Saturday, July 01, 2017

The Doctor Falls: Remember Us, If At All, Not As Lost Violent Souls But Only As The Hollow Men

'You can't fight a whole city. You know the stories. There's only ever been one way to stop that many Cybermen. Me!'
'How many times have you died?' 'How many different ways?' 'Have you burned?' 'I know you've fallen.' 'Have you ever drowned?' 'Have you felt the blade?' 'I suppose, what's we're we're really asking, dear, is, well ...' 'Any requests?'
'So, I imagine you're the next one along, then?' 'I think so, I'm a bit hazy on the whole regeneration thing, I'm afraid.' 'You mean, I'm going to turn into a woman and you don't even remember it happening?' 'Oh, am I a woman now?' 'Well, kind of, yeah.' 'Hold me!' 'Kiss me!' 'Make me!' 'Do you two want to be alone? Which in your case would mean more than it usually does!'
'Oh, Granddad's back. We've been debating the best way to kill you.' 'Where's Bill?' 'We thought we might just chuck you off the roof but I wasn't sure how many regenerations you had left.' 'Yeah, we could've been up and down the stairs all night!' 'We could shoot you, but that's a bit ... vanilla.' 'But, Old School! Nice, for a change.' 'I said "where is Bill?' 'If we told you that, I'm afraid you'd be really, really upset.' 'So ... she's right behind you! Look, there's Bill. Dead. Dismembered. Fed through a grinder and squeezed into a Cyberman. Doomed to spend an eternal afterlife as a bio-mechanical psycho-zombie. It was hilarious!' 'Ten years you spent up there, chatting. You missed her by two hours.' 'Ripped out her heart, threw it into a bin and burned it all away. He's internalising. I love it when he's Mister Volcano.'
'The last time I saw you, you were on your way to Gallifrey.' 'I didn't stay, why would I stay?' 'So, they cured your little condition and kicked-you-out?' 'It was a mutual kicking-me-out!' 'And, somehow you ended up in this dump. You never could drive!' 'You wouldn't understand.' 'Lets see how I do? Your TARDIS got stuck, you killed a lot of people, took over the city and lived like a King till they rebelled against your cruelty and, ever since then you've been hiding out, probably in disguise because everybody knows your stupid round face.' 'Round?' 'It is, a little bit.' 'Shut up!'
'You want to see my city, Doctor? D'you want to see what happens when you're too late to save your little friend and everybody else? See, this used to be just a hospital, now it's mass production. Cyber foundries.' 'The whole city is machine to turn people into Cybermen. What do you think? Exciting isn't it? Watching The Cybermen getting started?' 'They always get started. They happen everywhere there's people. Mondas, Telos, Earth, Planet Fourteen, Marinus, like sewage and smart-phones. And Donald Trump, some things are just inevitable!' 'Doctor, have you done something? What's happening?' 'People get The Cybermen wrong, there's no evil plan, no evil genius, just parallel evolution. People, plus technology, minus humanity. The Internet, cyberspace, Cybermen. 'Always read the comments because one day, they'll be an army.'
'I'm not begging you. I'd rather die than beg you.' 'Your lucky day, then!' 'I can do this, they're not difficult, they're Cybermen.' 'Knock yourself out.' 'Your wish is my command. I was secretly on your side all along, you silly sausage!' 'Is that true?' 'Don't spoil the moment!' 'I need to know, is that true?' 'It's hard to say, I'm in two minds. Fortunately, the other one is unconscious!'
'The Doctor's dead, he told me he'd always hated you. Let's go!' 'No.' 'The Doctor's dead, he told me he'd always hated you!' 'Yeah, I heard you the first time!' 'We need to get away from here, or find a hole in the roof. Is there a great big gun on the front? That would be good!'
'I'm sorry. I gave her a mirror. 'Don't be sorry. You were being kind. Nothing wrong with "kind." Jelly baby?'
'Do you remember what they did to you?' 'Nothing. I'm fine.' 'You are so strong, you're amazing. You mind has rebelled against the programming. It's built a wall around itself, a castle, made of you. You are standing on the battlements saying "No! Not me!" All that time living under The Monks, you learned to hang onto yourself.' 'I'm fine, look at me.' 'Bill, what you see is not you. Your mind is acting like a perception filter, you still see yourself as you used to be. It won't last.' 'What do you mean, used to be?"' 'Bill, I'm sorry but you can't be angry any more. Temper is a luxury you can't ...' 'Why can't I? Why can't I be angry? You left me alone for ten years, don't tell me I can't be angry.'
'Whilst you've been here chatting up Robomop, me and ... me have been busy. We've found it. Oh, hello my dear. My God you were so boring for all those years. But, it was worth every day of it for this.' 'Bill, don't let him upset you.' 'Didn't you used to be a woman? I'm going to be a woman fairly soon. Any tips? Or, maybe I dunno, old bras?' 'I am not upset.' 'Oh. Well, doesn't that take all the fun out of cruelty? Might as well rile a fridge. Come on, this way.'
'We're not going to get out of this, are we?' 'I dunno, there are always possibilities.' 'I can feel it, in my head, the programming. The Cybermen are taking me over piece-by-piece. It's like I'm hanging on in a hurricane. And, I can't hang on forever. I want you to know, as my friend, I don't want to live if I can be me anymore, do you understand?' 'Yes.' 'But, that's not possible, is it?' 'I'll tell you what else isn't possible. A Cyberman crying. Where there's tears, there's hope.'
'Weird, how you don't remember any of this?' 'The two of us together puts the timelines out of sync. You can't retain your memories so I don't have them. You absolutely had to bring her, did you?' 'Her? It's a Cybermen now.' 'Yes. Sorry.' 'Becoming a woman is one thing but, have you got ... empathy?'
'You realise this is hopeless, don't you?' 'Oh, I was hoping someone was going to say that. For a moment there I was feeling a glimmer of purpose!'
'I landed here, I had trouble taking off.' 'The Black hole?' 'Too close to the Event Horizon.' 'And you screwed up? You went too fast?' 'I blew the dematerialisation circuit.' 'Which reminds me, a funny thing happened to me once.' What?' 'A very long time ago, a very scary lady threw me against a wall and made me promise to always, always carry a spare dematerialisation circuit. I don't remember much about her now, but she must have made quite an impression.' 'You know, you basically have me to thank for this?' 'You're welcome.' 'By the way, is it wrong that I ...?' 'Yes. Very!'
'It's the best I can do and I'm doing it, d'you have a problem with that?' 'You can't win.' 'I know. And?' 'Come on, Lady Version, I honestly don't know what you see in him.' 'Likewise.' 'No! No! When I say "No!" you turn back around! I'm going to be dead in a few hours so before I go, let's have this out, you and me. Once and for all. Winning? Is that what you think it's about? I'm not trying to win. I'm not doing this because I want to beat someone. Or because I hate someone, or because I want to blame someone. It's not because it's fun, God knows it's not because it's easy. It's not even because it works because it hardly ever does. I do what I do because it's right. Because it's decent. And, above all, it's kind ... If I run away today, good people will die. If I stand and fight, some of them might live, maybe not many, maybe not for long. No, maybe there's no point in any of this, at all. But it's the best I can do. So I will do it and I will stand here doing it till it kills me. You're going to die too. Someday. How will that be, have you thought about that? What would you die for? Who I am? That's where I stand. Where I stand is where I fall. Stand with me, these people are terrified. Maybe we can help. A little. Why not? Just at the end. Just be kind.' 'See this face? Take a good long look at it. This is the face that didn't listen to a word you just said.'
'Up till now, this has been a mercy mission. They want to upgrade you. That's why they come for your children. But, now they think we're a military target so they will fall back, regroups and plan a much bigger assault.' 'Good-oh!' 'Yes, good. Because they will stop tracking the children.'
'I love being surrounded, it means everyone's look at me! Nardole, I want you to lead the evacuation. There's another solar farm on floor five-oh-two, there should be enough livestock in the cryogenic chamber ...' 'You need me with you.' 'Thanks for all the software, I will take it from here.' 'Sir, with respect, I'm worried about your plan.' 'Plan? What plan!' 'I think as soon as this place is evacuated, you're going to blow the whole floor killing as many Cybermen as you can.' 'No. Of course not. I won't do that until I've left.' 'Liar! It can't be done remotely.' 'You couldn't do it remotely!' 'Neither could you and more to the point, you're not sending me up there to babysit a load of smelly humans.' 'Well, I'm afraid that's exactly what I'm doing.' 'This is me we're talking about. Me. You know what I was like? If there's more than three people in a room I start a black market! Send me with them, I'll be selling their own spaceship back to them once a week. Please, I would rather stay down here and explode.'
'Listen! One of us has to stay down here and blow up a bunch of silly tin-men and one of us has to go up there and look after a load of very scared people day-after-day for the rest of their lives and keep them safe. Now, the question is this, Nardole. Which one of us is stronger?' 'Damn.' 'My condolences!' 'I'm going to name a town after you. A really rubbish one!' 'Oh, I'm counting on it!' 'And, probably a pig! Young lady, you are coming with me, no arguments. may I remind you that I am still empowered to kick your arse!' 'You'd have to go back down there to that hospital and find it, then! My arse got kick a long time ago and there's no going back. All I've got left it returning the favour.' 'Oh, great, so she's allowed to explode!'
'I loved being you every second of it. I loved the way you burned like a Sun. Like a whole screaming world on fire. I remember that feeling and I always will. And I will always miss it.' 'That was really very nicely done. It's good to know I haven't lost my touch.' 'You deserve my best.'
'How long do I have?' 'Difficult to be precise. You'll be able to get back to your TARDIS. Maybe even get a cuppa. Although, you might leak a little.' 'And then, regenerate into you?' Welcome to the sisterhood.' 'Missy. Seriously, why?' 'Because he's right. Because it's time to stand with him. It's where we've always been going and it's happening now, today. It's time to stand with The Doctor.' 'Never. Missy! I will never stand with The Doctor ... Don't bother trying to regenerate. You got the full blast. You see, Missy, this is where we've always been going. This is our perfect ending. We shoot ourselves in the back!'
'Telos! Sealed you in your ice tombs. Voga! Canary Wharf! Planet Fourteen! Every single time, you lose. Even on The Moon! Hello. I'm The Doctor.' 'Doctors are not required.' 'No. I am a Doctor, I am The Doctor. The original, you might say ... Doctor, let it go. Time enough.'
'Am I dead?' 'Does that feel dead to you? You're like me now, it's just a different kind of living.' 'How did you find me?' 'I left you my tears, remember?'
'I can fly anything. Even you.' 'So, I'm like you now? I' not human any more' 'I can make you human again. It's all just atoms you can rearrange them any way you like. I can put you back home. You can make chips, live your life. Or, you can come with me. It's up to you Bill but, before you make up your mind, let me show you around.' 'Back in time for tea?' 'If you want!'
'Where is it?' 'The lift-shaft? Right here.' 'A hologram. Mustn't ruin the pretty forest. It's a wonder more people don't turn to genocide!' ... '"Do as she says?" Is the future going to be all girl?' 'We can only hope.'
'Sontarans! Perverting the course of human history!'
'I don't want to go. I'm The Doctor. And The Doctor was me. And, The Doctor was me. It's started. I'm regenerating. No ... Where have you taken me? If you're trying to make a point, I'm not listening. I don't want to change again. Never again. I can't keep on being somebody else! Wherever it is, I'm staying.'
'Is someone there?' 'Who is that?' 'I'm The Doctor.' 'The Doctor? Oh, I don't think so. No, dear me no. You may be a Doctor, but I am The Doctor. The original, you might say.'
'Without hope, without witness, without reward.'
'Pity. No stars. I hoped there'd be stars.' Not, quite, Moffat and Capaldi's swan-song - that will come at Christmas - but, rather a sort of Vitaï Lampada; a piece of all-encompassing era-definition which, big surprise, this blogger thought was utterly, totally and completely great. Especially yer man Capaldi. And Pearl. And Michelle Gomez. And John Simm. And Matt Lucas. And, then there was the ending ...
Is it nearly Christmas yet?
Oh, yes. Steven ... evil scarecrows in Doctor Who? Been there, done that! That's so 1998!
Penguin Random House have this week released the cover for this year's Doctor Who Annual, due out on 21 September. One for all your lists to Santa of stocking fillers there, dear blog reader.
'The most mind-melting, majestic outing yet,' some somebody of no consequence at the Gruniad Morning Star said concerning the outre eighth episode of Twin Peak: The Return. And, for once, the Middle Class hippy Communists are entirely correct. Esquire described it as 'one of the best episodes of television ever' and The Hollywood Reporter added that 'describing the latest episode of the new Twin Peaks feels like an impossible task.' (A contrasting review, from someone else of no consequence at E! News - so, not a proper media outlet, then - was entitled What the Hell Was That and Why?)
Episode eight saw Evil-Cooper take three bullets courtesy of his duplicitous henchman, Ray. However, this was almost immediately cancelled out by a group of creepy-looking ghost-type things known as The Woodsmen, who performed a ritual that brought Evil-Cooper back from beyond the grave. After the shooting, Ray fled and called Phillip Jeffries - confirming that the pair are working together and building fan expectations that David Bowie's character from Fire Walk With Me may make a return in some form during this series. What followed that - and Nine Inch Nails seemingly playing a surprise gig at The Roadhouse - was a seriously weird and trippy history for The Woodsmen, who originate, it would seem, from a nuclear base in New Mexico and appear to give credence to the fan theory that the nuclear age is responsible for the creation of Bob, Laura Palmer's murderer and indeed pretty much everything evil that has occurred on the series since day one. Or something. It was the 1945 atom bomb sequence that will live longest in viewers memories, however.
That burning muddle of smoke and violent energy transforms to static, to buzzing insects, to flickering lights, to image after image of frantic nothingness. The initial scale of the scene, the patient approach, the sustained discordance of the soundtrack - Krzysztof Penderecki's 'Threnody For The Victims Of Hiroshima' - the flashing lights streaming by. It all felt alarming like an homage to 2001: A Space Odyssey and specifically to the notorious and dazzling 'star-gate' sequence. Once again, David Lynch proves that he still has a knack for rewriting the rules of television and stamping his own character over the series in a way that few other auteurs could pull off. This blogger's initial reaction to the episode was, he imagines, pretty much exactly the same as everyone else - what the fuck was that all about? But, it was as brilliant as it was baffling and Keith Telly Topping will be glued to the next episode, dear blog reader.
The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat (OBE) has shot down those smart-arsed responses to the news that he and Mark Gatiss his very self are working on a Dracula TV series. With the same writing team and a similar format - a short series of feature-length episodes - to Sherlock, some planks were quick to speculate about a potential series involving a crime-solving vampire. At a screening of Doctor Who's latest episode, World Enough & Time, at Cardiff's BBC Hoddinott Hall last week, The Moffat as asked about that very possibility. 'Dracula solves crimes!' he announced, before adding: 'I just made that up - it's not that!' He then added: 'That's quite good though, isn't it?' Moffat his very self also revealed that, while Dracula is his first project to be announced post-Doctor Who, work on the series will 'not [begin] immediately. I've got other plans just before that, mostly involving a balcony and gin and tonic' he said. He also hinted at plans for other original projects: 'I'm still working on [Doctor Who] but once the head's cleared, there's a few things I'd like to do, a few ideas I'd like to do that are as far away from Doctor Who and Sherlock as I can manage. Not that I don't love those things more than anything, because I do.' Talks are currently underway with the BBC to broadcast Dracula in the UK. Like Sherlock, it will be produced by Sue Vertue's Hartswood Films.
Meanwhile, the future of Sherlock has yet to be confirmed but the signs look good if you want more of the popular BBC detective drama. You'll just have to wait a while, that's all. Co-creator The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat (OBE) spoke to Chris Evans on BBC Radio 2 on Friday and was optimistic of a fifth series at some point in the future despite everybody's busy schedules. 'We did [the last series] a year ago and I've been flat-out on Doctor Who ever since,' he said. 'So I haven't really thought about it. Mark [Gatiss has] been doing other stuff as well, so we haven't sat down and had a proper talk about what we would do with another series. I sort of assume we will come back.' Andrew Scott, who plays Moriarty, recently suggested that the show won't be back for at least another two years. 'We're not doing [Sherlock] for another couple of years. Everybody got quite busy, you know? You want to keep it fresh and stuff like that,' he said.
