Friday, December 16, 2016

Quashed Ambitions

The answer to the Sherlock question many fans have been waiting for has finally been answered. John and Mary Watson's baby's name has been revealed, in an announcement in Monday's Daily Torygraph. 'Congratulations! To John and Mary Watson on the birth of their beautiful baby daughter, Rosamund Mary Watson,' it reads. 'From your friends, Mrs Hudson, Molly and Sherlock, although he hasn't helped us with this at all as he's always on his phone.'
It might be hard to believe now we know him as 'The Internet's Boyfriend', but when yer actual Benedict Cumberbatch was first in talks to play Sherlock Holmes, BBC executives were reportedly worried that they needed someone 'sexier' to take on the role. 'When we presented Ben on his audition day, everyone at the BBC agreed he's definitely got to be in it,' the Sunday Mirra reports co-creator Mark Gatiss saying at the Celebration of Sherlock event which took place last week. 'And then they went, "We were promised a sexy one though."' Mark continued: 'And we didn't say "yeah he is sexy" we went "he's very good, isn't he?" And Benedict, to this day, doesn't think of himself as sexy. His nose was "entirely wrong," apparently. We thought if only we could get the nose right we might have something. The truth is, this isn't made up.' Thankfully, once Benny was in character, everything fell into place. 'As he walked through into 221B Baker Street it all changed,' Mark said. 'He was a weird man a few minutes ago, a sort of ginger weird person. But that disappeared. It was the thing that suddenly worked with Colin Firth with Mister Darcy.'
Tory MP Naughty Nicky Morgan has pulled out of a planned appearance on Have I Got News for You, after a highly public row over her criticism of Theresa May's wardrobe. The satirical quiz show said that the former lack of education secretary had pulled out of this week's episode owing to 'unforeseen circumstances.' Naughty Nicky Morgan reportedly 'angered' Downing Street by querying why the PM had spent nine hundred and ninety five smackers on a pair of leather trousers. The so-called Trousergate malarkey dominated several newspaper front pages this week (presumably because they didn't have any actual news to report), with a number of Conservative MPs having their say on the matter. Because, obviously, they certainly didn't have anything more important to be attending to. Morgan had been booked in September to appear on this week's Have I Got News For You, due to be hosted by Match Of The Day presenter Gary Lineker. But Hat Trick Productions, which makes the long-running satirical show for the BBC, said that she would no longer be taking part. No reason has been given. According to Radio Times her place was taken on the show by a designer handbag. Morgan, who was the lack of education secretary under May's predecessor, the former David Cameron, appears to have really annoyed Downing Street in recent days. After May was photographed for The Sunday Times wearing a pair of flared 'bitter chocolate' leather trousers, Morgan was reported as saying: 'I don't think I've ever spent that much on anything apart from my wedding dress.' The Scum Mail on Sunday then decided to stir up some trouble by publishing a tense series of leaked text message exchanges between Morgan and the Prime Minister's joint chief of staff, Fiona Hill. In a speech on Tuesday, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, who has been the subject of jokes by the Prime Minister, made light of the situation. He noted that May went on a walking holiday in the Swiss Alps this summer: 'Our wonderful PM actually wears lederhosen,' he said.
TV Comedy Line Of The Week came from said episode of Have I Got News For You. Gary Lineker revealed that the extremely missing Naughty Nicky Morgan belongs to a new and 'exclusive' group of forty rebel Tory MPs who are 'fighting for a soft-Brexit'. And, who delight in the name 'The New Bastards', 'as opposed to John Major's "original bastards",' noted Lineker, before adding: 'Is anyone else finding it confusing that a group of MPs called "bastards" doesn't include Iain Duncan-Smith?'
TV Comedy Line Of The Week, part the second, was from Friday's episode of Qi, Non Sequiturs. Or, as Sandi Toksvig noted, Non Secateurs, 'because one of the researchers can't spell!'
The divine Goddess that is Victoria Coren Mitchell was on positively spanking form on this week's episode of Only Connect, particularly her delightfully bonkers opening, a stream-of-consciousness allegedly court-ordered 'apology' to Joanna Lumley. For ... something unspecified: 'Ms Lumley, we're sorry. But, thankfully, it was only squirty cream whatever it looked like!' Later, after a ridiculously tricky question about mountains that floored both teams, Victoria also sort-of-apologised again, this time to the audience, with: 'This is what you get after ten series! We did "highest peaks" on BBC4, when I was a redhead and smoked forty-a-day!'
The Grand Tour has officially become the most illegally downloaded television programme in history, figures suggest. Amazon paid a reported small fortune - one hundred and sixty million dollars - for three series of The Grand Tour, albeit, that figure has been denied by several of those involved in the series. Figures from MUSO, 'data analysts of the piracy market' (for, indeed, there is such a thing), 'suggest unprecedented numbers of people are avoiding paying seventy nine pounds a year to sign up for Amazon's online streaming service, Amazon Prime and, instead, downloading the show illegally' according to an atypically sneering article in the Gruniad Morning Star, those well-known fans of Jezza Clarkson and all his works. The data, 'shared' with the Scum Mail on Sunday, suggests the first episode of The Grand Tour was downloaded illegally 7.9 million times, the second 6.4 million and the third 4.6 million. British viewers made up the largest percentage of the total number of illegal downloads. The new show from the former Top Gear trio debuted on 18 November and Amazon, which has extended its streaming service to two hundred countries, has said only that 'millions' of people streamed the first episode. Even the programme's presenters say that they are not privy to the official viewing figures. MUSO estimated that Amazon could have lost up to three million smackers in potential revenue in Britain alone on episode one because of the illegal downloads. Chris Elkins, the chief commercial officer at the company, said: 'It is the most illegally downloaded programme ever. It is off the scale in terms of volume. It has overtaken every big show, including Game Of Thrones, for the totals across different platforms. We monitor thousands of campaigns and this one really stands out.' A spokesperson for Amazon said: 'The Grand Tour has become the biggest show premiere ever on Amazon Prime Video, breaking records around the world.' Consumer Intelligence Research Partners estimated there were sixty three million Amazon Prime members this July, up nineteen million in a year, whereas other analysts estimate that two million are in the UK.
Peter Capaldi has admitted that starring on a long-running series like Doctor Who presents him with 'certain problems and acting issues.' He said that it 'can be hard to keep things fresh' after playing a part for three years. 'Episodic television like this, which has a long life, has certain problems - certain acting issues that you only discover the longer you do it,' Capaldi said. 'You have to give the audience what they want, but at the same time, you have to do that with a full heart and spirit, you can't phone it in. How do you do that? So it's hard.' He faced similar challenges on the BBC's political satire The Thick of It, in which he played foul-mouthed anti-hero Malcolm Tucker from 2005 to 2012. 'Malcolm always used to have these tirades, hurling vitriol at people,' Capaldi recalled. 'But that's what [the viewers] wanted. So you sort of had to find new ways [of doing it], keeping it true and real.' David Suchet will appear in the next series of Doctor Who, playing a character known as The Landlord, and Capaldi revealed that he had asked the veteran actor for advice. 'He was just impeccable - he played this role with such seriousness and rigour. He's done Poirot for twenty five years and I'm doing my third year of Doctor Who, so I said to him, you'll have to give me some tips! It was very useful to have someone who's been around the block to help.'
