Saturday, May 05, 2018

Tykes

The Sheffield Star ran a highlight speculative article this week - based on nothing more than fan 'rumours', apparently - asking Is More Filming For Doctor Who To Take Place In Sheffield This Week? To which the answer appears to have been, probably not. Or, at least, if it did then no media outlets - including the Star itself - seem to have reported upon such filming. So, that was a complete and utter waste of trees, wasn't it? Filming for the forthcoming eleventh series of the BBC's popular, long-running family SF drama had previously taken place in Sheffield last November and again in February. And, it may have done so again this week. Or not. No doubt we'll find out in October when the latest series of the family SF drama returns.
On a somewhat related note, in an impassioned piece in the Yorkshire Post, Anthony Clavane took up several hundred words explaining exactly why it's good that Doctor Who now has a Huddersfield accent. It's a rather good article actually, although it's very definitely docked a few points for not one but two uses of the hateful 'W' word.
The BBC is paving the way for Jodie Whittaker's Doctor with a host of companion books and a new comic series. David Tennant's Tenth Doctor, Matt Smith's Eleventh and Peter Capaldi's Twelfth will all feature in the series called The Road To The Thirteenth Doctor. Or fourteenth if you count John Hurt. Or, fifteen if you count Richard Hurndall. Or sixteenth if you count David Bradley. Or seventeenth if you count Tennant twice. Anyway, the comics, created by Titan Comics and BBC Studios, are set to be released in July and will feature new stories that 'expand the history of the series' before Jodie's much-anticipated debut as The Doctor later this year (probably October although we're still waiting for confirmation on that). The series is written by James Peaty, with covers by Robert Hack.
If you thought yer actual Peter Capaldi's last Doctor Who episode was something of an epic, you should have seen the original cut. Twice Upon A Time's writer, The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat (OBE) has revealed in a new interview that about thirty minutes' worth of material had to be cut for timing reasons. Moffat and Russell Davies both appear in the video interview to promote their new novelisations. In the interview - with the very lovely Tom Spilsbury - The Moff explained that Keith Telly Topping's old mucker Paul Cornell had 'a slightly murderous time' when he was adapting Twice Upon A Time since the episode wasn't even finished when Paul began writing the novel version. 'We were nowhere near finished,' The Moff said. 'We cut half-an-hour for time. It was longer than Dunkirk. And, I actually mean the historical event, not the movie. It was very long.' The final version of Twice Upon A Time' - broadcast on Christmas Day, 2017 - was sixty minutes long, meaning that the first cut ran to somewhere near ninety minutes. Which, good as Twice Upon A Time was, might have tested even the series' most rabid fans' endurance levels after a heavy Christmas Day lunch and a few glasses of Bailey's.
Fathom Events, in association with BBC Worldwide, have announced a big screen outing in the United States for the 1975 Doctor Who story Genesis Of The Daleks. The screening, on 11 June, is to mark the upcoming Blu-ray release of Tom Baker's complete first series in Doctor Who. Audiences will see 'a special cinema-length Director's cut' of the six-part story. Or, in other words, the edited-with-a-blunt-hacksaw ninety-minute version which was broadcast by the BBC on Saturday 27 December 1975 but has never been screened outside the UK before. The event also features a first look at In Conversation With Tom Baker, a newly recorded interview with good old Mad Tom his very self. More details of the event can be found on the Fanthom Website.
William Hartnell's original Doctor Who script for the show's debut episode An Unearthly Child has sold at auction for six thousand two hundred quid. The script was 'lost in the time vortex for fifty five years before ending up in Dudley' according to some wipe of no talent at the BBC News website although somewhat less prosaically it was actually stored in someone's attic. It was found at Hartnell's cottage in Mayfield, East Sussex, by a developer who gave it to his grandson. An Unearthly Child was first broadcast on 23 November 1963 and the script had been expected to fetch between five and seven grand. Steve Kennedy, auctioneer at Aston's Auctioneers in Dudley said that the script, complete with pencil annotations from Hartnell, was 'a real find' and had 'attracted a lot of interest' from fans of the programme. In the episode, The Doctor is introduced after the TARDIS is discovered by two of his granddaughter's teachers in a London junk yard. Hartnell's first line, on page twenty four of the script, is 'What are you doing here?' Antiques Roadshow featured the script in an episode on 31 December in which Chris Yeo described it as 'the DNA of Doctor Who.'
Martin Freeman has 'clarified' his comments that Sherlock is 'not fun anymore' because of fan expectations by saying that his words were taken 'out of context.' Don't you just hate it when that happens? In March, the actor was quoted by the Daily Torygraph as saying that the incredible demand for the show has dampened his enthusiasm to be involved in a new series. He said: 'People's expectations, some of it is not fun anymore. It's not a thing to be enjoyed, it's a thing of, "You better fucking do this, otherwise you're a cunt." That's not fun anymore.' Speaking to The Daily Beast, Marty put a different spin on his comments. 'If you're in something that has a lot of fans, that's better than being in something that has no fans,' he said. 'My point with Sherlock was that those expectations can be heavy. There's a certain aspect that some fans are going to run with the ball and make their own thing out of your show - which is completely fair enough, as long as we all acknowledge that that is what is happening. I think when you get into a slightly tail-wagging-the-dog scenario, that gets boring for me. So when people insist that Sherlock is supposed to be this show, when we decide what show it is, it's like, "No, this is actually the show we're making and that we've always made. I know you want to see this happen, but that doesn't mean it's going to have to happen."' He added: 'I'm well aware of its importance in my life, both professionally and personally, because I love the show. I'm a fan of the show. Unfortunately, that's the joy of being quoted out of context and joy of newspapers needing a headline, even though the headline is not something I ever said at any point in the interview.' Benedict Cumberbatch responded to Freeman's original comments, also in the Torygraph, saying that he doesn't agree with them. Which, as Martin noted, gave plenty of media outlets the opportunity to publish screamed headlines about Cumberbatch having 'slammed' his co-star. 'Slammed' being newspaper-speak for 'disagreed with' ... only with less syllables. 'I don't necessarily agree with that,' Benny was quoted as saying. 'There is a level of it [where] I understand what he means. There's a level of obsession where [the franchise] becomes theirs even though we're the ones making it. But I just don't feel affected by that in the same way, I have to say.' Ultimately, it is to be hoped that Martin's 'clarification' goes some way towards settling down some of the bad feeling among Sherlock fandom which his original reported comments appeared to cause. Though, those bloody awful Vodophone adverts don't exactly help his cause.
Neil Gaiman has been speaking about American Gods series two as production has finally started on the new episodes. Earlier this month, Ricky Whittle shared a photo of the cast and crew as work started on the new series, which had been plagued by production troubles - not least the departure of From The North favourite Gillian Anderson. But Neil seems to think it will be worth the wait in an on-set video promising that 'things are gonna get darker, things are gonna get more dangerous' in series two. The video also sees Whittle give official confirmation that series two wouldn't be broadcast until 2019. In January, Starz CEO Chris Albrecht admitted that he'd had 'trouble' pulling the second series together following some big-name departures including showrunner Bryan Fuller (who has been replaced by Lost writer Jesse Alexander) and Anderson who quit her role as the Goddess Media. The production has cast another actress and will reboot the character as New Media, a commentary on our fast-moving social media culture. Before Fuller left, star Pablo Schreiber had claimed that series two would feature more episodes that focus solely on one character.
The latest episode of Gotham's excellent fourth series, That Old Corpse was a veritable rip-roaring roller-coaster of ride as the fantasy crime drama rattles towards the current series finale - to be broadcast on 17 May - with its promised 'series-changing' denouement. Reviews of the latest episode can be gandered at here, here and here.
Meanwhile, the first images from that very Gotham series finale have also been released this week. Is that a Bat-Signal this blogger sees before him?
It is usually around this time of the year that Qi begins filming for each new series. However, this year, they appear to have started somewhat earlier than normal. In early March, in fact, when the production team announced on its Twitter feed that filming had already begun on the P series. And, this blogger completely missed it until he was alerted to the matter this week (thanks Roy, by that way). There is not much news yet as to whom will be appearing in the episodes or what subjects will be covered although Phill Jupitas did announce on his Instagram page that he will be in one episode along with the divine Victoria Coren Mitchell and Bridget Christie.
And, speaking of the divine Victoria her very self, Monday of this week saw the final of the current series of the best quiz show on TV, From The North favourite Only Connect - which won by the very impressive Frank Paul, Lydia Mizon and Tom Rowell, playing as The Escapologists. As you'd expect for the final, most of the questions were even more fiendishly difficult than usual - this blogger, who normally manages to get at least one or two right per episodes, didn't even come close on Monday. That level of hardness seemingly gave the Daily Scum Mail an excuse to be all arch and sneering about 'the hardest quiz on television.' As an additional bonus, ot also gave a lot of their readers the opportunity to display somewhat atypical, if rather sad, even more sneering anti-intelligence rhetoric in the below-the-line comments which, to be frank, resemble the outpourings of a bunch of school bullies. This blogger supposes that we shouldn't really be surprised by such shenanigans. After all, to enjoy Only Connect you really only needs one of three things, a modicum of brains or, failing that, at least an ability to take something from learning news things or, perhaps most importantly, a sense of humour. So, you can sort of see why readers of the Daily Scum Mail - who possess none of those three things - might find little or nothing to enjoy in watching such a format.
Westworld series two has only just got underway - this week's second episode was an absolute corker, by the way - but its creators have already started teasing information about series three and they're also building excitement for the final episode. The HBO drama will be premiering its series two finale at the London BFI on 19 June, giving UK fans the opportunity to see it five days before it is broadcast in the US. Co-creators Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy have revealed that the finale will be long. Really long. 'The finale just keeps going and going,' Nolan told Entertainment Weekly. Nolan and Joy will be at the BFI for a special Q&A. Tickets go on sale to the general public on 15 May, but BFI members can pick them up on 8 May. Also this week, HBO announced the - not entirely unexpected - news that a third series of Westword has been commissioned.
Midsomer Murders is already broadcasting its twentieth series in America, several months ahead of the UK. Two US streaming services have bought the rights to the upcoming series and episodes from series twenty of Midsomer Murders are now available on Acorn and BritBox well in advance of their British premiere on ITV, which is currently broadcasting series nineteen of the popular long-running crime drama.
Peaky Blinders creator Steven Knight has revealed plans for a ballet version of the hit Birmingham gangster TV show. The Oscar-nominated screenwriter said the Rambert dance company had approached him with plans for a ballet based on the Shelby crime family. Knight also told the Birmingham Press Club this week that he is planning three more series of the drama and is lobbying the BBC to film more of the show in his home city. The last series was the most popular instalment of the BBC2 drama yet. Knight, who is currently writing season five, said: 'We are definitely doing [series] six and we will probably do seven. After series four it went mad. We've talked to Cillian Murphy and he's all for it and the rest of the principal cast are in for it.' He revealed talks over a dance version of the show, saying: 'I had a meeting with Ballet Rambert who want to do Peaky Blinders - The Ballet. I'm saying "why not?"' Knight said he was keen to use the show's success to promote Birmingham and wants more filming to take place in the city. Previous episodes have been filmed elsewhere, with the Black Country Living Museum one of the only locations close to Birmingham. 'I'm trying to get series five shot here and trying to get as many Birmingham actors as I can in,' he said. 'It's always bothered me that Birmingham didn't have that profile. It's a big city and it wasn't shouting about it. I'm sort of an evangelist for the city, so that was part of wanting to do it.' He also hopes to create a massive film studio and production facility near the National Exhibition Centre. 'It's no secret that the plan is to build a six-sound stage studio in Birmingham, not because I want people to love Birmingham; it's a business,' Knight explained. He is in discussions with Birmingham City Council, the Royal Shakespeare Company, the BBC and West Midlands Mayor Andy Street and a formal announcement on the project is expected in the autumn of this year.
Game Of Thrones is ending in 2019 - you might have noticed. It's been in all the papers and everything. But what kind of ending are we in for? With so many fans, can it possibly please everyone? Speaking to the Herald Sun, Emilia Clarke teased what to expect ... without actually telling anyone what they didn't already know. And, you can read about it, here.
It has been confirmed that the ITV comedy Benidorm is coming to an end. The sitcom's creator, Derren Litten, announced the news via Twitter this week. 'Crazy to think Wednesday will be the last episode of Benidorm! I created the series over eleven years ago, wrote it, guest starred in it and ended up directing it. It's difficult to think what else there is to do! Thank you for watching!' ITV had previously responded cryptically to widespread rumour that the programme was soon to be ending, a spokesperson saying: 'No decision has been made about a further series.' An alleged - though suspiciously anonymous and, therefore, probably fictitious - 'source' told the Sun that the programme had 'run its course. The ratings have started to drop off and a number of the fan favourites have left, so it just feels as though the time is right to let it go out while it’s still on a high,' the alleged 'source' allegedly said. 'It has been ITV's longest running comedy, which is a real achievement.'
