Sunday, February 12, 2017

Did He Die In Vain?

The BBC has announced the return of an old acquaintance of The Doctor in the upcoming series of Doctor Who. And, they did so a whole four months after the news first emerged.
Meanwhile, as predicted in the last blog update, now that Peter Capaldi has announced his intention to leave the role, we're going to be utterly bombarded with this sort of speculative crap until Peter's eventual successor is named. So, that'll be fun.
This blogger loved the divine Victoria's trademark delightfully self-deprecating cold open on this week's episode of Only Connect: 'Coming to you, as always, from the Port Manor Road Industrial Estate in Splott. Sherlock is also filmed in Cardiff which is an interesting coincidence. Because we're also a TV show, we're also full of mysterious clues and when I play the violin I, too, sound like a drug addict!'
James May has revealed why he is keen to get rid of his beloved second-hand Rolls-Royce. Apparently, he's allergic to its leather seats. James, now starring with yer man Jezza Clarkson and Richard Hammond on Amazon's The Grand Tour, says that if he drives the car for more than half-an-hour he 'gets a reaction.' So, ten years after buying the classic Corniche, the fifty four-year-old is putting it up for auction. Motoring fans will be expecting to pay more than thirty grand for the star's reasonably priced car.
Here are the final and consolidated ratings figures for the Top Twenty Six programmes broadcast during the week-ending Sunday 5 February 2017:-
1 Call The Midwife - Sun BBC1 - 10.38m
2 Coronation Street - Mon ITV - 8.21m
3 Death In Paradise - Thurs BBC1 - 8.04m
4 Silent Witness - Mon BBC1 - 7.92m
5 EastEnders - Mon BBC1 - 7.83m
6 Countryfile - Sun BBC1 - 7.61m
7 Apple Tree Yard - Sun BBC1 - 7.50m
8 Still Open All Hours - Sun BBC1 - 7.13
9 Emmerdale - Mon ITV - 6.83m
10 The Good Karma Hospital - Sun ITV - 6.82m
11 BBC News - Sun BBC1 - 6.10m
12 The Voice - Sat ITV - 5.91m
13 Casualty - Sat BBC1 - 5.74m
14 Taboo - Sat BBC1 - 5.63m
15 Six O'Clock News - Mon BBC1 - 5.54m
16 Unforgotten - Thurs ITV - 5.48m
17 Let It Shine - Sat BBC1 - 5.25m
18 Rugby Six Nations Live: England versus France - Sat ITV - 5.08m
19 Spy In The Wild - Thurs BBC1 - 4.98m
20 Holby City - Tues BBC1 - 4.76m
21 Not Going Out - Fri BBC1 - 4.70m
22 Ten O'Clock News - Tues BBC1 - 4.68m
23 The ONE Show - Mon BBC1 - 4.67m
24 Who Do You Think You Are? - Wed BBC1 - 4.63m
25 The Halcyon - Mon ITV - 4.57m
26 Tracy Ullman's Show - Fri BBC1 - 4.05m
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. On BBC2, the top-rated programme was Monday's University Challenge with 3.04 million viewers. Dragons' Den was watched by 2.63 million, Hospital by 2.49 million and Further Back In Time For Dinner by 2.31 million. The Great Pottery Thrown Down attracted 2.20 million viewers, followed by Trust Me I'm A Doctor (1.98 million), George III: The Genius Of The Mad King (1.95 million), Sicily: The Wonder Of The Mediterranean (1.90 million), Mastermind (1.86 million), Only Connect (1.82 million), Great American Railroad Journey (1.75 million), the fascinating first episode of the two-part documentary Birds Of Paradise: The Ultimate Quest (1.59 million), An Island Parish: Anguilla (1.57 million), Big Dreams, Small Spaces (1.56 million), Special Forces: Ultimate Hell Week (1.53 million) and the latest episode of Qi (also 1.53 million). The Jump was Channel Four's highest-rated broadcast (2.65 million punters tuning in to see which of the z-listers would be the first to end up in traction), followed by The Undateables (2.31 million), No Offence (2.17 million) and The Secret Life Of Five Year Olds (2.02 million). Location, Location, Location was seen by 1.86 million viewers, whilst Food Unwrapped continued with 1.80 million. Twenty Four Hours In A&E drew 1.77 million, Homeland had 1.74 million and The Last leg With Adam Hills was watched by 1.73 million viewers. The latest Eight Out Of Ten Cats Does Countdown had 1.47 million punters whilst That Awful Keith Woman's Hidden Villages was seen by 1.26 million punters with, presumably, nothing better to do than watch odious tripe the likes of this. Channel Five's top performer was, of course, Z-List Celebrity Big Brother with 2.42 million, ahead of When Live TV Goes Horribly Wrong (1.51 million viewers), GPs: Behind Closed Doors (1.34 million), The Nightmare Neighbour Next Door (1.16 million) and NCIS (1.10 million). Horrifyingly, once again the channel's five top-rated broadcasts were all episodes of Z-List Celebrity Big Brother. Truly, dear blog reader, there is no God. Coverage of Live Premier League: Leicester City Versus The Scum on Sky Sports 1 was seen by 1.30 million punters whilst the Saturday lunchtime game between Moscow Chelski FC and The Arse drew 1.04 million. Sheikh Yer Man City's victory over relegation-haunted Swansea City attracted six hundred and twenty one thousand and yer actual Keith telly Topping's beloved (though unsellable) Newcastle's very disappointing draw with Queens Park Strangers had three hundred and ninety two thousand viewers. Goals On Sunday was seen by one hundred and thirty four thousand. On Sky Sports 2, the Championship all-Yorkshire clash between Huddersfield and Dirty Leeds attracted two hundred and ninety five thousand. Live T20 Cricket between India and England drew one hundred and Ninety four thousand, as England lost. Again. Gillette Soccer Saturday was top of the pile on Sky Sports News HQ with four hundred and thirty nine thousand punters and an additional four hundred and twenty three thousand on the Sky Sports 1 simultcast. Midsomer Murders was ITV3's top-rated drama (eight hundred and seventy thousand viewers). Doc Martin was seen by seven hundred and fifty thousand and Agatha Christie's Marple by six hundred and forty eight thousand. Mr Bean headed ITV4's weekly list with three hundred and thirty eight thousand punters. Pawn Stars drew three hundred and twenty thousand and Benidorm had three hundred and eleven thousand. ITV2's most-watched broadcasts were for the movies, Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring (six hundred and seven thousand), Skyfall (five hundred and ninety three thousand viewers) and Snow Dogs (five hundred and eighty three thousand). Vera headed ITV Encore's top ten with fifty eight thousand viewers, followed by DCI Banks (fifty five thousand) and Poirot (forty five thousand). BBC4's list was topped by the second episode of British History's Biggest Fibs With Lucy Worsley (1.06 million, the largest multchannel audience of the week: A repeat three days later drew six hundred and forty five thousand), followed by Legends Of The Deep: Deep Sea Sharks (five hundred and seventy six thousand), Fair Isle: Living On The Edge (five hundred and fifty seven thousand), British Empire: Heroes & Villains (five hundred and forty seven thousand) and Planet Earth (five hundred and