Monday, May 13, 2019

Sixth Form Barristers, Keyboard Warriors

'I'm worried for all of us. They say every time a Targaryen is born the Gods toss a coin and the world holds its breath.' The second-to-last episode of yer actual Game Of Thrones - The Bells - kept many in the UK away from their beds into the early hours of Monday morning, dear blog reader. With the burning and the screaming and the stabbing and the crazed death-on-an-effing-'uge-scale horror. A fraction shy of eighty minutes of blood and snots, fire and Hellish war-crimes the like of which even this series - which has had more than its fair share of such malarkey across seventy one previous episodes - had never seen before. It was quite a sight, frankly.
Random (extremely spoilerised) reviews - of varying degrees of interest, articulation, eloquence and rage - can be consumed at the following: The Torygraph, the Gruniad, the Los Angeles Times, Vox, IGN, Forbes, The Atlantic, Cnet, the Washington Post, The AV Club website, Stuff, the New York Post, Vanity Fair, Entertainment Focus, the Daily Scum Mail, the Radio Times, the Daily Scum Express, Vulture, the Deccan Chronicle, the Apocalypse website, the NME, Rolling Stain, the Sun, Polygon, the Den Of Geek! website, the Digital Spy website, JOE, Esquire and the Scroll In website. And, probably lots of other places as well. Just go to Google and type in the word 'burning' and you'll probably find at least twenty thousand.
Of course, as you'd expect in today's unattractively numbskull-like attention-span-of-seven-seconds world, not everyone enjoyed it; as the barely literate scribblings of some whinging fek of no importance at the Independent exemplifies. Unsurprisingly, the Daily Scum ExpressBuzzfeed and the Lad Bible website all happily joined in with this nonsense and scoured the detritus of Twitter to find some further whinging. And, of course, they found plenty. Because, a day wouldn't have a 'y' in it if someone didn't have something to whinge about on Twitter, would it? Twitter being, of course, now The Sole Arbiter Of The Worth Of All Things. The Gruniad Morning Star says so, dear blog reader, so it must be true.
To be brutally frank, dear blog reader, there is only but one way to respond to such abject and churlish tripe. Only one word to say to shut such crap up. Dracarys.
The episode also saw a - quite stunning - cameo appearance by yer actual Keith Telly Topping's old mucker Jon Arnold. Jonny turned up just to the right of Laura Elphinstone during one of the sequences where the citizens of King's Landing were fleeing from being, you know, burned to a crisp. If you're wondering, however, this blogger can confirm that Jonny did, indeed, survive The King's Landing Massacre and will be at the EMMYs next year to pick up his expected, and entirely deserved, award (for 'Best Fleeing Extra In A Popular Adult Fantasy Drama'). The only problem with this is that, of course, now it's going to be absolutely impossible to watch that particular sequence without seeing and focusing on Jon. It's a bit like when you find out exactly where the edit between the two different versions of 'Strawberry Fields Forever' is, you can't ever not hear it again!
Westeros, dear blog reader, is a faux-medieval fantasy world of magic, dragons and heroic warriors and, seemingly, at least one coffee shop. Fans of Game Of Thrones allegedly 'reacted with bemusement and anger' after a coffee cup from present-day Earth made an erroneous appearance in last Sunday's third-to-last episodes of the popular adult fantasy drama. At least, that's according to some wipe of no importance at the Gruniad Morning Star where this sort of utterly trivial shite constitutes 'news', apparently. The 'offending item' was spotted on a table during a celebratory feast at Winterfell castle after the 'Long Night' apocalypse.
Those among the show's legion of fans who spotted this - and, who had access to Twitter - were quick to sneer and attempt to demonstrate their own cleverness, with 'a general consensus' soon forming that the cup, which appeared in the episode The Last Of The Starks, was probably from Starbucks. No shit? 'The latte that appeared in the episode was a mistake,' HBO said in a rather brilliantly self-deprecating statement. 'Daenerys had ordered an herbal tea!' That quality bit of comedy, broadly speaking, shut the majority of the Interweb whingers right-up. This - wholly media-faked - 'outrage' over the coffee cup echoes a similar over-the-top reaction to a viral photo from 2017, apparently showing a pick-up truck in the snow-laden distance of one Game Of Thrones scene. It was subsequently discovered the image had actually come from a behind-the-scenes featurette and not from an episode.
After that, of course, the coffee cup - not unexpectedly - took on a media profile all of its own, particularly when the news came that HBO intend to digitally edit the cup out of all future broadcasts of the episode in question.
It was impossible to keep the cup out of the news this week. Liam Cunningham, when appearing on Conan O'Brien's chat show, was accompanied by the cup. And, this piece on the Fansided website had, by far, the funniest take on the cup and its many and various doings.
Meanwhile, according to one chap, everyone who has been watching Game Of Thrones for the last eight years is going straight to Hell. Which is good to know in advance, this blogger is sure you'll agree. Of course, according to Matthew 7:1, so is anyone who judges (lest they, themselves, be judged). And, so is anyone wearing a polyester and cotton shirt since, according to Leviticus 19:19, wearing a garment woven from two different clothes is an abomination, thereunto, punishable (one presumes) by being stoned. And, not in a good way. (Though, you might get away with it on a technicality since John 8:7 imposes major conditions upon who can actually do the stoning.) So, at least those us of an agnostic persuasion who are already going to Hell - for, you know, the fun stuff - will, it seems, have lots of company from Christians themselves down there in The Bottomless Pit. Along with all the atheists, obviously. That's a given.
And, remember dear blog reader, here is a really staggering thought for all of you to drop into your collective toaster and see if it, collectively, pops up brown ...
'What do you want from me, Eve? Do you want me to love you or do you want me to frighten you?' 'I don't know.' As previously noted, dear blog reader, this blogger does not intend to review any episodes of the second series of From The North favourite Killing Eve - currently showing in the US - until the episodes become available in Britain (at a date still to be announced but, hopefully, not too far away now) for fear of spoilerising anyone that wishes not to be spoilerised. However, if - and only if - you aren't all that bothered about any such spoilerisationism shenanigans then, spoilerising-type reviews of series two, episode six - I Hope You Like It Missionary! - are available to spoilerise your bitch up. At, for example, the MEAWW website, Rolling Stain, W, the Den Of Geek! website, Entertainment Weekly and The Ringer.
There is also a fascinating - and very funny - interview with Killing Eve's Fiona Shaw carried out by Town & Country's Chloe Foussianes which you can find here. Though, perhaps inevitably, that also contains some - extremely minor - spoilerisationisms for series two. You have been warned.
Still - sort of - on the subject of Killing Eve, dear blog reader, do you ever have one of those moments where you get a song stuck in your head and the bugger simply will not shift for love or money? It occurred a couple of weeks ago to this blogger as he was watching one of the preview discs of Killing Eve series two which he gets sent over to Stately Telly Topping Manor from the US. Once again, it is very important to stress that the following does not contain any substantive spoilers. However, one particular scene, in one particular episode contained, as its soundtrack, a version of 'A Windmill In Old Amsterdam'. Where? this blogger hears you all ask, dear blog reader. There on the stair. Anyway, what was really annoying about this was not the song in and of itself - this blogger quite likes that in a kind of 'cheesy childhood memories' way. No, rather it was that the version used in the episode was not the original 1965 English language hit by Ronnie Hilton which will be immediately familiar to most dear blog readers. Nor, indeed, was it the - equally famous in Europe at least - Dutch language translation, 'Een Muis In Een Molen In Mooi Amsterdam' by Rudi Carrell. Rather, this was a - somewhat obscure - 1976 cover-of-a-cover (of a translation) of 'Een Muis In Een Molen In Mooi Amsterdam' by one André Van Duin featuring Kinderkoor De Spettertjes. No, me neither. Let it be noted, that it took this blogger sodding ages to discover all this. But, the most spectacularly annoying thing about the whole fiasco is that particular version of that fekking song is now thoroughly wedged in this blogger's brain, taking up space that should be used for, you know, important stuff. Like passwords. And the titles of all of the 1960s episodes of Doctor Who, in order. Therefore, dear blog reader, Keith Telly Topping feels it is only right and fair that you should all click on the link above and get, similarly, 'clip-clipperty-clopped' in the head. You need to share Keith Telly Topping's pain, he feels. It's The Law.
From The North favourite Killing Eve was the big winner at the BAFTA TV Awards on Sunday evening at the Royal Albert Hall; it won three awards - best drama series, best actress for Jodie Comer and supporting actress for Fiona Shaw. Yer actual Benedict Cumberbatch won best actor award for his Sky Atlantic drama Patrick Melrose, which was also named best mini-series. Ant and/or Dec's Britain's Got Toilets and I'm A Z-List Former Celebrity Desperate To Get My Boat-Race Back On TV ... Please Vote For Me To Stay Here As Long As Possible (I'll Even Eat Worms If You Want) both won awards however Ant and/or Dec themselves lost out for the best entertainment performance award to Lee Mack, who won for his appearances on From The North favourite Would I Lie To You? Other winners included: Ben Whishaw, best supporting actor for A Very English Scandal; Steve Pemberton, best male performance in a comedy programme for BBC2's Inside Number Nine; Jessica Hynes, best female performance in a comedy programme for BBC4's There She Goes; Louis Theroux's Altered States, best factual programmes; Who Do You Think You Are?, best feature; BBC3's Killed By My Debt, best single drama; EastEnders, best soap and/or continuing drama; Suffragettes With Lucy Worsley, best specialist feature and Bodyguard, 'must-see moment' (the assassination of Julia Montague). In total, the BBC won a whopping sixteen of the twenty five awards given, including recognition for BBC1's coverage of The Royal British Legion Festival Of Remembrance and England's World Cup Quarter Final match against Sweden. Sky won five awards, ITV won two and Channel Four also won two. Channel Five won nowt. Not a sausage. Bugger all. A full list of the winners and nominees can be found here. Cumberbatch plays a man grappling with the ghost of his abusive father in Patrick Melrose, adapted from novels by Edward St Aubyn. Benny said: 'It was extraordinary, it was a proper experience, one I will take with me for the rest of my life.' The supporting actress award was the first BAFTA of Fiona Shaw's distinguished career and she said that playing MI6 spymaster Carolyn Martens in Killing Eve had been 'probably the greatest pleasure of my life.' She dedicated the award to writer Phoebe Waller-Bridge and her 'glass-shattering genius and wayward imagination.' Speaking on the red carpet, Comer said that it had been 'incredible' to play the role of Villanelle. 'I knew was special from the moment I read it [the script], but you can never anticipate how it will go down with an audience. It's been overwhelming but also very exciting.' As usual, the recipients of the night's lifetime achievement prizes were announced in advance of the ceremony. Journalist and broadcaster Dame Joan Bakewell was honoured with The BAFTA Television Fellowship. Happy Valley and Queer As Folk producer Nicola Shindler was presented with a special award in recognition of her significant contribution to the television industry. The BAFTA Craft Awards - which recognise behind-the-scenes talent like writers and sound editors - took place last month, with A Very English Scandal scoring a number of awards.
More than nine million punters tuned into the final episode of Line Of Duty on Sunday, giving it the largest overnight audience of 2019 so far. The tense conclusion to the popular BBC1 crime drama's fifth series attracted an average overnight audience of 9.1 million. Charlotte Moore, the BBC's director of content, said it was 'fantastic to see such a big audience' for the show. Critics described the episode was 'breathtaking' and 'deeply satisfying.' As, indeed, did this blogger. Although some whinging malcontents expressed 'reservations; about the series as a whole, claiming that it has been 'lacklustre' and the 'weakest' to date in that sort of sour-faced sneering that exists on the fringes of many fandoms; the 'oh, it's not as good as it used to be when only me and four of my mates, liked it' syndrome, if you will. The BBC has already - and, wholly unexpectedly - commissioned a sixth series from writer Jed Mercurio. Line Of Duty's figures are the highest for a TV drama in the UK since last year's Bodyguard finale (also written by Mercurio), which drew an overnight audience of 10.4 million last September and a final and consolidated audience of 17.6 million. ITV's royal drama Victoria, which went out at the same time as Line Of Duty on Sunday, attracted an average audience of but 2.5 million. Viewers on Sunday saw Ted Hastings (the very excellent Adrian Dunbar), head of anti-corruption unit AC-12, interrogated at length by his superior Patricia Carmichael (Anna Maxwell Martin). The result, said the Torygraph's Allison Pearson, was 'an extraordinarily tense scene, a remarkable piece of theatre and one of the best things anyone will see this year on a TV screen.' The Times' Carol Midgley said the scene was 'forensically written and beautifully executed,' while That Awful Moir Woman from the Daily Scum Mail called it 'beautifully scripted.' Yes, dear blog reader, someone from the Daily Scum Mail said something nice about the BBC. Truly, we are living in the End Of Days. That Awful Moir Woman also praised a 'killer twist' at the conclusion of a 'nerve-shredding episode' which kept audiences 'guessing right until almost the end.' 'The latest twist was a classic Line Of Duty curveball,' wrote the Mirra's Ian Hyland - albeit one that 'stretched credibility to breaking point.' The Gruniad Morning Star's Lucy Mangan said that it was 'as deeply satisfying as any in AC-12's history' but also whinged that the series as a whole had 'felt like a placeholder season.' 'The twists are getting dafter but Line Of Duty remains crazily compelling,' wrote Mike Ward in the Daily Scum Express. The Independent's Ed Power, meanwhile, whinged that the 'exceedingly talky' episode 'wrap[ped] up most of its loose ends ... with excessive leisureliness.' Whinge, whinge, whinge feking whinge. The British Transport Police, meanwhile, got in on the action, insisting that its recruitment processes were 'much better' than the ones depicted in the show. The credits for the eighty five-minute episode ended with a tribute to Graeme Livingstone, a crew member who died in a motorcycle accident in 2017. The first episode of this series of Line Of Duty drew an overnight audience of 7.8 million viewers when it was broadcast at the end of March. That figure rose to a consolidated audience of almost eleven million once the number of people who watched the show on recording devices or video on demand services was taken into account.
'I think I've always known that Gill was a bad 'un, on some level,' Line Of Duty's Polly Walker revealed on ITV's This Morning. 'But I didn’t know to what extent.' In the feature-length series five finale, Walker's character, senior legal counsel Gill Biggeloe was suddenly - and dramatically (although, not entirely unexpectedly) - exposed as one of the four 'H's pulling the corrupt strings within the police. AC-12 dream team Kate Fleming (Vicky McClure) and Steve Arnott (Martin Compston) had connected the dots and uncovered her overly-cunning plan to bring down anti-corruption boss Hastings by framing him as ultimate top dog 'H' and using the OCG to implicate him for murder. Gill turned out to be quite the villain - but until the final two episodes, the actress who played her was was kept completely in the dark by Jed Mercurio. 'I knew two episodes before, what was happening,' Walker said. 'I knew she was up to no good, but I didn't know to what extent she was a snake.' That didn't stop Walker from trying to guess what Mercurio was going to do with Gill. The actress explained: 'There had to be a point to her, there had to be reason why she was constantly after Ted. And it never got fulfilled, it was never realised, they never had this affair. But I think people just thought I was a man-eater, some sort of desperate career crazy madwoman.' Biggeloe survived the series and was given a new identity at the end of the episode, heading off to live in witness protection at an undisclosed location (although, as Irish fans spotted, it looks like she's living on the Seacourt estate in Larne). So could she make a return in series six? 'I think anything's up for grabs. I don't think anybody knows apart from the puppet master, Jed Mercurio. Who knows,' Walker said. 'I think Gill being Gill, my theory, is that she's such a survivor - she won't be playing sudoku in her sitting room for too long. I think she'll be looking for ways to survive and get on.' The actress also revealed that she hadn't watched a single episode of series five. 'I kind of went into denial mode. It was as if it wasn't happening,' she said. 'I didn't watch any of it.'
