Monday, April 10, 2017

Out! Out! Brief Candle

The BBC have released a series of interviews with yer actual Peter Capaldi, Pearl Mackie her very self, Matt Lucas and The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat (OBE) as part of the press pack for the new series of Doctor Who, starting on Saturday on BBC1. You can check them out here.
What with Sherlock currently 'on hiatus' till Benny and Marty find some time to film more episodes and with his time as Doctor Who showrunner about to come to an end, The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat (OBE) is planning a thoroughly well-deserved holiday. 'I'm going to go on a family holiday where [my wife] doesn't book me an extra room where I have to go and write,' Steven told an audience at the BFI & Radio Times Television Festival on Sunday. 'I'm just going to sit on the balcony with a gin and tonic, talk to my kids, talk to my wife and have a bloody good time.' After that, though, it'll be back to the writing and Moff has quite a few ideas that he's keen to work on – including a series previously approved by the BBC and one particular project with his friend and Sherlock co-creator Mark Gatiss. 'I've got a few ideas that I really like,' he said. 'There was one script I actually had greenlit by the BBC before Doctor Who and Sherlock came along. It needs a massive re-write but I still really like it, I might have another go at that. Obviously Mark and me, we can't have a conversation without inventing some sort of TV series and we've got a notion we might like to do. And I'd like to write a play because it would be so completely different. My main enthusiasm though is just to be at the beginning of something as opposed to well into it.' Moffat and Gatiss famously came up with the idea for their modernisation of Sherlock Holmes during a series of train journeys from London to Cardiff, so could their latest idea echo the extraordinary success of Sherlock? Steven knows that he's set the bar high. 'I'm aware that I've lived through my highlights,' he said. 'I'm never going to top being the guy who does Doctor Who and Sherlock at the same time. I'm not sure I even want to, it's an amazing thing.'
Moffat also received a standing ovation after he was inducted into the Radio Times Hall of Fame at the BFI & Radio Times Television Festival. So, obviously, there were no members of The Special People there to sour the atmosphere. Steven was in conversation with Who superfan Frank Skinner in a session that covered his wide-ranging career, from his beginnings as the screenwriter on the award-winning ITV children's drama Press Gang via semi-autobiographical sitcoms Chalk, Coupling and Joking Apart and the dry-run for Sherlock, Jekyll to his more recent successes on two of the biggest dramas on British TV. After an entertaining hour-and-a-quarter of reminiscences, anecdotes and audience questions, Steven was officially inaugurated into the Radio Times Hall of Fame by the magazine's editor Ben Preston. 'He has championed and made television of the highest quality,' said Preston, 'raised the bar for all broadcasters, brought pleasure to millions. Sherlock and Doctor Who are two of the biggest shows of the last eight years, not just in Britain but across the world. They are the epitome of quality for British television and Steven is behind them both. It's with love and respect that we would like to coronate you into the Radio Times Hall of Fame.'
The final and consolidated ratings for the Top Twenty Three programmes broadcast, week-ending Sunday 2 April 2017:-
1 Broadchurch - Mon ITV - 10.28m
2 Coronation Street - Wed ITV - 7.83m
3 Line Of Duty - Sun BBC1 - 7.26m
4 EastEnders - Tues BBC1 - 7.02m
5 All Round To Mrs Brown's - Sat BBC1 - 6.92m
6 Ant and/or Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway - Sat ITV - 6.82m
7 Vera - Sun ITV - 6.76m
8 Emmerdale - Wed ITV - 6.38m
9 Rio Ferdinand: Being Mum & Dad - Tues BBC1 - 6.34m
10 Countryfile - Sun BBC1 - 6.30m
11 MasterChef - Wed BBC1 - 5.35m
12 Casualty - Sat BBC1 - 5.16m
13 Antiques Roadshow - Sun BBC1 - 5.14m
14 Ten O'Clock News - Wed BBC1 - 5.11m
15 BBC News - Sun BBC1 - 4.97m
16 Holby City - Tues BBC1 - 4.91m
17 Prime Suspect 1973 - Thurs ITV - 4.90m
18 The Voice - Sat ITV - 4.66m
19 Six O'Clock News - Wed BBC1 - 4.64m
20 DIY SOS: The Big Build - Wed BBC1 - 4.52m
21 Decline & Fall - Fri BBC1 - 4.49m
22 Benidorm - Wed ITV - 4.28m
23 Galapagos - Thurs BBC1 - 4.28m
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. They do not, however, include those who watched on BBC's iPlayer or ITV Player via their computers. For the second week running, it was joyous to see two properly excellent dramas scheduled up against each other on Sunday evening - Line Of Duty and Vera - both pulling in such impressive viewing figures (a collective audience of almost fourteen million punters). The three nightly episodes of MasterChef's new series had 5.35 million, 5.27 million and 4.59 million viewers respectively. The Sunday final of The Voice attracted a, frankly, piss-poor 3.69 million punters whilst ITV's latest risible piece of festering diarrhoea, Little Big Shits pulled in but 3.15 million. Once again, dear blog reader, this blogger would love to tell you all how many punters were watching The Nightly Show but he can't because not a single one of them registered in ITV's top thirty. A continuing tragedy. On BBC2, the top-rated programme was Top Gear (3.27 million punters; another small increase from the previous episode and, still, doing just about enough to justify its existence). That was followed by Amazing Hotels: Life Beyond The Lobby (3.13 million). University Challenge was watched by 3.08 million, Gardeners' World by 2.97 million, Mary Berry Everyday by 2.51 million, The Last Kingdom by 2.34 million and Turkey With Simon Reeve by 2.02 million. The second semi-final of Only Connect attracted 1.97 million viewers, Dad's Army, 1.74 million and both Great Continental Railway Journeys and the Tuesday evening episode of Stargazing Live Australia, 