Saturday, December 10, 2016

Damaged Gods

'I've been away for a while, but I'm back!' The BBC has released a significant number of images from the upcoming Doctor Who Christmas episode The Return Of Doctor Mysterio this week as well as yet another new trailer. Here are but several of them, dear blog reader.
Sherlock will return to the BBC after a long twelve months on 1 January 2017 and now it appears we know when it will be shown. Series four is currently scheduled to kick-off with The Six Thatchers at 8.30pm on New Year's Day, according to the digiguide website.
Meanwhile, according to the Radio Times, Amanda Abbington has described the upcoming episodes as 'brutal,' with creator The Lord Thy God Steve Moffatt (OBE) adding that it will take the characters 'to a darker place' than we've seen on the show before. But, seemingly, it's not all doom and gloom and mood lighting, as co-creator Mark Gatiss added that: 'We always have to keep reiterating this hasn't suddenly become some kind of über-bleak sort of Scandi show.' The title of series four's third episode has also been revealed, the rather ominous-sounding The Final Problem.
This week saw the publication of the Christmas double edition of Radio Times, which features an interview with yer actual Peter Capaldi and The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat (OBE) talking at length about the forthcoming Christmas special.
Speaking about where he would go if he could anywhere travel in time, Peter reflected on his pop-idols: 'I never saw enough of David Bowie. And the last time he played in London, I had to give up my ticket as I had a job in Eastern Europe. My wife called me from the concert, held her phone up and let me hear the entirety of 'Heroes'. It cost around forty quid to hear that one song.' Peter also spoke about his love of The Be-Atles (a popular beat combo of the 1960s, you might've heard of them): 'They were the soundtrack to our lives, growing up in the 1960s. I remember hearing 'She Loves You' everywhere. That song is like a time machine. It came out in 1963 when I was five. Also in 1963, Doctor Who started on the BBC and The Beatles appeared on it in 1965.' Radio Times, which also includes an interview with Prime Minister Theresa May (Kate Bush's mate). Speaking about what her TV schedule for Christmas would include, she said: 'I always like to see Doctor Who on Christmas night, if possible, and a nice Agatha Christie to curl up with. David Suchet was a great Poirot.' As well as the interviews, the magazine includes an exclusive photo-shoot featuring Doctor Who in New York with yer man Capaldi, Matt Lucas and Justin Chatwin, plus the last part of their competition to win a piece of exclusive artwork.
Meanwhile, a new era for Doctor Who begins in 2018 - but does that mean we'll be getting a new Doctor? In a new interview, Peter Capaldi insisted that he still hasn't made up his mind whether he will be following showrunner The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat (OBE) on to pastures new. 'I've been asked to stay on [for series eleven],' Peter told Wales Online (which, if true - and, it's a big 'if', admittedly - rather screws up that thoroughly shitehawk 'exclusive' the Daily Mirra claimed a couple of weeks ago which suggested that 'BBC bosses' allegedly want to cast a new Doctor). 'I haven't made my mind up about that yet, mainly because I don't want to have to make that decision. I'm trying to avoid it!' Peter also said that 'Doctor Who does take a lot of time, but it's a wonderful use of it,' adding that the 'ultimate decision' on whether he will stay will depend on 'how good a time' he was having. 'It's special,' he continued. 'I'm lucky enough to be in touch with other Doctors and we all agree how extraordinary it is to be in this position. To decide to leave is a tough decision for everybody. [It was] very tough for Steven, so I'm just putting it off for as long as possible.' Peter, who has been the lead on Doctor Who since 2014, said that playing the role is 'delightful' - even if it makes his personal life 'more complicated. I was happy with my life [before],' he said. 'I'd been very blessed already and there are things about doing the show that make life more complicated - certainly, being so visible is a new and different way to be. [But] it's so delightful to be in this position. People aren't really seeing me any more. They see Doctor Who, so it's a fantastic place to be. It's also finite, so I'm enjoying as it unfolds.'
Yer man Capaldi has donated a seventy two-page shooting script of his first Dalek story, Into The Dalek to a fund-raising auction taking place at Sotheby's next Tuesday, 13 December. The script, complete with a lavishly illustrated title page, is a complete one-off. The lot also includes two postcards inscribed 'Best wishes from Peter Capaldi Doctor ?' It is part of over forty original illustrations up for auction, by leading artists, designers and musicians, including Quentin Blake, Brian Eno, Eric Clapton, Oliver Jeffers, Emma Chichester Clark, David Shrigley, Peter Brooks, Peter Blake, Paul Smith, and Margaret Howell. The auction is to raise money for House of Illustration, the UK's only public gallery devoted to illustration, based in King's Cross. The registered charity receives no public funding, raising all the money from admissions, retail and fundraising. The gallery puts on exhibitions and events, promotes new illustration talent, commissions new art work and organises an illustrator led learning programme for schools, families, students and enthusiasts of all ages. The artworks can also be viewed online by going to Sotheby's Website and looking for lot number two hundred and eighty seven.
TV Comedy Line Of The Week as usual, came from Qi on Friday evening. When yer actual Alan Davies got a klaxon for giving an incorrect answer about Neanderthals' use of clubs, he muttered: 'Over the years, I thought I'd get better at this.' 'We've all been hoping,' added Sandi Toksvig. 'Given that Alan got a klaxon for saying clubs, I'm guessing they didn't use club,' Richard Osman said, correctly, as it turned out. 'That's how to do it,' he then told Davies, helpfully. Alan confessed that he based the majority of his knowledge about the Neanderthals on The Wacky Races. 'To be fair, you've got The Wacky Races, The Flintstones and Captain Caveman. So that's three separate bits of evidence to suggest they did have clubs,' argued Osman, persuasively. 'Unless they're all making it up!'
Alan Davies has claimed that Stephen Fry quit Qi because the filming schedule 'left him exhausted.' Speaking to the Daily Scum Mail, always such a big fan of both the BBC and, indeed, Stephen himself, Davies suggested that 'BBC cuts' had forced the team to make three episodes a day of the popular intelligence quiz, leaving Stephen feeling 'completely worn out' and that. 'For budget reasons, they ended up making him do three shows in twenty four hours,' Davies said. 'Sometimes he'd go upstairs and have a vodka and tonic and a lie down, then come back and say, "I don't want to do this." I sympathise, because I felt exactly the same way.' But Davies said that whilst it was 'absolutely right' for Stephen to step down, he personally never considered leaving Qi unless the producers had wanted him to go. 'With three small children and a mortgage, I'd be an idiot to jump ship,' Davies said. 'It's one of the best jobs on the telly. I offered to go if they wanted a total clearout and I'm sure they thought about it, but they kept me there.' Davies also praised the new host, yer actual Sandi Toksvig, describing her as 'a really good replacement' and adding: 'There's a good atmosphere around the show. I had a great time making the show. I was funny. I actually have a bit more room!' However, Davies said that he misses having Stephen on the show: 'People have no idea just how good he was. You see what a mess other shows are, how long they take to record and how the audience is in torment. Then you go to a Qi recording with Stephen in the chair and the two hours fly by – there are no pauses, barely a fluff on the autocue. Up-tempo, funny, sharp.'
TV Comedy Line Of The Week, number two: From Have I Got News For You. When guest host Mel Giedroyc apologised for having a rather crumbled tissue on her desk (all she was able to find, she claimed), Jacob Rees-Mogg MP displayed an example of his noted chivalry towards the ladies by offering her his handkerchief. Which was linen, Mel noted in shock. 'I'm afraid to say constituents often cry in my surgeries, so I find it useful to have clean handkerchiefs' Rees-Mogg told the audience. To which Ian Hislop replied: 'I can imagine that so clearly!'
Lack Of Anything Even Approaching Comedy Line Of The Week: Everything - and this blogger means every single aspect - contained in the absolutely woeful Walliams & Friend. Who the Hell at the BBC keeps giving this man licence fee payers money to make rotten, laughless alleged 'comedy' sketch series with such diminishing returns both in relation to laughs-per-episode and number-of-viewers? This blogger was never the world's biggest fan of Little Britain but he kind of understood why it was so popular with a broad audience. But, everything that Walliams has made since then has been King Midas In Reverse; a classic example of too much, too soon it would seem. (Or, is it that Matt Lucas was 'the talented one'?) Walliams & Friend has, rightly, been slaughtered by the Torygraph, the Gruniad Morning Star, the Indi and the Scunthrope Telegraph - probably the only thing in history which has made those four organs of the media agree on something. Still, Walliams his very self has clearly got at least one 'friend' at some level of power within the BBC since they keep on commissioning more laughless tripe from him. What's that all about?
The two walls on Only Connect this week were pure dead rock, dear blog reader. For the first time in as long as he can remember, this blogger didn't get any connection from either wall. The closest Keith Telly Topping got was when one of the teams noted that Holmes and Lewis 'are detectives.' This blogger muttered 'they're runners as well, if you want to be pedantic.' Should've stuck with that line of thought, clearly.