There's a terrific interview with Adrian Dunbar by the Radio Times' Ginny Dougray which you can read here. In which, he reveals that he would love to do a sitcom with Hastings' Line Of Duty nemesis Anna Maxwell Martin. 'Mercurio originally intended Hastings to be a shambolic genius, in the Columbo mould, whom everyone underestimates,' Dougray writes, But adds that in the audition process, this changed. 'That's a very attractive type of character, absolutely, but we all came to the decision that it would be useful if the character was from outside the police system, making him a Catholic in the RUC so he was an outsider within an organisation,' Adrian said. This also meant Dunbar could keep his own accent. 'I come from that generation where we really love the likes of Bill Paterson and Pete Postlethwaite and Alun Armstrong - all working-class guys who kept their accent. So I think where you can keep your accent you should, for greater authenticity,' he added. 'But I did The Hollow Crown [as Plantagenet], for instance and that was definitely not my own accent!'
Many dear blog readers who actually bother to read ends credits will already know this but, just in case you didn't the Line Of Duty finale (along with the previous week's episode) was directed by the great Susan Tully. Yes, the former Grange Hill and EastEnders actress. In the late 1990s, Susan began concentrating on directing for television (usually credited as Sue Tully). Shows of which she has directed episodes of include EastEnders itself, The Story Of Tracy Beaker, London's Burning, Fifty Five Degrees North, The Bill, The Secret Diary Of A Call Girl, Lark Rise To Candleford, Silent Witness, Getting On, Puppy Love, The A Word, Britannia and Tin Star.
'After thirteen of pointless, meandering episodes of character-driven schlock, finally, we get to the show that everybody wanted to see in the first place! A superhero show.' The long-awaited Flex Mentallo episode of From The North's current favourite TV drama on the planet, Doom Patrol arrived over the weekend. And lo, dear blog reader, Flex Patrol was beautiful. Funny, touching, self-deprecating, fourth-wall smashing and featuring a guest appearance by the great Ed Asner.
Reviews - full of spoilerisation, obviously - can get diligently consumed here, here, here, here and here.
Meanwhile, judging by the final scene of this episode (and, the trailer for the next), Mister Nobody will be getting an overdue origin-story in Penultimate Patrol. 'And the pants of the vicar are closing, rataplan, rataplan!'
Doctor Who is reportedly 'planning a Christmas special' for this year after previously confirming that the show would not return until early 2020. Albeit, it's reportedly planning to do so according to a source about as trustworthy as 'a bloke in the pub.' Jodie Whittaker's time-lady and her companions - Graham, Ryan and Yas - were last seen saving the world from The Daleks on New Year's Day. That episode, Resolution, ended with confirmation by the BBC that the series would return 'in early 2020.' However, that always reliable bastion of truthful and accurate reportage the Daily Lies are now claiming that the production 'may have backtracked' and will 'bring something out across the festive period' this year. The Daily Lies, of course, have an almost unblemished record when it comes to reporting stuff related to Doctor Who that, subsequently, turns out to be one thousand per cent accurate. The upcoming series will be the second featuring Jodie's Doctor (you knew that, right?) It has also been confirmed that Bradley Walsh, Tosin Cole and Mandip Gill will also be back to join her in the TARDIS. 'I really can't wait to step back in and get to work again. It's such an incredible role. It's been an extraordinary journey so far and I'm not quite ready to hand it over yet,' Jodie said on her return.
The second series of BBC1's medical thriller Trust Me featured a new cast and premise but it seems that wasn't always the plan. In an interview with Radio Times, series creator Dan Sefton revealed that he had originally mapped out a second series following Jodie Whittaker's impostor medic until he discovered that his leading actor would be somewhat busy saving the universe as The Doctor. Asked when he found out about Whittaker's Doctor Who casting - which was unveiled after the 2017 Wimbledon final - Sefton said: 'The same time as everybody else. I remember exactly where I was because it was the match at Wimbledon, wasn’t it? I was watching the announcement - I remember when she walked out of the TARDIS and I was like, "it's fucking her, Jesus!"' Actually, it wasn't Jesus, it was Jodie Whittaker (and, she didn't walk out of the TARDIS either, she walked towards it. So, what Defton was actually watching is anyone's guess). 'I texted Nicola [Shindler, of Red Production Company], like, "Did you know?" I didn't know. I was kind of numb. It was like, "Oh. Now what happens?" But you know, good luck to her.' Sefton also revealed that he had planned to pitch a second series of Trust Me, with Whittaker as Cath Hardacre. 'Obviously you plan it, even when you're in the middle of writing your first one,' he said. 'You always have to plan what could happen, so with Nicola Shindler and I, we;d thought about it and we were ready to go with a pitch about how it could continue. And then, of course, when Jodie was [on] Doctor Who we realised there was no way she'd be available. So, then it was, like, what else could we do? And then actually out of those problems come opportunities. We went back to the BBC and to Gaynor [Holmes, the Head of Drama for BBC Scotland] and said, "Look we've got an idea for a completely different story, but the same kind of style and psychological" - and we pitched her this idea and she said, "That sounds great," so we worked it up and then luckily the BBC said, "Yeah, let’s do that." So it was a shame on one hand, because Jodie was fantastic, we could have done some more potentially, but that's the way that we were.' Instead the new series of Trust Me starred Alfred Enoch as Corporal Jamie McCain, a temporarily paralysed soldier recovering from a spinal injury, who starts to investigate a string of mysterious deaths on the ward of his Glasgow hospital.
Having whinged at some considerable length about the BBC's utterly bizarre scheduling for the latest series of Qi on several previous occasions on this blog, how good it is to have previously unbroadcast episodes of Qi XL back on BBC2 for the first time in months, dear blog reader. Highlights of the latest episode - Phenomena - came in a round about 'odd' records which were set during last year's London marathon. Sandi mentioned the - impressive - achievement of one Nicola Nuttell (from Pendle, in Lancashire) who set a world record for the fastest marathon run by someone dressed as a witch; Nicola finished five minutes quicker than the previous year when the record she set then was annulled as her skirt was deemed to be 'too short.' Tragically, the panel resisted the (one imagines overwhelming) urge to crack a 'Pendle Witch Trials' joke at that point. Arguably, however, Josh Widdecombe's response was even better: 'You know what would've been brilliant? If she'd turned up at the start-line and Mo Farah was there dressed as a witch!'
Sam Claflin has admitted he was ordered to 'calm down' after he met Cillian Murphy on the latest series of From The North favourite Peaky Blinders. The Hunger Games actor has joined the cast of the forthcoming fifth series of the popular Birmingham-based BBC drama in which he will play real-life fascist knobcheese Baronet Oswald Ernald Mosley. Claflin has revealed that he is a massive fan of his Irish co-star - and even admitted to 'fangirling' over the actor. He told The A List: 'I'm the biggest fanboy. Genuinely when I got to set and heard Cillian start talking as Tommy Shelby I started fangirling a little bit. The director had to go "Sam, bring it down."' On the subject of spoilers, he added: 'I don't want to ruin it for people. I've told my wife but I've managed to keep a lot a secret.' The acclaimed BAFTA award-winning drama has previously announced its move to BBC1 from BBC2. Claflin joins Anya Taylor-Joy, Brian Gleeson, Neil Maskell, Kate Dickie, Cosmo Jarvis, Emmett J Scanlan, Elliot Cowan, Charlene McKenna, Andrew Koji and Daryl McCormack as new members of the, already huge, ensemble cast. Claflin said: 'From Steven Knight's writing to the consistently brilliant production, I couldn't feel more privileged to be invited to join this iconic show.' Also returning to the series are regulars Helen McCrory, Paul Anderson, Sophie Rundle, Finn Cole, Kate Phillips, Natasha O'Keefe, Aidan Gillen, Jack Rowan, Charlie Murphy, Kingsley Ben-Adir, Harry Kirton, Packy Lee, Ned Dennehy, Ian Peck and Benjamin Zephaniah. There is no mention of whether fan favourite Tom Hardy will be reprising his role as Alfie Solomons, who was last seen in a shoot-out with Tommy at the end of series four. Unless he's coming back as a ghost, obviously.
BBC Studios has struck a deal with India's Applause Entertainment, the drama series production subsidiary of Aditya Birla Group, for an Indian-language remake of award-winning crime drama Luther. The deal was announced on the first day of the Asia Pay-TV Operators Summit in Bali. The UK production of Luther, starring Idris Elba, is one of BBC Studios' top exports, selling to more than two hundred and thirty territories. The Indian version, which is yet to be titled, would be the second in Asia following an award-winning South Korean version, Less Than Evil. Prior to their collaboration on Luther, BBC Studios and Applause have worked together on Indian versions of The Office and Criminal Justice. 'We at Applause are always on the lookout for premium dramas we can produce for Indian viewers and are proud to once again partner BBC Studios on Luther,' said Sameer Nair, CEO of Applause Entertainment.
Friday night's episode of Have I Got News For You was postponed by the BBC as it, allegedly, 'risked falling foul of its pre-European election rules.' The pre-recorded episode featured Change UK acting leader MP Heidi Allen. But the BBC said that it was 'inappropriate to feature political party leaders' in an erection period as it did not allow for 'equal representation' of views. Hat Trick Productions, which makes the popular topical news satire panel show, said that it had 'tried everything' to get the BBC to broadcast the episode. It added that it was told of the decision 'late this [Friday] afternoon.' An episode of Would I Lie To You? was shown on BBC1 instead. Not even a particularly good one, either, which was a real kick in the Jacob's Cream Crackers to all viewers. European Parliament erections are due to take place in the UK on 23 May. On Thursday, Allen - who left the Conservatives to join the recently-formed party - tweeted to say that she was taking part in the programme, which regularly features politicians from all parties. But less than half-an-hour before the episode was due to be broadcast, the HIGNFY Twitter page announced the late cancellation. A statement from the BBC read: 'The BBC has specific editorial guidelines that apply during election periods. Because of this it would be inappropriate to feature political party leaders on entertainment programmes during this short election period, which does not allow for equal representation to be achieved.' The broadcaster said it that would look to broadcast the episode 'at a later date.' Which will be a bit pointless since any topicality which may have rendered the episode worthwhile watching will be gone by then. Broadcasting regulator Ofcom's erection rules state, among other things, that neither candidates in erections, nor representatives of those candidates, are allowed to 'act as news presenters, interviewers or presenters of any type of programme during the election period.' One imagines that next week's episode - no matter whom it features - will be worth watching to see how much mileage Ian Hislop's sarcasmometer gets out of this malarkey.
Dear blog readers are urged to have a right good gander at the Collider website's in-depth interview with American Gods' Ian McShane and Orlando Jones by Christina Radish which you can find here.
From the sublime to the ridiculous now, dear blog reader and a - frankly odd - piece by the Torygraph's Jonathan Holmes (no, me neither), Sci-fi's Social Justice Wars: Why Do Star Trek: Discovery Fans Hate The Orville? To which the obvious response is, do they? And, this is based on a survey of how many, exactly? Because, of course dear blog reader, it's a well-known fact among, you know, people who know about these sort of things, that fifty four per cent of all statistics are made up on the spot to prove a point. Honest.
It was the site of the world's worst nuclear accident. In 1986, a reactor at the Chernobyl nuclear power station in then Soviet-controlled Ukraine exploded, sending a radioactive plume across Europe. The effects were devastating and the disaster's impact was felt across the world. The story of the accident - and its associated human cost - is being brought to the small screen in a Sky-Atlantic drama starring Jared Harris, Emily Watson, Stellan Skarsgård and Jessie Buckley. Written by Craig Mazin (who also wrote the Hangover film sequels) and directed by Johan Renck (who also directed episodes of Breaking Bad and The Walking Dead), Chernobyl aims to 'bring to life the true story of the unprecedented tragedy.' The series follows the fall-out of the explosion and examines both the lives of those in power who tried to hide the truth and those on the outside who hoped to uncover it. Oscar-nominated actress Watson portrays Ulana Khomyuk, a Soviet nuclear physicist intent on finding out how and why the Chernobyl disaster happened. 'She's an amalgam of the [real-life] scientists who worked on the situation,' Watson explains. 'Her currency is she's a brilliant scientist and if she can get the facts out, [Soviet physicist Valery Legasov, played by Harris] will recognise the truth. They [those in power] came close to annihilating the whole of Europe. [When] they sent me the script, I instantly thought, "This is brilliant, I want to be part of it." It's seen as an historical event but it's still ongoing,' she says. Ulana appears fearless as she pushes for her voice to be heard amidst a cacophony of Soviet propaganda. 'Her character is from Belarus - they suffered terrible atrocities during World War Two, great swathes of the population were wiped out. She would have been a small child at that time and lived through some appalling things. She's very tough and that's made her very strong,' Watson explains. 'This is her moment, it's a call to arms. She just takes the attitude that the science doesn't lie.' Buckley, who recently starred in War & Peace and the film Wild Rose, plays the real-life character Lyudmilla Ignatenko. As the wife of firefighter Vasily Ignatenko, she was one of the first on the scene when the explosion occurred. Buckley also says that joining the cast was a no-brainer. 'I read the script and was completely blown away by it. You just want to do as honest a job as possible.' Indeed, Lyudmilla's anguish and panic as the drama unfolds makes for a harrowing watch. According to the UN, the event affected more than three-and-a-half million people and contaminated nearly fifty thousand square kilometres of land. The number of people killed by the disaster remains disputed. The first emergency workers rushed in as lethal smoke billowed out. Of one hundred and thirty four who were diagnosed with acute radiation sickness, twenty eight died within months. At least nineteen more have died since. It is conclusive that around five thousand cases of thyroid cancer - most of which were subsequently treated and cured - were caused by the contamination. Many suspect that the radiation has or will cause other cancers, but the evidence is patchy. Amid reports of other health problems - including birth defects - it still is not clear if any can be attributed to radiation. The Irish actress hadn't worked with Watson before but their paths had crossed. 'I had met Emily over a coffee through BAFTA Breakthrough, they set up a mentor thing and I just think she's so fantastic. And I said, "I'm going to do this thing about Chernobyl" and she said, "I want to do that!" So that was nice.' Buckley wasn't even born when the disaster happened but says THAT she still had 'a relationship with Chernobyl' through her memories of a Chernobyl charity which gives sick children from the area a chance to recuperate in Ireland with host families. Watson was a student when it occurred. 'I remember people at my college were studying in Kiev at the time but I really had no idea of the extent of it or the human sacrifice involved,' she says. 'An accident at Chernobyl is not convenient to the powers that be, hence they cover it up. Turns out there was a design flaw all along. There couldn't be more of a warning from history.' Buckley didn't speak to the real Lyudmilla as part of her research ('she wants to get on with her life') but says: 'Johan and Craig were so ruthless in making everyone aware of the truth.' Watson concurs: 'I have great respect for Craig and Johan... the amount of research was astonishing. I think it's a brilliant piece of writing.' Most of the series was shot in Lithuania but some filming took place in Kiev. The reality hit home during one particular shoot. 'It was a graveyard scene,' Buckley explains. 'This extra was standing beside me, she was crying. I was really grateful that she wanted to tell this story as well but then she turned to me after and said, "My son, my son." This is not make-believe. It's a nightmare.' Watson sees alarming parallels between the situation at Chernobyl and the present day. 'It's a very interesting parable for our times - the political truth is more convenient than what the science is saying. The truth is a very moveable feast. It just takes one person to say climate change is a hoax and everyone gives them a platform in the interest of balance. As a drama, I hope it will be very successful but I hope it will have a powerful punch in terms of people waking up to what's at stake.'
