Saturday, April 22, 2017

Smile: You've Done It All, You've Broken Every Code

'Welcome to Paradise.' 'Hang on, is there a mute button, though? What if you're in the loo?'

'Where's the steering wheel?' 'Oh, you don't steer the TARDIS you negotiate with it. The still point between where you want to go and where you need to be. That's where she takes you.'
'Between here and my office, before the kettle boils, is everything that ever happened or ever will! Make your choice.' 'What choice?' 'Past or future.' 'Future.' 'Why?' 'I want to see if it's happy!'
'Which way's Earth?' 'Space is bent. Earth is whichever way you look.'
'I think this is some kind of mood indicator.' 'But you're never allowed to see you own mood?' 'Makes sense, seeing your own mood might affect your own mood. Like a feedback loop, interfering with the information being collected. Like a scale weighing itself.' 'Who's collecting the data?' 'That's the question.'
'I really am on a spaceship.' 'Yes, which we're about to blow up.' 'How are you allowed to do that? How are you allowed to blow something up and not get into trouble? I mean, "blow something up", "get into trouble", that is a standard sequence!' 'What do you mean "allowed"? It's a moral imperative. This is A Murder Machine.' 'Beautiful though.' 'All traps are beautiful, that's how they work.'
'How would massacring hundred of people make me happy?' 'How would massacring hundreds of people make me happy, smiley-face!'
'Where are you going?' 'There's a giant smiley abattoir over there and I'm having this really childish impulse to blow it up!' 'You're going back in, we've only just escaped? I thought we were going home.' 'Why would we be going home? That place is a living death trap, we can't just leave it with its mouth wide open!' 'They're all dead, we saw them, it's too late.' 'We have to assume that there is a colony ship on the way. What do you think is going to happen when all those people arrive? They're expecting the new Garden Of Eden, what they're not expecting to be the fertiliser. There's broadband in there, go and watch some movies or something!'
'Why are you Scottish?' 'I'm not Scottish, I'm just cross.' 'Is there a Scotland in space?' 'They're all over the place. Demanding independence from every planet that they land on. Why are you here?' 'Because I figured out why you keep your box as a phone-box.' 'I told you, it's stuck.' '"Advice and assistance, obtainable immediately." You like that.' 'No I don't.' 'See, this is the point. You don't call the helpline because you are the helpline.' 'Don't sentimentalise me, I don't just fly around helping people out.' 'What're you doing right now?' 'I happened to be passing-by, so I'm mucking in.' 'You never "pass-by" in your life, you couldn't even leave me serving chips!'
'Earth was evacuated, but there were a number of ships. I've bumped into a few of them over the years!'
'It smells like fish.' 'I'm not that fond of fish. Except socially which could complicate a meal like this!'
'We can't blow up the city ... I got it wrong. I got it very, very wrong. The colony ship isn't on the way, it's right here. The colonists are all around us, cryogenicly frozen. What's in those pods, Bill, is the surviving population of Earth. And, I nearly killed all of them.' 'They're waking up, aren't they?' 'We must have triggered the process when we entered.' 'So, what happens now?' 'Now? They're all going to leave the ship and find their friends and family mulched in the garden. And, if they don't smile about that, it's going to be the end of the human race.'
'Did we just jump-start a new civilisation?' 'It's a dirty job but someone's got to do it!' 'Do you do this all the time?' ''Do what?' 'Fly around sorting things out like some kind of Intergalactic policeman.' 'I don't sort things out and I'm definitely not a policeman.' 'Well,you live in a police-box.' 'Pure coincidence!'
'Where are we going?' 'No idea. But, if I look purposeful, they'll think I've got a plan. If they think I've got a plan at least they won't try to think of a plan themselves!'
'Welcome to the future. Emojis. Wearable communication. We're in the utopia of vacuous teens!' Well, dear blog reader, fair to report that yer actual Keith Telly Topping thought that was great. Mind you, it was a Frank Cottrell-Boyce script so, that's hardly surprising. 'I'm happy. Hope you're happy too!'
'Once, long ago, a fisherman caught a magic haddock. The haddock offered the fisherman three wishes in return for its life. The fisherman said "I'd like my son to come home from the war and a hundred pieces of gold." The problem was the magic haddock, like robots, don't think like people. The fisherman's son came home from the war. In a coffin. The King sent a hundred gold pieces in recognition of his heroic death. The fisherman had one wish left. What do you think he wished for? Some people say he should have wished for an infinite series of wishes but if your city proves anything it is that granting all your wishes is not a good idea ... In fact, the fisherman wished that he hadn't wished the first two wishes. So, in a way, he pressed The Reset Button.' 'What the Hell did you do?' 'I pressed The Reset Button! Every computer has one and anyone can find it. Especially if they happen to be a scary-handsome-genius from space! I re-initialised the entire command structure retaining all programming abilities but deleting the supplementary preference architecture.' 'He turned it off and on again!' 'I turned it off and on again!'

