Saturday, March 31, 2018

Tamper Not With Thy Balls

Sharon Clarke has shared some details about her Doctor Who character and has promised that yer actual Jodie Whittaker's Doctor isn't 'dour.' Which is good news. In October, Clarke was confirmed as appearing in Jodie's forthcoming first series, but not as one of The Doctor's companions. All we knew was that she would be a returning character. Appearing on Radio 4's Loose Ends, Clarke was tight-lipped about her character, although she did drop one nugget. 'I am a human and Bradley Walsh is my husband, he's human and I think that's about as much as I can tell you,' she said. Clarke was more than happy, though, to praise Whittaker's performance in the iconic role, describing her as 'phenomenal' and an 'absolute joy. She's going to slay it. What's lovely about Jodie, because she always plays these kind of dour characters who are downtrodden, to have someone who's up and hopeful and fighting crime, she's just bouncing around the set,' Clarke enthused. 'She's definitely earning those two hearts that The Doctor has. She's wonderful, I absolutely adore her.' The same show also saw the comedian and actor Lee Mack - a big favourite of us here at From The North - reveal that he is in the new Doctor Who series too. 'I am blink-and-you'll-miss-it. It's just a little thing. I've just been a fan all my life, so I just harassed them until they gave me a little part in it,' he said. Here, meanwhile, is a lovely picture of Jodie queuing with everyone else who wants to purchase a ninety five quid autograph from Christopher Eccleston. (This blogger thanks his old mucka Rob Francis for providing that one.)
There's a very good interview with Jodie promoting her appearance in Paddy Considine's forthcoming film Journeyman with the Torygraph which covers a range of topics (including Doctor Who, obviously) and which you can have a right good gander at here.
Yer actual Peter Capaldi appeared at the Regeneration Who convention over the weekend in Baltimore and detailed his idea for a hypothetical Doctor Who episode. 'I always wanted a story where [The Doctor] met Jimi Hendrix and said, "Jimi, your sound's good, but what you really need is a sort of wah-wah sound." I'll find a little thing here and some valves and an old bit of shoe, in some shoe box thing, and say to Jimi, "Here's a wah-wah pedal." And, of course, there would have been aliens channelling themselves through Jimi's music, to try to capture the brains of the adult population of the UK at the time.' Although this story never made it to screen, Capaldi's keenness to play guitar as The Doctor did. 'I thought it would be funny if he could play the guitar, sort of like a teenager,' Peter continued. 'You know, a guitar that he'd made himself, an amp that it looked like he'd made himself. I thought [The Doctor] should play really badly. And I thought it'd be great if he plugged it into the TARDIS control panel. I never thought they'd take it seriously, but [The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat (OBE)] did! And somehow I was amazed to read this thing of me arriving on a tank playing the TARDIS. I said to Steven, "We can't do that. That is so wrong, that will not work, it makes me look like Cher!'
This week's 'Question on Only Connect that this blogger got the answer to before either of the teams' was the first one on the episode. That hasn't happened before!
Gotham continues to rattle along at a terrific pace. The latest episode - One Of My Three Soups - is reviewed here, here and here.
Tackling fake news, bringing Britain together and playing 'a vital role' for the country abroad are among the BBC's priorities for the year ahead. Investing in content that 'no other broadcaster would make' is among other aspirations detailed in the BBC's second Annual Plan. Further improvements to the BBC iPlayer have also been promised. Challenges facing the BBC include the changing nature of media consumption, particularly among the young. The Annual Plan's ambitions were outlined to BBC staff by Tony Hall, the Director General, on Wednesday morning. The far-reaching plan outlines the importance of the BBC's role in society and in tackling false information. Up to one thousand schools around the country will be offered mentoring from expert BBC journalists to help young people identify real news. The BBC also pledges to invest in 'a uniquely distinctive mix of content; new talent and new voices around the UK.' Hall included the likes of James Corden, The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat (OBE) and Armando Iannucci as examples of writers who cut their teeth at the BBC. He outlined his commitment to ensuring new talent is recognised and nurtured at the BBC to create a new generation of original content providers. This will counter the likelihood that the total amount invested in UK content will fall over the next decade. Hall said that 2018 was 'about delivering for young people' and outlined the competition the BBC faced from streaming services. He assured his audience that, despite the popularity of Netflix and Amazon Prime, the BBC had an audience share of fifty seven per cent amongst young people. Hall said customisation was key to engaging viewers with BBC content on the iPlayer. More than fifteen million people are currently logging into the on demand service each month. Improvements to the iPlayer this year will include increased availability of content, enhancements to the user experience and more personalisation. Series like Blue Planet II, Taboo and Peaky Blinders saw the service record its best ever year in 2017. The BBC's global reach will be further boosted by the BBC World Service, said to be undergoing 'its biggest expansion since the 1940s.' This year's plan follows the BBC's first Annual Plan, which pledged to spend extra money on children's content. The Annual Plan is separate from the BBC's annual report, which looks back over the previous year's performance and publishes details about the corporation's finances and spending.
Aiden Gillen does not look anything like Littlefinger in a series of first-look photos from his new drama. Gillen physically transforms into Ireland's most famous stand-up in BBC2's Dave Allen At Peace, which will be shown on Easter Monday. And, may his inability to find one accent and stick to it go with him. The sixty-minute film traces the rise of Dave Allen from childhood as the son of a prominent Irish journalist to becoming the country's most subversive comedy voices, especially when he was taking aim at the Catholic church.
We are used to seeing him tackle London's worst criminals but Sky One's In The Long Run reveals a different side to Idris Elba. He is the creator and star of the new comedy, which is loosely based on his own childhood, with Sammy Kamara playing Kobna (based on a young Idris) and the Luther star himself playing Walter (a version of Idris's own father). Bill Bailey - who appears as Walter's friend and neighbour, Bagpipes, told the Digital Spy website that Elba had 'a real instinctive talent' for comedy, despite being better known as a dramatic powerhouse. 'It was great fun doing scenes with Idris,' Bill said. 'He's often cast as a brooding action man, but he actually has got a great deftness of touch with comedy and the lighter scenes. I think people will be surprised, actually. He's quite a big and imposing character on screen, but actually, there's a softness to this character as well. Walter, the character he plays, likes to be the authoritarian, but actually he's quite soft.' Bill explained that the 1980s-set comedy was 'deeply personal' for Elba, since its events are 'all drawn very much from his own personal recollection of his life. So there's a great warmth to it,' he added. 'There's a very natural, very authentic feel to it, which I think comes across. He was basically playing his own father and talking about characters who are still around, and events that happened. So I think occasionally the personal nature of it sometimes really struck him.' Notwithstanding guest turns in the likes of Hustle, Doctor Who and Skins, In the Long Run is Bill's first acting role as a series regular since Black Books in 2004, with the actor and comic being forced to turn down 'a lot of stuff' due to a busy TV and touring schedule. 'I've either been touring or I've been away. Certainly, there would be times when I was working on Never Mind The Buzzcocks which, again, would take up a big chunk of the year. So that was obviously a factor. Often, it's the kinds of things I've been offered as well. They've just not been quite right, or I didn't quite fancy it. They tend to be a comic character, which is fine. I can understand that, that's what I do. That makes sense. But for me, I'm attracted to something with a bit more depth to it, a bit more to get your teeth into. In The Long Run certainly had that. There's a bit of drama. It's not all gags and knockabout comedy. Bagpipes is a real character. You're trying to portray a person with depth and a bit of complexity and problems and issues and a fractured relationship with his wife. They're trying to rebuild that relationship.' Having been a part of Elba's story, Bill is now interested in potentially following suit and bringing his own early life to the screen. 'It did make me think about that, to be honest. I mean, it's quite a big thing to take on, but the advantages of it are, you know these people. One of the challenges in writing drama is trying to write convincing characters - three-dimensional, realistic characters. If you look at your own life and your own upbringing and your friends, you're surrounded by these people. Finding a way through that is the challenge – making it into a drama that connects with other people. I think that's the real challenge and In The Long Run actually does that very well.' The BBC's tame specky slapheed Will Gompertz's review of the opening episode of In The Long Run can be vada'd here.
ITV has denied that this year's series of I'm A Z-List Former Celebrity Desperate To Get My Boat-Race Back On TV ... Please Vote For Me To Stay Here As Long As Possible (I'll Even Eat Worms If You Want) will not be hosted by Dec and/or Ant. The Cheeky Chappie Doon Th' Bigg Market duo have presented the show every year since it began in 2002, but the Daily Lies has reported that 'bosses' (that's 'executives' only with less syllables) are 'considering' hiring 'somebody new' to host when the next series begins in November. They claimed that producers would rather change presenters entirely than have yer actual Dec host the show alone in the event that Ant can't take part due to his ongoing addiction issues and forthcoming court case. However, ITV subsequently denied the claims to the Mirra: 'It is utter nonsense to suggest that Ant and Dec are set to be replaced on I'm A Z-List Former Celebrity Desperate To Get My Boat-Race Back On TV ... Please Vote For Me To Stay Here As Long As Possible (I'll Even Eat Worms If You Want),' they said. Which appears to be a suggestion - from ITV - that a right load of old made-up crap has been published in the Daily Lies. And that is scarcely credible. Oh no, sorry, it is credible.
Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads's entertainment company is teaming up with the BBC for the first time for a new dance contest. Saturday night talent show The Greatest Dancer is being produced by Syco - which is behind The X Factor and Britain's Got Toilets - and by Thames. It will see dancers 'from all different genres' compete for the title of 'the best dancer in the UK.' The show could see former X Factor judge Wor Geet Canny Cheryl return to prime-time TV after taking part in the pilot. Alesha Dixon, who is a judge on Britain's Got Toilets and Jordan Banjo, from dance group Diversity, could also be involved in the BBC series after hosting the run-through last month. Kate Phillips, the BBC's entertainment commissioner, said: 'The BBC is undoubtedly the home of dance. By launching The Greatest Dancer we want to give the vast array of dance talent across the UK the chance to shine. I can't wait to work with Syco and Thames to uncover the talent out there and let our audience critique and celebrate the nation's unsung dance heroes.' The BBC has commissioned eight episodes of the show, which is open to dancers from every discipline, including ballet, jazz, hip hop and Bollywood. As well as Wor Geet Canny Cheryl, the coaching panel could also include Glee's Matthew Morrison and Strictly Come Dancing professional Oti Mabuse, as they took part in the pilot. The presenting and coaching line-up is yet to be confirmed by the BBC. Nigel Hall, global head of television for Syco Entertainment, told the BBC News website: 'The auditions for the pilot episode saw some of the most jaw-dropping, heartfelt and moving auditions I've ever seen on a dance show. There are some spectacular moments and we are beyond thrilled to have secured this commission over fierce competition. We look forward to working with the BBC team on something just a little bit special.'
And, speaking of Saturday night shite, All Together Now is coming back for a second series on BBC1 with Rob Beckett and Geri Horner both returning to their presenting roles. The BBC and Remarkable Television's Saturday night lack-of-entertainment show features 'a unique panel of one hundred music experts and performers from across the UK, with each act aiming to get as many of the one hundred on their feet and singing along.' The first series - which was, broadly speaking, abject crap in this blogger's opinion as a licence fee-payer - was won by Hartlepool-based Michael Rice, who impressed his fellow finalists with a version of Leonard Cohen's 'Hallelujah'.
