exhibition to its ninth venue in Tokyo.' The show became the V&A's fastest-selling show when it opened in March 2013, and the museum stayed open late on many evenings to cope with demand.
Gareth Southgate took a significant step towards being appointed England's full-time manager and intensified the pressure on his beleaguered Scotland counterpart Gordon Strachan in the process with a comfortable three-nil World Cup qualifying win at Wembley. Southgate knew victory would press his claims to succeed disgraced Sam Allardyce on a permanent basis - and England delivered with a display that was unconvincing but easily enough to beat Scotland. Daniel Sturridge's stooping, instinctive header from Kyle Walker's driven cross put the hosts ahead after twenty four minutes and Liverpool Alabama Yee-Haws team-mate Adam Lallana did the same from Danny Rose's delivery five minutes after the break. James Forrest and Robert Snodgrass missed opportunities for the visitors before Lallana added England's second - and Gary Cahill's sixty first-minute header from Wayne Rooney's corner only increased Strachan's agony. England now top Group F while Scotland languish in fifth - above only Malta - with their hopes of qualifying for the 2018 tournament in Russia fading fast. England's interim manager deflected all talk about his future in the build-up to this qualifier - but he will know he is effectively in an impregnable position after this win against a very average Scotland side. Even Southgate's biggest supporters, however, would be hard-pressed to suggest this performance hinted at a golden future for England, but it is surely enough to earn the forty six-year-old the chance to plot the way ahead to the next World Cup. He was under a little pressure after a poor performance in the goalless draw in Slovenia, but this was just what he needed - in result terms at least - and it is now surely only a matter of time before his appointment is confirmed, irrespective of the result of Tuesday's friendly against Spain at Wembley.
Captain Rafael Marquez headed in an eighty ninth-minute winner to give Mexico a dramatic two-one win over the United States in their 2018 World Cup qualifier. The match in Columbus, Ohio had 'an added layer' after Donald Trump won the US presidential election, having criticised Mexicans in his campaign. The visitors took the lead through a Miguel Layun shot before Bobby Wood equalised just after half-time. But Marquez nodded in a Layun corner to give Mexico victory in a feisty match. The win ended Mexico's run of four defeats in the state capital of Ohio - a key 'swing state' won by Trump on Tuesday - in World Cup qualifiers going back to 2001. President-elect Trump has described undocumented Mexican migrants in the US as 'criminals' and said that he wants to build a wall along the US-Mexico border. 'Maybe now they have a bad time, a time of intolerance and with this win maybe they can forget now a little bit what happened here in the US,' said Marquez.
Poland striker Robert Lewandowski needed treatment after a flare thrown by home fans exploded near him during a heated World Cup qualifier in Romania. The Bayern Munchen player was not hurt but appeared shaken after the incident early in the second half, which forced play to be stopped for several minutes. The match in Bucharest was also interrupted for a minute at the end of the first half after fans threw flares and firecrackers on to the pitch. Poland won the Group E match three-nil. Rennes forward Kamil Grosicki's fine solo goal put the group leaders in front after eleven minutes. The two delays followed as the home crowd grew restless before Lewandowski made sure of the win late on, scoring with a composed finish in the eighty second minute before adding a third from the penalty spot in injury time.
Paul Pogba and Dimitri Payet were on target as France marked the first anniversary of the Paris attacks with victory over Sweden in a World Cup qualifier at Stade De France. A minute's silence was observed before kick-off to remember the one hundred and thirty victims of the attacks on 13 November 2015. Emil Forsberg's free-kick put Sweden ahead in the second half but The Scum's Pogba quickly equalised. Payet's sixty fifth-minute winner moved France three points clear in Group A. The West Hamsters United midfielder had earlier set up the equaliser for Pogba, the world's most expensive player nodding home his team-mate's precise free-kick. Payet capped a bright performance with the decisive goal, turning the ball in from close range after Sweden goalkeeper Robin Olsen fumbled.
Ex-The Arse midfielder Serge Gnabry scored a debut hat-trick as Germany brushed aside San Marino eight-nil in a one-sided World Cup qualifier in Serravalle. Gnabry, now at Werder Bremen, opened his account inside ten minutes and hit two more after the break to become the first Germany debutant to score three times since Dieter Müller in 1976. Sami Khedira, Jonas Hector (two) and Kevin Volland also scored, while Mattia Stefanelli conceded an own goal. Germany lead Group C by five points. Gnabry joined Bremen for an undisclosed fee in August after finishing as joint top scorer at this summer's Olympic Games as Germany lost the final to hosts Brazil. 'I did not count on scoring three goals on my debut,' said Gnabry, who joined The Arse from Stuttgart in 2011 and made eighteen appearances for the club, scoring but once. 'I am very happy. The last two years were difficult but now I am playing many games and am in scoring form. I hope it will continue.'
