Saturday, January 21, 2017

On A B-Road

We start the latest bloggerisationisms this week, dear blog reader, with a new semi-regular From The North feature. Great moments of television history, number four hundred and eighteen: Ronni Ancona appearing on this week's episode of Qi wearing a sailor's hat with the word 'spanker' on it. Oh, don't, you Qi elves, you'll only give people notions.
And, so to the great moments of television history, number four hundred and nineteen: The 'Humphrey Bogart movies what have been misspelled by one letter' round in the latest episode of Only Connect. That was witty.
As some of you dear blog readers may know, yer actual Keith Telly Topping's sometime writing partner, the comedy legend that is Alfie Joey, in addition to being a world class stand-up comedian, impressionist, actor, writer and local radio broadcaster is, also, a very fine cartoonist, something which his Facebook followers will be well aware of. Often, they're of a topically satirical nature but, Alf's latest effort is on a Doctor Who theme. Of course, it was left to this blogger to point out that in Alf's first draft of the piece - which he knocked up a couple of weeks ago - he'd missed off John Hurt. Alfie, being a total soft-touch when it comes to crass bullying from members of Doctor Who fandom, instantly included The War Doctor in the final version, which you can see reproduced here. They're in the wrong order, admittedly. But, at least Hurty's now in there. Alfie, this blogger was happy to inform him, was now complying with Official BBC Continuity, and that. Mind you, Colin Baker appears to be a couple of inches shorter than Sylvester McCoy instead of, you know, a foot taller. And, Mister Pertwee seems to have been kidnapped and replaced by my nan. But, other than that, a jolly fine effort I'd've said.
On Saturday, for us dinner at yer actual Stately Telly Topping Manor, there was - get this - Kashmiri chicken masala with basmati rice, red onions and smokey garlic fougasse. And a nice glass of sweet-medium white. Oh yes. (Keith Telly Topping's old mucker Barnaby was properly aghast at the purchase of fougasse until this blogger was forced to confess that, actually, he'd wanted a nice naan bread instead but ASDA had none left in stock.)
And, to be honest, that's about it for the week's major talking points. Well, other than the Sunday Herald's TV highlight of the week, obviously.
Sentiments which, seemingly, The Doctor broadly agreed with. Which was nice.
Here, dear blog reader, are the final and consolidated ratings figures for the Top Twenty Six programmes broadcast during the week-ending Sunday 15 January 2017:-
1 Sherlock - Sun BBC1 - 9.06m
2 Death In Paradise - Thurs BBC1 - 8.69m
3 Silent Witness - Mon BBC1 - 8.50m
4 Coronation Street - Mon ITV - 8.28m
5 EastEnders - Tues BBC1 - 7.54m
6 Emmerdale - Thurs ITV - 7.08m
7 Countryfile - Sun BBC1 - 6.88m
8 Spy In The Wild - Thurs BBC1 - 6.22m
9 Taboo - Sat BBC1 - 6.18m
10 Antiques Roadshow: Holocaust Memorial - Sun BBC1 - 6.08m
11 Endeavour - Sun ITV - 6.07m
12 The Voice - Sat ITV - 6.06m
13 Six O'Clock News - Thurs BBC1 - 6.06m
14= Let It Shine - Sat BBC1 - 5.85m
14= Midsomer Murders - Wed ITV - 5.85m
16 Casualty - Sat BBC1 - 5.72m
17= Unforgotten - Thurs ITV - 5.64m
17= Tina & Bobby - Fri ITV - 5.64m
19 Not Going Out - Fri BBC1 - 5.52m
20 Pointless Z-List Celebrities - Sat BBC1 - 5.13m
21 Ten O'Clock News - Thurs BBC1 - 5.02m
22 BBC News - Sun BBC1 - 5.02m
23 The Halcyon - Mon ITV - 4.95m
24 Still Open All Hours - Sun BBC1 - 4.89m
25 Holby City - Tues BBC1 - 4.67m
26 The ONE Show - Tues BBC1 - 4.31m
These consolidated figures, published by BARB, include all viewers who watched programmes live and on various forms of catch-up and video on demand 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. Sherlock's series finale, The Final Problem, had an overnight audience figure of 5.93 million and several media outlets simply couldn't wait to post sneering comments - with a sick anti-BBC agenda smeared all over them - about how this was an 'all-time low' for the series. Take, for instance, the Torygraph and the Independent and the Daily Scum Mail and the Gruniad Morning Star and, most inexcusably of all, the BBC News website. One would have thought that if anyone would have been able to write an article about TV ratings which made clear how inaccurate a picture overnight figures provide in this age of video-on-demand it would have been the BBC themselves. Sadly not, it would seem. With friends like that, who needs enemies? One or two of these organs did, admittedly, mention very much in passing - usually somewhere in the middle of paragraph six where it wouldn't be noticed - that overnight audiences are dropping like a stone across the board and that the figures for Sherlock were likely to rise, 'considerably', once timeshifting was taken into account one week hence. Well, as you can see from the list about, for the third week running, Sherlock's final and consolidated audience rose by more than three million viewers above its initial, overnight, audience via timeshifting as The Final Problem's total viewership topped nine million punters - by a distance the most watched TV programme of the week. Will, one wonders, any of these media outlets be running stories - given, perhaps, equal prominence to the original - about the episode's actual audience figure? Will they shite as like. Perhaps, next, the Daily Scum Mail and the Gruniad Morning Star might like to think about reporting Premier League half-time scores as 'results' and see how long it is before they're ridiculed for it. On BBC2, the top-rated programme was University Challenge with 3.19 million viewers. Dragons' Den was watched by 2.89 million, Hospital by 2.79 million and Mastermind by 2.33 million. Coverage of the FA Cup Fourth Round Draw - in which yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved (though unsellable) Magpies got an away tie at Oxford City - attracted 2.21 million viewers, followed by The Great Interior Design Challenge (2.20 million), Thailand: Earth's Tropical Paradise (2.18 million viewers), Match of The Day 2 (2.08 million), Only Connect (2.06 million in its new Friday slot), Rich Stein's Long Weekends (2.01 million), the excellent An Island Parish: Anguilla (1.96 million), Dad's Army (1.89 million), Britain's Ancient Capital: Secrets Of Orkney, featuring From The North favourites yer actual Chris Packham and Scottish Neil Oliver and his lovely hair, (1.84 million) and the latest episode of Qi (1.81 million). The new series of No Offence continued to be Channel Four's highest-rated broadcast (2.23 million), followed by The Undateables (2.15 million), Twenty Four Hours In A&E (2.05 million) and First Dates Hotel (1.97 million). Location, Location, Location was seen by 1.95 million viewers, whilst How To Lose Weight Well drew 1.81 million. Food Unwrapped was watched by 1.78 million viewers and Walking The Americas by 1.68 million. Channel Five's top performer was, Z-List Celebrity Big Brother with 2.16 million, ahead of Lip Sync Battle (1.55 million viewers), GPs: Behind Closed Doors (1.33 million) and Bargain-Loving Brits In The Sun (1.12 million). Horrifyingly, the channel's eight top-rated broadcasts were all episodes of Z-List Celebrity Big Brother which says much about ... something or other. Coverage of the Premier League action between The Scum and Liverpool Alabama Yee-Haws on Sky Sports 1's Live Nissan Super Sunday was seen by 2.06 million punters. Live EFL Cup action between Southampton and the Liverpool Alabama Yee-Haws drew 1.08 million whilst Everton versus Moscow Chelski FC on Sunday was seen by 1.01 million. Live ODI Cricket between India and England on Sky Sports 2 drew two hundred and sixty nine thousand which, despite some exciting batting, England still lost. Gillette Soccer Saturday was top of the pile on Sky Sports News HQ with four hundred and twenty three thousand punters and an additional five hundred and sixty one thousand on the Sky Sports 1 simultcast. Now that is 'unbelievable, Jeff.' Midsomer Murders was ITV3's top-rated drama (1.14 million viewers). Doc Martin was seen by six hundred and seventy three thousand and A Touch Of Frost by five hundred and twenty four thousand. The movie The Dam Busters headed ITV4's weekly list with four hundred and thirty four thousand punters. Benidorm Special drew three hundred and seventy seven thousand viewers. ITV2's most-watched broadcasts were also for movies Despicable Me 2 and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (eight hundred and seventy eight viewers and seven hundred and ninety thousand respectively). Vera headed ITV Encore's top ten with fifty five thousand viewers, ahead of Heartbeat (fifty one thousand) and The Darling Buds Of May (forty six thousand). BBC4's list was topped by Timeshift: Sword, Musket & Machine Gun (six hundred and seventy five thousand), followed by another terrific Timeshift episode, The Trains That Time Forgot (six hundred and eleven thousand), Dan Snow On Lloyd George (five hundred and sixty nine thousand), Swarm: Nature's Incredible Invasions (five hundred and six thousand) and The Mary Rose: A Timewatch Guide (four hundred and ninety nine thousand). The Sound Of Musicals With Neil Brand drew four hundred and ninety eight thousand and Inside Chernobyl's Mega Tomb had four hundred and ninety one thousand. James May: The Reassembler was watched by four hundred and thirty one thousand and Lost Kingdoms Of Central America was seen by four hundred and twenty seven thousand. Ten Things You Didn't Know About Earthquakes had three hundred and eighty four thousand. Sky1's weekly top-ten was headed by the much-trailed Delicious (1.67 million viewers). Modern Family was seen by nine hundred and thirteen thousand, Hawaii Five-0 by eight hundred and seventy seven thousand and NCIS: Los Angeles by eight hundred and sixty thousand. Sky Atlantic's list was topped by Blue Blood (tree hundred and six thousand). The Affair attracted two hundred and fifty nine thousand. Quarry had ninety nine thousand. On Sky Living, the latest episode of Elementary was seen by nine hundred and eighty nine thousand whilst Blindspot had eight hundred and thirty six thousand and Conviction attracted six hundred and nine thousand. Nashville was watched by three hundred and fifty one thousand viewers. Sky Arts' broadcast of The Phantom Of The Opera was seen by seventy three thousand viewers whilst Bowie, Prince, Music Legends We Lost In 2016 had sixty three and Erotic Adventures of Anais Nin, forty eight thousand. 5USA's Law & Order: Special Victim Unit was watched by five hundred and twenty four thousand viewers and NCIS by five hundred and eighteen thousand. NCIS also topped CBS Action's list (one hundred thousand) and, the second episode of the latest NCIS series - fourteen - on FOX's was watched by nine hundred and eighty two viewers. The opening episode of the new Micheal Weatherly-fronted drama, Bull, the popular actor's first since he left NCIS last year, drew seven hundred and two thousand, even though it was, frankly, Christawful. How many of those punters will have been watching come episode two is a question which will be answered here next week. American Dad! was seen by one hundred and thirty nine thousand. The Universal Channel's weekly list was headed by Pure Genius (one hundred and ninety eight thousand) whilst yet another - much older - episode of NCIS attracted ninety four thousand. On Dave, Top Gear: Middle East Special was the highest-rated broadcast with three hundred and sixty two thousand punters, followed by Mock The Week (three hundred and thirty two thousand), the rotten Taskmaster (three hundred and thirty one thousand), Red Dwarf (three hundred and four thousand) and Have I Got A Bit More News For You (two hundred and ninety one thousand). The latest episode of Drama's repeat run of New Tricks was watched by four hundred and thirty six thousand viewers. An episode of Last Of The Summer Wine had four hundred and twenty seven thousand, although why I another question entirely, whilst Wallander drew four hundred and twenty five thousand. Alibi's highest-rated programmes were Murdoch Mysteries (two hundred and fifty one thousand), Death In Paradise (one hundred and forty nine thousand), The Doctor Blake Mysteries (ninety nine thousand) and Secrets & Lies (ninety four thousand). On The Sony Channel, French Kiss was watched by sixty three thousand and A Fish Called Wanda by forty nine thousand. Yesterday's Open All Hours repeats continued with three hundred and seventy seven thousand and The Two Ronnies with two hundred and fifty nine thousand. Meanwhile, The Best Of Tommy Cooper had two hundred and eight thousand. Just like that. Nah, lissun ... Next. On the Discovery Channel, Gold Rush had four hundred and forty nine nine thousand viewers. From The North favourite Wheeler Dealers latest series continued with three hundred and thirty eight thousand whilst Street Outlaws was seen by one hundred and forty thousand and Bitchin' Rides by one hundred and twenty thousand punters. Discovery History's World War II - The Complete History topped the weekly-list with twenty six thousand. Greatest Tank Battles also had twenty six thousand thousand, as did both M Natural Born Outlaws and Time Team. On Discovery Science, Food Factory USA was seen by forty nine thousand viewers. Discovery Turbo's most-watched programme was Chasing Classic Cars with thirty five thousand. Destroyed In Seconds and Wheeler Dealers were both watched by thirty two thousand and Superyachts by thirty one thousand. National Geographic's list was headed by Air Crash Investigations which had ninety two thousand viewers and Highway Thru Hell (eighty seven thousand). The History Channel's top-ten list was topped by The Curse of Oak Island (two hundred and seventy two thousand). On Military History, the ludicrous Hunting Hitler was watched by fifty nine thousand punters. Dunno how to break it to you guys, but, he's dead. Faking It: Tears Of A Crime, A Crime To Remember and Your Worst Nightmare were ID's top-rated programmes of the week (with one hundred and eighty nine thousand viewers, fifty seven thousand and forty two thousand crime-lovers respectively). Crimes That Shook Britain, Britain's Darkest Taboos and The First Forty Eight headed CI's list (one hundred thousand, sixty thousand and forty seven thousand). GOLD's broadcast of Mrs Brown's Boys attracted three hundred and two thousand. Comedy Central's largest audience of the week was for Impractical Jokers: British Invasion (four hundred and fifteen thousand). Your TV's Snapped was seen by fifty nine thousand and Z-List Celebrity Mysteries by fifty five thousand. On More4, CAR SOS was the highest-rated programme with five hundred and four thousand. 9/11: One Hundred & Two Minutes That Changed America attracted four hundred and twelve thousand punters and Four In A Bed, three hundred and seventy four thousand. E4's latest episode of Hollyoaks drew 1.19 million viewers. The Horror Channel's broadcast of Thirteen Sins attracted one hundred thousand. The top-ten list also included We Are Still Here (ninety one thousand), the movie which taught this blogger just about everything that he knows about breasts, Hammer's 1971 schlock classic Twins of Evil (seventy nine thousand), Gallowswalkers (seventy two thousand) and Terminal Invasion (sixty eight thousand). The Librarians, headed Syfy's top-ten with three hundred and eighty two thousand. Human Planet was watched by thirty nine thousand on Eden. Bondi Vet was the Animal Planet's most-watched programme, also with thirty nine thousand. MasterChef Junior on W drew two hundred and two thousand punters. Old Is Gold topped Venus TV's list with fourteen thousand viewers.

