Saturday, April 15, 2017

The Pilot: Oh, Oh, Oh, It's Magic, You Know!

'Come on, let me have some good dreams for once.'
'Where are we?' 'Basically, we're in the middle of a war! Well, no, it's a war zone. And this is just yer basic skirmish. And, it's not as bad as it sounds, I promise you!'
'Why do you come to my lectures when you're not a student?' 'Okay, so, my first day here, in the canteen, I was on chips. There was this girl, a student. Beautiful. Like a model, only with talking and thinking. She looked at you and you perved. Every time. Automatic, like physics. Eye contact, perversion. So, I gave her extra chips. Every time, extra chips, like a reward for all the perversion. Every day, got myself on chips, rewarded her. Then finally, finally, she looked at me. Like she's noticed all the extra chips. You know what I realised? She was fat. I'd fatted her. That's life, innit? Beauty or chips. I like chips!
'Most people, when they don't understand something they frown. You smile.'
'I'll tell you what, let's pop into my ... box.' 'What good is getting into your box gonna do?' 'What an extraordinarily long and involved answer this is going to be?'
'Never, ever be late. I'm very particular about time.'
'Time. Time doesn't pass. The passage of time is an illusion and life is the magician because life only lets you see one day at the time. You remember being alive yesterday, you hope you're going to be alive tomorrow so it feels like you're travelling one to the other. But nobody's moving anywhere. Movies don't really move. They're just pictures, lots and lots of pictures all of them still, none of them moving, just a frozen moment. But, if you experience those pictures one after the other then everything comes alive ... Imagine if time all happened at once. Every moment of your life laid out around you like a city. Streets, full of buildings made of days. The day you were born, the day you die, the day you fall in love, the day that love ends. A whole city built from triumph and heartbreak and boredom and laughter and cutting your toenails. It's the best place you will ever be. Time is a structure relative to ourselves. Time is the space made by our lives, where we stand, together. Forever. Time. And relative dimensions. In space. It means life!'
'Everywhere I go, I just want to leave.' 'Can I come too?'
'What kind of a defect puts a star in your eye?'
'Why'd you run like that?' 'Like what?' 'Like a penguin with its arse on fire?' 'Ergonomics.'
'I'll tell you what it isn't. It isn't a freak optical effect. And, it's following me.'
'I know this is hard-to-believe, I know you're not, exactly, a sci-fi person ...!'
'Make yourself ...decent!'
'What you are standing in is a technological marvel. It is science-beyond-magic. This is the gateway to everything that ever was. Or ever can be.' 'Can I use the toilet?' 'Pardon?' 'Had a fright, I need the toilet!' 'Oh. It's down there, first right, second left, past the macaroon dispenser!'
'Are you from space?' 'No, of course not, no one's from space. I'm from a planet like everyone else!'
'What is sky made of?' 'Lemon drops!' 'Really?' 'No! But wouldn't that be nice?' 'You can be very silly sometimes, you know that? So how do we know this water ... thing is actually dangerous?' 'Because most things are!' 'That's true!' 'Why? Is everything out here evil? 'Hardly anything is evil, but most things are hungry. Hunger looks very like evil from the other end of the cutlery. Or, do you think your bacon sandwich loves you back?'
'I want you to run interference, can you do that?' 'Can I say "no, sir"?' 'No!' 'Yes, then.' 'Thank you!' 'But, really no!'
'Am I on time?' 'That's a very big question!' Guess what, dear blog reader? This blogger thought that episode was great. Proper great. Mad great with extra greatness smeared on top and ready to be licked off. Capaldi was great. Yer actual Pearl was great. Matt Lucas was great. The wet girl with the star in her eye was really great. The Dalek was great. Moffat's script was great (whatever The Special People might say to the contrary. This blogger is right and they are wrong). It was all just great. Not unexpectedly. 'I see what you see. It's beautiful.'
Next stop ... everywhere.
The BBC have released a number of images featuring yer actual Peter Capaldi and Pearl Mackie her very self taken at London's South Bank to promote the return of the series. The artwork - by 3D Joe & Max - has featured on several news programmes over the course of this week, including the BBC's Breakfast and London News where The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat (OBE) was also on hand to chat about what's in store during the coming weeks. Peter and Pearl also appeared on a number of shows to promote the premiere, with appearances by Pearl on Thursday's The ONE Show and Peter on Friday's The Graham Norton Show.
The latest edition of the Radio Times also celebrates the return of Doctor Who with a front cover featuring Peter and Pearl. Inside the magazine, Pearl explained how her agent sent her along for a part in something called Mean Town: 'It transpired it was an anagram for "Woman Ten", the companion in the tenth series, because if agents had known it was a Doctor Who casting, they'd have put every client up for it. Just walking through the foyer [of The Soho Hotel] was nerve-racking [sic]. I rocked up in my Afro and bright yellow trainers and a baggy T-shirt, into this big glossy octagon foyer and they told me to wait in a room till they were ready for me - I almost ran away.' Peter was happy to reassure her, however: 'I think you looked very cool there. You didn't seem fazed, you seemed to have a life beyond the scene. It was like Bill had existed rather than saying lines for an audition.' The full interview also includes a brief synopsis of each episode this series by The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat (OBE) - who also confirms that the episodes of his two-part finale will be called World Enough & Time and The Doctor Falls.
Just a week or so after a new Doctor Who series ten trailer appeared to give a hint of Peter Capaldi's Doctor starting to regenerate - months before fans expected it - the actor himself has claimed that the scene has already been shot. 'I did [the regeneration] the other day,' Capaldi told the Sydney Morning Herald. 'It was a strange day. It was explosive. He goes out a fighter.' Considering that Capaldi's final Christmas episode hasn't even started shooting yet (it's due to begin filming in June), this news will be a shock to many. However, given that the new showrunner Chris Chibnall (who will be casting the new Doctor) isn't taking over duties until the end of the Christmas episode, all this regeneration malarkey does seem rather unlikely. So perhaps Capaldi is referring to the apparent regeneration scene already briefly glimpsed in the trailer, which most fans believe to be a fake-out in the vein of the regeneration-into-myself-again that David Tennant's Doctor pulled off in Journey's End.
According to the Qi website, the latest - 'O' - series of the popular long-running comedy panel show will 'be recorded in April and May 217' and will be broadcast 'on BBC2 this autumn.' Which is terrific news.