Former Doctor Who companion Karen Gillan has said that an actress succeeding Peter Capaldi in the lead role of the long-running TV series 'would be cool.' A man has, reportedly, been chosen as yer man Capaldi's successor, according to an - unsubstantiated - newspaper report mentioned previously on this very blog. Speaking at the Los Angeles premiere of her latest film, Guardians Of The Galaxy Volume Two, Kazza said: 'It's okay. Maybe next time. I trust the BBC and their choices and they haven't failed us yet with The Doctor.' Well, apart from Colin Baker, obviously. None of which is 'news', exactly but it does give this blogger a nice excuse to post this dazzling picture of Karen at the peak of her lovely and luscious awesomeness. So, everyone's a winner.
Wednesday's episode of MasterChef provided another truly joyous example of this blogger's own particular favourite aspect of the maddeningly-addictive food competition's oeuvre, 'The Curse Of Bigging Yourself Up On National Telly & Then Looking Like A Complete Prat After You've Failed To Live Up To Your Self-Aggrandisement.' We have previously noted - on many occasions - that the MasterChef producers appear to take a quite malicious delight in including interview statements from contestants boasting of their confidence in their own abilities and then, nine-times-out-of-ten, subsequently falling flat on their collective mush before the episode is over. It happened as recently as last week and it happened again, here. Magnificently. 'Eight amateurs all think they've got what it takes to become MasterChef champion,' said husky-voiced India Fisher in husky voice-over at the start. As she always does. 'But, at the end of today's heat, only three will become quarter-finalists.' And, the others, you know, won't. Grandma-of-three Lynda described herself as 'competitive in my job, I always want to be the best, I'm the same if we play a game of Monopoly®™, I'm not going to be any different here. I want to win.' But, she didn't, making it through the Market Challenge easily enough but failing to get any further. And, then there was Sam, possibly the most outspoken and, seemingly, full-of-his-own-importance MasterChef contestant since Mental Veggie Jackie five years ago. He is, India noted, 'inspired by molecular gastronomy.' Ooo, get him and his fancy high-falutin' ways! 'I've been looking a lot at the previous years of MasterChef and comparing myself to their style of cooking. I think my style of cooking is a lot more modern than most of them,' he crowed. 'Hopefully I'll bring something new to the table.' So, no staggering self-important hubris there then. Of course, all of the audience immediately pricked up their ears at that bit wondering why the producers would have included it as part of Sam's interview unless it was going to come back and bite him, hard like a rabid dog, on the bum. But, there was more to follow. As he prepared what he was bringing that was 'new' to the table - a tomato salad 'with tomato water' (that's water-flavoured tomato if you're wondering) and trout - he whinged to Gregg Wallace that the hugely-stocked larder of the MasterChef Market were 'new ingredients' to him. 'I'm not used to cooking with stuff like that,' he suggested. Wallace appeared, for once, genuinely speechless. And, that's got to be a first, yes? 'Mate, there's everything in there!' Gregg spluttered. 'What were you hoping to find there that you didn't find?' Sam muttered something about 'a big piece of beef' or 'wagyu' (you know, that hugely expensive Japanese beef which people who read the Gruniad Morning Star claim is, like, so toadally rad. This is the BBC, pal, they're not made of money). Gregg's somewhat baffled interrogation of this joker continued: 'How do you cook at home?' he asked, not unreasonably. 'Really modernist,' Sam claimed. Yeah, I mean he's got a cooker and everything. Most of us just gnaw on raw meat squatting in the kitchen and then beat the ground with bones to show if we've enjoyed it or not. 'Sam said the ingredients in our Market weren't the ingredients he was used to cooking with,' fumed a near-incandescent John Tordoe with a face that screamed 'I've never been so insulted in all my life!' 'I dunno where he's shopping. Mars?' John then added, rather pointedly, that there was plenty of great ingredients in the Market - the implication being that a) none of the other seven contestants had whinged and b) if Sam couldn't find anything to cook with it was, perhaps, because he wasn't as shit-hot and he seemed to think he was. 'You fish is cooked nicely,' John told Sam when presented with, well, a tomato salad. 'But ... it's a tomato salad.' He then had another dig, noting once again that Sam had claimed, unconvincingly, he wasn't working with the sort of ingredients he was used to. 'We make sure it is stacked with everything that a MasterChef contestants needs.' Knife in. And twist. 'You can cook a piece of fish and you've got a nice eye for presentation,' added Gregg. 'What I'd like to have seen from you here, today, was some more cooking.' Because, you know, this is a programme in which they try to find people who can cook really well. Hence, the title. 'They are quite tough to please,' wailed Sam in his post-match interview. Yes mate. That's because they're professionals. 'Hopefully the good feedback will be enough to see me though.' But, it wasn't. Sam then looked rather sadly at the floor as if he could see, in his mind's eye, his dreams of modernist MasterChef glory shattering into a million tiny pieces. Left alone to their deliberations, John and Gregg felt that one place in the second round should go to either Sam or another contestant, Kenny, who had similarly not demonstrated a great deal of cooking ability in making a simple-but-rather-nice-looking bowl of pasta (which, to be fair, he had made himself) with a meat sauce. Neither had shown particularly outstanding cookery skills but, as Gregg noted, 'I know which one's dish I preferred to eat.' 'So do I,' added yer man Tordoe. The producers then, seemingly, couldn't resist adding one final example of why Sam shouldn't go any further, another little piece of his interview in which he confessed, at last, that just maybe he hadn't cooked the best dish in all the land ever but that, hopefully, a few of the other contestants had done worse than him. Oh, no, no, no, Sam, no! That is the ultimate MasterChef crime. Wishing misfortune on others so you can get through to the next round no matter how unworthy your own efforts were. Nothing - not a single thing - is more guaranteed to annoy regular viewers than that. So, Sam left, claiming to be 'happy' he'd got 'this far' and parting with one final whingette: 'I just wish there was another dish I could have cooked to show I'm better than what I put on the plate today.' The unspoken implication being, yet again, that it wasn't his fault he'd crashed and burned it was down to the MasterChef production team for not having rung him up a week earlier and asking 'okay, mate, what should we put in the Market Challenge specifically for you.' And then the camera lingered on him for a second and you could swear you saw his bottom lip starting to wobble. In terms of the production choices made in relation to Sam's time on the competition, it's abundantly clear that someone, somewhere, though 'the audience are going to love this character and his ways!'
