Sunday, February 19, 2017

The Followers Of Chaos Out Of Control

The incoming Doctor Who showrunner, yer actual Chris Chibnall, has spoken for the first time about the challenge of replacing Peter Capaldi his very self on the series. The Chib will take over on the long-running popular BBC family SF drama later this year and one of his first tasks will be to cast a new Doctor. He told the Torygraph that, while some people with very loud voices on the Interweb are calling for a female Doctor, it is 'too soon' for him to have decided on the actor's gender or race. 'We'll cast the role in the traditional way: write the script, then go and find the best person for that part in that script,' he said. 'You couldn't go out and cast an abstract idea.' That said, Chibnall did reveal that he has 'a very clear sense' of what the new Doctor will be like. 'The creative possibilities are endless, but I have a very clear sense of what we're going to do, without even knowing who's going to play the part,' he said.
And, of course, as usual at this stage in the 'picking a new Doctor' process, we have several more examples of the good old 'here's someone who definitely won't be the next Doctor being tipped to be the next Doctor by people who haven't got a frigging clue what they're talking about' filling-some-space-in-newspapers crap. Like this one. And this one. And this one. So, no surprise there, then.
Peter Capaldi reportedly 'very nearly' signed on for a fourth series of Doctor Who. The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat (OBE) has revealed that Capaldi was 'almost convinced' to stay on by Chibnall. 'It took Peter a long time to make up his mind,' Moffat told Broadcast. 'Chris tried to persuade him to stay. I knew it was a possibility that he'd leave because Doctors tend to do three years. I thought that he might want to opt out, rather than go through the trauma of a change in command and maybe leaving a year later anyway. But I think he came close to staying.' Moffat revealed that he had similarly tried to persuade Capaldi's predecessor, yer actual Matt Smith, to stick around for a fourth year but that Smudger was having none of it. 'I intended to do three years [as showrunner], so I doubled that,' Moff explained 'For various reasons, during my third series I wasn't as happy. It was the only time doing Doctor Who where I felt it was slipping away from me a bit. I wasn't quite as in control of it as I should be. I wasn't enjoying it as much and I wasn't as pleased with it. I didn't want to leave like that, so I tried to persuade Matt to do another year, but he was determined to go. And, then having cast a new Doctor, I had to stay and I wanted to because I was thoroughly enjoying working with Peter.'
Meanwhile, The Moffdude his very self has also had some things to say about Sherlock. 'I've been up to my eyes with Doctor Who, so I haven't really sat down and thought about Sherlock at all,' he told Broadcast. 'The ratings were extremely good so I guess they'll ask us again and then we'll have to see first of all if we have three films we want to make and then if Benedict and Martin have the time, schedule and inclination. Every year, you're making a less exciting offer to them: do you want to do more Sherlock? Do you want to do even more Sherlock? Do you want to do even more Sherlock again? It's not like we haven't had our reward for doing that show, it's been such a phenomenon. Not doing it again would be fine. If that was it, then that would be it. None of us will starve in the street - well, I might.'
Sherlock has come out on top again, this time in a poll of most popular BBC television characters.
Yer actual Benedict Cumberbatch said that he was 'honoured' to see his portrayal of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's detective voted top by viewers in seven countries. He continued: 'Who would have thought a high-functioning sociopath could be so popular all over the world?' Another poll of 'iconic BBC moments' saw Sherlock Holmes seemingly falling to his death score more than a quarter of the vote. That put the ending of 2012's The Reichenbach Fall episode streets ahead of Monty Python's Flying Circus's Dead Parrot sketch, its closest competitor. The BBC Worldwide Showcase poll surveyed more than seven thousand people from Australia, France, Germany, India, Japan, Mexico and the United States. Although, given that the combined population of those particular seven countries in approximately 1.8 billion people, some might argued that the opinions of seven thousand of them amounts to not a particularly large cross-section. Don't come to this blogger asking for a quick answer to that one, dear blog reader. Almost thirty per cent of respondents put Sherlock Holmes top of the most popular characters poll, ahead of The Doctor, Idris Elba's John Luther, Basil Fawlty and Top Gear's The Stig. Absolutely Fabulous's Patsy Stone was the highest ranking woman in the list - though that may change if the next Doctor is Tilda Swinton, or if it turns out The Stig has been keeping something unexpected from us all. Other characters on the top ten include Edmund Blackadder and Hyacinth Bucket from Keeping Up Appearances (why, for the love of God, why?). BBC Worldwide's Paul Dempsey said the poll demonstrated 'the love and affection audiences have for our shows around the world.' Or, something. Actually, it didn't demonstrate that or anything even remotely like it, it merely demonstrated that some people like compiling lists. It's called Asperger's Sydrome and it's harmless and nothing to be ashamed of. Next ...
This blogger's sincere thanks go out to his good mate Danny for the following observation: 'Well, they certainly couldn't do any worse than the current lot, could they? This blogger did observed, however, that The Daleks are probably on Ze List - and, if they're not, Mister President, why not? - and, therefore, might have trouble getting through immigration. Speaking of which ...
This very weekend, the annual Gallifrey One convention is taking place in Los Angeles and many of yer actual Keith Telly Topping's closest chums are there. But, he isn't. Which is, you know, a bit of pisser. We'll leave to one side for the moment the vexed question of how a bunch of extremely strange Doctor Who fans managed to get themselves past President Trump's armed goons and into the US for another day. One is sure the CIA are investigating that very subject as we speak.
As a consequence, this blogger is feeling considerably dischuffed with life this very weekend - as he usually is during the third week in February when he's stuck on Tyneside and having to put the central heating up another few degrees to avoid freezing to death - and would therefore advise all dear blog readers that you really shouldn't believe everything you read. Ever.
Now, here's one from the 'you just knew that was going to happen, didn't you?' column: Five-time Olympic champion and King of the Mods yer actual Sir Bradley Wiggins has been forced to quit the - insanely dangerous - TV show The Jump after very breaking his leg. The former Tour De France winner said that he was 'gutted' after sustaining 'a small leg fracture' whilst taking part in snowcross training. Channel Four claimed that Sir Bradley had been 'keen to continue' but would not appear after the fourth show in the current series. Last year, injuries to a large number of z-list celebrities prompted a 'review' of safety procedures on the crass and banal reality show. Albeit, seemingly, not a very thorough one since the injuries haven't stopped. Sir Bradley, who announced his retirement from cycling in December, tweeted: 'Gutted to be leaving The Jump. Seen a specialist, I have a small leg fracture and need to rest for three to six weeks. Good news no surgery or cast required. Huge thanks to the crew and good luck to all of the cast. Due to the way the show is filmed, I'll still be on until show four, so tune in. No horror smash, small training injury which means I can't compete.' Before Sir Brad's departure, the model Vogue Williams (no, me neither) had already left the show after suffering 'a knee injury' in training. Last year's series of The Jump was dogged by a lengthy catalogue of injuries, which resulted in seven z-list celebrities quitting the programme at one stage or another. They included former Olympic gymnast Beth Tweddle - by far the most serious of those affected and the only one that anyone felt the slightest bit of sympathy for - and the actress Tina Hobley. Tweddle required neck surgery after an horrific crash last February, while Hobley has whinged that she is 'still recovering' from leg and arm injuries. Though, no one felt particularly sorry for her since she, presumably, knew exactly what the risks were before agreeing to take part in the damn thing. Other casualties included Olympians swimmer Rebecca Adlington and Linford Christie.