Countdown's Rachel Riley was left 'amused' after another naughty phrase appeared on her letters board this week. Monday's episode of the long-running daytime show saw a contestant make the word 'panties'. While Rachel grinned awkwardly after rearranging the two leftover letters, Nick Hewer, alongside Dictionary Corner's Susie Dent and guest Len Goodman, did their best to cover their embarrassment. 'We had panties as well,' said Len and Susie, as Nick replied: 'That's two panties, then.'
Despite previously stated enthusiasm about a possible Life On Mars movie, Philip Glenister has now poured cold water on the idea. The actor, who played Gene Hunt on the cult BBC drama, appeared on This Morning on Tuesday to give an update on any possible big screen revival. 'I can't see it happening if I'm honest,' he admitted. 'Because we are all dead as characters! I don't know. We are all a bit older now. It's quite a long time ago. I know what will happen, they will re-make it in five years time with younger people!' Holly Willoughby suggested that such a revival would be 'rubbish' - something she certainly knows all about - and vowed to not watch it if that was the case, the first recorded instance of Holly Willoughby actually talking sense in living memory. The drama ran for two series in 2006 and 2007 and followed Sam Tyler (John Simm), who was involved in a car accident and, apparently, woke up in 1973. Or, did he? It was, frankly, bloody fantastic. It later spawned a - not-quite-as-terrific-but-still-pretty-excellent sequel, Ashes To Ashes, an American remake (which was quite good up to the final episode when it all went tits-up) as well as endless speculation about a possible revival. Co-creator Ashley Pharaoh told the Digital Spy website a few years ago that he would 'never say never' to bringing Life On Mars back. Even if just about everyone else involved in it has. 'It would be hard, I think, just because the end of Ashes To Ashes sort of does wrap up the whole mythology of Gene Hunt,' he said. 'But we always thought we were going to do three series of Life On Mars – and then it became two. I always wanted to do a Christmas special, with Morecambe & Wise and Mud. So never say never, I suppose.'
Stephen Fry has spoken about the struggles that he has faced throughout his life dealing with mental health issues, stating: 'I'm not going to kid myself that it's cured.' At the age of thirty seven, the comedian, actor and writer was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Fry has become a major proponent for mental health awareness, exploring bipolar disorder in the 2006 two-part documentary Stephen Fry: The Secret Life Of The Manic Depressive and being named president of mental health charity Mind in 2011. Stephen talked about the way in which bipolar disorder affects his life while appearing on an episode of Fearne Cotton's podcast Happy Place. 'There was and still is - and I still feel it occasionally - a danger of becoming sort of professionally mentally unstable and that's what I am, that's who I am,' he said. 'I've always viewed it's not who I am. It's a condition I live with. I'm always prepared to talk about it, but there's also a danger, because I do live with this condition. I'm not going to kid myself that it's cured because it isn't, that if I keep picking at the scab, it's not going to be good for me. It's not going to be good for my mental health.' Fry explained that his 'entourage' are 'particularly attentive' when it comes to his mental health, as they make sure that he takes a break whenever they can sense he's in need of one. 'I'll say, "Yes, I'll do it," because I think it's my duty. They'll say, "No, don't. Or, if you do, do it in a month's time,"' he said. In February, Stephen shared a video on social media revealing that he was recovering from prostate cancer. He explained that he had undergone an operation in the first week of January in which eleven lymph nodes were removed. He stated that the procedure 'seemed to go pretty well,' adding: 'So far as we know it's all been got.'
The magician Dynamo has said that medication for Crohn's disease has caused his recent change in appearance. Dynamo, whose real name is Steven Frayne, posted a video on his social media accounts explaining he had became 'really sick' in 2017. Frayne said his medication regime since then has caused him to 'put on quite a lot of body weight' and develop a rash. He said that he is also unable to shuffle cards because his hands are in 'so much pain' due to developing arthritis. Frayne thanked fans for their 'kind support,' following a selfie he posted online on Monday evening showing the change in his appearance, including the extent of the rash on his head. 'I've been keeping a bit more of a low profile as I got really sick and ended up in hospital last summer due to a really bad type of food poisoning. Having Crohn's disease and food poisoning, very bad combination,' he said in the video. 'Thankfully, the NHS worked amazingly well to get me out of hospital and back on my feet. I'm doing everything in my power to get myself better.' Hundreds of people suffering with Crohn's sent messages of support to Dynamo, who spoke to the Sun in December 2017 about living with the illness, after recognising the star's weight gain as a common side effect of medication.
The final two episodes of Peter Kay's Car Share are to be broadcast on the BBC in May, it has been confirmed. Fans of the sitcom - and, this blogger is not one of them - will finally see what happens between his character, John and Kayleigh, played by Sian Gibson. The episodes - which have already been filmed - will come a year after Kay said that the show was coming to an end following its second series. There will be an unscripted episode before the finale, which will reveal if John and Kayleigh have a happy ending. A charity screening of the two episodes is taking place in Blackpool next month before the rest of the UK gets to watch them, a tweet from Peter Kay's account announced on Thursday. It was the first tweet from the account since Kay said in December that he was cancelling his comeback tour - his first in eight years - due to 'unforeseen family circumstances.' The event, on 7 April, will raise money for The Lily Foundation, which treats children with mitochondrial disease. In a statement, Kay said of the screening: 'I've had first-hand experience of the foundation's work and I'm proud to raise both awareness and much needed funds to help with the inspiring work they provide to children and their families.' The second series of Car Share ended with Kayleigh declaring her love for John. When he refused to say how he felt, she walked out of his car - and, apparently, his life. The ending both surprised and disappointed some viewers, who were convinced the show, about two employees thrown together in a company car share scheme, was building up to a romantic finish. Kay admitted in November that people had been 'angry' about how the series had ended. At the time, he described Car Share Unscripted as 'half-an-hour of us basically making the script up and improvising,' adding: 'It's nothing to do with the story - just us having a laugh.' Car Share won two BAFTA TV Awards in 2016, for best scripted comedy and best male performance in a comedy programme.