David Clementi has called for a review of 'crown jewel' sports rights in his first appearance after his appointment as BBC chair, in which he also demanded - demanded, please note - that all senior appointments at the corporation should be 'politically independent.' Whether they will be, or not, is another question entirely. In the first two hours of a grilling by members of the Commons lack of culture, media and sport select committee to confirm his appointment, Clementi, the government's 'preferred choice' as chair - and, therefore, a political appointee his very self - said that he had 'always been politically neutral' and that his board and senior executives should be too, adding: 'I never met the Prime Minister.' Asked about the promotion of the former Labour lack of culture secretary James Purnell to a key editorial role as head of radio, Clementi said: 'There should be open competition for all senior appointments and one of the tests will be political independence.' Applicants to the new BBC board would also be judged for their impartiality, he suggested. 'Those who come with a political agenda will not be appointed,' said Clementi, the former chairman of the insurance company Prudential. One or two people even believed him. Clementi surprised observers by suggesting the debate over what constitutes a 'crown jewel' sports event – one which should be provided exclusively free-to-air – should be reopened. He suggested that golf's Open Championship was just such an event and should not have been lost to Sky last year. Saying that he 'regretted' the loss of 'one of two national occasions,' he called for the list of crown jewel sports to be reviewed. 'There were just a few I regard as national events and I would like to see free-to-air,' he said. The BBC lost live rights to England cricket test matches to Channel Four in 1999 and they moved to Sky in 2005, while Eurosport has secured exclusive pan-European rights to the Olympics. The list of crown jewel events is governed by legislation and a voluntary code set up in 2009, which was re-signed by sports bodies governing cricket, football, golf, tennis and rugby union and league last October. Clementi said several times that 'impartiality and accuracy' should be 'at the heart' of the corporation. 'The BBC is nothing if it doesn't carry the trust of the people to be impartial and accurate. Above all, the BBC needs to be seen as the medium of record in the era of fake news and post-truth era,' he said. 'The BBC has a real role to ensure it is seen as the place where people go to make sure they can distinguish between fact and fiction.' He backed the corporation's reporting of the EU referendum, saying it 'did a good job in a set of very difficult circumstances.' He said he thought the BBC had 'continued to tread a good path down the middle,' but he 'would like to see some research. I am absolutely determined that we should meet this requirement every time and stand back and question ourselves about bias. My own personal view is that the BBC has done a good job,' he said. 'I've always been politically neutral. I've never belonged to a political party.' On bringing his experience of privatisation or marketisation to the BBC, Clementi said that the broadcaster would 'look at' what could be outsourced effectively. 'The BBC is going to be under very significant financial pressure as a result of licence fee negotiations,' he said. 'We are bound to spend a good deal of time over the next few years considering ways of actually reducing the cost base of the BBC without harming the frontline services.' Although he ducked questions about how he would have dealt with the imposition of funding for free TV licences for over-seventy fives, Clementi was critical of the 'behind-closed-doors' nature of last year's settlement. 'If I thought financial settlement was incompatible with obligations of the charter then I would have to resign,' he said. Clementi also told MPs that the BBC was right not to 'chase the money' to keep The Great British Bake Off and that it should not create a copycat baking show to compete with the programme when it relaunches on Channel Four. The rival channel paid seventy five million smackers for three seasons of The Great British Bake Off after negotiations between the programme's makers, Greed Productions, and the BBC broke down last year. Its presenters, Sue Perkins and Mel Giedroyc, the judge Mary Berry and the 2015 winner, Nadiya Hussain, have all committed themselves to the BBC, with only Paul Hollywood following the greed and moving to Channel Four. Asked during his confirmation hearing if the BBC would be right to make a similar show, Clementi said that such a move would be 'quite disappointing' and could breach copyright rules. He told the committee: 'If it was a precisely similar cooking show I think it would be wrong, but I don't think that is what they intend. My personal opinion is they need to find a different format. My very personal view is that it peaked with Nadiya Hussain. That's a very personal view not the BBC's and good luck to Channel Four.' Clementi said that he was 'not sad' the BBC had lost The Voice to ITV, and praised the new talent show Let It Shine, fronted by Tory tax-avoider Sir Gary Barlow OBE. 'The concept is not new, [but] it is quite warm-hearted,' he said. Wrongly. 'There's a slight twist in way they do voting. Shouldn't judge it on the first two episodes. We should allow it a few more Saturdays to judge it.' Clementi described himself as 'an avid TV watcher,' saying his 'specialist subject is BBC1 and BBC2 between 8pm and 11pm.' He cited Sherlock, the Agatha Christie adaptation The Witness For The Prosecution and the Brontë sisters drama To Walk Invisible as examples of 'distinctive programming' produced over Christmas and added that the 'sheer quality' of other BBC dramas made them distinctive. Clementi, who authored the report suggesting a unitary board with an independent chair should be created, denied that he had effectively written his own job description. He claimed that he had not considered applying to be chair until after the BBC Trust chair, Rona Fairhead, had ruled herself out. 'The actual criteria by which the open contest has been judged was not set by me, [it was] set by DCMS officials and ministers, no doubt working with a headhunter. An open and orderly process has taken place, the result of it is I am here in front of you.'
The BBC's new wildlife presenter Gillian Burke has said that she was 'horrified' to be blamed for 'breaking up' the Springwatch team. Wildlife presenter Martin Hughes-Games -already in big trouble with a lot of people over his recent, highly critical, comments about Sir David Attenborough - claimed last year that he had been 'sidelined' from the show because he is 'white and middle class.' It emerged later that Gillian, who was born in Kenya and now lives in Cornwall, would be joining the Springwatch team. The BBC denied that diversity was 'the issue' and Hughes-Games later returned to the strand and will appear on Winterwatch along with the other long-term presenters Chris Packham and Michaela Strachan and newcomer Burke. She told Radio Times magazine: 'A friend texted me one Monday morning saying I was in the papers. Can you imagine the horror for me of apparently busting into the party and being blamed for breaking it up?' She said: 'In many ways Martin and I have had a very similar journey. We both went to Bristol University, both did biology, both went into natural history as researchers and then worked our way up as producers.' She added: 'I can totally understand why people would want to know where I've come from, the perception is that I've just shown up. But I've been doing this a long time. My first job in natural history was in the mid-late nineties and I've worked pretty solidly in it ever since. I have grown up alongside all the people involved in programmes likes Planet Earth. I have my own story and my own journey and it's taken me a long time to get here.' She said that she 'dreamed' of working at the BBC's Natural History Unit while studying biology at Bristol University. She added: 'Walking up and down to lectures took me past and I remember gazing at it and thinking, "Wow. That's where I would like to work."'
The character of Inspector George Gently is hanging up his trenchcoat once and for all. Ten years after Martin Shaw turned the beloved Gently novels into a hit BBC series, filming has begun on two final feature-length episodes. Back in action one last time will be Shaw as the eponymous inspector, who is tested like never before just as he winds down his career. In the first of two films - Gently Liberated - the inspector and his trusted allies Bacchus (Lee Ingleby) and Coles (Lisa McGrillis) are brought in to investigate a possible miscarriage of justice. However, their final case in Gently & The New Age has The Met's new Special Investigations Squad boss, Lister, bringing in the inspector his very self to investigate high levels of corruption within the force. Both of these episodes will be set in 1970. As he prepares for his finale as Gently, Martin Shaw said that it has been 'wonderful' returning to the long-running crime drama. 'We're a very happy and close company and working with such friends is a joy,' he added. 'I'm excited at being able to bring the series to a proper finale, a farewell that befits such a popular series.' Executive producer Peter Flannery admitted that it is 'bittersweet' to say farewell to a character and ensemble cast who have entertained BBC1 viewers for a decade. 'I'm sad to finally part with George Gently - the series and the character,' he said. 'Loosely based at first on the novels of Alan Hunter, the world of the stories became my own creation which audiences have enjoyed for nearly ten years. It's been a privilege along the way to work with talented and committed teams and I hope that many of them will look back on George Gently - as I will - with pride and pleasure.' The two final episodes will feature guest appearances from Victoria Bewick, Anamaria Marinca, Richard Harrington and Steven Robertson. Both episodes will - as usual - be set in the North East, and are currently being filmed on location in and around Durham.