forty two thousand). The Art Of France drew four hundred and sixty nine thousand, The Good Old Days, four hundred and fifty two thousand and Attenborough & The Giant Egg by four hundred and thirty six thousand. Sky1's weekly top-ten was headed by The Flash (nine hundred and ninety three thousand viewers). Hawaii Five-O was seen by eight hundred and eighty four thousand, Modern Family by eight hundred and fourteen thousand, NCIS: Los Angeles by seven hundred and forty three thousand and DC's Legends Of Tomorrow by six hundred and eighty thousand. Sky Atlantic's list was topped by the return of Blue Bloods (four hundred and fourteen thousand). Fortitude attracted four hundred and nine thousand. The Affair had two hundred and sixty five thousand and Quarry, seventy six thousand. On Sky Living, the latest episode of Elementary was seen by 1.13 million whilst Bones had 1.01 million, Blindspot drew eight hundred and forty six thousand and Conviction attracted six hundred and forty four thousand. Scandal's latest episode was seen by three hundred and ten thousand. Sky Arts' Portrait Artist Of The Year was watched by three hundred and three thousand viewers whilst The Eighties had sixty seven thousand and the third episode of Urban Myths, sixty six thousand. 5USA's Law & Order: UK was watched by six hundred and three thousand viewers, Castle by five hundred and fifty six thousand and NCIS by five hundred and one thousand. NCIS also topped the weekly lists of CBS Action (one hundred and twenty nine thousand) and FOX (nine hundred and twenty one thousand viewers) and featured in the top ten of The Universal Channel (one hundred and sixty two thousand). The latest episode of Bull drew five hundred and sixty eight thousand on FOX. American Dad! was seen by one hundred and seventy four thousand. The Universal Channel's Pure Genius attracted one hundred and eighty seven thousand. On Dave, the return of the cult favourite Suits was the highest-rated broadcast with four hundred and eighty two thousand punters, followed by Have I Got A Bit More News For You (three hundred and forty five thousand), Crackanory (three hundred and thirty five thousand), Not Going Out (three hundred and twenty five thousand), Top Gear (two hundred and seventy six thousand) and Qi XL (two hundred and fifty seven thousand). The latest episode of Drama's repeat run of Hetty Wainthropp Investigates was watched by four hundred and twenty seven thousand viewers. Wallander had four hundred and three thousand whilst New Tricks drew three hundred and eighty four thousand and Jonathan Creek, three hundred and sixty eight thousand. Alibi's highest-rated programmes were Murdoch Mysteries (two hundred and twenty seven thousand), Death In Paradise (two hundred and twelve thousand), Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries (ninety four thousand) and Inspector George Gently (eighty two thousand). On The Sony Channel, Ghosts In My Home was watched by thirty nine thousand, Hustle by twenty seven thousand and the movies Erin Brockovich and The Remains of The Day also by twenty seven thousand. Yesterday's Secrets Of The Castle continued with two hundred and twenty two thousand and World War Weird with two hundred and twenty one thousand. Porridge had two hundred and ten thousand. On the Discovery Channel, Gold Rush was seen by four hundred and ninety two thousand viewers. Idris Elba: Gets Chinned had two hundred and fifty three thousand. From The North favourite Wheeler Dealers latest series continued with one hundred and eighty four thousand whilst Alaskan Bush People was watched by one hundred and forty two thousand. Older episodes of Wheeler Dealers also topped the weekly lists of both Discovery Shed (thirty six thousand) and Discovery Turbo (thirty eight thousand). Discovery History's A Time To Remember headed the top ten-list with twenty nine thousand. Out Of Egypt had twenty eight thousand thousand, Unsolved History, Codes & Conspiracies and Time Team all attracted twenty five thousand. On Discovery Science, How It's Made was seen by thirty five thousand viewers. On Quest, Salvage Hunters was watched by five hundred and seventy seven thousand. National Geographic's list was headed by Air Crash Investigation which had one hundred and eighty five thousand viewers and Highway Thru Hell (sixty four thousand). The History Channel's weekly list was topped by The Curse of Oak Island (two hundred and sixty five thousand) and Ronnie O'Sullivan's American Hustle (one hundred and fifty nine thousand). On Military History, Ancient Top Ten was watched by forty nine thousand punters and President Obama: In His Own Words by thirty two thousand. True Nightmares, Dark Minds and A Crime To Remember were ID's top-rated programmes with eighty seven thousand viewers, sixty four thousand and sixty four thousand crime-lovers, respectively. Crimes That Shook Britain, Alcatraz: The Search For The Truth and Nightmare In Suburbia headed CI's list (one hundred and three thousand, seventy six thousand and sixty three thousand). The Real Essex Boys drew forty nine thousand and Gangs Of Britain had forty four thousand. GOLD's repeat run of Mrs Brown's Boys attracted two hundred and seventy seven thousand. Comedy Central's largest audience of the week was for Impractical Jokers (four hundred and eighty one thousand). Your TV's Bones was seen by eighty thousand and Behind Mansion Walls by fifty one thousand. On More4, Richard III: The Unseen Story was the highest-rated programme with four hundred and sixty three thousand. Four In A Bed attracted four hundred and forty one thousand punters and Cleopatra's Lost Tomb, four hundred and twenty one thousand. E4's latest episode of Hollyoaks drew 1.11 million viewers and Marvel's Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D, 1.07 million. The Horror Channel's broadcast of The Signal attracted one hundred and twenty one thousand. The top-ten list also included The Devil's Tomb (ninety three thousand), We Are Still Here (eighty five thousand), Thirteen Sins (eighty two thousand), Julia X (sixty nine thousand) and Embrace Of The Vampire (fifty one thousand). Bitten, headed Syfy's top-ten with one hundred and fifty four thousand. Horizon was watched by forty one thousand on Eden whilst Wild Arabia attracted thirty nine thousand viewers. Alaska: The Last Frontier and Bondi Vet were the Animal Planet's most-watched programme both with thirty five thousand. Code Black on W drew two hundred and fifty one thousand punters. Zaiqa Ka Safar topped Venus TV's list with fifteen thousand viewers whilst Bollywood Abtak was Zing's most watched programme (eighteen thousand). On the True Crime channel, Very Bad Men was watched by eighteen thousand punters. Liberty Of London drew sixty five thousand on London Live. Rick Stein's Spain was seen by eighty thousand on Good Food. TLC's list was headed by My Four Wives (one hundred and thirty five thousand).