Yer actual Jezza Clarkson - comfortable hate-figure for Middle Class hippy Communist Gruniad Morning Star readers everywhere - does not strike one as a particularly nervous type, but even he has admitted that his latest gig - as the new host of the rebooted Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? - has given him one or two sleepless nights. Jezza has spoken about fronting the ITV revival of the popular quiz show, which begins this weekend, revealing that he can't fathom how previous host Chris Tarrant did it. 'I'm really nervous,' Clarkson told the Sun. 'I honestly thought it was just a question of saying, "What's the capital of Peru?" and then waiting for the klaxon.' It's Lima, Jezza. Anyway ... 'Honestly, I've never known a show as technically complex as this. I've been watching hundreds of hours of Chris doing it and you just don't see what he's doing. I suppose you get used to it over the years but the amount of sound effects and visual tricks that you have to wait for. And you can't talk naturally because there's an endless stream of complexities which I'm not used to.' The presenter also admitted that he can't 'cock about' like he did on Top Gear and now does on The Grand Tour, especially as the contestants are playing for large amounts of money. Speaking of taking over from Tarrant (and possibly making a pointed reference to his own Top Gear replacement Chris Evans), Jezza added: 'I have said taking over the show well-known for one host and then doing another doesn't always go well. It is difficult following Chris Tarrant on Millionaire because he was bloody good at it.' Earlier this week, it was announced that the revival will include a new lifeline alongside the regular ones, called Ask The Host, where contestants get the chance to quiz Jezza his very self on what he thinks the answer might be. Which, will usually be 'is it a Bugatti Veyron?' ITV has also confirmed that contestants will be able to choose their own second 'safety net' amount, meaning that after they earn a thousand knicker, they can set it at their preferred figure.
At a BFI premiere of the opening episode of Poldark's forthcoming fourth series on Wednesday, Eleanor Tomlinson confirmed to the audience that a fifth series had already been commissioned by the BBC.
Channel Four has announced a broadcast date for the highly-anticipated third series of Humans. The award-winning SF drama will return to Channel Four on Thursday 17 May at 9pm.
Film crews were spotted outside Hamilton Sheriff Court at the weekend which got the Daily Record all hot and bothered as they were 'filming scenes from a new drama featuring former Doctor Who star Jenna Coleman.' There's really is nowt like crowbarring the words 'Doctor' and 'Who' into a headline to sell a few more newspapers than usual, is there? A spokesperson for the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service confirmed that the building was used 'extensively' for filming on Saturday and Sunday. He added: 'There were around one hundred and fifty people involved in the filming and they used the main floor of the court building and in particular Court Two.' The BBC this week confirmed that they were filming for a new four-part thrilling, psychological drama, The Cry, which features Jenna, Ewen Leslie and Australian actor Asher Keddie. The Cry will be filmed in Scotland and Australia. Claire Mundell, the executive producer for Synchronicity Films, said: 'The start of shooting marks an incredible moment for our company as we start production on what is a truly international drama with Scottish roots. We could not be more thrilled to be shooting the show.' In The Cry, Joanna (Coleman) and her husband Alistair (Leslie), travel with their baby from Scotland to Australia to see Alistair's mother, Elizabeth (played by Stella Gonet) and to fight for custody of Alistair's daughter Chloe from a previous marriage However, when they arrive in Australia, Joanna and Alistair are forced to face an unthinkable tragedy that changes their lives and their marriage forever. It is the catalyst for a journey into the disintegrating psychology of a young woman, exposing the myths and truths of motherhood. The drama has been written by Jacquelin Perske, adapted from the novel by Helen Fitzgerald.
Phillip Schofield had 'a shocking start' to Wednesday, when he allowed himself to be electrocuted on live TV. During a This Morning debate about the use of electric dog collars, Phil offered to demonstrate the effects of the collar on himself. You can probably work out for yourself what happened next. If you missed it dear blog reader, trust yer actual Keith Telly Topping it was bloody hilarious.
If you're struggling to locate your favourite shows on Sky because its Electronic Programme Guide has been reshuffled as of 1 May, then this blogger considers you are a twenty four carat moron who, seemingly, can't work out how to look for stuff up on a screen in front of your face. However, you appear to be in good company as various other people that you've never heard of are reportedly venting their frustrations over this deliciously 'First World Problem' on Twitter. And, this shit constitutes 'news', apparently. Well, it does as far as the Digital Spy website is concerned, anyway. Seriouwsly, the nonsense that some people choose to care about ...
A BBC reporter has been killed in the East Afghan province of Khost, on a day of attacks which left nearly forty people dead, other journalists among them. Ahmad Shah, twenty nine, had worked for the BBC Afghan service for more than a year. In a statement, BBC World Service Director Jamie Angus said Shah had been 'a respected and popular journalist. This is a devastating loss and I send my sincere condolences to Ahmad Shah's friends and family and the whole BBC News Afghan team,' he said. 'We are doing all we can to support his family at this very difficult time.' Khost police chief Abdul Hanan told BBC Afghan that Shah had been shot by 'unidentified armed men.' He said police were investigating the motive. Locals told the BBC that Shah had been on his bicycle when the attack happened. He was then taken to hospital, where he died of his injuries. He was in what was considered to be a 'normally safe area' that he was familiar with when the attack happened, the BBC's News and Current Affairs Director Fran Unsworth said. Last year, Afghanistan was ranked the third most dangerous country in the world for journalists by Reporters Without Borders. It said that nine journalists had been killed in three separate attacks. Shah is the fifth BBC staff member to have been killed in Afghanistan since the country's devastating civil war in the 1990s. Khost, where the attack happened, borders Pakistan and was an important theatre in the conflict with militants after US-led forces invaded Afghanistan in 2001. The Taliban still has a presence in parts of the province but attacks are rare now. Elsewhere in Afghanistan, twenty six people were killed in two bombings in the capital, Kabul. Nine journalists and photographers and four police officers, were among those killed, officials say. Some 45 people were reported injured in the attacks. The first explosion was carried out by an attacker on a motorbike. A second followed about 15 minutes later after a crowd, including several reporters, had gathered at the scene. The AFP news agency said the second blast had deliberately targeted the group of journalists, including its photographer Shah Marai. The Islamic State group said that it had carried out the attack. The intelligence services headquarters had been the target, ISIS said in a statement released through its self-styled news outlet Amaq. The Shashdarak district also houses the Defence Ministry and a NATO compound. And, in a third attack, eleven children were killed in a suicide bombing intended to target NATO troops in Kandahar.
Kate Adie will receive the BAFTA Fellowship at this year's British Academy Television Awards in May. The journalist and author is receiving the award to recognise her contribution to television and the arts. The fellowship is given out every year with past recipients including Dawn French, Michael Palin and Jon Snow. Adie said: 'It's lovely to be awarded the BAFTA Fellowship. I feel very honoured.' Jane Lush, Chair of BAFTA, said: 'Kate Adie is a truly ground-breaking news journalist, being one of a very small number of women working to report the news from hostile environments around the world. We are delighted to be celebrating her stellar career at this year's ceremony; she is a true trailblazer and very deserving of the Fellowship Award.' Adie started her career working at Radio Durham and then BBC Radio Bristol. She then moved on to TV news in London and her live report in 1980, marking the end of the siege of the Iranian Embassy, was viewed by millions after it interrupted the World Snooker Championships. Adie became chief news correspondent for the BBC in 1989, holding the post for fourteen years and saw her reporting from conflicts around the world, including both Gulf Wars and war in the Balkans. Adie also memorably covered the uprising of Chinese students in Tianenmen Square. She was the only correspondent to report from the streets of Beijing on the gunfire and violence as hundreds were massacred in the 1989 events. She later said she felt duty bound to stay - despite the risk to her and her cameraman's personal safety. In an interview with the Daily Torygraph she said: 'I felt it hugely that night, more so than I would normally feel. It was partly because we had seen only one other cameraman. The second thing was that we knew that within China the habit would be that they would rewrite history or possibly deny it. So we knew we had to get some evidence.' It was to be one of the most important and distressing reports Adie filed during her years at the BBC. The seventy two-year-old now presents Radio 4's From Our Own Correspondent and is a contributor to many other radio and television programmes. Adie has won several awards including the Richard Dimbleby Award at the British Academy Television Awards in 1990 and three Royal Television Society awards.
Matthew Wright is leaving his role as the host of Channel Five's The Wright Stuff. Wright has presented the topical current affairs chat show since it began in 2000. He said in statement: 'After almost eighteen glorious years on Channel Five and with the show flying high in the ratings, I feel it's time to depart.' Channel Five that said the show will continue with a new host but we don't know yet who or what the show will be called. Ben Frow, the director of programmes at Channel Five, said Wright would be 'sorely missed.' He added: 'We would like to thank Matthew for his passion, hard work and enthusiasm over the last eighteen years and for making the show what it is today.' Guests over the years have included Tony Blair, George Galloway, Ben Elton and Brian May. Wright started his career in newspapers, first at the Sun and later at the Daily Mirra, where he had a daily column for five years, before making his move into TV. He is also known for presenting BBC weekly factual show Inside Out in London and was a contestant on I'm A Z-List Former Celebrity Desperate To Get My Boat-Race Back On TV ... Please Vote For Me To Stay Here As Long As Possible (I'll Even Eat Worms If You Want) in 2013.
Two former Hollyoaks writers are celebrating winning the EMMY Award for best children's programme for their British-made Netflix show Free Rein. Anna McCleery and Vicki Lutas created the show, which is filmed in Cheshire and Anglesey, while working on the Channel Four soap. Free Rein won outstanding children's or family viewing series at the prestigious TV award ceremony in Los Angeles. 'We're all walking around in a bit of a daze at the moment,' Vicki said. Free Rein follows American teenager Zoe and her little sister Rosie, who move to a rural island off the UK coast for the summer with their British mother, played by former Coronation Street actress Natalie Gumede. Zoe, played by Jaylen Barron, turns out to be the only person who can tame a wayward horse called Raven and ends up on the trail of a horse thief. The show was made by Liverpool-based Lime Pictures - the production company behind Hollyoaks and The Only Way Is Essex. Lucas and McCleery first met when they worked on the teen-focused website BBC Switch, where they wrote for the online magazine Slink and teen soap The Cut. 'We used to write horoscopes and health and beauty tips,' Anna said. Vicki added: 'We used to stalk Zac Efron quite frequently on the red carpet.' BBC Switch closed in 2010 and the pair ended up on Hollyoaks - Vicki as their head digital writer, before moving to the story team and Anna as a freelance scriptwriter. It is the second time this year that members of the Hollyoaks team have gone on to conquer Hollywood - a short film by two former cast members won an Oscar in March. Anna says the long-running Channel Four drama was 'an excellent place' to learn how to craft drama. 'The thing about Hollyoaks is it doesn't come up for breath,' she tells the BBC. 'It's all about keeping the viewer hooked and we put a lot of that into Free Rein, just making sure that every scene ends on a question, that the end of every episode has things that you literally can't not tune in [for] again and that is exactly how Hollyoaks works. And also just about being fast and lean in our writing - I take that a lot from Hollyoaks.'
Toby Jones will return to the BBC for 'a darkly comic take on Brexit.' The acclaimed actor has partnered with playwright Tim Crouch to create Don't Forget The Driver. The six-part series centres on how Brexit will 'impact life in small-town Britain.' Coach driver Peter Green has a disappointing life in Bognor Regis, caring for a disaffected young daughter and a mother whose world becomes warped by paranoia and fear. When a dead body turns up on the seaside shores and a new arrival crosses paths with Peter, it suddenly looks as if the mundane drudgery of everyday life could become a thing of the past. 'I'm excited to collaborate with the celebrated playwright Tim Crouch and the fabulous Sister Pictures on our first piece of writing for television,' Toby Jones said. 'We hope that Don't Forget The Driver will be an unusually funny drama about small town Britain and the joys of coach travel.' BBC Comedy controller Shane Allen said: 'This irresistible piece explores big rich themes about identity - both personal and national. It feels very timely in this climate of introspection and transition. Shot through with heart and humour it will continue to cement BBC2's reputation as the place to deliver poignant, mature and highly resonant comedy drama starring the cream of British comedy writing and acting talent.'