There's a very good piece in praise of the female characters in American Gods in Radio Times which you can check out here.
And, another one - this focusing on From The North fave Gillian Anderson at the Indie Wire website, can be found here.
We all wanted to believe that Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul creator Vince Gilligan would make time in his busy schedule to return to where it all began and write a script for the forthcoming eleventh series of The X-Files. Sadly, though, it appears that it was not to be. Gilligan has been on many fans' wish-list to write for the revival given his long history as a writer-producer on the original X-Files series and its spin-off The Lone Gunmen - this blogger very much included. However, his name was missing when TVLine shared the line-up of writers working on the new series on Monday of this week. Along with the return of The X-Files creator, Chris Carter, will be Glen Morgan, James Wong and Darin Morgan all of whom worked on last year's revival miniseries. Glen Morgan is expected to write two episodes. Newcomers to the writing room will be the SF drama's former writing assistants Gabe Rotter and Benjamin Van Allen as well as Chris Carter's former personal assistant Brad Follmer.
Colour television in Britain turned fifty this week. But did you know thousands of people are still watching in black and white?
And now, dear blog reader, the final and consolidated ratings for the Top Twenty Four programmes broadcast, week-ending Sunday 25 June 2017:-
1 Coronation Street - Fri ITV - 7.78m
2 EastEnders - Fri BBC1 - 6.12m
3 Emmerdale - Wed ITV - 6.11m
4 Poldark - Sun BBC1 - 5.93m
5 Antiques Roadshow - Sun BBC1 - 5.92m
6 Countryfile - Sun BBC1 - 5.45m
7= Doctor Who - Sat BBC1 - 5.00m
7= Casualty - Sat BBC1 - 5.00m
9 The Loch - Sun ITV - 4.86m
10 Ten O'Clock News - Mon BBC1 - 4.83m
11 Six O'Clock News - Wed BBC1 - 4.64m
12 Fearless - Mon ITV - 4.53m
13 The Met: Policing London - Wed BBC1 - 4.22m
14 The Voice Kids - Sat ITV - 4.17m
15 Eat Well For Less? - Wed BBC1 - 4.10m
16 DIY SOS: The Big Build - Thurs BBC1 - 4.09m
17 Holby City - Tues BBC1 - 4.03m
18 BBC News - Sun BBC1 - 4.02m
19 Peter Kay's (Lack Of) Comedy Shuffle - Fri BBC1 - 3.93m
20 Supermarket Shopping Secrets - Mon BBC1 - 3.86m
21 Broken - Tues BBC1 - 3.72m
22 The Graham Norton Show - Fri BBC1 - 3.68m
23 Mrs Brown's Boys - Sat BBC1 - 3.59m
24 The ONE Show - Mon BBC1 - 3.25m
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. Once again it's worth pointing out that overnight ratings tend to drop significantly in Britain whenever we hit one of the four or five days each summer when the weather gets good and, again, viewing figures generally were down across the board this particular week. The BBC1's latest - really not very good at all - music show, Pitch Battle, continued to be ignored by all but the most undiscerning of punters. The overnight audience was under two million and this does not appear to have been raised to any great degree by timeshifts as the programme didn't feature in the channel's top thirty programmes of the week (so, the final audience must, therefore, have been less than 3.2 million). ITV's - extremely similar - lack-of-talent show, The Voice Kids, which was shown in the same slot Saturday evening as Pitch Battle did marginally better, attracting a consolidated audience of 4.17 million (seven hundred thousand up on the previous week's episode). Doctor Who, as usual, had a near-two million timeshift above the initially-reported overnight figure (3.37 million) which boosted that to a more-than-respectably respectable five million. ITV's new vehicle for That Worthless Oily Twat Piers Morgan, Killer Women was watched by 3.09 million. Note, also, that the second episode of the drama Fearless suffering a big drop-off in its audience - from 6.25 million for the opening episode to 4.55 million this week. Coverage of this year's Glastonbury Festival dominated BBC2's top thirty programmes list with Sunday night's 9pm show (featuring highlights of the sets by Ed Sheeran (he is a popular beat combo, apparently, dear blog reader), Barry Gibb and The Killers) drawing 3.08 million. Hospital (2.78m) and the return for a fifth and final series of Ripper Street (2.61 million) were the most-watched programmes which didn't involve lots of miserable looking hippies standing in a field in Wiltshire getting sunstroke. (Friday night's live coverage of sulky millionaire miserabilists Radiohead making the whole nation feel even more sorry for itself than it already did post-Brexit, Trump, the Grenfell Tower disaster, et al, attracted 1.58 million ... students and Gruniad Morning Star readers.) Gardeners' World was watched by 2.19 million, followed by Who Should We Let In? Ian Hislop On The First Great Immigration Row (1.90 million), Mock The Week (1.77 million), Great British Menu (1.71 million), Versailles (1.53 million), Horizon (1.44 million), The Greatest Tombs On Earth: Secrets Of Ancient China (1.35 million), Inside Versailles (1.21 million) and Flog It! (1.12 million). Natural World: Supercharged Otters drew 1.11 million, Brexit Means Brexit, 1.04 million and a Qi repeat, nine hundred and eighty thousand. Channel Four's highest-rated broadcast was The Crystal Maze Z-List Celebrity Special (3.11 million) ahead of F1 Azerbaijan Grand Prix Live coverage (2.60 million) and the latest episode of The Handmaid's Tale (1.82 million). Twenty Four Hours Banged-Up In Pollis Custody (With All The Murderers And The Rapists And The People Who Nick Stuff from ASDA) had 1.75 million, The Last Leg With Adam Hills (1.73 million), Twenty Four Hours In A&E (1.70 million), Ackley Bridge (1.64 million), Great Canal Journeys: India (1.58 million) and First Dates (1.51 million). The much-trailed BUPA Care Homes Undercover attracted nine hundred and sixty one thousand. The Story Of ... Paul O'Grady was Channel Five's top performer with an audience of 1.88 million. O'Grady's depressingly wretched revival of Blind Date lost half-a-million punters from its first episode (2.05 million) to this week's second (1.55 million) as audiences appeared to realise what they should have known in the first place - that the Blind Date format was a right load of old toot even when dear old national treasure Cilla was presenting it, let alone yer man O'Grady. Can't Pay? We'll Take It Away! drew 1.72 million and The Murder Of April Jones: Five Years On, 1.41 million. The most-watched episode of Big Brother during the week was Monday's 1.23 million, only the seventh most-watched programme on the channel. It beaten by the - rather lovely - documentary Meet The Hedgehogs (1.24 million). Fair restores ones faith in the viewing public, that does. Sky Sports 1's coverage of Live British & Irish Lions Tour rugby was seen by seven hundred and sixty two thousand punters. England's entirely predictable loss on penalties to Germany in the European Under Twenty Ones Championship broke the hearts of two hundred and ninety five thousand. On Sky Sports 2, coverage of the three T20 cricket internationals between England and South Africa attracted four hundred and thirty nine thousand, three hundred and eighty nine thousand and two hundred and eighty eight thousand respectively. England won the exciting series two-one. The opening match of the ICC Women's World Cup - India's victory over England - had one hundred and fifty one thousand. Sky Sports 4's Live European Tour Golf had seventy three thousand. Drone Racing attracted twenty two thousand punters to Sky Sports Mix. I'm not making this up, dear blog reader, honest I'm not. Thursday's Sky Sports News At Ten was top of the shop on Sky Sports News HQ, with ninety five thousand punters. Sky F1's Live Azerbaijan Grand Prix coverage was watched by six hundred and sixteen thousand. Sky 1's weekly top-ten was headed the latest episode of Jamestown (1.19 million), followed by that hateful and crassly unfunny exercise in rank smugness and celebrity-by-non-entity A League Of Their Own with nine hundred and eighty four thousand people, every single one of whom needs their bloody heads examining for any signs of brain activity if they find this toxic, full-of-its-own-importance vomit even remotely amusing and aren't just watching in the hope that either Corden or Whitehall will do something spectacularly stupid which results in their painful hospitalisiation. That's the only reason this blogger tunes-in to be fair. The Blacklist followed (seven hundred and eighty three thousand). MacGyver was seen by four hundred and fifty four thousand and The Simpsons by two hundred and seventy six thousand. Sky Atlantic's list was topped by the second episode of the much-trailed Riviera (six hundred and ninety thousand) whilst Last Week Tonight With John Oliver was seen by two hundred and one thousand punters. Veep had one hundred and thirty five thousand, Silicon Valley, one hundred and twenty seven thousand, a Game Of Thrones repeat, one hundred and twelve thousand and the - entirely remarkable and mad weird - seventh episode of Twin Peak: The Return, eighty four thousand. On Sky Living, the latest episode of Madam Secretary was seen by four hundred and fifty eight thousand whilst Nashville had four hundred and one thousand. UK Border Force drew one hundred and ninety one thousand and Criminal Minds, one hundred and thirteen thousand. Sky Arts' Master Of Photography was watched by one hundred and eight thousand viewers. The Be-Atles, Hippies & Hells-Angels had fifty one thousand and The Art Of The Joy Of Sex, forty thousand. Lewis was ITV3's top-rated drama (eight hundred and ten thousand viewers). Midsomer Murders was seen by seven hundred and seventy four thousand, Endeavour by seven hundred and sixty three thousand and Foyle's War by six hundred and twenty three thousand. FIFA Confederations Cup 2017 coverage headed ITV4's weekly list with five hundred and thirty one thousand punters. ITV2's list of shame was by Love Island - a truly depressing 2.41 million, the highest multichannels audience of the week and one of a horrifying six episodes of the hateful 'z-list celebrity scumfest' to attract an audience of more than two million viewers. Broken Britain in one shameful statistic, dear blog reader. The Pop Group were right, we are all prostitutes now. Vera headed ITV Encore's top ten with one hundred and thirty thousand viewers, followed by DCI Banks (ninety six thousand) and The Americans (ninety four thousand). The Real Housewives Of New York was seen by two hundred and seventy two thousand of the sort of people 'for the hard of thinking' who enjoy such risible exercises in z-list-celebrity-by-non-entity on ITVBe. BBC4's list was, like BBC2's, dominated by Glastonbury coverage - Friday nights 'alternative-to-Radiohead' (The Pretenders, Elbow and Dizzee Rascal. Much more satisfying fare, there) was watched by eight hundred and thirty five thousand. Japan: Earth's Enchanted Isle had seven hundred and twenty seven thousand and The Art Of Japanese Life, five hundred and fifty seven. Britain & The Sea was seen by four hundred and ten thousand and Ireland's Treasures Uncovered, four hundred and two thousand. 5USA's latest NCIS Los Angeles episode was viewed by five hundred and nine thousand viewers, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit by three hundred and thirty four thousand and NCIS by two hundred and ninety three thousand. NCIS also featured in the weekly most-watched programme lists of CBS Action (one hundred and forty six thousand), the Universal Channel (one hundred and eight thousand) and FOX (one hundred and twenty three thousand). Shots Fired was the most-watched drama on FOX's viewing list with one hundred and ninety eight thousand. American Dad! drew one hundred and forty four thousand. On Dave, good old reliable Would I Lie To You? was watched by four hundred and three thousand, Dara O'Briain's Go Eight Bit by three hundred and sixty two thousand and unfunny smug, 'everybody look at me, me, me, me, me, me, me' vanity exercise Taskmaster, three hundred and eighteen thousand. Mock The Week attracted two hundred and ninety one thousand, Not Going Out, two hundred and eighty three thousand, Qi XL, two hundred and seventy three thousand and Room 101, two hundred and sixty seven thousand. Drama's Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries was watched by four hundred and fifty one thousand viewers. Death In Paradise was seen by four hundred and thirty thousand, WPC Fifty Six by three hundred and eighty nine thousand, New Tricks by three hundred and thirty thousand and Miss Marple by three hundred and twenty five thousand. Alibi's highest-rated programme was Rosewood (one hundred and ninety five thousand) whilst Quantico had one hundred and sixty seven thousand, Father Brown, one hundred and twenty three thousand and Inspector George Gently, ninety two thousand. The Sony Channel's top ten was headed by Celebrity Ghost Stories (twenty eight thousand). Yesterday's repeat run of One Foot In The Grave continued with two hundred and thirty nine thousand, whilst Forbidden History was seen by two hundred and twenty nine thousand and Royal Murder Mysteries by two hundred and twenty one thousand. On the Discovery Channel, Tanked attracted one hundred and eighty thousand viewers. Gold Divers had one hundred and thirty seven thousand, Deadliest Catch, one hundred and thirty three thousand, Wor Geet Canny Robson Green: Extreme Fisherman, one hundred and twenty thousand and Naked & Afraid, one hundred and four thousand. From The North favourite Wheeler Dealers topped the weekly list of Discovery Shed (twenty nine thousand) and also appeared in the top ten of Discovery Turbo (twenty one thousand). Discovery History's World War II - The Complete History headed the top ten-list with thirty three thousand. Seven Ages of Britain attracted thirty thousand. On Discovery Science, How Do They Do It? was seen by fifty three thousand viewers. On Quest, Salvage Hunters was watched by two hundred and nine thousand. Pick's World's Most Evil & Sick Fuckers and The Force: Essex had audiences of two hundred and sixty one thousand and two hundred and sixty thousand respectively. National Geographic's list was headed by the latest episode of Genius with one hundred and eighty eight thousand viewers, followed by Wicked Tuna (ninety three thousand). National Geographic Wild's Sea Of Hope was watched by thirty six thousand and Africa's Hunters by thirty four thousand. The History Channel's weekly list was topped by Forged In Fire (one hundred and seventy thousand) and Vikings (one hundred and sixty six thousand). On Military History, UFO Hunters was watched by thirty six thousand punters and Patton Three Sixty by thirty three thousand. Unusual Suspects, The Jail Atlanta: Sixty Days In, On The Case With Paula Zahn and A Town & Country Murder With The Blood & The Screaming were Crime & Investigation's top-rated programmes with seventy three thousand, sixty six thousand, fifty six thousand and fifty two thousand blood-and-snots-lovers, respectively. I Am Homicide, Murderisation Calls and Murderisation Comes To Town headed Investigation Discovery's list (sixty two thousand, fifty one thousand and fifty one thousand). Whether it was the same fifty one thousand punters that watched Murderisation Calls and Murderisation Comes To Town we simply don't know. It's unlikely but, given the subject matter, not entirely beyond the bounds of possibility. From The North's current camp-as-Butlin's guilty pleasure, Evil Stepmothers attracted forty four thousand. Always good for a laugh, that one. The latest of GOLD's Mrs Brown's Boys repeat had two hundred and fifty five thousand. Comedy Central's largest audience of the week was for the movie Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen with one hundred and ninety thousand. Your TV's repeat of Bones series two continued with ninety eight thousand. Beyond Mansion Walls had ninety one thousand. On More4, Twenty Four Hours In A&E was the highest-rated programme with three hundred and sixty four thousand. Selling Homes With Amanda Lamb had three hundred and thirty seven thousand and Grand Designs: New Zealand, three hundred and twenty eight thousand. E4's list was topped by Marvel's Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D (nine hundred and seventy two thousand viewers) and Hollyoaks (a rather below-par nine hundred and forty eight thousand for a series which normally manages to top the one million viewers mark at least once a week). Dark Matter, headed Syfy's top-ten with one hundred and ninety seven thousand. The movies, Contact and Waterworld brought in one hundred and thirty six thousand and one hundred and twenty two thousand punters respectively. Those who watched the latter, no doubt, would have been appalled by Kevin Costner wooden performance, though at least a bit amused by Mad Dennis Hopper going so far over the top he's down the other side and would have spent their time trying to find the four lines of dialogue that Joss Whedon actually wrote for the film. This blogger once spent three quid of his own money going to see that pile of nonsense at his local cinema. That's two hours of Keith Telly Topping's life that he'll never get back. The Horror Channel's top ten was headed by an episode of Star Trek: Voyager (one hundred and eighteen thousand) which, horrific as it was, barely qualifies a 'horror', per se. The top ten also included Michael Reeves' Witchfinder General (eighty six thousand) and Hammer's Quatermass & The Pit (seventy thousand). Radio Cab Murder and Dreamland topped Talking Pictures list, with thirty eight thousand and thirty five thousand respectively. World's Deadliest Weather: Caught On Camera drew one hundred and seventy thousand punters on Spike. Wildest Africa was watched by twenty nine thousand on Eden. Bondi Vet was the Animal Planet's most-watched programme with thirty seven thousand. Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders on W attracted four hundred and three thousand punters. On True Crime, Crime Three Sixty and Killer Kids were seen by eighty six thousand and eighty one thousand respectively. Both High Flyer and Hannibal had audiences of fifty one thousand. True Entertainment's M*A*S*H was watched by one hundred and fifty one thousand and Taggart by one hundred and thirty four thousand. Return To River Cottage drew fifty seven thousand on Good Food. TLC's list was headed by the woefully nasty Say Yes To The Dress (one hundred and sixty two thousand). Shameful waste-of-oxygen Ex On The Beach on MTV was viewed by five hundred and seventy six thousand. Ghost Adventures and Most Haunted were seen by two hundred and seventy five thousand and two hundred and fifty three thousand punters on Really. Tom & Jerry attracted seventy three thousand on Boomerang whilst Batman: The Movie had seventy one thousand. Holy unexpected audience boost. American Experience topped PBS America's weekly list with nineteen thousand. Rock All-Stars drew eleven thousand on Scuzz. Yes, the really is a channel called Scuzz, and eleven thousand people seemingly watch it. Honest. Something Special had four hundred and ninety thousand viewers on Cbeebies. That's not a review of the show, incidentally, just what it's called.