The final and consolidated ratings figures for the Top Twenty Five programmes, week-ending Sunday 4 December 2016 are as follows:-
1 Strictly Come Dancing - Sat BBC1 - 11.92m
2 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) - Sun ITV - 11.65m
3 Planet Earth II - Sun BBC1 - 11.54m
4 Coronation Street - Mon ITV - 8.45m
5 The Missing - Wed BBC1 - 7.69m
6 Countryfile - Sun BBC1 - 7.26m
7 Emmerdale - Mon ITV - 7.17m
8 EastEnders - Mon BBC1 - 6.83m
9 The X Factor - Sun ITV - 6.54m
10 Michael McIntyre's Not Very Funny Show - Sat BBC1 - 6.50m
11 The Apprentice - Thurs BBC1 - 6.38m
12 Casualty - Sat BBC1 - 5.45m
13 Six O'Clock News - Tues BBC1 - 5.20m
14 Rillington Place - Tues BBC1 - 5.09m
15 BBC News - Sun BBC1 - 5.01m
16 Who Do You Think You Are? - Thurs BBC1 - 4.71m
17 Pointless Z-List Celebrities - Sat BBC1 - 4.59m
18 Have I Got News For You - Fri BBC1 - 4.46m
19 Fawlty Towers - Fri BBC1 - 4.41m
20 My Mother & Other Strangers - Sun BBC1 - 4.33m
21 The Martin Lewis Money Show - Mon ITV - 4.24m
22 Holby City - Tues BBC1 - 4.19m
23 The ONE Show - Tues BBC1 - 4.09m
24 Watchdog - Wed BBC1 - 3.94m
25 Match Of The Day - Sat BBC1 - 3.90m
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 episode attracted 11.39 million punters. The X Factor's programme on Saturday had but 6.53 million. Once again, the top seven programmes on ITV's weekly top thirty list were all episodes of 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). Shame on you, Great Britain; first that Brexit malarkey, now this. Come on, we're better than this, surely? On BBC2, the top-rated programme was Tuesday's episode of MasterChef: The Professionals with 3.36 million punters. The other two nightly episodes of the popular cookery competition attracted 2.77 million and 2.89 million. University Challenge was watched by 3.09 million, Only Connect by 2.66 million and Strictly Come Dancing: It Takes Two by 2.19 million. The Choir: Gareth's Best In Britain attracted 2.04 million viewers followed Rugby Union coverage (2.04 million), Z-List Celebrity Antiques Road Trip and Close To The Enemy (both 1.87 million), The Apprentice: You're Fired! (1.79 million), Qi (1.64 million) and Two Doors Down (1.41 million). As usual, Gogglebox was Channel Four's highest-rated broadcast of the week (3.20 million), follow by the movie Miracle On Thirty Fourth Street (2.62 million), The Secret Life Of Five Year Olds (2.14 million) and Our Guy In China (2.10 million). The Supervet was seen by 1.96 million viewers, whilst Escape To The Chateau had 1.92 million and First Dates and Twenty Four Hours In A&E were both watched by 1.84 million (although, presumably, not the same 1.84 million because, let's face it, that would be well-weird). The latest episode of Human drew 1.78 million whilst The Last Leg With Adam Hills had 1.75 million. Channel Five's top performer was, The Yorkshire Vet with 1.77 million, ahead of Deck The Halls (1.46 million), Can't Pay? We'll Take It Away! (1.44 million), Building The World's Most Luxurious Cruise Ship (1.35 million) and All New Traffic Cops (1.33 million). Coverage of the Premier League action between Everton and The Scum on Sky Sports 1 was seen by 1.53 million punters. Sunday's seven goal thriller a'tween Bournemouth and Liverpool Alabama Yee-Haws drew 1.11 million. The Live EFL Cup quarter-final in which Liverpol Alabama Yee-Haws faced Dirty Leeds had nine hundred and seventeen thousand. Meanwhile, Nottingham Forest Cheats' criminally disgraceful victory over yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved (though unsellable) Magpies had four hundred and forty four thousand viewers. Those on Tyneside being, presumably, well narked by Lansbury's crass theatrics and the disgraceful incompetence of the referee. Sky Sports 2's coverage of Live Test Rugby: England Versus Australia drew five hundred and eighty five thousand (which also drew sixty three thousand in a simultcast on Sky Sports 3) and coverage of El Classico between Barcelona and Real Madrid had one hundred and seventy two thousand. England's appallingly poor capitulation in Live Test Cricket and the third test in India was seen by one hundred and thirteen thousand punters. A repeat of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix was Sky Sports F1's most-watched broadcast with nineteen thousand. Gillette Soccer Saturday was - as usual - top of the pile on Sky Sports News HQ with five hundred and nine thousand punters and an additional four hundred and forty four thousand watching on Sky Sports 1. Lewis was ITV3's top-rated drama (eight hundred and twenty thousand viewers). Foyle's War was seen by six hundred and thirty nine thousand and Doc Martin by six hundred and eight thousand. Pawn Stars headed ITV4's weekly list with three hundred thousand. No, this blogger had no idea why either. The movies Jaws 2 and Tobruk drew two hundred and ninety five thousand viewers and two hundred and forty nine thousand respectively. ITV2's most-watched broadcast was 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): Extra Camp (1.74 million viewers). For shame Great Britain, for shame. The Polar Express attracted 1.22 million. DCI Banks headed ITV Encore's top ten with fifty six thousand viewers, ahead of Poirot (fifty five thousand) and Vera (forty four thousand). BBC4's list was topped by the third and fourth episodes of imported drama Modus (1.03 million and nine hundred and twenty one thousand respectively), followed by How Quizzing Got Cool: The TV Brains Of Britain (four hundred and seventy seven thousand), Egypt's Lost Queen (four hundred and forty nine thousand), The Good Old Days (four hundred and forty eight thousand) and Roman Britain: A Timewatch Guide (four hundred and six thousand). Natural World drew four hundred and five thousand and Dangerous Earth, also three hundred and fifty seven thousand. Top Of The Pops 1972 was watched by three hundred and thirty nine thousand. Sky1's weekly top-ten was headed by The Flash (nine hundred and nine thousand). DC's Legends Of Tomorrow was seen by seven hundred and eighty four thousand, Supergirl by seven hundred and one thousand and Arrow by six hundred and seventy three thousand. Unfunny spew Trollied drew four hundred and fifty nine thousand punters all with sludge for brains, seemingly. Sky Atlantic's list was topped by Westworld (1.06 million). The much-trailed The Affair attracted two hundred and thirty thousand whilst Divorce was watched by one hundred and sixty nine thousand. The Young Pope was seen by one hundred and fifty thousand. On Sky Living, the latest episode of From The North favourite The Blacklist attracted eight hundred and seventy two thousand. Blindspot had six hundred and fifty two thousand viewers and Greys Anatomy, five hundred and fifty three thousand. Conviction attracted four hundred and forty six thousand and Nashville, two hundred and fifty six thousand viewers. Sky Arts' Landscape Artist Of The Year was watched by two hundred and five thousand viewers. 5USA's NCIS: Los Angeles was seen by four hundred and ninety thousand viewers. Castle attracted four hundred and eighty nine thousand, Criminal Minds: Suspect Behaviour, four hundred and thirty three thousand and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, three hundred and forty one thousand. NCIS topped CBS Action's list (one hundred and eighteen thousand). FOX's most watched programmes were The Walking Dead (1.55 million), American Dad! (two hundred and eighty nine thousand) and Talking Dead (two hundred and eighteen thousand). The Universal Channel's weekly list was headed by Chicago Med (three hundred and thirty nine thousand), Major Crimes (three hundred and four thousand), Pure Genius (one hundred and ninety nine thousand) and NCIS (one hundred and twenty seven thousand). On Dave, Dave Gorman: Modern Life Is Goodish was the highest-rated programme with five hundred and eighty seven thousand punters, followed by Have I Got A Bit More News For You (three hundred and forty nine thousand), James May's Cars Of The People (two hundred and eighty one thousand) and Qi XL (two hundred and seventy thousand). The latest episode of Drama's repeat run of Death In Paradise was watched by six hundred and six thousand viewers. New Tricks had five hundred and twenty one thousand, followed by Rebus: Knots & Crosses (four hundred and forty one thousand) and Murdoch Mysteries (four hundred and seventy thousand). Alibi's highest-rated programmes were Crossing Lines (two hundred and twenty nine thousand), Rosewood (one hundred and sixty eight thousand), King & Maxwell (sixty nine thousand) and Silent Witness (fifty nine thousand). On The Sony Channel, Saving Hope was watched by sixty five thousand, The Firm by fifty five thousand, [spooks] by forty four thousand and Hustle by thirty seven thousand. Yesterday's After Hitler attracted three hundred and nine thousand whilst the latest episode of the repeat run of Porridge had two hundred and eighty seven thousand. On the Discovery Channel, Gold Rush's latest series continued with four hundred and seventy thousand viewers. From The North favourite Wheeler Dealers drew two hundred and forty five thousand whilst Alaska: The Last Frontier was seen by one hundred and twenty six thousand, Tanked by one hundred and ten thousand and Fast N' Loud by ninety thousand thousand punters. Discovery History's Hitler's Germany: Fatal Attraction topped the weekly-list with forty two thousand. Tony Robinson's Wild West had twenty five thousand and World War II In Colour and Seven Ages of Britain both attracted twenty two thousand. On Discovery Science, Food Factory was seen by forty one thousand viewers. Discovery Turbo's most-watched programme was Wheeler Dealers with thirty five thousand (and, eight of the top-ten most-watched broadcasts). National Geographic's list was headed by Mars which had one hundred and fifty nine thousand viewers and Highway Thru Hell (sixty nine thousand). The History Channel's top-ten list was topped by The Curse Of Oak Island (two hundred and sixty five thousand). American Pickers attracted an audience of ninety five thousand. On Military History, UFO Files was watched by thirty thousand. Britain's Deadliest Lovers, 1980s: The Deadliest Decade and Murder Comes To Town were ID's top-rated programmes of the week (with fifty four thousand viewers, fifty one thousand and thirty three thousand murder-lovers respectively). Robbie Coltrane's Critical Evidence, Homicide Hunters and The Killing Season headed CI's list (one hundred and seven thousand, one hundred thousand and fifty nine thousand). GOLD's broadcast of the feelgood movie Groundhog Day attracted one hundred and thirty six thousand, whilst Harry Enfield's Yule Log - broadcast on the last day of November, please note - had one hundred and thirty three thousand. Comedy Central's largest audience of the week was for Impractical Jokers (three hundred and twenty nine thousand). Your TV's Corrupt Crimes was seen by fifty nine thousand. On More4, Vet On The Hill was the highest-rated programme with four hundred and thirty one thousand. Car SOS attracted four hundred and fifteen thousand punters and Eight Out Of Ten Cats three hundred and thirty six thousand. E4's latest episode of the massively popular The Big Bang Theory drew 2.29 million viewers, by a distance the largest multi-channels audience of the week. Hollyoaks had 1.08 million viewers. The Horror Channel's broadcast of the schlock classic Society attracted one hundred and twenty nine thousand. The top ten list also included Final Girl (one hundred and twenty three thousand), The Hills Have Eyes (seventy two thousand), Hammer's Lust For A Vampire (sixty six thousand - all of whom, one imagines, cringed through that bloody awful song) and An American Haunting (sixty one thousand). The Librarians, headed Syfy's top-ten with three hundred and eighteen thousand whilst The Exorcist had two hundred and seventy one thousand. Frozen Planet and Wild Africa were watched by forty eight thousand and forty thousand respectively on Eden. Alaska Monsters was the Animal Planet's most-watched programme with forty thousand. On W, Inside The Ambulance attracted one hundred and eighty nine thousand punters. The movie Indian Fighter was watched by one hundred and thirty one thousand on Spike. Cake Boss was seen by one hundred and ten thousand people on TLC. The Vault's Saved By The Bell drew fourteen thousand punters.