Ty Tennant, the son of David and Georgia Tennant, has made his debut on BBC1's Casualty. The seventeen-year-old actor appeared in the long-running medical drama's episode on Saturday 4 May. Georgia, who also starred on Casualty, posted on Twitter after the episode had been broadcast to celebrate. 'I am so proud of Ty Tennant tonight on Casualty,' she posted. 'He was so good they didn't feel the need to crush him to death in a lift shaft.' Georgia's character, Heather Whitefield, met an unfortunate event in her second episode of Casualty in 2009 when she was trapped beneath a burning lift. She later returned to the drama playing a different character for a guest role in 2014. This isn't Ty's first screen credit, he is also been part of the cast of the newly released Tolkien biopic. Ty was joined by his his dad at the premiere of the film in London. The family already have an impressive Doctor Who acting heritage: Ty's grandfather, of course, is yer actual Peter Davison. In Casualty, Ty played Aaron, the teenage son of a man who suffered a broken neck after falling from a ladder. Admitted to hospital following a seizure on his birthday, the truth about their family played out over the course of the episode. Ty has also been working on the upcoming BBC adaptation of War Of The Worlds, scheduled to be broadcast later in 2019.
There's a really moving interview with Russell Davies in Radio Times this week relating to the death last year of his partner of twenty years, Andrew Smith as well as Big Rusty's forthcoming BBC drama Years & Years which is well worth a few moments of your time dear blog reader. The interview also covers subjects as diverse as Doctor Who, Queer As Folk, A Very British Scandal, I, Claudius, Ricky Gervais, punk rock, rugby and Philip Larkin. And, that's what you tend to get with Rusty, dear blog reader, as this blogger knows well from past experience - twenty seven pop culture references when you were expecting two!
Another interview that is well worth your time, dear blog reader, is from The Hollywood Reporter with Sally Wainwright concerning the forthcoming BBC adaptation of Gentleman Jack which you can read here.
The final Game Of Thrones episodes might be bringing HBO record ratings but they are also the last gasps of the network's biggest show, leaving a rather worrying hole in need of filling. While projects within the same universe are in development, HBO is hoping that a swifter replacement might be found in the shape of Watchmen. The comic, previously adapted for the big screen in 2009 by Zack Snyder, has been 'reimagined' for the small screen by Damon Lindelof, whose shows include Lost (which was really good) and The Leftovers (which wasn't). The newly released trailer showcases a dark, anarchic tone and brief glimpses of the cast, including the recent EMMY winner and Oscar nominee Regina King, Jeremy Irons, Don Johnson, Hong Chau and Tim Blake Nelson. The original comic by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, told of a world where superheroes exist but one where their intentions are not always noble. Released in 1986 and 1987, it also reflected cold war tensions. Lindelof has admitted that his series is 'not a straight adaptation' and instead is 'more like a remix. This story will be set in the world its creators painstakingly built,' Lindelof wrote in an open letter. 'But in the tradition of the work that inspired it, this new story must be original. It has to vibrate with the seismic unpredictability of its own tectonic plates.' Lindelof also went on to explain that while some characters will be familiar, others will be new and the show will be 'contemporary' offering a 'fresh lens' on old material. Co-creator Gibbons recently spoke to Entertainment Weekly about his thoughts after reading the script for the pilot. 'I don't think it's gonna be what people think it's going to be,' he said. 'It certainly wasn't what I imagined it to be. I think it's extremely fresh. I'm really looking forward to seeing it on the screen. I've been resistant to the comic book prequels and sequels, but what Damon's doing is not that at all, it's very far away from that.' Snyder's big-screen adaptation was something of a commercial disappointment making one hundred and eighty five million dollars worldwide from a one hundred and twenty million dollars production budget. This blogger quite enjoyed it at the time although, it wasn't perfect by any stretch. Watchmen will premiere on HBO later this year.
'That was the moment we just thought, "This is never going to make it,"' admits Jeff Pope, the writer and executive producer of Hatton Garden. ITV had just been forced to pull his show from television schedules yet again thanks to a last-minute legal issue; it seemed the much-delayed heist drama might never make it to TV screens. But, after two postponements, the drama has a new slot for later this month - and the legal developments which have held it up for the last eighteen months are finally 'done and dusted.' Hatton Garden, a four-part drama based on the real-life story of a group of elderly burglars and their multi-million-pound raid on a safe deposit facility in London's jewellery quarter, was originally scheduled in December 2017. Then, it was suddenly postponed without explanation. It was subsequently rescheduled the following year and then pulled a second time. One of the burglars, Terry Perkins (played on screen by Timothy Spall), had pleaded extremely guilty to the Hatton Garden burglary in 2016 and already been jailed for his part, but just as the ITV drama neared its first scheduled broadcast date in late 2017, further legal charges were brought against Perkins. 'He was charged with another robbery, completely unconnected to Hatton Garden,' explains Pope. 'The trial was due and if there had been a four-hour drama saying, "Terry Perkins is a burglar," then he wouldn't have been able to have a fair trial. So, we had to pull it. Nothing we could do about it,' the writer explained at a screening in London. 'There was a trial that this could have prejudiced and then poor old Terry Perkins passed away and that receded. And then, just as we were about to transmit again, they caught the elusive Basil. So, again we had to spike it. But now everything's done and dusted.' Basil - an alarms specialist - was the last suspect in the Hatton Garden heist to be caught by police. He turned out to be a fifty eight-year-old man named Michael Seed from Islington and his trial date was set for early 2019; that meant another long wait before ITV's drama could be shown. 'It was just so painful,' Pope said. As Seed came to trial, the future of the drama hung in the balance. A not guilty verdict would have been okay as the TV version only identifies this character as 'Basil' (his real identity was not known until his arrest) and a verdict of guilty also posed no problem. But, as Pope explained: 'The thing we were scared of was a mistrial, if there was no verdict ... whichever way, we needed a decision in order to transmit.' Ultimately, the trial was conclusive; Seed was convicted and jailed for ten years in March 2019. And with that, the way was finally clear for a transmission in May.
The Bay has been renewed for a second series on ITV. Morven Christie is expected to return as police Family Liaison Officer Lisa Armstrong, as is Daniel Ryan as Tony Manning. ITV's Head of Drama Polly Hill said that she expected The Bay to return to the channel in 2020. The crime drama, which is set in the coastal town of Morecambe, will see Lisa and the team tackle a new case. Writer Daragh Carville previously told Radio Times that if the drama were renewed, the next series 'would have a new crime and a new family for our family liaison officer.' The Bay series two will reportedly begin filming later this year with further casting news to be announced closer to production. 'We are so thrilled that The Bay found such a large audience and that the fantastic world and characters brought to life by Daragh Carville will be returning to ITV,' executive producer Catherine Oldfield said. 'It was an incredible production, shot in a beautiful location and thanks to ITV's belief in the story we wanted to tell, we get to do it all over again.'
Jezza Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May are reportedly 'in line for a multimillion-pound windfall, according to financial records.' Which will, one trusts, get right up the noses of some Middle Class hippy Communists at the Gruniad Morning Star on general principle. So, that's good. The trio, who presented the BBC's Top Gear - when it used to be good - before moving to Amazon to front The Grand Tour, were directors of Chump Holdings Ltd, alongside their executive producer, Andy Wilman. The company was wound up last month with an estimated surplus of over twenty eight million smackers after all debts had been paid, according to Companies House records. Chump Holdings was set up in October 2015, shortly after Clarkson, Hamster and Cap'n Slowly announced they had struck a deal with Amazon to make a new car show. The trio, alongside Wilman, were responsible for the huge success of Top Gear, which grew from humble beginnings in 2002 into a global behemoth attracting hundreds of millions of viewers. Following Clarkson's 'fracas' with a Top Gear producer in 2015, the BBC decided against renewing his contract and his two co-hosts subsequently followed him out the door. They have presented The Grand Tour since November 2016.
Channel Four has said that it will broadcast an episode of its popular US legal drama The Good Fight in 'censored' form after the American network CBS, showing the sort of lack of backbone that US network television has, sadly, become infamous for, cut a segment which referenced Chinese state censorship when it was broadcast in the US last week. After 'discussions' with the US channel over the decision to remove the animated segment, Channel Four told the Gruniad Morning Star that it is 'contractually obliged' to show the episode in the same format as its original US broadcast and said that it intended to go ahead with the scheduled programming. That means on Thursday British viewers of the show will see a place-holding text caption that reads 'CBS has censored this content' instead of a short animated segment which satirically 'explained' Chinese state censorship. The move draws Channel Four unwittingly into a controversy over the changes to the show, a spin-off of The Good Wife known for its ripped-from-the-headline narratives, which are often inspired by contemporary real-life figures, including Donald Rump. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the segment began with a song that referenced China's decision to ban The Good Wife from video providers including Sohu TV, iQiyi and Youku in 2014. It also alluded to how American studios allegedly remove content from international releases to allegedly 'avoid upsetting' Chinese censors. 'We had concerns with some subject matter in the episode's animated short. This is the creative solution that we agreed upon with the producers,' representatives for CBS All Access claimed in a statement. One or two people even believed them. Channel Four said: 'The Good Fight is an acquired series and we are contractually obliged to broadcast the episode as supplied to us by the originating studio, CBS.' Set in a predominantly African-American law firm in Chicago, The Good Fight has been described as 'entertainment for the resistance' by the New York Times, which said it is 'the only TV show that reflects what life under Trump feels like for many of us who abhor him.' The show's creators Robert and Michelle King, originally threatened to quit, according to the New Yorker's TV critic Emily Nussbaum, who first wrote about the row, after CBS wanted the animated segment to be removed from the episode. The Kings initially planned to keep the placard on screen for the full ninety-second segment but, eventually, opted to shorten it to eight seconds, with many viewers believing the decision was a satirical one. 'It did not occur to me that people would think that it was a joke - until, literally, we saw our family this weekend and people didn't realise it had happened,' Michelle King told Nussbaum. The animated segments have become a recurrent feature of the drama's third series and act as short explainers on topics including Russian troll farms and the logistics of impeachment proceedings. The Channel Four spokesperson said that because The Good Fight is an acquisition for the broadcaster rather than an original drama created in-house the channel has 'no control' over the version of the episode they are sent. The episode, titled The One Where Kurt Saves Diane, is scheduled to be broadcast on 16 May on More4.
Ofcom has - rightly - rejected an utterly crass and sour-faced whinge that Dave Gorman was 'unfair' to a website for would-be actors when he used it to place a fake advert. StarNow called in the lawyers to lodge their whinge with Ofcom over a section on Dave Gorman's Modern Life Is Goodish - a particular favourite of all of us at From The North and one of this blogs best TV shows list of 2017 - which they claimed was 'very damaging' to their reputation. Such as it is. The lawyers, seemingly, did not accept the production's assertion that the programme was 'gentle and humorous in tone' nor that Dave was offering a 'humorous discussion of fame.' Which does, rather, suggest that Shakespeare's opinion of what should be done to all lawyers in Henry VI, Part II was pretty much on the money. StarNow's whinge stemmed from the penultimate show in the fifth and final series of Modern Life Is Goodish, originally broadcast in December 2017. In the episode, Dave told viewers how he had signed up to the website using the account of the production company Liberty Bell and placed a bogus job advert seeking pictures of people's kneecaps for a fictional TV show, The Kneecap Recap. The comic explained that the format would be 'that for half-an-hour, still photographs of unidentified kneecaps float across the screen whilst some easy listening muzak plays in the background to accompany them. That is it. No names, no money changes hands, nothing else happens for half-an-hour.' A format that Channel Five are, reportedly, very interested in. He made clear in the piece that he did not want to 'punch down' at those hoping for some fame or money by signing up to the site, so he offered neither of those things in his advert. Instead his aim was to wind up his colleagues at Liberty Bell. So he gave the e-mail address of an unwitting co-worker in the production office, expecting him to be bamboozled by the pictures of kneecaps he received. However the story then took a bizarre turn when someone in Australia e-mailed in a photograph of the knees of Gorman's wife, Beth, which the comic himself had accidentally put online and which they had found on Google. A staggering coincidence which Dave built the entire routine around, including a particularly fine self-deprecating punchline. Earlier in the show, Dave had - in his usual gentle comedic style - mocked another the section of the StarNow website which appeared to put out calls for people to sell their stories to magazine reporters, suggesting that the offer of financial reward could 'encourage' some people to 'make things up.' He told how he set up a fake profile to try to respond to some of these adverts, but had got no response. Lawyers Taylor Wessing - who should, frankly, be sodding well ashamed of themselves for whinging about such abject trivia - whinged that StarNow felt 'denigrated' by the programme and 'the disparaging way that its industry and members were ridiculed.' Which they weren't, or anything even remotely like it. They also claimed that although Dave did not explicitly criticise StarNow, their client was 'treated unfairly' because the programme 'gave viewers the false impression that StarNow did not protect its members or verify that casting calls posted on its website were legitimate opportunities.' Which, again, it didn't or anything even remotely like it. Something which, thankfully, Ofcom entirely agreed with. The whinge spun on the fact that Dave was only allowed to post the advert for The Kneecap Recap because he used the verified account of Liberty Bell, which as a trusted production company did not go through the same vetting as others. UKTV said that Dave's explanation of how he used the company's account to post the advert covered this, adding that it was 'unreasonable' to expect a comedy programme to include the website's vetting processes when 'they are not, in any way, relevant to the story being told.' In the episode, Dave explicitly said: 'I've gone from being a punter, someone who can only reply to other people's adverts and I've become a media company, who can put adverts of their own on the site.' In its ruling Ofcom said that the comic's references to StarNow were 'unlikely to have adversely affected viewers' opinions of the company in a way that was unfair' and, in doing so, slapped down the whingers in a thoroughly satisfying way. The decision has been so long coming because, reportedly, Taylor Wessing challenged an unpublished preliminary ruling which had come to the same conclusion. The episode in question remains available to view on UKTV Play and in repeats on Dave. And, frankly, this blogger urges all UK-based dear blog readers to watch it. Because it's really funny. And, obviously, because it will annoy the whingers - and their lawyers - even more.
