Friday, August 17, 2018

There Are Seven Levels

The wait for the return of Doctor Who and the first lady Doctor (yer actual Jodie Whittaker) is almost over. Filming has now wrapped on series eleven, as reported previously on this blog. Now the BBC has confirmed (roughly) when it will be appearing. Despite previously claiming that the show could return any time between 23 September and 21 December, the BBC has told the Radio Times that it will be 'shown by October.' With the ten-episode series starting in October, that means the BBC's popular long-running family SF drama will run up to Christmas and then immediately be followed by a Christmas special. The secrecy behind everything series eleven-related is part of new showrunner Chris Chibnall's strategy to encourage live viewing. 'Wouldn't it be brilliant if everybody watches these episodes at the same time, as much as possible? Doctor Who is one of those shows that can still hopefully do that,' he told the Digital Spy website.
Appearing on The Late Late Show this week, Yer actual Matt Smith told Tobias Menzies - set to take over the role of Prince Philip in the next series of The Crown - to 'make sure the pay is even.' Speaking to that odious unfunny bucket of lard James Corden, Smudger revealed the advice he had given Menzies as he prepared to step into the role. 'Don't do it!' he said, before adding. 'I said a few things to him. God, make sure they pay you enough ... and make sure it's even.' Smudger was referring to the whinging controversy surrounding the cast's pay which broke earlier this year when it was reported that, despite playing the show's main character, Claire Foy was paid less for her portrayal of Queen Elizabeth than Smith was for his role as her husband. Production company Left Bank Pictures later 'accepted responsibility' for the pay gap and apologised to both Foy and Smith, vowing that from now on 'no one will be paid more than the Queen.' Much as in real-life, in fact. Commenting on the news, Foy said that she was 'not surprised' people had made it into a big story. 'But I know that Matt feels the same that I do, that it's odd to find yourself at the centre [of a story] that you didn't particularly ask for,' she added. Smudger received an EMMY nomination for his performance as Prince Philip in The Crown and the actor revealed to the vile and ludicrous Corden where he was when he received the news. 'I was in Russia,' he said. 'I'd just seen England sadly get beat by Croatia [at the World Cup].' He continued: 'The next morning I was having breakfast, I had a bit of a sore head. Then I got a call that softened the blow a bit.' When asked by the worthless waste-of-space glake Corden if he would swap his EMMY nomination for England having made it to the World Cup final, Smudger replied that he would.
National heartthrob David Tennant is, of course, used to hanging out in boxes that are bigger on the inside, so that may be why he wandered into a closet in a outtake from Hang Ups. The Digital Spy website this week posted footage which fans of the new Channel Four comedy series did not see in Tuesday's episode, including David in a cameo as one of Stephen Mangan web-therapy patients. Tennant's character Martin severely tests Mangan's patience by role-playing Jerry Hall in order to avoid interacting with his party guests. The sitcom is adapted from Lisa Kudrow's Web Therapy, the Interweb series which migrated to US pay channel Showtime for a few years before being very cancelled in 2015. Tennant's Doctor Who compatriots David Bradley, Jessica Hynes and Richard E Grant, EastEnders veteran Jo Joyner, Game Of Thrones' Charles Dance and Damned's Lolly Adefope all pop up in the first series. 'With a few notable exceptions, shows that are made in one country and then remade in another country - for commercial reasons - don't normally work,' Mangan admitted. 'I've just spent the last seven years in a show called Episodes which is about exactly this scenario. But then watching [Web Therapy] and thinking about it, we realised that the central premise is a really good one, so we took that central premise and made an entirely different show.'
When From The North favourite Stephen Fry announced that he was stepping down from hosting Qi, viewers knew that the production needed to find a popular replacement. With the appointment of Sandi Toksvig, most Qi punters believed that producers had made exactly the right choice. But it seems, behind the scenes, not everyone was as confident as we all were. In an appearance on Room 101, Sandi admitted that no-one thought she would last more than one year after Stephen. Least of all, herself. Speaking about her dislike of bar stools, she said: 'Stephen and I are very different heights and I took over on Qi for the first season and because they weren't sure I was going to stay, I had his chair on a box that was this high and I had to climb up into the chair in order to present the show. Now, I'm pleased to tell you, I have my own chair on Qi!' The next - P - series of the popular knowledge panel show, Sandi's third in her host's chair, was filmed earlier in the year and, like Doctor Who, is expected to return to the BBC in the autumn (probably in October).
Television channels such as Dave and Gold are returning to the screens of Virgin Media customers after a fees dispute with UKTV was resolved. Virgin Media said that free-to-air channels had already been restored, with paid channels following shortly. Virgin had previously refused to pay what it called 'inflated' fees and complained that it was not allowed to show all channels on demand. More than five times as much on-demand content will now be available, it claimed. About four million subscribers of the cable company lost access to the ten UKTV channels in July after talks broke down, disappointing fans of shows such as Top Gear, Would I Lie To You? and Qi as well as classic comedies. UKTV, which is part-owned by the BBC, had said it could not accept the 'drastic' price cuts proposed by Virgin Media. Cable customers lost five free-to-air channels - Dave, Drama, Really and Yesterday - as well as the paid-for services Gold, Alibi, Eden, Good Food and W. A Virgin Media spokesman said the paid-for channels, which took longer to restore for 'technical reasons,' would reappear over the next few days. The new agreement increases the number of catch-up hours available, with customers on the top-tier Full House plan gaining access to 'significantly more' boxsets, the company said. It also adds access to HD versions of Dave and Gold for customers on the cheaper Virgin Mix plans. David Bouchier, chief digital entertainment officer at Virgin Media said: 'We are sorry for what we know has been a frustrating time for our customers, but are pleased that our TV bundles are now even bigger.' Customers on social media welcomed the return of their favourite shows and channels, but some said they had already switched TV provider during the shutdown. Simon Michaelides, chief commercial officer of UKTV, said: 'We know this has created real disruption for some of our viewers and we're so sorry for this, but we are thrilled to be back, broadcasting our channels and shows to customers of Virgin Media once more.'
Picnic At Hanging Rock managed to conclude its six episodes without including the novel's most famous line ('everything begins and ends at exactly the right time and place') but with enough mystery and beauty to keep most viewers satisfied. Although, inevitably, in this this modern 'attention span of seven seconds' world there where some whinges on Twitter about time invested in a series which had no ending neatly wrapped up with a nice bow. As alluded to here and here. Twitter now, of course, being The Sole Arbiter Of The Worth Of All Things. Try reading the novel (or, even, watching the 1975 movie adaptation) you worthless shit-for-brains tossers, that will really screw with your heads. Larysa Kondracki, the showrunner and director of several episodes, explained that she wanted the TV series to leave viewers with 'many unanswered questions.' Speaking to The Wrap, she said it's 'because that's six hours of your life' and so it's better to let people come up with their own ideas. 'I also want you to argue about what happened,' she continued 'and that's kind of half the fun about the show.' The series' end is true to the spirit of the original novel, where the actual facts of the disappearance matter less than the actual story and characters themselves. Several speculative stories have suggested that a continuation of the story on TV is a possibility. One rather hopes not as the beauty of the story remains the very ambiguity and unresolved nature of the conclusion which so enraged the worthless hoards of the Twatterati.
The BBC's popular time-travelling police procedural drama Life On Mars could have had a two-part revival, according to co-creator Ashley Pharaoh. The cult hit ran for two series in 2006 and 2007 and followed Sam Tyler (John Simm), who was involved in a car accident and woke up in 1973. You knew that, right? After an ambiguous ending and a spin-off series - Ashes To Ashes, which ended in 2010 - fans have been left wanting more. Responding to a fan's question regarding a 'one-off two-parter' of Life On Mars on Twitter this week, Pharaoh claimed that he has 'thought' about returning to the Life Of Mars world before. 'We thought about a two-parter back in the day but it didn't make financial sense for the BBC,' he explained. 'I wanted to do a 1970s Xmas [sic] special!' Earlier this year, Philip Glenister said that he 'doesn't think' a big-screen revival movie would ever happen. Not that anyone remotely involved in the series has ever, for a single second, suggested that such a project was even under consideration.
Three years on from Leonard Nimoy's death, a new actor has been chosen to play his most iconic role Mister Spock. Ethan Peck said it was 'an incomparable honour' to be cast as the in TV show Star Trek: Discovery. Peck, the grandson of Oscar-winner Gregory, will join the show when it returns for its second series next year. The thirty two-year-old celebrated by posting a photo of himself with members of Nimoy's family giving Spock's famous Vulcan salute. Born in Los Angeles in 1986, Peck has experience when it comes to taking on characters associated with other actors. His previous roles include Patrick Verona - Heath Ledger's character in Ten Things I Hate About You - in the TV version of the 1999 movie. Alex Kurtzman, Star Trek: Discovery's executive producer, said in a statement that Peck would 'effortlessly embody Spock's greatest qualities.' Set twenty years before the events of the original 1960s TV series, the show can be streamed on CBS All Access in the US and on Netflix around the world.
The BBC's pre-apocalyptic crime drama Hard Sun will not be back for a second series. Because it was shit and no one was watching it. The broadcaster confirmed news of the cancellation to the Sun, with a spokesperson lying: 'We sometimes have to make difficult decisions to make room for new shows.' Instead of just saying 'not enough people watched it so we're doing something else.' Hard Sun was the brainchild of Luther creator Neil Cross. It starred Jim Sturgess and ex-model Agyness Deyn as two police officers in present-day London who find proof that the world will end in five years. Just like that David Bowie song. Only not as good. It premiered in January and limped through to a final episode which ended on a cliffhanger. One that, sadly for the six people who were still watching it by the end, will never be resolved. Which is sad - although, arguably, nowhere near as sad as the collapse of that bridge in Italy. That was really sad. Just, you know, for a bit of perspective.
Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner has managed to get just about everyone in Hollywood into the trailer for his new series The Romanoffs. In just under ninety seconds, Amazon Prime Video's sneak peek at the anthology comedy-drama packs in more than two-dozen A and B-listers across seven countries on three continents. The eight-episode series tells the stories of people from all different walks of life whose only connection is that they all believe they are descendants of the titular Russian royal family. The Romanoffs reunites Mad Men creator Weiner with many familiar faces from that EMMY-winning series, including From The North favourite Christina Hendricks, John Slattery, Jay R Ferguson and Cara Buono. The international cast also includes Aaron Eckhart, Diane Lane, Paul Reiser, Mary Kay Place, Noah Wyle, Corey Stoll, Amanda Peet and Andrew Rannells as well as Isabelle Huppert, Hugh Skinner and Jack Huston. Amazon is keeping the plot descriptions of each episode strictly under wraps, but has confirmed that the first episodes will be titled The Violet Hour (featuring Eckhart) and The Royal We (featuring Stoll) respectively.
Developed by Gotham producers Danny Cannon and Bruno Heller, the previously announced prequel series, Pennyworth, is set to focus on the early years of the long-serving Wayne butler Alfred. A listing on Production Weekly has revealed that Pennyworth will go into production on 21 November in London. According to the listing, filming will go on 'for a period of seven months' and is expected to wrap in June 2019, which hopefully means that we're looking at a late 2019 or early 2020 premiere date. Despite both shows coming from the same writing team, Pennyworth and Gotham will exist in two separate universes, meaning that Gotham's Sean Pertwee won't be reprising his role for the new series. Pennyworth received a ten-episode order from the US subscription channel EPIX earlier this year and the series will follow ex-Special Forces soldier Alfred Pennyworth in the 1960s as he first works with Bruce Wayne's father, Thomas, in London. 'As genuine fans of these classic DC characters, as well as the incredibly talented Bruno Heller and Danny Cannon, we couldn't be more excited to make Epix the home of this series,' Epix president Michael Wright said in a statement at the time of the announcement addressed to 'genuine fans.' As opposed to ungenuine ones, presumably. As for From The North favourite Gotham its very self, the FOX series has, belatedly, been renewed for a fifth and final series of an indeterminate number of episodes (possibly ten, though that may be a dodgy rumour) which will apparently see Bruce (David Mazouz) complete his transformation into The Batman after five years of build-up.
Westworld's second series may have been confusing to some viewers - and, even to a few of the actors - but it seems although the drama's creators Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy always had a plan. In fact, Nolan and Joy have now admitted that they've been planning series three's storyline since they were writing the pilot episode. 'Season three of Westworld is definitely going to be a big undertaking,' Nolan told The Wrap recently. Joy went on to stress that hitting this point of their story has, actually, been a long time coming. 'The great thing about season three is, when we were writing the pilot, the major storyline for season three was already something that we had talked about non-stop,' she claimed. 'We've been waiting to get to this place and now that we've arrived here, we already have a very strong idea of exactly where we want to go and we can't wait to go there.' Nolan and Joy previously described the third series as 'a radical shift' but Nolan adds that they have 'a long way to go' to get the details of that just right. 'We've got a long, long year in terms of writing and pulling together the pieces for the third season,' Nolan added. 'I think what's fun for us about this is discovering this world could be kind of extraordinary like this. And an opportunity - you know, if the show has spoken metaphorically about "our world" at this point, then the opportunity to visit "our world" is very exciting for us on both a character level and a story level.'
With the final series of yer actual Game Of Thrones not being broadcast until next year, the actors have to keep everything under their hats regarding spoilers but some of them still giving journalists enough of a tease to not waste everyone's time. Nikolaj Coster-Waldau is very good at that sort of thing, offering some tantalising hints as to how the ending of series eight will play out without, actually, saying anything that gives anything dramatic away. He told The Wrap: 'I read it and I wrote [to] Dan and David and said I don't think they could have done a better job. I mean, when I read it - I've spent so many years working on this and been guessing and trying to figure out how this will end - and when I read it, some of the parts of it I'd get and other parts of it were just completely shocking and surprising. And it wasn't, there were none of those horrible - you know shows where it's a murder mystery and at the very last minute you find out it doesn't make sense? But here all the pieces fit into this massive jigsaw puzzle.'
As if Harvey Weistenin isn't in enough bother already, now he's got The Shelby Clan on his case. Television production company Endemol Shine International Ltd is seeking to lift Weinstein Co's bankruptcy stay in order to sue the studio in the UK and officially terminate its US distribution deal for Peaky Blinders. Amsterdam-based Endemol Shine in papers filed on Wednesday in the US Bankruptcy Court in Delaware said that it needed to file a complaint in an English court to receive a determination on the status of its deal with Weinstein and his company.
Meanwhile, the first previews of a new Spanish drama series have been met with a less than enthusiastic response from some viewers who accused it of being 'a cheap copy' of Peaky Blinders. TVE recently started to show trailers for El Continental, its new drama focusing on criminal gangs in 1920s Madrid. Social media users quickly pointed out 'striking similarities' between the aesthetic and that of Peaky Blinders, set in Birmingham and London during the same time period. 'A cheap Spanish-style copy of Peaky Blinders with Fernando Tejero instead of Cillian Murphy. What could go wrong?' wrote one Victor Hurtado in a tweet accompanied with a screenshot from the trailer for the Spanish show. One saucy critic even went as far as editing the show's Wikipedia page, which for a while of 13 August began with the line 'El Continental is a Spanish TV series that is a cheap copy of Peaky Blinders, produced by Gossip Events for TVE.' Needless to say, the description was, subsequently, changed to something marginally less libellous. Another Twitter user wittily drew comparison between the new show and Peaky Blinders and The Simpsons character Guy Incognito and his extraordinary resemblance to Homer. Still, it could have been much worse for poor Homer - Max Power has, seemingly, signed for Blunderland.
Former footballer Paul Gascoigne has blamed his early exit from a TV show last Saturday morning on sleeping pills. The former England midfielder insisted that he was not drunk on Sky's Soccer AM, where he was a guest alongside Inbetweeners actor Joe Thomas. Gascoigne, who forged his career at yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved Newcastle United and Stottingtot Hotshots, has struggled with alcoholism and mental illness for more than twenty years. His most recent spell in rehab was in 2017, after the death of his nephew. After leaving Soccer AM midway through the show, host John Fendley told viewers that the fifty one-year-old was 'not feeling wonderful.' Gascoigne responded to concerns on social media which suggested that he 'looked out of it' during the show. Writing on Twitter, he said people were 'saying I was drunk,' but went on to explain that he had 'been taking sleeping tablets to try kip.' In 2013 the Football Association and the England Footballers' Foundation donated forty grand to help fund Gascoigne's treatment at an addiction centre in Arizona. The midfielder is best known for his performance in the 1990 World Cup, which saw England reach the semi-final of the tournament for the first time since 1966. He famously cried after receiving a yellow card in the semi-final against Germany, which meant he would not have played in the final if England had progressed. But, they didn't.
This blogger is really looking forward to the new BBC thriller Bodyguard, a tense thriller from Line Of Duty writer Jed Mercurio based on the really rather good trailer. 'We talked about various titles and that just seemed the most apt,' Mercurio said when asked about any prior associations for that particular title. The series reunites Mercurio with Keeley Hawes, here playing Julia Montague, an ambitious and powerful Home Secretary. 'At risk, every day,' Montague is assigned David Budd (played by Richard Madden) - a war veteran-turned-Specialist Protection Officer - as a bodyguard. Budd, though, quickly finds himself torn between his duty and his beliefs. Responsible for Montague's safety, could he become her biggest threat? 'I was attracted by the contradictions within him, this man who deeply cares and wants to protect, but then also has his own very strong political opinions,' Madden explains. 'He's constantly fighting with himself, but there's inherent good within him.' The conflict within Budd allowed the Game Of Thrones actor to experiment while filming Bodyguard and he would often interpret the same scene in more than one way. 'I had these opportunities on set where I could play things two different ways: as the Home Secretary would see it, and then from inside David's head. I get to experiment, then it's down top the director and editor to pick.' Montague, too, is a character with many sides to her, according to Hawes. 'I am very lucky, particularly after Line Of Duty - thank, you Jed! - that people have been more imaginative in terms of the things that I've been offered.' For the BAFTA-nominated actress, playing Montague was a 'fascinating and eye-opening' experience, one that she says 'changed [her] ideas about politicians. It's not popular to say you're sympathetic to politicians,' she admits. 'But I'd like to think that most of them have gone into those roles for the right reasons, regardless of what we may think of their reasons, or their opinions.' Amber Rudd was Home Secretary at the time that Bodyguard was being filmed and whilst Hawes insists that she is 'very much not playing Amber Rudd,' she also confessed to researching some of Rudd's background for the part. The conflict between Budd and Montague is the driving force at the heart of Bodyguard, a drama that's more character-led than Line Of Duty but no less gripping. But Mercurio says that sex is 'not particularly important' to their dynamic. 'Personally, it doesn't make a lot of difference to me whether a character is male or female,' he says. 'So I could've switched it round. In terms of choosing whether the bodyguard would be male or female, and whether the politician would be male or female, it just felt that it was more interestingly dramatically to have the power relationship set up so that the woman was a more powerful individual, in societal terms.' Bodyguard begins on Sunday 26 August. Episode two follows on Bank Holiday Monday 27 August, with the series then continuing on Sunday nights.