The BBC has confirmed that the Doctor Who spin-off series will be shown on BBC1 in January. The first episode will be broadcast on Monday 9January at 10.45pm Class has previously only been available in the UK via the BBC3 channel, which, since 16 February this year, has only been available online. The series is due to be shown on BBC America this spring.
David Tennant is to voice Scrooge McDuck in a new animated retake on Duck Tales, which will premiere on Disney Channel UK some time in early 2018.
The BBC has ordered a ninth and a tenth series of Not Going Out before series eight has been broadcast. This news means the show – created by comedian and Would I Lie To You? panellist Lee Mack – will become one of Britain's longest-running sitcoms. Not Going Out is due to come back to BBC1 for series eight in the New Year, but it was announced at the press screening on Tuesday that a ninth and tenth series have already been ordered. 'When we started I thought it might run for just one or two series,' Mack told the Chortle website. 'I started the show in my thirties and currently I'll still be doing it in my fifties, even if we don't do any more after that. But, I'll do it as long as I'm asked because I actually like doing it. I know you're supposed to do the traditional way of doing six episodes, then maybe another six and then finish and call yourself a classic – but I like to really drag it out! I'll do it to death.' After a successful Christmas special in which Lee (Mack) and Lucy (Sally Bretton) had their first child, series eight takes a leap seven years into the future where the couple now have three kids.
If you expect to see Mary Berry eating kangaroo testicles while scaling a two hundred foot building any time soon then kindly give yer actual Keith Telly Topping a hit of whatever you've been smoking. But, also, forget it, because the former Great British Bake Off judge has said she will never compete in 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). Because she's got a bit of dignity and self-respect, presumably. When asked if she would ever go into the 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) jungle, Mary told the Sun: 'No. The worst thing in the world you could do for me is make me go on that. Rats and things. I wouldn't do that for anybody. Ever. How people do that? You must be desperate to do that.' Yes, Mary you must.
Len Goodman seems to have mixed emotions about quitting Strictly Come Dancing. Viewers will be saying goodbye to Len in the Strictly grand finale this weekend after twelve years as the BBC competition's head judge. In that time, Strictly has transformed from a standard Saturday night pro-celeb talent competition into a telly phenomenon. In his final appearance on spin-off show Strictly Come Dancing: It Takes Two on Monday, Len admitted that it won't be easy to walk away. 'What I'm gonna miss is turning up at the studio and [having] the expectation of what's going to happen,' he said. '[I'll miss] meeting up with the other judges because we get along great.' Len continued: 'Craig, Darcey, Bruno - we have such a laugh. That's what I will miss. As much as I'm sure this is the right time to go, I bet when next year comes around I'll be sitting in doors and thinking, "I was daft." It's the right time.' Somewhat surprisingly, Len revealed that he never expected Strictly Come Dancing when it began, much less become one of the biggest shows on TV. 'I was convinced it wouldn't work. I really was,' he admitted. 'It was 2004, ballroom dancing wasn't at the pinnacle of its popularity. I didn't think the celebrities would be able to dance to such a high standard. I think the pros did a brilliant, wonderful job. What I admire with the BBC - if I'd have been the BBC, I'd have thought, "We'll do it on a Wednesday after Newsnight and see how it goes." No, they went full bore - Saturday night, huge band and Brucie. They had such nerve to do it like that. It's just truly been a phenomenon.' While we won't be seeing him as much on TV here in the UK, Len will still be giving out his trademark sevens in the US on Dancing With The Stars next year. 'You sign an annual contract with the BBC, but in America I have signed a two-year contract,' he recently explained - hinting at a forthcoming Dancing With The Stars retirement.
The BBC and ITV are to launch a Netflix-style TV service, called BritBox, which will initially target the US market. The broadcasters, which have been investigating launching a 'best of British' on-demand service since at least March, intend to offer a mix of dramas including Tutankhamun, Cold Feet and Silent Witness as well as soaps such as EastEnders and Emmerdale. The broadcasters said that the pricing of the subscription service, which will be ad-free, will be revealed at its launch in the first quarter next year. Netflix, which has more than forty six million paying subscribers in the US, charges from eight to twelve dollars a month for its various packages. 'BritBox will be the best and most comprehensive British streaming service in the US,' said Simon Pitts, managing director of online, pay TV and interactive at ITV. He said that the service would include 'a rich catalogue of classic, new and exclusive shows easily accessible to US viewers in one place.' The service will offer a 'now' category that will screen soaps and some series just twenty four hours after broadcast in the UK. There will also be drama premieres of shows never seen in the US. A 'classics' section will feature oldies including Brideshead Revisited, Pride & Prejudice, Upstairs Downstairs, Fawlty Towers and Keeping Up Appearances. The ambition is to launch the service in other international markets, including the UK. According to one alleged 'source', BritBox will not replace either the BBC iPlayer or ITV Player services in the UK. Instead, it will offer a subscription service primarily for 'box set' content of shows which have moved out of the thirty-day catch-up window on those services. It is not thought that rivals such as Channel Four and Channel Five will join the UK service. ITV and BBC Worldwide have also partnered with US cable broadcaster AMC Networks, maker of hit shows including Breaking Bad and The Walking Dead, which will take a minority stake in BritBox but will not have any voting rights. It is also known that the broadcasters held talks with NBC Universal, owner of the producer of shows including Downton Abbey. AMC Networks jointly owns US cable channel BBC America with BBC Worldwide. Last July, the BBC scrapped the global version of its iPlayer service, which charged users subscription fees to watch programmes via an app in western Europe, Australia and Canada. In 2007, ITV, BBC Worldwide and Channel Four joined forces to attempt to launch an online TV service, the ill-fated Project Kangaroo. The project was scrapped after competition regulators blocked its development, deeming it was too much of a threat to competition in the then-nascent UK video-on-demand market.