That there Karen Gillan has come home to Scotland to direct her first feature-length film. Called Tupperware Party, it is 'wrapped up in challenging issues' and also marks a return for the actress to where her fascination with movies began. 'Weirdly, I am back where I started,' said the twenty nine-year-old actress, writer and director on the set of Tupperware Party. 'I have been concentrating on acting for, I guess, the last decade. But, when I first started off when I was a young child expressing an interest in all this I had a video camera and was directing short films. It feels exactly the same, except everything is on a slightly bigger scale.' Inverness-born Kazza is, of course, best known for her roles as Amy Pond in Doctor Who (you knew that, right?) and - to a lesser extent - as space pirate Nebula in 2014's Marvel movie, Guardians Of The Galaxy. Since her breakthrough role in Doctor Who she has also appeared in the films Not Another Happy Ending, Oculus and In A Valley Of Violence and US TV shows, including Selfie. But Kaz has also been busy writing and directing her own material. She already has two short films to her name, including a horror short called Conventional. Tupperware Party, which she wrote and is directing and starring in, is an art-house film set in her home city and is being made by a US-based film company. Gillan says: 'Tupperware Party follows the story of a girl called Lucy who lives in Inverness. She is dealing with the suicide of her best friend. It is one year one on and she is having a really hard time expressing how she feels about the whole event. Her angst manifests itself in quite destructive ways.' The film is being shot at location across Scotland, including Inverness itself. When the BBC caught up with Kazza, the production was in Bo'ness, near Falkirk. She said: 'It was so important for me to film in Scotland first and foremost because the film is set in Scotland. The only other film I've seen set in Inverness was Loch Ness, which is great and I really enjoyed it, but I really wanted to show the reality of the place and what it is like to grow up there. There is a sense of identity that is beyond the tourist sort of aesthetic.' Tupperware Party is being made by Mount Hollywood Films, a production company with a mission to offer women and film-makers from minority backgrounds leadership roles such as writing, directing and producing films. 'I have such an amazing team to collaborate with,' says Gillan. 'We have such a strong team of females on this project. We didn't choose anyone because they were female. To me gender is irrelevant and it is whoever is best for the job.' Andru Davies, of Mount Hollywood Films, said that Gillan is 'exactly' the kind of film-maker the company wants to work with. 'She wrote the script, she is directing it, she is the lead actress, it is female-driven and her partners are all women,' he said. But, he added: 'It is a story that speaks to both men and women.' It is not only the Scottish actress that has won over the film company. Making Tupperware Party has convinced Mount Hollywood Films to return to Scotland to make other films. Davies said: 'It is great working here. We are actually moving some of our other projects to Scotland because of how much we have enjoyed working here. The crews are amazing and the towns are great.' Part of Tupperware Party's crew is producer Claire Mundell, who also has her own independent film company, Synchronicity Films. She previously worked with Karen on Not Another Happy Ending. 'At the end of that film she told me she was writing a script about suicide in Scotland, which is a really big issue as we know,' said Mundell. 'That really resonated with me and I thought the opportunity of working with Karen as a writer, director and female film-maker would be really exciting.' Mundell also said that Tupperware Party is yet another film which 'underlines' the need for Scotland to have its own studio with an industry-scale stage. The Scottish government has been looking at how to provide such a facility. Mundell added that such a studio would allow 'whole film-making processes' to be done in Scotland and not just filming at locations before the movies are finished in a studio overseas, or in England. 'The stage is necessary to inspire our own indigenous film-making talent and TV-making talent to be more ambitious and be more international with the stories they tell,' she said. Tupperware Party should be available for release in cinemas this year - twelve months when Gillan will rarely be far from the big screen. Over the course of 2017 she will appear alongside Tom Hanks and Emma Watson in The Circle, reprise her role as Nebula in Guardians Of The Galaxy, Volume Two and, at Christmas, will feature in a follow-up to 1995's Robin Williams hit movie Jumanji. 'And then I'll be making a little appearance in the next Avengers movie,' she added. Avengers: Infinity War, expected to be released in cinemas next year, brings together many characters from the Marvel comic 'universe', including from Guardians Of The Galaxy as well as the Iron Man and Captain America stories. Some scenes for Infinity War are, reportedly, to be filmed in Scotland. 'What are the chances of that?' said Karen, hoping that if this is, indeed, the case she might be able to appear as her character from a galaxy far, far away in a place not too far from her home.
Angus Deayton is to host The Great British Bake Off spin-off Creme De La Creme. The show, for professional pastry chefs, is staying on the BBC despite the main show moving from BBC1 to Channel Four. The first series of Creme De La Creme, broadcast on BBC2 in 2016, was hosted by z-list celebrity chef Tom Kerridge. Deayton is best known as a former presenter of topical quiz Have I Got News For You, from which he was very sacked in 2002. Creme De La Creme will see ten teams of chefs competing in tasks to make perfect pastries and spectacular showpieces. Deayton will be joined on the Greed Productions show by judges Benoit Blin, chef patissier at Raymond Blanc's Le Manoir Aux Quat'Saisons in Oxfordshire and by Cherish Finden, the executive pastry chef at The Langham in London. Greed Productions' executive producer Kieran Smith said: 'We're delighted Angus has taken up the baton to host the new series. His distinct humour and presenting style brings a fresh dynamic to the show.' The show will return to BBC2 later this year.
The Xtra Factor will no longer be broadcast on ITV2, instead moving to an online-only programme. The spin-off show has broadcast on ITV's sister channel since 2004. In a statement, ITV said that it made the decision 'to focus efforts on digital platforms' and to 'move away from a linear switchover show.' But, mainly, because The Xtra Factor is shit and hardly anyone watches it. ITV claimed that the decision is 'not related' to its most recent presenters Radio 1's Matt Edmondson, Rylan Clark-Neal, and Roman Kemp. Edmondson tweeted it was his 'dream job' and he had an 'absolute blast' working on it. Previous presenters have include thin-skinned scourge of the bullies Fearne Cotton, that dreadful Willoughby woman, Olly Murs, Caroline Flack and Sarah-Jane Crawford.
Moneysupermarket's twerking businessman and Paddy Power's cat-kicking blind footballers were some of the most-complained-about adverts of 2016. Moneysupermarket's dancing bodyguard Gary, twerking strutter Dave and dancing builder Colin were all in the top ten, the advertising watchdog said, rather wearily. The Paddy Power advert was first shown in 2010 but still drew four hundred and fifty complaints when it recently reappeared on TV screens. The Advertising Standards Authority said that none on the list 'crossed the line' from bad taste to offence. Three Moneysupermarket price comparison website adverts attracted two thousand four hundred and ninety one whinges between them. From people with nothing better to do with their time, seemingly.
Some viewers claimed that they found the bodyguard's dance moves 'distasteful' and the adverts with the strutters and the builder as 'homophobic.' Exactly how, none of the whingers explained.
An advert for dating website showing a woman removing her female partner's top and kissing her received eight hundred and ninety six complaints. It was alleged to be 'sexually explicit' and 'inappropriately scheduled.' The Paddy Power advert featured men playing blind football and inadvertently kicking a cat due to the sound of a bell round its neck. The ASA had already ruled the majority of viewers would see the advert as humorous and not humiliating or undermining to blind people when it was first shown in 2010 and so it did not investigate it again. The bookmaker's advert about Scottish football fans 'not minding' about not qualifying for Euro 2016 - because they could bet on England to lose - was whinged about for being 'racist' and 'anti-English.' And let us once again simply stand up and salute the utter risible shite that some people chose to care about, dear blog reader.