Oscar-winning actress Dame Olivia de Havilland has extremely lost a pointless legal battle with the makers of US TV drama Feud. De Havilland had objected to how she was depicted in the series, which explored the bad blood between screen legends Joan Crawford and Bette Davis. But a state appeals court in California said that allowing the case to proceed would interfere with authors' rights to dramatise historical events. Creator Ryan Murphy called the ruling 'a victory for the creative community.' And, for common sense. Murphy said that the decision 'gives all creators the breathing room necessary to continue to tell important historical stories inspired by true events.' De Havilland, who starred in Gone With The Wind, among other classic films, filed a lawsuit against Murphy and FX Networks last year, claiming Feud portrayed her as 'a petty gossip.' Fellow Oscar winner Catherine Zeta Jones played de Havilland in the drama which won two EMMY Awards. Dame Olivia claimed that her portrayal was 'inaccurate' because it showed her calling her sister, Joan Fontaine, 'a bitch' and commenting on Frank Sinatra's drinking habits. But three judges unanimously ordered the dismissal of the case on Monday and ruled that the retired actress must pay FX's legal fees and costs. 'Whether a person portrayed in one of these expressive works is a world-renowned film star - "a living legend" - or a person no-one knows, she or he does not own history,' wrote judge Anne Egerton. 'Nor does she or he have the legal right to control, dictate, approve, disapprove or veto the creator's portrayal of actual people.' Suzelle Smith, a lawyer for de Havilland, said that the California appeal court's decision had denied the actress 'her constitutional rights' and that she would appeal. A second season of Feud was given the go-ahead last year and will focus on the divorce of Prince Charles and Diana.
Online gambling firm Sky Bet has been very fined a million knicker for allowing hundreds of 'potentially vulnerable people' to keep betting after they asked to be barred from doing so, while sending promotional material to fifty thousand more. Industry regulator The Gambling Commission said that Sky Bet was extremely naughty and was guilty of 'failings' in its self-exclusion tools, which are meant to help people who fear they have a gambling problem lock themselves out of online casinos and sports betting. The fine comes amid delays to the launch of an industry-wide system called GamStop designed to allow addicts to block themselves from multiple companies, following high-profile problems with individual firms' self-exclusion schemes. The Gambling Commission said that seven hundred and thirty six Sky Bet customers who had self-excluded were able to open new accounts, in some cases using the same details previously registered with the company. About fifty thousand self-excluded customers continued to receive marketing material from Sky Bet by e-mail, text or a mobile app notification after self-excluding. A further thirty six thousand did not have the balance of their funds with SkyBet returned to them upon closing their accounts. The fine would have been higher but Sky Bet reported the issue to the Gambling Commission of its own accord. 'This was a serious failure affecting thousands of potentially vulnerable customers and the one million pound penalty package should serve as a warning to all gambling businesses,' said the Gambling Commission programme director, Richard Watson. 'Protecting consumers from gambling-related harm is a priority for us and where we see operators failing in their responsibility to keep their customers safe we will take tough action.' The vast majority of the million smackers fine will be paid to charities for socially responsible purposes, the Gambling Commission said. Sky Bet's rival, 888, paid over seven million quid last year for failures relating to self-exclusion, the largest penalty ever handed out by the industry regulator. Matt Zarb-Cousin, who founded an app called Gamban that allows problem gamblers to block betting sites from their own computer or phone, said that the industry had a poor record. 'Sky Bet is only the latest in a long line of failures by operators to uphold self-exclusion, while the multi-operator scheme GamStop has been delayed until later this year,' he said. 'Operators should give customers who self exclude the opportunity to block all gambling sites and apps on their devices by offering software that can't be user-uninstalled.' The Sky Betting & Gaming chief executive, Richard Flint, said: 'We have always taken responsible gambling and player protection very seriously but this incident showed that we needed to do more. When we spotted the issue we pro-actively notified the Gambling Commission and have worked to improve our processes to avoid this happening again. We could and should have made it harder for self-excluded customers to open duplicate accounts with us and for that we are sorry. We fully agree with the Gambling Commission's findings and will donate the agreed sum to charities for socially responsible purposes.' He claimed that the company had not made any profit out of the episode. One or two people even believed him.
A statue of the late David Bowie has been unveiled in the town where he debuted Ziggy Stardust. The bronze sculpture, entitled Earthly Messenger, can be found in Aylesbury's Market Square. It features a likeness of Bowie in 2002 regarding a selection of his alter-egos down the years, with Ziggy at the front. Speakers mounted above the life-size piece will play a Bowie song every hour. Singer-songwriter Howard Jones unveiled the piece and called it 'a result for Aylesbury.' Money to create the work was raised through grants and a one hundred grand crowdfunding appeal by music promoter David Stopps. 'The reaction to the statue has been so positive,' Stopps said. 'When you get something like this people either love it or hate it. If people say "I hate it" or "I absolutely love it" then you know it's real art. That's the definition of art.' The unveiling came after Stopps launched a petition to rename Aylesbury 'Aylesbowie' in honour of the artist's 'strong connection' to the Buckinghamshire town. Bowie debuted two LPs - Hunky Dory and Ziggy Stardust - at gigs at the Friars music venue in 1971 and 1972. The statue was designed by sculptor Andrew Sinclair, who used the mask taken from Bowie's face during the filming of The Man Who Fell To Earth to create the likeness. Rob Stringer, CEO of Sony Music, described it as 'beautiful. I thought it would be one figurine and it's actually a complete compendium of his life,' he said. 'To work with him on the last two records was very emotional but I got to work with somebody who, when I was growing up in Aylesbury in the 1970s, was the pop culture legend.' The statue was then vandalised less than forty eight hours after being unveiled. 'Feed the homeless first' had been written in front of it, 'RIP DB' on a wall beside it and a section of the statue was also painted on it. The damage was described as 'awful' and 'pointless' and is thought to have happened overnight on Monday. Helen Light, from Aylesbury, said: 'Vandalising it is awful. Tax payers will now be paying for the clean-up so it is the vandal who will ironically be taking money away from the homeless.' The individual who did the vandalising has not, yet, been identified. Though, it shouldn't be long before someone snitches him up to the fuzz since, let's face, it, everyone loves David Bowie far more than they love Middle Class hippy Communists.
