Sunday, November 04, 2018

The Tsuranga Conundrum: Confusion In Her Eyes That Says It All, She's Lost Control

'Whole worlds pivot on acts of imagination.' 'So, what are you imagining now?' 'Broadly, I'm imagining that thing off the ship. Specifically, I'm trying to imagine the answer to the question. What does it want?'
'We're never going to find one. ' 'Of course we are, I've programmed the detectors specifically. I found seven the last time I was here.' 'And how long did that take you?' 'It couldn't have been more than a month. Unless that was Seffilun Fifty Nine.' 'Which one is this?' 'Seffilun Twenty Seven. Maybe Fifty Nine is the one with a big pile of these. That's the problem with junk galaxies, all the planets look the same, it's hard to keep track.' 'If we've wasted the last four hours on the wrong planet ...' 'Oi! Who took you rainbathing in the upward tropics of Kinstrano?' 'I know, listen that was amazing, I'm just saying; needle, haystack!'
'General Cicero? Not Eve Cicero? Keeba Galaxy? Neuro-pilot? You're mentioned in The Book Of Celebrants! You helped to defeat the Army of Aeons at The Battle Of The Underkind!' 'I was one of the many.' 'You're a bit of a legend though' ... 'And who are you?' 'I'm The Doctor.' 'Wait, I've heard that name. Aren't you in The Book Of Celebrants? Isn't there a whole chapter about you?' 'Me? No, very common name! ... I'd say it was more of a volume than a chapter, just so you know!'
'Don't! If you interfere with the navi-system they'll take it as an act of hostility or hijack. They can detonate the craft.' 'I'm not being hostile.' 'Yes, you are, you're being hostile and selfish. There are patients on board who need to get to Resus One as a matter of urgency. My job is to keep all of you safe, you're stopping me from doing that.'
'Are you also experiencing comprehension deficiency?' 'Oh, every day right now, mate!'
'In your time, generating anti-matter costs a massive amount of money. This is progress. Things get smaller and faster and cheaper. This is like the iphone version of CERN, accelerating enough particles to power this entire craft. The particle accelerator smashes the atoms together like a little anti-matter factory to produce positrons which are then stored - very carefully - inside electric and magnetic fields. The positrons interact with the fuel materials to produce heat which produces thrust. It's beautiful. Anti-matter powering the movement of matter, bringing positrons into existence to move other forms of life across space. I love it. Conceptually and ... actually!'
'Boys give birth to boys and girls give birth to girls. That's how it is.' 'Not where we come from?' 'Ugh? How's that work? ... I'm not fit to raise a kid. Besides, dark times right now, turbulent worlds. I'm not sure I'm his best option. I can't even operate my oven!'
'Too fast to chase and capture, too toxic to touch directly. It's a bit of a puzzler.' 'It's going to kill us all, isn't it?' 'Woah! Mabli, you went there way too quickly, I said a puzzler, not a death sentence! I mean, it's a bit of a challenge and I can't quite see the solution yet but that's life. Or medicine. Patients presents problems, you figure them out and come up with solutions. That's what this is, a problem to be diagnosed. Medicine to be administered. You're a medic, I'm The Doctor.' 'A Doctor of medicine?' 'Well, medicine, science, engineering. Candyfloss! Lego! Philosophy, music, problems. People. Hope. Mostly hope.'
'You're probably wondering why I called you all here. Sorry - a bit Poirot!'
'What Century is this?' 'Are you joking?' 'No, we travel in time.' 'Sixty Seventh.' 'Oh, nice Century. Bit tricky in the middle but it turns out all right in the end!'
'What, they didn't have that on Call The Midwife?' 'I dunno, I always looked away at the squeamish bits!'
'Item Seven, Alpha Cubed: Pting! Threat level, Chalice.' 'Is that bad?' 'Worst one. One up from beetroot!' So, dear blog reader, as usual Keith Telly Topping thought that was great - an example of that old 1960s and 1970s series staple base-under-siege, we haven't had one of those on Doctor Who in quite a while. It was not, perhaps, as great as some previous episodes in this - so far, proper great - series but it was still reasonably high upon the greatness ladder; on a scale of one-to-ten, in which one is not very great at all and ten is really, really, really great The Tsuranga Conundrum was, sort of, a seven(ish) great. Bradley Walsh's 'Oh, I am never getting pregnant' might well be the greatest one-liner in the history of the series. And, the Pting was brilliant. 'Funny, I'm normally the one defusing the bomb!'
The Tsuranga Conundrum was watched by an overnight audience of 6.12 million viewers, a share of 29.5 per cent of the total TV audience. This made Doctor Who the second largest rated programme ofhe day and the sixth for the week-ending 4 November on overnights alone. Sunday's ratings for all programmes were slightly down on the previous week - a couple of hundred thousand in Doctor Who's case, over a million fewer for Strictly - probably, at least in part, because of the large number of firework displays taking place around the country to mark Guy Fawkes Night. The biggest overnight audience of the day was for the Strictly Come Dancing results show which had 8.83 million viewers, with the second episode of the BBC drama The Little Drummer Girl attracting 3.82 million, a drop of over one million punters from the opening episode. ITV peaked with 4.12 million watching The X Factor while, against Doctor Who, The Chase: Celebrity Special had 3.74 million viewers. Saturday's episode of Strictly Come Dancing topped the week with 9.46 million overnight punters. Channel Four achieved one of its best overnight ratings of the year, with 7.51 million watching The Great British Bake Off final. Monday's two episodes of Coronation Street took fourth and fifth places. As usual, the consolidated Seven-Day Plus ratings will be released by BARB next Monday.
Arachnids In The UK's consolidated Seven-Day Plus ratings were announced by BARB on Monday. The episode had an audience of 8.22 million punters made up of 7.97 million watching on television and an additional two hundred and twenty five thousand accessing the episode via PCs, tablets, smartphones and various other Twenty First Century malarkey. For the third week running Doctor Who was the fourth most-watched programme in Britain during the week-ending Sunday 28 October. It was topped by the two weekly episodes of Strictly Come Dancing (11.47 million for Saturday's episode and 9.89 million for Sunday's) and The Great British Bake-Off (9.52 million). Doctor Who again had a larger consolidated audience than any of that week's episodes of Coronation Street, EastEnders and Emmerdale. Skill! The episode had an audience Appreciation Index score of eighty three out of one hundred.
Details have been unveiled for episodes seven and eight of the current series of Doctor Who. In Kerblam!, 'a mysterious message arrives in a package addressed to The Doctor leading her, Graham, Yaz and Ryan to investigate the warehouse moon orbiting Kandoka and the home of the galaxy’s largest retailer: Kerblam!' This is the episode which guest stars Julie Hesmondhalgh and Lee Mack. It is written by Pete McTighe and directed by Jennifer Perrott.
The Witchfinders sees The Doctor, Ryan, Graham and Yaz arriving in Seventeenth Century Lancashire and becoming embroiled in a witch trial, run by the local landowner. As fear stalks the land, the arrival of King James I only serves to intensify the witch hunt. But is there something even more dangerous at work? Can The Doctor and friends keep the people of Bilehurst Cragg safe from all the forces that are massing? Guest starring Siobhan Finneran and the great Alan Cumming, this episode is written by Joy Wilkinson and directed by Sallie Aprahamian.
Things we learned from this week's episode of Only Connect. Victoria Coren-Mitchell claims that she insists on playing chess in the nude. 'That's why I can never get an opponent.' And by 'never', of course, From The North favourite Victoria actually means 'there's a queue a mile long outside the Coren-Mitchell residence begging for a game and David is getting anxious.'
Incidentally, the one question that yer actual Keith Telly Topping got the answer to before either of the teams this week was the one about people who had killed their brothers. This blogger is, however, proud to add that he also got The Divine Victoria's supplemental question about what was so special about the late John Cazale's acting career; he only appeared in five movies before his untimely death from lung cancer in 1978 but all of them (The Godfather, The Conversation, The Godfather Part II, Dog Day Afternoon and The Deer Hunter) were nominated for the Oscar for Big Picture.
The first of From The North's two TV Comedy Line(s) Of The Week came from Monday's episode of Qi - Plants - when Sandi Toksvig asked how to make a potato 'really terrifying.' 'Do you just show it a frying pan?' asked Jason Manford.
From The North's second TV Comedy Line(s) Of The Week came from the most disappointingly z-list episode of Would I Lie To You? in some time. It did, however, include at least one moment of genuine, twenty four-carat Lee Mack brilliance. Someone called Big Narstie (no, me neither I'm afraid) claimed that he had never heard the nursery rhyme 'Red Sky At Night, Shepherd's Delight' when it was used by the BBC weatherman Tomasz Schafernaker. 'I'm black, I never heard none of that stuff,' Mister Narstie mumbled. 'This is what's called Middle-Class rapping,' suggested Lee.
Just as the first series ended this week in an orgy of blood-splattered carnage on BBC1, filming is reportedly continuing on the second series of From The North favourite Killing Eve with the production team having been spotted shooting in-and-around Camden this week.
Also currently underway is filming on another From The North favourite, Peaky Blinders, with the Daily Scum Express reporting that the youngest of the Shelby brothers, Finn (Harry Kirton) 'will have a larger role' in the forthcoming fifth series of the award-winning period gangster drama.
As mentioned, briefly, in the last bloggerisationisms update, this blogger was well impressed with the opening episode of BBC1's latest John Le Carre adaptation The Little Drummer Girl. Most of the reviews were very positive - take, the Gruniad, for example. 'It's all brilliantly, beautifully done and the dialogue sounds as good as everything else looks.' The Independent was similarly positive. As was the Torygraph. Christ, even the Daily Scum Mail quite liked it with Jim Shelley's review headlined The BBC Delivered Another Superb John Le Carre Sunday Night Thriller With The Little Drummer Girl. You know things are getting really weird when a piece in the Daily Scum Mail includes the words 'BBC' and 'superb' in the same sentence.
Ruth Wilson has confirmed that talks have 'already taken place' about a possible spin-off drama based on her Luther character, the psychotic Alice Morgan. 'We've talked about it actually,' the actress told the Sun. 'If the script is right and the storyline is right. It's funny, people like ­watching her because she comes in and out. If you watched a whole ­episode of her, would it be the same? I don't know. I'm interested - if the script is right. You'd have to make the show quite different in style though, and get inside her head.' Over the course of four series, we've seen Alice go from someone John Luther tries to convict of brutally murdering her parents to an uneasy ally to a close friends. The character was, supposedly, dead at the beginning of series four, which was what spurred Luther into getting back to the day job. But, the popular actress has been confirmed to appear in the upcoming fifth series of Luther, after she was spotted filming with Idris Elba on location in London earlier in the year.
The first officially-released image of Game Of Thrones' eighth and final series has hit the newsstands this week as the cover of Entertainment magazine. And, jolly sexy it is, too.