Also in the top ten most whinged about adverts were Smart Energy's 'Gaz and Leccy' cartoon characters, the Home Office's Disrespect Nobody domestic violence campaign, Maltesers featuring a woman in a wheelchair talking about crushing a bride's foot at a wedding reception disco and Gourmet Burger Kitchen's references to 'giving up vegetarianism.' The complaint about the Home Office's advert was that it implied only men were responsible for domestic abuse and that it could discourage male victims of violence from coming forward. ASA chief executive Guy Parker said: 'The ads that attract the highest number of complaints are often not the ones that need banning. Our action leads to thousands of ads being amended or withdrawn each year, mostly for being misleading, but there wasn't one misleading ad in the top ten. In the list there are a number of ads, which while advertising their product or service, have also sought to present a positive statement about diversity but were in fact seen by some as doing the opposite. In all those cases, we thought people generally would see the ads in a positive light and that the boundary between bad taste and serious or widespread offence had been navigated well enough, often through using sensible scheduling restrictions.'
A former Ofcom board member is seeking a judicial review of the decision by the lack of culture secretary, the vile and odious rascal Bradley, to sack him without compensation after he expressed support for the EU. Bill Emmott, a former Economist editor, has accused the vile and odious rascal Bradley of 'unreasonable behaviour' and questioned her fitness for office, in a long-running row which exposes tensions between the government and the media regulator, a politically appointed quango, elected by no one. The vile and odious rascal Bradley, who is already facing a judicial review over her decision to consult on two remaining aspects of press regulation, had accused Emmott of 'misbehaviour.' He, in turn accuses the vile and odious rascal Bradley of 'recklessly defaming a person of good reputation.' The row started before last year's EU referendum when Ofcom accused Emmott, then its new chief enforcer of television quality and standards, of contravening its code of conduct by speaking out publicly 'about politics.' Eventually the vile and odious rascal Bradley's Department for Culture, Media and Sport extremely terminated his contract as chair of Ofcom's content board without compensation last November, overturning what Emmott believed was an agreement to pay him seventy five thousand knicker for termination without cause. Although Emmott objected to his dismissal by Ofcom for 'three tweets, one Italian interview and an article about Donald Trump,' as he put it, it is the DCMS action which has prompted the legal complaint and the ire of his discombobulation. He is calling for the vile and odious rascal Bradley's decision to be 'quashed,' especially given the fact that he had been recused from internal discussions and decisions concerning the referendum. A DCMS spokesman said that the decision to terminate Emmott's contract was due to his 'failing to adhere to the Ofcom board members' code of practice.' As for the pay-off, an alleged DCMS 'source' allegedly said: 'It was never in Ofcom's gift to offer a financial settlement – it was only ever a matter for DCMS. When the secretary of state looked at the case, she was clear taxpayers' money must not be used to reward a breach of conduct.' Emmott has until 3 February, three months after the DCMS decision, to launch legal action and has decided he will do so despite the legal costs. 'I aim to get the costs paid by DCMS but if I lose I'm willing to bite the bullet because of the principle involved. The government should not behave in this way,' he said. It is the second time the government appears to have rejected a senior Ofcom recommendation. In December the DCMS rejected the only BAME and female candidate put forward by Ofcom for one of four new board positions at Channel Four. The signs of tension come as Ofcom faces its biggest ever challenge, taking over the regulation of the BBC from April. Ofcom's chair, Patricia Hodgson, who appointed Emmott, had her own contract extended by another year, to 2018, partly to oversee the integration of oversight of the BBC. The vile and odious rascal Bradley also faces a decision about whether to refer the bid by billionaire tyrant Rupert Murdoch's Twentieth Century FOX for full ownership of Sky to Ofcom by this spring. Emmott has been vocal in his criticism of Ofcom since leaving the regulator. In an article in the Financial Times in November, he wrote: 'In its current shape and leadership, Ofcom looks unfit for the vital national task of protecting editorial standards at the BBC.' He has been critical of the way he has been treated compared with a remaining board member, Sheila Noakes, a Tory peer who supported Brexit.
The 'real' threat to global critical infrastructure is not enemy states or organisations but squirrels, according to one - alleged - security expert. Cris Thomas has been tracking power cuts caused by animals since 2013. Squirrels, birds, rats and snakes have been responsible for more than seventeen hundred power cuts affecting nearly five million people, Thomas told a security conference this week. He explained that by tracking these issues, he was seeking to 'dispel the hype' around cyber-attacks. His Cyber Squirrel One project was set up to 'counteract' what Thomas calls the 'ludicrousness of cyber-war claims by people at high levels in government and industry,' he told the audience at the Shmoocon security conference in Washington. No, don't look at me like I'm making this up, that's what it's called and that's what he said. Squirrels topped the list with eight hundred and seventy nine 'attacks.' Thomas concludes that the damage done by real cyber-attacks - Stuxnet's destruction of Iranian uranium enrichment centrifuges and disruption to Ukrainian power plants being the most high profile - was 'tiny' compared to the 'cyber-threat' posed by animals. Most of the animal 'attacks' were on power cables but Thomas also claimed to have discovered that jellyfish had shut down a Swedish nuclear power plant in 2013, by clogging the pipes that carry cool water to the turbines. He also alleged that there have been 'eight deaths' attributed to animal attacks on infrastructure, including six caused by squirrels downing power lines which then struck people on the ground. Thomas - better known as SpaceRogue - set up Cyber Squirrel One as a Twitter feed in March 2013 and initially collected information from Google alerts. It has since evolved into a much larger project - collecting information from search engines and other web sources. Thomas only collected reports compiled in the English language and admitted that he was 'probably' only capturing 'a fraction' of animal-related power cuts worldwide. 'The major difference between natural events, be they geological, meteorological or furry, is that cyber-attacks are deliberate orchestrated by humans,' said Luis Corrons, technical director of security firm PandaLabs. 'While natural disasters are taken into account when critical infrastructure facilities are built, that's not the case with computers. Most critical facilities were never designed to connect to the rest of the world, so the kind of security they implemented was taking care of the physical world surrounding them. The number of potential attackers is growing, the number of potential targets is also going up. So we all need to reinforce our defences to the maximum - and also worry about squirrels.'
