Sunday, February 05, 2017

Sexy Changes

Yer actual Peter Capaldi is stepping down from the lead role in the popular, long-running BBC family SF drama series Doctor Who. Not really as surprise given that, as previously noted on this blog, three series seems to be the going rate for Doctors these days. Peter made the announcement during an interview with BBC Radio 2 presenter - and simpering ladgeful waste-of-space airhead - Jo Whiley. The fifty eight-year-old Glasgow-born actor, who became the twelfth actor to play The Doctor on TV in 2013 (if you don't count Richard Hurndall, obviously. Thirteenth, if you do) said that he will leave Doctor Who at the end of the year. 'I feel it's time to move on,' he said. 'I feel sad, I love Doctor Who, it is a fantastic programme to work on.' He added: 'I can't praise the people I work with more highly, but I have always been someone that did a lot of different things.' He said he was asked to stay on after his contract ran out, but that he wanted to move on to other challenges after the forthcoming tenth series. The new series will be broadcast in the spring and Peter said that his final episode would be this year's Christmas special. He added: 'One of the greatest privileges of being [The Doctor] is to see the world at its best. From our brilliant crew and creative team working for the best broadcaster on the planet, to the viewers and fans whose endless creativity, generosity and inclusiveness points to a brighter future ahead. I can't thank everyone enough. It's been cosmic.' The next series will also be the last with The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat (OBE) as showrunner and executive producer. The Moffat praised Peter's performance in a BBC announcement: 'Peter's amazing, fiery, turbulent Doctor is still fighting the good fight, and his greatest adventures are yet to come. Monsters of the universe, be on your guard - Capaldi's not done with you yet!' He added: 'Like Peter, I'm facing up to leaving the best job I'll ever have, but knowing I do so in the company of the best and kindest and cleverest of men, makes the saddest of endings a little sweeter.' 'Wisdom and charisma' Doctor Who scriptwriter Mark Gatiss tweeted: 'Profoundly sad that the wonderful Peter Capaldi is leaving at the end of the year. But he is - and always will be - a great Doctor Who.' Charlotte Moore, the director of BBC Content, said: 'He has been a tremendous Doctor who has brought his own unique wisdom and charisma to the role.' According to bookmakers - who, of course, really have their finger on the pulse - those in the frame to replace Capaldi include Ben Whishaw (hugely unlikely), Rory Kinnear (even more unlikely) and Richard Ayoade (your guess is as good as mine). And, of course, the announcement instantly started all of the usual crap you get when a new Doctor is to be sought with tons of pointless speculation and all that 'will it be a female Doctor next, or not?' malarkey. Though, admittedly, this was quite funny. Look forward to about six months of this sort of space-filling wank until Chris Chibnall finally announces his actual choice. Oh joy.
Just one brief thing to add, this blogger must admit that he was was rather disappointed by some of the comments made by Billie The Piper her very self in the - widely reported - interview mentioned above. This blogger has - as he has previously said on several occasions - absolutely no problem whatsoever with the idea that The Doctor should be played by a woman. However, as with the majority of the men who have been cast in the role, it has to be the right one. Billie's comments appear to suggest that any woman will do - so, great, what about Ann Widdecombe, then? Apart from anything else, such a blanket suggestion - that it is now 'time' to a cast a woman - has the potential to be viewed as a crass example of sheer tokenism and places further - wholly unnecessary - pressure on the incoming showrunner Chris Chibnall, who already faces a difficult enough job in casting the right person, if he has to worry about making sure it's the 'right' gender too. This blogger's advice to The Chib is this: Just find the actor who best fits in with your own idea of the role and sod whether they're male, female, black, white, straight, gay, transgender or any one of the numerous shades of grey in between. The Doctor is The Doctor and doesn't - or, at least, shouldn't - fit into any normal category. This shall be The Whole Of The Law. Next ...
Meanwhile, alleged 'BBC sources' have allegedly indicated that next year's series of Doctor Who - the first with yer man Capaldi's replacement whomsoever he or she (or it, if the Daleks get their way) is - will be broadcast in the Autumn of 2018. The reasons for this is that the popular family SF drama's new showrunner, Chris Chibnall, is currently still working on series three of his ITV crime drama Broadchurch, which is currently in post production and will premiere in the UK on 27 February. Chibnall told Radio Times that, because of this, he has not yet been able to fully dedicate himself to Doctor Who. After finishing work on Broadchurch he intends to 'have a holiday' before taking up his new role. Chibnall will lead the team searching for the new Doctor, although the choice will need to be agreed by the BBC's director of content Charlotte Moore and head of drama and former Doctor Who Executive Producer Piers Wenger. It is expected that a new Doctor will not be announced before the Autumn, with the new Doctor making their debut at the end of the 2017 Christmas Special.

BBC America have announced that Doctor Who returns to the channel for series ten on Saturday 15 April, presumably the same day that the series will premier in the UK. On the same day, the BBC - or, more specifically, yer actual Mark Gatiss - has announced the return of an old enemy of The Doctor in the upcoming series.
In this week's episode of University Challenge there was a round in which the teams had to name the creators of The West Wing, The Wire, Orange Is The New Black and Buffy The Vampire Slayer followed by a round concerning FA Cup Final venues. Expect, therefore, a whinging letter or several of complaint to the Radio Times and the Daily Torygraph about the alleged 'dumbing down' of the format. Oh, if you're wondering, dear blog reader, yer actual Keith Telly Topping got them all right except for Jenji Kohan ... cos he had one of those 'mind-blank' moments. Not that he's bragging about this, of course. No, actually, truth be told he is bragging cos he did a Hell of a lot better than Emmanuel College, Cambridge on those two rounds. Admittedly they were hugely better than this blogger on most other subjects.
Friday's episode of Only Connect suggested that we've reached that point in the series where, all of a sudden, the questions have gone from 'hard-but-getable' to 'really rock-hard-unless-you've-got-a-degree-in-something'. Apart, that is, from the 'famous pianists' question which, to be fair, even as yet unknown tribes in the jungles of Papua New Guinea would probably have got right.
TV comedy line of the week, of course, came from the latest episode of Qi - Next. Sandi Toksvig revealed that certain consumers, it would appear, systematically buy products that go on to fail; their lack of popular taste is so unerringly reliable that they even have a name for such people - 'harbingers of failure'! M.I.T analysed ten million transactions at a particular chain of convenience stores in the US and discovered that exactly the same people who buy, for example, the nail polish brand which fails will also buy the ice cream brand that fails. Every single time. Examples of the kind of things that such harbingers of failure have, spectacularly, carried on buying when no one else would touch them with a barge pole have included watermelon flavoured Oreo biscuits, a range a ready meals made by a toothpaste manufacturer called Colgate's Kitchen Entrees, breath mints which look like crack cocaine, 'one hundred per cent recycled pillow-soft Shit-Be-Gone loo paper' (see right just to prove they weren't making this up!) and, perhaps best of all, pre-scrambled eggs in a cardboard tube designed to be eaten in the car. (In actual fact, such people with 'a flop affinity' are quite useful from a marketing point of view since whatever they think is a good idea, don't even consider making it or trying to sell.) Alan Davies, of course, was quick to note that his autobiography and his last DVD would seem to have been on the shopping list of every harbinger of failure! 'I've got both of those, so I feel terrible,' said Sandi.
The episode also saw the Qi debut of From The North favourite Mad Frankie Boyle (sporting a bushy beard which appeared to be in danger of eating his entire face) who, perhaps disappointingly, managed to get through the entire episode without saying anything even slightly controversial. When was the last time that happened? Come on, Frankie, you're not trying hard enough! Though it must be said Frankie's suggestion that 'Atomic Gardening' might be 'a new Channel Five format featuring Alan Titchmarsh and the unquiet ghost of Robert Oppenheimer,' was proper Mad Frankie genius of the highest order.