HBO's Game Of Thrones prequel, The Long Night, has cast its male lead, Josh Whitehouse. The twenty eight-year-old actor and Burberry model is probably best known for playing Hugh Armitage in the BBC's Poldark. He will join Naomi Watts who was recently announced to star as 'a charismatic socialite hiding a dark secret' in the new series' pilot, which is due to begin production next year. Details of their characters' respective back stories are yet to be revealed. Whitehouse will next be seen in the David Lynch-produced film The Happy Worker and in Valley Girl, a musical retelling of the cult classic starring Nicolas Cage. Screenwriter Jane Goldman, who co-wrote Kick-Ass with Matthew Vaughn, is behind The Long Night, which takes place thousands of years before the events told in Game Of Thrones. She will work closely with George RR Martin whose bestselling novels, published as part of the series A Song Of Ice & Fire, were adapted into the hugely successful HBO fantasy drama. The cable network currently has five Thrones-related projects in various stages of development.
Idris Elba has co-written a stage show about life in South Africa after Nelson Mandela, which will have its premiere in Manchester next summer. The Luther star has written Tree with another From The North favourite, Kwame Kwei-Armah, the new artistic director of London's Young Vic theatre. Elba played the late South African president in the 2013 film Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom. Tree will combine drama with music, dance and film and will be part of the 2019 Manchester International Festival. However, Elba himself won't appear in the show, which is also inspired by the 2014 CD Mi Mandela, which saw the actor bring together British and South African musicians. Elba said that he and Kwei-Armah had 'both experienced personal moments of healing connected with the country and we're starting to explore that together.' He said: 'For me, an interesting part of the process is looking at the next part of the story; the new universe that sprung up after Mandela.' The show will run at Upper Campfield Market Hall from 29 June to 10 July before transferring London's Young Vic. Tree is one of the first three productions to be announced from the festival line-up. Mercury Prize-winning rapper Skepta will stage a live show titled Dystopia987, combining live performances by him and other artists with DJ sets along with 'a wealth of new technology and a cast inhabiting a hidden netherworld.' A statement said it would be 'a waking dream that presents Skepta's singular vision of the future: deep, dark, radical and riveting.' It is also described as 'a journey into eternity - a future riven with uncertainty and fear but rich in wonder and possibility.' The festival will kick off on 4 July with an event created by Yoko Bloody Ono in which members of the public will be asked to gather in Cathedral Gardens, where 'a people's orchestra of bells' will 'send a message of peace.' Puns along the lines of 'don't let the bells end' and 'let them ring in peace' may, possibly, be appropriate at this juncture. Or, they would be if The Darkness hasn't beat us all to it by a decade.
Emma Thompson will join Jessica Hynes, Rory Kinnear, Ruth Madeley, T'Nia Miller, Anne Reid and Russell Tovey as production for Russell Davies's new BBC drama Years & Years begins this week in Manchester. Red Production Company and Big Rusty are said to be 'delighted' to announce the cast for Years & Years, 'a unique and ambitious' six-part series charting one family surviving the future. As Britain is rocked by unstable political, economic and technological advances, the drama follows the Lyons family as their complex lives converge on one crucial night in 2019. Then, over the next fifteen years, the twists and turns of everyday life are explored as we find out if this ordinary family could ever change the world. Two-time Oscar winner Emma Thompson stars in the family saga as Vivienne Rook, an outspoken celebrity-turned-political figure whose controversial opinions divide the nation. She is a new breed of politician, an entertainer, a rebel, a trickster and her rise to power leads us into an unknown future. Rory Kinnear plays Stephen Lyons, a financial advisor and the family's peacekeeper who is married to Celeste, played by T'Nia Miller, an ambitious and opinionated accountant. Russell Tovey will appear as Daniel Lyons, a hard-working housing officer and Stephen's younger brother. Their sister, Edith, played by Jessica Hynes, is 'radical, dangerous and calculating with a secret life.' Completing the siblings is heavily pregnant Rosie, played by Ruth Madeley. Anne Reid presides over the family as Muriel, imperial grandmother to the Lyons. Russell Davies says: 'This is a dream cast, put together by Andy Pryor, the man who found Jodie Whittaker to be Doctor Who. I'm very lucky and very excited to start filming.' The drama marks the ninth collaboration for Russell and Red's Nicola Shindler, whose working relationship spans over twenty years. The partnership is known for producing relevant and timely emotionally charged dramas having previously created hit series including Queer As Folk, Casanova, Cucumber, Bob & Rose and The Second Coming.
The BBC has unveiled the first photos from its much-anticipated upcoming animated adaptation of Richard Adams's Watership Down. Images from the animated Christmas mini-series offer a glimpse into the journey of the rabbits of Sandleford Warren to find freedom from the encroachment of man. The voice-cast was already announced to include the likes of James McAvoy, Nicholas Hoult, Ben Kingsley, Gemma Arterton, Olivia Colman and John Boyega, but the BBC revealed more names involved in the project, including Peter Capaldi, Rosamund Pike, Daniel Kaluuya, Mackenzie Crook, Jason Watkins, Rory Kinnear, Tom Wilkinson, Lee Ingleby Charlotte Spencer and Daniel Rigby. Watership Down will be broadcast on BBC1 over the Christmas period. Netflix will distribute the series elsewhere in the world.
Whilst nothing has yet been officially confirmed regarding any potential second series of Bodyguard, Richard Madden has confirmed that he will be meeting 'soon' with the drama's creator for talks. 'I'm going to meet Jed [Mercurio] in a couple of weeks, to have a chat and see what's in his brilliant brain,' he told Deadline. 'So I'm like, "what can happen next? You know, with David. Because he had a hell of a couple months there. Where do you go with this guy?"' That's what Richard Madden is 'like', dear blog reader. This blogger thinks what he actually means is that is what he's 'thinking' about the character of David Budd. Quite why he couldn't say that is, perhaps, a question best left for another day. Madden did suggest ideas on where the drama could go next. 'I also thought, maybe it's going to be like American Horror Story where, in the second series, it's a whole different incarnation of it and I'm a royal and Keeley [Hawes] is on my protection team,' he continued. 'And you get all the rest of the actors back and we all do different things. But who knows what's in Jed's mind. I'm very keen to hear.' Almost certainly not that idea, Richard. Or anything even remotely like it. Just guessing. 'Also, I think David Budd, he walks about London with a bomb on. I mean, everyone definitely knows his face now. He can't really slip back into police work again. What's his life like after that?'
From The North favourite Gotham's production team has released a video from Camren Bicondova confirming that the fifth and final series of the Batman prequel will be back on FOX in the US on Thursday 3 January 2019. No UK premiere date has yet been announced. The arrival of an broadcast-date isn't the only good news, the final series will feature twelve episodes not the previously rumoured ten.
Meanwhile, the Gotham prequel, Pennyworth has found its villain in Jason Flemyng. He will play Lord Harwood - described as 'an upper-class English gentleman' who is 'cultured, urbane, brilliant and supremely sure of himself' - in the series about the younger years of Alfred Pennyworth. It has already been announced that Jack Bannon will play the titular character and that Paloma Faith will be appearing doing ... something. Hopefully not singing. Pennyworth will focus on the character in his twenties in the years after leaving the SAS in the 1960s, where he accepts a security job with Bruce Wayne's father, Thomas (played by Ben Aldridge).
'It's one thing to kill a man, but to strip him naked, tape a rugby ball over his face and ram some knickers down his throat, that's more than just murder!' The fifth series of From The North favourite The Brokenwood Mysteries will receive its UK premiere on UKTV's Drama channel on Friday 23 November at 8pm. Which, frankly, is far sooner than this blogger was expecting. An addictive New Zealand crime drama The Brokenwood Mysteries - which is a sort of picturesque cross between Midsomer Murders and Twin Peaks! - is set in a seemingly quiet country town where the town's newest resident, Detective Mike Shepherd, finds that crime lurks in even the most homely location and the small town has a murder rate higher than Los Angeles. Each episode comprises a feature length film, in a similar format to things like Endeavour, Sherlock or Poirot. The series is produced by South Pacific Pictures and stars Neill Rea and Fern Sutherland. In the opening episode of series five, titled Scared To Death, Mike, Kristin and Breen find out that it's not all fun at the fair when a man dies on the ghost train. However, closer inspection reveals he did not die of natural causes. The ride operator swears that he had nothing to do with it .Meanwhile, several children at the fair have strange face paintings and just how did the fortune teller predict the tragedy?
Strike's Holliday Grainger is to lead the new BBC drama series The Capture. The actress has been cast in the six-part conspiracy thriller from Cyberbully and The Plot To Bring Down Britain's Planes filmmaker Ben Chanan. Grainger's detective is thrust into an investigation to clear the name of a British soldier (played by Callum Turner) who claims he has been framed for a heinous atrocity. The official synopsis reads: 'When proud British soldier Shaun Emery's conviction for a murder in Afghanistan is successfully overturned due to flawed video evidence, he begins to plan for his life as a free man with his six-year-old daughter. However, when damning CCTV footage emerges from an incident in London, it isn't long before Shaun finds himself fighting for his freedom once more, only with lies, betrayal and corruption spreading further than he ever could have imagined. With DI Rachel Carey drafted in to investigate in what could be a career-defining case, she must discover if there is more to the shocking evidence than first meets the eye. Rachel will soon learn that the truth is merely a matter of perspective - before deciding what hers is. With an adamant Shaun battling with his tormented past in order to clear his name once and for all, The Capture looks at a troubling world of misinformation, fake news, and the extraordinary technological capabilities of the intelligence services. In the post-truth era and when criminal justice relies so heavily on video evidence, can we always believe what we see?' The series begins production next month, with more cast details set to be announced soon.
Yer actual Charlie Brooker has admitted that he is 'alarmed' by how some of Black Mirror's storylines have transferred into the real world. The series was first broadcast in the winter of 2011 on Channel Four, offering techno-fused dystopian narratives in the vein of George Orwell and The Twilight Zone. However, some of the earlier episodes' events and ideas seem to have crept into reality. Appearing on Good Morning Britain, Chaz revealed his inspiration. 'I think I'm a natural worrier,' he suggested. 'That's what the show is, me just worrying and having worry fantasies. It's alarming how many have come true or there are real world parallels.' He then elaborated on how Black Mirror's episode The Waldo Moment segued into real life with its cartoonish political campaigner using the art of offending people in a bid to get elected. The parallels in American society are there for all to see. Black Mirror's first ever episode The National Anthem, which pits the British Prime Minister against a digital terrorist, also found an unexpected parallel in the real world. The episode's disturbing plot witnessed the PM having sex with a pig when faced with blackmail. Brooker noted: 'That was about the public thirst for humiliation and shame.' Several other Black Mirror episodes such as Nosedive, The Entire History Of You and Be Right Back also appear plausibly realistic in their technology and representations of society.