And, on that broken bombshell, here are the final and consolidated ratings figures for the Top Twenty Six programmes broadcast during the week-ending Sunday 12 February 2017:-
1 Call The Midwife - Sun BBC1 - 10.19m
2 The Moorside - Tues BBC1 - 9.93m
3 Death In Paradise - Thurs BBC1 - 8.71m
4 Coronation Street - Mon ITV - 8.06m
5 EastEnders - Mon BBC1 - 7.38m
6 Apple Tree Yard - Sun BBC1 - 7.33m
7 Countryfile - Sun BBC1 - 7.18m
8 Emmerdale - Mon ITV - 6.91m
9 The Good Karma Hospital - Sun ITV - 6.87m
10 The Voice - Sat ITV - 6.53m
11 Six Nations Rugby: Wales Versus England - Sat BBC1 - 6.51m
12= Casualty - Sat BBC1 - 5.54m
12= Unforgotten - Thurs ITV - 5.54m
14 Taboo - Sat BBC1 - 5.43m
15 Six O'Clock News - Wed BBC1 - 5.40m
16 Let It Shine - Sat BBC1 - 5.10m
17 Holby City - Tues BBC1 - 4.65m
18 The Halcyon - Mon ITV - 4.51m
19 Not Going Out - Fri BBC1 - 4.49m
20 Ten O'Clock News - Tues BBC1 - 4.45m
21 Six Nations Rugby: France Versus Scotland - Sun BBC1 - 4.39m
22 The ONE Show - Mon BBC1 - 4.24m
23 BBC News - Sun BBC1 - 4.15m
24 The Graham Norton Show - Fri BBC1 - 4.14m
25 The British Academy Film Awards - Sun BBC1 - 4.05m
26 Ninja Warriors - Sat ITV - 4.00m
These consolidated figures, published weekly by the British Audience Research Bureau, include all viewers who watched programmes live and on various forms of catch-up TV 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. Which is a bit of a bummer but, there you go, whaddya gonna do? On BBC2, the top-rated programme was University Challenge with 2.90 million viewers. Dragons' Den was watched by 2.73 million, Further Back In Time For Dinner by 2.66 million, Hospital by 2.42 million and The Great Pottery Throwdown by 2.39 million. Trust Me, I'm A Doctor attracted 2.27 million viewers. Mastermind was watched by 1.94 million viewers, followed by SAS: Rogue Warriors (1.82 million), Only Connect (1.72 million - that Friday night slot really isn't doing it any favours at all), An Island Parish: Anguilla (1.71 million), Match Of The Day 2 (1.68 million), Dad's Army (1.59 million), Great American Railroad Journey (1.58 million), Special Forces: Ultimate Hell Week (1.55 million), Sicily: The Wonder Of The Mediterranean (1.54 million), the second part of Birds Of Paradise: The Ultimate Quest (1.47 million), Qi (1.46 million) and Ski Sunday (1.45 million). Terry Pratchett: Back In Black had an audience of 1.33 million. The Jump was, again Channel Four's highest-rated broadcast (2.24 million punters tuning in to watch Sir Bradley get his, ahem, big break - a drop of four hundred thousand punters week-on-week, incidentally), followed by Location, Location, Location (2.18 million), No Offence (two million viewers) and The Secret Life Of Five Year Olds (1.81 million). The latest episode of Homeland was seen by 1.80 million viewers, whilst the movie Mrs Doubtfire had 1.75 million. Eight Out Of Ten Cats Does Countdown drew 1.73 million, The Last Leg With Adam Hills continued with 1.70 million and How To Get Fit Fast was watched by 1.67 million viewers. The latest episode of That Awful Keith Woman's Hidden Villages was seen by 1.37 million punters with, presumably, nothing better to do with their time than watch odious tripe like this. With Z-List Celebrity Big Brother having ended (won by Coleen Nolan, apparently), Cruising With Jane McDonald was Channel Five's top performer with an audience of 1.83 million, ahead of The Yorkshire Vet: Home Visits (1.69 million viewers), Z-List Celebrity Barging (1.43 million), The Great British Benefits Handout Change (1.38 million) and GPs: Behind Closed Doors (1.26 million). Coverage of Live Premier League: Swansea Versus Leicester City on Sky Sports 1 was seen by 1.01 million punters whilst the Sunday lunchtime game between Burnley and Moscow Chelski FC drew nine hundred and fifty seven thousand. The Arse's two-nil victory over Hull City attracted seven hundred and sixty thousand (plus a further ninety two thousand watching on the Sky Mix channel). Goals On Sunday was seen by one hundred and seventy two thousand. On Sky Sports 2, the clash between Glasgow Rangers and Greenock Morton attracted one hundred and seventy thousand and the Edinburgh derby between Hearts and Hibs drew one hundred and forty nine thousand. Gillette Soccer Saturday was top of the pile on Sky Sports News HQ with four hundred and seventeen thousand punters and an additional four hundred and fifty seven thousand on the Sky Sports 1 simultcast. Midsomer Murders was ITV3's top-rated drama (nine hundred and ninety four thousand viewers). Agatha Christie's Marple was seen by nine hundred and seventy nine thousand and Doc Martin by five hundred and ninety three thousand. Snooker: World Grand Prix headed ITV4's weekly list with six hundred and thirty three thousand punters. No, this blogger has no idea why either. ITV Racing drew three hundred and seventy two thousand. ITV2's most-watched broadcasts were for a paid of worthless, vomit encrusted examples of everything that is wrong with British society in the Twenty First Century, Release The Hounds: Famous & Freaked (seven hundred and thirty thousand) and Ibiza Piss-Up Weekend (five hundred and ninety seven thousand). Family Guy was seen by five hundred and eighty eight thousand and the movies, Coyote Ugly (five hundred and seventy two thousand) and The Haunted Mansion (five hundred and one thousand viewers). Vera - as usual - headed ITV Encore's top ten with seventy three thousand viewers, followed by Poirot (sixty eight thousand) and DCI Banks (fifty two thousand). BBC4's list was topped by the opening episode of Roots (1.66 million viewers - by a distance, the largest multichannel audience of the week across all channels), followed by the final episode of British History's Biggest Fibs With Lucy Worsley (nine hundred and sixteen thousand), Fair Isle: Living On The Edge (six hundred and forty six thousand), The Art Of France (five hundred and forty thousand), Planet Earth II (four hundred and ninety one thousand) and Treasures Of Ancient Egypt (four hundred and eighty seven thousand). The Natural World drew four hundred and seventy four thousand, Britain's Ancient Capital: Secrets of Orkney, four hundred and forty seven thousand and The Sky At Night three hundred and seventy three thousand. Sky1's weekly top-ten was headed by Hawaii Five-0 (eight hundred and ninety seven thousand viewers). The Flash was seen by eight hundred and fifty nine thousand, The Blacklist by eight hundred and thirty six thousand for its first episode since it was transferred from Sky Living, the opening episode of the MacGyver remake by eight hundred and thirty four thousand and Modern Family by eight hundred and two thousand. Sky Atlantic's list was topped by the return of Blue Bloods (three hundred and eighty nine thousand). Fortitude attracted three hundred and sixty seven thousand. Game Of Thrones had one hundred and ten thousand and Quarry, sixty five thousand. On Sky Living, the latest episode of Elementary was seen by 1.13 million whilst Bones had eight hundred and forty seven thousand, the hugely over-rated Scandal drew three hundred and eighty nine thousand and America's Next Top Model attracted three hundred and forty one thousand. Sky Arts' Portrait Artist Of The Year was watched by three hundred and forty four thousand viewers whilst Too Young To Die: John Belushi had fifty nine thousand and the fourth episode of Urban Myths - the Cary Grant/Timothy Leary one which this blogger enjoyed greatly - forty two thousand. It deserved many more. 5USA's NCIS was watched by six hundred and thirty one thousand viewers, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit by four hundred and ninety four thousand and Castle by four hundred and eighty thousand. NCIS also topped the weekly lists of CBS Action (one hundred and fourteen thousand) and FOX (nine hundred and thirty three thousand viewers) and featured in the top tens of Channel Five (one million viewers) and The Universal Channel (one hundred and fifty thousand). It's not the most-watched drama series in the world for nothing, you know. It was also interesting to note FOX's rather sneering continuity announcer saying, before a recent episode was broadcast 'you can watch NCIS on many channels but this is the only one where you can see new ones.' Do you want a medal, or what? The latest episode of Bull drew four hundred and ninety one thousand on FOX, beaten by both NCIS and the opening episode of the much-trailed Legion (seven hundred and three thousand). The Universal Channel's Chicago Med attracted two hundred and thirty nine thousand and Pure Genius had one hundred and thirteen thousand. On Dave, the movies The Full Monty and The Last Samurai attracted five hundred and seventy five thousand and four hundred and fifty four thousand viewers respectively. Cult favourite Suits continued with three hundred and seventy seven thousand punters, followed by Qi XL (three hundred and fifty thousand), Have I Got A Bit More News For You (three hundred and twenty eight thousand), Crackanory (two hundred and fifty thousand) and Would I Lie To You? (two hundred and forty three thousand). The latest episode of Drama's repeat run of Hetty Wainthropp Investigates was watched by four hundred and forty six thousand viewers. Wallander had four hundred and nine thousand whilst New Tricks drew three hundred and ninety nine thousand and The Inspector Lynley Mysteries, three hundred and eighty six thousand. Alibi's highest-rated programmes were Murdoch Mysteries (two hundred and sixty three thousand), Death In Paradise (one hundred and fifty three thousand), Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries (one hundred and fourteen thousand) and Inspector George Gently (one hundred and nine thousand). On The Sony Channel, My Best Friend's Wedding was watched by fifty five thousand, Hustle by forty six thousand and the movie Steel Magnolia by thirty seven thousand. Yesterday's Open All Hours repeats continued with three hundred and twenty four thousand and Porridge with two hundred and sixty three thousand. World War Weird had two hundred and twenty four thousand. On the Discovery Channel, Gold Rush was seen by five hundred and forty nine thousand viewers. Fast N' Loud had two hundred and twenty two thousand. Alaskan Bush People was watched by one hundred and seventy four thousand. Episodes of Wheeler Dealers also topped the weekly lists of both Discovery Shed (forty one thousand) and Discovery Turbo (forty two thousand). Discovery History's The Executioners headed the top ten-list with forty three thousand. Weapons Of War had twenty nine thousand, Tony Robinson's Time Walks and Time Team both attracted twenty four thousand. On Discovery Science, Food Factory was seen by thirty nine thousand viewers. On Quest, Salvage Hunters was watched by five hundred and forty thousand. National Geographic's list was headed by Air Crash Investigation which had one hundred and eleven thousand viewers and Science Of Stupid (seventy nine thousand). The History Channel's weekly list was topped by The Curse of Oak Island (one hundred and ninety one thousand) and Hunting Hitler (one hundred and fifty eight thousand). He was last seen in Berlin, guys. In a ditch. On fire. Which was, you know, funny. On Military History, Ancient Top Ten was watched by forty eight thousand punters and Pirate Treasure Of the Knights Templar by thirty four thousand. Faking It: Tears Of A Crime, Evil Lives Here and In The Name of Love: People Magazine Investigates were ID's top-rated programmes with seventy thousand viewers, fifty nine thousand and fifty three thousand crime-lovers, respectively. Crimes That Shook Britain, The Cold Case File and The First Forty Eight headed CI's list (ninety six thousand, fifty one thousand and fifty thousand). The Real Essex Boys drew forty nine thousand viewers all of whom were, presumably, drinking a pint of lager with a lemonade top and polishing their sovereign rings whilst doing so. 