The episode also featured the - genuinely fascinating - revelation that when Sandi was but ten years old and living in New York she auditioned for the role of Matilda in the movie adaptation of The Effect Of Gamma Rays On Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds and got down to the last two. Only, she noted with, perhaps, a tiny amount of justifiable bitterness, to be beaten to the role by Nell Potts. Who, just happened to be the daughter of the movie's director, Paul Newman. (Of course, that film was proper family affair as the role of the mother was played by Newman's wife, Joanne Woodward.)
Filling in the daily Stately Telly Topping Manor Audience Appreciation Index TV questionnaire recently, Keith Telly Topping was asked for his opinion on BBC2's Ski Sunday. 'It's gone downhill,' he said. What?
And now one from the 'you just knew that was going to happen sooner or later' column: King of the Mods yer actual Sir Bradley Wiggins has suffered a foot injury whilst in training for the forthcoming series of The Jump. Britain's most decorated Olympian posted on Instagram that 'the show must go on' while being bandaged up in Austria. The fourth series of the Channel Four winter-sports-and-traction show begins on Sunday and has already lost the model Vogue Williams who injured her knee in training. Last year, of course, seven contestants had to pull out of the series due to injuries of various kinds with four of them needing hospital treatment (and, one of them needed a new spine). Will this year see The Jump's first on-screen death, dear blog reader? Place your bets now.
Here are the final and consolidated ratings figures for the Top Twenty Six programmes broadcast during the week-ending Sunday 29 January 2017:-
1 Call The Midwife - Sun BBC1 - 9.89m
2 Silent Witness - Mon BBC1 - 8.35m
3= Coronation Street - Mon ITV - 8.23m
3= EastEnders - Thurs BBC1 - 8.23m
5 Death In Paradise - Thurs BBC1 - 7.96m
6 Emmerdale - Thurs ITV - 7.22m
7 Still Open All Hours - Sun BBC1 - 6.80m
8 Apple Tree Yard - Sun BBC1 - 6.72m
9 The Voice - Sat ITV - 6.43m
10 BBC News - Sun BBC1 - 5.59m
11 The National Television Awards - Wed ITV - 5.58m
12 Six O'Clock News - Mon BBC1 - 5.51m
13 Endeavour - Sun ITV - 5.46m
14 Taboo - Sat BBC1 - 5.36m
15 Casualty - Sat BBC1 - 5.28m
16 Let It Shine - Sat BBC1 - 5.08m
17 Unforgotten - Thurs ITV - 5.04m
18 Tina & Bobby - Fri ITV - 4.98m
19 Pointless Z-List Celebrities - Sat BBC1 - 4.87m
20 Spy In The Wild - Thurs BBC1 - 4.84m
21= Holby City - Tues BBC1 - 4.78m
21= The Halcyon - Mon ITV - 4.78m
23 Ten O'Clock News - Thurs BBC1 - 4.48m
24 Who Do You Think You Are? - Wed BBC1 - 4.21m
25 The ONE Show - Mon ITV - 4.14m
26 FA Cup Match of The Day Live - Sun BBC1 - 4.08m
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. ITV's Strictly knock-off fiasco, Dance, Dance, Dance, continues to struggle with final audiences of but 3.48 million viewers. On BBC2, the top-rated programme was Monday's opening episode of Winterwatch with 3.38 million viewers (the week's three other episodes of the popular natural history format pulled in 2.56 million, 2.24 million and 2.18 million punters). Dragons' Den was watched by 2.69 million, University Challenge by 2.30 million and Further Back In Time For Dinner by 2.25 million. Hospital attracted 2.20 million viewers, followed by The World's Most Extraordinary Homes (1.77 million), Only Connect (1.69 million viewers in its ludicrously early 7pm Friday slot), Qi (1.68 million), Horizon (1.60 million), Great American Railroad Journeys (1.58 million), Special Forces: Ultimate Hell (1.43 million), the fascinating documentary The Cult Next Door (1.34 million), Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is (1.34 million), Eurovision: You Decide (1.32 million; hardly worth shifting Only Connect and losing about a million regular punters, really, was it?) and the latest episode of the delightful An Island Parish: Anguilla (1.29 million). Worthless pile of self-important unfunny shite Insert Name Here was watched by 1.21 million. No Offence was Channel Four's highest-rated broadcast (1.97 million), followed by Twenty Four Hours In &E (1.91 million), The Undateables (1.90 million) and Hoof Unwrapped (1.86 million). Walking The Americas was seen by 1.81 million viewers, whilst Homeland continued with 1.77 million. The Last leg With Adam Hills was watched by 1.74 million viewers, Location, Location, Location by 1.70 million and Eight Out Of Ten Cats Does Countdown by 1.67 million punters. Channel Five's top performer was, of course, Z-List Celebrity Big Brother with 2.35 million, ahead of Lip Sync Battle (1.46 million viewers), GPs: Behind Closed Doors (1.15 million) and the movie Miss Congeniality (1.12 million). Horrifyingly, once again the channel's eight top-rated broadcasts were all episodes of Z-List Celebrity Big Brother. And then people will try to convince you there's a God. Coverage of Live EFL Cup: Liverpool Alabama Yee-Haws Versus Southampton on Sky Sports 1 was seen by 1.14 million punters whilst the same competitions's action the following day between Hull and The Scum drew eight hundred and seventy five thousand. Live T20 Cricket between India and England on Sky Sports 2 drew four hundred and forty two thousand, as England lost. Again. Gillette Soccer Saturday was top of the pile on Sky Sports News HQ with five hundred and twenty two thousand punters and an additional two hundred and ninety five thousand on the Sky Sports 1 simultcast. Midsomer Murders was ITV3's top-rated drama (1.20 million viewers). Doc Martin was seen by six hundred and eighty two thousand and Agatha Christie's Marple by six hundred and three thousand. Darts: The Masters headed ITV4's weekly list with five hundred and thirty seven thousand punters. ITV Racing Live drew four hundred and thirteen thousand and another showing of Die Another Day had three hundred and eighty seven thousand. ITV2's most-watched broadcast was also for a James Bond movie, Skyfall (nine hundred and fifty seven thousand), along with Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring (eight hundred and one thousand viewers). The Level headed ITV Encore's top ten with seventy four thousand viewers, followed by The Darling Buds Of May and Poirot (both forty six thousand). BBC4's list was topped by the opening episode of British History's Biggest Fibs With Lucy Worsley (1.25 million, the lagrest multchannel audience of the week), followed by Rich Hall's You Can Go To Hell, I'm Going To Texas (five hundred and eighty two thousand), Britain Beneath Your Feet (five hundred and eighty one thousand), The Good Old Days (five hundred and seventy four thousand) and Scotland & The Klan (five hundred thousand). Sound Of Musicals With Neil Brand drew four hundred and ninety nine thousand and Timeshift: The Engine That Powers The World, four hundred and ninety three thousand. Crossing England By Punt: River Of Dreams was seen by four hundred and sixty three thousand. Sky1's weekly top-ten was headed by Modern Family (1.02 million viewers). Hawaii Five-O was seen by eight hundred and fifteen thousand, NCIS: Los Angeles by seven hundred and thirty seven thousand and The Simpsons by five hundred and fifty three thousand. Sky Atlantic's list was topped by the return of Fortitude (eight hundred and sixty six thousand). Blue Bloods attracted three hundred and twenty two thousand. The Affair had two hundred and forty four thousand. On Sky Living, the latest episode of Elementary was seen by 1.01 million whilst Bones had eight hundred and fifty two thousand, Blindspot drew seven hundred and forty thousand and Conviction attracted five hundred and twenty six thousand. Sky Arts' Portrait Artist Of The Year was seen by three hundred and thirty nine thousand viewers whilst the second episode of Urban Myths had seventy eight. 