For the first five minutes at least, this week's Inside Number Nine episode looked thoroughly generic. Arthur Flitwick (Steve Pemberton) is back from the shops. He puts a mobile phone on the kitchen table, sticks Symphonic FM on and sets about coddling an egg. The phone rings, there is some sinister but indistinct white noise, the egg explodes in the microwave and the caller rings off. Flitwick redials the last number and what appears to be some vaguely underwhelming domestic farce involving a lost phone and a confused old lady begins to ensue. It is often said that in the age of Twitter and on-demand streaming, secrets are impossible to keep; shocks are diffuse and signposted; TV is no longer a communal experience. This autumn has presented three strong rebuttals to that idea. Firstly, there was Jed Mercurio's Bodyguard and then Jodie Whittaker's debut in Doctor Who both of which pulled in overnight audiences which, for drama in 2018, were remarkable. But on Sunday, the audacious live special of Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith's dark anthology comedy went further still. You really did have to be there, watching it live. From Flitwick's phone call onwards, all bets were off. The arrival of Shearsmith's vicar, Reverend Neale, saw the manifestation of the first gremlins: the sound disappeared and BBC2's continuity announcer intervened. Twitter collectively speculated about P45s being on the way to the production crew and the show lost a fifth of its viewers as the less patient gave up and turned over to watch something else. But those who didn't give up ghost soon found out that the ghost was just getting started. A repeated (largely silent) episode of Inside Number Nine began, but soon we were back in real time, in Pemberton and Shearsmith's dressing room. Shearsmith flicked on the News At Ten where the green and gold flags of Jair Bolsonaro's celebrating supporters could be glimpsed. Yes, this was actually happening, live. This perfectly perplexing half-hour of television has been in preparation for a while. The production team have been carefully seeding the show's central conceit: the haunting of Granada studios. An article appeared in the Sun last week claiming that 'interventions from deceased Coronation Street stars' had been 'making rehearsals impossible.' But even so, what began to unfold was remarkable and unsettling. BBC2 itself appeared to be possessed, stricken by visitations from the studio's illustrious and traumatic past. From Bobby Davro's notorious faceplant during the filming of Public Enemy Number One to a serious fire during which costumes for The Jewel In The Crown were destroyed, we were suddenly scrolling through an index of Granada-based mishaps. Who knew where it would stop? Were people fooled? However much they might deny it subsequently, yes they undoubtedly were. And actually, what fun it was to be so playfully toyed with by television; to gaze at the screen and feel genuinely bewildered. But better yet, Shearsmith and Pemberton included us, the viewers and made us participants. Shearsmith tweeted: 'Are me and Steve Pemberton on BBC2 now?' and people replied. Viewers' real time reactions became part of the drama in a way that felt more profound than usual, possibly because what we had seen had been confounding enough to make speculation unavoidable. Co-star Stephanie Cole's Wikipedia entry was altered to reflect her sad, on-screen suicide as the possessed studio continued to work its dark magic. 'Event TV' is a term that is now lazily applied to everything from cookery shows to talent contests. But the Inside Number Nine live episode really did deserve that description. It is now available on BBC iPlayer and is well worth a gander. But if you weren't there at 10pm on Sunday, you missed the essence of it. What the show demonstrated was that in the hands of true masters, modern media networks like Twitter are simply more tools, more colours a writer can add to their palette. The show's closest relative is probably BBC1's bowel-shatteringly memorable 1992 Halloween epic Ghostwatch. But Ghostwatch was able to take advantage of less jaded, less media-savvy, more credulous times. To even approach its mischief and magic in 2018 feels like a triumph of imagination. It also feels like a vindication of the idea that in the right hands, TV still has the capacity to surprise, disconcert and delight.
Months after Sky officially cancelled Agatha Raisin, prompting US co-production partner Acorn TV to commission a second series on their own, Sky1 has pre-bought the UK rights to the new episodes. Which is a little bit like this blogger's beloved (though even then unsellable) Newcastle United having Alan Shearer arrive for a trial as a fourteen year old, turn him down and then, a decade later, pay fifteen million quid to acquire his services from Blackburn Vindaloos. The deal - the Agatha Raisin one, not the Alan Shearer one - was struck between Sky and international distributor All3Media International. Sky has also taken rights to the new series in Ireand. Agatha Raisin began its life on Sky in the form of one-off movie Agatha Raisin & The Quiche Of Death, before the broadcaster ordered an eight episode series. They officially pulled the plug earlier this year and, at the time, Acorn made it clear that Sky would not be involved in any subsequent production or, indeed, transmission of the series. The new six episodes are expected to be shown either later this year or early next year. Based on the novels by M Beaton, Agatha Raisin follows the titular PR guru, who gives up her successful career in London for a new 'dream' life in the quiet village of Carsely, but soon becomes an amateur sleuth, entangled in mischief, mayhem and murder. The drama stars Ashley Jensen, Mathew Horne, Matt McCooey and Katy Wix.
Science and technology show Tomorrow's World is set to return to the BBC for the first time in fifteen years. BBC4 will broadcast a one-off episode of the programme, hosted by former presenters Maggie Philbin and Howard Stableford, on 22 November. Cassian Harrison, the channel's editor, said that the decision was made 'to remind us all how far we've come and to explore where we might still go.' Tomorrow's World was first broadcast in July 1965 and ran for thirty eight years and almost fourteen hundred episodes. Philbin, who will co-present the ninety-minute show live from Glasgow, said she was 'beyond excited' to be involved again. Stableford added that it was the chance to introduce the 'iconic' show to a whole new generation.
The X Factor was forced to cancel its Saturday night public vote after the show was hit by sound issues. Viewers complained that the judges - and some of the performances - 'sounded distorted' and contestants sounded 'like Daleks.' Whether this means ITV will be exterminating the, clearly tired and worn-out, format after the current series we just don't know. ITV snivellingly apologised and said the vote would take place on Sunday's show instead. It is thought to be the first time that voting has been cancelled in the show's fifteen-year history. Viewers started to encounter sound issues during the performance by Danny Tetley and continued through Anthony Russell's song. A message appeared on-screen which read: 'We are sorry for the temporary interference in sound.' At the end of the programme, another message said: Due to a technical issue, tonight's vote has been cancelled. It will open in tomorrow night's show.' The show was not live - and had been pre-recorded on Saturday afternoon - so the host, Dermot O'Dreary, did not refer to the sound problems. An ITV spokeswoman said: 'We apologise for the technical issue that affected the sound on part of tonight's episode of The X Factor. We are investigating why this happened.'
Olivia Colman's road to the Oscars will include a stop at this year's British Independent Film Awards, where her new royal drama is up for twelve awards. Colly, who was named best actress at the Venice Film Festival, is nominated for another best actress prize for her role as Eighteenth Century monarch Queen Anne. Yorgos Lanthimos's The Favourite has thirteen nominations in all, two of them in the best supporting actress category. Set during Anne's reign, the film tells of two women competing for her favour. The courtiers in question are played by Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone, who will themselves compete for the supporting actress award. Weisz gets another nomination in the best actress category for her performance as a Jewish lesbian in religious drama Disobedience. Colman's other royal roles include playing The Queen in the forthcoming third series of The Crown. Her portrayal of the flighty, petulant and pain-riddled Queen Anne has been widely praised by the critics, among them the Gruniad Morning Star's Peter Bradshaw. 'Just when we thought Colman couldn't get any better, she steps up to movie-star lead status with an uproarious performance,' he wrote after The Favourite's Venice premiere. Heist caper American Animals has received eleven BIFA nominations ahead of this year's ceremony, to be held at London's Old Billingsgate on 2 December. In the best actor category, meanwhile, Rupert Everett's turn as Oscar Wilde in The Happy Prince goes up against Steve Coogan's take on Stan Laurel in the upcoming Stan & Ollie. Michaela Coel, recently seen in BBC2's Black Earth Rising, is nominated for most promising newcomer for her work in Netflix's London-set musical Been So Long. Also recognised is former Doctor Who actress Karen Gillanfor her directorial debut The Party's Just Beginning.
Question Time host David Dimbleby has criticised social media attacks on one of the show's female panellists. He said that comments levelled against Institute of Economic Affairs associate director Kate Andrews were 'vile, disgusting, loathsome' and 'unspeakably horrible.' Andrews said that being offensive and committing a crime were 'two different things' and she would rather see police money being spent on women dealing with domestic violence. The panel was discussing comments made this week by former Thames Valley chief constable, Sara Thornton, who suggested that police should focus on burglary and violent crime over incidents such as misogyny, where, she said, no offence had been committed.
Susanna Reid was forced to give Big Brother-type person Aisleyne Horgan-Wallace (no, me neither) a finger-wagging telling off on Thursday's episode of Good Morning Britain after saying a - not particularly naughty - word. Horgan-Wallace and a fellow guest, the journalist Radhika Sanghani, were debating whether bottom slapping was sexual assault when the offending word slipped out. It isn't, incidentally. But only so long as it's done between consenting adults. Otherwise, it is and if you're thinking of doing it you should refrain from doing so otherwise you may find yourself in very hot water. Here endeth what should be bledding obvious even to the world's stupidest numbskull glake. 'I'm not saying, "Come on, please slap my arse, I'd love that,"' Horgan-Wallace said, before Reid quickly interjected. 'Okay, shall we not use "The A Word", it is 6.37 in the morning,' the presenter said testily. 'Sorry, slap my bottom,' Horgan-Wallace then added. To the disappointment of viewers everywhere who like that sort of thing, Reid did not accept the invitation. An opportunity missed, some might say.
And all of this rank and utter horseshite constitutes 'news' apparently. Well, it does if you're some waste-of-space plank working for the Digital Spy website, it would seem.
A BBC-commissioned report looking at free TV licences for the over-seventy fives has laid out four options for the future. In 2020, the BBC takes over funding of the licence fees from the government, at an estimated cost of seventy hundred and forty five million knicker a year. The Frontier Economics report has looked at the costs and viability of scrapping the free fees or giving a fifty per cent concession to over-seventy fives. They also looked at increasing the age threshold for eligibility and means-testing. The BBC will now look at this report and produce its own public consultation paper exploring different pathways. The cost of covering the free licence fees forecast for 2020 would constitute a fifth of the BBC's entire licence fee income. The cost will have to be considered against the BBC's ability to provide high quality public service broadcasting content for all audiences. Last month Frontier issued a discussion paper that suggested older households have seen 'a marked improvement' in their living standards since the policy was first introduced by the then government in 2000. It said that pensioners are now 'less likely' than any other age group to live in poverty. The report says that there 'is a case for reform' of the current over-seventy fives concession.
