Sunday, November 18, 2018

Kerblam!: Please, Mister Postman

'It's The Kerblam Man!' 'You're just making sounds now!'
'Good morning, new workers.' 'Is it me or are they really creepy?' 'It's ain't you!' 'Oi, you two, that's robophobic! Some of my best friends are robots.' 'You'll be right at home here, then.'
'Halfway across the universe and I feel like I'm back at work!'
'Two hearts?' 'Courtesy of the First Lady. Very good health-care policy. I don't like to talk about it!'
'Got to keep an eye on the ten per cent. As me dad used to say "Go organics!" He was a bit odd, me dad!'
'Graham O'Brien, a very warm welcome to Personal Maintenance.' 'Not! A! Word!'
'Constant random monitoring. No such thing as privacy here. Are you from the union?'
'There's barely anything down in the Triple-Nines anymore. The last person to search for an order down there got the sack. I never saw them again. I'm not having that happen to you. Not on your first day.'
'Safety Rule one hundred and ninety eight - do not drink any of the cleaning fluids!'
'Those words better be worth something. And if anything happens to us or our new friends or anyone else here, you'll have me to answer too. Too bombastic?' 'Felt about right.' 'I liked it.' 'Thanks! "Laters". Oh, not doing that again. I'll stick with "bye."' 'Catch me up with this, we storm into management, we cause a fight, what happened to being undercover?' 'That was before I found out people were disappearing. I'm stepping it up a gear, going straight to the top.' 'I bet you were the sort of kid who liked poking a stick at a wasps nest just to see what happened.' 'I don't like bullies, I don't like conspiracies, I don't like people being in danger. And, there's a flavour of all three here. Now, ever hid in a panelled alcove?' 'No!' 'You've never lived!'
'Customers who selected these items also bought ear-mufflers, pencil-sharpeners and cola-bottles. Say "yes" now to order these three for the price of the cheapest two.' 'No!' 'Thank you, I have stored your preferences!'
'You did this in your last job? How did it go?' 'Really badly! Sprained ankle and a final warning!' 'Come on, we have to find Kira.' 'I should let you know, I have a co-ordination problem. Not super-serious but, you know, it makes life really interesting. And frustrating. And difficult. Especially at moments like this!'
'You may also like to know we have a one-hour sale on cushions! Cushions liven up the grimmest workplace. Like this one!' 'Twirly! Hi, I'm The Doctor ... can you pause all sales protocols for a minute?' 'Even the up-selling?' 'You've just had a nap of about two hundred years so your offers are out-of-date anyway.' 'The future is very confusing for my protocols!'
'It's very bad manners to point guns at people. I never warmed to you!'
'Remember, if you want it, Kerblam it!' Believe it or not, dear blog reader, yer actual Keith Telly Topping thought that was great. I know, I know, major surprise, yeah? This blogger is not sure whether Chris Chibnall's era of the popular, long-running family SF drama will ultimately have the repeat value of those of The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat (OBE) or Big Rusty. But, simply in terms of their visceral, immediate impact, every episode so far this series has left this blogger fully satisfied. Yes, 'I thought it was great,' is something of a default reaction from this blogger to pretty much every episode of Doctor Who. What can Keith Telly Topping say in his own defence, dear blog reader? How about something along the line of, 'why should I need to defend myself for liking a TV programme you specious, arrogant, full-of-yer-own-crapulence glake, go away and bugger yourself ... and the horse you rode in on.' Or, you know, something along those lines. This blogger is 'a fan,' dear blog reader, so being happy to be pleased with the show's efforts sort of goes with the territory - at least, that's the theory - it doesn't seem to work for everyone. But, as this blogger said to a friend a few days ago when discussing more or less this very subject, 'they got their claws into me as a five year old in 1968 and, I guess, I'll be sticking with them until the Saturday before I die.' Anyway, enough of the history lesson - Kerblam! Yeah, enjoyed that; enjoyed it a lot. Loved the Fez! Loved Lee Mack's pithy reply - straight out of any random episode of Would I Lie To You? or Not Going Out - when asked by Yaz where his six year old daughter is: 'She's upstairs, she's Head Of Finance!' Loved Bradley's line: 'Kerblam's trying to kill their own customers? That's the worst business plan I've ever heard!' Loved the politics (especially as one just knows the episode's perceptive critique of zero-hour contracts and working conditions will likely soon become the subject of another 'oh, it's too PC' article by some louse of no importance at the Daily Scum Mail or the Torygraph). That said, though, this blogger also loved the huge twist at the end that, actually, it wasn't the Big-Bad Automated Multi-Planetary Corporation that was the bad guy here but, rather, an embittered Marxist! As evidenced by the anger and regret in The Doctor's line: 'The system isn't the problem. How people use and exploit the system, that's the problem. People like you.' And, most of all, this blogger loved anticipating the race which is about to develop between Amazon and Sports Direct to contact their lawyers and see if they can sue the BBC for the dreadful crime of workplace parody! Doctor Who does incisive and brilliant social commentary, dear blog reader. Again. Not that it ever stopped.
Julie Hesmondhalg's guest appearance in Kerblam! reunited her with Chris Chibnall after the pair worked together on the third series of Broadchurch. Hesmondhalgh has also worked with another former Doctor Who showrunner, Russell Davies, on his 2015 Channel Four series Cucumber. The Digital Spy website asked the BAFTA-nominated actress how the two compared. 'I think there are real similarities between Russell and Chris,' she said. 'There's an attention to detail and a love of words and language, that I can really see in both their writing. They've got ... not the same, but a similar sense of humour and a similar sensibility. Like if you look at [Russell's mini-series] A Very English Scandal, it was a real caper, but there was a real point to it. There was a very deep message in it, about shame and about living an honest life and how hiding things leads people to these ridiculous situations, and I think it's the same with Chris's work. Broadchurch was known for being very intense and dark, obviously, but there's a lot of humour in it - Olivia [Colman] is just a very, very funny person and her character and the relationship between her and David [Tennant], was very light, with a lot of humour in it, so I think there's definite correlations between [Chibnall and Davies].' Julie added that, besides their writing, both Chibnall and Davies have 'a very similar energy, very avuncular and very warm,' while also being 'smart' and 'not suffering fools gladly. I do find them incredibly similar in lots of ways,' she said. 'They know what they want, they absolutely know what they want. They're not just writers, they're showrunners, absolutely, definitely.' Julie also defended the show from disgraceful racist shit-scum and people who appear to have a, sick, politically motivated agenda smeared all over their disgusting faces who are claiming that the latest series of Doctor Who is 'too politically correct.' Whatever the Hell that means. Whilst most reviews of the episodes so far have been, broadly, very positive, some recent episodes of the BBC's popular long-running family SF drama series have been criticised in 'certain quarters' - ie. by disgraceful racist shit-scum and people who appear to have a, sick, politically motivated agenda smeared all over their disgusting faces, basically - for the dreadful crimes of featuring a female Doctor, a racially-diverse cast and for addressing social issues and pivotal moments in non-white history. So, clearly no hateful louse-scum BNP-supporting sick agenda going down there, then. Oh no, very hot water. 'I think you can probably imagine my thoughts on that!' Julie said. 'It's just such a load of bollocks! It's just hilarious. [It happens] as you soon as you get a little bit of diversity, which to me is really exciting. To watch that first episode and see proper representation was absolutely brilliant for me. I was buzzing off it, because that's the world we live in and when you see it reflected on-screen, it's like, "Oh, finally, this is great!"' Hesmondhalgh acknowledged that there are 'always going to be naysayers' - no shit? This is Doctor Who we're talking about! - but added that she had 'read a couple of things [about the new series] that are just absolutely preposterous. I mean, slagging off the series for doing an episode on Rosa Parks? I thought that was one of the powerful bits of young people's telly that I've seen ever. The conversations that will have sparked in houses all over the country because people might have a perfunctory knowledge of Rosa Parks and the Civil Rights movement, but to see Ryan [Tosin Cole] in that situation, to land him in the middle of it, only Doctor Who could do that. To land him in that position, for him to politely pick up a glove that a woman's dropped and for him to be punched in the face, it was absolutely shocking. And it's like, "Right, this is where we were only a few decades ago, and this is where we're heading again" and what an absolute perfect place to discuss those issues.' Hesmondhalgh had similarly good things to say about Demons Of The Punjab. 'My kids haven't learned about Partition, I know barely anything about Partition, and I'm a fairly political person. To be bringing that into all these homes, to start that conversation and to put Yaz in the middle of that story and to see it through her eyes, it's just brilliant. It's just everything I want in television. I mean, that term "political correctness" just means, for me, things moving forward a little bit, in the way they should be doing.' A long-time Doctor Who fan, Hesmondhalgh revealed she did have one concern about the new series before it was broadcast - the number of companions. 'I was a little bit confused about that when they made the announcement, ages ago - I thought it seemed quite a lot [of characters] to be in every episode,' she explained. 'But I love it. I think it's worked really well. They all bring something so unique to it. They're such a great little gang and there's such chemistry between them, off-screen. It's a big risk, putting four people together and hoping that they all get on and that a bit of magic can be created.'
Kerblam! was watched by 5.93 million overnight viewers, a share of 28.5 per cent of the total TV audience, according to initial figures. This was an increase of one hundred and eighty thousand punters over the previous episode's overnight audience. The rating means Doctor Who had the fourth largest overnight audience for Sunday and the eleventh for the week ending 18 November. Highest for the day was ITV's sick z-list Victorian freak show, I'm A Z-List Former Celebrity Desperate To Get My Boat-Race Back On TV ... Please Vote For Me To Stay Here As Long As Possible (I'll Even Eat Worms If You Want) which had 11.03 million sad, crushed victims of society watching. Strictly Come Dancing's results programme drew 8.99 million viewers, while Dynasties, the new David Attenborough series - with it's shamelessly manipulative sequence of the lost baby penguin in the snow! - had an impressive 6.13 million. The fourth episode of The Little Drummer Girl had 2.29 million. On ITV The Chase: Z-List Celebrity Special drew 4.04 million viewers opposite Doctor Who (meaning more people are still watching Bradley Walsh than are watching ... Bradley Walsh!) whilst The X-Factor was seen by but 4.83 million. Consolidated, Seven Day-Plus figures should be available next Monday.
Demons Of The Punjab's consolidated Seven Day-Plus ratings have been announced by BARB. The episode had an audience of 7.48 million punters - an increase over the initially reported overnight figure of around 1.8 million timeshift viewers. This total was made up of 7.23 million watching on TV and an additional two hundred and fifty thousand accessing the episode on iPlayer via PCs, tablets, smartphones and various other Twenty First Century doo-dah. Doctor Who was the eighth most-watched programme in Britain during the week-ending Sunday 11 November, the show's sixth successive weekly top-ten placing. It was headed by the two weekly episodes of Strictly Come Dancing (11.55 million and 9.74 million), four of the week's six episodes of Coronation Street (7.93 million, 7.77 million, 7.65 million and 7.62 million) and the opening episode of Dynasties (7.63 million). Doctor Who once again had a larger consolidated audience than the other two Coronation Street episodes and higher than all the week's episodes of both EastEnders and Emmerdale. The Royal British Legion Fesitval was watched by 7.04 million.
With the series' first female Doctor, diversity on Doctor Who was always going to be a hot topic - and one of the series' writers, Vinay Patel, has been celebrating that as he talked about his episode, Demons Of The Punjab. Patel has praised having a 'more diverse cast' on the long-running family SF drama and said that he wanted to make sure the episode 'opened the discussion' about the seriousness of this period in history. 'I always wanted to do this because it felt it was a period of history that the audience, particularly a British audience, might not know a whole lot about. But there are so many compelling and rich stories from that time,' Patel told Radio Times. 'I'd known about partition for most of my life, so I just wanted to bring that to a wider audience. With a more diverse cast, we get to tell more stories that people who may not be of that background can learn about and identify with. If there was one thing keeping me up at night more than anything, it was figuring out how to tell this story in a way that didn't feel like it was disrespectful of the seriousness of it,' Patel added of striking the balance between historical storytelling and SF elements. 'In one way, you need to show violence and horror graphically in order for it to stick with people. For now, Demons Of The Punjab could be a way of opening the discussion,' he suggested, 'to bring the story out to a larger public and the ramifications of partition that still affect the subcontinent to this day.'
There's an interesting - and admirably balanced - piece, Is Doctor Who Finally Getting It Right On Race? in the Gruniad by Martin Belam which you can read here, dear blog reader. 'At the end of Rosa, my nine-year-old daughter burst into tears about how awfully Parks and the other black characters had been treated, sparking a discussion at home about racism in America and the UK, how it was in the past and, as Yasmin and Ryan had explained on-screen, how it continues and affects people with their colour of skin in the present day. Educational job done on that score at least. I expect all these years later, Sydney Newman would have been proud that the Doctor Who format he helped devise was still having that power over what he described in the original briefing notes for the series as "the most critical, difficult, even sophisticated audience there is" - children.' Word, brother.
Or, to put it another way, here's Dalek operator and David Bowie biographer, the great Nick Pegg slapping down with righteous fury a further example of - completely inaccurate - Twitter silliness ...
Doctor Who Magazine has confirmed that this year's 'Christmas' Special of Doctor Who - the finale of Jodie Whittaker's first series - will actually be shown on New Year's Day. The change is yet another radical one for a series which has been part of the BBC1 Christmas Day schedule since it returned in 2005. The series peaked in 2007 when Kylie Minogue joined David Tennant in Voyage Of The Damned watched by 13.31 million viewers. The last Doctor Who episode to be shown on New Year's Day was Tennant's finale, the second part of The End Of Time, in 2010. Executive producer Chris Chibnall said that the New Year's Day episode would see Jodie's Doctor 'face a terrifying alien threat. We're thrilled to be starting the New Year with a bang on BBC1,' added The Chib, who promised audiences 'an action-packed, hour-long special adventure for all the family.' Charlotte Moore, the BBC's director of content, said: 'We're delighted The Doctor and her companions will be welcoming BBC1 audiences into 2019 with this exciting new episode.' According to the BBC, the seasonal episode will involve 'a terrifying evil from across the centuries of Earth's history.' The confirmation that Doctor Who is to move from its traditional Christmas Day slot has been speculated about at length over the last few months, both in fandom and in the wider media. Christmas is a day when BBC1 likes to display many of the programmes it regards as its crown jewels. But, the Doctor Who move mirrors the programme's recent - and, very successful - shift from Saturday to Sunday, a scheduling change which has seen significantly larger audiences for this year's series. New Year's Day is a day that in recent years has often delivered bigger ratings than Christmas Day - particularly with showcase dramas like Sherlock. And, a 1 January broadcast for Doctor Who will see it to stand out more, instead of just being one of a number of family favourites fighting for viewers on 25 December. Whittaker's debut series is currently attracting the show's highest average TV audience for nearly ten years. consolidated Seven Day-Plus ratings for her first five episodes put the average audience at 8.55 million. The last time the show enjoyed a larger average after five episodes was in 2010 - Matt Smith's first series in the title role - and the average is also higher than the equivalent figure for the 2007 and 2008 series, when national heartthrob David Tennant was playing The Doctor.