There is an absolutely fascinating interview with another of this blogger's favourite comedians, the great Bill Bailey, available on the Somerset Live website dear blog reader. In which Bill talks about his first, 'shambolic', gig in Bath, his love for Monty Python's Flying Circus and his current tour.
This blogger was delighted to read on the We Are Cult website that a highlight among the BFI's July to September home entertainment releases include definitive editions of Do Not Adjust Your Set and At Last The 1948 Show, scheduled for a 16 September release. Do Not Adjust Your Set ran from 1967to 1969, and helped to launch the careers of future Monty Python's Flying Circus members Michael Palin, Terry Jones, Eric Idle and Terry Gilliam, as well as David Jason and Denise Coffey and The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band. At Last The 1948 Show (1967) was produced by David Frost and written and performed by John Cleese, Graham Chapman, Marty Feldman, Tim Brooke-Taylor and Aimi MacDonald. Both releases are three-DVD sets, complete with all of the existing episodes (including many previously thought to be lost) and packed with new interviews and archival extras. Innovative and influential and originally envisaged as children's show, Do Not Adjust Your Set was a madcap early-evening comedy sketch-show that quickly acquired a cult following among adults, who rushed home from work to see it. Written by and starring Palin, Jones and Idle, with great performances and additional material by Jason and Coffey, it also provided an early showcase for the hilarious animations of Terry Gilliam and the brilliantly bizarre musical antics of the legendary Bonzos who performed at least one song in each episode. For the first time, all the fully existing episodes from the Rediffusion and Thames series (fourteen of twenty nine) have been brought together in the package including five episodes new to DVD, at least two of which were previously missing, presumed wiped, alongside new interviews with producer Humphrey Barclay, Michael Palin and Brooke-Taylor (who appeared in several episodes), animations from Terry Gilliam's personal collection, and a new documentary Bonzos On The Box, featuring interviews with Neil Innes, Rodney Slater, Roger Ruskin-Spear and Legs Larry Smith. At Last The 1948 Show was a ground-breaking, splendidly silly and utterly surreal thirteen episode sketch series, written and performed by Cleese, Chapman, Brooke-Taylor and Feldman and also starring the lovely Aimi MacDonald. It was a major milestone on the road to Monty Python's Flying Circus, The Goodies and Marty. The new three-disc set restores all the existing episodes from both series of the programme in the correct order and 'is as complete as is currently possible.' It includes all ten of the surviving episodes, two 'almost completely reconstructed' episodes and the complete audio of a further episode with fragments of film restored all drawn from the vaults of the BFI National Archive. Extras include newly recorded interviews with Humphrey Barclay and Tim Brooke-Taylor and archive interviews with Cleese, Feldman and Aimi MacDonald. Tasty.
The apparent death of Tom Holland's Spider-Man in Avengers: Infinity War was one of the most talked-about moments of the 2018 movie, with the young hero dissolving (along with half the population of the universe) into nothing while pleading 'I don't want to go.' The moment was, of course, all the more emotional for Doctor Who fans, who were quick to note the line's similarity to a famous piece of a dialogue from their favourite TV series - David Tennant's final line just before he regenerated into Matt Smith in 2009's The End Of Time. Now, Infinity War's much-anticipated sequel, Avengers: Endgame, also seems to have smuggled a subtle Doctor Who reference into the gaff which, if intentional could well be a further indication that there's a Doctor Who fan lurking somewhere in Marvel Studios. Perhaps inevitably, the -possible - Doctor Who allusion comes in a segment where The Avengers are discussing their plan to travel back in time to retrieve older versions of the Infinity stones and undo Thanos's evil ways at the end of the previous movie. In the course of this discussion, the group cite several pop culture depictions of time travel including Back To The Future and Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure as evidence for why the plan will work. But notably, no one name-checks Doctor Who. This is a surprise omission, especially considering that the name they choose for this mission – Time Heist, suggested by Paul Rudd's Ant-Man - is the name of a Doctor Who episode as well. Specifically, an episode from Peter Capaldi's first series with Jenna Coleman where the pair have their memories wiped and have to break into a bank with the help of some accomplices; you remember that, it's the one with Keeley Hawes playing an alien banker.
Adrian Edmondson, who used to be funny a couple of decades ago, is joining the cast of EastEnders. The comic actor will be seen in the BBC soap as Daniel Cook, a new love interest for Jean Slater, played by Gillian Wright. The BBC said that Edmondson had already started filming, with his first appearance to be broadcast later this summer. His character is described as 'charming and with a wicked sense of humour.' So, Eddie Hitler in other words. He will be 'the perfect antidote for Jean as she continues her treatment for ovarian cancer,' producers added. The sixty two-year-old said in a statement: 'There were only fifteen boys on my drama course at Manchester Uni and I'll be the third to appear in EastEnders - so I feel it's a kind of tradition! The other two being Tom Watt and Paul Bradley.' After breaking through as a stand-up comedian in the 1980s, Edmondson found wider fame playing Vyvyan in The Young Ones and later as the manic Eddie in Bottom, which he also wrote with co-star the late Rik Mayall. Since then, Edmondson has taken on more sedate roles in the likes of Holby City, Bancroft and War & Peace, as well as fronting a documentary series about the Yorkshire Dales for ITV. He is the latest comedian to move into the soap world, following in the footsteps of the likes of Bradley Walsh, Les Dennis and Vic Reeves. EastEnders executive producer Jon Sen said: 'Adrian is a phenomenal talent who will bring his unique blend of intelligence, warmth and humour to the role of Daniel. We're all over the moon he's coming to Walford and can't wait for this love story to hit screens later this year.'
A new Scottish comedy-horror movie starring Eddie Izzard as a deranged Highlands huntsman is to open this year's Edinburgh International Film Festival. Boyz In The Wood follows the events which unfold when four teenager trouble-makers find themselves on the run from Izzard's bloodthirsty character while they are on a Duke of Edinburgh Award course in the wilderness. Newcomers Rian Gordon, Samuel Bottomley, Viraj Juneja and Lewis Gribben play the four city-based boys being hunted down in the film, which its Edinburgh-born director Ninian Doff says was aimed at capturing 'a very particular Scottish joy, madness and humour.' Kate Dickie, James Cosmo and Kevin Guthrie are also in the movie, which is billed as an 'anarchic cocktail of generational politics, hip-hop loving farmers, and hallucinogenic rabbit droppings.' Boyz In The Wood, which is set to a hip-hop soundtrack, is the debut feature from Doff, who is best known previously for his music videos. He first developed an interest in filmmaking when he was just twelve years old when he joined a group based at the Filmhouse cinema called Scottish Kids Are Making Movies and was given a camera and a pass for the film festival. First seen at the South by Southwest festival in Texas, in March, Boyz In The Wood will gets its European premiere when it opens the festival on 19 June. Doff said: 'It's hard to put into words what a huge honour it is for me to have Boyz In The Wood open the Edinburgh International Film Festival. 'It's been an incredible journey for me and real tribute to the amazing start I got all those years ago at this very festival. I'm from Edinburgh and for my debut film I really wanted to make a film that captured a very particular Scottish joy, madness and humour; and that was also modern, political and forward looking. Everybody, both cast and crew, brought so much passion and energy to make this film and it's going to be very special for it to have its European Premiere, not only in my hometown, but also at such an important festival.' Mark Adams, artistic director of the festival, said: 'We are thrilled to be opening this year's festival with this vibrant, energetic and wonderfully raucous new film that showcases a wide range of Scottish talent, from rising stars to established performers. Boyz In The Wood is a blast from start to finish and will start the festival perfectly.'
Labour will try to force a vote this week to urge the government to protect free TV licences for the over-seventy fives. The shadow lack of culture secretary, Tommy Watson (power to the people!), will use an opposition day debate in the House of Commons to seek to put pressure on the government over the issue. Responsibility for funding the commitment, which costs an estimated seven hundred and fifty million knicker a year, is being handed over to the BBC in June next year, under deal struck with that oily twat David Cameron's government in 2015. The lack of culture secretary, the vile and odious rascal Wright, has said he 'hopes' the corporation will continue to fund the benefit, but the BBC has warned that it would have to close channels and make 'significant cuts to programming' if it was to meet the cost in full. In a consultation that closed in February, it mooted other options, including asking the over-seventy fives to pay the full licence fee, raising the eligibility threshold to eighty, or offering a discount. The former Labour prime minister Gordon Brown, who introduced the free licences policy in the first place (without bothering to ask the BBC), has urged the government to keep funding it. In the 2017 general erection manifesto, the Conservatives promised to 'maintain' pensioner benefits, 'including free bus passes, eye tests, prescriptions and TV licences, for the duration of this parliament.' Watson said: 'Today, Tory MPs have a choice: to honour the manifesto they stood on in 2017 or to disregard it, along with the trust of millions of older people.' Opposition day votes are not formally binding, but Labour has previously used them to draw attention to politically controversial issues, including universal credit and the climate crisis. Watson pointed to new analysis by Age UK showing that of the four-and-a-half million over-seventy fives in England, forty eight per cent do not live with a partner, thirty per cent have difficulty with at least one daily living activity and up to seventy per cent have a longstanding illness that limits their activities. He said: 'These new figures show just how isolated and lonely many over-seventy fives can be. It would be a terrible act of state cruelty to take free TV away from these vulnerable people.' Caroline Abrahams, the charity director at Age UK, said: 'The government now stands alone in its determination to scrap the provision of free TV licences for all over-seventy fives; this despite clear evidence showing how reliant many older people are on their TV, especially the lonely, chronically sick and disabled, and how hard it would be for them to afford yet another bill. Stripping them of their free TV licence will inevitably leave significant numbers of older people unable to watch TV, which for many is one of the few remaining pleasures in life.' Labour is keen to curry favour with older voters, who were much more likely to vote Conservative at the 2017 general erection. Comrade Corbyn has promised to keep in place a series of other taxpayer-funded policies, including the 'triple lock' on the value of the basic state pension.
An Amanda Abbington interview with the BBC News website sees the Sherlock actress taking about getting banned from Twitter - three times - and her forthcoming appearance in the West End in Florian Zoller's The Son.
Jason Manford has spoken about his struggles with mental health. In a video on Facebook, Jason said that he wanted to let people know why he had been less active on social media. 'I wouldn't go as far as to say a breakdown, but I had a struggle mentally and I found it very difficult to deal with,' Manford told his fans. Describing his battle with anxiety and depression, he said that social media can 'make things worse' and encouraged people to talk about their problems. The Mancunian comic and actor said that people - 'especially blokes' - do not talk about mental health enough, even though male suicide is such a big issue. 'It's taken me this long to be brave enough to say it. I've been struggling, you know, finding things hard and I think sometimes social media can not help with that,' he said. Manford said it was not just 'trolls' but also 'bad news and nastiness ... even down to comparing your life.' The father of five said that he suffers from anxiety and depression and, at his lowest, he 'felt like I'd let my kids down and I couldn't do my job any more.' Manford said he wanted to pass on the advice he was given that 'still gets me through to this day,' which was 'just because you're struggling, doesn't mean you're failing. The next time you're struggling, maybe say it to someone you love,' he added.
Stephen Fry has been credited for a record 2.2 million people being checked for cancer by the NHS in England last year after he spoke out about being diagnosed with the disease. Stephen revealed he had prostate cancer surgery in January last year. It was the candid nature of the sixty one-year-old national treasure's discussion of the disease, along with former BBC Breakfast presenter Bill Turnbull and journalist Jeremy Bowen which health bosses say have pushed more people to get symptoms checked out. The figure - up from 1.9 million in 2017 - amounts to almost six thousand patients a day being screened following urgent referrals from GPs. Record numbers of people were also treated for cancer last year, with over three hundred thousand receiving a first treatment in 2018, almost thirteen thousand more than in 2017. The health service said the rise is also due to new guidance introduced for GPs in 2015, which lowered the threshold for cancer referrals.
A release schedule of the premiere dates of every Disney-produced film that is currently being planned between now and 2027 has been published, and there is good news for Star Wars and Indiana Jones fans. Among the films listed are two - currently untitled - Pixar films which are due in 2020 to 2021, while a movie adaptation of Bob's Burgers is set to be released on 17 July next year. There is also another Kingsman movie, a West Side Story remake and an adaptation of the Artemis Fowl books coming in 2020. The release schedule below was initially shared on Twitter by the journalist Erik Davis. The most notable listings are three new Star Wars movies. They are due to be released on 16 December 2022, 20 December 2024, and 18 December 2026. It is unclear at the moment whether that will make up a whole new trilogy for the SF franchise. The first Indiana Jones movie since 2008's Kingdon Of The Crystal Skull is promised for 9 July 2021, while the release dates of the next four Avatar films are set for 2021, 2023, 2025 and 2027. Fans can also expect two new Marvel movies a year between 2020 and 2022. Two Star Wars projects have already been announced. There is the hugely-anticipated conclusion to the current saga, The Rise Of Skywalker, which is due this December and a Boba Fett spin-off series The Mandalorian, which starts in November. The Mandalorian is set to be broadcast via Disney's newly-announced streaming service Disney+. It also boasts Disney's classic movie archive, all thirty series of The Simpsons, two Toy Story-based projects (titled Forky Asks A Question and Lamp Life) and the documentary series The World According To Jeff Goldblum. Disney will remove 'racially insensitive' scenes from their past movies before they are made available to view on Disney+, with one film - Song Of The South - deleted entirely. So, not much of zip-a-dee-doo-dah for anyone who fancied watching that one ever again.
Alcoholic wife-beating Scouse junkie John Lennon's copy of a Be-Atles LP which caused controversy due to its 'graphic' cover has sold for one hundred and eighty grand - the third-highest price ever paid for a vinyl record. The so-called 'butcher' cover of Yesterday & Today showed The BeAtles (a popular beat combo of the 1960s, you might've heard of them) covered in raw meat and decapitated baby dolls and was withdrawn shortly after it was released in the US in 1966. It was suggested that the cover was 'a protest' against the Viet'nam War. The copy was sold at The Beatles Story Museum in their home city of Liverpool to an anonymous - but, seemingly bloody loaded - American collector. The 'butcher' cover shot, taken by Australian photographer Robert Whitaker, sparked outrage upon the LP's release. It was quickly replaced by a much blander cover showing the band standing around an old-fashioned steamer trunk and was reportedly the only Be-Atles LP to lose money for their American record label, Capitol. LPs with the original 'butcher' cover had become highly collectable. Alcoholic wife-beating Scouse junkie Lennon had his personal copy of the LP on the wall of his New York apartment until he gave it to Dave Morrell, a Be-Atles fan and bootleg collector. Signed by Lennon, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, the copy is believed to be the only 'butcher' LP bearing three Be-Atles' signatures. On the back, a sketch by Lennon shows a man holding a shovel with his dog in front of a setting sun. In a statement, a spokesman for Julien's Auctions said that the anonymous buyer with more money than sense 'bought the record as an investment believing it will increase in value in the years to come.' Darren Julien, president of the firm, said: 'The market is still developing so we anticipate in the next five years this same record could bring five hundred thousand dollars-plus.' He added: 'This was a world record for a Beatles butcher cover and the third-highest price paid for a vinyl.' Ringo Starr's copy of The White Album became the most expensive vinyl record when it sold for seven hundred and ninety thousand dollars in 2015 shortly after a copy of 'My Happiness', the first single recorded by Elvis Presley, sold for three hundred thousand dollars. Among other items sold at the Liverpool auction was a baseball signed by four Be-Atles at their final live performance in the US - at San Francisco's Candlestick Park - for fifty seven thousand six hundred knicker.