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 (three hundred and ninety seven thousand). Your TV's repeat on Bones series one continued with an audience of eighty six thousand and Corrupt Crimes had seventy four thousand. On More4, Vet On The Hill was the highest-rated programme with five hundred and twenty four thousand. Building The Dream attracted four hundred and fifty eight thousand punters and Catching A Killer: Crocodile Tears, four hundred and ten thousand. E4's latest episode of Hollyoaks drew 1.15 million viewers and Marvel's Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D, 1.02 million. The Horror Channel's broadcast of Tucker & Dale Versus Evil attracted one hundred and twenty four thousand. The top-ten list also included Under The Bed (one hundred and twelve thousand), House On Haunted Hill (eighty nine thousand), one of this blogger's most favourite movies of all time Dr Terror's House Of Horrors (seventy four thousand), an episode of Hammer House Of Horror (seventy thousand) and the classic Spielberg TV movie Duel (sixty nine thousand). Bitten, headed Syfy's top-ten with one hundred and fifty four thousand. Alien was seen by eighty seven thousand and Star Trek: The Next Generation by eighty three thousand. Biggest & Baddest was watched by forty five thousand on Eden whilst Ice Age Giants attracted forty one thousand viewers. Bondi Vet and Guardians Of Rescue were the Animal Planet's most-watched programme with fifty four thousand and twenty nine thousand respectively. Code Black on W drew two hundred and forty nine thousand punters. Bollywood Movie topped Venus TV's list with twenty one thousand viewers whilst Hindi Feature Movie was Zing's most watched programme (fifteen thousand). On the True Crime channel, Killer Kids was watched by twenty two thousand punters. Charles & Diana: The First Decade drew seventy four thousand on London Live. Rick Stein's Spain was seen by sixty four thousand on Good Food. TLC's list was headed by Say Yes To The Dress (one hundred and thirty nine thousand).

The lead of the BBC's new lavish wartime drama, SS-GB, says that he is 'more anxious about this than anything I have ever worked on' because the series is filling the prestigious BBC1 9pm Sunday night slot - an hour which has become synonymous with so-called 'event television.' Although, judging by the first episode, he has little to worry about, it was really rather good. 'We didn't know that we would occupy that slot when we were making it,' Sam Riley noted. 'I am anxious and excited. My father said to me, "people might actually watch this one" as I'm rarely recognised in the street because of my work.' SS-GB, which has been adapted for television from the acclaimed 1978 Len Deighton novel by the writers of Skyfall, imagines what would have happened to Britain had the Nazis successfully invaded during 1940. Riley, who has starred in films such as Maleficent, On The Road and Control, the biopic of Joy Division, plays Douglas Archer, a Scotland Yard detective working simultaneously with the Nazis and the British Resistance. During the last year, the 9pm Sunday space has been occupied by Golden Globe winner The Night Manager, as well as Sherlock and, most recently, the thriller Apple Tree Yard, all generating ratings of eight million plus. 'I think we had a very different budget from The Night Manager,' Riley points out. 'And, although it's been done by the fabulous Bond writers, it's not a "crash-boom-bang-wallop" sort of series, it's more in the vein of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. It's different - but as for the pressure to succeed, we can't do anything about it now.' Riley added that although the series was filmed in 2015, 'inevitably everyone's drawing parallels with the rise of right-wing populism across Europe and we can't really ignore that. In a sense, the questions being asked of my character - to speak out or to keep his head down - we might all well be asking in the future. And yes, everyone's asking me about Trump.' SS-GB is directed by a German filmmaker, Philipp Kadelbach and has a large German cast, excluding, according to Riley, 'any well-known British actors with a bad German accent.' The actor lives in Berlin with his family and speaks German fluently, explaining that he 'did an unusual thing for me when I heard about the series. I got Phillip's number and called him and said, "if you haven't already cast this role, I'd really like to meet with you to talk about playing it."' Re-imagining the outcome of the Second World War has long been a popular theme - from the 1943 movie Went The Day Well, TV drams like The Other Man (1964) and An Englishman's Castle (1978), CJ Sansom's Dominion and Philip K Dick's The Man In The High Castle, currently in its second series on Amazon. 'I don't watch much TV and I only heard about the American show when I was preparing for this one,' Riley explains. 'They're very different to each other. Theirs is post-war and has sci-fi elements, Len based his novel on the actual Nazi plans of how they would take us over. It's an alternative history, but it's grounded in the "what if" scenario.' Although many scenes were shot in London, Riley says that set designs featuring swastikas were only used indoors, 'because we were cautious not to offend or upset Londoners or nationalities that may have been occupied by the Nazis. If we were outside, in between takes the soldiers would wear ponchos. The Nazis used powerful imagery and their symbol is unforgettable. During the scenes, partly I'd be thinking what an incredible job the set dressers had done, but there were shocking moments -a scene in Highgate Cemetery with Nazi soldiers chilled me inside. And I got upset when I saw a yellow star on a costume. These are the moments when you are sobered.' The series has already been sold worldwide, including to Germany, with plans to continue should it be a success. But how will the British react, when, as Riley says, 'so much of our psyche is about the perception of victory in World War Two - which needs to take into account of what America and Russia also did. Our war movies and heroics are a fixture on Christmas television and I adored them like every other school boy. But we live with a slightly false pride in Britain because we were never occupied. Had we been we would have had a lot more questions over who had collaborated. We all like to imagine we'd have resisted, but when it came down to it, knowing the price of it, how many of us would have had the strength of mind to do it? If you walk around Berlin, the Germans, out of all the countries in Europe, certainly don't want to forget their past and it's very important that you see the past everywhere you go. I imagine Germany would be the last country in Europe to return to right-wing politics, and we should be looking at our own back yard.'
Restaurateur, presenter and cookery writer Prue Leith is being lined up to take Mary Berry's spot on Channel Four's The Great British Bake Off, according to tabloid reports. Alleged 'sources' allegedly told the Sun that Leith was seen as 'a like for like' replacement for Berry, who chose to stay with the BBC after Bake Off makers Greed Productions got their greed right on and signed a twenty five million smackers a year deal to take the show to Channel Four. A representative for Leith told the Torygraph that she had been 'involved' in the selection process, but a Channel Four spokesperson refused to confirm or deny whether Leith would be joining the show, saying that the presenting line-up would be announced 'in due course.' Should Leith be chosen, she would join judge Paul Hollywood, the only member of the original on-screen team to move to Bake Off after presenters Sue Perkins and Mel Giedroyc also said that they would stay with the BBC. Numerous names have been put forward to fill the void. Davina McCall, Richard Ayoade, Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders have all been named as potential hosts, while chefs ranging from Delia Smith to Michel Roux Junior have been tipped as replacement judges. Albeit, not by anyone that actually knew what the smeg they were talking about. Interestingly more than a few of the same list of people are also, supposedly, up for the Doctor Who gig. Make of that, dear blog reader, what you will. Although, this blogger doubts there's been too much money laid on Tilda Swinton being the next Bake Off judge. Which is a pity, frankly, she'd probably be excellent at it. Leith has worked with Channel Four as a judge on competitive cooking show My Kitchen Rules UK, which as broadcast late last year to pretty much complete audience indifference. She was also a judge for eleven years on the BBC's The Great British Menu. Leith stood down in October, weeks after being made chancellor of Queen Margaret University in Edinburgh. Leith, born in South Africa, opened her Michelin-starred restaurant, called Leith's, in 1969 before going on to found cookery school Leith's School of Food & Wine in 1975. She later sold the business, retaining only the restaurant. She has written twelve cookery books, six novels and a memoir, Relish. The Sun's alleged 'source' allegedly said: 'In cookery circles, she’s practically royalty.'