Campaigners and politicians have raised concerns over billionaire tyrant Rupert Murdoch's latest attempt to gain full control of the satellite broadcaster Sky, saying that he must face a new 'fit and proper person' test and competition investigation. It emerged last Friday that billionaire tyrant Murdoch's Twenty First Century FOX film and television group had made an £11.2bn offer to take full control of the broadcaster, of which it already owns thirty nine per cent. This week, it was confirmed that billionaire tyrant Murdoch has tabled an official bid. Billionaire tyrant Murdoch was previously forced to abandon an attempt to take full control in 2011 amid a public outcry over his businesses' journalistic practices after it emerged that journalists at the disgraced and disgraceful Scum of the World had hacked the phone of the murdered teenager Milly Dowler. Evan Harris, joint executive director of Hacked Off, said: 'This bid will need to be checked by Ofcom, not only on competition grounds but whether Rupert and James Murdoch pass the "fit and proper person" test.' Billionaire tyrant Murdoch faced a similar test during his failed bid for the company five years ago. Harris added: 'Given recent revelations around e-mail deletions that have emerged in court papers and the conviction of the Murdoch "favourite" Mazher Mahmood, it is clear that that question can only answered by the Leveson phase two inquiry, which was established to get to the truth of precisely these matters. It is surely more than a coincidence that the prime minister's secret meeting in New York with Rupert Murdoch was followed swiftly by her attempt to cancel the Leveson phase two inquiry into the News Corp hacking cover-up and then this takeover bid.' Hacked Off was formed to represent the many subjects of scum tabloid newspaper stories whose phone messages were hacked by journalists gathering information on them. Others were concerned over the political power that full control of Sky would hand to billionaire tyrant Murdoch. The Labour MP and former shadow lack of culture secretary Chris Bryant said: 'Have we in Britain learned nothing about handing over the largest broadcaster by value and the largest share of newspapers to a single individual? The damage that does in the end to our political system is immense. It's a phenomenal concentration of social and political power and if we let it go through without so much of a by your leave, we will rue the day. Again.' Bryant suggested that rival media organisations and others who 'cared' about media plurality should 'join together' to object to the plans. The Labour MP Paul Farrelly, a member of the culture, media and sport select committee both now and during the phone-hacking scandal, said: 'It looks like a business as usual for Rupert Murdoch, as though phone-hacking never happened. Rebekah Brooks is back at the helm of News UK and now the Murdochs have moved in on Sky.' Ed Milimolimandi, the former Labour leader, also waded in, with two tweets posted shortly after news of the deal emerged in which he accused the prime minister, Theresa May, of 'betraying her promise' to stick up for the public. Owning Sky would give FOX, whose cable networks include FOX News and FX, control of a pay-TV network spanning twenty two million households in Britain, Ireland, Austria, Germany and Italy. Some analysts wondered whether there might be cause for an EU investigation into foreign ownership. Others, however, said 'the change in circumstances' since the last attempted Sky takeover could give billionaire tyrant Murdoch an easier ride this time. Liberum analysts told Reuters that because News Corp had now separated from FOX – which means the bidding firm no longer owns UK newspapers – and because there were no competition issues, the deal would potentially face less opposition. They also said the British government was 'keen to promote investment' in the wake of the Brexit vote and could present the deal as 'a sign of confidence' in the economy. David Yelland, a former Sun editor, told Reuters: 'Will the government really say [Murdoch] can't own more than thirty nine per cent of [Sky]? I don't think so. It takes a lot of negative energy to block a deal like this and I just don't see it happening this time around.'
A top Channel Four executive has warned that fake news could affect the next UK erection and urged the UK government to step in if Facebook and other Internet firms do not do more to tackle the problem. Dan Brooke, the broadcaster's chief marketing and communications officer and board member, said that the 'worry' was web firms would 'fiddle with fake news while democracy burns.' Barack Obama has said that false information on the web could affect American politics and some have suggested fake news stories, such as claims that an FBI employee investigating Hilary Clinton's e-mails killed himself, had an impact on the US election. Brooke suggested the problem could become equally serious in the UK and companies such as Google and Facebook were trying to avoid taking responsibility. 'Fake news does not seem to be quite so rife in the UK, yet the US is often the canary in the coalmine,' he told the Westminster Media forum on Tuesday. 'We have more than three years before our next general election, so let's act now to ensure the same doesn't happen here. Something must be done. So I'll say to social media players today: with your power comes responsibility. Much greater responsibility than you have yet shown. They claim they are technology companies not media companies and, therefore, that the regulation of content is not their responsibility. But, I'm afraid this just isn't good enough. There is too much at stake.' Earlier this month, a gunman with an assault rifle fired shots in a pizza restaurant which was the target of fake news reports that it was operating a child abuse ring led by Hillary Clinton and her top campaign aide. Numerous other false stories – mainly favouring Donald Trump – were shared widely and believed during the erection. A recent survey by BuzzFeed found that seventy five per cent of US adults believed a series of fake news headlines which they were shown. Google and Facebook have said they are working on ways to eliminate fake news or stop it spreading and have already taken steps such as cutting off advertising revenue to some sites identified as sources of completely made up stories. However, Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg has repeatedly rejected the 'crazy idea' that they affected the US election. Brooke said if the companies did not do more they should be 'made subject to regulation' by the government, which has said it is 'looking into' fake news. Channel Four and other UK broadcasters are required by law to follow rules on accuracy and impartiality. Brooke said: 'We think there is a strong case for policymakers to bring together the leading players in this debate to help think through solutions and to stand ready to intervene if self-regulation is found wanting. Regulating the Internet is, of course, extraordinarily difficult. But tougher regulation will be the only way if voluntary solutions prove inadequate.' Brooke also highlighted Facebook's recent revelations that it has not been giving advertisers and publishers accurate information about how their content performs on the network as an example of the company's lack of transparency. However, he said that the potential impact of its failure to deal with the problem went far further. 'In short, the worry is that social media is fiddling with fake news while democracy burns.'
Well-known hairdo Donald Trump has denied that he will work on the new series of Celebrity Apprentice after becoming US president. It had been reported - seemingly erroneously, if Trump is telling the truth - that he would continue to be an executive producer of the show he helped to create. He tweeted on Saturday that he would 'devote zero time' to the new series, which will be hosted by Arnold Schwarzenegger. However, Trump did reaffirm that, financially, he retains 'a big stake' in the show. Trump fronted the series, which is owned by MGM and broadcast by NBC, until 2015, when his political career took over. There have been concerns about a conflict of interest because of The Apprentice's advertising deals and because NBC also runs various news productions. 'I have nothing to do with The Apprentice except for fact that I conceived it with Mark [Burnett] and have a big stake in it. Will devote ZERO TIME!' And, that must be true because he said it in capital letters. Well-known hairdo Trump described the reports that he would be working on the programme during his presidency as 'fake news.' Trump will be sworn in as US president on 20 January, eighteen days after the new series begins. Variety magazine, which first reported the story, had claimed that he would be paid 'at least in the low five-figures' per episode. MGM declined to comment on the financial arrangements. Some observers have questioned whether the connection could affect the reporting on Trump by NBC's news division. In June 2015, NBC claimed that it had ended its business relationship with Trump because of various 'derogatory statements' which he made about immigrants during his presidential campaign. On the links between the president-elect and The Apprentice, the liberal Media Matters blog wrote: 'NBC will invite scepticism into how NBC and MSNBC can fairly cover the sitting president when there is a financial incentive to protect his reputation and the ratings of the Celebrity Apprentice. Furthermore, Trump and NBC should address the conflict of interest concerns raised by the fact advertisers may help to personally enrich President-elect Donald Trump by purchasing ads during Celebrity Apprentice.' However, the new series was recorded in February, before NBC severed its ties with Trump and before the general erection. Trump's supporters have defended the president-elect, comparing his Apprentice credit to royalties received by Barack Obama from his books. Trump is due to hold a news conference next week outlining how he plans to leave his business 'in total in order to fully focus on running the country.' The new series of Celebrity Apprentice features the likes of Boy George, Mötley Crüe singer Vince Neil and Jersey Shore-type person Snooki Polizzi.