A high court injunction blocking the publication of David Beckham's hacked personal e-mails has been 'rendered effectively worthless' after a consortium of European media outlets from Romania to France published them anyway. Wich is both very naughty and, sort of quite funny at the same time. Beckham's legal team expressed 'deep frustration' that 'stolen information,' which had been prohibited from publication in the UK by the high court, had come to light and that it was 'no longer possible' to keep the information confidential. In December, the high court had accepted that e-mails written by Beckham and his PR advisers were stolen from a Portuguese company associated with Beckham's spokesman, Simon Oliveira and issued an injunction preventing The Sunday Times from publishing them. However, several media outlets, including Germany's Der Spiegel and France's L'Equipe published details of the cache at the weekend in defiance of the British court ruling. They reported how Beckham was allegedly 'angry' at not being granted a knighthood in 2013, that the honours committee was said to be 'concerned' about his tax doings and that he was 'annoyed' to be asked for a major cash donation by UNICEF, of which he was - and still is - a global ambassador. British newspapers including the Sun and the Daily Scum Mail published their own stories about all this malarkey soon afterwards despite the injunction. 'It is a weakness in the law,' one alleged 'source' allegedly 'close to Beckham' allegedly told the Gruniad Morning Star.Although, since the cowards declined to identify the alleged 'source' there is the possibility that he or she is, entirely, fictitious. 'Because it is across multiple jurisdictions, it is almost impossible to do anything of substance,' the alleged 'source' allegedly continued. 'This illustrates one of the difficulties in obtaining injunctions in a globalised, Internet-based society,' said Sara Mansoori, a media barrister at Matrix Chambers whom the Gruniad also contacted for a soundbite and who, in this instance, they did chose to name. 'The other option is for claimants to seek injunctions in all different jurisdictions but that is not a practical way to proceed for anybody.' One of the first stories came last Friday, when a story appeared on a Romanian website, The Black Sea, which was described as 'published with the European Investigative Collaborations network, with research by The Sunday Times.' It detailed Beckham's 'angry pursuit of a knighthood,' including how he allegedly described the honours committee as 'a bunch of cunts' after he was overlooked for the honour. It also examined how Beckham's advisers allegedly discussed billing UNICEF for a business class flight Beckham made to Cambodia for a trip as part of his work as 'a goodwill ambassador' – although Beckham's team have since made clear that this did not, in the end, happen. The website also referred to other e-mails between Beckham and his team about 'handling' the former England captain's public image and ensuring he 'remained seen as a man of the people.' While several British newspapers followed up on the story, the still injuncted Sunday Times published a short front-page report stating: 'The Sunday Times has been gagged by an injunction preventing it from reporting details about a celebrity's personal and professional life. The judge anonymised the individual using initials. The newspaper is in legal proceedings.' Some of the published e-mails were allegedly doctored by hackers, it is claimed, including by 'the insertion of extra swearwords,' Beckham's team have claimed. But, they confirmed others as genuine, including his insult about the honours committee. However, they stressed that such e-mails were 'heat-of-the-moment communications' between 'close associates.' The cache also included e-mails between Oliveira and Beckham about 'a red flag' HM Revenue and Customs had put on Beckham's nomination for a knighthood due to his involvement in an alleged tax avoidance scheme and Beckham's exasperation that he had 'done nothing wrong.' Beckham's team have voiced 'particular concern' about the release of e-mails concerning travel and hotel arrangements for his work with UNICEF. 'David has raised millions for the charity, he has donated a seven-figure sum and has done over forty days a year for UNICEF,' said an alleged 'friend' allegedly quoted by the Gruniad Morning Star. Although, once again, the fact that the Gruniad chose not to identify this, alleged, 'friend' brings into question the veracity of these alleged quotes. 'He has stuck his neck out,' the alleged 'friend' allegedly continued. A spokesman for the UNICEF charity said: 'We are extremely proud of The Seven Fund [Beckham's UNICEF fund] and all it has achieved for children.' Doyen Sports, a Portugal-based sister company to Oliveira's Doyen Global, which represents Beckham, 'became aware' that its server had been hacked in 2015. In early 2016, an 'unknown individual' reportedly 'approached' Doyen Sports seeking up to one million Euros 'in exchange for not publishing the information.' The company state that they 'refused to pay' and the Portuguese police 'were alerted.' The suspected blackmailer is understood to have 'gone into hiding' and is said to be 'untraceable.' Although the Daily Mirra seem to have some idea who he is judging by this piece.