Hair transplants gave yer man Jimmy Nesbitt 'a new lease of confidence,' the actor has revealed. Albeit, it didn't give his accent any obvious variations, which could have come in handy. Speaking to the Radio Times, Nesbitt said that the highly publicised transplants had 'benefited' his career. The fifty two-year-old underwent 'several procedures' over a number of years. 'I was very happy to be open about it,' he said. 'I just thought, "Come on, somebody is going to say it before I say it." It was something I struggled with,' he added. 'And, that was probably the vanity in me. But also career-wise it had an impact; in terms of the range of leading roles I've had since then, it's probably helped.' Despite his own cosmetic changes, Nesbitt - whose TV roles include Murphy's Law, Jekyll, Cold Feet and The Missing - said he thought it was 'a shame' when young men considered plastic surgery. 'There always used to be the sense that age adds character,' he said. 'You look at Samuel Beckett when he was older, Richard Harris, but I think with younger men it seems to be a big pressure.' Nesbitt also spoke about his recent split from wife, Sonia Forbes-Adam, with whom he has two children, after twenty two years of marriage. He said that he 'regretted' the amount of time he had put into work. 'I certainly regret things, but I'm also aware that I can't change them. You can try to learn from it. I regret any pain that was caused. I think separating has an impact because you look at why it happened and you see mistakes that were made,' he added. 'I'm lucky enough to be able to look back at stuff and say, "Oh well that was then, I've had a good lash at that, and this is now."'
Amazon has picked up Philip K Dick's Electric Dreams, a ten-episode SF anthology series from Ronald D Moore, Michael Dinner, Bryan Cranston and Sony Pictures TV, alleged 'sources' allegedly told Deadline. The drama, based on short stories by the award-winning novelist, was originally commissioned by Channel Four in May. At Amazon, it will join the streaming network's flagship drama series The Man In The High Castle, which is based on Dick's award-winning novel. Cranston is set to star in one episode of Electric Dreams, which he is executive producing alongside Moore and Dinner. Electric Dreams, a passion project for those involved, had a lengthy road to the screen. It had been in development at AMC and Channel Four. When Channel Four was ready to give the project a green light last spring, AMC opted not to go along. Being already the home of one Dick adaptation, Amazon was always considered to be a great fit for Electric Dreams. Deadline claims that the streaming service was 'close' to picking up the series at the end of last year but opted not to go through with it amid the controversy surrounding Amazon's cancellation of the Sony TV-produced freshman drama series Good Girls Revolt. Amazon and Sony TV have done a lot of business together. In addition to Electric Dreams, the studio has recently released drama series Sneaky Pete - also executive produced by and co-starring Cranston - which has been renewed for a second season. Coming up are new Sony TV series for Amazon The Last Tycoon and The Tick. Each episode of Electric Dreams will be a stand-alone based on one of Dick's shorts stories as adapted by a writers room made up of British and American writers. Joining Moore and Dinner are writers like Tony Grisoni, Jack Thorne, Matthew Graham, The Night Manager's David Farr, Dee Rees and Travis Beacham. Dick's works have also been adapted into such popular movies as Blade Runner, Total Recall and Minority Report as well as Screamers, The Adjustment Bureau, Impostor and Paycheck.
Following the sudden - not entirely unexpected - death of the legend that was Brian Pern (in what has been described as 'a segway mistake') BBC4 is to broadcast a special one-off documentary, dedicated to the musician and celebrating his life and work.
Brian Pern: A Tribute, will be directed by the award-winning film-maker Rhys Thomas (OBE) who was already making the latest in a series of documentaries about Pern, the former lead singer of pioneering prog-rock band Thotch, when he, sadly, died. Horribly. Thomas (OBE) will talk exclusively to Brian's friends and family as well as any random z-list celebrities that he can get hold of at short notice. And, Rick Wakeman, obviously. Rhys Thomas (OBE) said: 'I am absolutely devastated that the documentary I was making about Brian's future has now become a tribute following the terrible news. We have lost one of the greatest Brians in rock music. I am still in shock and will send him off in style in this programme.' Shane Allen, the Controller of BBC Comedy Commissioning added: 'This programme marks the tragic end of a once-great musical pioneer. We will never forget you, Barry Pern.' Cassian Harrison, the Channel Editor of BBC4 said: 'Brian Pern has been one of the biggest rock stars to feature on BBC4 - and BBC4 is famous the world over for its outstanding rock-star biopics. This one, for Brian, will be up there with the best of them. God rest his soul.' Brian's former bandmates Pat Quid and Tony Pebblé as well as his - notoriously four-mouthed - manager John Farrow will all feature in the documentary which is due to be shown later this year.
National heartthrob yer actual David Tennant's new West End role will 'show him in a new light,' according to the play's writer and director. The Broadchurch and Doctor Who actor is going to be 'a real anti-hero' in Don Juan In Soho, according to Patrick Marber - the man behind Oscar-nominated film Closer. It's been described as 'a savagely funny and filthy' update of Moliere's Seventeenth Century tragicomedy Don Juan, with the action taking place in modern-day London. Hence the title, obviously. Marber says that Tennant has been known for playing 'decent' people in recent years - The Doctor and Alec Hardy most notably - but all that will change when he takes on the title role. 'It's a great part for him,' says Marber as rehearsals got under way at Wyndham's Theatre this week. 'I think it's going to be very funny and very rude. It's really exciting to see my play again.' The play was first staged in 2006, with Rhys Ifans playing Don Juan as the seducer who is hell-bent on pleasure and couldn't care less about the consequences. Of the new Don Juan, Marber says: 'It's a part we haven't seen David play before, really. The man is an amoral hedonist and is wicked. You love to hate him, and hate to love him - he's a real anti-hero.' And, according to Marber, Tennant is very funny indeed. 'He's always a great comedian,' he says. 'When I met him twenty years ago, he was the best light comedian I'd ever seen at the time. This is an opportunity to give full rein to his comic skills.' Asked quite how rude Don Juan is going to be, Marber replies: 'I think it's naughty but nice. I don't think it's shocking.'
EastEnders actress June Brown says that being part of the BBC soap is 'keeping her alive.' Brown, who turns ninety this month, has played chain-smoking Dot Cotton since July 1985, six months after the soap first began. She told Radio 4's Desert Island Discs that her role was 'a reason to get up in the morning' and said: 'As soon as I get on the stage it's as if I have energy.' A smoker in real life too, Brown chose tobacco seeds as her luxury item on her desert island. Asked by host Kirsty Young how she keeps her energy levels up to act, Brown said: 'I haven't really got very much now but I find when I get on set, my energy comes. It's like people can go on stage and break an ankle and they don't notice till they come off. I can be feeling like death warmed up when I come in, and then I'm alive. It keeps me alive.' She added: 'I think that's why a lot of people are very lonely and get ill when they're older, because I think loneliness and having no motivation, nothing to work towards. I think it kills you.' When asked whether she was interested in retiring, she said: 'Not at all, I couldn't possibly. What would I do?' When Dot arrived in Albert Square in 1985, Brown was in her late fifties. Leslie Grantham, who played Den Watts, suggested her for the role, which she played from 1985 to 1993, and then from 1997 onwards. Before EastEnders, Brown's career included stage, film and television, with appearances in the likes of Coronation Street, The Sweeney and Doctor Who. In 2008, the actress became the first in a British soap to carry an entire episode alone, with an emotional monologue dictated to a cassette for her screen husband to listen to in hospital following a stroke. Brown was appointed an MBE in 2008 for her services to drama and charity. Brown said that her independence was 'extremely important' to her. 'If people put out hands to help me out of a car I say "no thank you" - I won't accept it. And, I get up and I don't push myself up from the arm of a chair. I use my thighs because you have to do that. You can act yourself into age, you can act yourself into anything you want.' The BAFTA-nominated actress said that she was 'quite upset' about Dot losing her sight. Her character had worked in Albert Square's launderette until recent months when she retired against her will. 'I feel that Dot - she's very quick and quick moving and quick speaking - and I do not want to become a dependent old woman, or otherwise my character's gone and I might as well not be there,' she said. 'I can run as Dot, I find myself running across the road and I don't want to lose my character. It's like being in a wheelchair or something and not ever getting out of it.' Brown said she would grow her own tobacco from seeds if she was stranded on a desert island and would make paper from the leaves - displaying a love for cigarettes that she shares with Dot.