Two members of a family suffered broken bones when a car ploughed into their home as they sat watching television. Robert Beattie, his wife Mel and fifteen-year-old daughter, Tash, were sitting in their living room when the car smashed into the house. The woman and girl are currently recovering in hospital following Friday's crash. A twenty six-year-old man from Worcester has been very arrested on suspicion of causing serious injury by dangerous driving and released under investigation. Beattie said that it was 'nothing short of a miracle' he and his family were still alive. 'I got my wife out into the kitchen area as best I could, she was very dazed and confused,' he said. 'I, then had to go back outside, through the opening, to rescue my daughter from the other side of the car who was, again, shocked and confused and I carried her back round to the kitchen.'
Filling this year's Panini World Cup sticker book will cost seven hundred and thirty three smackers, twice the cost for Euro 2016, according to 'maths expert' Professor Paul Harper. Who, presumably, didn't have anything more important to turn his maths expertise towards this week. The pages contain thirty two squads of players, plus managers, stadiums and World Cup legends, totalling six hundred and eighty two stickers. The cost of a packet of five stickers has risen from fifty pence to eighty pence - a sixty per cent increase. If one was to buy one hundred and thirty seven packets and never get the same sticker twice, it would cost £109.60, but this is 'extremely unlikely,' according to the professor. No shit? Harper, from Cardiff University's School of Mathematics, worked out 'a formula' to include 'the least probable number of duplicate stickers.' In the end, he demonstrated that, on average, one would need to buy four thousand eight hundred and thirty two stickers - nine hundred and sixty seven packets - to complete the book. One cost-saving measure is swapping stickers with friends, but even using that tactic, filling the album would still be jolly expensive. With ten friends swapping, it could still cost them an average of two hundred and forty seven knicker each to complete the album, according to the professor's calculations. And, that is always supposing that those completing the albums have ten friends. In 2016, Harper made the same calculations for the six hundred and eighty-space Euro sticker book. It was three hundred and seventy four quid, meaning the cost has more than doubled. While the Euro competition only had twenty four squads there were only two fewer stickers in the book printed two years ago. 'I can still recall the joy of finally completing my first Panini album as a young boy for the 1982 World Cup in Spain,' said Harper. 'Filling an album has become progressively more expensive over the years since then, not just because there are typically more teams competing now, but because Panini have become more creative about allocating spaces.' For what it's worth, this blogger's own Panini collection goes all the way back to the 1970 World Cup, when he was six. And, stopped after 1978. Because, by 1982, he was eighteen. And, a bloody grown up. Just sayin'.
Ayoze Perez's late goal gave yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved (though unsellable) Newcastle United a victory which moved them a big step closer towards Premier League safety and left Huddersfield Town in danger of dropping back into the Championship. The hosts had looked like being frustrated as they missed a number of decent chances to take the lead early on against the cautious Terriers. Matt Ritchie was denied one-on-one by Huddersfield keeper Jonas Lossl before Dwight Gayle saw his lob drop just wide of the post. Only Malaga have failed to score in more games than Huddersfield this season in any of Europe's top five leagues and they rarely threatened in this encounter. Huddersfield, that is, not Malaga. They weren't playing. It appeared as if Huddersfield would hold on for an important point until Perez turned in Kenedy's smart cross ten minutes from time to secure a vital win which lifts The Bonny Magpies to twelfth in the Premier League table with thirty five points, seven points above the relegation zone. Huddersfield, meanwhile, remain three points above eighteenth-placed Southampton, who lost at three-nil at West Hamsters United and are now without a win in their last four Premier League games. Elsewhere, Mohamed Salah's late goal snatched a victory for Liverpool Alabama Yee-Haws at Crystal Palace and left Palace two points above the relegation zone, Leicester scored twice and had Wilfred Ndidi sent off in the last few minutes to claim a dramatic win at Brighton & Hove Albinos, Romelu Lukaku scored his one hundredth Premier League goal as The Scum strengthened their grip on second place and dented Swansea City's survival hopes, Jermain Defoe scored a ninety second-minute equaliser as Bournemouth denied Watford victory at Vicarage Road and Ashley Barnes' spectacular volley kept Burnley's European hopes alive and condemned basement club West Bromwich Albinos to a Premier League record eighth successive defeat.