Northern Ireland replaced Azerbaijan in second place in Group C thanks to an impressive World Cup qualifying win at a rain-lashed Windsor Park. Kyle Lafferty fired home the opener in the twenty seventh minute and Gareth McAuley headed in from a Chris Brunt free-kick to make it two-nil before half-time. Conor McLaughlin headed his first international goal before Brunt claimed his second goal for his country. Ireland are second on goal difference, five points behind group leaders Germany. West Bromwich Albino's Brunt was back in the NI team for the first time in thirteen months, having missed Euro 2016 because of a serious knee injury. 'To score four goals and not concede any is a good result, especially against Azerbaijan,' said Brunt. 'They were flying high in the group.' Northern Ireland boss Michael O'Neill described the win as 'huge' and praised the fans for their backing.

And so, sadly, we reach that regular part of this blog Who Else Has Died This Week? Starting with the veteran broadcaster Sir Jimmy Young, aged ninety five. The long-serving DJ, who spent almost three decades at BBC Radio 2, died 'peacefully at home' on Monday afternoon with his wife Alicia by his side, a family spokesman said. For more than six decades, Jimmy Young was a key figure in British broadcasting. The one-time crooner, who had a string of hit singles during the 1950s, went on to become one of radio's best loved presenters. During his career, a veritable Who's Who of royalty, politicians and celebrities subjected themselves to his gentle yet probing style of interview. His acrimonious departure from the BBC in 2002 led to a storm of protest, including questions being asked in parliament (since, obviously, the politicians didn't have anything more important to talk about that week). He was born Leslie Ronald Young in Cinderford, Gloucestershire near The Forest Of Dean in September 1921. Keen on music from an early age, he learned to play the piano as well as having professional voice training. His parents divorced in 1939 and Young moved to South Wales. He signed up with the RAF on the outbreak of war after falsely giving his age as eighteen. He was, in fact, three weeks short of his eighteenth birthday. Shortly after he was demobbed, in 1949, he was spotted singing in a club by a BBC producer and went on to make a number of broadcast appearances as well as touring across the UK. His first release, a cover of the Nat King Cole song, 'Too Young', was a huge radio hit a year before the official UK Singles Chart was born. He signed to Decca in 1952 and enjoyed a number of Top Ten hits, including 'Eternally', 'The Man From Laramie', 'Unchained Melody', 'Chain Gang' and 'Wayward Wind'. He was also asked to perform some of the songs in Gene Kelly's film, Invitation To The Dance. But by the end of the 1950s rock and roll was the new craze and crooners like Young suddenly found themselves extremely out of fashion. His income plummeted, he sank into depression and turned to drink. He later confessed that he had contemplated suicide. In desperation he visited a fortune teller who informed him that he was going to be 'a great success.' Jimmy, therefore, picked himself up off the dirt and went back into radio. After hosting a show called A Young Man's Fancy on Radio Luxembourg he moved to the BBC Light Programme. He became one of the hosts of Housewives' Choice, playing easy listening music while outside in the real world The Be-Atles and The Rolling Stones - two popular beat combos of the 1960s, you might've heard of them - fought for chart supremacy. Five years after The Be-Atles' first hit single, the BBC finally launched Radio 1, a station devoted to pop music, to fill the gap left by the closure of the pirate stations. While many of the new station's DJs were ex-pirate presenters - Tony Blackburn, Kenny Everett, John Peel et cetera - Young, by then forty six, became part of the line-up. A lack of money meant that some of the new station's output was broadcast across both Radio 1 and Radio 2, as the old Light Programme was now called, and Young presented the mid-morning show. In contrast to the brash style of The Breakfast Show, presented by Tony Blackburn, Young's programme was much more sedate in tone. It included regular consumer information, recipes and discussions on current affairs. In 1973, the BBC revamped its music stations and Young's show was heard solely on Radio 2. Over the next thirty years, the format remained much the same with experts, such as Tony di Angeli from The Grocer magazine and 'Legal Beagle' Bill Thomas dealing with listeners' queries. His shows were peppered with catchphrases such as 'BFN' and 'Orf we jolly well go', as well as the squeaky voice of Raymondo with his, 'What's the recipe today Jim?' During his tenure Young interviewed every Prime Minister as well as members of royalty and other celebrities. Margaret Thatcher appeared on the show fourteen times and declared Young was her favourite presenter. His interviewing style was probing but gentle, something the Labour politician Roy Hattersley described as 'courtesy with a cutting edge.' His detractors claimed that he was too soft with politicians, something Young always strongly denied. 'You catch more flies with honey than vinegar,' he once said. 'I hold conversations. I am a listener.' By the turn of the century, Young was in his eighties and BBC management was desperate to attract a younger audience to Radio 2. The new controller, Jim Moir had already ousted Ed Stewart and John Dunn and he now turned his attention to Young. When news that he was to be replaced leaked out, Young, who by now had collected a knighthood, hit back with a well-organised PR campaign. He gained huge support from listeners and a diverse range of well-known figures. An Early Day motion was put down in Parliament calling on the BBC to keep him on. Young himself was not going quietly. Saying that he was 'flattered' so many people wanted his job he went on to make clear he had no plans to leave. 