The BBC must 'conduct a public interest test' if it wants to change the iPlayer, Ofcom has said. Proposed changes include adding additional box-sets and enhancing personalisation and user experience. Ofcom - a politically-appointed quango, elected by no one - said that because the changes could 'increase iPlayer usage,' this 'could' affect other broadcasters. A public interest test is a process which involves the BBC fully considering competition concerns that could arise if the new and improved iPlayer were developed. These competitors include the ITV Hub, All Four, MyFive and Now TV - a smaller audience share could prevent these platforms from investing and developing their services. However, during this period of testing the BBC is allowed to make minor changes. This includes retaining box-sets currently available and adding series that have already been given approval for iPlayer distribution. The BBC will also be allowed to make available series in the future, but for amount of time currently allowed, rather than the extended amount of time proposed.
An influential cross-party group of MPs and peers has called on the government to 'guarantee parliamentary time' to create new laws to ensure shows made by the BBC and other public service broadcasters do not get buried on the streaming services of big tech and pay-TV giants such as Netflix and Sky. In a rare alliance across the political spectrum, nine MPs and peers - including deputy Labour leader Tommy Watson (power to the people!), Liberal Democrat baroness Jane Bonham-Carter and the Scottish National Party's Hannah Bardell - have written to the lack of culture secretary, the vile and odious rascal Wright, arguing that if the government is willing to stand up to the tech giants over tax then it also needs to act to protect Britain's public service broadcasters. 'The digital revolution has brought greater flexibility and choice but if we are not careful the enormous power of the global Internet giants is going to sweep traditional PSB television away,' said the letter, timed to mark the joint birthday of the BBC and Channel Four. The UK's PSBs - the BBC, ITV, Channel Four and Channel Five - have enjoyed the benefits of being guaranteed the top slots on traditional TV guides, thanks to legislation introduced in 2003. However, the shift in viewing habits - from the arrival of Netflix and Amazon to the introduction of algorithms to select shows viewers might like and promotion of 'top picks' in advanced menus on Sky and Virgin Media ' has meant that many TV fans increasingly bypass the traditional electronic programme guide. Broadcasters argue that commercial players are championing their own shows, while public service broadcasting content and services such as the iPlayer, ITV Hub and All Four are buried. 'From smart TVs that have a "Netflix" button on the remote control, to on-demand sections where PSB apps are nowhere to be seen, or algorithms that only throw up pay-TV programming, PSBs are being pushed out of online TV portals,' the letter said. 'If we value the unique cultural offering these PSBs have given us over the last eighty two years then we must act to ensure that whether viewers are selecting what to watch through traditional TV programme guides, or on-demand guides or online, the PSBs are given proper priority.' Ofcom, the broadcasting regulator, has just closed a consultation into the issue of 'due prominence.' It is reported to be 'sympathetic' to the PSBs' case but it would require new legislation to broaden the current laws across all services. 'The new legislation that is clearly necessary to protect PSBs will need to be given parliamentary time, something that is in the gift of your government. We ask you to commit to doing so,' the letter stated. Pay-TV companies, smart TV manufacturers and the Silicon Valley giants are opposed to being forced to give prominence to PSB services and content, arguing that in an on-demand world it is the viewers who decide what they want to watch. 'If we agree that public service broadcasting has cultural value then our minimum duty is to make sure it is visible in plain sight to citizens,' the letter said. Watson added: 'This week the government said they are going to stand up to tech giants to make the tax system fairer. They urgently need to do the same for public service broadcasting. Without action the tech giants are going to use their enormous market power to squeeze our PSBs further and further out.'
Channel Four will set up a new national HQ in Leeds in an attempt to 'boost the way it reflects life outside London.' The broadcaster will keep another headquarters in the capital, but will move roughly two hundred of its eight hundred staff to the Yorkshire city. Leeds was chosen above Birmingham and Greater Manchester, which were also on the shortlist. The channel has also announced it will open 'creative hubs' in Bristol and Glasgow, with around fifty staff in each. This is all part of a plan to increase the amount Channel Four spends on programmes outside London by two hundred and fifty million knicker over the next five years. That means half of its programme budget will be spent outside the capital by 2023, up from thirty five per cent currently. Tom Riordan, the chief executive of Leeds City Council, said it was 'the best news.' The new national HQ will regularly host executive and board meetings and will be home to 'a digital creative unit' to make material for online platforms and social media. Channel Four News will also open three new bureaux outside London, including one in Leeds.
The BBC and Sky have called on the European commission to take 'formal action' against Saudi Arabia over a pirate TV and streaming service which provides UK viewers who use it with illegal access to content including Premier League football, Bodyguard and Game Of Thrones. BeoutQ, which started as a geo-blocked website available only in Saudi Arabia, has rapidly developed into a sophisticated international piracy operation. Set-top boxes are available internationally, including the UK, which also illegally allow streaming access to thousands of premium TV channels. The illegal service has had a surge in popularity after making global headlines for pirate broadcasting the entire World Cup. BeoutQ also provides access to other illegal streaming apps and its feed is now being pirated by other operations. The rapid growth of BeoutQ has prompted Sky, which operates in seven countries in Europe and the BBC to support the calls for the European commission to take action against the service. The broadcasters have sent letters to Anna Malmström, the European commissioner fortrade, outlining their 'concerns' and backing a formal EU protest, or démarche, to the Saudi government about BeoutQ. Which, of course, the Saudi government will ignore because they've got all the oil, they have President Rump in their back pockets because they own all the oil and they can murder their own journalists in full view of the rest of the world and not give a shit what anyone thinks. Again, because they've got all the oil. Sky's letter highlighted 'threats posed to European broadcasters and rights owners by a relatively new, but rapidly growing, source of audiovisual piracy, namely the BeoutQ service.' It added: '[Sky] understands that [the directorate general of trade] is planning imminently to launch a démarche towards the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia authorities regarding the issue. The purpose of this letter is to confirm Sky's full support for that démarche.' The BBC's letter, which also backs EU action, highlights the damage that making its content and channels available via the pirate service will do to its finances. 'The availability of the BBC channels and content via BeoutQ's pirate activity will adversely impact BBC Studios’ ability to license these channels to partners throughout Europe and also the ability of our European partners to sell subscriptions to their television services,' the letter says. A BBC spokesman said: 'The BBC group is committed to combating piracy of its channels and content worldwide and actively work with our media partners in fighting against piracy operating in the terrain which our partners hold exclusive licences.' The BeoutQ service is transmitted internationally on ten channels by the Saudi-headquartered satellite firm Arabsat, which counts the Saudi state as its largest shareholder and also offers streaming. It was set up last year, initially pirating the feed of Qatar's BeIN Media Group, the owner of beIN Sports and The English Patient film studio Miramax. BeIN Media, which has fifty five million pay-TV customers worldwide, has spent billions on the rights content including Premier League, Champions League, World Cup, NBA and NFL. The pirate service was launched when Saudi Arabia mounted an economic boycott of Qatar. This has led to widespread accusations, denied by Saudi Arabia, that it is a media weapon in its wider political dispute designed to weaken Qatar's economy. The UK broadcasters are the latest to turn up the pressure on Saudi Arabia to take action against the service. This month, BeIN Media launched a one billion dollar lawsuit against Saudi Arabia and the Premier League and FIFA have appointed legal counsel in the kingdom to try to prevent the theft of its intellectual property rights.
Last Sunday afternoon, dear blog reader, in the middle of watching the Sri Lanka versus England Twenty20 international, the Stately Telly Topping Manor Sky TV box only went and appeared to have blown itself up to buggery, didn't it? Fortunately, Keith Telly Topping still had the DVD recorder and Freeview, which were both unaffected (so Sunday's Doctor Who was safe). But still, this blogger could not help but reflecting something along the lines of ...
First thing on Monday morning, therefore, this blogger spent twenty minutes on the dog-and-bone with a lovely chap from Sky Customer Services called Thomas (although, let it be noted he had a strong Indian accent so this blogger is guessing that may not have been his actual name!) Keith Telly Topping was expecting to have to go the full ten rounds with the company over getting a replacement at a price that didn't involve an overdraft but, in fact, Thomas was as jolly helpful as jolly helpful could be. It's normally sixty five notes to get an out-of-warranty box replacement but, as this blogger has been a Sky customer since 1990, Thomas knocked over fifty per cent off the bill - cutting the cost to thirty quid which will go on the December Stately Telly Topping Manor bill. The downside was that an engineer could not be booked until Friday afternoon so the gaff was without Sky for the rest of the week. Still, at that stage this blogger was thinking 'result!'
And, lo, on Friday as they had promised - and bang on the time they promised - Chris the engineer turned up and installed the new Stately Telly Topping Manor Sky tellybox (and a new dish since the previous one had been adorning the upper walls of the gaff since the last Century). And truly, dear blog reader, it was (and still is) marvellous in yer actual Keith Telly Topping's Goddamn sight. Now, this blogger merely has to spend the rest of the weekend learning his way around the new system and what buttons he needs to push.
Thus, after five days without the capacity, dear blog reader, once again with this remote yer actual Keith Telly Topping could, dare he say it, control the world (or, at least the new Stately Telly Topping Manor Sky tellybox, anyway).
This week's second 'First World Problem' to hit Stately Telly Topping Manor (following the Sky tellybox exploding malarkey) occurred on Tuesday when, after many, many, many years of faithful service, the Stately Telly Topping Manor hot water bottle chose that particular moment to perish (in, like, every sense of the word). At least, that was this blogger's excuse when he woke up in the early hours of Wednesday morning to find his bed was rather wet. So, this occasioned a trip to Argos to buy a new one for a tenner. Which was accomplished. It's very ... fluffy. This blogger thinks he will call her Louise.
Apparently it was 'National Cat Day' in America this week; so, in the spirit of adding one more picture of a cat to the Interweb, here's one of only two or three photos this blogger has of Our Kaboobie (don't ask, it's a frighteningly long story! Or, if you really want to know, go here for the full cat's tale.) 1970 to 1985. Gone, but never forgotten - particularly because of the damage her claws did to the cover of my copy of The Smiths debut LP.
Neil Young has confirmed that he has married actress Darryl Hannah. The singer refers to Hannah his wife in a message released with a live recording of his Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young song 'Ohio'. There had been rumours in August that the couple had married after blues guitarist Mark Miller posted a message of congratulations online. In the video Neil told the crowd 'everything's great, just cruising along ... writing songs about love.' Young wrote 'Ohio' in 1970 about four protesters who were shot protesting against the Vietnam war at Ohio's Kent State university. He said that he was releasing the live version to support student calls for 'common sense gun laws' in the US and urged fans to vote in the American mid-term elections on 6 November. In the accompanying message he said: 'My wife Daryl and I put this video together to reflect on.' Young divorced his previous wife, the singer-songwriter Pegi Young, in 2014 after thirty six years of marriage. Hannah directed Young in the Netflix film Paradox, which is her directorial debut.