Adam Hills kicked off this week's episode of The Last Leg by explaining a new theory, that Dave Grohl has just saved the world. 'There's a theory that when Dave Grohl from the Foo Fighters broke his leg and couldn't play Glastonbury two years ago, it put a tear in the space-time continuum and everything's gone upside down in the world since then,' Adam said. 'We've had Trump, we've had Brexit dividing people, we've had elections, we've had horrible things happening. But, now that Dave Grohl played Glastonbury last weekend, he's put the world back in order again. Everything's going to be fine - the government are even talking about an end to austerity this week!' Co-host Josh Widdicombe wasn't convinced suggesting that as Adam had gone 'fucking crazy.'
Poldark returned for its third series at the start of the month, with plenty of drama, brooding and shirtless scenes. What's missing from the current run is the character of Jud Paynter, Ross Poldark's miserable manservant. Radio Times caught up with actor Phil Davis to ask why he isn't in series three and, if the doors are open for a return in the future. 'The truth of the matter is Poldark got in touch with me, with my agent, before series three and said, "We don't have much of a storyline for you so if you're in the series it won't be the whole thing, it will be a couple of episodes really." There's so much serious stuff going on in this series of Poldark, the little comic scenes get in the way, I think. So it was good of them to tip me the wink so I could look for other stuff. And I was offered Riveria which I was in for eight out of the ten episodes, so it seemed sensible to do that. I couldn't do both as they were shot at the same time.' Jud could still return in the future, however. Phil explained: 'I haven't said I won't come back and they haven't said it's out of the question. He hasn't been killed off or anything.'
The Blacklist's Megan Boone is reported to be lobbying for equal representation by taking her own show's official Twitter feed to task for inadequately representing her character in promotional images from the series. Boone, who plays Elizabeth Keen in the NBC series, picked up on a recurring theme in a number of posters and teasers from the show's forthcoming fifth series. The of the images all prominently featured her male co-star James Spader - and the actress was having none of it. Boone later clarified that her intent was only to promote 'female lead exposure' in a series of now-deleted tweets. Specifically her own 'female lead exposure.'
The co-creator of Sky Atlantic's Riviera has distanced himself from the project after being 'upset' by script changes apparently made without his consent. Filmmaker Neil Jordan, who directed movies such The Company Of Wolves, Interview With The Vampire and The Crying Game, wrote the first two episodes of the drama along with novelist John Banville. However, he has since 'slammed' - the tabloid-speak for 'criticised' only with less syllables - the show's creative team for, seemingly, rewriting his episodes and taking the series in 'a different direction' than he had intended. 'The first two episodes that myself and John wrote were very dark and complex and that's what got everybody attracted to the project in the first place,' he snitched to the Gruniad Morning Star. 'Sky Atlantic got involved because of these scripts. But then the producers decided to go in a different direction. The two episodes we wrote together were reworked by others, after I pulled out. They were changed, to my huge surprise and considerable upset. There were various sexual scenes introduced into the story and a lot of very expository dialogue. I objected in the strongest terms possible. It was quite distressing for John and for myself, the way it proceeded.' The series, which stars Julia Stiles, Adrian Lester and Iwan Rheon, was executive produced by former manager of The U2 Group, Paul McGuinness, who approached Jordan to write the two pilot episodes. However, Jordan argues that his 'vision' was 'not upheld' during the production phase, despite raising his own concerns with Sky and an initial attempt to address them. 'All I can say is, good luck to them,' Jordan added, although given what he whinged about previously in the interview one imagines he didn't, actually, mean that. 'I can't claim it's mine. If I had been in control of the thing it would have been quite different. Am I annoyed with Paul McGuinness? I'm surprised, let me put it that way.' So, that's be a 'yes, then?
Richard Hammond has spoken about how he 'thought he was going to die' when he crashed a car earlier this month. 'What was probably going through my mind was "well, this is it,"' the Grand Tour presenter said, recalling the exact moment of the high-speed crash on a Swiss hillside. 'In fact that is what was going through my mind. I thought I'd had it.' Hamster was on a practice run for a race in an electric car when the vehicle left the road, tumbled down the hill and burst into flames. He described the experience as 'like being in a tumble dryer full of bricks going down a hill.' In a video posted on Drivetribe, Hamster said: 'I was aware that I was up, that I was high, that inevitably the car was going to come down. And, yes, of course there was a moment of dread. "Oh God I'm going to die." Also, I was aware that the car was taking just such a beating.' The crash came eleven years after the presenter was left in a coma by a high-speed crash as he filmed for the BBC's Top Gear. This time, he said he was conscious throughout. 'I was thinking, "Yeah, I can't make this." You're aware of tumbling - sky, ground, sky, ground, sky, ground.' When the car finally came to a rest more than one hundred metres from the road - and having narrowly missed a house - Hamster dragged himself out of the vehicle before the first people came to his aid. 'I do remember saying to them, "Drag me by my arms not my legs because I think I've broken that leg."' It transpired that he had, in fact, fractured his knee. He described how the accident had 'collapsed the knee joint on the top of the bottom bone.' But he recounted how, when he showed his youngest daughter the dressing on his knee, she was not entirely sympathetic. She told him: 'Daddy, you look like you've fallen over in the playground.' He also said that it hadn't had a major impact on the filming schedule of the Amazon Prime programme. The incident on 10 June took place as Hammond completed a hill climb in the Hemberg area. He had been driving a Rimac Concept One, an electric supercar built in Croatia, during filming for the show's second season.
Channel Four has decided to extremely scrap its latest 'entertainment' format Host The Week after just one episode. Initially commissioned as a two-part series, the unscripted and unrehearsed show debuted last week with Gogglebox's Scarlett Moffatt (no, me neither) presenting. A second episode - fronted by the worthless, unfunny lanky streak of rancid piss Jack Whitehall - will not now go ahead. For which, we should all probably be very grateful. Y'see, dear blog reader, there is a God after all. 'We're brave enough to take risks with innovative programme ideas but also to acknowledge they don't all work and move on,' a spokeswoman for the channel weaselled. Last Thursday's episode saw Moffatt front the show, with no idea what was going to happen. She took part in a number of hideously unfunny and embarrasing sketches, including one as a Channel Four news presenter with guests that included Blue singer Duncan James and Steps. That description probably gives dear blog readers who were fortunate enough not to witness this abomination some idea as to just how utterly worthless and tragic it was. An average of four hundred thousand punters tuned in to watch the programme live - a third fewer than usual in the 9pm timeslot for the channel. And, those viewers who did tune in were generally left unimpressed, with one tweeting the show was 'unwatchable.' Another commented: 'Absolutely awful TV. Won't be watching that again!' And, now, thankfully neither will anyone else.
Double-glazing comedy White Gold is going abroad as it returns for a second series next year, the BBC has revealed. The Essex-based comedy drama charts the lives of a group of salesmen in the 1980s. White Gold was BBC2's biggest comedy launch of the year and the second highest request on BBC iPlayer with more than five million hits. The new series will see the trio try their luck with the timeshare market in Spain. Writer and director Damon Beesley, who grew up in Stanford-le-Hope, near Basildon, said it was 'an honour and a pleasure to be working with the BBC again on a second series of White Gold. I like to think of it as selling them a series two conservatory to go with their series one patio doors,' he added. The programme sees former Gossip Girl actor Ed Westwick as foul-mouthed, Thatcher-era double glazing salesman Vincent Swan, with The Inbetweeners James Buckley and Joe Thomas as his sidekicks. All three will be back when the series returns for another six half-hour episodes in 2018. Shane Allen, the controller of comedy commissioning for the BBC, said: 'The reaction to the first series has been terrific, with an enormous audience boost from the iPlayer box-set release. In series two, the swindles spread abroad to cover the Spanish timeshare apartment gold rush. Expect to see Ed Westwick in some tight swimming trunks.'
Wimbledon starts this week, dear blog reader, so be prepared for the next fortnight to have TV schedules completely buggered up and your favourite programmes postponed because some yawn-inducing match between two people you've never heard of has just gone to a tie-break. This blogger is not a fan. In fact, he thinks it's a load of arse.
The Big Bang Theory's Johnny Galecki has said he is 'relieved no-one has been hurt' in a fire which burned down his house. The actor's ranch was engulfed by a bush fire in San Luis Obispo, located between Los Angeles and San Francisco. Galecki's representative told Variety the actor was not at the property at the time of the fire. The spokesman added Galecki had not yet seen the damage, but would visit the scene once the fire was contained. The actor's rural holiday home was one of several properties which were destroyed following the blaze, which began on Monday night. The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said on Tuesday that the fire was 'sixty per cent contained.' Galecki is best known for playing Doctor Hofstadter in the hit US sitcom, which was recently renewed for two more seasons.
A cult children's television show is to return to CBBC with a new format and star. Raven was first broadcast in 2002 and last shown in 2010. The fantasy adventure children's game show involves contestants being guided on a quest by 'an immortal shape-shifting Scottish warrior.' The revamped show, which is filming in the Cairngorms National Park between July and September, stars River City's Aisha Toussaint. She takes over from original Raven, James Mackenzie, who will be returning to feature during the 'new quest to find an ultimate warrior.' Toussaint said: 'I'm absolutely thrilled to be the new Raven. I was a massive fan of the original series and remember rushing home from school so I didn't miss an episode - it was always so exciting. I used to dream of one day being a warrior contestant - I never for a second imagined that I'd one day be Raven. My eleven-year-old self would be gobsmacked. Pulling on the costume for the very first time was a very special moment.' Cheryl Taylor, the Controller of CBBC, said that the overwhelming response was testament to Raven's popularity. She added: 'Raven has always inspired a passionate and loyal following from CBBC fans and it's clear from the number of children keen to participate in the new series that its enduring and powerful appeal lives on. The return of Raven has caused great excitement and we wait with anticipation to meet the new cast and immerse ourselves in this legendary battle.' The series is expected to be broadcast later in the year.
The lack of culture secretary has said that she is 'minded' to refer billionaire tyrant Rupert Murdoch's Twenty First Century FOX takeover of Sky to the competition watchdog. The vile and odious rascal Bradley's decision is a blow to the media mogul's hopes of having the eleven billion quid deal waved through without further scrutiny. Billionaire tyrant Murdoch already owns thirty nine per cent of the satellite broadcaster. An earlier attempt to take over Sky was abandoned in the wake of the phone-hacking scandal. The vile and odious rascal Bradley told the Commons that Ofcom's report into the deal found it 'risked' the billionaire tyrant Murdoch family having 'increased influence' over the UK's news agenda and the political process. 'On the basis of Ofcom's assessment, I confirm that I am minded to refer to a phase two investigation on the grounds of media plurality,' she said. The parties involved can make representations to the lack of culture secretary until Friday 14 July, when she will make a further decision about referring the deal to the Competition and Markets Authority. Ofcom said that it 'had no concerns' about FOX's 'genuine commitment to broadcasting standards,' which the vile and odious rascal Bradley said was 'a second test' for approving the deal. As a result, she told MPs that she was 'minded not to refer' the bid for a phase two investigation in relation to those concerns. 'While there are strong feelings among both supporters and opponents of this merger, in this quasi-judicial process, my decisions can only be influenced by facts, not opinions - and by the quality of evidence, not who shouts the loudest,' the vile and odious rascal Bradley said. Tommy Watson - Power To The People - the shadow lack of culture secretary, told the Commons that 'nothing about this decision is a surprise' as he had predicted the government would eventually allow the merger to go ahead. He said that if James Murdoch The Small, who is both chairman of Sky and chief executive of FOX, could pass a 'fit and proper' test, 'then that says more about the rules than it does about Mister Murdoch. It's clear that the rules need to be reviewed and if the current Conservative government won't do that then the next Labour government will.' Watson said that undertakings from the billionaire tyrant Murdoch family were 'not worth the newsprint they are written on' as he warned that lessons had not been learned from the phone-hacking scandal. He also accused the Conservatives of forming 'an implicit bargain' with the Murdochs as he pushed the vile and odious rascal Bradley to order part two of The Leveson Inquiry into phone-hacking. The lack of culture secretary claimed Watson was making a 'cynical' attempt to 'politicise' the issue and to 'prejudge' the decision. Evan Harris, executive director of the lobby group Hacked Off, said that it 'condemned' the vile and odious rascal Bradley's failure to refer the bid on commitment to broadcasting standards grounds. 'The Secretary of State must now begin Leveson part two immediately and allow that inquiry to report before considering this merger further,' he said. The deal was approved by European Commission competition authorities in April. Shares in Sky closed 3.3 per cent higher at nine hundred and eighty eight pence, valuing the company at almost seventeen billion smackers. Analysts at Citi said that it was possible FOX could find a resolution to Ofcom's concerns before the 14 July deadline and avoid a lengthy inquiry. 'Ultimately, this is a positive outcome for the FOX/Sky in the sense that it makes deal completion more likely,' they said. 'Concerns about broadcasting standards would have been almost impossible to work around, while we believe the groups will be able to offer concessions that adequately address concerns about plurality.'