The 'curse' of contestants on MasterChef boasting about their superb abilities only to spectacularly fall flat on their collective face before very long struck yet again during Wednesday's episode. The very first words spoken by the first chef to feature on the episode, Big Lawrentino, were 'I can be very competitive. Bring it!' with a cheeky little wink to camera. Queue four million regular MasterChef viewers instantly thinking 'the producers have obviously included that for a specific reason, this guy's probably not going to last very long.' And, indeed, so it proved. We've noted previously on this blog that MasterChef's producers seem to take an almost perverse delight in slipping in examples of contestants being boastful or self-important as a prelude to embarrassing failure. Probably for comedy value. No,come to think of it, definitely for comedy value. 'I think my food is great,' Lawrentino noted later. 'But, I need to prove it.' Sadly, though, he didn't. Not even close. So, home he went. Mind you, in this particular episode the producers threw in a whopping great curve ball to the standard set-up for just such a disaster. Another pre-match interview was with Visha, a company director from Leicester, who told viewers 'I think I'm very good.' As the episode continued, Visha's towering self-opinion seemed to grow to almost Trump-like proportions; in the Market Test round she was heard to boast: 'Yeah, I can do this, it's easy, it's like cooking at home.' Given that the dish she actually presented to John Torode and Gregg Wallace featured undercooked chicken and lentils, one would sincerely hope Visha's doesn't do that at home otherwise her guests might, you know, die. 'I know these flavours down to a tee. I can cook it blind if I have to,' she crowed. Or, undercook it, as the case may be. 'I know the results will be amazing.' Gregg, at one point, asked if Visha could balance all of the big flavours her dish would hopefully contain. 'Of course I can,' she claimed. Really full of herself was this lass, you can probably tell! All of which came to a shattering halt when John and Gregg discovered that a decent vet could probably have had her chicken back up on its feet and clucking about the farmyard. Sadly, for all lovers of the huge comedy potential that comes from 'the curse of bigging yourself up on MasterChef' Visha did manage to survive the first round cull (which, in and of itself, got the Sun's knickers in a right twist). This accounted for, among others, the rather hapless Will who, because he couldn't find any breadcrumbs, decided to coat his deep fried prawn in oats(!) and Danielle, from Leeds, who was 'taught to cook by her dad and dreams of, one day, owning a street food truck.' What, a burger van? Her 'Asian-inspired Mackerel on a flat bread wrap,' made Gregg note 'I haven't eaten anything like this.' 'I'm not sure anyone has,' Danielle replied. Which, given what she presented John and Gregg with in the end ('a Mackerel and pickled onion sandwich' according to yer man Torode) may have been just as well. And, to be completely fair to Visha, she did improve as the episode went on, also surviving the second round to qualify for the quarter-final along with the star of the episode, Lindsey and Richard. They all managed to impress the 2011 MasterChef winner Tim The Mad Professor and his fellow finalists Riviera Sara and mental scowly-faced veggie Jackie.
On Thursday, the quarter-final line-up was completed by three more very impressive amateur chefs, dee-jay Lyndsey (in her rather fetching leather mini-skirt and high-heels!), Giovanna and Adam. Though the Daily Scum Express's continued fascination with Twitter-created controversy nonsense, managed to get a ludicrous non-story out of the supposed 'cruelty' of Lyndsey using crocodile meat in one of her dishes. (None of those criticising on Twitter managed to explain exactly why eating the meat of a crocodile - not an endangered species or anything even remotely like it, incidentally - is any more 'cruel' than meat from any other animal, of course. That would be too much like hard work.) Visha's luck finally ran out on Friday's episode when she - along with Richard and Adam - were the three to be eliminated. And, oh how the Express celebrated and crowed about the fact that they had found some people on Twitter who were celebrating and crowing about this. Once again MasterChef demonstrates its ability to divide and unite the nation - often over the same plate of grub.
Tom Hiddleston has 'surprisingly' missed out on a BAFTA TV Award nomination for his role in The Night Manager. At least, it was 'surprising' according to some Middle class hippy Communist of no importance at the Gruniad Morning Star. The Hid had been expected to be up for a lead actor nomination after winning a Golden Globe for his work in the acclaimed John le Carre adaptation. Olivia Colman and yer actual Huge Laurie were also 'passed over' for their - equally acclaimed - roles in the BBC drama, although Tom Hollander was recognised in the best supporting actor category. Netflix's The Crown leads the way with five nominations, including best drama and lead actress for Claire Foy. Damilola, Our Loved Boy - about the murdered schoolboy Damilola Taylor - has received three nominations, as did Fleabag and Happy Valley. The Crown is the main beneficiary of a recent rule change which means that shows can be nominated in the main categories if they have 'predominantly British talent' in them, even if they haven't actually been made for or by a British broadcaster. That means the field is even more competitive than before, according to BAFTA chair Jane Lush - which is one factor explaining why The Night Manager has missed out. 'There is so much investment in drama now that the competition is incredibly fierce,' she claimed. BAFTA juries have more big shows to consider when settling on the shortlists, she added. 'Whereas a few years ago people were choosing four [nominees] out of six contenders for drama series, they're now probably looking at ten or even more. So it has just got increasingly competitive when the awards season comes around.' Robbie Coltrane has been nominated for his fifth BAFTA TV award for his role as a comedian accused of historic sex crimes in Channel Four's National Treasure. His competition includes yer actual Benedict Cumberbatch, for his role as Richard III in The Hollow Crown: The Wars Of The Roses. Foy's fellow contenders in the leading actress category include Happy Valley's Sarah Lancashire and Nikki Amuka-Bird, recognised for her work in the BBC's adaptation of Zadie Smith's NW. Happy Valley is up for best drama series alongside The Crown, as are ITV's The Durrells and the BBC's adaptation of War & Peace. But there is no room in that category for The Night Manager - despite it being shortlisted for six BAFTA Craft Awards last month. Nor is there a space for Coronation Street in the soap and continuing drama category, where preference has been given to Casualty, EastEnders, Emmerdale and Hollyoaks. Colman may not have been recognised for The Night Manager, but she is up for best female comedy performance for her role in BBC3's Fleabag. Phoebe Waller-Bridge, the show's creator, is nominated alongside her in that category, while the show is also up for best scripted comedy. Foy, who was short-listed for lead actress last year for Wolf Hall, receives her second nomination in consecutive years, this time for playing the young Queen Elizabeth. Three of her co-stars in The Crown - Jared Harris, John Lithgow and Vanessa Kirby - are also recognised, for playing King George VI, Winston Churchill and Princess Margaret respectively. Strictly Come Dancing is nominated for best entertainment programme, with an additional nomination for Claudia Winkleman for best entertainment performance. The winners will be announced at London's Royal Festival Hall on 14 May.