Nick Cave has shared an emotional open letter about how he still feels the presence of his son, Arthur, who died in 2015 aged fifteen. The Australian musician, songwriter, actor and author was responding to a letter from a fan who said that she still felt 'some communication' with family and friends who had died recently. Cave replied: 'If we love, we grieve ... I feel the presence of my son, all around, but he may not be there.' Arthur died after falling from a cliff in Brighton. Cave is best known as lead singer of Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds. He has been described as 'one of the most intense and exciting live acts on the planet' and is a particular favourite of yer actual Keith Telly Topping. Cave posted the letter on The Red Hand Files, a website he uses to communicate with fans, earlier this week. One fan from the US wrote: 'I have experienced the death of my father, my sister and my first love in the past few years and feel that I have some communication with them, mostly through dreams. They are helping me. Are you and Susie feeling that your son, Arthur, is with you and communicating in some way?' Cave thanked the fan, Cynthia, for the 'beautiful question' and shared his experience of dealing with grief. 'Grief and love are forever intertwined. Grief is the terrible reminder of the depths of our love and, like love, grief is non-negotiable. There is a vastness to grief that overwhelms our minuscule selves,' he wrote. 'Within that whirling gyre all manner of madnesses exist; ghosts and spirits and dream visitations, and everything else that we, in our anguish, will into existence. These are precious gifts that are as valid and as real as we need them to be. They are the spirit guides that lead us out of the darkness.' He added that he felt the presence of Arthur 'all the time. I hear him talk to me, parent me, guide me, though he may not be there. Dread grief trails bright phantoms in its wake. These spirits are ideas, essentially. They are our stunned imaginations reawakening after the calamity. Like ideas, these spirits speak of possibility. Follow your ideas, because on the other side of the idea is change and growth and redemption. Create your spirits. Call to them. Will them alive. Speak to them. It is their impossible and ghostly hands that draw us back to the world from which we were jettisoned; better now and unimaginably changed.'
The Labour MP Gavin Shuker has received twenty thousand smackers in damages from after it falsely accused him of being homophobic and promoting abortion. The payment, disclosed in the latest register of member's interests, related to a Metro opinion piece published earlier this year entitled We need to stop attaching morals to sex work - it can be fatal which defended sex work and criticised Shuker for his stance on the issue. The MP, the chair of the all-party parliamentary group on prostitution, has repeatedly campaigned for a change in the law which would make it illegal to pay for sex. has already issued a grovelling apology for its decision to print the article. 'We included claims in the article that Mister Shuker is homophobic, had defended a charity in pushing "conversion therapy" for LGBTQ people, is a misogynist and an opponent of abortion,' the website said in a correction. 'The article may also have been understood to mean that Mister Shuker had failed to respond to our request for comment before publication, which was not the case. We accept that none of these claims against Mister Shuker was true. We offer our sincere and unreserved apologies to Mister Shuker and have agreed to pay him substantial damages and his legal costs.' The payment was made by Daily Scum Mail & General Trust, the owner of Asked what he would do with the payment, the MP for Luton South said: 'Barbados this time of year is quite nice, I understand.' Heh. That's the first - intentionally - funny thing a politician has said in years. is 'entirely separate from the print edition of the Metro,' according to the Gruniad Morning Star. 'This is despite both publications being owned by the same company and sharing the same office building,' the Gruniad sneers. Yeah, very odd that.
The expansion of the World Cup from thirty two to forty eight teams could be brought forward from 2026 to 2022, says FIFA president Gianni Infantino. The change would require Qatar to share 2022 hosting duties with other countries in the region. The decision has already been taken to expand the tournament in 2026, when it will be held in the USA, Canada and Mexico and Infantino is now considering doing the same for 2022. 'If it is possible, why not?' he said. 'We have to see if it is possible, if it is feasible. We are discussing with our Qatari friends, we are discussing with our many other friends in the region and we hope that this can happen. And, if not, we will have tried. We will have tried because we always have to try to do things in a better way.' Speaking at the opening of the Asian Football Confederation's new headquarters in Kuala Lumpur, Infantino also reiterated his plans to expand the Club World Cup. He said that he wants to make it 'a real competition' that 'every club in the world can target.' And, of course, generates loads of filthy wonga so that football can continue to get it greed right on. The beautiful game, dear blog reader. Supported by The People, run by greedy bastards.
To further expand on the point, dear blog reader, at least one professional football club is reported to be 'under investigation' for alleged money laundering, security minister Ben Wallace has revealed. Wallace told MPs 'a club or clubs' were 'being looked into' when asked about the issue at a Treasury Select Committee meeting on Tuesday. 'I couldn't reveal how many and what they are, for that is an operational matter,' he added. He said that to reveal more details 'could threaten investigations.' But, he added: 'The sports industry is as susceptible as anything else to dirty money being invested or their organisations being used as a way to launder money.' Wallace was speaking after the Labour MP John Mann asked him: 'When it comes to money laundering, how many professional football clubs have been deemed as requiring investigation currently?' The minister also pointed out 'not enough' had come from football authorities to help tackle the issue. A National Crime Agency spokeswoman said that the body would neither 'confirm or deny the existence of investigations.' Although, unless she was suggesting that Wallace was lying to MPs, then that ship has pretty much already sailed. She added: 'We have not charged any professional football clubs with money laundering and there are none currently in the court process.' A 2009 report by the international Financial Action Task Force said football could be targeted by money launderers because it involves large sums of money crossing international borders. In 2016 police in Portugal, with help from European crime agency Europol, claimed to have broken up a Russian mafia money laundering ring which targeted struggling football clubs. The Operation Matrioskas team said it discovered links to the UK, as well as Austria, Estonia, Germany, Latvia and Moldova.
The former Juventus and Italy footballer Vincenzo Iaquinta has been sentenced to two years in The Big House for firearms offences as part of a large mafia trial. The thirty eight-year-old, who was part of Italy's winning World Cup team in 2006, was one of one hundred and forty eight people standing trial for alleged links to the 'Ndrangheta, a major Southern Italian mafia network. The judge dismissed those charges against him, but his father was found guilty and jailed for nineteen years for various nefarious skulduggery. More than one hundred and twenty others were found very guilty. The court ruled that Iaquinta had illegally passed two guns to his father - who at the time was under a court order banning him from keeping firearms. 'Ridiculous, shame,' Iaquinta and his father shouted as their sentences were announced. Under Italian law, defendants are allowed to appeal twice before a sentence is confirmed and even if that were to happen, it is unlikely that Iaquinta would have to serve any actual jail time, Reuters reports. Because, he's rich, obviously. The trial was the largest of its kind to take place in Italy. The 'Ndrangheta is claimed to have around six thousand members, according to FBI estimates and is active in Calabria one of Italy's poorest regions.
Ten Benin international youth players and former football federation president Anjorin Moucharafou have been handed prison sentences for age cheating. A Cotonou court found them extremely guilty of lying about their ages, which saw them failing MRI tests in Niger. September's failed tests saw Benin disqualified from last month's regional qualifying tournament in Niger for the 2019 Under-Seventeen Africa Cup of Nations. The players were given six-month prison sentences with five months suspended. Because the players have been held in prison since their return from Niamey in September, they do not face more time behind bars. Moucharafou, who was president of the Benin Football Federation until August, was also found guilty because of his administrative role that led to the failed MRI tests. He was handed a twelve-month prison sentence, including ten months suspended. The national under-seventeen team coach Lafiou Yessoufof and two other officials received similar sentences for their roles in cheating. The new president of the FBF, Mathurin de Chacus, declared in August when he was elected that he wanted to 'put an end to corruption, improvisation and amateurism' in the country's football. He had filed a complaint about the overage players scandal and promised 'very heavy' sanctions.
Riot police had to protect referee Andres Cunha as River Plate beat Gremio with a late penalty in an incredible Copa Libertadores semi-final. Gonzalo Martinez scored the spot-kick, given via the video assistant referee, in the fifth of fourteen added minutes. Defender Bressan, who conceded the penalty for handball, was sent-off as he remonstrated with Cunha, with play held up as Gremio's players protested. River Plate won the second leg two-one and went through on the away goals rule. The Argentine side, beaten one-nil at home in the first leg, went further behind when Leo Gomes scored for the Brazilian holders after thirty five minutes in Porto Alegre. River Plate were still two goals behind on aggregate with nine minutes of normal time left, but then Rafael Borre scored. Uruguayan Cunha then sparked the penalty drama in the eighty sixth minute and was surrounded by Gremio players, with riot police entering the field to protect him from getting killed during the nine-minute delay which followed before the kick was taken. Victory for River Plate sets up the possibility of an all-Argentine final against Boca Juniors, who play Palmeiras in Sao Paulo on Wednesday, having won the home leg two-nil.
Former The Arse striker Nicklas Bendtner has been sentenced to fifty days in jail in Denmark for assaulting a taxi driver. But the thirty-year-old Rosenborg player has appealed and has been released until a hearing at a higher court. The incident took place in September, with the City Court of Copenhagen shown CCTV footage in which it appeared Bendtner struck the driver in the face. Really hard. The Denmark international admitted hitting the taxi driver but claimed that it was because he 'felt threatened.' Bendtner said the driver threw a bottle or a can towards him and his girlfriend when they left without paying. 'We think that it's not good for the club and not good for Nicklas, but he remains a player in the club. We are keeping him,' said Tove Moe Dyrhaug, the chief executive of Bendtner's Norwegian club, Rosenborg. Bendtner, who played for The Arse between 2005 and 2014, scoring forty five goals in one hundred and seventy one games, missed out on a place in Denmark's squad for the 2018 World Cup because of injury. He had loan spells at Blunderland, Birmingham City and Juventus while at The Arse before making a permanent move to German club Wolfsburg. He moved back to England to join Championship side Nottingham Forest in September 2016 before joining Rosenborg in March 2017.
One of the five people arrested at Wednesday's Edinburgh derby was identified to police by other fans, Hearts owner Ann Budge has revealed. Hibernian manager Neil Lennon was struck by a coin at Tynecastle, Hearts goalkeeper Zdenek Zlamal claims he was punched by a fan, while both assistant referees were also targeted during a period of geet rive-on with kids gettin' sparked and aal sorts. In a joint statement, Hearts and Hibs condemned the 'unsavoury' incidents. The clubs say the culprits will 'face appropriate sanctions.' A twenty five-year-old man has been charged with assault after an assistant referee was attacked, while Police Scotland have confirmed investigations continue into incidents involving Lennon and Zlamal. Hibs chief executive Leeann Dempster said the 'clubs are united' and called on fans to help identify those responsible 'for this kind of unacceptable and potentially dangerous behaviour.' Budge said Hearts will work with their city rivals and Police Scotland to identify those responsible and 'ensure they are banned from attending our two stadiums and are formally charged.' In the statement, she added: 'By working together in this manner, we will succeed in removing the tiny percentage of fans, whose behaviour spoils things for the majority.' Budge also said that the clubs must not 'fall into the trap of condemning the thousands of genuine football fans who do nothing more than passionately support their respective teams.' Dempster said they will 'learn any lessons that we can' and would 'not allow the mindless actions of a few foolish individuals to jeopardise' the enjoyment and safety of other fans. Scottish FA chief executive Ian Maxwell said that he was 'sure no stone will be left unturned' by the two clubs and confirmed that both assistant referees were struck by missiles at Tynecastle. 'We cannot accept that two assistant referees simply carrying out their duties are put in that position,' he added. 'I would like to commend their commitment and professionalism in seeing the game through to its conclusion.'
Yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved (though sadly unsellable) Newcastle United skipper Jamaal Lascelles has claimed that the club's loathed owner, Mike Ashley, is 'a nice guy' - one or two people even believed him - and has called for 'togetherness' after signing a lucrative new six-year contract at the club. The twenty four-year-old has led Newcastle since 2016, when he was given the captaincy by manager Rafael Benitez. And, to be fair to the lad, he's done a pretty good job of it. Lascelles and his team-mates had dinner with Ashley last month to 'discuss matters' at St James' Park. 'I think it's important everyone is together,' said Lascelles. 'The meal was really positive, having a sit-down meeting for the first time, hearing [Ashley] speak and seeing what he's like as a man. He's a nice guy.' Newcastle finished an unexpected but impressive tenth in the Premiership last season but were yet to win a league game this term before Saturday's one-nil victory over Watford and are currently seventeenth in the table, with fans regularly protesting against the ownership of Ashley, who has been in charge since 2007 and presided over two relegations and more soap opera-style shenanigans than one can comfortably count. But Lascelles, who has made over one hundred appearances since joining The Magpies from Nottingham Forest in August 2014, says that the club must 'stay united.' Although, if Ashley reckons he could make more money by changing their name to Newcastle Sports Direct, one wouldn't put it past him. 'I know fingers are being pointed at [Ashley], but I think it was a positive meeting and if it could happen more, I don't think it would do any harm. If there are divides, I think it creates problems. If everyone in Newcastle stopped the negativity and tried to form a unity, that would help. It would help if everyone came together and put all that bad energy into positive energy, helping us get three points. That's what everybody wants.'
Leicester City staff, players and fans were in tears as they held a minute's silence for their late owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, before their first match since his death last week in a helicopter crash. Supporters travelling to the game away at Cardiff City on Saturday started the day with a free breakfast and tribute t-shirt provided by the club, which many were seen wearing at the match. Fans unfurled a huge flag tribute to Srivaddhanaprabha, from Thailand, before kick-off and players wore their own t-shirt tributes to the man known affectionately as 'The Boss'. The Premier League match was The Foxes' first since Srivaddhanaprabha and four other people were killed in the crash outside King Power Stadium on 27 October. Manager Claude Puel said that the result in Cardiff was 'not important' but striker Jamie Vardy said the players wanted to play at Cardiff so they could 'honour' Srivaddhanaprabha. In the event, Leicester won the game one-nil thanks to Demarai Gray's fifty fifth minute strike.
The Football Association - a memorably awful bunch of hypocritical gangsters if ever there were some - has reportedly written to a number of non-league clubs warning they will be relegated if they do not make their dressing rooms larger. They currently need to be a minimum of twelve square metres in the seventh and eighth tiers, but that will increase to eighteen square metres by 31 March 2019. As if anyone is actually bothered about such crap. Clubs that fail to complete the work by the end of July will be automatically relegated. Larkhall Athletic of Southern League Division One West called the move 'disgraceful.' And, they're not alone. The FA says that notice of the change was given in 2014 and clubs can apply for up to seventy per cent of the funding for any necessary work. Southern League Premier Division side Frome Town, one of the clubs affected, said: 'Five months to get architect, planning permission, funding and probably try and complete it during the playing season - incredible decision.' Clubs must deliver planning permission, if required, proof of funding and a completed, enforceable contract to both the FA and their league by the end of March and would drop down to the ninth tier if they fail to comply. 'The change was to accommodate increased squad sizes, more medical equipment and an improved environment for players,' the FA claimed. 'This is a mandatory requirement from those leagues and the vast majority have already achieved this.' The Football Stadia Improvement Fund, managed by the Football Foundation, can offer partial funding for improvement work.
Usain Bolt's trial with Australian football club Central Coast Mariners has come to an end. The Jamaican eight-time Olympic sprint champion joined the A-League side for an 'indefinite training period' in August. He scored two goals in his first game for The Mariners in a friendly, but did not play in any first class matches when the season began. Efforts to secure 'a commercial solution' to keep Bolt at the club had failed, The Mariners said on Friday. Last month, The Mariners said that they had made a contract proposal broken down into 'football' and 'commercial' terms. However, it hinged on a contribution from 'a third party.' Despite meetings with 'several promising potential partners' no deal could be reached, the club said. Mariners owner Mike Charlesworth thanked Bolt for his eight-week trial, describing it as a success. 'He integrated very well into the team and made great strides as a footballer,' Charlesworth said. The one and two hundred metre world record holder has described it as his 'dream' to play professional football. 'I would like to thank the Central Coast Mariners owners, management, staff, players and fans for making me feel so welcome during my time there,' he said on Friday. Bolt, who retired from athletics in 2017, has previously trained with Borussia Dortmund, South African club Mamelodi Sundowns and Norway's Stromsgodset.
A football club has appealed for help to discover more about two 'illegal' women's football matches held in 1935. Luton Town's historian found a photo, thought to be one of the events, as he looked through archives for a project. Little is known about the games and the club's Community Trust wants to hear from anyone with information. The Football Association had banned women from playing matches at affiliated clubs from 1921 until 1971, calling the sport 'quite unsuitable for females.' The photo is believed to have been taken in 1935, but it is not dated more precisely. The club believes it could be related to a newspaper cutting, also recently rediscovered, advertising two women's games at its Kenilworth Road ground in April 1935 - the Bazaar Cup Final between Woolworth and Marks & Spencer, and a 'Widows versus Spinsters' match. The club said that it wanted to 'uncover the stories behind these illegal ladies football matches.' Community Engagement Officer Natasha Rolt said: 'We're really hoping members of the public can help shed some light on what we think is a remarkable and fascinating story. We're hoping to find out the experiences of people who went to the game or played in it, about the circumstances of the match and the reaction from supporters and others in the town.' The Luton Town Community Trust has been looking through archives after a ninety nine thousand knicker Heritage Lottery Fund grant to 'deliver a project to local schools that explores the history of the football club.' It will also build 'a comprehensive website' of match reports, programmes and photographs for every competitive game played by The Hatters, alongside player biographies and supporter memories, the club said.
A scientist, researching at a remote Russian research station in Antarctica allegedly stabbed and injured a colleague following a breakdown after the latter kept on revealing endings of books he was reading. Sergey Savitsky, aged fifty five and his fifty two-year-old colleague Oleg Beloguzov passed the long hours at Bellingshausen station on King George Island in Antarctica by reading. A report from Russian news agency Interfax said last week that Savitsky was accused of stabbing Beloguzov in the chest with a knife at the base. Interfax reported that the incident 'likely happened because the pair spent four years in close proximity to each other' and Savitsky 'snapped.' It is believed Savitsky's alleged attack on the other man was because 'he was fed up with the man telling him the endings of books.' Beloguzov's heart was injured in the attack and he was admitted to the intensive care unit of a hospital - there's no confirmation of which one but, given that Antarctica isn't exactly overflowing with them, McMurdo General Hospital would seem to be the likely candidate - but his life is understood not to be in danger. The alleged attacker was deported to St Petersburg where he was immediately arrested and a criminal probe launched. It is believed to be the first time that a man has been charged with attempted murder in Antarctica. Alexander Klepikov, the deputy director of the Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute, told Russian television: 'They are both professional scientists who have been working in our expeditions, spending year-long seasons at the station. It is down to investigators to figure out what sparked the conflict, but both men are members of our team.'
A pensioner who made hundreds of abusive nine-nine-nine calls, including one demanding to be 'taken to the bingo,' has walked free from a Tyneside court. Lea Taylor, aged ninety, was convicted of making nuisance calls to the emergency services in July, when she received a two-year conditional discharge. However she was back in the dock last week and admitted making four hundred and twenty calls to the emergency service between 14 July and 30 August. The Wallsend pensioner was sentenced at North Tyneside Magistrates' Court on Friday, where she pleaded extremely guilty to a third malicious communications offence. The court heard that the latest offence involved nine phone calls. Lee Poppett, prosecuting, said: 'Mrs Taylor was abusive during the course of those telephone calls using foul and abusive language and not in fact reporting any emergency incident.' The court heard that between July and August, Taylor had been 'a great strain on resources' and had an ambulance sent to her house on four occasions. Taylor was taken to hospital once but the other three times, she did not need hospital treatment. During one call on 22 July, she rang saying 'I've done my dinner, I need someone to take me to bingo to keep me calm. Stop fucking messing around with me. I'm not going to sit in this house all day.' On 28 July she demanded an ambulance and said: 'I want them here now. Bring me a cup of tea and a pasty. Hurry up I'm starving.' In another call later the same day, she said: 'My pasty's fucking fell on the floor you stupid cunts, get the ambulance out now.' Poppett added: 'Trust staff are reportedly being abused, insulted and sworn at and this is causing distress. There is concern about the impact it's having on the staff.' Despite her repeated appearances before the court, it was revealed Taylor had continued to make abusive phone calls in the few days prior to being up a'fore The Beak. The court heard that Taylor had made seventy nine calls to the emergency services in the previous three days. Mark Harrison, defending, said: 'This is a lady who has reached her ninetieth birthday without a conviction or caution against her name. Then in the course of this calendar year she has found herself in a situation where her liberty could be at risk. It's a huge sadness that Mrs Taylor has found herself again appearing before the criminal courts. She has almost this compulsion to ring the emergency services. What she then says on the telephone to the emergency services is inexcusible. She doesn't wake up in the morning wondering who to abuse next. The plan is to occupy her time, the plan is to alleviate her loneliness, the plan is to put her in touch with others who can provide help and support.' Magistrates handed Taylor a twelve month community order and ordered her to pay eighty five knicker court costs and an additional eighty five quid victim surcharge. Chairman of the bench, Wyn Clayton said: 'There are people all over the area waiting for ambulance for an emergency and whilst the crews are tied up coming out when it is not an emergency, those people can become victims of yours. You must take this on board. You are interfering with other people in the North East's health care by making these calls. They must stop.'