Danny Dyer is taking 'a short break' from EastEnders, the BBC has confirmed. The corporation was responding to a report in the Sun which suggested that 'bosses' (that's tabloidspeak for 'producers' only with less syllables) were 'concerned' about the actor looking 'exhausted.' The report added that Dyer was looking 'tired and shagged out' after a long scowl which has, to date, lasted about fifteen years. Probably. A BBC spokesman said: 'Danny is on a short break from EastEnders. This was not enforced by bosses nor has he quit the show.' It is not yet clear for how long Dyer will be absent. The thirty nine-year-old actor, who plays pub landlord Mick Carter, joined the soap in 2013 and became a extremely popular character with viewers. Mick has remained behind the bar at the Queen Vic pub ever since and has married Linda Carter, played by Kellie Bright. Dyer won two National Television Awards for serial drama performance for playing the role. Before joining EastEnders, Dyer was best known for appearing in British films like Mean Machine and The Football Factory. He also fronted his own TV series - Danny Dyer's Deadliest Men. In November last year, he appeared in an episode of Who Do You Think You Are?, in which he found out he was - distantly - related to royalty. Dyer discovered that he is descended from William the Conqueror, Edward III and Thomas Cromwell.
The Eurovision Song Contest has hit a major road bump, after twenty one 'top level staff' organising the event all resigned. The Ukrainian Eurovision team claimed that they were 'stripped of major responsibilities' in December, when a new boss was appointed to the organising committee. According to their resignation letter, they were 'completely blocked' from making decisions about the event. The EBU, which founded Eurovision, told Ukraine's public broadcaster to 'stick to the timeline' despite the upheaval. It insisted that the event would go ahead as planned in Kiev this May. Among the team members who resigned were two executive producers of this year's show. All of the staff were appointed by the Ukraine Public Broadcaster, which is organising the contest after Ukrainian singer Jamala won last year's event with the song '1944'. In an open letter published by Strana, the team said: 'Hereby we, the Eurovision team, for whom this contest has become not only part of our work but also part of our life, officially inform that we are resigning and stopping work on preparations for the organisation of the contest.' They said that preparations 'stopped for almost two months' after the appointment of Eurovision co-ordinator Pavlo Hrytsak last year, adding, 'the work of our team was completely blocked.' They also said that a decision to increase the event's budget to twenty nine million Euros would 'deprive' Ukraine's state broadcaster of millions in profit. The EBU said that it 'could not comment' on the staffing matters raised in the letter, but thanked the team for their hard work. In a statement, it added: 'We have reiterated to UA:PBC the importance of a speedy and efficient implementation of plans already agreed, despite staff changes and that we stick to the timeline and milestones that have been established and approved by the Reference Group to ensure a successful Contest in May.' This year's Eurovision Song Contest final is due to take place in Kiev on 13 May. Britain will be represented by former The X Factor contestant Lucie Jones in this year's competition. The Welsh singer was chosen by a public vote after performing her ballad, 'Never Give Up On You', on BBC2's utterly wretched Eurovision: You Decide. The song was co-written by Emmelie de Forest, who won the Eurovision Song Contest in 2013 for Denmark with the song 'Only Teardrops'. Putting on the Eurovision Song Contest is, of course, a huge undertaking. In 2010, the Norwegian broadcaster NRK had to ditch broadcasting the World Cup because it couldn't afford to both pay FIFA and foot the bill for Eurovision at the same time. In Ukraine, the task has proved even more problematic. The decision over which city would host the show was delayed three times and there were even rumours that the contest would be moved to Russia. Now, with just three months to go, the core team has quit. They have been at loggerheads with their boss, who they claim has been blocking all of their decisions. They also say that there have been problems finalising contracts with subcontractors. At worst, that could include the teams who build the stage. The show must go on, of course - and the EBU, which has organised the contest since 1956, has the financial and political muscle to make sure that it does. But it will be interesting to see how close to the wire it gets. There has already been controversy over the decision to hold the Eurovision opening ceremony in the Saint Sophia complex, a well-known religious landmark which dates back to the Seventeenth Century. The use of the venue was called 'blasphemy' by the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Moscow Patriarchy. 'From all viewpoints, this is a very bad decision,' Andrei Kurayev, a prominent deacon of the Russian Orthodox Church and, obviously, not at all mental, was quoted as saying by Mosokovski Komsomolets. 'Now, on the tombstone of [Mstislav I of Kiev], there will be dances.' And, possibly, girls on unicycles playing the cornet. Just guessing. Later, Zurab Alasania, the head of Ukraine's national TV and radio company, resigned amidst reports that the country was 'having troubles' financing the event.
A TV advert campaign which showed Santa Claus forgetting Christmas after developing dementia has been cleared by the advertising watchdog following crass and ignorant whinges - from idiots - that it was 'offensive' and could 'distress' children. The festive campaign, called Santa Forgot, was run by the charity Alzheimer's Research UK in order to raise awareness of dementia and help boost donations. The two-minute clip, narrated by yer actual Stephen Fry and animated by Aardman, the studio behind Wallace & Gromit, told the story of a girl called Freya who asked her father about Santa, who no longer delivers presents because he has dementia. In the advert, the girl goes to the North Pole to save Father Christmas, offering support and encouraging his redundant elves to become researchers to find a way to cure the disease. Three dozen viewers - with, seemingly, nothing better to do with their time - contacted the Advertising Standards Authority to ignorantly whinge that showing Santa having Alzheimer's was offensive, could cause distress to children and questioned whether it should have been allowed when young viewers might see it. Tim Parry, a director at Alzheimer's Research UK, said that the advert targeted adults and carried an 'ex-kids' scheduling restriction, meaning it was not shown during programmes where young children were likely to be watching. It was only broadcast once before 7.30pm, during an episode of Emmerdale on ITV because that particular episode involved a dementia storyline involving a main character. Parry defended the use of such a hard-hitting strategy to get the charity's message across to viewers. 'Our aim was to raise awareness that the diseases that cause dementia strike indiscriminately,' he said. 'If we are to fight the misconceptions about dementia that still persist in society, we have to challenge them head-on.' In its ruling, the Advertising Standards Agency admitted that the advert 'might' upset 'some' viewers, with the depiction of Santa potentially likely to 'cause discomfort to some younger children.' However, the watchdog said that the issue of dementia had been handled 'sensitively' and the sad story of Santa was told in 'a gentle, non-graphic way with a generally positive ending.' The ASA's investigation found the campaign did not breach the UK advertising code relating to harm and offence, children and scheduling. Sadly, the ASA did not also take the opportunity of publicly naming and shaming the three dozen bell-end glakes who felt this important and worthwhile campaign was worthy of a whinge. The use of shock advertising is a common tactic used by charities to promote their cause and galvanise an often apathetic public into donating money. A spokesman for the ASA said that the watchdog had traditionally granted 'more leeway' to public service and charity adverts in relation to UK advertising code rules because of the importance of the issues about which they are trying to raise awareness. In 2015, the ASA received one thousand seven hundred and fifty two whinges about seven hundred and ninety nine adverts from what it terms the 'non-commercial' sector, which includes charity advertising. This is from a total of thirty thousand whinges about twenty thousand adverts in 2015. The ASA has previously investigated whether it was too lenient in letting charity and public service advertisers get away with 'shock tactics.' It moved to examine its policy after participants in a survey it conducted whinged that some adverts 'went too far' with 'deliberately distressing content' to make people 'feel upset or guilty,' particularly those targeting children's TV channels. The advertising watchdog's investigation into its policy concluded that it was not being overly lenient, but it did introduce more thorough checks of charity and public service adverts that receive complaints.
A Sky Sports News presenter unintentionally sent football fans across the Interweb into guffaws of thigh-slapping hilarity after a live - and, quite literal - cock-up. During a live broadcast last Sunday, the presenter updated viewers on what was happening at Moscow Chelski FC's clash at Turf Moor. 'Burnley have equalised and what a goal it was,' he said. 'Robbie Brady – a new signing – scored an absolute belter of a free cock.'