In 2015, John Cleese said that there was 'no way' he would ever work at the BBC again. But he was, seemingly - and not for the first time - talking complete and utter shite. Almost forty years on from Fawlty Towers, the seventy seven-year-old is to make a new BBC sitcom which will reunite him with his Clockwise co-star Alison Steadman. In Edith, they pair will play old flames whose rekindled romance hits the buffers when her fifty-year-old son moves back in with her. According to Cleese, Charles McKeown's 'are the most enjoyable scripts I've been sent in the last hundred years.' He said in a statement: 'It will also be particularly nice to work with Alison again since we joined forces in Clockwise all that time ago.' It's actually been thirty one years since Cleese and Steadman played husband and wife in the 1986 film comedy about a punctuality-mad schoolmaster whose journey to a conference is beset with disasters. And, it's been even longer since Cleese shared the screen with McKeown, who played a supporting character in the famous Fawlty Towers episode involving a dead body. McKeown played the man discovered blowing up a sex doll when Basil and Manuel entered his room carrying a corpse. McKeown maintained his connection with the Monty Python's Flying Circus team, appearing in The Life Of Brian and Ripping Yarns and co-writing several of Terry Gilliam's films, including Brazil and The Adventures Of Baron Munchausen. Jason Watkins, recently seen in Line Of Duty, plays Edith's grown-up son, Roger, while his W1A co-star Jessica Hynes plays his abandoned wife, Wendy. Anne Reid, James Cosmo and Peter Egan are also part of the 'amazing cast' Steadman says that she is 'thrilled' to be working with. Shane Allen, the BBC's controller of comedy commissioning, said that the ensemble cast was 'not far off your fantasy BBC1 comedy cast.' Cleese has been no stranger to US sitcoms since putting Basil to bed in 1979, having popped up in the likes of Cheers, Will & Grace and Third Rock From The Sun. Yet he has been withering in his abject contempt for the BBC, complaining in 2014 that the corporation had 'thinned down and become something very different' from the one which green-lit Python in 1969. 'There's no way I want to work in TV, especially at the BBC,' he told Shortlist magazine the following year. 'I have a nasty feeling a large proportion of the commissioning editors have no idea what they're doing.' Filming on Edith will begin in the summer and it is hoped the show will be broadcast by the end of the year.
Professor Stephen Hawking has presented the winning University Challenge team with their trophy - and revealed that he is 'a long-time fan' of the quiz. Oxford's Balliol College beat Wolfson College, Cambridge, by one hundred and ninety to one hundred and forty in Monday's final of the popular BBC2 show. The series, as usual, was a hit on social media, in large part due to fan favourite Eric Monkman, who captained the Wolfson team. Host Jeremy Paxman told Wolfson that they had been 'entertaining' throughout the series. And that, in a sense, both teams had been winners. Although, in a much more literal sense, Balliol were the real winners. Professor Hawking told the two teams: 'I have said in the past that it is not clear whether intelligence has any long-term survival value - bacteria multiply and flourish without it. But it is one of the most admirable qualities, especially when displayed by such young minds. Many congratulations to both teams but especially to Balliol College Oxford on becoming series champions on University Challenge, a programme I have long enjoyed.' It was only the second time in the quiz's fifty five-year-history that the trophy presentation had taken place outside the studio. Oxford colleges had lost to Cambridge for the past three years. Monkman, from Canada, was applauded by fans for his enthusiastic performances and the encyclopaedic knowledge which he displayed. But, in the end, the Balliol team captained by Joey Goldman proved too strong for Monkman and his colleagues.
BBC drama Call The Midwife is to get its first regular black character. Casting is already underway for an actress to play a West Indian nurse, Lucille, in the next series. It is to reflect the influence of nurses from the Commonwealth on the NHS in the 1960s. Series creator Heidi Thomas said that Lucille will be 'elegant, funny and clever' and bring 'a fresh new energy to life at Nonnatus House. My research is continually bringing up new things,' Thomas told the BFI & Radio Times Television Festival. '[It] has made me very aware of the contributions made by West Indian and Caribbean nurses to the NHS in the early 1960s. She is going to bring stories with her and a different cultural point of view, and that's very exciting.' Series six of the popular drama finished last month, concluding with a birth, death and a marriage in the final episode. It will return to BBC1 for a Christmas special, before series seven started in the new year.
A casual journalist at Australia's ABC, one Natasha Exelby, has been taken off-air after she missed her cue on live TV and video of her dramatic reaction to suddenly realising she was being watched by the nation 'went viral.' Which is Gruniad Morning Star shorthand for 'a few hundred people on Twitter started talking about it like it was actually important when, it really isn't.' The ABC director of news, Gaven Morris, has denied that Exelby was 'being punished' for this malarkey and said that reports she had been fired or banned were entirely untrue. Blimey, media reports, fuelled by a Twitter non-story turning out to be full of crap? What were the odds? 'Live television is a demanding art and slip-ups will happen – our presenters are humans, not robots,' Morris said. 'We take on-air standards extremely seriously, but we don't expect perfection. No one would ever be punished for a blooper and, while it isn't appropriate to publicly discuss confidential details of people's personal work arrangements, this has not happened to Natasha.' Morris said that he has 'assured' Exelby the ABC wants her to continue working various shifts she has been rostered for. 'While she is not currently doing any on-air shifts, this will be subject to normal performance management. I have spoken to Natasha and conveyed our regret that this has attracted such attention.' Footage of Exelby playing with her pen then apparently realising she was on-air and gasping in horror appears to have rather endeared her to the public, with calls for her to return to Australia's TV screens and a petition, which had garnered more than three thousand signatures by Tuesday morning. Gruniad Australia in a, frankly, rather sneering and nasty piece of pseudo-journalism claims that it 'understands after a series of missteps including Sunday's high-profile blooper' Exelby was 'read the riot act' by news management on Monday. Alleged 'sources' allegedly said that Exelby had allegedly been 'offered more training' and 'may be' given on-air shifts again 'at a later stage.'
Earlier this week, dear blog reader, having stumbled across a particularly fine episode - Pusher - being broadcast on some obscure digital channel in the early hours of the morning when this blogger has having trouble sleeping, yer actual Keith Telly Topping started re-watching The X Files from the very beginning. And, also recalled those balmy days when this blogger and two colleagues wrote two editions of our best-selling programme guide X-Treme Possibilities covering the first five series. Decent book, that even if this blogger does say so his very self. Still available for Kindle on Amazon, incidentally, if you fancy spending five English pounds on it. This blogger remains to this day a jolly big fan of The X Files - and, From The North favourite Gillian Anderson - particularly those episodes written by Darin Morgan and Vince Gilligan.
That is, of course, is in addition to this blogger's ongoing re-watch of The West Wing - currently up to the middle of series seven - thanks to Sky Atlantic's five-episode-a-day-at-the-weekends policy. God bless ya, Sky Atlantic.