'Unless, of course, in the ageist pursuit of youth someone decides to ignore my record-breaking ratings and fire me.' Eventually, after much bitter wrangling, it was announced that Young would be 'relinquishing' his morning show to Jeremy Vine. 'Just so that we're all singing from the same hymn book, it was not my idea to go - I didn't want to leave you at all and I know from your messages that you don't want me to go either.' Young was asked to present a weekly show on Sundays but he turned the offer down venting his ire at the BBC's decision in a newspaper article. The hatchet was eventually buried and in 2011, Young was back behind a microphone in a special programme to mark his ninetieth birthday. Jeremy Vine, the man who took over Young's show, once summed up his appeal. 'Jimmy was just a totally ordinary, honest bloke, the least pretentious person you could ever imagine. And his audience adored him for it.'
The Canadian singer and songwriter Leonard Cohen has died aged eighty two. The news was announced on his official Facebook page on Friday, though no details about the cause of death were given. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau led the tributes. Leonard Cohen was called 'the high priest of pathos' and the 'Godfather of gloom' - mostly by exceptionally lazy journalists who couldn't be bothered to get past the occasional melancholy of his music to the frequent exquisite beauty beneath. But, the influence and appeal of this poet, novelist, songwriter and legendary ladies' man endured throughout his career. Often prone to depression, Leonard's witty, charming and self-deprecating manner - not to mention his often jet black humour - was reflected in his song lyrics. And, after a period of retreat in the 1990s he re-emerged with his creativity undimmed in the new Century.
     Leonard Norman Cohen was born in Westmount, a well-to-do area of Montreal, in September 1934. His mother had emigrated from Lithuania to Canada and his father, Nathan, whose ancestors came from Poland, owned a prosperous clothing store. Nathan died when Leonard was just nine years old but he left his son a trust fund which would enable Leonard to pursue his chosen literary career. The young Cohen attended a privately run Jewish co-educational day school where he learned to play guitar and formed a folk group called The Buckskin Boys. 'Guitars impress girls,' was the reasoning he gave for starting a career in music. In 1951, he enrolled at Montreal's McGill University to study English Literature and published his first collection of poetry, Let Us Compare Mythologies, in 1956. His poetry was well-received and after a year at Columbia University in New York he turned to writing full-time producing his second collection of poems, The Spice Box Of Earth, in 1961 when he was twenty seven. The volume established Cohen's reputation as a serious poet and became his most popular work. The poem, 'You Have The Lovers?', captured his fascination with human relationships. He used the royalties, along with literary grants from the Canadian government, to travel the world, sampling what it had to offer - including some use of LSD when it was still legal. After a spell in London, where his first purchases were an Olivetti typewriter and a blue raincoat (which he later celebrated in one of his most charming songs, 'Famous Blue Raincoat'), he moved to the small Greek island of Hydra, publishing his first novel The Favourite Game in 1963. He lived there with the Norwegian beauty Marianne Jensen, for whom he later wrote 'So Long, Marianne'. Her death in early 2016 inspired Cohen's final CD, You Want It Darker?, released just three weeks ago. Beautiful Losers, Cohen's second novel, was published in 1966 and was the last of his writing before he quit Hydra to move to the United States. It prompted the Boston Globe to declare: 'James Joyce is not dead. He is living in Montreal under the name of Cohen.' But, the writer had already decided to move to New York and pursue a career as a songwriter and musician. His debut LP, Songs Of Leonard Cohen, was released in December 1967. With its funereal tone and Cohen's weary intonation (he made Bob Dylan sound cheerful and melodic by comparison), it was by no means a commercial success at the time though it turned into something of a cult classic for folk buffs in the subsequent years and artists rushed to cover songs like 'Suzanne'. Among them was Judy Collins, who turned the song - based on Cohen's poem 'Suzanne Takes You Down' - into a hit. Over the next seven years Leonard recorded three more LPs: Songs From A Room (which included another much-covered standard 'Bird On The Wire'; this blogger urges readers to check out Fairport Convention's version in particular), Songs Of Love & Hate and New Skin For The Old Ceremony, which featured 'Chelsea Hotel' - an account of Cohen's sexual encounter with the late singer Janis Joplin - and the extraordinary 'Who By Fire?' Despite a paralysing fear of playing live, he toured these LPs extensively around the world, especially in Europe where he had something of a following. Those concerts included a remarkable appearance at the Isle of Wight Festival in 1970. The crowd was in a volatile mood and Cohen was following an electrifying performance by The Jimi Hendrix Experience, but the quiet folk singer won them over by telling a hushed anecdote about childhood trips to the circus. 