Two men were stabbed during a fight between kitchen workers at Sony Music's headquarters in Central London. Firearms officers and paramedics were called to the building in Derry Street, Kensington on Friday. One member of Sony staff said that the catering workers had been 'running around chasing each other.' Both were later very arrested by police. The Met said that there was 'no evidence' of any firearms involved and it was not being treated as terror-related. In a statement, Sony said two members of the catering team had been 'involved in a violent altercation' and it was 'being investigated' by police. The member of staff, who did not want to be named when speaking to the media, said they had heard 'screaming and running and people slamming doors.' They added the two kitchen workers were 'slashing each other up.' They have both been held on suspicion of causing grievous bodily harm. People were evacuated from the building and roads nearby were closed 'as a precaution.' Neither of those stabbed suffered life-threatening injuries, Scotland Yard said.
At least nine people were injured when a thirty-year-old woman blew herself up in the centre of Tunisia's capital, Tunis, the interior ministry says. Describing the blast as 'a terrorist explosion,' the ministry said the woman had had no previous known militant background. Eight of those hurt in the explosion on Avenue Habib Bourguiba, which runs through the middle of the city, were police officers. No group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack. The incident comes at a time when the country's vital tourism industry is starting to show signs of recovery, more than three years after two deadly terror attacks decimated visitor numbers. The first, an attack on the capital's Bardo Museum in March 2015, left twenty two people dead. A few months later, in June, another thirty eight people were killed in a resort in Sousse. The explosion was two hundred metres from the French Embassy and on the same road as the interior ministry, local journalist Souhail Khmira told the BBC. He arrived at the scene fifteen minutes after the blast and says a cloud of black smoke was visible from far away. Tunisia has been under a state of emergency since 2015 when a suicide bomber killed twelve security agents on a bus for presidential guards, reports AFP news agency.
The lawyer representing a Christian woman who was acquitted of blasphemy after eight years on death row has reportedly fled Pakistan in fear for his life. Saif Mulook told the news agency AFP that he 'had to leave' so he could continue to represent Asia Bibi, whose conviction was overturned by judges on Wednesday. Officials have since agreed to bar Bibi from leaving Pakistan in order to end violent protests over the ruling. Campaigners criticised the deal as akin to 'signing her death warrant.' Bibi was convicted in 2010 of insulting the Prophet Muhammad during a row with neighbours and many are calling for the reinstatement of the death penalty following her acquittal. Mulook told the BBC earlier this week that Bibi would need to move to a Western country for her own safety. A number of attempts have previously been made on her life. Several countries have offered her asylum. Pakistani Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry defended the government against allegations that a deal reached with an Islamist party was 'capitulating to extremists.' He claimed that the government would 'take all steps necessary' to ensure Asia Bibi's safety. One or two people even believed him. Mulook, however, called the agreement 'painful. They cannot even implement an order of the country's highest court,' he told AFP before he boarded the plane to Europe. Mulook said that he had decided to leave the country as it was 'not possible' to continue living in Pakistan, adding: 'I need to stay alive as I still have to fight the legal battle for Asia Bibi.' He told Pakistan's Express Tribune that he would return to the country to defend his client - but needed the government to 'provide security.' The protests were led by the Tehreek-i-Labaik party. As part of its deal with the TLP, the government said that it would 'not oppose' petitions filed against the Supreme Court's verdict. All protesters arrested since Asia Bibi's acquittal will be released and any violence towards them will be investigated. The government will also start legal proceedings to put Bibi on a list which would ban her from leaving Pakistan. In return, the TLP is asking its supporters to stop the protests and disperse peacefully. The authorities earlier said that Bibi was scheduled for release from prison later this week. The trial stemmed from an argument Bibi had with a group of women in June 2009. They were harvesting fruit when a row broke out over a bucket of water. The women said that because Bibi had used a cup, they could no longer touch it, as her faith had 'made it unclean.' Prosecutors alleged that in the row which followed, the women said Asia Bibi should convert to Islam and that she made offensive comments about the Prophet Muhammad in response. She was later beaten at her home, during which her accusers say she 'confessed' to blasphemy. She was arrested after a police investigation. In Wednesday's ruling, the Supreme Court said that the case was 'based on flimsy evidence' and her 'confession' was 'delivered in front of a crowd threatening to kill her.' Islam is Pakistan's national religion and underpins its legal system. Public support for the strict blasphemy laws is strong. Hard-line politicians have often backed severe punishments, partly as a way of shoring up their support base. But critics say that the laws have often been used to gain revenge after personal disputes and that convictions are often based on thin evidence. The vast majority of those convicted are Muslims or members of the Ahmadi community, but since the 1990s, scores of Christians have been convicted. They make up just over one per cent of the population of Pakistan. The Christian community has been targeted by numerous attacks in recent years, leaving many feeling vulnerable to a climate of intolerance.
Britain's High Streets are getting unhealthier, according to a report analysing seventy major UK towns and cities. The Royal Society for Public Health ranked High Streets with more payday lenders, bookmakers, tanning salons and fast food outlets the worst. Grimsby led the unhealthy High Street list ahead of Walsall, Blackpool and Sunderland, while Edinburgh, Canterbury and Taunton had the healthiest outlets. There was a clear link between deprived areas and unhealthy High Streets. Outlets that were considered 'healthy' included leisure centres, health services, libraries, museums and art galleries. The report also considered pubs and bars as being a positive presence on the High Street because they are centres for social interaction. However, pubs are in decline and many people are using the UK's twenty two thousand coffee shops as places to socialise, eat and drink instead. The number of fast-food outlets on UK streets rose by four thousand between 2014 and 2017, mostly in deprived areas. The links between typically high-fat fast food, weight gain and obesity are well documented. Fast food outlets sometimes engage in what the RSPH report calls 'upselling'; where staff are trained to persuade customers to buy additional or larger portions. Payday lenders and bookmakers were considered unhealthy businesses because of the 'devastating consequences' debt can have on health as well as on family and work life, the report said. London's High Streets were not considered in the report, as they have been ranked separately. The report paints a picture of the rapidly changing British High Street dominated by cafes and coffee shops, convenience stores, off-licences, vape shops and boarded-up premises. Vape shops were counted as a 'healthier' business, because of their role in discouraging smoking. However, the report added the 'precise long-term effects of vaping are unknown.'
A 'foul-mouthed Gainsborough woman' who allegedly bit and spat at police when she was arrested has been jailed for a year after a hearing at Lincoln Crown Court. Rachel Arundale reportedly kicked and spat at officers and then, after being taken to hospital for a check-up following her arrest, she spat at a nurse and racially abused a police officer. Phil Howes, prosecuting, said that police were called to an address in Gainsborough after receiving reports of a woman trying to force her way into a house. Howes said: 'When they arrived the defendant approached the police car and complained that her jacket was in the garden of her ex-partner's house.' The prosecutor told the court that Arundale was told to go home but instead remained in the area and was subsequently arrested for breach of the peace. Arundale was taken to a police car but tried to get out and kicked PC Lyndsey Harrison in the chest. She then spat at a second officer and went to headbutt him. But missed. Howes said: 'The defendant bit PC Harrison’s middle and forefinger. She refused to let go and told the officer she hoped she had bitten the fingers off.' An officer then used his pava spray on Arundale and other officers arrived to 'give assistance' before Arundale was bundled into the back of a police van. Howes said: 'The defendant was driven back to Lincoln Police Station. During the journey she was continually kicking in the van. At West Parade she continued kicking and spitting everywhere. She was abusive to the custodians and kept kicking out. At one point she spat in the face of a police officer.' Arundale was later taken to Lincoln County Hospital where was verbally abusive to police and to hospital staff. Arundale swore at a nurse and spat at her and as a result the hospital staff refused to treat her. Arundale was handcuffed but was then racially abusive towards a police officer telling her 'You shouldn't even be in this country. Fuck off. Go back to Poland or Latvia or wherever else you've come from.' Afterwards Arundale was taken back to the police station where she was later interviewed and made admissions as well as apologising for her bad and naughty behaviour. Arundale admitted assault occasioning actual bodily harm, three charges of assaulting a police officer and a racially aggravated public order offence. She was jailed for fifty two weeks. Judge Simon Hirst told her: 'It has to be immediate custody. Nothing else will do.'
An English bulldog has been euthanased after reportedly biting off his - Scottish - owner’s testicles, which had, for some reason which is not entirely clear at this juncture, 'been coated in peanut butter.' The twenty two-year-old man, who has not been named, was found fully clothed and lying in a pool of blood in his Haddington, East Lothian, flat. He was rushed to hospital where he was put into an induced coma for several days. He eventually returned to consciousness and is said to have 'co-operated' with police. Authorities say that no one else had been in the apartment at the time of the attack. The dog, named Biggie after gangsta-rapper Biggie Smalls, was found covered in his owner's blood. And with a well-fed look on his mush. 'Inquiries are continuing to establish how a twenty two-year-old man sustained significant injury to his groin area,' a Scottish police spokesperson said. 'However, as part of this investigation the owner of the dog, which is believed to have been involved, has voluntarily signed documentation consenting to the destruction of the animal.' A neighbour told the Daily Record that Biggie was 'an absolute angel. Biggie is such a nice dog. He isn't aggressive or anything and he's quite small. He's fine with other dogs. I was happy to be around him. He gets a bit freaked out by noise but he loves having his belly rubbed.' Or, at least, he used to before he, you know, good the lethal injection. Neighbours reported hearing the bulldog barking at around 4am and again at 8am on the 7 October, the day of the incident. A loud party was, reportedly, heard coming from the address. However, The Times reports that police believe no others are believed to have been involved in the incident. Local media reports the man's genitalia were not able to be recovered for reattachment.
A woman has revealed the secret to earning almost one hundred thousand quid a year - 'by selling her smelly socks to foot fetishists.' Mind you, she 'revealed' this to the Metro so, you know, it is perhaps wise to take this story with a pinch of salt. Or, a splash of deodorant whichever is more appropriate. Roxy Sykes, 'realised she could break into the foot fetish industry after someone complemented her on the "beauty" of her feet,' according to the Metro reported Kate Buck. Whose parents, we are sure, are pure dead proud of their daughter's journalistic brilliance and likelihood to win a Pulitzer real soon. 'The property-investor decided to set up an Instagram page to see how true the interest in her feet was and after reaching over ten thousand followers in a month, decided to listen to her "fans"' writes Kate. 'Having been in the business for four years now, Roxy claims she can earn up to eight thousand pounds in a busy month.'