Julia Roberts is to star in her first television series. The actress will appear in a TV adaptation of Maria Semple's novel Today Will Be Different, which was published in September. Semple will write the mini-series herself, while Roberts's company Red Om Films will produce it. Roberts has previously appeared as a guest star in such TV shows as Friends and Law & Order, but this will be her first lead role in a series. Today Will Be Different tells the story of a woman named Eleanor Flood who makes plans to have the best day of her life, but wakes up to find a strange new future unfolding. In a statement, Semple said: 'I'm giddy that Eleanor Flood will be brought to life by Julia Roberts. This will be a fun ride!' It has not yet been confirmed which network will broadcast the show.
Prince Charles is to appear on BBC Radio 4's comedy quiz Just A Minute. The Prince of Wales has recorded a message to be heard on this year's Christmas Day episode. In his message Chas talks about the show as 'one of this country's great institutions' while trying to avoid a challenge from Paul Merton. However he does not take part in a normal round of the game - his message will be played before the festive contest starts in earnest. Host Nicholas Parsons said: 'It was a pleasure to hear The Prince of Wales recount years of listening to Just A Minute with such fondness. 'But when he delivers his message will he make it to the end without hesitation, repetition or deviation? You'll find out on Christmas Day.' The popular radio quiz, in which contestants are challenged to speak for one minute without hesitation, deviation or repetition on any given subject, will celebrate its fiftieth birthday in December 2017. Radio 4 controller Gwyneth Williams said that it was 'fitting' the Prince of Wales should join the show as 'we know the Prince of Wales has enjoyed BBC radio comedy over many years.' She added: 'But, Nicholas Parsons and Paul Merton take no hostages so I can only wish him luck!' The Christmas special - titled Just A Minute Does Panto! - sees Merton, Gyles Brandreth and Sheila Hancock 'journey through Panto-land in search of the missing Golden Whistle,' joined by Pippa Evans, Tony Hawks, Rufus Hound and Josie Lawrence.
The detection of ripples in space-time and a famous cat-based paradox are featured in a list of the most significant physics advances of 2016. The discovery of gravitational waves, announced in February, was declared 'breakthrough of the year.' But the top ten list, compiled by Physics World magazine, also features a new twist on the much-loved Schrödinger's Cat idea. It also included the detection of a planet around our nearest star. The winning discovery was the result of work by the Ligo collaboration, which involved more than eighty institutions worldwide. Ligo operates several labs around the world which fire lasers through long tunnels, trying to sense warping in the fabric of space-time. Well, someone's got to do it. 'What's been achieved by Ligo, particularly in a relatively short space of time, is truly incredible,' said Hamish Johnston, the editor of Physics World. 'The observations it has made are the first direct evidence of the existence of black holes, so Ligo has already changed our view of the Universe.'
Belfast-based astronomers have helped to discover a very rare celestial event - a star being 'swallowed' after it 'passed too close' to a black hole. Queen's University, Belfast, was involved in a European project to solve the mystery of 'an extraordinarily brilliant light' in a distant galaxy. Last year, US scientists assumed that the light came from an exploding star. But, after studying it for ten months, QUB astronomers believe that the star was ripped apart by a spinning black hole. Black holes are regions of space where gravity is so powerful that even light cannot escape. The largest type of black hole is referred to as 'supermassive' and the one under examination is believed to have a mass of 'at least one hundred million times that of the sun,' according to QUB. The team from QUB's Astrophysics Research Centre was involved in gathering months of data from a selection of telescopes, both on Earth and in space, including the Hubble telescope. The light source, named ASASSN-15lh, was initially categorised in the US in 2015 as the brightest supernova ever seen. However, QUB Professor Stephen Smartt, said: 'We observed it and thought: "It doesn't look like a supernova to us."' Professor Smartt is the leader and principal investigator of the European Southern Observatory project, based in Chile. 'We've a big group at Queen's,' he told BBC Radio Ulster's Evening Extra programme. 'We work in the School of Maths and Physics at Queen's and our speciality is looking for things that move - like asteroids that might hit the Earth, or things that flash, which might be supernova or these black holes.' He added that the light 'puzzled us for months' but, based, on their telescopic observations, the QUB team proposed a new explanation for the object - in a galaxy far, far away. It believes the sun-like star wandered too close to the black hole and was 'ripped apart,' a phenomenon known in astronomy as 'a tidal disruption event.' In the process, the star was 'spaghettified and some of the material was converted into huge amounts of radiated light,' said a QUB statement. 'This gave the event the appearance of a very bright supernova explosion, even though the star would not have become a supernova on its own as it did not have enough mass.' Professor Smart told Evening Extra that a black hole was the 'densest form of matter we know. If you could take every person on Earth and squeeze them on to a teaspoon - that would be the density of a neutron star, or neutron star material, and a black hole is probably ten times denser than that. So it's an object from which light cannot escape, it's an object that is denser than any known matter that we can see or test in the universe.' He said that the formation of black holes was 'still a mystery. We think they formed in the very early universe, as galaxies started forming and there's quite a lot of evidence for that,' he said. 'For example, our own Milky Way galaxy has got a massive black hole which is about one million times the mass of the Sun and we known that because we can see stars going round and we can measure their velocities, so we know the mass must be there.' Professor Smartt paid tribute to Doctor Giorgos Leloudas, from Israel's Weizmann Institute of Science, who published the research on Monday in Nature Astronomy. 'Our results indicate that the event was probably caused by a rapidly spinning supermassive black hole as it destroyed a low-mass star,' said Leloudas. To date, this type of event has only been observed about ten times, but Leloudas added a note of caution on the findings. 'Even with all the collected data we cannot say with one hundred per cent certainty that the ASASSN-15lh event was a tidal disruption event, but it is by far the most likely explanation.'