Russian broadcaster Channel One will not broadcast The Eurovision Song Contest next month because the country's singer has been barred from host country Ukraine. Russia's decision - or, you know, stroppy huff - removes any chance of it competing this year, the European Broadcasting Union said. Ukraine is refusing to allow Julia Samoilova to perform at Eurovision because she has visited Crimea, the peninsula seized by Russia from Ukraine in 2014. The EBU has condemned the ban. It says Ukraine is 'undermining' the non-political nature of the contest. The union, which produces Eurovision, said it had offered 'two possible solutions' to Channel1= One. The proposals were for Samoilova to perform via satellite from Russia or for another contestant to be allowed to travel to Ukraine to take her place. The Russians, however, were not in the mood for any compromise and said 'nyet' to both. The broadcaster has now announced that it will not televise the event at all. 'Unfortunately this means Russia will no longer be able to take part in this year's competition,' the EBU said. 'We very much wanted all forty three countries to be able to participate and did all we could to achieve this.' Ukraine banned the Russian performer under a law which excludes anyone who entered Crimea via Russia from getting into Ukraine. Frank Dieter Freiling, chairman of the event's steering committee, said that the ban 'thoroughly undermines the integrity and non-political nature' of the contest and its 'mission to unite nations in friendly competition.' But, he added: 'Our top priority remains to produce a spectacular Eurovision Song Contest in May.' Russia and Ukraine have been 'at loggerheads' since the annexation of Crimea and the subsequent separatist conflict in East Ukraine which Moscow is accused of stoking. 'At loggerheads' in this case being a euphemism for 'one step from outright war.' Ukraine is hosting Eurovision because its singer, Jamala, won last year's competition in Sweden. She took the crown with '1944', a song about Josef Stalin's mass deportation of Crimean Tatars during World War Two. The alleged political overtones of the song annoyed many Russians. And, you wouldn't like Vladimir Putin when he gets angry, dear blog reader, trust this blogger. Moscow is especially 'irked' by the ban on Samoilova, as she uses a wheelchair and the slogan of this year's Eurovision is 'Celebrate diversity.'
Fans of The Great British Bake Off are, apparently in a 'decidedly mixed' mood and all of a kerfuffle about seeing the new presenting line-up officially together for the first time in pictures released by Channel Four this week. Paul Hollywood, Sandi Toksvig, that bloody weirdo Noel Fielding and Prue Leith are fronting the show after Mary Berry, Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins left last year and the show's makers, Greed Productions, moved it from the BBC. According to the BBC News website, Twitter is 'ablaze' with comments about what a right shite states of affairs all this malarkey is and that. And, this nonsense constitutes 'news', apparently. Does anybody remember when the world used to be run by grown-ups? Just me, then?
And now, dear blog reader, here is the welcome return of a popular semi-regular From The North feature, Adverts That Get Right On Yer Actual Keith Telly Topping's Tit-End And Grate His Cheese Something Dangerous, Like. Number four hundred and ninety eight: Bloody StaySure and their really bastard annoying 'sure you can!' bollocks. Particularly this one. Not so much for the fact that this hateful stereotypical fiftysomething couple are as offensively wet as a slap in the mush with a haddock. Although, they are. But, rather it's the opportunity missed by the bloke when replying to his wife's question 'so, can we take mum, now?' with something along the lines of 'Under absolutely no circumstances am I going to have my holiday ruined by your bloody mother!' Assert yourself, mate; are you a man or are you a mouse?
On a somewhat related note, the blogger has previously complained, at some considerable length - as is his right as a tax payer and member of humanity - about another insurance advert. This one by Promis Life. And, that miserable sour-faced woman wittering on about how much her late husband's funeral has cost her and her children. 'Seven thousand pounds,' she wailed, fishing for sympathy, whilst many of the collective audience thought 'hang on, I buried someone recently and it didn't cost me anything close to seven grand.' How interesting then that, after a short period of those adverts being off-air, they've reappeared but with some significant changes to the voice-over. Now, they suggest that the cost of Jim's funeral was, not seven grand but, rather, 'over five and a half thousand pounds.' Fifteen hundred notes less than this woman was claiming just months ago. Could it be that someone - not this blogger, incidentally, although he did think about it - sent in a complaint to the Advertising Standards Authority to suggest that perhaps, just perhaps, Promis Life had previously indulged in a spectacularly disgraceful over-estimation of the cost of the average funeral in a bid to scare some older viewers into buying their product? But then, that would suggest that advertisers sometimes lie about the stuff they're trying to flog. And that can't be true, can it?
The widow of poet Ted Hughes has described claims that he abused his first wife, Sylvia Plath, as 'absurd.' There are reports that Plath wrote to her psychiatrist saying Hughes, her husband at the time, physically abused her days before she miscarried. A statement issued on behalf of Carol Hughes said that the allegations were 'as absurd as they are shocking.' The letters have not been made public but a bookseller who has offered them for sale has confirmed their contents. The letters were written by Plath to Doctor Ruth Barnhouse between 1960 and 1963 and are among a collection which has come to light. According to the Gruniad Morning Star, Plath wrote that Hughes, whom she had married in 1956, beat her and wanted her dead. The correspondence was put up for sale for seven hundred grand. Antiquarian bookseller Ken Lopez told the BBC that the Gruniad story 'can be corroborated by the letters.' Responding to the report, the Ted Hughes Estate issued a statement on behalf of Carol Hughes, who was married to the poet from 1970 until his death in 1998. It said that the claims would be 'seen as absurd by anyone who knew Ted well.' The statement added: 'Private correspondence between patient and psychiatrist is, surely, one of the most confidential imaginable and, in this case, these alleged claims were from someone who was in deep emotional pain due to the apparent disintegration of her marriage.' The sale of the letters has been blocked by Smith College, the Massachusetts arts college where Plath studied in the 1950s, which filed a lawsuit claiming the letters were bequeathed to it by Doctor Barnhouse after her suicide in early 1963. Ted and Sylvia's relationship has been the subject of much comment over the years - most of it by people who never met either - and was the focus of Richard Curson Smith's acclaimed 2015 BBC documentary Ted Hughes: Stronger Than Death, one of this blog's Top Thirty TV programmes of that year.