5USA's NCIS was watched by five hundred and twenty six thousand viewers and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit by five hundred and twenty one thousand. NCIS also topped the weekly lists of CBS Action (one hundred and forty one thousand) and FOX (1.04 million viewers) and featured in the top ten of The Universal Channel (one hundred and nineteen thousand). The third episode of Bull drew five hundred and fifty nine thousand on FOX. Family was seen by two hundred thousand. The Universal Channel's Pure Genius attracted one hundred and seventy four thousand. On Dave, the return of the cult favourite Suits was the highest-rated broadcast with three hundred and thirty nine thousand punters, followed by the excellent Dave Gorman's Modern Life Is Goodish (three hundred and five thousand), Red Bull Soap Box Race (two hundred and ninety thousand) and Qi XL (two hundred and seventy one thousand). The latest episode of Drama's repeat run of Jonathan Creek was watched by four hundred and thirty four thousand viewers. Dalziel & Pascoe had four hundred and two thousand whilst The Inspector Lynley Mysteries drew three hundred and eighty four. Alibi's highest-rated programmes were Murdoch Mysteries (two hundred and sixty seven thousand), Death In Paradise (one hundred and sixty two thousand) and Inspector George Gently (one hundred and one thousand). On The Sony Channel, Ghosts In My Home was watched by sixty four thousand, The Water Horse by fifty one thousand and S.W.A.T also by fifty one thousand. Yesterday's Porridge repeats continued with three hundred and fifteen thousand and World War Weird with two hundred and forty six thousand. Coast had one hundred and eighty two thousand. On the Discovery Channel, Gold Rush was seen by four hundred and ninety two thousand viewers. Idris Elba: Gets Totally 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 one thousand) and Discovery Turbo (thirty three 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 The Universe Works was seen by thirty six thousand viewers. On Quest, Salvage Hunters was watched by five hundred and thirty five thousand. National Geographic's list was headed by Air Crash Investigation which had one hundred and eighty three thousand viewers and Science Of Stupid (eighty eight thousand). The History Channel's weekly list was topped by The Curse of Oak Island (two hundred and eight thousand) and Ronnie O'Sullivan's American Hustle (one hundred and ninety nine thousand). On Military History, Ancient Top Ten was watched by fifty six thousand punters. A Crime To Remember, Grave Secrets and Horror In The Woods: People Magazine Investigates were ID's top-rated programmes with sixty eight thousand viewers, fifty seven thousand and forty eight thousand crime-lovers respectively. Crimes That Shook Britain, The First Forty Eight and Britain's Darkest Taboos headed CI's list (one hundred and fourteen thousand, eighty eight thousand and forty eight thousand). GOLD's broadcast of Mrs Brown's Boys attracted three hundred and forty four thousand. Comedy Central's largest audience of the week was for Impractical Jokers (four hundred and forty five thousand). Your TV's Snapped was seen by eighty five thousand and Bones by sixty nine thousand. On More4, Holocaust: Night Will Fall was the highest-rated programme with five hundred and eight thousand. Four In A Bed attracted three hundred and seventy six thousand punters and The Supervet, three hundred and seventy one thousand. E4's latest episode of Hollyoaks drew 1.13 million viewers. The Horror Channel's broadcast of The Reef attracted one hundred and seventy four thousand. The top-ten list also included The Last Exorcism (one hundred and three thousand), Black Death (ninety one thousand), Cockneys Versus Zombies (sixty seven thousand) and Terrordactyl (also sixty seven thousand). The Librarians, headed Syfy's top-ten with three hundred and seventy five thousand. Wild Justice was watched by thirty one thousand on Eden whilst Horizon: Space Junk attracted twenty five thousand viewers. Animal Cops Detroit was the Animal Planet's most-watched programme with sixty four thousand. Code Black on W drew two hundred and seventy thousand punters. Ishtikara Markaz topped Venus TV's list with twenty five thousand viewers whilst Bollywood Abtak was Zing's most watched programme (eighteen thousand). On the True Crime channel, Facing Evil was watched by twenty one thousand punters. King George & Queen Mary: The Royals Who Rescued The Monarchy drew forty nine thousand on London Live, whilst Drop The Dead Donkey was watched by thirty six thousand. Rick Stein's French Odyssey was seen by eighty thousand on Good Food.
Nick Jenkins and Sarah Willingham are leaving Dragons' Den. The entrepreneurs will step down at the end of the current series on BBC2, with their last episode scheduled for 26 February. Jenkins, who founded the greeting card website and Willingham, who made her money investing in the restaurant chain The Bombay Bicycle Club, joined the show in 2015 along with Touker Suleyman. Touker, Deborah Meaden and Peter Jones are understood to be staying with the popular show. Willingham said: 'Being part of Dragons' Den has been one of the best experiences of my life. At the end of last year my husband Michael and I decided to finally put into action our long-held dream to spend a year travelling the world with our young children. Sadly this means that I've had to step down from my role as a Dragon. It's been a great privilege to be part of such a fantastic show and I wish everyone on it continued success.' Jenkins said: 'I have thoroughly enjoyed making Dragons' Den but I want to focus more on my portfolio of educational technology businesses and that would make it difficult to take on any more investments from the Den.' Patrick Holland, the channel editor at BBC2, said: 'Nick and Sarah have both been terrific Dragons, using their nous and insight to make some great investments and produce some compelling entertainment in the process. As they step down from the show I want to thank them and wish them all the very best for the future.'
Working for six months a year on a Caribbean island might sound like the dream job but now Kris Marshall, the lead of BBC1's Death In Paradise, has decided to leave the show. Marshall has played Humphrey Goodman on the popular detective drama, which has been filmed on Guadeloupe, for the last four years. The actor, who made his name on sitcom My Family, said that he wanted to spend more time with his wife and young children. A new detective will arrive in his place, played by Ardal O'Hanlon (still best known, after all these years, for playing the hapless Dougal in Father Ted). In a BBC press release, Marshall said: 'Death In Paradise has been an incredible experience, six months every year filming on a tropical island in the sunshine - what's not to love? Humphrey was socially awkward and clumsy but also brilliant, I'll miss him but it's time to hand over to someone new and spend more time with my family. I know Ardal will do a superb job and I just hope Humphrey gets a happy ending!' Marshall's character will be seen for the last time when the show's sixth series ends on Thursday 9 February. He has said this was the first series where his family didn't join him in Guadeloupe for the filming. He and his wife, Hannah, have a four-year-old son Thomas and a younger daughter, Elsie. 'We did Skype about once a week,' he told the Sun about filming the current series. 'But my son got bored very quickly. It's like: "Seeing your face is one thing, but if you can't play with me then you're no real use to me so I'm gonna go off and do something else." You just end up coming off Face Time feeling quite bereft and actually quite empty.' In 2015, before Elsie was born, Marshall told Radio Times: 'I'm not sure I could do the show if my son and my wife weren't with me.' O'Hanlon will be seen as Marshall's replacement, playing Detective Inspector Jack Mooney, on Thursday's episode and will take over as the main detective on the sun-drenched, murder-afflicted fictional island of Saint Marie next year. O'Hanlon said: 'I am delighted to be joining Death In Paradise and exploring what's made Mooney up and leave London for a life in the Caribbean. I've already had a taste of filming in Guadeloupe and can't wait to get back.' An average of 8.7 million viewers watched the first three episodes of the current series. Marshall has been seen solving crimes on Saint Marie since the third series, when he took over from Ben Miller, who starred in the first two series and left for, pretty much, exactly the same reasons as Marshall. And, of course, the Sun also managed to fold this story into the unfolding 'who will be the next Doctor' malarkey. Get used to the idea of more - much more - of this sort of crap in the coming weeks.