Katherine Parkinson is making her return to TV comedy with the BBC. The BAFTA-winning actress has spent the last few years dodging killer robots on Channel Four's Humans, but her next TV project will see her teaching a class of pupil barristers. In BBC2's Defending The Guilty, Parkinson plays Caroline whose job is to wake up her bright-eyed students to the confusing and often disappointing realities of the law. One such student, played by Will Packham, firmly feels that his role is to deliver justice, but his ambition is dampened by competing students willing to do anything it takes to land the one barrister job available. 'A terrifically vibrant and sure-footed pilot made for a very quick and easy decision on Defending The Guilty going to series,' Shane Allen said. 'There's a very universal theme of having high ideals when entering this professional world versus the cold hard, cloak and dagger reality of how the legal profession truly operates. The core cast have irresistible chemistry and the writing fires out whip smart lines in all directions. A very classy addition to the BBC2 canon of comedy.' Defending The Guilty was adapted from the book of the same name by Cuckoo writer Kieron Quirke and is one of several new BBC2 commissions announced this week, another of which is The Other One. This family comedy examines the fallout of Cathy's beloved father dying, which brings to the surface a revelation that he'd had a mistress and a secret second family all of his daughter's life. Her long-lost sibling, also named Catherine, lived just down the road but the families' paths never crossed until their father's funeral. With the two sides now united, a lot of questions about Cathy's father must be answered. Another alleged 'dark comedy' it will feature Siobhan Finneran and Rebecca Front and is written by Holly Walsh. So, despite the presence of Front one of this blogger's favourite actresses, it's likely to be unwatchable and unfunny.
Peppa Pig has reportedly been banned from a Chinese video app after being deemed 'subversive.' More than thirty thousand videos of the popular kids' character have been removed from the app Douyin alongside the hashtag Peppa Pig, the state-run Global Times claims. The cartoon has proven popular among Chinese children ever since it launched in the country in 2015, though it has also gained traction among adults and made its way into countercultural memes. Many young adults have also posted pictures of stick-on Peppa Pig tattoos and Peppa-themed watches. Some memes have also veered into pornography, which is banned in China. Notably, however, it has become entwined with 'the society people' subculture, which is a term used to describe young people less well off and considered to be troublemakers. The Global Times claims that this group 'run counter to the mainstream value and are usually poorly educated with no stable job,' adding: 'They are unruly slackers roaming around and the antithesis of the young generation The Party tries to cultivate.' So, teenagers, in other words. It claimed that the cartoon has taken on 'a subversive life of its own,' the site reporting how some alleged 'experts' believe Peppa's popularity 'demonstrates the social psychology of hunting for novelty and spoofing, which could potentially hamper positive societal morale.' Peppa Pig is not the only western children's character to be censored in China, with Winnie the Pooh having been 'blacklisted' last year after comparisons between the iconic bear and President Xi Jinping.
The Peppa Pig banning story also provided plenty of opportunity for mockery on this week's episode of Have I Got News For You, in no small part due to the presence on Paul Merton's team of Andy Hamilton who, of course, provides the voice of Doctor Elephant on the animated series. Guest host Rhod Gilbert repeated the Global Times description of those whom the Chinese authorities believe watch the programmes as 'unruly slackers' and 'the poorly educated with no stable job.' 'Possibly a bit harsh on six-year-olds but, they don't pull their weight, do they?' Rhod noted.
The King of Comedy Bill Bailey has announced that his current live show will be coming to London's West End this Christmas. Larks In Transit, will run at the Wyndham's Theatre from 3 December to 5 January 2019. The comedian's last performed at the theatre in 2010, when his show Dandelion Mind played to sold out crowds. Bill will be on stage at the theatre over the Christmas period, with performances on Christmas Eve and on the dates between 27 December and New Year's Eve. The acclaimed travel-inspired show will encompass Bill's noted musical talents, surreal tales and anecdotes taken from his twenty year career as a touring comedian.
I'm A Z-List Former Celebrity Desperate To Get My Boat-Race Back On TV ... Please Vote For Me To Stay Here As Long As Possible (I'll Even Eat Worms If You Want) is being fined a whopping one hundred and ten grand by the Australian government, after allegedly breaching their traffic rules. That's not really a problem though, Dec can probably afford it. One is not sure if Ant can these days, however. Council officials are accusing the sick Victorian freak show of bringing too many vehicles onto a nearby road, which in turn was in violation of council rules, after locals complained that too many vehicles were congesting the highway. Tweed Shire Council in New South Wales introduced a rule whereby eighty vehicles are permitted to travel down the road on one day, which the show supposedly broke. Vince Connell, Tweed Shire's director, claims that the show has 'not adhered to the eighty vehicle limit,' saying that the production team 'lied' they had stayed within the regulatory numbers. 'They based their figure on hire vehicles and shuttle buses. It did not factor in the suppliers,' Connell said. As a result of breaches during previous series of the reality show, notably last year, the council forced ITV to install traffic monitors to make sure they kept within the limit, but it appears they didn't take into account additional suppliers, as Connell states. 'We are committed to working with the council and residents to get a satisfactory outcome,' weaselled an ITV spokesperson.
Coronation Street is to tackle male suicide in a storyline which will see factory boss Aidan Connor kill himself. Producers say the plot 'is designed to give people who hide their feelings of desperation a chance to start a conversation.' And, also, bring in viewers attracted by the publicity since the long-running soap's numbers have been a bit down over the last few months. The producers have worked with mental health charities on the storyline. More than three-quarters of suicides in the UK are by men and it is the biggest killer of males under forty five. In an hour-long episode to be shown on 9 May, Aidan Connor kills himself - although the soap's makers say 'no element of the suicide will be shown on-screen.' Shayne Ward, who plays the character, said he hopes 'that anyone who recognises something of themselves in Aidan will realise they can, and really should, talk about how they're feeling.' The actor and former X Factor winner added: 'We have all heard stories like Aidan's when it was too late, when people looked back and wished they had spotted the signs, but it isn't always possible. If we can encourage someone who is feeling low to realise they need to talk, then we have achieved what we set out to with this story.' 'Through this story, we want to assure anyone who feels suicidal that there is always someone who wants to listen and support you,' says soon-to-be-departing Corrie producer Katie Oakes. 'We want to tell people that however bleak they are feeling, there is always another way.' The show's production team say they've worked with charities Samaritans and Calm to make sure they handle the story 'sensitively and realistically.'
Former Coronation Street star Paula Lane is to appear in a play about the life of Martyn Hett, who died in the Manchester Arena bombing last year. The actress is best known for playing Kylie Platt between 2010 and 2016 and Hett was famously a fan of the soap. Lane will play the role of Hett's schoolfriend Rachel. Be More Martyn: The Boy With The Deirdre Tattoo opens in Manchester on 21 May, the day before the anniversary of the attack, which killed twenty two people. The play's title is inspired by Hett's tattoo of Corrie character Deidre Barlow. The script is taken word-for-word from interviews with eight of Hett's closest friends and is set in Manchester locations such as Canal Street. Commenting on the role, Lane said: 'I am so thrilled to be joining Hope Theatre Company and to help continue Martyn's legacy. To speak Rachel's words and share her memories is an absolute honour and I'm looking forward to sharing this important message.' The production will run at Manchester's Hope Mill Theatre from 21 to 26 May before travelling to the Brighton Fringe and London's Southwark Playhouse.
The Simpsons' creator Matt Groening has spoken about the - mostly media-created - 'Apu stereotyping controversy,' arguing that 'people love to pretend they're offended.' Which, perhaps predictably, didn't go down particularly well with those who had claimed - rightly or wrongly - to be offended. The long-running animated show has come in for criticism in the past year - albeit, not from anyone that you've actually heard of - following the release of a documentary called The Problem With Apu. It argued that the character 'embodied stereotypes of Indian-Americans' and highlighted the 'problem' with having a white actor (Hank Azaria) voice the character with a heavy Indian accent. When asked about whether he had any thoughts on the matter, Groening told USA Today: 'Not really. I'm proud of what we do on the show. And I think it's a time in our culture where people love to pretend they're offended.' The show itself recently addressed the controversy where Marge said that 'some things will be dealt with at a later date' and Lisa added: 'If at all.' Asked about what this line meant, Groening said that we should 'let the show speak for itself.'
The model Danielle Lloyd, the actor Jennifer Ellison and the former footballers Dwight Yorke and Andrew Cole have received undisclosed damages and an apology from Mirra Group Newspapers over phone-hacking. Which, of course, it is worth remembering that the Mirra Group spent several years denying that it had ever part-taken in. None of the z-list celebrities were at London’s high court on Thursday for the settlement of their claims for the misuse of private information. Lawyer Mark Elder told Mr Justice Mann that Lloyd was 'distressed and appalled' to learn that she was targeted. In addition to the emotional impact, Ellison believed the activity 'adversely affected' her career. MGN's actions had 'a massive emotional impact' on Yorke affected his life 'in many ways and significantly damaged his reputation.' The misuse of Cole's personal information also had 'an adverse impact' on the forty six-year-old's life, including leading him to distrust people close to him. MGN snivellingly apologised for 'any damage or distress suffered' as a result of the unlawful interception of voicemail messages more than a decade ago. Elder, of the law firm Shoosmiths, said later: 'We are pleased to have resolved these claims against MGN on behalf of our clients. Our clients may be in the public eye but they have a right to a private life, which should be respected. A settlement has been reached with MGN and our clients are happy with the outcome.' The exact figures paid out by the Mirra Group were undisclosed but, one trusts, were eye-wateringly massive.
The rugby players Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding have agreed to drop their legal case against the BBC over the broadcaster's coverage of their arrest and pay twenty thousand smackers in legal costs to the BBC. In March the players were found not guilty of raping a woman at Jackson's home after a high-profile trial in Belfast. Jackson and Olding, who both played for the Ireland and Ulster rugby union teams, had been suing BBC Northern Ireland, arguing the decision to report their arrests in November 2016 - before any charges had been brought - infringed their right to privacy. They also claimed that the broadcaster had not given them long enough to respond to a request for comment before publishing the story and raised concerns about how the information had been obtained. The BBC insisted that its coverage was 'justified' owing to the players' high public profiles and said that it had 'acted responsibly' in handling the story. The proceedings against the BBC were initially launched in 2016 but had been put on hold pending the outcome of the criminal trial. After Jackson and Olding were unanimously cleared of all charges the rugby players initially indicated their intention to push ahead with the civil privacy case but, instead, decided to settle it at the high court in Belfast. Kathleen Carragher, the head of BBC News Northern Ireland, said that she was 'pleased' with the decision: 'We argued throughout this case that our reporting was responsible, accurate, in the public interest and observed the BBC guidelines. We are pleased that the players have accepted this outcome and have also agreed a contribution to our legal costs.' Jackson also accepted that judgment should be entered against him in a connected case involving the journalist Orla Bannon. She said her 'journalism and integrity have been vindicated' by the rugby player's decision. There were substantial protests against the players' acquittal after the conclusion of the nine-week criminal trial, while supporters of the pair paid to take out a full-page advert in the Belfast Telegraph, calling for their playing suspensions to be lifted. Instead, amid growing concern from corporate sponsors about reputational damage the pair were extremely sacked by their club side Ulster Rugby and told that they would not play for the Irish national side in future. On Wednesday the English club Sale Sharks issued a statement denying speculation that they were interested in signing them.
And, on a similar note, litigation brought against the Gruniad Morning Star and the BBC over The Paradise Papers investigation into the offshore activities of some of the world's richest people and companies has been settled out of court. In an agreed statement, the parties announced that they had 'resolved their differences' with a settlement that ends the legal action launched by the offshore law firm Appleby. The company started breach of confidence proceedings against the Gruniad and the BBC last December. This followed the publication of The Paradise Papers - an investigation based on more than 13m documents that provoked worldwide anger and debate about offshore tax arrangements. The investigation was undertaken by ninety six media groups in sixty seven countries and relied on material provided by the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung. It said that it had been 'leaked' the documents, which it shared with partners through the US-based, Pulitzer-prize-winning International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. In legal correspondence, Appleby demanded from the Gruniad and the BBC the disclosure of any of the six million Appleby documents that 'informed their reporting.' The company also sought damages for the disclosure of what it said were confidential legal documents obtained in a digital hack. The Gruniad said last year that it would defend the claim because to not do so could have 'profound consequences' which would deter British media organisations from undertaking serious, investigative journalism in the public interest. An agreement between the parties was reached after it became clear the vast majority of the documents were no longer owned by Appleby and were not legally privileged anyway. A joint statement said: 'Without compromising their journalistic integrity or ability to continue to do public interest journalism, the Guardian and the BBC have assisted Appleby by explaining which of the company's documents may have been used to underpin their journalism. This will allow Appleby to initiate meaningful discussions with its clients, colleagues and regulators.' A spokesman for the Gruniad said: 'The Guardian's reporting from The Paradise Papers is investigative journalism that has raised important issues in the public interest.' The BBC said: 'We welcome this settlement which preserves our ability to carry out investigative journalism in the public interest.' Michael O’Connell, the group managing partner of Appleby, said that it had started the legal action to 'understand' which of its confidential and privileged documents had been taken. One or two people even believed him. 'From the outset we wanted to be able to explain to our clients and colleagues what information of theirs had been stolen. That was our duty. As a result of this legal action we are well on our way to achieving our objectives.'