The BBC has released details of episodes nine and ten of Doctor Who's eleventh series. Episode nine is called It Takes You Away. On the edge of a Norwegian fjord, in the present day, The Doctor, Ryan, Graham and Yaz discover a boarded-up cottage and a girl named Hanne in need of their help. What monster lurks in the woods around the cottage - and beyond? Guest starring Ellie Wallwork and Kevin Eldon, the episode was written by Ed Hime and directed by Jamie Childs.
The Battle Of Ranskoor Av Kolos is the current series' tenth - and final - episode (the New Year's Day 'special', notwithstanding). On the titular planet of Ranskoor Av Kolos lies the remains of a brutal battlefield. But as The Doctor, Graham, Yaz and Ryan answer nine separate distress calls, they discover that the planet holds far more secrets. With a guest cast that includes Phyllis Logan, Mark Addy and Percelle Ascott, this one is written by Chris Chibnall and also directed by Jamie Childs.
A new Doctor Who exhibition is being planned for the Welsh Capital by BBC Studios in association with Cardiff Council. The new experience is currently in development at Cardiff Castle, in the centre of the city and is due to be operational by the summer of 2019. Cardiff previously hosted a Doctor Who exhibition at a location near the TV studios where Doctor Who is made. It closed in 2017 leaving Cardiff council taxpayers with a one million quid bill. The new location contains a medieval Norman castle as well as a Victorian Gothic revival mansion and is located in the heart of the city.
Lovarzi, the UK's leading online scarf retailer, is expanding its Doctor Who knitwear range with new Winter 2018 products. Maninder Singh Sahota, Director of Lovarzi, said: 'Doctor Who has been an important part of Christmas for over a decade now. Our original Doctor Who Christmas Scarf and Hat hit shelves in 2016 and we were nonetheless blown away by demand. Our new sweater is a perfect accompaniment to these items, and we're sure fans will love them. For the first time ever, we're also releasing officially-licensed women's gloves this year. The Pandorica Opens Scarf proved popular and it's such a beautiful painting, we thought it was the ideal image to launch this extension to the range.' A shorter - 'more manageable' - version of the Fourth Doctor's Burgundy Scarf will also be available. This version is a more concise two hundred centimetres, so it's easier to wear day-to-day without dragging the tassels underneath you. The TARDIS and Dalek Christmas Sweater and The Tomb Of The Cybermen Scarf will also be available to buy from 12 November from and Amazon. The Pandorica Opens Gloves will be available to buy in last week of November. Members of Lovarzi's 'exclusive Doctor Who Fan Club' can take advantage of a fifteen per cent discount on all newly launched Doctor Who products by Lovarzi.
Neil Gaiman has claimed that Doctor Who once 'messed' with a fellow writer's script in the past. Last week, it was announced that the American Gods author will adapt Mervyn Peake's Gormenghast for television, alongside Being Human writer Toby Whithouse. During a Q&A session about the forthcoming series, Gaiman said that he 'almost worked' with Whithouse for the first time when they both worked on episodes of Doctor Who and met at a reading of their respective scripts. 'The nearest we'd ever come to working together was when we met at a reading of Doctor Who, Toby's episode had been read that morning and mine in the afternoon,' Gaiman told Deadline. 'We definitely liked each other and we liked each other's work. Because I was writing Doctor Who, I had the privilege of reading Toby's script, which I felt on the whole was rather better than the episode, I got to read the raw script before people who weren't Toby started messing with them.' This is far from the first time Gaiman has appeared to be not entirely satisfied with his Doctor Who experience. 'I did two episodes of Doctor Who over the last decade, one I loved and it won awards, one I do not love and it is widely regarded as having some good bits in it but being rather a curate's egg,' he said to the Torygraph last month. It's nice to know, then, that this blogger - who can count on the digits of one hand the number of Doctor Who episodes post-2005 that he hasn't enjoyed to a greater or lesser degree - isn't the only one who found Nightmare In Silver to be a staggering disappointment. 'As far as I'm concerned both of the scripts were of equal quality but the biggest differences were having a say in what actually got to the screen, a say in what got changed, a say in what got rewritten, a say in the colour scheme, a say in all those things.' That experience, Gaiman claimed, inspired him to get into producing for the upcoming Amazon/BBC co-production of Good Omens, so he would end up with more of a say on how his scripts turn out. 'I'm glad my second Doctor Who episode left me with a bad taste in my mouth because that is why, when Terry said, "You have to make this thing," I was like, "If I'm going to to do it then I am going to be showrunner because I can't just write the scripts, hand them over to somebody and hope that I get something fantastic back, I may or I may not. If this is going to be fucked up it's going to be fucked up by me personally with love and dedication."'
Children In Need has now raised over a billion smackers since it began the annual fundraiser in 1980. It comes after a record-breaking £50.6m was donated during Friday's programme. The five-hour show saw the cast of EastEnders dress up as Disney characters and perform a medley. Jodie Whittaker made an appearance on the charity telethon, surprising nine year old Doctor Who fan Anna, who suffers from cystic fibrosis, when she and her brother Alex got to travel to the TARDIS and meet the cast. The total raised surpassed 2017's previous on-the-night record of £50.1m.
This week's 'one question on Only Connect which yer actual Keith Telly Topping got the answer to before either of the teams' was the following.
Three years after leaving Qi, Stephen Fry has headed back into the show's nerve centre. He has been reunited with the shows researchers - the famous Qi elves - to record an episode of their podcast, No Such Thing As Fish. During the episode, due to be released next Friday, Stephen will 'reveal how he once trolled Jeremy Paxman, teach us the best way to wipe our bottoms and spoil the ending to virtually every book ever written.' After the recording Fry tweeted: 'It was blissful fun talking again with those fabulous elves.'
Speaking of Qi, dear blog readers may have noticed that it has suddenly disappeared from BBC2's Monday night schedules. No need to worry, however, the production state that they are merely 'taking a break for a few weeks', among other things to allow Saturday's Qi XL run - which started six weeks behind - to catch up. According to the Qi website, the next Qi episode is likely to be Pubs - guest-starring Josh Widdecombe, Cariad Lloyd and That Bloody Weirdo Noel Fielding - which will be broadcast in December.
HBO has announced when Game Of Thrones will premiere its eighth and final series. The fantasy drama's last six episodes will begin in April 2019. Sky has confirmed that it will simulcast the final series in the UK on both Sky Atlantic and NOW TV alongside the US's HBO broadcasts. Game Of Thrones' seventh series concluded in August 2017, which means by the time the premiere of the eighth series is shown, fans will have been waiting for close to two years for the resolution to the huge cliffhanger that saw the Night King's army - riding a reanimated Viserion - breach The Wall. The cast and crew have spoken with excitement about the remaining episodes, with co-executive producer Bryan Cogman promising: '[Series eight] is about all of these disparate characters coming together to face a common enemy, dealing with their own past, and defining the person they want to be in the face of certain death. It's an incredibly emotional, haunting, bittersweet final season, and I think it honours very much what George [RR Martin] set out to do – which is flipping this kind of story on its head.'
So, HBO has finally when Game Of Thrones will premiere its eighth series and we also know that each episode will be 'longer than sixty minutes.' Director David Nutter revealed the news while doing a Reddit AMA on Tuesday. When asked about the length of the upcoming episodes, Nutter replied: 'Season eight episodes will all I think be longer than sixty minutes. They'll be dancing around the bigger numbers, I know that for sure.' In the AMA, Nutter also described series eight as: 'Spectacular, inspiring, satisfying.' And, when asked if there will be any Red Wedding-style surprises, he replied: 'As far as season eight compared to the Red Wedding I just have to tell you - hang onto your seat cause it's going to be special.' He also suggested the main reason why audiences had to wait nearly two years for the drama's final series, saying it was 'down to the visual effects. Things take time my friends - they take a lot of time to create and GOT is the last place you're going to find half-baked work so it's all about making sure they fill the frame with as much capacity as possible and making it as real and right as possible,' he added. 'Small price to pay for the amazing quality that comes out of that show.' He also explained: 'I'm completely satisfied with how season eight ends. I think that [David Benioff and Dan Weiss] did a tremendous job and they took into consideration what the fans want, as well as what is right as far as storytelling is concerned. I guarantee there's going to be lots of surprises and shocking moments, but it's really very compelling stuff.'
That much-rumoured Peaky Blinders movie seems to be underway, according to one of the show's directors. A movie adaptation of the hit BBC drama has been talked about for years. 'I think it's actually being written,' director Otto Bathurst, who was behind the camera on the first three episodes of the show, told Yahoo Movies UK. 'I think Steve Knight [is] planning something, yeah.' Last year, Knight said that they were 'probably going to do it,' though no further plans have since emerged. Series lead Cillian Murphy was asked about a movie back in 2016, though he did not seem hugely keen, saying: 'I'm sort of ambivalent about it. I'm sort of like, "Eh, yeah, I don't know, I'm not sure." I love the idea sort of theoretically, but it has to come at the right time, you know? You can't alienate the beautiful democratic thing of television where everyone just watches it.' He added: 'It's kind of a sexy idea, but I'll reserve judgement until the idea is presented to me.'
The Little Drummer Girl begins its run in the US this week, leading to high-profile (and, very positive) previews in the likes of Time, Vanity Fair and Indie Wire.
Meanwhile, back in the UK, the Daily Torygraph now appears to believe that Alan Sugar is 'The Sole Arbiter Of The Worth Of All Things' after using a tweet from Lord Sugar-Sweetie as definitive 'proof' that viewers are finding The Little Drummer Girl 'too confusing.' 'On social media, viewers said they could not keep up with the plot, which features double agents and elaborate role play,' they claim after highlighting his Lordships comments. That's not 'viewers,' guys, that's a viewer.
A new trailer for the fifth and final series of From The North favourite Gotham has been released. It features the arrival of the villainous, ultra-violent Bane. 'The world may seem dark, but there's hope,' David Mazouz's Bruce Wayne tells Commissioner Gordon in the new trailer.
It has now been confirmed that The Blacklist will return to NBC on Friday 4 January with a two-hour series six opener before settling into its new regular 9pm time slot on Friday 11 January.
Lucifer fans are about to see a side of the title character that they've never seen before. While some DC Comics adaptations have struggled with standards and practices over partial nudity, Lucifer will be presenting at least a handful of 'bum shots' of The Devil's ringpiece in its upcoming fourth series, thanks to Netflix's more laissez-faire approach to censorship. 'Netflix really wanted to have Lucifer because they love the show that we already had,' Tom Ellis told a crowd at ACE Comic Con. 'So we've been careful, we don't want to change our show too much because that's the show that people really liked. But there were certain restrictions that we had when we were on network television that meant that maybe we couldn't do as much as we wanted. So things like my bum, which I was never allowed to show before, and lots of people want to see it, really: there may be some bum shots this season. There will be multiple bum shots, certainly after a scene we shot the other day. I also want to stress - I think one of the reasons people like our show is because it doesn't go all the way there. It's about suggestion, it's about getting away with it, it's about being cheeky and not vulgar and we're still being careful that we aren't going to go into vulgarity. Everything's justified.'
The second series of American Gods, the Starz adaption of Neil Gaiman's 2001 novel, has been plagued for months by production turmoil, including the sidelining of its replacement showrunner and the loss of two of the best reasons for watching it, From The North favourites Gillian Anderson and Kristen Chenoweth. So, there has been some scepticism among fans of the show that series two could possibly live up to the darkly haunting tone of the well-received first series. The first trailer has recently been unveiled and, to be fair, it looks quite promising, even if we mostly just get tantalising glimpses of the returning cast.
Yer actual Jenna Coleman has revealed that filming on Victoria series three is complete. The actress posted on Instagram to celebrate the end of production and thanked the 'amazing' cast and crew for their work. The new series is expected to be broadcast in early 2019, although a specific date has not yet been confirmed by ITV.
After last year's GOLD comedy Murder On The Blackpool Express, Johnny Vegas and Sian Gibson are back with another Agatha Christie spoof. Death On The Tyne, once again written by Hebburn's Jason Cook, will see coach workers Terry and Gemma get caught up in another murder mystery caper, as this time they take their travels to the North Sea. This Christmas, Draper's Tours will be taking passengers on an overnight ferry trip from North Shields to Amsterdam, where 'things will quickly turn turbulent as the passengers and crew begin to get bumped off one-by-one.' And, if you've ever done that particular trip - as yer actual Keith Telly Topping has a couple of times - you'll be well aware such murderous malarkey is not all that unusual. There's no shortage of motives, obviously, as everyone becomes a potential suspect or victim – from the pensioners with a hidden goldmine, the couple trapped in a clandestine affair, the embittered DJ and the cash-strapped captain. But throughout it all, Terry is still desperate to pop the question to Gemma, even if the circumstances are less than romantic. Joining Vegas and Gibson on their journey will be a host of comedy greats including the returning Sheila Reid, as well as Felicity Montagu, Doon Mackichan, Don Gilet, Tony Gardner, Taj Atwal, Georgie Glen, David Mumeni, Sue Johnston and James Fleet as Captain Jack. Red Dwarf director Ed Bye is behind the camera, with Derry Girls' Catherine Gosling Fuller as producer.