Meanwhile, food-blogger Lorna Robertson was the clear star of the episode - effortlessly impressing not only John and Gregg but also three previous winners of the competition, Peter Bayless, James Nathan and Mat Follas, with her food. Her prawn linguine with chilli and garlic in the opening round also really impressed this blogger who would've eaten it all, licked the plate clean and then asked for seconds (and, possibly thirds). Lorna ended the week in the quarters being flirted at by Jay Rayner and invited back to his gaff to cook his supper. High praise and, slightly worrying at the same time! Fumbi, born in Nigeria and having lived in both Austria and the US, also looked like a bit of an emerging star, getting past a near disaster in the opening round when he made the pastry for his chocolate tart too thin so it was in danger of falling to pieces in his hands, but impressing the hell out of the judges not only with how that one tasted, but also how his next two looked and tasted. And, he had a nice line in witty self-deprecation too. One hopes he goes a long way.
Before Gotham took time off for its winter hiatus in January, Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz) was given the foundational brick in his journey to becoming The Batman after a near-death fight with Jerome (Cameron Monaghan). Meanwhile, the fight between Ed Nygma (Cory Michael Smith) and Oswald (Robin Lord Taylor) for control over Gotham City - and their friendship - turned properly lethal when the proto-Riddler discovered The Penguin had killed the love of his life. As payback, Ed put a bullet into the chest of his former best friend and sent him to sleep with the fishes in Gotham harbour. The drama returns in the US on Monday to see The Court Of Owls begin the next step of its plan to seize control of the city, and it's got a Bruce doppelganger in the wings ready to help make it happen. FOX has also announced that the very excellent Alexander Siddig will be joining the Batman-prequel series as one of Bruce Wayne's most legendary adversaries, Ra's al Guhl. Xander is best known for previous appearances in the likes of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, 24 and Game Of Thrones. You knew that, right? There's a very good interview with producer John Stephens at the TV Guide website about forthcoming developments.
The Blacklist also returned this week in the US after a lengthy mid-season break with a properly excellent two-parter exploring Raymond's relationship with his long-time alley-turned-nemesis, Kate Kaplan.
Meanwhile, a batch of images have been released this week from the forthcoming much-anticipated seventh series of Game Of Thrones. Here are but four of them. And hot shit they are too.
And, speaking of much-anticipated returning favourites, the Twin Peaks revival is just a month away, and a new - possibly spoilers filled - 'everything you need to know about the first two series if you've forgotten in the twenty five years since they were broadcast or you're too young to remember them the first time around' trailer, The Darkness Of Future Past has been released. The video is a terrific reminder of just how brilliant (and, brilliantly insane) Twin Peaks was, then, and how its return has been so long-awaited by so many. Last year we got The X-Files back and - beyond all reasonable expectations - that, kind of worked. Is it really too much to hope for lightning to strike twice?
Plus, you know, where else are you gonna be able to see David Duchovny in drag any time soon?