Jamie Dornan's return to the BBC in Death & Nightingales has been given a first look in a number of official images this week. The period drama sees the actor reunite with The Fall creator Allan Cubitt and co-star with Ann Skelly and Matthew Rhys. The three-part adaptation of the 1992 Eugene McCabe novel takes place in 1885 over a twenty four-hour period in Fermanagh. It follows Beth Winters (Skelly), whom on her twenty third birthday is ready to run away with her lover Liam (Dornan). However, she risks defying her domineering stepfather Billy (Rhys), who is a powerful Protestant landowner. Death & Nightingales will be the Irish actor's first major television role since wrapping playing Christian Grey on the big screen in Fifty Shades Freed earlier this year. 'I'm thrilled to be reunited with Allan and his brilliant scripts to play such an intriguing character like Liam Ward and to return to Northern Ireland and BBC2,' Dornan said a few months ago. Rhys added: 'I've been a huge fan of Allan Cubitt's work for many years so I'm thrilled to have been given the chance to work on Death & Nightingales alongside Jamie and Ann and return to the BBC.' Filming for Death & Nightingales began this summer and it is expected to be shown later this year on BBC2.
E!'s first ever scripted series The Royals has been very cancelled by the network after four series. Because, again, it was shit and no one was watching it. That's usually the reason why cancelled shows get cancelled. Not always, but often. The Royals starred Elizabeth Hurley as Queen Helena, a fictional consort of Great Britain and followed her and her royal family through their public and private exploits. An E! spokesperson confirmed the cancellation in a statement, saying: 'E! will not be moving forward with another season of The Royals, which launched in 2015 as the network's first original scripted series. Over four seasons, The Royals took viewers behind the palace gates on a scandalous journey filled with twists and turns. We are grateful to the cast and our producing partners at Lionsgate and Universal Cable Productions.' But, not so grateful that they want to carry on showing it. Lionsgate TV, has confirmed that they are already looking for a new royal home for their programme.
The cult British gangster movie Sexy Beast is the latest text to be getting a small-screen spin-off. Yes, yes, yes, yes! Paramount Television is developing a TV prequel to the 2000 film, according to Deadline. Sexy Beast followed Ray Winstone's retired crook, Gal Dove, now living in Spain with his wife DeeDee (Amanda Redman). His old life comes back to haunt him in the form of the wildly unhinged Don Logan (Ben Kingsley), looking to recruit Gal for a heist caper on behalf of crime lord Teddy Bass (Ian McShane). Set in the 1990s, the TV adaptation would follow a young Gal as an up-and-coming criminal and explore how he formed a partnership with Don, began working for Teddy and how he met and fell in love with porn actress, DeeDee. There is no announcement yet on who will star in the series, but casting will certainly be a challenge, especially for the part of Don Logan. Kingsley earned an Oscar nomination for his remarkable performance in the film, a game-changing turn from the man previously best known for playing Gandhi. The Sopranos' Michael Caleo is working on the script for the Sexy Beast prequel and is executive producing alongside the film's writers, Louis Mellis and David Scinto. A broadcaster is yet to be confirmed.
Another name has been added to the 2018 Strictly Come Dancing line-up - that of Capital FM presenter Vick Hope. No, me neither. Hope, who hosts the commercial radio station's breakfast show with Roman Kemp, is the fifth celebrity contestant confirmed for the upcoming series. 'It's a bit of a turn-up for the books to be honest,' she told listeners. 'I'm a fan of the show and I feel very honoured to be a part of it. I promise you I'm going to work so, so hard - I'm so excited.' Each of this year's contestants was given the name of a type of cheese as a codename to protect their identities in the run-up to the show. Hope revealed her cheese-related alias had been Wensleydale - joking that perhaps it was because she is 'Northern and creamy.' Or, because she tastes effin' horrible, one or the other. The twenty eight-year-old presenter, who was born in Newcastle and studied at Cambridge, also hosts Sky One's Carnage. Her other roles include digital reporter for ITV lack-of-talent shows The Voice and The Voice Kids. Hope joins a line-up that also includes YouTube vlogger Joe Sugg (no, me neither), broadcaster Katie Piper, former England cricketer Graeme Swann and former Steps' singer Faye Tozer. Red Dwarf actor Danny John-Jules has also been confirmed as one of this year's dancing competitors.
A painting bought for one hundred and sixty five grand and thought to have been painted by British artist Sir William Nicholson, could be nearly worthless after an art expert cast doubt on its authenticity. The still life of a glass jug and pears was examined on the BBC's Fake Of Fortune? programme. An expert, Patricia Reed, claimed that there was 'not enough evidence' to confirm who painted it. However, a handwriting expert believes the work is authentic and evidence links it to Nicholson's paint box. Presenter Fiona Bruce said she was 'shocked' and 'stunned' as the case had been 'so strong.' 'It was just love at first sight,' owner Lyn said of the piece, adding that she 'didn't have any doubt' of its authenticity when she bought it in 2006. But when a new catalogue of Nicholson's work - the official list of all his known pieces - was published by Reed in 2011, Lyn's painting was not included. 'I was hurt. I feel it's a miscarriage of justice,' Lyn said. She hoped that the Fake Or Fortune? team could prove otherwise. Will Darby, whose Mayfair gallery - Browse and Darby - exhibited the painting before selling it to Lyn told Fiona Bruce: 'I was shocked. As far as I was concerned this painting couldn't have been done by anyone else.' In Sunday night's episode, new evidence was revealed that scientifically linked the painting to Nicholson's own paint box which is kept in his grandson's house. A handwriting expert told the programme he was 'one hundred per cent convinced' that writing on the back of the canvas was by Nicholson. Pigments also matched those used in a very similar Nicholson painting now in Canada. Despite this, Reed was still not convinced it was genuine. 'There is nothing that gives direct evidence that he actually executed the work himself,' she said in a letter sent to the owner (Reed herself declined to take part in the programme). Born in 1872, Nicholson spent five decades painting portraits, landscapes and still lives. Reed claimed that some of Nicholson's painting boards would be reused by painters being taught by him in his studio. This group, known as 'the Sunday painters,'most famously included Winston Churchill and Reed said the painting 'could' have been executed by one of them. International art dealer Philip Mould, Bruce's Fake Or Fortune? co-presenter said: 'This has to be one of the most convincing technical investigations we've done on a picture.'
Football fans got a bit more than they bargained for when a naughty X-rated channel was turned on as they watched a match in a stadium bar. With the bare bobbies and everything. Little left to the imagination. During half-time of Tuesday's fixture between Bristol Rovers and Crawley, the Babestation channel popped up on screens at the Memorial Stadium clubhouse. The footage of scantily-clad women disappeared only to reappear as soon as the game resumed. Which, given that this was a match between Bristol Rovers and Crawley some might argue was far more entertaining than what was happening on the pitch. Bristol Rovers said that 'an investigation was under way.' The X-rated channel invites viewers to interact live with female presenters wearing just underwear via a premium-rate telephone number or text messaging. Fans who were in the newly-refurbished bar tweeted their amusement. Rivals Bristol City also got in on the act, tweeting about their own screens 'We can't promise any Babestation, sorry. Our TVs have parental control.' One wonders if a one-liner about 'a tasty pair of Bristols' might be appropriate at this juncture. Probably not. Anyway, Steve Hamer, chairman of Bristol Rovers, said an investigation was under way and the action was 'not acceptable.' One presumes he was talking about Babestation and not the match. He said: 'We have had a major refit in the clubhouse and our bars this summer and we've got fourteen to fifteen new TVs all in place and I suspect there was an area of vulnerability there and somebody has hacked into it. What was seen was pretty moderate and we will talk to our TV engineers and media teams to find out what happened.'
University Challenge stars Eric Monkman and Bobby Seagull will tour the country looking at Britain's technological achievements in their first TV show. The duo who rose to fame as rivals on the 2017 series of University Challenge will be 'searching the UK for hidden gems of British ingenuity.' And, they're hugely welcome at Stately Telly Topping Manor any time they like to see if they can find any here. Good luck with that, lads. The pair have also presented a show for Radio 4 about polymaths. Monkman & Seagull's Genius Guide To Britain will be a four-part series shown on BBC2. Canadian Monkman sparked the wholly social media-created 'Monkmania' with his expressive responses and (very impressive) extensive knowledge as he captained Wolfson College Cambridge to the final of University Challenge in 2017, where they lost to Balliol College Oxford. In the semi-final, Wolfson beat Emmanuel College Cambridge, captained by Seagull who had also gained something of a social media following and the two captains subsequently became good friends. Their new TV venture will see them 'explore the science of the deep-fried Mars bar and the world's smallest museum in a phone booth,' among other things. Monkman said: 'Curiosity is an approach to life. The more you know, the more you realise you don't know. My admiration for British genius is one of the major factors that led me to study in the United Kingdom. I look forward to learning more about Britain's scientific discoveries and to sharing what I learn with everyone.' Seagull added: 'The beauty of our friendship is that we're both driven by the same thing - a curiosity about the world."' The Londoner also recently confirmed that he had turned down a spot on Z-List Celebrity Big Brother shortly after his University Challenge appearances. Seagull claimed that he was 'very flattered' to be asked but that it was 'not a right fit' at the time. And, also, everybody who appears on that sick Victorian freak show has shit for brains and he would have been as out of place in the Big Brother house as a pig in a palace. Probably.