Senior executives from billionaire tyrant Rupert Murdoch-owned companies reportedly 'met' the Prime Minister or the Chancellor ten times in a year – more than any other media organisation, according to a new analysis. There were ten meetings with either David Cameron or George Osborne, and, later, Theresa May or Phillip Hammond, compared with seven with named executives for the BBC and four with Evgeny Lebedev, the owner of the Evening Standard and Independent, over the twelve months to September 2016. Over an eighteen-month period, News Corp executives had twenty meetings with senior government representatives. Of these, eighteen were with the Prime Minister, Chancellor or lack of culture secretary, and of those, seven involved billionaire tyrant Murdoch himself. A further eight were with Robert Thomson, the chief executive of News Corp and the most senior executive at billionaire tyrant Murdoch's newspaper businesses. Campaigners said this demonstrates the billionaire tyrant mogul's 'astounding' access to the UK's political leaders. The eighteen-month period between April 2015 and September 2016 examined by The Media Reform Coalition and Thirty Eight Degrees includes the 2015 general erection, when billionaire tyrant Murdoch’s papers backed the Conservatives, last year's vote to leave the EU, which billionaire tyrant Murdoch has publicly welcomed and the first three months of Theresa May's post-Brexit government. Maggie Chao, a campaigner with activist group Thirty Eight Degrees, said: 'These findings show that Murdoch continues to enjoy astounding access to senior politicians. But more importantly, they throw into question the government's – and [lack of culture secretary] Karen Bradley's – judgment when it comes to the UK's most powerful media baron. Now it's up to Karen Bradley to prove she's on the public's side – not Murdoch's – by ensuring the Sky deal is subject to the highest levels of scrutiny.' The bulk of the meetings with billionaire tyrant Murdoch and his senior executives were with Cameron, Osborne or other minsters under the previous government. However, since becoming Prime Minister, May has met Thomson twice and billionaire tyrant Murdoch once, the latter at the Wall Street Journal offices in New York. She also 'had lunch' with 'an unnamed News Corp executive' in May 2016 when she was Home Secretary. Thomson also held meetings with the vile and odious rascal Bradley and Hammond in September. The full list of twenty meetings over eighteen months does not include 'numerous' meetings between ministers or officials and staff working for Murdoch's papers, the Sun, The Times and The Sunday Times, including the titles' editors. However, it does count two meetings, one with Twenty First Century FOX and another with News Corp, where the name of the executives is not listed. The analysis does not count 'a small number of meetings' with the BBC where 'no name is given.' They are not thought to have involved senior executives. The meeting with Twenty First Century FOX, the TV and film company which was separated from News Corp in 2013 and is now run by billionaire tyrant Murdoch's son. James Murdoch The Small, took place in January last year with the vile and odious rascal Whittingdale, the then lack of culture secretary. In December, FOX announced that it was making a bid to acquire the remaining sixty one per cent of UK satellite broadcaster Sky which it does not already own. The vile and odious rascal Bradley, the vile and odious rascal Whittingdale's replacement as lack of culture secretary, who met News Corp's Thomson in September, will be called on to decide whether to refer the deal to regulators. The analysis also found six meetings with Sky, all but one of which was with ministers then working for the lack of culture department that the vile and odious rascal Bradley now runs. However, the vile and odious rascal Bradley, who was made lack of culture secretary last July, is not listed as having met Sky representatives during the period covered. A government spokesperson said: 'Ministers meet with a range of stakeholders. We publish the details of these meetings in our transparency returns.' One or two people even believed them.
Blind Date is returning to television and Olly Murs is rumoured to be the new host. So, that'll be worth avoiding, then. The classic dating show, in which contestants picked a stranger to go on holiday with - and, therefore, have lots of The Sex with - ran on ITV from 1985 to 2003 and was presented by the late Cilla Black. Channel Five will be bringing it back later this year. Because, clearly, they can't think up any original ideas, it would seem.
The Republican standards tsar of the US Congress has said that a senior Trump aide was 'wrong, wrong, wrong' to promote Ivanka Trump products on live television. Retailer Nordstrom earlier this month dropped the US first daughter's clothing line, citing a lack of sales. But, presidential aide Kellyanne Conway told FAUX News viewers on Thursday: 'Go buy Ivanka's stuff.' Federal ethics rules prevent any White House employees from giving 'an endorsement of any product, service or enterprise.' Jason Chaffetz, a Republican who heads the House of Representatives oversight committee, said that the promotion was 'wrong, wrong, wrong, clearly over the line, unacceptable.' He said that the White House should notify the Office of Government Ethics so it could initiate an inquiry. Chaffetz said he and his Democratic counterpart would write to President Donald Trump. 'It needs to be dealt with,' he told The Associated Press. 'There's no ifs, ands or buts about it.' 'Go buy Ivanka's stuff,' Conway told the FAUX & Friends show in an interview from The White House briefing room. 'I'm going to go get some myself today. I'm going to give a free commercial here: Go buy it today, everybody.' Her comments came only days after she was lampooned for citing the 'Bowling Green massacre', which never happened, while trying to justify the president's controversial immigration ban.
Congratulations to someone at the BBC News website for succumbing to temptation and using the most bloody obvious headline imaginable for their report on the critical reaction to the Fifty Shades Of Grey sequel. Fifty Shades Darker Gets Critical Spanking. As, indeed, should the sub-editor who thought that was original.
National treasure Gary Lineker has said that he 'will not be bullied' by any odious louse-scum at the Daily Scum Mail after the worthless, Hitler-supporting tabloid newspaper accused the former England football legend of tax avoidance in a highly critical two-page article. In a article published on Thursday under the headline: Holier than thou hypocrite, the Daily Scum Mail, which is owned by the non-domicile Lord Rothermere, claims that Lineker has 'used a complex scheme' to avoid paying as much tax as 'the man or woman on the street.' Which may well be true but it's neither illegal or, indeed, what the man or woman in the street would gladly do if they could. Lineker, who has previously 'faced calls' from right-wing scum-louse tabloid newspapers to stand down from his BBC role, responded to the claims on Twitter, stating that he pays taxes 'in full.' Lineker, host of the BBC's Match Of The Day and one of the BBC's best-known faces, regularly expresses his political and humanitarian views on Twitter, which have included anti-Brexit and pro-refugee arguments. The former Leicester City, Everton, Stottingtot Hotshots and Barcelona striker, also vowed to continue to 'speak up for refugees and immigrants and British values of tolerance and free speech.' The latter of which, of course, the Daily Scum Mail is such an outspoken supporter of. Unless, of course, it's free speech that it doesn't agree with, in which case, yeah, not so much. The article devotes seventeen paragraphs to recounting what the right-wing newspaper calls Lineker's 'left-wing take on global politics' and 'oh-so right-on views' before the first mention of the fifty five-year-old presenter's alleged tax affairs. Lineker is branded 'sanctimonious,' while Twitter, where he has over five and a half million followers, is labelled 'a smug echo chamber of woolly liberalism' by feature writer Guy Adams - who, interestingly enough, is also a regular Twitter user although he has only a tiny fraction of Lineker's followers. Among the views expressed by Lineker with which the odious louse-scum at the Daily Scum Mail appears to take issue are his portrait of Brexit Britain as 'a dystopian land,' his opinion that public attitudes to refugees can be 'hideously racist and utterly heartless,' his take on Nigel Farage as 'disgusting' and the opinion that odious slapheed Iain Duncan Smith ls 'an irritable dunce.' Which, frankly, is being incredibly unkind to perfectly reasonable irritable dunces in comparing them to that festering waste-of-oxygen. Lineker's stance against the politics of Donald Trump, the far right and the Front National French presidential candidate, Marine Le Pen, are also listed as examples of his position on 'the moral high ground.' Last year, the Sun newspaper called for Lineker to be sacked over what it called 'migrant lies' amid ongoing public debate about the government's treatment of child refugees from Calais. The BBC previously said that Lineker was a freelance broadcaster and he tweeted in a personal capacity and, in a free and democratic country was entitled to say whatever the hell he likes so long as it is within the boundaries of the law as it currently stands and anyone who suggests he shouldn't is, perhaps, not quite the friend of freedom of speech that they often, publicly, pretend to be.