The naturalist, broadcaster and From The North favourite Chris Packham has been cleared of two counts of assault in Malta after confronting hunters who had trapped wild birds. A Maltese magistrate extremely dismissed the case against the BBC Springwatch presenter after Packham produced video evidence in court which showed he was jostled by a hunter while filming an interview about the illegal slaughter of birds on the island. According to BirdLife Malta, the charity supporting Packham, the judge criticised police and suggested they send the footage to 'an Italian comedy channel' because their behaviour was so farcical. The film and sound recordings show that after Packham was manhandled by a hunter, officers arrived and pushed away the presenter, his producer and his sound recorder. 'The prosecution were blown away by the fact that we have this damning evidence,' Packham told the Gruniad after the verdict. 'The police said I was assaulting the hunter and pushing him around. As soon as the judge saw our video evidence, which showed it was the other way around, he was incredulous. We're not going to press any charges against the police or the hunter because we've got better things to be doing. At the moment there are a lot of embarrassed police officers and hunters. This highlights the problem that BirdLife Malta face on a constant basis when they are trying to get the law implemented. We've all got tremendous respect for the work they do out here because it's demoralising and frustrating.' Packham and his team have spent a week in Malta broadcasting independently on YouTube and Facebook Live, highlighting the illegal killing and trapping of rare migratory birds which occurs alongside a legal - but controversial - spring hunt on the island. Malta is the only EU member state to allow the shooting of birds in spring, having an opt-out from the EU's birds directive, which bans the practice elsewhere. This year, there was a moratorium on the shooting of the rare and endangered turtle dove, but hunters legally shot one hundred and thirty quail. Packham said that the legal hunt was 'a cover' for a much wider slaughter. One Maltese hunter was this week banned from shooting after being filmed illegally firing at a stone-curlew. The Committee Against Bird Slaughter found twenty five turtle doves illegally trapped in a cage. BirdLife Malta has recorded the remains of fifteen illegally shot birds this spring, including hoopoe, marsh harrier and turtle dove, but Packham said this was 'the tip of the iceberg' because scores of other kills on private property have gone undetected. The spring shoot gives hunters 'the ability to be out legally in the springtime shooting,' he said. 'That means all those other birds are being shot illegally. The key thing is to stop this spring hunting. It's wholly unsustainable and destructive.' Wildlife charities and campaigners are calling on the EU to take action against the Maltese government for breaches of the birds directive and finally ban spring hunting. 'We need the European commission to be a bit more demonstrative and energetic in forcing Malta to adhere to the European birds directive,' Packham said. Maltese voters narrowly rejected the abolition of spring hunting in a referendum in 2015 and Packham said that his annual visits to the island to highlight the shooting had made him unpopular. 'I get filthy looks from Maltese men of a certain age wherever I go, but I've had quite a few comments on my Twitter feed from Maltese people saying this shames and embarrasses us, it must be brought to an end,' he said. 'A significant number of Maltese people want to be part of modern Europe.' Packham said that the charges brought against him were an attempt to 'intimidate' him and stop him campaigning in the country. 'It's not going to work,' he said. 'We're going to be coming back until these issues are resolved.' Next year, he is planning to bring a group of birdwatching tourists to the island to show tourism officials that Malta could make more money from ecotourism in spring and autumn if it stopped the shooting. 'We've seen some really good birds here this week, thankfully alive – wryneck, golden oriole, bee-eaters, Alpine warblers, Montagu's harriers. If it weren't for the shooting, it could be one of the leading birdwatching destinations in Europe.'
A reality TV 'star' (according to BBC News, anyway although what, exactly, such a ridiculous term encompasses, they didn't elaborate upon) who boasted about earning a hundred and twenty grand a year and being given expensive gifts was fraudulently claiming benefits, a court has heard. Chelsey Harwood (no, me neither) admitted three benefit fraud offences involving a total of twenty five thousand one hundred and fifty six smackers between April 2013 and January 2016. She was living in 'a fantasy world,' judge Andrew Menary QC said. Handing her a suspended jail term at Liverpool Crown Court, he warned her about her 'unhealthy lifestyle.' He said that her claims for employment support allowance and housing benefit had, initially, been genuine but became false when she began earning from her self-employed work and moved from Liverpool to St Helens and made a fresh claim for housing benefit.
The former This Is Liverpool and Celebrity Botched Up Bodies-type person, who is transgender, had boasted to an online magazine that she had made one hundred and twenty grand by 'talking to men on a webcam.' Judge Menary said: 'In those posts you bragged about your level of earnings, making what seems to me clearly extravagant claims about the amounts you were able to earn from payments and gifts.' He said that whatever monies she did have would have been spent 'on her ordinary day-to-day living, rather an entirely hedonistic lifestyle as you were pretending.' He told Harwood that he 'recognised' the fact her 'gender issues have complicated your life to this point and created challenges in the past and the unhealthy celebrity-type lifestyle you have sought to create, or courted online, means you have been living in a somewhat fantasy world. You have known for some time what you were doing was dishonest, there was nothing healthy about the lifestyle you chose or the other choices you made to project yourself online. You need to understand, sooner rather than later, that your future happiness and well-being lies in your own hands and requires you to adopt a much more responsible and constructive approach to life in future.' He sentenced her to four months' imprisonment, suspended for two years, and placed her under supervision for two years.
Wasn't it nice to see the media giving some coverage to the launch of the Labour Party manifesto, this week, dear blog reader? 'And then, The Nice Socialist huffed, and he puffed, and he blew down the house of The Wicked Tories ...'