'There was one thing at the circus that happened that I always used to wait for,' he told the audience of over half-a-million. 'I don't want to impose on you, this isn't like a sing-along ... but there was one moment when a man would stand up and say, "Would everybody light a match so we can locate one another?" Could I ask you, each person, to light a match, so that I could see where you all are? So that you'll sparkle like fireflies, each at your different heights? I would love to see those matches flare.' The intimate anecdote and Cohen's subsequent performance are remembered as one of the defining moments of the festival. In 1973, Cohen went to Israel to volunteer for active service in the Yom Kippur war. Instead, he was assigned to entertain troops in a tank division where he once found himself under fire from Syrian forces in the Sinai desert. The recording of his fifth LP, Death Of A Ladies' Man, descended into near farce. Cohen clashed with the most unstable producer imaginable, Phil Spector, whose 'wall of sound' technique (and increasingly erratic behaviour) was at odds with Cohen's quiet acoustic-based music. The resulting LP was not a success and Leonard later disowned it, despite it including one genuine masterpiece - 'True Love Leaves No Traces'. Cohen's music fell somewhat out of favour in the late 1970s (as, memorably alluded to in an episode of The Young Ones), but interest revived in 1985 with the release of the LP Various Positions. This featured the song 'Hallelujah', which had taken the musician five years and numerous drafts to perfect. A mournful - yet, ultimately uplifting - ballad, it touches on themes of love, sex, religion, longing and regret. Leonard said that it 'explained that many kinds of hallelujahs do exist and all the perfect and broken hallelujahs have equal value.' Hated by his record company, it later became the most-covered Cohen song of all. The late Jeff Buckley's haunting, melodic version from 1994 became the standard interpretation - but it only received mainstream recognition after Buckley's death. Another, much admired, version was by Rufus Wainwright who sang 'Hallelujah' for the animated film Shrek in 2001. Various Positions was modestly successful, but the singer seemed confined to a small, committed audience until his backing singer Jennifer Warnes released Famous Blue Raincoat, an LP of material written by Cohen, in 1987. It introduced Leonard to a new generation of listeners. When the pair collaborated on 1988's eminently accessible I'm Your Man, the result was Leonard's biggest hit in a decade. The record paired cynical social commentaries such as the chilling 'First We Take Manhattan', with beautiful songs of love like the title tune, 'Tower Of Song' and 'Everybody Knows'. In 1991 a tribute CD, I'm Your Fan, a collection of his songs covered by artistes such as R.E.M., james, Pixies, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Ian McCulloch and John Cale again pushed Leonard Cohen back into the limelight. However, by this time, Cohen had begun spending time at a Buddhist retreat in California and eventually he moved there to become a Buddhist monk in 1996. He finally emerged in 1999 with a wealth of new material, some of which featured on his 2001 CD, Ten New Songs. Co-written with the producer and vocalist, Sharon Robinson, who also played all the instruments, it saw Leonard in introspective and relaxed mood, but perhaps contemplating mortality with lyrics such as, 'suddenly, the night was grown colder' on the stunning 'Alexandra Leaving'. In 2006 Cohen, at the age of seventy three, was obliged to return to touring when he discovered that his manager (and former lover) Kelley Lynch had embezzled more than five million dollars from his account. Despite winning a court case against her and being awarded huge damages, she failed to pay back any of the money. Lynch would later be extremely jailed after violating a court restraining order. Two years later, Leonard embarked on a marathon concert tour which ran for eighteen months and included a memorable performance on The Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury. 2012 saw the release of Old Ideas, which became his highest charting CD. Many critics saw the songs as an intimation of his own mortality. However, despite his advancing years, Leonard set off on another world tour to promote the record. When The Grand Tour ended in December 2013, Cohen largely vanished from the public eye - but he continued to write. Just last month, he released You Want It Darker?, produced by his son, Adam. Severe back pain made it difficult for Leonard to leave his home, so Adam placed a microphone on his dining room table and recorded his father on a laptop. Like David Bowie's Blackstar, the record felt like a swansong. 'I'm leaving the table, I'm out of the game,' he lamented on 'Leaving The Table'. The CD received positive reviews, but a New Yorker interview tied to the release revealed Cohen making peace with mortality. 'I am ready to die,' he said. 'I hope it's not too uncomfortable. That's about it for me.' Leonard was, arguably, one of the most enigmatic poets and songwriters of his generation. While many of the themes in his work hinted at depression, he always felt that he was simply a keen observer of the realities of life. 'Seriousness, rather than depression is, I think, the characteristic of my work,' he once told an interviewer. 'I like a good laugh, but I think there's enjoyment that comes through seriousness. We all know when we close the door and come into your room and you're left with your heart and your emotions, it isn't all that funny.' Leonard is survived by his two children, Adam and Lorca, and three grandchildren.