There's a very good piece on Dazzling Derren Brown by the Irish Times' Janne Sweeney, which you can have a right good perusal at here.
And, speaking of articles that are worth a read, Pink News's Lydia Smith has a thoughtful discussion with From The North favourite Eddie Izzard on politics and transgender issues, which is available here. Although its headline - Is Eddie Izzard Transgender? - seems to be begging for the sub-header Is The Pope Catholic?
A woman who has Asperger's syndrome was reportedly 'forcibly removed' from a screening of her favourite film by cinema security staff for 'laughing too much.' Tamsin Parker had been watching western The Good, The Bad & The Ugly at the British Film Institute on London's Southbank on Sunday. Many other cinema-goers walked out of the showing in protest at the 'disgusting' way in which she was treated. The BFI has grovellingly apologised and said that it 'must do better' in future. Lydia Parker, Tamsin's mother, said that her daughter - who was celebrating her birthday - was 'in floods of tears' when she picked her up from the security office. She said that she was 'shocked and disgusted' about the way Tamsin had been 'humiliated. There's clearly a huge lack of awareness about people with autism,' Mrs Parker added. She said that her daughter, who is an animator, had been 'so excited' about the screening. The 1966 Sergio Leone Western means a lot to Tasmin because, as Parker explained in a video she produced, she 'identifies' with one of the characters. Lloyd Shepherd, who was at the screening with his son, claimed that Tasmin 'laughed very loudly' at 'the amusing bits' of the film (and, there are plenty of them, to be fair) but that it was 'never inappropriate.' The novelist said that some audience members began 'getting uptight' about the noise and 'spoke to staff.' He said that one man then shouted abuse at Tasmin, who was with two friends. Shepherd said security staff 'dragged' Tasmin out, as she told the audience: 'I'm sorry, I've got Asperger's.' Asperger's - which this blogger also has a mild form of and, as a consequence, feels more than a degree of sympathy towards Tasmin - is a form of autism. People with the syndrome can find social relationships, eye contact and communication with others difficult. Shepherd added: 'People were applauding the guy who abused her, and they applauded when security took her out.' So, there's a place to avoid if you want to go to the cinema to enjoy yourself it would seem. And, yet again, this incident would appear to prove an age-old truism regarding people, dear blog reader. And, it is that there are some good people in the world, there are some bad people and most of us are just bobbing along somewhere in the middle trying hard to get through life without causing ourselves to be noticed. And, then, there are some people who are just scum. Here endeth the lesson.
A postcard which may have been sent to the police by Jack the Ripper - but, probably wasn't - warning of two forthcoming murders has been sold at auction. The note, which was sent to Ealing police station, warns the killer's knife 'is still in good order.' The card is dated 29 October 1888, which was eleven days before Mary Kelly - Jack the Ripper's final victim - was murdered on 9 November. The three-inch by five-inch card, sold for twenty two grand. To someone with more money than sense, seemingly. The card, which had an estimate of six to nine hundred notes prior to sale, states: 'Beware there is two women I want here and I mean to have them my knife is still in good order it is a students knife and I hope you liked the kidney. I am Jack the Ripper.' Jonathan Riley of Grand Auctions in Folkestone, said that a British private collector won 'a bidding war' with an American for the rare letter, 'the likes of which have never come up for sale before.' The final price will be closer to thirty grand once an auction premium is paid, Riley said, adding that the sale shows 'how much interest in the Ripper there still is.' The card once belonged to a Metropolitan Police constable who was given it as a memento when he retired from the force in 1966. It was sold by his widow. The auctioneers state: 'There is mention of his "students" knife in our card. Some believe that the Ripper had some medical training from the way he cut up his victims, but this is not universally accepted. The kidney that was mentioned also appears in the "Letter from Hell", another Ripper letter, where the writer stated he had fried one of his victim's kidneys and 'it tasted nice." The card is definitely of the period and has police provenance.' Attacks ascribed to Jack the Ripper typically involved female prostitutes who lived and worked in the slums of the East End of London. The murders remain the most notorious unsolved mystery in British criminal history. Between August and November 1888 he murdered five women in the Whitechapel area of East London. Dozens of letters signed 'Jack the Ripper' were sent at the time, but most were - and still are - regarded as hoaxes. Speculation about his identity was rife at the time and remains so to this day.
David Bowie and Bruce Springsteen helped Record Store Day reach a new peak in 2018. Vinyl sales in the UK were up sixteen per cent year-on-year, according to the Official Charts Company, with sixty thousand LPs and thirty thousand singles changing hands. It was the same in the US, where seven hundred and thirty three vinyl LPs were bought in the week ending 26 April, breaking a sales record for the format. David Bowie's Welcome To The Blackout was among the most in-demand releases. The three-disc live LP, recorded on Bowie's Isolar II Tour in 1978, was a Record Store Day exclusive. Not only did it top the UK vinyl chart, but entered the official Top Forty at number twenty two. It was also the second best-seller in America, just behind a red vinyl edition of Bruce Springsteen's Greatest Hits. Other popular Record Store Day exclusives included The Pink Floyd's The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn and Arcade Fire's debut EP, which was issued on blue vinyl as well as vinyl reissues of The Who's The Kids Are Alright and The Cure's Mixed Up. Artists including Rag 'N' Bone Man and Florence & The Machine also released new material to mark the occasion. The annual event, now in its eleventh year, aims to tempt lapsed record-buyers back into local, independent stores. The lure of limited edition releases by some of rock and pop's biggest names leads to fans sleeping outside record shops, in an attempt to be first through the doors. Rachel Lowe, of Brighton store Vinyl Revolution, said that the event, on 22 April, 'was the best day we've had since opening. The revenue will help our young shop immensely but the publicity and goodwill will last much longer,' she told Music Week. Jon Tolley of Banquet Records in Kingston added that Record Store Day was 'hands down our busiest day of the year' and 'a great shot in the arm' for the business. However, sales of singles dropped year-on-year, as customers shifted towards the LP format. In the US, Nielsen Music revealed that without the LPs sold by indie stores in the week of Record Store Day, overall sales would have been down two per cent. Instead, they were up seventeen per cent. It was also America's biggest week ever for vinyl LP sales outside of the Christmas season - and the third-biggest overall - since Nielsen Music began tracking data in 1991.
The BBC has announced it will start running adverts on podcasts available outside the UK for the first time. The move is part of an initiative to find new funding to supplement the BBC's existing commercial income. It will see global podcasts brought in line with the BBC World News TV channel and the BBC News website, where audiences already see advertising. Podcasts will have a thirty-second advert at the start and end of each episode. Bob Shennan, director of BBC Radio & Music said: 'Podcasts are one way we're reinventing BBC radio to engage younger audiences with our world class content. The BBC has been challenged to generate more commercial income to supplement the licence fee and this new deal will contribute to that.' The technology company Acast has been named as the BBC's official partner to lead on the commercialisation of its podcasts and audio. The deal covers all BBC podcasts available outside the UK, subject to rights restrictions. Acast will use advanced targeting abilities and analytics to monetise international content while making sure adverts are not directed at UK listeners. Mary Hockaday, controller of BBC World Service English said: 'BBC World Service podcasts have become an important, and successful, part of our offer to global audiences. In line with many other international podcast producers we are supporting their production by adding advertising.' The BBC began producing podcasts in 2004 and is one of the largest podcast producers in the world, with content available across a number of subjects including news, drama and entertainment. Some of the BBC's most popular podcast offerings are Global News Podcast and World Business Report from the BBC World Service; Friday Night Comedy and In Our Time from Radio 4 and 5Live's Kermode & Mayo's Film Review and the various Test Match Special podcasts. The BBC has recently launched a number of new podcasts to help attract younger audiences - including a number of true crime series, the Naked Podcast and You, Me & The Big C, which looks at life dealing with cancer.
India's Supreme Court has instructed the government to 'seek foreign help' to fix what it described as 'a worrying change' in colour at the Taj Mahal. 'Even if you have the expertise, you are not utilising it. Or perhaps you don't care,' court justices said. The court said that the famous tomb, built in the Seventeenth Century from white marble and other materials, had 'turned yellow' and was now 'turning brown and green.' Pollution, construction and insect dung are said to be among the causes. Justices Madan Lokur and Deepak Gupta examined photographs of the mausoleum submitted by environmentalists and ordered the government to 'seek expertise from inside India and abroad.' The government has previously shuttered thousands of factories near the Taj Mahal, but activists say that its marble is still losing its lustre. Sewage in the Yamuna River, alongside the palace, attracts insects which excrete waste onto the palace's walls, staining them. The Taj Mahal was built by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in the city of Agra and is now one of the world's leading tourist attractions, drawing as many as seventy thousand people every day. The dirt problem is not a new one - several times over the past two decades or so the palace's white marble has been coated in a mud pack in an attempt to clean it - but there are fears the problem is worsening. Its most recent mud bath began in January. Scaling the walls on scaffolds, workers plaster the surfaces with Fuller's earth, a mud paste that absorbs dirt, grease, and animal excrement. The mud is then washed off, taking the dirt with it. The current clean-up operation is expected to last until late this year.
Benny Andersson has said that he doesn't think ABBA have 'anything to prove' with their new material. The band announced last week they have recorded two new songs, which will be released later this year. 'I don't feel we have to think about, 'Oh, what if it was better before?"' Benny told BBC News. 'Maybe it was, but we can't care about that. We do it because we think it was a good thing to do.' He added: 'We enjoyed it very much. We'll see. I hope you'll like them.' He said that the songs came about whilst he and Bjorn Ulvaeus were in the studio working on a project where the band will tour as avatars. 'So we said, "Maybe we should try and write a couple of songs, ask the ladies if they want to come in and sing." And they said, "Yeah, absolutely." So it was just, out of pure joy I'd say.' He also revealed further details about the sound of the two new songs - but added that they haven't been completed yet. 'One of the songs is like we would've written it [for] today. The other, we could've written in 1972. So I don't know, we'll see. I mean, they're not finished yet. We have the vocals, they're all recorded, we haven't mixed it, we haven't worked them through, really, but I think they're pretty good.' Asked whether he thought it would complement ABBA's legacy, Bjorn said: 'I think so. It certainly sounds ABBA very much.' Benny added: 'As soon as Frida and Agnetha start singing, that's when it sounds ABBA.' The pair were speaking at the press night for Chess, the stage show they wrote with lyricist Sir Tim Rice. The musical has just returned to London's West End. The production, from English National Opera, stars Michael Ball and Alexandra Burke.
The boss of Sainsbury's, Mike Coupe, has grovellingly apologised after being caught on camera singing 'We're In The Money.' He was filmed singing the words to the show tune as he was waiting to be interviewed for ITV News. It was one of a round of dozens of interviews to explain details of the planned merger with ASDA, the company's biggest deal to date. Coupe has pledged it will bring no job losses or store closures. One or two people even believed him. Suppliers are also concerned they will suffer from the merger. Coupe that say customers will benefit by seeing prices fall by an average of ten per cent, something which suppliers say are likely to come at the cost of their own profit margins. The song, 'We're In The Money', is one of the tunes used in the musical Forty Second Street, which Coupe claimed that he had seen last year. Coupe, a keen guitarist who has played in front of thousands of Sainsbury's employees on occasion, issued a statement after the incident became public. 'This was an unguarded moment trying to compose myself before a TV interview,' he said. 'It was an unfortunate choice of song, from the musical Forty Second Street which I saw last year and I apologise if I have offended anyone.' Coupe could indeed be in the money if the positive effects of Monday's announcement are sustained. He is a shareholder in Sainsbury's and shares in the supermarket jumped by nearly fifteen per cent on Monday after the ASDA deal was announced. Ian Cass, the managing director of the Forum of Private Business, reacted scornfully to Coupe's choice of song. He said: 'If that's the song he's singing and highlights his position on this, I very much doubt small suppliers would choose the same song to sing, and one option would be 'Highway To Hell'. It's almost like, what's in it for him? I'm sure his bonus and dividend will go up massively because of this merger. I don't think there's any degree of sensitivity to our concerns. A lot of business organisations and suppliers have said this merger is making them very nervous."