Liverpool Football Club have extremely banned the Sun from both its Anfield stadium and Melwood training ground over the newspaper's notorious coverage of the Hillsborough disaster, in which ninety six Liverpool supporters were unlawfully killed. Which is good although some might consider this to be, you know, about twenty eight years too late. The Sun will not be permitted to report on the club's matches from Anfield - or, if they do, they'll have to pay to get in - and will be given no access to interview players or the manager, Jürgen Klopp. The decision is understood to have been taken by Liverpool's Boston-based owners, led by the financier John Henry, after club executives had discussions with families whose relatives were killed at Hillsborough at the 1989 FA Cup semi final. Bereaved families, survivors and supporters have - quite understandably - never forgiven the Sun for its sick and vile coverage in the days after the disaster, during which time it ran extremely damaging (and, as it turned out, wholly inaccurate) allegations about Liverpool supporters' behaviour under the headline The Truth. Allegations which are now established to have been false, told by a number of unnamed South Yorkshire police officers, perpetuated by a local MP and printed, seemingly unchecked, by the worthless tabloid. The Independent Police Complaints Commission has conducted a wide-ranging inquiry into which officers made the allegations, as part of its criminal investigation into possible perverting of the course of justice by South Yorkshire police officers. Renewed campaigns to boycott the paper have grown on Merseyside since the jury at the new inquests into the deaths found last April that the ninety six victims were unlawfully killed, due to manslaughter by the gross negligence of the South Yorkshire police officer in command of the match, Chief Superintendent David Duckenfield. The Total Eclipse Of The S*n‚ campaign was supported by the Hillsborough Family Support Group and led to agreements by some retailers in the city not to stock the paper and to Liverpool city council supporting the wider boycott. Liverpool were approached by the campaign, then discussed with families the possibility of withdrawing accreditation from the paper. The families are understood to have said that they did not believe the Sun should be given access to the club, which was supported by all those who died, given the damage its coverage did after the disaster. The decision to ban the paper was taken on Thursday night. On Wednesday 19 April, four days after the disaster, with ninety five people confirmed dead – the ninety sixth victim, Tony Bland, suffered irreversible brain damage and had his life support turned off in 1993 – the Sun, then edited by the odious Kelvin McKenzie, ran its infamous front page. It reported - as fact - a series of entirely fictitious allegations made by unnamed South Yorkshire police sources, principally that some Liverpool supporters had attacked and urinated on 'brave cops' as they attempted to save people and that some supporters had stolen from some of the dead bodies. The coverage caused tremendous distress to families in the first stages of shock and grief at the loss of their relatives and among survivors of the deadly crush and Liverpool supporters, many of whom were filmed working hard to help save and rescue victims. Families believe that the huge, uncritical publicity given to those lurid stories greatly contributed to their difficulties in having the real truth established, leading to a justice campaign and legal battle for twenty seven years until last April's inquests verdict. The coverage led to an immediate and widespread boycott of the Sun on Merseyside, which has been strongly adhered to and a number of half-hearted and not particularly believable apologies made by the paper and latterly by the odious McKenzie himself years after the stories were run, have never been accepted by the bereaved family groups. And, indeed, nor should they be. Liverpool 'sources' quoted by the Gruniad Morning Star allegedly 'confirmed' that the decision had been taken to ban the newspaper, but said that the club will not be making an official comment. Over the years of bereaved families campaigning for justice, Liverpool has consulted with the HFSG on policy issues relating to Hillsborough. The HFSG itself declined to comment officially although, speaking in a personal capacity, Trevor Hicks, the president of the HFSG, whose teenage daughters Sarah and Vicki were among those killed at Hillsborough, said: 'The Sun's coverage did enormous damage to me, [his then wife] Jenni and all the families and caused us great distress. We tried to contact the Sun many years ago; we asked them to name their sources for the scurrilous stories, but we never got that and we have never moved on since. We did not accept that the apologies they have made were genuine and we support Liverpool football club banning the paper. All the ninety six people who died supported Liverpool, Anfield is our spiritual home and there was an element of the place being besmirched by the presence of the Sun.' In a statement, a Sun spokesperson snivelled: 'The Sun and Liverpool FC have had a solid working relationship for the twenty eight years since the Hillsborough tragedy. Banning journalists from a club is bad for fans and bad for football.' Which, might be true but, it's also funny, long-overdue and, frankly, the thing it's most 'bad' for is the Sun itself. Which is good for many reasons and particularly good for those ninety six poor people who might finally be starting to achieve a smidgen of long denied justice. 'The Sun can reassure readers this won't affect our full football coverage,' the spokesperson continued to snivel. 'The Sun deeply regrets its reporting of the tragic events at Hillsborough and understands the damage caused by those reports is still felt by many in the city.' One or two people even believed them. 'A new generation of journalists on the paper congratulate the families on the hard fought victory they have achieved through the inquest. It is to their credit that the truth has emerged and, whilst we can't undo the damage done, we would like to further a dialogue with the city and to show that the paper has respect for the people of Liverpool.'
A jury has extremely failed to reach a verdict in the trial of a former University Challenge contestant accused of rape. Bartholomeo Joly de Lotbiniere, aged twenty one, denied attacking the woman at York University in June 2014. Jurors at York Crown Court were unable to reach a decision on charges of rape and indecent assault after ten hours of deliberation. Judge Paul Batty QC gave the Crown Prosecution Service a week to decide whether to seek a retrial. The complainant claimed that Joly de Lotbiniere had gone to her room following a night out and raped her as she tried to push him off. She reported the allegation to the police after he had appeared on University Challenge in 2015. Joly de Lotbiniere, of Kensal Rise, claimed that the incident was 'a failed one-night stand.' He had told the jury that he was 'sexually inexperienced' at the time of the alleged attack.
Ed Sheeran - he is 'a popular beat combo', apparently - has won an appeal to allow 'incongruous' parking plans at his country home. And this, seemingly, constitutes news.
Republic of Ireland football international Anthony Stokes has been ordered to pay an Elvis impersonator two hundred and thirty thousand Euros for headbutting him in a nightclub. The Blackburn Vindaloos striker pleaded very guilty to stickin' the nutt on Anthony Bradley in Buck Whaleys nightclub in Dublin on 8 June 2013. He had already agreed to give his victim thirty thousand Euros for breaking his nose and two of his teeth after hoyin' the heed in. He faces the second payout after being extremely sued in the High Court in Dublin. Former car park attendant Bradley was attacked by Stokes in the VIP section of the Leeson Street venue. Stokes, who has four Scottish league title medals with Glasgow Celtic and nine Republic of Ireland caps, was given a two-year suspended sentence earlier this month after extremely admitting the assault. He has now been ordered to pay Bradley one hundred and fifty thousand Euros in 'general damages,' fifty thousand in 'aggravated damages' and thirty two thousand for 'medical expenses,' his solicitor confirmed. The damages award by a jury in the High Court in Dublin is enforceable in Britain. During the hearing, Bradley told the court he has not received an apology from Stokes over the incident, although lawyers for the footballer apologised 'on his behalf' during the sentencing hearing at the start of February. The assault occurred while Stokes was 'on a night out with friends.' Bradley, who had arrived at the club two hours earlier and had drunk 'one pint of beer' whilst there, twice had drink spilt on him by a man before he was headbutted by Stokes. The footballer was escorted from the premises following the incident and his sentencing heard he had told an employee: 'If someone puts it up to me, I'm going to nut him.' Bradley was headbutted across the bridge of his nose and suffered a deviated septum and two broken front teeth in what was described as 'a nasty, cowardly attack.' His medical bills have cost thirteen thousand Euros over the past three-and-a-half years. Bradley was away from his job as a car park attendant in the Gresham Hotel in Dublin for eight months following the incident and subsequently stopped working as he suffered 'physical and psychological effects.' He has also been diagnosed with a degenerative spinal condition since the assault, which causes pain across his neck and shoulders.
The author Philip Pullman has announced the publication of the long-awaited follow-up to his best-selling His Dark Materials series of novels. The new trilogy is called The Book Of Dust and the first novel will come out in October, seventeen years after the last instalment. He says that the books are 'an equel', rather than a prequel or sequel. Whatever the hell that means. The His Dark Materials trilogy sold more than seventeen million copies and was translated into forty languages. The series will return to the story of Lyra Belacqua and will begin when the heroine is a baby and move on to when she is twenty years old. 'People say, "Is it prequel? Is it a sequel?" Well, it is neither,' said Pullman, speaking to BBC Radio 4's Today programme. 'It's an "equel." It's a different story which begins roughly ten years before His Dark Materials and ends roughly ten years after.' The original trilogy - Northern Lights, The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass - is currently being adapted by the BBC. There was also a 2004 National Theatre adaptation and a 2007 film, The Golden Compass, which was adapted from first book Northern Lights, starred Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig and was a bit ... meh.