A meat and potato pie has been sent 'into space' attached to a weather balloon. The pioneering delicacy was launched from Roby Mill, Wigan, ahead of the World Pie Eating Championship next week. The aim is to see if its journey up to one hundred thousand kilometres changes the molecular structure of the pie making it quicker to eat. It is believed this is the first pie to be launched into the stratosphere. Space enthusiasts from Sheffield-based Sent Into Space have attached a camera and tracking equipment to the weather balloon and will analyse the data and edit video of its journey. Bill Kenyon of Ultimate Purveyors from St Helens, who were commissioned to make the pie, said: 'This is the first step to enable mankind to consume pies with more elegance and comfort. Neither the sky, nor the pie, should be the limit.' Ho. And, indeed, ho. He added: 'This pie will be tested to the extreme. It's structural integrity will be tested against the potential rigours of being served by a grumpy pie lady from Wigan or being transported for delivery in a pie van that hits a pothole in Hindley.' It is thought that the pie will freeze on its ascent and will be cooked as it reaches 'massive speeds' on re-entry.
Former Brady Bunch actress Susan Olsen has been extremely fired from her hosting role on a Los Angeles-based radio show, following an expletive filled homophobic rant posted online. The fifty five-year-old, who played the youngest daughter, Cindy Brady, on The Brady Bunch, caused controversy last week following an on-air Two Chicks Talkin' Politics segment on her LA Talk Radio show. The former child-star was accused of spreading 'outrageous misinformation' by the show's guest, the gay actor Leon Acord-Whiting, who took to Facebook after the broadcast to share his concerns about Olsen's 'idiotic lies. It is wildly irresponsible for LA Talk Radio to allow a Trump fanatic to co-host one of their programs, where she can spew her idiotic lies unchecked,' said Whiting. 'I think LA Talk Radio needs to give Cindy Brady her walking papers. I will not listen to or appear on any shows there from this point forward until she's gone. This isn't just disagreeing on, say, tax plans or foreign policy. Susan Olsen spreads outrageous misinformation and it is dangerous and unprofessional.' Olsen was quick to respond to Whiting's comments and hours later, Whiting posted a screenshot of an expletive-filled private message that Olsen allegedly sent to him on Facebook. 'Hey there little pussy, let me get my big boy pants on and Reallly take you on!' the posted message read. 'What a snake in the grass you are you lying piece of shit too cowardly to confront me in real life so you do it on Facebook. You are the biggest faggot-ass in the world the biggest pussy! My Dick is bigger than yours which ain't sayin' much! What a true piece of shit you are! Lying faggot! I hope you meet your karma SLOWLY AND PAINFULLY.' Gosh. What a terrible person. The screenshot drew hundreds of complaints, with LA Talk Radio announcing on Friday that it had extremely fired the former actress in the wake of her homophobic rant, in a statement posted - ironically - on Facebook. 'We will not tolerate hateful speech by anyone associated with our radio station and have severed our ties with a host that veered off the direction in which we are going,' the statement read.
Former EastEnders actor Joseph Shade has appeared in court charged with sex offences against four teenage girls. The youth worker, from Cliff Road in Sheringham, played Peter Beale in the soap from 1998 until 2004. Shade was accused of eight counts of inciting a person under eighteen to engage in sexual activity while in a position of trust and one count of sexual activity with a child. He denied the charges at Norwich Crown Court. His trial has been set for 31 July. The alleged offences are said to have occurred between 2012 and 2015 and to have involved girls aged between the ages of thirteen and sixteen. Shade is one of a number of actors who have appeared in the BBC soap playing Ian and Cindy Beale's son, Peter.
The controversial water cannon which former mayor of London Boris Johnson ordered following the 2011 riots are to be sold. Johnson bought the three crowd-control weapons for ninety grand in 2014. The following year the then Home Secretary Theresa May refused to give permission for them to be used under any circumstances 'on safety grounds.' Current London mayor Sadiq Khan said that three hundred and twenty five thousand knicker has been spent on them so far and money raised from their sale will help tackle gang crime. The cost has been incurred by the Met's purchasing, fitting out and repairing the machines and includes nine hundred and seventy quid spent 'on installing radios and CD players.' Khan hopes to save about one hundred and seventy five thousand smackers in 'maintenance costs' across the remaining eight years of the equipment's lifespan. The Ministry of Defence has been drafted in to help find a buyer. Following the riots, which spread across cities in England, a report from the Inspectorate of Constabulary suggested water cannon and plastic bullets could be considered to deal with rioters throwing missiles and petrol bombs. In a statement to MPs in July 2015, May said the cannon 'could cause serious injuries,' including spinal fractures and raised doubts over their usefulness in fast-moving riots. Khan said: 'It beggars belief that such a huge amount of taxpayers' money has been wasted on paying to store these redundant machines.' Conservative London Assembly member Keith Prince said: 'Although they cannot currently be routinely used, the Met can apply for a special licence to deploy water cannon were we to have a repeat of events like the 2011 riots. These water cannon have been used to train officers for deployment in Northern Ireland for the past two years and could provide a vital service on London's streets tomorrow if required.'
Daily Scum Mail Australia has amended and apologised for its article criticising TV presenter Samantha Armytage's appearance, which prompted a far-reaching backlash earlier this week. The online article, published on Sunday, accompanied paparazzi photos of the Sunrise presenter out grocery shopping in Sydney and made repeated references to her 'giant granny panties.' The article was amended on Tuesday to remove all references to Armytage's underwear and to include a statement grovellingly apologising 'for any distress caused.' 'An earlier version of this story contained critical statements regarding Samantha Armytage's appearance. While the story has since been amended, we apologise for any distress caused to Ms Armytage or readers more generally.' The original headline of the story: Armytage dares to bare with giant granny panties showing a visible line, was also changed to Armytage goes solo as she heads out on a shopping trip. Speculation about the presenter's love life, however, was consistent across both editions. It is a rare show of contrition from the scum publication, which makes a habit of commenting, often cruelly, on women's appearances. But, it is possible its hand was forced, with Armytage declining to comment to the BuzzFeed Australia website about the story on Monday because it was 'with the lawyers.' The Daily Telegraph reported that the Seven entwork's legal team sent Daily Scum Mail editor Luke McIlveen and writer Max Margan a three-page letter stating the article was 'a gross invasion of her privacy,' a view which would likely be shared by a court in ordering compensation be paid for 'hurt, distress and humiliation.' The Gruniad said that it 'understands' the Daily Scum Mail amended the article because it 'agreed' it was 'inappropriate' and the description of Armytage's underwear should never have been published. The story drew widespread criticism from social media users, other media and Armytage's fellow television hosts. Lisa Wilkinson, who presents the rival breakfast show Today, said that the report was 'disgusting.' In Fairfax, Clementine Ford wrote the 'creep shots' were 'the Daily Mail's latest despicable display of misogyny dressed up as celebrity news,' while Wendy Tuohy wrote in the Herald Sun that the report was 'proof' the Daily Scum Mail 'despises women.'