1.63 million viewers. (Other other two nightly episodes of Stargazing Live Australia on Wednesday and Thursday both drew 1.59 million.) The Best Of British Takeaways was seen by 1.56 million viewers, followed by The House That One Hundred Thousand Pounds Built (1.46 million), Robot Wars (1.45 million), Incredible Medicine: Doctor Weston's Casebook (1.38 million) and Grand Tours Of The Scottish Islands (also 1.38 million). Gogglebox was Channel Four's highest-rated broadcast (3.17 million punters), followed by Travel Man: Forty Eight Hours In Tenerife (2.09 million), The Royal House Of Windsor (2.07 million), The Secret Life Of The Zoo (1.92 million), Twenty Four Hours In A&E (1.73 million) and The Last Leg With Adam Hills (1.72 million). Mutiny had 1.70 million, Dispatches: Secrets Of Coca-Cola, 1.58 million, Homeland, 1.44 million and Spying On The Royals, 1.40 million. Rich House Poor House was Channel Five's top performer with an audience of 2.18 million, ahead of Can't Pay? We'll Take It Away (1.90 million), Inside Kensington Palace (1.63 million), GPs: Behind Closed Doors (also 1.56 million), Yorkshire: A Year In The Wild (1.43 million), The Railway: Inside King's Cross (1.30 million) and Channel Five's latest demonising of the working classes, On benefits (1.10 million), the same figure achieved by Tony Robinson: Coast To Coast. NCIS was watched by 1.04 million. Back after the international-break, Premier League action dominated Sky Sports 1's top-ten. The Merseyside derby between Liverpool Alabama Yee-Haws and Everton Toffeemen was seen by 1.30 million punters whilst the game between The Arse and Sheikh Yer Man City drew 1.04 million. The relegation six-pointer between Swansea and The Smoggies was seen by six hundred and fifty one thousand whilst the Championship promotion battle between Reading and Dirty Leeds had three hundred and thirty four thousand. On Sky Sports 2, Live Super League attracted one hundred and six one thousand punters and Live SPFL: Hearts Versus Glasgow Celtic was watched by one hundred and twenty six thousand (plus a further thirty six thousand watching on the Sky Mix channel). Gillette Soccer Saturday was, as usual, top of the shop on Sky Sports News HQ, with five hundred and sixty six thousand punters. The simultcast on Sky Sports 1 attracted four hundred and sixty five thousand. On Sky Sports F1, Porsche Super Cup 2016 had eighteen thousand. Sky1's weekly top-ten was headed by The Flash (eight hundred and ninety nine thousand viewers). NCIS; Los Angeles was seen by eight hundred and fifty one thousand, Hawaii Five-0 by seven hundred and fifty seven thousand, Stan Lee's Lucky Man by seven hundred and thirty four thousand, Modern Family by six hundred and sixty seven thousand, The Blacklist: Redemption by six hundred and sixty six thousand and DC's Legends Of Tomorrow by five hundred and eighty eight thousand. Supergirl drew five hundred and twelve thousand. Sky Atlantic's list was topped by the third episode of the much-trailed Big Little Lies (four hundred and eighty thousand) whilst Billions was seen by three hundred and sixty five thousand. Blue Bloods had three hundred and eighteen thousand, Fortitude, one hundred and fifty thousand, Girls, one hundred and thirty nine thousand and both Game Of Thrones and Midnight Sun, ninety four thousand. On Sky Living, the latest episode of Elementary was seen by eight hundred and twenty thousand whilst Bones had seven hundred and seven thousand. Madam Secretary drew five hundred and nineteen thousand, Grey's Anatomy, five hundred and two thousand, America's Next Top Model, four hundred and thirty eight thousand and the woeful Scandal, three hundred and three thousand. Three hundred and three thousand too many, frankly. Sky Arts' Fake! The Great Masterpiece Challenge was watched by seventy three thousand viewers whilst Classic Albums: Never Mind The Bollocks, had forty one thousand and Playhouse Presents: Psychobitches II, thirty one thousand. Both Monty Python: Almost The Truth and The Story of The Jam: About The Young Idea were watched by twenty six thousand. Though,probably not exactly the same twenty six thousand punters cos that would be weird. Midsomer Murders was ITV3's top-rated drama (nine hundred and seventy thousand viewers). Endeavour was seen by seven hundred and fifty two thousand and Lewis by six hundred and seventy thousand. Doc Martin had four hundred and ninety thousand and Foyle's War, four hundred and forty one thousand. Live International Football Friendlies: France Versus Spain headed ITV4's weekly list with seven hundred and thirty seven thousand punters. The Big Z-List Celebrity Fish Off drew three hundred and eighty eight thousand. ITV Racing attracted three hundred and fifty four thousand. ITV2's most-watched broadcasts were for the latest episode of the worthless pile of rancid, toxic vomit Z-List Celebrity Juice (1.01 million morons, every single one of whom should be given free help on the NHS). Family Guy (seven hundred and seventy nine thousand) and Ibiza Weekender (six hundred and twenty eight thousand) came next. Harlots headed ITV Encore's top ten with two hundred and twenty three thousand viewers - by a huge distance the largest audience the channel has every had; a repeat of the same episode six days later drew ninety seven thousand - followed by The Halcyon (sixty seven thousand) and Scott & Bailey (forty nine thousand). The Only Way Is Essex was seen by nine hundred and forty six thousand of the sort of people who enjoy this risible exercise in z-list-celebrity-by-non-entity on ITVBe. Enough said, really. BBC4's list was topped by Big Hits: Top Of The Pops 1964 To 1975 (six hundred and eighty two thousand viewers) and Gravity & Me: The Force That Shapes Our Lives (six hundred and eighty thousand). Next came the week's two episodes of Follow The Money (four hundred and eighty one thousand and four hundred and sixty eight thousand respectively), London: A Tale Of Two Cities With Dan Cruikshank (four hundred and fifty two thousand), The Golden Age Of Steam Railways (four hundred and forty three thousand), Do We Really Need The Moon?, four hundred and thirty one thousand and Woolly Mammoth: Secrets From The Ice, four hundred and twenty seven thousand. 