It could become one of the most important legal battles in music - Sir Paul McCartney (MBE) is suing Sony over control of The Be-Atles' back catalogue. The Be-Atles were a popular beat combo of the 1960s, you might've heard of them. Macca has gone to a US court, seeking to regain the publishing rights to two hundred and sixty seven of the band's classic songs which he does not own. He's been trying to get them back since the 1980s, when the late Michael Jackson famously out-bid him for the rights. Jackson's debt-ridden estate sold the songs to Sony last year, along with a library of others including 'New York, New York'. Sir Paul's legal case, filed in a Manhattan court on Wednesday, is over what is known as 'copyright termination' - the right of authors to reclaim ownership of their works from music publishers after a specific length of time has passed. It was part of the US 1976 Copyright Act and, in recent years, performers like Prince, Billy Joel and Blondie have used it to regain control of their work. However, Duran Duran recently lost a similar case - when the British High Court ruled that the contracts they signed in the UK took precedence over their rights in the US. Under UK law, music publishing companies can control the copyright until seventy years after the artist's death. Sir Paul is worried that Sony/ATV Music Publishing will use Duran Duran's loss to challenge his attempts to obtain The Be-Atles' back catalogue. With his legal action, Sir Paul is trying to ensure Sony does not stand in his way by accusing him of a breach of contract or publishing agreement. 'Rather than provide clear assurances to Paul McCartney that defendants will not challenge his exercise of his termination rights, defendants are clearly reserving their rights pending the final outcome of the Duran Duran litigation,' said the legal papers filed on his behalf. The papers state that Sir Paul wants 'quiet, unclouded title to his rights.' Sony/ATV said it was 'disappointed' by the lawsuit, calling it 'both unnecessary and premature.' Unlike Duran Duran, Sir Paul has filed his legal case in America and the verdict could have major ramifications for other British artists. Songs in the Lennon-McCartney catalogue, composed between September 1962 and June 1971, become eligible for copyright termination in the US after fifty six years. The first will be 'Love Me Do', which could revert to Sir Paul in 2018 - but others are not due to become available until 2025. Macca started sending notices to Sony/ATV in 2008, stating his desire to reclaim the copyright, the legal papers said. His lawyers have repeatedly asked Sony/ATV to acknowledge his rights to terminate copyright - but the company has declined to do so, it continued. He is seeking a declaration from the court that he can reclaim his songs, as well as legal fees. In a statement, the music publisher said it had 'the highest respect for Sir Paul McCartney with whom we have enjoyed a long and mutually rewarding relationship with respect to the treasured Lennon and McCartney song catalogue.' It added: 'We have collaborated closely with both Sir Paul and the late John Lennon's Estate for decades to protect, preserve and promote the catalogue's long-term value.' Alcoholic wife-beating Scouse junkie Lennon's share in The Be-Atles' songs will not return to his estate because his widow That Yoko Bloody Ono Woman extremely sold the rights to his music to Sony/ATV Music in 2009, with those rights lasting the entire copyright's lifetime (seventy years).
About thirteen million pages of previously declassified documents from the US Central Intelligence Agency have been released online. The records include reports of UFO sightings and psychic experiments from the Stargate programme, which has long been of interest to conspiracy theorists. The move came after lengthy efforts from freedom of information advocates and a lawsuit against the CIA. The full archive is made up of almost eight hundred thousand files. They had previously only been accessible at the National Archives in Maryland. The trove includes the papers of Henry Kissinger, who served as secretary of state under presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford, as well as several hundred thousand pages of intelligence analysis and science research and development. Among the more unusual records are documents from the Stargate Project, which dealt with psychic powers and extrasensory perception. Those include records of testing on z-list celebrity psychic Uri Geller in 1973, when he was already a well-established performer. Memos detail how Geller was able to 'partly replicate' pictures drawn in another room with varying - but sometimes precise - accuracy, leading the researchers to write that he 'demonstrated his paranormal perceptual ability in a convincing and unambiguous manner.' Other unusual records include a collection of reports on flying saucers, and the recipes for invisible ink. While much of the information has been - technically - publicly available since the mid-1990s, it has been quite difficult to access. The records were only available on four physical computers located in the back of a library at the National Archives in Maryland, between 09:00 and 16:30 each day. With a sign saying 'Beware of the Leopard' nearby. Allegedly. A non-profit freedom of information group, MuckRock, sued the CIA to force it to upload the collection, in a process which took more than two years. At the same time, journalist Mike Best crowd-funded more than fifteen thousand dollars to visit the archives to print out and then publicly upload the records, one-by-one, to apply pressure to the CIA. 'By printing out and scanning the documents at CIA expense, I was able to begin making them freely available to the public and to give the agency a financial incentive to simply put the database online,' Best wrote in a blog post.
Gene Cernan - the last man to walk on the Moon - has died, aged eighty two. America's space agency NASA said that it was 'saddened by the loss.' Captain Cernan was one of only three people to go to the Moon twice - on Apollo 10 and as commander of Apollo 17 - and was the last man to leave a footprint on the lunar surface in 1972. On 11 December 1972, Gene Cernan piloted Challenger, Apollo 17's lunar module, into the Taurus-Littrow valley, near the Sea of Serenity, on the surface of the Moon. In later years Cernan would describe the valley where he had landed accompanied by the geologist Jack Schmitt as 'our own private little Camelot.' Three days later, having travelled to such locations as The Sculptured Hills and the Van Serg and Sherlock craters, the astronauts prepared to leave. Cernan marked out his daughter Teresa's initials in the dust, where they remain to this day and probably will for many hundreds of years to come. The story - and Cernan's relationship with his daughter - was later adapted into 'Tracy's Song' by the rock band No More Kings. Before climbing back into the lunar module, Gene paused and spoke to Mission Control back in Houston: 'As we leave the Moon at Taurus-Littrow, we leave as we came, and, God willing, as we shall return, with peace and hope for all mankind.' In the intervening years, God, or at least the US government, has been decidedly unwilling, to the lasting dismay of astronauts such as Cernan, who labelled it 'a slide to mediocrity' and the first men on the Moon, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, who jointly appealed to President Barack Obama in 2010, Cernan remains the last human being to have trodden on the surface of the Moon. 'It was perhaps the brightest moment of my life, and I can't go back,' he said. 'I am one of only twelve human beings to have stood on the Moon. I have come to accept that, and the enormous responsibility it carries, but as for finding a suitable encore, nothing has ever come close.' By the time he made the Moon landing, Cernan was already a seasoned space veteran. In May 1969 he had been a crew member, flying low over the lunar surface in the Lunar Module, when Apollo 10 conducted the dress rehearsal for Armstrong, Aldrin and the first Moon landing. In May 1966 Gene had accompanied Tom Stafford on the Gemini 9 mission, which entailed an extraordinarily hazardous space walk with Cernan, one hundred and eighty five miles above the Earth's surface, getting entangled in his equipment. Back on Earth, Stafford recounted that Cernan had asked him once he was back in the spacecraft if Stafford would have left him marooned in space. Stafford told him: 'How could you give a shit? You're already dead!' Gene was also a back-up crew member for the Gemini 12, Apollo 7 and Apollo 14 space missions. Cernan's roots were in Central Europe. His mother, Rose, was of Czech ancestry and the family of his father, Andrew, a supervisor at a naval installation, were Slovak. Gene was born Eugene Andrew Cernan in Chicago in March 1934 and raised in the towns of Maywood and Bellwood in Illinois. He left Proviso East High School in 1952 and studied electrical engineering at Purdue University, Indiana. Coincidentally, both Cernan and Armstrong were Purdue graduates. While at university, Cernan had joined the US navy's officer training corps, aiming for a commission in the naval reserves, which he got in 1956. By 1958 he was a naval flyer, posted to Miramar, California - later to be known as the Topgun Air Station – and piloted FJ4 Fury and A4 Skyhawk subsonic fighters. Then, in 1963, he completed his training with a master's in aeronautical engineering from the naval postgraduate school in Monterey, California. It was a CV that made him an obvious candidate for the space programme. The military and civil competition between the US and the Soviet Union, which had seen the latter put the first satellite into space and in 1961 the first man, Yuri Gagarin, into orbit, crystallised when, on 25 May that year, President Kennedy pledged that the US would conduct a successful Moon landing by the end of the decade. The Mercury programme was about getting an astronaut into orbit – a task first accomplished by John Glenn in early 1962. The second stage was Gemini – developing the technology to prepare for a Moon landing. The third, Apollo, was about going to the Moon itself. In 1959 the Mercury Seven became the first US astronaut team and Cernan was subsequently inspired by Alan Shepard, the first American in space - albeit for a mere fifteen minutes. In October 1963 NASA accepted Cernan as a trainee astronaut as part of the third group of intakes (his contemporaries included Buzz Aldrin, Michael Collins, David Scott and Al Bean). After the Apollo 17 mission, Cernan was part of the team working on the Apollo-Soyuz project which brought the cold war rivals together in space. In 1976 he quit NASA and became an oil executive in Houston. Later he founded a consultancy specialising in energy and aerospace and chaired the Johnson Engineering Corporation (1994 to 2000). Cernan never severed his links with science and space and was employed by ABC-TV as a commentator on issues around the space programme. From 1987 he was a contributor to ABC News and the weekly Breakthrough segment of Good Morning America for segments on health, science and medicine. He was featured in the space exploration documentary In The Shadow Of The Moon, in which he stated: 'Truth needs no defence' and 'Nobody can take those footsteps I made on the surface of the Moon away from me.' Gene also contributed to the book of the same name and also to Andrew Chaikin's acclaimed A Man On The Moon (1994). In 1999 he published, with Don Davis, his own autobiography, The Last Man On The Moon, and last year a film documentary of the same name went on general release. Gene is survived by his second wife, Jan Nanna, their two daughters Kelly and Danielle and by his daughter, Tracy, from his first marriage, to Barbara Atchley, which ended in divorce in 1980. Gene always came over in his interviews as a really poetic soul, a man who appeared to fully grasp, both intellectually and emotionally, the symbolic magnificence of the space programme that he was a part of and its scientific and historic importance. He will be greatly missed.