FAUX News may have extremely abandoned Bill O'Reilly, but the beleaguered TV host, who was very sacked on Wednesday following a string of sexual harassment claims, has found support from his publisher, Henry Holt, which has promised to stand by the bestselling author. In a statement issued after O'Reilly's ass was sacked, the Macmillan-owned imprint said that it would continue to publish books by the scandal-hit conservative political commentator. Asked by US trade magazine Publishers Weekly if it would still publish an as yet untitled book from O'Reilly and co-writer Martin Dugard lined up for release in September 2017, the imprint said: 'Our plans have not changed.' The broadcaster was sacked suddenly after advertisers boycotted his top-rated The O'Really Factor show after it emerged the broadcaster had settled a series of sexual harassment claims, reported to be worth thirteen million bucks, with five women, and that the channel was 'investigating further allegations.' As women's groups called for O'Reilly to be sacked and fifty advertisers abandoned the show, Twenty First Century FOX, which owns the populist news channel, announced: 'After a thorough and careful review of the allegations, the company and Bill O'Reilly have agreed that Bill O'Reilly will not be returning to the Fox News Channel.' Earlier in April, US president (and hairdo) Donald Trump - who is, of course, a friend of O'Reilly - came to his defence. 'I think he's a person I know well – he is a good person,' Trump told the New York Times. 'I think he shouldn't have settled. Because you should have taken it all the way. I don't think Bill did anything wrong.' Despite the scandal, sales of O'Reilly's most recent book have 'not suffered.' According to Publishers Weekly, Old School: Life In The Sane Lane – a rallying cry 'against political correctness' and in favour of 'traditional American values' co-written with Bruce Feirstein – sold more than sixty seven thousand copies in its first week of sale in late March and has now sold almost one hundred and ten thousand copies. As well as homespun political commentary, the sixty seven-year-old has co-written a series of history books with Dugard. Under the series title Killing, the books have sold more than fifteen million copies worldwide. The most recent, Killing The Rising Sun, which is about the decision to drop atom bombs on Japan in 1945, has sold more than a million copies alone. There are 'concerns' in 'some circles' that Henry Holt will 'face a backlash' over its decision to stand by O'Reilly according to the Gruniad Mroning Star. It is not the first time that the author has found himself at the centre of a scandal. In his 2013 bestseller Killing Kennedy, O'Reilly claimed that he had knocked on the door of George de Mohrenschildt, friend of Lee Oswald, just before de Mohrrnschildt killed himself inside the house – a claim which has since been challenged. O'Reilly's account of his experiences covering The Falklands War has also been disputed. A clue to how O'Reilly will handle the scandal might be found in one line from Old School. 'Rather than major in whining, old school folks tough it out, developing skills to overcome the inevitable obstacles every human being faces,' he wrote. So, let's see if he does.
Line Of Duty actress Vicky McClure has revealed that she was once ordered off a tram named in her honour after being accused of fare evasion. The Nottingham-born actress told The Graham Norton Show that the incident occurred in 2015 after a ceremony in the city to unveil the tram. She said that she and her mother had been told they could have a free ride but were later challenged by a conductor. Nottingham Express Transit said that it was 'an unfortunate misunderstanding.' McClure is among several well-known locals to have trams named after them on the Nottingham city network. Others include ice skaters Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean, cricketer Stuart Broad and the author DH Lawrence. Speaking about the incident, the actress said that attempts to prove who she was 'fell on deaf ears' at the time. McClure said: 'We unveiled the name and then I got on the tram with my mum because we were doing Christmas shopping and they'd said "we'll give you a free ride." We were pulling into our stop and I can see the ticket man coming towards us and he's like "can I get your ticket?"' She said that the conductor was unswayed when she presented the plaque that she had received at the ceremony and ordered the pair off. Although, given that they were getting off anyway, that doesn't seem to have been too much of a hardship. 'I was like "ohmigod - you've thrown me off the tram for fare evasion." I was mortified,' she said. Despite the misunderstanding, McClure said she wanted her name to stay on the tram for good. Nottingham Express Transit, which runs the network, told BBC News: 'This was an unfortunate misunderstanding as the travel officer was unaware that Vicky had been offered free travel on the day the tram was named in her honour. As you would expect from her, Vicky took the matter in good part and the situation was soon resolved. We apologised to her as soon as we were aware of the confusion and we certainly didn't want to spoil such a special occasion.'
BBC athletics commentator Wor Geet Canny Brendan Foster is to retire following August's World Athletics Championships in London. Wor Geet Canny Bren, a former European five thousand metres gold medallist and a Commonwealth champion at ten thousand metres, began his commentary career in 1980 and has since gone on to cover nine summer Olympic Games for the BBC. 'I have loved every minute of my time working for BBC Sport,' said Wor Geet Canny Bren. 'It has been a privilege and I am very lucky to have done what I have done since my competitive career finished.' The BBC's director of sport Barbara Slater said: 'Brendan's knowledge, instinct, tone, timing and skill have been wonderful to listen to, and he has given all of us so many great moments. His words and iconic commentaries will be heard for years to come.' Wor Geet Canny Bren, sixty nine, was named the BBC's Sports Personality Of The Year in 1974 after winning gold over five thousand metres at that year's European Championships in Rome, as well as setting a new world record over three thousand metres at his home track in Gateshead. Although another race he won that year, at Wembley Stadium, was less enjoyable as it came immediately prior to his (and this blogger's) beloved (though, even then unsellable) Magpies getting a damned good twanking off Liverpool in the FA Cup Final. He even wore a trademark black and white running vest for the occasion, an'all. After retiring from the track (during his career he also won an Olympic Bronze medal in 1976) Wor Geet Canny Bren became one of the leading voices of the BBC's athletics coverage, taking in every Commonwealth Games since 1982 and every World Athletics Championships since the inaugural event in 1983. He has also been ever-present at the London Marathon since its inception in 1981, with this year's event on 23 April to be his thirty seventh and last. He also helped to inaugurate The Great North Run, the world's biggest half-marathon run annually since 1981 between Newcastle and South Shields. Wor Geet Canny Bren said: 'My very first commentary was shortly after the 1980 Olympics at a cross-country event at Gateshead and that's when I started to work with the greatest sports broadcaster of all time, David Coleman. David was just so professional and diligent and he taught me so much. After David retired, Steve Cram took over and working with Crammy for almost twenty years has been so special too. We have had so many special days, and those recently with Sir Mo Farah winning golds galore, particularly at the Olympic Games, are commentaries that stick out in the memory as we have witnessed true greatness. It's also been an honour to work with so many great people who have been a part of the BBC Athletics team - both in front of and behind the camera.'
