Tuesday, May 15, 2018

"Less Shame"

A jolly excited Jodie Whittaker spoke to the BBC's Lizo Mzimba on the red carpet ahead of the BAFTA TV Awards on Sunday evening about how jolly exciting - and 'absolutely incredible' - her new gig is. Which you can watch here. She really is jolly excited. Which is, of course, in and of itself jolly exciting. That There Bradley Walsh was also at the event - he and Jodie presented the best drama series award to From The North favourite Peaky Blinders - and, according to the Radio Times, backstage, Bradley was jolly excited as well.
Britain's Got Toilets, Z-List Celebrity Love Island and - rather more impressively - Blue Planet II were among the winners at this year's BAFTAs. Wor Geet canny Declan Donnelly was at the ceremony to accept the entertainment programme prize for Britain's Got Toilets - but former co-host Ant McPartlin was conspicuous by his absence. Z-List Celebrity Love Island won its first ever BAFTA, for 'best reality show', while Casualty scooped its first BAFTA for eleven years, for best soap or continuing drama. There were awards too for Peaky Blinders and Three Girls. Sir David Attenborough picked up Blue Planet II's 'Must See Moment' prize. That was the only award voted for by viewers and it was for the scene showing a mother pilot whale refusing to let go of her dead calf. Sir David told viewers: 'We set out to try and show the seas, the oceans, for what they are - their beauty, their wonder, their splendour, their intricacy. But also the truth about what what we're doing to them. The fact that that one particular moment rang a bell in the minds and consciences of people throughout this country is something that pleases all of us more than I can say.' Two Dec and/or Ant shows were nominated in the entertainment programme category - Ant and/or Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway and Britain's Got Toilets, with the latter winning. Wor Geet Canny Dec went on stage with the show's production team to accept the award, but he didn't speak from the podium. Elsewhere, Three Girls, based on the Rochdale abuse scandal, won two prizes - best mini-series and best actress for Molly Windsor. She told the ceremony: 'Three Girls was born out of the courage of the real three girls and the real Holly, Amber and Ruby who told their story over and over and over and told it again to us. I just want to say thank you for recognising how selfless that is and how brave that is.' Three Girls was one of a string of dramas inspired by real-life crimes to be honoured. Murdered For Being Different, about the awful murder of Sophie Lancaster in 2007, was named best single drama. And Brian F O'Byrne, who played the father of murdered Rhys Jones in ITV's docudrama Little Boy Blue, was named best supporting actor. He dedicated the award to Rhys, who was eleven when he was shot dead in Liverpool in 2007. 'It's kind of difficult to get an award to play somebody who is living and who is at home tonight, like the last ten years, suffering grief for the loss of their child,' he said. Gangster drama Peaky Blinders beat shows like Line Of Duty and The Crown to the coveted prize for best drama series. Peaky Blinders, which has gone from strength to strength over four series, had never won a BAFTA before and had just one nomination this year. Creator Steven Knight said the win 'means a lot to all of the team' - but did express his disappointment at the fact its stars Cillian Murphy, Helen McCrory and Paul Anderson weren't even nominated. 'Soon, maybe, they will be here as well because I think they deserve to be,' he said. Line Of Duty, which had led the nominations with four, ended up empty-handed. BBC3, if you will, 'mockumentary' This Country won two awards - best scripted comedy and best female performance in a comedy programme for Daisy May Cooper. John Motson was given a special award for his contribution to television on the same day he retired from football commentating. Former Manchester United and England footballer Rio Ferdinand won for his documentary about the death of his wife and coping as a single father. Although it was great night for the BBC, Netflix struggled. Claire Foy again missed out in the lead actress category. Sean Bean won lead actor for his role in the BBC's Broken, beating Jack Rowan (Born To Kill), Joe Cole (Hang The DJ: Black Mirror) and Tim Pigott-Smith, who received a posthumous nomination for his performance in King Charles III. Netflix's only win of the night came in the best supporting actress category, where Vanessa Kirby followed up her nomination last year with a win. Anna Friel (Broken), Julie Hesmondhalgh (Broadchurch) and Liv Hill (Three Girls) were also nominated. The ceremony at London's Royal Festival Hall was hosted by Sue Perkins, who delivered an opening monologue that put a focus on politics, gender equality and revelations about sexual harassment and abuse in the entertainment industry. Mentioning Jodie Whittaker's casting in Doctor Who, she said: 'I think Jodie is the perfect choice. If anyone has experience fighting off grotesque monsters, it's an actress.'
It is - rightly - regarded as a monumental piece of television which helped revive Doctor Who's fortunes back in 2005, but Russell Davies has revealed one tweak that he would like to make to his TV episode Rose. Big Rusty got the opportunity to revisit his first script recently when he wrote a novel version for BBC Books. 'It was actually hard work, I've got to be honest,' he told the Digital Spy website concerning the experience, whilst promoting his new three-part drama A Very English Scandal. 'I kind of thought, "This'll be a laugh!" and then as I sat down with an empty page and realised it had to be forty thousand words, the horror set in. After a thousand words, I was sitting there going, "thirty nine thousand more?!" – I was glad I was allowed enough time. It was great fun, though. And it's kind of a kick up the arse for it as well.' Russell explained that he wanted to reimagine Rose rather than simply translate the TV episode as written into prose, simply because he 'didn't want to get bored. If I'm sitting there bored, just typing out old dialogue, the reader's going to be bored too. So I think everything's got a little spin, every bit of dialogue's got something new.' The change Russell inserted in the novel was a line of dialogue which he wishes he could have incorporated on-screen. 'Jackie Tyler finds Rose on the floor, on top of a broken coffee table with The Doctor, rolling around with a plastic arm. And Jackie says, "Rose Tyler - you tart! Why didn't I think of that in 2003? I love that line. I literally sat there banging my head going, "That's the end of that scene!" because if you watch that scene [on television], it just kind of ends. So you go, "That's it, she comes out the bedroom and finds them, rolling on the floor!" Brilliant! So little moments like that were a joy.' Russell and his successor as Doctor Who showrunner, The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat (OBE), have both written books based on their own episodes, with Moffat tackling fiftieth anniversary episode The Day Of The Doctor. 'I was very envious of Steven,' Davies admitted. 'I was very happy with what I'd done and then I read Steven's and I thought, "Oh, mine's just set on a council estate and a shop." At most, the Southbank! He's on Gallifrey and back in history with Elizabeth I and there's the Time War. I would've loved to have written that.' Russell did, however, get to do something The Moff didn't: create future incarnations of The Doctor, post-Jodie Whittaker. In the sequence where Rose goes to see amateur investigator Clive for more information after her first encounter with the ninth Doctor, the author included mentions of 'a tall, bald black woman wielding a flaming sword' and 'a young girl or boy in a hi-tech wheelchair' among Clive's collection of photographic evidence. 'I couldn't resist!' Davies said. 'Bless Cardiff - all of these things get run past Cardiff and they laughed, they got the joke, they were very happy with it.'
The Bridge returned to its fourth - and, probably final - series on Friday. The new series began two years after the end of series three, with Sofia Helin's Saga Norén being released from prison. And, for the most part, the reviews have been overwhelmingly positive. But, the Digital Spy website still managed to get a complete non-story out of the crass bleating on Twitter of half-a-dozen malcontents who, seemingly, objected to the fact that the episode ended on a cliffhanger which was 'undone instantly afterwards' by a preview for episode two that 'ruined the mystery of whether Saga had actually died or not.' Even though it was pretty damn obvious that she would not die in the first episode, her being the main star of the series and all that. Jesus, some people are just frigging arseholes.
It's that time of the year, dear blog reader, when US networks get out their reaping equipment and their flow-charts of ratings and demographics and, either give a thumps up or an axe in the back to lots of their product. Despite some encouraging noises made a few weeks ago by FOX's chairman, Gary Newman (not the one who sang 'Cars', seemingly), the fate of From The North favourite Gotham had hung in the balance in recent days with much informed opinion stating that its future rather depended on that of another FOX series, Lethal Weapon. Sunday, however, brought the very welcome news that Gotham has been renewed for a fifth - and final - series, albeit, it won't be shown until 2019. The episodes - and, there may be less of them than fans might've hoped for - will focus on the culmination of Bruce Wayne's transformation into Batman according to Variety, which also confirmed that despite the speculation it was either Gotham or Lethal Weapon for the chop, the latter has also been renewed, albeit replacing sacked series co-lead Clayne Crawford with Seann William Scott. Including these two series, FOX has now renewed eight of its dramas for 2018-19, the other six being Nine-One-One, Empire, Star, The Gifted, The Resident and The Orville. FOX has also renewed three comedies - Bob's Burgers and Family Guy and The Simpsons (not that there was ever much doubt the latter two would get the go-ahead for more episodes). Almost all of FOX's live-action comedies were extremely cancelled, namely The Mick, The Last Man On Earth and Brooklyn Nine-Nine (however, see below). The network has yet to make a decision on comedies Ghosted and LA To Vegas. FOX has ordered new dramas The Passage and Proven Innocent to series, as well as a new comedy entitled The Cool Kids.
NBC has picked up Brooklyn Nine-Nine, just a day after FOX announced it was cancelling the comedy drama. The decision to end the series had sparked outrage among fans. The thirteen-episode sixth series will be broadcast next year. Brooklyn Nine-Nine follows a team of detectives in the New York City Police Department and has been praised for its inclusivity and diversity. Following FOX's decision to axe the series, fans quickly launched a social media campaign calling for it to be renewed, with the hashtag used over six hundred and fifty thousand times on Twitter. Twitter being, of course, The Sole Arbiter Of The Worth Of All Things, apparently. Z-list celebrities - including The Backstreet Boys and director Guillermo del Toro - weighed in with messages of support. The series' actors and writers credited fans for NBC's decision to save the series. Actress Melissa Fumero, who plays Amy Santiago, shared a series of celebratory gifs from the show, while Stephanie Beatriz, who appears as Rosa Diaz, thanked viewers. In a statement, NBC Entertainment's Chairman Robert Greenblatt said: 'Ever since we sold this show to FOX I've regretted letting it get away and it's high time it came back to its rightful home.'
FOX is continuing to cut down its primetime line-up. The network significantly culled its comedy slate on Thursday, but it was dramas taking a hit on Friday. Both DC Comics series Lucifer and feature film adaptation The Exorcist were cancelled by FOX. Lucifer writer Joe Henderson reacted angrily to the news, warning fans that the series will 'definitely not' be ending on a satisfying note. 'We created a season finale with a huge cliffhanger so that there was no way FOX could cancel us,' he tweeted. A somewhat foolish conceit which was just asking for trouble, one feels. A bit like Bill Nighy's reply to Simon Pegg in Hot Fuzz when told 'with all due respect, sir, you can't do that.' 'Yes I can, I'm the Chief Constable!' 'Instead, we're going to frustrate the Hell out of you fans. I'm so sorry for that.' Series lead Tom Ellis was a shade more circumspect about the end of the series, writing: 'It has been the most amazing experience over the past three years playing Lucifer and falling in love with you, the fans. It fills me with great sadness to confirm the rumours that some of you have been asking.' Meanwhile, The Exorcist writer Jeremy Slater's message to the show's fanbase was simple and direct: 'Sorry guys.'