Former Australian captain Steve Smith and vice-captain David Warner have been very banned for a year from all domestic and international cricket for their naughty illegal ball-tampering ways. Cameron Bancroft, who carried out the filthy cheating in question in South Africa, was given a nine-month ban by Cricket Australia. The three had already been sent home from Australia's tour amid widespread condemnation stretching beyond sport. Australia's Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull said that the affair 'bitterly disappointed the whole nation.' Smith and Bancroft have also been suspended from captaining Australia for 'at least' the next two years. Warner will not be considered for 'any team leadership positions in the future,' Cricket Australia said. Following Cricket Australia's investigation into the incident, the body also said that Bancroft had used sandpaper to damage the ball during the third test against South Africa. It found that Smith and Bancroft had made 'misleading public comments' when on Saturday they instead claimed to a press conference that it had been yellow tape. Cricket Australia had already concluded that coach Darren Lehmann was not involved in the controversy and that he would remain in his post. Though it was subsequently announced that Lehman will be quitting his role at the end of the current series. The body's chief executive James Sutherland said that the three players were 'sad, disappointed and remorseful.' He added: 'This has caused damage to the game as a whole and certainly to Cricket Australia. It has compromised the fans' faith in cricket and it's our responsibility to reinstate that confidence. It appears to be an isolated incident but if there are other allegations we will take them further. There was some courage in owning up but there was an element of untruth and that's something we took into consideration.' Smith, Warner and Bancroft are banned from international and Australian domestic cricket. They will also serve one hundred hours of 'voluntary service in community cricket.' Cricket Australia said that the players would be 'permitted to play [Australian] club cricket and will be encouraged to do so.' They also remain eligible for competitions outside of Australia, but earlier on Wednesday, Smith and Warner were also banned from this season's Indian Premier League. In January the pair were signed to the most lucrative Twenty20 contracts ever offered to an Australian player - reportedly worth over a million knicker each. Before Wednesday's IPL ban, Warner stepped down as captain of Indian Premier League side Sunrisers Hyderabad. Smith stood down as captain of Rajasthan Royals on Monday. IPL chairman Rajeev Shukla said: 'The players that [Cricket Australia] have banned, we are also barring those two players from this season. The franchises will get replacements for the players.' Bancroft had been due to play for Somerset this season. On Monday Somerset said they would wait and 'collate all the relevant information before considering our next steps.' After Bancroft's actions were exposed on Saturday, Smith admitted that the Australian 'leadership group' had 'devised a plan' to tamper with the ball. Images showed Bancroft take an item out of his trouser pocket before rubbing the ball with it. After the game, Smith described the events as 'a big mistake' but added that he would not stand down as captain. Following the conclusion of the third test - South Africa won by three hundred and twenty two runs after an Australian batting collapse - the International Cricket Council banned Smith for one match and fined him his entire match fee. Bancroft was fined seventy five per cent of his match fee and given three demerit points. Having begun its own investigation after the match, Cricket Australia told reporters on Tuesday that it would look to sanction the players - in addition to the punishments by the ICC. Australian cricket commentator Jim Maxwell told Radio 5Live his 'understanding' was that after lunch, Smith saw Bancroft and Warner 'in collusion.' Maxwell said that Smith had said to the pair: 'What are you blokes doing? I don't want to know what you're doing,' before then going out onto the field. Several former players had raised concerns over the position of coach Lehmann. He was spotted in communication via walkie-talkie with the twelfth man during the match, leading to some to speculate that he had been involved in the plan to cheat. Former coach John Buchanan said that it would have been 'highly unusual' for Lehmann not to be aware of his players' plans. However, Sutherland claimed that Lehmann had been using the walkie-talkie to ask 'what was going on?' and Cricket Australia was 'satisfied he wasn't involved. I want to make that point very clear. Darren is the coach. He continues as coach under his current contract,' Sutherland added. 'It appears to be an isolated incident but if there are other allegations we will take them further.' Meanwhile, former England captain Michael Vaughan has said that he is 'pretty sure' Australia were tampering with the ball during England's Ashes series defeat. The ICC has said it will not be investigating those claims, as the deadline for reporting any such offence has passed. However, it is expected to discuss Australia's ball-tampering against South Africa at its next board meeting at the end of April. Sutherland said that while the South Africa incident 'does appear to be isolated,' Cricket Australia had the powers to investigate should further credible allegations arise. The players involved could also suffer financial losses as sponsors seek to distance themselves from the matter - South Korean electronics company LG has already decided not to renew a sponsorship deal with Warner. Sutherland had on Tuesday been reluctant to use the word 'cheating' when Cricket Australia announced that Warner, Smith and Bancroft would be sent home. Despite being asked twice directly whether they had cheated or not, he said: 'In the laws of the game, this is not in the spirit of the game. It is not a good day for Australian cricket.' On Wednesday he was asked the same question and replied: 'I think people want to use their own words but certainly cheating is one of those that would be appropriate. It's compromised the fans' faith in cricket.' Subsequently, both Smith and Warner made tearful appearances in front of the press, weaselling about their failed honesty and snivelling like girls whilst begging for forgiveness for their badness. Warner, in particular, has been a highly controversial figure in world cricket over the last few years. He was suspended for the majority of the 2013 Champions Trophy after punching England batsman Joe Root in a bar in Birmingham. The left-hander was nicknamed 'The Bull' when he began his career but his team-mates began calling him 'The Reverend' after he gave up alcohol. Despite his reputation for being something of bullying scumbag, he was named vice-captain when Smith took over from Michael Clarke and he led Australia in Smith's absence in the recent Twenty20 tri-series against England and New Zealand. He was fined after the first test against South Africa for an altercation with Proteas wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock. The Sydney Morning Herald described Warner's press conference as an example of someone who was 'sorry, but self-interested.' Others highlighted his apparent unwillingness to give straight answers to questions about who else may have been involved in the ball-tampering malarkey. Warner has also been branded as a hypocrite after criticising having publicly South African ball-tampering two years before he, seemingly, asked a teammate to do exactly the same thing. Faf Du Plessis was fined for using saliva from a mint in his mouth to boost shine on the ball in a test against Australia in Hobart in 2016. After the game, Warner lectured: 'I just know from an Australian cricket perspective, we hold our heads high and I'd be very disappointed if one of our team members did that. If you're going to overstep that mark and you get fined, be prepared to miss Test matches as well. The rules are in place for a reason, if you're not gonna use them, then why bother having them?' Why, indeed.