An Antiques Roadshow expert who died after suffering suspected post-partum psychosis had to be restrained by five police and ambulance personnel, an inquest has heard. Alice Gibson-Watt 'fought like a tigress' as she was taken to hospital, her mother Miranda Phillimore said. The thirty four-year-old gave birth to her first child, Chiara, in October 2012, four weeks earlier. The inquest will look at how she was restrained and if that injured her. Gibson-Watt, a jewellery specialist for Sotheby's, died on 20 November after suffering a cardiac arrest and an injury to her liver. On Wednesday, the jury heard from police officers who went to Gibson-Watt's home in Fulham in response to a 999 call from her husband, Anthony Gibson-Watt, in November 2012. The officers gave similar accounts that Mrs Gibson-Watt was screaming, swearing, violent and kept saying that her baby was dead. They said they did not see any use of restraint that may have injured Gibson-Watt. Officers held her shoulders, feet, ankles, knees and her hands. She was also strapped down when she was taken from the house just after midnight on 14 November, the jury heard. PC Andrea Cope said that five years on she still remembered the incident, as it was 'the most tragic thing I've ever had to deal with at work.' The inquest heard that the restraint continued on the journey to Chelsea and Westminster Hospital and on her arrival. Doctor Miriam Barrett, consultant psychiatrist, said Gibson-Watt 'appeared rational' when she was assessed, but she was suffering 'delusions' and believed she 'could communicate telepathically with her baby.' Michael Mylonas QC, representing Gibson-Watt's family, asked Doctor Barrett whether she felt that if Gibson-Watt had suffered 'a very severe blow' to her abdomen, would she have been likely to mention it. Barrett said Gibson-Watt 'did not complain of any pain. There was no sign of her being in pain or discomfort,' Doctor Barrett said. Paul Spencer, representing West London Mental Health Trust, asked whether it was possible that a patient in Gibson-Watt's condition could have suffered an injury but, because of her psychotic state, would not have complained about it. Barrett replied: 'I suppose it is possible.' Mister Gibson-Watt told the inquest on Tuesday that his wife 'suddenly became hysterical' one evening at their Fulham home. She began screaming and wailing, before picking up Chiara and shaking her, shouting that her baby was dead, he said. He added that he believed she was suffering from post-partum psychosis, a severe mental illness which can cause women who have recently given birth to have hallucinations and delusional thinking. Gibson-Watt was eventually taken to a specialist mental health unit at West Middlesex Hospital. She died a few days later. Her husband told the court: 'She was enthralled by motherhood. One day I will tell Chiara about her wonderful mother. I just hope we can get to the truth of her passing.' The inquest at West London Coroner's Court is expected to last until the end of the month.
Saturn's ice-crusted moon Enceladus may now be the best place to go to look for life beyond Earth. The assessment comes on the heels of new observations at the five hundred kilometre-wide world made by the Cassini Probe. It has flown through and sampled the waters from a subsurface ocean that is being jetted into space. Cassini's chemistry analysis strongly suggests the Enceladean seafloor has hot fluid vents - places which on Earth are known to teem with life. The existence of such hydrothermal systems is not a guarantee that organisms are present on the little moon, of course; its environment may still be sterile. But, the new results certainly make a compelling case to return to this world with more sophisticated instrumentation - technologies that can re-sample the ejected water for clear evidence that biology is also at play. 'We're pretty darn sure that the internal ocean of Enceladus is habitable and we need to go back and investigate it further,' said Cassini scientist Doctor Hunter Waite from the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio. 'If there is no life there, why not? And, if there is, all the better. But you certainly want to ask the question because it's almost as equally as interesting if there is no life there, given the conditions,' he told BBC News. The sub-surface ocean on Enceladus is thought to be many kilometres deep, kept liquid by the heat generated from the constant gravitational squeezing the moon receives from the mighty Saturn. Cassini has already established that this voluminous liquid is in contact with the rock bed from the types of salts and silica that have also been detected in the jets. But, what scientists really wanted to know is if a particular interactive process seen at Earth was taking place in the distant abyss - something called serpentinisation. At the mid-ocean ridges on our planet, seawater is drawn through, and reacts with, hot upwelling rocks which are rich in iron and magnesium. As the minerals in these rocks incorporate H2O molecules into their crystal structure, they release hydrogen - a byproduct that can be used by some microbes as an energy source to drive their metabolism. It is the definitive signal for molecular hydrogen in the plumes of Enceladus that Cassini has now confirmed. 'If you were a micro-organism, hydrogen would be like candy - it's your favourite food,' explained Doctor Chris McKay, an astrobiologist with the US space agency. 'It's very good energetically; it can support micro-organisms in grand style. Finding hydrogen is certainly a big plus; icing on the cake for the habitability argument and a very tasty one at that.' NASA, which leads the Cassini mission, was due to make the hydrogen announcement a couple of months after the probe's last fly-through of the moon's jets in October 2015. But the agency held off. One of the concerns was that the Ion and Neutral Mass Spectrometer on the satellite can actually make molecular hydrogen inside itself if water enters the instrument in a particular way. Doctor Waite's group has spent a year analysing the data to make sure the hydrogen signal is intrinsic to the jets and not merely some artefact of the INMS's operation. And, although serpentinisation is arguably the best explanation for the signal, it is possible to produce the gas also from the heating of very primitive meteoritic rock. The Cassini mission is coming to a close. Having spent twelve years circling Saturn, it is now running low on fuel and will be flown into the atmosphere of the ringed planet in September - to ensure it cannot collide with Enceladus at some future date and possibly contaminate it. As brilliant as the probe's instruments are, they were never designed to make a direct life detection at the bright white moon. This would need a whole new class of spectrometers. A proposal is being put together to fly them in 2026. NASA has already green-lit a mission to Europa, the ice and ocean moon of Jupiter. It very likely has serpentinisation going on as well. But its ice shell is very much thicker and it could be that very little of the water escapes to space. The appeal of Enceladus is the ease with which its subsurface can be studied because of the material carried into space by its network of geysers. A probe only needs fly through the emission to make the investigation. 'The Cassini mission has really brought Enceladus to the fore in terms of the search for life elsewhere in the Solar System,' commented British Cassini scientist Doctor Andrew Coates. 'The top three now I would say are about equal. There's Mars, which may have had life 3.8 billion years ago when conditions were very different to what they are now. There's Europa, which has a subsurface ocean and now, Enceladus. Those three may have, or had, the right conditions for life.' Waite added: 'For life, you need liquid water, organics and the CHNOPS elements (carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorus, sulphur). Okay, we haven't yet measured phosphorus and sulphur at Enceladus. But you also need some kind of metabolic energy source and the new Cassini results are an important contribution in that regard.' A paper describing the work of Dr Waite's group is published in the journal Science.