The extremely excellent Simon Armitage, whose 'witty and profound' poetry spans sharp observations about modern life and classical myths, is to be the UK's next Poet Laureate. The West Yorkshire writer will hold the post for the next decade, taking over from Dame Carol Ann Duffy. Over recent decades, the role has moved away from mainly chronicling royal occasions to promoting poetry and capturing a wider view of British life. Armitage has published twenty eight collections and is on the current national curriculum. His 2017 book The Unaccompanied was described by some louse of no importance at the Gruniad Morning Star as a document of 'a world in social and economic meltdown.' Which proves that, like a broken clock, even the Gruniad Morning Star can be right twice a day. It opens with a poem about climate change called The Last Snowman and includes another titled Poundland, about 'the Disney design calendar and diary set, three cans of Vimto/cornucopia of potato-based snacks and balm for a sweet tooth.' The announcement comes five months after Armitage, from Marsden, won the Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry 2018, arguably the most prestigious accolade behind the laureateship itself. When that award was announced, Dame Carol Ann noted how Simon had 'touched the matter of our lives with characters and subject matter that lived among us: teachers and council tenants, chip shops and television shows, figures who drank in the local pub and shopped in the nearby supermarket.' He has also translated medieval poems about King Arthur and Sir Gawain, retold The Odyssey as a radio play and written Last Days Of Troy, a stage play for Shakespeare's Globe and the Manchester Royal Exchange. This blogger doesn't know a huge amount about modern poetry, dear blog reader (his English A level was nearly forty years ago, after all) but he had read and greatly enjoyed some of Simon Armitage's work. The fifty five-year-old is currently professor of poetry at the University of Leeds and served as professor of poetry at the University of Oxford between 2015 and 2018. He was made a CBE in 2010. His tenure as Poet Laureate will run for a decade. Armitage told BBC News that poetry was 'more valuable and more relevant than it's ever been.' He said: 'I want to celebrate what's best in poetry and build on the work Andrew Motion and Carol Ann Duffy have done over the last two decades in terms of encouraging and identifying talent, particularly among young people, among whom poetry might be a way forward, an outlet.' The poet laureate is an honorary position which is officially appointed by the Queen, acting on advice from the government. He said that he had 'missed the boat' to write a poem for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex's baby. 'It's been made very clear to me that although the monarch is my line manager, for want of a better word, there are no expectations or obligations in that direction.' He added that he planned to use the profile to establish 'some sort of project or award' for writing about climate change and that he had a dream - 'very possibly completely unrealistic' - to set up a National Centre for Poetry. The lack of culture secretary the vile and odious rascal Wright praised Armitage for his 'witty and profound take on modern life [which] is known and respected across the world.' The vile and odious rascal Wright added: 'He is a very worthy successor to Dame Carol Ann Duffy, who championed the importance of poetry over the past ten years and made the position relatable to people across the country.' There had been reports that Imtiaz Dharker would be offered the post, but had decided to turn it down. Armitage said he believed there had been 'a lot of discussion behind the scenes' about whether the job should go to a white man (albeit, one from a decidedly working class background). He stressed that he wanted part of his role to be about amplifying the voices of writers from 'diverse and disadvantaged' backgrounds. He added that he did not come from the establishment. 'When I grew up in a terraced house on the side of a hill in West Yorkshire, I did not feel like The Chosen One,' he said. 'When I was working as a probation officer in Greater Manchester, dragging junkies out of the gutter and sitting across the table from notorious criminals, it did not feel like a life of privilege. I suppose what I'm saying is, I understand to a lesser extent what it means to come from outside the establishment, even if I've arrived at certain established positions and I need to keep those things in the back of my mind.' The role was established in 1668. Previous Poets Laureate have include William Wordsworth, Alfred Lord Tennyson, John Betjeman and Ted Hughes.
The UK advertising watchdog has banned a Paddy Power TV campaign featuring the brother of Ryan Giggs for 'glamorising' gambling as a route to a wealthy lifestyle. The TV campaign featured Rhodri Giggs as the face of the bookmaker's loyalty scheme, the Paddy Power Rewards Club. In the advert Giggs tells viewers that he had always 'lived a loyal life,' through activities such as always drinking at the same pub, going to the same gym and sticking with the same brand of tea bags, but that his fortunes had been 'transformed' by becoming an 'ambassador' for Paddy's Reward Club. 'Loyalty gets you nowhere, live for rewards instead,' he said. The advert then shows Giggs rejecting his usual pint of bitter and ordering champagne. He is seen driving off in a sports car while thanking the bookmaker as he pats the bodywork. The Advertising Standards Authority received five whinges that the advert was 'irresponsible' because it 'glamorised' gambling and suggested it was a way of 'achieving a good standard of living.' Paddy Power said that Giggs was not shown betting and that the car, with the number plate 'Ambassador Car', was not obtained through betting but was positioned as a personal perk of being a face of the rewards club. The ASA said that the TV advert was based on 'a string of tongue-in-cheek references' to allegations that Ryan Giggs had an affair with his brother's wife. 'We considered [the advert] created the impression that Rhodri was no longer defined by the alleged affair and that he had moved past his "loyalty" and was now reaping the rewards,' the ASA said. 'The ad implied viewers should follow his example and that their route to doing so was joining Paddy Power's Rewards Club. We considered the ad implied gambling was a way to achieve financial security and improved self-image and we concluded the ad was irresponsible.' Separately, the ASA has also banned a tweet by Stottingtot Hotshots football club to over three million followers for breaking gambling advertising rules by featuring young players Harry Winks and Davinson Sánchez alongside a betting promotion for William Hill. The tweet, which received three thousand six hundred 'likes' and was retweeted almost one thousand times, featured an image of the team's starting line-up for a match against Borussia Dortmund in March as well as a William Hill logo and text saying 'latest odds from William Hill.' The ASA banned the promotion because the two players featured are under the age of twenty five years old, which is not allowed in gambling adverts. The watchdog said that the aim of the tweet was both to announce the starting line-up and to offer the audience an opportunity to bet. 'We told Tottenham Hotspur to ensure they did not feature those under twenty five years old playing a significant role in marketing communications,' the ASA said.
Jonjo Shelvey's fabulous strike helped yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved (though unsellable) Magpies earn a comfortable final day of the season victory at Poor Bloody Fulham Haven't Got A Chance who said farewell to the Premier League with their twenty sixth defeat of the season. It was a yet another tale of good application by The Cottagers without much bite in attack and a defence that underlined why they were the worst in the league this season. As for The Magpies, these are - with some necessary qualifications - quite good times to be a Newcastle United supporter, dear blog reader. Following a squad of players who, despite not being the greatest or most talented to have ever played for this distinguished old club, at least appear to take pride in the shirt, led by an astute and popular manager, with genuine optimism this could be the start of something special on Tyneside. Yet, in the back of everyone's mind there is fear, a nagging, sickening feeling that a disaster lurks just around the corner, that Rafael Benitez will depart and plunge the club back into the sort of crippling depression which has soured so many of the twelve years that billionaire tyrant Mike Ashley has been in charge at St James' Park. Benitez once again remained coy over his future at Newcastle. The ffty nine-year-old's contract is set to expire on 30 June and talks have been ongoing with club chiefs for several weeks, with the Spanish manager previously stating that the ball was in their court. The Magpies barely broke sweat in this four-nil win, producing what the Evening Chronicle described as 'a masterclass'. Rafa The Gaffer's side were two goals up in a two-minute spell early in the first-half. Shelvey ended his year-long spell without a goal with a thunderous half-volley from just inside the area before Ayoze Pérez grabbed his thirteenth goal of the season when he scored from close range after Fulham keeper Sergio Rico failed to adequately deal with Christian Atsu's shot. Fabian Schär headed The Magpies' third just after the hour before Salomón Rondón capped off an impressive display up-front with an angled strike that produced the loudest cheer of the afternoon, the twelfth goal of the season for the big on-loan striker in what could (but, hopefully won't) be his final game for Newcastle. The Magpies finish in thirteenth place with forty five points, one more than they managed last season when finishing tenth. Fulham's newly appointed manager Scott Parker (himself a former Magpies player) has been handed the task of reinvigorating an expensively-assembled outfit that many had expected to do well in the Premier League this season following their promotion from The Championship, but which in the end failed to meet acceptable standards. In the first few minutes of the match, Parker's side tested the visiting defence with balls flung in from both wings - Aleksandar Mitrovic went close with a header that drifted a foot wide of Martin Dubravka's post. The ex-Newcastle striker also had a chance with another header that should have found the target but aside from that - and a good strike by sixteen-year-old substitute Harvey Elliott - the Slovak keeper had a fairly quiet day at the office. It has been at the defence which has been been Fulham's Achilles heel all season. Every time Newcastle attacked, Fulham looked liable to concede. Rondón's late strike was the eighty first that Fulham have conceded in the league - five more than bottom club Huddersfield. Speaking to Match Of The Day, Rafa said: 'I am really pleased. This group of players from beginning until the end have worked really hard. We never gave up, even when we were safe in the last three games they were still giving everything. We have one more point than last season but couldn't finish tenth so it proves this season has been more difficult than last season.' On his forthcoming meeting with Ashley to discuss his future, he added: 'We meet, hopefully, this week and see where we are. We have plenty of time to enjoy, I have been very clear about the potential of this club. But, now is the time to enjoy.'
Meanwhile, dear blog reader, it would appear that someone working for the BBC Sport website either can't count or doesn't understand that, in football, it's the team that scores the most goals that emerges victorious.
Elsewhere, in far less important news, Sheikh Yer Man City were crowned Premier League champions for the second year running, their four-one win at Brighton & Hove Albinos on the final day meaning that they finished one point ahead of the Liverpool Alabama Yee-Haws. City retained their Premier League title and, finally, ended Liverpool's magnificent challenge after surviving a scare to come from behind and outclass Brighton at The Amex Stadium. Pep Guardiola's side started the day knowing that any sort of victory would ensure they would be the first team to retain the Premiership since The Scum did so ten years ago but that any slip-up could let in their relentless pursuers Liverpool, who were hosting Wolverhampton Wanderings at Anfield. And, when Glenn Murray gave The Seagulls the lead with a glancing header after twenty seven minutes, anxiety rose in Sussex and hopes rose at Anfield that Liverpool might win their first title in twenty nine years. Sheikh Yer Man City's response was instant, emphatic and ruthless as they swept Brighton aside to end the campaign with a record fourteen successive league victories, thirty two in all, which equals the record they set last season. City may not have repeated the one hundred points that won the title last season (they ended on a mere ninety eight) but this was, arguably, an even sweeter success given the season-long battle with Liverpool. Herr Klopp's boys' two-nil victory over Wolves was Liverpool's ninth win in a row and their thirtieth overall. They finished on ninety seven points, the third-highest top flight total in English football history and an astonishing figure for a team finishing as runners-up. They had just one defeat all season and, ultimately, it was that two-one loss to City on 3 January that cost The Reds a title which many felt they thoroughly deserved.
Stottingtot Hotshots sealed a fourth-placed finish as they ended their campaign with an entertaining two-two draw against Everton. Spurs knew that a point would be enough to secure a Champions League place for a fourth successive season under Mauricio Pochettino, but they missed the opportunity to record back-to-back third-place finishes as Moscow Chelski FC were held by Leicester City. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored twice as The Arse beat Burnley at Turf Moor, but The Gunners failed to finish in the top four. Unai Emery's side secured fifth spot meaning they go straight into the Europa League group stage next season. They can still qualify for the Champions League if they beat Moscow Chelski FC in the Europa League final on 29 May in Baku. Nathaniel Mendez-Laing scored twice as already relegated Cardiff City won their final Premier League appearance at Old Trafford to heap yet more misery on The Scum and leave Ole Gunnar Solskjær with a face like a smacked arse. Which, to be fair, was funny. 'We're not a club that should be finishing sixth,' Solskjær whinged after the game. But, they did, dear blog reader. They did. Defeat means that The Scum have won just one of their final seven games of the season as city rivals Sheikh Yer Man City were winning the league again. So, whilst it will have been a jolly rockin' night in Manchester on Sunday, it will likely have been a really miserable one in Wiltshire, London, Essex, Australia, India and all of the other places around the globe that Manchester United's supporters live. West Hamsters United secured a top-ten finish for the first time since 2016 with a clinical four-one win over FA Cup finalists Watford at Vicarage Road. Michy Batshuayi scored twice to help Crystal Palace end the season with an entertaining five-three win over Bournemouth at Selhurst Park. The victory means that Palace finished the season in twelfth place, while Bournemouth dropped to fourteenth following Newcastle's win at Poor Bloody Fulham Haven't Got A Chance. Alex Pritchard capitalised on Southampton goalkeeper Angus Gunn's mistake to grab a draw for Huddersfield in their final Premier League game before dropping back into the Championship. The Terriers finished the season with a mere sixteen points, just three wins, twenty two goals and a goal different of minus fifty four.
Just in case you've been asleep for the last few days, dear blog reader, the final of this year's Champions League will be between the Liverpool Alabama Yee-Haws and Stottingtot Hotshots after two of the most genuinely remarkable turn-arounds in European fitba history. It will be the first time since 2008 - when The Scum beat Moscow Chelski FC on penalties - that two Premier League sides have competed for Europe's major club competition. Five time winners Liverpool were the beaten finalists in the 2018 final and last won the trophy in 2005 whilst this is the first time that Spurs have ever got this far in Europe (although, they did win the European Cup Winners Cup in 1963 and the UEFA Cup in 1972). Liverpool completed the first of the near-miracles on Tuesday beating Barcelona four-nil at Anfield to overturn a three-goal first-leg deficit with two goals each from Divock Origi and Georginio Wijnaldum. Barely had the superlatives escaped the lips of just about every football fan the world over at this quite remarkable turn of events (as the BBC Sports website noted, even non-Liverpool fans were, mostly, celebrating), than twenty four hours later Spurs completed what was, in some ways, an even more unexpected comeback. One-down after the first leg, they went to Amsterdam and, in the white-hot atmosphere of the Johan Cruyff Arena, beat Ajax three-two thanks a hat-trick by Lucas Moura - the dramatic winning goal coming in the ninety sixth minute. This, after Spurs had been two goals behind (three, on aggregate) at half-time. So, all the media then had to think up some new 'unbelievable, Jeff'-type malarkey to top what they'd been saying just a day earlier. Some even had the vain hope of working out which of the two performances was best. Therefore, dear blog reader, it's Herr Klopp versus Senor Pochettino in Madrid's Estadio Metropolitano on 1 June. Both clubs have been allocated around sixteen thousand tickets.