An 'artist' has been stencilling lyrics taken from Manchester bands The Smiths, Joy Division and The Stone Roses on double yellow lines in and around the city. Known as 'AlShepMCR' on Instagram he - or she - has been paying tribute to some of the city's music greats in recent weeks. Prestwich, Whitefield and Manchester's Northern Quarter are some of the places the stencils have appeared. The artist says that it is not vandalism and that some people see it as 'poetic.' He - or she - has stencilled words from Joy Division's 'Love Will Tear Us Apart' and The Smiths' 'Shoplifters Of The World Unite' (their worst single by a country mile) and The Stone Roses' 'Fools Gold'. He - or she - said: 'I don't want to make a mess and it does wash off after a couple of weeks, depending on the weather or the traffic.' Of his - or her - reasoning for his - or her - unique etchings, he - or she - said: 'I always pick out the lyrics that mean something. Sometimes I make them fit around mental illness. People see what they want in them. I've done stuff for years.'
Police reportedly arrested 'a suspicious man' waving an object 'that looked like a sausage' at an Easter Mass in France. According to ITV News, the incident occurred in a church in Nice not far from the promenade where a truck attack last year killed eighty six people. Police and soldiers converged around the Saint-Pierre d'Arene church and 'tried to calmly overpower' the intruder. The camouflage-dressed man in the back of the packed church put on ski gloves and 'spoke threateningly,' according to local media. He reportedly waved an object 'that looked like a sausage,' but it was unclear if he was armed. Apart from the sausage, obviously. They can be lethal.
A chemistry student made a homemade bomb to 'impress a girl' but ended up blowing his own hand off, it has been claimed. Albeit, claimed by the Sun so it's probably not true. Pictures appear to show that he posed for a photo with his bomb-making kit at his flat on Vasilievskiy island in Russia's second city of St Petersburg. But the teen, identified only as Andrey, is thought to have accidentally detonated the explosives.
Firefighters had to free a woman after she got her hand stuck in a toilet. Gracie Henderson had just moved into her new house and needed to unblock her lavatory, claims the Daily Mirra. But, because she didn't have a plunger, Gracie made the somewhat unwise decision to carry out the task using her hands. She quickly ran into problems when her watch got stuck in the toilet basin, leaving her stuck fast. Crews had no choice but to remove the toilet, carry it into Gracie's back garden - with her still attached to it by the arm - eventually managing to free the her by smashing the porcelain bowl.
It was a remarkable day in the English Football League Championship on Saturday and the team that probably had most to celebrate out of all the result were yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved (though unsellable) Magpies. The irony, of course, being that they weren't even playing! Defeats for Huddersfield Town and Reading on Saturday afternoon leaves Newcastle just one win away from a return to the Premier League, as the weekend's results all went their way. Fulham ran riot at the John Smith's Stadium, putting four past Huddersfield in the first half after going behind to an early penalty. Meanwhile Reading lost three-two at relegation-threatened Nottingham Forest to leave The Royals six points behind United with only two games left and with a vastly inferior goal difference. Huddersfield are seven points behind Newcastle on seventy eight points though they do have an extra game (on Tuesday, at Derby). All of this means that a Magpies win at St James' Park on Monday night against Preston Both Ends would guarantee promotion to the Premier League. Or, even a couple of draws in United's remaining three games - Preston, away at Cardiff next Friday and at home to Barnsley on the final day of the season - would now be enough for promotion, given the goal difference situation. On a day when everything went right for Th' Toon, results in the Premier League also went a long way to ensuring that local rivals The Mackems and The Smoggies will both be in the Championship next year as 'Boro were well and truly spanked by Bournemouth and fellow relegation-strugglers Hull and Swansea both won which left bottom-placed Blunderland in aal sorts of bother. Championship leaders Brighton & Hove Albinos were in action on Friday night at Norwich City knowing that a victory there would have seen them crowned as Champions. But, Chris Hughton's side lost two-nil with two own goals from goalkeeper David Stockdale. That means Newcastle could, theoretically, still take the title themselves by winning their last three games - as long as The Seagulls failed to take maximum points from either of their last two (at home to Bristol City and away at Aston Villa). Elsewhere in the promotion chase, Sheffield Wednesday leaped up to fourth place, level on points with Huddersfield, after their two-one win at home to Derby and Fulham's victory at Huddersfield put them into the fourth play-off place at the expense of Dirty Leeds whose form seems to have all but deserted them at the just the wrong time, losing at Burton Albinos. At the bottom, Wigan Not-Very-Athletic just about kept their slim survival hopes in tact with a goalless draw at home to Cardiff whilst Blackburn Vindaloos also drew at Wolverhampton Wanderings and remain in the third relegation place, two points behind Birmingham and three behind Nottingham Forest. Burton's win eased their relegation worries as did Bristol City's three-two victory over Barnsley. Leyton Orient's one hundred and twelve-year stay in the Football League came to an end with a crushing defeat at Crewe Alexandra. They will be replaced next season by Lincoln City who sealed their own return to the English Football League after a six-year absence, thanks to Terry Hawkridge's brace against Macclesfield.