And, still down under, Australian golfers watched a four metre scrub python swallow a wallaby at a course in Far North Queensland. The incident happened on the seventeenth fairway at Paradise Palms Golf Course in Cairns at the weekend. The scrub python, Australia's longest snake, often ambushes prey by hiding in trees or long grass. A course manager said the display did not deter golfers from finishing their rounds. Robert Willemse, a club member for almost ten years, said that the snake was spotted wrapped around the marsupial in the middle of the fairway. 'Everybody was pretty surprised. It's quite an unusual thing to see,' he told the BBC. 'I was only there for about five minutes, but I heard that the snake did manage to swallow the wallaby and rolled into a dry creek.' A club spokesman told the Cairns Post newspaper that locals were used to seeing various wildlife on the 'rainforest-style' course. Dan Natusch, a biologist from the University of Sydney, said it was not unusual for a scrub python to eat a wallaby. 'They're arguably Australia's largest terrestrial predator, larger than a dingo,' he told the BBC. Natusch said that the non-venomous species 'did not pose a major threat' to humans. Wallabies, on the other hand, he wasn't prepared to be so unequivocal about. 'Scrub pythons don't see us as prey,' he said. 'Exercise caution insofar as they have very sharp teeth and you don't want to be bitten.'
A 'dangerous' prisoner who wrote letters threatening to kill people and then have sex with their corpses has been jailed for forty five years. Richard Ford was serving a thirty-month sentence for possessing a knife when he made the threats from his cell. A judge passed the 'highly unusual' sentence after hearing of Ford's fear he would enact his 'sadistic urges.' He acknowledged the term 'may be controversial' but said that it was 'necessary' to 'protect the public.' Ford, who has spent most of the last fourteen years in jail, was being held at HMP Nottingham last January when he passed a series of notes to prison officers containing a list of potential victims. He named several prison officers, a fellow inmate, a district judge, a police officer and a former partner. Sentencing at Lincoln Crown Court, Judge Michael Heath told Ford, who admitted ten charges of making a threat to kill, the case had caused him 'very considerable anxiety.' He said that Ford, who had expressed a desire to never be released from prison, was 'plainly dangerous' and 'would pose a grave and immediate danger to the public.' But, the judge said, he was 'bound under the law' to pass a sentence which was not 'wholly disproportionate' to the offence of making threats to kill, which carries a maximum ten-year jail term. 'Achieving both of these aims in this case is impossible,' he said. The judge imposed a mix of consecutive and concurrent nine-year jail terms, adding up to a total of forty five years. 'I realise that the overall length of the sentences I am going to pass is highly unusual and may be controversial but I pass them because I deem them to be the only adequate way to protect the public in your case,' he said. 'You say you don't feel that you can stop yourself from acting upon your sadistic urges. Those urges are to kill and have sexual intercourse with the corpses of those whom you kill. You have made it clear to me that you do not wish to be released from prison. If you are released you think you will get drunk, obtain a weapon and kill.' Isabelle Wilson, in mitigation, said Ford did not feel he was safe to be released and wanted to receive treatment either in a prison or in a hospital setting. 'The thoughts he discusses are concerning but at least he is willing to speak about those thoughts openly,' she said.
A footballer has been charged over an alleged scam involving a vulnerable person's bank details being taken so their savings could be accessed. Southend United striker Nile Ranger has been charged with conspiracy to defraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering, police said. The offences are alleged to have been committed in February 2015. Ranger, of Bounds Green, North London, is due to appear at Highbury Corner Magistrates' Court. He signed a new three-and-a-half year contract with the League One side at the start of this month, having started his career at yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved (though unsellable) Newcastle United - where he was nothing but trouble by all accounts - before later moving to Swindon Town and then Blackpool. He joined Southend in the summer after a trial, having not played a first-team game since November 2014 while at Blackpool.
Mo Diame and Christian Atsu scored in each half to take yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved (though unsellable) Newcastle back to the top of the Championship table with a two-nil victory over Wigan Not Very Athletic on Wednesday evening. And this, despite The Wigs including a player with the name Max Power in their line-up. True story. If The Toon keep on playing teams with Homer Simpson aliases in them then presumably, on Saturday, Burton Albion will be including both Joey Jo-Jo Junior Shabadoo and Guy Incognito, yes? Diame opened the scoring when he ran from the halfway line, played a neat one-two with Isaac Hayden and slid the ball home from inside the area. It was his first league goal for the Magpies since joining during the summer (although he has, previously, scroed three in the EFL Cup). Atsu made the game safe nine minutes after coming off the bench for the hard-working Matt Ritchie when he scored from Yoann Gouffran's cross. The Magpies had eased off somewhat after half-time and could have allowed Wigan Not Very Athletic back into the game with Will Grigg going close with a header from a corner. Newcastle came into the match knowing that a win would see them reclaim top spot from Brighton & Hove Albinos, who won three-two at Blackburn Vindaloos on Tuesday. United made the breakthrough midway through the first half when Diame's powerful run took him to the edge of the Wigan area, where Hayden helped the former Latics player open the scoring. However, the struggling hosts failed to really test Karl Darlow so the Newcastle goalkeeper kept himself busy by setting up the crucial second goal. A long clearance to the left wing found Gouffran and his cross eluded the entire Wigan defence, allowing Atsu the time to take a touch with his right foot before powering a fierce left-foot shot into the net.
Cardiff City defender Sol Bamba has been very charged by the Football Association for alleged insulting and/or threatening behaviour in the draw at Ipswich. The thirty one-year-old has already received a two-game ban for his red card - and now faces more matches on the sidelines. Bamba went geet radj - with an 'uge chimney on - and confronted the referee, fourth official and his own manager, Neil Warnock as he reacted angrily to a Jonathan Douglas tackle. Côte d'Ivoire international Bamba, who has apologised, will not play in Cardiff's next home match against Barnsley, having missed the two-one win over Wolves on Tuesday. Cardiff boss Warnock has not ruled out the club itself taking disciplinary action, saying: 'You can't condone that [Bamba's reaction]. I've not seen that part of him before, but he was absolutely furious. He'll get violent conduct and banned for three games and quite rightly so. He was a bit big for me. I could not get him around the neck. I'll have to grow a bit. But he is distraught in there. When you look at the video, the lad, Douglas, he knows what he's doing,' said Warnock. 'He's left his foot in which wasn't spotted by anybody, but that does not condone what he has done. The ref should have just blown for a foul. It would have saved a man getting sent off, it would have saved twenty minutes of bedlam, it would have saved me a lot of hassle. [The referee] said he wanted to give us the advantage, which it did, but we don't want it there. When Sol goes down like that, he does not go down for nothing, you've got to stop the game and learn from it. I hope the referee has learned from that.' Bamba apologised for his conduct in a statement released by the club. 'I want to apologise to the Cardiff City supporters, my team-mates and manager for my conduct during Saturday's game at Ipswich,' he said. 'Whilst I was extremely angry with the challenge on me at the time, it did [sic] not condone my reaction and I accept that the referee had no choice but to show me a red card. I have spoken to my manager and team-mates and apologised to them in person. I've had a fantastic time at Cardiff City since joining in October and I look forward to returning. My intention will then be to make further amends with my performances on the pitch.'