Farmer Tony Martin sparked a national debate in 1999 when he shot dead a teenager who was burgling his Norfolk home. To many, he was a vulnerable householder with a right to protect both himself and his property who should have been given a medal rather than a jail sentence. To others, he was a dangerous vigilante who wanted to kill and maim. Martin, now seventy four, was released from prison in 2003 after his murder conviction was downgraded to manslaughter on grounds of diminished responsibility. Fifteen years on, his story is still divisive and has being retold in a Channel Four drama using police interviews that were conducted in the days following his arrest. Writer-director Dave Nath says that he was drawn to recreating Martin's interrogation because the transcripts 'give a sense of the biography of the man as well as the crime.' Every word in the piece is taken verbatim from the interviews or from police statements made by people relevant to the case. 'It's quite risky because you're effectively putting a play on the telly,' continues Nath, whose other credits include The Murder Detectives and I'm Running Sainsbury's. 'It was about looking for the right case. Channel Four wanted something iconic, where there was something bigger at stake than the crime itself.' Steve Pemberton, who plays Tony Martin in the drama, says that he was 'thrilled to be asked to be involved in something completely out of my comfort zone. Because it was verbatim you couldn't go off script or paraphrase,' he added. 'It was important to learn the words and say them word for word.' Martin, says that Pemberton, has 'unusual turns of phrase' which made recreating Martin's statements 'a great challenge' for an actor. 'It's not dialogue the way any of us would write it,' he adds. 'It meant a lot of time sitting with the script and hours and hours of getting the shape of the sentences exactly right.' Daniel Mays is no stranger to police interrogation scenes, having appeared as a sergeant suspected of an unlawful shooting in the BBC's Line Of Duty. The actor, who plays one of the two policemen interviewing Martin, praises Jed Mercurio's drama for fostering 'an appetite for longer takes and longer attention spans. I've obviously been involved in interrogation scenes before but this offered a completely different challenge,' he says of his role as Detective Constable Stuart Peters. 'It's an iconic story and I liked the idea of setting it in one room. Most of all it was a pure actors' piece: you can really see all the nuances and power shifts in the performances.' Martin himself is seen at the end of The Interrogation Of Tony Martin returning to Bleak House, the Norfolk farmhouse where sixteen-year-old Fred Barras was killed and another man, Brendan Fearon, was wounded. His unrepentant demeanour and refusal to show any remorse for his actions is sure to reignite interest in the case and larger questions regarding self-defence and reasonable force. 'I think Tony is quite robust in terms of the media now, but obviously he's prepared for the renewed interest,' says Nath. 'Tony believes he did the right thing, so I think there was a willingness to engage in this process.' Pemberton worked with a dialect coach to help him perfect Martin's accent but decided against meeting the man in person. 'Dave made it clear he wasn't after an impersonation or facsimile, so I didn't think it was necessary to meet up with [Martin],' he explains. Mays, meanwhile, has nothing but praise for the way Pemberton - hitherto best known for his comic roles - took to the very serious task at hand. 'It was an absolute privilege to sit across from his performance.'
BBC1's upcoming drama series Mrs Wilson features numerous implausible twists, telling one of the most far-fetched stories to grace the screen in years. Yet, astonishingly, it all actually happened. Based on a memoir written by lead actress Ruth Wilson's grandmother, the three-part drama sees its title character, Alison, discover a wealth of secrets about her late husband in the wake of his death. The truth about spy Alec Wilson (Iain Glen) begins to unfurl when another woman arrives at Alison's door, claiming that she is the real Mrs Wilson. It soon transpires that Alec had many more women in his life, with further revelations sending Alison on an incredible journey of discovery. The story is all based in truth – though in reality, Ruth's grandmother only discovered the existence of one other of Alec's wives. The full truth of his deception (in total, he had married four times and had seven children, under a variety of different names) only emerged after she died. 'So in the drama, we've amalgamated the truth with my grandmother's memoir,' Ruth explained. 'It was about twelve years ago we started finding out about the bigger story and it's taken the last three years to put this together. It was a scary process,' she added, 'being so vulnerable and exposing the family in that way. It's something that we talked about a lot, and tried to be very sensitive towards.' Adapted by writer Anna Symons, Mrs Wilson was produced with help from Alec's surviving children, some of whom feature as characters in the drama. 'My grandmother was an ordinary woman,' said Ruth. 'She wasn't anyone famous. But she had an extraordinary journey. It's been such a privilege to dig into that.' Though she describes playing Alison as 'perhaps the most profound experience of my life,' Ruth admitted that she did have some reservations about taking on so personal a project. 'Early on, I felt, "Am I going to play her? Am I too close? Can I do this?" – and I wished, a week into it, that there was someone else playing her. "Is Claire Foy available?" But, I knew that if I played her, I could play the complexity of her. I wanted to protect her, by playing her in all her complexity. That for me was protecting her, showing all sides.' Ruth never knew the other key figure in Mrs Wilson's story, her grandfather Alec, who died before she was born. 'He's sort of a man of mystery to me,' she said, revealing that, even after seventy years, the intelligence services still won't release details of exactly what Alec was doing for them. 'We don't know if the marriages, were they for work? Were they for love? We still don't have clarity on that. So he's a man of mystery. During filming, because I was inside my grandmother's skin, I hated him. But when I first found out the story, I thought, "Oh my God, what a legend! How'd he get away with it?" - It was sort of amazing that this thing existed in our family, our very ordinary family. But then, actually playing my grandmother, I was like, "No, what a shit!" Nothing's black and white. I had mixed feelings, and still do.'
A doll of Luther's Idris Elba, created by Emperis, is now on the market just in time for Christmas. But, publicity shots of the doll have had many people on the Interweb criticising its likeness. Or, lack of likeness. And, it's eight hundred and fifty knicker price tag, obviously.
Top Gear presenter Chris Harris has been involved in a car crash while working for the show's magazine. Harris was driving a Porsche on the A466 near Tintern in Monmouthshire, when he crashed with a pick-up truck performing a three-point turn. Nobody was injured in the crash, but both vehicles were damaged. Harris was working ahead of the twenty sixth series of Top Gear, its last with Matt LeBlanc, which will be broadcast in early 2019. He was driving through the Wye Valley, with a senior executive from the magazine also in the car at the time of the crash. A - curiously anonymous - eyewitness, snitched the pick-up truck was manoeuvring in an apparent three-point-turn before the collision and the Porsche was embedded in the side of the truck between the front and back wheels. A Spokesman for Top Gear said: 'We can confirm that Chris Harris was involved in a car accident in Wales earlier today whilst working on a feature for Top Gear magazine. Chris, his passenger, and the driver of the other car, were unhurt and Police were called to the scene.' Harris subsequently described the crash as 'unavoidable.'
BBC3 has released to the cast for Back To Life. Geraldine James, Adeel Akhtar, Richard Durden, Jamie Michie, Liam Williams, Souad Faress, Jo Martin, Christine Bottomley and Frank Feys are all set to appear opposite Daisy Haggard in the six episode comedy drama that Haggard co-created with Laura Solon. Back To Life tells the story of Miri Matteson, a woman who did 'a very bad thing' a long time ago. So bad in fact, that she went to prison for eighteen years because of it. Miri's first few weeks out of The Slammer find her navigating her way as a naïve but determined Adult Beginner, trying (and frequently failing) to lead a normal life in her picturesque but claustrophobic seaside hometown. She attempts to rekindle old relationships, make new ones, look for work and readjust to life outside, whilst desperately waiting for the world to forget about what happened that fateful night. Back To Life was commissioned for BBC3 in June by the Controller of Comedy Commissioning Shane Allen and BBC3 Controller Damian Kavanagh. Two Brothers Pictures are producing. Filming is now underway.
The third and final series of Fortitude will premiere on Sky Atlantic on Thursday 6 December, it has been announced. Created by Simon Donald, Fortitude tells the story of a mysterious death in a close-knit community in the Arctic Circle. The drama series is produced by Fifty Fathoms and Tiger Aspect Productions and stars Richard Dormer, Dennis Quaid, Luke Treadaway, Sienna Guillory, Darren Boyd, Mia Jexen and Alexandra Moen. The final series consists of four episodes.
John Barrowman, former football manager Harry Redknapp and X Factor runner-up Fleur East are heading to the jungle for this year's I'm A Z-List Former Celebrity Desperate To Get My Boat-Race Back On TV ... Please Vote For Me To Stay Here As Long As Possible (I'll Even Eat Worms If You Want). They are among ten 'stars' - for which read 'people who can't get a job anywhere else to justify their existence but need their fix of being the centre of attention' - who will undertake challenges in the Australian jungle for up to three weeks. Noel Edmonds - who is definitely not mental - is also in the line-up, according to the Sun - though ITV would not confirm his involvement.
The production company behind Poldark and ITV flop Vanity Fair has bought the rights to 'a critical biography' of Sir Philip Green. The life of the clothing tycoon, who controls Arcadia Group, the owner of Topshop, 'could be turned into a high-profile drama about how power and finance works in the UK - and how it affects people when high street shops close,' according to the Gruniad Morning Star. But the production company Mammoth Screen 'has been grappling with how to cover Green's recent return to the headlines.' He has spent hundreds of thousands with the law firm Schillings to fight an attempt to name him as the prominent businessman who had allegedly paid substantial sums to staff in exchange for their silence. A Green drama 'would probably focus on his rise from the London rag trade to national prominence as the deal-making chairman of Arcadia Group, before taking in the chaos surrounding his botched decision to sell the British Home Stores chain to a former bankrupt racing driver for one pound shortly before it collapsed,' the newspaper states. 'The series would face the prospect of knotty legal challenges from Green, whose recent battle with the Telegraph has still not fully played out in the courts.' The producers said that they would look at including coverage of Green's non-disclosure agreements, but needed to make sure 'we're not pressing the button too soon because it takes a while for these things to evolve and the truth to emerge.' Attempts to keep Green's name out of the media collapsed last month when Peter Hain, speaking in the House of Lords, used parliamentary privilege to name Green as the businessman responsible for the injunction, prompting demands that Green should be stripped of his knighthood. An alleged 'former Arcadia insider' allegedly told the Gruniad that Green had 'given multiple seven-figure payouts' to staff who had 'made allegations of sexual harassment or bullying' while working for the tycoon. 'Other women have since come forward to with harassment claims.' Mammoth Screen bought the rights to the biography Damaged Goods by Sunday Times business editor Oliver Shah before the latest round of claims about Green's behaviour became public. The deal was first reported by the Radio Times and the production company has been in talks with broadcasters who are interested in making the series.Tom Leggett, an executive producer at Mammoth Screen, said that it was 'interested in the story' because 'it told a parable about the wider ecosystem of the government, politics, media and how Philip Green was created by a system that involved collusion between big business and journalists who propped it up.' He added: 'This type of people were presented in the Eighties and Nineties as being the image of great British entrepreneurship and we should all aspire to that. Then to discover it's all corrupt is a fascinating betrayal. Everyone is complicit in creating these people.' The production company has reportedly been 'in discussions with a potential scriptwriter' but said that it wanted to keep the drama's focus on how people were affected by the fall of BHS. The high street chain collapsed with an enormous hole in its pension fund - which Green later filled after an outcry, but many former employees remain out of work and shop units sit empty on high streets across the country. Leggett said he bought the rights after reading a review of Shah's book in the Gruniad: 'The point is not to make a salacious exploitative piece. What makes Oliver's book so good is that it really is a very measured and intelligent look at big business. The idea of doing a drama about it is not about trying to grab headlines but to give a genuine insight into the way these companies have risen over the last few years.' Green himself has different views on the book, the Gruniad notes, quoting Green as saying that the only reason he had not sued Shah over its publication was that 'he's a cheap hooker who couldn't afford to pay damages anyway. If he was an expensive hooker, I'd sue,' Green reportedly said earlier this year. Despite this, Shah said that he still talked to Green 'on a regular basis' about stories: 'He'll ring up and say "I'm not to read that fucking book but when the movie gets made I'm going to make it myself." I rang him up on Friday and he said "why do you always want to fuck everything up?"' The journalist speculated on which actors could be approached to play the sixty six-year-old businessman on-screen: 'I wish Bob Hoskins was still around but I could go for Ray Winstone.'
The BBC's Director General has spoken out against the 'disgraceful' attacks made on journalists on social media. Tony Hall said that journalists received 'constant anonymous threats' on Twitter for 'simply reporting on opinions that some people might not want to hear.' Earlier this year, the BBC's political editor Laura Kuenssberg said that she no longer reads what people say online. Lord Hall said that social media threats were part of 'an attempt to intimidate people and stop them doing their jobs.' Speaking at this year's News Xchange conference in Edinburgh, he said: 'It can feel like our profession - right now - is under siege. And we should not feel like that.' In his keynote speech on Wednesday, he also said that more should be done to protect journalists from 'utterly shameful' violence around the world. 'We have become far too used to the targeting and killing of journalists' in countries from Mexico to Malta, he said. He told the conference: 'It is hard to remember a time in which journalists across the world have been deliberately targeted in the way they are today.' Lord Hall also said he wanted the BBC's journalists 'to tackle fake news - or what we should more properly call misinformation - wherever they find it.' And, he spoke about the importance of providing 'context' to stories, telling his audience that 'explaining the news is as important as reporting the news.' He continued: 'Audiences want more than the soundbite. They want detail.' Lord Hall said that it was 'important' to offer solutions as well as report on problems in society, pointing out that 'people want to know there are answers too.'
CNN has filed a lawsuit against the Rump administration after The White House suspended the credentials of one of its senior journalists. CNN's chief White House correspondent, Jim Acosta, had his press 'hard pass' revoked last week hours after he got into a testy exchange with President Rump. The network alleges this violates its and Acosta's constitutional rights. The lawsuit, filed in Washington DC on Tuesday, names the President and other senior aides as defendants. Among those named are Chief of Staff John Kelly and White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders, who cited 'unacceptable conduct' as alleged 'grounds' for the revocation of Acosta's pass. On Tuesday Sanders claimed in a statement that Acosta is 'one of nearly fifty' hard pass holders at the CNN network, adding that it was 'not the first time this reporter has inappropriately refused to yield to other reporters. The White House cannot run an orderly and fair press conference when a reporter acts this way, which is neither appropriate nor professional,' the statement read. 'The First Amendment is not served when a single reporter, of more than one hundred and fifty present, attempts to monopolise the floor. If there is no check on this type of behaviour it impedes the ability of the President, The White House staff and members of the media to conduct business.' In a Twitter thread after the incident, Sanders accused Acosta of 'placing his hands on a young woman just trying to do her job' - referring to a White House intern who had tried to get a microphone away from him during a news conference. Acosta strongly denied any wrongdoing, labelling The White House's accusation 'a lie.' The press secretary later shared a zoomed-in clip of the incident, which some experts have suggested was 'doctored' to 'alter its speed.' In the aftermath, the White House Correspondents' Association, which represents the press corps at the presidential residence, urged the administration to reverse the decision and not be such a bunch of sour-faced twats who ban people they don't like. 'We have asked this court for an immediate restraining order requiring the pass be returned to Jim and will seek permanent relief as part of this process,' CNN said in a statement. 'While the suit is specific to CNN and Acosta, this could have happened to anyone. If left unchallenged, the actions of The White House would create a dangerous chilling effect for any journalist who covers our elected officials.'