Television presenter and Hartlepool president Jeff Stelling has told the club's manager Dave Jones to 'quit now' in an impassioned on-air rant. Stelling, hosting Sky Sports' Gillette Soccer Saturday, told viewers: 'This isn't personal to Dave Jones but for the good of the club, walk now. [Director] Pam Duxbury, chairman Gary Coxall, if it means sacking him, do so.' Pools dropped into the League Two relegation zone on Saturday. Their two-nil home loss to Barnet leaves them two points from safety with two games left to play and facing the prospect of relegation to the National League. Jones was appointed as successor to Craig Hignett in January, with Pools nineteenth in the division on twenty seven points. Since then they have taken just sixteen further points from seventeen games and dropped to twenty third. The damaging result for Hartlepool came just five days after Jeff expressed further on-air frustrations at his club losing two-one to beleaguered bottom club Leyton Orient. 'Dave Jones, for the good of the club just go now. You've got thirteen points from fifty one. This is not your level of football. If it means me resigning as president I do so happily. Do it now. Do it today.' Former Everton and Preston player Jones has spent much of his career managing in higher divisions during a career that has included spells at Stockport, Southampton, Wolves, Cardiff and Sheffield Wednesday. Following the loss to Barnet, Jones told the Hartlepool Mail: 'I've fought all my life and I won't stop and I don't expect the players to stop. It's disappointing, we are trying to fight for our lives and you want to see more than is happening at this moment in time. I come here and put my reputation on the line and I'm going to fight for that reputation.' Stelling, who was born in the town and is has been a prominent life-long supporter of the club, replaced MP Peter Mandelson in the honorary role as club president in October 2015.
At least seven people have died after an electric cable fell on fans watching a Manchester United match on TV in Nigeria, police say. The high-tension cable fell on a crowded shack showing the Europa League quarter-final against Anderlecht in the Southern city of Calabar. At least thirty people were taken to hospital by local ambulances and police who arrived quickly at the scene. English football has a large and passionate following in Nigeria. Eyewitnesses describe hearing a loud explosion from an electrical transformer which caused the cable to fall. One man told local media that the venue had a roof 'made out of zinc,' which transferred the electricity to those inside. Another eyewitness told the BBC that he had counted 'at least sixteen' bodies at the scene of the accident. It has been reported that scores of fans managed to escape.
SC Bastia must play their next home game behind closed doors at a neutral ground after their Ligue Une match with Lyon was abandoned on Sunday. Kick-off was delayed by fifty five minutes, as Bastia fans tried to attack visiting Lyon players during their pre-game warm-up. Lyon were then persuaded to start the match - having initially refused - before a further incident caused the abandonment at half-time. Bastia's next home game is against Rennes on 29 April. The French league's disciplinary commission said that 'in view of the seriousness' of the naughty incidents, it had suspended the Armand-Cesari stadium as a precautionary measure and would 'relocate SC Bastia's next home game to a neutral ground behind closed doors.' The league also ordered that the space allocated to visiting fans to be closed at Bastia's away games, without specifying how long this closure would last for. Bastia are currently bottom of Ligue Une, three points from safety. The Corsican club were made to close part of their stadium for three matches after a group of supporters shouted racist insults at Nice striker Mario Balotelli during a one-all draw in January.
A large asteroid the size of Gibraltar has passed safely by Earth. The object, measured to be almost a kilometre wide, came within five times the distance between the Earth and the Moon. Known by the catchy name 2014 JO25, the asteroid is the largest such space rock to skim our world since 2004. Astronomers say that the best opportunity to view the rock will come in the dark hours of Wednesday night. Radar imagery using NASA's antenna at the Goldstone Deep Space Communications Complex in California reveal a peanut-shaped asteroid which rotates about once every five hours. The asteroid passed Earth at a distance of 1.8 million kilometres on Wednesday. The next known encounter of an asteroid of about this size will occur in 2027 when the eight hundred metres-wide 1999 AN10 will fly by at one lunar distance, about three hundred and eighty thousand kilometres. Or, in cosmic terms, fucking close.