Sir Paul McCartney has donated sixty three photographs by his late wife, Linda, to the V&A in London. The collection includes portraits of The Be-Atles, The Rolling Stones and Jimi Hendrix, as well as McCartney family snaps. Some of her original Polaroids will be shown to the public for the first time. The images by the former US female photographer of the year will go on display in the V&A's new Photography Centre when it opens on 12 October. Martin Barnes, senior curator of photographs at the V&A, said: 'Linda McCartney was a talented eye-witness of pop culture and explored many creative approaches to artistic photography. Her camera also captured tender moments with her family. Our greatest thanks go to Sir Paul McCartney and his family for this incredibly generous gift.' Linda Eastman, as she was then, was voted female photographer of the year in America in 1967, the same year she met Paul in a London nightclub. The collection includes shots of The Be-Atles at the Sgt Pepper release party at Brian Epstein's house.The following year, Linda became the first female photographer to have her work featured on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine with her portrait of Eric Clapton. She was the first person to not only have photographed Rolling Stone's cover, but to have appeared on the magazine's front cover herself, with her husband, in 1974. The couple married in 1969 and had four children - Stella, Heather, Mary and James - before her death from breast cancer in 1998.
The actress Pamela Gidley, best known for her role as Teresa Banks, the murder victim in the Twin Peaks prequel Fire Walk With Me, has died aged fifty two. She died 'peacefully' at her home in Seabrook, New Hampshire, on 16 April, an obituary released by her family confirmed this week. A cause of death has not been made public. Gidley, a former child model, was named the 'Most Beautiful Girl in the World' by Wilhelmina Modeling Agency in 1985. She transitioned into acting a year later, appearing alongside Josh Brolin and future Twin Peaks co-star Sherilyn Fenn in Thrashin'. Born in Methuen, Massachusetts, Gidley studied at the Stella Adler Studio of Acting in New York, before moving to Los Angeles. Her portrayal as troubled teenager Banks in the 1992 big-screen prequel to director David Lynch's revived cult TV series proved to be her breakthrough. The character, an underage prostitute, was ultimately murdered at the hands of corrupt attorney Leland Palmer (possessed by the demonic spirit BOB), played by Ray Wise. Banks's corpse, found wrapped in plastic with a letter 'T' under her ring fingernail, led authorities to believe that her murder and that of the character, Laura Palmer, a year later were connected. In a 2016 Twin Peaks interview, Gidley explained that Lynch had personally approached her for the role, despite the fact she was shooting The Crew in the Caribbean at the time. 'He offered me that role, and so there was a conflict of interest,' she said. 'David wanted me so much for the character that he guaranteed the other film that he would pay all flights and all insurance. I was literally going from the Bahamas to Seattle, from Seattle to the Bahamas, almost every other ten days. That to me was like, "Wow, you want me that bad?"' Gidley went on to appear in both TV and movies, including the cult science-fiction Cherry 2000 and the CBS drama series, Angel Street. Her most recent big-screen appearance came in 2005 indie movie Cake Boy. She is survived by her mother, Phyllis, her brothers Glenn, Daniel and Brian, sister-in-law Darlene and nephews and nieces Adam, Keegan, Erica and Alexis.
UKIP is 'dormant' like The Black Death, its general secretary has claimed after the party suffered heavy losses in the English local elections. Which appeared to prove that, to voters, UKiP are also about as popular as ... well, The Black Death. With most councils declared, UKiP had won three seats nationally - including two in Derby - and lost over one hundred. General secretary Paul Oakley said that it was 'not all over at all' for the Eurosceptic party, which has suffered heavily since the Brexit vote in 2016. 'Think of The Black Death in the Middle Ages,' Oakley said. Yes, it was horrible and nobody wanted it. Jolly good analogy, mate. 'It comes along and it causes disruption and then it goes dormant and that's exactly what we are going to do.' The Black Death claimed an estimated twenty five million lives, more than a third of Europe's population, between 1347 and 1351. Scientists have previously warned it that 'could' be lying dormant and could strike again. But, it probably won't. Despite the local elections result, former deputy chairwoman Suzanne Evans said that UKiP 'could' still 'put the cat among the pigeons.' Terrific word, 'could' don't you think dear blog reader? She hailed the results in Derby, where the party unseated the Labour council leader, adding, in a reference to Brexit: 'If UKiP does crumble I think you could still arguably make the case that it's been one of the most successful political parties in history.' UKiP had a good night the last time the seats were contested, in 2014, when the vote coincided with European elections, which it topped. At the time it was led by Nigel Farage and was putting pressure on the government for an EU referendum. But it failed to win a single seat in last year's general erection and has gone through a succession of leaders since the Leave vote.
Pupils at a primary school are reportedly 'being fed bread and water for lunch' if they forget their dinner money. A 'handful' of children at Mount Pleasant Primary School in Shrewsbury have fallen foul of the - frankly Dickensian - policy and have 'had to sit away from others to eat.' Whether they were also given gruel for afters is not, at this time, known. Jamie-Lee Heath, whose daughter was in two days' arrears, said it was 'like something from a Charles Dickens novel.' Well, only if gruel really was on the menu. The school said it has been 'forced' to 'write off' money owed by parents and 'needed an alternative system.' So, it found on ... in the Nineteenth Century. Heath, whose story was first reported in the Shropshire Star, said that she received a text from the school an hour before lunch to say £4.40 was owed and no dinner had been ordered for her nine-year-old daughter, Madison. She said Madison had 'accidentally' left her lunch in her father's car on 26 April and was given a hot meal at school, leaving her owing £2.20. Madison went to school without cash or lunch the following day, prompting the text to Heath, a kitchen designer. She was able to pay the arrears in time, but has branded the system ridiculous. 'It did happen to a friend's son and he was given chopped red and yellow peppers, bread and butter and either milk or water. It's like Charles Dickens and "please sir, can I have some more?"' Sorry, can this blogger just take a moment check whether they had red and yellow peppers in Dickensian times? He rather thinks not otherwise Oliver Twist might've been a bit more ... spicy. Sorry. Parents, who can pay for lunch online or with cash on the day, were informed about the new policy in the school's newsletter in June last year. Head teacher Steve Morris said that if arrears exceeded £6.60 - over three days - lunch would not be provided and pupils should bring sandwiches.
Former DJ and music producer Jonathan King has denied a series of sexual abuse offences against twelve teenage boys. The seventy three-year-old, of Bayswater, is accused of assaulting the boys, aged between fourteen and seventeen, between 1970 and 1988. King, appearing at Southwark Crown Court under his birth name of Kenneth George King, pleaded not guilty to each of the eighteen counts. He was released on bail to appear again on 11 June.
The hottest April temperature ever witnessed on Earth may have been recorded in Pakistan after meteorologists saw the weather reach a scorching 50.2C. The one million people who live in the Southern district of Nawabshah observed the blistering heat on Monday, with some meteorologists calling it a record. On Twitter, Etienne Kapikian of Meteo France, claimed that it was 'the hottest April temperature ever recorded' in Pakistan and the entire continent of Asia. Weather expert Christopher Burt told the Washington Post it was 'probably' also the highest April temperature 'reliably observed on Earth in modern records.' He dismissed a previous record of 51C set in Santa Rosa, Mexico in April 2001 as 'having dubious reliability.' The World Meteorological Organisation does not publish monthly reviews of extreme temperatures around the world but it did confirm Nawabshah had recorded its highest April temperature. 'In late April, the heat extended over a much larger area and peaked on 29 and 30 April when many records were set over large parts of Sindh Province,' an article on its website read. 'The last day of April happened to be the hottest day on record when Pakistan Meteorological Department site Shaheed Benazirabad (Nawabshah) recorded its April ever recorded highest temperature of 50.2C.' It is the second month that the region has set a new monthly temperature record after the heat soared to a national record of 45.5C in March. The Dawn newspaper reported 'dozens had fainted' after suffering heatstroke on Monday and described the weather as 'unbearable.' Two teenagers had reportedly drowned as they tried to cool off in a canal while labourers and motorcyclists were among the worst affected by heatstroke. Pakistan Today reported of power cuts which added to the misery for those trying to stay cool. Guinness World Records credits the highest recorded temperature on the planet to Death Valley in the United States, which witnessed 56.7C in July 1913.
A 'former TV star' has smashed the record for lifting the famous Dinnie Stones. James Crossley, who was Hunter in the 1990s television series Gladiators, made it his life's focus for four months to beat the previous record of holding the stones for 33.9 seconds. After two failed attempts, the weightlifter and strongman summoned all his strength to lift the two giant rocks at the Old Potarch Hotel in Aberdeenshire. His 34.58 seconds set a new record. 'Since I was twelve, I was obsessed with different challenges,' said James. 'When I hit forty four years ago I wanted to set myself a goal of having a world record. I discovered historic stone tours of Scotland and then I came across these Dinnie Stones. The history there was incredible.' James found a gym an hour away from his home in London which had replica stones. The first time he lifted them, he managed five seconds. He told the BBC Scotland news website: 'I asked the trainer, did he think I could get there to the world record of 33.9 [seconds]? He joked that I might, if I made it my total life commitment. So basically my whole life for four months has revolved around these Dinnie Stones. I wake up thinking about Dinnie Stones, I go to bed thinking about Dinnie Stones.' The Dinnie Stones are two giant boulders which sit outside the Old Potarch Hotel between Aboyne and Banchory in Aberdeenshire. Legendary Scottish strongman Donald Dinnie achieved international fame from his exploits around the world. In 1860 Donald Dinnie famously carried them both with his bare hands across the width of nearby Potarch Bridge - a distance of more than seventeen feet. James said that lifting the stones is not about how strong the grip is, but is about pain management when holding that kind of weight for so long. During training, his weights got heavier, he held them for longer, working on his grip and practising yoga for pain management and breathing techniques. On 28 April, James travelled to Aberdeenshire, but he did not make it easy on himself. The first of three permitted attempts just fell short at thirty one seconds. After a rest, a second try ended in thirty seconds. James said: 'My hands were torn and I thought I had peaked. I had one more go. I thought maybe I should leave it. I started to get the feeling back in my hands, I listened to the Rocky soundtrack in my ears and I just went for it. I got 34.58 seconds on the third lift. I looked at the timekeepers and I burst into tears as soon as I knew I'd done it.' One of the organisers of the challenge, Steve Shanks said: 'The lift and hold for time aspect was introduced at the Aboyne Highland games in August 2016. It is not strictly speaking in keeping with the original historical challenge laid down by Donald Dinnie in 1860, however it is definitely becoming more popular amongst strength athletes and James' incredible lift is the longest recorded to date.'
Yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved (though unsellable) Newcastle United have confirmed that the club is still for sale and that contract talks with manager Rafa Benitez are 'ongoing.' Owner Mike Ashley put The Magpies up for sale in October after ten years in charge of the Premier League club which has seen a few highs and more than a few catastrophic lows. In January he ended two hundred and fifty million knicker takeover talks with businesswoman Amanda Staveley, though Staveley said that she was still interested. At a fans forum last week, the club stated 'the position has not changed. If or when there is anything to update, the club would do so,' it added. Newcastle also confirmed talks are 'ongoing' over extending the contract of Rafa The Gaffer, who has a year remaining on his current deal. Ashley has been a divisive figure at St James' Park, with some supporters regularly protesting about the way the businessman has run the club after buying it for one hundred and thirty four million smackers in 2007. At the time, his takeover from the previous owner, the late Freddie Sheppard, was widely celebrated by many supporters who expected that the club being bought by the billionaire owner of the Sports Direct brand would be a good thing. Instead, it turned into an almost textbook example of that age-old truism, 'be careful what you wish for, it might just come true.' Ashley has made a number of highly unpopular decisions, including - briefly - changing the name of St James' Park to The Sports Direct Arena. The club have been relegated twice from the Premier League during Ashley's reign - albeit, they've bounced straight back up at the first time of asking on both occasions - and are currently tenth in the top flight, having won promotion last season under the popular and widely-respected Benitez, who joined United in March 2016. Earlier this week Benitez spoke - with his usual calm and measured assurance - to the BBC's The Premier League Show about the 'massive' potential he sees at the club.