5USA's Person Of Interest was viewed by seven hundred and thirty seven thousand viewers, NCIS by five hundred and fifty two thousand and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit by four hundred and sixty four thousand. NCIS also featured in the weekly most-watch programme lists of Channel Five, CBS Action (ninety seven thousand) and FOX (seven hundred and ninety two thousand viewers). The latest episode of The Walking Dead topped FOX's viewing figures with 1.52 million. Bull had four hundred and forty four thousand. The really disappointing 24: Legacy continued to shed viewers with three hundred and seventy one thousand whilst Legion was seen by three hundred and five thousand. The Universal Channel's Chicago Justice attracted three hundred and forty seven thousand and Chicago Med, two hundred and sixty nine thousand. On Dave, Not Going Out was watched by four hundred and twenty eight thousand viewers. Alan Davies: As Yet Unfunny drew three hundred and forty five thousand, followed by Have I Got A Bit More News For You (three hundred and ten thousand) and Qi XL (three hundred and nine thousand). Drama's Dalziel & Pascoe was watched by four hundred and ten thousand viewers. The Brokenwood Mysteries was seen by three hundred and ninety six thousand and New Tricks, by three hundred and seventy seven thousand. Alibi's highest-rated programmes was Murdoch Mysteries (two hundred and thirty four thousand) whilst Father Brown had one hundred and eighty three thousand, Quantico, one hundred and forty one thousand, The Doctor Blake Mysteryes, one hundred and thirty four thousand and Death In Paradise, ninety seven thousand. On The Sony Channel, Hustle drew forty one thousand and [spooks], forty thousand. Yesterday's Abandoned Engineering continued with two hundred and eighty five thousand and The Russian Revolution In Colour was seen by two hundred and ten thousand. On the Discovery Channel, Fast 'N Loud was watched by two hundred and fifty five thousand viewers. Gold Rush had two hundred and fifty three thousand. Alaskan Bush People was seen by one hundred and sixty seven thousand, Diesel Brothers by eighty nine thousand and The Wheel by eighty five thousand. Episodes of From The North favourite Wheeler Dealers topped the weekly lists of both Discovery Shed (thirty nine thousand) and Discovery Turbo (forty thousand). Discovery History's Battlefield Mysteries headed the top ten-list with twenty one thousand. Time Team attracted twenty thousand, as did Waterloo: The Ultimate Battle. On Discovery Science, Alaska Mega Machines was seen by fifty three thousand viewers and How It's Made by fifty two thousand. On Quest, Mighty Train was watched by two hundred and sixty nine thousand and yet another episode of Wheeler Dealers attracted two hundred and fifty three thousand. Pick's Britain's Most Evil Chaps had three hundred thousand, Murders That Shocked The Crap Out Of The Nation drew two hundred and thirty thousand and Elementary had two hundred and sixteen thousand. National Geographic's list was headed by Car SOS with one hundred and thirty four thousand viewers, The Story Of God (one hundred and two thousand) and Bloody Tales Of The Tower (forty six thousand). National Geographic Wild's Survive The Wild was watched by forty six thousand. Nordic Wild was seen by thirty eight thousand. The History Channel's weekly list was topped by Forged In Fire (one hundred and sixty two thousand) and Black Sails (sixty five thousand). On Military History, Time Machine: Conquest was watched by thirty two thousand punters. Unusual Suspects, After The First Forty Eight, Leah Remini: Scientology & The Aftermath and Motives Murders were Crime & Investigation's top-rated programmes with sixty nine thousand, forty three thousand, thirty nine thousand and thirty nine thousand blood-and-snots-lovers, respectively. Evil Lives Here, Murder On CCTV, Murder Comes To Town and Who Killed Jane Doe? headed Investigation Discovery's list (seventy two thousand, fifty nine thousand, fifty three thousand and fifty thousand). GOLD's repeat run of Mrs Brown's Boys attracted two hundred and eighty eight thousand. Comedy Central's largest audience of the week was for The Middle (three hundred and eighty one thousand). Your TV's repeat of Bones series two continued with an audience of one hundred and eight thousand. On More4, The Good Fight was the highest-rated programme with seven hundred and nine thousand. Walks With My Dog attracted four hundred and sixteen thousand punters and Vet On The Hill, three hundred and seventy seven thousand. E4's list was topped, as usual, by The Big Bang Theory, the latest episode attracting 2.31 million viewers, by an 'uge distance the largest multi-channels audience of the week. Made In Chelsea drew 1.07 million viewers and Hollyoaks, 1.04 million. The Horror Channel's broadcast of Reeker attracted eighty eight thousand. Sleepy Hollow, headed Syfy's top-ten with one hundred and ninety nine thousand. The movie version of Buffy The Vampire Slayer was seen by one hundred and two thousand. The Blue Planet was watched by thirty four thousand on Eden. Doctor Jeff: Rocky Mountain Vet and Mutant Planet were the Animal Planet's most-watched programme with forty four thousand and forty one thousand. Grimm on W drew five hundred and eighty thousand punters. On the True Crime channel, Killer Kids was watched by twenty two thousand punters. True Entertainment's broadcast of the final episode of M*A*S*H was seen by one hundred and thirty nine thousand. Rick Stein's India and River Cottage Spring attracted by eighty one thousand and sixty nine thousand respectively on Good Food. TLC's list was headed by My Four Wives (one hundred and thirty thousand). Shameful waste-of-oxygen Geordie Shore on MTV was viewed by nine hundred and forty six thousand.