A pet owner who fed cannabis and a soft drink spiked with LSD to his hamster has been extremely jailed. Nchinumya Ntembe reportedly poured Tizer laced with the hallucinogenic into a water bottle and fed marijuana leaves to the rodent, named Mister Chow. Why the fek anyone would want to do such a ridiculously stupid thing is another question entirely. It's a bloody stupid name to give a hamster. Footage released by the RSPCA shows Ntembe and others laughing as Mister Chow ingests the drugs. Ntembe admitted five cruelty offences and was very jailed for four months at Lancaster Magistrates' Court on Monday. The charges also included failing to meet the needs of two dogs. The animals all survived and were rehomed. Ntembe, of Cypress Road in Lancaster, was also banned from keeping animals for eight years. He was caught on camera filling Mister Chow's water bottle with the spiked soft drink before then feeding the animal cannabis leaves at a property in Heysham. He can be heard saying with others 'this could be the end for Mister Chow' and they 'egged each other on to give him more drugs,' the RSPCA said. The charity said Mtembe's dogs - named Zeus and Faith - were also found 'in a terrible state' and 'unnecessary suffering' was caused to a further dog, called Troy. Police had attended the property on a warrant and discovered the animals and the footage of cruelty on mobile phones. Ntembe admitted five offences under the Animal Welfare Act. Last month, Corey Lee Destrow, of York Road, Lancaster, admitted animal cruelty offences relating to the hamster at the city's magistrates' court. He was given twelve month community order with eighty hours unpaid work and was disqualified from keeping animals for two years, following an appeal of his eight week prison sentence. Luke Gabriel Horn, of Kingsway in Heysham, was sentenced to an eighteen month community order with two hundred and fifty hours unpaid work after admitted animal cruelty to a dog. He was disqualified from keeping dogs for five years.
Lost live recordings by yer actual Bob Marley & The Wailers found in a hotel basement in London after more than forty years have been restored. The tapes are the original, high-quality live recordings of the reggae legend's concerts in London and Paris between 1974 and 1978. They were at first believed to have been ruined beyond repair, largely because of water damage. Marley, who died in 1981, would have been seventy two on Monday. The tapes were found in a run-down hotel in Kensal Rise, North-West London, where Marley & The Wailers stayed during their European tours in the mid-1970s and when they were recording Exodus in London in 1977. They were discovered when Joe Gatt, a Marley fan and London businessman, took a telephone call from a friend, who had found the tapes while doing a building refuse clearance on the drum. From the thirteen reel-to-reel analogue master tapes, ten were fully restored, two were blank and one was found to be beyond repair. Work lasted a year and cost twenty five thousand smackers. 'They were [in an] appalling [condition], I wasn't too hopeful,' Martin Nichols, a sound engineer at the White House Studios where the restoration took place, told the BBC. The recordings are from a number of concerts at The Lyceum in London (1975), The Hammersmith Odeon (1976), The Rainbow (1977), and The Pavilion de Paris (1978). They were recorded on the only mobile twenty four-track studio vehicle available in the UK then. It was loaned to Marley by its owner, The Rolling Stones.
Convicted kiddie-fiddler and disgraced naughty old scallywag Rolf Harris has been cleared of three sex assault charges. The jury at Southwark Crown Court failed to return a verdict on four other counts. Harris made no reaction when the not guilty verdicts were read out. The eighty six-year-old is currently very in jail after a 2014 trial saw him convicted of twelve sex offences against four females, including a girl under the age of ten. After deliberating for just under a week, the jury found Harris not guilty of indecently assaulting an autograph hunter on a visit to a Portsmouth radio station with her mother at the end of the 1970s. He was also cleared of groping a blind, disabled woman at Moorfields Eye Hospital in London in 1977 and of sexually assaulting a woman in her forties after filming a TV show in 2004. Judge Alistair McCreath discharged the jury from deliberating on a further four counts which Harris was accused thereof. These other alleged offences included Harris putting his hand up a teenage girl's skirt at a youth music event at London's Lyceum Theatre. Another teenager accused him of grabbing her breast and sliding his hand between her legs while she helped on the TV programme Star Games in the summer of 1978. A then thirteen-year-old girl claimed Harris asked her: 'Do you often get molested on a Saturday morning?' as he, allegedly, felt underneath her top after a children's TV show in 1983. He was also accused of stroking a nineteen-year-old's bare back at a music studio near London Bridge in 2002, while allegedly making a sexual comment. Stephen Vullo QC, defending, had told the jurors that Harris was entirely innocent of these latest charges - as well as the indecent assaults over which he was extremely convicted in 2014 and is currently doing considerable Richard III. Vullo blamed a 'media frenzy' for making Harris 'vulnerable to people making accusations against him.' The prosecution team asked for a week to decide whether to apply for a retrial. Harris has been remanded in custody until then. His defence team said that Harris was expected to be automatically released from prison for the sentence he is currently serving this summer. Outside court, his solicitor, Daniel Berke, said: 'Mr Harris is grateful for the care and attention this jury has given to his case and for the not guilty verdicts returned.' Until his arrest in 2013, Rolf Harris was considered something of a national treasure and had been a fixture on screens in Britain since the 1950s. He had shown early promise in sport and art - narrowly missing out on representing his native Australia as a swimmer at the 1948 Olympic Games and staging exhibitions of his paintings from the age of sixteen. Illness led him to focus on painting, and he moved to London to enrol in art school, performing at cabaret clubs to earn money before auditioning for children's TV. Harris became a regular on the BBC and commercial TV in the UK and Australia, hosting variety shows, children's programmes and animal welfare documentaries - the exposure led to pop success with a series of popular singles produced by George Martin and, later, an appearances at the Glastonbury Festival. But it came of a shuddering end with his conviction in 2014 for twelve indecent assaults on four women and girls between the 1960s and 1980s.
February's full moon - the 'snow moon' - also coincided this year with a partial lunar eclipse. To spectacular effect.
A project to mark the eightieth anniversary year of Doctor Who legend and Electronic Music pioneer Delia Derbyshire, has won support from The Heritage Lottery Fund. Delia Derbyshire Day has been awarded forty two grand to help organise a programme of activities and events to celebrate eighty years since the birth of the woman who realised the original Doctor Who theme music, composed by Ron Grainer. Project partners include the Delia Derbyshire Estate, John Rylands Library, University of Manchester, One Education Music, Full of Noises Festival, Digital Women's Archive North and Band on the Wall.