The highest-ever wave detected by a buoy has been recorded in the North Atlantic ocean. The nineteen-metre wave happened between Iceland and the Outer Hebrides, the World Meteorological Organisation said. It was created in the aftermath of a very strong cold front with over forty three knot winds on 4 February 2013. The WMO, which released the data, said the previous record was eighteen metres in December 2007. That wave was also in the North Atlantic. It is not the biggest-ever recorded wave, however. In 2002 a ship spotted a twenty nine-metre North Atlantic wave. The buoy is part of the UK Met Office's network of Marine Automatic Weather Stations. Known as K5, it sits in the North Atlantic off the Western Isles. The buoys complement ship-based measurements and satellite observations, which monitor the oceans and forecast meteorological hazards on the high seas. Giant waves can be created in the North Atlantic, which stretches from the Grand Banks plateau off the coast of Canada to the area South of Iceland and west of the UK. In winter, wind circulation and pressure systems cause extratropical storms, sometimes known as 'bombs,' the WMO said. The height of a wave is measured from the crest of one to the trough of the next.
Paul McGann has teamed up with his brother, Mark, to embark on a short film project based on Elizabeth Barrett-Browning's poem Perplexed Music. Paul is to be directed by his brother in the film about the cycle of devoted love, loss and rebirth. It is hoped that the project, which is being funded by a Kickstarter campaign, will be filmed in the Spring of 2017 at various locations in Wiltshire, Cornwall and Somerset. Mark McGann started writing the screenplay for Perplexed Music after being inspired by Barrett-Browning's poem. It will explore the temporary madness, isolation, catharsis and new beginning experienced by a middle-aged man, played by Paul, as he battles for reason, stability and the strength to continue on his journey without his life companion. Mark McGann said 'Reading the poem reminded me of the key role music plays in the elucidation of the higher universal truths that bind us all. It resonated with me strongly, as I sought to focus the idea for the film into a cinematographic concept. As the aim of the film is to elevate the viewer by finding the route through to their heart via a shared humanity and identification, I can think of no one better than Paul to play the central role. He's wonderful at drawing an audience in out of curiosity, then allowing them the space to make an interpretation personal to them. I'm really excited he's agreed to do it!'
Several of David Bowie's closest collaborators are to mark the first anniversary of The Grand Dame's death and what would have been his seventieth birthday with a series of gigs featuring 'Bowie people playing Bowie music Bowie style.' A London show at the Brixton Academy on 8 January, David's birthday, was previously announced – and has long since sold out (reportedly in mere minutes). Now, Mike Garson, Adrian Belew, Earl Slick, Gail Ann Dorsey, Sterling Campbell, Zacahary Alford, Holly Palmer and Emm Gryner, joined by a host of other musicians, will also play shows in New York, Los Angeles, Sydney and Tokyo. The statement announcing the shows noted: 'Individually these former Bowie band members performed, wrote and recorded together with David through several decades including the 1973's Ziggy Stardust tour, the Diamond Dogs tour, Isolar II ("Heroes") tour, to the hugely successful Serious Moonlight tour, the Sound + Vision greatest hits tour to Glastonbury 2000, Heathen, his final A Reality Tour and many of them appeared on Bowie's triumphant comeback album, The Next Day.' The London show – which will be compered by Gary Oldman – will be followed by shows at Terminal Five in New York (on 10 January), the Wiltern in Los Angeles (25 January), Sydney Opera House (29 January) and Tokyo Dome City Hall (2 February). Garson, Slick, Campbell and Dorsey were all in the band that backed Lorde at the acclaimed Bowie tribute at The Brits ceremony earlier this year. On that occasion, they were joined by Gerry Leonard and Catherine Russell, who will also appear at the Brixton Academy concert.
A Manitoba man arrested after he was spotted in a ditch allegedly having sex with a dog should go to jail for six months, a judge was told on Thursday. 'The animal was yelping in pain,' Crown attorney Sari Daien told Judge Kelly Moar. 'There was a clear indication that - even if for whatever reason someone didn't realise the act was wrong - the animal was clearly in significant pain.' Adrian Choken, of Little Black River First Nation, was convicted after a trial of one count of bestiality in connection with the 18 February 2015 incident. Choken might have escaped prosecution had he not called police first to complain he had been assaulted. The court heard that police interviewed Choken's alleged attacker who said that he was driving to the local dump when he saw a man in the ditch. 'When he got closer, he could see that Mr Choken was having intercourse with a dog,' Daien said. 'His pants were down to his ankles and the dog was in his lap trying to get away.' The 'mortified' witness got out of his truck 'and tried to put a stop to it,' Daien said. Choken 'tried to disengage from the act, but was essentially stuck in the dog,' she added. 'Fortunately, he was able to eventually disengage and the dog ran away yelping.' The court heard that the witness then punched Choken in the face. Choken had an abusive upbringing that 'undoubtedly contributed to the offence before the court,' Daien said. The Crown is recommending that Choken be sentenced to an additional twelve months supervised probation and ordered to stay one hundred feet away from all dogs, unless in the presence of their owner. Defence lawyer Kevin Sneesby, who recommended Choken be sentenced to house arrest and probation, questioned the practicality of the dog prohibition. 'With all due respect, on a reservation there are a lot of dogs,' Sneesby said. Choken will return to court for sentencing 18 January.
And, now dear blog reader ...
It was billed as a 'fromage-themed extravaganza' but a cheese festival at London's historic Borough Market left a bad taste in the mouth of many cheese lovers who complained of dangerous overcrowding. More than eighteen thousand people on Facebook indicated they were going to the free event which took place on Wednesday night and some visitors said that the large numbers who turned up, coupled with a lack of organisation, rendered it 'a disaster.' To compound the chaos, vegan protesters also showed up, with some visitors saying the demonstrators hurled insults at them. Andy Green, who had come from Kent for the event, was one of those who registered his disappointment on the Evening Of Cheese official Facebook page. 'What a terrible shame you could not organise this properly, it was just an evening of squeeze!' he wrote. 'Dangerously overcrowded and not much fun at all, we have never been so relieved to be back on the train to Folkestone! Glad we saved the night with a nice walk along the South Bank, the only thing that made the afternoon off work and the cost of the train fare worthwhile. Poor show Borough Market.' The event, which has been running for ten years, featured a demonstration by a Michelin starred chef from Italy and was billed as an opportunity to chat to cheese experts and sample and buy different varieties. But many claimed that the overcrowding was so severe that they did not even get to see a piece of cheese. Kelly Fox wrote: 'Couldn't get a look in at any of the stalls. At one point we were just stuck in the middle of everyone and no one was moving. I got elbowed in the boob and backpacked in the face! Gave up in the end and went to Regent Street to look at the Christmas lights. Was looking forward to this all month.' David Wallace was similarly indignant. 'Gave up on this before we even saw any cheese, never mind tasted it,' he wrote. 'Utter, utter shambles. Ridiculously overcrowded, poorly organised and, frankly, a public relations disaster for Borough Market.' Blimey, indignant cheese eaters. A collective to be feared, that's for sure. Some suggested making the event ticketed in future to avoid a repeat of Thursday's scenes. Others felt that those complaining had lost their sense of perspective. Amalia Di Prosecco wrote: 'We are still talking about a free cheese night and not the war in South Sudan, the famine in Yemen or the well-documented Syrian invasion aren't we? I popped in tonight. And, yes there were queues. The queues didn't put me off – it was what was fucking in them that did.' Borough Market managing director, Darren Henaghan, told some waste-of-space knobcheese at the Gruniad - who seemed to think that this utter trivia constitutes 'news' seemingly: 'Whilst it went off without incident, we were saddened to hear that a small minority of visitors were disappointed with the Evening Of Cheese. For the last ten years we have opened this historic and unique market at Christmas for this special event, and this year saw unprecedented numbers attend, making the market much busier than usual. Clearly there are some lessons to be learnt due to the event’s popularity and we’ll be taking feedback into account for next year.'