Live football matches could be shown exclusively over the Interweb in the UK for the first time after Sky lost the rights to broadcast Spain's La Liga. Eleven Sports, founded by the Dirty Leeds owner, Andrea Radrizzani, has acquired exclusive rights to the Spanish top flight for three years, starting from the 2018-19 season. It brings an end to an association with Sky Sports which has lasted for more than two decades, although the broadcaster may yet be able to show games through a secondary agreement with the new rights holders. 'We are proud to build on our existing relationship with La Liga, this time in the UK, one of the most passionate football countries in the world,' said Eleven Sports' chief executive, Marc Watson, in a statement. 'We will announce soon how we will introduce innovative ways for dedicated fans to watch and engage in the live action. The way people, especially young people, watch live sport is changing and we always try to reflect that in the ways we make our product available.' Eleven Sports would not say how much it is paying for La Liga coverage, but the arrangement comes in a declining market for sports rights. Earlier this year, Sky achieved a fourteen per cent discount in securing the rights to Premier League matches and it is understood that the broadcaster was unwilling to continue paying the eighteen million knicker per season agreed under its current deal with La Liga. That has left an opening for a new entrant in the market. Operating in seven countries across Europe, Asia and North America, Eleven Sports claims to have seventeen million paying customers and describes itself as 'a platform agnostic' broadcaster. In Poland and Belgium, for example, Eleven Sports has both its own TV channel, and 'an over the top' online streaming service - industry shorthand for the delivery of film and TV content via the Internet, without requiring users to subscribe to a traditional cable or satellite pay-TV service. In the US, meanwhile, Eleven Sports leases content through broadcasters and telecoms companies. The company has not revealed which approach it will adopt in the UK. According to the Gruniad Morning Star - citing no evidence - 'there had been speculation' that the Premier League could strike a deal with an OTT broadcaster under its latest rights deal, but that has not yet come about.
West Hamsters United striker Andy Carroll has apologised and returned to training after a row with manager David Moyes. Carroll was sent home from training on Monday after Moyes was reportedly unhappy with him leaving the bench early in Sunday's match against Sheikh Yer Man City. Moyes made a triple substitution during the game, a four-one defeat for The Hamsters and Carroll headed to the dressing room early. He was reportedly sent home after he refused to apologise to Moyes on Monday. The club now considers the matter settled. Javier Hernandez, Joao Mario and Arthur Masuaku were sent on in the second half against City, leaving a frustrated Carroll to depart for the dressing room and not return before full-time. Speaking after the match, Moyes said: 'It's something I'll deal with. In this situation what you need is everybody to be a team member, so if he has done that, I'll look at it and I'll deal with it.'
Graeme Murty has been extremely sacked as Glasgow Rangers manager following Sunday's five-nil hammering by Scottish champions Celtic. 'He will take some time to consider his options, which include returning to his role at the Rangers academy,' said the club. In December, the forty three-year-old had been given the job until the end of the season after a spell in interim charge following Pedro Caixinha's sacking. But he has now been 'relieved of his duties.' Rangers' next game is at home to Kilmarnock and the club said that assistants Jimmy Nicholl and Jonatan Johansson would 'take charge of the team for the three remaining matches of the season.' Former Reading and Scotland full-back Murty had expressed his desire to continue in the job, but Rangers have been in talks about appointing Liverpool youth coach Steven Gerrard for next season, a move which was confirmed on Friday. 'The club hopes to be in a position to comment further on the managerial situation in the near future,' Rangers said in a statement. 'Rangers are grateful to Graeme, who did not hesitate when asked last October to become interim manager after the departure of Pedro Caixinha and then, at the turn of the year, when he was offered the role as manager until the end of the season. Graeme has had to contend with difficult and challenging circumstances but conducted himself in a thoroughly professional manner.' Murty was first promoted from his role as development squad manager when Mark Warburton left the club in February 2017 before joining Nottingham Forest. Having reverted to his previous role, he stood in for a second time when Caixinha exited in October. When Aberdeen's Derek McInnes rejected an offer to be Rangers manager, Murty was told he would remain in charge until the end of the season. However, before this month's Scottish Cup semi-final against Celtic, Rangers chairman Dave King released a statement saying that the club were looking to make 'the best appointment they can' for next season. It was widely interpreted as a sign that Murty would not be in charge for the next campaign. Rangers went on to suffer a four-nil defeat at Hampden against their Glasgow rivals, after which club captain Lee Wallace and veteran striker Kenny Miller were suspended by the club following a dressing-room disagreement with Murty. Then, before Sunday's final league derby of the season, it emerged the Ibrox club were in talks with former Liverpool and England captain Gerrard. Murty said in a pre-match interview that the speculation had affected him personally and his team went on to lose even more heavily at Celtic Park than they had done in the cup, as Brendan Rodgers' side secured a seventh consecutive league title. Rangers did not make Murty or any of his players available for interview after Sunday's game, despite a requirement from the Scottish Professional Football League. Rodgers subsequently expressed sympathy for his counterpart, saying Murty had been 'thrown to the garbage' and been treated with disrespect by Rangers.
Leicester's Marc Albrighton has been charged by the Football Association for his 'behaviour' towards referee Mike Dean in the game with Crystal Palace. The winger was shown a straight red card fifty six minutes into last Saturday's five-nil defeat for pulling down Wilfried Zaha, before reacting angrily towards Dean. Leicester boss Claude Puel said that Albrighton's sending-off was 'harsh.' In a statement the FA said that the charge 'relates to his behaviour towards the referee after his sending-off.'
Dirty Stoke have confirmed that forward Jese Rodriguez has 'taken unpaid compassionate leave' for the remainder of his contract. The twenty five-year-old Spaniard has 'encountered several disciplinary problems' during his season-long loan spell from Paris St-Germain. He left the bench early during Dirty Stoke's win over Swansea in December and failed to report to training last month. Rodriguez has not featured for the first team since March. Manager Paul Lambert said last week that he had 'no intention' of recalling the former Real Madrid player, or twelve million knicker signing Saido Berahino who has been training with the under-twenty three squad having becoming something of a national joke over failing to score a goal for more than two years. Rodriguez scored one goal in thirteen appearances during his loan spell with The Potters. Indeed, it's a toss up between him and Daniel Sturridge as to which has been the season's most disastrous loan signing.
Blunderland's turmoil after back-to-back relegations has nothing to do with outgoing owner Ellis Short, according to former manager Gus Poyet. The Mackem Filth will play in the third tier for the first time in thirty years next season, while Short has finally agreed a long-awaited sale of the club this week. 'There is something inside the club that doesn't let it be as successful as it should be,' Poyet told BBC Sport. 'I don't think it is anything to do with Ellis Short.' The Uruguayan said that the current situation is 'incredible,' adding: 'It hurts a lot because I had a great time there.' Poyet was one of nine managers employed by Blunderland during Short's reign but was sacked in 2015 with the club then seventeenth in the Premier League. Short has owned Blunderland for nine years and during his time in charge the club repeatedly escaped relegation from the top flight before finally dropping out of the Premiership last season and then suffered the same fate in the Championship this campaign. Short has been heavily criticised in recent seasons for a lack of spending and a distant relationship with the club as he tried to sell - Chris Coleman, who was the latest Blunderland manager to be sacked on Sunday following relegation, claimed he had not spoken to Short during his six months in charge. But Poyet claimed that he has 'no complaints' about his relationship with Short. 'We always talked regularly when he was in England, London, Sunderland or in America,' Poyet said. 'When you change the manager many times and it doesn't get better, then people blame the directors and the chairman. I had a fantastic time with him when I was there. We were always very honest to each other, he knows what I think about everything that was happening there and it is fantastic for him to remember those things I said to him and that will stay between us.' Poyet took charge of Blunderland in October 2013 with the club bottom of the Premier League. Four victories and a draw from their final six league games helped to keep them up that season - a run which included wins at Moscow Chelski FC and The Scum, plus a draw at Shekih Yer Man City. The Uruguayan also led the Wearsiders to the 2014 Capital One Cup final, which they lost to City. Another former manager, Simon Grayson, who started this season in charge of The Mackems, added: 'It's very difficult to solely put the blame on Ellis because he's invested something like two hundred million pounds into a football club and anybody who invests that sort of money has a real affinity with a club.'
Meanwhile, prospective new Blunderland owner Stewart Donald has cleared another obstacle to his impending purchase by agreeing the sale of non-league club Eastleigh. Donald must sell Eastleigh before he can complete his takeover of League One-bound Blunderland. It is understood the sale will now be ratified by the National League. Providing there are no problems, Donald could be in a position to take control at Blunderland at some point next week. The news comes as Blunderland published annual accounts showing the football club's debt rose to over one hundred and twenty five million smackers. Figures show the debt of the club's parent company also rose from one hundred and thirty seven million knicker to one hundred and sixty seven million, of which just under ninty one million notes was owed to outgoing Sunderland owner Ellis Short. Financial details of Donald's purchase of the club have not been revealed but it is understood Short has agreed to clear the debt in order to push through the sale. The accounts to 31 July 2017 cover Sunderland's relegation from the Premier League. Turnover rose by eighteen million quid thanks to the new Premier League TV deal. Blunderland also revealed their highest paid director - understood to be chief executive Martin Bain - received £1.24m. The club reported a pre-tax loss of just under ten million knicker, a figure which was helped by the twenty five million quid sale of England goalkeeper Jordan Pickford to Everton.
Stephen Fry had led the tributes to Wes Hoolahan who played his final game for Norwich City last Saturday. The Irish international scored a goal, an assist and the man of the match award as The Canaries beat Dirty Leeds two-one at Carrow Road. It was a fitting finale for a man who made over three hundred and fifty appearances for Norwich and tributes poured in from fans, team mates, managers and coaches. Fry, a lifelong fan of the club and former director, paid homage to one of their greats. He wrote on Twitter: 'A huge (manly and appropriate) hug to Wes Hoolahan, one of Norwich City FC's greatest ever servants. He goes out on a goal and a win. Bravo and thank you.' The Dubliner wrote an emotional letter last week announcing his departure from the club. He said: 'It's been a great ten years at this Club. The fans have been amazing to me, the club have been great and I'm going to miss the place. I've thoroughly enjoyed myself at Norwich City and it's going to be an emotional day on Saturday against Leeds. I just want to say to the fans thanks for the support, you've been amazing throughout my whole time here. I'm looking forward to my next challenge and to organising a testimonial for next year. I've had a brilliant time.'
A South African footballer who was struck by lightning during a match has died in hospital, his club confirmed. Maritzburg United striker Luyanda Ntshangase had been in an induced coma since being injured in the friendly game on 1 March. In a statement on Facebook, the club described him as one its rising young stars and said the team was 'in mourning.' Maritzburg United are currently fourth in South Africa's Premier League. 'We are extremely sad about the loss of Luyanda, an exciting young player with enormous potential,' said Maritzburg chairman Farook Kadodia in the statement. 'On behalf of Maritzburg United Football club, we would like to extend our heartfelt condolences to the Ntshangase family.' Ntshangase had risen though the club's ranks and made his debut against Kaizer Chiefs two seasons ago. He was one of three players caught by the bolt of lightning during the match in KwaZulu-Natal. The two others were only slightly hurt but Ntshangase suffered burns to his chest, South African media report. The player's death is the third tragedy to hit Maritzburg United in recent years. Promising midfielders Mondli Cele and Mlondi Dlamini both died in separate car accidents in 2016 and 2017 respectively.
A sports broadcaster has attracted praise for hitting a football fan after being 'groped' on live TV. During a post-match report on the CONCACAF Champions League Final between Guadalajara and Toronto FC, reporter Maria Fernanda Mora was seen making her live broadcast. In the video, Mora is surrounded by excited fans. She then turns around and hits one man with her microphone. Mora later explained what happened to her in a letter, which she posted online. 'What happened to me at dawn on Thursday, happens to thousands of women every day in public spaces. The difference is that it happened to me during a live link on television and I decided to defend myself. My reaction is what turned the fact into something viral,' she wrote. 'I thought, it could be an accidental rubbing because of people's pushing and I kept talking to the camera. This guy, emboldened because I did not react and kept doing my job, put his hand between my buttocks twice more. I decided to defend myself.' Maria went on to say that women 'will not be quiet' when it comes to the subject of sexual harassment and followers were quick to praise her for taking a stand.