The final of The X Factor failed to arrest its disappointing recent ratings as the BBC's Strictly Come Dancing drew four-and-a-half million more overnight viewers than the long-running - and, increasingly tired-looking - ITV singing contest on Saturday evening. The Strictly semi-final, in which sports presenter Ore Oduba topped the leaderboard, attracted forty six per cent of the available overnight audience share, with ten million tuning-in and 10.9 million watching at its peak. The X Factor, which will remain on the nation's screens until at least 2019 after ITV signed a new three-year deal with Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads, had hoped that its finale - including performances from yer actual Kylie Minogue and Little Mix their very selves - would help it fight back in the ratings against Strictly. The ITV show, in which boy-band Five After Midnight were knocked out of the running, got an overnight audience of five-and-a-half million, giving it a twenty seven per cent share of overnight viewers, peaking at 6.2 million. The figures were The X Factor's lowest overnights for a Saturday night final programme, four hundred thousand punters fewer than last year's final, the previous low. In 2014, 8.4 million tuned-in to the Saturday edition of the final. This continues a pattern of declining ratings for the show, which is in its twelfth year, which also threatens the prospects of successful acts post-X Factor. Last year's winner, Louisa Johnson, who was the show's youngest champion, had the lowest chart entry for a winner's single to date, a far cry from the major chart success enjoyed by the likes of One Direction and Leona Lewis. Unlike in previous years, when the finalists covered existing hits as their first single, each act this year has had their own song written especially for them by Ed Sheeran (he is a popular beat combo, apparently), with all profits going to charrrridddeeee. But this overhaul - and other changes initiated by Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads - have failed to prevent it losing out to Strictly consistently throughout the series. The X Factor also recorded its lowest launch overnight in ten years. ITV pointed out that thirty eight per cent of sixteen-to-thirty four-year-olds tuned-in on Saturday, making it the most watched programme of the night for that desirable demographic. On Sunday, the final episode of Planet Earth II also walloped The X Factor final's bare ass red raw. The BBC1 show, broadcast in the same slot, was watched by an average overnight audience of 9.5 million viewers. Seven million overnight viewers tuned-in to see Matt Terry crowned the talent show's winner between 8pm and 9pm. Strictly Come Dancing had the highest overnight ratings of the evening, seen by eleven million in the 7.15pm and 8pm slot. Countryfile, was watched by 6.9 million viewers. Faced by questions about the declining performance of the channel's defining programmes in recent years, ITV has previously - rather desperately - highlighted the fact that a large proportion of Strictly's audience are aged over fifty five. Although, quite what the Hell that has to do with anything is a question probably well worth asking.

The BBC's political editor, the very excellent Laura Kuenssberg has been named as the journalist of the year at the Press Gazette's British Journalism Awards. Which will, no doubt, come as a considerable disappointment to all those stupid glakes who signed a petition demanding the BBC sack her for not ramming her tongue up Jeremy Corbyn's ringpiece for a good, hard lick. Or something equally childish and nonsensical. Laura became political editor last July and has been at the forefront of the corporation's Brexit coverage. The judges said: 'In a tumultuous year [Kuenssberg] rose to the challenge and made the story of Brexit her own.' The Gruniad Morning Star and BBC's Panorama were named joint winners of investigation of the year for the so-called 'Panama Papers' scandal.
A number of previously lost sketches featuring yer actual Keith Telly Topping's most favourite comedy duo - yer actual Peter Cook and Dudley Moore his very self - have been recovered by film archivists according to the Radio Times. The material, most of which was filmed for Cook and Moore's legendary BBC series Not Only ... But Also, has not been seen in more than half-a-century and will be be screened as part of a Channel Four special later this month, Peter Cook & Dudley Moore: The Missing Sketches. The haul also includes a Dudley Moore piano performance and two sketches from Moore and Cook performances in Australia which haven't been seen on UK television since the 1970s. The discovery was announced just weeks after the broadcast of The Undiscovered Peter Cook which showcased lost Cook material unearthed by journalist and filmmaker Victor Lewis Smith. The new documentary will include contributions from Not Only ... But Also producer Dick Clement, Pete and Dud collaborator Barry Humphries and long-time fans including Richard Ayoade, Josie Lawrence and Ronnie Wood as they enjoy the sketches and reflect on the career of one of Britain's best-loved comedy partnerships. Producer Richard Dean said: 'It's testament to their writing that these sketches have stood the test of time and I hope this documentary inspires a new generation of Peter Cook and Dudley Moore fans.' Helen Cooke, the Features Commissioning Editor at Channel Four added: '[We are] hugely proud to be able to showcase and celebrate these precious finds and rediscover what made Pete and Dud so brilliant. The programme promises to be a celebratory look back at two irrepressible British comedy icons at the top of their game.' Commenting on the discovery of the sketches, Dick Fiddy, the TV archivist for the British Film Institute, said: 'Pete and Dud are British comedy royalty. Any recovered material from them is a major cause of celebration.'
Major congratulations are due to From The North favourite Doctor Lucy Worsley concerning her long overdue promotion from BBC4 to BBC1 for Six Wives which started this week. A clever combination of historical documentary and drama, the opening episode broadcast this week was - despite the crass whinging of some berk on no importance at the Gruniad Morning Star - proper decent.
Paul Hollywood has claimed that the format of The Great British Bake Off will 'stay exactly the same' when it moves to Channel Four. Hollywood his very self is the only participant to be following the show to its new home. Fellow judge Mary Berry and hosts Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins left the programme after the BBC lost the rights. 'The Bake Off won't change in the sense that the format will stay exactly the same, the tent will stay the same, [as will] the challenges,' Hollywood claimed. Speaking on the Christmas episode of ITV's The Jonathan Ross Show, Hollwood said that he had been 'given little warning' about the channel switch.
The Chuckle Brothers are among the z-list celebrity guests who will feature in a reboot of Blankety Blank. The game show was first broadcast by the BBC in 1979 is being brought back by ITV for a Christmas special on 24 December. Because they haven't got any original ideas of their own, it would seem. David Walliams will host the revival, which will be the first episode of the format since 2002. Anne Robinson and Louis Walsh will also appear as panellists alongside Paul and Barry Chuckle. The X Factor judge Walsh said: 'I am really excited to be taking part in Blankety Blank after fourteen years off-air. The worst-case scenario is that contestants leave with just a Blankety Blank chequebook and pen and, let's be honest, who wouldn't want one of those.' Birds Of A Feather actress Lesley Joseph, comedian Joe Lycett and Coronation Street actress Brooke Vincent will also appear. All very good reasons why this turkey should be worth avoiding like the plague on Christmas Eve since it sounds about as entertaining as a boil on the knackers.
It has become one of the few feelgood moments of 2016, a weekly instalment of delight that has attracted more than twelve million viewers every week. As Planet Earth II draws to its conclusion on Sunday, the producer of the spectacular wildlife series has hinted that the BBC could return with a third series – though it won't be any time soon. Mike Gunton told the Gruniad that the broadcaster would be 'crazy to count out' making Planet Earth III in future, given the enormous popularity of the programme. However, he added, 'we would also be crazy to say it will be here in three years' time or even five years' time.' Gunton, who is also creative director of the BBC's Natural History Unit, said one of the reasons for the series' success is that 'it does feel the right length of time to revisit the original conceit,' a decade after the original Planet Earth was screened in 2006.
The broadcaster Andrew Marr is to be injected with drugs in the spine while hanging upside down in a Florida clinic in a 'controversial' technique that he hopes will help him recover from a stroke he suffered almost four years ago. Marr said that the treatment, which is known to cost several thousand dollars, would be 'my Christmas present to myself.' In an article for The Spectator, Marr said his stroke in early 2013 had left him 'semi-paralysed' on his left side and able to walk only 'unsteadily and slowly.' Marr, who still presents BBC1's flagship Sunday political programme, added that he 'drops things and takes ages to get dressed.' He said that as his disability was 'a bit of a sod,' he was 'inclined to give new treatments a go.' The treatment, which has yet to be fully tested, has been pioneered by the doctor Edward Tobinick, who founded the Institute of Neurological Recovery. It involves being injected with etanercept, an anti-inflammatory drug used for arthritis. Marr said that the treatment 'was controversial.' He explained that the drug is injected into the spinal fluid while the patient is upside down so that its large molecules can pass the blood-brain barrier. 'Some people have seen great results, others spit disdain,' he wrote. 'By the time you read this I will know whether it has worked.' The American Academy of Neurology is said to be sceptical about the treatment. It warns doctors to tell patients that 'there is insufficient evidence to determine its effectiveness and that the treatment may be associated with adverse outcomes and high cost.' It warns that, although no worrying side-effects have been reported so far, 'serious adverse events are described in studies of patients receiving etanercept for other conditions.' They include 'congestive heart failure and neurologic disorders.' In a summary of a June 2016 paper published in the journal Neurology it concluded: 'Given the limitations of the efficacy of the evidence and the potential for serious adverse events, judge the risk-benefit trade-offs of etanercept for post-stroke disability to be unfavourable. As of this writing, the cost of a twenty five mgs vial of etanercept is about four hundred and forty dollars in US currency. Additional costs associated with the pre-treatment evaluation and administration of perispinal etanercept are likely to be substantially higher.'
US media giant Twenty First Century FOX has made a takeover approach for Sky that values the UK-based satellite broadcaster at eighteen and a half billion knicker. The proposed offer is worth £10.75 a share in cash, a premium of thirty six per cent to the closing price on 8 December. Sky shares ended 26.6 per cent higher at 999.8p pence in London following the announcement. Billionaire tyrant Rupert Murdoch controls Twenty First Century FOX, which already owns a 39.1 per cent stake in Sky. So, really, any takeover would just be a case of billionaire tyrant Rupert Murdoch taking some money out of one pocket and putting it in another. Sky said that the independent directors of both companies had 'reached agreement on an offer price' of £10.75 a share, but added that 'certain material offer terms remain under discussion.' Whatever that means. According to Reuters' calculations, FOX will pay £11.25bn for the stake in Sky that it does not already own. The US company is required to 'clarify its intentions' by 6 January, or walk away for at least six months under UK takeover rules. FOX chief executive James Murdoch The Small was named chairman of Sky this year, fuelling speculation that the US media company would make a bid. Almost thirty per cent of Sky shareholders voted against the appointment of James Murdoch The Small as its chairman at the annual meeting in October, with some saying he was 'too closely linked' to FOX. No shit? Piers Hillier, chief investment officer of Royal London, which owns a 0.35 per cent stake in Sky, said at the time: 'Should FOX make a bid for Sky, investors need a strong independent chairman to protect the interests of minority shareholders and negotiate the best possible deal.' Sterling's sixteen per cent fall against the US dollar in the wake of the Brexit vote has made UK companies more attractive targets for foreign companies. However, billionaire tyrant Rupert Murdoch has longed to take full control of Sky for many years. In June 2010, his company, News Corporation - from which Twenty First Century FOX was subsequently split off - made a seven notes-a-share offer that valued Sky at about twelve billion smackers. It was rejected by Sky's directors for undervaluing the company. The bid was ultimately abandoned in mid-2011 in the wake of widespread opposition and the fallout from the phone-hacking scandal that prompted the closure of the disgraced and disgraceful Scum of the World. News Corp owns newspapers including the Sun, The Times and the Wall Street Journal, as well as other assets such as the publisher Harper Collins. In July 2014 BSkyB, as it was then known, paid almost five billion quid to take over billionaire tyrant Rupert Murdoch's pay TV companies in Germany and Italy.