Austrian authorities are reported to be investigating the activities of a man appearing in Adolf Hitler's birthplace resembling the Nazi dictator. The reported 'doppelganger' carries Hitler's distinctive features – including his trademark daft moustache and haircut. Whether he only has one, however, is yet to be established. The man, who is said to look and dress like Mister Hitler, keeps appearing in the Austrian hometown of the Nazi leader, Braunau am Inn. Officials are 'trying to establish' who, exactly, the person is and are planning to prosecute him if they catch him with charges of glorifying Hitler, according to a report in the local Oberösterreichische Nachrichten newspaper. 'It is punishable for any person to glorify the persona of Adolf Hitler,' the local prosecutor, Alois Ebner, said in comments reported by the paper. Glorifying Hitler or Nazis in general is a crime in Austria and has been since 1945. 'I have often seen this gentleman in Braunau and wonder if this means something,' the paper cited a local resident as saying on his Facebook page alongside a picture of the man it said resembled Hitler. The man, who is estimated to be between twenty five and thirty years old, was last seen in a local bookstore browsing through magazines about World War II; he had apparently also been spotted at a local bar, where he identified himself as 'Harald Hitler.' On at least one occasion, the man was also seen being photographed in front of the house where Hitler lived. Hitler was born on 20 April 1889, in Braunau am Inn, which was then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Since the end of World War II, the village has been trying to erase the memory of its links with the Nazi dictator, hoping to ensure that it doesn't become a pilgrimage site for sick neo-Nazis numskulls. Austria's parliament voted in December 2016 to buy the three-story house where Hitler was born, which the government has rented since 1972 in order to control its use. The Austrian government wants to evict the current owner so that the building can be razed to the ground (and, presumably, the earth salted afterwards), but the owner has challenged this in court since, you know, it's his gaff and he likes it there.
The United States Tennis Association has grovellingly apologised after playing what the media has - wrongly - described as 'a Nazi-era version' of Germany's national anthem before a Federation Cup match on Saturday between the two countries.
One German player, Andrea Petkovic, reportedly said of the mistake: 'I've never felt more disrespected in my whole life.' The incident took place in Hawaii and involved a local opera singer, Will Kimble, performing the first verse from the national anthem, which contrary to popular misconception is not called 'Deutschland über alles'. In fact, it doesn't actually have a title, it's just The German National Anthem although it is, sometimes, referred to as 'Das Lied der Deutschen' ('Song of the Germans'). The music was written by Austrian composer Joseph Haydn in 1797 as an anthem for the birthday of Francis II, then Emperor of The Holy Roman Empire and later of Austria, using a Croat peasant folk tune. In 1841, the German linguist and poet August Heinrich Hoffmann von Fallersleben wrote the lyrics. However, the modern version of the anthem only uses the song's third verse, because the initial stanza - the one which includes the infamous 'Deutschland über alles' lines - has become so heavily associated with the Nazi-era. Albeit, it's worth remembering that it was written not only before Hitler was even born but, indeed, before his mother was born. Nevertheless, the Nazi association has been hard to shake and singing the first verse is, in fact, illegal in Germany itself. Today, it's the song's third verse with its much more international-friendly lyrics - 'Einigkeit und Recht und Freiheit' ('Unity and Justice and Freedom') - which is, officially, recognised as The German National Anthem. 'The USTA extends its sincerest apologies to the German Fed Cup team and all of its fans for the performance of an outdated national anthem prior to today's Fed Cup competition,' the tennis body said in a statement. 'In no way did we mean any disrespect. This mistake will not occur again and the correct anthem will be performed for the remainder of this first-round tie.' Still, it could've been worse. No, actually, thinking about it, it really couldn't.
And now, dear blog reader ...
The UK government has rejected an Interweb petition calling for Donald Trump's state visit invitation to be withdrawn. As it was always going to and anyone who thought - for a single second - that the petition wouldn't be rejected is a foolish fool with no sodding brains whatsoever. The government said in a statement that it 'recognised' the 'strong views' expressed but 'looked forward' to 'welcoming' the US president (and hairdo) once details have been arranged. More than 1.8 million people - just to repeat, every single one of whom was a foolish fool if they thought for a second that they had any chance whatsoever of achieving their stated aims - signed the petition, which claimed that a state visit by Trump could cause the Queen 'embarrassment.' So, if you were one of those 1.8 million people who wasted your time signing an Internet petition which - like just about every single Internet petition in the history of Internet petitions - utterly failed in its objectives, don't you just feel great that your voice has been listened to by those in power?
Which, of course, leaves but one question unanswered.
A newly unearthed essay by yer actual Winston Churchill reveals that he was open to the possibility of life on other planets. In 1939, the year World War II broke out (you knew that, right?), Churchill wrote a popular science article in which he mused about the likelihood of extra-terrestrial life. The eleven-page typed draft, probably intended for a newspaper, was updated in the 1950s but was never published. In the 1980s, the essay was passed to a US museum, where it sat unnoticed until its rediscovery last year. The document was uncovered in the National Churchill Museum in Fulton, Missouri, by the institution's new director Timothy Riley. He then passed it to the Israeli astrophysicist and author Mario Livio who describes the contents in the latest issue of Nature journal. Churchill's interest in science has been well-known: he was the first British Prime Minister to employ a specific science adviser, Frederick Lindemann and he met regularly with scientists such as Sir Bernard Lovell, the pioneer of radio astronomy. This documented engagement with the scientific community was partly related to the war effort, but Churchill was also credited with funding UK laboratories, telescopes and technology development which spawned post-war discoveries in fields from molecular genetics to X-ray crystallography. Despite this background, Doctor Livio described the discovery of the essay as 'a great surprise.' He told the BBC's Inside Science programme: '[Riley] said, "I would like you to take a look at something." He gave me a copy of this essay by Churchill. I saw the title, Are We Alone In The Universe? and I said, "What? Churchill wrote about something like this?"' Livio said that Churchill 'reasoned like a scientist' about the likelihood of life on other planets. Churchill's thinking mirrored many modern arguments in astrobiology - the study of the potential for life on other planets. In his essay, the Churchill builds on The Copernican Principle - the idea that life on Earth shouldn't be unique given the vastness of the Universe. Churchill defined 'life' as the ability to 'breed and multiply' and noted the vital importance of liquid water, explaining: 'all living things of the type we know require [it].' More than fifty years before the discovery of exoplanets, he considered the likelihood that other stars would host planets, concluding that 'a large fraction' of these distant worlds 'will be the right size to keep on their surface water and possibly an atmosphere of some sort.' He also surmised that some would be 'at the proper distance from their parent sun to maintain a suitable temperature.' Churchill also outlined what scientists now describe as the 'habitable' or 'Goldilocks' zone - the narrow region around a star where it is neither too hot nor too cold for life to develop. Correctly, the essay predicted 'great opportunities' for exploration of the Solar System. 'One day, possibly even in the not very distant future, it may be possible to travel to the Moon, or even to Venus and Mars,' Churchill wrote and, in the case of the former, he was correct only four years after his own death, in 1965. But, the politician concluded that Venus and Earth were the only places in the Solar System capable of hosting life, whereas we now know that Venus is far too hot whereas icy moons around Jupiter and Saturn are more promising targets in the search for extra-terrestrial biology. However, such observations are certainly forgivable given scientific knowledge at the time of writing. In an apparent reference to the troubling events unfolding in Europe at the time the essay was first written, Churchill wrote: 'I for one, am not so immensely impressed by the success we are making of our civilisation here that I am prepared to think we are the only spot in this immense universe which contains living, thinking creatures, or that we are the highest type of mental and physical development which has ever appeared in the vast compass of space and time.' Churchill was, of course, a very prolific - and award-winning - writer: in the 1920s and 1930s, he wrote several popular science essays on topics as diverse as evolution and fusion power. Riley, director of The Churchill Museum, believes that the essay on the possible existence of alien life was written at the former Prime Minister's home in Chartwell shortly before World War II broke out. It may have been informed by conversations with the future wartime leader's close friend Lindemann, who was a physicist and might have been intended for publication in the - now disgraced and disgraceful - Scum of the World newspaper. It was also written soon after the 1938 US radio broadcast by Orson Welles dramatising HG Wells's The War Of The Worlds. The radio programme sparked a panic when it was mistaken by some - extremely gullible - listeners for a real news report about the invasion of Earth by Martians. Livio told the BBC News website that there were 'no firm plans' to publish the article because of 'issues surrounding the copyright.' However, he said that The Churchill Museum was 'working to resolve these' so that the 'historically important essay' can eventually see the light of day.
Playboy magazine has announced it is bringing back naughty bare-naked nudity, reversing a decision which it made last year. The move was announced by Playboy's new chief creative officer Cooper Hefner, who said the decision to remove nudity in the first place 'was a mistake' and that the reason most people buy the magazine isn't, as often claimed, 'for the articles' but, rather, for the tits. 'Today we're taking our identity back and reclaiming who we are,' he tweeted. The US magazine also promoted its March to April edition with a picture of its playmate of the month. Some social media users welcomed the U-turn, describing it as 'a good call,' while others said the decision was taken 'because the magazines weren't selling too well. Too bad free porn is still easy to access.' On Monday, Hefner wrote: 'I'll be the first to admit that the way in which the magazine portrayed nudity was dated. Nudity was never the problem because nudity isn't a problem,' added the twenty five-year-old son of Playboy founder Hugh Hefner.