Sky is scrapping its numbered sports channels and replacing them with themed offerings focused on specific sports - led by football, golf and cricket – as it combats falling viewer numbers with a branding revamp and a cheaper viewing package. The retirement of Sky Sports 1,2,3,4 and 5 and the introduction of a new package two-thirds cheaper than current prices represents a major shake-up of the strategy that has made billionaire tyrant Rupert Murdoch's Sky a pay-TV powerhouse. The new offering will result in the launch of themed channels, like Sky's existing dedicated Formula 1 channel, for its top-flight sports including football – which will get two channels – golf and cricket. A new channel, Sky Sports Arena, will host other content including rugby and tennis. A key part of the strategy is that it will let Sky entice new pay-TV subscribers reluctant to fork out up to £49.50 for its sports package. The new strategy will allow Sky to charge eighteen smackers for its cheapest package - although the whole Sky Sports bundle will remain a costly option. The cost of sports rights has spiralled in recent years with Sky paying over four billion knicker in its latest Premier League TV deal – eighty three per cent more than the previous deal and almost eleven million quid per game – while viewing has dropped significantly. Some analysts ascribe this drop to the rise in popularity of cheaper streaming services, such as Netflix and Amazon, which with prices starting at eight notes a month may be creating an expectation among consumers that pay-TV should be cheaper. 'There are a range of reasons why Sky would be looking at such a big structural change to its pay-TV service,' said Richard Broughton, a director at Ampere Analysis. 'In part, it could be a response to the ongoing question of viewing numbers to traditional pay-TV sport. There is also a demographic shift where people, especially younger groups, are reluctant to spend so much. Get reluctant-to-spend groups, such as millennials, in on cheap packages and look to up-sell at a later date.' Sky has put the viewing dip over the past year down to airing more games-per-season, many of which feature less popular clubs, the relegation of clubs with relatively large fanbases such as yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved (though unsellable) Newcastle United and Aston Villains and the BBC's extensive Rio Olympics coverage. The move also ties into the aim of Jeremy Darroch, the Sky chief executive, to entice the ten million budget-conscious Freeview households to try pay-TV. The company has been targeting viewers who don't have pay-TV with cheap options such as its £9.99 Now TV set-top box. Sky's Now TV Interweb service, considered a response to the challenge posed by the arrival of Netflix, broke the monthly sports subscription model on which the company built its business over more than two decades, offering sports channels on a pay-as-you-go basis for the first time. Now TV sports day passes have proved popular for fans looking to dip in for one-off big events (seven quid), but a one-off monthly pass at thirty four smackers remains a big outlay for those reluctant to sign up for traditional pay-TV packages. 'More and more Freeview households are starting to spend on pay-TV in some way, forty five per cent take a subscription service but it is mostly Netflix or Amazon,' said Broughton. 'Reducing the monthly TV package cost could also allow them to reduce the Now TV monthly pass cost to attract more occasional viewers without cannibalising the higher-value satellite TV base.' Sky only added forty thousand subscribers in the UK in the three months to the end of March, compared with seventy thousand in the same period last year. Broughton also suggests that by having genre-themed sports channels each will effectively act as a 'profit and loss' account for the popularity of each sport and therefore what the rights are really worth to Sky. For example, tennis is not thought to have its own dedicated sports channel in the new set-up. It is understood that the TV rights tender for the US Open and ATP Tennis Tour has just been issued. The new strategy could signal that Sky, which last year dropped its coverage of the US Open tennis tournament after twenty five years, may have determined it will not look to offer a huge bid to renew the ATP Tennis Tour rights. The Sky Sports Mix channel, which Sky uses to showcase sport to its wider subscriber base by offering it free to basic package holders, will be continued. The overhaul of the sports strategy marks the latest move by the pay-TV giant to make its service as accessible and flexible as possible for viewers. In January, the company said it is to make its full TV service of hundreds of channels available without the need for a satellite dish for the first time. Sky said that it will launch a broadband-delivered TV service next year which will enable it to compete for six million households of potential customers across Europe who cannot, or will not, have a satellite dish.
Meanwhile, English international and domestic cricket will be shown live on BBC TV for the first time in twenty years from 2020. In a five-year deal with the England and Wales Cricket Board, more than one hundred hours of cricket will be broadcast on the BBC each summer. The contract includes live TV coverage of England men and women's Twenty20 internationals and the ECB's new men's domestic T20 tournament. TV highlights of England men's home tests, one-day internationals and T20s - currently sown on Channel Five - will also feature. The BBC, which this year celebrates Test Match Special's sixtieth birthday, also retained radio rights and digital clips for English cricket - in-play video action clips and short-form highlights on the BBC Sport website and app for all England internationals and domestic games. The BBC last broadcast live televised cricket in 1999 and the sport has not been available on free-to-air TV since the 2005 Ashes series, shown on Channel Four. 'It's long been our ambition to bring live cricket back to BBC television,' said BBC Director General Tony Hall. 'I'm thrilled to see that ambition realised. Cricket is an integral part of the British summer and the BBC will be putting its full weight behind the nation's favourite summer sport. Our aim will be to make the new T20 competition a huge success.' Each summer from 2020 to 2024, the BBC will broadcast live TV coverage of: two England men's home T20s, one England women's home T20s, ten matches from the ECB's new domestic city-based T20 competition and up to eight matches from the women's domestic T20 tournament, including both finals. The BBC will also show highlights of England men's home tests, ODIs and T20s, highlights of England women's home internationals, digital clips of men and women's internationals, plus County Championship, One-Day Cup and T20 matches. Barbara Slater, the director of BBC Sport, said: 'This will lead to a step change in the BBC's coverage of cricket across TV, radio and digital platforms. We are extremely excited about what we have to offer by taking cricket to the widest possible audience and inspiring the next generation to pick up bat and ball. With ninety seven per cent of the UK population using the BBC every week, the potential for growing the game further is huge.' The ECB's deal with the BBC and Sky is worth £1.1bn. Sky will continue to broadcast live TV coverage of tests, England men's and women's internationals, plus the One-Day Cup and the County Championship. ECB chief executive Tom Harrison said: 'Together, these new deals will deliver the partnership, distribution and investment that will fuel the future of our game, driving recreational, professional and international cricket for years to come. BBC are valuable long-term partners, bringing cricket to listeners, viewers and a new digital audience. We are delighted they will go to another level with live coverage of international and domestic T20 - men's and women's - alongside prime-time highlights shows and a commitment to taking the game to even wider audiences.'
After Andrea Leadsom, the leader of the House of Commons, disgracefully called for broadcasters to be 'a bit patriotic' over their coverage of Brexit, the set of Robert Peston's ITV show has been decorated with union flags. Peston, who presents ITV's Peston On Sunday, shared a picture of the studio, making light of the loathsome Leadsom's hideous comments. The loathsome Leadsom, who stood for the leadership of the Conservative party last year - and failed,miserably even though she was only up against Theresa May,fer Christi's sake - made the remark about broadcasters needing to be 'more patriotic' during an interview with Emily Maitlis of the BBC's Newsnight. The loathsome Leadsom said: 'It would be helpful if broadcasters were willing to be a bit patriotic. The country took a decision, this government is determined to deliver on that decision.' Maitlis, who was presenting the show, responded by asking, pointedly: 'Are you accusing me of being unpatriotic for questioning how negotiations are going, questioning whether you have the position of strength that she said she wanted?' The loathsome Leadsom promptly shat herself and replied: 'I'm not accusing you of anything, Emily.' Except that you were, but you were too much of a coward to actually say so. The outgoing Liberal Democrat leader, Tim Farron, said that the loathsome Leadsom's comments were 'a sinister threat to the free media. How dare Andrea Leadsom tell the press what they should think? This isn't a George Orwell book. She needs to apologise for these comments and realise what she said was frankly stupid,' Farron said.
After a tumultuous day of U-turns and PR disasters in Parliament this week, That Theresa May probably thought things couldn't get much worse. However, one of her disgraceful scumbag back-bench MPs then went and said something on social media which a huge section of Britain will probably find highly offensive. In typical sneering Tory fashion, the MP for South West Devon, Gary Streeter (no, me neither), during a heated exchange with the journalist Paul Mason, said: 'This is why I hate social media. It gives a voice to people who dont [sic] deserve one.' Yes, you read that right, dear blog reader, a Conservative MP doesn’t think 'ordinary people' deserve to have a voice. There's a surprise. And then, there are still Tory's who wonder exactly why they are so utterly hated.
Former Chief Superintendent David Duckenfield faces ninety five charges of manslaughter and five other senior figures will be prosecuted over the 1989 Hillsborough disgrace. Duckenfield was match commander at the FA Cup semi-final when ninety six Liverpool fans were fatally injured in a crush. Ex-South Yorkshire Police Chief Inspector Norman Bettison, two officers, a solicitor and a Sheffield Wednesday's then club secretary also face charges. Last year, new inquests into the 1989 disaster at the Liverpool versus Nottingham Forest match in Sheffield concluded that the fans had been 'unlawfully killed.' For legal reasons, Duckenfield cannot be charged over the death of the ninety sixth victim, Tony Bland, as he died four years after the disaster, prosecutors said. The Crown Prosecution Service must apply to the High Court to lift an order imposed after he was prosecuted privately in 1999, which must be removed before he can be charged. The full list of individuals and charges are: Duckenfield who faces manslaughter by gross negligence of ninety five men, women and children; Bettison faces four charges of misconduct in a public office relating to alleged lies he told in the aftermath about the culpability of fans; Graham Mackrell, the former Sheffield Wednesday club secretary, will be accused of breaching Health and Safety and Safety at Sports Ground legislation; Peter Metcalf, who was a solicitor acting for SYP, is charged with perverting the course of Justice, relating to changes to witness statements and former Chief Superintendent Donald Denton and former Detective Chief Inspector Alan Foster are both accused of perverting the course of justice. No organisation will face corporate charges and no-one from the ambulance service will face charges, CPS chief Sue Hemming revealed. The defendants, other than Duckenfield who now lives in Ferndown in Dorset, will appear at Warrington Magistrates' Court on 9 August. Hemming made the announcement to victims' families at a private meeting in Warrington. She said: 'Following our careful review of the evidence, in accordance with the Code for Crown Prosecutors, I have decided that there is sufficient evidence to charge six individuals with criminal offences. Criminal proceedings have now commenced and the defendants have a right to a fair trial.' The CPS brought charges following referrals from the Operation Resolve investigation into the causes of the disaster and the Independent Police Complaints Commission probe. The IPCC investigated the conduct of both SYP and West Midlands Police in the days and weeks afterwards. Any decision regarding WMP, which was brought in to carry out the original investigation into the conduct of SYP officers, will be made at a later date.
In news that probably brought a smile to the face of millions - it certainly did to this blogger - four people have been extremely arrested in the UK following an investigation into scams involving calls from fraudsters pretending to be IT support staff. It follows two years of work by City of London Police and Microsoft, who teamed up to tackle the problem. The perpetrators commonly pretend to be phoning on behalf of the US company. You've probably received such phone calls in the past, dear blog reader. This blogger certainly has. The inquiry indicated that many of the calls originated in India but two men and two women in England have been accused of involvement. They include a twenty nine-year-old man and a thirty one-year-old woman from Woking, who were arrested on suspicion of fraud. Both have been bailed. A thirty seven-year-old man and a thirty five-year-old woman were arrested in South Shields also on suspicion of fraud. There were thirty four thousand five hundred and four computer software service fraud reports made to the UK's national fraud and cyber-reporting centre, Action Fraud, over the past financial year. The scammers, claiming to be from 'Windows Support Team' or something similar usually declare that they have 'detected a fault' with their target's PC and fool some victims into giving them remote access to it. They then often install images which appear to show the computer is infected or install malware themselves. Finally, they demand a fee to fix the issue or otherwise convince the victim to share their bank account details. Sometimes the target is then contacted again at a later date from someone claiming to work for the same service, who says they are due a refund. If they hand over their bank details again, further money is taken from their account. In addition to Microsoft, criminals have claimed to have worked for BT and TalkTalk among others. Action Fraud says the average age of victims is sixty two and they typically pay out six hundred notes. 'These arrests are just the beginning of our work, making the best use of specialist skills and expertise from Microsoft, local police forces and international partners to tackle a crime that often targets the most vulnerable in our society,' said Commander Dave Clark from City of London Police. Microsoft has also published advice online for how to avoid being scammed and what to do if you suspect you have been fooled in the past but may not have realised it until now. 'We'd also like to reassure all users of Microsoft software that we will never cold call you out of the blue or use tech support pop-ups on websites,' added the firm's UK director of legal affairs Hugh Milward.
This blogger often gets those type of calls at Stately Telly Topping Manor. 'Hello Meeezda Keeeeth Tapping, this is John speaking from Windows Customer Care Department, we have been monitoring your computer and it seems to have been infected by a nasty virus, oh dear, terrible.' Usually Keith Telly Topping isn't in the mood for such crap and asks the individuals making the calls who is doing their normal job of having sex their mother in the shower whilst they're out at work (or, something equally crude and naughty). But occasionally he decides to have a little fun. 'Oh dear, that sounds really bad,' Keith Telly Topping may say. 'So, tell me, is it just my computer that's affected or are others in the police station also?' There is usually a slight pause at this point. 'Police station?' 'Yes, you've come through to the desk of Detective Inspector Topping, now, tell me about this virus you've found?' Oddly, the phone often goes dead at that point. This blogger wonders if it was something he said.
A consignment of UK breakfast cereal Weetabix has, reportedly, been impounded by New Zealand customs officials, after complaints that it could 'confuse' customers. The three hundred boxes had been ordered by a specialist shop in Christchurch, A Little Bit Of Britain. But, food giant Sanitarium, which owns a rival brand, Weet-Bix, has objected to it being sold in the country. The shop's owner has been told the cereal will only be released if a sticker is put over the Weetabix label. Sanitarium said its Weet-Bix brand was 'protected by international law' and, in turn, was 'often precluded from being sold in other global markets due to the Weetabix trade mark.' Lisa Wilson, of A Little Bit Of Britain, which specialises in selling UK products, said that she could not understand the move, as the products looked and tasted different. This blogger isn't sure what Weet-Bix tastes like, never having been to New Zealand hisvery self, but he can confirm that if it doesn't taste like eating cardboard soaked in milk then it's nothing like Weetabix. The store currently sells some seven boxes of Weetabix a day.
One Alex Chivers, from Waltham Cross, has been sentenced to twenty six weeks in jail after he attackeda Muslim woman with a packet of bacon. Detective Constable James Payne from Enfield Community Safety Unit said: 'This was a truly shocking incident.' The victim was out with her mother when Chivers verbally abused her and then set upon her with 'something he knew would both upset and offend her, Payne continued. 'We know other people were present during this attack, including an associate of Chivers who filmed the incident. Enquiries are ongoing to trace these people.' The packet of bacon has, apparently, been released without charge.
A Minnesotan woman has been arrested over the fatal shooting of her boyfriend, in what authorities say was 'a social media stunt gone wrong.' Monalisa Perez was booked into The County Jail after shooting at Pedro Ruiz as he held a book to his chest, believing it would stop the bullet. It didn't. The couple's three-year-old child and nearly thirty onlookers watched as she fired the fatal bullet into his chest. Ruiz's aunt said that they did it 'to increase their social media following.' Claudia Ruiz told WDAY-TV that her nephew had told her he wanted to do the stunt 'because we want more viewers, we want to get famous. He had told me about that idea and I said, "Don't do it. Why are you going to use a gun? Why?"' Claudia told the news channel. 'They were in love, they loved each other,' she added. 'It was just a prank gone wrong.' Perez, who is pregnant, is facing charges of second degree manslaughter. County Attorney James Brue described the book Ruiz was holding as 'a hardcover encyclopaedia,' and said that the weapon used was a .50-calibre Desert Eagle handgun. Police have seized two cameras, which are said to have recorded Monday's incident. The single gunshot was fired from about one foot away as neighbours gathered to watch outside their Minnesota home. Perez told deputies that the stunt had been Ruiz's idea and that he had to convince her to do it. 'Everyone was crying. I was standing behind that tree over there. And that was it. I just couldn't take it anymore so I had to go back home,' neighbour Wayne Cameron told WDAY-TV. The couple had started a YouTube channel in March, aiming to show the 'the real life of a young couple who happen to be teen parents.' Their most recently uploaded video, on the day that Ruiz died, was titled: Doing scary stunts at the fair.
Fremont police are on the hunt for a very naughty chap who wore socks on his hands during a break-in at a cell-phone repair store before making his escape into a drainage canal early on Wednesday, officials said. Fremont Fire officials witnessed the man robbing the store with socks on his hands and a shirt wrapped around his face, but he fled into a drainage canal before he could be apprehended, police said. The suspect is described as slender and was last seen wearing a black-and-white short-sleeved shirt, black pants and black baseball hat, according to Geneva Bosques, a spokeswoman for the Police Department. Two iPhones and a pair of Beats earbuds were taken, Bosques added.