'The Hubble space telescope has spotted a huge shimmering region on Uranus – and it's caused by powerful bursts of solar wind' according to what passes for journalism these days at Metro. They then have the cheek to add 'No giggling at the back, please.' Trust us, we weren't. Scientists from the Paris Observatory used the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope to take a look at the auroras on Uranus, which are caused by streams of charged particles like electrons that come from various origins such as solar winds, the planetary ionosphere, and moon volcanism. The particles become caught in powerful magnetic fields and are channelled into the upper atmosphere, where their interactions with gas particles, such as oxygen or nitrogen, set off spectacular bursts of light. The auroras on Jupiter and Saturn have been well-studied, but the auroras on the ice giant Uranus remain something of a mystery. The first images of Uranus taken from Earth were shot in 2011 by the NASA Hubble. In 2012 and 2014 a team led by an astronomer from Paris Observatory took a second look at the auroras using the ultraviolet capabilities of the Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph installed on Hubble. They tracked the interplanetary shocks caused by two powerful bursts of solar wind travelling from the sun to Uranus, then used Hubble to capture their effect on Uranus’ auroras – and found themselves observing the most intense auroras ever seen on the planet. By watching the auroras over time, they collected the first direct evidence that these powerful shimmering regions rotate with the planet. Uranus was discovered in 1781 by astronomer William Herschel, who originally thought it was either a comet or a star. He wanted to name it Georgium Sidus, after King George III but it was eventually named after Uranus, the Greek God of the sky, as suggested by astronomer Johann Bode, who was instrumental in working out that Uranus was indeed a planet.
Scientists have captured a dramatic and violent image of the collision between two young stars that tore apart their stellar nursery. Located in the constellation of Orion, the explosive event happened some five hundred years ago sending giant streamers of dust and gas across interstellar space. Researchers say the clash produced as much energy as our Sun would over ten million years. Details of the event have been published in the Astrophysical Journal.
A judge has been very sacked for using a pseudonym to post abusive comments on a newspaper website about cases that he was involved in. Recorder Jason Dunn-Shaw, of Maidstone Chambers in Kent, is understood to have called one man 'a donkey' and others 'narrow-minded and bigoted.' Neither of which are really abusive - although they certainly aren't very nice. He also accused others of commenting 'without thinking things through.' Again, not really abusive in any way shape or form. Dunn-Shaw told KentOnline - the site on which the alleged comments were allegedly posted - that he was 'dismayed' he had been sacked. Dunn-Shaw was commenting on news stories relating to a case for which he was sitting as a judge at Canterbury Crown Court and, another for which he was a barrister. The Judicial Conduct Investigations Office said that his behaviour was 'below standard.' The judge told the BBC that he would be appealing to the Ombudsman 'to complain about the procedure, which to my mind was flawed and unfair.' In quotes to KentOnline, he claimed the JCOI 'accepted' his comments were made under a pseudonym. He added: 'Their other condemnation is of comments I made on the pages of Facebook friends which I believed to have been private. It seems to me unfair that the tracking of anonymous material places me where I am now.' Dunn-Shaw - who has experience in both prosecution and defence - has worked on more than forty five murder trials during his career, as well as cases of death by dangerous driving, drugs smuggling, sexual offences and fraud. A spokesman for the JCIO said: 'In his own name he used publicly available social media sites to post material or not remove material which was not compatible with the dignity of judicial office or suggested a lack of impartiality on matters of public controversy. The Lord Chancellor and the Lord Chief Justice concluded that this behaviour fell below the standard expected of a judicial office holder and have removed Mr Dunn-Shaw from judicial office.'
Britain is 'in the grip' of a 'sudden surge in violent crime,' Scotland Yard warned this week, amid criticism of senior officers. Following years of decline in gun and knife crime, the Metropolitan Police reported 'a leap' in recorded offences in the capital, with reported gun crime rising by forty two per cent year-on-year and knife crime up by twenty four per cent. Sex offences, robberies and assaults also increased, albeit by much smaller amounts. The force said that the pattern was being repeated around the country and referred to 'significant reductions in resources' in its official explanation of the figures. It also blamed 'increased demand' on its officers caused by issues including 'child protection and mental health.' The warning from the force came just days after the Met's new commissioner, Cressida Dick, started her job. The figures were pro-actively released by Scotland Yard and will be seen as an attempt by Dick to press the Government over budget cuts. But, critics pointed out that in recent years the Met and other forces have together wasted tens of millions of pounds on high-profile pursuits of celebrities, journalists and politicians which went nowhere and said that resourcing must not be used as 'an excuse.' Meanwhile, an official report published by HM Inspector of Constabulary said that the Met's approach to dealing with 'serious and organised crime' was 'not as effective as it could be.' Assistant Commissioner Martin Hewitt, the Met officer responsible for territorial policing, said: 'We are concerned about the rise of gun crime and rise of knife crime offences committed by young people and the changing nature of the offenders. Young people carrying knives are doing so for a variety of reasons including status, criminality and self-protection, but only around a quarter are affiliated with gangs. There is a phenomenon of people feeling that you need to carry a knife to be safe. There is a lot greater sense that "I need this to protect myself." The problem comes when you then get a confrontation.' Colin Sutton, a retired detective chief inspector who solved some of the Met's most notorious cases, said that a decision to reduce 'stop and search,' as well as mis-spent resources, was the 'real' reason for the crime wave. He said: 'The priorities seem to have gone a little bit awry in recent years. Things that do not impact the lives of the majority of people have been given too much emphasis.'
Chris Wood scored a stoppage-time equaliser to earn play-off chasing Dirty Leeds a point at yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved (though unsellable) Newcastle in the Championship on Good Friday. A pivotal weekend in the promotion race began with dramatic finales in two matches at the upper end of the table - but late twists in both Yorkshire and on Tyneside did little to aid second-placed Newcastle's cause. While leaders Brighton & Hove Albinos secured an unremarkable two-nil victory at Wolverhampton, third-place Huddersfield saw off Preston Both Ends three-two, but only thanks to a ninety sixth minute penalty turned home at the second attempt. At St James' Park, meanwhile, Newcastle went into five minutes of second-half added time holding a deserved one-nil advantage, thanks to a Jamaal Lascelles header. Sadly though, the Magpies captain and his defensive colleagues were unable to shadow Wood adequately with just seconds remaining and the division's top scorer beat Karl Darlow from close range to bag a potentially vital point for the visitors. Leeds were completely outplayed by the hosts at a sold-out St James' before Wood tucked home Kemar Roofe's cross - the irony of the fact that this was, by an 'uge distance, United's best performance in probably a couple of months was, one imagines, wholly lost on the majority of the largest Championship attendance of the season so far - fifty two thousand three hundred and one punters. Rob Green in the Dirty Leeds goal made several world class saves to keep Newcastle at bay before Wood's late strike - including one in particular at almost point-blank range from Ayoze Perez which defied any logical explanation. Rafa The Gaffer looked completely bemused at full-time as to how his team had somehow managed to throw away two points in a match that they totally dominated. Nevertheless, The Magpies still hold an eight-point advantage over Huddersfield in third - though The Terriers do have a game in hand - and need a maximum of eight points from their remaining four fixtures to seal an immediate return to the Premier League. Actually, in reality it's more like seven points since their goal difference massively dwarfs that of Huddersield. Dirty Leeds moved up to fourth, but are only three points ahead of Fulham in seventh in the - increasingly tight - race for the four play-offs places. The only scare the visitors had offered before Wood's leveller came early on, when Alfonso Pedraza's strike from the edge of the area bounced off the bar. For the remaining eighty minutes Newcastle were virtually camped in the Leeds half, with the influential Jonjo Shelvey and Matt Ritchie whipping in a succession of dangerous crosses and corners. Yoan Gouffran's vicious low strike hit the post late in the first half with Ritchie's powerful follow-up deflecting off a Leeds defender's head and flying narrowly over the bar, Chancel Mbemba's powerful header was tipped over by Green and Ritchie's free-kick was palmed wide as Leeds defended doggedly. Captain Lascelles eventually provided the breakthrough in the sixty seventh minute despite former England goalkeeper Green's best efforts, but the Championship's top scorer Wood stunned the capacity crowd with almost the last kick of the game. United now travel to Ipswich on Easter Monday whilst Huddersfield visit Derby.
Spanish police have claimed that eight Leicester City fans were arrested for 'causing a mess' ahead of their Champions League tie against Atletico Madrid this week. And, 'looking at them in a funny way.' Probably. Police claimed six officers were also 'attacked' in the disturbances. However, BBC journalist Phil Mackie said that he witnessed what appeared to be 'an unprovoked attack' on the fans from officers. He claimed that he met supporters who had been 'left bruised after being hit on the head, arms and knees.' Social media videos showed injured fans and officers in body armour wielding batons in the city's Plaza Major. Leicester ultimately lost the game by a single goal.
Merseyside Police are investigating allegations that a newspaper article about Everton midfielder Ross Barkley constitutes 'a racial hate crime.' That's if you can classify the Sun as a 'newspaper' which is probably pushing things. Barkley was punched in a Liverpool bar last weekend in what his lawyer described as 'an unprovoked attack.' In an article on Friday, the Sun columnist that disgraceful odious bucket of stinking diarrhoea Kelvin MacKenzie compared Barkley - who has a grandfather born in Nigeria - to 'a gorilla at the zoo.' Police confirmed they were investigating the 'full circumstances' of the comments. MacKenzie targeted both England international Barkley and the city of Liverpool in general in the article - which has since been removed from the Sun website - saying Barkley is 'one of our dimmest footballers' and also calling him 'thick.' Barkley's eyes, MacKenzie further claimed, make him 'certain not only are the lights not on, there is definitely nobody at home,' adding: 'I get a similar feeling when seeing a gorilla at the zoo.' Men with 'similar pay packets' in Liverpool are 'drug dealers' and in prison MacKenzie added. Liverpool's Mayor Joe Anderson told BBC Sport that he had reported the article to the police for 'a racial slur.' Speaking to BBC Sport, Anderson said: 'Not only is it racist in a sense that [Barkley] is of mixed-race descent, equally it's a racial stereotype of Liverpool. It is racist and prehistoric.' Anderson later tweeted to say he had reported the article to Merseyside Police and the Independent Press Standards Organisation. Alongside the article, the Sun published adjoining pictures on their website with the caption Could Everton's Ross Barkley represent the missing link between man and beast? The picture was, like the article, later removed. MacKenzie, of course, was the editor of the Sun when it published a front-page article headlined Hillsborough: The Truth in the aftermath of the 1989 disaster. The article claimed that Liverpool fans were to blame for the tragedy, in which ninety six people died. This has since been wholly discredited. MacKenzie - eventually - apologised for his role in the publication in 2012. Last year's landmark Hillsborough inquests recorded that the ninety six fans were 'unlawfully killed' by the wilful incompetence of South Yorkshire police and that Liverpool supporters at the FA Cup semi-final had played 'no role' whatsoever in causing the tragedy. This Saturday - 15 April - marks the twenty eighth anniversary of the tragedy and the timing of MacKenzie's article - in addition to its content - is particularly thoughtless. A Sun spokesperson said: 'Columnists are supposed to have strong opinions that provoke debate among the readers. However their views do not necessarily reflect those of the newspaper.' Which if you look up 'utterly cowardly "nowt to do with me, pal" type excuses' on Google, you'll find that one pretty near the top of the list. The following day it was reported that the Sun had 'suspended' Mackenzie (one or two people even believed them given that the statement ended with the information that MacKenzie is, actually, currently 'on holiday') whilst Everton announced that they had banned Sun journalists from their Goodison Park stadium. To misquote the late Oscar Wilde, 'to piss off one half of Merseyside with crass and ignorant, borderline criminal, lies might be regarded as misfortune (although, in reality, it isn't that or anything even remotely like it). To piss off both halves looks like you're a worthless louse-scum working for a newspaper full of worthless louse-scum.' But then, many of us suspected that already.
Former world F1 champion and From The North favourite yer actual Jenson Button will replace Fernando Alonso at McLaren for the Monaco Grand Prix. Alonso will miss the race - on 28 - May to compete in the Indianapolis Five Hundred with, allegedly, 'the full support of both McLaren and the team's engine partner Honda.' 'I'm thrilled to be making a one-off return,' said Button, who retired from F1 at the end of last season but remains McLaren's reserve driver for the current season. 'I couldn't think of a better place to make that return than my adopted home grand prix, Monaco.' The 2009 world champion has spent the winter in California training for Ironman triathlons, his long-time passion away from cars. He signed a contract with McLaren last autumn which committed him to replacing any race driver not able to take part in a grand prix this year. As part of that contract, the team also has an option to sign him to race in 2018. Button described Monaco as 'a tricky street circuit' but said that the McLaren may be 'more suited' to the venue than 'the faster circuits' which Alonso and team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne have driven on so far this season. 'I've won the race before, in 2009, and it's one of my all-time favourite racetracks,' he added. Nigel Mansell, another former world champion, believes Button will do well at Monaco. Mansell, was the F1 champion when he won the IndyCar series in 1994, having come third at Indianapolis. 'Jenson is a great world champion and a class act,' he told BBC Radio 5Live. 'He's probably fitter and more hungry now than he has been for many years. He loves Monaco, he's a tremendous driver, and he'll do exceedingly well.' Mansell said that the key to succeeding at Monaco was being 'incredibly fit and patient,' and that Button might 'surprise McLaren and himself.' He added: 'They are in safe hands with Jenson. He knows the team and they know him very well. The last thing they need is a rookie doing one race, causing problems and crashing the car.' Mansell also said that he has no doubt Alonso has the talent to succeed in IndyCars and says he is joining 'a great team.' The Spaniard will race for the Honda-powered Andretti team on 28 May, and the car will be branded a McLaren. Alonso said that he had long held an ambition to win the so-called 'triple crown' of Monaco, the Indy Five Hundred and Le Mans. 'The switch for Alonso will be learning the Indy circuit,' said Mansell. 'You have to have the car carefully balanced because if it has any oversteer then it's an accident waiting to happen. He will find racing over Indianapolis over five hundred miles is fascinating. He will learn a lot very quickly but with the amount of talent he has I wouldn't be surprised if he pulls it off.' Mansell described his own time in the United States as 'a wild-west experience. It's incredible to go across to America and experience that,' he said. 'It will be fascinating as a racing fan to watch everything unfold next month. It's so exciting for racing fans. I think the crossover is wonderful.'
Durham CCC chairman Sir Ian Botham says his club have a point to prove after being relegated - disgracefully - from County Championship Division One for financial problems. They begin their Division Two campaign against Nottinghamshire on Friday with a - truly disgusting - forty eight-point deduction. 'You can feel sorry for yourself and sulk, or say "right, we'll show you,"' Mister Iron Bottom told BBC Sport. 'It won't be any fun for teams coming to Durham. We will be the side the rest are looking over their shoulder for.' Former England all-rounder Botham took charge at Chester-le-Street after Durham were punished for their financial issues. The county, who finished fourth in Division One last year, accepted a £3.8m financial aid package. As well as the County Championship sanctions, they were given a four-point penalty in the T20 Blast, a two-point deduction in the One-Day Cup and stripped of the right to host Test matches. 'It's hard that the players are on minus forty eight points because you are penalising them when they have done absolutely nothing wrong,' added Botham, who ended his own playing career at Durham. 'They have all stood together. We have lost Scott Borthwick and Mark Stoneman to Surrey but the rest are still here with a point to prove.' Durham, who only became a first-class county in 1992, won three County Championships between 2008 and 2013. 'If we don't get out of Division Two, it won't be for the lack of trying,' added Botham. 'We could get off to a flyer and be in contention within four matches. I think that anything is possible. I don't give up and I don't think the players will give up. The supporters won't. Everyone at Durham is pulling together.'
The MCC has confirmed that a series of law changes - including the introduction of sendings-off - will come into effect on 1 October. A new law entitled 'players' conduct' gives umpires a range of new powers, from imposing penalty runs to ejection from the match. Bat sizes will be restricted and attaching bails to the stumps, in order to prevent injury, will be permitted. The laws are also being written in language which is not gender specific. Terms such as batsman and third man remain, but the laws will remove previous references to the term 'he.' The law regarding handled the ball has been removed, with that form of dismissal merged into obstructing the field. 'MCC has left no stone unturned in researching and redrafting the new Laws of Cricket and has done so in order to make the laws work in a way that makes sense to players, umpires and spectators,' MCC laws manager Fraser Stewart said. 'The laws are applicable worldwide so they need to be as simple as possible to understand and inclusive to all. The club hopes to encourage interest in the game at all levels and believes these new laws are reflective of the present time and easier for cricketers and umpires to interpret.' Other changes include alterations to the running out the non-striker rule, a batsman being run out if their bat 'bounces' after being grounded and substitutes being allowed to keep wicket.
A sadomasochist 'tortured' a woman with a home-made device that sent a two hundred and forty-volt electric-shock through her vagina while she was strapped to a restraint board, a court has been told. The twenty seven-year-old alleged victim described to Cambridge Crown Court how the sex began 'like Fifty Shades Of Grey' (so, really badly written, then) but 'got more extreme' and resulted in the 'hideous' incident. She said that she only went along with the 'torture' because Kieren Batten, the defendant, said that she was 'boring.' This blogger should add at this point that he has been called 'boring' on more than one occasion in his life but has never felt the urge to allow someone to send electricity through his naughty bits as a consequence. But, maybe that's just me. Prosecutor Simon Wilshire told the jury that the 'controlling and dominant' Batten was 'obsessed with sadomasochistic sexual practices.' He claimed that Batten introduced 'a home-made electrical shocking device' into the couple's sex life and the woman, initially at least, consented to it being attached to her nipples because she did not know what the pain would be like. Needless to say, she soon found out. However, the prosecutor said that after it had been used once the woman told Batten it was 'a step too far' and she never wanted him to do it again. It is alleged that Batten attached the device to the woman's labia and turned it on despite being told not to. In a video-taped police interview, the woman explained how their 'kinky sex' began. She said: 'It started with dressing gown cords and my arms tied to the end of the bed, like Fifty Shades Of Grey but then it got further and further and I felt really uncomfortable but I just took it because he said I was boring. I have never done that with anyone. He didn't do it out of nastiness but it would progress. He would bring like camping rope, proper thick rope. Then he brought the board and told me what it was for. I thought he was having a laugh but no, he was pretty serious. The first few times he put me on it, it was not horrible at all. I felt brave enough to go on it. Like whipping, to give pleasure, not pain.' The woman said that the wooden bondage board was about six foot long. 'I would be strapped down, arms tied to screws in the board and there are silver metal chains which cut into your wrists. And you would be tied around the waist.' The jury heard that Batten, from Hitchin, sometimes 'whipped her black and blue.' He had paddle whips and implements with metal spikes which left 'pinprick holes all over me,' the woman said. The alleged incident in 2014 which led to the charge of sexual assault relating to electrocution of her genitals began when Batten brought what he called a shocker. 'He electrocuted me on my vagina the last time,' she said. 'He put the crocodile clips inside, attached to my labia, and shocked me. He turned it on and I just caught my breath because you think you are going to die. I have never experienced anything so hideous in my life. I never went on the board again. After that I was "rubbish in bed" and "everybody else was better," I was just a prude.' She added: 'He calls it a torture and it is torture really. As I got a bit braver I said no and that's when he got bored and went elsewhere.' Batten denies sexual assault and two offences of common assault involving an alleged head-butt and a push during arguments. In his defence, he claims that the woman never went on the board at all and that she agreed to the kinky sex. He says that he was the one on the board and the clips were attached to him, not her. The trial extremely continues.
News of North Korea getting aal geet stroppy and discombobulated with President (and hairdo) Trump provoked the Daily Mirra's headline writer to get quasi-apocalyptic on Saturday morning (though, at least they gave us eight pages of Easter puzzles to do down in our fall out bunkers).
Whilst the Torygraph provided some - one trusts, unintended - hilarity with the juxtaposition of their own North Korea headline and an - one hopes unrelated - Easter-themed photo.
Now, dear blog reader, here's a picture of a nice pair of tits. And, why not?
Two police officers were filmed this week chasing a runaway pig in Redbridge in London. Oh, the irony. The 'hilarious clip' was captured by a parked police car's dashcam, and posted on Twitter. Then the Metro got hold of it and, well, you can probably guess the rest.
And finally, dear blog reader, the greatest forty five seconds in the history of the Internet. Bar none. Remember, a million years of human evolution lead to this particular moment. This blogger thinks that it's the outrageous double-take yer man gives when he realises that he's on Candid Camera that makes it art.