The co-creator of TV satire series Spitting Image is donating his entire archive to Cambridge University. The collection - including original scripts, puppet moulds, drawings and recordings - will be conserved and held in the library. Spitting Image parodied political leaders, celebrities and royals over eighteen series and was broadcast by ITV from 1984 to 1996. Roger Law said that the material would be 'in the right place, it's come home.' Among the archives is a rubber puppet of former Prime Monster Margaret Thatcher, caricatured with a wide-eyed stare and prominent nose. Much of the donated collection has been kept in boxes at Law's home, or in 'three sea containers out in the Cambridgeshire Fens.' Law, who studied at the Cambridge School of Art and began his association with co-creator Peter Fluck in the city, said the university's library was the best place for the collection. 'I was hoping the banks of the Ouse would break and it would all go into the North Sea but this is better,' he said. 'I also thought the show would die a death because no-one had done it before, I never thought it would be like a heater in the corner of the room, gently warming your knees. I knew people would react to it, like Marmite.' The body of donated work comprises every script from the show, including that of a 1985 pilot which was never broadcast. There are thousands of visual images, as well as individual sketches, magazines and books and more than four hundred videos. The University's library is home to some of the world's most important public records, including the original work and correspondence of Charles Darwin and the papers of Sir Isaac Newton. Librarian Doctor Jessica Gardner described the collection as 'a national treasure. Spitting Image was anarchic, it was creative, it entered the public imagination like nothing else from that era,' she said. 'It is an extraordinary political and historical record. Great satire holds up a mirror, it questions and challenges.' Law's wife, the archivist Deirdre Amsden, listed and organised every item in the donated collection over the course of five years.
A man has been extremely arrested after a police appeal for a Ross from Friends 'lookalike' went viral. The image of a suspected thief, taken in Blackpool, was widely shared after Interweb users noted his close resemblance to actor David Schwimmer. Lancashire Police said that a thirty six-year-old suspect was arrested in Southall on suspicion of theft. The force announced Monday's arrest on Twitter, thanking Schwimmer for his support. The Met replied to the tweet, making reference to the Friends theme song, 'I'll Be There For You'. After the original image was shared thousands of times, Schwimmer posted a tongue-in-cheek video proclaiming his innocence of the naughty doings. In the short clip, filmed in a New York shop, he could be seen carrying a crate of beer, mimicking his 'double' in the police image. He captioned the video: 'Officers, I swear it wasn't me. As you can see, I was in New York.' He added. 'To the hardworking Blackpool Police, good luck with the investigation.'
A petition to get Iceland's proposed Christmas advert shown on TV has reached more than six hundred and seventy thousand signatures. The advert highlights the impact of palm oil on rainforests and orangutan. Clearcast, the body which approves adverts for TV, said that it wasn't approved because it 'breached political advertising rules.' The advert, which was released on social media on Friday, didn't breach the rules because it was about the environment or palm oil, rather it was not approved because the advert was originally made by the environmental organisation Greenpeace. It comes down to the law - political advertising is not allowed on British TV. In the case of the Iceland advert, Clearcast looked at the rule which says an advert breaches the law if it is 'inserted by or on behalf of a body whose objects are wholly or mainly of a political nature.' Clearcast said that Greenpeace had to show it wasn't 'a political advertiser' before the advert could be approved - but wasn't able to do that. In a blogpost on Monday, Chris Mundy, the managing director of Clearcast, said that the body doesn't consider the message in the advert itself to be political. 'The case made by many of the people that have contacted us is that they feel it is wrong that the ad is considered political and that it makes important environmental points. However, for the reasons above, that is not the issue here.' Clearcast does not have the power to ban adverts, it merely decides whether adverts meet the rules set out in law. It is the job of the Advertising Standards Authority and communications regulator Ofcom to ban adverts which fall foul of the rules. It is up to commercial broadcasters - such as Channel Four and ITV - to ensure the advertising they put on their channels don't breach the law. As Clearcast explains: 'Broadcasters considered the Iceland ad as part of the clearance process and decided that it fell foul of the political advertiser rule meaning it may breach their obligations.' The advert has had three million views on Iceland's YouTube channel and thirteen million views on its Facebook page. Krupali Cescau, the head of planning at brand agency Amplify, says the advert 'speaks to the public's current attitude' towards sustainability and climate change. She says the fact that it has been released under the banner of it being 'banned' has created even more publicity. 'If it had just gone straight on-air it would have been great in terms of starting a conversation,' she said. 'Actually, the fact that it's been released like this, as a "banned" advert, is riding the sentiment that is out there at the moment. Iceland's tripled the views it had from its 2017 ad just on YouTube and the people you've got looking at it are now vocal advocates of a store they might never have considered before.' Now that the advert has gone viral, some have wondered whether this was Iceland's intention all along. Its managing director Richard Walker has told Radio 1 Newsbeat this wasn't the case. 'When we first found out it was going to be banned ten days ago, we were absolutely gutted. We thought we wouldn't have a Christmas campaign.' Iceland says that it had made a deal with Greenpeace to run the advert without its branding in order to try and comply with broadcasting law. 'There's no reference to them in the ad because they are deemed to be political and therefore we needed to disassociate ourselves with them,' says Richard. He says that he stands by Iceland's description of the advert being 'banned.' 'I don't know what other word we'd use. They said we couldn't play it at all, they banned it.'
Gerard Butler and Miley Cyrus are amongst the celebrities whose homes have been destroyed by the deadly wildfires in California. Others, including Kim Kardashian-West and Lady Gaga evacuated their homes over the weekend while sharing updates with fans on social media. And, evacuated their bowels when they saw how close the fire was. Probably. The fires started on Thursday and have killed at least thirty one people, with more than two hundred people still missing. An estimated two hundred and fifty thousand people have been forced to flee their homes. Neil Young confirmed the loss of his house in a statement posted on his website. He also discussed climate change and criticised President Rump. Young's post referenced the president's controversial tweet that blamed California's 'gross mismanagement' for the damage caused by the wildfires. 'Imagine a leader who defies science, saying these solutions shouldn't be part of his decision-making on our behalf,' Young wrote. This is the second time that the rock star has lost a home to a wildfire, according to Vulture. The 1978 Malibu firestorm destroyed hundreds of homes, including Young's. The fire also reached a ranch that has been the set of several films and TV shows. Paramount Western Town was built for TV productions in the 1950s and has recently been serving as a location for the first two series of Westworld. An HBO representative told The Hollywood Reporter that while 'Westworld is not currently in production, the area has been evacuated.' They also expressed concern for 'all those affected by these terrible fires.' The creator of the reality dating show The Bachelor, tweeted on Friday that the mansion where the show is filmed was 'in grave danger.' One of three structures within Villa De La Vina, has been destroyed, according to Entertainment Tonight.
Rob Lowe said it has been 'surreal' to learn that parts of Malibu where he grew up have been destroyed in California's devastating wildfires. 'My childhood home burned to the ground,' he said. 'Hearing about flames going over certain streets I ran around on as a young boy was just surreal,' he told the BBC's Colin Paterson. 'I know so many people who have lost their homes there. It's unimaginable.' The West Wing actor is currently filming in the UK in the forthcoming ITV police drama Wild Bill. Speaking in Boston (the East Lincolnshire one rather than the Massachusetts one), Lowe revealed that streets where he, his mother and his brother Chad used to live have been decimated. 'A lot of my childhood memories of that area will never be the same.' Lowe described the fires that have swept through California as 'a perfect storm' and called for firemen to receive 'the resources they need. We've always had these fires, but they're just worse [now] so we just have to ramp it up,' he continued. Lowe, who came to prominence in such 1980s films as The Outsiders and St Elmo's Fire, went on to play White House scriptwriter Sam Seaborne in acclaimed political drama The West Wing. The fifty four-year-old will present his one-man show, Stories I Only Tell My Friends in London on 1 December and in Brighton on 16 February. Wild Bill, which he also executive produces, will see him play an American police officer who comes to the UK when he is appointed Chief Constable of the Lincolnshire Police Force. Rachael Stirling, Angela Griffin, Tony Pitts and Bronwyn James will also feature in the drama.
Action hero Jack Reacher is to get a reboot for the small screen with a new actor in the lead role after creator Lee Child admitted Tom Cruise, who played him in two films, is 'too short.' In Child's books, Reacher is described as six feet five inches tall with hands the size of dinner plates. Shortarse Cruise is five foot seven. 'Cruise, for all his talent, didn't have that physicality,' Child told BBC Radio Manchester's Mike Sweeney. The author said that a deal was signed last week to make a new streaming show. Readers had complained about Cruise's suitability to play the imposing former major in the US military police since his casting was announced in 2011. 'I really enjoyed working with Cruise. He's a really, really nice guy. We had a lot of fun,' Child told the station. 'But, ultimately, the readers are right. The size of Reacher is really, really important and it's a big component of who he is. The idea is that when Reacher walks into a room, you're all a little nervous just for that first minute. And Cruise, for all his talent, didn't have that physicality. So what I've decided to do is - there won't be any more movies with Tom Cruise. Instead we're going to take it to Netflix or something like that. Long form streaming television, with a completely new actor. And I want all those readers who were upset about Tom Cruise to help me out - participate in choosing the right actor for the TV series. We're rebooting and starting over and we're going to try and find the perfect guy.' The first Jack Reacher film, directed and adapted by Christopher McQuarrie, debuted in 2012. Cruise got mostly very positive reviews and it made tonnes of wonga at box offices around the world. But the decision to abandon the film franchise and move to the small screen could have as much to do with the reception for the 2016 sequel. Which was crap.
David Tennant and Emily Watson are teaming up again, five years after starring together in The Politician's Husband. Deadline reports that they are, again, playing a couple, this time on the Greek island of Crete, in Quicksand, a film described as 'a taut psycho-thriller.' Quicksand follows Dan (Tennant) and Sarah (Watson) living out their dream in the Mediterranean. But their paradise is shattered when their visiting son is murdered by a local youth. Dan is offered a chance at revenge by a dangerous stranger who won't take no for an answer, and it emerges that the price of revenge is… another murder. Quicksand is due to start filming in April, with director Mark Brozel.
The car coat is reported to be 'this season's biggest outerwear trend' and yer actual Matt Smith's new turn in Burberry's Christmas campaign has just proved the point. Sat in a London cafe 'wearing a chic caramel hued cable knit sweater, a pair of perfectly pressed taupe chinos and - the piece de resistance - a Burberry check car coat, Smith is the picture of modern British style.' Apparently.
Sir Billy Connolly has said his 'art is his life now' as he unveiled a new collection of his drawings in Glasgow. Born On A Rainy Day is the third instalment in the series of artworks and includes twenty five new sketches. Speaking to BBC Scotland's Jackie Bird, Sir Billy said: 'I just started to draw not knowing what it was going to be and it's turned into this.' On the subject of his health, he said that he sometimes has 'shoogly days' but otherwise he is 'perfectly okay.' In 2013, Sir Billy revealed that he had been diagnosed with Parkinson's and prostate cancer on the same day, but he has since been given the all-clear from the cancer. Looking over his progression from comedy and acting to art, Sir Billy said that sketching was his life now. 'I get up in the morning and feed the fish. I catch them in the afternoon and then I draw and I have this idyllic life. I don't miss touring for a minute. I've had my fill of it, I've done the big and I've done the wee and been there and I've done it - I'm very proud of that.' Sir Billy explained that where he now lives in Florida, he leads a mostly 'anonymous life,' but that when he is back in Scotland the reaction he enjoys is one of affection. 'It has gone beyond fame into a nicer realm where people treat me as if I'm related to them; like I'm their cousin or something,' he said. Explaining how he turned to sketching, Sir Billy said: 'I was in Montreal about ten years ago doing stand-up. It was a miserable day and I went into an art shop. I bought a sketch book and some felt-tip pens - I thought it would stop me watching the telly. I had never drawn in my life. When I went home I said to Pamela: "Look, I know they're crap, but tell me if you think they're getting better?" and she said: "Yeah they're definitely getting better!" I've drawn a lot of people with bags over their heads because I couldn't draw faces.' And asked in general how he was feeling, Sir Billy said: 'I'm okay, I'm having a kind of shoogly day today, the nerves and stuff, I'm kind of shaking a bit. It varies from day-to-day. Today is slightly shoogly, but otherwise I'm perfectly okay.' During the interview. Sir Billy was asked about his views on Scottish independence and responded by saying that he did not know how he felt, but he insisted he would not tell anyone what they should believe. He said: 'I speak to my daughter and her friends, younger people and they seem to be drawn towards independence and I don't know how I feel about it. I've never been for independence, so I really don't know how I feel. I'm not telling anybody to be independent.' Since his last exhibition of artworks, the comedian has been knighted for services to entertainment and charity and has been awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Strathclyde. Nicola Duffy, gallery manager at Castle Fine Art, said: 'Billy Connolly is a true national treasure and we couldn't feel more privileged to exhibit his work here in Glasgow. Billy's artwork has a unique, humorous charm which has always been hugely popular with his fans and we can't wait to welcome them back to the gallery to view the latest collection.' The exhibition will run between 16 and 30 November at Castle Fine Art on Queen Street.
The Kinks' LP The Village Green Preservation Society has - finally - passed 100,000 sales. The Kinks released the LP almost exactly fifty years ago (on 22 November 1968, the same day as The Bloody Beatles White Album). Despite strong reviews, it was something of a flop on first release. Ray Davies's timing - with the LP's nostalgic concept - proved to be out of step in the cultural turmoil of 1968, but it eventually gained a much greater mainstream appeal. Pete Townshend of The Whom later said: 'For me, Village Green Preservation Society was Ray's masterwork. It's his Sgt Pepper, it's what makes him the definitive pop poet laureate.' The LP was also a major influence on the songwriting of Davies devotees like David Bowie, Paul Weller, Joe Strummer, Elvis Costello and Damon Albarn. It was Davies' spry, personal love letter to post-war Britain at a time when old shops were being bulldozed in favour of ugly new buildings and people were switching from wooden kegs to metal ones for their draught beer. Songs like 'Animal Farm' 'Days', 'Do You Remember Walter?', 'Picture Book', 'Last Of The Steam-Powered Trains' and 'Sitting By The Riverside' are among the best Davies ever wrote. Davies this week received a gold disc to mark the achievement. He said that he is currently in the process of turning the LP into a stage show. He told ITV News's Nina Nanner the LP was about 'celebrating the small things in life. You can't live in the past all the time, just move forward,' he said. 'Appreciate the past and take it with you.'
A Briton has died after contracting rabies while on holiday in Morocco, health officials have said. Public Health England announced that the victim became infected after being bitten by a cat. PHE issued a reminder to travellers to avoid coming into contact with animals when in rabies-affected countries. Rabies is not found in wild or domestic animals in the UK, but five Britons became infected between 2000 and 2017 after 'animal exposures abroad.' Some species of bats in the UK can carry a rabies-like virus. According to the World Health Organisation, the disease occurs in more than one hundred and fifty countries and causes tens of thousands of deaths every year, mainly in Asia and Africa. It says that in up to ninety nine per cent of cases, domestic dogs are responsible for the transmission of the virus to humans. The UK government says North African countries such as Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia are among one hundred and thirty nine nations where there is 'a high risk.' It said that while there was no risk to the wider public, as a precautionary measure, health workers and close contacts of the person who died were being 'assessed' and offered vaccination if necessary. Rabies is a really nasty viral infection that affects the brain and central nervous system. It is passed on through bites and scratches from an infected animal. There are no documented instances of it being transmitted from human to human contact. Doctor Mary Ramsay, head of immunisations at PHE, said: 'This is an important reminder of the precautions people should take when travelling to countries where rabies is present.' The last recorded rabies case in Britain was in 2012, after a UK resident was bitten by a dog in South Asia. Initial symptoms can include anxiety, headaches and fever. As the disease progresses, there may be hallucinations and respiratory failure. Spasms of the muscles used for swallowing make it difficult for the patient to drink. The incubation period between being infected and showing symptoms is between three and twelve weeks, if you are bitten, scratched or licked by an infected animal you must wash the wound or site of the exposure with plenty of soap and water and seek medical advice without delay. Once symptoms have fully developed, rabies is almost always fatal. Before symptoms develop, however, rabies can be treated with a course of vaccine - this is 'extremely effective' when given promptly after a bite - along with rabies immunoglobulin if required.
A 'pungent fishy stink' wafting from a North Cornish creamery during the night is making people feel sick and keeping them awake, say residents. The smell has also been described by those living near the Davidstow plant as 'like cheesy sewage.' The Environment Agency said that the smell was coming from the waste-water treatment plant and ordered the firm to reduce odour and noise pollution. Dairy Crest said it was working to cut its environmental impact. Andrew McKersie, who is part of an action group complaining about the odour, said: 'The worst thing is that we typically seem to get the smell in the middle of the night. We're in bed and, suddenly, you are woken up by the stink and then you can't get back to sleep, so you can't sleep properly.' Phil Potter, who lives about a quarter of a mile away from the treatment plant, said that he was 'not able to go outside' during the summer months because of the pong. 'As soon as that smell came over you'd just end up feeling sick,' he said. The Environment Agency said an investigation found Dairy Crest 'remains non-compliant with its environmental permit.' It issued an improvement notice to the company and told them to, you know, get their shit together or face the consequences. The agency said that steps were being taken by Dairy Crest to 'maintain appropriate conditions' in reception tanks at the waste-water treatment plant. Dairy Crest, whose brands include Cathedral City cheese, buys milk from about three hundred farmers in the area. A Dairy Crest spokesman said 'recent improvements' at its waste-water treatment plant were 'already starting to make a real difference.'
A couple who named their baby after Adolf Hitler have been found very guilty of being members of a banned terrorist group. Adam Thomas and Claudia Patatas from Banbury, along with Daniel Bogunovic, from Leicester, were extremely convicted of being in National Action. Birmingham Crown Court heard that the couple gave their child the middle name Adolf 'in honour of the Nazi leader.' They had claimed he was, actually, named after Adolf Smith, a well-known Twelfth Century philosopher and man of peace. They also claimed that they were not Nazis or anything even remotely like it though the photograph of the couple proudly holding up a Nazi flag for the camera was, frankly, a bit of a giveaway. Jurors saw images of Thomas wearing Ku Klux Klan robes while cradling his baby. The Neo-Nazi terrorist group National Action, founded in 2013, was outlawed under anti-terror legislation three years later after it 'celebrated' the murder of Labour MP Jo Cox. Prosecutors said the Midlands 'chapter' of the group 'shed one skin for another' and 'rebranded' after being banned. They said the case was about 'a specific type of terror, born out of fanatical and tribal belief in white supremacy.' Thomas told the court that the pictures showing him wearing KKK clothing were 'just play,' but he admitted to being a racist. Thomas was also found guilty of having a copy of terrorist manual The Anarchist Cookbook. Thomas and Patatas had two machetes, one with a serrated eighteen inch blade, in the bedroom where their baby son slept. A police search of their home in January also found one of two crossbows just a few feet from the baby's crib, the jury was told. Also found was a pastry cutter shaped like a swastika in a kitchen drawer, as well as pendants, flags and clothing emblazoned with symbols of the Nazi-era SS and National Action. Barnaby Jameson QC, prosecuting, said a that deleted Skype log was recovered from Thomas's laptop. He said the messages sent between two parties spoke of National Action being 'destroyed,' with its leaders agreeing to disband with 'no attempt at revival.' Raymond was a politics graduate from the University of Essex and Davies was a Welsh former member of the British National Party. National Action shunned democratic politics, regarding itself instead as a youth-based street movement. It is believed that it never had more than one hundred members. Its activities involved leafleting university campuses, aggressive publicity stunts and city-centre demonstrations. In 2015, member Zack Davies used a hammer and machete to attack a Sikh dentist and was subsequently jailed for attempted murder. After the murder of Jo Cox in 2016, an official National Action Twitter account posted: 'Only six hundred and forty nine MPs to go, hastag White Jihad.' The group was banned later that year after the government concluded it was 'concerned in terrorism.' It became the first far-right group to be proscribed in this country since World War Two. Reading from the log, Jameson said: 'But the Midlands branch of NA, which is just seventeen to twenty of us, have decided to ignore this and we've renamed ourselves the Thule Combat League. Traitors. Midlands will continue the fight alone.' Jurors reached unanimous verdicts after twelve hours of deliberating. The three defendants will be very sentenced on 14 December. Patatas was given bail, while Thomas and Bogunovic were remanded in custody. Earlier this year Darren Fletcher, from Wolverhampton; Nathan Pryke, from March in Cambridgeshire and Joel Wilmore, from Stockport; also pleaded guilty to being in National Action. Detective Chief Superintendent Matt Ward, from West Midlands Police, said that the defendants 'were not simply racist fantasists; we now know they were a dangerous, well-structured organisation.' He added: 'Their aim was to spread Neo-Nazi ideology by provoking a race war in the UK and they had spent years acquiring the skills to carry this out. Unchecked, they would have inspired violence and spread hatred and fear across the West Midlands.'
An electrician was shot dead in a row which started over comments about a woman's 'nice bum,' a court has heard. John Pordage died after being shot at a BP petrol station in Chelmsford on 5 August last year. Woolwich Crown Court heard that Bradley Blundell shot Pordage in the chest after he was called 'The Milkybar Kid.' Blundell denies murder, conspiring to pervert the course of justice and possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life. Jurors heard that Pordage was at the Baddow Road garage with a friend in the early hours of the morning when one of them made the 'nice bum' comment about another driver, Ella Colgate. Prosecution Tracy Ayling QC said this 'led to an argument' with Blundell and another passenger in Colgate's car, which ended with Pordage being very shot in the chest. She said that the defendant's anger 'spilled over' after either Pordage or his friend called him 'The Milkybar Kid.' Ayling said Blundell shot Pordage after his friend, who was armed with a cosh, also attacked him. After the shooting, Blundell and two of his friends, who cannot be named for legal reasons, burned their clothes and mobile phones, it was claimed. The jury was told that the defendant also 'went on the run' before eventually handing himself in at a police station in Amsterdam on 31 March. Colgate is also on trial for conspiring to pervert the course of justice, which she denies. Ayling said the pair told a witness to lie about what she remembered of the incident. The trial continues.
A drunken, shirtless man in Florida reportedly barged into several Pensacola homes 'looking for a fight' before running into a fence and knocking himself out, according to Escambia County Sheriff's Office. Christopher Doyle Norman was very arrested on Tuesday for 'numerous offences' including home invasion, battery, burglary, larceny and criminal mischief. Norman allegedly began his rampage by kicking open a gate, approaching a woman who was sitting outside her mobile home and punching her in the side of the head, the report stated. He allegedly then 'damaged a ladder' and the exterior door of the residence before moving onto the home next door. There, Norman allegedly fell through the open front door. One of the residents grabbed a hammer and ordered Norman to leave, at which point he, hurriedly, left the trailer park yelling that he would 'come back and burn the trailer down,' the report added. Norman allegedly went to a nearby apartment complex and began knocking on an apartment door. When the resident answered, Norman allegedly began yelling at the resident to 'fight' him. When the resident closed and locked the door, Norman allegedly began to ram the door with his shoulder causing damage to both the door and the frame. Norman then allegedly moved on to another residence where he walked in through the closed, but unlocked, door and began yelling for the apartments' two male occupants to fight him. He allegedly began chasing the victims around a table and - unable to catch them - threw a lamp at them which, fortunately, missed. According to the report, Norman grabbed a slice of pizza before chasing one of the victims into a bedroom and snatching a landline phone from a victim who was attempting to dial nine-one-one. Norman allegedly swung the phone at the victim several times, hitting him once in the back of the head. Norman chased the man outside and around the apartment complex before running into a chain fence, knocking it down and passing out on top of it, the report said. Deputies arrived on scene to find Norman 'unresponsive and seemingly under the influence of alcohol.' No shit? They were able to handcuff Norman without further incident, though he allegedly made 'vague threats' to deputies during his arrest and continued to do so as they carted his ass off to The Slammer. The woman who was punched in the head declined to be taken to hospital, though she told deputies that she had a brain tumour and would need 'a thorough medical examination.' There were no other major injuries reported at the scene, according to the report.
A wedding dress shop owner burned her fiance's home after he called off their marriage plans, a court heard. Jilted Catherine Jarvis was so keen to marry Colin Jarvis that changed her surname to his by deed poll months ahead of their big day. But when Colin subsequently called off the wedding she stormed round to his flat and used a ladder to climb in over the balcony. She set fire to the tassels of one of his chairs and ten left the building in Kingskerswell, Devon, to burn causing thousands of pounds worth of damage. Jarvis watched the fire and was later arrested after Colin tipped off the police but she denied it and police later dropped the investigation. But Colin's persistence that she was responsible saw the case eventually reopened and Jarvis changed her plea to very guilty on the first day of a trial. Jarvis, who used to run a wedding dress shop, had been experiencing 'emotional turmoil' at the time of the fire, Exeter Crown Court was told. She admitted arson and was given a suspended jail sentence and told she had come 'within an inch' of going to prison. Speaking after the case Colin, a painter, said: 'We were due to be married, I called it off. That's what triggered it all. We'd been together for a good two years or so, engaged for about twelve months of that. She changed her name to Jarvis because she was living with me. A few days later I was working away, in Surrey and my neighbour rang me and said my house was on fire. I've lived there for thirty years, it's my castle - I've done a lot of work on the house over the years. I set off for home and called the police because it was obvious to me Cath had started it. She was stood outside watching the fire. She was arrested that same day, she was in the police van when I got there. She denied it and the police told us they were dropping the case but I appealed the decision and I got them to look at it again. That time they decided there was enough and it went to court. She changed her plea right at the last minute.' Colin claimed that he ended the relationship when she became abusive and violent - throwing hot potatoes and ornaments at him. He said: 'Before the fire, she had been out on a hen night and she got back and battered me over the head with an ornamental crab. She had thrown roast potatoes at me, I can't stand physical violence like that at all. When she hit me with the crab it was over. It took me a good while to get her out, a month or so. I changed the locks on her but she got a locksmith out because there was a key broken off in one of the doors. It had been that way for years, she convinced him to change the lock so she would have a key - I didn't realise at the time. I was woken up one night and she was stood in my bedroom saying, "I love you." I told her to get out and said it was over.'
The prisoner formerly known as Charles Bronson (no, the other one) allegedly pinned a prison governor to the ground and threatened to bite off his nose and gouge out his eyes, a jury heard. The sixty five-year-old, now called Charles Salvador, claimed: 'For the first time in forty four years in prison I never intended to be violent. I never meant to hurt the governor.' He also claimed: 'I can assure you I have never bitten anyone's nose off in my life. Plus, I'm a vegetarian and all.' And, he added: 'In three seconds, I could hit a man ten times in the face.' Salvador made the claims while cross-examining prison staff at his trial at Leeds Crown Court, where he is representing himself. The sixty five-year-old, now an inmate at HMP Frankland in County Durham denies attempted grievous bodily harm with intent to the governor. The prosecution alleges that the prison governor suffered swelling to the neck, scratches to the face and whiplash. Salvador disputes the injuries and is alleged to have borne a grudge against the governor over wedding photos. The jury has heard claims that Salvador and his bride Paula Williamson would be given twenty two photographs taken by prison staff during their wedding ceremony at HMP Wakefield. Giving evidence, the governor claimed that on the day, staff decided not to give Williamson the photos because one of the alleged 'guests' was believed to be a paparazzi who'd had their press licence taken off them and another had invaded a top football club's grounds wearing a prison outfit with the words 'Free Charles Bronson' on it. Salvador claimed by withholding the photos, the governor had humiliated his wife. He also claimed the governor had 'belittled' him by giving his height in reports as four inches shorter than he was. The trial continues.
A regular entrant of the Hull Marathon has been banned from taking part after officials discovered that he 'appears to have not actually run the race.' Officials said that the runner's results over a four-year period would be discarded for non-completion of the full course. The unnamed man, who is from East Anglia, has also been banned from entering for the next five years. A spokesman said that there was 'little evidence' of him taking part. 'The runner appears to have not actually run the race, with evidence only of his presence at chip timing mats and the finish line,' he said. 'The runner's times also do not reflect other evidence considered and, subsequently, they have been disqualified having made no response to the case.' The ban followed a tip-off from another participant in the race. Race organisers said that they would 'not tolerate' anyone trying to breach the rules and discredit those who have trained for the challenge.
Delayed flights can awful. And, they can cause a wide variety of reactions from passengers. Some people are perfectly calm and polite despite the bad news, others become angry with the crew or airline, some may even burst into tears. But there are some responses that are overreactions by any definition - like, for instance, setting your own possessions on fire. One irate passenger allegedly decidef that arson was the only way to respond to his delayed flight on Pakistan International Airlines, according to Dawn. PIA Flight PK-607, bound for Gilgit, was delayed on Thursday for technical reasons, and then ultimately cancelled due to bad weather at Islamabad Airport. A video of one passenger's -extreme - was posted on Facebook.
An Australian woman accused of putting sewing needles inside strawberries in a high-profile sabotage case was 'motivated by spite,' a court has heard. My Ut Trinh was arrested on Sunday following a nationwide police investigation that began in September. Trinh had worked as a supervisor at a strawberry farm North of Brisbane, according to Queensland Police. The maximum prison term for contaminating goods in Australia was recently raised to fifteen years. Trinh faces seven counts and has not said whether she will fight the charges. The 'unprecedented' strawberry scare spread to every Australian state and later to New Zealand, raising public alarm. Police said there had been one hundred and eighty six reports of needle-contaminated strawberries since September, though fifteen of those turned out to have been hoaxes. It is not yet clear how many of those Trinh is alleged to have caused. On Monday, police described their investigation as 'far from over.' The court in Brisbane on Monday heard that Trinh's DNA had been found on strawberries in the state of Victoria. 'The case that is put is that it is motivated by some spite or revenge,' Magistrate Christine Roney said. 'She has embarked on a course over several months of putting a metal object into fruit.' Trinh allegedly 'intended to cause financial harm' to a farm where she had worked, reported Fairfax Media, citing court documents. The first cases emerged in Queensland, where a man was taken to hospital with stomach pains after eating strawberries. Farmers were forced to dump tonnes of berries and supermarkets pulled the fruit off sale. In response, Australia's government raised the maximum prison term for fruit tampering from ten to fifteen years. Prime Minister Scott Morrison vowed to 'throw the book' at anyone responsible, saying: 'It's not funny, putting the livelihoods of hard-working Australians at risk and you are scaring children. And you are a coward and a grub.' On Monday Superintendent Jon Wacker, from Queensland Police, described it as 'a unique investigation impacting virtually every state and jurisdiction in Australia.' Prosecutors said they opposed giving bail to Trinh because she may face 'retribution' in the community.
The hideous, louse-scum right-wing pressure group The Tax Payers' Alliance has conceded that it 'illegally sacked' the whistleblower Shahmir Sanni for revealing unlawful overspending in the Brexit referendum campaign, in a case that could have a major impact on how lobbyists are described in the media. In a development that lawyers have described as 'almost unprecedented,' the group - which claims represent tax-payers even thought the vast majority of tax payers haven't asked them to or anything even remotely like it - has also conceded that it 'illegally vilified' Sanni on the BBC in co-ordination with a network of other 'linked' organisations. The alliance has accepted all of the allegations Sanni made during his action claiming unfair dismissal, wrongful dismissal, direct discrimination and 'dismissal by reason of a philosophical belief in the sanctity of British democracy.' Significantly, it has also conceded that it is liable for what Sanni's lawyer, Peter Daly of Bindmans, describes as 'extreme public vilification.' Sanni had claimed that it was responsible for a smear attack published by the website Brexit Central and that it coordinated 'derogatory statements' made by the head of Vote Leave, Matthew Elliott, to the BBC - calling Sanni a 'Walter Mitty fantasist' and 'so-called whistleblower' and claiming that he was 'guilty of completely lying' - before an official finding by the Electoral Commission into the conduct of the Brexit referendum. The disclosure is likely to have far-reaching consequences for the way that broadcasters describe lobby groups. The uncontested claim has stated that The TaxPayers' Alliance is responsible for Elliott's Brexit Central website as part of nine 'linked' high-profile right-wing louse-scum 'think-tanks' which operate in and around offices at 55 Tufton Street in Westminster and 'coordinate media and other strategy.' In Sanni's case, they also coordinated with Downing Street. The network includes The Adam Smith Institute, the Centre for Policy Studies, the Institute of Economic Affairs and Leave Means Leave. The shadow chancellor, John McDonnell, is calling for a full inquiry into the groups' funding and said that in the interests of 'openness and accountability,' the BBC must make clear that they are lobbyists, not think-tanks as they are sometimes referred to. In March, Sanni revealed to the Observer massive overspending by the official Vote Leave campaign, which has now been found to be in breach of the law by the Electoral Commission. The day before this was published, Downing Street released a statement which revealed Sanni was gay and The TaxPayers' Alliance subsequently sacked him from his job running its social media. It has now conceded in full Sanni's claims and is liable to pay what the Gruniad describes as 'substantial' damages. Which is really funny. Details of the alliance's relationship with Downing Street and the role of Stephen Parkinson, Theresa May's political secretary, will now not be heard in court. A separate claim by Sanni against Downing Street is still ongoing. Sanni, who received an award from Gay Times last week, said: 'It has proved that The TaxPayers' Alliance sacked me for speaking the truth. And that there has been a coordinated effort by the Conservative establishment, including the government, to shut me down. The TPA claimed to have lost a donor because of my actions. If they had fought the case in court as we wanted, they would have had to reveal who their donors are. That they were prepared to admit their illegal behaviour on all counts shows how far they are willing to go to protect this information. Serious questions must be asked about who is funding them, what their exact relationship is with the government and why are they allowed a platform on national television.' Chris Milsom, a barrister who specialises in whistleblowing cases, said: 'It is incredibly unusual for a respondent to make a complete concession on liability as the respondent has here. To wave a white flag to avoid disclosing documents and giving evidence in court is really unusual. They conceded everything. How does an ostensibly private company come to be working with Downing Street? What is their relationship? Who are their funders? If this had been fully ventilated in a public trial we could have found these things out. The effect of these admissions, however, is that Mister Sanni was dismissed both because he blew the whistle on electoral crimes and because of his philosophical belief in the sanctity of democracy. We must now ask: is that an entity that is fit to be on the BBC ostensibly speaking on behalf of all "taxpayers?"' Of course, as this blog has noted on several previous occasions, there are around fifty million taxpayers in the UK, the vast majority of whom would likely not pause to piss on The Taxpayers' Alliance if they were in the street on fire. McDonnell said: 'We need full transparency in who is operating in our political system and therefore seeking to influence both our elections but also our governmental policy making. These organisations - even by their names - seek to portray themselves as independent, authoritative research bodies.' In reality, he said, they were 'virtual lobbyists' but were never presented as such by the BBC and other media outlets who quoted them.
Amnesty International has withdrawn a prestigious human rights award from Aung San Suu Kyi, following what it described as a 'shameful betrayal' of the values she once stood for. It is the latest in a series of accolades to be withdrawn from Aung San Suu Kyi, including the US Holocaust Museum's Elie Weisel award and Freedom of the City awards, which were revoked by Edinburgh, Oxford, Glasgow and Newcastle. Amnesty International said on Monday that Aung San Suu Kyi, now Myanmar's civilian leader, was 'no longer a symbol of hope' and that it had withdrawn its highest honour, the ambassador of conscience award. It cited her 'apparent indifference' to atrocities committed against the Rohingya and her increasing intolerance of freedom of speech. Aung San Suu Kyi received the ambassador of conscience award in 2009, while living under house arrest, for her role in championing peace and democracy. She was described as 'a symbol of hope, courage and the undying defence of human rights' by Irene Khan, Amnesty International's then secretary general. Kumi Naidoo, the organisation's current secretary general, said in a letter to Aung San Suu Kyi that her ambassador title could no longer be justified. 'Our expectation was that you would continue to use your moral authority to speak out against injustice wherever you saw it, not least within Myanmar itself,' Naidoo wrote in the letter. Aung San Suu Kyi has been widely accused of being apathetic - or even complicit - in the plight of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar, who, the UN has warned, continue to be targeted in 'an ongoing genocide.' More than seven hundred thousand Rohingya people remain in Bangladesh, having fled a brutal military crackdown that began in August 2017. UN investigators said that during the campaign, Myanmar's military carried out killings and gang rapes with 'genocidal intent' and called for the commander-in-chief and five generals to be prosecuted for the gravest crimes under international law. Yanghee Lee, the UN special investigator on human rights in Myanmar, said she believed Aung San Suu Kyi was 'in total denial' about accusations of violence. 'Without acknowledgement of the horrific crimes against the community, it is hard to see how the government can take steps to protect them from future atrocities,' said Naidoo. Amnesty International added that Aung San Suu Kyi's administration had 'stirred up hatred' against Rohingya by labelling them 'terrorists,' obstructed international investigations into abuses and failed to repeal repressive laws used to silence critics. In September, Aung San Suu Kyi defended the imprisonment of two Reuters journalists who were given seven-year jail terms after investigating the massacre of Rohingya Muslims in Rahkine state. The sentences were widely condemned by international governments, human rights groups and the UN as a miscarriage of justice and a symbol of the major regression of freedom of expression in Myanmar.
And now, dear blog reader, From The North's favourite headline of this week, from the A Science Enthusiast website.
Astronomers have discovered a planet orbiting one of the closest stars to our Sun. Nearby planets like this are likely to be prime targets in the search for signatures of life, using the next generation of telescopes. The planet's mass is thought to be more than three times bigger than our own, placing it in a category of world known as a 'super-Earth.' It orbits Barnard's star, which sits a mere six light-years away for is. The star is an extremely faint 'red dwarf' that is about three per cent as bright as the Sun. Writing in the journal Nature, Guillem Anglada Escudé and colleagues say its newly discovered planetary companion has a mass 3.2 times bigger than the Earth's. Doctor Escudé said that it was 'possibly a mostly rocky planet with a massive atmosphere. It's probably very rich in volatiles like water, hydrogen, carbon dioxide - things like this. Many of them are frozen on the surface.' The astronomer, from Queen Mary University of London, added: 'The closest analogue we may have in the Solar System might be the moon of Saturn called Titan, which also has a very thick atmosphere and is made of hydrocarbons. It has rain and lakes made of methane.' The planet, Barnard's Star B, is about as far away from its star as Mercury is from the Sun. It is the second closest exoplanet to Earth after Proxima Centauri B, whose discovery was announced in 2016. The planet orbits past a boundary called the 'snow line,' beyond the traditional 'habitable zone' where water can remain liquid on the surface. On distance alone, it is estimated that temperatures would be about minus one hundred and fifty degrees Celsius on the planet's surface. However, a massive atmosphere could potentially warm the planet, making conditions more hospitable to life of some description. The researchers used the radial velocity method for their detection. The technique can detect 'wobbles' in a star caused by the gravitational pull of an orbiting planet. These wobbles also affect the light coming from the star. As it moves towards Earth its light appears shifted towards the blue part of the spectrum and, as it moves away, it appears shifted towards the red. 'This planet is particularly complicated because the orbital period (the time to complete one full orbit of the host star) is two hundred and thirty three days. In one year, you only see one part of the cycle, and you have to cover it over many years to be sure that it's repeating,' Doctor Escudé said. The team re-examined archived data obtained from two astronomical surveys over a twenty-year period. They also added new observations with the Carmenes spectrometer in Almeria, the ESO/HARPS instrument in Chile and the HARPS-N instrument in the Canary Islands. It is the first time the radial velocity technique has been used to detect a planet this small so far away from its host star. 'We couldn't get a single experiment that would detect it unambiguously, so we had to combine all the data very carefully,' said the Queen Mary University of London astronomer. 'We found a lot of systematic errors from several of the instruments that were producing "ghost signals". It was not only about getting new data but also about understanding the systematic effects. Only when we had done that did the signal become very clear and obvious.' When the next generation of telescopes come online, scientists will be able to characterise the planet's properties. This will likely include a search for gases like oxygen and methane in the planet's atmosphere, which might be markers for biology. 'The James Webb Space Telescope might not help in this case, because it was not designed for what's called high contrast imaging. But in the US, they are also developing WFirst - a small telescope that's also used for cosmology,' said Escudé. 'If you take the specs of how it should perform, it should easily image this planet. When we have the image we can then start to do spectroscopy - looking at different wavelengths, in the optical, in the infrared, looking at whether light is absorbed at different colours, meaning there are different things in the atmosphere.' This is not the first time there have been claims of a planet around Barnard's Star. In the 1960s, the Dutch astronomer Peter van de Kamp, working in the US, published his evidence for a planetary companion, based on perturbations in the motion of the star. However, van de Kamp's claims proved to be controversial, as other scientists were not able to reproduce his finding. 'The new planet is impossible for Peter van de Kamp to have detected. The signal would have been too small for the technique he was using,' said Guillem Anglada Escudé. However, the data contain tentative hints of a second planet orbiting Barnard's Star even further out than the Super-Earth. 'The new data does show evidence for a long period object. That object has a very low probability of being the van de Kamp planet. But it's a long shot,' added Escudé. In a separate article published in Nature, Rodrigo Diaz, from the Institute of Astronomy and Space Physics in Buenos Aires - who was not involved with the study - said that the discovery 'gives us a key piece in the puzzle of planetary formation and evolution and might be among the first low-mass exoplanets whose atmospheres are probed in detail.' He added: 'Difficult detections such as this one warrant confirmation by independent methods and research groups a signal for the planet might be detectable in astrometric data - precision measurements of stellar positions - from the Gaia space observatory that are expected to be released in the 2020s.' The star is named after the American astronomer EE Barnard, who measured properties of its motion in 1916.
England staged a superb late comeback to beat Croatia at Wembley to reach the finals of the inaugural UEFA Nations League. Croatia, England's World Cup semi-final conquerors in Moscow in July, looked set to inflict another defeat and relegate Gareth Southgate's side from the elite group when Andrej Kramaric's twisting finish put them ahead via a deflection off Eric Dier after fifty seven minutes. England needed two goals to win the group and reach the semi-final and final stages in Portugal next June and at least inflict a small measure of revenge on Croatia for that World Cup disappointment. And, they responded brilliantly to get the win their performance deserved and secure qualification for the next stage of the tournament as substitute Jesse Lingard scored from almost on the line with twelve minutes left. Seven minutes later the Three Lions were still facing relegation, when Harry Kane slid in Ben Chilwell's free-kick to send England through to the semi-finals at the expense of Spain and relegate Croatia. Gareth Southgate will have feared an old flaw was returning to haunt his side when Kramaric put Croatia ahead just before the hour after seemingly taking an age to twist and turn before beating Jordan Pickford via a deflection. It was rather cruel on England and punishment for failing, as they did in Moscow, to make the most of vast first-half superiority as they created a series of chances but contrived to miss them, with Kane and Raheem Sterling the chief culprits. England could have been forgiven for believing the fates were against them as they trailed to their League A Group Four opponents, who have become something of a bogey side over the years. Instead, they responded with courage and character as the clock ticked down to rescue a place in Portugal. Southgate can take his share of the credit for two attacking substitutions, sending on Lingard and Jadon Sancho with England's backs against the wall, the reward coming in the shape of that decisive late rally.
The Netherlands deservedly beat France in the Nations League to end the world champions' fifteen-game unbeaten run and, as a bonus, to relegate Germany to Europe's second tier. Liverpool Alabama Yee-Haws midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum struck from close range after Hugo Lloris parried a Ryan Babel shot. Lloris made a host of top saves to stop a thrashing - but Memphis Depay's dinked penalty in injury time made sure of the win. A Dutch draw in Germany on Monday would see them win the group. That would take Ronald Koeman's side into next June's Nations League finals - at the expense of France, who had only needed a point in Rotterdam to seal top spot. The winners of each group are also guaranteed a Euro 2020 play-off place if they fail to progress from qualification next year. France can still win the group if the Germans, who will be in the Nations League second tier in 2020, beat the Dutch. Elsewhere, Gibraltar's Euro 2020 dream is almost certainly over after a six-two hammering by Armenia. The minnows led through teenager Tjay de Barr but Yura Movsisyan scored four times for the visitors. Macedonia remain top of that group - and are ninety minutes away from the play-offs - thanks to a two-nil win in Liechstenstein. Wales' promotion bid is over after a two-one defeat by Denmark - who win the group and a place in the 2020 top flight. That result relegates the Republic of Ireland. San Marino are the only team in the bottom tier yet to pick up a point, but luckily for them relegation is impossible. Portugal's goalless draw in Italy on Saturday means they are guaranteed a place in the last four, with Poland relegated to the second tier. Belgium will reach the finals if they do not lose against Switzerland, who are three points below them. Ukraine, Bosnia and Denmark have already guaranteed promotion to the top division, while Russia are in pole position to take the other slot.
A referee has been suspended for three weeks for deciding a Women's Super League kick-off with a game of rocks, paper, scissors instead of a coin toss. David McNamara made the error before Sheikh Yer Man City's home game against Reading on 26 October after leaving his coin in the dressing room. The Football Association said that he had 'accepted a charge of "not acting in the best interests of the game."' A coin toss to decide kick-offs is a requirement under the laws of the game. In this case, it involved England and Sheikh Yer Man City skipper Steph Houghton and Reading captain Kirsty Pearce, before the teams shared a one-one draw. FA women's refereeing manager Joanna Stimpson told The Times that the McNamara's mistake was 'a moment of madness.' She added: 'The referee forgot his coin and in that moment, in a TV game, he was really pushed for time. He should have been more prepared, he should have had a coin. It was disappointing, it's not appropriate, it's very unprofessional.' McNamara's ban will last from 26 November to 16 December. An FA spokesperson said: 'The FA can confirm that referee David McNamara has been suspended for twenty one days, starting from Monday 26 November, after accepting a charge of "not acting in the best interests of the game." This follows an incident in the FA WSL match between Manchester City and Reading on Friday 26 October when he failed to determine which team would kick off the match by the toss of a coin, as required by the Laws of the Game.'
England claimed their first series win in Sri Lanka since 2001 with a fifty seven-run victory in the second test. The hosts started day five in Pallekele on two hundred and twenty six for seven, needing seventy five more and calmly added fourteen in twenty eight balls. But Moeen Ali drew Niroshan Dickwella into an edge to first slip for thirty five, before bowling captain Suranga Lakmal two balls later for a duck. Jack Leach removed Malinda Pushpakumara to bowl Sri Lanka out for two hundred and forty three and claim his maiden test five-wicket haul. England lead the three-match series two-nil, with the final test in Colombo starting on Friday. It is England's first away series win since beating South Africa in 2016 and first series victory away from home under captain Joe Root. Spinners took thirty eight wickets in the match, a record in test cricket. History suggested England were favourites to wrap up victory on day five, with only four teams since World War One having scored sixty five or more runs with three wickets left to win a test. There was still plenty of trepidation among England fans that Sri Lanka could reach their target of three hundred and one, not least with the irrepressible Dickwella at the crease and capable of scoring quickly. And, when he largely shelved his attacking instincts to comfortably tap singles with Akila Dananjaya, it felt like the test was heading for a tight and thrilling finish. But Moeen showed skill and guile to lure Dickwella into a flashy drive, giving a full delivery more flight and dip before it turned to take the edge as Ben Stokes claimed the catch. Moeen's second was even better - a dream dismissal for an off-spinner - angling the ball towards slip from around the wicket and finding sharp turn to bowl Lakmal through the gate. A magnificent test ended in slightly anticlimactic fashion as England waited for the third umpire to confirm that Pushpakumara had not hit the ball into the ground in chipping it back to Leach, who finished with five for eighty three. Between the two-one victory by Nasser Hussain's side in 2001 and this win, England have played three test series in Sri Lanka, losing one-nil in 2003 and 2007 and drawing one-all in 2011. This Sri Lanka side may be shorn of former greats who played in those series, but they did beat South Africa in July and it remains a tough place to play. The result is also impressive given England's dire struggles over the past two winters - a four-nil Ashes defeat followed by losing in New Zealand this year and a four-nil thrashing by India after a draw with Bangladesh under Root's predecessor Alastair Cook the previous year. England's spinners lacked control at times but outperformed their Sri Lanka counterparts, with Leach, Moeen, Adil Rashid and Root taking nineteen wickets in the test, the other coming from a Ben Stokes run-out. It is only the third time in England's three hundred and sixty three test victories they have won without a seamer taking a wicket, with Sam Curran and James Anderson hardly used on a turning wicket, though both contributed vital lower-order runs in the first innings. This test could prove the moment England become Root's side outright. He talked before the series about wanting to be more 'courageous' on subcontinental pitches and his team bought into it here. They batted positively, mostly with calculated risk among some more rash shots, to put the pressure back on Sri Lanka's bowlers, while Root largely marshalled his spinners well and played the most decisive innings of the game with a sublime one hundred and twenty four on day three, his fifteenth test century. This is also the first time that an England side have won series in all three formats on tour, albeit they only played Sri Lanka in a one-off Twenty20.
Anya Shrubsole's hat-trick took England into the Women's World Twenty20 semi-finals as they thrashed South Africa by seven wickets in St Lucia. England's place in the final four was confirmed when the West Indies beat Sri Lanka in the group's other game. Big Anya's hat-trick was only the second England T20 international hat-trick, while Nat Sciver claimed three for four as South Africa were all out for eighty five. England raced to fifty five for no wicket after eight overs and won with thirty five balls remaining. Hayley Matthews was the Windies' star as the hosts and defending champions also reached the semi-finals. The all-rounder smashed sixty two off thirty six balls and then took three for sixteen as Sri Lanka were bowled out for one hundred and four chasing one hundred and eighty eight to win. West Indies and England, who meet in each side's final group game on Sunday, will join Australia and India in the semi-finals. The semi-finals will be held in Antigua on Thursday and Friday, with the final at the same venue on 25 November. For England, losing the toss and then their one review in the second over - an LBW appeal against Lizelle Lee which would not have hit a second set of stumps - were about the only elements that did not go to plan in an assured display. South Africa, who lost their last five wickets for just one run against West Indies, knew victory was essential to preserve their ambitions in the tournament. But their innings never carried any momentum and they failed to find the boundary in eight overs after the initial powerplay. Two wickets fell in the ninth over, including South Africa captain Dane van Niekerk - run-out at the non-striker's end after the slightest of deflections on to the stumps from bowler Kirstie Gordon, who added two for eighteen to her three for sixteen on debut against Bangladesh earlier in the tournament. Chloe Tryon struck two sixes in three balls before finding mid-off as Sciver finished with a double wicket maiden and outstanding figures of three for four from four overs. Shrubsole, who took the winning wicket for England at last year's fifty-over World Cup, ended the innings in devastating fashion. South Africa managed only four fours and four sixes in an innings which featured seventy four dot balls. England reached fifty from forty three balls with little difficulty in their pursuit. Fast bowler Shabnim Ismail, who took three for twelve against the West Indies, was hit for six fours as her three overs went for thirty two. The purposeful Danni Wyatt passed one thousand T20 international runs before she was bowled behind her legs by Van Niekerk's first ball. Although wickets fell in each of the next two overs, captain Heather Knight and Amy Jones added an unbroken twenty seven to secure victory for England.
Some athletes blame poor performances on the state of the pitch. Others blame it on tactics, or perhaps just a bad day at the office. But blaming your opponent for farting is definitely a new one. Yet that's what happened at the Grand Slam of Darts in Wolverhampton, with both Gary Anderson and Wesley Harms denying responsibility for the 'rotten egg smells.' Two-time Scottish world champion Anderson won Thursday's match ten-two to progress to the quarter-finals, but Dutchman Harms was quick to explain his sub-standard performance by accusing Anderson of leaving 'a fragrant smell.' He told Dutch TV station RTL7L: 'It'll take me two nights to lose this smell from my nose.' World number four Anderson was not best pleased by the accusation, saying the smell had 'definitely# come 'from the table side' at the Aldersley Leisure Village. 'If the boy thinks I've farted he's one hundred and ten per cent wrong. I swear on my children's lives that it was not my fault,' he said. 'I had a bad stomach once on stage before and admitted it. So I'm not going to lie about farting on stage. Every time I walked past there was a waft of rotten eggs so that's why I was thinking it was him. It was bad. It was a stink, then he started to play better and I thought he must have needed to get some wind out. If somebody has done that they need to see a doctor. Seemingly he says it was me but I would admit it.' 'We've got to get to the bottom of this,' said Professional Darts Corporation chairman Barry Hearn. 'I guess people wonder if blowing off might constitute advanced gamesmanship. Something doesn't smell right. There is nothing worse than a silent fart. This could run and run.'
The actor Douglas Rain, who was the voice of the sinister computer Hal in 2001: A Space Odyssey, has died, the organisers of a theatre festival he founded have said. Rain died at the age of ninety, according to the Stratford Festival in Canada. The actor performed for thirty two seasons at the Shakespearean festival and was nominated for a Tony Award in 1972. He attended the University of Manitoba, worked in radio and TV drama in Canada, the US and the UK and studied acting at the Banff School of Fine Arts in Alberta. In 1950, he left for a two-year apprenticeship at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School. But he will be best remembered as the voice of Hal 9000, the AI computer in Stanley Kubrick's landmark 1968 film. Hal controlled the spacecraft's functions, but ended up rebelling against its human commanders when they planned to disconnect him after suspecting he was malfunctioning. The film is regarded as a cinematic masterpiece and won an Oscar for Kubrick for best visual effects. Rain's chilling, dry voice is key to the drama, but he wasn't the first choice to play the computer. The director originally selected Oscar winner Martin Balsam - but decided he was 'too colloquially American.' He also considered Nigel Davenport in the role, but later concluded he did not want a British voice. So he called Rain after hearing his voice in the 1960 documentary Universe, according to the New York Times. The actor recorded all of his lines in ten hours over two days, with the director sat 'three feet away, explaining the scenes to me and reading all the parts,' he said. According to the New York Times, Rain never actually saw the finished film. Stratford Festival's artistic director Antoni Cimolino said the actor shared Hal's intelligence - with added 'warmth and humanity.' Beyond 2001, Rain was an accomplished stage and screen actor, and earned his Tony nomination for his role in Robert Bolt's Vivat! Vivat! Regina! on Broadway. He is survived by his daughter, Emma.