Rachael Heyhoe Flint, the former England women's cricket captain, has died aged seventy seven. She is survived by her husband Derrick, their son Ben, and her stepchildren Rowan, Hazel and Simon. Ben said that the family was 'deeply saddened.' Rachel captained England between 1966 and 1978. She also played in the first ever women's match at Lord's, against Australia, in 1976. During her career she played twenty two Test matches and twenty three one-day internationals. She was inducted into the ICC Hall of Fame in 2010. She also became a successful journalist, after dinner speaker and expert in public relations, which brought her back into contact with her beloved Wolverhampton Wanderers as she headed up the club's work in the local community. The MCC president Matthew Fleming said: 'Rachael Heyhoe Flint was a pioneer of women's cricket - she was the first global superstar in the women's game and her overall contribution to the MCC, cricket and sport in general was immense.' Clare Connor, the ECB's director of women's cricket, and one of Rachel's successors as England captain said: 'She was so special, so ever-present and now she has gone - but her impact can never be forgotten. Rachael was one of our sport's true pioneers and it is no exaggeration to say that she paved the way for the progress enjoyed by recent generations of female cricketers.' When her playing career ended, Rachel became one of the first women admitted to the MCC. In 2004 she became the first woman elected to the full committee. She was awarded the MBE in 1972, the OBE in 2008 and was made a life peer in 2011.
The TV director Rodney Bennett has died at the age of eighty one. Rodney directed ten episodes of Doctor Who; his first outing was on the two-part 1975 story The Sontaran Experiment, the first Doctor Who story to be filmed entirely as a Television Outside Broadcast. The production, filmed on Dartmoor, was disrupted when Tom Baker - in only his second story in the lead role - broke his collar bone during filming, necessitating the actor to wear a neck-brace under his scarf. He returned to the studio for his next production The Ark In Space, which was shown before The Sontaran Experiment despite being filmed after it. The story is widely regarded as a classic, with both Russell Davies and The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat (OBE) citing the story as one of their favourites from the original run of the popular BBC family SF drama. The story enjoyed some of the highest ratings in the programmes history, with over thirteen million punters tuning-in for episode two. Rodney Bennett's final story for Doctor Who was the 1976 story The Masque Of Mandragora - another terrific, and well-remembered four-part story featuring Baker. Filmed largely at the Welsh resort of Portmeirion, the story also marked the first appearance of the TARDIS' secondary console room. Having done student theatre whilst studying at Cambridge, Rodney started at the BBC in radio – producing material for the World Service and The Third Programme. When BBC2 began in 1964 he applied for an attachment to the schools' department and began to learn the craft of directing with a camera. He happened to be in the right place when a scheduled Z-Cars director fell ill, giving him a chance to move into mainstream drama. He went on to work on such series as Madam Bovery, The Case Of Eliza Armstrong, Thirty Minute Theatre, Dead Of Night (1972's well-remembered Return Flight), The Regiment, The Legend Of King Arthur, Sense & Sensibility, Dombey & Son, Soldier Solider, Rebecca Of Sunnybrook Farm, The House Of Elliot, Rumpole Of The Bailey, Tales Of The Unexpected, Play For Today, The Lost Boys and Doctor Finlay. In 1980 he directed the BBC version of Hamlet in which he cast Derek Jacobi as the eponymous Prince, alongside Patrick Stewart and Lalla Ward. In 1993 he directed the ITV production of The Darling Buds of May in which he cast the relatively unknown called Catherine Zeta Jones. He received two BAFTA nominations for Monsignor Quixote and The Legend Of King Arthur. He is survived by his wife, Jill, their children Adam and Kate, and four grandchildren, Ben, Hannah, Max and Aurelia.
Yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved (though still unsellable) Newcastle went back to the top of the Championship with a comfortable win over the bottom side Rotherham United on Saturday. Daryl Murphy struck in first-half stoppage time with The Magpies having dominated much of the opening period. Matt Ritchie made the game safe soon after the restart as he slotted home after Yoan Gouffran's shot was saved. Ayoze Perez scored the third before Ritchie got his second with a composed finish as Newcastle re-established their one-point lead at the top. With first-choice strikers Dwight Gayle and Aleksandar Mitrovic both out injured and Mo Diame away on African Nations Cup duty, there were concerns as to where Newcastle's goals would come from, but those fears were banished as Perez went close a number of times as the home side dominated the first half.
With several long-term injuries (Vernon Anita being the latest addition to the growing list) and three squad members still away with their national sides in Africa, United were forced to include a number of fringe players on the bench, including Sammy Ameobi and Jamie Sterry, both recently returned from loan spells and teenager Dan Barlaser who made his first team debut in mid-week in the FA Cup victory over Birmingham City. It was The Millers, however, who should have taken the lead when Magpies goalkeeper Karl Darlow fumbled the ball on the edge of the area and into the path of Jerry Yates, who was eventually denied by Darlow as he recovered superbly from the error. Murphy gave Rafa The Gaffer Benitez's men the lead seconds before the break as he turned in DeAndre Yedlin's cross and, soon after the interval, Ritchie made it two-nil to help ensure Rotherham would lose for the seventeenth time in twenty one games in all competitions. Perez then got his first goal since October after another cross from the impressive Yedlin, before Ritchie grabbed his second of the game, slotting home a pinpoint pass by Jonjo Shelvey - who returned for his first league appearance after the completion of his five-match suspension. With Brighton & Hove Albino's bruising victory over The Sheffield Wednesday on Friday evening (a game with three sendings-off and a geet rive-on wi' kids gettin' sparked and aal-sorts), only a win would have seen The Magpies reclaim the top spot. Meanwhile, another defeat for Reading - three-two at Derby - meant that the gap between United and third place was extended again to nine points (effectively ten, given The Toon's vastly superior goal difference). That gap was also maintained when fourth placed Dirty Leeds United lost to Barnsley in the Saturday teatime game.