A candidate put forward by Ofcom to join the Channel Four board and rejected by the government was an ex-deputy chief of Arts Council England. Althea Efunshile, the only non-white, non-male candidate put forward by the broadcasting regulator, was rejected by the lack of culture secretary the vile and odious rascal Bradley. The other four proposed candidates, all white males, were approved. Last week Prime Minister Theresa May faced furious questions in Parliament over why the only BAME candidate was apparently vetoed. A group of more than fifty MPs also wrote to the vile and odious rascal Bradley to demand an explanation. In response, the vile and odious Bradley claimed that she was 'in full agreement in the need to ensure our public institutions and appointments represent and reflect modern Britain.' She added: 'I do, however, firmly reject any suggestion that female or BAME candidates are treated unfairly in our public appointment decisions.' A DCMS spokesman claimed that the vile and odious rascal Bradley had 'approved four candidates on the basis that they met the specific skills and experiences set out in Ofcom's advertised job descriptions.' Efunshile, who left Arts Council England this year, was made a CBE in June for services to arts and culture. The former secondary school teacher joined the Arts Council as chief operating officer in 2007 and was appointed its deputy chief executive in 2012. Channel Four's chief executive David Abraham said: 'When combined with the many detailed issues they have raised with us over more than a year, this amounts to a worrying and unprecedented level of government interference.'
The BBC's lawyers have drawn up a defence case after Sir Cliff Richard took legal action in the wake of reports naming him as a suspected sex offender. They deny that the singer is entitled to compensation - from public funds, let it be noted - after publicity about a raid on his home in August 2014. Detail of the BBC’s defence has emerged in paperwork lodged by lawyers at the high court in London pending subsequent court hearings. The singer sued the BBC and South Yorkshire police in the wake of coverage of the raid and claimed that the BBC had 'added insult to injury' by entering its coverage for a 'scoop of the year' award. His lawyers claimed that Richard suffered 'profound and long-lasting' damage. He is alleging that his privacy was invaded and wants 'very substantial' damages. Detail of the complaints emerged in October. Richard's lawyers say he has sold the apartment which was raided because the idea of living somewhere that had been 'so publicly violated' distressed him. They added that the 'furore' threw his 'creative and business plans' into 'disarray' and forced him to delay the release of a CD of rock and/or roll classics. Richard is said to have run up more than one million knicker in lawyers' bills. Richard's lawyers say the BBC broadcast 'a major story' on the day of the raid after making an agreement with South Yorkshire police. They say the force 'contravened' guidance on 'relationships with the media.' BBC lawyers said in a written defence that they accepted Richard had suffered distress and executives had apologised to him, but they strongly disputed the compensation claims. 'It is denied that the claimant is entitled to damages or compensation as alleged at all,' said Gavin Millar QC, who is heading the BBC's legal team. 'It is admitted that the claimant suffered distress. The BBC has already told the claimant it is very sorry that this was the case.' A BBC spokeswoman said on Wednesday: 'As we have said on several occasions, we are very sorry that Sir Cliff Richard has suffered distress. However, we have now submitted our response to this claim and will defend ourselves vigorously. Our position has not changed from what we've said previously. It is the BBC's responsibility to report fully stories that are in the public interest. Police investigations into prominent figures in public life are, of course, squarely in the public interest, which is why they have been reported by all news organisations in this country.' She continued: 'Once the South Yorkshire police had confirmed the investigation and Sir Cliff Richard's identity and informed the BBC of the timing and details of the search of his property, it would neither have been editorially responsible nor in the public interest to choose not to report fully the investigation into Sir Cliff Richard because of his public profile. The BBC, at every stage, reported Sir Cliff's full denial of the allegations. The BBC, therefore, stands by the decision to report the investigation undertaken by the South Yorkshire police and the search of his property.' She said that Richard had argued the identity of people under investigation into historic allegations should not be made public until they were charged. 'This view raises significant questions about the scrutiny of the police and public confidence that allegations are investigated. That said, we respect the fact that he is making an important statement in the debate over balancing privacy rights with the public interest,' the spokeswoman said. 'Ultimately, though, deciding whether people should remain anonymous while the subject of a police investigation is a matter for parliament. The home affairs select committee reviewed the editorial decisions made by the BBC and concluded: "We see nothing wrong in their decision to run the story."'
Odious scumbag and louse Kelvin MacKenzie told the then News International boss and well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Rebekah Brooks, and Sun editor, Dominic Mohan, that he was quitting as a columnist of the odious right-wing tabloid in 2011 because he thought they had kept the full extent of phone-hacking from him, according to evidence presented as part of a civil case against the newspaper's publisher on Thursday. The e-mail forms part of evidence presented on behalf of a number of public figures currently suing the arse off News Group Newspapers, the News UK subsidiary which owns the Sun, over alleged phone-hacking and other privacy intrusions and naughty malarkey. In an e-mail to well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks and Mohan sent at the height of the phone-hacking scandal, the former Sun editor said that he was resigning for three reasons, the first of which was the 'inexcusable' way that he believed he had been 'kept in the dark' about how extensive the hacking had been at the company. He wrote on 20 June 2011: 'I swallowed whole the News International position that it was the work of two rogue employees. As the go-to guy for the media (News never responds to radio or television requests) when it comes to the Sun or the News of the World issues, I was happy to take on the [Chris] Huhnes and [John] Prescotts in live debate and on occasion defeat them. So good was my defence that on more-than-one occasion I received texts and phone calls from Rebekah urging me to do more. But, of course, you guys knew different. It wasn't "two rogue employees." The scale, the width and the depth were much more serious than that and yet you allowed me to twist in the wind rather than let me know the reality. That was inexcusable.' So, in other words, the main reason for MacKenzie's resignation in a fit of pique wasn't disgust at the practices of colleagues but, rather, the fact that he'd made himself look a fool by defending what subsequently turned out to be the indefensible. Although, arguably, not as big a fool as being the Sun editor who published unsubstantiated lies about ninety six dead Liverpool fans, obviously. I don't know about anyone else, but this blog feels remarkably little sympathy for the odious, hateful, smug-faced lardbucket. The other reasons Mackenzie gave for offering his resignation were the Sun's employment of yer actual Jezza Clarkson, who at the time was preventing his ex-wife from speaking about their marriage using a superinjunction and MacKenzie's feeling that he was treated as part of the 'ancien regime' and 'like an outsider'. MacKenzie went on to suggest that he could 'quietly stop writing' his column in a month's time before saying he was 'very anxious that their e-mail does not get wide circulation and therefore, if the deal terms suit, a simple text saying "Okay" would keep the numbers in the loop to a minimum.' The evidence submitted in the hearing at the high court also includes well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks' response to MacKenzie denying any knowledge of what he was alleging. She wrote: 'None of this e-mail make [sic] any sense whatsoever and the allegations are unfair and untrue. You are clearly upset about something though – so please let's meet asap and discuss.' Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks also forwarded her response to Mohan saying: 'I wouldn't respond. Let's see if he replies.' The e-mail was sent on 20 June and MacKenzie's departure was revealed ten days later, on 30 June. Just a week later it was announced that the Scum of the World would close, followed swiftly by well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks' resignation as chief executive of News International. Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks, who had edited both the disgraced and disgraceful Scum of the World and the Sun, was acquitted in 2014 of charges related to phone-hacking in a lengthy criminal trail and in September 2015 she became the chief executive of News UK, which had replaced News International. At the same trial, her deputy and successor at the Scum of the World, Andy Coulson, who subsequently became David Cameron's communications chief, was found very guilty of conspiring to hack phones and sentenced to eighteen months in The Big House. Lawyers for News UK are fighting to limit the disclosure of thousands of e-mails and other documents that the claimants say provide evidence that phone-hacking and practices such as 'blagging' private information were far more prevalent at News UK's titles than previously thought and admitted. Former England footballer Jonathan Woodgate recently added his name to the list of sixteen complainants – which already included Les Dennis. There are also understood to be dozens of other people considering whether to make claims. In September News UK took the unusual step of dropping its solicitors Linklaters mid-case, replacing them with a team from Clifford Chance including Jeremy Sandelson, who was instructed by James Murdoch The Small during the Leveson inquiry and the culture media and sport select committee inquiry into phone-hacking. MacKenzie, who was editor of the Sun during its notorious - and now completely discredited - coverage of the Hillsborough disaster, first became a columnist on the paper in 2006. After quitting in 2011, he went on to write for the Daily Scum Mail, but left in July 2012 after barely a year before briefly joining the Torygraph the following year. He eventually returned to the Sun in 2014 under Mohan's successor, David Dinsmore, who is currently News UK's chief operating officer under well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks.
ITV has put the founders of one of its leading reality TV companies, Gurney Productions – the maker of US cable hit Duck Dynasty – 'on temporary leave' as it launches 'an investigation' into the business. The UK broadcaster would not comment on the exact nature of the investigation into the company, founded by Scott and Deidre Gurney, despite repeated requests from media outlets. ITV took a sixty one per cent stake in Gurney for forty million dollars in 2012, as part of chief executive odious snivelling gnome Adam Crozier's first move to build its now sizeable ITV Studios production business in the US, with an option to buy the remainder of the company at a later date. Gurney is best known for reality show Duck Dynasty, the most-watched non-fiction series in US cable history, which is set to head into its final season on A&E next year. 'The board of Gurney Productions is currently in discussion with Scott and Deirdre Gurney about future arrangements with them,' ITV said in a statement. ITV has appointed Craig Armstrong – the co-founder of 5X5 Media whose credits include CBS's Survivor and Horrible Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution – as interim chief executive of Gurney Productions. Chris Valentini, chief operating officer of ITV America, will also help 'oversee' the company. In a memo to staff, Armstrong said that the Gurneys had been put on 'a short, temporary leave of absence. Starting immediately, Scott and Deidre are no longer responsible for the day-to-day operations of the company,' he said. 'Gurney Productions is a very important part of the ITV family and we are committed to keep things running smoothly until the situation with Scott and Deidre is resolved,' he said. Armstrong added that he would need to question some staff, alongside legal counsel, as part of the investigation. The US production arm of the ITV Studios business reported a thirty four per cent decline in revenues in the first half of the current year. America has been odious snivelling gnome Crozier's main market for international expansion and hundreds of millions of pounds have been spent buying the companies behind shows such as Pawn Stars and Cake Boss. Crozier has spent £1.2bn acquiring fifteen production companies, a figure which could rise to nearly two billion smackers by 2021 if the former owners reach their earn-out targets, triggering further payments. The entire ITV Studios operation, which makes shows from Coronation Street and Come Dine With Me to Hell's Kitchen and Poldark, reported an eighteen per cent boost in revenues to nine hundred and twenty three million notes in the first nine months of the year. However, growth was driven by new acquisitions, which last year included The Voice producer Talpa Media and Poldark and Parade's End maker Mammoth. Stripping this out, ITV Studios saw revenues decline nine per cent 'on an organic basis' in the first nine months. The broadcaster expects profits at ITV Studios, which have risen from ninety one million knicker in 2009 to two hundred and fifty million snots by the end of this year, to be 'flat' in 2017 as it focuses on major investment in finding new hit shows.