A ferret owner who reportedly punched her pet before throwing it on the ground has been banned from keeping animals for at least two years. Natalie Dendy was warned by a judge that this was her 'last chance' to avoid prison as she was sentenced for the attack. Dendy had denied causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal and being drunk and disorderly but was found very guilty by magistrates. The ferret, named Posh Spice, was said to have been thrown into the air by Dendy who repeatedly punched it. When the ferret tried to escape, she caught it and attacked it again. During the trial, Newcastle Magistrates' Court heard that a driver who was travelling along Armstrong Road in Benwell saw a woman at the side of the road with 'a furry object.' The animal squirmed away but the woman grabbed it and punched it again with a clenched fist. Police were called and PC Lewis Calboutin attended the scene. The officer told the court: 'I was asked to attend in relation to an intoxicated female who may have a pet that she was treating badly. I saw a female sitting on the grass verge on the side of Armstrong Road. She immediately appeared to me to be intoxicated. She had a pet ferret - called Posh Spice. It was lying in the sun and it appeared dehydrated. It was hot, it was panting and seemed lethargic.' Dendy was taken home in the police vehicle but, as they reached her address she vomited in the van. 'We asked her to step out of the vehicle,' said PC Calboutin. 'She started shouting and swearing at me and my colleague. She then dropped her ferret from a standard height to the floor.' Laura Croft, prosecuting, said: 'She was arrested for being drunk and disorderly. It was at the police station where she assaulted Sergeant Nicholson. He describes her as making threats and described this as a deliberate attack.' Nicholson was hit on his right forearm and Dendy was ordered to pay him fifty smackers compensation. Croft added that the ferret was 'currently being cared for' after being placed in an animal shelter. Dendy admitted the assault on a police officer and also pleaded guilty to failing to surrender to court bail for an earlier hearing. She was also given a twelve month community order to work with probation on her drug and alcohol issues and ordered to pay two hundred and fifty quid costs and a fifty knicker fine. North Tyneside Magistrates' Court heard that Dendy had kept ferrets for a number of years but after Posh Spice was removed she 'no longer had any pets.'
A woman has been jailed after she bit off her friend's ear in 'a savage takeaway shop brawl.' Victoria Burgess was caught on film attacking her friend, Jenna Edwards, before pulling part of her victim's ear out of her mouth. The mobile phone footage showed Burgess kneeling over her friend while aiming punches at her head. She then leaned over and sank her teeth into the ear. Burgess was filmed holding on to Edwards' ear for twelve seconds as the victim is heard repeatedly shouting 'Get off me, Victoria.' Onlookers told Burgess 'don't bite her' before she released her grip and pulled the torn part of the ear out of her mouth. Edwards was then seen telling the takeaway shop's employees to 'call the police' as blood began pouring from her wound. The attack happened in Newport city centre on 6 April this year at Yummies Kebab House. Burgess, a former employee of the city's South Wales Argus newspaper, pleaded very guilty to wounding with intent before she was sentenced at Newport Crown Court. Judge Daniel Williams sentenced her to four-and-a-half years in the nick.
A Brooklyn detective who claims his sergeant shoved a pair of her panties into his mouth hasn't been back to work since the 7 October incident and alleges that he is now an outcast. 'I'm the pariah of the precinct and the NYPD,' Victor Falcon told the New York Post. 'My career is over. Nobody will ever take me seriously. I'm known as the panty-eater. To do my job is impossible,' he said. He blames department officials and internal investigators for initially ignoring his complaint and then leaking embarrassing details to the press, according to a new federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaint he filed 24 October. 'The Department allowed me to be humiliated and that's what I intend on proving in court,' he said. Falcon, assigned to the Seventy Second Precinct detective squad in Sunset Park for five years, claimed that he was subjected to abuse 'on almost a daily basis' by Sergeant Ann Marie Guerra. The complaint, which names the city, the NYPD and the Detectives' Endowment Association union, alleges discrimination based on sex and/or gender, assault and battery, sexual harassment, hostile work environment and ongoing retaliation. Last month, Falcon said he mentioned to colleagues that a man in one of his cases had asked him out on a date, prompting Guerra to quip, 'There's nothing wrong with taking it in the ass, because my husband does.' Later 'the running joke was I should sleep with him for bagels,' Falcon said. In 2017, Falcon said he was telling co-workers that he had started dating someone when Guerra said, 'If she doesn't call you back it's because you've got a little dick!' Guerra has not commented on the allegations, but the sergeants union and her husband, Joe, have defended her. 'My poor wife comes home and cries at night,' the husband said. Falcon allegedly complained to a lieutenant and captain about Guerra's 'sexually inappropriate comments' but instead of Guerra being disciplined, she and Sergeant Johnny Wong targeted Falcon for 'retaliation,' he has claimed. They allegedly refused his requests for shift changes so that he could make court custody hearings about his autistic daughter, refused to authorise his overtime and refused his request to transfer. Falcon filed a complaint on 10 October with the NYPD's internal Equal Employment Opportunity office, but officials did not called him in for an interview and 'closed the file' within fifteen hours, the new complaint alleges. It was only after the 'panty-gate' incident made headlines twelve days later that the office bothered to investigate, the document says. Meanwhile, a raunchy photo of Falcon - dressed as a flasher exposing a prop penis at a department Halloween party, flanked by Guerra - was leaked, Falcon believes, in 'an attempt to publicly shame and discredit' him. Falcon told the Post that the costume was a reference to the 'little dick' joke and 'an attempt to defuse the tension' in the office. It was 'a poor choice and I don't deny that,' he said. The 7 October panty raid happened inside the squadroom as Falcon and Guerra talked with DEA union rep Detective Donna Marie Mazza and Detective Ioannis Kyrkos. 'We were basically shooting the breeze and the conversation turned to hygiene,' Falcon said. He told Guerra, 'You got panties in the locker room and panties in the shower.' She then walked into the bathroom and angrily grabbed a 'dark and lacy thong,' he said. 'I was talking and she put it in my face and started rubbing it in my mouth,' Falcon claimed. 'I was a deer in the headlights. I kept hearing her say, "They're fucking clean."' Falcon, who started at the precinct as a uniformed patrolman in 2005 before his 2013 promotion to detective, said that he used to get along with his fellow officers. But, those colleagues have now turned on him. 'According to the culture, you don't rat,' he said.
An actor who appeared on Better Call Saul and Longmire has admitted that he cut off own arm to pose as war veteran. Todd Latourette told the FOX News affiliate KOB4 that he cut off and cauterised his right arm roughly seventeen years ago whilst he was 'off his medications.' Which presumably meant that it hurt, quite a bit, when he did so. He said that he then 'lied' about his injury over a decade later, saying it was incurred on the field of combat, in order to get an acting role, for which he is now apologising. 'I severed my hand with a Skil saw,' he told the news outlet. 'The state of my mind was a psychotic episode.' Latourette was later cast in various acting roles in part because of the severed limb and his - false - story about being a war veteran. Most recently, he appeared in an episode of AMC's Better Call Saul. Latourette is, the story claims, 'back on his medication' and says that living with the lie has been 'difficult,' which is why he 'chose to come forward and admit to it now,' despite the fact that it will likely hinder his future acting career. 'I was dishonourable. I'm killing my career by doing this, if anyone thinks this was for personal edification, that's not the case,' says Latourette. 'I'm ousting myself from the New Mexico Film Industry. And gladly so, just to say what I've said.' Latourette, however, notes that he is 'not looking to be redeemed' for what he has done but, instead, hopes that his story will 'help those who may be struggling with mental illness understand the gravity of taking their medication.'
Tony Perkins, president of the anti-gay religious lobbying group The Family Research Council, had his home destroyed by the massive flooding ravaging Southern Louisiana this week. Which is, obviously, very sad for Perkins and his family. The destruction of Perkins' house is not without some irony, however, considering that he has claimed in the past that natural disasters such as floods and hurricanes are 'God's way of punishing an increasingly gay-friendly world.' Calling into his own radio show, Perkins described the flood as being 'of biblical proportions,' adding that he and his family will 'have to live in a camper for six months' until the damage is repaired. But, Perkins was careful to point out that this particular flood wasn't because of the gays, but rather 'an incredible, encouraging spiritual exercise to take you to the next level in your walk with an almighty and gracious God who does all things well.' Although, quite how he knows this, he did not reveal to listeners. The floods in Louisiana have so far killed eleven people and destroyed over forty thousand homes.
A woman who killed her lover after smacking him over the head with a bottle of whiskey she bought for his birthday has been jailed for more than seven years. Alexis Cook attacked James McGrogan in his Coatbridge flat on the day he turned fifty four in March this year. The assault came just hours after the butcher was reunited with a son he had not seen for a decade. Cook, who had been due to stand trial for murder, last month admitted the reduced charge of culpable homicide. The High Court in Glasgow heard she confessed: 'I hit him with a Jim Beam bottle. I think I gave him a bad one this time.' Lord Mulholland sentenced her to seven years and three months in The Big House. The judge said that Cook had attacked James and added: 'You did not summon help and left him to his fate. His fate was his death. He was much loved by his family and is dearly missed. His death has had a profound effect on them.' Cook showed no emotion as she was lead handcuffed to the cells. The couple had been dating for around two years and the court heard McGrogan had been celebrating his birthday with Cook and his mother. The father then went to a local shop and it was there he met his son, who he had not seen for a decade. Prosecutor David Taylor said: 'James returned to his flat and was noted to be in a happy and emotional state following this reconciliation.' But when the couple were alone they had 'a blazing row.' A neighbour noticed 'sounds of a commotion' which appeared to stop about 20:15. It was around this time that Cook texted her sister claiming: 'Answer your phone. I'm in big trouble.' The killer then went to a nearby flat wearing blood stained pyjamas. She confessed to people there: 'I hit him with a Jim Beam bottle. I hit him twice. I'd bought a bottle of it for him for his birthday.' Cook went on: 'I think I gave him a bad one this time. I left him lying in the hall. He'll be alright. I threw a cover over him.' It was Cook herself who later dialled nine-nine-nine. James was discovered by police lying under a duvet in the hall. He was found to have 'significant head trauma= with a large amount of broken glass in the flat. Cook told officers she had hit James, but denied 'using anything.' She also claimed that her boyfriend had bit her on the bottom and insisted McGrogan had been alive when she left him.The victim was later found to have injuries 'consistent' with smashed or broken glass. Donald Findlay QC, defending, said Cook 'profoundly regrets' what happened.
A vegan woman in Italy has been fined over one thousand Euros after threatening to stab her mother for making a traditional meat sauce in her presence. Italian newspaper Gazzetta di Modena reported this week that the forty eight-year-old woman - who is, obviously, not mental - has been ordered by local courts to pay a court fine and a further payment to her mother for physically threatening her with a kitchen knife, after the sexagenarian cooked a Bolognese sauce in their newly-shared home. According to the Torygraph, the 'newly unemployed' daughter had recently moved back into her mother's apartment, where she often cooked in the rezdore tradition of chefs in the Emilia Romagna dialect. Lawyers further told the Gazzetta di Modena that there had been 'an escalation of aggressive episodes, always over food,' before 'things nearly took a turn for the fatal.' Furious with the smell of meat sauce simmering on the stove one day in March 2016, the daughter reportedly grabbed a knife and made a grave threat. The identities of the mother and daughter were not disclosed.
And finally, dear blog reader, it has been a record-breaking week for us here at From The North, particularly on Thursday when this blog had over five thousand three hundred individual page hits. Keith Telly Topping hopes that every single one of them found what they were looking for.