FOX has offered an update on The X-Files series twelve. In so much as there isn't going to be one. In a conference call reported by TV Line, network co-chairman and CEO Gary Newman (whose 'friends' may, or may not be electric, we just don't know) said that 'there are no plans to do another season at the moment.' Or, probably, ever. The news comes after From The North favourite Gillian Anderson confirmed that series eleven would be her last outing as Dana Scully. 'I was a bit surprised by people's [shocked] reaction to my announcement because my understanding was that this was a single season,' she explained at the time. Despite this, creator Chris Carter still seemed pretty confident of future episodes without Agent Scully. 'I think there will be more X-Files. They haven't locked up the file cabinet in Mulder's office. There's still more stories to be told,' he said after the series eleven finale. 'It's not the same X-Files without Mulder and Scully. In the same breath, there is a lot of life left in the show. I think you haven't seen the end.' If there isn't a twelfth series, that means the drama will have ended on a cliffhanger after the finale saw Scully reveal that she was pregnant, which followed the controversial reveal that her and Agent Mulder's 'son', William, was not actually Mulder's son at all. 'People will either love me or hate me. I think they'll have reasons for both. It certainly is one of the most interesting cliffhangers that the show has ever had,' said Carter. After someone you've never heard of on Twitter claimed that it was Anderson's decision to leave which had, effectively, spelled the end for The X-Files Gillian replied - brilliantly - that it may, just, have had a shade more to do with the SF drama's rapidly declining ratings.
Meanwhile, Kiefer Sutherland's TV comeback, Designated Survivor and Priyanka Chopra's spy thriller Quantico won't be back next year either. ABC dropped both dramas from its primetime line-up on Friday. Designated Survivor was Sutherland's first recurring TV project since he walked away from playing Jack Bauer in the 24 franchise three years ago. The series was a departure for Sutherland, casting him as a low-level politician thrust into the presidency when the entire US cabinet was killed in a terror attack in one of the more implausibly daft plots in the history of network telly. News of Designated Survivor's cancellation was somewhat surprising, especially since Sutherland told the Digital Spy website last month that he was 'optimistic' about a third series. 'I do believe it is [coming back], but nothing is ever written in stone,' he said, somewhat prophetically. 'I think television is such an exciting format right now, and so much great work is being done. [But] I think networks are very challenged by how to keep up. We're still doing twenty two episodes, while other shows are doing eight. So the stress on a writer who is doing twenty two shows is gigantic compared to that of eight. And people are watching television on their schedule, mostly without advertising. So it's such a changing world right now.'
ABC have also cancelled Marvel's Inhumans. Because it was shit and no one was watching it. The live-action series based around Black Bolt (Anson Mount) and his race of gifted space beings was dogged by lacklustre reviews and ratings from the beginning, despite Marvel and ABC pulling out all the stops to give its two-part premiere a run in cinemas last year. The show's fate was pretty much sealed when Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D cast member Ming-Na Wen accidentally mentioned at a convention that Inhumans had been cancelled. Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D's own date with destiny is uncertain at the present time. Its production team have said that they are preparing the Marvel show's fifth series finale as if it could be the end.
In apparent confirmation that no one working in US television has any original ideas left, the CW network has officially ordered its Charmed and Roswell reboots to full series, in addition to picking up the Originals spin-off Legacies for next season as well. The new Charmed reinvents the Power of Three as sisters - Macy (Madeleine Mantock), Mel (Melonie Diaz) and Maggie Vera (Sarah Jeffery) - who learn of their mystical powers after a family tragedy. The synopsis states: 'After the tragic death of their mother, three sisters in a college town are stunned to discover they are witches. Soon this powerful threesome must stand together to fight the everyday and supernatural battles that all modern witches must face: from vanquishing powerful demons to toppling the patriarchy.' Roswell is getting a name-change for its reboot, now called Roswell, New Mexico. This series 'aims to be timely by adding an immigration twist to its premise of aliens living covertly in a US city.' The synopsis reads: 'After reluctantly returning to her tourist-trap hometown of Roswell, New Mexico, the daughter of undocumented immigrants discovers a shocking truth about her teenage crush who is now a police officer: he's an alien who has kept his unearthly abilities hidden his entire life. She protects his secret as the two reconnect and begin to investigate his origins, but when a violent attack and long-standing government cover-up point to a greater alien presence on Earth, the politics of fear and hatred threaten to expose him and destroy their deepening romance.' Let this blogger be clear about this, he was a big fan of both series first time around - even wrote a couple of books about the pair of them - but, come on, it's 2018 for God's sake! Anyway, Legacies will pick up where the final season of The Originals is expected to leave off, with The Vampire Diaries' Alaric running a boarding school attended by teenage Hope. 'Continuing the tradition of The Vampire Diaries and The Originals, the story of the next generation of supernatural beings at The Salvatore School for the Young and Gifted. Klaus Mikaelson's daughter, seventeen-year-old Hope Mikaelson; Alaric Saltzman's twins, Lizzie and Josie Saltzman and other young adults come of age in the most unconventional way possible, nurtured to be their best selves…in spite of their worst impulses. Will these young witches, vampires and werewolves become the heroes they want to be - or the villains they were born to be?' So that's two remakes and a spin-off of a spin-off. Somebody in The CW's creative department certainly earned their salary this year, didn't they? The CW has opted not to move forward with Supernatural spin-off Wayward Sisters despite introducing its core cast in an episode earlier this year. Executive producer Andrew Dabb broke the news to fans in a series of tweets on Friday, writing: 'It breaks my heart to say this, but CW has chosen to pass on Wayward Sisters. We love these characters and have spent almost two years trying to make this show a reality on the network but there are some fights, sometimes, you can't win. I want to thank everyone involved in this entire process, from our fantastic crew, to our amazing cast and, most of all you. Your passion for this idea fuelled us, and we wanted so much to make this happen for you. I'm so sorry we couldn't.' The CW previously passed on another Supernatural spin-off, Bloodlines, in 2014.
Yer actual Benedict Cumberbatch his very self has a somewhat difficult relationship with the Interweb: 'Literally if you trip, or if you raise an eyebrow, it becomes an Internet meme,' the actor lamented in 2016. But he appears to have warmed to Twitter as the social networking site was, it would seem, partly responsible for helping him land his dream role, leading a new TV series based on the Patrick Melrose novels by Edward St Aubyn. Adapted by BAFTA nominee David Nicholls, Patrick Melrose sees Benny play the aristocratic and outrageously playboy who struggles to overcome the childhood trauma inflicted by an abusive father. 'I sat on some fan forum on Reddit during a Q&A for another project and I mentioned that this was one of my very few bucket lists,' Benny told the Digital Spy website. 'That and Hamlet, really. So I can retire after this.' A tweet from a fan mentioning the Reddit post was what caught the eye of Patrick Melrose executive producer Michael Jackson (not the one who sang 'Thriller', obviously) when the project was at casting stage. 'Somebody tweeted that Benedict wanted to play the part. And we said, "Aha!"' But, they couldn't get Morton Harket, so they went for Benedict instead, it would seem. 'We actually rang up his people and we had a coffee,' Jackson added. 'Good things can come from Twitter,' Benny noted. 'World wars can also come from Twitter, but, hey, I got a part out of it, so I'm not complaining.' Benny insists that he 'wasn't actually fishing' for the role, since he had no idea at the time that the Melrose books were in the process of being adapted for television. 'I didn't know where it was as a project, I just knew that somebody somewhere must be thinking about it,' he explained. 'I knew they'd done a stand-alone of Mother's Milk [the award-winning fourth book in the series, made into a 2012 film starring Jack Davenport as Melrose] but I knew as a series it had great potential. So when I heard that Michael and Rachael [Horovitz, the executive producer] wanted to meet me in New York, I manically started to re-read the books and I didn't have much sleep before I met them. I was terrified and nervous but it was a great beginning and I loved their ideas that each book is its own film, is its own style and requires its own approach.'
Line Of Duty will be back on the BBC next year, but you can probably rule out a return for one of series four's key characters. Lee Ingleby, who played the lawyer Nick Huntley, told the Digital Spy website that he doesn't expect to reprise his role. 'I doubt it,' Ingleby said. 'Because the regulars are AC-12, so they'll have a very different investigation to lead. Obviously, it'd be lovely to go again, but I can't see it, because I played a corporate lawyer. I don't know how that'll slot in with police corruption. But you never know. Jed [Mercurio, series writer] has got a wonderful mind.' Ingleby's character Nick was married to Roz Huntley (Thandie Newton), a corrupt officer who perverted the course of justice and, accidentally, murdered the forensic co-ordinator Tim Ifield (played by Jason Watkins). Though Roz was later jailed for her naughty crimes, she ended the series still legally wed to Nick. Last year, Mercurio hinted that Roz could resurface. 'We never close the door on any living character,' he told TV Times. 'There are always ways in which we'd bring someone back for the right story.' Filming on Line Of Duty series five will begin later this year, for transmission in 2019.
Ian McKellen was asked to play the judge who - infamously - presided over Jeremy Thorpe's trial in A Very English Scandal, the Hugh Grant-starring new series from Russell Davies. At a Q&A following a screening of the upcoming BBC drama, director Stephen Frears revealed that McKellen was the first choice for the role of Sir Joseph Cantley, but he turned it down. Instead, another great of the English stage and screen, Paul Freeman, portrays Cantley in the three-part series, which dramatises the scandal that enveloped MP Jeremy Thorpe in the 1970s. Hugh Grant stars as Thorpe, the leader of the Liberal Party, who feared that his past gay affair with Norman Scott (Ben Whishaw) could sabotage his career. What followed was an attempt on Scott's life and a high-profile trial in which Thorpe and three others were charged with conspiracy and incitement to murder (all were acquitted). Both Thorpe and Scott were outed and the publicity around the events turned into a notorious tabloid story that changed their lives forever. Frears said: 'The hardest part [of casting] was the judge. We asked Ian McKellen to do it as some sort of complicated gay joke, he wouldn't do it.' He explained that McKellen decided not to take the part as the late Peter Cook had done 'a very, very funny' - and very famous - bitingly sarcastic sketch of the judge, Entirely A Matter For You, at a charity comedy gig mere days after the case had concluded. 'I said to [Ian] the other day, "You wouldn't do it because you were frightened of Peter Cook, weren't you?" And he said, "You're absolutely right." He knew Peter Cook had nailed it. Peter Cook did his famous pastiche of the judge, the prejudiced judge, it's very, very funny and Ian knew perfectly well. "I was at Cambridge with Ian - and, indeed, with Peter - and so it was a distant memory.'