A student who 'wowed' TV audiences with his performances during Gareth Malone's The Choir has said he is 'thankful' for having Asperger's syndrome. Michael Luya is a member of Semi-Toned, a group crowned winners of The Choir: Gareth's Best in Britain on Tuesday. He said Asperger's, a milder form of autism, 'pushed' him to be the best he could be. He added: 'I'm really thankful for the fact I've got Asperger's. It's a part of me and I wouldn't be where I am today without it.' In the semi-final of The Choir, broadcast on BBC2, Michael was praised for singing an emotional solo of 'Candle in the Wind'. The twenty two-year-old said: 'I tend to get very socially anxious. I also have difficulties recognising how other people are feeling and reading other people's emotions. I couldn't grasp the emotional weight of the piece, so my approach was a lot more logical. I would say because of the challenges to connect, it gave me a drive to find something even deeper and even more personal.'

The UK has bought the capsule which sent Tim Peake into space and returned him to Earth. BBC News reported that the vehicle will go on display in the Science Museum in London in early 2017. The Russian Soyuz TMA-19M craft has been refurbished, but is still slightly singed from its re-entry into the Earth's atmosphere. Major Tim told BBC News that he was 'absolutely delighted' to hear his spacecraft would be brought to the UK. 'Hopefully it may act as an inspiration for the next generation of scientists and engineers,' he said. 'Flying into space is a huge privilege but it also comes with risk and one of the highest risk areas are launch into space and re-entry into the Earth's atmosphere. The Soyuz spacecraft is designed to protect the crew from these harsh conditions. So you get very attached to your spacecraft because it definitely does save your life.' Britain's first astronaut, Helen Sharman, said that she hoped the acquisition would have 'an inspirational effect. I think it is a tremendous thing to have Tim's capsule. Not just a Soyuz capsule - but it is Tim's. And the fact that we know that our astronaut was actually inside it - he physically sweated inside that suit, he looked outside of that window and saw what it was like to re-enter Earth's atmosphere - it really provides us with the link to our own astronauts,' she said. The space suit used by Sharman on her mission to the Mir space station in 1991 is currently on display at the Science Museum. She said that it was important to have 'real artefacts' which had actually been in orbit for people in the UK to view. 'Even now, twenty five years after my space flight, people want to touch me even though every cell in body has probably regenerated,' she said. 'It is really significant [having Tim's Soyuz in the UK]. It is not a mock up, it is not a simulator, it is not someone else's Soyuz. The fact that our own astronaut actually did things inside provides us with a connection to human spaceflight. It might only be psychological as it will look very similar to other Soyuz spacecraft that have actually re-entered the Earth's atmosphere, but it's not - this is Tim's.' The Science Museum's group director, Ian Blatchford, said that he hoped the museum's acquisition would help 'inspire' future generations. "It is a great honour to be here to officially acquire the first flown human spacecraft in the Science Museum Group collection, one which allowed Tim Peake to make his historic journey to the International Space Station which we plan to share with the public,' he said. Sharman added that seeing the spacecraft would make children believe that they, too, might be able to follow in Tim Peake's footsteps. 'I think that is the whole point about all this - the fact that someone else sat in that seat. Well you know what? So can they,' she said. 'Astronauts might be well-trained - but basically we are just people, like everybody else. And there are many other people we hope will be inspired - if not to go into space themselves one day, to think about the science that enables astronauts to go into space and make the world a better place.'
The Cassini spacecraft has sent back the first views from its new orbit around Saturn. Last month, the NASA probe began a new phase of its mission - one that involves making a series of daredevil manoeuvres over the next nine months. The phase will end with Cassini being destroyed in the atmosphere of a planet it has been studying for the past twelve years. The new photos show the hexagon-shaped storm in Saturn's Northern hemisphere. Cassini began what are known as its ring-grazing orbits on 30 November. Each of these week-long orbits - twenty in all - lifts the spacecraft high above Saturn's Northern hemisphere before sending it hurtling past the outer edges of the planet's main rings. NASA said that it would release images from future passes that included some of the closest-ever views of the outer rings and small moons that orbit there. Carolyn Porco, the head of Cassini's imaging team, commented: 'This is it, the beginning of the end of our historic exploration of Saturn. Let these images - and those to come - remind you that we've lived a bold and daring adventure around the Solar System's most magnificent planet.' The destructive ending being planned for Cassini is a result of the spacecraft having nearly exhausted its fuel. But NASA is also concerned about the small, yet important possibility that the probe will crash into one of Saturn's moons at some point in the future. Given that some of these bodies, such as Enceladus, are potential targets in the search for extra-terrestrial life, it has the potential to contaminate these bodies with terrestrial microbes borne on Cassini. Starting from April, Cassini will begin its grand finale, in which it will make the first of twenty two dives through the two thousand four hundred kilometre gap between the planet and its innermost ring. The spacecraft will make its final plunge into the atmosphere of Saturn on 15 September.
Japan has launched a cargo ship which will use a half mile-long tether to remove some of the vast amount of debris from Earth's orbit. The tether, made of aluminium strands and steel wire, is designed to slow the debris, pulling it out of orbit. The innovative device was made with the help of a fishing net company. There is estimated to be more than one hundred million pieces of 'space junk' in orbit, including discarded equipment from old satellites, tools and bits of rockets. Many of these objects are moving at high velocity around the Earth at speeds of up to twenty eight thousand kilometres per hour and could cause catastrophic accidents and damage to the world's orbital telecommunications network. The junk has accumulated in the more than fifty years of human space exploration since the Soviet-launched Sputnik satellite in 1957. Collisions between satellites and the testing of anti-satellite weapons have made the problem worse. The automated cargo ship - called Stork or Kounotori in Japanese - which is carrying the junk collector is bound for the International Space Station and blasted off from Tanegashima Space Centre in the North Pacific. Researchers say the lubricated, electro-dynamic tether will generate enough energy to change an object's orbit, pushing it towards the atmosphere where it will burn up. A one hundred and six-year-old Japanese fishing net maker, Nitto Seimo Co, collaborated with Japan's space agency to develop the mesh material, Bloomberg reported last month. The experiment is part of an international initiative designed to make space safer for astronauts by getting rid of space junk. It is hoped that it will also provide better protection for space stations and weather and communications satellites worth billions of dollars. The junk collector is the latest in a series of ideas put forward to tackle the problem, including harpooning, sweeping, lassoing and dragging debris into the atmosphere for burning. Experts say there are big financial benefits in reducing the risk for the multi-billion dollar space industry, but they caution that the Japanese scheme will only work for bigger pieces of junk.
Referees will be able to use a pitch-side monitor for the first time to review decisions when the Club World Cup begins in Japan on Thursday. Video assistant referees will review "match-changing" situations before informing the on-field official. The referee will then be able to view footage for some decisions - something not permitted in previous trials. FIFA's chief of technical development Marco van Basten said the move 'represents a big step forward.' Video assistant referees have been able to assist officials during two international friendlies this year but the Club World Cup represents their first use in FIFA competition. Previous usage has been in what FIFA call a 'semi-live' scenario, where the referee was not able to review decisions on a pitchside monitor. Under the live system, on-field referees will still make the final decision in the process but it is hoped video assistant referees will be able to correct clear mistakes in 'serious' incidents. 'Ultimately, these tests should prove invaluable in terms of determining whether the processes are sound or whether any further refinements are needed,' added Van Basten, the former Netherlands international striker. 'At the same time it's important to remember that we are entering somewhat unchartered territory here, given that we are going live for the first time.' FIFA intend conducting further live trials in several countries next year.
Future World Cup finals will feature sixteen groups of three countries in a forty eight-team tournament, if FIFA president Gianni Infantino gets his way. Infantino, who became head of FIFA in February, previously spoke of expanding the World Cup from thirty two teams to forty. Under his favoured sixteen-group structure the top two teams would progress to the last thirty two and on-going knockout matches. A decision will be made in January but any change would not be likely to take effect before the 2026 World Cup. FIFA's council will discuss the proposal at a meeting on 9 January but Infantino made 'expansion' part of his election manifesto because he wants to allow more countries the chance to compete at football's flagship event. If world football's governing body does not adopt the sixteen-group format, other options that will be considered include another version of the forty eight-team event which would see a thirty two team one-game knockout round with the winners joining sixteen teams who have qualified by right; keeping the tournament at its present size of thirty two teams; expanding it to forty teams (ten groups of four or eight groups of five). The number of teams competing at a World Cup last increased in 1998 when the tournament expanded from twenty four to thirty two countries. UEFA's Euro 2016 tournament featured twenty four nations for the first time, an increase from the sixteen-team format in place since 1996.
Russia's right to host the 2018 World Cup amid revelations about a state-sponsored doping programme has been questioned albeit only by rent-a-quote gobshite MP Damian Collins rather than anyone that actually matters. A World Anti-Doping Agency report detailed an 'institutional conspiracy' involving more than one thousand Olympic and Paralympic athletes. Football was one of thirty sports implicated by the McLaren report. 'FIFA now have to look very seriously at the way in which the World Cup is going to be staged,' whinged Collins. But, they're not going to so save yer breath, mate. Russia's sports ministry denied claims of a state-sponsored doping programme - well, they would, wouldn't they? - but Richard McLaren, author of the WADA report, said that international sports competitions had been 'unknowingly hijacked by the Russians' for years. The Canadian described the London 2012 Olympic Games as 'corrupted on an unprecedented scale.' Collins, chairman of the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee, added: 'It does taint the London Games. What is shocking from the report is this was state sanctioned. It's not just widespread abuse by Russian coaches and athletes, it is something that has been planned and executed with the authority and support of the Russian government.' Russian Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Mutko was sports minister during the time detailed by the McLaren report and is seeking re-election to the ruling committee of FIFA. Mutko, who chairs the 2018 World Cup organising committee, has said THAT Russia will 'resort to legal action' in response to the allegations of institutionalised doping.