BBC journalists investigating a series of mysterious murders in Malawi have reportedly 'narrowly escaped' being hacked to a bloody death. The team were working undercover to expose men who claim to suck the blood of children to make get-rich amulets when they were attacked by a crowd of furious villagers.
BBC reporter Stuart Flinders had a 'narrow escape' from having his skull crushed like a walnut when a cricket ball missed his head by inches while he was recording at a game. The North West Tonight presenter was reporting on the match between Lancashire Thunder and Yorkshire Diamonds at Blackpool when a ball hit for six bounced past him. He later tweeted that one of the Diamonds' batswomen had also sent a ball 'crashing on to the roof' of the van he was editing in. Clearly, the ladies were trying to tell him something. Stuart can probably take a bit of comfort in the fact that had he keen very killed live-on-telly, it would have been a memorably picturesque death, what with Blackpool Tower visible in the background. Lancashire Thunder, incidentally, won the game by nine runs.
Making a pretty pile of rocks on a beach seems like a nice way to spend a sunny afternoon. But there is, reportedly, 'some backlash' against the art of stone stacking. Critics - presumably with nothing better to do with their time - say that building new rock piles 'spoils pristine environments' and 'could be a threat to wildlife.' How, exactly, they don't specify. Supporters say that the health benefits 'far outweigh any damage.' Most normal people couldn't give a bastard toss one way or the other. John Hourston, the founder of The Blue Planet Society (no, me neither), believes it is 'a worrying trend. People are doing it with no education of the environment so they don't know what site they're in - whether the site has any wildlife significance or historic significance,' he told the BBC. And once again, dear blog reader, let us simply stand up and salute the utter shite that some people chose to care about.
Meanwhile, the From The North Headline of The Week award goes to the BBC News website for their riveting Reality Check: Public Toilets Mapped feature.
Mike Leigh's film about the 1819 Peterloo massacre in Manchester is to get its UK premiere in the city. The 17 October screening of Peterloo has been organised by the London Film Festival and will be the first premiere staged by the festival outside the capital. Maxine Peake and Rory Kinnear appear in the film, about the day troops charged a crowd of sixty thousand demanding political reform, killing at least ten people. Leigh said he was 'truly delighted' the UK premiere would be in Manchester. The director, who has been nominated for seven Oscars, said: 'It's always an honour to be included in the glorious London Film Festival, but how inspired and generous of the festival to screen Peterloo in Manchester, where it all happened.' The premiere will take place at the Home Arts Centre, around half-a-mile from the site of Saint Peter's Fields, where the protest took place. Home's artistic director of film Jason Wood said: 'It is fitting that Manchester audiences will be amongst the first to see this highly anticipated film which focuses on a pivotal event in our city's and our nation's political history.' The film and a question and answer session with Leigh will also be relayed to cinemas around the UK. The premiere was announced on the one hundred and ninety ninth anniversary of the massacre. Peake, who grew up in Bolton, has previously spoken at anniversary events to remember the massacre. 'It's about the importance of protest, the importance of people having a voice,' she said in 2016. 'The importance of democracy and liberty, it is something that should never be forgotten and the fact that Manchester is a really progressive city and it should be really proud of that.' The film will get a nationwide release on 2 November.
Virgin Media has been accused of leaving holes in people's walls and not following up complaints to fix the damage. They don't mention any of that in the Usain Bolt-fronted adverts, do they? One customer whinged that he has so far waited six weeks to have a ten inch 'crater-like hole' repaired. Complaints left on social media often claim that requests for calls or web chats with Virgin have 'gone unfulfilled.' Virgin Media has grovellingly apologised and claimed that it will contact affected customers. One or two people even believed them. Broadband engineers frequently have to drill or alter holes when installing cables in people's homes - but sometimes this can go wrong. 'The chap who did the installation was incredibly apologetic and it was a genuine accident,' explained Andrew Mabbitt, director of cyber-security firm Fidus Information Security. He said that the engineer then called his manager to arrange a repair, but this never materialised. 'Got a call the next day from Virgin saying they'd be in touch soon to arrange a date and they never called back,' Mabbitt told the BBC. He added that he also tried to contact the firm via its online chat service - but it was not working. Another customer, Dom Valentine, complained that the company 'left a large drill bit' stuck in his wall for more than a week. Valentine is a soldier in the British Army and said the damage occurred at military accommodation. 'I was there when it happened,' he told the BBC. He said the engineer drilled into a metal part inside the wall, which caused the drill bit to get stuck. An attempt to remove it from the outside of the building did not go well. 'He was hitting it with a hammer which has now cracked the bricks on the other side,' claimed Valentine. He added that he is 'still waiting to have it dealt with' and in the meantime he has been told to expect 'a sizeable bill' from the army, which owns the property. Virgin Media offered him twenty pounds credit but he said that the firm has not followed up on providing a repair. 'I was told the area manager would get back to me, which he hasn't,' added Valentine. A spokeswoman for Ofcom told the BBC that since 1 June the regulator had received ten whinges about damage to property left by Virgin Media workers and three relating to work done by Openreach. Virgin Media has responded to these queries via social media, but some customers claim damage to their homes is still awaiting repair. 'Virgin Media apologises to any customer who has experienced issues when our services have been installed in their property, as we do our best to make sure the process is as smooth as possible,' the firm snivelled in a statement. 'We are now in the process of contacting the customers listed in this article so we can see if the issue still exists and, if so, try and resolve it as soon as possible.'
Massive kudos to whichever sound editor at Sky Sports Cricket decided to put together a pre-third test montage of Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad bowling with Nick Cave's 'Red Right Hand' as the soundtrack. That was a little bit like turning on Antiques Roadshow and finding the new theme tune was 'Pretty Vacant'.
Yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved (though unsellable) Magpies picked up their first point of the new Premier League season with a drab goalless draw at Cardiff on Saturday. But, was it a case of one point gained or two thrown away? Bit of both, really. Whatever one's view, this was a thoroughly awful Saturday in South Wales with both sides conspiring to create over ninety minutes of instantly forgettable football on live TV. The Toon's shortcomings were more memorable though, in the form of a red card and a missed penalty kick. Ninety six minutes of uninspired toil had seen the visitors field four different players at right back, one of that quartet - Isaac Hayden - being dismissed in the sixty sixth minute. Just when United appeared to have escaped with a point after an equally toothless Cardiff City side had failed to create so much as a direct effort on target to test Martin Dubravka, a stray hand in the home area gave Newcastle the opportunity of an unexpected victory. Sadly, though, with the designated penalty taker Matt Ritchie already off the field and Joselu not being trusted to reprise his woefully rotten effort against Burnley last season, the burden from twelve yards fell to the hapless Kenedy. The Brazilian had struggled all afternoon to make any sort of significant impact, seemingly being more interested in attempting pointless dribbles than actually passing the ball to a teammate. His run-up for the penalty was far stuttering and match anequally poor dead ball attempt from slightly further out minutes earlier, side-footing straight at City keeper Neil Etheridge, who had no problem in saving a second spot kick in as many appearances this season. Kenedy was lucky to still be on the pitch at all; kicking out at Victor Camarasa during the first half for no obvious reason right in front of referee, Craig Pawson who somehow conspired not to see it. Albeit, Cardiff were probably better off with Kenedy still on the pitch rather than off it for all he actually contributed to the game. The referee by turns played his part in a frustrating afternoon, started off by booking Matt Ritchie, despite two home players actually injuring each other as Ritchie attempted to win the ball fairly. Pawson showed no mercy in dismissing Isaac Hayden for a challenge from behind on Josh Murphy in the middle of the field which was probably a fair call, but he then failed to red card Harry Arter for what appeared to be a wholly comparable assault on Joselu soon afterwards. Ayoze Perez had two chances in the first half, saved by Etheridge on both occasions, although the keeper almost let in Joselu when he spilled Kenedy's shot - the winger's one worthwhile contribution to the match. Dubravka almost got United in trouble when delaying a clearance but the block went away from goal, while a tenth minute header from Sol Bamba was cleared from in front of the Newcastle goalline. The game soon lost its way, though and with Kenedy escaping punishment, Javier Manquillo was also lucky to stay on after continuing to pull back Josh Murphy having already been booked when the former Norwich winger showing the Spaniard a clean pair of heels. Having had treatment before the break, Manquillo was replaced by Hayden at half-time but the substitute looked equally uncomfortable against pace. After several indiscretions, Hayden's challenge on Murphy saw Pawson go for his pocket, pause and then show a straight red. Apologising later via social media, Hayden rightly called the tackle 'needless and stupid.' It was, indeed, both. United arguably then played their best football a man short (or, technically, two men short for all the contributions Kenedy actually made) and when Arter wasn't dismissed for his horrible tackle, a sense of injustice seemed to fire-up Rafa Benitez's side. Mo Diame was fouled on the edge of the penalty area but Kenedy wasted the free-kick hitting it straight into the wall, with Joselu slicing the follow-up out for a throw. That sort of summed up the whole game. Then came the last minute penalty incident, after substitute Yoshinro Muto's ball across the box was clearly handled by Bluebirds captain, Sean Morrison. Kenedy duly stepped for the penalty in front of the away fans. And missed. With Moscow Chelski FC, Sheikh Yer Man City and The Arse next up in the league for Rafa's side, a barely-deserved draw at least got United off zero points. However, spurning the golden opportunity for an unexpected win was jolly careless and, potentially, of awful significance come next May. What the future holds for Neil Warnock's City side remains to be seen, but their failure to beat Newcastle's ten (or nine) men doesn't bode well. Few of Newcastle's team enhanced their reputations and had the continuing shortages at right back not forced Rafa's hand with substitutions when there were plenty of other candidates to be replaced. Former Swansea man Jonjo Shelvey did what he could to silence the predictably comic booing from home fans every time he touched the ball, supplying some incisive passes that neither Joselu nor Perez could capitalise on. A sizeable improvement over the next three games is required if Newcastle are to avoid travelling to Crystal Palace next month for which might already be - just six games into the season - a relegation six-pointer. The potential return of DeAndre Yedlin next weekend will, hopefully, be a positive. The enforced sidelining of Hayden meanwhile gives more urgency to the task of integrating summer signings Fabian Schar and Federico Fernandez into the team, while Salomon Rondon's apparent lack of match fitness has to be addressed quickly. Still, at least United currently have one point, which is one more than five other Premier League teams at the moment.
Blunderland FC spent thirty grand on a report into how it was perceived, only to be told it was 'an old-fashioned football club,' the new executive director has revealed. According to the Sunderland Echo Charlie Methven was speaking at the launch of The Black Cats' new 'business club' at the Stadium of Plight this week and revealed some of the barely credible decisions which had contributed to the dire financial situation under the previous regime. The latest club accounts, which cover the year from 1 August 2016, to 31 July 2017 - a period which saw incompetent David Moyes replacing odious lard-bucket Sam Allardyce in the The Mackem Filth's dug-out and a desperately disappointing season which ended in relegation from the Premier League - showed a loss before tax of a fraction under ten million knicker for the financial year. Of course, things then got worse for Blunderland with a second successive relegation from the Championship the following season. As part of his speech, Charlie Methven revealed the club spent thirty thousand smackers to commission a report from 'an external branding company' on 'what it represented,' only to be told it was 'an old-fashioned football club.' 'We could have told you that for thirty pee, sat in Oxfordshire,' claimed Methven. Other revelations included: Blunderland was paying 'one thousand pounds a month to rotate plastic plants round the various rooms', there was not a single person at the club selling sponsorship, there were fifteen people working in marketing and PR but only one in commercial sales and the club had been employing 'just over twice as many people as Newcastle United.' The previous regime had spent money 'trying to be something they weren't,' Methvan claimed. 'They had forgotten what Sunderland is.' The aim now was to be 'a proper football club, and proud of it. It is the people, it is the history, it is the culture - that is what a proper football club is and we need to get back to that being proud of that.' Methven, Stewart Donald and new director Juan Sartori promised to be 'open and honest' with fans: 'PR does not mean telling lies, it does not mean spin,' he said. 'What it is about is communication and communication is a two-way process. We will always be accessible because we want to have that conversation.'
We live inside a cosmic bubble, dear blog reader. Far beyond Pluto, at the edge of the vast expanse of interstellar space between our solar system and all the others is a wall. It's a thin wall, like the surface of a soap bubble, made up of compressed interstellar matter which is held in place by the energy emanating from the Sun. As the Sun's solar winds push out into deep space, interstellar matter -molecules of hydrogen and other elements - meet the force of the solar winds and, too small to fight them, compress into an interstellar shield of sorts, a bubble surrounding our solar system as it careens through the Milky Way. According to a paper published on 7 August, NASA believes that they may have detected the mass that makes up this mysterious boundary between us and the rest of the universe. NASA's New Horizons probe flew past Pluto in 2015 and researchers are still receiving data from it and likely will be for a long time to come. The latest data New Horizons has sent back includes an increase of ultraviolet light that scientists say is likely due to the compressed hydrogen which makes up the so-called 'interstellar wall.' Similar findings were reported by the Voyager probes thirty years ago and getting the same findings in 2018 strengthens the case that what they have found is, in effect, the boundary area where the Sun's influence begins to drop off. Like most scientific findings, the team is quick to say that it is 'not confirmed yet.' They say there is 'a chance' that the increased light may not be coming from the hydrogen wall, but may be another, as yet unknown, source in interstellar space. They say that the telltale sign will be whether or not the New Horizons probe keeps detecting light after it passes where the wall should be. If it stops detecting light, then it means that it was actually detecting the wall. If the readings remain the same, then it has to be 'something else.' It takes a long time to do things in space and it will likely take another decade before they will know for sure. Luckily, the instrument known as Alice that New Horizons is outfitted with has enough power to be operational for another fifteen to twenty years. It is, perhaps, only fitting that the giant ball of fire responsible for all life keeps a bubble around its children. Unfortunately, its a bubble that only stops very small things. The object named Oumuamua broke through it not long ago.
The man who scored the winning goal when Hereford United infamously knocked yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved (though, even then unsellable) Newcastle out of the FA Cup in 1972 has been extremely jailed for money laundering. Ricky George was sentenced to two years and his son, Adam, has also been jailed, for fifteen months. The fraud involved the sale of a house without the knowledge or consent of the owner, Hertfordshire Constabulary say. A third man, Charles Jogi, was also convicted of money laundering at Saint Albans Crown Court. Adam George received one hundred and twenty thousand knicker into a business account from his father, Richard George who were both found very guilty. The money was then laundered through his own bank account and that of his father and Jogi, his father's friend. When the buyer of the house found out that he had been a victim of fraud and had lost two hundred and fifty thousand smackers, he had a heart attack, police say, from which he has 'thankfully recovered.' Jogi was sentenced to two hundred hours hours of unpaid work and was also given a community order. Ricky George will always be known as the man who scored the winner in that famous (and, painful) FA Cup third round replay win for non-league Hereford United over Newcastle United in February 1972. One that gets wheeled out for a repeat every year when the FA Cup come around. George would enjoy another sporting highlight, twenty six years later, as the co-owner of Earth Summit, the horse which won 1998 Grand National. Alan Mordey, from Hertfordshire Constabulary said: 'The fraudster used fake ID, which was verified by a solicitor, to get the housing deeds from the Land Registry. He then used a different solicitor to conduct the sale.'
Spanish two-time world champion Fernando Alonso has announced he is to retire from Formula 1 at the end of the season. The McLaren driver will end a career that began with a debut for Minardi at the Australian Grand Prix of 2001. Alonso, who is competing in his seventeenth F1 season, won the 2005 and 2006 championships when racing for Renault. 'After seventeen wonderful years in this amazing sport it's time for me to make a change and move on,' he said. 'I made this decision some months ago and it was a firm one. There are still several Grands Prix to go this season and I will take part in them with more commitment and passion than ever,' he added. 'Let's see what the future brings; new exciting challenges are around the corner. I'm having one of the happiest times ever in my life but I need to go on exploring new adventures.' Alonso has in recent years branched out into other series and in June he won the Le Mans Twenty Four Hours sportscar race at his first attempt. He joined Toyota's World Endurance Championship programme this season with the aim of winning Le Mans and has dovetailed it with F1. That victory provided him with the second part of motorsport's 'triple crown.' Twice a Monaco Grand Prix winner, Alonso is only missing Indianapolis Five Hundred success. He competed in the Indy Five Hundred in May 2017, retiring towards the end of the race with engine failure, having run strongly throughout and led for a total of twenty seven laps. Only Graham Hill has won all three classic races in the history of motorsport. Alonso ended Michael Schumacher's five-year dominance of the drivers' championship when he won the first of his titles in 2005. At the time, he became the youngster ever driver to win the title. He has also finished championship runner-up three times and to date has achieved thirty two wins, twenty two pole positions and ninety seven podium finishes. In his statement confirming he would retire at the end of this season, he suggested there may be a chance of him one day returning. 'I want to thank everyone at McLaren,' he said. 'My heart is with the team forever. I know they will come back stronger and better in the future and it could be the right moment for me to be back in the series; that would make me really happy.'
A 'foul-mouthed' parrot launched 'a four-letter tirade' at a firefighter as he tried to rescue the bird from a neighbour's roof in North London. And, this bollocks constitutes 'news', apparently. Jessie's owner had asked for help after the multilingual Macaw parrot spent three days on the roof in Edmonton. The RSPCA called in the London Fire Brigade to rescue the bird. Crew manager Atinc Horoz climbed up a ladder to get Jessie but was met with 'a volley of swear words' from the parrot, which then fucked off. LFB watch manager Chris Swallow said Horoz had told Jessie 'I love you' after being advised it was the only way to establish a 'bond' with the parrot. 'Jessie responded "I love you" back, we then discovered that she had a bit of a foul mouth and kept swearing, much to our amusement,' Swallow said. It emerged that Jessie also speaks - and, presumably, swears in - Turkish and Greek, 'so we tried telling her to "come" in both those languages too,' Swallow added. 'Thankfully, it soon became apparent that Jessie was fine and uninjured as she flew off to another roof and then to a tree.' After escaping, Jessie returned home 'of her own accord' on Monday afternoon, the LFB confirmed. Her owner later sent the firefighters who came to help her a video of Jessie thanking them.
Fancy a tarantula taco for twenty seven bucks, dear blog reader? No, me neither but a Mexico City market restaurant recently put the arachnids on its menu and posted a video on Facebook showing a chef torching one to within an inch of its life. And then, torching it some more until it blackened. And, that was the end of the spider's shit. The only problem is that the Mexican red rump tarantula is an extremely protected species. The federal environmental protection agency said on Tuesday that it was 'alerted to the situation' via some filthy stinking Copper's Narks on social media and had seized four tarantula corpses which were ready to be served on tortillas. The tarantula tacos were, apparently, on offer for five hundred pesos, fifty times the price of a basic street taco. The restaurant's menu also features grasshoppers, worms and ant eggs, which have a long tradition in Mexican cuisine and scorpions, which are less common.
A woman who punched a man when he grabbed her genitals - twice - in a Nottingham club says she does not 'endorse' violence but that is 'proud' of standing up for herself. Way to go, sister. Penny Reeve said that people have been 'really supportive' since she spoke about what had happened on social media. It has also,seemingly, 'encouraged' people to share their own stories of 'pretty awful descriptions of abuse,' she said. Police in Nottinghamshire, where the alleged assault happened, have asked people to report incidents like this to them in future. Reeve said: 'I don't endorse violence at all, though I do endorse the right to self-defence and a woman's right to agency over her own body and who's allowed to touch it. Post the Me Too movement I think there's much less patience for this kind of behaviour and people would like to see it challenged on a more regular basis.' The man allegedly grabbed Reeve while she was dancing with friends at Mojo in Nottingham city centre on Saturday 11 August. She initially thought the first contact may have been accidental, but when the man did it a second time she 'immediately' punched him - really hard, one imagines - in the ribs, then challenged him as to what the blithering fek he thought he was playing at. 'He just looked very embarrassed and ashamed of himself and kind of mumbled sorry and went to the other side of the club,' she said. She later posted about what happened on Twitter and Facebook. 'People have been really supportive of the way I reacted to the situation and really interesting discussions have opened up as a result,' she said. 'On nights out I think often sexual harassment and assault is a way of men "trying their luck" in a club, they often don't think of it as an offence.' Touching another person sexually without their prior consent is sexual assault. Nottinghamshire Police said that it also treats such incidents as examples of misogyny hate crime. 'Unwanted sexual contact is an offence and will not be tolerated and we would urge anyone who experiences it to ring us on One-Zero-One,' a force spokesman said. 'If it happens in a bar or club, where possible, people can also go to a member of door staff.' Reeve said she did not report the incident because she felt that she had 'dealt with it herself,' but encouraged anyone who finds themselves in a similar situation to do so.
Missouri woman who was extremely busted attempting to smuggle two pounds of cocaine into Australia claims that she was 'tricked into committing the crime' by a lover she met on the Internet. Denise Marie Woodrum, was very arrested last August at Sydney Airport after customs officers found two pounds of drugs stuffed into the high heels of the shoes she was carrying, Sydney Morning Herald reported. In January, Woodrum pleaded EXTREMELY guilty to importing a commercial quantity of a border-controlled drug. Authorities are still determining whether she knew what she was doing. Last week, Rebecca Neil, Woodrum's attorney, told District Court Judge Penelope Wass that her client was 'groomed and duped' into transporting the drugs by Hendrik Cornelius, a man she met online. 'She was groomed to provide a financial gain for this person, Hendrik Cornelius, whatever person or persons it was behind this identity,' Neil said. 'She went on this trip thinking she was bringing artefacts for him.' During the proceedings, Wass rejected Woodrum's defence as 'inconsistent and unbelievable. I am less than convinced by her explanation,' she said. Woodrum, an associate of the Adorers of the Blood of Christ, an international order of vowed Catholic women whose US offices are based in Missouri, claimed that she 'met' Cornelius online during 'a tough period in her life.' Woodrum claimed that she had 'just suffered a failed marriage and health issues' which inundated her with large bills. Although Woodrum and Cornelius had never actually met, they sent each other hundreds of text messages and 'developed a relationship.' Neil claimed that Woodrum was 'a vulnerable women' who was 'preyed on by a stranger.' On 18 July 2017, Woodrum embarked on a series of flights from Missouri to Texas, then Trinidad & Tobago, before travelling to Suriname in South America the following day. A week later, on 25 July, she sent a suspicious text to a contact called 'Stacie,' saying the 'whole trip is paid for and will get additional payment for work.' On 30 July, she told Cornelius that she was 'riding in his car to get stuff no signature needed' and texted him a list of hotel and flight expenses before she made the trip to Sydney in August. After being discovered by Australian border police, Woodrum told authorities that she was 'given clothes' in Paramaribo, Suriname, to gift to people in Sydney. Meanwhile, Cornelius was messaging her: 'Are you okay?' 'Shuttle?' 'Taxi?' and 'What are you doing, honey?' Tom Rozanski, Woodrum's father, told Fairfax Media that the charges against his daughter 'was a big shock to the whole family. It just came out of the blue,' he said. 'All of a sudden she met someone she talked to. She said she was going to be doing some travelling. Life took a turn. She has never done anything like this before and this experience has been difficult for me to understand. Mostly because none of our family has had anything happen to them that even remotely resembles what Denise has done. I'm just hoping the best for her, that's all I can tell you,' Rozanski said. Woodrum, who has been in custody since arriving in Sydney, is scheduled to be sentenced in early September.
One of the ringleaders behind the Hatton Garden raid has been given additional bird for failing to pay his confiscation order. Daniel Jones has been sentenced to a further six years and two hundred and eighty seven days for failing to pay back six million, five hundred and ninety nine thousand and twenty one smackers. He was a member of the gang which stole some fourteen million quid's worth of goods after drilling into a vault at London's Hatton Garden Safe Deposit in Easter 2015. Jones received his additional sentence at Westminster Magistrates' Court. The sixty three-year-old, from Enfield, was originally jailed for seven years in March 2016 after admitting conspiracy to commit burglary. In January, Jones and three other men were ordered to pay a combined total of more than six million notes between them after it was found they benefitted from the stolen cash, gold and gems. The gang was also ordered to each pay an extra sum 'depending on their personal circumstances.' Although, given that they're all in The Big House, one would have thought that their current personal circumstances do not include all that much additional earnings-potential. The raid has been branded 'the largest burglary in English legal history' with some two thirds of the valuables taken believed to remain unrecovered. Heather Chalk, specialist prosecutor at the CPS, said that Jones had 'gained millions of pounds of criminal cash' from the burglary. 'In January, the CPS showed the court that Jones had the funds to pay back his ill-gotten gains and today we have successfully argued that his default sentences should be activated,' she said.
Police are investigating after a video which apparently shows a man 'spanking a hippopotamus' at the Los Angeles Zoo. That's not a euphemism for anything, just in case you were wondering. The video shows the man crossing a railing last week and sneaking up on two hippos, Rosie and Mara. He smacks Rosie on the rear and her mother lifts her head as the man runs off and raises his arms in gesture of victory. Zoo spokeswoman April Spurlock told the Los Angeles Times that 'any unauthorised interaction' with an animal is 'unsafe for the animal and potentially unsafe for the person.' And, slapping a hippo on the arse would certainly appear to fall inyo the 'unauthorised interaction' category. Spurlock says that state law prohibits entering zoo enclosures. The zoo has posted a 'No Trespassing' sign on the exhibit for the first time. Police told the newspaper that they are 'investigating the case' as trespassing because the hippo did not appear to be injured.
After sixteen years of non-stop opera blaring from her home, police have arrested a Slovakian woman accused of driving her neighbours mental. Hungarian news site reported the woman, identified only as Eva, was arrested by police in the Southern town of Sturovo on Monday and is now facing charges of harassment and malicious persecution. The woman is accused of playing the same four minute aria from Giuseppe Verdi's La Traviata over and over again, on full volume, from morning until night. Local media claims the woman initially cranked up the volume on her home entertainment system to drown out a neighbourhood dog's loud barking. But, for some reason, she continued her assault on the senses for sixteen years, with neighbours furiously accusing the woman of harassment. 'I love Placido Domingo,' one woman told Hungarian news site 'But not like this.' 'The whole street is suffering,' another resident said. Verdi's La Traviata is adapted from the novel of the same name by Alexandre Dumas Fils, the son of the legendary author Alexandre Dumas, who wrote The Three Musketeers. The opera tells the tale of a famed courtesan in Paris and was made famous in the modern era when directed by Franco Zeffirelli in 1983. It is understood the offending version blasted out by the Slovakian woman was one starring Spanish tenor Plácido Domingo. Eva has been remanded in custody and, according to local media, could face up to three years in jail if convicted.
The summer heatwave has continued to reveal details of England's ancient past to archaeologists. Surveys from the air have revealed Neolithic ceremonial monuments, Iron Age settlements, square burial mounds and a Roman farm for the first time. Historic England said that the weather 'provided the perfect conditions' to see the crop marks because of 'the lack of moisture in the soil.' They include two Neolithic monuments discovered near Milton Keynes. The long rectangles near Clifton Reynes are thought to be paths or processional ways dating from 3600 to 3000BC, one of the oldest of their type in the country. Numerous features in a ceremonial landscape near Eynsham, a few miles North-West of Oxford, date from 4000BC to 700BC. Monuments to the dead, a settlement and a circle of pits can be seen in crop marks on the field in an area that is already protected. Other finds include an Iron Age round settlement at St Ive, Cornwall, a prehistoric settlement with concentric ditches at Lansallos, also in Cornwall, Iron Age square burial mounds or barrows in Pocklington, a Bronze Age barrow, a ditch and series of pits that could mark a land boundary in Scropton, Derbyshire, a settlement or cemetery at Stoke-by-Clare, Suffolk, a Roman farm in a field of grass at Bicton, Devon, prehistoric farms in Stogumber, Somerset, an ancient enclosure in Churchstanton, also in Somerset and the buried foundations of Tixall Hall in Staffordshire. In each case the remains are revealed as differences in colour or in the height of crops or grass. Duncan Wilson, chief executive of Historic England, said: 'The discovery of ancient farms, settlements and Neolithic cursus monuments is exciting. The exceptional weather has opened up whole areas at once rather than just one or two fields and it has been fascinating to see so many traces of our past graphically revealed.' Historic England uses aerial photography of crop marks to produce archaeological maps to help determine the significance of buried remains. This can help when making decisions about protecting them from future development or damage caused by ploughing. Aerial investigation and mapping manager Helen Winton said: 'This is the first potential bumper year in what feels like a long time. It is very exciting to have hot weather for this long. 2011 was the last time we had an exceptional year when we discovered over fifteen hundred sites, with most on the claylands of Eastern England.'
A passenger who called in a bomb hoax in order to delay his flight has been extremely jailed. Jacob Meir Abdellak rang the police eight minutes before the plane was due to leave Gatwick Airport for Los Angeles on 11 May. The phone number used to make the call was the same one that Abdellak had used to book his flight, Sussex Police said. He admitted a false information charge at Lewes Crown Court on Tuesday and was sentenced to ten months in the pokey. Abdellak, from Hackney, made the anonymous call at 5:47am, delaying take-off by ninety minutes. Inquiries revealed the forty seven-year-old had been abusive towards airline employees when they did not allow him to board as a result of being late for the flight. He was told to return on another date to rearrange his flight, the force said. The librarian was arrested at Gatwick eleven days later on 22 May as he attempted to board another flight to the United States. The French national admitted that the telephone number used to make the hoax call was his, but claimed he could not have made the call as he had lost the Sim card days earlier. Abdellak previously pleaded not guilty to the charge of communicating false information regarding a noxious substance. But, he changed his plea on the day the trial was due to start and was ordered to pay a one hundred and forty knicker 'victim surcharge' as well as serving his jail term. Gatwick Police Chief Inspector Marc Clothier said that Abdellak's actions were 'ridiculous. He was running late for his flight and thought it would be a good idea to call in a hoax bomb. This turned out to be the worst decision he could have made. His actions caused a level of fear and distress among a number of staff and passengers on board that flight.'
Locals in a city on the coast of Colombia have been told to stop having The Sex to ensure they stay cool during a scorching heatwave. Julio Salas - the health secretary of Santa Marta - was 'met with laughter and disbelief' when he issued the rather novel advice, which he listed alongside other tips like wearing loose clothing and drinking plenty of water. According to national news website El Heraldo, Salas said that he thought avoiding sex was 'logical' - in the same way people would not take part in strenuous exercise in extreme heat. Salas said that if people find it 'too much of a struggle' to abstain from sex, then they should 'at least wait until the sun goes down' as 'it is better to do it at night when the ambient temperature is lower.' But, he added: 'If you have a good air conditioning, there is no problem.'
Football fans have been told to stay away from a Lancashire town where travelling supporters regularly stop off on their way to games. Chorley Council wants to stop coaches of away fans - and other assorted 'common riff-raff' - from visiting its town centre, because, it says, they have been 'intimidating' residents and shoppers and causing all manner of other malarkey and shenanigans. A letter has been sent to clubs saying that fans were 'not welcome.' And that 'ee don't want your sort round here, this is a nice town.' Probably. The Lancashire market town is a stop-off for fans on their way to games at Notlob Wanderings, Blackburn Vindaloos, Preston Both Ends, Burnley and Wigan Not-Very-Athletic. Chorley councillor Danny Gee, who sent the letter on behalf of the council's Town Centre Team, later 'clarified' they were specifically targeting coach loads of fans and admitted the letter 'could have been worded better.' And, less ignorant and absurd. Gee told BBC 5Live that 'congregating coaches' had become 'a big problem.' He added that the request had come from residents and business owners, who said their takings had dropped on match days. The letter refers to a story from April, where hundreds of Wolverhampton Wanderings fans visited Chorley before an away game at Notlob, but said that they had been 'relatively good-natured.' It was widely criticised on social media and the Football Supporters' Federation said it was seeking legal advice. Although, probably a far better form of revenge would be if coach parties did, indeed, avoid Chorley and go somewhere else instead to spend all their money. 'Football fans being told they're not welcome in pubs is one thing but to be told formally by a council they're not welcome in a whole town?! Wow! I'm genuinely speechless at this,' tweeted FSF caseworker Amanda Jacks. Chorley FC, known as The Magpies (no relation), play in National League North, the sixth tier of English football. Responding to a tweet the council sent congratulating Chorley on a win, Jacks replied: 'You can't have your cake and eat it. You either welcome football in your town, or you don't.' Ooo, she's mad-vexed, isn't she? Reiterating the council's position, Gee told The Phil Williams Show it was 'not banning anyone' and it was 'powerless' because of a lack of police. Which single statement has probably just encouraged every shop-lifter in two hundred mile radius to make a bee-line for Chorley. He added: 'Fans are welcome, but we are not welcoming large amount of coaches with one hundred and two hundred fans, congregating outside pubs and disrupting the town centre. They stand outside pubs and intimidate shoppers and families. They arrive at 12pm and leave at 2.30pm - by that time most of the shoppers have left.' In a statement, the council added: 'If the clubs themselves see fit to stop away fans entering some of their local pubs and don't sell alcohol in the ground why should that perceived problem be passed on to our town centre to deal with? As we stated in the letter we have done a lot of work and invested a lot of time and money into the town centre and we don't want Saturdays, which are one of the busiest days for traders, to be affected by people put off by football fans causing anti-social behaviour.' Chorley Council subsequently announced that they had reversed their decision, presumably after deciding that they'd had enough of being considered worthless shitty snobs by just about everyone in the whole world.
England have moved up six places to sixth in FIFA's world rankings after their run to the World Cup semi-finals in Russia. It is their highest position since they were fourth in March 2013. World Cup winners France rise six spots to top the rankings, ahead of Belgium, Brazil and Croatia, while Germany fall from first to fifteenth place. Wales are down one to nineteenth, while Northern Ireland and Scotchland go up two to twenty seventh and fortieth respectively. The Republic of Ireland also rise two positions to twenty ninth. England beat Colombia and Sweden in the knockout stages in Russia before losing to Croatia in the semi-finals. France have taken over top spot from Germany after winning the tournament for the second time, with runners-up Croatia rising sixteen spots to fourth. Host nation Russia were the biggest climbers in the rankings, up twenty one places to forty ninth. Germany have plummeted down the rankings following their exit at the group stage. Argentina, down six places to eleventh, Chile, down three places to twelfth and Poland, down tenth to eighteenth, also slipped. England return to international action on 8 September when they face Spain in the UEFA Nations League at Wembley.
The actress Janet Hargreaves has died at the age of eighty one. Janet appeared in three episodes of the 1988 Doctor Who story, The Greatest Show in the Galaxy though she is best known for her performance in the long running soap, Crossroads, where she played the glamorous (if somewhat unhinged) Rosemary Hunter from 1971 to 1980. Janet graduated from RADA in 1956, achieving a productive stage career appearing in Elgar & Alice, Habeas Corpus and a well-regarded performance in the long-running Agatha Christie play The Mousetrap. Prior to Crossroads she had a regular role in the BBC soap Compact, playing Clare Farrell and in The Doctors, as Cheryl Barnes. She later appeared in Follyfoot, The Avengers, Bottle Boys (an acclaimed turn as Margaret Thatcher) and Poirot. She played the spy Eirlys Brooks in Danger Man and appeared in Hammer's Frankenstein & The Monster From Hell. She remained active into her eighties continuing to teach and act and was a regular at Crossroads reunions.
On a bone-chillingly cold day in January 2009, Aretha Franklin stood on the steps of The Capitol in Washington, swathed in a spectacular ensemble of coat and hat in two shades of grey, singing 'My Country, 'Tis Of Thee' to her new president. All around her - and down the full length of the National Mall - the vast audience included many African-Americans with tears in their eyes, celebrating the inauguration of Barack Obama. She was facing West, as hundreds of thousands of slaves had done when they landed on a shore at the conclusion of their kidnap from Africa. 'Let freedom ring,' she sang, in the anthem's famous exhortation and millions watching on television around the world could not help but share the resonance of a historic moment. Franklin, who died this week aged seventy six, possessed one of the most remarkable, distinctive and influential voices in the history of popular music. In a fifty-year recording career she racked up twenty top ten LPs - including I Never Loved A Man The Way I Love You (1967), Lady Soul (1968), Young, Gifted & Black and Amazing Grace (both 1972) - a dozen million-selling singles and earned no fewer than eighteen Grammy awards. An artist of immense versatility, her powerful voice, trained in the gospel tradition, moved on to embrace jazz, soul and rhythm and blues. She was both the heir to the sacred tradition of Mahalia Jackson and Clara Ward, frequent visitors to her childhood home and the lineal descendant of the more secular Bessie Smith and Dinah Washington. Rolling Stone magazine rated her as the greatest singer of all time (male or female). Everybody else called her The Queen Of Soul.
Aretha Louise Franklin was born in Memphis, in March 1942. She was the daughter of CL Franklin, a Baptist minister and his wife, Barbara, an accomplished gospel singer. By the time Aretha was six, she and her family had moved to Detroit. There the young Aretha became something of musical prodigy, learning to play the piano by ear and singing in her father's church choir. Her friends and neighbours in Detroit included Berry Gordy and Smokey Robinson, later to found the Tamla and Motown labels; another future Motown star, Marvin Gaye, dated her older sister. But it was a newly arrived music director at her father's church, James Cleveland, who, although barely out of his teens himself, helped to focus her early career as a gospel singer. Her father's serial infidelities finally saw the break-up of her parents' marriage. Her mother left the family home and moved to Buffalo, where she died from a heart attack aged thirty four. (Contrary to popular notions, her mother did not abandon her children; not only would Aretha recall seeing her mother in Buffalo during the summer, Barbara also frequently visited her children in Detroit.) Aretha's father became a respected figure among Detroit's black community and his church a centre for gospel music. His emotionally driven sermons like 'The Eagle Stirreth Her Nest' and 'Dry Bones in the Valley' resulted in his being known as the man with 'the million-dollar voice.' The young Aretha came into contact with a number of musicians, including Robinson and Sam Cooke. Encouraged by her father she made her first recording, the LP Songs Of Faith, when she was just fourteen, by which time she had already given birth to her first son, Clarence. She had a second child, Edward, when she was sixteen, but was able to maintain her singing career when her grandmother offered to raise the two boys. By now her talent was reaching a wider audience. Berry Gordy tried to sign her to his Motown stable, but her father turned down the offer. Sam Cooke tried to persuade her to sign with his label, RCA. But she had already been spotted by one of Columbia's talent scouts and that was the label on which she first entered the R&B charts in 1960 with 'Today I Sing the Blues'. While she had two further R&B hits with Columbia, she only managed to scrape into the mainstream US top forty once, with 'Rock-A-Bye Your Baby With A Dixie Melody'. But Columbia failed to exploit the potential of her gospel voice and their insistence that she record girl group-style pop, such as 'The Shoop Shoop Song.' Her contemporaries were the emerging stars of soul music, but as long as she remained with Columbia she was trapped in the smart, superficial world of the supper club. 'I felt it important to sing songs people knew and could sing along with,' she said, a misconception that was finally broken down when she linked up with Jerry Wexler, the vice-president of Atlantic Records, a former Billboard journalist who had already played an important role in the careers of Ray Charles, The Drifters and Solomon Burke. 'You'll do good things with Aretha,' his friend John Hammond assured him. 'You understand her musically.' Wexler decided that in order to bring the best out of her, he had to get her out of New York and send her South, to a place where the roots of her artistry could emerge naturally. In January 1967 Franklin and Wexler travelled to Alabama for a scheduled two weeks of recording at the Fame studios in Muscle Shoals, where they were greeted by the studio's owner, Rick Hall and a rhythm section composed, in Wexler's words, of 'Alabama white boys who took a left turn at the blues.' Sensitive to the feelings of Franklin and her volatile husband in a potentially awkward environment, the producer had asked Hall to hire a horn section including black musicians. Her first recording on the new label, 'I Never Loved A Man (The Way I Love You)', proved to be her breakthrough, going to number one in the rhythm and blues charts and reaching then top ten in the pop charts. Her second Atlantic single became her best known song. Originally written and recorded by Otis Redding, her gospel-tinged rendition of 'Respect' went to number one in the US charts and reached number ten in the UK. The song, on which she was backed by her sisters Carolyn and Erma, became an anthem for the feminist movement and won Franklin two Grammy awards. Franklin also became an icon for the US civil rights movement. Now dubbed, 'Lady Soul', she was presented with an award by Martin Luther King and became only the second African-American woman to appear on the cover of Time magazine. When King was shot dead in 1968, Aretha sang his favourite gospel song, 'Take My Hand, Precious Lord', at a memorial service. Asked about the man she knew by Ebony magazine, Franklin said: 'He and my dad were great friends and my dad from time to time, being the older gentleman, would counsel Doctor King. I always had a great admiration for him and his sense of decency and the justice that he wanted. He was a good man. Just a plain old good man, good person and you can't help but admire that.' A fighter for racial and gender justice, she once reportedly walked off a Vogue photo session in the 1960s when she noticed that all the other models were white. But she could seem vulnerable and agoraphobia and a fear of flying were said to have prevented her from touring for long periods. A lover of food, extravagant gowns and adventurous hairstyles, she used her autobiography to attempt not just to catalogue seemingly every outfit she had worn on a big occasion but also to dispel, without great success, the prevailing impression that she possessed, as Hammond had warned Wexler in 1967, a 'withdrawn and enigmatic' character.
She had three more US top ten hits in 1967, 'Baby I Love You', 'Chain Of fools' and the Carole King/Gerry Goffin masterpiece '(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman' which became another strong anthem for the women's movement. By this time her seven year-long marriage to her manager, Ted White, who had also co-written many of her songs, was breaking down and Franklin was experiencing difficulties in following up her early run of Atlantic hits. There were rumours she had begun drinking heavily and, in 1969, she was arrested for disorderly conduct. Meanwhile, her father had hosted a controversial conference for a black separatist group that ended in a violent confrontation with Detroit police. It left one officer dead and several other people wounded. While she continued to churn out hits - masterpieces like 'Think', 'I Say A Little Prayer' (both 1968), 'The Weight', 'Eleanor Rigby' and 'Share Your Love With Me' (1969), 'Call Me' and 'Don't Play That Song' (both 1970) and 'Spanish Harlem' (1971) - she was becoming increasingly disillusioned with Atlantic, who were grooming a new star, Roberta Flack, for stardom. The 1978 LP Diva, an ill-advised attempt to cash in on the disco craze, was a commercial flop and became her last recording for Atlantic. A year later her father was shot during a burglary at his Detroit home, an event which left him in a coma until his death in 1984. Aretha's behaviour was giving cause for concern and she had to cut down on her touring after developing a phobia of flying. Yet her appearance in 1980 film The Blues Brothers gave her career the lift it needed and a recording contract with Arista that saw her return to the charts with the LP Jump To It. Its title song became her first US top forty hit in six years. Who's Zoomin' Who?, a mixture of pop, rock and dance, became Franklin's first ever platinum-certified LP. Released in 1985, it contained hit singles 'Freeway Of Love' and 'Sisters Are Doin' It For Themselves', a top twenty duet with The Eurythmics. Her next LP, Aretha, continued to build on her success and included the hits 'Jimmy Lee' and a version of 'Jumpin' Jack Flash', produced by and featuring Keith Richards, as well as her Grammy-winning duet with George Michael, 'I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)'. 'It's often said Aretha Franklin could make any old rubbish sound wonderful,' said John Peel introducing the video for the latter on Top Of The Pops. 'In fact, I think she just has!' But her career again hit a plateau. She made a return to gospel with the LP One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism, which received much critical praise and a Grammy award, but failed to trouble the charts. The follow-up, Through the Storm, also failed to make an impression, despite a duet with Elton John on the title song. In 1987 Franklin became the first woman to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, while in 1994 she received a Grammy award for lifetime achievement. In 1998, Franklin received international acclaim for singing the opera aria 'Nessun dorma' at the Grammys of that year, replacing Luciano Pavarotti. Later that year, she scored her final top forty song with 'A Rose Is Still A Rose'. But her career had stagnated. She continued to record, without great success and reprised her role as the owner of a restaurant in the film Blues Brothers 2000, for which she recorded a new version of 'Respect'. Franklin set up her own label, Aretha Records, in 2003, but failed to release any CDs on it. This was despite her announcement in 2006 that new songs had already been recorded for a project entitled A Woman Falling Out Of Love. In 2009 she sang 'My Country, 'Tis Of Thee' at the inauguration ceremony of newly-elected US president Barack Obama. He was third president for whom she had sung at an inauguration, following Jimmy Carter in 1977 and Bill Clinton in 1993. Following an operation in 2011 she struggled with health issues and cancelled a number of concerts. But in 2013 she returned to live performances with a concert in Detroit which launched a major tour. Franklin's own philosophy probably sums up why, despite the ups and downs of her career, she became such an enduring talent. 'Being a singer is a natural gift. It means I'm using to the highest degree possible the gift that God gave me to use. I'm happy with that.' Her sister, Carolyn, died in 1988, followed by their brother Cecil the following year and Erma in 2002. Twice married, Aretha is survived by her four sons, Clarence Franklin, Edward Franklin, Teddy Richards and Kecalf Cunningham.
On Thursday, following the first reports that The Queen Of Soul had died, FOX News broadcast a lengthy video featuring clips from Aretha's life and performances. The video, whilst seemingly sincere, had one glaring issue however. At around the 3:30 mark, there was an image of Franklin with the text '1942 - 2018.' Transposed on that image in the upper right corner is a photo of a woman singing. Unfortunately, it was the legendary soul singer Patti LaBelle rather than the late Aretha Franklin.
And finally, an argument over who played or rather will play, Aretha Franklin in a biopic movie turned violent on Thursday morning according to the Suffolk, Virginia police and WTKR. Police were called to the scene of a reported shooting and said that two men were arguing when one of them pulled out a firearm and shot the other. Both men were taken to hospitals for treatment of their injuries. The man who was shot was listed on Thursday morning as being 'in serious condition' and 'really not very well at all' at a hospital, police said. A witness told WTKR that the men had been arguing over whether Halle Berry had once played Franklin in a movie. Franklin had publicly hoped that Berry would play her in a biopic about her life several years ago, but Berry declined because she said she lacked the singing ability, according to a 2011 report from The Hollywood Reporter. Jennifer Hudson was subsequently chosen to portray Franklin in biopic which is set to begin filming next year.