Several Iranian women have caught people's attention by revealing the lengths they go to to attend a football match. Donning beards and wigs, they disguised themselves as men so they could watch their team, Persepolis, play rivals Sepidrood at the Azadi stadium in Tehran last Friday. Although there's no official ban on women going to sporting events in Iran, it is rare for them to attend as they are often refused entry. Prior to the Islamic revolution of 1979, women were allowed to attend sporting events. Women have been punished for attending games in the past. In 2014, British-Iranian activist Ghoncheh Ghavami was detained after attempting to watch a men's volleyball match in Iran. And in March 2018 thirty five women were detained for trying to attend a football match. In February, women were allowed to watch a major basketball game in Tehran - but they had to sit in an area separate to men. For one of the women pictured, it was the third time she had pulled off the trick. In an interview she gave to the moderate newspaper Iran, she explained that each time she had sneaked in she had used a different disguise and make-up. 'I Google for different make-up [tutorials] and learn new ways and apply them to go to the stadium,' she said. She told the newspaper she had been stopped by security only once. She encouraged other women to get in touch and offered to train them in disguise techniques. Asked whether she was ever scared of being detained, she replied: 'Why should I be scared? We women do not commit any crimes by going to stadiums. The law has not defined women's presence at stadiums as a crime. They have, of course, detained a few women and they have given a written promise not to go back there again.'
A referee has been attacked by players after making a controversial decision in Ethiopia's football premier league. The military team Defence and Welwalo Adigrat University were drawing one-one when the referee ruled the ball crossed the line and gave a goal to Defence. Welwalo Adigrat players got all stroppy and discombobulated and chased him, got him on the ground and he was punched by one of their coaches. The coach has been fired and the Ethiopian Football Federation has suspended all games in the league. A video posted online by state broadcaster ETV shows the referee attempting to defend himself with a corner flag. There have been several instances of violence in the Ethiopian game recently.
Europe's top leagues are 'firmly opposed' to plans by world governing body FIFA to introduce 'a global Nations League' and expand the Club World Cup. The European Leagues, an association with representatives from thirty two countries, has called the move reminiscent of 'the way the old FIFA acted.' Last month, BBC Sport reported that FIFA will meet in May to discuss the launch of two tournaments. The tournaments would be projected to generate twenty five billion dollars in wonga. 'To present a long-term twelve-year plan with lots of uncertainty and a lack of information sounds, to me, like a can of worm,' said Lars-Christer Olsson, president of the European Leagues. FIFA is proposing to expand the Club World Cup to twenty four teams, including twelve from Europe, with the competition staged every four years instead of annually. It also wants to introduce a new global Nations League based on the format UEFA's Nations League, which commences after the World Cup later this year. FIFA president Gianni Infantino has put his plans to FIFA's council and says they are backed by an unnamed international consortium of investors. However, European Leagues - which includes the Premier League, La Liga and the Bundesliga among its membership - is also 'concerned' that the potential distribution of funds from club tournaments to successful teams would increase the financial gap between top teams and those not involved. The association has called on the World League Forum and all European football stakeholders, in particular Europe's governing body UEFA, the European Club Association and players' organisation FIFPro, to stand against FIFA as the process 'lacks transparency and a proper consultation with the stakeholders.'
Champions League finalists Real Madrid will not give new La Liga champions Barcelona a guard of honour before Sunday's El Clasico at the Nou Camp. A rather petulant and petty gesture which, frankly, tells you everything you need to know about the arrogance of Real and why most football supporters can't bloody stand them. Barca gave Real the honour in 2008 when the capital side had just won the league. But Zinedine Zidane was reportedly 'annoyed' when Barcelona did not see his side out on to the pitch after they won the Club World Cup in December. Barca are four games away from going an entire league season unbeaten. The Catalan side, who beat Deportivo La Coruna four-two last weekend to seal the domestic double, have not lost in a record forty one league games dating back over a year. No side has ever gone unbeaten for a Spanish top-flight campaign since since the 1930s when there were only eighteen games in a season. Real Madrid, the deposed champions, are fifteen points behind Barce - but set up a Champions League final against Liverpool Alabama Yee-Haws this week by beating Bayern Munich four-three on aggregate.
A set of unused tickets for every match of the Euro Ninety Six football championship has been found in an old suitcase. The tournament, held in England in June 1996, had the slogan football comes home and saw the hosts lose to Germany on penalties in the semi-finals. Ah, Gareth Southgate. 'Why didn't he just smash it?' And all that. The thirty one tickets include the final and have a face value of over sixteen hundred quid. It remains a mystery why they were not used. The tickets, found among old cigarette cards in Stoke-on-Trent, are set to go on auction in Derbyshire next month. The owner, who wishes to remain anonymous, said that he took his grandfather's cards for valuation when he came across the tickets, which had been inside a suitcase his mother had given him ten years ago. 'It's a complete mystery,' he said. 'My mum, who died last year at the age of ninety, certainly wasn't interested in football. I have no idea how they ended up in the suitcase. I don't think my mum was a ticket tout!' He believes that she may have picked up the tickets at a car boot sale without realising what she had. An estimate of between one hundred and one hundred and fifty notes has been placed on the set, which is to be sold on 23 May in Etwall. Alistair Lofley, a 'football valuer' at Hansons Auctioneers, said the owner of the tickets would not have been able to make every game, as some were played at the same time and speculated that the tickets might have been competition prizes. 'For any diehard football fan, to think of these tickets going begging is hard to swallow,' he said.
Sweden's Crown Princess Victoria was allegedly sexually harassed by Jean-Claude Arnault, the French photographer at the centre of the crisis embroiling the Swedish Academy. According to the Svenska Dagbladet newspaper, three sources have claimed that they witnessed Arnault groping the then twenty seven-year-old Crown Princess's bottom at an event put on by the body, which awards the Nobel Prize for Literature. The Swedish writer Ebba Witt-Brattström, one of those present, told the Torygraph that Arnault had approached Victoria unexpectedly. 'He came lurking from behind and I saw his hand land on her neck and go downward. It was all the way down,' Witt-Brattström said. Victoria's female Adjutant, a uniformed aide, had then 'leapt to her rescue,' she claimed. 'She just flew herself on Arnault. She grabbed him, and "whop," he was gone. The Crown Princess turned in surprise. I guess she had never been groped. She just looked like "what?"' The Academy was thrown into crisis in November when eighteen women came forward to allege that Arnault had groped or harassed them at Forum, the cultural centre he ran, or at Academy-owned apartments in Stockholm and Paris. Arnault is married to the poet Katarina Frostenson, one of the Academy's members. Arnault's lawyer, Björn Hurtig, told the Torygraph: 'My client most strongly denies these allegations. He claims that these malicious rumours serve a single purpose; to blacken his name and damage him.' Margareta Thorgren, press officer at the Swedish Royal Court told Svenska Dagbladet: 'We can't comment on that particular information.' She said, however, that the court supported the Me Too movement and found the claims against Arnault 'frightening.' If proved, the new accusation will make it harder for Horace Engdahl, Witt-Brattström's ex-husband and the Academy's former permanent secretary, to continue to maintain that he had been 'unaware' of Arnault's alleged reputation as an alleged serial harasser. Witt-Brattström, now a literature professor at the University of Helsinki, said that Engdahl, herself, King Carl XVI Gustaf and 'two other academy members' had been standing in a circle with the Crown Princess when Arnault allegedly struck. Sweden's King and Queen only attend the Christmas event at Villa Bergsgården every other year. According to Witt-Brattström, at their next visit in 2006 Engdahl was instructed by the Swedish Court to 'ensure' that the Crown Princess was 'never left alone' with Arnault. Since the accusations against Arnault emerged in November, six Academy members have vacated their seats over the scandal. Three members resigned at the start of April in protest at a vote not to expel Frostenson. Then a week later both Frostenson and Sara Danius, who was then permanent secretary, resigned. This Friday the novellist Sara Stridsberg also said that she was resigning. The remaining ten members are expected to decide at their meeting next Thursday whether the institution will postpone the award of this year's Nobel Prize for Literature to 2019. Witt-Brattström, arguably Sweden's most prominent literary feminist, was married to Engdahl for thirty three years. In 2016, she turned the experience into a novel, titled Love/War in English. 'It's a dialogue between a he and a she,' she said. 'It shows that these kinds of men are still proud of this old-fashioned sexism. They're very proud of it, which can also explain the fact that Jean-Claude could be molesting women for at least thirty years. It's a way of saying "this is the way men are."' She claimed that Arnault's behaviour had been 'known about but tolerated' throughout the time she was involved with the Academy. 'He kind of molested lightly,' she said. 'That was his way and everybody knew that, and nobody was supposed to take it seriously.' Margareta Thorgren, the Royal Court's press chief, said that it would 'neither confirm or deny' the Svenska Dagbladet story. 'What we have heard regarding this man is horrifying generally but we will not give any comment regarding this latest story that the Crown Princess has been touched,' she said. Engdahl denied being present in a statement to the Torygraph, but that said he had previously 'heard the anecdote' about Arnault and the Crown Princess. He added that he believed Witt-Brattström is 'known to make the greatest possible effort to do harm to the reputation of the Swedish Academy and of me, personally.'
In 1894, a strange looking wooden sculpture was pulled out of a peat bog in Siberia by gold prospectors and what has now been discovered to be an eleven thousand six hundred-year-old carving is also believed to be the world's first portrayal of a demon or evil force. The sixteen foot carved idol which was found near Yekaterinburg was originally thought to be a much newer relic until scientists extracted samples of the sculpture and used Accelerator Mass Spectrometry to properly date it, according to ScienceAlert. This particular method of dating is much more exact and is able to precisely measure carbon atoms that have decayed and the creation of the 'demonic' sculpture can now be placed firmly in the Early Holocene era. During this period Eurasia was growing steadily warmer and forests were encroaching over land as the ice that had once been covering these areas slowly melted and withdrew. One of the many things that makes the find so remarkable is that figurative art of this kind was previously believed to have stopped after the last Ice Age, as archaeologist Peter Vang explained. 'Figurative art in the Paleolithic and naturalistic animals painted in caves and carved in rock all stop at the end of the ice age. From then on, you have very stylised patterns that are hard to interpret. They're still hunters, but they had another view of the world.' The statue was carved out of a single larchwood tree over eleven thousand years ago and its portrayal was found to be 'quite similar' to other sculptures that were found as far away as Göbekli Tepe in Turkey, as Science Magazine report. Crucially, while the first farmers were previously believed to have been responsible for complex art such as this, the depiction of the wooden 'demon' clearly shows that hunter-gatherers had their own form of figurative art, according to archaeologist Thomas Terberger. 'We have to conclude hunter-gatherers had complex ritual and expression of ideas. Ritual doesn't start with farming, but with hunter-gatherers.' Besides what may be the world's first known depiction of an evil force in nature, archaeologists are currently in the process of excavating yet another peat bog which is just fifty kilometres away and have already discovered antlers that have unique faces carved into them. As the Russian Academy of Sciences' Mikhail Zhilin noted, these prehistoric hunter-gatherers were actually experts when it came to creating artistic representations out of wood. 'They knew how to work wood perfectly. The idol is a reminder that stone wasn't the only material people in the past used to make art and monuments - just the one most likely to survive, possibly skewing our understanding of prehistory.'
From The North's Headline of the week award goes, unquestionably, to the Daily Torygraph for Spanking Barrister Takes Firm To Court After Being Suspended Over BDSM Session With Colleague In A Partner's Office. This blogger thinks it's the punning use of the word 'suspended' that makes it art.
A narrow second place in the headline of the week awards goes to the FOX News website with their Teen Obsessed With Human Sacrifice Dressed As Clown To Stab Lover During Sex in reporting the story of Zoe Adams from Carlisle, who was jailed for eleven years after she stabbed her seventeen year old lover, Kieran Bewick five times and put a pillow over his head 'to make it kinkier.'
Canadian law enforcement officials have ruled out foul play in the case of the death of a man whose body was found on Monday inside the wall of a restroom at a mall in Calgary.The Calgary Herald reported that the man was found after a worker was called to fix a toilet which wouldn’t flush in a fourth-floor women's restroom in the Core Shopping Centre food court. The worker removed a panel of the wall and found the body. Officials with the Calgary Police Service said that the unnamed man, who was in his twenties, entered the restroom the Friday before he was found. 'Once inside the washroom, it is believed that he climbed on top of a pony wall which was directly behind the toilets and removed a vent cover, which was located on top of the wall,' police officials said on Facebook. 'The pony wall, used to hide utilities, is approximately seven [feet] tall and is not connected to the ceiling and has no other access points. Based on evidence at the scene, officers believe the victim then climbed inside the pony wall through the vent opening where he became stuck and later died.' His reason for climbing inside the wall was not known. But, it probably seemed like a good idea at the time.