'It's like Rome meets The West Wing.' That's how the Royal Shakespeare Company has described its new 'epic' production set in Ancient Rome. Imperium: The Cicero Plays are based on the best-selling novels by Robert Harris: Imperium, Lustrum and Dictator. Like Aaron Sorkin's acclaimed TV drama set largely in the West Wing of the White House - this blogger's favourite TV show in the history of the medium - there will be plenty of political intrigue. Harris's trilogy tells the story of the rise and fall of the great Roman orator and statesman Cicero. The stage version will be split into six plays, presented in two performances on different evenings. Harris said: 'There could hardly be a more timely moment to look at the collapse of the Roman Republic, a political institution destroyed by ambition, money and unscrupulous demagogues who treated the laws with contempt.' Imperium's director, Gregory Doran, agreed the stories resonated with contemporary events. Harris, he noted, is a former political correspondent with 'inside knowledge' of 'the corridors of power.' The plays will be scripted by Mike Poulton, who has plenty of experience of adapting books for the stage. His most recent work for the RSC was his adaptation of Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall and Bring Up The Bodies, which told the story of Henry VIII's adviser Thomas Cromwell. Harris, who also wrote Fatherland, Enigma, Pompeii and The Ghost, said: 'It's a curious fact that Shakespeare in his Roman plays gives hardly any lines to Cicero, arguably the greatest orator in history. So I'm especially delighted that through the RSC his voice will at last be heard on stage in Stratford.' Imperium: The Cicero Plays will run at the RSC's Swan Theatre from 16 November 2017 to 10 February 2018.
A Blue Peter time capsule has been accidentally dug up by construction workers thirty three years earlier than planned. The Millennium Time Capsule was buried under the Millennium Dome, now the O2 Arena, in 1998. Filled with viewers' mementos of the time, it was not supposed to be unearthed until 2050. The O2 has said that despite being damaged, the capsule's contents are safe. The BBC said the capsule will be re-buried. Former Blue Peter presenters Katy Hill and Richard Bacon buried the capsule in June 1998. A spokesperson for the BBC said: 'Although a little earlier than anticipated, we're looking forward to sharing these memories with our viewers and making new ones as we return the capsule to the earth so that it can be reopened in 2050 as originally planned.' In a competition, viewers had been asked to submit ideas for items they would like put inside. The winning entries included roller blade wheels, an asthma inhaler, Tellytubby dolls, a France 1998 World Cup football, a picture of a dove to symbolise peace in Northern Ireland and a Roald Dahl book. A spokesman for the O2 Arena said: 'The team at The O2 and our contractors ISG have been searching for the Blue Peter time capsule since we started construction work in 2016. We found it yesterday but sadly it was accidentally damaged during excavations. The capsule and its contents are safely stored in our office and we've let the team at Blue Peter know. We're going to work with them to either repair or replace the capsule and bury it again for the future.' The BBC said: 'We are looking forward to sharing these memories with viewers and making new ones as we rebury the capsule until 2050.'
James Martin has revealed he left BBC1's Saturday Kitchen because a stranger 'stood up on stage and passed away in front of me. That was over a year ago and that was the decision to change,' he told ITV's Good Morning Britain. 'I look back at all the work I'd done - four days off that year and five the year before and I thought something's got to change.' Martin left Saturday Kitchen in March last year. It is believed that the man who died was a singer who was performing at the BBC Good Food Middle East Awards in 2015 in the UAE. Martin told Susanna Reid and oily pile of festering faeces Piers Morgan that after the shock of seeing the man's death and his subsequent decision to change his work priorities, 'for the first time in my life I'm content and happy.' When asked about rumours he would join the new Great British Bake Off when it moves to Channel Four, Martin said: 'I tried to put a bet on myself twice but they're not taking odds so I don't think that's going to happen.' A number of guest hosts have presented Saturday Kitchen since Martin departed, including chefs John Torrode, Angela Hartnett and Lorraine Pascale. When Martin fronted the show, he asked celebrity guests for their 'food heaven' and 'food hell' - to have one of the dishes, voted for by viewers, cooked at the end of the programme. It also saw chefs compete against each other in the omelette challenge - creating a three-egg omelette in the fastest time. Martin took over from Antony Worrall Thompson as host in 2006.
Satellite broadcaster Sky has secured a last-minute deal to keep twelve Discovery channels on its television service. The US broadcaster behind channels such as Eurosport and TLC had threatened to remove its channels from Sky on 31 January after a dispute over fees. Discovery said that the new agreement would keep its programmes on Sky for 'years to come.' Sky's UK chief Stephen van Rooyen said the deal was concluded 'on the right terms.' No financial details of the agreement have been released by either company. Many channels pay geet mounds of wonga to appear on Sky's platform. However, Sky also pays some channel providers to include their content in subscription packages. Discovery had claimed that Sky did not pay 'a fair price' for its channels - but Sky said Discovery's threat to remove the channels was 'about commercial self-interest.' Announcing the agreement, Van Rooyen said: 'The deal has been concluded on the right terms after Discovery accepted the proposal we gave them over a week ago.' A spokesman for Discovery said the deal was 'meaningfully better than our former agreement and their proposal.' He said: 'Our new arrangement enables us to control our destiny in more ways, with even more opportunities to invest and launch channels and consumer services.' Tim Westcott, the senior principal analyst in TV programming at IHS Markit told the Gruniad Morning Star that Sky was 'probably' looking for ways to save money when renegotiating channel carriage deals, as it copes with large rises in sports rights costs. Interesting word, 'probably.' 'Sky is trying to control its operating costs. One way of doing that is to cut back on what it pays channel providers,' said Westcott. Discovery's portfolio in the UK includes The Discovery Channel, Discovery History, Discovery Turbo, Eurosport, TLC, The Animal Planet and DMAX. Its channels are also available on other services such as Virgin Media. Sky also announced a new deal with PBS America which will bring the US broadcaster's factual programming to Sky, covering history, science, current affairs, arts and culture.
A US-based human rights campaigner has grovellingly apologised for mistakenly accusing BBC Newsnight presenter Emily Maitlis of 'running an alleged CIA torture site.' Kenneth Roth, the director of Human Rights Watch, tweeted a picture of Maitlis, saying that President Trump 'chose [a] woman who ran CIA black site for torture.' Roth had, seemingly, meant to tweet a picture of Gina Haspel, named as CIA deputy director by US President (and Hairdo) Trump on Thursday. Maitlis replied: 'This is me,' and denied that she had ever, not never, been involved in torture (although, she couldn't vouch for her former colleague Jezza Paxman in this regard). Roth then swiftly deleted the tweet and stewed in his own juices whilst looking like a complete and utter fool. Just another example, dear blog reader, of why is it is so vital that those who wish to ridicule Trump and his daft ways do so accurately and not make the same sort of ridiculous elementary schoolboy-type errors that he does on a virtual daily basis. Trump's appointment of Haspel was met with claims from various human rights groups that she 'played a role' in secret 'black site' prisons run by CIA officers and contractors. Although, obviously, they weren't that secret otherwise the various human rights groups wouldn't have known about them. Haspel, who joined the CIA in 1985, ran a prison in Thailand where terror suspects were reportedly waterboarded. So-called black sites were secret overseas locations where the CIA carried out interrogation techniques. They were closed by the former US President Barack Obama. Christopher Anders, the deputy director of the American Civil Liberties Union's Washington office, told the New York Times he was 'gravely concerned' about Haspel's appointment. Announcing the decision, CIA director Mike Pompeo said Haspel was 'an exemplary intelligence officer' with 'an uncanny ability to get things done and to inspire those around her.' Maitlis said in her tweet that she was 'pretty sure' she herself had never run a CIA black site for torture. A spokesman for Human Rights Watch, one Andrew Stroehlein, said that he had 'no idea' how the mix-up had occurred. He added: 'BBC interviews can be tough but not to that level. Seriously: Very sorry. Ken will pick this up in US time.'