BBC2's Only Connect series finale on Friday was notable, chiefly, for Victoria Coren Mitchell's awesome cleavage. Please BBC, give the cleavage its own series, you'd get more viewers for that than you would for The Great British Bake Off. Probably.
As the Syria situation continues to escalate, with the US and Russia at loggerheads and poised not that far off all-out war, it's good to see that the Daily Lies are treating the world situation with due gravitas. Some rigorous journalism on Saturday's issue left no stone unturned in closely examining important world affairs. Stay classy, Lies, stay classy.
And now, dear blog reader, a story the Lies will probably be covering in great detail shortly, since it seems to be right up their particular straße. The - appallingly tragic - rating crash of the current thirteenth series of Keeping Up With The Kardashians has, seemingly, created 'a huge uproar' within the Kardashian family. According to reports, you know, in sort of places that care about such shite, 'the rest of the family is reportedly putting the blame on Kim Kardashian for the flop.' An alleged - though anonymous and, therefore, probably fictitious - 'production insider' allegedly snitched to Radar Online: 'The entire family is completely freaking out right now. They would not know what they would do with themselves if the show got cancelled.' Get a real job? Just a suggestion. Another alleged 'source' allegedly grassed like a dirty stinking Copper's Nark: 'They have always relied on Kim and now Kim seems to be completely just over it because she seems to think that she will continue being super-famous whether or not Keeping Up With The Kardashians is on the air!' The alleged - though, again, anonymous and therefore, probably non-existent - 'source' allegedly also claimed that Kim had decided 'to take a step back from promoting the show, as the first two episodes forced her to relive the horrific gunpoint robbery that she suffered in Paris.' And, this bollocks constitutes 'news' apparently.
A female politician in Texas is taking an unusual swipe at what she sees as restrictive abortion laws by targeting men - or, more precisely, male masturbation. Her unlikely draft law has a simple aim, she says - to protect unborn children everywhere. Which is why it would require all 'emissions outside of a woman's vagina, or created outside of a health or medical facility' to carry a one hundred dollar fine. If a man made such an 'emission' it would 'be considered an act against an unborn child.' Jessica Farrar, a Democratic member of the Texas House of Representatives, submitted House Bill number Four Two Six Zero last week. She knows, of course, that it will never become law but she argues it is 'no more extreme' than the restrictions put on women by the state of Texas when it comes to choosing whether or not to end their pregnancy. The last straw for her came with the most recent in a string of proposed bills, which she saw as chipping away at women's rights. The latest wanted to force women to choose whether to bury or cremate the embryonic remains of either a miscarriage or abortion. During a hearing for the bill last August, state Senator Don Huffines said: 'For far too long, Texas has allowed the most innocent among us to be thrown out with the daily waste.' Farrar decided to put a different spin on this belief. 'It got me thinking, maybe what's good for the goose is good for the gander,' Farrar told BBC News. 'If we are taking these measures because of the sanctity of life, well, we just cannot waste any seed.' But her critics were, needless to say, not impressed. 'Plain stupid,' said one person on Twitter - now, of course, The Sole Arbiter Of The Worth Of All Things - saying that only 'a fertilised embryo needs protecting,' and asking if she would also use the law on menstruating women. 'Life begins at conception,' Huffines said, seemingly he being something of an expert on the subject of wanking. Meanwhile, 3.7 billion men are set to file for immediate bankruptcy if the bill does become law. Texas, of course, has some of the most restrictive abortion laws in the US - even though the Supreme Court overturned a 2014 ban on drug-induced abortions after seven weeks last year. The restrictions mean that clinics providing abortions are few and far between. According to the Texas Tribune, there were nineteen abortion clinics in June 2016, the vast majority of them concentrated in urban areas and all of them under the threat of being blown up by crazed Isiash-quoting bastards. It has left ninety five per cent of counties within Texas's expansive borders without a clinic. In the five hundred plus miles between San Antonio and El Paso - the same distance as between Penzance and Edinburgh - there are no abortion clinics. Farrar also speaks angrily of women forced to sit and listen to a lecture on the moral implications of abortion and look at images of foetuses when they seek terminations. They also undergo an intrusive vaginal ultrasound to hear the baby's heartbeat and receive warnings of abortion 'being linked to breast cancer,' even though this claim has been scientifically disproved. 'It is clear this is about manipulation,' said Farrar, whose bill suggests a male equivalent for each step, including a 'digital rectal exam.' Given that this blogger has had one recently, can he have dispensation for next year, please? 'As if every woman has not thought about this [abortion]. The fact is, only she knows what has happened in her life,' she added. Texas-based group New Wave Feminists insists it wants to support women, but believes a foetus has rights too. 'Many would say that the foetus is actually the most vulnerable member of the human family and yet, because it is smaller, weaker and can't tell us to stop, we've decided it's okay to dispose of it however we see fit,' the organisation says. Texan women are not alone in facing an increase in legislation over abortion. Anti-abortion activists and their supporters have become emboldened as well-known hairdo Donald Trump's White House shifts away from the pro-choice stance of the Obama years. A slew of new restrictions has been proposed by lawmakers across the country. Among them, one which would force women in Oklahoma to get permission from their sexual partner to allow them to have an abortion. The man who proposed that bill, which passed its first reading in February, described a pregnant woman as 'a host' for her unborn child. The idea is something Farrar fears in her own state. 'We are dealing with more measures being proposed which would treat the woman as an incubator,' said the Houston native, who was first elected to the Texas House in 1994. A friend of this blogger used to work as a conductor on the buses when the buses still had conductors, incidentally. He told me that one night, late on, he caught a chap upstairs on the back seats, ahem, pleasuring himself. 'What did you do?' this blogger asked. 'I had to toss him off ...' he replied. True story.