The UK's top police officer has blamed social media for 'normalising violence' and 'leading more children to commit stabbings' and murders. Met Police commissioner Cressida Dick - who is definitely not mental, just in case you were wondering - told The Times that social media sites 'rev people up' and make street violence 'more likely.' Fatal stabbings in England and Wales are at their highest levels since 2011. Dick announced a new task force of about one hundred officers to tackle violent crime in London. Dick says she 'believes' social media 'makes it harder for people to cool down,' adding: 'I'm sure it does rev people up. There's definitely something about the impact of social media in terms of people being able to go from slightly angry with each other to "fight" very quickly,' she said. A trivial disagreement could escalate into violence 'within minutes,' Dick added, with disputes on sites such as YouTube identified by detectives as 'partly to blame.' Linking the 'incredibly abusive' language online to street violence, she said: 'I think it certainly makes it more likely, it makes it faster it allows a conversation of a "show off" sort that involves violence.' Dick also told the paper that gangs who post on social media or share videos provoking rivals can 'glamorise violence.' She said that stop and search is 'likely to go on going up,' adding: 'We will be out on the streets more.' In September last year, the MP for Croydon Central, Sarah Jones, claimed that social media was 'fuelling an escalation in the cycle of violence among young people.' She called for ministers to 'crack down' on online material promoting knife crime, naming YouTube, Snapchat and Instagram as 'problem sites.
A man in the UK has caught the world's 'worst-ever' case of 'super-gonorrhoea.' He reportedly had a regular partner in the UK, but picked up the superbug after a sexual encounter with a woman in South-East Asia. Public Health England says it is the first time the infection cannot be cured with first choice antibiotics. Health officials are now tracing any other sexual partners of the man, who has not been identified, in an attempt to contain the infection's spread. The main antibiotic treatment - a combination of azithromycin and ceftriaxone - has failed to treat his disease-ridden dong. Doctor Gwenda Hughes, from Public Health England, said: 'This is the first time a case has displayed such high-level resistance to both of these drugs and to most other commonly used antibiotics.' Discussions with the World Health Organization and the European Centres for Disease Control agree that this is a world first. The disease is caused by the bacterium called Neisseria gonorrhoeae. The infection is spread by unprotected vaginal, oral and anal sex. Of those infected, about one in ten heterosexual men and more than three-quarters of women and gay men, have no easily recognisable symptoms. But symptoms can include a thick green or yellow discharge from sexual organs, pain when urinating and bleeding between periods. Apparently. Untreated infection can lead to infertility, pelvic inflammatory disease and difficulty pissing and can be passed on to a child during pregnancy. Analysis of the man's infection suggests that one last antibiotic could work. He is currently being treated and doctors will see if it has been successful next month.
A police officer allegedly tried to prevent his daughter from being prosecuted for driving while talking to him on a mobile phone. The Avon and Somerset Police officer, known as 'PC B', is said to have 'urged' volunteer officers to drop the case after the incident last October. He is alleged to have repeatedly told the special constables to leave the matter to him. The officer faces a three-day gross misconduct hearing next week. The woman handed her mobile phone to two special constables who had pulled her over on 28 October and 'PC B' allegedly told them that she had only been driving for a couple of months and could lose her licence. He repeatedly told them they should leave the matter to him and he would 'talk to her' at home, it is alleged. Documents released ahead of the hearing say that he told the special constables it was 'just a silly mistake' and that he continually questioned the account of one of them. The papers claim that PC B 'deliberately sought to place pressure on the special constables to take no action against his daughter. In the alternative, it is alleged that regardless of PC B's intentions, he caused or permitted the special constables to feel pressured.' Driving whilst using a mobile phone can lead to a six point penalty and a two hundred knicker fine and newly qualified drivers can lose their licence. The misconduct hearing will take place on 4 April.
Last week on one of the obscure digital channels, this blogger happened upon the 2015 version of The Fantastic Four, which he had studiously avoided up till that point given the contemporary reviews of it which described it as, quite possibly, the single worst film ever made. By anyone. Ever. Watching it (or, at least, about three quarters of it), this blogger found that he entirely agreed with those highly negative contemporary reviews. Jeez, it really was fuckawful! So wretched, in fact, that - in Keith Telly Topping's mind, at least - it conspired to make the previous decade's Jessica Alba-Michael Chiklis-Ioan Gruffudd version (which this blogger paid good money to see when it came out and thought was, frankly, a right old shower of shit) look like Casablanca in comparison. This week, E4 showed the 2005 version and, watching it again, whilst it still wasn't very good (Julian McMahon's going so far over the top he was down the other side which did, admittedly, have a certain camp charm about it notwithstanding), compared to what this blogger had watched the previous week, Keith Telly Topping thought to himself 'this is Citizen Kane!'
And now, dear blog reader, for us Good Friday dinner at Stately Telly Topping Manor, we had chicken and sliced mushroom tikka masala with wild basmati rice, coconut, red peppers, shallots, sweetcorn, cumin, fresh parsley, coriander, ground black pepper, garlic, paprika, crushed chillis, lemon, honey and prawn crackers. Skill. It was, also us dinner on Easter Saturday since this blogger made so much.
Bill Maynard, who has died at the age of eighty nine, was probably best known to younger dead blog readers as the loveable rogue Claude Jeremiah Greengrass, in the police drama Heartbeat and to those of a slightly older age as the hapless handyman and all-round public nuisance in Roy Clarke's 1970s ITV sitcom Oh No, It's Selwyn Froggitt! ('Magic!') But Bill had a long and sometimes difficult career that took him from variety shows to cinema and television. In real life Maynard shared many similarities with his best known characters, a predilection for racehorses, greyhounds and booze. At one stage he was the best paid TV comic in Britain but he squandered his earnings. He was born Walter Frederick George Williams in October 1928 in the village of Heath End in Surrey. At the age of eight he was performing in Working Men's Clubs, doing George Formby impressions. He lost part of the middle finger of his right hand in a childhood accident with a mangle. He later dabbled with becoming a professional footballer, apprenticed aged fifteen to Leicester City and then Notts County, but he was eventually forced back to the stage by a knee injury. He returned to showbusiness as a band singer making his TV debut in 1953's Face The Music and, later, coming second in the British heat of the 1957 Eurovision Song Contest. But, he struggled to get a break as a comedian at the Windmill Theatre. His luck changed after encountering another young stand-up, Terry Scott whilst both were working as redcoats at Butlin's in Skegness. By this time he had changed his stage name to Maynard - a name, as he later revealed in a BBC interview, that he saw a on poster for Maynard's wine gums. He and Scott became TV stars in the 1950s with their own BBC comedy show, Great Scott, It's Maynard (1955-56).
The partnership ended when Maynard decided to embark on a career as a serious actor, although his first solo venture was another comedy, Mainly Maynard (1957). But he was not paying enough attention to his finances and the Inland Revenue took his money, his home and his cars for unpaid taxes. Maynard spent several years in obscurity, forced to take bit-parts in repertory companies and making small appearances in programmes like Coronation Street, Till Death Us Do Part, No Hiding Place and Up Pompeii! Rebuilding his career, he was part of the team that presented The One O'Clock Show for Tyne Tees Television in Newcastle (1959 to 1964). He appeared, to critical acclaim, in Dennis Potter's television play Paper Roses (1971), about the last day in the life of a reporter and another notable straight role followed when he appeared in Colin Welland's Kisses at Fifty (1973). Around the same time, Maynard worked with Ronnie Barker on Football Blues which was eventually made as Spanners Eleven, part of a series of vehicles for Barker, Seven Of One, which also included the pilots of both Porridge and Open All Hours. After a pilot episode in 1974, he starred in the Yorkshire Television sitcom Oh No, It's Selwyn Froggitt! (1976 to 78) in which he played the eponymous lead. The programme ran for four series, the last, in 1978, as Selwyn.
Later, for the same ITV contractor, he played Fred Moffatt in The Gaffer (1981 to 1983). At the height of Selwyn's popularity, he recorded a song in tribute to the sport of stock car racing released, to very little acclaim, on the appropriately named Crash Records. Bill also had small roles in five of the Carry On films, including Carry On Matron (1972) and Carry On Dick (1974) - although he professed to be 'baffled' by their popularity - and appeared as a Yorkshire farmer in It Shouldn't Happen To A Vet (1975). His CV also included appearances in The Alma Cogan Show, The Six-Five Special, Juke Box Jury, Celebrity Squares, Whodunnit?, The Ugliest Girl In Town, Thirty Minute Theatre, Sykes, Love Thy Neighbour, The Boy With Two Heads, Zodiac, Hunter's Walk, The Inheritors, The Life of Riley, The Sweeney, Alan Plater's Trinity Tales (as Stan The Fryer), Paradise Island, Tales Of The Unexpected, Andy Robson, In Sickness & In Health and Dalziel & Pascoe. He was the subject of This Is Your Life in 1974. Bill published his first autobiography The Yo-Yo Man in November 1975 and a sequel, Stand Up ... And Be Counted, in 1997. During 1984, he stood as an Independent Labour candidate against Tony Benn in a by-election in Chesterfield and extremely lost his deposit. He said that he had only done it to try and keep Benn out of parliament. It was his only venture into politics. In April 1992, he returned to Yorkshire Television and began playing the lovable old rogue Greengrass in the popular and long running television series Heartbeat. It was a part that seemed to have been specifically created for him. Greengrass had initially been written as a minor background character, but given a fair amount of latitude for interpreting his part Maynard was able to work with the scriptwriters to develop the character's idiosyncrasies and infuse the old rascal with outsized personality which resulted into his becoming one of the most popular characters on the drama. 'The producers said that Heartbeat wasn't likely to last,' he noted. 'But [they] asked that I give Greengrass, who only had a few lines, an injection of humour. It was the easiest role I've ever played because they allowed me so much freedom. I got the idea for him to wear that old grey army coat from when I did The Caretaker on stage so it appeared that he had a heroic past in the military.'
At its peak in 1997, Heartbeat attracted more than sixty per cent of the Sunday night audience, earning Maynard a reputed six hundred grand a year. His character was written out of the show in 2000 after Bill had suffered several strokes, but he returned in 2003 in a spin-off series set in a hospital entitled, The Royal. From 2003 to 2008 he had a BBC Radio Leicester show - Bill Of Fare - and he celebrated sixty years since his first TV appearance in 2013 by releasing a version of 'What A Wonderful World'. Subsequently confined to wheelchairs and mobility scooters he latterly found a new lease of life giving lectures on humour and acting and having discovered the joys of high stakes poker. Speaking at the time, he said that 'making people laugh and smile brings me a lot of personal satisfaction. I am delighted to be still in the entertainment industry doing what I love most - seventy six years since I began my career,' he added. 'I have had an amazing career and I consider myself to be very lucky to still have the energy and enthusiasm to take on new work.' His first wife, Muriel, died from cancer just as he was tasting his second round of success, leaving Maynard to care for their two young children. He went on to marry Donald Campbell's widow, Tonia. He leaves a daughter, Jane and a son - the musician Maynard Williams, five grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

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