As a Newcastle United supporter, this blogger has always had rather more affinity with Merseyside than with North London. You know, Keegan, Terry Mac, Beardsley, Albert Stubbins, Alan Kennedy, et al. So, under normal circumstances, he would be slightly (and, he does mean slightly) more hoping for a Reds win than a Whites win in the final. However, what with the blatant cheating antics of yer man Fabinho - producing a dive worthy of Greg Louganis (with pike) when not even touched by Matt Ritchie in last weekend's game at St James' - still extremely fresh in the mind, this blogger's only option is a couple of rousing choruses of 'Come On You Spurs!' Sorry, all of Keith Telly Topping's - many - Scouse chums, Game Of Thrones star Jonny Arnold especially, but it's (also) The Law!
Barcelona striker Luis Suarez said that his side 'looked like schoolboys' for Liverpool Alabama Yee-Haws's winning goal in the Champions League semi-final second leg. The Reds won four-nil on an astonishing night at Anfield, with Divock Origi scoring the winner from Trent Alexander-Arnold's quick corner, to overturn a three goal first-leg deficit. 'We have to be ready for all the criticism that is going to rain down on us now,' Suarez said. 'We are very sad, we are in a lot of pain.' Barca had looked in control after winning three-nil at the Nou Camp. Origi gave The Reds early hope at Anfield and half-time substitute Georginio Wijnaldum scored two quickfire goals to level the tie. The winner came while Barca's defence were still getting ready for a corner, which Alexander-Arnold took quickly allowing the alert Origi to score. 'For their fourth goal we looked like schoolboys,' said the former Liverpool Alabama Yee-Haws striker, who was booed all night by his old fans. It was Barcelona's second Champions League collapse in consecutive seasons. Last season, Roma beat them three-nil in the quarter-final second leg to knock them out on away goals. 'I do not know how it's going to affect me. Here we are, the coach has to take responsibility,' boss Ernesto Valverde said. Barca have won La Liga both seasons under Valverde, but they have not reached a Champions League final since 2015. 'It's very painful for us, especially for our people, it's the second year they've come back like that,' he said. 'Things got on top of us after those two quick goals. We didn't manage to get on the scoresheet and they rolled us over really,' Valverde said. 'They surprised us with the fourth goal - presumably my players weren't looking. Liverpool were street-smart and they scored.' Suarez defended his manager after the game. 'We are the ones that played the game,' he said. 'The boss used the same tactics as in the first leg and he tried to do the same thing here. You have to say sorry for the attitude and the things that everyone saw today. We have to do a lot of self-criticism because this is the second time that the same thing has happened to us. We cannot commit the same mistake two years in a row. There are many things we need to consider and think about.' Midfielder Sergio Busquets said: 'I apologise to the fans because after the Rome thing, it happens again. It is very hard to fall like that with a good result in the first leg.' A bad night got even worse for Lionel Messi after the Bacra team bus reportedly left Anfield without him. According to Spanish TV channel El Chiringuito, whilst Messi was waiting to provide drug testers with a sample, the bus left for the airport.
And, it was, seemingly, all too much for one - apparently Asian - Barca fan. His (filmed) geet stroppy temper tantrum at the final whistle has, not unexpectedly, gone extremely viral when it appeared on the Interweb. That's probably a new telly you're gonna be needing on there, mate. This blogger thinks it's the mixture of casual disinterest and sniggering amusement among yon laddie's friends (or, possibly family), that makes it so addictive to watch. Mind you, Keith Telly Topping is often like that when his beloved (though unsellable) Magpies have just got beat. Stately Telly Topping Manor has been through about seventeen tellies this season already.
By Thursday, English football fans were even further in dreamland as English clubs created European football history by taking all four final spots in the continent's two major competitions. The Arse won in Valencia and Moscow Chelski FC beat Eintracht Frankfurt on penalties to reach the Europa League final. It is the first time that all four finalists in Europe's top two club competitions have come from one nation. There have only been two all-English finals before, with Stottingtot Hotshots beating Wolverhampton Wanderings in the 1971-72 UEFA Cup and The Scum beating Moscow Chelski FC in the 2007-08 Champions League. Spain had three teams in the finals of the two competitions in 2015-16, with Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid contesting the Champions League final and Unai Emery's Sevilla winning the Europa League. 'In England the level is very high and the Premier League is the best championship in Europe,' claimed Moscow Chelski FC manager Maurizio Sarri. The Arse and Moscow Chelski FC will meet in Baku, Azerbaijan - almost two-and-a-half thousand miles from London - on 29 May, with a Champions League spot at stake for The Gunners, who could become the fifth English side to qualify for next season's competition. Moscow Chelski FC are already assured of their place after cementing a top-four finish in the Premier League. Baku's Olympic Stadium has a capacity of sixty eight thousand but UEFA has allocated only just over six thousand tickets to each of the London clubs, a decision that The Arse described as 'disappointing.'
Moscow Chelski FC manager Maurizio Sarri says that it will 'not be easy' to challenge Liverpool Alabama Yee-Haws and Sheikh Yer Man City next season, after an unsuccessful appeal against FIFA's transfer ban on the club. The Blues are very banned from signing players during the next two transfer windows until the end of January 2020. It followed an investigation into their signing of foreign under-eighteen players. Moscow Chelski FC said that they were 'very disappointed' and will now appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. 'It's very difficult to cover the gap at the moment; we need to work, probably we need to do something from the market,' whinged Sarri. 'So it's not easy, because the level of the top two is very, very high.' Sarri says the club 'need' to buy two players this summer. 'I think that we have to buy only one, two players, otherwise it's very difficult to improve immediately,' the Italian added. 'I think we are a very good team, so we need only one, two players, no more.' The only change to the original FIFA ban is that The Blues can sign under-sixteen players from the UK during the suspension period. 'The FIFA appeal committee has decided to partially uphold the appeal lodged by Chelsea,' FIFA said in a statement. 'This ban applied to the club as a whole - with the exception of the women's and futsal teams - and did not prevent the release of players.' FIFA said that it found breaches in twenty nine cases out of the ninety two investigated. Moscow Chelski FC's fine of four hundred and sixty thousand smackers by world football's governing body also remains. The Football Association was also fined three hundred and ninety thousand notes when it issued the ban and English football's governing body was told that it 'must address the situation' regarding the international transfer and registration of minors. 'Chelsea categorically refutes the findings of the FIFA Appeal Committee,' the club said in a statement. Moscow Chelski FC have a number of high-profile players out on loan whom they can call on, including Tammy Abraham (Aston Villains), Michy Batshuayi (Crystal Palace), Alvaro Morata (Atletico Madrid), Victor Moses (Fenerbahce), Christian Pulisic (Borussia Dortmund), Kenedy (this blogger's beloved, though unsellable, Newcastle), Tiemoue Bakayoko (AC Milan) and Kurt Zouma (Everton). They also have dozens of youth players currently out on loan. 'Every month I have a report on every player on loan; we have about forty five,' Sarri said. 'There are two or three players who have been out on loan this season who are interesting. I do not want to name names now. But the level they have been playing at must be considered.' Based on documents from Football Leaks, French website Mediapart claimed in November that nineteen Moscow Chelski FC signings had been 'looked at' during a three-year FIFA investigation. Mediapart alleged that fourteen of those signings were players under the age of eighteen. Burkina Faso international Bertrand Traore - who now plays for Ligue Un club Lyon - signed his first professional contract at Moscow Chelski FC in 2013 at the age of eighteen but was not registered until January 2014. Mediapart claimed FIFA 'found evidence' that Moscow Chelski FC had 'misled' them over the dates, while Traore was found to have made twenty five appearances for The Blues (under-sixteen, under-eighteen and first team) despite not being registered with the FA. Moscow Chelski FC admitted they paid his mother one hundred and fifty five thousand knicker, as well as a further thirteen grand to the club she chaired - AJE Bobo-Dioulasso - in April 2011 to allow them 'first refusal' on his signature. That deal, it is alleged, was for four-and-a-half years, despite the limit for under-eighteens being three years. In addition, it is also claimed Moscow Chelski FC paid for Traore to attend the twenty thousand quid-a-year Whitgift School in Surrey. Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid both received bans for breaching rules over the signing of minors in early 2016, while Barcelona were given a fourteen-month ban after breaking rules for signing international under-eighteens in 2014. However, a Barcelona appeal saw their punishment pushed back by a year, allowing the club to sign Luis Suarez, Ivan Rakitic, Jeremy Mathieu, Claudio Bravo and Marc-Andre ter Stegen before the ban started. Not that any of this did Barca much good this week against the Liverpool Alabama Yee-Haws, obviously.
Notlob Wanderings are set to go into administration after the club appeared in the High Court over a 1.2 million quid unpaid tax bill. The case on Wednesday was adjourned until 22 May to allow the club enough time to appoint an administrator. Administration would result in the Wanderings having a twelve-point penalty imposed on them next season. The club will play in League One next season after they were relegated from The Championship this term. Former Watford owner Laurence Bassini had made a takeover bid, but Wanderings said on Thursday that the deal was off. Bassini, who had been given forty eight hours to prove to the Football League that he had the funds to take over, later claimed to be in control of the club, but it was reported on Monday that his bid was 'on the brink of collapse.' In a statement published while the club were awaiting their case to be heard in the High Court on Wednesday, owner Ken Anderson said that administration was 'the only possible outcome' following the collapse of Bassini's takeover bid. 'This has been a massive disappointment to me as I understand the serious implications administration will bring to the businesses,' he said. On Bassini's bid, Anderson added: 'Regrettably his continued time-wasting and empty promises have caused a great deal of heartache and frustration for the staff and supporters alike and now leave the Eddie Davies Trust and I with little or no choice other than for one of us to place the businesses into administration, as any likelihood of finding any resolution in the High Court hearing is not possible.' It was the sixth time in the past eighteen months that Notlob have faced a winding-up petition. Their latest case, originally brought by HM Revenue & Customs in February, has now been adjourned by the High Court on three occasions, with Wednesday's decision the latest in a string of off-field issues at the club this season. Players are still owed wages for March and April, while the club could face further sanctions from the Football League after their final home match of the season against Brentford on 27 April was postponed when the playing staff went on strike. Bassini has told BBC Radio Manchester that he is 'still interested' in purchasing the club and hopes to get the sale through before Notlob return to court. Meanwhile, Notlob Whites Hotel, which adjoins the University of Notlob Stadium and is owned by the club, also appeared in the High Court over a separate winding-up petition and was also given an adjournment until 22 May. Judge Clive Jones said it was 'rather strange' that Notlob did not have a representative in the High Court. Nonetheless, the major creditors were petitioning for a short adjournment, in the hope that an administrator could be appointed in that time. Former owner Eddie Davies' trust fund, Fildraw, has served a notice with that intention and the club has been given until 22 May to see that it is done. Only once an administrator has been appointed will we be able to start thinking about who could be in the frame to rescue the club.
Attendances in the English Football League reached a sixty-year high this season. Almost 18.4 million people attended the sixteen hundred and fifty five matches in the Championship, League One and League Two - the most in tiers two to four since 1958-59. Blunderland's Boxing Day crowd for their match with Bradford City was the largest of the season at fortysix thousand and thirty nine - setting a new League One record. The figures are up one-and-a-half per cent on last season with an average gate of eleven thousand one hundred and thirteen. Aston Villains were responsible for eight of the ten biggest attendances. When Carabao Cup and Checkatrade Trophy games are included, almost twenty million spectators attended games under the Football League banner. Figures are also up when comparing the sixty seven teams that played in the EFL last season and this season. 'It is clear from this analysis that EFL clubs are finding new, innovative ways to attract new supporters while also improving the match-day experience for those fans who regularly attend week in, week out,' said EFL chief executive Shaun Harvey. 'The rise in match-day attendance is set against a backdrop of increasing viewing options for all football fans. iFollow is providing an alternative option for those supporters who can't attend games, but the product EFL clubs have been turning out on the pitch has brought supporters back through the turnstiles.' In total eighteen million three hundred and ninety one thousand four hundred and fifty four people attended league matches played this season - eighteen million eight hundred and sixty three thousand six hundred and eighty five attended games in 1958-59.
When a friend handed Jordie Van der Laan a ticket for the first leg of Ajax's Champions League semi-final against Spurs last week, the temptation was too great. Van der Laan, a twenty five-year-old striker with second-tier club Telstar, decided to travel to London. 'I just called in sick and of course it wasn't the best decision. In the end someone found out,' he told the BBC. Snitched up and, banged-to-rights like a kipper, the club decided to terminate his contract by mutual consent. 'He tricked us,' complained technical director Piet Buter. 'In all he was away from the club for four days. At our request to go to the club doctor he reacted by saying he had an appointment with his GP,' he told a local paper. 'The next day his excuse was that he was in bed with a fever.' Van der Laan was not the only Ajax fan who failed to show up to work last week. A Dutch reporter was slapped by a supporter outside the Stottingtot Hotshots ground, apparently because he was angry that fans who had called in sick were being filmed. No-one realised Van der Laan had flown to London to see Ajax beat Spurs one-nil. And, initial reports said that friends and colleagues only found out when they saw his face appear three times during TV coverage of the match. 'My team's group-chat exploded. They fell about laughing,' he was quoted as saying by the Volkskrant newspaper. Friends reportedly spotted him on TV from as far afield as Denmark and Mexico. But Telstar's trainer Mike Snoei had already suspected something was up and when he said that he wanted to visit Van der Laan, the player admitted that he was on his way to see Ajax. Van der Laan said Telstar's season was 'as good as over' and as he had not been selected for some time his chances of playing in the next match against Young PSV on Friday were 'thin. I hadn't expected it would get so out of hand. I didn't show up for training on Tuesday and it got noticed. But in my discussion with Telstar it was agreed it wouldn't get out,' he told local broadcaster Omroep Brabant. Telstar were, seemingly, unimpressed. 'The trainer said it was incredibly stupid of me and with one more game ahead he decided it was best to terminate my contract,' Van der Laan told the Volkskrant. On Monday the player tweeted: 'So don't I deserve a ticket for Wednesday's match now? After all I am free, aren't I?' Journalist Menno Pot responded with an offer of a free ticket in return for a beer.
Two Russia internationals have been sent to The Slammer after being found guilty of 'hooliganism.' Zenit St Petersburg's Aleksandr Kokorin and Krasnodar's Pavel Mamaev reportedly attacked a trade ministry official with a chair and beat up a driver in Moscow. Kokorin will serve eighteen months in The Joint and Mamaev seventeen months. They have been in custody since the incident took place in October. In addition, Kokorin's younger brother Kirill and their friend, Alexander Protosavitsky, have also been found extremely guilty. The punishment for hooliganism is a maximum penalty of seven years in The Gulag. Kokorin has forty eight caps for Russia, but missed last year's home World Cup through injury, while thirty-year-old Mamaev has fifteen caps.
Online retailer Zavvi has apologised after reportedly telling customers they had won a VIP trip to the Champions League football final in Madrid. Joyous winners took to social media to announce their news - and then, abject dismay upon learning of the error. What Zavvi called 'technical issues' meant its entire subscriber list may have been told that they were winners. Zavvi, which emerged out of Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Group, sell music, DVDs, clothing and homeware. A competition, in partnership with Mastercard, was offering two adults an all-expenses two-night trip to the much-anticipated Champions League final between the Liverpool Alabama Yee-Haws and Stottingtot Hotshots. Supposed winners received an e-mail addressed to them personally using their first name. It read: 'We here at Zavvi would like to wish you a huge congratulations as you have been chosen as the winner of our Mastercard competition, winning a VIP trip for two adults to attend the UEFA Champions League Final Madrid 2019.' It is unclear how many people were e-mailed. The Liverpool Echo newspaper reported that among people getting the Zavvi e-mails were 'hundreds' of Liverpool fans. But, after news seeped out on social media of multiple winners, Zavvi tweeted: 'Apologies, we're aware of the problem regarding the recent Mastercard Competition. We seem to have had some technical issues and we're currently looking into this.' It appears that this tweet has now been taken down from Zavvi's Twitter feed.
England held on to win a thrilling, action-packed second one-day international against Pakistan by twelve runs in Southampton on Saturday. The home side were powered to a total of three hundred and seventy three for three in their fifty overs by Jos Buttler's spectacular fifty-ball century, the second-fastest by an England batsman in an ODI. That came after Jason Roy (eighty seven), Jonny Bairstow (fifty one), Joe Root (forty) and Eoin Morgan (seventy one not out) had all made solid contributions. Pakistan remained in the game through a brutal hundred scored by opener Fakhar Zaman. Even after he was out for one hundred and thirty eight (from one hundred and six balls) at the end of the thirty third over, Asif Ali and Sarfaraz Ahmed kept the tourists in touch. However, under extreme pressure, England pace bowlers David Willey and Liam Plunkett held their nerve and the wickets they took saw the required rate eventually become unmanageable. Nineteen were needed from the final over, delivered by Chris Woakes, who expertly sent down a series of wide yorkers to leave Pakistan on three hundred and sixty one for seven at the close. England take a one-nil lead in the five-match series following the first game at The Oval being washed out. The third game is in Bristol on Tuesday. With only three matches to go before they finalise their World Cup squad, tournament favourites England were given a thorough examination by a spirited Pakistan. On a day when bowlers of all kinds struggled for assistance, England's batting once again demonstrated its embarrassment of riches, with Buttler, whose newborn daughter Georgia was in the stands, as the crown jewel. But the identity of their first-choice pace attack is still a way from being decided and, in the batter-friendly conditions, those on show in Southampton were given a real test of nerve. Indeed, without the hostility of the rested Jofra Archer, the pace of Mark Wood and the death-bowling skills of Tom Curran, for long periods England looked one-paced and lacking in variety. However, Woakes returned to remove Fakhar, while Plunkett and Willey delivered at the death when the pressure was really on. Plunkett hammered his length and trusted his slower balls for two for sixty four, while Willey's yorkers left him with excellent figures of two for fifty seven. England will arrive at the World Cup with the strongest top seven batting order in the tournament and here, they decimated a wayward Pakistan attack without even having to call on either Ben Stokes or Moeen Ali. Roy displayed on-side power and made lofts over cover, Bairstow scored off his pads and harried between the wickets, Root accumulated with efficiency and Morgan cracked several handsome drives. But it was the outrageous hitting of Buttler - who already held the record for England's fastest one-day ton - that left the fielders redundant and the spectators vying to take catches. The wicketkeeper arrived at the beginning of the thirty sixth over when England were already two hundred and eleven for three. Thanks to a diet of long-hops from leg-spinner Yasir Shah, he hit his second ball for six and the next two both for four. From then on, there was nowhere to bowl at the right-hander. First the leg-side rope was cleared with ease, then the ball was flicked and ramped over his shoulder and finally he lofted glorious maximums over long-off. His first fifty came from thirty three balls  relatively sedate for Buttler. The second fifty came from a remarkable seventeen balls. At the end of the devastation, he was left unbeaten on one hundred and ten with the thrilled Southampton crowd on their feet. The unbroken fourth-wicket stand of one hundred and sixty two between Buttler and Morgan came from only eighty nine deliveries. Despite England's massive total, left-hander Fakhar took Pakistan to a position from which they could have won. As the home pacers erred too regularly onto the pads, Fakhar peppered the leg-side boundary, sharing stands of ninety two with Imam-ul-Haq and one hundred and thirty five with Babar Azam. Just as England seemed about to run out of answers, Fakhar reached for a wide delivery from Woakes and gave a catch to Buttler which was only detected by the umpires on review. When Babar was caught and bowled by Adil Rashid in the following over for fifty one, England looked to have taken control, only for Asif to pick up the assault. He smashed four sixes while also mixing breathless running between the wickets in a partnership with Sarfaraz. Even after Asif was caught at long-off off Willey, Rashid went for seventeen in the forty sixth over to keep the contest alive. However, Imad Wasim miscued Willey to Buttler in the forty eighth over and Faheem Ashraf chipped Plunkett to mid-off in the forty ninth, leaving too much for Sarfaraz and Hasan Ali to do in the final over.
Lewis Hamilton led Valtteri Bottas to the fifth consecutive Mercedes one-two at the start of this season after dominating the Spanish Grand Prix on Sunday. The world champion, who started second on the grid, passed Bottas into the first corner and eased away to an ultimately comfortable win, despite a late safety car being deployed. A long way behind, Ferrari used team tactics again but lost out to Red Bull's Max Verstappen for third. But a disheartening performance for the Italian team on a weekend that they hoped would make a step forward only emphasised the sense that Mercedes are currently in a league of their own this year and that the championship fight is already a private one between Hamilton and Bottas. Hamilton, with three wins to the Finn's two and a point for fastest lap from Spain to add to his tally, leads Bottas by seven points and their closest rival, Verstappen, is a massive forty six points behind, with Vettel a further two adrift and Leclerc ten behind his team-mate. Mercedes' lead is not far off two clear wins, at twenty five points for a victory and the size of the advantage at just about the quarter-way mark of a twenty one-race season underlines Mercedes' superiority. An aerodynamic upgrade to the world champions' car for this race was said to be worth 0.4 seconds a lap and it more than compensated for both chassis and engine improvements by Ferrari. Mercedes dominated the weekend, Bottas taking pole by 0.6 seconds after Hamilton had a messy qualifying session and Hamilton controlling the race after making the better start. The first corner was tense, with Hamilton, Bottas and Vettel three-wide on the entry, before Hamilton claimed the lead from the inside line and Vettel locked up on the outside and went into the run-off. As the German rejoined, he ran team-mate Leclerc out of road, costing the Monegasque the third place he had just before claimed as Verstappen backed off to avoid running into the back of Bottas. Ferrari spent the rest of the race fighting a losing battle to reclaim that final podium place. Vettel was struggling in the early stages with a flat-spotted tyre, damaged at the first corner and Leclerc was pressuring him hard. Ferrari eventually ordered their nominal team leader to let Leclerc by and then Vettel had to make an earlier than planned pit stop, forcing him on to a two-stop strategy. Red Bull put Verstappen on the same, while Leclerc was on a one-stop and the question was which would prevail. Later on, Leclerc had to return the favour to Vettel, who was behind him on softer tyres mid-race, as Ferrari sought to maximise their different drivers' strategies. The race was panning out to a climax with Verstappen and Vettel on fresher tyres fighting to pass Leclerc protecting third on older tyres in the closing laps. But in the end, the safety car decided it. Lance Stroll's Racing Point and Lando Norris' McLaren tangled at the first corner, spreading debris all over the road. Hamilton and Bottas came in for fresh tyres and behind them Leclerc had to follow suit, while Verstappen and Vettel behind him stayed out, as they had just stopped a couple of laps before. That dropped Leclerc down to fifth and they ran that way to the end of the race. The fight in the closing laps was all about the midfield, with some hectic and wheel-banging action deciding the final points positions. The Haas drivers nearly tangled before Kevin Magnussen moved clear into seventh behind Pierre Gasly's Red Bull, while his team-mate Romain Grosjean dropped back first behind McLaren's Carlos Sainz and Toro Rosso's Daniil Kvyat before battling to hold off Kvyat's team-mate Alexander Albon in the closing laps for the final point.
A hoard of early fourth century Roman coins which was discovered by two metal-detecting enthusiasts is thought to be the largest haul of its kind to be found in Britain. The discovery was made in July 2017 near the village of Rauceby in Lincolnshire, which detectorists Rob Jones and his friend Craig Paul, had searched for years. Lincolnshire County Council archaeologist, Doctor Adam Daubney, said that the coins may have been buried as part of a ceremonial ritual. 'The coins were found in a ceramic pot, which was buried in the centre of a large oval pit - lined with quarried limestone,' he said. 'What we found during the excavation suggests to me that the hoard was not put in the ground in secret, but rather was perhaps a ceremonial or votive offering. The Rauceby hoard is giving us further evidence for so-called "ritual" hoarding in Roman Britain.' The more than three thousand copper alloy coins are being examined by The British Museum and will be valued. The museum's curator of Iron Age and Roman coins, Doctor Eleanor Ghey, said: 'At the time of the burial of the hoard around 307AD, the Roman Empire was increasingly decentralised and Britain was once again in the spotlight following the death of the emperor Constantius in York. Roman coins had begun to be minted in London for the first time. As the largest fully recorded find of this date from Britain, it has great importance for the study of this coinage and the archaeology of Lincolnshire.' Recalling the discovery, Jones said he and Craig started to dig after their detectors started beeping. He said: 'I couldn't believe what I was seeing. I've found a few things before, but absolutely nothing on this scale. I was totally amazed. Finding the coins was the ultimate experience that we will never forget. It's an incredibly humbling experience knowing that when you discover something like this, the last time someone touched it was nearly two thousand years ago. I was completely flabbergasted.' The coins were officially declared treasure under the Treasure Act 1996 at Lincoln Coroner's Court on Thursday.
A missing piece of Stonehenge has been returned to the site sixty years after it was removed. A metre-long core from inside the prehistoric stone was taken during archaeological excavations in 1958. No-one knew where it was until Robert Phillips, who was involved in those works, decided to return part of it. English Heritage, which looks after Stonehenge, hopes the sample might now help establish where the stones originally came from. In 1958 archaeologists raised an entire fallen trilithon - a set of three large stones consisting of two that would have stood upright, with the third placed horizontally across the top. During the works, cracks were found in one of the vertical stones and in order to reinforce it, cores were drilled through the stone and metal rods inserted. The repairs were masked by small plugs cut from Sarsen fragments found during excavations. For sixty years Phillips, who now lives in retirement in Florida, kept his piece of Stonehenge - first in a plastic tube at his office in Basingstoke and later on the wall at home in the US. In the 1950s he had been employed by a diamond-cutting firm brought in to help reinforce the giant stones. The company, Van Moppes, bored three holes into one stone before stabilising metal rods were inserted. During the process workers extracted three one metre-long cores of stone and Phillips took one of them.But on the eve of his ninetieth birthday, he decided to return it. Archaeologists hope to analyse the chemical composition of the core to try to pinpoint where the ancient Sarsen stones might have come from. Although the sample was handed back last May, English Heritage said it had not announced the find until now as it had to first understand its significance. Historic England said the stone sample looks 'incongruously pristine' alongside the 'weathered' stones currently standing at the monument. The smaller bluestones at Stonehenge were brought to the site from the Preseli Hills is South Wales but the source of the larger Sarsen stones is unknown. The discovery of part of the missing core now means a team will be able to analyse it in order to 'pinpoint their source.' Researchers have already used a spectrometer to look at the chemical composition of the stone. The whereabouts of the other two Stonehenge cores remains a mystery and English Heritage is appealing for anyone with any information to contact them. Heather Sebire from English Heritage said 'the last thing we expected was to get a call from someone in America saying they had part of Stonehenge. Studying the Stonehenge core's DNA could help tell us more about where those enormous Sarsen stones originated,' she added. Professor David Nash from Brighton University, which is leading the study into the stone core, said it was 'possible' the Sarsen stones came from multiple locations. 'Conventional wisdom suggests they they all came from the relatively nearby Marlborough Downs,' he said. 'But initial results from our analysis suggest that in fact the Sarsens may come from more than one location.'
A newspaper has addressed its 'awful' reporting of a woman's suicide more than one hundred years ago. A Teesdale Mercury reader complained to the paper after finding a report in a 1912 edition on the death of sixteen-year-old parlour maid Dorothy Balchin. The old report called her suicide notes 'pathetic,' with an inquest jury finding her 'temporarily insane.' Editor Trevor Brookes said 'pathetic' had a different meaning at the time, but it was 'good' that attitudes had changed. 'We agree that this is an awful way to report a tragic death of a young woman,' Brookes said. But, he said it would 'inappropriate' to publish an apology so many years later, adding: 'We must be careful not to judge the past with today's morals but instead learn from what happened. We should be thankful attitudes have changed and mental health, depression and suicide get the attention they so thoroughly deserve and there are strict guidelines issued to modern media.' Suicide-prevention charity Samaritans advises today's media not to include details of method of suicide in reports, but the 1912 press cutting includes such information. The report detailed how Balchin killed herself on her employer's tennis lawn at Albury near Guildford. It included details of suicide notes she had written which the report called 'pathetic.' 'Pathetic is the adjective of pathos meaning emotion and it was once used very differently to how it is used today,' said Brookes. The Teesdale Mercury is a weekly-newspaper based in Barnard Castle in County Durham. Brookes said the report was part of a 'syndicated section' of the paper, meaning it would have appeared in similar titles across the country.
The UK will not be banning imports from trophy hunting yet, the rat-faced loathsome wretched odious nasty slavver-merchant, George Formby lookalike Gove has told BBC 5Live. The Environment Secretary said that it was 'a delicate political balancing act.' The rat-faced loathsome wretched odious nasty slavver-merchant, George Formby lookalike Gove claimed that he had been 'advised' by wildlife charities to 'be cautious' in following other countries in outlawing imports from the controversial 'sport.' Trophy hunting is the shooting of carefully selected animals - including some endangered species - under strict government controls. The rat-faced loathsome wretched odious nasty slavver-merchant, George Formby lookalike Gove was interviewed by former England cricketer Kevin Pietersen as part of a new 5Live podcast, Beast Of Man, which looks into how the South African rhino can be saved from extinction. Clients, mainly from Europe or the US, often pay thousands of smackers to take part in a hunt and keep a 'trophy' - usually the head or skin, or another body part of the killed animal. It is a big business in some African countries. Critics describe it as a blood sport, this blogger describes it as a fucking obscenity but proponents claim that it 'helps raise vital money for conservation,' especially for endangered species. One or two people even believe them. Although, remarkably few animals do. Currently, if a trophy hunter wants to bring a body part from their hunt back to the UK, they can do so, with a special permit. One trophy hunter told the podcast that the 'sport' was 'thrilling' and helped conservation: 'To shoot an elephant is an awesome thing to do, it is a stunningly, stunningly awesome thing to do, which is why I did it. I want to try and preserve those wild places in Africa. But the only way they get preserved is if there's money. If it doesn't pay it doesn't stay. It's as simple as that.' In 2015, the death of Cecil the lion in Zimbabwe's Hwange National Park sparked worldwide revulsion and resulted in a number of countries - including Australia, France and the Netherlands - implementing bans on the import of lion trophies. At the time, the UK government pledged to do the same unless there were improvements to how hunting took place. When asked about why the UK had not yet enforced a ban, the rat-faced loathsome wretched odious nasty slavver-merchant, George Formby lookalike Gove claimed that he had been 'advised' by 'conservationists and charities' to 'proceed with caution.' He claimed they told him: 'Don't come in with your clod-hopping boots from the UK and necessarily tell people in each of these countries exactly how they should regulate their own wildlife. On an emotional level and on a personal level, I find it difficult to understand,' the rat-faced loathsome wretched odious nasty slavver-merchant, George Formby lookalike Gove said. 'But I also recognise that I've got to respect if there is expertise, which says that [trophy hunting] done in a managed way can help wildlife overall, then let's just test that.' The CEO of charity Save the Rhino, Cathy Dean, says that 'well-regulated trophy hunting has a role in overall rhino conservation strategies.' There were between fifty and one hundred Southern white rhinos at the start of the 1900s, but now there are about eighteen thousand, she told the BBC. The increase is 'partly due to the conservation efforts and involvement of the private sector, who have dedicated land to breeding rhinos, some of which may be trophy hunted, rather than to livestock or agriculture.' In 2018, more than fifty celebrities - including Ed Sheeran and Liam Gallagher - signed an open letter in support of the Campaign to Ban Trophy Hunting, urging the government to ban trophy hunters from importing animal body parts into Britain. A cross-party Early Day Motion, signed by more than one hundred and fifty MPs, has also called on the UK government to stop trophy hunting imports of endangered species. 'I think that there is growing momentum for the law to change. But what I don't want to do is to get ahead,' said the rat-faced loathsome wretched odious nasty slavver-merchant, George Formby lookalike Gove. 'I don't want to be in a position where am I running so far in advance of what other charities and other leaders want, that we risk the good relationship that's been built up over time. Like so many areas of campaigning, it's partly a process of education and it's partly a process of dialogue. If particular communities have got used to driving income from hunting, you don't want to seem as though you're basically saying, we're taking your livelihood away. We've got to make sure that there is a clear alternative, that they know that their livelihoods and their lifestyle are going to be respected and not patronised, before they will feel comfortable about moving.'
A customer opened a loaf of bread only to find the bag was full of crusts according to widespread media reports. And, again, this abject trivia constitutes 'news' in the modern world it would seem. Timea Ganji was 'hoping to make sandwiches for her children's lunch' when she made the unlikely discovery. Because, of course, it is physically impossible to make sandwiches with crusts, it's a well known fact. 'It's not funny first thing in the morning, when you have half an hour to get the kids to school and there's no time to get another loaf,' she whinged. Kingsmill said it that was 'investigating' how this tragedy happened and had posted Ganji a 'more conventional loaf.' 'It just looked like a normal loaf when we bought it,' the forty one-year-old, from Nottingham, snitched to the BBC. 'Because of the yellow packaging, you can't see it properly. You can see it's sliced, but you couldn't see it is all just crusts. Then, in the morning, I just wanted some toast and to make sandwiches and I was just staring at it. I don't really understand how it can happen.' So, instead of just getting on with it, she posted photos of the find on Facebook and friends 'shared ways to use the crusts and old sayings about the benefits of eating them.' 'Maybe I'd like curly hair but I don't want a hairy chest,' she added. Have to run this one by you, love, but they don't actually do that. 'I don't mind eating them. I love baguettes with butter on them, or an end of sourdough or tiger bread, but these ends are not as tasty,' she whinged. 'You can't make sandwiches with them' (err, yes, you can; honest) 'and the kids won't eat them' (well, that's your problem, surely?) Kingsmill said that its bakeries were enclosed and 'would not allow for a loaf consisting solely of crusts to pass through their strict quality control processes.' So, the mystery deepens and perhaps we'll never know - or even care - how this happenstance was done. A spokeswoman said that the firm was investigating 'to find out how this particular collection of crusts found its way into Mrs Ganji's shopping.' Because, of course, they've got nothing more important to do with their time, have they?
Now, dear blog reader, would you like to see a video clip of The Butcher of Grozny, Vladimir Putin in the midst of a victory lap after an ice hockey match, tripping and fall flat on his mush? Of course you would, dear blog reader, you're only human after all.
Eating cheese can help you live longer, scientists claim - at least, according to the Daily Lies, if not any part of the media slightly more trustworthy.
British people are having less of The Sex now than in recent years, according to a large national survey. The findings, published in the British Medical Journal, suggest 'nearly a third' of men and women have not had The Sex in the past month. Or, in this blogger's case, in the last decade. Those figures are up from around a quarter in 2001, according to the data from thirty four thousand people. Less than half of men and women aged sixteen to forty four have The Sex 'at least' once a week, responses show. Over-twenty fives and couples who are married or living together account for the biggest falls in sexual activity across the twenty one-year period. The data the researchers looked at came from three successive waves of the British National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles carried out in 1991, 2001, and 2012. They give a snapshot of sexual behaviour among Britons. According to the most recent survey: Less than half of people aged sixteen to forty four (forty one per cent) have had The Sex at least once a week in the last month. The proportion reporting nil The Sex in the past month has increased - from twenty three to twenty nine per cent among women and from twenty six to twenty nine per cent among men between 2001 and 2012. The proportion reporting having The Sex 'ten or more times' in the past month has fallen - from over twenty per cent to thirteen per cent among women and from twenty to fourteen per cent among men between 2001 and 2012. The average number of times that thirty five to forty four-year-olds reported having The Sex in the past month fell from four to two among women and from four to three among men. Researchers from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine say the decrease in sexual frequency has been seen among people who have previously been sexually active, rather than more people deciding to keep their virginity and not have The Sex. Although people under twenty five and those currently single were less likely to be sexually active, the steepest declines in sexual frequency were among older married or cohabiting couples. Half of women and nearly two-thirds of men in the latest survey said they would like to have more of The Sex. This desire was more often voiced by people who were married or living together as a couple, which the researchers say 'merits concern.' Lead researcher Professor Kaye Wellings said the 'sheer pace of modern life' may be a reason why many people are having less of The Sex. 'It is interesting that those most affected are in their mid-life - the so-called "sandwich generation." These are men and women who are often juggling work, childcare and responsibilities to parents who are getting older.' Perhaps social pressure to over-report sexual activity may have eased, while gender equality means that women may now be less inclined to meet their partner's sexual needs irrespective of their own, claim the researchers. The decline in The Sex coincides with increasing use of social media and a global recession, which may be 'other contributing factors.' Having less of The Sex is 'not always a bad thing,' alleges Professor Wellings. She said that the survey results 'may be a comfort' to many. 'What is important to wellbeing is not how often people have sex but whether it matters to them. Most people believe that others have more regular sex than they do themselves. Many people are likely to find it reassuring that they are not out of line.' Relate counsellor and The Sex therapist Peter Saddington said: 'The important thing is quality not quantity.' Although, if you're getting neither then, frankly, it's both. 'If you enjoy the experience you are more likely to do it again. But you have to make time for sex. It doesn't always have to be spontaneous. Putting a date in the diary can help.'
Australia's latest fifty dollar note comes with a big blunder hidden in the small print; a somewhat embarrassing typo. The Reserve Bank of Australia reportedly spelled 'responsibility' as 'responsibilty' [sic] on millions of the new yellow notes. The RBA confirmed the typo on Thursday and said that the error would be fixed in future print runs. But for now, around forty six million of the new notes are in use across the country. The bills were released late last year and feature Edith Cowan, the first female member of an Australian parliament. What looks like a lawn in the background of Cowan's portrait is in fact rows of text - a quotation from her first speech to parliament. 'It is a great responsibility to be the only woman here and I want to emphasise the necessity which exists for other women being here,' is repeated several times over in microscopic print. Alas, it is misspelled each time. It took more than six months for someone with a good magnifying glass to spot the typo. The fifty dollar note is the most widely circulated in Australia and the most commonly given out by cash machines. The other side of the note features distinguished Indigenous author David Unaipon. When the latest batch emerged in October, new security features were embedded in the design to improve accessibility and prevent counterfeiting.
Waste-of-space reality TV type individual Kerry Katona has reportedly been fined five hundred knicker for failing to send one of her children to school. The former member of Atomic Kitten had previously denied the charge but her solicitor entered a very guilty plea on her behalf at Brighton Magistrates' Court. The prosecution said that Katona, who lives in Crowborough, East Sussex, had 'failed to engage' over the issue. But Ed Fish, defending, claimed that 'work commitments' meant she sometimes had to take the child to work with her. Katona had previously been warned she could be sent to The Slammer after failing to attend an earlier court hearing. She did appear at the previous hearing on 6 March, when she pleaded not guilty. But during the public part of Wednesday's hearing, when Fish said she was pleading guilty, no reason was given for her absence. The court was told Katona had failed to send the child - one of five, who cannot be named - to school for 'a significant' number of days between April and November last year. Gareth Jones, prosecuting on behalf of East Sussex County Council, said the child's attendance rate had dropped as low as forty eight per cent. He said: 'There's a failure to engage here. She is not attending meetings, letters are not being responded to. This is a problem that has gone on for some time.' Fish told the court that 'some' of the unauthorised absences were because Katona could not get childcare while working. He did not reveal what caused others. He said: 'She understands it fell below what was expected of her. On occasions [the child] missed school due to Kerry Katona's work commitments. She's not had childcare and has to take the children to work. She understands she should maintain better contact with the school.' He added: 'The attendance has not been the worst [the court has seen].' Katona was also ordered to pay three hundred and twenty five knicker in costs and a one hundred quid surcharge and was given fourteen days to pay.
HSBC has grovellingly apologised after an advert proclaiming 'You Are Newcastle' was put up in Nottingham. The poster celebrating the 'home of the Geordies' was spotted in Highbury Vale, Bulwell, on Friday. he bank apologised, saying: 'Correction. You are NOT Newcastle (apologies Nottingham). More seriously, thanks for pointing this out.' The poster, part of the bank's 'we are not an island' campaign, should have read 'you are Nottingham' and started with 'more than an outlaw's city.' HSBC said it had now replaced the incorrect poster.
Sometimes, it's a cats life dear blog reader. Despite being, seemingly, well-qualified that Jack Russell still got the gig. Presumably, it was this cat's steadfast refusal to acknowledge that he had a 'master' (with or without voice), which did for the pussy's employment chances. (This blogger's thanks go to his old mate Davey Mac for both this photograph,  from 1908 - and, indeed, the first of these two jokes. The second, at least, was all yer actual Keith Telly Topping's own work!)
Brian Walden, the journalist, TV interviewer and former Labour MP, has died at the age of eighty six. The broadcaster as known for his tough political interviews, including with That Awful Thatcher Wman in 1989 which helped speed up the then-prime monster's downfall. Walden died following complications from emphysema at his home in St Peter Port, Guernsey on Thursday. His widow, Hazel, said that he was 'always happy and got on well with people.' Walden served as Labour MP for Birmingham Ladywood from 1964 until 1977. He was best known, politically, for an impassioned speech calling for the abolition of capital punishment. Mrs Walden, who said that she was 'happily married' to Brian for forty three years, added that her husband was a passionate Brexiteer and that his biggest regret would be that he had not lived to see Brexit. After being elected as an MP in four elections, Brian resigned from Parliament to become a journalist and broadcaster in 1977. He presented the ITV political programme Weekend World as well as other TV shows including The Walden Interview and Walden. He became known for his tenacious interviewing style and often grilled the then-prime minister That Awful Thatcher Woman. According to the Press Association, Thatcher claimed that she 'enjoyed' being interviewed by Walden although, if true, her scowling faced during such interviews seldom gave this away. During his most famous interview with That Awful Thatcher Woman in October 1989 - when her own party was in the process of turning against her - he asked: 'You come over as being someone who one of your backbenchers said is slightly off her trolley, authoritarian, domineering, refusing to listen to anybody else - why? Why can't you publicly project what you have just told me is your private character?' That Awful Thatcher Woman replied: 'Brian, if anyone's coming over as domineering in this interview, it's you. It's you.' Brian's own political views shifted away from Labour and towards the Thatcherite right-wing in his later years. He maintained his libertarian beliefs and opposed the fox hunting ban. His friend John Wakefield, who he worked with at ITV, said: 'Initially he was on the Gaitskell wing of Labour but found it all rather tawdry under [Harold] Wilson.' Walden won several awards for his broadcasting and was named ITV's personality of the year in 1991. Wakefield said he and Brian had 'a terrific time' together. 'Brian was an immensely lively and entertaining person to work with,' he said. 'He was very much a team guy who loved what everybody had to say, including the most lowly, recent researcher and was hugely gregarious and fun. He was brilliant because he was such a fantastic public speaker and, as a former politician, he knew how they operated - he was able to read their minds.' Walden later presented BBC Radio 4's A Point Of View programme, as well as documentaries for the BBC including Walden On Heroes and a series of profiles on former Labour Party leaders.
Along with many of his friends and acquaintances, Keith Telly Topping's Saturday was completely shattered this week by the awful, tragic news of the death at the age of just forty eight of our friend, Paul Condon after a short illness. Paul, the author of numerous books on TV and film including One Thousand & One TV Series: You Must Watch Before You Die, TV Heaven and The Complete Hitchcock and a superb DJ, was a friend of this blogger for the best part of twenty years. Ironically, however, we hardly ever saw each other in this country; though I can remember once having a delightful lunch with Paul at the BBC in London were he was working at the time when this blogger was in The Smoke visiting my publisher. However, every February in Los Angeles for about a decade we would see each other across a hotel lobby at the annual Gallifrey One conventions and Paul would give this blogger a huge hug and then - usually in the company of his dear friend and frequent co-author Jim Sangster - keep this blogger (and whoever else was around) entertained and weeping with laughter for hours. Paul was a lovely man; a dear, sweet, delightful and funny friend. It is almost impossible to believe that someone with such joie de vivre, such humour, such effortless charm, such life and such fun is gone. This blogger and, he knows from an understandable outpouring of grief and love on Facebook, many other mutual friends will miss Paul's infectious, deliciously warm take on life enormously. Like the late Craig Hinton - another friend and fellow author taken long before his time - if there is any sort of afterlife then it's quite comforting to know that Paul is probably sitting somewhere at this moment absolutely laughing his head off at the vast deluge of affection and sorrow which accompanied news of his passing and mockingly saying something along the lines of 'you miserable bastards, you might've told me some of this whilst I was still around to hear it!' Paul was one of the very best of The Good Guys, dear blog reader. The blogger's sympathies are, obviously, with his family at this distressing time. And, also, with his many friends. A Paul Condon-shaped hole is missing from a lot of people's lives today and that feels wretched.
And finally, dear blog reader, From The North's Headline Of The Week award goes to a website called Rare US for Kansas Police Asking People To Please Not Shoot Their Guns At Tornadoes. This blogger thinks that it's a sheer politeness of the 'please' that makes this art.