A museum in East London has unveiled its strangest item yet - a seven-inch long mummified erection. According to Metro - so, not a real newspaper - the Viktor Wynd Museum of Curiosities, Fine Art & Natural History has added the dong to its unusual collection of exhibits at a cost of two thousand five hundred knicker for a year. The rare, ahem, piece belonged to an Eighteenth Century chap who seemingly became erect as he was being hanged. A lack of oxygen to the brain often led to erections in hanging victims. But it could alternatively be a so-called 'death erection' - technically called a priapism - which can occur post mortem and is attributed to pressure on the cerebellum at the base of the brain created by the hangman's noose. The attraction in Hackney is not for the easily-offended as it also features ancient Chinese sex toys, numerous mummified animals, the skull of a cyclops and a jar of the late singer Amy Winehouse's turds. Viktor Wynd, the museum's curator, said: 'The penis belonged to an Eighteenth Century Englishman and little more is known. Asphyxiation frequently leads to erection and ejaculation. Hanged men would frequently ejaculate.' He explained: 'Body parts were frequent perquisites of executioners and many different parts were supposed to have magical properties. For example, there is something called the "Hands of Glory" -which is the mummified hands of hanged men which were believed to be extremely powerful.'
A video published last week purportedly from the hacker group Anonymous claimed that NASA is on the verge of disclosing information regarding the existence of alien life. The video cited NASA's recent Cassini probe mission and the space agency's overall interest in discovering extraterrestrial life as evidence of the upcoming disclosure. NASA senior scientist Doctor Thomas Zurbuchen, about whom much of the video is based, denied the claims this week on Twitter. 'Contrary to some reports, there is no pending announcement from NASA regarding extraterrestrial life,' wrote Zurbuchen. 'Are we alone in the universe? While we do not know yet, we have missions moving forward that may help answer that fundamental question.' The video used Zurbuchen's public testimony to a congressional committee earlier this year as 'proof' that NASA has an impending announcement on alien life, but quoted his speech out of context. 'We are on the verge of making one of the most profound, unprecedented discoveries in history,' the video quoted Zurbuchen. In his testimony, in fact, Zurbuchen explicitly stated that 'we haven't found definitive signs of life elsewhere just yet.' Once the quote from the video is put into the context of his testimony it is clear that he was not referring to a current discovery, but rather one that may be years, or decades, away. 'And, as we know from experience, NASA's scientific discoveries of today continually drive impactful research for tomorrow that goes far beyond the initial observations,' Zurbuchen told Congress. 'For astrobiology, the key thing to remember is that answering the fundamental question of "is there life out there?" will require scientific breakthroughs from many different science fields, including ones that are not currently engaged in this exciting endeavour. This, however, demonstrates the nature of great research: it's not just about answering questions that have been asked in the past, it is about finding entirely new questions that will have impact for a long time to come.'
Fifteen of the remaining eighteen UFO files awaiting publication by the Ministry of Defence following their large 2013 release have been made available to the public. Unlike the 2013 release, these files are not available online and must be viewed onsite at the MoD's archives. According to a press officer with the National Archives, 'fifteen files from the MoD on the subject of UFOs have been released. We release files on a weekly basis and have already highlighted previous releases on this subject. With this release comprising of a small number of files, it has not been practical to prepare a full press pack. However, the files are available for all members of the press and public to view in our on site reading room here at Kew.' The files contain records of some of the UK's most famous UFO sightings, including the event at Rendlesham Air Base in 1980, known as 'Britain's Roswell.' Nick Pope, who ran the MoD's UFO project from 1991 to 1994 - and who, since has made a career for himself appearing in dozens of documentaries on the subject - says that there is 'no smoking gun,' in the files and speculates that this might cause UFO conspiracy theorists to believe that the government is holding something back. 'I think these files perfectly capture the wonder and fascination of the UFO mystery and show how MoD officials - myself included - struggled to make sense of one of the great mysteries of the modern era,' said Pope. 'Sadly, there's no "smoking gun" in these files that will prove we've been visited by extraterrestrials, but there are plenty of intriguing UFO reports, as well as policy papers explaining how the MoD handled this subject. The lack of a smoking gun and the fact that these files seem to have been slipped out without a formal media announcement is bound to start some conspiracy theories and I know that many people believe the "good stuff" is being held back.' However, the obfuscation of the MoD's interest in UFOs should be of interest to the public, said the former MoD employee. 'What's readily apparent from a detailed study of all this is that the MoD was telling Parliament, the media and the public that the UFO phenomenon was of "no defence significance" and of limited interest to the MoD,' said Pope. 'However, the files show that behind the scenes, the subject was obviously taken more seriously than we let on, with many of the cases self-evidently being of great defence significance - for example when UFOs were seen in close proximity to military bases, were encountered by RAF pilots, or were tracked on radar by fighter controllers or air traffic controllers.' The remaining three files are also due for release later this year and Pope maintains that this most current release itself is a positive step. 'This is a good day for open government and for freedom of information,' said Pope.
Uranus is 'all over the place', dear blog reader. You might have noticed. It spins weirdly - on its back, effectively - its magnetic field is off-centre and now we have just found that it may open and shut its magnetosphere every day. The research by Xin Cao and Carol Paty from the Georgia Institute of Technology was published in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics. Modelling the system around Uranus, they found that its magnetosphere occasionally opens up to allow solar wind through. This seemed to happen almost every day, about every seventeen Earth hours. This opening and closing happens around Earth - it's called 'magnetic reconnection' – where the magnetic field lines of our magnetosphere and the solar wind align. This produces the aurorae at our poles and it's likely that something similar occurs on Uranus. But on Earth, this process is fairly irregular. On Uranus, it seems to be much more frequent. 'As it is tumbling around, the magnetosphere's orientation is changing in all sorts of directions,' Paty told New Scientist. The planet is already weird enough. It rotates at almost a right-angle to the plane of its orbit around the Sun, something no other planet does. This may have been caused by a collision with an Earth-sized object long ago. Its magnetic field is equally strange. It is tipped by about sixty degrees to the planet's rotation and is also off-set from the centre by about one-third of the planet's twenty five thousand-kilometre radius. On Earth - and, indeed, on other planets - magnetic field lines come from pretty near the geographic poles although magnetic North and South changes a bit. Not so on Uranus. Unfortunately, though, we have very little information about Uranus. Most of our data comes from the fly-by of Voyager 2 in 1986, our only spacecraft to ever visit the planet. NASA is currently considering proposals to send an orbiter to Uranus in the next decade or two, which would greatly increase our understanding of this most curious of celestial objects. But, for now, we have to rely on models like this latest study. This basically modelled Uranus and its magnetosphere as a whole and it closely matched the data gathered by Voyager 2. It seems that the rotation of the planet may be driving its changing magnetic field. 'That's completely different from the Earth or any of the other planets,' Paty told Gizmodo.
The June heat waves that impacted much of the UK and Western Europe were made more intense 'because of climate change' say scientists. And, in other news, apparently the Pope has confirmed that he is Catholic and bears seemingly do shit in the woods. So, there you have it. Forest fires in Portugal claimed scores of lives while emergency heat plans were triggered in France, Switzerland and the Netherlands. Britain experienced its warmest June day since the famous heatwave of 1976. 'Human-related warming' made record heat ten times more likely in parts of Europe the researchers say. During June, mean monthly temperatures about three degrees above normal were recorded across western parts of the continent. France experienced its hottest June night ever on Twenty First when the average around the country was 26.4C. That same day had seen the mercury hit 34.5C at Heathrow in what was the UK's warmest June day for forty years (albeit, in yer actual Keith Telly Topping's home time, it pissed down with rain for at least part of the day, which says something about something, dear blog reader). It was a similar story in the Netherlands which is set to have its hottest June on record while in Switzerland it was the second warmest since 1864. Now, researchers with World Weather Attribution have carried out 'a multi-method analysis' to assess the role of warming connected to human activities in these record temperatures. And, they've decided that it probably helped. 'We simulate what is the possible weather under the current climate and then we simulate what is the possible weather without anthropogenic climate change, and then we compare these two likelihoods which gives us the risk ratio,' Doctor Friederike Otto from the University of Oxford, one of the study's authors, told BBC News. 'We found a very strong signal.'
Former Alaska Governor, vice presidential candidate and plank Sarah Palin has filed a lawsuit against the New York Times over an editorial which tied her to the January 2011 shooting of an Arizona congresswoman. Palin's attorneys claim that the paper 'defamed' her in the 14 June editorial, published hours after House Majority Whip Steve Scalise was also shot and wounded while practicing with the GOP's baseball team in Alexandria. The editorial, attributed to the Times' editorial board and titled America's Lethal Politics, initially linked Palin's rhetoric to the shooting which killed six people and wounded thirteen others, including then representative Gabrielle Giffords. The paper posted a correction the next day admitting that 'no such link was established.' The editorial also claimed, incorrectly, that a now-infamous advert from Palin's political action committee put 'Giffords and nineteen other Democrats under stylized cross hairs[sic].' The Times also corrected that statement, admitting that the crosshairs on the map targeted 'electoral districts, not individual Democratic lawmakers.' 'The Times used its false assertion about Mrs Palin as an artifice to exploit the [Scalise] shooting,' Palin's attorneys stated in the suit. 'The Times published and promoted its Editorial Board's column despite knowing the false assertion that Mrs Palin incited [Tucson shooter Jared] Loughner to murder six people,' the suit added. 'In doing so, the Times violated the law and its own policies.' Palin is seeking geet massive damages.
Venus Williams faces a wrongful death lawsuit from the family of a man who died in a Florida car crash involving the tennis star, says a lawyer. The seventy eight-year-old man suffered 'massive' fatal injuries from the 9 June collision in Palm Beach Gardens city, an attorney for his widow says. According to police, Williams was 'at fault' for the traffic accident, which caused the death of Jerome Barson. The thirty seven-year-old is due to make her twentieth appearance at Wimbledon on Monday. According to the police report, Linda Barson told police she was driving with her husband, Jerome, in the passenger seat of their Hyundai Accent at the time of the collision. Barson told police that as they passed through an intersection on a green light, Williams' Toyota Sequoia cut across in front of their car. Williams told police that she became 'stuck' in the middle of the intersection because of other traffic, according to the report. 'Mrs Barson is suffering intense grief and doesn't know how she will go on,' her lawyer, Michael Steinger, told ABC television's Good Morning America. 'Her husband of thirty five years was struck by Venus Williams, who was at fault in a car accident, which ultimately resulted in Mister Barson being hospitalised [for] fourteen days with multiple surgeries which resulted in his death.' The lawsuit, filed by the couple's daughter, Audrey Gassner-Dunayer, asserts that her father's injuries included 'severed main arteries, massive internal bleeding, a fractured spine, and massive internal organ damage.'
A superstitious elderly passenger delayed a flight in Shanghai after throwing coins at the engine for good luck, a Chinese airline has confirmed. The eighty-year-old woman threw her change at the China Southern Airlines flight as she crossed the tarmac to board. She told police that she threw the coins as she 'prayed for safety.' Of the nine coins she threw, only one hit its intended target - but this was enough to force the evacuation of one hundred and fifty passengers for several hours. Police were called to Shanghai Pudong International Airport after a passenger noticed the woman's behaviour, apparently aimed at ensuring a safe flight and alerted the authorities. The woman, who was travelling with her husband, daughter and son-in-law, was then taken away for questioning by officers, local media report. She will not face charges. Though, whether she got her money back or not is, as yet, unknown.
The organiser of the failed Fyre Festival in the Bahamas has been very arrested in New York. Billy McFarland, who co-founded the event with Ja Rule (he's a wrapper, yer honour), has been extremely charged with fraud. The 'luxury' festival was billed as 'a cultural moment created from a blend of music, art and food.' Instead, ticket holders - for which read rich planks - were left stranded on the island with very basic food and makeshift accommodation. Which, admittedly, was funny. McFarland allegedly 'presented fake documents' to induce investors to put over a million dollars into his company, Fyre Media, which books artists for private events and Magnises, a concierge company. The event, which was meant to be held on an island in the Bahamas in April, collapsed after it failed to live up to what was promised. Festival goers, some who had paid one hundred thousand dollars for a ticket - and, therefore, clearly had more money than sense - had been expecting acts including Blink 182, Skepta, Migos and Disclosure. They were flown out from Miami, but arrived to find a 'lack of adequate food, water, shelter, and medical care' which was compared to The Hunger Games by one attendee. Guests were unable to easily get off the island of Grand Exuma when the event was cancelled, with claims that some ticket holders spent 'hours' locked inside the island's airport. At the time, one of the stranded people told the BBC the event was 'the biggest scam ever. It was truly the worst twenty seven hours of my life,' said Lamaan El Gallal. 'They had instructed us not to bring any cash with us. Everything was inclusive and we had bands where we put money. But without cash, it was a huge problem. There are still people there that can't leave whose passports are missing, their things got robbed and they have no way of contacting anyone or charge their phones.' Ticket holders were refunded and promised VIP passes for next year's event. Ja Rule, the co-organiser, was not arrested.
At least twelve thousand Qatari-owned camels and sheep have been ordered out of Saudi Arabia as both sides in the Gulf diplomatic crisis refuse to back down. Temporary shelters, water and food have been set up for seven thousand camels and five thousand sheep forced to trek back to the kingdom across the desert border, Qatari newspaper the Peninsula reported on Tuesday, while website al-Raya put the figure at twenty five. The ministry of municipality and environment said that more permanent accommodation was being prepared. Qatar is home to around twenty two thousand camels, which are raised for racing as well as meat and milk, but many herdsmen in the kingdom rent pastures in much larger neighbouring Saudi Arabia. The latest move from Riyadh has triggered angry reaction among Qatari farmers. The farmers are the latest victims in the escalating spat, which began on 5 June when Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt cut all diplomatic ties and suspended air and sea links with Doha, accusing it of supporting terrorism and controversial political groups. The decision has since been adopted by several other Muslim nations. Qatar vehemently denies the charges.
Here's today's thought for the day.
Ice from three of the UK's biggest coffee chains has been found to contain bacteria from faeces, according to a BBC investigation. Samples of iced drinks from Costa Coffee, Starbucks and Caffe Nero contained 'varying levels' of the bacteria, the BBC's Watchdog found. Expert Tony Lewis said that the levels found were 'concerning. These should not be present at any level - never mind the significant numbers found,' he added. No shit? I mean, literally. Cleanliness of tables, trays and high chairs at the chains was also tested at thirty branches. Seven out of ten samples of Costa ice were found to be 'contaminated with bacteria' found in faeces. At both Starbucks and Caffe Nero, three out of ten samples tested contained the bacteria known as faecal coliforms. So, if you're going for a coffee this weekend, probably best to stick to one of the latter two. That way, you've only got a three-in-ten chance of developing a nasty dose of craps. Lewis, of the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health, said that these kinds of bacteria were 'opportunistic pathogens - the source of human disease.' Costa said it had 'updated its ice-handling guidelines' and was 'in the process' of introducing new ice equipment storage. Starbucks said it was now 'conducting its own investigation' into the claims. A spokesman said the chain took hygiene 'extremely seriously.' Similarly, a Caffe Nero spokesman said 'a thorough investigation' was under way and that the chain would 'take appropriate action.'
Shields Road in Byker is 'the least attractive location to open a shop' in the UK according to a list ranking Britain's retail centres. Well, yer actual Keith Telly Topping could have told them that. Although, Morrisons down the bottom is quite nice. Property advisors, Harper Dennis Hobbs - whoever the Hell they are - judged one thousand shopping districts across the land on 'how well the store mix suited local needs.' Apparently. They also looked at vacancy rates and the numbers of 'undesirable' shops such as pawnbrokers or betting shops. Cambridge moved up this year's rankings and was rated the UK's most 'vibrant' retail centre. Harper Dennis Hobbs last published their 'vitality' rankings in 2014 when Westfield in London topped the list and Dudley was ranked bottom. The firm said that in recent years 'quality brands' had gravitated towards a few very strong shopping districts, because the Internet meant they could trade from fewer locations. Many of the bottom fifty ranked centres represented Britain's poorest areas, the firm said. And, again, this is a surprise? Has everybody taken The Stupid Pill this week, or what? 'There's definitely a geographical divide. The most vital centres are all in a ring around the London area apart from a few exceptions like Harrogate,' said someone of no importance. In the 'least vibrant' retail location, Shields Road, almost a fifth of retail floor space is vacant and the High Street is dominated by betting shops and money lenders. Plus one or two pubs that even yer actual Keith Telly Topping would think twice before entering.
A shopkeeper who claimed that he was threatened with legal action after calling his shop Singhsbury's has changed its name to Morrisinghs. Jel Singh Nagra's shop had no name for five years after he said Sainsbury's complained, the Northern Echo reported. He has now put up a new sign naming his store Morrisinghs, in a bid to put his village of West Allotment in North Tyneside, 'on the map.' A spokesman for Morrisons said that the supermarket 'did not mind' the similarity to their own name. 'Mister Nagra and his customers obviously have good taste so we wish him well,' the spokesman added. Nagra, who commutes fifty miles from Stockton to the shop in Benton Road, spent three hundred and fifty knicker on the new sign which he said was 'a talking point. It is just a bit of banter and fun - it's not like we get passing trade - we are not stealing customers from supermarkets,' he added. 'Originally when I was away on my honeymoon in 2012, I got a letter saying that Sainsbury's was threatening to take me to court. My family saw the letter and took the sign down because they were so worried. My customers kept saying I needed another sign so here it is.' The shop had already been called Singhsbury's for two years when Nagra took it over from a family member in 2011. Sainsbury's was contacted for a comment by the BBC News website but didn't provide one. Probably because they were too embarrassed at having been shown to be such a bunch of humourless bullying glakes. Or, perhaps it was another reason.
Two people have been very jailed for life for murdering a vulnerable man who was tortured for months and forced to eat his own testicle. Jimmy Prout was found dead on wasteland near his home in North Shields on 27 March 2016. A Newcastle Crown Court trial heard he suffered 'Dark Ages' abuse at the hands of a group he thought of as 'friends.' Ringleader Zahid Zaman was told he must serve a minimum term of thirty three years and Ann Corbett at least twenty seven years. Kay Rayworth and Myra Wood of North Shields, were also jailed for causing or allowing the death of a vulnerable man. Rayworth was sentenced to twelve years and four months and Wood for nine years. Zaman, a wheelchair user, was branded as an 'evil, vindictive, manipulative and devious man,' by Mr Justice Dove, who accused him of 'scouring the Internet' and local soup kitchens to find 'vulnerable people he could control' before coming across Prout and making him his 'skivvy.' All four had previously admitted a further count of perverting the course of justice. During the seven-week trial, the court heard the group of five, including Prout, had 'a strange relationship' which had developed an almost 'cultish dimension.' The jury were told Ann Corbett had shared a bedroom with Prout and would have seen the suffering he endured and even watched him die, but 'did nothing to stop it.' The court heard that a series of events in late 2015 created tensions which led to a number of serious assaults against Prout, which included him having his teeth knocked out with hand tools. After Prout's body had been dumped, the court was told the group then set about covering their tracks by pretending to look for him and asking others to help. Zaman was described as 'vengeful and controlling' and was determined to get 'revenge' on Prout who, he believed, had been involved in stealing from him. Mr Justice Dove said that 'words could not to do justice' to the brutality Prout endured or how they all had betrayed him, saying 'what he suffered was beyond imagining.' He added that the case involved the 'sadistic torture of a vulnerable victim' which was 'designed to inflict excruciating pain' and 'monstrous violence.' The jury was shown CCTV images, often taken from cameras on Zaman's house, of the worsening condition of Prout as the assaults continued, some of which showed him clearly unsteady on his feet and being pushed along the street. Detective Chief Inspector Andy Fairlamb, of Northumbria Police, said: 'This truly has been one of the most awful cases I have dealt with. The way these people treated this man was abhorrent. He was brutally tortured by these people who were supposed to be his friends. It's hard to believe that a human being could have been treated in this way.' He said that a 'domestic homicide review,' involving several agencies including the Northumbria force, was now under way into the circumstances surrounding Prout's death. Prout's brother Edward said: 'I buried my brother Jimmy on my birthday last year and it was one of the hardest things I've had to do. My brother was my best pal and by killing Jimmy, they have killed part of me. The officers in the case have been great and I would like to thank them for everything. Now it is time for us to fully grieve in peace and move on with our lives.'
A man yelled 'Freedom!' as he crashed his vehicle into Arkansas' new Ten Commandments monument early on Wednesday, nearly three years after he was arrested in the destruction of Oklahoma's monument at its state capitol, authorities said. The privately funded Arkansas monument had been in place outside the state capitol in Little Rock for less than twenty four hours before it was knocked from its plinth and smashed to pieces. Michael Tate Reed, of Van Buren, Arkansas, was booked into the Pulaski County jail on preliminary charges of 'defacing objects of public interest,' criminal trespass and 'first-degree criminal mischief.' Which is a crime in Arkansas,apparently. An arrest report lists his occupation as 'unemployed/disabled.' Arkansas Secretary of State's Office spokesman Chris Powell said that officials believe a Facebook Live video posted on a Michael Reed's Facebook account that depicted the destruction is authentic. In the video, the sky is dark and the Arkansas capitol's dome is visible. Music is heard followed by a female voice, likely on the radio, saying, 'Where do you go when you're faced with adversity and trials and challenges?' The driver is then heard growling, 'Oh my goodness. Freedom!' before accelerating into the monument. The vehicle's speedometer is last shown at twenty one miles per hour and then a collision can be heard. Arkansas' monument fell from its plinth and broke into multiple pieces as it hit the ground. County Sheriff's spokesman Mark Opgrande told The Associated Press on Wednesday that Reed had been arrested in October 2014 in the destruction of Oklahoma's Ten Commandments monument at the state capitol. Opgrande confirmed that the suspect arrested on Wednesday in Arkansas was the same person arrested in the Oklahoma case. In a 2015 e-mail to the Tulsa World, Reed apologised for wrecking Oklahoma's monument and said that he suffered from mental health issues. 'I am so sorry that this all happening [sic] and wished I could take it all back,' Reed said at the time. Arkansas' granite monument weighed six thousand pounds. It was installed on Tuesday morning on the Southwest lawn of the capitol with little fanfare and no advance notice. A 2015 law required the state to allow the display near the capitol and a state panel last month gave final approval to its design and location.
The family of an Uber driver murdered on the job in Illinois is taking Walmart to court. In a Cook County lawsuit, the family of driver Grant T Nelson alleges that the retail giant was 'negligent' when it allowed the murder suspect to 'steal a machete and a knife' before walking past security personnel without being stopped. That was immediately before she hailed an Uber outside the Skokie store on 30 May. Moments after picking up the alleged thief - a sixteen-year-old girl named Eliza Wasni - police say that the thirty seven-year-old Nelson was stabbed to death by Wasni after exiting the Walmart parking lot. 'We feel strongly that Walmart had an obligation to stop this young person at three in the morning who had been walking around in their store with an eighteen-inch machete and five-inch hunting knife and didn't purchase them and no one did anything to stop her,' Nelson's family attorney, Robert Bingle, said. According to the suit, 'As Eliza Wasni was exiting the store with the machete and knife she had not purchased, she was not stopped, questioned in any way, or asked to show a receipt by an employee and/or agent of Walmart.' The suit says that 'after exiting the store, Eliza Wasni called for an Uber ride and got into an Uber vehicle driven by Grant T Nelson.' The suit claims that 'Wasni took a machete and knife from the display counter where they were located and walked around the store with the machete and knife in her hands.' It is unclear whether Walmart employees and their security staff were aware that the girl had the weapons when she left the store. Walmart has preserved surveillance footage which may 'shed more light on the matter,' a spokeswoman for Bingle told Ars. Walmart offered its condolences to Nelson's family but declined to comment on the 'specifics' of the allegations and defended its workers. The girl, meanwhile, has been charged with murder as an adult in connection to Nelson's death and she remains jailed without bail.
She's won eight Brit awards, four Grammys and has sold in the region of eighty million recordss worldwide - mostly to readers of the Gruniad who have, like, 'nothing but total respect' for her and her music, admittedly - so Annie Lennox was jolly pleased to receive an offer from a Los Angeles radio station to be put on their new music playlist. She posted a copy of the e-mail from one Kylie, at the unnamed radio station, on her Facebook page with the note 'I think I'm in with a chance.' The e-mail states that Kylie came across Annie's music online 'and really liked what I heard.' Unlike this blogger who thought The Tourists were great and enjoyed a handful of early Eurythmics singles but can't stand pretty much anything Annie's done since about 1987. Kylie, apparently, 'finds artists who I think have potential.' Well, someone's got to do it. Lennox helpfully blanked out the actual name of the radio station, presumably to spare Kylie any more ridicule than she is currently getting online. From Gruniad Morning Star readers, mostly.
Yer actual Sean Bean has married for a fifth time, to Ashley Moore. The actor was pictured with a bottle of Corona in hand as he celebrated with his new wife in Dorset. (One imagines his mates in Sheffield will be wondering why it wasn't a pint of bitter!) Moore - who got engaged to actor in 2014 - quickly changed her handle to Ashley Bean on Twitter. Sean's first marriage was to hairdresser Debra James in 1981. In 1990 he married the actress Melanie Hill. He met his third wife Abigail Cruttenden on the set of Sharpe and the pair married in 1997 before he went on to wed Georgina Sutcliffe in 2008. Sean has three daughters – two with Hill and one with Cruttenden.
A small plane has crashed on the Interstate 405 in Santa Ana, California, injuring two people. The crash occurred near John Wayne Airport in Orange County, about an hour Southeast of Los Angeles as reported by ABC News. Two people were onboard a twin-engine Cessna 310 when it landed short of the airport runway, resulting in the crash. The two were transported to a hospital via helicopter. KTLA reports that both are in their early sixties and 'showed vital signs' when removed from the crash. The 405 is a major thoroughfair in the Greater Los Angeles metropolitan area, running from the San Fernando Valley through Los Angeles County and ending in neighbouring Orange County. Yer actual Keith Telly Topping has been up and down in many times during his many travels in that there California. As roads go, it's very nice. It's certainly better than the A69 to Carlisle, for instance. In addition to heavy commuter traffic, it gets much use as the most direct route from Los Angeles to San Diego, as well as to attractions such as Disneyland. In the Southern stretch of the interstate, hundreds of thousands of vehicles pass through every day, making it the most heavily used interstate in the urban area. Commuters on the freeway and office workers nearby took to Twitter to share images of the wreckage and of billowing smoke rising up from near the airport.
Former Spice Girls star Mel B has wiped out her multi-million fortune after leading an 'extravagant' lifestyle, a court was told during a bitter divorce battle. According to the Evening Standard, the singer attended court in Los Angeles on Friday for the first time to face Stephen Belafonte who, she claims, 'tortured' her to years of physical and mental abuse. The pair both have outstanding tax debts after making 'improvident' lifestyle choices, Los Angeles Superior Court was told. Grace Jamra, representing Belafonte, said: 'Their lifestyle was extravagant and affluent. She wiped out all her Spice Girls money, approximately fifty million if not more.' And, we're supposed to, what, feel sorry for her? After starring in the wretched Seven Days On The Breadline she should be used to poverty.
Two TV presenters attacked on Twitter by President and well-known hairdo, Donald Trump, have accused him of 'lying' and suggested The White House tried to 'blackmail' them. The hosts of MSNBC Morning Joe said that they were 'warned' a tabloid would 'run a negative story' on them unless they said 'sorry' for their coverage of Trump. Mika Brzezinski (already something of a cult favourite here at From The North) and Joe Scarborough claimed Trump's tweets were 'vicious' and 'frightening.' The President called them 'low IQ crazy Mika' and 'Psycho Joe' in a tweet on Thursday. Yes, that's The President. He also referred to Brzezinski as 'bleeding badly from a facelift.' What a class act that bloke is. The couple, who are engaged to be married, wrote a joint response in Friday's Washington Post accusing the President of an 'unhealthy obsession' with them. Which may be true but, actually, far more worrying from the rest of the world's point of view, is his unhealthy obsession with himself and his own voice. Such a thing is bad enough when the obsessee in question is an over-caffeinated reality TV show host, but when he's the man with his hands on the nuclear launch codes, it's fucking terrifying. The couple denied Trump's claims that they had spent three nights at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida last New Year's Eve or that they had 'insisted,' as Trump claimed, on spending time with him. Instead they said that they turned down his invitation to attend his New Year's Eve party. They continued: 'Putting aside Mister Trump's never-ending obsession with women's blood, Mika and her face were perfectly intact, as pictures from that night reveal. And, though it is no-one's business, the President's petulant personal attack against yet another woman's looks compels us to report that Mika has never had a face-lift.' The presenters also claimed that three White House officials had told them the National Enquirer would publish 'a negative article' about them unless they apologised to Trump for their scrutiny of him. Which, is their job. Scarborough alleged: 'They said, "if you call the President up and you apologise for your coverage then he'll pick up the phone and basically spike the story." I had, I will just say, three people at the very top of the administration calling me.' Brzezinski said that reporters from the supermarket tabloid began 'harassing' her family. 'They were calling my children,' she said. 'They were calling close friends. These calls persisted for quite some time and then Joe had the conversations that he had with The White House where they said "oh, this could go away."' David Pecker, the chief executive of the Enquirer's parent company, is a staunch ally of Trump, which is reflected in the tabloid's coverage of the President. But in a Friday morning tweet, Trump denied the couple's claims, saying Scarborough 'called me to stop a National Enquirer article. I said no!' Scarborough swiftly hit back: 'Yet another lie. I have texts from your top aides and phone records. Also, those records show I haven't spoken with you in many months.' Scarborough also said that 'a well-known congressman' had told him that the President went 'on a rant' against the show during a meeting with around twenty legislators at The White House to discuss efforts to pass healthcare legislation. '"I've been in politics my whole life. He scared me,"' Scarborough said, describing what the alleged 'source' had allegedly told him. '"Because he was vicious when he turned from you to Mika,"' he described being told. '"His face was red. He started talking about blood coming out of her ears, out of her eyes."' Trump's original tweet about the MSNBC hosts provoked a storm of criticism, including some from fellow Republicans. Senator Lindsey Graham said Trump's remarks on Thursday were 'beneath the office' of President. He said the tweet 'represents what is wrong with American politics, not the greatness of America.' 'Please just stop. This isn't normal," tweeted fellow Republican Senator Ben Sasse. The Democratic leader in the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, called Trump's tweets 'sexist, an assault on the freedom of the press and an insult to all women.' Trump, of course, didn't give a shit. He's the President, he can do whatever the Hell he likes. He seemingly believes.
Meanwhile, here's something important for President - and hairdo - Trump to whinge about. The Gruniad claims that bipartisan leaders on the House intelligence committee are threatening a subpoena if the White House does not 'clarify' whether any recordings, memoranda or other documents exist of President - and hairdo - Trump's meetings with fired FBI director James Comey. The panel had previously set a 23 June deadline for the White House to respond to their request. The day before, Trump said in a series of tweets that he 'did not make and do not have, any such recordings' but also claimed that he has 'no idea' if tapes or recordings of his conversations with Comey exist. 'I have no idea,' just exactly the sort of claim you really want to hear from the man who is supposed to be running the sodding country? 'With all of the recently reported electronic surveillance, intercepts, unmasking and illegal leaking of information, I have no idea whether there are "tapes" or recordings of my conversations with James Comey, but I did not make and do not have, any such recordings," the President - and hairdo - wrote on Twitter. The committee had asked for any recordings after Trump suggested there 'may' be tapes. He did so just days after he fired Comey, who was leading an investigation into Trump associates' ties to Russian officials. Trump has disputed Comey's assertion that the President - and hairdo - asked him for 'a pledge of loyalty' during a dinner meeting they had. When news of Comey's account broke, Trump tweeted that Comey 'better hope that there are no "tapes" of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!' A letter Thursday from Republican congressman Mike Conaway of Texas, who is leading the Russia investigation and Democratic congressman Adam Schiff of California says Trump's Twitter statement 'stops short of clarifying' whether The White House has any tapes or documents. Conaway and Schiff said in a statement that the letter 'makes clear' should The White House not respond fully, 'the committee will consider using compulsory process to ensure a satisfactory response.' Also on Thursday, Democrats on two House committees asked the justice department's inspector general to investigate whether attorney general Jeff Sessions violated his recusal from the Russia investigation by taking part in Comey's firing. House oversight and judiciary committee Democrats urged inspector general Michael Horowitz to examine 'a lapse in judgment.' Sessions insisted in an appearance before the Senate intelligence committee this month that he had not violated his decision in March to recuse himself from any investigation related to inquiries involving Trump's 2016 campaign. During his testimony, Sessions said that it would be 'absurd' to suggest a recusal from a single investigation would render him unable to manage leadership of the FBI. lmost as absurd, in fact, as Donald Trump being President.
And, speaking of Nazis, Austria's top court on Friday upheld a law that allowed the compulsory purchase of the house in which Adolf Hitler (who only had one, ) was born, saying that it was 'necessary' to stop the property being used 'to glorify Nazi ideology.' Which would, obviously, be a bad thing. Gerlinde Pommer-Angloher, the former owner of the house, had filed a legal challenge to the constitutional court in January, saying the government's expropriation of the three-storey house in Braunau am Inn on Austria's border with Germany was 'unconstitutional.' The government had seized the house to prevent it becoming 'a site of pilgrimage' for neo-Nazis at the beginning of the year after Pommer-Angloher had turned down offers by the state to buy it. 'As visits to this property have been used by extreme right-wing groups and individuals for the glorification of the constitutionally scorned Nazi ideology the state is obliged to ensure itself that this criminal abuse cannot develop,' the court's President Gerhart Holzinger said. The former owner's lawyer said that he expected Pommer-Angloher to take the case to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. 'She will say, we must continue,' Gerhard Lebitsch said after the verdict. Irrespective of this, negotiations between the interior ministry and Pommer-Angloher about a compensation payment for the house will start 26 July, the lawyer said, adding that the ministry's previous offer of around three hundred thousand Euros was 'not acceptable' to his client. Pommer-Angloher's grandparents bought the house in 1913 but were forced to sell it in 1938. After the war, her mother bought it back. Austria's Interior Minister Wolfgang Sobotka welcomed the top court's decision. 'We will make sure that this building will never fall into the wrong hands to become a site of pilgrimage for those stuck in the past,' he said. Austria plans to refurbish the house and convert it into a centre for people with learning disabilities, in a bid to break its historic connection to Hitler's ideology.
British and Irish Lions legend Sir Ian McGeechan has been admitted to hospital after collapsing in a television studio ahead of the second test against the All Blacks, and is said to be in 'a moderate condition.' McGeechan is believed to have fainted ahead of Sky Sports' live broadcast of the second test at Westpac Stadium in Wellington, which the Lions eventually won twenty four to twenty one in a dramatic finale. The former Lions player and coach reportedly walked himself to an ambulance before being taken to hospital and it is believed that he has been suffering with a virus over the last few days. Shane Harmon, chief executive of Westpac Stadium, said that he understood McGeechan was 'okay,' although he did not see the Lions favourite before he left the ground, while a Capital and Coast DHB spokeswoman said McGeechan was 'in a stable condition' in the emergency department at Wellington Hospital. The former Scotland international, who made eight appearances for the Lions, coached the touring side on four occasions during his fabled career, which included the successful 1997 tour of South Africa. He also coached the midweek side on the Lions' last trip to New Zealand in 2005 and most recently took charge of the 2009 series in South Africa.
Abby Lee Miller's surrender date for her federal prison sentence of one year and one day for fraud has been delayed. Miller was expected to turn herself for her stay in The Big House in on 30 June, but this has reportedly been postponed until 12 July. The Dance Moms-type person was sentenced on 9 May, giving her just over two months to prepare herself for pokey. In addition to her prison time, Miller was also ordered by Chief Judge Joy Flowers Conti of Philadelphia to pay a forty thousand bucks fine and serve two years probation after her time behind bars. Miller recently filmed a 'special' for Lifetime regarding her sentencing. An alleged 'source' allegedly 'close' to Miller said that the special was shot in Los Angeles and was conducted by a news journalist. The alleged 'source' allegedly described the interview as 'riveting,' adding that Miller 'discussed everything' and was 'very emotional' and 'broke down a lot.' At her sentencing hearing, Miller sobbed as she made a plea for leniency to the judge. 'My friends and colleagues have shed tears because of my careless mistakes. I have accepted responsibility for my actions and plead guilty to the two charges against me,' she said. 'I know that my future is uncertain. I can only assure you that I will never be in front of a court again.' However, the judge was having none of it. 'Somehow you got caught up in the fame and lost your moral compass,' Conti told Miller at the time. 'I hope when you get out the stars align for you.'
Three Florida customers who were upset that the McDonald's ice cream machine was closed for maintenance charged behind the counter in a geet stroppy temper and attacked an employee, according to the Volusia County Sheriff's Office. An employee told deputies that three females, including two juveniles, went through the drive-thru of the McDonald's on West International Speedway and tried to order ice cream, according to the incident report. The employee told the customers that, unfortunately, the ice cream machine was down for maintenance, deputies said. It is then alleged that the customers went into the restaurant and saw another customer with an ice cream, so they went off-it and began arguing with the employee. The employee told deputies that one of the juveniles threatened to go behind the counter and hit her before the women did, indeed, do just that and charged the employee, hitting her and pulling her hair. Deputies said the employee was not injured during the incident. A manager at the restaurant said she witnessed the incident and called nine-one-one for help. The employee said she believes the women 'could have been related to another' employee at the restaurant, but did not provide further information to authorities, according to the report.
A New York man was charged with disorderly conduct after using the Wi-Fi at a McDonald's in Pennsylvania to watch porn on his tablet, the New York Post reports. Todd McMillan of Bay Shore, was charged after the incident on Thursday at a McDonald's in West Hanover Township. McMillian allegedly pulled out his computer and visited a pornographic site; police say this isn't the first time he has been accused of watching 'racy footage' in the restaurant. Management at the McDonald's had previously told McMillan to stop accessing porn using the restaurant's free Wi-Fi.
Yer actual Sir Paul McCartney (MBE) and Sony have a 'reached a deal' in a long-running battle over who owns publishing rights to The Be-Atles' songs, The Hollywood Reporter claims. The Be-Atles were a popular beat combo of the 1960s, you might have heard of them. The musician had gone to a US court, seeking to regain the rights to two hundred and sixty seven of the band's songs. He has been trying to get them back since the 1980s, when Michael Jackson famously out-bid him for the rights. Jackson's debt-ridden estate sold the songs to Sony last year. Sir Paul's legal case, filed in a Manhattan court in January, was over what is known as 'copyright termination' - the right of authors to reclaim ownership of their works from music publishers after a specific length of time has passed. Macca claimed that he was set to reacquire the Be-Atles songs written by himself and his former writing partner, the alcoholic wife-beating Scouse junkie John Lennon, in 2018 but said that Sony had 'not confirmed' it would transfer the copyrights to him. 'The parties have resolved this matter by entering into a confidential settlement agreement,' Sir Paul's attorney Michael Jacobs wrote in a letter to US District Judge Edgardo Ramos.
The glorious past and the promising future of Manchester music were on show at two gigs which helped kick off the city's arts festival on Thursday of this week. New Order reinvented their back catalogue on the first night of the Manchester International Festival. The News played the first of five concerts with a twelve-strong synthesiser ensemble. Meanwhile, the thrillingly anarchic fourteen-strong hip-hop crew, Levelz, showed why they are being talked up as part of the next wave of Manchester heroes. Together, they showed off different sides of the city's scene to open the biennial city-wide festival. New Order took over one of the old Granada TV studios recruited a dozen synthesiser players from the Royal Northern College of Music. They were installed behind the band members in booths in a double-decker structure created by artist Liam Gillick. Each booth was fronted by Venetian blind-style slats which opened and closed in formation as visuals were projected onto them. The gig was largely a hit-free zone, with the group preferring to delve into rarities from their forty years as Joy Division and then New Order rather than play more well-known material. They did revisit singles like 'Shellshock', 'Subculture' and 'Bizarre Love Triangle'. But otherwise they mostly picked album tracks, many of which they haven't performed live for some years. They included a couple of Joy Division songs - symbolically 'Disorder', the opening song from their 1979 debut LP Unknown Pleasures, and 'Decades', the final song from their second LP, Closer. Their back catalogue, of course, is deep enough and fan loyalty is strong enough, for the crowd to be more than willing to go on this trip through their history. However, Bernard Sumner did have to tell one fan it wasn't 'that kind of gig' in response to an early shouted request for 'Blue Monday'. It reminded this blogger of the time he saw The News at the late - and much-lamented - Mayfair Ballroom in 1986 when they played a set largely composed of the, at the time unreleased, Brotherhood. When one chap shouted 'play something we know!' - ironically, just after they'd played a magnificent version of their recent hit 'The Perfect Kiss' - Barney noted 'we've got to play new stuff some time otherwise, we'll still be playing 'Blue Monday' in the year 2000!' Which, of course, they were!
This blogger didn't catch a lot of Glastonbury last week - there's only so much forty year old millionaires whinging like moody sixth formers that he can take in the case of Radiohead - but Keith Telly Topping did catch a bit of The Killers set on Sunday night. And, rather good it was too but, sadly, we didn't discover if they've yet established whether we are human or are we hamsters? If anybody's got Brandon Flowers' telephone number, give him a call and ask him cos this blogger would really like to know the score on that one.
Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel could face further punishment for his collision with Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix. Governing body the FIA is to hold a meeting on 3 July to 'further examine the causes of the incident to evaluate whether further action is necessary' and whether to take the German out to the woodshed and administer a damned good shellacking to his sorry ass. The outcome will be made public before the Austrian Grand Prix on 9 July. Vettel was given a ten-second 'stop-and-go penalty' and three points on his licence for deliberately driving into Hamilton in an act of petulance that, if he'd done in on a public road, would likely have seen him arrest by plod and up a'fore the beak. It is understood that Hamilton's driving in the incident is not in question and the hearing will focus entirely on Vettel's behaviour. The FIA warned Vettel after an incident in the Mexican Grand Prix last year - when he swore over the radio at race director Charlie Whiting - that he could face a tribunal in the event of any future incident of a similar nature. In Azerbaijan, Vettel accused Hamilton of 'brake-testing' - deliberately slowing down in front of him - as they prepared for a re-start behind a safety car. Vettel then pulled alongside Hamilton and, seemingly deliberately, drove his car into the Mercedes so that they banged wheels. Hamilton's car telemetry data was analysed closely by the stewards on Sunday and he was cleared of any wrongdoing. The four stewards in Azerbaijan spent some minutes contemplating what was the most suitable punishment for Vettel. They had no doubt that Vettel had driven into Hamilton on purpose in a fit of pique. They chose the second-most severe form of punishment - a ten-second stop-and-go penalty. The only tougher option was disqualification which reportedly was considered, but on balance, it was decided that Vettel's actions did not deserve the ultimate sanction. Some have argued the stewards got it wrong and that Vettel should have been kicked out of the race. But, it is also clear the penalty has appeared less severe because, as it turned out, Vettel ended up finishing ahead of Hamilton and extending his championship lead. The Mercedes driver was forced to pit to have a loose headrest replaced and came out of the pits behind Vettel. Had Hamilton not had this problem, he would have won the race with Vettel in fifth place and the Mercedes driver would have retaken the championship lead by three points, rather than seeing his deficit extend to fourteen. 'Insiders' are, it is claimed, 'suggesting' that FIA president Jean Todt is 'perturbed' by Vettel's juvenile stroppy behaviour. Only Todt has the power to call a new hearing, as has been done in this case. Vettel has an immediate problem in the wake of the three penalty points he was given in Baku in addition to the stop-and-go penalty. He now has nine on his licence - and twelve in any twelve-month period means an automatic race ban. The first two of those nine points were for forcing Felipe Massa's Williams off the track at last year's British Grand Prix, so they are soon to drop off Vettel's licence - but not before the Austrian Grand Prix next weekend. So, Vettel will have to avoid any further controversy at The Red Bull Ring or he could end up missing the British Grand Prix. Beyond that, this is the second road-rage incident involving Vettel in the past eight months - the first being when, antagonised by the driving of Red Bull's Max Verstappen in Mexico, he swore at race director Whiting. He subsequently apologised to Whiting in person and did so again in letters to both Whiting and FIA president Todt later that week. However, he was warned then that further action could be taken if he behaved in a similar fashion again. The red-flag period gave the race stewards in Baku the chance to properly analyse telemetry data from Hamilton's car. They looked at his behaviour at all three safety-car restarts and concluded the Mercedes driver did nothing wrong. The FIA said that he did not brake or lift off excessively and maintained a more-or-less constant speed. Some on social media - if not anyone that actually matters - have reacted to on-board video from Hamilton's car, claiming telemetry graphics indicated he did brake shortly before the initial impact and used it as evidence that Vettel was right to accuse Hamilton of 'brake-testing' him. But, in fact, the video does not show this or anything even remotely like it. Close analysis of the footage shows Hamilton slowing as he approaches the apex of the corner and keeping the brakes on lightly past the apex. His minimum speed is fifty one kilometres per hour as he exits the corner. But, he has come off the brakes and is coasting before Vettel hits him. At this point, Hamilton was preparing for the restart and managing his gap to Vettel while bunching up the pack, trying to ensure he had the most advantageous position. As the leader, that is his prerogative. The FIA says there was no 'heavy braking' or anything contrary to the rules. One alleged - although anonymous - 'senior source' allegedly told the BBC: 'Seb was not expecting it and he should have been. He accelerated anticipating Lewis would too. But Lewis had a clear view of the safety car ahead of him with its lights off. Why would he accelerate? He wants to get a gap [to the safety car], plus it's his right to control the pace.' Former F1 driver David Coulthard agreed, saying in his Channel Four commentary: 'Hamilton hasn't accelerated then decelerated, he has kept a constant pace. Sebastian has misjudged it and then in his anger made contact with Hamilton. I don't think there is any part of that you can point a finger at Hamilton and say he has done something wrong. Vettel was anticipating what he would do, forgetting the fact the lead car can control the pace.' The eventual race winner, Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo, also backed this view. Jenson Button, meanwhile, believes Sebastian Vettel should not be punished further. Although whether Jens would be saying that if Vettel had driven into him in such a manner, we simply don't know.
Prince William and Oily David Cameron 'have become embroiled in a row over corruption in football,' according to the Daily Torygraph, after FIFA released the full report of its investigation into how the 2018 and 2022 World Cups came to be awarded to Russia and Qatar. Details of England’s unsuccessful bid to host the 2018 competition have been made public in the report, a condensed version of which was published in 2014. The Torygraph says that the Duke of Cambridge and the former Prime Minister were 'present at a meeting' where a 'vote-swapping deal between England and South Korea was discussed.' On that occasion football officials 'raised the possibility of arranging a meeting with the Queen for one FIFA representative whose vote could have helped England,' adds the paper. The report says that OIly Cameron asked the South Korean delegation to support England's bid to stage the 2018 tournament but was informed that, in return, his country 'must pledge its support for South Korea's bid' to host the 2022 tournament. Such a deal was 'in violation of the anti-collusion rules,' states the report, written in 2014 by Michael Garcia, who was FIFA's chief ethics investigator at the time. Additionally, it describes how the FA was asked 'to bestow an honorary knighthood and arrange an audience with the Queen for one South American official,' while the 'adopted son' of another high-ranking official was found work at Aston Villains and Stottingtot Hotshots. That official was The Odious Jack Warner, then FIFA vice president and President of Concacaf, the governing body for football in North and Central America and the Caribbean, who is alleged to have demanded to have his home town in Trinidad twinned with 'an English village.' Far from dismissing this absurd suggestion, the FA reportedly suggested Burton-upon-Trent as a suitable twin - without, seemingly, bothering to ask anyone in Burton whether they thought this was a good idea - with Garcia's report describing English officials as displaying 'an unfortunate willingness, time and again, to meet that expectation [of Warner].' The Odious Warner was one of several FIFA officials extremely arrested in 2015 at the request of the US on charges of 'wire fraud, racketeering and money laundering' the Torygraph reports. Another country allegedly courted by England was Thailand, ranked one hundred and twentieth in the world. The FA agreed to play an international friendly in the country in 2011, with the Thais receiving the money from the global broadcasting rights (bar the UK) to the game. Geoff Thompson, former FA chairman and head of England’s 2018 bid, admitted to the Garcia inquiry that he 'didn't think it was appropriate' for England to play the Thailand friendly 'because I think it's a form of bribery.' When England lost out to Russia in the bidding process for the 2018 World Cup, the match against Thailand was abruptly cancelled. While the report acknowledged that the FA 'provided full and valuable co-operation in establishing the facts and circumstances of this case' - unlike the Russian FA who provided almost no assistance or documentation - Garcia offers a damning assessment of the behaviour of certain individuals within the English bid, concluding: 'In many cases England 2018 accommodated or at least attempted to satisfy, the improper requests made by these Executive Committee members. While the bidding process itself and the attitude of entitlement and expectation demonstrated by certain Executive Committee members in the exchanges discussed in detail above, place the bid team in a difficult position that fact does not excuse all of the conduct.'
FIFA is still investigating allegations Russian footballers benefited from a state-sponsored doping programme, president Gianni Infantino says. At least thirty sports, including football, covered up samples involving more than one thousand athletes between 2011 and 2015, according to The McLaren Report. FIFA refused to say if any of Russia's 2014 World Cup squad are included, but the Scum Mail on Sunday has claimed that they are. Infantino said he did not know how long the investigation would take. Speaking publicly on the matter for the first time, he underlined FIFA's position that all Russian players at the last World Cup were tested by world football's governing body and that the results were negative. He said that the same applied to last year's Euro 2016 tournament in France, where European body UEFA conducted the tests and to international club competitions. 'These tests are not done in Russia,' Infantino said. 'It's all done outside Russia in WADA-accredited laboratories and they have given negative results. These are the facts that need to be remembered. We have all seen the different reports, we are collecting information and if there have been any anti-doping violations, measures will be taken. We always have a zero-tolerance policy for doping.'

The semi-final of the Cape Verde national football championship was postponed after officials lost keys to the stadium. Ultramarina and Mindelense had been due to play the first leg of their Cape Verdean Football Championship semi-final. But the game was called off when officials could not find keys to Ultramarina's ground. The Cape Verdean Football Federation has now ordered Sunday's second leg to go ahead before the first game has been played. Ultramarina should have hosted the first leg on Tuesday but nobody could get into the Orlando Rodrigues stadium because the government employee with the keys 'failed to show up,' the FCF said. A spare set 'could not be found,' leaving players, officials and fans locked outside for around two hours, the FCF said in a statement on its Facebook page. The FCF has now opened disciplinary proceedings against Ultramarina, who have never won the title, with sanctions ranging from a warning to disqualification or relegation. The match had already been postponed twice because Mindelense, the country's most successful team with twelve titles. had problems travelling to the island of Sao Nicolau where Ultramarina are twenty three-time champions. Cape Verde is made up of ten islands in the Atlantic Ocean about five hundred kilometres off the coast of Senegal.
And now, dear blog reader ...
Oscar-winning actress Olivia de Havilland - whom this blogger must confess he thought had died years ago - is suing the makers of a television drama which she says portrayed her as 'a petty gossip.' De Havilland, who turns one hundred and one on Sunday, filed a lawsuit against FX Networks and producer Ryan Murphy over the miniseries Feud: Bette & Joan. The drama explored the rather spiky relationship between the Hollywood screen legends Joan Crawford and Bette Davis. De Havilland, a contemporary of both who appeared in fifty movies, was played by Catherine Zeta-Jones. In papers filed at the Los Angeles Superior Court, De Havilland - who was made a dame in the Queen's birthday honours in June - said that the drama's characterisation of her 'damaged her professional reputation for integrity, honesty, generosity, self-sacrifice and dignity.' De Havilland is asking a jury to consider the 'emotional distress' caused by the drama, as well as 'potential financial losses' and the profits made from using her identity. She last appeared on the big screen in 1979's The Fifth Musketeer. The Paris-based actress' lawyers told the Los Angeles Times: 'The FX series puts words in the mouth of Miss De Havilland which are inaccurate and contrary to the reputation she has built over an eighty-year professional life, specifically refusing to engage in gossip mongering about other actors in order to generate media attention for herself.' De Havilland - the only person depicted in the series who is still alive - also said that she was 'not consulted.' But, in an interview with the Hollywood Reporter earlier this year, Murphy claimed that he did not contact De Havilland because he 'didn't want to be disrespectful and ask her, "Did this happen? Did that happen? What was your take on that?"' Might've been an idea if you had, matey. The eight-part series, which is a contender for an Emmy nomination next month, is due to be shown in the UK on BBC2 later this year.
The film critic Barry Norman has died aged eighty three, his family says. The journalist and former BBC presenter died in his sleep on Friday night. A statement from his daughters, Samantha and Emma, called him 'remarkable,' adding: 'He had a great life, a wonderful marriage and an enviable career.' Barry hosted BBC1's Film review show between 1972 and 1998 - by a huge distance its longest running host - as well as writing for the Daily Scum Mail and the Gruniad Morning Star - just about the only two things that unites those two rather contrasting organs of the media apart from a shared loathing of Top Gear. Barry's literary agent, Curtis Brown, described him as 'the defining voice of film criticism and insightful interviewing of screen legends from both sides of the camera.' And, he was; Barry Norman's views on a movie were always worth listening to - he could be very frustrating, particularly when slagging off a film you really rather liked whilst heaping praise on some artsy French drama that you wouldn't be seen dead going to the cinema to check out, although contrary to the whispers of some genre critics Barry was, in fact, a huge fans of both horror and science fiction. His daughters added: 'He leaves behind a family who adore him and a great roster of friends who love him too. We will miss him more than we can say.' BBC Director General Tony Hall said Norman was 'a first class presenter and critic. Film buffs always found his programmes essential viewing,' he said in a statement. 'He dominated broadcasting about films for a generation with wit and great knowledge. He will be greatly missed and our thoughts are with his family and friends.' The world of film surrounded Barry from childhood. His father, Leslie (1911-1993), was a producer and director who worked on The Cruel Sea, X - The Unknown and Dunkirk, while his mother, Elizabeth, was employed in the cutting room at Ealing Studios. Barry's sister, Valerie, was also a director and script editor. Born in August 1931, Barry was educated at Highgate School. He did not go to university, opting instead to study Shipping Management at Islington Technical College and began his career in journalism at the Kensington News. He later spent a period in South Africa to work for the the Star in Johannesburg and then the Rhodesia Herald. While there, Barry developed a hostility to the situation created there by the emergence of Apartheid. Barry began as a gossip columnist for the Daily Scum Mail, before taking over as film critic. He became known for his diplomatic approach and friendly demeanour as an onscreen critic, always dressed in a trusty jumper and refusing to be awed by the glamour of Hollywood and the A-listers he interviewed. Robert De Niro once infamously stormed out of an interview when Norman mentioned in passing that the actor had lobbied hard for the Tom Hanks role in Big. 'I almost came to blows with De Niro,' he said later. 'He got up my nose, I got up his nose, he stormed out of the room and I chased after him. We both snarled at each other and I thought I'd better let it go. He was a lot younger than me and a lot fitter than me. I could have been in deep trouble.' Barry also had spats with Mel Gibson and John Wayne, the latter of whom, he said, had 'lurched out of his chair with the obvious intention of thumping me' after the pair disagreed on the subject of the Viet'nam war. Speaking in 2001, Barry described how time had changed since he first began as a television critic. 'When I started, people were asked to go on television because it was felt that they could bring some sort of knowledge to what they were discussing and because they could speak in complete sentences, which is getting increasingly rare,' he told the Gruniad. 'I think the difference now is that people go on television because they want to be celebrities and that seems to be an empty ambition. I do like to feel I've contributed something, as well as just sitting there.' Barry also made several documentary series for the BBC, including The Hollywood Greats, British Greats and Talking Pictures. He was also the co-host of Channel Four's coverage of the 1988 Olympics in Seoul. Norman was for some years a regular radio broadcaster on BBC Radio 4. In 1974, he presented Today and the first chairman of The News Quiz. He was the original presenter of the Radio 4 transport and travel show Going Places and of its sister travel magazine, Breakaway. Other shows included The Chip Shop, an early 1980s series dedicated to the emerging home computer industry. In 1996, he presented an interview series for BBC Radio 5Live. He was associated with the phrase 'and, why not?' which was often attributed to that of his puppet likeness on the satirical show Spitting Image. However, Norman explained to Empire magazine in 2014 that it originated from a Rory Bremner sketch show on Channel Four. Barry cheerfully adopted the phrase himself, and it is the title of his autobiography (published in 2003). Barry had a tremendous passion for cricket and wrote a book on the subject. He was a member of the MCC and enjoyed spending time at Lord's. Barry also, famously, had a family recipe for pickle that has been passed down through generations and which was used as the recipe for his own brand of pickled onions which went on sale to the public in September 2007. He received the BAFTA's Richard Dimbleby Award in 1981, Magazine Columnist of the Year in 1991 and was made a CBE in 1998. He married the novelist Diana Narracott in 1957 and the pair had two daughters. Diana died in 2011 at the age of seventy seven.
Michael Bond, the creator of beloved children's character Paddington Bear, has died at the age of ninety one. He died at his home on Tuesday following a short illness, a statement from his publisher Harper Collins said. Michael published his first book, A Bear Called Paddington, in 1958. The character, a marmalade-loving bear from 'deepest, darkest Peru' who comes to live in London, went on to inspire a series of books, a - much-loved - animated TV series and a moderately successful 2014 film. As well as Paddington, Michael also created characters including the guinea pig Olga Da Polga, A Mouse Called Thursday and the French detective turned restaurant critic Monsieur Pamplemousse and his bloodhound, Pommes Frites. It was a chance encounter with a toy bear in a London shop that spawned a long line of books. A prolific writer, Michael also created The Herbs - featuring Parsley the Lion and Dill the Dog - which also became a successful TV series. Thomas Michael Bond was born in January 1926 in Newbury and raised in nearby Reading. One of his earliest childhood memories was standing by the railway line to watch the Cornish Riviera Express thunder past on its way from Paddington to Penzance. Michael's father was the mild-mannered manager of the local post office and was the basis for the character of Paddington, the unassuming ursine stowaway. 'My father was a very polite man and he always wore a hat,' Bond said. 'We'd go on holiday to the Isle of Wight and he used to go in the sea with his trousers rolled up and keep his hat on in case he met someone he knew and would have something to raise. He would have been mortified if he hadn't.' Michael's parents instilled in him a love of books and he later remembered never going to sleep without a bedtime story. Bond's happy childhood was interrupted when his parents sent him to a strict Catholic school where the Brothers kept discipline with heavy rubber straps. Bond often suffered this brutal treatment, so much so that he left school at fourteen and got a job as a clerk in a local solicitor's office. A year later he was working for the BBC which, impressed with his hobby of building amplifiers and other electrical gadgets, gave him a junior job at a transmitter facility in Reading. His budding career nearly came to a premature end in 1941 when four German bombs fell on the building where he was working. Despite the ground floor being blown out, Michael escaped unharmed. In 1943 he volunteered for the RAF, later transferring to the army. It was while he was stationed in Egypt that he submitted a short story to the magazine London Opinion, which paid him seven guineas for it. At that point, he decided he quite liked the idea of becoming a writer. Bond returned to the BBC in 1947, working at Caversham Park which monitored foreign broadcasts. Three years later he became a cameraman, working on programmes including Blue Peter, Dixon Of Dock Green and Face to Face: 'It was live. everything was held together by string and there was always some disaster going on behind the scenes.' He continurf to write short stories in his spare time, writing radio plays for what was then Ceylon and Hong Kong and journalism for Men Only, Lilliput and the Manchester Guardian, was an extra, and Bond did not give up the day job until April Fool's Day, 1966. On his way home from work on Christmas Eve in 1956, Bond spotted a lonely teddy bear on the shelf in a shop window and took it home as a stocking filler for his wife. He called it Paddington because they were living near Paddington Station at the time. While musing over a typewriter and a blank sheet of paper, he wondered idly what it would be like if an unaccompanied bear turned up at a railway station looking for a home. The seeds of the idea had taken root during the war when Bond saw newsreels of children being evacuated from British cities to avoid German bombing. 'I had memories of children being evacuated from London with a label around their necks and all their possessions in a suitcase and this became part of Paddington as well,' he said. 'Paddington Bear was a refugee with a label - "Please look after this bear. Thank you" - and he had a little suitcase.' A Bear Called Paddington appeared in 1958 with illustrations by Peggy Fortnum. Ivor Wood would later take over the drawings and he went on to develop the successful animated BBC TV series that was first broadcast in 1976. Wood came up with the idea of a three-dimensional puppet which moved, using stop motion techniques, against a two-dimensional drawn background. Bond wrote the scripts and the veteran actor, Michael Hordern, narrated the stories. During the 1960s, Bond turned out an average of one Paddington book a year but didn't feel secure enough to become a full-time writer until the mid-1960s, when he quit his job at the BBC. Later that decade came the first of the Parsley books, featuring a lion and his friends including Sage the Owl and Sir Basil and Lady Rosemary. These books, too, were successfully translated to TV by Wood and his company, FilmFair, first as The Herbs in 1968 and then The Adventures Of Parsley which was broadcast in 1970. While aimed at children, it became cult viewing for adults who appreciated the dry humour which probably escaped the target audience. In 1971 Bond published the first of his Olga Da Polga stories for children, featuring a guinea pig with a penchant for telling tall stories in the manner of Baron Munchausen. Michael next turned to writing for adults with his Monsieur Pamplemousse books, the first of which appeared in 1983. The idea of a French detective who quit the police force and became a restaurant critic came when Bond - a confirmed Francophile - was eating in a restaurant. Pamplemousse and his faithful bloodhound, Pommes Frites, travel the country, sampling menus and getting into a series of comic mystery adventures. Michael had begun his own edible education with a 1948 trip across the Channel, continued it in the homes of those BBC refugee friends and the restaurants of Charlotte Street and detoured on the annual road journey across France to the Cannes TV festival. The books are also full of the wry humour which was Bond's trademark. But the popularity of his original creation never seemed to wane and Bond continued to write adventures for the little bear. Paddington's friend Mister Gruber was based on Hungarian refugees Michael worked with at the BBC's monitoring service at Caversham Park, with their attache cases packed with sad pasts and their careful English. A generation later, the bear was interpreted as a sympathetic allegory of the Commonwealth immigrants of the 1950s: Bond initially wrote that Paddington came from 'darkest Africa,' but his agent noted that the continent no longer had native bear species, so Michael amended it to Peru. In later life, Bond was touched by many letters from child immigrants who told him about their own fresh starts in England, just like Paddington's. Many also liked the way the bear politely challenged authority. As well as the books, a huge merchandising operation was built up and Paddington toys remained high on the wish list of new generations of children. Designer Shirley Clarkson was one of the first licensees to produce the figure with his now famous hat, wellington boots and duffel coat. She made the very first Paddington Bear as a Christmas present for her young son, Jeremy. Whatever happened to him? In 2014 StudioCanal released a feature film of Paddington, with the bear voiced by Ben Whishaw. Bond, who had a cameo role, called the film 'absolutely delightful.' The film was a hit and gained two BAFTA nominations. Since 1958, more than one hundred and fifty different Paddington titles have been published and thirty five million copies have been sold worldwide in more than forty languages. Bond was still writing in recent months, with Paddington's Finest Hour published in April of this year. It is a volume of letters from the bear to his Aunt Lucy in Peru - the relative who originally dispatched him to London more than half-a-century previously. Michael was once asked why the popularity of Paddington had endured for children in the age of computers and video games. 'Paddington is eternally optimistic and always comes back for more, no matter how many times his hopes are dashed,' he said. 'It's simply the joy of a little bear who is an outsider getting into scrapes and mishaps - always with the best of intentions - and coming out on top every time.' In 1997 Bond wrote his own memoirs, Bears & Forbears. Michael, who was made on OBE in 1997, was married twice - to Brenda Mary Johnson in 1950, whom he separated from in the 1970s and to Susan Marfrey Rogers in 1981, soon after his divorce was finalised. He had two children - Karen and Anthony.

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