A fourteen-year-old boy has been extremely charged with trying to buy a Russian sub-machine gun and one hundred rounds of ammunition on The Dark Web. The only thing this blogger bought that was slightly illegal when he was fourteen was a can of lager. A detective said that she believed the teenager's intention was to 'intimidate another person.' No shit? What the Hell else is he going to do with a sodding machine gun? The child was detained during a police operation at the Riverside retail park, in Coleraine, County Londonderry, on Thursday morning. He had allegedly tried to give one hundred and fifty knicker in cash to an undercover police operative for the ammunition, the detective said. The detective constable from the Police Service of Northern Ireland told Ballymena Magistrates' Court: 'Speaking to the operative, the defendant had stated in communications that his intention was to intimidate a third party.' The boy appeared in court accused of attempting to possess a firearm and ammunition with intent to endanger life. The offences are alleged to have occurred between 27 March 7 and April this year. The accused, wearing a grey hooded top and red T-shirt, appeared flanked by his father and three police officers. During interview with police, the boy named a Jamaican man whom, he said, asked him to collect blank ammunition and a deactivated gun. He said that he had ordered these through a selling platform on The Dark Web, the detective added. The accused told investigators that he was to collect the deactivated gun 'in a few days.' The detective added: 'It was, in fact, a live gun and live ammunition. The account provided was somewhat unbelievable.' Defence lawyer Derwin Harvey suggested there was 'no evidence presented' surrounding what his client's intent was and described police assertions as 'guesswork.' District judge Liam McNally released the accused boy on bail of five hundred smackers and with conditions including staying at home overnight and not possessing a mobile phone or any other Internet-enabled device.
Astronomers have seized the opportunity to capture a stunning portrait of Jupiter as it made its closest approach to Earth in a year. The image was taken by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope at a distance of four hundred and fifteen million miles and presents The Great Red Spot in striking detail. The anti-cyclone is has been spinning since at least its discovery in 1830 (earlier - though less accurate - observations from 1665 to 1713 are believed to have been the same phenomena; if this is correct, then the storm has lasted for at least three hundred and fifty years. Something to think about if you're whinging about a bit of wind and rain on Bank Holiday Monday next week.) The storm is believed to be slowly shrinking, for reasons that have eluded astronomers (maybe it's just brightening up or is that too simple an explanation?)
Scientists say that they have detected an atmosphere around an Earth-like planet for the first time. They have studied a world known as GJ 1132b, which is about one and a half-times the size of our planet and lies thirty nine light years (or, a bloody long way) away. Their observations suggest that the 'super-Earth' is cloaked in a thick layer of gases that are either water or methane or a mixture of both. The study is published in the Astronomical Journal. Discovering an atmosphere and characterising it, is an important step forward in the hunt for life beyond our Solar System. But it is highly unlikely that this particular world would be habitable: it has a surface temperature of three hundred and seventy degrees. Doctor John Southworth, the lead researcher from Keele University, said: 'To my knowledge the hottest temperature that life has been able to survive on Earth is one hundred and twenty degrees Celsius and that's far cooler than this planet.' The discovery of planet GJ 1132b was first announced in 2015. It lies in the Vela constellation in the Southern hemisphere. One possibility is that it is a 'water world' with an atmosphere of hot steam. While it is a similar size to Earth, the star it orbits is much smaller, cooler and dimmer than our Sun. Using a telescope at the European Southern Observatory in Chile, the researchers were able to study the planet by watching how it blocked some of the light of its host star as it passed in front of it. 'It makes the star look a little bit fainter - and it's actually a very good way of finding transiting planets - it's how this one was found,' said Southworth. But, different molecules in a planet's atmosphere - if it has one - absorb light in different ways, allowing scientists to look for their chemical signatures when the world transits its star. The observations of planet GJ 1132b suggest that it has a thick atmosphere containing either steam and/or methane. The researchers say while it is unlikely that any life-forms could survive on this world, the discovery of an atmosphere is encouraging in the hunt for extraterrestrial life.
Earlier this week, the BBC's Ciara Riordan took a tour of the BBC Archive with Ray Ford, the archive's manager which you can see on the BBC Archive Facebook page, here.
This blogger is well-mad indebted to his good chum Gentleman James for alerting him to the existence of this lovely photo of a twenty year old David Jones of Bromley, taken by Gerald Fearnley (brother of Dave's The Buzz bandmate Derek). Which is way-cool for all sorts of reasons, but mainly in proving that, in addition to all of his many other achievements, David was also, secretly, Batman. You learn something new every day, it would seem.