Aleksandar Mitrovic scored the only goal as yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved (though unsellable) Newcastle reclaimed top spot in the Championship by beating Wolverhampton Wanderings at Molineux. Jack Colback had a tame shot saved for the visitors early on, before Wolves' Richard Stearman missed a sitter from six yards. Mitrovic slotted Newcastle ahead from close range just before half-time. In a second half of few chances, Dave Edwards came closest to equalising for the home side when he headed into the side-netting. The result further improved Newcastle's impressive away record, with The Magpies having taken more points than any other team in the division on the road this season. Serbia international Mitrovic scored his first Newcastle goal since late October, tapping in from inside the six-yard box after Wolves had failed to clear a free-kick. A fabulous away following of over four thousand Geordie punters celebrated another away success - The Toon's eleveth of the season - as Wolves' league victory at St James' Park earlier in the season was avenged with Jonjo Shelvey particularly enjoying the win. After the final whistle Shelvey blew a kiss to the home fans who had booed his every touch, following his five match ban for allegedly abusing a Wolves player at SJP, as the midfielder had the last and the longest laugh. But it was Ciaran Clark and Jamaal Lascelles who stole the show with some towering performances at the centre of the defence. Full-backs DeAndre Yedlin and Paul Dummett also worked tirelessly to defend the lead. Wolves were well-organised at the back, but struggled to create many chances, with Edwards' header early in the second half and a late Helder Costa shot the only times the visitors looked troubled. Newcastle are now a point clear of second-placed Brighton & Hove Albinos, who beat struggling Burton earlier in the day. Huddersfield - having beaten Queen's Park Strangers, their fifth win in a row - are third, six points behind Brighton and seven behind United. Both fourth placed Reading and fifth placed Leeds both missed changes to close the gap on the top two, the former drawing with Barnsley whilst the latter lost at home to Cardiff.
Tributes have been paid to the actor Richard Hatch, who has died from pancreatic cancer at the age of seventy one. Richard was the only actor to appear in both the original series of Battlestar Galactica and its more recent - and, highly acclaimed - reboot. Hatch played Apollo in the original SF series and a different character - Tom Zarek - in the reboot from 2004 to 2009. Ronald D Moore, who created the second version of Battlestar Galactica, described Hatch as 'a good man, a gracious man, and a consummate professional. His passing is a heavy blow to the entire BSG family,' Moore added. Hatch's son Paul confirmed his father's death in a message posted on the actor's website: 'He died peacefully with his family and friends at his side after a battle with pancreatic cancer.' In the rush to emulate the success of Star Wars, there were many imitations and rip-offs. The 1978 television series Battlestar Galactica was one of the most charming, thanks in no small part to Richard Hatch. He was the dashing and clean-cut Captain Apollo, the show's equivalent to Luke Skywalker, opposite the more roguish Han Solo figure, Starbuck, played by Dirk Benedict. When Hatch first read the script, Apollo was named Skyler; other echoes of Star Wars were not so easily muted, however, and it was hardly surprising when Twentieth Century FOX, the studio behind George Lucas's hit, sued Universal, the makers of Battlestar Galactica, citing thirty four similarities between the two properties. The case was settled before reaching court in 1980, though by that point the series had already been cancelled. With his dazzlingly bright teeth, glossy locks and boyish handsomeness, Richard was ridiculously good-looking. Asked in 2012 if he thought his appearance had hurt his career, he said: 'I think so. I had to prove myself over and over. When you're good-looking, you struggle to prove that you can act.' There was a reassuringly uncomplicated air about him in Battlestar Galactica: he was essentially the boy-next-door-in-space. The limitations of playing the squeaky-clean hero, though, were immediately apparent to him. 'I love Apollo – he's amazing – but they weren't challenging him enough,' he said. 'He's the true blue hero and the good guy never gets his due.' The original show, in which some of the last remaining humans are pursued across the universe by an evil robot race known as The Cylons, ran for only one series but it generated a sizeable fan base and considerable affection, with Hatch nominated for a Golden Globe. The extravagant cost of the show, rather than any lack of ratings, was said to have hastened its demise. British audiences got their first taste of it in cinemas when Universal re-edited the three-part pilot episode, Saga Of A Star World, to create a theatrical feature film as a way of recouping some of the show's costs. Although Richard declined to take part in a short-lived follow-up series, Galactica 1980, he did accept a different role in the franchise when it was finally revived by the Syfy channel as a mini-series in 2003 followed by four series. Richard had spent many years trying to generate enough money and interest for a new Battlestar Galactica, even making his own trailers at great expense to try to convince Universal to give the show another shot and writing spin-off novels continuing the saga. He was initially sceptical of Ronald D Moore's decision to discard the old Galactica characters entirely, but changed his mind when he was offered the role of Tom Zarek, a former rebel-turned-politician, which Moore pitched to him as 'a political revolutionary, à la Nelson Mandela – but a little bit darker.' The character appeared in twenty two episodes, introducing Hatch to a new generation of fans and providing him with exactly the sort of texture that had been lacking in Apollo. Richard was born in Santa Monica and attended Harbor College in San Pedro. He showed an early interest in ballet and in pole-vaulting, but traced his liking for acting back to a class at college during which he overcame his shyness to read aloud a report about the assassination of President Kennedy. He got his first acting experiences in Chicago and Los Angeles repertory theatre groups and in off-Broadway shows, before he became a regular on the US soap opera All My Children from 1970 until 1972. His subsequent TV appearances included guest slots on Hawaii Five-O, Cannon, The Waltons, Dynasty and The Love Boat. In 1976 he replaced Michael Douglas for the final series of The Streets Of San Francisco. 'Even my girlfriend at the time liked Michael Douglas and missed [his] character,' Richard noted. One of his best performances was as Jan Berry, one half of the duo Jan and Dean, in the above-par TV biopic Deadman's Curve (1978). The most impressive scene shows Jan performing on stage for the first time seven years after the car accident which nearly killed him. A technical malfunction reveals that he has been miming along to a backing tape. After pleading for clemency from the braying crowd, he begins falteringly to sing on his own again. Richard and his co-star Bruce Davison, as Dean, turned what could have been a purely cloying moment into something sincere and electrifying. Richard's film appearances were infrequent, though in the wake of his Battlestar Galactica success he landed a starring role in Charlie Chan & The Curse of the Dragon Queen (1981), in which he was the - suspiciously Caucasian - grandson of the famous Chinese sleuth (played on this occasion by the also Caucasian Peter Ustinov). But there were usually plenty of TV opportunities for him – in guest spots on established series (Baywatch, Santa Barbara), made-for-TV movies such as The Hatfields & The McCoys with Jack Palance, Addie & The King Of Hearts with Jason Robards and Last Of The Belles with Susan Sarandon or as the star of his own reality show, Who The Frak? (2011), which followed him around as he worked as a life coach and motivational speaker. In 2012, Hatch appeared in the web series The Silicon Assassin Project whilst the following year he ventured into the Steampunk genre, starring in the short film Cowboys & Engines alongside Malcolm McDowell and Walter Koenig. He also played a part in establishing SoulGeek, a dating website for science-fiction fans. This blogger had the extreme good fortune to have dinner with Richard when we were both guests at a media convention in Winnipeg in 2007; he was delightful company, a witty and very likeable man with a keen sense of understanding over the curious relationship between stars and fans in the SF community. He is survived by his son, Paul, who is also an actor, and by his brother, John.
Alec McCowen, who played gadget inventor Q opposite Sir Sean Connery in the 'rogue Bond' film Never Say Never Again, has died at the age of ninety one. His death was announced in a tweet by talent agency Conway van Gelder Grant. Born in 1925, the RADA-trained actor performed with the RSC and starred in the first production of Equus in 1973. The National Theatre also marked his passing on Twitter, calling him 'one of the most highly-regarded actors of his generation.' Other notable stage roles included the Fool alongside Paul Scofield in Peter Brook's 1962 production of King Lear. He also travelled the world with a one-man performance of St Mark's Gospel and played a detective in Alfred Hitchcock's Frenzy. To many, though, he will be best remembered for his brief appearance as Q - There nicknamed Algy - in 1983's Never Say Never Again.'Now you're on this, I hope we're going to have some gratuitous sex and violence!' he told Connery's Bond in the remake of 1965's Thunderball. Born in Tunbridge Wells, McCowen first appeared on stage at The Repertory Theatre, Macclesfield, in August 1942 as Micky in Paddy The Next Best Thing. He appeared in repertory in York and Birmingham during the war and toured India and Burma in a production of Kenneth Horne's West End comedy Love In A Mist during 1945 with the Entertainments National Service Association. He continued in repertory post-war, during which time he played a season at St John's, Newfoundland. Alec made his film debut in The Cruel Sea in 1953 whilst his other film credits include roles in Town On Trial (1957), A Night To Remember (1958), The Loneliness Of The Long Distance Runner (1962), The Witches (1966), Travels With My Aunt (1972, for which he received a Golden Globe nomination), Cry Freedom (1987), Henry V (1989) and Gangs of New York (2002). Television roles included the BBC four-part adaptation of JB Priestley's Angel Pavement (1958) and his one-man stage performance of The Gospel According To Saint Mark, transferred to television by Thames for Easter 1979. He appeared in the BBC Television Shakespeare series as Malvolio in Twelfth Night and as The Chorus in Henry V and starred in the lead role of the 1980s TV series Mr Palfrey Of Westminster. His one-man Kipling stage performance was broadcast in 1984 and his later appearances included Albert Speer and Rudolf Hess in the BBC docudramas The World Walk in 1984 and 1985 and the TV series Longitude in 2000. He also made numerous appearances in the BBC drama strands Sunday Night Theatre, Play of The Month, Festival, Theatre 625, Thirty Minute Theatre, The Wednesday Play and Centreplay and serials such as Love & Mr Lewisham, The Plane Makers, Solo (in an acclaimed performance as Vincent Van Gogh), The Man Outside, Squaring The Circle, Bergerac and Midsomer Murders. He was the subject of This Is Your Life in 1989 when he was surprised by Michael Aspel backstage at The Strand Theatre in London. Alec published his first volume of autobiography, Young Gemini in 1979, followed a year later by Double Bill (Elm Tree Books). McCowen, who was made an OBE in 1972 and a CBE in 1986, is survived by his sister Jean, two nephews and two nieces. His long-term partner, the actor Geoffrey Burridge, died in 1987.
Alan Simpson of the writing duo Galton and Simpson has died at the age of eighty seven. The pair created the legendary sitcoms Hancock's Half Hour and Steptoe & Son. Simpson had undergone 'a long battle with lung disease,' his manager Tessa Le Bars said. Ray Galton's family said that there were 'no words' to express their feelings of distress at the death of 'Ray's partner and family friend over the last seventy years.' Alan formed, with Galton, one of the great television scriptwriting partnerships the medium has ever seen. Their early work with Tony Hancock pioneered what became known as the situation comedy. They later went on to create Steptoe & Son, which became the most watched comedy on British TV over its twelve-year run. Alan was born in Brixton in November 1929 and was educated at Mitcham County Grammar School. After leaving school he worked as a shipping clerk and was a member of a church concert party before contracting tuberculosis at the age of seventeen. He became so ill that he was not expected to live. However he survived and, while a patient in a sanatorium in Godalming, he found himself in a bed alongside another teenage TB sufferer. Ray Galton never forgot his first sight of his future writing partner, six feet four inches tall and with a build to match. 'He was the biggest bloke I'd ever seen.' During the long hours convalescing they discovered a shared love of American humorists such as Damon Runyon and that both were fans of the BBC radio comedy programmes Take It From Here and The Goon Show. Another patient, an engineer, acquired a radio from an old RAF Lancaster bomber so that they were all able to listen to the American Forces Network from Munich. Their ration of British radio comedy from the BBC were augmented by American shows featuring Bob Hope, Jack Benny, Don Ameche, Phil Harris and Amos 'n' Andy. The pair began to see the value and mechanism of situation comedy, which Simpson was later to define as: 'Half-an-hour, with no funny voices or jokes as such, all comedy inspired by the characters, and a complete storyline, with no interruptions by a singer or instrumentalist.' Using a broom cupboard as a studio and recruiting a radio engineer and special effects man from other patients, the two wrote and presented on hospital radio their first show, Have You Ever Wondered? According to an issue of the sanitorium's Milford Bulletin, published in May 1949, it was 'slick, up-to-the-minute, with a dash of satire, a worthy effort indeed.' When Simpson left hospital he was asked by his local church to write a show for their concert party and he asked Galton to come and help. Beryl Vertue, an old school friend, remembered Simpson at that time as being 'very tall and an elegant dancer.' But his horizons were broadening. He and Galton wrote to Frank Muir and Denis Norden, the most successful broadcasting comedy writers of the day, offering to work for them in the most menial capacities. This they were never obliged to do so, however, as they sent in a script and were invited to Broadcasting House for 'a chat.' Though Simpson gave up his job as a shipping clerk, his mother ruled that if he was not able to pay his thirty shillings a week contribution to the household budget within a month, he would have to return to it. With Galton, in 1951 he supplied the well-known comic Derek Roy with jokes at five shillings a go for his Happy Go Lucky programme, after which the duo were put on the show's payroll at eight guineas a week. With other up-and-coming writer/performers Eric Sykes, Spike Milligan, Frankie Howerd and Johnny Speight, Alan and Ray formed their own co-operative writers' agency, Associated London Scripts. Beryl Vertue started as the typist and ended up running the company, which merged with the Robert Stigwood Organisation in 1968. The duo said that they knew they'd 'arrived' when Tony Hancock offered them twenty five guineas a week (each) to work exclusively for him. The comedian had already made a big name for himself in Educating Archie and Kaleidoscope and, in 1954, he was given his own radio series, Hancock’s Half Hour, by the BBC in which he would play an exaggerated version of himself. Galton and Simpson wrote the scripts, in doing so establishing a form of comedy based on character and situation, rather than sketches and gags. They continued to script the show when it was adapted for television in 1956, altogether writing one hundred and sixty radio and TV programmes for Hancock between 1954 and 1961. They were quickly tiring of the standard format of radio comedy shows of the time which included music, short sketches and one-liners and hankered after something with more depth and subtlety. They came up with the idea of comedy where all the humour came from the situations in which characters find themselves. Hancock's Half Hour is often credited as the first true radio sitcom, although two other shows of the time, A Life Of Bliss and Life with the Lyons, were already using similar formats in 1954 when Hancock first aired. Over the following seven years the writers developed the format, often taking cues from a new generation of serious playwrights such as John Osborne and Harold Pinter. The pace of each show became slow and more measured, in direct contrast to the speedy wise-cracking delivery of contemporary radio comedians such as Ted Ray. Simpson himself appeared in early episodes as the unknown man who had to suffer Hancock's interminable monologues. With its once-in-a-lifetime cast of Hancock, Sid James, Bill Kerr, Kenneth Williams and Hattie Jacques, the series was hugely popular and ran for six series on radio including what is, quite possibly, one of the funniest five minutes in comedy history in Hancock's Diary. In 1956, the series transferred to TV and ran until 1961. Among its most memorable episodes were such works of comedy genius as The Alpine Holiday, Ericson The Viking, Lord Byron Lived Here, Twelve Angry Men ('Does Magna Carta mean nothing to you? Did she die in vain?!'), The Football Pools ('one-all?' 'No, two-nil, I'd forgotten they turned around at half-time!'), The Missing Page, The Radio Ham, The Lift and, of course, The Blood Donor ('a pint? That's very nearly an armful!') They also worked with Hancock on his 1961 movie The Rebel. After the final TV series - entitled Hancock following the departure of Sid James to make his own, Galton and Simpson scripted series, Citizen James - in 1961 Hancock, who was becoming increasingly self-critical and drinking heavily, sacked his writers and moved to ITV where his career went into terminal decline. Unwilling to lose Galton and Simpson, the BBC commissioned them to write a series of potential pilot scripts for Comedy Playhouse. One play, entitled, The Offer, spawned Steptoe & Son, the tragi-comic tale of two rag-and-bone merchants, a father and son, living in poverty in Oil Drum Lane, Shepherd's Bush. The script relied on the generational clash between the two characters; Albert, the grasping, set-in-his-ways father with poor hygienic personal habits and Harold, his aspirational son who yearns for a better life but never, quite, achieves it. The show was unusual - and groundbreaking - in that the two performers, Wilfrid Brambell and Harry H Corbett, were actors rather than comedians. The BBC's head of comedy, Tom Sloan was so impressed with The Offer that he begged Galton and Simpson to make a series, something the writers were initially reluctant to do because, noted Simpson, 'we think we've written a little piece of Pinter here and we can't repeat it!' After a great deal of persuasion, five further scripts were written and the series began in June 1962. The original four series ran between 1962 and 1965 and the show was, later, revived in colour between 1970 and 1974, during which time two feature film versions were also released. Once again, the best Steptoe episodes - and there are many; The Piano, Wallah-Wallah Catsmeat, The Bath, The Lead Man Cometh, My Old Man's A Tory, The Colour Problem, Cuckoo In The Nest, A Star Is Born, Oh, What A Beautiful Mourning, A Man Of LettersThe Desperate Hours, Porn Yesterday and the final episode A Perfect Christmas - rank amongst the finest examples of TV comedy writing and performance in the history of the medium. As in many of the best examples of British sitcom, much of the humour derived from the pathos of the protagonists' situation(s), especially Harold's continually thwarted (usually by the elder Steptoe) attempts to 'better himself' and attract a girlfriend and the unresolvable love/hate relationship which existed between the pair. It proved to be the high point for Galton and Simpson. There was further work with Frankie Howerd, Spike Milligan and Eric Sykes and, in 1977, Yorkshire TV attempted to replicate the success of Comedy Playhouse with Galton & Simpson's Playhouse, although none of the episodes produced a series. By now, Galton and Simpson worked from a Mayfair office and Simpson lived in Sunbury-on-Thames. When his wife, Kathleen, died suddenly in 1978, he vacated their home for a smaller house built in its grounds and more or less retired from writing to pursue his other business interests although he and Galton remained close friends. After the shock of his wife's death, Simpson became a bon vivant and sports supporter – he had already been president of Hampton Football Club for many years – and made a career for himself as a professional after-dinner and business conference speaker. He also spent a lot of time driving in his Rolls-Royce around France, exploring restaurants and vineyards. In 1996 Alan and Ray reunited to update some of their best-known scripts for the comedian Paul Merton, a besotted fan of the duo's work. Simpson blamed their later lack of popularity on the fact that shows were commissioned by armies of managers rather than producers. 'Fifty years ago,' he said in an interview with the Daily Torygraph, 'if you had an idea, it could be going out in three weeks; the time it took to build the sets. Now it has to go through committees and the process takes years.' The pair were honoured with a BAFTA fellowship last year and had been made OBEs in 2000. A statement from Ray Galton and his family said: 'From their first attempts at humour in Milford sanatorium, through a lifetime of work together, the strength of Alan and Ray's personal and professional bond was always at the heart of their success.'

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