The voice of Richard Baker, who died this week aged ninety three, introduced the first news bulletin broadcast on BBC television. But it was a year before he was actually seen on screen, going on to become one of the most familiar faces on TV. A keen music lover, he branched out to present The Last Night Of The Proms and was a regular on the panel game, Face The Music. He also presented music programmes for BBC radio as well as voicing the popular children's animated series, Mary, Mungo & Midge. Richard Baker was born in Willesden in June 1925, the son of a plasterer. His father was a keen amateur singer who encouraged his son to take up the piano. Academically gifted, Baker won a place at grammar school before going to Peterhouse College, Cambridge, to read history and modern languages. Two terms into his university education, he joined the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve. He found himself on a minesweeper attached to the supply convoys to Russia in the later stages of the second world war, one of the most dangerous and gruelling theatres of the conflict. He whiled away the time by reading Tolstoy's War & Peace, as well as collating information about his then admiral, Sir Gilbert Stephenson, which formed the basis for a biography Baker later published on this pioneer of anti-submarine warfare - The Terror Of Tobermory (1972). The war over, he returned to his studies at Cambridge, where he became an enthusiastic member of the Marlowe drama society. On graduation he began acting in various repertory companies and secured a short attachment as an English teacher in a London grammar school. In 1950, he wrote to the BBC asking if they were recruiting actors, resulting in an offer of a job as a presenter on what was then called The Third Programme. It was a dream job for the young man with a deep interest in classical music. When the news department began planning bulletins, Baker and Kenneth Kendall were recruited and it was Baker who introduced the first BBC news bulletin on 5 July 1954. The bulletin itself was read by the doyen of radio announcers, John Snagge. At first the BBC refused to allow newsreaders to appear in vision. 'It was feared we might sully the stream of truth with inappropriate facial expressions,' Baker later recalled. 'Instead the viewers saw pictures making the news.' When ITN prepared to go on-air with named newscasters in 1955, the BBC relented - to the extent that it allowed Baker and Kendall to appear on the late-night TV news summary. 'It was hoped not too many people would be watching,' Baker said wryly. Two years later Baker, along with Kendall and Robert Dougall, became the regular faces of BBC Nine O'Clock News bulletins. Baker's calm and unflappable style proved invaluable in the days when technical problems often bedevilled the bulletins. The scripts on the Autocue, from which the presenter read, were held together by sticky tape which often peeled away. Film footage shot on location, which had to be couriered back to the studio, sometimes failed to arrive on time or, if it did, the film broke or the machine failed, leaving an embarrassing gap. Inevitably, despite the wishes of BBC management, the newsreaders became personalities in their own right, purely because they were appearing in the nation's living rooms every night. Baker recalled being sent jumpers knitted by adoring fans and he began to be recognised while out shopping. However, newsreaders in the 1960s were not paid the star salaries of the current generation. Baker's son, Andrew, recalled family holidays in a caravan on a farm, the cost of foreign travel being prohibitive. In 1969 Baker was narrator of Mary, Mungo & Midge and he later narrated another children's series, Teddy Edward. Baker's high profile led to three guest appearances on Monty Python's Flying Circus - 'lemon curry!' - and, in 1977, he joined other BBC presenters to take part in a performance of the song, 'There Is Nothing Like A Dame' on The Morecambe and Wise Christmas Show. In 1982, he decided to leave the TV news desk but his voice continued to be heard on BBC radio where he presented, among other programmes; Start The Week, Baker's Dozen, These You Have Loved, Melodies For You and Your Hundred Best Tunes. For many years he fronted coverage of The Last Night Of The Proms from the Royal Albert Hall, resplendent on a balcony festooned with streamers. In 2015, along with other veterans of the North Atlantic convoys, he received The Ushakov Medal, to recognise the bravery of British sailors in the service of the Russian navy. In his final years, Richard Baker moved to a retirement home. He was a little unsettled at first but soon found a way of integrating. He would read all the newspapers and cut out the interesting headlines. Then, at Six O'clock, he would read them aloud to his fellow residents over supper. For the great news man it was a smaller audience than he was used to; but one which was no less appreciative of his talent. Baker's son James said his father died on Saturday morning at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford. The BBC's Director General Tony Hall was among those to pay tribute, saying Baker 'became the face of news for millions.' Baker married his wife, Margaret, in June 1961. They had known each other from infancy as their mothers were close friends. The couple had two sons; Andrew, a sports columnist at the Daily Telegraph and James, a television executive at Red Arrow Studios.
William Goldman, screenwriter of Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid and All The President's Men, has died aged eighty seven. Goldman, who received Oscars for both of those movies, also wrote Marathon Man, Magic, Heat and The Princess Bride, which he adapted from his own novels. His memoir Adventures In The Screen Trade is famous for his memorable declaration that 'nobody knows anything' about the movie business. He was also a noted 'script doctor' who worked uncredited on many features. Born in Highland Park, Illinois in 1931, Goldman started out as a novelist before breaking into movies with 1965 spy caper Masquerade. He followed that with The Moving Target, also known as Harper, in which Paul Newman played a laconic private eye. Newman would go on to star in Butch Cassidy with Robert Redford, who himself went on to star with Dustin Hoffman in All The President's Men. Goldman was much praised for his dramatisation of the Washington Post's investigations into the Watergate affair. Disagreements during its production, however, would later see him express a wish he had never taken on the project. 'If you were to ask me "What would you change if you had your movie life to live over?" I'd tell you that I'd have written exactly the screenplays I've written,' he wrote in Adventures In The Screen Trade. 'Only I wouldn't have come near All The President's Men.' Goldman's other movies include the World War II epic A Bridge Too Far, the Stephen King adaptation Misery, the Clint Eastwood thriller Absolute Power and adaptations of The Stepford Wives, A Few Good Men and Dolores Claiborne. For many, though, he will be best remembered for The Princess Bride, a part-parodic fairy tale set in a world of giants, pirates and 'rodents of unusual size.' Thirty years on, actor Mandy Patinkin is still regularly asked to recite the 'My name is Inigo Montoya' speech that Goldman wrote for him. Goldman, who died on Friday at his New York home, is understood to have been in poor health for some time. His daughter Jenny Goldman confirmed his death to the Washington Post, citing complications from colon cancer and pneumonia as the cause. His brother, James Goldman, who died in 1998, was also a playwright and screenwriter. They shared an apartment in New York with their friend John Kander and helped Kander, a composer, by writing the libretto for his dissertation. All three later won separate Academy Awards. In 1956 Goldman started writing what became his first novel, The Temple Of Gold. It was written in less than three weeks. He sent the novel to an agent, Joe McCrindle, who agreed to represent Goldman; McCrindle submitted the novel to Knopf, who agreed to publish once Goldman doubled the novel in length. It sold well enough in paperback to launch Goldman on his career. Goldman wrote another volume of memoirs, Which Lie Did I Tell? (2000) and, the following year, saw publication of a collection of his essays The Big Picture: Who Killed Hollywood? and Other Essays.
American writer and Marvel Comics co-creator Stan Lee has died at the age of ninety five. Lee and Jack Kirby founded the company in 1961, beginning with The Fantastic Four and going on to create titles such as The Amazing Spider-Man, The Avengers and The Incredible Hulk. In collaboration with several artists, most notably Kirby and Steve Ditko, he co-created characters including Spider-Man, The Hulk, Doctor Strange, Daredevil, Black Panther, The X-Men and, with the addition of co-writer Larry Lieber, Ant-Man, Iron Man and Thor. In addition, he challenged the comics industry's censorship organisation, the Comics Code Authority, indirectly leading to it updating its policies. Lee subsequently led the expansion of Marvel Comics from a small division of a publishing house to a large multimedia corporation.
'Bigotry and racism are among the deadliest social ills plaguing the world today,' Stan Lee once declared. He wrote those words in 1968, the year that the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr and Robert Kennedy were assassinated. But his message - a pointed condemnation of racial, ethnic and religious hatred - would resonate across decades. Last year, in the wake of deadly violence spurred by a white-nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Lee shared those same words on Twitter, writing that the message was 'as true today as it was in 1968.' Near the end of Lee's 1968 message, which appeared in his trademark monthly column, Stan's Soapbox, he offered this wish: 'Sooner or later, if man is ever to be worthy of his destiny, we must fill our hearts with tolerance.' These words are part of Lee's long legacy of confronting and denouncing bigotry - a legacy that is inextricably linked to the stories told in Marvel comics.
'Marvel has always been and always will be a reflection of the world right outside our window,' Lee said told fans last year in a widely shared video. 'That world may change and evolve, but the one thing that will never change is the way we tell our stories of heroism. Those stories have room for everyone, regardless of their race, gender or colour of their skin,' he continued. 'The only things we don’t have room for are hatred, intolerance and bigotry.' Lee and Jack Kirby famously co-created Black Panther in 1966. The character, an African king ruling the wealthy and technologically advanced nation of Wakanda, broke ground as the world's first black superhero. But, other Marvel titles alluded to America's racial division. The mutants of X-Men faced discrimination and - as the Washington Post's David Betancourt noted - there were references to prominent civil rights leaders in Professor Xavier, seen as a King-like figure and his nemesis Magneto, who mirrored the more militant Malcolm X. 'I always felt the X-Men, in a subtle way, often touched upon the subject of racism and inequality and I believe that subject has come up in other titles, too,' Lee told the Post in 2016. But, Lee added, 'we would never pound hard on the subject, which must be handled with care and intelligence.' In another Stan's Soapbox column that circulated after his death, Lee acknowledged that 'for many years, we've been trying, in our bumbling way, to illustrate that love is a far greater force, a far greater power than hate.' He brought up Christ, Buddha and Moses, 'men of peace,' he wrote, 'whose thoughts and deeds have influenced countless millions throughout the ages - and whose presence is still felt in every corner of the earth. Now consider the practitioners of hate who have sullied the pages of history,' Lee implored. 'Who still venerates their words? Where is homage still paid to their memory? What banners still are raised to their cause? The power of love - and the power of hate. Which is most truly enduring?' Lee continued. 'When you tend to despair ... let the answer sustain you.'
Born in his family's Manhattan apartment to a Romanian immigrant dad and American mother, Stanley Lieber grew up in poverty during the Great Depression. At the age of seventeen, he got a job through family connections at a pulp fiction outfit called Timely Publications, just as the new medium of comic books were attracting attention. Using the pen name Stan Lee - 'I felt someday I'd write the Great American Novel and I didn't want to use my real name on these silly little comics!' - he started writing for the company's Captain America title in 1941. When the creators of that character - writers Joe Simon and Jack Kirby - left Timely Publications at the end of the year, Lee suddenly found himself editor of the whole operation. Not counting a few years of wartime military service, Stan held the post for three-and-a-half decades, over which Timely Publications changed its name, firstly to Atlas and then, in 1961, Marvel. During the war, Stan served in the US Army's Training Film Division, writing manuals, training films, slogans and cartoons under the military classification of playwright. Lee's wife of over sixty years, Joan, died in 2017 - also aged ninety five. He is survived by his daughter, JC Lee. Speaking to the website TMZ, JC said that her father was 'the greatest, most decent man.' The legendary comic book author died at Cedars Sinai Medical Centre in Los Angeles on Monday after a medical emergency, according to Variety magazine. Lee was known for making a cameo in every Marvel film, though he had left the Marvel company in 1972. He remained chairman emeritus. The Stan Lee Foundation was founded in 2010 to focus on literacy, education and the arts. Its stated goals include supporting programs and ideas that improve access to literacy resources, as well as promoting diversity, national literacy, culture and the arts.
Mind you, dear blog reader, not everyone got the story quite right. Take New Zealand's the Gisborne Herald for instance ...
The Herald has maintained a dignified - or, possibly embarrassed - silence concerning the mistake since it inevitably went viral, but they do seem to be quite enjoying the attention that they're getting. In an article titled, International Spotlight On Gisborne Herald After Headline Gaffe, an unnamed staff writer notes that the paper 'achieved international infamy overnight.' Hopefully, the Herald won't have any future headline-making disasters. A journalist named Chris Bartlett tweeted that the company is currently hiring a sub-editor, that prides him or herself in 'maintaining high standards.' Spike Lee, meanwhile, is very much alive and well. And, one is sure that Stan Lee himself would have found the mix-up highly amusing!
For someone who often barely leaves Stately Telly Topping Manor for days on end at the best of times (a short walk to the corner shop for some essential supplies notwithstanding), yer actual Keith Telly Topping has had a jolly busy week, dear blog reader. Firstly, there was an appointment 'of a financial nature' in town and getting the weekly shop in from Morrison's on Tuesday. Then, an appointment 'of a medical nature' on Wednesday, a meeting with a former colleague in Byker which may, potentially, lead to this blogger getting 'an opportunity' on Thursday (which, in the end, had to be cancelled though it did allow this blogger the chance to have a very nice Chinese lunch in Waalsend instead) and going to a rock and/or roll jig (and, obviously, 'a night on the drink') with his old mucker Mick The Mod and his good lady, Cath, on Saturday. After all that, no doubt, it'll probably be Christmas before this blogger sets foot out of the gaff again...
The gig, incidentally, was From The Jam's All Mod Cons fortieth anniversary tour at the O2 Academy, supported - Keith Telly Topping was assured by Mick The Mod, pre-gig - by Nine Below Zero and The Truth. First point there was some curiosity in that the lead singer(s) of Nine Below Zero and The Truth are, in fact, the same chap - the legend that was Dennis Greaves. No problem with that, they're both decent bands but, it would have been, undeniably, a little like rocking up to a Paul McCartney gig and finding that the support act was, you know, Wings. In the event, neither featured - there was a distinct lack of Dennis in the area - and the actual support was provided by Redcar Mod band The Waintstones and Indie-rock quartet White Eskimo (Harry Styles's old band). Anyway for those who don't know, From The Jam are, basically, a Jam tribute band first formed in 2005 (as The Gift) by drummer Rick Buckler. So, from the start, they were a Jam tribute band, albeit one featuring an actual member of The Jam. A couple of years later, after two decades of faithful service in Stiff Little Fingers, the Godlike Jesus of Cool that is yer actual Bruce Foxton joined his old rhythm pal Buckler in From The Jam. Meaning that From The Jam was, for a period, a Jam tribute band featuring two-thirds of The Jam (albeit, it should be noted in the interests of fairness, the two-thirds of The Jam that weren't Paul Weller! A necessary point, one feels). However, shortly thereafter, following over three decades of estrangement, Foxton and Weller got back in touch and apparently repaired their broken friendship with Bruce The Fox playing live with Weller on a couple of occasions and contributing to Paul's 2010 CD From The Nation. Weller subsequently reciprocated, appearing on Foxton's solo CDs Back In The Room (2012) and Smash The Clock (2016), both also featuring From The Jam's Weller-substitute, the singer/guitarist, Russell Hastings. At this point, Buckler (whose own relationship with Weller has reportedly been non-existent since his failure to received a Christmas card from The Modfather in 1982) decided to leave From The Jam - a band which, remember, he'd started. So, From The Jam is now, once again, a Jam tribute band featuring one actual member of The Jam (albeit, not the one that formed the band in the first place). Clear so far? Good. As someone who first saw The Jam forty years ago almost to the day - 4 November 1978 - at The City Hall on the original All Mod Cons tour as a fifteen year old (Keith Telly Topping's fifth ever gig) to say that this blogger was viewing the experience of this particular show, forty years on, with a mixture of anticipation and trepidation would be a vast understatement. In the event, it was really good, to such an extent that yer actual Keith Telly Topping required spending most of Sunday recovering. Always the sign of a good gig, that.
And finally, dear blog reader, Keith Telly Topping wishes it to be officially known that he, too, has absolutely no confidence in Theresa May, since all the cool kiddie seem to be doing it. The thing is, however, that this blogger is not some Johnny-Come-Lately bandwagon jumper like all these louse-scummish Rees-Moggers. Oh no, he's never had any confidence in her ...