Tim Pigott-Smith, best known for his BAFTA-winning role in the 1984 TV mini-series The Jewel In The Crown, has died at the age of seventy. His agent described him as 'one of the greatest actors of his generation.' Tim had been due to appear in a touring production of Arthur Miller's Death Of A Salesman, with opening night in Northampton on Monday. He received Olivier and TONY Award nominations during 2014 to 2015 for his lead role in the stage-play King Charles III. He was also made an OBE in the 2017 New Year Honours list for his services to drama. 'It is with deep regret that I have to announce the sad news that Tim Pigott-Smith died this morning' his agent, John Grant, said. 'Much-loved and admired by his peers, he will be remembered by many as a gentleman and a true friend. He will be much missed.' Tim was originally meant to appear as Willy Loman in Death Of A Salesman opposite his wife, Pamela Miles. However, she had already pulled out of the production earlier this week when she broke a bone during rehearsals and needed surgery. The play was to tour Cambridge, Exeter and Oxford until July after opening at Northampton's Royal and Derngate Theatre. Born in Rugby, in May 1946, the acclaimed character actor's career spanned almost five decades on stage and screen. He was educated at Wyggeston Boys' School, Leicester and King Edward VI School, Stratford-upon-Avon and graduated from the University of Bristol in 1967 going on to train at the Bristol Old Vic theatre school. Appearing in a number of Shakespearean stage productions and small television roles, his big break came with the role of Ronald Merrick in ITV's The Jewel In The Crown, which saw him win Best Actor in the BAFTA Awards for 1985, beating his co-stars Charles Dance and Art Malik in the process. Other notable appearances included playing Chief Constable John Stafford in the ITV police drama The Chief (1990 to 1993), a recurring role in another ITV drama The Vice as Ken Stott's nemesis, Frank Vickers, the movie Bloody Sunday and two separate TV adaptations of North & South. His film career included 2004's Alexander, The Four Feathers, Scorsese's Gangs Of New York, Johnny English, The Remains Of The Day, V For Vendetta and the James Bond movie Quantum Of Solace. His first speaking role on television was on Doctor Who, playing the army officer Captain Harker in the 1971 story The Claws Of Axos: 'I have my orders, Brigadier,' he announced as he put The Doctor and Jo Grant under arrest. 'I never think of the people that I play as being bad,' he once noted on the subject of playing villains, 'because I don't think most people, even if they are terrible, think of themselves as being bad. I think that may be part of the trick of it.' He returned to the popular, long-running family SF drama in 1976, playing Duke Giuliano's friend, Marco, in the memorable four part historical adventure The Masque Of Mandragora opposite Tom Baker. Speaking to Doctor Who Magazine about this role, he said: 'My son had just been born and my contribution to his upbringing was the night-time feed so, in the studio, everyone had to keep waking me up! But I have fond memories of The Masque Of Mandragora. Actually, I nearly got fired for laughing. We had one of those terrible jokes about Scarlatti, the torturer - every time he came towards us with the branding iron, with an "S" on the end, we just cracked up! Rodney [Bennett, the director] got a bit upset about that.' As well as his BAFTA, Tim also won the Directors' Week Award for Best Actor in 2002 for his role as Major General Ford in Bloody Sunday. In his later years he became known to younger viewers for roles in the likes of Silent Witness, Downton Abbey, Lewis and Miranda. Most recently he starred in the BBC adaptation of the Evelyn Waugh novel Decline & Fall as Mister Sniggs. Tim also earned a formidable reputation as a skilled theatre actor. In 1974 he starred on Broadway in a production of Sherlock Holmes, playing John Watson. (He also played Holmes in a BBC Radio adaptation of The Valley Of Fear and presented a very thoughtful and fascinating 1987 documentary, The Case Of Sherlock Holmes for the BBC's Forty Minutes series.) This major theatre role left a lasting impression on him and he said in an interview with the Daily Scum Mail last year that he had used the personalised towel from that production ahead of every theatre appearance ever since. 'On the first night, our wardrobe mistress Rosie gave each of us these personalised towels. From that day to this, I've used it to lay out my stage make-up,' he said. As his reputation in theatre circles grew, he was invited to join Sir Ian McKellen in a production of Hamlet – a career highlight that introduced Tim to his idol, the man who was to be a constant source of inspiration to him, as he told the Gruniad Morning Star in 2014. Describing the moment McKellen knocked on his dressing room door he said: 'I ushered him in nervously, expecting notes for my poor performance or indiscipline – I was a foolish, naughty young actor. To my relief, he was not displeased but questioned me about my plans, my ambitions. He generously suggested one or two technical things I could do to develop my voice and breathing. I have never got over the fact that this man, with – let's face it – enough on his plate climbed three floors to talk to me, to help me. He could have been resting. It was a great act of kindness.' Tim's CV also included appearances in the acclaimed Horizon docudrama The Race For The Double Helix (as Francis Crick), The Glittering Prizes, Wings, Danger UXB, 'Tis A Pity She's A Whore, Hannah, Fame Is The Spur, I Remember Nelson, Winston Churchill: The Wilderness Years, Struggle, Dr Terrible's House Of Horrible, [spooks], Holby Blue, Foyle's War, Money, The Suspicions of Mr Whicher, The Hour and The Bletchley Circle and the movies Aces High, Escape To Victory and A State Of Emergency. Even after Tim's seventieth birthday, work continued to flood in and he had only recently wrapped filming on a number of films which are due for release later this year including Victoria & Abdul, The Little Vampire and Six Days. His deeply resonant and recognisable voice made him highly sought-after by documentary directors and he became the voice of numerous TV documentaries including Serial Killers, Doomsday, Battlefield, Monarchy: The Royal Family At WorkCritical Times, Just Jade and many episodes of Horizon and The Natural World. Just before his death, he finished work on a television adaptation of the critically acclaimed play King Charles III, in which he plays the title role of a stubborn King Charles, rebelling against the government in the wake of his mother's death. It is scheduled to be broadcast on BBC2 later this year. During the making of The Jewel In The Crown, Tim wrote a diary on his impressions of India. This was published together with an anthology of poetry and prose under the title Out Of India. He also wrote two children's books in the series The Baker Street Mysteries, featuring the exploits of Sherlock Holmes' Baker Street Irregulars - The Dragon Tattoo (2008) and Shadow Of Evil (2009). In 1972 Tim married Pamela Miles and they had one child, Tom, a concert violinist.