And, even more bad news from this year of apparent never-ending crappiness. One of this blogger's favourite actors, Robert Vaughn, whose Napoleon Solo on NBC's The Man From U.N.C.L.E. set TV's 1960s standard for suavity and international crimebusting cool, died on Friday after a brief battle with leukemea. He was eighty three. His manager, Matthew Sullivan, confirmed the news to Deadline. Robert's lengthy list of credits included everything from an uncredited idol worshipper in The Ten Commandments to his angry, shouting audience member on Late Night With Conan O'Brien half-a-century later ('you people make me sick!'), but he will no doubt be best remembered for Napoleon Solo, one of television's most successful answers to James Bond. The Man From U.N.C.L.E., broadcast from 1964 to 1968, paired Robert's elegant Solo with David McCallum's blond sex-idol the Russian spy Illya Kuryakin, an early example of Cold War detente in the battle against global evildoers. The series was a hit in the US, spawned a short-lived spin-off, The Girl From U.N.C.L.E. starring Stephanie Powers and Noel Harrison (1966 to 1967) and contributed mightily to the Secret Agent craze of the mid-to-late 1960s. It was also hugely popular in Britain where it was broadcast on the BBC which began Robert's lasting love affair with the UK, leading to London effectively becoming his second home. The series was so successful that some of its two-part stories were released theatrically - with some additional footage - as movies in many territories. U.N.C.L.E. also spawned a line of spin-off toys and Robert reportedly received some seventy thousand fan letters a month. Female viewers were especially attracted to Vaughn, who had once dated Natalie Wood and who regularly enjoyed sampling the nightlife along the Sunset Strip with his friend Steve McQueen. 'I was bombarded with house and apartment keys labelled with the addresses of the adoring girls who lived behind those doors,' he wrote in his witty and accessible 2008 memoir, A Fortunate Life. 'At the end of our first season [of U.N.C.L.E.], I had to put up an electric fence around my house to keep out the girls. I even tried using recorded animal noises to fend off my visitors, but I could never operate the sound system.' Serious actor that he was, Robert had no regrets about taking the role of Napoleon. 'Not only was it a great deal of fun, it changed me from being a working actor to a negotiating actor. After U.N.C.L.E., I never accepted the first offer: if I wanted more money, I asked for it!' Vaughn and McCallum reunited in 1983 for a - reasonably decent - TV movie, The Return Of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. in which the spies were brought out of retirement to save the world once more. (The pair remained good friends off-screen and McCallum - still, of course, acting his little Scottish cotton socks off weekly on NCIS - movingly paid tribute to Robert after the announcement of his death.) Robert also had early roles in The Young Philadelphians (1959), for which he was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor and a Golden Globe and played Lee, one of the eponymous Magnificent Seven a year later ('the one who lost his bottle but redeemed himself at the end,' as Oz memorably recalled in an episode of Auf Weidersehen, Pet). Although now seen as a genuine classic, the movie - an American remake of Kurosawa's Seven Samurai - had a chaotic start to production which was not helped by a writers strike in Hollywood. Robert described how he arrived on location in Mexico to discover that there was no script and that director John Sturges had only cast Robert and two of the others - Steve McQueen and Yul Brynner. 'When Sturges met me, he actually asked if I knew any other good actors,' said Robert. 'I called my best friend James Coburn, who was hanging out with a chick, smoking dope in Greenwich Village, and told him: "Get out here fast!" He had no money and had to borrow some from his parents. But he made it.' Despite the misgivings of the cast who, according to Robert spent most of their time on-set playing poker, smoking potent local ganja and waiting for the day's dialogue to be written, The Magnificent Seven became a massive hit. And, it gave Robert a great - much told - story of the night he and McQueen almost got themselves killed in a Mexican bordello! Later in the decade, Robert was superb as the villainous Senator Chalmers in Bullitt (again, opposite McQueen), then as an addled studio chief in Blake Edwards' S.O.B. (1981) and as a corporate villain in the otherwise completely wretched Superman III (1983). For his work in Washington: Behind Closed Doors, a 1977 ABC mini-series based on John Ehrlichman's book, The Company, Robert received an EMMY for playing a character modelled on Richard Nixon's chief of staff, Bob Haldeman. On his friendship with McQueen, Robert recalled: 'We went to a lot of races together and we drove a lot of cars down Sunset Boulevard checking out chicks. A good place to check out chicks was having Steve McQueen at the wheel of the car you were in!' Recalling Bullitt, he added: 'The script didn't make any sense at all to me and I thought it was going to be a flop - just like I did with The Magnificent Seven. But then I was offered more money than I've ever gotten for a movie and [the script] suddenly became very clear to me!' McQueen's fabled quirkiness manifested itself when Vaughn chose to put a Phi Beta Kappa key-chain on his character's waistcoat. 'Steve objected "because I wore one in the movie with Faye Dunaway" [The Thomas Crown Affair]. I replied, "Steve, if people are looking at my key and connecting it to Dunaway, something's wrong with the picture." That satisfied him.'
        Robert Francis Vaughn was born in November 1932, in New York City. His parents were both actors and divorced when he was a toddler so he was raised by his maternal grandparents in Minnesota. He pursued journalism at the University of Minnesota where he was selected as the male finalist in a radio contest for actors for 1951. That recognition gave him the confidence to move West, where he studied drama at Los Angeles City College and won an award for playing the lead in a production of Mr Roberts. After a talent scout spotted him on stage in Calder Willingham's End As A Man, Robert signed with Harold Hecht and Burt Lancaster's company - one of the first independents in Hollywood - but was drafted into the army shortly afterwards, where he served as a drill instructor. When he returned, Robert got work as an extra in Cecil B DeMille's remake of The Ten Commandments (1956), then landed his first starring role, playing an angry young man in No Time To Be Young (1957). He played the title role in Roger Corman's preposterous Teenage Caveman (1958) where his character was promoted as a 'prehistoric rebel without a cause.' The actor later described it as 'one of the best worst films of all time!' Robert had already made his television debut in November 1955 in an episode of the series Medic, the first of more than two hundred TV roles in a career that would last for the best part of sixty years. His performance as a moneyed Main Line patrician who is accused of murder in Vincent Sherman's The Young Philadelphians put him on the big-screen map and roles in such films as The Big Show (1961), The Caretakers (1963), The Venetian Affair (1966), The Bridge At Remagen (1969), If It's Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium (1969), Julius Caesar (1970) and the excellent The Mind of Dr Soames (1970) followed. On TV, he appeared (twice) in Columbo, including in one of the best remembered episodes, Last Salute To The Commodore (directed by Patrick McGoohan) and guest-starred in the likes of Bonanza, The Virginian, Centennial, Hawaii Five-0, Murder, She Wrote and Law & Order. Robert starred as London-based international crime fighter Harry Rule in two series of Gerry Anderson's live-action TV series The Protectors in the early 1970s, albeit he and Anderson reportedly did not get on. The series was described by Vaughn in his autobiography as 'tasteless junk,' and there were constant rows with Anderson, who accused Vaughn of behaving 'like a prima donna.' Back in the US, Robert joined a cast of thousands to play a senator - and rather crispy victim - in The Towering Inferno (1974). Soon after appearing in René Clément's last picture, La Baby Sitter (AKA Scar Tissue, 1975), Vaughn was used to devastating effect as the voice of the rebellious computer Proteus in Demon Seed (1977), where his off-screen voice was a coolly intelligent reflection of his often menacing on-screen persona. In Roger Corman's memorably so-bad-it's-brilliant Battle Beyond The Stars (1980), he reworked his Magnificent Seven gunslinger character into space. He received another EMMY nomination for portraying Woodrow Wilson in the 1979 NBC mini-series Backstairs At The White House; was the furtive General Hunt Stockwell on NBC's The A-Team (George Peppard was another close friend) and won a whole new generation of fans for his role as the conman Albert Stroller in the popular British series Hustle.
Taking its inspiration from films such as, The Sting and Oceans Eleven, Robert played an elderly grifter responsible for setting up potential targets for his team of young con artists. The format proved an immediate success, particularly after the BBC brokered a lucrative co-production deal with the US cable channel AMC and it ran for eight series (forty eight episodes). Robert was also very useful to the production in getting several of his old Hollywood friends to appear as guest-stars (Richard Chamberlain and Robert Wagner for example). 'Hustle is wonderfully enjoyable, because all my life I've made an effort to be with people who can make me laugh,' Robert said at the time. 'That original cast - Marc Warren, Jaime Murray, Robert Glenister and Adrian Lester - are all funny. So I know every day I'll have a few good laughs. I imagined Stroller as Napoleon Solo: The Later Years.' Adrian Lester described Robert as 'a real gent. Old school charm in a three-piece suit. He did everything on-set and off with a twinkle in his eye and never once pulled rank or status or claimed he was too tired. He set the standard that we all tried to match. I'm going to miss his stories, about Monroe, McQueen, Bronson, Coburn and his very silly, very funny jokes. A generous, kind, example of statesman-like skill. We were all blessed to have known and worked with him. The last "Magnificent" to leave us. They really don't make them like him any more. Marc Warren called him "The Legend." The rest of us just called him "Sir."' Whilst in London, Robert also appeared as himself narrating and being a character in a radio play broadcast by Radio 4 in 2007 about making the film The Bridge At Remagen in Prague, during the Russian invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968. Elegant and assured, he showed that he had retained his sense of humour and lack of pretension, something confirmed by his appearance in The Magnificent Eleven (2012), about a football team who go the aid of an Indian restaurant, harassed by local thugs. He had a brief recurring role in Coronation Street in the same year as the businessman Milton Fanshaw a love interest of Sylvia Goodwin (Stephanie Cole). 'It was a call out of the blue,' he recalled. 'I've never seen the show, although I've heard about it - it's been around since I started coming to England in the 1960s. But my wife is here for three months a year while I film Hustle and she's a big fan.' He carried on working well into his eighties, playing a dying father in Gold Star and starring opposite Matthew Broderick and Camilla Belle in The American Star, which were both released earlier this year. In the 1970s, Robert attended night classes at USC and earned his doctorate in communications after writing a dissertation, Only Victims: A Study of Show Business Blacklisting, about the dark Joseph McCarthy era in Hollywood history, later published in book form. Robert was a long-time member of the Democratic Party. His family was also Democratic and were involved in politics in Minneapolis. He became the chairman of the California Democratic State Central Committee speakers bureau and actively campaigned for candidates in the 1960s. Robert was one of the first popular American actors to take a public stand against the Viet'nam War and was active in the pressure group Another Mother For Peace and, along with Dick Van Dyke and Carl Reiner, was a founder of Dissenting Democrats. In the 1968 presidential election, they supported the candidacy of Minnesota Senator Eugene McCarthy. Robert was reported to have political ambitions of his own, but in a 1973 interview, he denied having had any political aspirations. He also debated the war with conservative William F Buckley on the latter's TV talk show, Firing Line. Robert became a friend of Robert Kennedy and campaigned for him during his 1968 run for the presidency. When Kennedy was assassinated, Robert was reportedly so upset that he moved to England for the majority of the next five years. It was on returning to the US, the actor decided to resume his education. He had already earned a bachelor's degree in theatre arts from California State University in 1956 and a master's degree from the University of Southern California in 1960. Robert's acting career never quite reached the heights achieved by some of his contemporaries, possibly because he devoted time to his political activities. But he seemed to have no regrets. 'With a modest amount of looks and talent and more than a modicum of serendipity,' he wrote, 'I've managed to stretch my fifteen minutes of fame into more than half-a-century of good fortune.' But, was he really as cool as he appeared to his adoring audience? 'Not according to my wife,' he claimed. 'She's married to the guy who doesn't take the garbage out on Tuesday evenings, the guy she battles with to get me out of my jumpsuit and running shoes. She doesn't allow me in public unless I wear a tie and a coat.' Robert married the actress Linda Staab in 1974, and they adopted two children. Matthew Vaughn, the London-born director of such films as Kiss Ass (2011) and X-Men: First Class (2011), grew up believing that Robert was his father until the actor in 2002 produced evidence from a 1980s patrimony court case which proved he was not. Vaughn had been in a relationship with Matthew's mother, the socialite Kathy Ceaton, whom he met when he was in England working on The Protectors. Robert is survived by his wife, Linda, and their children, Cassidy and Caitlin.