Two Calgary Zoo employees have reportedly been 'disciplined' for giving an otter a pair of pants, leading to its death. The pants were given to the animal as an 'unauthorised enrichment item,' according to zoo officials. The otter became tangled in the clothing and then drowned, according to a necropsy. 'This error is simply unacceptable,' zoo curator Colleen Baird said in a news release. 'Our animal care protocols are among the most stringent in the industry and must be followed. We will be reinforcing our protocols with every member of our animal care staff to prevent an incident like this from ever happening again.' The male river otter, named Logan, was seen struggling in the pool last week. A zookeeper jumped into the pool to its aid, but the twelve-year-old animal did not survive. When asked, Baird refused to say what type of 'discipline' the two employees face, but said neither was fired. 'Sadly, there was a mistake that was made — human error — and an unauthorised piece of enrichment was in there and an otter died because of it,' she told CBC News. A Toronto-based animal protection organisation says using pants as an 'enrichment item' is 'irresponsible.' 'It smacks of the kinds of things you might see at a roadside zoo, not in a professional operation,' said Julie Woodyer of Zoocheck.
A teenager who was obsessed with serial killers and school shootings has been detained for at least ten years in The Big House for the attempted murder of her friend. The girl, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was convicted of attempted murder at Winchester Crown Court. She lured her victim to a quiet area of their Hampshire school and stabbed her in the chest in April. Mr Justice Fraser said that the girl, who was fourteen at the time, had 'a far darker side to her personality.' She was given a fourteen year sentence and will only be considered for parole after ten years. Her trial heard that the girl was 'obsessed' with mass murders and had compiled a 'kill list' of sixty people. Mr Justice Fraser said the 'intelligent, articulate young girl' had watched 'snuff movies' online and had previously planned to kill her mother and brother. She turned up for school on 25 April wearing a bandana and with her mouth cut to resemble The Joker from the film The Dark Knight, the jury heard. She told her fifteen-year-old victim she had a present for her and to 'close your eyes and put your hands out.' The attacked girl stepped back and although the knife went through her blazer and shirt she only suffered a superficial puncture wound to the chest near her heart. Prosecutors said that the girl 'bore a grudge' against her victim whom she mistakenly believed had set up fake Instagram and Tumblr accounts in her name. In a statement read out by the prosecution barrister James Newton-Price, the victim's mother said her daughter is 'haunted' by the attack and has since been diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder. She described how her daughter now asked questions such as: 'How will I know in the future if someone is my friend or if they just want to stab me?' She said: 'It's a nightmare no-one wants for their child and we're living it.' Defence counsel Michael Parroy QC said that his client 'carried inside her this particular devil. It is perhaps a considerable tragedy that [her] outer persona did not accurately reflect the inner turmoil,' he added. A psychiatric report found the attacker did not have a mental illness but instead had 'a personality problem' and 'struggled with empathy.'
A man dialled nine-nine-nine after waking up locked in an empty nightclub dressed only in his underpants following a Christmas party. Well, we've all done it, be fair. Police said that the last thing the man remembered was leaving a bar in Manchester city centre at 1am. He, apparently, woke up 'in a confused state' before contacting Greater Manchester Police at about 3pm. GMP tweeted about the man's nightclub ordeal, and said that officers were searching for people with access to the building in order to free him.
Former BBC weather forecaster Ian McCaskill has died aged seventy eight, his daughter has confirmed. Kirsty McCaskill said her father had been living with dementia for the past five years and passed away on Saturday. She described him as 'a lovely man' who brought 'sunshine to people's lives.' And, scattered showers, admittedly. McCaskill, who retired in 1998, was recognised for his Scottish accent and known during his career for his exuberance and enthusiasm for anticyclones, warm fronts and isobars. He became the most imitated BBC TV weather forecaster during his twenty years presenting weather for the corporation and even had his own Spitting Image puppet. In a statement on behalf of his family, Kirsty McCaskill said: 'Ian was a truly lovely man who loved his family unconditionally and brought lots of sunshine to people's lives with his friendly smile, kindness and sharp wit. He is survived by his wife Pat, whom he adored, two daughters, Vicky and Kirsty, two step-sons, Tim and Matthew, and nine grandchildren. He will be deeply missed.' Liz Howell, the head of BBC weather, said that McCaskill was 'one of the most popular BBC weather presenters.' She added: 'He served the British public and the corporation with distinction for twenty years. Our sincerest condolences go out to his family at this time.' The Met Office added that he was 'a much-loved colleague and will be sadly missed.' BBC weather presenter Carol Kirkwood, who worked with McCaskill, said he was a 'kind and very gentle man. He was a funny man as well and exuberant, enthusiastic in his delivery and passion and love for the weather,' she added. She suggested he found his Spitting Image character 'really funny' and he would laugh about it because 'it was quite true to character in some ways.' Former BBC weather presenter Peter Gibbs recalled how McCaskill had arrived at work late on a cold day as his car would not start. Gibbs said: 'He actually went on-air and his introduction was "I now know what Vorsprung durch Technik means. It means your car won't start," with a real twinkle in his eye. Someone very high up from a well-known German car manufacturer was on the phone within minutes of him coming off-air and the car was fixed very quickly. I don't think we'd get away with that these days.' Paul Hudson, who co-wrote the book Frozen In Time with McCaskill, wrote that he was 'really sorry to hear Ian McCaskill has passed away. We had great fun writing our book. A warm, funny, generous and kind man.' McCaskill was born in Glasgow and educated at Queen's Park School and Glasgow University, where he studied science. National Service took him into the RAF and in 1959, he joined the Meteorological Corps as an airman meteorologist. He left the RAF in 1961 to join the Met Office and was posted to Prestwick Airport, Malta as well as a spell at the Manchester Weather Centre. He transferred to the London Weather Centre in 1978 and became a member of the BBC's forecasting team soon afterwards.

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