The BBC's genealogy series Who Do You Think You Are? is coming back for another series, its fifteenth. The series will feature From The North favourite Olivia Colman, Boy George, Strictly Come Dancing head judge Shirley Ballas, Not Going Out and Would I Lie to You? comedian Lee Mack, JLS singer Marvin Humes, Judge Rinder, Paralympic multi Gold medallist Jonnie Peacock and Our Girl actress Michelle Keegan. In the first episode, Keegan will discover a special connection to the leader of the Suffragettes, Emmeline Pankhurst. Her episode also marks the launch of the BBC's 'Hear Her' season, celebrating one hundred years since women won the right to vote. Colman's journey takes her from Norfolk to India, while Lee Mack discovers his comedy roots go back to World War I. As do some of his jokes. (Actually, that's frightfully unfair, this blogger is something of a fan of lee's ut that joke just sat up and begged to be told.)
Dolly Parton's younger sister, Stella, will join reality TV-type individuals Gemma Collins and Spencer Matthews 9whoever they are) in the Z-List Celebrity MasterChef line-up. Which, this year, is even more Z-List than usual. Radio 1's Clara Amfo, former England cricketer Monty Panesar and world champion paralympian Stefanie Reid also feature in what is described as an 'eclectic' (for which read 'lots of people you've either never heard of or have but thought they were dead) twenty-strong line-up. The contestants will face regular judges John Torode and Greg Wallace. The upcoming thirteenth series will be broadcast on BBC1 over the summer.
American Gods has cast Sakina Jaffrey in what is described as 'a crucial role' for series two. Jaffrey is joining the Starz and Amazon Prime Video's adaptation of Neil Gaiman's novel as the Hindu war goddess Mama-Ji. The character is described as 'a match for any mighty God or man,' armed to cut down her foes with a necklace of skulls, 'acerbic wit and free spirit.' On the mortal realm, Mama-Ji works as a waitress in the Motel America. Sakina is probably best known for playing US president Francis Underwood's loyal chief of staff Linda Vasquez in the first two series of Netflix's House Of Cards. Since then, she has played Mindy Kaling's on-screen mother in The Mindy Project and Homeland Security agent Denise Christopher in NBC's science-fiction thriller Timeless. Announcing her casting on American Gods Twitter page on Friday, Sakina said: 'Still can't believe I get to be a part of it!' The series has been revamping the cast, since From The North favourite Gillian Anderson left following the shock departure of co-showrunner Bryan Fuller. Producers are now looking to reinvent her character, the Goddess Media, as 'New Media' - who is being 'designed as commentary on our fast-moving social media culture.'
A new Cold War-era spy drama is heading to BBC2. The semi-autobiographical The Summer Of Rockets, which will be set in 1958, boasts leads in Keeley Hawes and Toby Stephens. The series will also feature Linus Roache, who will play an MP, Timothy Spall as Lord Arthur Wallington, Lily Sacofsky, Gary Beadle and Mark Bonnar. Stephens will take the role of Samuel, a Russian Jewish inventor and designer of bespoke hearing aids who is enlisted by MI5 to demonstrate his skills. The Summer Of Rockets will follow Samuel and his family as the demands from MI5 become more intricate and dangerous - particularly when his newly-acquired friends Kathleen (Hawes) and her husband (Roache) are introduced into Samuel's life. Stephen Poliakoff will write and direct the six-part series, which has already started production in London and Oxford.
He is a Shakespearean actor of the highest calibre, but Sir Anthony Hopkins' performance in BBC2's new version of King Lear may have been a little too convincing. One of Shakespeare's greatest plays, King Lear depicts the descent into madness of its title character - and, in this modern take, he ends up wandering the streets, shabbily dressed, pushing his belongings around in a trolley. Speaking at a screening of the film, director Richard Eyre revealed that a member of the public actually approached Hopkins when the production was filming on-location in Stevenage. 'When we were filming there, a woman in a mobility scooter rode up to Tony, and said, "You know, there's a hostel up the road so you might want to take your shopping trolley down there."' Filmed in just twenty five days, this version of Lear runs to two hours, with Eyre insisting he had to exercise 'fantastic discipline' to remove certain sub-plots from the original text. 'I tried to make this as filmic as possible,' he said. The film features an all-star cast alongside Hopkins, including Emma Thompson, Emily Watson, Florence Pugh, Jim Broadbent, Andrew Scott and Christopher Eccleston. 'It's a testament to Richard that we were able to put together such an extraordinary ensemble,' said executive producer Colin Callender. 'Every role comes to life in the most extraordinary way, in a way that doesn't always happen on-stage because you don't get actors of this calibre playing all secondary and tertiary roles.' Though Hopkins, aged eighty, has now retired from the stage, he has been developing this screen version of Lear with director Eyre for years, with his cast-mates united in praise of the Oscar winner's powerful performance and work ethic. 'What I found so extraordinary about him was how ferocious he is about being an actor,' said Andrew Scott, playing Edgar. 'He'd come in every day and you'd say, "How did you sleep?" and he'd say, "Fuck sleep, I didn't sleep!"' Emma Thompson, playing Goneril, added: 'Every time he did his speeches, on-set and during rehearsal, he gave it full blast even if he wasn't on camera. He was miraculous.' King Lear will be broadcast on BBC2 in the coming weeks, with Scott hoping that this new version will bring Shakespeare to new audiences. 'People sometimes think, "Shakespeare's not really for me, because I don't understand that particular word" and that doesn't matter in any way,' he insisted. 'I had the privilege of working on this, but there's still certain parts where I don't fully understand the words but I understand the feeling and by the end of it you have a sense. I hate the idea that this kind of drama is only for a select few. That's not the way it should be.'
Peaky Blinders fans were left extremely pissed-off when Joe Cole's John Shelby met his bloody end at the hands of Mafia thugs working for mobster Luca Changretta in series four. The actor - who was nominated for his role in Black Mirror at this week's BAFTA TV Awards - has revealed why he bowed out of the show after four years of playing Cillian Murphy's loyal brother. 'I was just busy doing other projects,' Cole said. 'I wouldn't have been able to do Black Mirror, I've got a bunch of films that I'm trying to do. I thought it was my time to go, give other people an opportunity for their parts to grow. I thought it was the right time to pass the baton on.' Cole will appear next in Ben Wheatley's drama Colin You Anus alongside Charles Dance, Hayley Squires and Sam Riley.
Creator Steven Knight confirmed that the drama will end after series seven during a press conference at the ceremony, telling reporters: 'My ambition is to make it a story of a family between two wars, so always I've wanted to end it with the first air raid siren in Birmingham in 1939. It'll take three more series [to reach that point].' Knight also acknowledged that a Peaky Blinders movie could be on the cards and that it could be coming to screens before the final series. 'We're getting approached to do all kinds of things - the ballet, the musical and the movie would be great,' the writer said.
A very naughty man stormed the stage while the UK's entry, SuRie, was performing at The Eurovision Song Contest. SuRie was singing her song, 'Storm', and, not exactly going down one, when a man wearing a rucksack ran onto the stage, grabbed her microphone and appeared to say: 'Nazis of the UK media, we demand freedom.' Whom 'we' are and what freedom he/she/they want from the 'Nazis of the UK media' the chap did not elaborate. He was, swiftly, dragged off-stage - and, presumably, given a damned-good kicking for his trouble - and SuRie continued performing the song. Israel won the contest with five hundred and twenty points while SuRie's song was third-from-bottom, gaining but forty eight points. The invader is currently in police custody, the European Broadcasting Union said. He is understood to be a European citizen but not British. It is believed that the same man invaded the stage at The National Television Awards this year and The Voice in 2017. SuRie was given the chance to perform again, but declined. The BBC said: 'SuRie and her team are extremely proud of her performance and have together decided that there is absolutely no reason to perform the song again.' The Eurovision 2018 final in Lisbon, was watched by an estimated TV audience of two hundred million. Israel's entry, Netta, won the contest with the song 'Toy' and stood out with an unconventional singing style likened to chicken clucking. The Cypriot entry, Eleni Foureira, came second with the song 'Fuego'. The voting was weighted so that half the points come from public telephone votes from viewers in each country and half from a jury of 'musical experts' in each nation. Although SuRie was left without a microphone for about ten seconds - during which she clapped along to the song - the music track continued with backing vocals. Graham Norton, who presented the UK's coverage, said: 'There was a stage invasion, SuRie coped incredibly well. I can't stress enough what a brilliant job she did - she must have been terrified.' Before becoming the UK's Eurovision entry, SuRie worked with Belgian contestants as a backing singer in 2015 and as a music director last year. The Harlow-born singer is classically-trained and went to the Royal Academy of Music. The man, who still has not been publicly identified, was subsequently released on bail after seventy two hours in The Nick.
The House of Lords has once again voted to establish a fresh Leveson-style public inquiry into the conduct of the media, overturning a decision made by MPs last week and setting up another showdown with the government. Peers voted by two hundred and fifty two to two hundred and thirteen on Monday evening to back an amendment that called for a full investigation into unlawful conduct by newspapers, misuse of data by social media companies, and relations between the press and the police. 'It is an inquiry into criminality, corruption and abuse,' said Lady Hollins, a crossbench who moved the amendment, justifying the decision to reject the House of Commons' verdict. 'In any other industry the press would be demanding an inquiry. And yet their opposition is uniform.' Last week MPs narrowly voted against establishing such an inquiry after a strong whipping operation by ministers and concessions to Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist party. The government says that a new inquiry would 'cost too much' and would not reflect the changing media industry. One or two people even believed them. The House of Lords' decision means MPs will now be forced to vote on the issue for the second time in a week. Supporters of press regulation are hopeful that they can convince a handful of wavering MPs to switch sides when the lower chamber debates the legislation on Tuesday. Lady Hollins insisted that the Lords were entirely justified in overturning the decision made by MPs since many of the arguments made in the House of Commons against the new inquiry were misleading, while the government had disappointed the victims of phone hacking when it decided not to hold the second part of The Leveson Inquiry. She said she 'adjusted the proposed legislation' to 'specifically exclude local newspapers from the inquiry,' which had been one complaint made by MPs. Several peers used the debate to make specific complaints about the treatment they have received from the media. John Prescott used parliamentary privilege to directly accuse The Times editor John Witherow of lying to The Leveson Inquiry, following the - as yet unproven - revelations from the whistleblower John Ford, who claimed that he was employed during Witherow's tenure on The Sunday Times to 'blag' bank records. 'Mister Witherow, you appear to be a liar,' said Lord Prescott, the former Labour deputy prime minister. 'I know there are strong words here, but you didn't tell the truth and you did pay the money and you did commit criminal acts against people, breaching their human rights. That surely, in any democracy, is wrong.' News UK, The Times's publisher, has denied retaining or commissioning any individual to act illegally. Michael Grade, a former chairman of the BBC, warned that the inquiry was another attempt to restrict the activities of the British press. 'I suspect what lies behind this amendment is yet another attempt to exercise some statutory controls or levers over our free media. Any inquiry is bound to produce recommendations with the risk to free speech of some statutory device, overt or covert, buried in the recommendations,' Lord Grade said. Earl Attlee, a supporter of a new public inquiry, said it was the 'last roll of the dice' for the plan, suggesting peers are unlikely to overturn the decision of MPs again.