Licence fee revenue collectors are facing an increasing risk of verbal and physical assault, it has been reported. In 2015, revenue collection company Capita reported ninety five physical assaults - some so serious that they left officers requiring hospital treatment. The BBC is 'getting better' at collecting the licence fee and reducing collection costs, the National Audit Office claims. Yet while evasion is on the rise, fewer licence fee evaders are getting caught. This meant the BBC lost at least two hundred and fifty million knicker in 2015 and 2016, despite its enforcers making three million visits to premises. It also means the BBC is unlikely to cut the evasion rate to 3.95 per cent by 2020, as it said it was to in 2011. In 2014, the proportion of premises which should have paid - but didn't - was believed to be between five and six per cent. In 2015 that figure rose to between six and seven per cent - though that may be down to changes in how the number of households with TVs is calculated. Reducing licence fee evasion by just one percentage point means an extra forty million smackers in revenue each year. A BBC spokesman said that it would continue to 'crack down' on 'the small minority who refuse to pay' using 'the full range of enforcement measures.' Including waterboarding. Probably. Well, they've got Emily Maitlis working for them so, one wouldn't discount the possibility. Last year, the corporation obtained a valuable concession from the government that decreed even those who access BBC content only on the iPlayer must have a TV licence.
The proprietor of the Daily Scum Mail told its editor that David Cameron pressed for him to be sacked during the EU referendum, BBC Newsnight has claimed. Lord Rothermere told the odious louse Paul Dacre that the Prime Minister urged him to 'rein in' his pro-Brexit editor, then suggested that Rothermere sack him, an alleged 'source' allegedly told the BBC. The Scum Mail mounted a vociferous campaign for Brexit in the run up to the vote. And, they were big fans of Oswald Mosley and Herr Hitler in the 1930s just in case you'd forgotten about that. A spokesman for Cameron said he 'did not believe he could determine who edits the Daily Mail.' The disclosure casts fresh light on one of the most bitter personal enmities of the Brexit campaign. Newsnight said that it 'understands' the Prime Minister personally tried to 'persuade' the odious louse Dacre to 'cut him some slack' during a private meeting in Downing Street on 2 February 2016, the day that European Council President Donald Tusk unveiled details of the deal negotiated by Cameron for the UK. The odious louse Dacre told Cameron he 'would not temper' his editorial line on Brexit because he had been a committed Eurosceptic for more than twenty five years and believed his readers were too. In early March, the odious louse Dacre was allegedly told by an alleged - though anonymous and, therefore, probably fictitious - Westminster 'source' that the Prime Minister had tried to persuade Lord Rothermere, a strong supporter of the UK remaining in the EU, to sack the odious louse Dacre. The Daily Scum Mail editor was said to be 'incandescent' with rage and his resolve to campaign for Brexit 'stiffened.' Only after the referendum, in July, did Lord Rothermere tell his editor of the pressure he claimed the, by then former, Prime Minister had applied. The Daily Scum Mail's sustained and strident campaign for Brexit is regarded by some observers as 'a significant factor' contributing to June's vote to leave the EU. Though the Scum Mail backed Cameron in the 2015 general erection campaign, the odious louse Dacre and the Prime Minister had enjoyed a somewhat frosty relationship since Cameron ordered The Leveson Inquiry into media ethics and behaviour in 2011. According to one alleged - though, again, anonymous and, therefore, probably fictitious - 'source', the odious louse Dacre refused to take Cameron's calls 'for months' following the launch of the inquiry. A spokesman for Lord Rothermere refused to confirm or deny whether Cameron had sought the odious louse Dacre's dismissal. He said: 'Over the years, Lord Rothermere has been leant [sic] on by more than one Prime Minister to remove Associated Newspapers' editors but, as he told Lord Justice Leveson on oath, he does not interfere with the editorial policies of his papers.' The odious louse Dacre declined to comment on whether Cameron had sought his dismissal. In a statement he said: 'For twenty five years, I have been given the freedom to edit the Mail on behalf of its readers without interference from Jonathan Rothermere or his father. It has been a great joy and privilege.' A spokesman for Cameron said: 'It is wrong to suggest that David Cameron believed he could determine who edits the Daily Mail. It is a matter of public record that he made the case that it was wrong for newspapers to argue that we give up our membership of the EU. He made this argument privately to the editor of the Daily Mail, Paul Dacre, and its proprietor, Lord Rothermere.'
A twenty two-year-old woman has been found extremely guilty over a road rage incident filmed by the BBC presenter Jeremy Vine. Shanique Syrena Pearson was found very guilty at Hammersmith magistrates court of using threatening or abusive behaviour and driving without reasonable consideration over a confrontation with Vine which took place on 26 August last year. Her lawyer, James O'Keeffe, suggested that Vine's involvement in the case had 'ensured' the case was 'far more high profile' than it should have been and claimed that Pearson had faced racial abuse as a result. Vine, the Crimewatch and Radio 2 presenter posted video online of 'a scary confrontation' he had with Pearson that took place in Kensington, as he was cycling home. The video, which was viewed more than fifteen million times on Facebook, was captured on Vine's bike-mounted cameras. It was shown to the magistrates court during the hearing last month. Vine, appearing as a witness, told the court that he had been 'scared' Pearson would assault him. District judge Timothy King said he found Vine to be 'a credible, truthful and believable witness.' In the video Vine stopped his bike after Pearson, who was driving behind him, revved her engine and beeped her horn. She shouted at him and, while Vine explains the Highway Code and said he needed to be riding in the centre of the road, she got out of the car and moved towards him, saying: 'This is what gets cyclists killed, why the fuck would you stop in front of my car. You don't respect your life?' She tried to move Vine and his bike, grabbing the handlebars and using her feet to get him out of the way. She can be heard adding: 'I could've hit you and been done for murder.' There was a further confrontation moments later when Vine attempted to photograph her car and she again gout out of her car, saying: 'Take a picture of my car again and I'll knock you out.' Vine alleged that Pearson made 'a gun gesture' with her fingers before driving off. O'Keeffe claimed during the trial that Vine was 'racially stereotyping' Pearson with the gun gesture allegation, something which the court, seemingly, did not believe. He added that the confrontation was 'a complete misunderstanding,' with Pearson angry about Vine braking suddenly in front of her and Vine attempting to explain why he was cycling in the middle of the road and that Vine had 'exaggerated' the incident to 'boost his profile.' Not that Jeremy Vine needs to boost his profile since he's one of Britain's most well-known and respected broadcasters so it's not really surprising that the court took a very dim view of O'Keeffe's arguments and Pearson's defence. The judge told Pearson in his verdict that Vine 'did nothing wrong with stopping in the way he did or where he did. I do not consider that you were entitled to try and move him out of the way.' He added: 'I also have no doubt that Mr Vine felt immediately threatened [and] no hesitation in accepting that you made a gun gesture.' Pearson was already nine months into a suspended sentence for theft, assault causing actual bodily harm and resisting arrest at the time of the altercation with Vine. King committed her case to Isleworth crown court for sentencing. O'Keeffe claimed that Pearson was a single mother and the incident was 'out of character in the sense it was unplanned, it was impulsive and it was something which she in her interview with the police is very willing to accept and did accept she was wrong.' Vine had been wrong to 'stop in the middle of the road and lecture her on how to drive and to pursue her when she had driven away,' he added. Pearson had received racial abuse after the video was posted and Vine had made no attempt to pixelate her or her licence plate before posting the video, he added. Vine's involvement meant the case had received far more attention than an offence of this scale would usually attract, with a row of journalists in the court and cameras outside. 'He's not on trial but in factoring in the impact on this young lady's life it would be appropriate to take into account how she has suffered since this incident solely in respect of the matter of it being played out in the media.'
Wor Geet Canny Matt Ritchie's first-half strike for yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved (though unsellable) Newcastle United ensured that former utter-failure-of-a-head-coach Steve McClaren's return to St James's Park with Derby County ended in defeat. Ritchie's winner, a shot which deflected off midfielder Bradley Johnson, put The Magpies back to the top of the Championship above Brighton & Hove Albinos, despite The Toon having played like a disgraceful bunch of bloody dishrags in their last two games. Alexander Mitrovic and Mo Diame both had chances to double the lead but failed to take them which could have proved costly when Tom Ince should have levelled matters after the break. Fortunately, he fired wide with the goal at his mercy. McClaren, who left Derby for Tyneside in June 2015, was extremely sacked as Magpies boss eleven months ago having led The Magpies to the brink of relegation and despite bringing an in-form Rams team to his old club, he will be left to rue Ince's chance which could have seen his side claim a point. Newcastle dominated the first half but it took a moment of fortune for them to take the lead as Ritchie's shot hit Johnson before looping over Rams keeper Scott Carson. Diame then went close to doubling the lead when he fired at goal to force a great save from Carson and The Magpies should have been two-nil up after the break when Mitrovic fired wide when only eight yards from goa land Ayoze Perez was unlucky to see a forty-yard lob cleared off the line after he had beaten Carson to a Jonjo Shelvey immaculate through-ball. Ince then wasted a clear opportunity to level matters when he managed to steer an Abdoul Camara cross wide with the goal gaping. And deep into injury time, Darren Bent saw his header cleared off the line by DeAndre Yedlin as the hosts held on to go two points clear at the top ahead of Brighton & Hove Albinos (who play Brentford on Sunday) and six points ahead of third place Reading (who could only draw at Ipswich).
A Crystal Palace fan was arrested after invading the pitch to confront Palace's Damien Delaney at half-time during Blunderland's four-nil victory at Selhurst Park on Saturday. Amid scenes of geet rive on, with stroppy discombobulation and aal that, the man appeared to grab the Palace defender's shirt before being led away by security (and, presumably, once round the back, given a right hiding for his trouble). Delaney was substituted at half-time, though Palace manager odious Fat Sam Allardyce claimed that it was not because of the altercation. One or two people even believed him. Palace players were extremely booed off after conceding all four goals by half-time. Allardyce said his players 'deserved' to be booed as they fell to a fifth consecutive Premier League defeat at home, which leaves them in nineteenth in the table, two points from safety. 'The fear we are suffering at Selhurst Park is evident,' said Allardyce. 'Fear gripped the players and it hasn't allowed them to express their ability. I can't think it can be anything other than that. We have a lot to do. It was a huge shock for me.' Palace have won only one Premier League game in seven since Allardyce took over on 23 December - a two-nil win in midweek against Bournemouth - with one draw and five defeats. When asked how much this latest defeat hurt him, Allardyce replied 'deeply.' Which, to be fair, was thigh-slappingly hilarious. 'I have to apologise and say it is my responsibility to get it right,' he added. This blogger should add that he genuinely can't remember the last time he wanted to see Blunderland win a game of football (probably the FA Cup Final in 1973. Hell, dear blog reader, what can I say, I was nine, I knew no better in them days). But, the look of sheer impotent fury on Fat Sam's odious mush when being interviewed by the BBC following what shall now be know forever after as The Selhurst Park Massacre even made a victory by The Mackem Filth seem - briefly - worthwhile. What is it they say, just occasionally, the enemy of my enemy is my friend. Well done you Black Cats, you've made a long-term Allardyce loather a very happy man. The victory was Blunderland's first Premier League win since 17 December and a second straight clean sheet after a goalless draw with Stottingtot Hotshots on Tuesday. They remain bottom following Hull City's two-nil win over Liverpool Alabama Yee-Haws, but move level on nineteen points with Palace. On Match Of The Day, Alan Shearer noted: 'If you get the first goal against Palace you have a good chance of winning the game because they are so mentally weak. These players have been poor under two managers for well over a year so they have to do something.'
A swarm of bees stopped play midway through Sri Lanka's innings in the third one-day international against South Africa in Johannesburg. One imagines that will feature in next year's Wisden's list of unusual occurrences ('bees stopped play'). The bees disrupted play twice - sending players diving to the ground - before the game was officially stopped in the twenty seventh over, with Sri Lanka on one hundred and seventeen for four. A groundsman used a fire extinguisher to try to disperse the bees, before a beekeeper was called to The Wanderers to sort this shit out. Play restarted over an hour later and South Africa eventually won by seven wickets.
Up to thirty 'pop-up brothels' appear in Swindon each week, police have claimed. Wiltshire Police said that in any one week up to forty foreign sex workers were advertising their services in the town, the majority of whom were 'transient.' And, surprisingly cheap. The women use rented properties for between one day and a few weeks before packing up and moving on to pastures new. Many of these pop-up brothels are linked to organised crime gangs, with women being trafficked from Poland and Romania. Detective Sergeant Chris Hitchcock said: 'Many of these women move between addresses within the town as well as outside of it. Of these forty, we estimate they populate twenty to thirty brothels in short-term to medium-term rental properties.' He added that officers 'look to intervene and see if we can offer safeguarding and see if organised crime is involved, as often as we can.' He said that the force was 'currently monitoring' a total of between one hundred and seventy and one hundred and ninety women involved in sex work 'predominantly' in the Swindon area. A study last year by the Police Foundation found women in such pop-up brothels were 'more likely' to be trafficked than those in standard brothels.
And now, dear blog reader ...
Two very naughty men face lewdness and other charges after they were caught in an alleged sex act on a display bed at Bed Bath & Beyond, according to a report on the North website. Police were called to the store during business hours on 30 January after an employee said the men were 'engaged in a sex act' on the display. Two chaps were then arrested and charged with lewdness, criminal mischief and possession of marijuana. Police did not release the men's names because both are suffering from a health condition known as scabies and that releasing their names would violate the Health Insurance Portability & Accountability Act. A store spokeswoman told the website that the display bed had been 'removed' from the store 'as a precaution.' Officers were exposed to the scabies parasite and were treated at a local hospital, the report said. The booking area of the Clifton Police Department had to be fumigated to prevent the spread of the parasite.
A lawsuit filed on Wednesday alleges that coaches and officials at Lake Zurich High School in Northern Illinois allowed 'acts of hazing and bullying to occur within the team locker room, including forcing teammates to strip naked and forced un-consensual sexual assault.' The lawsuit, filed by attorney Antonio Romanucci on behalf of two anonymous Lake Zurich students and their parents, alleges that 'wrestling, cross country and football coaches at the high school engaged in, encouraged, and permitted physical, mental, and sexual abuse in the form of bullying over the past twenty years.' The lawsuit was borne of an alleged incident which occurred in September 2016, when, according to the suit, members of the Lake Zurich football team forced a teammate to strip naked and stand in the shower while they urinated on him; the suit states that at least fourteen teammates watched. When the child’s parents spoke with then-assistant coach and dean of students, one Chad Beaver, the Lake Zurich employee is reported to have told them that the incident was 'not a big deal' adding that players peeing on each other 'happens all the time' and saying, 'even I got peed on in high school.' A second incident involving a another player occurred less than a month later on 26 October, according to the suit. Following a group pasta dinner, the team went back to the locker room where it conducted a 'roast,' known amongst the team as 'Asshole of the week.' The plaintiff's name was drawn from a hat along with two of his teammates; two of the players were then told to perform a sexual act on one of the three. A private security guard hired by the school is alleged to have witnessed the action but did not intervene; he notified Beaver the following day. No player was withheld from participating in either of Lake Zurich's play-off games, which took place 28 October and 5 November. According to the lawsuit, School administration 'did not notify the police' until 31 October; the Lake Zurich High School principal was not notified until 1 November.
A man was filmed allegedly trying to have sex with a drain cover. 'Baffled onlookers' saw Florin Grosu lying face down in the road in Romford, apparently getting jiggy with the inanimate object. He was caught on camera thrusting his hips while looking around, sheepishly, at 11am according to the Daily Scum Mail. But, was the drain cover a willing participant. And, indeed, will he respect it in the morning?
Police in Northern Oklahoma say that they have arrested a substitute teacher on an indecent exposure complaint after she reportedly did a cartwheel in front of students whilst wearing a skirt but no knickers. The Pawhuska Police Department said a student 'recorded the incident' on a cellphone. Police Chief Scott Laird said the incident reportedly happened during a high school choir class in Pawhuska, about one hundred miles North East of Oklahoma City. The substitute teacher, whose name was not released but whom the Sun later identified as Lacey Sponsler, was very arrested on Tuesday afternoon. Pawhuska police say that she remains in jail at the time of writing. She reportedly denied doing the cartwheel and told police she was 'just dancing with the students' and 'trying to be a cool teacher.'
When a drug dealer in northern Australia jacked up the price of his weed, an unhappy customer called the police to complain. The unidentified woman dubbed the marijuana price hike 'outrageous,' but then refused to reveal any further details about herself apparently afraid of incriminating herself. Then, she hung up. The Northern Territory Police, Fire and Emergency Services said the 'completely offended' woman's bizarre call on Saturday 'had to top the list of "unusual."'
A diet of corn is 'turning wild hamsters in North-Eastern France into deranged cannibals that devour their offspring,' researchers have reported to the Gruniad Morning Star. 'There's clearly an imbalance,' Gerard Baumgart, the President of the Research Centre for Environmental Protection in Alsace, and 'an expert on the European hamster,' said on Friday. 'Our hamster habitat is collapsing,' he added. More common farther to the East, Cricetus cricetus in critically endangered in Western Europe. The findings, reported last week in the British Royal Society journal Proceedings B, identify industrial-scale monoculture as the likely culprit. Once nourished by a variety of grains, roots and insects, the burrowing rodents live today in a semi-sterile and unbroken ocean of industrially grown maize, or corn. The monotonous diet is leaving the animals starving, scientists discovered almost by accident. The problem is a lack of vitamins. So, they've turned to cannibalism.
A 'small but distinctive' signal in X-rays from The Milky Way 'could be key' to proving the existence of dark matter. This is the claim of US scientists who analysed the energy spectrum of X-rays gathered by NASA's Chandra satellite. They found more X-ray photons with a particular energy than would be expected if they were produced only by familiar processes. Those photons could in fact have been generated by the decay of dark matter particles, say the researchers. This is not the first time that scientists have seen extra photons with an energy of about three thousand five hundred electronvolts in the spectra recorded by X-ray satellites. But previously, according to Kevork Abazajian, a cosmologist at the University of California, it was 'not clear' whether the bump, or 'line', created by the photons in the otherwise smooth spectrum was merely an instrumental artefact. 'This result is very exciting,' said Abazajian, who was not involved in the research. 'It makes it more likely that the line is due to dark matter.' Scientists believe that dark matter makes up more than eighty per cent of all the mass in the universe. As its name suggests, dark matter gives off no light, but reveals its presence through the gravitational tug it exerts on stars within galaxies. However, we still have little idea about what dark matter actually is. For years, physicists have been trying to detect particles of dark matter directly by intercepting them using instruments on Earth. But, so far, those experiments have drawn a blank. Meanwhile, astrophysicists have been scouring the sky for the photons generated when dark matter particles either annihilate with one another or decay. So-called 'weakly-interacting massive particles' are believed by some researchers to be responsible for unusual emissions of gamma rays seen coming from the centre of the Milky Way. Others, however, think more mundane sources such as pulsars are 'probably' the cause. The latest research, which targets relatively light particles of dark matter, has been carried out by Nico Cappelluti of The Yale Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics in Connecticut and his colleagues. Cappelluti's co-worker Esra Bulbul of The Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology was the first scientist to spot an anomalous line when looking at the X-ray spectra of large numbers of galaxy clusters in 2014. Since then, other groups have seen a line with the same energy in spectra from a variety of other objects, including the Andromeda and Milky Way galaxies. As they describe in a paper posted to the Arxiv preprint server, Cappelluti and colleagues studied the X-rays arriving at the Chandra observatory from two regions of The Milky Way far from the galactic centre. Like other galaxies, The Milky Way is thought to be enveloped in a bubble of dark matter. The researchers found that the strength of their signal was 'consistent' with data from another NASA X-ray satellite, the Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array. Given no obvious sources of interference within the satellite itself, the researchers concluded that the signal is unlikely to be caused by instrumental noise. To then establish whether dark matter could be the culprit, they compared Chandra's spectra to those of X-rays from the centre of The Milky Way that had been detected by the European Space Agency's XMM-Newton satellite. As expected, they found the signal in the latter to be stronger, given that dark matter should be densest where there are more stars - in the galactic centre. The researchers also ruled out alternative astrophysical sources for the signal: photons emitted either when very large black holes suck in material from their surroundings or when ions of sulphur take electrons from hydrogen in the centre of galaxy clusters. 'We found that our result is consistent with previous results if you assume the cause to be dark matter,' said Doctor Bulbul. The researchers are not yet ready to claim discovery of dark matter because, they say, it is 'still possible' that their result is 'a statistical fluke' - that Chandra just happened to snare more X-rays than it did others. But, they say that are heartened by the fact that four different satellites have now seen the same signal. 'As we collect more and more X-ray data, the evidence for the 3.5 keV line is growing and growing,' said Doctor Cappelluti. Others, however, urge caution. Dan Hooper, a particle theorist at Fermilab near Chicago, points out that a number of other studies have failed to see the line, including one by a group analysing data from the Japanese space agency's ill-fated Hitomi X-ray satellite. Hitomi malfunctioned just over a month after launch in February last year, but before that it managed to collect enough data to disprove a previously claimed sighting of the 3.5 keV line in the Perseus galaxy cluster. 'The new paper claims a modest detection,' said Hooper, 'but it doesn't sway me very strongly at this point.' Christoph Weniger, a theoretical astroparticle physicist at the University of Amsterdam, is a little more upbeat, arguing that the new research 'adds yet another piece to the puzzle.' He said that the signal might be due to a hypothetical particle known as the sterile neutrino, which would decay into an X-ray photon and a normal neutrino. But he stressed the need for more data to 'confirm or reject the dark matter hypothesis.' Such data might come from a replacement for Hitomi. According to Robert Petre of NASA, funding for 'an X-ray Astronomy Recovery Mission' is 'currently being discussed' by the Japanese government. Work on the new mission could start as soon as April, he says, with lift-off then potentially taking place in 2021.
Will Peggy finally reveal herself? Scientists studying the splendour of Saturn's rings are hoping to soon get 'a resolved picture' of an embedded object which they know exists but cannot actually see. The moonlet is named after London researcher Carl Murray's mother-in-law and was first noticed in 2013. Its effect on surrounding ice and dust particles has been tracked ever since. But no direct image of Peggy has yet been obtained and time is short. The Cassini spacecraft's mission at Saturn is edging to a close and its dramatic end-of-life disposal. In September, the probe will be driven to destruction in the atmosphere of the gas giant, at which point the constant of pictures and other data it has returned these past thirteen years will come to an abrupt end. Murray and his team at Queen Mary University of London know, therefore, that they have only a few months left to get the definitive image. Fortunately, Cassini will spend its remaining time flying close in to the planet and the moonlet's place in the so called A-ring. The best ever chance to see the face of Peggy is now at hand. And, such is the fondness for this tony object, the probe will even be commanded to take one last picture just before the big plunge. 'Peggy is such an interesting object and for people who work on the mission and even with the public - it's captured their imagination. It's like an old friend to us and so as you say goodbye you'd like to get a picture. Peggy will be one of the last targets for Cassini,' Murray told BBC News. The study of objects like Peggy goes to the core objectives of the multi-billion-dollar international space mission. The wide band of ice and dust which surrounds Saturn is a version in miniature of the kind of discs we see circling far-off new stars. It is in those discs that planets form and so seeing the processes and behaviours which give rise to objects like Peggy delivers an insight into how new worlds come into being. It is a model even for how our own Solar System was created. 'Peggy is evolving. It's orbit is changing with time,' explained Professor Murray. 'Sometimes it moves out, sometimes it moves in, by just a few kilometres. And this is what we think happens with proto-planets in those astrophysical discs. They interact with other proto-planets and the material in the disc and they migrate. We see that when we look at exoplanets around other stars: some can't possibly have formed in the places we detect them now, they must have migrated at some point.' Peggy was discovered by accident. Murray was using Cassini to try to image Prometheus - a bigger, very obvious shepherd moon connected with the F-ring. He saw that, but his eye was drawn to a two thousand kilometre-long smudge in the background. That was on 15 April 2013 (his mother-in-law's birthday). A subsequent trawl through the Cassini archive revealed that a disturbance in the A-ring was, actually, evident from a year before. Peggy is certainly smaller than five kilometres across. So to produce that showy smudge, it must have been involved in a collision that kicked up a cloud of ice and dust. Follow-up observations have monitored the ongoing disturbance. If moonlets are big enough they can clear a gap in Saturn's rings. But tiny objects like Peggy merely produce small bumps in the surrounding band of particles, a sort of wavy pattern which looks akin to a propeller. This indirect evidence of the presence of a moonlet is the all Cassini can achieve when the target is so small and the onboard camera is producing a best resolution of about five kilometres-per-pixel. But in the next few months, the orbits the spacecraft will fly around Saturn should bring the resolution down to one or two kilometres-per-pixel. This might be enough to picture Peggy directly and to confirm an intriguing possibility… that Peggy has recently become two objects. 'When Cassini came out of its ring plane orbit in early 2016, we went back to look where Peggy should be and we found Peggy and we've been tracking it ever since. But a few degrees behind we could also see another object, even fainter in the sense that it had an even smaller [disturbance] signature. And when we tracked back the paths of both objects, we realised that in early 2015 they would have met. So, probably, Peggy 'B', as we call it, came from a collision of the sort that causes Peggy to change its orbit, but rather than a simple encounter that deflected the orbit slightly, this was more serious.' Murray gave an update on Peggy at the recent Fall meeting of The American Geophysical Union. At that same conference, Doctor Linda Spilker, the NASA project scientist on the Cassini mission, outlined the end-stage activities of the probe, culminating in its disposal on 15 September. She said that the same close-in manoeuvres that hopefully will enable Carl Murray to get his resolved pictures should also finally help to determine a key property of Saturn's rings - their mass. 'The mass of the rings is uncertain by one hundred per cent,' Doctor Spilker told the BBC News website. 'If they're more massive, maybe they're really old - as old as Saturn. If they're less massive, maybe they're really young, maybe only a mere on hundred million years old.' Age is important to this idea that rings, or discs, are the medium in which objects form. Some of Saturn's moons, even a number of its bigger ones, likely emerged by accumulating the material around them and displaying, certainly in the early phases of growth, the sorts of behaviours now seen in Peggy. But making moons takes time and if the largest of Saturn's satellites came out of this same process, it demands the present ring system to be very old indeed.
Desmond Carrington, who has died aged ninety, was the oldest and one of the most popular presenters on Radio 2, his smooth, velvety voice blending perfectly with that station's laidback style. Homely, comfortable and warm, the mellifluous Carrington presented such programmes as Movie-Go-Round, Housewives' Choice, Album Time and, from 1981, his Sunday lunchtime show All-Time Greats, based on letters from listeners requesting their musical favourites. His Friday evening show, The Music Goes Round, of classical and popular music was broadcast from his home – a farm in Perthshire – using his personal collection of some eighty thousand CDs, LPs and 78s. Carrington's Radio 2 broadcasts ended with his retirement last year, when The Music Goes Round was still attracting more than eight hundred thousand listeners. Like other Radio 2 DJs, Carrington came to the job from a different metier, in his case acting. His best-known role had been a six-year stint, from 1958, in the long-running TV series Emergency – Ward Ten. After this, he switched to the stage and then to radio presenting. Carrington's voice was that of an accomplished thespian and his style was beguilingly factual. Each item was introduced with potted programme notes on the background and significance of the performer and the composer, punctuated by the occasional matey on-air greeting when he knew the performer personally. He had no time for rankings of tunes: 'Lists? I can't be bothered with all that!' He came across as a beacon of sense in a populist age. In 2011, when he celebrated thirty years on the show, the anniversary edition featured the records from his first programme, including Duke Ellington's 'Satin Doll', The Beach Boys' 'Good Vibrations', Peter Sarstedt's 'Frozen Orange Juice' and the Frank Sinatra classic 'Some Enchanted Evening'. Carrington was born in Bromley and educated at the local grammar school (where he was in the class below George Martin). He began his professional acting career at sixteen, went on several tours and joined a twice-nightly repertory company. Called up for war service in 1943, he joined the Queen's Own Royal West Kent Regiment and was sent to India. He made a personal and successful application to Lord Louis Mountbatten to be posted to Colombo, where he joined Radio SEAC, the British forces broadcasting station serving South-East Asia and discovered that radio was a natural medium for him. On demob, he became a member of the BBC Drama Repertory Company and was an independent producer for Radio Luxembourg as well as the BBC. He also began to appear on TV, including in a very lucrative Daz commercial and adapted film soundtracks for radio with his friend Spencer Hale. It was this growing experience of TV, together with his good looks, that landed him the part of Doctor Chris Anderson, the new house physician at the fictional Oxbridge General hospital, in Emergency – Ward Ten, a year after the popular series started in 1957. His original contract was for three weeks; he stayed for more than two hundred episodes. One of the first soap operas, the ITV show was transmitted live and its popularity sometimes brought Carrington too much attention. 'It was more than your life was worth to be seen in Woolworths,' he said. 'You were besieged wherever you went.' But, by 1964 he was complaining publicly that he had not been given enough to do in Emergency – Ward Ten. 'One doesn't want to star in every episode, but unless you have a certain amount to do, people start saying, "Are you being written out?"' After leaving the show, he took leading roles on stage, including as King Edward VIII in a touring production of the Royce Ryton play Crown Matrimonial, before joining Radio 2. His Sunday lunchtime All Time Greats programme ran from 1981 until 1987, when a row with the BBC over money forced a temporary break. His bosses wanted to double the length of the programme to two hours, but regarded the terms demanded by Carrington for the extra work as excessive. They soon resolved their differences and, when he moved to Perthshire in 1995, the show went with him, going live in 1997, moving to Tuesday nights as The Music Goes Round in 2004 and settling in 2010 into a regular Friday night slot. For more than ten years from 1991, he also co-presented the annual Mountbatten Festival Of Music concerts with the massed bands of The Royal Marines at The Royal Albert Hall in London and helped in the CD recordings of the band of the former Royal Yacht Britannia, from which he broadcast when Hong Kong was handed over to China in 1997. In 1991 he was voted British radio personality of the year. When he announced his intention to 'hang up my headphones' last year, he was satisfied that 'Seventy years on the air since 1945 isn't a bad record.'