Tim's most famous role on television was in The Jewel In The Crown, of course and by a horrible twist of fate, the death at the age of eighty seven of the producer-director of that momentous TV mini-series, Christopher Morahan, was also announced on Friday. Morahan was a greatly admired director whose work spanned all media. He first made his mark in television in 1966 with John Hopkins's quartet of plays, Talking To A Stranger, which examined the life of a family over the course of a weekend from four separate viewpoints and which produced a celebrated performance from Judi Dench. He had previously worked with Hopkins on 1965's controversial The Wednesday Play, Fable, set in a parallel totalitarian Britain where those in authority are black people and whites are their social underdogs - a reversal of the situation in contemporary apartheid South Africa. Morahan was head of plays at the BBC from 1972 to 1976 before joining the National Theatre in 1977 as deputy to Peter Hall. His work for the National embraced contemporary writers such as Michael Frayn, Robert Bolt and Nigel Williams and classics by Tolstoy, Ibsen, Shaw and Galsworthy. Morahan was a supreme professional, but it was his ability to mastermind the complex logistics of shooting The Jewel In The Crown in India, as well as capturing unforgettable performances from the whole cast, for which he will be best remembered. Christopher was born in London in 1929 and was educated at Highgate School. He trained for the stage at the Old Vic Theatre School with actor/director Michel Saint-Denis, designer Margaret Harris and director George Devine. Initially an actor, Morahan was subsequently a television director from 1957, beginning with the long-running ITV series Emergency Ward Ten. His CV also included episodes of Probation Officer, First Night, Z Cars, Armchair Theatre, Take Three Girls, Thirty Minute Theatre and Fathers & Families and the movies Diamonds For Breakfast, All Neat In Black Stockings and Clockwise. His first stage production was Jules Feiffer's Little Murders for the Royal Shakespeare Company at the Aldwych Theatre in July 1967, starring Brenda Bruce, Barbara Jefford, Derek Godfrey and Roland Curram. Christopher joined the National Theatre in 1977 as Deputy Director and was appointed Co-Director of the Olivier Theatre. He was appointed a CBE in the 2011 Birthday Honours for his services to drama. Morahan's first wife was Joan Murray, with whom he had three children, including the director Andy Morahan. After her death, Chris married the actress Anna Carteret and the couple have two daughters: the theatre director Rebecca and the actress Hattie Morahan.

The broadcaster Brian Matthew has died. No, this time he really has, they've checked and everything. Brian Matthew's extraordinary career spanned sixty years of popular music, he began broadcasting in the days before skiffle and was still at the microphone in the second decade of the Twenty First Century. Many of the most enduring acts in pop history kick-started their careers on one of the many radio shows he hosted. And, as presenter of ABC's Thank Your Lucky Stars, he introduced The Be-Atles and The Rolling Stones to a national television audience. Brian was born in Coventry in September 1928 into a musical family. His mother sang professionally whilst his father was the conductor of a local band. His radio career began while he was serving with the army in post-war Germany where he worked as a presenter and newsreader on the British Forces Network. He also developed something of a talent for acting and on leaving the army, he went to RADA, securing a number of roles with the Old Vic Company. It was there that he met his wife, Pamela, whom he married in 1951. There was also a short time with Radio Netherlands Worldwide, the Dutch English language service, before he returned to the UK and took up a job as a milkman in his home city. Brian was back behind a microphone in 1954, however, when the BBC recruited him as an announcer and producer. One of the programmes he hosted was Saturday Skiffle Club, later renamed Saturday Club, which went out on the BBC Light Programme on Saturday mornings from 1957. At first, BBC management was unsure that there should be a radio show specifically for teenagers, but auditions were held for musicians including Chas McDevitt and a weekly programme was agreed. As Saturday Skiffle Club, it was first broadcast on 1 June 1957 with a budget of fifty five quid per week. Cliff Richard failed an audition for the programme, but early regular performers included McDevitt and Nancy Whiskey, The Vipers Skiffle Group, Johnny Duncan & His Bluegrass Boys and George Melly & His Bubbling Over Four. The budget was increased on occasions when Lonnie Donegan, the top skiffle star of the time, performed. The BBC had virtually ignored the boom in popular music in the late 1950s and, as a consequence, Matthew's show quickly found a huge appreciative teenage audience, at its peak attracting audiences of up to ten million listeners. In October 1958, the programme was extended from thirty minutes to two hours, from 10am to noon and the word 'skiffle' was dropped from the title. Its budget was significantly increased and a wider range of performers began to appear. These included Cliff Richard & The Shadows, Adam Faith, Chris Barber, Humphrey Lyttelton, Marty Wilde, Terry Dene, Vince Taylor, Johnny Kidd, Michael Holliday, Bert Weedon and Clinton Ford. Brian's relaxed style - very unlike the majority of BBC presenters of the era - was a key ingredient, often starting the show with introductions like 'Hello, my ole mateys.' The show consisted mainly of pre-recorded 'live' session performances, because of the so-called 'needle time' restrictions placed by the Musicians' Union on the number of records that could be played by the BBC. Most programmes had four live acts (playing between four and six numbers) and only contained approximately six record requests and three new releases per week. It also began featuring performances from touring American artists including Eddie Cochran, Gene Vincent, Duane Eddy, Roy Orbison and Bobby Darin, after a Musicians' Union ban on performances by non-British musicians ended in 1959. Other American performers followed, including The Everly Brothers, Jerry Lee Lewis, Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry, Chris Montez and Tommy Roe. The Be-Atles (a popular beat combo of the 1960s, you might've heard of them) appeared on the programme ten times during 1963 and 1964, firstly on 26 January 1963 just two weeks after the release of their second singe, when they performed 'Some Other Guy', 'Love Me Do', 'Please Please Me, 'Keep Your Hands Off My Baby' and 'Beautiful Dreamer'. Matthew's voice is present on The Be-Atles' Live At The BBC and On Air – Live At The BBC Volume 2 CD collections. In later years the show would highlight performances - often national radio debuts - by the likes of The