A tiger cub that was found unconscious inside a black duffel bag by border patrol agents in Texas is now recovering at a local zoo. Three people tried to enter the country unlawfully on Monday, prompting Brownsville agents to respond, the US Customs and Border Protection said in a release. The trio were carrying a duffel bag when they were spotted. They hurriedly abandoned the bag and returned to Mexico, officials said. The agents looked inside and found the tiger stuffed inside. Officials estimated the tiger was about three to four months old. Irma Chapa, communications director for the Rio Grande Valley section of the agency, wrote in a tweet that it was 'not an average day in the field.' The animal has since been turned over to the Gladys Porter Zoo and is expected to make a full recovery.
The value of British exports of cheese had 'soared twenty three per cent' with 'UK-made mozzarella and fresh cheese growing fast' according to the jolly excited Sarah Butler in the Gruniad. 'Cheddar makes up more than forty per cent of exports, but mozzarella and fresh cheese, such as curds and cottage cheese, are faster growing, with both up fourteen per cent last year in terms of volume,' the article adds. 'The amount of British mozzarella sold to the US jumped forty three per cent last year while sales also soared in Hong Kong, Spain, the Netherlands, Denmark and Pakistan according to the data.' This blogger likes a nice bit of Red Leicester his very self. Just thought I'd mention it.
A New Jersey schools superintendent was extremely arrested on Monday when officials discovered that he had been defecating on a high school football field 'on a daily basis,' police said. No one knows why. Thomas Tramaglini was charged with 'lewdness, littering and defecating in public,' police confirmed on Thursday. The Kenilworth schools superintendent was arrested after surveillance video caught him 'in the act' taking a dump on Holmdel High School's football field. Authorities began hunting for the so-called 'mystery pooper' after Holmdel High School staff and coaches for football and track reported finding human faeces on or near the field nearly every day. Tramaglini was arrested while running on the athletic fields' track. Tramaglini was reported to have taken a paid leave of absence after his arrest.
People have been warned not to feed kangaroos at a tourist spot in Australia following a string of attacks by the animals. Each week thousands of people visit the grounds of a hospital in Morisset, New South Wales, to see the wild kangaroos. But some tourists have been kicked, scratched and left with serious cuts by the hungry marsupials, whose favourite snack is carrots. Local MP Greg Piper says that 'urgent action' is needed to educate tourists. 'While kangaroos are cute, they are also capable of inflicting injury,' Piper told the BBC. He says that the problem has escalated over the past few years following a jump in the number of visitors. 'Social media has changed everything,' Piper added. Instagram, Facebook and blogs posting advice on where to get the perfect 'Roo selfie' travel fast. Piper believes around three thousand people are coming each week to Morisset. 'It's a spot where you're guaranteed to see kangaroos, so it's understandable that people come,' he says. 'And I don't want to blame the tourists - it's really a matter of educating them better.'
Two young men were found very guilty on Tuesday of breaking into a Canbarra home and shooting a former drug dealer in the arm and a thirteen-year-old girl in the buttocks. The jury had heard graphic evidence about the man 'hearing a bang' and then looking down to see a hole in his arm. Reece Salcedo and Nathan Brian Stretton had denied it was they who had committed the home invasion in February last year, arguing in part that their appearances did nit match how the witnesses described the intruders at the time of the incident. But the jury did not accept their defences, returning unanimous verdicts of guilty over the home invasion and the shootings. Police found a loaded sawn-off shot gun under Salcedo's pillow when searching his home after the shooting, evidence which was not presented at the trial. During the search, Salcedo also told a police officer, after his interview had concluded, that the gun they had found on his bed was 'definitely not the gun used in the shooting. Salt rounds were used,' suggesting that he had at least some knowledge of what had happened. The trial judge excluded both the shotgun and admission from the trial, ruling that the gun, which was not the one used in the shooting, would unfairly prejudice the accused Salcedo. Salcedo and Stretton were acquitted of intentionally using an offensive weapon in circumstances likely to endanger human life, but were found guilty of the alternative charge of recklessly inflicting grievous bodily harm for the shooting of the thirteen-year-old. They were also found guilty of aggravated burglary, intentionally inflicting grievous bodily harm for shooting the man and threatening to cause grievous bodily harm. After the verdicts, Justice Chrissa Loukas-Karlsson thanked the jury for their service. Salcedo and Stretton are in custody. They will return to court August 3 for a sentence hearing.
With the inception of legal marijuana throughout the majority of the United States, cannabis-based products have become increasingly easy to acquire. So much so, in this bizarre case a Florida middle schooler has been extremely arrested for bringing weed-infused Cheetos to school. The incident, occurred at a Broward County middle school and resulted in three students falling ill, one of whom ended up hospitalised. According to WSVN.com, the snack food was labelled 'Weetos' and 'closely resembled' the classic crunchy Cheetos. Of course, there was one significant difference - Weetos are strongly laced with THC. Despite it's close resemblance to the cheese-flavoured snack food, two of the three students were, in fact, reportedly well aware of exactly what they were eating. The fifteen-year old girl that was accused of bringing the snack food to Driftwood Middle School has since been arrested and charged with possession. She was later released to her parents but faces a ten-day suspension from school, as well as the possibility of expulsion.
Ontario police have charged four officers with perjury after they were accused of stealing a statue of Al Pacino's Scarface character Tony Montana from a drug dealer's storage unit in 2014 and then lying about it - twice - under oath. 'It is a unique situation, one hundred per cent,' Sergeant Joshua Colley, a Peel police spokesperson, told the Star concerning the thirteen-month criminal investigation. 'As far as I can remember, only one officer has ever been charged ]with perjury] and no one has been convicted in the forty four-year history of Peel Police.' In May 2017, an Ontario Superior Court Justice described the conduct of Major Drugs and Vice Unit constables Richard Rerrie, Mihai Muresan, Emanuel Pinheiro and Damian Savino as 'profoundly and demonstrably inconsistent with what a fair justice system requires.' 'Upon learning about the ruling, I immediately ordered an internal investigation to be conducted by our Professional Standards Bureau into the conduct and actions of the involved officers,' Peel police Chief Jennifer Evans said in a press release. 'Our officers are held to a high standard in order to maintain the trust that we have worked so hard to build with our community.' In June 2014, Peel police witnessed a drug deal involving Lowell Somerville, of Brampton. During an investigation into his activity, officers took out a search warrant for a storage locker he owned in downtown Toronto; they told the court, nothing had been taken from the unit once in a preliminary hearing and again during a cross-examination. Surveillance footage, however, showed the four officers leaving the storage facility with a large object under a beige sheet. After Somerville was released from custody, he discovered that some of his possessions were missing, including a one-metre-tall, 'one-of-a-kind' hand-painted wood statue of fictional drug dealer Tony Montana.
For the two Native American brothers, Colorado State University was their dream school. But when they turned up for a campus tour, a parent of another prospective student called the police because they, apparently, made her 'nervous,' the school said. Critics are holding up the incident as the latest example of crass racial profiling in America. In the past few days, two African American men were arrested for sitting in a Philadelphia Starbucks, a group of African American women had the police called on them at a golf course for playing too slowly and a gym was forced to apologise after a member felt he was racially profiled and asked to leave.
Freedom didn't last long for a Northern California man who escaped from jail last week, deputies said. It was the second day of twenty two-year-old Marc Schwartz's four-day sentence at a Santa Rosa jail when he decided to make a break for it, according to the Sonoma County Sheriff's Department. He was serving the sentence for a DUI conviction. Schwartz managed to scale the tall fence surrounding the jail just after 8pm on 27 April, deputies said. Once Schwartz reached the top, he had to get past coils of razor wire strung atop the barrier. It took some time, but he untangled himself from the coils and then dropped to the ground. From there, Schwartz hopped over a wooden fence and started running, deputies added. By this point, more than twenty officers (as well as the sheriff's department’s helicopter, police dogs, highway patrol officers and other local police) were on the hunt for the escaped felon (who, remember, has only another two days to serve). Meanwhile, guards locked down the jail and ran an inmate count to identify who had escaped. Once the jail knew who the fugitive was, they broadcast Schwartz's description - and within minutes, a citizen told authorities that he had spotted someone who fitted the profile. The citizen said that the suspect was 'running through a field of tall grass near the jail.' Authorities converged on that spot while the helicopter scanned the area with a searchlight. Deputies closed in on the fugitive and captured him a mere thirty eight minutes after the escape was reported. The half-hour of freedom didn't treat the escaped inmate particularly well, deputies noted: Schwartz was 'wet and bleeding in a creek not far from the jail' when authorities got to him. Paramedics treated Schwartz for his injuries and then he was taken to a local hospital for further care, the sheriff's office said. After that, Schwartz was taken to the Main Adult Detention Facility in Santa Rosa - a more secure jail, where Schwartz was booked on felony escape charges. On the Facebook post recounting the escape, commenters speculated that the inmate may have been going through drug withdrawal if he tried to escape halfway through a four-day sentence. But the sheriff's office responded by saying that didn't seem to be Schwartz's motivator. 'No drug or mental health issues in this case,' the department wrote. 'He chose to solve a perceived problem in the absolute worst way.' Schwartz is currently being held without bail, according to jail records.
A Cleveland, Ohio man got out of prison after serving a two-and-a-half-year prison sentence and robbed the same bank the next day, according to federal prosecutors. Markiko Lewis was soon apprehended and is currently charged with one count of bank robbery. Lewis walked into the Key Bank in Cleveland on 12 April and handed a note to the teller which demanded cash and said: 'Don't do anything stupid,' according to the FBI. The teller handed Lewis just over one thousand dollars in cash. Lewis then ran away, according to a news release from the US Attorney's Office. Lewis had been released from prison the previous day, according to state prison records. In that case, he walked into the same bank on 16 November 2015, passed a note to the teller demanding cash and walked out with six hundred dollars. He pleaded very guilty to robbery in 2016. It's to be hoped that he enjoyed his day out.
A jolly significant bloggerisationisms moment occurred at 10:10am on 2 May 2018 at From The North, dear blog reader. This happened! (Jolly significant, perhaps, but also jolly sobering in a way as this statistic appears to provide evidence that over the last twelve years four million dear blog readers have had nothing better to do with their time than to read what yer actual Keith Telly Topping thinks about, you know, 'stuff'. Or, more likely, four dear blog readers, a million times each ...)
'Wear your hair long like the people of The Beltane' Marc Bolan once said. Thus explaining why this blogger decided on this particular May Day Tuesday to go and get his barnet extremely cropped. Therefore, dear bog reader, be advised that yer actual Keith Telly Topping now no longer looks like a member of some extremely dodgy 1970s hair-metal band as he has for the last few months. Instead, he looks remarkably like he should've been in the front row of a Special gig circa 1980 (which, come to think of it, he was as it happens!)
On Monday of this week, dear blog reader, for us light lunch at Stately Telly Topping Manor, we had grilled chicken with a sort of ... well, pesto, made with chopped shallots, parsley, olive oil, chillis, black pepper and oyster sauce. Yes, believable as it may be for you to accept, yer actual Keith Telly Topping actually had a salad - or, as close as this blogger is ever going to get to one, anyway. It was actually quite nice for a first attempt - as this empty bowl ably proves!
Then, on Thursday, the Stately Telly Topping Manor clothes horse (or, 'indoor clothes drying rack' as they now seem to be known ... as this blogger discovered when pricing out a replacement on Argos's website) only went to totally collapsed and died after nearly thirty years of loyal and faithful service, didn't it? One of many household items in Stately Telly Topping Manor that yer actual Keith Telly Topping got from his dear old mum when he moved into the gaff, it has been like a second member of the Telly Topping family, drying Keith telly Topping's wet gear after washing throughout the Nineties, the Noughties and ... whatever this decade is called. But, within ten minutes of collapsing it was about to go into the bin awaiting the refuse collection. It's a harsh and brutal life round these parts for inanimate Stately Telly Topping Manor household appliances, dear blog reader and no mistake. On reflection, however, this blogger eventually fished it out of the bin before the binmen came as it struck him it could still be useful - at least until he gets a new one in a couple of weeks - for drying the households smalls. Whilst it is positioned on its side rather than standing upright (as it's supposed to), obviously.
You know, dear blog reader, it's funny but people with tumble-dryers used to laugh at those of us with clothes horses. But, as this blogger's old chum Nick Cooper pointed out on Facebook after the revelation that a report has claimed up to one million fire-hazard Whirlpool-made tumble dryers are still in use in British homes, 'who's laughing now, eh?' Although, one supposes the counter argument is at least a fire would dry your clothes pretty quickly.

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