A large metal object has fallen from the sky into a jade mining area in North Myanmar, state media say. The cylindrical object, found on Thursday in Kachin state, is fifteen feet long and four feet wide. Another piece of metal with Chinese writing on it tore through the roof of a nearby house at about the same time, but no injuries were reported. It is thought that the incident might be related to the launch of a Chinese satellite. A Chinese Long March 11 rocket lifted off from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre on Wednesday night, carrying an experimental satellite. Local residents reported hearing 'a loud bang' before the object landed. Officials from the local Defence Service said that it bounced one hundred and fifty feet and landed 'in a muddy area of the mine,' according to the Global New Light of Myanmar newspaper. 'We were all afraid of that explosion,' villager Ko Maung Myo told the Myanmar Times. 'Initially, we thought it was a battle. The explosion made our houses shake. We saw the smoke from our village.' He said that the air near the object smelled acrid. 'The metal objects are assumed to be part of a satellite or the engine parts of a plane or missile,' Global New Light reported. The object appeared to be same shape and size as a part of the rocket known as a stage, according to the BBC science correspondent Jonathan Amos. Rocket stages are supposed to fall away into bodies of water or uninhabited areas. The Kachin state government said that it was 'unable to immediately identify' the object.
If you go outside at night of 13-14 November, you might get to enjoy something quite spectacular. You will see a supermoon in the night sky, which means the moon will appear very big and bright. There was a supermoon last month but this one is particularly special. That's because it will be the biggest and brightest that it has been since 1948. Allow Newsround to explain.
What started as 'A Smack Fest' at a St Paul's bar ended with one of the participants assaulted by at least half-a-dozen people, police said on Monday. But one of the promoters said that she 'doesn't believe' what happened outside was 'related' to the event. Officers took the assault report at United Hospital on Friday. A twenty five-year-old Anoka woman reported that she had been at Arnellia's Bar and had taken part in A Smack Fest at the bar, according to Steve Linders, a department spokesman. It was described in a police report as being 'a competition in which willing contestants take turns slapping each other in the faces,' Linders said. Only in America, dear blog reader. Arnellia's has hosted Smack Fests in the past and the event on Thursday was the second week they'd brought it back, said KeshaRae, one of the promoters. 'It's pure adult fun,' she claimed. Participants are only allowed to be women, who sign a waiver and have to follow rules, including switching hands and which side of the face they're hitting. They have three rounds, with three smacks in each and a break in between every round. The crowd judges who won overall and the grand prize from the Thursday night event was one hundred and seventy five dollars. The woman who was assaulted outside the bar early on Friday morning had competed against another woman whom she had 'seen around but didn't know,' according to Linders. 'After the competition, the victim and her opponent spoke and neither was upset about the outcome,' Linders said. But, when the woman left the bar between 2 and 2:30am and headed to her car, her Smack Fest opponent was waiting for her — 'in a fighting stance,' according to Linders. The opponent, her boyfriend and five to six of her friends surrounded the twenty five-year-old at her car. She was then punched in the nose and knocked to the ground, where the suspect's boyfriend used his foot to stomp the left side of her face. During the fracas, one of the suspects lost her wig, which was found on the ground, Linders added. Someone drove the victim to the hospital where she had significant bruising on both sides of her face, though she said that the injuries on the right side were from the smacking fight, according to Linders. The woman also had scratches and cuts to her face, and two artificial nails had been ripped from her fingers. 'I just think that once people get outside after having some liquor, fights sometimes break out and that's just any bar — it doesn't mean anything happened inside,' claimed KeshaRae. Police did not have information about the suspects and have made no arrests.
A decision to 'space out' the distinctive triangular chocolate chunks in two Toblerone bars sold in the UK has upset fans who say that they do, if you will, 'mind the gap.' The product's makers, US-based Mondelez International, said that it had changed the design to 'reduce the weight' of what were four hundred gramme and one hundred and seventy gramme bars. Some consumers have described the move as 'the wrong decision' and 'bigly wrong' and said that the bigger spaces looked 'stupid'. There were even threats of riots in the street with placards saying 'Not MY Toblerone'. Allegedly. Mondelez claimed that the move was 'down to a rise in the cost of ingredients.' One or two people even believed him. In a statement on the Toblerone Facebook page, the company claimed that it had to make a decision between changing the look of the bars or raising the price. The move has resulted in the weight of the four hundred gramme bars being reduced to three hundred and sixty grammes and the one hundred and seventy grammes bars to one hundred and fifty, while the size of the packaging has remained the same. It said: 'We chose to change the shape to keep the product affordable for our customers.' But, consumers took to Toblerone's Facebook page en masse to question just what the frig was goin' on and why the company had decided to make the gaps between the triangles bigger, rather than reducing the length of the bars. First Brexit, then Trump, now this. Can this year get any worse?