Moscow Chelski FC missed out on a place in next season's Champions League after being beaten by yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved (though unsellable) Newcastle's outstanding performance on the last day of the Premier League campaign on Sunday. The Blues had a - slim - chance of sneaking into the top four if they had beaten The Magpies, but defeat, plus Liverpool's victory over Brighton & Hove Albinos meant that they finished fifth and must therefore settle for a Europa League spot. Last year's champions were second best throughout the game at St James' Park and fell behind through Dwight Gayle's close-range header. A veritable barrage at the Moscow Chelski goal from the hosts forced visiting goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois to make sharp saves from the impressive Jonjo Shelvey and Mohamed Diame among others. But Ayoze Perez scored twice in the second period as his side finished the season in a highly respectable tenth position. Moscow Chelski's best chance fell to Olivier Giroud, but the Frenchman's acrobatic effort was tipped away by United's goalkeeper Martin Dubravka. Chelsea last played in the Europa League in the 2012-13 season, when they ended up winning the trophy under the guidance of now Newcastle boss Rafael Benitez. But the 2016-17 champions ended this relatively poor season four places, twenty three points and twenty three goals worse off than last year. There has been much speculation about manager Antonio Conte's future at Torpedo Stamford Bridge and if this did prove to be his last league game, the Italian went out with a whimper rather than a bang. His side failed to register a single shot in the first forty five minutes and the usually passionate Italian watched on with his arms folded as his side fell apart by conceding two more soon after half-time. Giroud did eventually test Dubravka with an instinctive shot on fifty one minutes, while Ross Barkley - making his first Moscow Chelski FC appearance since 31 January - saw an effort kept out by the Slovakian goalkeeper. Newcastle manager Benitez is another whose job is in question, not because of the team's performances - quite the opposite, in fact - but rather because of his relationship with the club's hierarchy. He said earlier this week that the club need to break their transfer record to sign a goalscorer in the summer as the sixteen million they paid Real Madrid for alleged striker The Little Shit Michael Owen thirteen years ago remains the club's record acquisition. The Newcastle supporters sang the Spaniard's name and chanted 'we want you to stay' for much of the game, ironically in front of visiting fans who did not warm to Benitez during his season as Moscow Chelski FC boss in 2013 because of his past at Liverpool Alabam Yee-Haws. Benitez has worked wonders on Tyneside with a squad largely made up of players who came up from the Championship last season. Perez, who ended as the club's top scorer with eight goals in the league and ten in all competitions, flicked in his first goal from Shelvey's low drive into the area. He then converted Florian Lejeune's cutback into an open net for his second. Shelvey bossed the middle of the park and his imposing showing could earn him a late call-up to the England World Cup squad, which will be named by Gareth Southgate on Wednesday. But, it probably won't. Midfield partners Mohamed Diame and Matt Ritchie were excellent too.
Tranmere Rovers battled for almost the entire game with ten men to beat Boreham Wood and return to the English Football League after three years away. There was drama early on as Tranmere's Liam Ridehalgh was sent off within forty eight seconds after putting in a rash two-footed challenge on Ricky Shakes. Tranmere took the lead when Andy Cook headed James Norwood's cross but Bruno Andrade side-footed home to equalise. Norwood headed home with ten minutes left to seal promotion for Rovers. Rovers were relegated from the English Football League in 2015, ending a ninety four-year spell in England's top four divisions and had been in the third tier as recently as 2014. They have finished second in the National League for two seasons in a row, but fell agonisingly short of promotion last season with defeat at Wembley to Forest Green. It looked as though Micky Mellon's side could be facing more disappointment when Ridehalgh was dismissed, but Cook's sixth-minute opener gave them a huge boost. Boreham Wood, who were in the seventh-tier Isthmian League Premier Division just eight years ago, have never been out of the non-league pyramid in their seventy-year history. But they were given hope when Andrade found space to level seven minutes into first-half stoppage time. Rovers, who were forced to make their third and final substitution before half-time when Ritchie Sutton was injured, had to work hard to claw back the lead. Connor Jennings came on for Tranmere just ten days after being discharged from hospital following an illness - and it was the twenty six-year-old's cross which set up Norwood's winner as they sealed a hard-fought return to league football at the third time of asking. The result marked the end of a remarkable campaign for Boreham Wood who had been led to their highest-ever league finish and best FA Cup run this season under thirty two-year-old manager Luke Garrard.
England manager Gareth Southgate named his twenty three-man squad for this summer's World Cup in Russia on Wednesday. Wankhand Joe Hart and Jack Wilshere - a classic example of a media-darling player who would totally transform English football ... if only he could get himself up off the treatment table for ninety minutes every once in a while - were not included, as reported by various media outlets after a leak on Tuesday. In the case of Hart, whilst his exclusion denied football fans across the planet the opportunity for yet more comedy hijinx, it will at least give him plenty of time to film some more of those shite shampoo adverts he specialises in. The full squad is: Jack Butland, Jordan Pickford, Nick Pope, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Gary Cahill, Fabian Delph, Phil Jones, Harry Maguire, Danny Rose, John Stones, Kieran Trippier, Kyle Walker, Ashley Young, Dele Alli, Eric Dier, Jordan Henderson, Jesse Lingard, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Harry Kane, Marcus Rashford, Raheem Sterling, Jamie Vardy and Danny Welbeck. Tom Heaton, James Tarkowski, Lewis Cook, Jake Livemore and Adam Lallana are on stand-by in case of accidents. 'I believe this is a squad which we can be excited about,' Southgate said. 'It is a young group, but with some really important senior players so I feel the balance of the squad is good, both in terms of its experience, its character and also the positional balance. We have a lot of energy and athleticism in the team, but players that are equally comfortable in possession of the ball and I think people can see the style of play we've been looking to develop. The selection process has been over months really, it's not just been the last few weeks. We feel the team are improving and we want to continue that momentum.'
A World Cup-bound referee has been very banned for life for a match-fixing attempt in Saudi Arabia just weeks before he was due to fly to Russia, says the country's football federation. The Saudi Arabian Football Federation says that Fahad Al Mirdasi 'confessed' to his naughty ways, offering to fix the King's Cup final between Al Ittihad and Al Faisaly. According to the SAFF, thirty two-year-old Al Mirdasi contacted an Al Ittihad official, who handed the messages over. FIFA has requested more information. 'FIFA notes the information that referee Fahad Al Mirdasi has allegedly been banned from all football-related activities by the Saudi Arabian Football Federation,' the world governing body told BBC Sport. The SAFF added that Al Mirdasi, who has been a FIFA referee since 2011, 'admitted soliciting the corrupt payment' after being taken into police custody. British former Premier League referee Mark Clattenburg - who became Saudi Arabia's head of referees in February 2017 - replaced Al Mirdasi for Saturday's King's Cup final, which Al Ittihad won three-one after extra time.
The Argentine Football Association has been criticised for including a chapter about 'how to stand a chance with a Russian girl' in a manual it handed to journalists travelling to the World Cup in Russia. It recommended that journalists 'look clean, smell nice and dress well' in order to 'impress Russian girls.' It also urged them to treat women as 'something of worth.' And, not to ask them how much they want to take it up the Gary Glitter. Probably. The advice 'caused an outcry on social media' and the AFA has since removed it. The controversy comes just months after the Argentine capital, Buenos Aires, saw the biggest women's march in Latin America with protesters decrying rampant sexism in Argentine society and demanding an end to violence against women. Argentine journalist Nacho Catullo said that he was among the dozens of reporters and football officials attending a free course on Russian language and culture held by the AFA for those travelling to the World Cup in Russia. On his Twitter account he described [in Spanish, obviously] how they were handed a manual in which the chapter on 'how to stand a chance with a Russian girl' featured. He tweeted photos of the chapter which started being shared and mocked on the Internet as the course was still going on. According to Catullo, officials then interrupted the course, collecting the manuals only to return them with the controversial pages torn out. The advice is divided into eight sections and goes straight to the point. 'Because Russian women are beautiful, many men just want to sleep with them,' it suggests. 'Maybe they want that too, but they are also persons who want to feel important and unique. Don't ask stupid questions about sex. For Russians, sex is something very private and not discussed in public.' It also urges Argentine men to start preparing early: 'Russian women like men who take the initiative, if you're not self-confident then you need to start practicing talking to women.' To those Argentine men still doubting themselves it offers encouragement: 'Remember that many [Russian women] don't know much about your country, you're new and different, this is your advantage over Russian men.' Finally, it urges men to 'be choosey' and to concentrate on those Russian women with whom they may stand a chance. 'Normally, Russian women care about the important things but of course you'll also find those who just care about material things, money or whether you're handsome, you name it. But don't worry, there are many beautiful women in Russia and not all are for you. Be selective!"' Alleged - though understandably anonymous - 'sources' in the AFA allegedly told local media that the controversial chapter had been 'lifted from a blog' on the Interweb. It is not yet clear who decided to include it in the manual. Or, how long they will remain in their current job.
Full-of-her-own-importance Karren Brady is reported to be 'facing mounting pressure' to drop her weekly column with the Sun after writing that 'malcontents and keyboard warriors' have undermined West Hamsters United's efforts to make improvements to the London Stadium. The Gruniad Morning Star claims that it 'understands' The Hamsters' vice-chairman has 'been repeatedly urged from within the club' to end her association with the newspaper, amid 'weariness' at the problems that some consider certain columns to have caused the club. According to an alleged - though suspiciously anonymous - 'source' remarks Brady made in an article last year are alleged to have scuppered a deal to sign Islam Slimani from Leicester City in January. Her latest comments have been met with a furious response from supporters. Brady received a vote of no confidence from the West Hamsters United Independent Supporters' Association before Sunday's game against Everton at the London Stadium. It has demanded that she does not write for the Sun any more. Passions were stirred when Brady made reference to the London Stadium's problems in her review of the season on Saturday. West Hamsters have struggled to settle in their new ground since leaving Upton Park two years ago and supporters mounted angry protests at the club's board during the home defeat by Burnley two months ago. 'We have some problems at the London Stadium caused to a degree by the terms of our lease, which we are tackling, but also by malcontents and keyboard warriors,' Brady wrote. According to the alleged - though anonymous - 'source', her remark has 'not impressed senior figures' at West Hamsters. However Brady has offered no indication that she will end the column, even though it appears to have caused friction inside and outside the club. Attempts to sign Slimani were hindered, according to the alleged 'source', because Brady offended Leicester's owners with comments about the club's chairman, Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha. Although Brady and West Hamsters grovellingly apologised, Leicester refused to consider a deal for Slimani in the last transfer window. The Algerian striker joiner yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved 9though unsellable) Newcastle United on loan instead. Where he spent nearly two months injured with a thigh strain, took part in four games (playing not at all badly in a couple of them, let it be noted) and then kicked an opponent and got himself suspended for the final three games of the season. Quality signing, that was.
And, speaking of worthless planks, odious Sam Allardyce has left as Everton manager after six months at the club. Which, as with all of the previous occasions when the full-of-his-own-importance glake has been extremely fired for not being as good as he seems to think he is, is always good for a laugh. The sixty three-year-old signed a contract until June 2019 when he took over in November following the sacking of Ronald Koeman. Everton, who were thirteenth in the Premier League when Allardyce arrived, finished the season in eighth. Allardyce, however, has been heavily criticised by fans for his management and Everton's style of play since he took over and the club said that the decision was part of their 'longer-term plan.' It is understood that former Hull City and Watford boss Marco Silva is the main candidate to succeed Allardyce. The forty-year-old Portuguese was owner Farhad Moshiri's first choice when he dismissed Dutchman Koeman.
Someone else getting the old tin tack in David Moyes, who has as left West Hamsters after just over six months in charge despite guiding the club to Premier League survival. Moyes took over from Slaven Bilic on a short-term contract in November with the club in the relegation zone. The Hamsters secured safety with two games to spare and finished thirteenth. Moyes met senior figures at the club on Monday. The former Everton, The Scum and Blunderland boss recorded nine wins and ten draws from thirty one games as West Hamsters manager. 'When David and his team arrived, it was the wish of both parties that the focus be only on the six months until the end of the season, at which point a decision would be made with regards to the future,' said West Hamsters joint-chairman David Sullivan. 'We feel that it is right to move in a different direction. We aim to appoint a high-calibre figure who we feel will lead the club into an exciting future for our loyal supporters within the next ten days.' Moyes' assistants Alan Irvine, Stuart Pearce and Billy McKinlay have also left with immediate effect.
The German Football Federation has criticised its internationals Mesut Özil and Ilkay Gündogan for posing in photos with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The two German-born players, both of Turkish origin, gave Erdogan signed shirts at an event in London on Sunday. Gündogan wrote: 'For my honoured President, with great respect.' Erdogan is currently campaigning for re-election. Both players are preparing for next month's World Cup in Russia, in which Germany is among the favourites. Turkey did not qualify. Many German politicians have also criticised the footballers, questioning their loyalty to 'German democratic values.' DFB president Reinhard Grindel said: 'Football and the DFB defend values which are not sufficiently respected by Mister Erdogan. That's why it's not good that our international players let themselves be manipulated for his electoral campaign. In doing that, our players have certainly not helped the DFB's work on integration.' DFB director Oliver Bierhoff said: 'Neither one of them was aware of the symbolic value of this photo, but it's clearly not right and we'll be talking to them about it.' In his youth, before entering politics in the 1990s, Erdogan played football semi-professionally for an Istanbul team, Kasimpasa. Erdogan, in power for the past fifteen years, is seeking re-election in a snap poll on 24 June. His Islamist-rooted AK Party has cracked down hard on opponents, especially since the July 2016 coup attempt by military officers. Turkish police have arrested more than fifty thousand people accused of links to US-based Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen or to Kurdish separatists. They include opposition activists, journalists, teachers, lawyers and other public servants. Erdogan has also purged the military, police and judiciary, putting many state officials on trial. He has created a powerful presidency since winning an April 2017 referendum on constitutional changes, enabling him to dominate parliament and control the judiciary. A prominent Turkish-origin MP in Germany, Sevim Dagdelen, tweeted: 'It's a crude foul to pose with the despot Erdogan in a luxury hotel in London and dignify him with the title "my President", while in Turkey democrats are persecuted and critical journalists are detained.' She is deputy leader of the left-wing Die Linke group in the Bundestag. After the criticism emerged, Gündogan issued a statement defending himself, Özil and Cenk Tosun over their meeting with Erdogan. They met on the sidelines of an event at a Turkish foundation which helps Turkish students, he explained. 'Are we supposed to be impolite to the president of our families' homeland?' he asked. 'Whatever justified criticism there might be, we decided on a gesture of politeness, out of respect for the office of president and for our Turkish roots.' He added 'it was not our intention to make a political statement with this picture.' Turkish-origin Cem Özdemir, a prominent German Green MP and sharp critic of Erdogan, attacked Gündogan's 'my President' message. 'The federal president of a German international footballer is called Frank-Walter Steinmeier, the chancellor is Angela Merkel and the parliament is called the German Bundestag,' he said.
Sporting Lisbon have 'vehemently condemned acts of vandalism and aggression to athletes' after a group of fans reportedly attacked players and trashed the club's training ground. Sporting are preparing for Sunday's Portuguese Cup final against Aves. Portuguese newspaper Correio Da Manha posted pictures of forward Bas Dost with several bad cuts on his head. The club missed out on a Champions League place on the final day of the season. After the alleged attacks, a club statement read: 'Sporting is not this, Sporting cannot be this. We will make every effort to establish full responsibility for what has happened and we will demand the punishment of those who acted in this absolutely pitiful way.' The Portuguese League also released a statement 'strongly condemning the violent acts. The behaviours that are being reported by the press are regrettable and have no place in professional football. The perpetrators are not football fans, but criminals.' Earlier in the day, the club had released another statement denying reports that head coach Jorge Jesus had been suspended. In April, president Bruno De Carvalho claimed to have suspended nineteen first-team players after a Europa League defeat by Atletico Madrid, although he deleted the post and most of the players featured in their next game.
Former Aston Villa and Bolton defender Jlloyd Samuel has died in a car crash in Cheshire. The thirty seven-year-old, most recently player-manager of non-league side Egerton, died on Tuesday. Samuel made one hundred and ninety nine appearances for The Villains after signing with the club in 1998 and played eighty three times for Notlob between 2007 and 2011. The Trinidad & Tobago Football Association said he had 'collided with an oncoming vehicle.' 'We are deeply saddened to hear of the death of our former player Jlloyd Samuel at the age of just thirty seven in a car accident,' Villa said on Twitter. 'Our players will wear black armbands as a mark of respect tonight [in their play-off semi-final] and our thoughts are with his friends and family at this very difficult time.' Samuel won two international caps for Trinidad & Tobago and also played club football in Iran between 2011 and 2015. The Trinidad & Tobago FA continued on Facebook: 'We've received some terrible news that former national defender and ex-Aston Villa and Bolton Wanderers player Jlloyd Samuel died in a car crash this morning in England. According to reports, Jlloyd was returning home after dropping his kids off to school and collided with an oncoming vehicle. The Trinidad & Tobago Football Association and his former national team-mates at this time extends deepest condolences to his family members both in the UK and here in Trinidad and Tobago.' Cheshire Police said that they were called to 'a serious collision' involving a van and a Range Rover in High Legh, Cheshire. 'Sadly the driver of the car, Jlloyd Samuel, from Lymm, died at the scene,' they said in a statement. 'His next of kin have been informed and are currently being supported by specially trained officers. The driver of the van, a fifty four-year-old man, sustained serious injuries and has been taken to hospital for treatment.'
So, dear blog reader, just in case you missed anything of importance during the recently completed fitba season, Sheikh Yer Man City won the Premier League title on 15 April when The Scum lost at home to West Bromwich Albinos. The teams finishing second, third and fourth - The Scum, Stottingtot Hotsshots and The Liverpool Alabama Yee-Haws respectively - have joined City in qualifying for the Champions League. Because the FA Cup winners [which will be either The Scum or Moscow Chelski FC] and EFL Cup winners [Sheikh Yer Man City] have already qualified for Europe via their league position, the fifth, sixth and seventh-placed Premier League clubs all qualified for the Europa League. Fifth-placed Moscow Chelski and sixth-placed The Arse will enter at the group stage, with seventh-placed Burnley joining in the second qualifying round. The bottom three teams have been very relegated to the Championship. Dirty Stoke's ten-year spell in the top flight came to an end after a home defeat by Crystal Palace on 5 May, while West Bromwich Albinos joined them on three days later after Southampton's win at Swansea. The Swans own relegation was confirmed with their final-day defeat by Dirty Stoke. Wolverhampton Wanderings sealed promotion to the Premier League on 14 April without kicking a ball when rivals Fulham were held to a draw and Wolves clinched the division title by beating Notlob a week later. They will be joined in the top flight by Cardiff City, who secured second place with a draw with Reading on the final day of the regular season. Fulham and Aston Villains will contest play-off final to determine the third team to go up. The bottom three teams have been relegated to League One. Blunderland's desperate season ended in a second successive relegation which was confirmed on 21 April, whilst Barnsley and Burton went down on the final day of the season. Wigan Athletic were promoted to the Championship after their win over Fleetwood on 21 April, sealing the League One title by beating Doncaster on 5 May. They will be joined by Blackburn Vindaloos, who sealed promotion on 24 April. Shrewsbury Town will face either Rotherham United or Scunthorpe United in the play-off final on 27 May. The bottom four teams are all relegated to League Two. Bury were the first Football League team to suffer this sorry fate after a home defeat by Northampton on 14 April. Milton Keynes Dons joined them on 28 April when losing to Scunthorpe. Northampton Town and Oldham Not Very Athletic were both relegated after their draw at Sixfields on the final day of the season. Accrington Stanley (we now know who they are), formed in 1968, have never played in the third tier of English football - though the previous Accrington Stanley club - who resigned from the League in 1962 - did for much of their history. Stanley were promoted to League One by beating Yeovil on 17 April and clinched the title on 28 April with a win over Lincoln. Also promoted are Luton Town, who drew with Carlisle on 21 April and Wycombe Wanderers who made sure by winning at Chesterfield a week later. Exeter City, Notts County, Coventry City and Lincoln City will contest the play-offs. The bottom two teams are relegated to the National League. Chesterfield's fate was sealed on 24 April after Morecambe drew with Cambridge, while Barnet went down despite beating the Spireites three-nil on 5 May. Macclesfield Town have been promoted to the Football League, having clinched the National League title with a win at Eastleigh on 21 April. As mentioned above, Tranmere Rovers beat Boreham Wood in the play-off final on 12 May to take the second promotion place. The bottom four teams have been relegated and will replaced by the champions and play-off winners of the National League North and South divisions. Chester were the first team in England's top five divisions to be relegated when they lost to Tranmere on 7 April, while Guiseley joined them after losing at home to Barrow on 17 April. Torquay United were the third team relegated after their draw with Hartlepool on 21 April and Woking completed the quartet after losing to Dover on the final day of the season. Salford City clinched the National League North title on 21 April, while Havant & Waterlooville secured the National League South title on the final day of the season. Harrogate Town and Braintree Town won the North and South play-offs respectively to secure promotion. Glasgow Celtic clinched the Scottish Premier title and a place in the Champions League first qualifying round, by beating Glasgow Rangers five-nil on 29 April. Second-placed Aberdeen and Rangers, in third, qualified for the Europa League first qualifying round, with the Scottish Cup winners joining at the second qualifying round. This will be Motherwell if they win the Cup - but if Celtic win it, the fourth-placed Premiership team - Hibernian - will qualify instead. Bottom side Ross County have been relegated to the Scottish Championship, while Partick Thistle face Championship side Livingston in the play-off final. St Mirren were promoted to the Premiership as champions after avoiding defeat by Livingston on 14 April. Runners-up Livingston beat Dundee United over two legs and will meet Partick over two legs for the final place in the top flight. Bottom club Brechin City, without a win all season, had their relegation to League One confirmed as early as 24 March. Ninth-placed Dumbarton have been relegated through the play-offs after losing over two legs to League One Alloa. Ayr United were promoted to the Championship as League One champions after beating Albion Rovers on the final day of the season - a result which also confirmed Albion's relegation. Alloa Athletic won promotion in the play-offs, defeating Dumbarton two-one on aggregate. Bottom club Albion Rovers will be relegated to League Two, while ninth-placed Queen's Park joined them after losing to Stenhousemuir in the play-off semi-finals. Montrose were promoted to League One as League Two champions after drawing with Elgin on the final day of the season. Stenhousemuir beat Peterhead in the two-legged play-off final to win promotion to League One. Bottom club Cowdenbeath defeated Highland League champions Cove Rangers over two legs for the final place in next season's League Two, after Cove beat Lowland League champions Spartans in their play-off. The New Saints won the Welsh league (as usual), six points ahead of Bangor City whilst Crusaders fought off the challenge of Coleraine to take the Northern Irish championship.
Organisers of Professor Stephen Hawking's memorial service have, seemingly, left the door open for time travellers to attend. Those wishing to honour the theoretical physicist, who died in March aged seventy six, can apply via a public ballot. Applicants need to give their birth date - which can be any day up to 31 December 2038. Professor Hawking's foundation said that the possibility of time travel 'had not been disproven' and 'could not be excluded.' It was London travel blogger IanVisits who noticed that those born from 2019 to 2038 were, theoretically, permitted to attend the service at Westminster Abbey. He said: 'Professor Hawking once threw a party for time travellers, to see if any would turn up if he posted the invite after the party. None did, but it seems perfect that the memorial website allows people born in the future to attend the service. Look out for time travellers at the Abbey.' After the 'time traveller party,' held in June 2009, Professor Hawking remarked that the fact that no-one turned up was 'experimental evidence that time travel is not possible.' Within twenty four hours of the opening of the ballot for the thanksgiving service, to be held on 15 June, about twelve thousand people from more than fifty countries - and, one TARDIS - had applied for tickets. While all applicants 'appear' to be from the present day, a spokesman for the Stephen Hawking Foundation said: 'We cannot exclude the possibility of time travel as it has not been disproven to our satisfaction. All things are possible until proven otherwise. But so far we have had applications from all round the world and we do mean round - there are no flat-Earthers here.' People from as far away as the US, China, Bolivia and the South Pacific have asked to attend the event to celebrate the life of Professor Hawking, who died on 14 March, more than fifty years after he was diagnosed with a rare form of motor neurone disease. Thousands lined the streets of his home city of Cambridge for his funeral on 31 March.
NASA is sending a helicopter to Mars, in the first test of a heavier-than-air aircraft on another planet. The Mars Helicopter will be bundled with the US space agency's Mars rover when it launches in 2020. Its design team spent more than four years shrinking a working helicopter to 'the size of a softball' and cutting its weight to 1.8 kilogrammes. It is specifically designed to fly in the atmosphere of Mars, which is one hundred times thinner than Earth's. NASA describes the helicopter as a 'heavier-than-air' aircraft because the other type - sometimes called an aerostat - are balloons and blimps. Soviet scientists dropped two balloons into the atmosphere of Venus in the 1980s. No aircraft has ever taken off from the surface of another planet. The helicopter's two blades will spin at close to three thousand revolutions a minute, which NASA says is about ten times faster than a standard helicopter on Earth. 'The idea of a helicopter flying the skies of another planet is thrilling,' said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. 'The Mars Helicopter holds much promise for our future science, discovery, and exploration missions to Mars.' While the tiny craft is being called a helicopter rather than a drone, there will be no pilot. It will be flying almost thirty four million miles from Earth, too far away to send a remote control signal. 'Earth will be several light minutes away, so there is no way to joystick this mission in real time,' said Mimi Aung, the project manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Instead, the helicopter will 'fly the mission on its own.' The JPL team made the minuscule helicopter as strong as possible to give it the best chance of surviving. 'The altitude record for a helicopter flying here on Earth is about forty thousand feet,' Aung said. 'When our helicopter is on the Martian surface, it's already at the Earth equivalent of one hundred thousand feet up.' That is part of the reason why NASA is calling the Mars helicopter a 'high risk' project. 'If it does not work, the Mars 2020 mission will not be impacted. If it does work, helicopters may have a real future as low-flying scouts and aerial vehicles to access locations not reachable by ground travel,' NASA said in a statement. Existing Mars vehicles have been wheeled devices, which have to navigate around many obstacles in their path and have been confined to fairly large open spaces on the surface of Mars. One such vehicle, The Spirit Rover, got stuck in a patch of sand in 2009, where it eventually ran out of power and shut down. The Mars 2020 rover - accompanied by its helicopter companion - is due to launch in July of that year and arrive on the red planet in February 2021.
The Brexit row between the UK and the EU-Twenty Seven over Galileo is escalating. Presumably, because he will not do the fandango. Or something. Britain's space agency has written to thirteen firms to 'remind' them that they need 'security authorisation' to engage in any future contracts on the sat-nav system. This is being interpreted as a threat to block UK tech developed for Galileo from being transferred into the EU-Twenty Seven. The European Commission says that Brexit means the UK will have to be excluded from a key element of the system after March next year. This is the Public Regulated Service - a navigation and timing signal intended for use by government agencies, armed forces and 'blue light' services. The PRS is designed to be available and robust even in times of crisis. Brussels says that London cannot immediately have access to it when the UK leaves the European bloc because it will become 'a foreign entity.' PRS is for EU member states only. The European Commission has also made it clear that British companies will not be allowed to work on PRS after Brexit. London's dismay at being shut out of a system it helped to develop has been to raise the prospect of withdrawing from Galileo completely - with a dismissive shout of Bishmillar! - and to consider starting up its own indigenous sat-nav network. 'Galileo, yes, we will let you go,' if you will. Such a move could slow the development of Galileo - which is not yet complete - and increase its costs. Monday's letter is a further shot across the bows. By 'reminding' British companies that they need the express security clearance from ministers to engage in new contracts, London is essentially saying to Brussels that it has the power to stop those companies from handing over technical knowledge on PRS to firms in the EU-Twenty Seven. Such transfers would be done under contract. 'We have written to all UK companies currently authorised to work on the secure elements of Galileo, asking them to consult us before taking on future contracts relating to the design and development of the programme and its encrypted service,' a UK Space Agency spokesman said. 'This is a necessary consequence of the European Commission’s position to exclude UK industry from the project on the suggestion of security concerns, which the UK Government strongly disagrees with. The UK Space Agency is leading the work to develop options for a British alternative to Galileo, to guarantee our satellite positioning, navigation and timing needs are met in the future.' The EU's chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, reiterated on Monday the bloc's view that the UK was 'locking itself out' of Galileo PRS by walking out of the EU. 'Third countries and their companies cannot participate in the development of security-sensitive matters,' he told an event in Brussels. 'These rules will not prevent the UK as a third country from using the encrypted signal of Galileo providing that the relevant agreements between the EU and the UK are in place.' Merely having access to PRS at some future date (as has been requested by other nations outside the EU, for example Norway and the US) will not be good enough for London. It wants British companies to continue to participate in all aspects of the development and build of Galileo. Major contributions have been made by: Surrey Satellite Technology Limited, which has prepared the navigation payloads on every operational satellite in the sky; the UK arm of Airbus, which controls the satellites at its centre in Portsmouth and CGI (formerly Logica), which has been instrumental in designing PRS itself.
Two Indian men in homemade spacesuits who claimed they 'had a deal with NASA' and could generate electricity 'from thunderbolts' have been arrested for allegedly defrauding a businessman. Indian police tweeted a picture of the father and son duo wearing crinkly silver material and floppy topped helmets after a businessman complained he had been duped out of one hundred and fifty six thousand knicker. Virender Mohan Brar and Nitin Mohan Brar claimed that they would be able to sell a device called 'the rice puller' to NASA once it was ready. Police said they recovered what the accused described as 'copper plates, anti-radiation suits [and] anti-radiation chemical stickers,' the Indian Express reported. A laptop, printer, foreign chequebooks, fake ID cards and an Audi car were also confiscated. They were 'confident and spoke in fluent English,' police said, wore branded clothes and expensive watches and travelled in luxury cars with two armed security guards. It is believed the pair duped at least thirty people from Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand. Joint commissioner of police Alok Kumar said the complainant, Narender Saini, had been asked by Virender Mohan Brar for 'seed money' a few years ago. Saini was allegedly told by the accused that he was paying for 'anti-radiation suits' which scientists would 'wear during testing.' Deputy commissioner of police Bhisham Sing said the duo 'roped in fake actors posing as Defence Research and Development Organisation officials just to convince Saini about the authenticity of the equipment.'
A jumbo-jet-size asteroid gave Earth a close shave on Monday, whizzing past the planet at a 'safe' distance of one hundred and twenty six thousand miles - about half-the-distance between Earth and the Moon. The asteroid, which is officially designated 2010 WC9, made its closest approach while travelling at a speed of twenty eight thousand miles per hour, according to the Minor Planet Centre. Astronomers estimate that the asteroid measures one hundred and twenty five to three hundred and ninety feet in diameter. That means it is about as big as the Statue of Liberty. Whilst this is not exceptionally large for a near-Earth asteroid, it is rare for asteroids of such dimensions to venture so close to Earth. According to EarthSky.org, this was 'one of the closest approaches ever observed of an asteroid of this size.' Asteroid 2010 WC9 was first spotted by the Catalina Sky Survey in 2010, but astronomers lost track of it once it became too faint to see. The 'lost' asteroid was rediscovered on 8 May and astronomers have been tracking its approach ever since. The asteroid wasn't visible to the naked eye, but it could be spotted through some telescopes. Astronomers with The Virtual Telescope Project in Italy and Tenagra Observatories in Arizona captured views of the asteroid at about four hundred and fifty thousand miles from Earth.
A teacher who was sacked for showing the horror film Halloween to a class of fifteen-year-old pupils has won a six hundred and forty six thousand knicker payout for disability discrimination. Philip Grosset, who suffers from cystic fibrosis, was fired from the Joseph Rowntree School in York, in 2014, on the grounds of 'gross misconduct.' But an employment tribunal ruled that he was a victim of disability discrimination. City of York Council has been ordered to pay the damages after its appeal against the decision failed. In a ruling published on Tuesday, three Appeal Court judges upheld the tribunal's decision that Grosset's sacking constituted disability discrimination. The tribunal heard Grosset had shown the eighteen-rated film to pupils in 2013 intending to use it as 'a vehicle for discussion in the class about construction of narrative.' However, he had not cleared it with the school or obtained consent from the pupils' parents. Grosset later accepted that showing the film was inappropriate but argued that his judgment had been affected by stress, contributed to by his cystic fibrosis. The school rejected this, however and said that it was 'concerned' he had 'not shown remorse.' But the tribunal ruled he would have been 'extremely unlikely' to have shown the film if his workload had been adjusted to accommodate his condition. Rejecting the council's appeal, Lord Justice Sales, sitting with two other judges, said that the tribunal was 'entitled to conclude' Grosset's sacking was 'not proportionate' and 'without justification.' Jon Stonehouse, director of children, education and communities at City of York Council, said: "'e hold safeguarding pupils and the highest professional standards as a priority in our schools.'
A father in Spain is accused of raping his fifteen-year-old daughter and two of her friends after claiming he had to 'rid them of evil spirits.' The man, named as Javier G D, is to go on trial on Thursday and prosecutors are arguing for a forty five-year jail term. It is alleged that the repeated rapes took place at his home in Baix Llobregat, near Barcelona. Prosecutors say his wife 'colluded' with the abuse and should get nine years' in The Big House as an accomplice. The wife was, allegedly, in the house during the rapes and even asked the girls 'how it had been.' The man claimed to be in the Order of Odin which 'required' him to rape the girls, otherwise their relatives would be 'cursed with misfortune,' the indictment says. The trial will begin in Barcelona and comes after a court acquitted five men of rape charges for an attack on a young woman during a bull-running festival in Pamplona. All five were jailed for nine years on the lesser charge of sexual abuse. The verdict triggered public outrage and an outpouring of personal stories of male abuse on social media. Some women shared stories of molestation occurring during their teenage years.
An emergency services operator has claimed - rather unconvincingly - that she is 'not to blame' after she mocked a young mother who died hours after calling the service in acute distress. Naomi Musenga called Strasbourg's ambulance service with severe stomach pain and said: 'I'm going to die.' 'You'll definitely die one day, like everyone else,' the operator replied. The woman - who, not surprisingly, wishes to remain anonymous - told French TV on Sunday night that she was 'under pressure' and the emergency services were overworked. Asked if she regretted what she had said, the operator replied: 'In the conditions, let's say it was inappropriate. We are constantly under pressure. I can be two or three hours hanging on my phone, I have no time to get up there's so much [demand] everywhere,' she said. 'We hang up and we pick up.' She said that some of her colleagues working in the medical emergency services had received threats since news of Musenga's death had emerged. Musenga's family have refused to blame the operator, saying that they recognise her poor working conditions, France's BFMTV reported. The operator's lawyer told BFMTV last week that she would normally field on average two thousand calls per day. 'When you hear: "I have a stomach ache", it is true that the first reflex is to think that there is no absolute emergency and that one has to go and see their GP,' the lawyer said. The head of France's association of emergency doctors said last week that the number of ambulance emergencies had 'mushroomed' from eight million in 1988 to twenty one million today, while the number of calls had trebled. Strasbourg's hospital said that on the day of the call, the operator had just returned from being on leave for two weeks and had begun her day at 7:30am that day. Musenga called four hours later. In the three-minute call, Musenga - in a very weak voice - appealed for help and struggled to describe her pain while speaking with the ambulance service, Samu. The operator, sounding annoyed, replied: 'If you don't tell me what's going on, I'll hang up!' The operator eventually called SOS Médecins, which sends out doctors instead of an ambulance and, after a five-hour wait, Musenga was taken to hospital by the ambulance service. She suffered a stroke at the hospital and was transferred to the intensive care unit, but later died of multiple organ failure. The case dates back to December, but only came to light when a recording of the call, obtained by the victim's family, was published by a local website. The operator, who had worked for the Samu for four years and as an ambulance worker for twenty, according to the Le Parisien newspaper, has been suspended and the authorities have opened an investigation. A spokesman for the French government said that authorities were looking at speeding up promised moves towards a single emergency number, after Musenga called the wrong one when seeking help. France has separate numbers for police, ambulance, and the fire brigade, along with the European Union emergency number one-one-two. Spokesman Benjamin Griveaux 'conceded' that French people were more familiar with the American number nine-one-one than their own array of numbers.
Organisers of an 'all-you-can-eat pizza festival' have apologised after repeatedly running out of pizza slices. Customers had to queue for up to an hour to get a single slice of pizza after an oven broke at the Notting Hill Pizza Festival on Saturday. Guests were promised 'the opportunity to sample unlimited amounts of pizza' by organisers Bellmonte Life. The 'high-end luxury lifestyle brand' blamed 'overzealous appetites' - at, remember, and 'all-you-can-eat pizza festival' - as well as the broken oven for slow service. The firm said: 'Despite the best efforts of our team preparing the pizzas in the smaller ovens, the flow of pizzas was slower than intended. In contrast to claims that there were not enough pizzas, this was not the case. Our team was hard at work to ensure that everyone was able to sample pizzas. However, it was unfortunate that the queues grew due to some overzealous appetites, preventing others to be able to enjoy the food.' The event promised a 'pizza for every palate' at the Porchester Hall, in West London. Festival-goers were given complimentary drinks when it became clear pizzas were not reaching everyone. Bellmonte Life has offered pizza festival ticket-holders complimentary VIP passes for an upcoming 'barbecue festival' in July. Punters planning to attend that are advised to bring their own sausages just to be on the safe side.
Durham's chief constable has blamed 'short-sighted nimbyism' for depriving the force of a potential six-figure payout. Durham County Council's Highways Committee voted six-to-two in favour of an application to designate land at a former police station a village green. The Office of the Durham Police, Crime and Victims' Commissioner had hoped to sell the Bede Kirk site, in Barnard Castle, for housing. Campaigners said the land was 'a safe-feeling place for young and old.' Albeit, that was when there was a pollis station on the doorstep. Chief Constable Mike Barton said: 'To say I am dischuffed on behalf of people who need policing in Barnard Castle and rural parts of County Durham really is an understatement. It is clear to me that to continue policing Barnard Castle and its many surrounding villages I need the six-figure sum which the sale of this land would bring in to the public purse. Whitehall has stripped us of money since 2010 and it is a bit rich that a local issue has now done the same. This is a classic case of short-sighted nimbyism and an incomprehensible decision, which we will be challenging.' Land can be formally designated a village green after a 'significant number of the inhabitants of any locality' have used it for leisure for at least twenty years. So far, police chiefs have refused to put an exact value on how much the deal would have been worth to the force, the Local Democracy Reporting Service says. However, the Durham PCVC office confirmed that it had already included expected income from the sale into spending plans, which will now have to be reassessed. PCVC official Ron Hogg said that he was 'strongly considering' a legal challenge.
A council's last remaining UKiP member has resigned from the party following 'a heated row' with a senior figure. Councillor Chris Walch will now represent his ward on Great Yarmouth Borough Council as an independent. Walch said that he could no longer remain in a party that has 'within its so-called hierarchy, a bully and liar.' Last week he was recorded by the BBC arguing with UKiP's home affairs spokesman, David Moreland, who called the party branch 'a disgrace.' Moreland and Walch swore at each other and pointed fingers in the ill-tempered exchange, which was recorded in a Great Yarmouth shop during a BBC interview. It erupted after Walch accused Moreland of calling his wife 'a stripper' on a previous occasion. During the row, Moreland blamed UKiP's 'collapse' in the town on 'party infighting.' A UKiP spokesman said that he was 'disappointed' by Walch's decision to resign from the party. Walch was the town's only UKiP councillor after seven of its twelve borough councillors defected to the Tories in October, handing the Conservatives control of the authority. In a statement on Monday, he said: [I'm sorry to say with what's happened over the previous week I feel as though I cannot represent an organisation that has within its so-called hierarchy a bully and liar. I still strongly hold the values and the ideals of the UKiP that I originally joined. But I honestly cannot support the way, wrongly or rightly, the hierarchy and ideology of the present day UKiP is going.'
Red squirrels may have brought leprosy to Britain more than a thousand years ago, scientists have claimed. The little bastards. The squirrels, that is, not the scientists. Although, if this turns out not to be true then this blogger may be prepared to reverse his opinion. Swiss researchers claim that DNA taken from a fifth-century victim of the disease in Essex revealed the same strain of leprosy carried by red squirrels today. The discovery supports the theory that the rodents, once prized for their meat and fur, 'played a role in the spread of the disease' throughout medieval Europe. Grey squirrels were not introduced to the UK until the Nineteenth Century. Scientists at the University of Zurich took samples of leprosy DNA from ninety Europeans with skeletal deformations characteristic of the disease from 400AD to 1400AD. From the fragments they reconstructed ten new genomes - complete genetic codes - of medieval Mycobacterium leprae, the bug that causes leprosy. One was from Great Chesterford in Essex and dated to between 415 and 545. It was this leprosy genome, the oldest yet constructed, that contained the red squirrel clue. Leprosy was prevalent in Europe until the Sixteenth Century and is still endemic in many countries, with more than two hundred thousand cases reported each year. It's not pleasant. Lead researcher Doctor Verena Schuenemann said: 'The dynamics of Mycobacterium leprae transmission throughout human history are not fully resolved. Characterisation and geographic association of the most ancestral strains are crucial for deciphering leprosy's exact origin. While we have some written records of leprosy cases that predate the Common Era, none of these have yet been confirmed on a molecular level.' The new research, published in the journal Public Library Of Science Pathogens, suggests that leprosy may have originated in Western Europe or Asia. The medieval genomes included strains now found in Asia, Africa and the Americas.
Police in New Jersey say that a woman 'got angry' at a cable TV worker and left her stranded in the air. Police alleged that the dispute started in Ridgewood on Monday between a woman and an Optimum employee. Elena Gerlihman is accused of turning off the worker's truck while she was in the lift, leaving her stuck in mid-air. Gerlihman will be heading to court later this month after she was very arrested on several charges, including harassment, false imprisonment, disorderly conduct and criminal trespassing. Police say that an Optimum cable worker was in the bucket, working on the lines at East Ridgewood Avenue and South Pleasant Avenue when she called police to say that Gerlihman came from her home, began arguing, then took the keys from the truck which left the worker suspended with no way to lower herself. Gerlihman denied she pulled the keys out. A local business owner claimed that two years ago Gerlihman pulled a similar tactic on a delivery truck driver, swiping the keys from his idling vehicle. The store called police on that occasion. Optimum's parent company Altice said in a statement: 'It is incredibly unfortunate that an individual would try to harm one of our employees while on the job.' It goes on to say, 'We are pleased our employee was not harmed as a result of this incident.'
Authorities are asking for the public's help in identifying a woman they said slapped a restaurant cashier in Tuscaloosa. Police released surveillance photos of the woman. The incident happened 28 March 2018 at Chick-fil-A on East McFarland Boulevard. Lt Teena Richardson said that the woman in the photo is 'a suspect in a harassment investigation.'
Margot Kidder, best known for her role as Lois Lane in Superman and its three sequels, has died aged sixty nine. A funeral home in Livingston, Montana, where the actress lived, said that Kidder died at her home on Sunday. She rose to fame starring alongside Christopher Reeve in the Superman films of the 1970s and 1980s. The Canadian-born actress acquired American citizenship in 2005 and became a political and women's rights activist alongside her acting. The cause of her death is not yet known. Kidder began her career in the 1960s appearing in low-budget Canadian films and television series like The Mod Squad, Banacek and Harry O, before landing a lead role as Gene Wilder's love interest in Quackser Fortune Has A Cousin In The Bronx (1970). She then appeared playing twins in Brian De Palma's cult thriller Sisters (1973), in the slasher film Black Christmas (1974) and the drama The Great Waldo Pepper (1975), opposite Robert Redford. Her performance as Kathy Lutz in the blockbuster horror film The Amityville Horror (1979) gained her further mainstream exposure. The actress was also an outspoken critic of the Gulf War, of fracking by energy companies and was, at times, a vocal supporter of Democratic party candidates. After settling in the state of Montana, she became a supporter of Montana Women For, a non-profit organisation which describes its goals as 'the participation and empowerment of women in our democracy through education and advocacy on critical issues.' Kidder also suffered from mental health problems, which resulted in her high-profile disappearance for several days in 1996. In an interview with People magazine later that year, she referred to her disappearance as 'the most public freak-out in history.' While working on her memoirs, a computer virus destroyed all of her work, she told the magazine - something she concluded was deliberate and involved her former husband and the CIA. She was eventually found safe and would talk openly about her experience of manic episodes and of depression in the years ahead, raising awareness about bipolar disorder while advocating the use of alternative medicine as a treatment.By the 2000s, however, she had maintained steady work in independent films as well as television, with guest-starring roles on Smallville, La Femme Nikita, Brothers & Sisters and The L Word. In 2015, she won an EMMY Award for her performance on the children's television series RL Stine's The Haunting Hour. She also acted in theatrical productions, most notably appearing on Broadway in a 2002 production of The Vagina Monologues. Kidder dated former Canadian prime minister Pierre Trudeau, directors Brian De Palma, the writer/director Tom Mankiewicz, Steven Spielberg and actor/comedian Richard Pryor. She was married and divorced three times. Kidder's first husband was the novelist Thomas McGuane, with whom she had her only child, Maggie McGuane, born in 1976. She was married to the actor John Heard in 1979 for only six days and was married to the French film director Philippe de Broca from 1983 to 1984. After her divorce from De Broca, she said that she 'preferred the companionship of her dogs.' She maintained a close friendship with her Superman co-star Christopher Reeve, which lasted from 1978 until his death in 2004. 'When you're strapped to someone hanging from the ceiling for months and months, you get pretty darned close,' Kidder told CBS. 'He was such a huge part of my life. He was complicated, very smart, really smart and he knew he'd done something meaningful. He was very aware of that and very happy with that role.' She is survived by her daughter, Maggie and two grandchildren.
Tom Wolfe, author of The Right Stuff and The Bonfire Of The Vanities, has died aged eighty eight, his agent has confirmed. The Right Stuff, about test pilots and the first American Mercury astronauts, was adapted into a film - really very good - in 1983 with Sam Shepard, Dennis Quaid and Ed Harris. The Bonfire Of The Vanities, published in 1987, was a satire of 1980s excesses in New York and was also made into a - nowhere near as good - film starring Tom Hanks in 1990. Wolfe also wrote the cult classic The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, a firsthand account of the growing hippy movement, particularly novelist Ken Kesey's experiments with psychedelic drugs first published in 1968. Wolfe died of an unspecified infection in a New York City hospital, his agent, Lynn Nesbit, told Reuters. He was a pioneer of New Journalism, which developed in the 1960s and 1970s, a literary style known written from a subjective perspective as opposed to more traditional objective journalism. His writing was often littered with exclamation points, italics and improbable words. Works like the 1965 essay collection The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby, The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test and The Right Stuff established Wolfe as the face of a new style of reportage that could be read for pleasure. Wolfe's book The New Journalism, published in 1973, was a collection of work by the likes of Truman Capote, Hunter S Thompson and Norman Mailer. The editor of the New York Times described Wolfe's passing as the 'passing of an era.' Pursuing colourful tales of excess and status-seeking with a ruthless eye and a freewheeling energy, Wolfe championed what he called 'saturation reporting,' where a journalist shadows and observes a subject over a long period of time. 'Nothing fuels the imagination more than real facts do,' Wolfe said in a 1999 interview. 'As the saying goes, "You can't make this stuff up."' Wolfe's iconic sartorial style was almost as famous as his writing: He always sported a three-piece white, bespoke suit, a look that he once described as 'Neo-pretentious.' The get-up, reminiscent of a Southern gentleman, disarmed people, he claimed - it made him look like 'a man from Mars, the man who didn't know anything and was eager to know.' Born in Virginia in 1930, Wolfe went straight into reportage out of university, beginning at the Springfield Union in Massachusetts. He later left for Washington, then New York, arriving there in 1962 to work for the New York Herald Tribune. He would never leave, making a home there with his wife Sheila Berger, art director at Harper's Bazaar and their two children, until his death. After the success of The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby, Wolfe built a career writing about popular culture, politics and American life, particularly how money and prosperity had shaped the country since the second world war. The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, regarded by many as the definitive book about the roots and growth of the hippy movement, placed him in the public consciousness as somewhat of an authority on psychedelics – though, he later told the Observer in a 2008 interview that he had never used LSD, despite some gentle encouragement from Kesey ('I thought hard about it for about six seconds,' he claimed). Taking on what he called 'the big challenge' - a novel - Bonfire Of The Vanities was published in 1987, to huge commercial success. A satirical portrait of greed and money in 1980s New York, the novel followed bond trader Sherman McCoy's journey from Wall Street to a court in the Bronx, after hitting a black man with his car. His second novel, A Man In Full was also a bestseller, but his success attracted critics; in the New York Review of Books, Norman Mailer wrote: 'Extraordinarily good writing forces one to contemplate the uncomfortable possibility that Tom Wolfe might yet be seen as our best writer. How grateful one can feel then for his failures and his final inability to be great - his absence of truly large compass. There may even be an endemic inability to look into the depth of his characters with more than a consummate journalist's eye.' However, Wolfe was well-known for giving as good as he got, engaging in public battle with his most passionate literary critics - namely, Mailer, John Updike, John Irving and Noam Chomsky, who he dubbed 'Noam Charisma.' In a 2000 essay titled My Three Stooges, Wolfe took on Mailer, Updike and Irving, writing, 'It must gall them a bit that everyone - even them - is talking about me and nobody is talking about them.' Once asked why critics despised him, Wolfe said, 'Intellectuals aren't used to being written about. When they aren't taken seriously and become part of the human comedy, they have a tendency to squeal like weenies over an open fire.' He also had his fans. 'He knows everything,' Kurt Vonnegut once wrote of Wolfe. 'I wish he had headed The Warren Commission. We might then have caught a glimpse of our nation.' Vonnegut considered Wolfe a genius but, Mary Gordon called him 'a thinking man's redneck.' Surfers in La Jolla labelled him 'a dork' after he profiled them. The novelist John Gregory Dunne observed that Wolfe's writings have the capacity 'to drive otherwise sane and sensible people clear around the bend.' At a time when Viet'nam cast a shadow across American life, he discovered something bright in stories about stock cars, Muhammad Ali, Hugh Hefner and the club scene in London. 'What struck me was that so many people have found such novel ways of doing just that, enjoying, extending their ego way out on the best terms available, namely their own,' he said. Wolfe's amazement, however, could strike a withering tone, such as the time he invited himself to a cocktail party held for The Black Panthers in the Park Avenue penthouse of Leonard Bernstein and his wife, Felicia. It was 1970 and the gathering was a fundraiser for members of the party who had been held in prison for nine months without trial. In The Radical Chic, Wolfe savaged the evening with a portrait of the fashionably liberal crowd engaging with militants over canapes. The story brought to light the conservative side to Wolfe's politics. 'He had this kind of cynicism about liberalism,' said writer and friend Ann Louise Bardach. 'If you look at what upset Tom, it was the card-carrying, raving, bring-down-the-barricade liberalism, but more than that, he was contrarian and a cynic in the sense that every great reporter is.' Wolfe won the 'Bad Sex in Fiction' prize in 2004 for I Am Charlotte Simmons and was also shortlisted in 2012 for Back To Blood. He was also known for coining phrases such as 'radical chic' - a derogatory term for pretentious liberals - and 'the me decade,' which described the self-indulgence of the late 1970s and 1980s. He once told the Wall Street Journal: 'I think every living moment of a human being's life, unless the person is starving or in immediate danger of death in some other way, is controlled by a concern for status.' Eventually the author of seventeen books - thirteen works of non-fiction and four novels - Wolfe wrote well into his eighties, publishing his last book in 2016: The Kingdom Of Speech, a controversial critique of Charles Darwin and Chomsky. 'John Maynard Keynes said the people who are successful are the people with animal spirits who refuse to acknowledge the risks they are taking in the same way that the healthy young man ignores the possibility of death,' Wolfe told the Observer in 2008, when asked about his work ethic. 'I'm not a young man and I do have a pulse, but when it comes to mortality, mostly I choose to ignore the subject.' He is survived by his wife, Shelia, and his children, Alexandra and Tommy.