The Cassini probe is about to use a slingshot around Saturn's moon Titan to put it on a path towards destruction. Saturday's fly-by will sweep the probe into an orbit that takes it in between the planet's rings and its atmosphere. This gap-run gives the satellite the chance finally to work out the length of a day on Saturn and also to figure out the age of its stunning rings. But the manoeuvre means also that it cannot escape a fiery plunge into Saturn's clouds in September. NASA is calling an end to twelve years of exploration and discovery at Saturn because the probe's propellant tanks are all but empty. Controllers cannot risk an unresponsive satellite one day crashing into - and contaminating - the gas giant's potentially life-supporting moons and so they have opted for a strategy that guarantees safe disposal. 'If Cassini runs out of fuel it would be uncontrolled and the possibility that it could crash-land on the moons of Titan and/or Enceladus are unacceptably high,' said Doctor Earl Maize, NASA's Cassini programme manager. 'We could put it into a very long orbit far from Saturn but the science return from that would be nowhere near as good as what we're about to do,' he told BBC News. Cassini has routinely used the strong gravitational field of Titan to adjust its trajectory. In the years that it has been studying the Saturnian system, the probe has flown by the haze-shrouded world on one hundred and twenty six occasions - each time getting a kick that bends its path towards a new region of interest. On Saturday, Cassini will pull on the gravitational 'elastic band' one more time, to shift its orbit from one that grazes the outer edge of Saturn's main ring system to one that skims the inner edge and puts it just two thousand kilometres above the planet's cloud tops. The probe will make the first of these gap runs next Wednesday, repeating the dive every six and a half days through to its death plunge, scheduled to occur on 15 September.
A man who claims to have slapped the bottoms of 'dozens' of random women along a popular hiking trail which runs through Spokane in Washington has read a tearful confession on live television. Numerous women contacted law enforcement officers to report that a man had approached them on The Centennial Trail, slapped them on the buttocks and then fled. The Spokesman-Review says that twenty eight-year-old Jonathan Smith went to the offices of KHQ on Wednesday, identified himself as The Spokane Spanker and apologised to victims for his sordid antics. During the interview, he claimed to have spanked as many as fifty women. 'I saw women's butts that I liked and I slapped them for the thrill,' Smith claimed in the interview. KHQ reported earlier this week that one woman said her assailant, who was on a bicycle at the time, struck her so hard she 'doubled over in pain.' As he rode off, she said, the man looked back, giving the student and her friend 'a look they will never forget.' 'He just really clearly seemed pleased with himself, which was just disgusting,' she added. The women, who wished to remain anonymous, claim that they feel 'violated and disrespected.' Police say they are 'currently investigating' and 'know where to find Smith.' And, what to do with him when they do find him, no doubt.
Erin Moran, best known for playing Joanie in the 1970s sitcom Happy Days, has died, aged fifty six. Police said that an emergency team in Indiana responded to a call on Saturday afternoon and found her dead at the scene. The cause is not yet known. Moran also starred in the show's - really not very successful at all - spin-off Joanie Loves Chachi, which began in 1982 and end not very long afterwards. She played Joanie Cunningham, the younger sister of Richie (Ron Howard). Moran joined the Happy Days cast in 1974 when she was thirteen. She began her career as a six year old playing Jenny Jones in Daktari and also made appearances in The Don Rickles Show, The FBI, The Love Boat, Murder, She Wrote and The Waltons. She made her big-screen debut aged eight in 1968's James Garner and Debbie Reynolds movie How Sweet It Is! Erin struggled away from the screen, allegedly battling drinking problems, while tabloid reports in 2012 suggested she was broke and homeless after she and her second husband, Steve Fleischmann, were kicked out of their trailer park home. in Indiana. In 2010, she joined various Happy Days co-stars in filing a lawsuit against CBS, claiming they were owed money from merchandising revenues. The suit was settled in 2012, with the actors each receiving a payout of sixty five thousand dollars.
Earlier this week, dear blog reader, yer actual Keith Telly Topping received through the post an 'urgent notice!' from the Commissioners of Registration at a PO Box address in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, telling this blogger that a 'Prize Report Claim Form' has been 'issued in your name' by 'independent third party sponsors' for the sum of one million five hundred thousand knicker. Which Keith Telly Topping was, naturally delighted about. Here was his reply to them:- 'Dear Commissioners of Registration. Thank you so very much for your "URGENT NOTICE!" confirming that a "Prize Report Claim Form" has been "issued in my name" by "independent third party sponsors" for the sum of one million five hundred thousand pounds. As you can probably appreciate I was surprised, but extremely delighted, by this wholly unexpected turn of events. In accordance with your request, therefore, I am returning the said Prize Report Claim Form to you at your PO Box address. Unfortunately, due to my current dire financial status I am unable to send you the requested twenty pounds "transfer fee" as I do not, at this time, have a fucking pot to piss in. However, since you are currently holding one million five hundred thousand smackers of my money, I hereby authorise you to take the twenty pounds out of that to cover any expenses incurred. In fact, I'll tell you what, take fifty quid and have a few drinks on me around the office. I look forward to hearing from you, at your earliest convenience and to receiving my one million four hundred and ninety nine thousand, nine hundred and fifty quid. I've already picked out a nice sofa I intend to buy with some of it. Many best wishes Keith A Topping. PS: You will also notice that - due to my current financial situation - I have been unable to put any postage on this envelope. Should you incur any charges because of this, please feel free to take that out my prize money too.' Can't say fairer than that, can you, dear blog reader?
This blogger would like to wish all dear blog readers a jolly happy St George's Day which falls on Sunday.
And, obviously, a mad-gear St Ringo's Day on Monday as well.
And finally for these latest bloggerisationisms update, dear blog reader, a new, semi-regular, From The North feature: 'The way movies with unhappy endings should have concluded.' Number one: Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid.