Thursday, September 06, 2018

Happy Sundays

Jodie Whittaker's first series of Doctor Who is to move from its traditional Saturday night slot, the BBC has confirmed (after months of speculation that it would). The ten-episode series (with an eleventh episode scheduled for Christmas) will be broadcast on Sundays, starting on 7 October. Again, as was widely speculated in recent weeks within fandom and elsewhere and despite several hilariously ill-informed sources suggesting that 23 September would be the series' start date. An hour-long episode titled The Woman Who Fell To Earth will launch the series. It is likely the transmission day change to Sunday has been made in order ensure that the series has a regular time slot. Previous series have sometimes seen the show's broadcast Saturday slot varying from week-to-week due to a variety of factors, something which should now be avoided.
While Saturday nights have been seen as the showcase for some of TV's biggest shows, in recent years it has been Sunday night programmes that have often delivered some of the week's highest ratings, particularly on the BBC. The most watched programme of 2017 was BBC1's Blue Planet II, which was broadcast on a Sunday night. And, in recent weeks the political drama series Bodyguard has achieved the highest consolidated launch ratings for any new drama in a decade. The only previous occasions that Doctor Who has been shown on a Sunday were for two episodes broadcast on Christmas Day and the autumn special, The Waters Of Mars in 2009. The switch means that Doctor Who will avoid direct competition with The X Factor. No timeslot has yet been confirmed but the series is likely to be shown in the early evening along with the Strictly Come Dancing results show. Charlotte Moore, the Director of BBC Content said: 'With Chris Chibnall at the helm and Jodie Whittaker's arrival as the new Doctor, we are heralding a brand new era for the show and so it feels only right to give it a new home on Sunday nights at the heart of BBC1's Autumn schedule.' BBC America has confirmed that the first episode will be screened in the United States at the same time as the UK, meaning the series will debut in the US in the early afternoon. The rest of the series will be seen in the usual prime-time evening slot. Additionally, The Woman Who Fell To Earth, is being shown in Australian cinemas on 8 October, just hours after its broadcast on UK and US Television.
The BBC also launched a short teaser trailer this week heralding Jodie Whittaker's arrival in which The Doctor, quite literally, breaks the glass ceiling. Subtext rapidly becoming there text. It was not a real glass ceiling, obviously, it as been done using the magic of CGI. Because, breaking an actual glass ceiling would presumably be not only beyond the BBC's budget, but also rather unwise with the new star of Doctor Who standing directly underneath it.
Meanwhile, BBC Studios, which makes the popular long-running family SF drama, has been heavily criticised by many parts of fandom after the entertainment website Cultbox was threatened with legal action for 'reporting' (or, rather, speculating) what the launch date would be a day before the BBC's announcement. The site had referenced an official page for the BBC series on the iTunes store, which had published the launch date 7 October a day earlier. Although numerous fan sites and blogs (this one very much included) had been suggesting that 7 October was a likely start date for the series for some weeks ever since the press showing of the opening episode was announced for 24 September. A 'cease and desist' letter sent on behalf of the BBC said that they considered the - now removed - story on Cultbox contained 'classified information,' which it constituted 'a breach of a trade secret.' Which, even by the BBC's standards is a hideously crass and ludicrously bully-boy scum over-reaction for which, hopefully, some litigious spelk will get their arse kicked, really hard, for being such a glake.
Meanwhile, proving that they can do some things right, BBC Studios released another superb new trailer for Doctor Who (a longer one, this time) soundtracked by The Only Ones' 'Another Girl, Another Planet' and featuring highlights from the last ten series. And a few - blink-and-you'll-miss-'em - clips from Jodie's first batch of episodes (none of which we haven't already seen). Nice one BBC Studios. Now, if you could manage not threaten fans for the dreadful crime of 'being interested in your show', that would also be worthy of considerable praise.
Jodie Whittaker has assured Marie Claire readers that she is 'definitely ready' to 'have some fun' with her first series of Doctor Who. Jodie was reportedly urged by new showrunner Chris Chibnall not to watch any of her Doctor Who predecessors before auditioning in order to bring an entirely new interpretation. 'Doctor Who wasn't something that was on TV in my house when I was growing up, so I thought I'd have to cane it before the first audition and watch every single episode,' she said. 'Thankfully, Chris said, "I don't want you to. I want you to come in with fresh eyes and bring what you would do in this environment."' Once she got the audition out of the way, what appealed most to Jodie about the role of The Doctor was that it wouldn't be defined along gender lines like every other part she had ever played. 'I knew that there would be a huge amount of people it would be a shock for,' she said. 'But this job celebrates change more than any other role - you have a physical regeneration, so casting [a woman] supports that story and doesn't go against the rules of the show in any way. I'm playing a Time Lord who is, essentially, an alien and inhabits different bodies and this one is female. The best thing for me though is that, for the first time in my life, I am not playing a stereotypical woman because as much as I approach everything as an actor, I am continually labelled by the female version of that character. I recently had someone ask me, "Are you playing it as a girl or a boy?" I replied, "I'm just playing it." This is the most freeing role because there are no rules.' Jodie also had a message for fans who may be concerned about her interpretation of The Doctor, given that her previous work has mostly been in more gritty dramas. '[My previous roles] may be what fans were nervous of - they've only seen me be serious or heavy in energy and that isn't necessarily the mercurial Doctor,' she admitted. 'When you play troubled people, it pushes you beyond your emotional boundaries and there's an exhaustion because you've sat in this heaviness. But with this role, I'm continually running about and jumping and playing, so I bound off into the weekend like a maniac. I'm like, "Come on, I'm awake!" I'm probably an absolute pain in the arse. There's a weird euphoria and that's why it's been so much fun. I've never laughed so much in my life, every day. I adore the companions [Bradley Walsh, Mandip Gill and Tosin Cole]. I'm blessed to be given three people I now consider family members to go on this journey with.'
Another part of the current publicity push for the new series of Doctor Who - the cover of The Times Magazine which also featured an interview with Jodie - provided fandom with its biggest collective laugh it's had in decades; a (probably unintended) allusion to one of the most embarrassing moments in Doctor Who's history - that bloody woeful record!
In this week's 'utterly crap Doctor Who-related tabloid story', let's have a big round of applause for those wonderful purveyors of truthful and accurate reportage, the Daily Lies for the remarkable revelation that Doctor Who: Change of gender will BARELY get mention in new series. No shit? 'Fans expecting the new series to be packed with comments and jokes about the Time Lord turning into a woman will be disappointed,' the risible shite-scum tabloid dribbled, whilst failing to identify any fans who had been expecting that or anything even remotely like it. An alleged (though suspiciously anonymous and, therefore, almost certainly fictitious) 'source' allegedly sneered: 'It is odd that one minute Peter Capaldi is The Doc and he turns into Jodie Whittaker and the sex change is barely mentioned.' No it isn't. Of course, the Lies has considerable form in exactly this kind of made-up horse-crap. Who can forget this one, for instance? Or, even more memorably, this one? If the Daily Lies stated, boldly, that Sunday is the day after Saturday, dear blog readers, this blogger would require a second source before believing and repeating it.
That There Bradley Walsh has revealed that he almost turned down the role of Graham in Doctor Who. The actor, comedian and presenter stated that he initially said no when asked to take the part ... because Chris Chibnall would not tell him who the new Doctor would be. Explaining how he was offered the character, Walsh told the Sun: 'I was with Chris having lunch last year and he said, "Brad, I want you to do a job." I said, "Sure, what?" He said, "I can't tell. It's very, very secret. But you are the man for the job. It's in Cardiff and will be a nine-month shoot."' Bradley then met with The Chib again, where he was told a little more information about the project. 'I had another meeting and he said, "It is Doctor Who - not for The Doctor, though. We are going to change it around." I said, "Who is going to be The Doctor?" He said, "We can't tell!" So I said, "I can't accept." He said, "But we want you. It will be an unbelievable journey. It will be groundbreaking. We are going to go for it. The BBC have trusted us." So I'm in. A leap of faith.'
BBC Studios have also announced that it will be hosting a special 'Doctor Who Experience' at South Africa's first Comic-Con to tie in with the next series. The event is taking place in Johannesburg between 14 and 16 September and will feature VR experiences, video games, trivia and fan giveaways, plus a showing of Peter Capaldi's finale and the arrival of a new Doctor. The series itself will be shown in South Africa as a Showmax exclusive and has been described as: 'Bigger and bolder than ever.'
BBC1's thriller Bodyguard easily fought off ITV's new period drama Vanity Fair in Sunday's TV ratings battle, attracting more than twice as many overnight viewers as its rival. The third episode of Bodyguard was seen by an average of 6.6 million viewers, according to overnight figures. The launch of Vanity Fair averaged but 2.9 million. It followed The X Factor, whose own overnight ratings fell from 5.7 million on Saturday to five million on Sunday. Vanity Fair, based on William Makepeace Thackeray's Nineteenth Century novel, had been billed as the programme to fill the gap left by Downton Abbey on ITV. It stars Olivia Cooke as Thackeray's ambitious protagonist Becky Sharp. ITV's director of television Kevin Lygo recently said that Vanity Fair came about partly because it was his mother's favourite novel and that he originally wanted a more famous actress to play the lead. 'I wanted Emma Watson or someone everyone would have known,' he told the Edinburgh Television Festival last month. 'But Olivia will be known. She is absolutely brilliant in this and mesmerising and it's so flamboyantly directed. I think it's just fun and flashy and a huge budget for us and I'm really excited.' Speaking about what sort of ratings he would expect any drama on the channel to register, he said: 'If they're only going to get 2.5 million viewers, that's not right for us. Our drama needs to be broad by definition, it needs to be impactful.' Bodyguard's ratings remained steady - its first two episodes last Sunday and Monday attracted 6.7 and 6.4 million overnight viewers respectively. The first episode, which aired over the recent Bank Holiday weekend, achieved a final and consolidated audience figure of 10.4 million, with a forty one per cent audience share. The seven-day figure saw a 3.6 million timeshift increase in its initial overnight result. That is the highest launch figure for a new BBC1 drama since records began in 2002. Meanwhile, the fifteenth series of The X Factor began with an overnight audience of 5.7 million on Saturday - down from the six million punters who tuned in to watch the equivalent launch show last year. That means Saturday's ratings were the lowest for an X Factor launch night since the programme began in 2004, when 4.9 million watched the opening episode. ITV's overnight published ratings include those watching the channel live and an hour later on ITV+1. The final, consolidated ratings for last weekend's episodes will be published by BARB in a week's time. And, dear blog reader, there is a very good think-piece on Bodyguard by the Gruniad Morning Star's Zoe Williams which you can have a right good gander at here.
Richard Madden has revealed he wasn't paid much for his role as Robb Stark in Game Of Thrones. Not that he feels hard done by, you understand, as he admits he had nothing on his CV that deserved big money as a twenty two-year-old. Despite that, he explained fans often thought he was rich. Ten years on, the thirty two-year-old is now starring in the BBC drama Bodyguard, where he's appearing alongside Keeley Hawes and doing very nicely. When asked whether he was paid the same as his co-star, the actor told The Sunday Times: 'No idea. I imagine she earned more.' He added that he cares 'less about how much other people are paid and more what it takes for me to shut up and go and do my job.'
The BBC have also this week confirmed a broadcast date for the much-anticipated Phoebe Waller-Bridge-scripted eight-part thriller Killing Eve. It will be shown on BBC1 on Saturday 15 September. The entire series will be available as a box-set on iPlayer from the same date.
Sandi Toksvig has claimed that she is paid 'less than half' of what Stephen Fry earned for hosting Qi. She made her revelation at the annual conference of the Women's Equality Party, which she co-founded three years ago. In answer to a question from the audience, the presenter said she believed she got forty per cent of Fry's salary, putting her on a par with regular panellist Alan Davies. But she added: 'I temper this with the fact I love this show and am the first woman to host such a show.' Toksvig insisted that her personal situation did not affect her party's fight for equal pay, saying: 'I have a nice living and I do very well, so I was much keener to focus on the women in supermarkets.' Stephen once claimed that he was paid more to host the popular panel show than the two hundred and forty five grand Jezza Paxman received for University Challenge. Asked whether she would demand the same pay as Fry when she took over Qi in 2016, Toksvig told the Radio Times: 'If you are doing the same job it seems a bit absurd if you're not paid the same.' Toksvig, having seemingly realised that she'd stirred up a right hornet's nest with her comments, added later that while she 'loves' Qi and its 'brilliant team' led by producer John Lloyd who 'champion women,' she had 'felt obliged' to answer the question 'because the issues with equal pay and the gender pay gap cut right across the media and all industries and all areas of life.' Toksvig has also argued that her pay is 'not an issue.' In an interview on 5Live in 2016, she said: 'I wasn't concerned about that because it is done through an agent and I am paid by an independent production company and not the BBC, anyway.' Qi, of course, is made by the independent production company, Talkback part of Freemantle Media, so the presenter's salary is not revealed under the Corporation's statutory requirements on pay (and, indeed, is nothing to do with the BBC themselves, as the BBC were quick to point out). The new series of Qi begins on BBC2 in a new 10pm slot on Monday 10 September. There is no news as yet on when Qi XL will be scheduled though an announcement is promised 'soon'. Whether this will be the last with Toksvig as presenter is not, at this time, known.
Yer actual Matt Lucas has announced that he is joining forces once again with The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat (OBE) for a new TV series. The actor shared the news on Twitter when revealing that the Chichester Festival production of Me & My Girl - in which he starred - is making the move to the West End. 'I had a blast playing Bill down in Chichester for the summer. I'm now busy developing a new TV show with the great Steven Moffat but I wish the West End cast every success!' Sadly for fans of both Moffat and Lucas, that's all the information we have at the moment. The Moff is currently working with Mark Gatiss his very self on an adaptation of Dracula and he previously said that the new version of the Victorian vampire story will be reinvented 'in a Sherlock-y way.' Moffat confirmed that the series will consist of three episodes of ninety minutes length. Steven is also adapting The Time Traveler's Wife [sic] for HBO.
John Simm has said that he is 'open' to a Life On Mars revival, following reports that the BBC previously turned down a two-part special. Series co-creator Ashley Pharoah recently claimed that the BBC had declined to commission a revival, since it 'didn't make financial sense.' Simm admitted that he is still keen to reprise his role of Sam Tyler. 'I think there were three years between Life On Mars and [follow-up series] Ashes To Ashes that we could mine,' he said. 'And, of course, it's about time travel, so you can get away with anything with time travel. It could end up like Doctor Who - I never thought that was going to happen again and then ... time travel!' Suggesting that a Life On Mars revival is 'possible' in future, Simm added that 'no one has mentioned' any such potential project to him. 'I'd certainly consider it!' he said.
The final series of Gotham will expand Bruce Wayne's Batcave and adopt a new look. Jonathan Collins, set designer and assistant art director on the drama, has put up a new Instagram post which shows what the team have in mind, though it now appears to have been removed. The Batcave has been teased on several occasions throughout the series, but with series five set to 'go all the way' with the Batman mythology, its significance is about to grow.
People were stopped from entering or leaving the BBC's Broadcasting House on Monday as police investigated what they said was a suspicious vehicle. A bomb disposal robot approached the orange van and a number of controlled explosions were carried out. Roads were closed around the area in Central London and BBC staff were advised to stay away from the windows. Police cut open the doors of the van, which was found to contain cardboard boxes and a motor bike. All entrances and exits of New Broadcasting House were closed at around 4.50pm while police carried out their investigations on nearby Duchess Street, which is to the rear of the BBC's headquarters. It left some staff unable to return to work - and others unable to leave. The building reopened at 6.30pm.
Richard Hammond and his wife believe they were 'gassed' before being robbed at their holiday home in France. According to the Daily Torygraph, the couple and fifteen guests - including their two teenage daughters - are feared to be the latest victims of a gang of burglars targeting luxury villas in Saint Tropez. The newspaper states that the thieves are 'known to have previously pumped anaesthetic gas through air conditioning systems' in a series of outrageous raids on the French Riviera. Describing the incident as 'a horror story,' The Hamster's wife, Mindy, told the Sunday Scum Express that she had heard one of the burglars downstairs in the rented villa and had 'gone down to investigate,' before going back to bed. 'I'm pretty convinced we must have been gassed or something, because they were in all of the bedrooms. They went where they wanted, into each room, opening and closing the drawers, searching through handbags et cetera,' said Mindy, who writes a column for the newspaper. 'You have got to have some kind of confidence to do that and to be quite satisfied that people aren't going to wake up. That just makes my blood run cold. I could have easily walked in and it could have been unpleasant.' The family confirmed that two raiders were caught on camera and arrested within forty eight hours. One of whom may, or may not, have claimed that it was the best robbery ... in the world. Ex-The Arse footballer Patrick Vieira and former Formula 1 world champion Jenson Button were victims of similar attacks in 2006 and 2010 respectively, with traces of anaesthetic gas found in their properties' ventilation systems.
Channel Four News presenter Cathy Newman has spoken about being allegedly 'sexually harassed' by teenage boys at the private school sixth form she attended. She claimed to The Sunday Times that one pupil unzipped his flies and forced her to touch his penis, leaving her feeling 'humiliated and embarrassed.' Charterhouse School said that it had 'not been aware' of the allegations previously but had now reported them to police. Newman shared her experiences as part of an anti-bullying drive. She said that the alleged incident occurred in the lunch hall at the independent school in Surrey when she was sixteen around 1980. 'It was completely unexpected. I just shrieked in a fairly comical way, laughed at myself to get over the humiliation of it, but afterwards I felt really embarrassed,' she told The Sunday Times. Newman spoke as part of the Back2School campaign launched on Monday by the Diana Award charity, which 'supports young people.' Speaking in a video for the campaign, she said that she 'started being teased' at her private sixth form, where there were 'very few girls,' because she was 'a swot.' Being on a scholarship also marked her out as 'slightly different,' she said. She recalled how if girls wore a white T-shirt, boys would spray them with a fire hose so they could 'see their underwear.' She said that now she would describe some of her experiences as sexual harassment but did not report them at the time. 'There were various more serious things that happened which I really wish I had reported and I don't know why I didn't but I think at the time when you're at school you just try and laugh it off,' she added. In a statement, Charterhouse said: 'If disclosures such as these regarding a current pupil were made to us today we would report them immediately to the statutory authorities and act to safeguard any pupils affected whilst statutory enquiries took place. Having now been made aware of these particular allegations, we have reported them to the police and will assist them fully in any investigation. While the events are said to have happened some time ago, they are deeply shocking. Such behaviour has no place in any school.' The school said that it has a 'zero tolerance approach towards bullying or harassment of any kind" and "puts the welfare of all pupils above every other consideration.'
And now, dear blog reader ...
Roxanne Pallett has snivellingly apologised to Ryan Thomas, saying that she 'over-reacted' when he 'punched' her on Z-List Celebrity Big Brother. Her appearance on Channel Five's debut Jeremy Vine show was her first interview since flouncing out of Z-List Celebrity Big Brother in a stroppy huffery-buffery last weekend. The incident has since received over eleven thousand Ofcom whinges from people with, seemingly, nothing better to do with their time. 'I massively apologise to Ryan, his friends and fans and every single person who watched that,' Pallett weaselled. '[It was] an over-reaction to what wasn't a malicious act. I was sensitive and emotional and mistook what was playful - I apologise for it, I shouldn't have questioned his motivation.' Thomas subsequently received a warning after Thursday's episode, which appeared to show him punching Roxanne during a play fight. Z-List Celebrity Big Brother producers pointed out that while 'almost play fighting' he 'punched Roxanne in the ribs.' 'We both know and Roxanne knows there was no malice, hurt or anger in anything I did during this time. I am sorry and I understand,' he said. Channel Five claim that they 'monitor contestants and intervene when necessary.' The reaction to the incident was largely in support of Thomas, with Pallett's family choosing to delete her social media accounts whilst she was in the house after they received thousands of messages from the public, mostly highly critical for her behaviour. Pallett addressed the social media comments and said: 'I don't blame anyone, I understand everyone, I had to realise I'm dramatic and all the things people are calling me, I am. I need to better myself and this is a serious subject and is something I need to focus on. I need to rebuild my career and my personal life, this has overshadowed everything and I'm taking this massively seriously.' She added that she didn't want people to think she was 'undermining' them, saying: 'I have been a victim of domestic abuse. I've worked with Women's Aid because of my own experience and perhaps they were right, my reaction was a tell-tale sign I had been in a situation like that. I would be horrified if people thought I had discredited and undermined abuse. After it happened, my mind ran away with me and everything in that house becomes so heightened - a look, a comment an action, your insecurities and sensitivity - in the moment it felt worse than it was.'
Pallett's interview came after Thomas' girlfriend, the former The Only Way Is Essex-type person, Lucy Mecklenburgh appeared on BBC's Victoria Derbyshire to vent her considerable spleen toward  Pallett. Mecklenburgh described the events on Z-List Celebrity Big Brother as 'hard to watch. We know Ryan wouldn't hurt a fly, we all know the truth but for him to go through thinking everyone on the outside thinks he's a woman beater. His mum and brothers are in bits but we don't want people saying things like this when he has a daughter.' She also demanded that Pallett 'publicly apologise to Ryan,' which Pallett did a short time later on Jeremy Vine. Mecklenburgh also addressed Thomas' warning and asked that Z-List Celebrity Big Brother 'remove any strikes' against the actor. 'I want Channel Five to revoke the warning, in the past they've been for serious things and he didn't do that, people are angry and there are so many Ofcom complaints - everyone can see with their eyes that nothing happened.' Pallett who - rather self-pityingly - described herself as 'the most hated girl in Britain' during her interview has been widely criticised by lots of Thomas's Coronation Street colleagues as well as some of her own former Emmerdale castmates, several of whom appear to have something of an axe to grind with regard to her. Lucy Pargeter, for example, said on Twitter that she was 'glad' people were seeing what Pallett was 'really like' while Charley Webb and Sammy Winward have also been extremely vocal against Pallett and Nick Miles described her as 'toxic.' As long term dear blog readers may recall, Pallett has a previous - long - history of shameless self-publicity, most notably in 2009 when, whilst appearing in pantomime in Newcastle, she seemed to use the news of devastating floods in Cumbria to suggest that those families affected and forced out of their homes by the flooding should travel the sixty nine miles across country to the Theatre Royal to watch her in Cinderella to provide some 'light relief.'
And, in another 'let us stand up and salute the utter shite that some people chose to care about' story concerning squabbling z-list celebrities, Coleen Nolan pulled out of Thursday's Loose Women panel following an 'on-screen spat' with Kim Woodburn. A message posted on Nolan's official Twitter account claimed that the presenter was 'still very upset' about last week's incident. Woodburn had been invited onto the programme to 'reconcile' with Nolan after the pair 'fell out' on a previous series of Z-List Celebrity Big Brother. But, in the event Woodburn soon became tearful and stormed off the set in another right stroppy huff after clashing with the panel. Ofcom then received more than seven thousand complaints about the episode, with viewers mostly accusing Nolan and the other Loose Women panellists of 'bullying' Woodburn. On Tuesday's This Morning, Nolan explained: 'If I could go back in time I would change the whole thing, it was never meant to be like that. I honestly, genuinely thought that [Kim] was coming on to make amends. I have to say it was so shocking, genuinely shocking for all of us. I don't like to see anybody in that much distress, how she was in the end. It's been the worst week of my life actually.' The presenter then 'became emotional' as Holly Willoughby comforted her. Which was nice of her.
Nolan also claimed that there is 'a campaign' to get her fired from Loose Women and that she has been sent 'revolting' messages on social media by 'trolls.' 'Trolls' in this case, as usual when someone who delights in being in the public eye is criticised on social media, being tabloid-speak for 'anyone who dares to criticise a z-list celebrity, no matter how valid that criticism may or may not be.' Whether any of this nonsense will affect Nolan's recently-announced solo tour - or, indeed, sell a few tickets to it - or her regular column in the Daily Mirra is not, at this time, known.
Ofcom (a politically appointed quango, elected by no one) has revoked the broadcast licence of Ausaf TV, a proposed Urdu channel, ahead of its UK launch. The regulator's decision follows a BBC File On Four investigation into the non-English broadcaster last October. It comes after sister publication, Daily Ausaf, published praise of Jihadist leaders in its newspaper. The paper's editor acknowledged tht there were 'breaches of editorial policy' but claimed, unconvincingly, that some material had been 'taken out of context.' Two of the world's most wanted terrorists, Masood Azhar and Hafiz Sayeed, featured in the publication. The BBC programme also found praise of Osama Bin Laden and Mullan Omar, leader of the Afghan Taliban. In an e-mail to the BBC, the paper's senior editor, Muhammed Hanif Lodhi, reiterated the principles of the paper's editorial policy: peace, faith and unity - and said that the material File On Four had highlighted was taken out of context. He admitted there had been 'breaches of editorial policy' in the articles being questioned, which were printed earlier this year during a period when Lodhi was, allegedly, absent from the office. The BBC was told an internal investigation took place and the Daily Ausaf had extremely sacked two members of staff. Lodhi gave assurances that 'extra measures' were now in place to ensure that such material would not appear in the future. In one of the articles published in the newspaper, Bin Laden was described as 'a humble servant of The Creator' who left 'unforgettable prints on the history and geography of the world.' In another write-up, Bin Laden and Omar were called 'beacons of light.' There was also praise for South Asian Jihadist leaders like Masood Azhar, who was described as 'a renowned spiritual personality.' Syed Salahuddin, leader of Hizb-ul-Mujahideen, was described as someone with 'a white glowing face, shining forehead, bright eyes, impressive personality' and that 'you can't take your eyes off him.' In its decision announced on Thursday, Ofcom said that the individual in control of Ausaf UK Limited had 'close links' to the Pakistan and UK editions of the Daily Ausaf newspaper, in which articles were published. Ofcom said that the content 'amounted to hate speech and incitement to crime/terrorist actions. There is a material risk that the licensee could breach our broadcasting rules; for example, by airing similar content to that published in the Daily Ausaf on Ausaf TV, which would be harmful to viewers if the licensee were permitted to broadcast. This brings into question public confidence in the regulatory activity if Ofcom were to remain satisfied that the licensee was fit and proper to broadcast,' it said. 'In light of these serious findings, we are no longer satisfied that that those in control of Ausaf UK Limited are fit and proper to hold a broadcast licence. We have therefore revoked the licence,' it concluded.
Fans of The U2 Group were 'left disappointed' when their Berlin show was cancelled after Mister Bonio Out Of The U2 Group lost his voice. So, it would seem there is a God after all. The Irish band had played just a handful of songs when the singer apologised to the crowd, saying: 'I think we can't go on. It's not right for you.' Oh, the abject and manifest tragedy of it all. Those at the Mercedes-Benz Arena were told that there would be 'a short pause,' but were later told the show was over. Mister Bonio Out Of The U2 Group promised (or, should that be threatened) another gig would be arranged at a later date. Some fans claimed that Mister Bonio Out Of The U2 Group had announced smoke machines had affected his voice. 'Bono was in great form and great voice prior to the show and we were all looking forward to the second night in Berlin, but after a few songs, he suffered a complete loss of voice,' The U2 Group - Mister Bonio, Mister The Edge and The Other Two - said in a statement. 'We don't know what has happened and we're taking medical advice.' It was the second night of the European leg of The U2 Group's Experience + Innocence tour, which had kicked off at the same venue on Friday night. Mister Bonio Out Of The U2 Group had been singing 'Red Flag Day' when he lost his voice, according to those at the concert.
Neighbours has broadcast the first ever TV same-sex wedding in Australia. The soap is reflecting on marriage equality, after same-sex marriage was legalised down under in December. Executive producer Jason Herbison said that representation of the LGBT community is 'a priority.' He told The Huffington Post that the marriage of David and Aaron is 'a defining moment' in the show's history. Herbison said: 'It's no secret that the arts are filled with members of the LGBTQ community. As storytellers, we have played a strong hand in creating love stories like Scott and Charlene's for the masses to enjoy. But until recently, our own love stories haven't been told, out of fear of offending some of the viewing audience.' The wedding marks the culmination of a long-standing relationship between David and Aaron, who got back together after David's fling with Rafael Humphreys, played by former Coronation Street actor and current Z-List Celebrity Big Brother 'victim' Ryan Thomas. Neighbours has long featured gay and bisexual characters in the soap, featuring storylines about coming out and exploring love, but has never followed a relationship to the wedding stage until now. Herbison said that UK soaps have always been 'first to prove that television has the power to overcome prejudice and promote love and acceptance.' The Archers on Radio 4 was the first soap to feature a gay civil ceremony in 2006. Channel Four's Hollyoaks was the first soap to feature a gay wedding. The happy couple John Paul and Ste Hay married on Christmas Day in 2014.
The alleged 'lifestyle' website founded by the actress Gwyneth Paltrow has agreed to pay one hundred and forty five thousand bucks for making 'unscientific claims' about vaginal eggs. That they're very nice on lightly buttered toast with a slice of bacon and some mushrooms, that sort of thing. Probably. The settlement also applies to a 'flower essence,' which Goop claimed could 'cure depression.' Goop claimed that its jade and rose quartz eggs, which are 'inserted vaginally,' could 'balance hormones' and 'regulate menstrual cycles,' amongst other things. The lawsuit was brought by California's consumer protection office. 'The health and money of Santa Clara County residents should never be put at risk by misleading advertising,' District Attorney Jeff Rosen said in a written statement. 'We will vigilantly protect consumers against companies that promise health benefits without the support of good science or any science.' Goop said in a statement that while it 'believes there is an honest disagreement about these claims, the company wanted to settle this matter quickly and amicably. This settlement does not indicate any liability on Goop's part.' Both the jade and rose quartz vaginal eggs, which are sold for sixty six dollars and fifty five dollars respectively, are still available for sale, but Goop is prohibited from making any further health claims which are not backed up by science. Or, indeed, common sense. Goop also will be very banned from selling 'medical devices' that are 'falsely advertised or unapproved.' The company agreed to pay the one hundred and forty five thousand dollars in civil penalties and is also offering a refund for any customers who purchased the eggs or the flower essence 'under false claims.' It said that it has not received any complaints about the product claims as yet. Paltrow has increasingly come under scrutiny from scientists and doctors who say that the actress uses ludicrous 'pseudoscience' to sell products on her website.
Israel's public broadcaster has apologised to listeners after music by Richard Wagner was played on the radio. The Nineteenth-Century German composer remains a controversial figure in the country because of his virulent anti-Semitism and because, later, Hitler (who only had one) was a great fan of his work. But, on Friday a leading classical music station played part of Wagner's Götterdämmerung. In its apology, the broadcaster said that the editor had 'erred' in his 'artistic choice' and Wagner would not be played again. The Israeli Public Broadcasting Corporation added that it 'recognised the pain' such a broadcast would cause among Holocaust survivors. Wagner's work contains views on racial purity. The composer was also the author of a pamphlet entitled Judaism In Music, in which he said that 'the Jew' was 'incapable of artistic expression.' Wagner's music is not specifically banned in Israel but is not widely played due to considerable public opposition. On Friday the presenter on the Kol Hamusica station played a recording of the final act of Götterdämmerung. The piece was directed by Daniel Barenboim - who is himself Jewish - and performed at The Bayreuth Festival, which celebrates Wagner, in 1991. The subsequent apology was criticised by those within Israel who argue that Wagner's abhorrent views - and the fact that he numbered among his fans plenty of right shitbags - do not, necessarily 'invalidate' his work. A bit like how Morrissey has turned into a complete and utter arsehole over the last twenty years but that doesn't mean the records he made with The Smiths in the 1980s aren't, still, effing great. 'There are just as many Holocaust survivors who love the music as there are those who object to it. You have to listen to his music and his music is absolutely beautiful,' claimed Jonathan Livny, head of the Israel Wagner Society. In 2011 an Israeli orchestra played a Wagner composition in Germany. At the time, Israeli Chamber Orchestra Conductor Roberto Paternostro said that while Wagner's ideology was 'terrible,' the aim was 'to divide the man from his art.'
Planetary scientists will be reaping the benefits of the Saturn Cassini mission for many decades to come. It orbited the ringed jewel of the solar system for thirteen years, taking incredible data of the planet, the rings and the fleet of Saturn's moons. The biggest satellite - and the second biggest in the whole solar system - is the aptly named Titan. We had learned quite a bit about it from Earth-bound telescopes, but there is nothing like actually being there. Cassini passed the planet-sized moon many times, taking images of it at lots of different wavelengths. Scientists have known for a long time that Titan has an atmosphere but that, in and of itself, has caused problems: carbon-based molecules floating around are really good at absorbing and reflecting visible light, so all we see when we look at those wavelengths is an orange fuzzball. But, those molecules are completely ambivalent to certain wavelengths of infrared light, letting them through. That means that equipped with the right filters, Cassini's Visual & Infrared Mapping Spectrometer could see light reflected from the surface, piercing the haze. After a dozen flybys a lot of images were taken, allowing scientists to put together a pretty decent map of the entire surface of Titan. Earlier maps showed lots of seams in the mosaics, due in part to different lighting conditions between Cassini passes, but now they have released new images that are simply stunning. These images show a lot of interesting things on the surface of Titan. The Southern and Northern high latitudes appear pretty featureless - though they aren't at all; that's where the notorious lakes of liquid methane are, but they're hard to see. They show up far better in radar images. But the equator is a different story. It is mostly flat, without much in the way of mountains. But there are very interesting things to be seen. For example, there are very few impact craters on Titan's surface. It gets hit as much as any other Saturnian moon (more, since it's bigger and has gravity to pull them in), so the lack of craters means the surface gets rearranged on a reasonably short timescale. Erosion from weather may be the culprit here. Titan is cold, so water is frozen harder than granite, but methane can exist as a liquid, solid, and gas, just as water does on Earth. So it can evaporate from lakes, form clouds, and rain down elsewhere: in other words, erosion. The equatorial region also has vast dune fields! But these aren't silicate sand as on Earth, but hydrocarbons that have condensed out of the atmosphere. Winds blow these grains around, forming dunes all around the equator. Two huge fields of them can be found in areas called Shangri-La and Xanadu. The dune fields were discovered using radar and are an important clue to Titan's environment. How the grains form, how they grow, how they blow and the size and spacing of the dunes tells planetary scientists a lot about conditions on the moon's surface. Weirdly, longitudinal dunes on Titan are similar to those on Earth, despite the very different conditions.
Twenty-five years ago, the referee Les Mottram infamously failed to spot an obvious goal against Partick Thistle at Firhill. But on Saturday, in the same goalmouth, Thistle were the victims of a similarly strange and incorrect decision. Kris Doolan's shot from the edge of the Morton box glanced off the underside of the crossbar and rippled the net, before falling across the goalline. As the home players celebrated, referee Barry Cook consulted with his assistant and opted to award a throw-in instead. Thistle manager Alan Archibald described it as 'bizarre' and 'unbelievable' but, fortunately for Thistle, Chris Erskine's goal was enough to earn them victory regardless. 'I'm just glad it didn't have an effect on the outcome,' said Archibald. 'I'm only calm because we've won the game, but it beggars belief.' It was reminiscent of the incident at Firhill in January 1993 when a shot by Dundee United's Paddy Connolly hit the stanchion of the same goal, bounced out and was caught by Thistle defender Martin Clark and thrown back to goalkeeper Andy Murdoch, only for Mottram to wave play on.
Glenn Tamplin has put Billericay Town up for sale after reportedly suffering 'personal abuse' which, he claims, has 'started to affect his health and family.' Tamplin was spoken to by police after Saturday's defeat at Woking in National League South following a complaint from a fan that he had been taking cocaine. 'For me it has now crossed the line,' the forty six-year-old said. The multi-millionaire has invested heavily since taking over the Essex club in December 2016. 'It is with deep regret that I have no choice but to cut my ties with Billericay Town Football Club,' Tamplin said in a statement on the club website. 'The club is now up for sale with immediate effect.' He said 'the final nail in the coffin' was after Saturday's two-one defeat to Woking, 'where I was informed at the ground, after the match, that the police wanted to talk to me regarding a complaint from a fan that that I had been using cocaine. After speaking to the police they were satisfied that the complaint was unfounded, although angry and upset I felt that was the end of the matter. However, twenty minutes after I had left I was pulled over by the police. Bizarrely I was, once again, questioned regarding the complaint. This led to my two young children who were with me becoming absolutely terrified and in floods of tears in the back of my car.' The club, currently second in National League South, later uploaded an audio recording on their Twitter account of the second conversation Tamplin had with police after leaving Woking's ground. Tamplin's statement continued: 'Again, after assisting the police in every way possible I was again allowed to continue my journey home.' Billericay have attracted plenty of headlines since Tamplin bought the club, with former Premier League players Paul Konchesky, Jermaine Pennant and Jamie O'Hara all having had spells at New Lodge - O'Hara is still a member of their first-team squad. Tamplin had a spell as manager last season which saw the players sing R Kelly's 'The World's Greatest' in the changing room and him leave a game at Hendon twenty minutes early 'to attend a business meeting.' He vowed to get the club into the Football League in five years and The Blues won promotion last season as Isthmian Premier League champions. But, they are currently managerless after Harry Wheeler was extremely sacked as boss last month - reportedly by text message five minutes before the end of their defeat at Chippenham. 'My last actions will be to find suitable investors that will be able to run the Billericay Town and also to try my hardest to reinstate Harry Wheeler as manager of this great club,' Tamplin said.
A flag which pays tribute to former Newcastle United goalkeeper the late Pavel Srnicek has been returned. The flag, displaying the 'Pavel is a Geordie' legend, was taken by person or persons unknown after yer actual Keith Telly Toping's beloved (though, tragically, unsellable and, probably, relegation-bound) Magpies' two-one defeat by Moscow Chelski FC in the Premier League in August. Ahuge crowd favourite of Tyneside Srnicek, who played one hundred and ninety games for United in two spells at the club, died in 2015 aged forty seven, following cardiac arrest. Pav's former team-mate and ex-Newcastle keeper Steve Harper called for the flag's return last week. Harper, now an academy coach at Newcastle, wrote on Twitter: 'Could whoever has taken the "Pavel is a Geordie" flag please return it ASAP. The big man meant so much to so many people and it's only fitting he's remembered whenever NUFC play.' Srnicek, who was capped forty nine times by the Czech Republic, had two spells at St James' Park between 1991 and 2007. In his first spell, Srnicek helped Newcastle win promotion to the Premier League and was an integral part of the squad that came agonisingly close to winning the title under Kevin Keegan in 1996. Pav also played for Sheffield Wednesday, Portsmouth and West Hamsters United.
The 'scallop war' between French and British fishermen in the English Channel is over after a deal was struck between the UK and French governments. And so, we shall have scallop peace in our time. Probably. Last week, an at-sea clash took place about twenty miles off the Normandy coast where British boats are legally entitled to fish scallop all-year round. French vessels are only permitted to fish during the scallop fishing season – which runs from 1 October to 15 May – and for more than a decade tensions between the respective sailors have been rising, with the French accusing the British of 'pillaging' stocks. On Wednesday peace talks were held in London that included representatives of the UK and French fishing industries, during which the French were said to have expressed 'regret' for the recent skirmishes. And, for generally being a right stroppy bunch of drama queens. Both sides reached an agreement on the principles of a deal. No UK vessels will fish for scallops during the window in conflict, during which the French are not allowed to harvest the molluscs. Instead, smaller British boats will be compensated for their losses - the sum is to be debated in Paris at a later date - and if both sides do not agree, the accord could be sunk. 'In addition, there is agreement in principle for UK under-fifteen metre vessels to be included in the deal,' the UK and French governments said in a joint seafood statement. 'This is subject to a reasonable compensation package, the details of which will be defined in Paris on Friday. In the meantime, there is a voluntary agreement for all UK vessels to respect the French closure period in the Baie de Seine.' Last week's clash saw approximately forty French vessels gather in protest against their British counterparts, allegedly 'throwing rocks, shackles and flares onto the boats.' On Wednesday, French agriculture minister Stephane Travert told French TV station CNews: 'We can't keep going on like this, we can't keep having skirmishes like that. The French Navy is ready to step in if more clashes break out, as well as carrying out checks.'
'A series of morbid Internet searches have led to the arrest of an Alaska woman, who is now charged with killing both her children, two years apart.' Mind you, this is according to the Daily Scum Mail so, you know, pinch of salt as usual. Stephany LaFountain, twenty three, is accused of killing her thirteen-month-old daughter on 20 November last year and her four-month-old child on 15 September 2015, Anchorage Daily News reported. Both babies were otherwise healthy, but the girl had stopped breathing when LaFountain called for help on 20 November. The girl died in hospital four days later. The death of her first child, who she had during a previous relationship, was not investigated as a potential murder at the time. When police began to investigate the death of her second child, forensic teams allegedly found 'a series of suspicious searches' entered into her computer about an hour before the nine-one-one call, including: 'Ways to kill human with no proof', 'Drowning and Forensics' and 'How to: Commit the Perfect Murder'. LaFountain was extremely arrested on Wednesday and taken to Fairbanks correctional centre. Fairbanks Police Chief Eric Jewkes told reporters at a press conference that the 'horrific crime' should 'serve to remind everyone' of the 'evil' that 'lurks' in all communities. 'Just take ten seconds and think about a mother killing both her children, over two years [in] completely isolated events,' he said. 'And what that means and what happens sometimes in our community - and sometimes the evil that exists, that's out there.'
A golfer with a prosthetic leg is suing a local council for refusing to let him play on its course using a buggy. Paul Houghton's right leg was amputated in 2000 after he was affected by a lethal tissue-eating bacteria. Houghton learned to walk again - and golf became an important part of life but he still also uses crutches and a wheelchair. He claims that Brentwood Council in Essex discriminated against him but the council is defending the legal action. In November 2000, while working as a roofer, Houghton knelt in contaminated water and contracted the deadly flesh eating bug necrotizing fasciitis. It consumes muscle and body tissue at a rate of two centimetres an hour. 'The surgeon told me he had to operate immediately,' Houghton told the BBC. 'He said that he had no choice but to continue cutting until he was certain he had removed all the infected tissue. I had just two hours to prepare myself for an operation that at best I would survive with a leg missing, but at worst I would not survive at all.' His right leg was amputated above the knee and he received the last rites whilst in hospital. In all he had five operations, some for skin grafts because his amputation was very rushed and the perfect stump could not be formed. Houghton could not continue to work as a roofer and his business was wound up. He returned to education, requalified and now works for Chelmsford Council as its access officer in building control. He learned to walk with a prosthetic limb and switches between it, wheelchairs and crutches. However, overuse of the crutches causes shoulder injuries, while the prosthetic leg can cause pressure sores which are difficult to cure. Houghton has represented England at disability golf thirteen times, with a handicap of fourteen and has played on courses across Europe. Because of his disability he needs a buggy in order to play an eighteen-hole course. In August 2016, Houghton had booked to play a round with a friend at Hartswood Golf Course in Essex, owned and operated by Brentwood Council. On his way to the first tee he claims he was told he would not be allowed on to the course without a letter from his doctor justifying the medical need for a buggy. If he obtained such a letter he was told he would be given a certificate allowing him to use his buggy. 'I was gobsmacked,' he told the BBC. 'I've played over one hundred courses around England, I've played all around the world and I've not been treated in this way before.' Houghton says he explained that he had his own insurance, a European Disabled Golf Association card and a medical exemption, but the club insisted that he needed a letter from a doctor to justify the use of a buggy. 'It sends the message that disabled people aren't welcome, that we are not part of society, not included, but are segregated and can't join in a sport that's accessible to everybody, because we need to use other equipment to play the game,' Houghton says. In his legal claim, Houghton argues that by refusing to allow him to use a buggy without a doctor's letter, the council 'discriminated' against him because of his inability to walk around the golf course. In effect, he claims the council was applying a policy that 'indirectly discriminates against all disabled people' who need a buggy to play golf. Brentwood Council denies any discrimination. Well, they would, wouldn't they? The council said it was 'committed to ensuring safe access for everyone to all its facilities' and would issue a full statement when legal action had concluded. Houghton's solicitor, Chris Fry, said: 'This case is more than just about making a service more accessible; it's a reminder of the importance of the benefits which sport brings to social inclusion, together with physical and mental health. This is especially important for people with a range of disabilities and not least mobility impairments. A simple adjustment in this case will benefit Paul and thousands of others in a multitude of ways.' In its 'Buggy Use Policy,' England Golf, the governing body of amateur golf, says it 'wishes to encourage the participation in golf of all players regardless of disabilities.' This, it says, is 'in accordance with its obligations under the Equality Act.' Cae Menai-Davis, co-founder of the Golf Trust, a charity that works with disabled groups to make golf more inclusive, commented: 'Golf is a sport for everyone. Making it difficult for a disabled golfer to use a buggy isn't just bad policy, it is bad business. There is a huge untapped group of people with learning and physical disabilities that want to play the game and will benefit hugely from it.'
A man from Washington state was very arrested this week for, allegedly, sexually assaulting a beaver which had been laying in the road - dying - after getting run over by a car. Richard Delp was extremely taken into custody on Monday not long after the alleged incident in Columbia Park, according to KVEW. An alleged witness allegedly told the station that she 'caught' Delp 'in the act' whilst attempting to rescue his victim. She claimed that she saw the beaver 'get nailed' by a vehicle and was on her way back to the scene with a container to put it in when she found it, ahem, 'getting nailed' all over again. Delp, she claimed, was on top of the mortally wounded animal, pants unzipped. The woman promptly called nine-one-one and officers arrived in time to arrest  sheepish Delp. He was later charged with animal cruelty and possession of methamphetamine. The beaver did not survive.
Police in Russia are reportedly investigating claims that a boy beheaded himself with a chainsaw after losing a computer game. A criminal case has been opened into incitement to suicide after fifteen-year-old Pavel Matveev's body was found in the village of Mogochino in Tomsk region. Reports claim that the boy went out into his yard this morning and 'switched on a chainsaw and sawed off his own head.' Russian media cited alleged 'local sources' allegedly saying that Pavel was 'addicted' to a computer that his single mother had bought for him. An alleged female 'source' allegedly 'quoted' by Plohie Novosti and Novosti V Tomske news sources claimed that his death came after playing a computer game. 'This is what killed him,' the alleged source was allegedly quoted as allegedly saying. He 'spent hours at his computer' and his 'nerves' gave in after a game, she allegedly claimed.
A murder case is reported to be 'stunning' people in York County, South Carolina. Detectives have arrested and charged a woman after they say she poisoned her husband with eye drops. The arrest warrant accuses Lana Sue Clayton of poisoning her husband Stephen Clayton's water with eye drops at their home in Clover from 19 to 21 July. According to WSOC, the cause of death was determined after toxicology tests found poisonous levels of tetrahydrozoline in the body of the victim. 'Somebody does something like that? That's crazy,' opined Sean Magan, who lives nearby. 'That's crazy,' agreed Deborah Pollard, who also lives nearby. Although whether she and Sean live nearby together, we just don't know. 'They're just finding all kinds of ways to do crazy things now a day, aren't they?' Stephen's funeral was held in August in the backyard of the couple's home, before detectives had determined his cause of death.
It is no secret that doctors witness some pretty weird things each day in their line of work. From women getting Kinder Eggs stuck up their vaginas, to men pulling their own toes off, they've seen it all. But according to the Daily Mirra, one group of doctors have just been faced with a bizarre task they've never had to deal with before, as a rather embarrassed thirty one-year-old man was admitted to ASST Great Metropolitan Hospital in Niguarda, Italy with a twenty three-inch sex toy stuck inside himself. The unnamed man had been 'attempting to remove the toy for twenty four hours before seeking medical assistance,' the report states. He told doctors that he was 'suffering from mild abdominal pain,' but had no other serious symptoms. His x-rays revealed a 'long and large-sized foreign body' rammed up his colon. Traditional removal tools such as a polypectomy snare and biopsy forceps were tried by the doctors, but all failed to retrieve the item due to its 'smoothness and size.' Baffled, doctors were eventually forced to get creative and invent a new method of removal. They threaded a piece of wire through a catheter to create 'a sort of noose.' This was inserted into the man's body, with the wire end wrapping around the sex toy and being tightened until the item was able to be pulled out. The patient was discharged later that day. He was said to be 'walking a bit funny' upon release.
A Minneapolis woman faces charges after authorities say she made a twelve-year-old drive her car after she 'had a few drinks,' according to court records. A criminal complaint states twenty nine-year-old Brittney Marie Dowell was charged with two counts of child endangerment, both misdemeanour offences. According to the complaint, on 2 June, an officer with the Robbinsdale Police Department observed a vehicle with a driver that appeared to be 'too young to drive. ' The officer then observed the vehicle make a drastic turn. After initiating a traffic stop, the officer identified the driver of the vehicle as a twelve-year-old. The complaint said a thirteen-year-old was in the passenger seat. The officer found Dowell sitting in the back seat. The complaint said that the officer could smell alcohol and that Dowell's eyes were bloodshot and watery. The complaint said Dowell told the officer she 'had a few drinks.' When asked to perform a field sobriety test, Dowell told the officer, 'Just take me to jail. I know I've done a bad thing,' the complaint said. The two children in the vehicle told authorities Dowell had them drive her around when she drank and yelled at them if they refused to do so, according to the complaint.
A Florida man was arrested on Thursday evening, ten days after he allegedly shot at a family home after one of its residents complained about an experience at a local restaurant, the Orange County Sheriff's Office said. Deputies were called to a home after Norman Auvil of Orlando - riding in an SUV driven by Michael Johnson, the restaurant owner's son - shot at the home three times before Johnson drove away, according to an arrest report. The report said that one of the bullets pierced a window, narrowly missing the head of Kenneth Walley, who was watching television in the living room. 'I actually could feel the air from the bullet as it passed by me,' Walley said. 'It missed me by about four inches.' A day earlier, Walley's wife, Diana, had been denied service at the Daybreak Diner, so their daughter, Monica Walley, called the diner and spoke with several workers about her mother's visit, the report said. Monica Walley said that she had left 'a negative review' on Facebook after her disabled mother was denied service on her birthday. Monica said that the restaurant workers were 'unnecessarily rude. It's my right to be able to tell others what my experience is and what happened and stand up for my mother,' Monica added. 'I think that anybody in my shoes would have done the same thing.' According to the report, Monica was unsatisfied with the diner's response, so she launched a social media campaign against the diner, alleging that they 'mistreated' her mother because of a disability. 'The social media campaign resulted in negative online reviews, negative social media posts and harassing and angry phone calls to the restaurant,' the report said. 'The restaurant's owner, Lizabeth Johnson, later stated she felt that day that her business was ruined as a result of the negative social media campaign.' Investigators said that Michael Johnson and his girlfriend, Stephanie Knight, worked at the diner which they intended to inherit someday. The report said Knight and Michael Johnson had been driving a 2013 white Ford Flex registered to Knight's father. The SUV matched the description of the one recorded by a surveillance camera approaching the shooting scene, the report said. Investigators said Michael Johnson and Jesse Martin told them that on 20 August, they were drinking beer with Auvil at the home where they all live.
A Russian whose love of The Be-Atles (a popular beat combo of the 1960s, you might've heard of them) led him to turn his flat into a 'Fab Four museum' has died in St Petersburg. Russians knew Kolya Vasin as The Be-Atles' biggest fan during the Soviet era, when the Communist authorities saw Western rock music as subversive, decadent, bourgeois, capitalist and something to be stamped out. Vasin, who died aged seventy three, began collecting Be-Atles records and memorabilia in the 1960s. He particularly treasured a Plastic Ono band LP - 1969's Live Peace in Toronto - signed by alcoholic wife-beating Scouse junkie John Lennon and Yoko Ono. The Be-Atles had many fans in the USSR, indeed as music historian the late Ian MacDonald wrote in Revolution In The Head, the spread of Be-Atles music (and those of other Western groups via bootlegged LPs and smuggled tapes behind the iron curtain had a lasting impact: 'The resulting promotion of the English language around the world is one of their most substantial, and least documented, achievements.' On Facebook one of Vasin's friends, Nick Barabanov, wrote that Nikolai Vasin had 'gone to join John Lennon and George Harrison. May they have a happy and bright time there!' Kolya reportedly died in a fall at a St Petersburg shopping centre on 29 August. For more than fifty years The Be-Atles dominated Vasin's life. He dreamed of dedicating a 'shrine of love' in St Petersburg to Lennon but the project was never realised, even though city officials found a suitable site for it. When asked why he had allowed The Be-Atles to take over his life he replied that having children would 'not have equalled' the joy and love that the band had given him. A leading Russian cultural commentator, Artemy Troitsky, says the impact of The Be-Atles songs behind the Iron Curtain was 'profound. The Beatles turned tens of millions of Soviet youngsters to another religion,' he told the BBC. Alexander Kan, a BBC Russian Service analyst, wrote in a tribute that Vasin was 'legendary' among Russian rock and/or roll fans. He met Vasin in 1980, by which time Kan himself was enthusiastic about other bands besides The Be-Atles. 'But, for him there was nothing more important.' Vasin described as 'divine intervention' the fact that John Lennon had sent him the signed LP. In 1970 Vasin had sent a birthday telegram to Lennon and miraculously John had picked it out of his pile of fan mail from around the world. Vasin influenced many other Russians with his passion for The Be-Atles and wrote a book about the band's cultural impact behind the Iron Curtain. The book's title - Rock On The Russian Bones - referred to Soviet fans' use of old X-ray plates for inscribing bootleg recordings of Be-Atles songs. Western rock LPs were nearly all banned by the authorities but there was a vast black market of bootleg recordings among youngsters in the Soviet bloc. Once Communist-era censorship had disappeared Vasin staged parties every year to mark the birthdays of each of The Be-Atles and he was present when yer actual Sir Paul McCartney rocked Red Square in Moscow in 2003.
The actress Jacqueline Pearce - best known and beloved by millions for her role as the villainess Servalan, in the popular BBC science-fiction series Blake's 7, has died at her home in Lancashire at the age of seventy four. Jacqueline was well-known to a generation of television viewers thanks to the smouldering intensity and depth she brought to her role as the vampish space villain. Created by Terry Nation, Blake's 7 concerned a morally ambiguous bunch of rebels led by Roj Blake (Gareth Thomas) and Kerr Avon (Paul Darrow) pursued by the forces of a totalitarian interplanetary government known as The Federation. Initially brought in for a guest spot in a single episode, Jacqueline did such an outstanding job as the evil regime's coolly calculating supreme commander that she became a recurring character and the show's main villain. With her striking looks, cropped jet black hair and propensity to stride across the universe in glamorous attire (which the naturally elegant Pearce carried off effortlessly and with a perfectly judged level of arch camp), Servalan was no stereotypical evildoer. A cold, calculating, ruthless sociopath Servalan's main aim was to destroy the crew of The Liberator - whilst, simultaneously enjoying a flirtatious over-the-top double act with Darrow - and the relish with which Pearce played the character ensured she would remain a fan favourite for the series duration and for decades beyond.
Jacqueline augmented the character's ruthlessness with a damaged sensuality and an undercurrent of vulnerability amid frequent bursts of Joan Collins-style tempestuousness. Years later, Jacqueline was delighted to receive letters from (now grown-up) viewers telling her that Servalan had been the object of their first teenage crush as well as an icon for the show's - numerous - gay fans.
Jacqueline was born in Woking, the daughter of Stella and Reginald Pearce. Her father worked at the Vickers Armstrong aircraft factory nearby in Weybridge and Jacqueline was brought up in Byfleet, where the family shared their home with another couple, May and George Wilcox. Stella walked out when Jacqueline was sixteen months old and the Wilcoxes shared parental responsibility with Reg. Jacqueline was educated at the Marist Convent in West Byfleet. Although she found her schooldays traumatic, a lay teacher at the convent opened her eyes to drama by giving her elocution lessons and taking her to the theatre. After an unsuccessful stint at secretarial college, she won a place at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London where her contemporaries included John Hurt (who became a friend for life) and Anthony Hopkins. On graduation, she secured the services of a good agent and television parts came quickly - the first in a 1964 ITV Play Of The Week starring Ian McShane and Hurt. It also featured her husband, the actor Drewe Henley, whom she had met when he directed her in a short film while she was at RADA: they had married within nine months, in 1963.
She quickly broke into films, featuring prominently in a pair of highly regarded 1966 Hammer movies The Plague Of The Zombies (her character's rise from the grave memorably ended in decapitation by shovel at the hands of André Morell) and The Reptile (playing the title role). Other films included the following year's Don't Lose Your Head, Don't Raise The Bridge, Lower The River (1968, in which she starred alongside Jerry Lewis, Bernard Cribbins and Terry-Thomas), Sky West & Crooked (1965), White Mischief (1987), Bruce Robinson's How To Get Ahead In Advertising (1989) and Princess Caraboo (1994).
After her marriage to Henley ended in 1967 (and he subsequently married Felicity Kendal), she took an impetuous sabbatical in Hollywood. She studied at the Lee Strasberg Actors Studio in Los Angeles and worked as a receptionist for her friend Sammy Davis Jr (whom she had met when they worked on adjacent sound stages while he was filming in the UK). When she returned home, she felt her career had stalled, but her extensive body of television work included guest spots in The Avengers (1966), Public Eye (1966), Man In A Suitcase (1967), Callan (1969), Hadleigh (1973), Special Branch (1974), the BBC Shakespeare series (Measure For Measure in 1979) and Casualty (2006).
Recurring roles included a performance of sad beauty as Rosa Dartle in the BBC's 1974 production of David Copperfield and a pair of memorable fantasies aimed at a younger audience - Moondial (1988, in which she played a dual role) and Dark Season (1991, an early success for Russell Davies which starred a teenage Kate Winslet).
She also played Claudia Haswell in Couples, Anna Rupius in Vienna 1900 and another villainous role, Chessene in the 1985 Doctor Who story The Two Doctors. Though, to be fair, the latter really wasn't her fault. She also appeared in series such as Doctors, Daniel Deronda and The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles. Her theatre work included West End appearances in Harold Pinter's production of Simon Gray's Otherwise Engaged (1975) and JB Priestley's Dangerous Corner (2001) and an Edinburgh fringe run of her one woman show A Star Is Torn (1999). During a break in her career she moved to South Africa for several years, initially to care for orphaned monkeys. In her highly entertaining autobiography From Byfleet To The Bush (2012), she was candid about her struggles with mental health. She nevertheless remained a glamorous force of nature - even when hard up and between jobs she would, she claimed, cash her benefit cheque and immediately head to the West End to buy champagne.
Edited to add:
Liz Fraser, best known for her role in the Carry On film franchise, has died in Brompton Hospital at the age of eighty eight after a short illness. Director Michael Armstrong has lead tributes, describing her as 'one of the greatest comedic actresses of her era.' Fraser's first major film role was in 1959's I'm All Right Jack, playing Peter Sellers' daughter, although she subsequently played his girlfriend just a year later in Two Way Stretch. Speaking about working with Sellers she once said: 'He wined and dined me at his Hampstead penthouse and another time locked me in his dressing room having invited me there for lunch. He had treated a girlfriend of mine badly, so I didn't quite go there.'
Liz was born in Southwark. Her year of birth was usually attributed as 1933, which she gave when auditioning for her role in I'm All Right Jack, as The Boulting Brothers wanted someone younger for the part. Her true age was actually three years older, confirmed in her autobiography, Liz Fraser ... and Other Characters, published in 2012. Her father was a travelling salesman for a brewery and her mother owned a shop just off the New Kent Road. Family life was disrupted by the Second World War when Liz was evacuated, initially to Westerham in Kent and then, when that was deemed still too vulnerable to the bombs, to Chudleigh in Devon. Her father died in May 1942 when Liz was eleven.
She attended St Saviour's and St Olave's Grammar School for Girls between the ages of thirteen and seventeen and also attended Goldsmiths College in the evenings, where she joined a drama group. On leaving school she attended the City of London College for Commerce, Book-Keeping, Shorthand and Typing and won an evening scholarship to the London School of Dramatic Art. Her first film appearance was in Touch & Go (1955) using her birth name, Elizabeth Winch and then The Smallest Show On Earth (1957) in which she worked with Sellers for the first time. Further film appearances included the classic I'm All Right, Jack for which she received a BAFTA nomination as Most Promising Newcomer. She was in several of the early Carry On films: Carry On Regardless (1961), Carry On Cruising (1962) and Carry On Cabby (1963), but was sacked by producer Peter Rogers allegedly after casually saying that the series could be better marketed. She re-appeared in the series in Carry On Behind (1975) and played memorable roles on TV in The Avengers and The Professionals.
Her other film appearances included Two-Way Stretch, The Bulldog Breed and Pure Hell At St Trinian's (all 1960), Double Bunk (1961), The Painted Smile and The Amorous Prawn (both 1962), The Americanization Of Emily (1964), The Family Way (1966), Up The Junction (1968), Dad's Army (1971), the sex comedies Adventures Of A Taxi Driver (1976), Confessions Of A Driving Instructor (1976), Adventures Of A Private Eye (1977) and Rosie Dixon: Night Nurse (1978) and The Great Rock 'N' Roll Swindle (1980).
Liz was known for her many appearances in British films and television series during a fifty year career, including Hancock's Half Hour and the 1965 The Avengers episode The Girl From Auntie. She appeared in numerous episodes of the Associated-Rediffusion soap opera Sixpenny Corner (1955-56) and on Benny Hill's late-1950s TV shows.
Her other television work included episodes of Dixon Of Dock Green, Whack-O!, Probation Officer, Harry's Girls, It's Not Me: It's Them!, Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased), The Goodies, Mickey Dunne, Miss Marple, Crown Court, Citizen James, Last Of The Summer Wine, The Bill, Foyle's War, Birds Of A Feather, Minder, Rumpole Of The Bailey, Jason King, Here Come The Double Deckers!, Fairly Secret Army and Holby City. Earlier this year she made her final screen appearance in Midsomer Murders. Liz married Peter Yonwin, a travelling salesman, in November 1958 but the marriage soon collapsed and they divorced. She married her second husband, Bill Hitchcock, a TV director, in January 1965. At that time, the couple agreed not to work together, but this changed in 1972 when she appeared in the Rodney Bewes sitcom Albert! which Hitchcock co-directed and again later in the same year, when she acted in Turnbull's Finest Half-Hour, a comedy series starring Michael Bates and produced by Hitchcock. Hitchcock died from a pulmonary embolism in February 1974 at the age of forty five. Fraser had a half-brother, Philip, eleven years her senior, the son of her mother from a previous marriage. Liz supported various charities and was a patron of the London Repertory Company. In her private life, she was known to be fond of animals, loved playing bridge and bowls at the exclusive Hurlingham club in Fulham. Her financial astuteness brought substantial gains at the stock market which Liz in turn developed into a healthy property portfolio. She always spoke fondly of her co-stars, many of whom she regarded as her close friends during the sixties, in particular Sid James, Joan Sims, Tony Hancock and Tommy Cooper.
No other Hollywood icon of the last few decades has exposed his emotions, his love life, career and ambitions, or his body, quite as openly as did the actor-director Burt Reynolds, who has died this week aged eighty two. He acted in scores of films, directing many of them, and produced and appeared in hundreds of television movies and episodic series. Many of these were eminently forgettable, though a role in Boogie Nights (1997) won him a thoroughly deserved best supporting actor Oscar nomination. But it was his extravagant and explosive lifestyle, aspects of which affected his career, that often made the headlines. In 1972, the year of his breakthrough in Deliverance, widely regarded as his best work, he became America's first male centrefold, appearing nude in Cosmopolitan. The magazine sold over a million copies and this single photograph became more discussed than his performance as the belligerent Lewis in Deliverance. The publicity upset the conservative end of Hollywood and possibly cost Burt an anticipated best actor Oscar nomination; in a 2015 interview he said that he regretted having done the shoot.
Further notoriety came his way from his marriages, the first to the comedienne Judy Carne, the second to the actress Loni Anderson. Both ended in divorce, the latter rather acrimoniously in 1995, after an eighteen-month dispute over his wealth and the custody of their son, Quinton. Long and widely publicised affairs with other actresses - including Sally Field and Dyan Cannon - and with the singer Dinah Shore, who was many years his senior, also fuelled the publicity machine. Reynolds said that Shore taught him 'about the finer things in life' and Field, his co=star in one of his most popular movies, Smokey & The Bandit, was the person he had 'loved the most.'
Burt was a very physical actor who often - proudly - did his own stunts and had initially hoped to become a professional gridiron football player. Throughout his career, which effectively began in 1959 with the television series Riverboat, he claimed to have one of the three quickest tempers in Hollywood, alongside those of Gene Hackman and Clint Eastwood. This caused many on-and-off set fights and, during the filming of Heat (1986) he hit and severely injured the film's director, Dick Richards, who subsequently sued him for assault. The altercation came during a dismal period in Reynolds' life, when an addiction to the painkiller Halcion and severe weight loss had led to widespread rumours that he was suffering from AIDS. In fact, his debilitating illness had been caused by a fight scene which went disastrously wrong during the shooting of City Heat in 1984, in which he co-starred with Eastwood. Reynolds was hit with a real bar stool, rather than a fake one and suffered a broken jaw, leading to year-long complications with his teeth, jaw and inner ear.
Yet in 1981 he had been voted the world's top box office attraction for the fifth consecutive year and his film The Cannonball Run had been one of the year's highest earners. That film was one of many, beginning with White Lightning (1973), that contributed to Reynolds's 'good ole boy' image, aimed at the drive-in audience and blue-collar workers, particularly in Middle and Southern America where they appreciate that sort of thing greatly. Others in that frantic, car-oriented and stunt-dominated style included the Smokey & The Bandit films. Born in Lansing, Michigan, Burt was the son of Burton Reynolds, who had been in the military and later became a police chief and his wife, Fern. After the family moved to Florida, Burt attended Palm Beach high school, and won a sports scholarship to Florida State University. When a shattered knee and damaged spleen put paid to his plans to become a footballer, he headed for New York, hoping to become an actor.
There, he took various labouring jobs while he sought work in the theatre. A small role in a production of Mr Roberts starring Charlton Heston, while sharing a flat with the volatile actor Rip Torn, kept Burt afloat financially until he offered to do a dangerous stunt in a television show. Other parts followed, leading to a contract with Universal and a two-year stint as Ben Frazer in Riverboat. Reynolds stayed faithful to the small screen and enjoyed success in many series including Gunsmoke (1964), Hawk (1966), Dan August (1970), BL Stryker (1989) and the intelligent Evening Shade (1990), which won him an EMMY. He also directed for television and appeared in dozens of mini-series and movies. He was a regular guest on chat shows and entertainment specials and repeatedly featured on The Tonight Show With Johnny Carson; during the latter's absences, Reynolds enjoyed huge success deputising for Carson and, especially, relished a lively encounter interviewing Carne.
His big screen appearances began modestly in 1961. He was frequently cast as an American Indian, thanks to Cherokee blood on his father's side. Sam Fuller's ill-fated Shark and a thriller, Impasse (both 1969), were followed by a role as Detective Steve Carella in the Ed McBain-inspired movie Fuzz (1972). John Boorman's Deliverance propelled him into the big league. A riveting outdoor adventure, based on a bestseller, it told of four men who challenge nature and themselves on a weekend trip shooting the rapids down a river high in the Appalachians. This nightmare journey - and its vision of a society despoiling the land - became a huge critical and commercial success. Between 1972 and his accident on City Heat, Reynolds starred in thirty movies and survived potentially damaging publicity in 1973 when he became involved in the mysterious death of the writer David Whiting during the filming of The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing. A verdict of accidental death was eventually recorded.
Reynolds directed his first feature, Gator, in 1976; then The End (1978) and Sharky's Machine (1981). But, his commercial acclaim rested on his energetic characterisations including Gator, the titular lead in the Smokey & The Bandit movies, JJ McClure in The Cannonball Run and its sequels and numerous cop and adventure films - many directed by his former stuntman and friend Hal Needham. A commitment to one of these, Stroker Ace (1983), caused him to turn down the role in Terms Of Endearment which subsequently went to Jack Nicholson, who won an Oscar. This was a bad career move, comparable to Burt's decision not to play James Bond when Sean Connery left the franchise. Nevertheless he maintained an opulent lifestyle and, at various times, owned six substantial homes, a fleet of cars, a helicopter and a jet with two pilots on standby.
He interspersed the action flicks with some more serious movies, which included two for Robert Aldrich. He was a football-playing convict in The Longest Yard (1974) and a police detective seduced by Catherine Deneuve in the stylish Hustle (1975). Aldrich said of him: 'Behind that false humour and false modesty is a bright man who paid his dues. His charm is only part of the man – he's a strong-willed self-centred businessman who does what serves Burt. And so he should.' Silent Movie (1976), the satiric Semi-Tough (1977), Starting Over (1979) and Best Friends (1982) earned him good notices, as did founding a community project near one of his homes in Jupiter, Florida. The Burt Reynolds Theatre allowed him to return to the stage and attracted friends and fellow actors to work in modern classics. Among regulars there were Martin Sheen, Charles Durning, Julie Harris and Field. After the commercial failure of City Heat and his injury, Reynolds worked little for the next few years. The nadir of his career came during this period when a chain of restaurants he had financed closed with debts of fifteen million dollars. He refused to file for bankruptcy and accepted whatever work he was offered. He took the Cary Grant role in a feeble revamp of His Girl Friday, updated from journalism to television and entitled Switching Channels (1988). There were many voiceover gigs, including one for All Dogs Go to Heaven (1989) and appearances as himself in documentaries, as well as in Robert Altman's The Player (1992).
In 1989 he had enjoyed a minor comeback in the amiable comedy Breaking In, but it was swamped by such medium-budget failures as Rent-A-Cop (1987), the psycho-horror The Maddening (1995) and the Canadian-made Frankenstein & Me (1996). The dire TV spin-off Bean (1997), in which he took fifth billing, proved popular and he followed that with a return to form. Boogie Nights was an ensemble piece, brilliantly directed by Paul Thomas Anderson. As a 1970s porn movie director, Reynolds gave a charismatic and assured performance which rightly gained him critical applause and a new lease of life. He notched up an incredible two-dozen screen and television appearances over the next few years. He starred in three TV movies as Detective McQueen and returned to directing with The Last Producer (2000) and co-starred with actors as diverse as Sylvester Stallone in Driven (2001) and Julie Christie in Snapshots (2002). He was among an all-star line up in the prestigious television mini-series Johnson County War (2002) and, appeared in a very weird episode of The X-Files.
For whatever reason - money or confirmation of his existence in a changed Hollywood - Burt continued to work relentlessly. His credits exceeded in quantity, if not quality, those of the previous decade. Performing voiceovers for video games including Legend Of Frosty The Snowman (2005) was a particular low point. Other work included full-length TV movies and straight-to-video features such as End Game (2006) and Randy & The Mob (2007), in which he remained uncredited. Better material showed he still retained considerable screen presence. He was the 'me' to Mary Tyler Moore in the feel-good TV movie Miss Lettie & Me (2002) and met his acting match with Bruce Dern in the violent western Hard Ground (2003), where as aggressive partners they hunted a sadistic killer. In 2005, The Longest Yard was revamped in comedy mode. Thirty years previously Reynolds had played the lead brilliantly in Aldrich's tough version of the same story (titled The Mean Machine in the UK where it had a cult following) about prisoners and their warders on opposing football teams. Here he was effective as Coach Scarborough in a massive hit which earned double its eighty million dollars budget on first release. Another commercial success followed with a big-screen spin-off from the TV series The Dukes Of Hazzard, returning Reynolds to the car-crashing good ole boy territory of earlier years. Then he was in the aptly named Forget About It (2006) - among many movies - until the amiable A Bunch Of Amateurs (2008), where, as a fading star, he goes to Britain to play King Lear at Stratford, only to find that it is a local amateur dramatic society and not, as he had assumed, the RSC. Its success relied entirely upon him, Imelda Staunton and Derek Jacobi. The irony of the casting was unmistakable, as were the jokes about Deliverance in Without A Paddle (2004) or the title of Not Another Not Another Movie (2011) about a studio willing to produce rubbish for cash.
A hectic life and multiple health problems (including a back operation in 2009 and heart bypass surgery the following year) plus financial concerns behind him, Reynolds settled for a marginally less arduous work schedule, maintaining a home in Florida while working steadily in television and cinema. He made guest appearances in several long-running, well regarded TV series including Ed (2003), Archer (2012) and Burn Notice (2010), observing that he had notched up three hundred credits in the medium. He could also be seen or heard in video productions and voiceovers in films, plus leading roles in features, although one at least had a total budget of less than his personal fee had been for acting in Smokey & The Bandit. These included a disaster movie, Category Five (2014), Elbow Grease and the horror film Hollow Creek (both 2016). He kept on working even after his sardonic portrayal of a veteran performer, The Last Movie Star (2017) and will appear in a comedy to be released in December, Defining Moments his final movie role. In 2015 Reynolds published a follow-up to his 1994 autobiography My Life, which had been dedicated to Quinton. The new book, co-written with Jon Winokur, was called But Enough About Me and was intended he said 'to set the record straight.' It covered much of his career and his personal and working relationships during a six-decade career with the great, the good and the utterly forgettable of Hollywood. He ruefully noted that his choices – professionally as well as romantically - had not always been wise. In addition to James Bond, he had turned down the lead in Die Hard and the role of Hans Solo in Star Wars.
But, whilst the search for cinematic respectability and an Oscar continued to elude him, Burt could always take satisfaction in numerous other accolades and in holding the record as the only star to have been the US's top box office attraction for five consecutive years. He is survived by Quinton.
And finally, dear blog reader ...