The former FIFA president Sepp Blatter's six-year ban from football has been extremely upheld after an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. The eighty-year-old Swiss was very banned over ethics breaches as his seventeen years as head of football's world governing body ended in a corruption scandal in 2015. Blatter who is, obviously, not a complete crook - was found to have made a £1.3m 'disloyal payment' to ex-UEFA boss Michel Platini. Both deny wrongdoing. And, to paraphrase Mandy Rice-Davies, 'well, they would, wouldn't they?' CAS described the payment as 'an undue gift' with 'no contractual basis.' Blatter said 'no other verdict could be expected.' He added: 'I have to accept this decision. I have experienced much in my forty one years in FIFA. I mostly learned that you can win in sport, but you can also lose.' In its written verdict, CAS said Blatter 'requested the annulment of the ban but did not request a reduced penalty.' It added: 'In any event, the panel determined that the sanction imposed was not disproportionate.' FIFA extremely suspended Blatter and former French international Platini for eight years in December, but the bans were reduced to six years by its appeals committee. In May, CAS reduced Platini's ban to four years after he appealed. The sixty one-year-old had sought to get the punishment overturned, but a three-man panel said it 'was not convinced by the legitimacy' of the payment Blatter made to him in 2011. Both men say it was for 'consultancy work' that Platini had allegedly done for Blatter between 1998 and 2002 and they had 'a gentleman's agreement' on when the balance would be settled. The payment is also currently being looked into by Swiss prosecutors.
Yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved (though unsellable) Newcastle returned to the top of the Championship table as Dwight Gayle's hat-trick inspired a comfortable four-nil home win over against Birmingham City. In front of the largest Championship crowd of the season so far - fifty two thousand one hundred and forty five punters - Gayle headed in unmarked from a Mo Diame cross, and then finished a low cross for his second in the first-half. Yoan Gouffran thumped in Newcastle's third following a set-piece early in the second-half. Gayle's sixteenth goal of the season from Jonjo Shelvey's pass capped the win against The Blues, who drop out of the top six. After three games without a win - including last week's controversial loss at Nottingham Forest - Newcastle fans might have feared an end-of-year wobble, but any such concerns evaporated early as Rafael Benitez's Magpies imposed their dominance. Jonjo Shelvey and Paul Dummett started the game after they had the disgraceful red cards both received at Nottingham Forest eight days earlier overturned by the FA. Newcastle's players were reportedly keen to impress after feeling understandably frustrated that they had lost the City Ground having been forced to play much of the game with nine men. In the event, Newcastle did just that. Gary Rowett's side had climbed to fifth in the table, but failed to cope with the free-scoring hosts as their miserable run on Tyneside - four straight losses at St James' Park - was extended. Shelvey and Matt Ritchie had the quality deliveries to feed the lively Gayle, and Blues goalkeeper Tomasz Kuszczak had plenty of work to do before his goal was eventually breached. The visitors were lacklustre going forwards, meaning a comfortable return to the summit for The Magpies who climbed one point above Brighton, winners against Leeds on Friday evening. They also remain six points ahead of third-place Reading who beat Sheffield Wednesday two-one.
Keaton Jennings' father says that he missed his son's England debut century because of a power cut while he was watching the test on television in Mauritius. Ray Jennings, a former South Africa international wicketkeeper, only saw his son had made one hundred against India when his power returned an hour later. 'When he reached ninety six the electricity went off, so I missed his hundred,' he told BBC Radio Newcastle. 'When it went back on an hour later, I watched one ball and then he got out!' Durham left-hander Keaton, whose mother was born in Sunderland, became eligible to play for England in 2016 after serving a four-year qualification period. The twenty four-year-old opener top-scored with one hundred as England ended day one on two hundred and eighty eight for five in the fourth test against India. Asked what he said when the power went off, Jennings Senior said: 'I'm sure a lot of your listeners would know it wouldn't have been a long sentence - it would've been short and abrupt, but I wouldn't be able to repeat it on-air. It was a little bit of a bitter ending, but I'm very happy to know he actually ended up getting a hundred.'
Umpires at all levels will soon be given the power to eject cricketers from the field of play for threats or acts of violence as part of plans announced by the MCC World Cricket Committee that also include a restriction on bat sizes. The MCC, the guardian of the game, has become concerned about the rising number of incidents, particularly in the recreational game and now subject to approval from its full committee, an amendment to the Laws will come into effect from 1 October next year that will see, for the first time in its two hundred and twenty nine-year history, an enshrined deterrent. While technical aspects of how the law will be implemented are yet to be decided – the brandishing of red cards remains merely an idea – it has been determined 'threatening an umpire, physically assaulting another player, umpire, official or spectator; or any other act of violence' will be a sending-off offence that will result in a team being reduced to ten players for the remainder of the match. 'This is to cover the most extreme cases of violence on the pitch,' said the former England captain, Mike Brearley, who chaired the committee's two-day meeting in Mumbai. 'We had a survey of umpires and forty per cent said they'd considered giving up because of abuse and anecdotal evidence from league cricket is that behaviour has got a lot worse. Umpires have to be respected and given the best possible chance of doing their jobs.' Violent ball-striking informed another topic of discussion among the MCC World Cricket Committee - the independent advisory panel that is made up of twelve former cricketers - with restrictions on the size of bats to also be introduced in a bid to counter mis‑hits clearing the rope for six in the era of power-hitters. Bats will be limited to edges of forty millimetres and a depth of sixty seven millimetres under the regulations, in line with what the committee believes are the average blades used in the game (the Australia opener David Warner uses a bat with reported fifty millimetre edges) and will be policed with a metal gauge like those used by umpires to determine whether a ball is out of shape. 'Over sixty per cent of players surveyed were concerned by where the bat sizes were going,' said Ricky Ponting, the former Australian captain who is on the committee. 'It's the balance between bat and ball. We feel it's gone too far in favour of batsmen. Top-edges might travel over fine leg or third man – that's not the issue – it's mis-hits off the toe or the leading edge that are clearing the boundaries. We can't make the grounds bigger.' While a further change to the laws will see catches and stumpings being permitted after the ball has struck a close fielder's helmet, there was no will to make any amendments to the wording of the clause relating to ball tampering, despite the recent furore that followed South Africa's Faf du Plessis being extremely fined for applying sugared saliva from a mint in his mouth to the ball during the test against Australia in Hobart last month. In addition to its recommendations, the MCC World Cricket Committee also urged the International Cricket Council to push forward with an application to have the Twenty20 format of the sport included in the 2024 Olympic Games but could not reach a consensus on the idea of introducing four-day tests in a bid to speed up the longest form of the game and ease fixture congestion.
Badminton is one of five sports to lose all UK Sport funding for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo - after Britain claimed a bronze in the sport in Rio. Archery, fencing, weightlifting and wheelchair rugby have also missed out. And cycling - which won twelve medals in Rio, more than any other sport - has had its money cut by more than four million quid to just under twenty six million smackers. Badminton England chief executive Adrian Christy said he was 'staggered' by the 'incomprehensible' decision remove the sport's funding. A total of three hundred and forty five million notes will be invested in thirty one Olympic and Paralympic sports - two million knicker less than the record three hundred and forty seven million allocated for the Rio Games. As a result, UK Sport has set Team GB a target of winning fifty one to eighty five Olympic medals and one hundred and fifteen to one hundred and sixty two Paralympic medals in in Tokyo. Britain enjoyed unprecedented success at Rio 2016, with the Olympics yielding sixty seven medals and the Paralympics one hundred and forty seven. Chair of UK Sport Rod Carr said the government, which provides funding alongside National Lottery money, has 'confirmed its commitment' for Tokyo 2020. He added: 'These are critical funding decisions for sports to take them on their journey to Tokyo 2020 and beyond so the historic success at Rio can be maintained.' Badminton, which was set a target of winning a medal in Rio, is the only sport that earned a podium place last summer to have its funding removed. Marcus Ellis and Chris Langridge claimed bronze in the men's doubles after the sport was given £5.74m in the last cycle. Christy said that the decision presents a 'catastrophic impact on the sport' and that Badminton England would 'fight for the hopes and dreams' of its players. 'What have we done wrong?' added GB Badminton's performance director Jon Austin. Judo, which was given the same target as badminton and also claimed one bronze medal, has had its funding increased slightly. Liz Nicholl, CEO of UK Sport, said that the decision to cut funding was not taken lightly. 'We would like to invest in every sport but the reality is that we have to prioritise to protect and enhance the medal potential,' she said. 'If we under-invest across the board then the British teams will ultimately underperform at the games and medal success will be put at risk.' Sports Minister Tracy Crouch added: 'UK Sport's approach to elite sport has proven successful in Beijing, London and Rio and the ambition to win more medals in Tokyo is a bold one that, if achieved, would mean a sensational summer of sport in 2020.'
Mercedes have decided not to take any action against Sulky Lewis Hamilton after he ignored team orders in Abu Dhabi. Hamilton was driving slowly to try to bring other drivers into the battle between himself and team-mate Nico Rosberg, who won the title by finishing in second place. The team asked him to speed up, twice, telling him he was putting the win at risk. 'In the heat of the moment, sometimes when you make decisions, you get them wrong,' weaselled team boss Toto Wolff. 'In our mind, the way we think, this race was giving us the same number of points as other races and we try to win that one - not considering that there was much more at stake for the drivers. How the race panned out, we should have communicated differently and in hindsight let them race in the way they deemed to be appropriate.' Wolff's remarks, in an interview with Sky Sports, is clearly an attempt to draw a line under the controversy. The Austrian had said after the race win Abu Dhabi that he would take his time to consider 'what to do' about Hamilton's childish disobedience and that 'everything is possible' including giving the Briton the old tin-tack. The team are still likely to 'discuss the issue' with Hamilton at some point before the start of next season but there is no question of any disciplinary action being taken. Those talks will focus on the fact that the team still have to come up with ways of managing potential situations where a driver's individual objective does not align with those of the team. But, in deciding to let the matter rest, Mercedes have effectively come to the conclusion that they did the wrong thing in Abu Dhabi for the right reasons. Their team philosophy is always to try to score a one-two for the team if possible - and that Hamilton was putting that at risk backing Rosberg up into Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel and the Red Bull drivers Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo. But Wolff and executive technical director Paddy Lowe have accepted that it was not reasonable in the scenario of Abu Dhabi to make those calls. The two drivers were competing for the title and nothing else significant at stake because the team had already won both championships and Hamilton's only way of winning the championship was to try to get Rosberg to finish lower than third. The team have also taken into account the fact that Hamilton did not break any rules or drive in a dirty fashion. And, the fact that Roseberg has now retired meant that if they gave Hamilton the push also, it would mean they would be spending the summer trying to sign not one but two new drivers. Meanwhile, Fernando Alonso is not a candidate to replace Rosberg at Mercedes, the Spaniard's manager Flavio Briatore has said. Wolff said on Monday that he 'had to consider' Alonso as a replacement for the German, who announced his retirement last week just days after winning his first - and now, seemingly, only - world championship. Two-time champion Alonso is contracted to McLaren until the end of 2017. Briatore told Gazetta Dello Sport: 'We have an agreement with McLaren and we are going to respect that.' Only, he said it in Italian, obviously. McLaren's executive director Zak Brown said this week: 'We have a contract with Fernando and he is very happy. Obviously he wants to be winning races, as do we, but I am not worried about that scenario. We are very comfortable where we are at.' Wolff was always wary of putting Alonson alongside 2015 champion Hamilton after their tumultuous season as McLaren team-mates in 2007 and BBC Sport says that it 'understands' Wolff has made no direct approach to Alonso. McLaren would, in any case, reject any such move because a high-profile team with a works engine partner in Honda has to have a recognised top-rank driver as part of their line-up. McLaren's other driver next year is the Belgian rookie Stoffel Vandoorne, the replacement for the retired Jenson Button. Vandoorne is an exciting prospect but he lacks the experience or cachet to lead such a team and therefore McLaren cannot afford to lose Alonso as well as Button. The Spaniard left Ferrari for McLaren at the end of 2014, two years before the end of his contract with the Italian team. But Briatore said that the two situations were 'not comparable.' He added that the former Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo had 'promised' Alonso the chance to leave Ferrari at the end of 2014 if they could not win the Championship. 'We had discussions with [then team boss] Marco Mattiacci about extending the contract for another three years but we didn't accept it,' Briatore said. The favourites to replace Rosberg are Williams driver Valtteri Bottas and Mercedes reserve driver Pascal Wehrlein. Wolff is part of Bottas' management team but the Finn is contracted to Williams until the end of 2017. The team will be reluctant to lose him because their other driver next year is another newcomer, the eighteen-year-old rookie Lance Stroll and Bottas will be their main hope. Other than Wehrlein, Mercedes have limited options. Like Alonso, all the obvious candidates - whether they be race-winning top-line drivers or experienced second-string options - are already under contract for next year. If they do not want to promote Wehrlein, Mercedes will have to try to reach a deal with another team to buy a driver out of his contract. But, just as McLaren would not sell Alonso, for the same reasons Renault are unlikely to hand over their new signing Nico Hulkenberg or Force India release Sergio Perez.
Jenson Button MBE, the recently retired Formula 1 driver, now has an honorary degree in engineering to add to his list of achievements. The thirty six-year-old former World Champion from Frome, retired from racing after November's conclusion to the F1 season. Addressing an audience at the University of Bath, he said: 'I didn't go to university and work hard in my early years, but I would say that a lot of my achievements in motorsport are down to my engineering understanding of a racing car.'
And now,dear blog reader ...
Geet angry theatre-goers have 'slammed' (that's tabloidese for'criticised' only with less syllables) former The X Factor and 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)-type person Stacey Solomon for reading lines from a clipboard on the opening day of a pantomime. Solomon appeared onstage clutching the clipboard a day after returning from Australia. Some panto fans - for, indeed, there are such things - were 'dismayed', 'shocked' and 'stunned' to see Solomon reading lines during Thursday's matinee of Dick Whittington. The producer claimed it was 'a prompt' to 'ensure a smooth show.' Solomon, a regular on ITV's Loose Women, was cast in the part of Fairy Bowbells at Milton Keynes Theatre, alongside EastEnders' Samantha Womack and 'entertainer' Kev Orkian (no, me neither). Some audience members described Solomon's use of the clipboard as 'a sham' and 'embarrassing.' Solomon herself tweeted that she was 'nervous' about Thursday's matinee performance One audience member took to Twitter suggesting that the part should have been given to someone who 'had time to rehearse and didn't double-book work.' Christopher Marsh, a theatre company actor, described it as 'disrespectful and unacceptable.' Paying audiences expected 'professionalism,' he wrote. Tickets for the pantomime cost on average between fourteen and thirty five knicker.
Jennifer Lawrence has been criticised - albeit, not by anyone that actually, you know, matters - for repeating an alleged 'story' about allegedly rubbing her (let it be noted, very nice) bottom on some allegedly 'sacred' rocks in Hawaii. Hawaii isn't alleged, incidentally, it definitely exists. Some people on social media - so, to repeat, no one that actually matters - have argued that what she said is 'offensive' and want her to apologise. Although, to whom (presumably, the rocks themselves) they didn't elaborate. And, let us once again simply stand up and salute the utter shite that some people chose to care about.
The actress told The Graham Norton Show that all this bum-rubbing occurred when she was filming The Hunger Games. 'We were filming in Hawaii and there were sacred rocks. They were ancestors - who knows?' she told the BBC presenter.'They were sacred and you're not supposed to sit on them because you're not supposed to expose your genitalia to them. I, however, was in a wetsuit for this whole shoot so - oh my God, they were so good for butt-itching. One rock that I was butt-scratching on ended up coming loose. It was a giant boulder and it rolled down this mountain and almost killed our sound guy. And, his whole station got destroyed, it was a huge dramatic deal and all the Hawaiians were like "Oh my God, it's the curse." And, I'm round the corner going, "I'm your curse - I wedged it loose with my ass."' And ... breathe. It is not known where exactly the lava rocks she was talking about are in Hawaii (or, even if they exist and the story wasn't entirely invented for publicity purposes) but some of the scenes of Catching Fire were filmed on the North Shore of Oahu at Kawela Bay. Lawrence first told a version the story on US show Live with Kelly & Michael in 2013.
The former cabinet minister the rat-faced loathsome wretched odious nasty slavver-merchant, George Formby lookalike (and unemployed tit) Gove says that Theresa May was right to sack him after she became prime minister. 'If I'd been in her shoes, I would have sacked me too,' he told the BBC. Personally, if this blogger had been in Mrs May's shoes (unlikely since they're not his size), he would have sacked the rat-faced loathsome wretched odious nasty slavver-merchant, George Formby lookalike (and unemployed tit) Gove too and, smacked him across his rubbery face with a wet haddock, for a laugh. The rat-faced loathsome wretched odious nasty slavver-merchant, George Formby lookalike (and unemployed tit) Gove claimed that he 'regretted' standing for the Tory leadership, saying he 'made mistakes' in the way he withdrew his support from Boris Johnson. He now had to 'take the consequences' of his decision, including the fact that 'an act of treachery' has become widely known as 'doing a Gove,' he said. The the rat-faced loathsome wretched odious nasty slavver-merchant, George Formby lookalike (and unemployed tit) Gove made the comments during an interview with Fern Britton, to be broadcast on BBC on Sunday.

Authorities in Ghana have busted a fake US embassy in the capital, Accra, run by a criminal network which - for a decade - has issued illegally obtained authentic visas, the US State Department has said. Until it was shut down this summer, the sham embassy - or, if you will, shambassey - was housed in a run-down, two-storey building with a corrugated iron roof and flew a US flag outside. Inside hung a portrait of President Barack Obama. 'It was not operated by the United States government, but by figures from both Ghanaian and Turkish organised crime rings and a Ghanaian attorney practicing immigration and criminal law,' the State Department said in a statement released late on Friday. Turkish citizens, who spoke English and Dutch, posed as consular officers and staffed the operation. Investigations also uncovered a fake Dutch embassy, the State Department said. The crime ring issued fraudulently obtained but legitimate US visas and false identification documents, including birth certificates at a cost of six thousand dollars each, the statement said. During raids which led to a number of arrests, authorities also extremely seized authentic and counterfeit Indian, South African and Schengen Zone visas and one hundred and fifty passports from ten different countries along with a laptop and smart phones. The statement did not say how the gang obtained the authentic visas. And, the State Department also did not say how many people were believed to have illegally entered the United States and other countries using visas issued by the crime ring, which used bribery to operate unhindered. 'The criminals running the operation were able to pay off corrupt officials to look the other way, as well as obtain legitimate blank documents to be doctored,' the statement said.
The widow of a sixty nine-year-old man has very sued an Orlando Walgreens store, accusing them of 'holding her husband captive' until he cleaned and mopped the store's bathroom. Maria Elizarraras claims that the 'humiliation of the experience' caused 'emotional distress' so severe that it led to the death of her husband, Fernando Elizarraras'. The lawsuit was originally filed in state court but was moved to federal court on Monday. According to the suit, Fernando Elizarraras went to the Walgreens on Landstar Boulevard, where he had been a long-term customer, on 15 October 2012. After using the bathroom at the store, store employees stopped Fernando as he tried to leave and physically escorted him back to the bathroom, the lawsuit alleges. The employees insisted the man clean the facility because, 'You left a mess, all over the bathroom,' the suit claims. For twenty minutes, Fernando was threatened and forced to clean and mop the bathroom before he was allowed to leave the store, his wife alleges in the suit. The incident 'caused Fernando to be humiliated, disgraced and injured in his feelings, emotionally and mentally,' the lawsuit says. This alleged 'emotional distress' allegedly caused by the alleged situation was allegedly so severe that it allegedly 'resulted in the death of Fernando,' the suit says. The lawsuit does not specify how much time passed between the incident and Fernando's death. On behalf of her husband's estate, Maria Elizarraras was extremely suing the company for 'an undetermined amount,' but according to court documents has a standing offer to settle for half-a-million bucks.
A drone the size of a football was flown as close as twenty metres from a passenger jet over South London, an investigation has revealed. Albeit, had they collided, this blogger's money would've been on the aeroplane rather than the drone. The plane was above Biggin Hill, heading to Heathrow, when the drone was spotted passing the right wing 'very quickly,' the UK Airprox Board said. The Airbus A320 crew saw it but would not have had sufficient time to take action to avoid a potential collision. Police have not been able to locate the drone operator, UKAB said. The drone, which had a flashing magenta light, was spotted by the plane's crew while flying at an altitude of eleven thousand feet on 4 August. The report concluded the drone had 'endangered the lives of those on the plane' as a collision 'had only been narrowly avoided.'
The Rolling Stones (another popular beat combo of the have topped the UK chart with their latest CD Blue & Lonesome - their first original studio CD to reach number one for twenty three years. It collected one hundred and six thousand combined sales across all platforms - the second highest opening week sales so far this year behind the late David Bowie's Blackstar. Blue & Lonesome is the twelfth LP by The Rolling Stones to reach number one. The Official Charts Company said ninety five thousand of the CD's sales were physical - the rest were downloads and streams. The last Rolling Stones CD to reach number one was a 2010 reissue of the 1972 classic Exile On Main Street, but 1994's Voodoo Lounge was the band's last CD of original studio material to top the chart. The news came a day after yer actual Sir Mick Jagger became a father for the eighth time at the age of seventy three.