Searchers, Gerry & The Pacemakers, Manfred Mann, The Hollies, Cilla Black, The Dave Clark Five, The Rolling Stones, The Moody Blues, The Kinks, The Animals, The Who, The Zombies, The Yardbirds, The Pretty Things, Them, John Mayall's Bluesbreakers, The Spencer Davis Group, The Alan Price Set, Cream, Donovan, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, The Small Faces, Amen Corner, The Herd, David Bowie, The Move, The Bee Gees and many, many others. In 1960, the BBC also launched a, broadly similar, Sunday morning show called Easy Beat and Brian was drafted in to present that as well (as he was with the subsequent midweek evening programme Top Gear (no relation) from 1964). There were shows on Radio Luxembourg for Pye Records and Brian published a book, Trad Mad (1962), on another long-lost phenomenon, the British bogus-Dixieland craze. He even made two novelty records, a cover of Peter Sellers and Sophia Loren’s 'Goodness Gracious Me' with Maureen Evans and 'What's It All About Eh?' with another DJ, Pete Murray. In 1961, Brian's audience finally put a face to the voice when he was recruited to present ITV's new pop show, Thank Your Lucky Stars. It featured bands such as The Be-Atles and The Rolling Stones miming to their latest single. A guest DJ and three teenagers would also review new records. This latter section introduced Birmingham teenager Janice Nicholls whose 'Oi'll give it foive' delivered in her strong Black Country accent, passed into popular folklore. 'Never talk down to your audience,' he said. 'Treat them as friends. They probably know more about the subject than you do.' By the mid-1960s, the BBC's pop offerings were looking rather dated alongside the competition from a fleet of pirate stations. When the BBC finally launched the entirely pop-orientated Radio 1 in 1967 Matthew, who was approaching his forties, found himself dropped from Saturday Club in favour of the former pirate DJ, Keith Skues. Brian moved over to Radio 2 and, in 1972, he narrated the ground-breaking twelve-part documentary The Be-Atles Story. He later appeared on Radio 1 presenting My Top Twelve, a programme on which a guest star would be interviewed about his or her career and select favourite songs to make up an imaginary LP. Guests reflected the whole range of popular music and included Rod Stewart, Brian Ferry, Keith Emerson, Joni Mitchell and Neil Diamond. Matthew also presented a regular easy listening show on weekday evenings and, in 1978, began hosting the Radio 2 arts show Round Midnight. In 1990, he took over from Keith Fordyce Sounds Of The Sixties, the Radio 2 show with which he would always be indelibly linked. It gained a huge and appreciative audience of people who had been teenagers in the 1960s, as well as their children, tuning in to hear the opening bars of 'Foot Tapper', The Shadows single that was the programme's theme tune. This blogger was a regular listener to the show with Brian - and his, often surprisingly broad and eclectic, choice of records - enlivening many a dull Saturday morning when Keith Telly Topping and his brother and nephew were driving the length and breadth of the country to watch their beloved (though, even then unsellable) Newcastle United's latest catastrophic 'surrender before kick-off' at some Christ-forsaken shitehole in the middle of nowhere. For that, if nothing else, Brain Matthew holds a very dear place in this blogger's legend. In 2008, Brian won a Sony Gold Award 'in recognition of a truly outstanding contribution to UK radio.' Apart from a couple of breaks because of illness, Matthew continued to present the show until, in January 2017, the BBC announced that he was standing down because of ill-health and that his place would be taken by Tony Blackburn. The Corporation found itself on the end of a - largely social media-created - 'backlash' from loyal listeners and from Matthew himself, who attacked the BBC's handling of the matter. 'I was ready and willing and able to go back,' he said. 'They just said they are going to put the programme in the hands of other people. I enjoyed doing the show very much. I did it for twenty five years. I feel very disconcerted, I must say.' The fact that, within five weeks of his final broadcast he had died suggests that, perhaps, Brian was more ill than he, or anyone else, knew at the time. He presented his final show on 25 February 2017 although a repeat of an earlier programme, with some new links, was broadcast on 6 March. Brian never quite abandoned acting – in the 1960s, with his wife, he co-founded an amateur troupe, The Pilgrim Players, and built a fifty-seat theatre next to his home. He later toured a one-man Charles Dickens show. His memoir, This Is Where I Came In was published in 1991. Brian is survived by his wife of sixty six years, Pamela and their son, Christopher.
An Australian rapper called 2pec reportedly racked up a large bill in a seafood restaurant, before running into the sea to avoid paying, a Queensland court has heard. Police set off in hot pursuit on jetskis for the man, who later claimed he ran to help a friend give birth on the beach, according to local media. His bill was over six hundred Australian dollars. Terry Peck, who has been charged with theft and assault, later said that the lobsters were overcooked. The thirty three-year-old appeared in court on Monday morning after the incident at Omeros Bros restaurant in Surfers Paradise on the East coast. He allegedly consumed two lobsters, a baby octopus, twenty one vodka oyster shots and 'a number of Coronas.' 'Oh God! By himself?' magistrate Joan White exclaimed when she granted 2pec bail, according to ABC News. A restaurant representative, Mark Hunnybun, rejected the criticism of the standard of cooking, telling the network: 'We pride ourselves on cooking our lobsters perfectly.' Australian media have uncovered some of Peck's self-produced music, including one song entitled 'Ozi, Ozi, Ozi, Oy, Oy, Oy'. Australia is far from the only country where restaurants face the risk of non-payers. Last month, Spanish police arrested the alleged ringleader of gang that carried out a series of 'eat-and-run raids' in the country's North. The group, which comprised over one hundred people, consumed about two thousand Euros of food and drink at Bembibre's El Carmen restaurant in March, claiming they were 'celebrating a baptism.' They fled before dessert was served. A similar incident happened a week later at nearby El Rincon de Pepin, during a supposed wedding reception. The group paid a thousand Euros as a deposit, but consumed ten thousand Euros worth of food and drink before all running away, the owner Laura Arias told the BBC.
And finally, dear blog reader, the Stately Telly Topping Manor spider - Boris - is back! Twice is enough, next time, it gets the sole on yer actual Keith Telly Topping's shoe. This blogger only went into the Stately Telly Topping Manor bathroom to take a dump and ended up doing it to an audience.