A cane used to beat The Pink Floyd's Roger Waters as a schoolboy features among three hundred and fifty items appearing at an exhibition documenting the band's fifty-year history. The bamboo cane was used by his headmaster at Cambridge and County High School for Boys and inspired the cane-wielding headmaster character from Floyd's The Wall tour. The exhibit accompanies a book which logs punishments issued to Waters, now seventy three, when he was a Cambridge schoolboy. The book also records beatings for his late band mate Syd Barrett. Waters has said that he felt 'inordinately proud' of his own entry for fighting. He was speaking alongside the band's drummer Nick Mason at a preview of the Pink Floyd exhibition at the V&A in London. Waters said that he was 'particularly looking forward to' seeing the cane, which he said was used for 'flimsy' beatings. He added that the headmaster 'didn't really have his heart' in corporal punishment. 'There's a log of punishment that they [schoolboys] got six strokes for fighting is my entry which I'm inordinately proud of. It's so archaic now, the idea of hitting people with sticks to make them do things.' Mason revealed that The Floyd's collaborator Storm Thorgerson, who died in 2013, had been the school's most punished pupil, according to the log book. The show also features a giant replica of the Bedford van which the band used as their touring vehicle in the 1960s, while David Gilmour's famous Stratocaster guitar, nicknamed The Black Strat, will also be on show. The exhibition, which starts in May, marks fifty years since the release of the band's first LP, The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn and their debut single, 'Arnold Layne'.
The son of the comedy character Frank Sidebottom's creator Chris Sievey has been killed in a vehicle crash in Manchester. Harry Sievey was one of two cyclists involved in a collision with a Vauxhall Corsa in Mauldeth Road, Withington, on Sunday. Hundreds of online tributes have been paid to the twenty four-year-old musician. A sixty one-year-old man has since been arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving, Greater Manchester Police said. Sievey was well-known on Manchester's music scene. His late father found fame in the 1980s with his distinctive comedy character and his large papier mache head. His family said in a statement: 'There are no words for another tragic and sad loss to our family. Our little brother and loving son Harry was always happy-go-lucky. We are heart broken.' The other cyclist, in his twenties, was taken to hospital with minor injuries. Neil Taylor, who helped bring a statue of Frank Sidebottom to his home town of Timperley, said that the news about Harry had 'come as a complete shock. Harry was so young and talented and reading the tributes to him show what a popular young man he was,' he said. Writer Jon Ronson, who wrote a film about Sievey's father and was also in his band, The Freshies, tweeted: 'Terrible news that the delightful Harry Sievey, son of Chris, died last night in a bicycle accident.' Sievey's beloved Altrincham FC also expressed its 'heartfelt condolences.' Manchester's arts centre Home said Sievey was 'a talented musician and member of our bar staff team.' Sergeant Lee Westhead, of Greater Manchester Police, said: 'It is key we now try and establish exactly what happened and I would urge anyone who saw the collision to please call my team.' Chris Sievey died of cancer in 2010 aged fifty four. A statue of his comic creation was later unveiled in Timperley. Sievey, under the guise of Sidebottom, made regular appearances on television throughout the 1980s, presented his own show and also featured on radio. The character, who also released a number of records, inspired the 2014 film Frank, starring Michael Fassbender.

The Dutch creator of Miffy the cartoon rabbit has died aged eighty nine, his publishers have announced. Writer and illustrator Dick Bruna died peacefully in his sleep on Thursday in Utrecht. He created the much-loved character in 1955 as a story to entertain his young son. More than eighty million Miffy books have been sold globally. Over the years, Bruna wrote more than one hundred children's books but Miffy was by far his most popular and enduring character. At first, he was uncertain whether the rabbit was a boy or a girl, but settled the matter by putting her in a dress for the sixth book, Miffy's Birthday, in 1970. In the Netherlands, she is called Nijntje ('the little rabbit'). It was her first English translator, Olive Jones, who christened her Miffy. Bruna was still writing Miffy stories in his eighties and his books have been translated into more than fifty languages. A museum dedicated to her name in Utrecht has tweeted a picture of the white rabbit, arms behind her back, a single tear below her left eye in tribute to her creator. Dutch publisher Marja Kerkhof told the AP news agency that Bruna used 'very clear pictures, almost like a pictogram.' She said his illustrations were 'often best characterised' by what he left out, allowing him 'to go to the essence of things' while simultaneously using 'very strong powerful primary colours. Even today if you see it in a store you would think, "hey this looks different to a lot of other things out there,"' she said. 'There is no clutter, it's all very clear.'
Warren Frost, one of the stars of the US cult television series Twin Peaks, has died aged ninety one. The actor, who played Doctor Will Hayward, also had roles in comedy show Seinfeld and the legal crime drama Matlock and had guest shots on series including The Larry Sanders Show, LA Law and Murphy Brown. Long before finding fame, he served in the US Navy and took part in the D-Day landings during World War II. His death came after a long illness, said his son Mark Frost, who was Twin Peaks' co-creator.'"We're saddened today to announce the passing of our dear old dad,' he said. In Twin Peaks, Warren's character played crucial part in discovering the body of Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee), whose murder is investigated through the first series and part of the second. He will also feature in the long-awaited Twin Peaks sequel, which is set to premiere in May. In Seinfeld, he had a regular role as Mister Ross, the father of George Costanza's fiancee, Susan. Paying tribute to his father, Mark Frost added: 'From the Normandy shores on D-Day to his fifty-year career on stage and screen, he remained the same humble guy from Vermont who taught us that a life devoted to telling the right kind of truths can make a real difference in the lives of others.' Warren discovered his love of acting and the love of his life — Virginia Calhoun, his wife of sixty eight years - while attending Middlebury College in Vermont on the GI Bill after the war. He and Calhoun did summer stock around New England before moving to New York. Frost got a job working behind the scenes at CBS, which led to a three-year stint as floor director and stage manager for Philco Playhouse, where he worked with such luminaries as Sidney Lumet, John Frankenheimer and George Roy Hill. The couple moved to the West Coast in 1958 and Warren resumed his acting career, appearing in Perry Mason and Dragnet, among other shows. After earning a master's degree in theatre arts at Occidental College, Warren moved to Minneapolis to pursue his doctorate. Warren spent much of his career in the Twin Cities, teaching at the University of Minnesota and serving as artistic director of The Chimera Theatre in St Paul. He had a small, yet memorable, role in the film adaptation of Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse Five (1972), which was shot in the Minneapolis area. His Hollywood work was, essentially, his second career, following his retirement from teaching and stage direction. Frost retired in 2000 in Vermont, although he continued to appear on stage in his own one-man shows. In addition to his wife and son Mark, Frost is survived by another son Scott, a novelist and photographer, by his daughter, Lindsay, an actress and artist and by three grandsons including the baseball player Lucas Giolito.
The Reverend Peter Skellern has died of brain cancer. Peter had a huge hit single in 1972 with the piano ballad, 'You're A Lady'. The song was also a minor hit in the US and was popular in France where a translation was covered by Brigitte Bardot. The sixty nine-year-old composer, who lived in Cornwall, was ordained after being diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumour last year. He died on Friday morning and his family paid tribute to his 'legacy of love and laughter.' Peter, who was born in Bury and trained at the Guildhall School of Music, began recording in the 1970s and released fourteen LPs. He also wrote the lyrics to 'One More Kiss, Dear' for the 1982 film Blade Runner. He hosted the BBC2 chat show Private Lives and sang the theme song to the TV series Billy Liar (1973). For three years in the 1970s he worked on BBC Radio 4's Stop the Week. In 1984, Skellern performed the theme song for the London Weekend Television sitcom Me & My Girl. In the same year, he formed a group called Oasis - no relation - with the cellist Julian Lloyd Webber and singer Mary Hopkin. The group released a self-titled LP in 1985. Skellern provided the voice of Carter Brandon in the BBC Radio adaptations of Peter Tinniswood's Uncle Mort's North Country. In recent years, turned his attention to choral music, often appearing on Songs Of Praise. In October the Bishop of Truro, the Right Reverend Tim Thornton, ordained Peter at St Wyllows church in Lanteglos-by-Fowey. In a statement, his family said: 'Peter's creativity in art, comedy and music stand as his legacy to love and laughter. The love he brought to us will continue to be shared with everyone through his music. We will miss him with all our hearts.' Bishop Thornton said he would be praying for Skellern and his family. 'It really is very, very sad,' he said. 'Although we knew Peter was ill, the news that he had died came as a shock. I can only reflect on what a privilege it was to have known Peter, and to have ordained him.' Peter is survived by his wife Diana and his two children.