The comedian Ed Byrne helped an injured hillwalker in The Cairngorms. Byrne was at the end of a two-day walking trip with adventure and outdoor writer Phoebe Smith when they came across Josh Bratchley on Tuesday. Bratchley twisted a knee when his right leg went through a snow drift on his way to the remote Corrour Bothy. Byrne gave him his walking poles and accompanied him to another bothy. Bratchley, an experienced mountaineer, said that he was grateful for the help. Byrne and Smith, author of The Book Of The Bothy, were in The Cairngorms for an article Byrne is writing for a forthcoming issue of The Great Outdoors Magazine. After the trip, Byrne, whose TV work includes appearances on Mock The Week and Have I Got News For You, tweeted: 'Awesome couple of days in Cairngorms. Knocked off three Munros from Corrour Bothy and even helped an injured walker get to safety. Feeling smug.' So, no change there, then. Byrne, a keen long-time hillwalker who completed his eightieth Munro on his walk in The Cairngorms, told BBC Scotland News: 'It's not a tale of derring-do and hanging off the end of ropes. I helped Josh by carrying his rucksack which, to be fair to him, was heavy with the amount of provisions he was carrying for his own trip. I gave him my lighter sack.' Bratchley was carrying enough wood and coal for an overnight stay at Corrour Bothy and to leave behind for others who would be using the shelter after him. He said: 'My foot went through the hard surface of a snow drift and into the soft snow below and my leg got stuck. Because of the rucksack I lost my balance.' Byrne and Smith, who were passing, asked if he was all right. At first, Bratchley had felt little pain and thought he could carry on to Corrour Bothy, which was a shorter trek than one back to where his car was parked and where he could safely rest before deciding on whether he could walk further. However, his leg became more painful and he decided to catch up with the pair for some company off the hill. He said: 'I was hoping the conversation would take my mind off my sore knee. Ed swapped his rucksack for mine. When I first spoke to Ed, I didn't notice who he was. But after I caught up with him the second time and they had introduced themselves I said to him that he looked familiar and I asked if we had met before in Scotland, or in the Welsh hills where I do a lot of walking. He then told me I might have seen him on TV and it was after that it clicked who he was.' After resting up for a night at Bob Scott's Memorial Bothy, Bratchley was able to get back to his car and return home. Following his mishap, doctors have told him he has damaged ligaments and cartilage. Hillwalkers looking after one another was praised by a mountain rescue team in a separate incident earlier this month. Cairngorm Mountain Rescue Team congratulated two young mountaineers who saved the life of a hypothermic walker. The pair realised that the man, who was walking alone, was in difficulty about two kilometres from the summit of Ben Macdui. Cairngorm Mountain Rescue Team said they had 'virtually carried him for two or three kilometres.' Mountain rescuers were then flown in by helicopter to help and the casualty was given medical treatment.
New Hampshire State Police said that a woman accused of driving at ninety one miles per hour during a snowstorm claimed she was late for an appointment to have a new car stereo installed. Police said they stopped twenty one-year-old Anastacia Hocking, of Laconia, on Interstate Ninety Three on Wednesday morning. The highway was covered with snow and slush. Hocking claimed that she was late for the appointment. She was extremely arrested on a reckless driving charge and is scheduled to be arraigned on 3 March.
An Oklahoma woman was arrested on an array of charges following what has been described in media reports as 'a bizarre crime.' According to KJRH, police extremely arrested forty four-year-old Karan Rebitzke after she allegedly kidnapped a door-to-door salesperson and held her against her will. Authorities allege that Rebitzke invited a saleswoman into her home on Thursday, and then started 'ranting about religion and God.' The victim told police that she tried to leave the location several times, but Rebitzke blocked the door and would not let her out. After about an hour, the victim told officers that she was 'able to escape' from the home. However, she claimed that Rebitzke, who was completely nude at the time, then 'began chasing her.' Police arrested Rebitzke on complaints of kidnapping, assault and battery and obstructing or interfering with a police officer.
Dogs can do many things, but flying usually isn't one of them. Unfortunately for an eight-year-old Jack Russell Terrier, his owner seemingly believed that he could fly so she tossed him over the Blue Heron Boulevard Bridge in Rivera Beach, Florida. Witnesses told authorities that they saw the unidentified woman throw the family pet, named BJ, thirty feet off the bridge onto Phil Foster Park beach below. Thankfully, the dog survived the fall although he did dislocate his leg. According to the Palm Beach Post, local Animal Care and Control said that the dog is 'in a lot of pain' and 'in serious but stable condition.' The canine is also suffering from 'a significant amount of swelling.' 'He is not completely out of the woods yet,' Captain David Walesky told the outlet. The Sun Sentinel reported that a lifeguard tended to the injured dog until help arrived. 'It did attempt to sit up. It was yelping really badly,' a witness, Laura Weinberger, said. 'We had to turn away. It was just horrible to see a dog in so much pain and shock.' According to the outlet, after the woman threw the dog off the bridge she laughed, got undressed and decided to get into the water. She was taken by authorities to a hospital for a mental health evaluation. BJ was adopted from animal care and control in 2010 by the woman's family.
A woman has revealed - in detail - what it is like to sleep with a male sex doll according to the Daily Mirra. 'Sex columnist' Karley Sciortino gave her review of her twenty-minute session with 'Gabriel' as she tested out the dolls' skills for a documentary about male sex dolls. The 'experiment' aimed to test the notion that only men could have intercourse with a sex doll because women were thought to need an emotional attachment. A silicone doll such as Gabriel costs about five grand. Each doll can be customised but the penis comes in both flaccid and erect options - presumably interchangable (please note this blogger resisted the urge to say 'inter-screwable', even though he was sorely tempted) with tests being conducted to make the penis warmer. This would also stop a potential problem with the dolls' bodies often being too cold. Sciortino, a columnist for Vogue and Vice from New York, described the organ as 'very life like' with 'real pubic hair,' a 'hard inside' and a 'soft outer layer.'
A woman in America has been accused of taping her son to a wall so she could get some housework done and filming it live on social media. Shayla Rudolph, aged eighteen, has been very arrested on an abduction charge. Her two-year-old son has been taken into custody by child services in Reynoldsburg, Ohio. Police say that they received a tip-off on Wednesday about a Facebook Live video showing a woman sticking her son to a wall and taping his mouth shut. They said that their review of a copy of the live stream showed Rudolph using clear packing tape to restrain the boy for about fifteen minutes. The woman can be heard in the video telling her son he has 'the best mummy in the whole wide world.' Her son can be heard trying to cry. 'Don't make me put more tape up there,' she says. 'Sit still. You can see the TV from right there.' Rudolph can also be heard apparently explaining - apparently for the benefit of those watching the live stream - that what she is doing allows her to do her housework. 'You can't clean without them running around tearing up? Tape them to the wall,' she says. 'You can't cook because they're running around? Tape them to the wall.'
Michelle McManus has claimed on social media that she was 'assaulted' by a man 'wielding a guitar case.' The singer alleged that her jaw was 'injured' in the attack in the Shawlands area of Glasgow. The man involved, she said, was not known to her and had 'battered' her across the face 'for no reason' in the confrontation at about 2am on Sunday morning. McManus established her career after winning the TV talent show Pop Idol in 2003. Speaking of the alleged assault, she said that she was 'still trying to process' what had happened and thanked those who had sent her messages of support. She went on to name the man she said had attacked her, describing him as a musician who plays at a bar in the South side of Glasgow. In 2009, McManus became co-presenter presenter of STV's lifestyle magazine show The Hour. The programme was cancelled in 2011 due to shockingly poor viewing figures.
And finally, dear blog reader ...
Faith healers are no strangers to outlandish claims but a South African pastor may well have claimed a new record by purporting to have cured a woman's 'vaginal warts' ... with his shoe. Footage shown on the Daily Mirra website shows Zendile Andries November asking a woman in his congregation about the 'pimples.' The Victorious Faith Ministries pastor - who also claims he can cure AIDS with the power of prayer - then removed his shoe and handed it to the woman, who placed it between her legs. She then dramatically dropped to the floor with the churchman's mighty footwear lodged between her thighs doing the work of The Lord. After a subsequent visit to the bathroom, another woman announces that her friend's condition has been 'miraculously cured' - to cheers from the congregation at the Bloemfontein church. Lordy, issa miracle.