Character actors occasionally step out from the shadows to play prominent roles in popular television dramas, providing a bedrock for productions which feature large ensemble casts. Bernard Gallagher, who died last week of pneumonia aged eighty seven, performed that role in Casualty when it began on BBC1 in 1986, playing Ewart Plimmer, consultant and 'father' of Holby hospital's A&E department. 'We're in the frontline, Goddamn it!' were the first words viewers heard from him. Gallagher's character was usually seen barking orders or sitting in his poky office, feet up at an untidy desk and listening to music on his personal stereo. Long hours and dedication to his job led Ewart's wife to throw him out. In the second series, his battles with the hospital's new administrator, Elizabeth Straker (played by Maureen O'Brien), turned into a rather torrid relationship, but that ended when she moved to the US. The actor's own run in Casualty finished dramatically in 1988 after three series, with Ewart suffering a fatal heart attack. Gallagher, frequently cast in authority roles, was the second of three boys and one girl born in Bradford to millworkers Ellen and Harry, who was also a pianist in a band. Bernard acted in plays at St Bede's Catholic grammar school and at Sheffield University (1948 to 1951), where he studied English. After gaining a diploma in education, Bernard did his national service as a flying officer in the RAF educational service, during which he also appeared in theatrical productions, then taught English at a Birmingham technical college for a year. The chance to act professionally came when Donald Sartain, a friend from his RAF days, started a company in Lyme Regis, where Bernard made his debut in Robert Morley's comedy Hippo Dancing. The company worked in theatres in Barrow-in-Furness and Dundee, where Bernard learned his trade in both acting and directing. There was also a stint at the Victoria Theatre in Stoke-on-Trent before he headed to London and the groundbreaking Royal Court in 1966, where he made an impression in the Joe Orton plays The Ruffian On The Stair and The Erpingham Camp (both 1967). Bernard's screen debut came as the solicitor husband in the Robert Muller Armchair Theatre play A World Of Time (1967). He played the holiday camp manager Mervyn Price in Selwyn (1978), the sitcom sequel to Oh No, It's Selywn Froggitt! written by Alan Plater and starring Bill Maynard. Bernard was regularly seen as a barrister, Jonathan Fry QC, in over sixty episodes of the daytime courtroom drama series Crown Court throughout its entire run (1972 to 1984) and as judges in The Chief (1994), Bad Girls (2001) and EastEnders – allowing Nick Cotton to, quite literally, get away with murder in 1993, but giving Graham Foster an eight-year stretch of Richard III in 2004 for raping Little Mo Mitchell. He also played police officers in The Sweeney (1975), Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em (1978) and Paula Milne's Screen Two play Frankie & Johnnie (1986). Numerous other credits include episodes of Heartbeat, Bergerac, Wycliffe, Midsomer Murders, Doctors, Silent Witness, The Thin Blue Line, Cadfael, Harry Enfield's Television Programme, This Is David Harper, The New Statesman, The Practice, Reilly: Ace Of Spies, The Gaffer, Shine On Harvey Moon, Strangers, The Borgias, Juliet Bravo, The Professionals, The Duchess Of Duke Street, Bill Brand, Within These Walls, New Scotland Yard, Thirty Minute Theatre, Play For Today and London's Burning. In the Scottish soap Take The High Road (1981 to 1989), Bernard played Lord Strathmorris, a dirty-dealing landowner. There was also a part in the sitcom Relative Strangers as the shopkeeper, Percy Fisher. One of the actor's final screen roles, over the course of Downton Abbey's first four series, was as the widowed Bill Molesley, keen gardener, perennial of the village flower show and father of the Crawley family's butler-turned-footman, Joseph. On stage, his parts during a long association with the National Theatre included Mr Stanley in Howard Brenton's Weapons Of Happiness and Bones in Tom Stoppard's Jumpers (both 1976). During two seasons with the Royal Shakespeare Company, starting in 1990, Bernard played Lovewit in The Alchemist, Florio in 'Tis Pity She's A Whore and Casca in Julius Caesar. He also played Syd in Willy Russell's Breezeblock Park at the Whitehall Theatre. A source of particular pride was his performance as Brian in Heart's Desire – half of the Caryl Churchill double-bill Blue Heart - at the Duke of York's Theatre (1997) and in New York (1999), directed by Max Stafford-Clark. Among many radio roles, he played Pope Paul VI in Roger Crane's conspiracy thriller The Last Confession. In 1971, Gallagher married the actress Sylvia Vickers, who survives him, along with their children, Matthew and Zoe.
The actor Johnny Dennis has died. Johnny played the bus driver Murray in the 1987 Doctor Who story Delta & The Bannermen. Dennis also appeared in television shows such as The Bill, The Devil's Crown, The Enigma Files, Prospects, Dempsey & Makepeace, Surgical Spirit, Fanny By Gaslight and Conjugal Rights. On film, he appeared in Billy The Kid & The Green Baize Vampire, The Great Escape II: The Untold Story and Il Giovane Toscanini. He had a long association with the Player's Theatre Music Hall in Leeds and took over from Leonard Sachs as the host of The Good Old Days in 1988. Outside of entertainment, Johnny was a keen cricketer and was affectionately known as 'the Voice of Lords,' having been the MCC's senior announcer for eighteen years. It was whilst playing for Lords Taverners that he met Test Match Special commentator Brian Johnston, who recommended him for the role. When the incumbent announcer Alan Curtis became unavailable owing to an acting engagement in a Carry On film, Johnny took over. This led to a career spanning some thirty eight years and some one hundred and thirty six test matches. He retired in 2014.
As the first American to orbit the Earth, John Glenn who died this week aged ninety five became a national hero. His achievement restored some pride to the American Space Programme after first Yuri Gagarin and then Gherman Titov had successfully put Russia ahead in the space race. Like all of the original Mercury astronauts, Glenn had seen service as a military flyer before joining the space programme. And, at the age of seventy seven, after a career in politics he did it all over again, becoming the oldest person ever to travel into orbit. John Herschel Glenn Jr was born in Cambridge, Ohio, in July 1921, the only son of a master plumber and a schoolteacher. His father would recall how the boy used to run around the yard with arms held wide, pretending to fly a plane. He went to the local high school, which now bears his name, and then to college where he studied engineering. He failed to complete the course which would have led to a Bachelor of Science degree although his college awarded him one after his Earth orbit. He learned to fly just before America entered the war in 1941 and was commissioned in the Marine Corps in 1943. He was a pilot in a Marine fighter squadron in the Pacific and again during the Korean War, when he gained a reputation for being able to attract enemy anti-aircraft fire. After one mission he returned to base with more than two hundred holes in the fuselage of his F9F Panther fighter. Glenn earned six Distinguished Flying Crosses and flew more than one hundred and fifty missions during the two conflicts. He retained a lifelong love of flight and was piloting his own aircraft as recently as five years ago. He married his childhood sweetheart, Annie Castor, and they had two children, David and Lyn. Glenn's wife still has the one hundred and twenty five dollar diamond engagement ring he bought for her in 1942. He was posted to the US Test Pilot School in Maryland and in 1957 became the first pilot to complete a supersonic flight across the continental US. Two years later he became one of seven pilots selected for the fledgling US space programme following a gruelling series of physical and mental tests. Glenn almost failed to make the final selection. He did not meet the required academic qualifications and was close to forty, the age that would have barred him from being considered. On 20 February 1962, Glenn boarded the Mercury spacecraft Friendship 7 for a space journey that would last more than four hours and see him complete three orbits of the Earth. His capsule's heat shield came loose, leading Mission Control to fear he would be incinerated on re-entry, but the craft held together and he splashed down safely in the Atlantic just forty miles from the target area. His first words when he was lifted aboard a US destroyer were: 'It's hot in there.' Glenn -the third American in space - received a rapturous welcome which included a ticker-tape parade in New York and a personal award from President Kennedy. However, this popularity proved to be a double-edged sword. He wasn't permitted to return to space the following year, allegedly on Kennedy's orders, so Glenn turned his attentions to a career in politics in his home state of Ohio. But, he was to find that being an astronaut could be a disadvantage; people didn't seem to see him as a serious politician. His first attempt to run for office in the Democratic primaries in 1964 failed after he was forced to give up campaigning following a fall. He was successful ten years later when he won the primary and defeated the Republican incumbent to become senator. As a politician, Glenn had integrity and an independent mind. But, unfortunately, he was considered a rather dull speaker and a poor organiser. He found it hard to delegate, and was something of a loner. During his political career he was briefly considered as a running mate for Democratic presidential candidate Jimmy Carter. But Glenn's star dimmed after a meandering keynote address at the 1976 Democratic National Convention that led Carter to describe him as 'the most boring man I ever met.' And Glenn lost out to Walter Mondale in his attempt to secure the Democratic nomination for president in 1984, a campaign that saw him run up debts of three million dollars. He'd also had to fight off the negative image of himself as portrayed by the actor Ed Walker in the 1983 film, The Right Stuff, which was an account of the Mercury astronaut training programme. Based on the book by Tom Wolfe, the film portrayed Glenn as an argumentative character and a poor team player. His campaign debts were one reason why Michael Dukakis decided not to have him as a running mate in 1988 - that and the fact that he, like Dukakis himself, lacked charisma. Glenn's business career, which included an investment in a chain of Holiday Inns, made him a multi-millionaire. In October 1998 Glenn, who had stood down from politics, was back in space at the age of seventy seven as part of the crew of the space shuttle Discovery. During his two hundred and eighteen hours above the Earth, he undertook experiments to examine the effect of space travel on his ageing body and allow comparisons with the data collected on his first flight, thirty six years before. But some commentators questioned the scientific value of this flight, which they felt was a political favour granted by President Clinton. Once more he returned to a ticker-tape parade and a hero's welcome from a new generation of fans. John Glenn, the astronaut, never lost his popularity. He remained the man who had put credibility back into America's space programme and helped pave the way for the 1969 Moon landings. In 2011, Glenn received the Congressional Gold Medal, the nation's highest civilian award. A year later, President Barack Obama presented him with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.Glenn is expected to be buried at Arlington National Cemetery, Virginia. 'Though he soared deep into space and to the heights of Capitol Hill, his heart never strayed from his steadfast Ohio roots. Godspeed, John Glenn!' Ohio Governor John Kasich said in a statement.
Earlier this week, this blogger picked up a copy of the latest - and, possibly, last - edition of Nick Pegg's superb The Complete David Bowie. After all, dear blog reader, why buy a copy of the best book about The Grand Dame ever written once when you can buy it twice (or even three times). Capitalism? Don'tcha just lurv it the mostest baby? The first edition, if anyone's wondering, was given away a few years ago to friend when this blogger bought the second edition!
Incidentally, Keith Telly Topping's favourite line in the book is from 'The Jean Genie' entry on the subject of that legendary January 1973 Top Of The Pops appearance: 'After the recording, the band had a drink in the BBC bar where cast members of the Doctor Who serial Planet Of The Daleks were relaxing after a day's filming on location. Seeing The Spiders in their spangly costumes fraternising with Jon Pertwee and Katy Manning, a passer-by asked if they were playing aliens in Doctor Who.' If only wishing made it so! This blogger is currently trying to envisage just how much David, Mick, Trev and Woody would have improved Planet Of The Daleks had they been in it, even in some minor roles. It's a lot, I'm imagining!

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