Saturday, June 08, 2019

Je Suis Le Grand Zombie

The return of From The North favourite Killing Eve to the BBC on Saturday finally frees-up this blogger from biting his tongue concerning episodes that he's been getting preview discs of from the US for the last two months. Which is something of a relief as this blogger is sure you can all appreciate. The second series' BBC debut has also coincidence with a whole schlew of cast interviews in the UK media. Jodie Comer has been particularly in evidence this week; see, for example, this interview with the BBC's Steven McIntosh and Rebecca Nicholson's rather more inconsequential 'Mum And Dad Took My BAFTA On A Pub Crawl' piece in the Gruniad Morning Star being among the most prominent. According to several media outlets, the show has also 'been accused of queerbashing'. Albeit, not by anyone that you've actually heard of. A third series of the massively popular drama has also been confirmed and yet another writer - Fear The Walking Dead's Suzanne Heathcote - will be taking over the story from Phoebe Waller-Bridge in the first series and Emerald Fennell in the second.
Having raved about Good Omens in a previous bloggerisationisms - well, up till the point where Bloody Jack Bloody Whitehall turned up in it - allow this blogger to point you all in the direction of a couple of fascinating related interviews, dear blog reader. Firstly, the Independant's Alexandra Pollard's cheery, laugh-a-minute chat with national hearttrob David Tennant, The Apocalypse Is In Sight. You Can Smell It. And, secondly the Gruniad's Tim Lewis having an - only slightly less pessimistic - chat with Michael Sheen. You should also, probably, check out Neil Gaiman slapping down - with righteous fury and considerable snark - some waste-of-oxygen rank bell-end of no importance on Twitter for suggesting that having a black Adam and Eve in the series was an example of 'forced diversity.'
Sky Atlantic has broken down its ratings for the final series of Game Of Thrones as the popular HBO adult fantasy drama become the most-watched show ever on the British pay-TV platform. The final episode, The Iron Throne, became the biggest series finale ever for Sky with a cumulative audience of 5.8 million viewers. This included live and overnight viewers and those who subsequently caught up on-demand. However, the second episode, A Knight Of The Seven Kingdoms, which was broadcast on Bank Holiday Monday in the UK, was even bigger with 6.31 million viewers. This included those who watched the 2am simulcast of the US showing, those who watched the 9pm repeat transmission, subsequent repeats and those who recorded it and watched it later. Including those who watched on their mobile phones and tablets, as well as those who watched after the first seven days it was on-air, the total audience increased to more than 7.1 million punters. Each of the six episodes drew an average cumulative audience of 6.1 million, which is the biggest ever series performance of any Sky programme. The Comcast-backed service also revealed that the average viewer was aged forty one and it skewed fifty one per cent male. Zai Bennett, the Sky Director of Programmes - and, previously, the uter arsehole who, when he was in charge of BBC3 cancelled Ideal - said: 'Game Of Thrones has been a huge success for Sky Atlantic. Showcasing British talent both on and off-screen, the series has kept viewers gripped with the myriad twists and turns of the battle for the Seven Kingdoms. We want to say a massive thank you to all the fans who have supported the show throughout this incredible journey. Valar Dohaeris.'
The From The North award for 'the most uterly pointless article in the entire history of the Interweb. Bar none' goes to some anonymous contributor to the Winter Is Coming website for Will There Be A Game Of Thrones Season Nine? An article which could (and, indeed, should) have been concluded in one word. Instead, the writer managed to pad it out to four whole paragraphs. Getting paid by the word were you, mate?
There's a fascinating interview with Game Of Thrones: The Last Watch director Jeanie Finlay talking to Variety's Joe Otterson which you can read here, dear blog reader, should you so chose. And, there's also another - less in-depth - one, with the NME's Hanna Mylrea, which can be found here.
Cillian Murphy has shared the story of how he once gifted the late David Bowie with one of his caps from Peaky Blinders. Ahead of the, much-anticipated, upcoming news of the premiere of From The North favourite Peaky Blinders' series five, Murphy and writer Steven Knight have spoken of how Bowie sent them a pre-release copy of his final CD Blackstar before his death. Aware that Bowie was 'a huge fan' of the period gangster drama and had requested that they use some of his music in an episode, they responded by sending him an example of the Shelby clan's iconic headgear in return. 'We were friends and I sent him the cap from the first series as a Christmas present,' Murphy told Birmingham Live. 'He was a very sweet man and a genuine fan of Peaky Blinders and I was a huge, huge David Bowie fan.' Murphy continued: 'He was very private and probably wouldn't like all this fuss. It's sad, isn't it?' Knight added they would be using a song from Blackstar in episode five or six of the forthcoming series. 'We all grew up with David Bowie and he's a hero,' said Knight. 'It's a major thing that someone like that was a fan of the show. He said he wanted his music to be part of it, but at the time I didn't know it was his dying wish.' Bowie's 'Lazarus' made an appearance in episode five of series three of the show in 2016. 'From the beginning we had The White Stripes and Nick Cave and since the show has gained in popularity more bands have started wanting to lend their music,' said Murphy. Knight also revealed how Bowie 'sent a photo of himself with razor blades in his cap to Cillian.' Production on series five of Peaky Blinders is said to be complete with news of a premiere and broadcast date expected to be announced shortly.
While British TV audiences are more used to seeing Idris Elba prowl East London as John Luther, a recently-announced remake of the drama in India will see a different actor stalking his prey on the mean streets of Delhi or Mumbai. The show is the latest BBC drama series to get the remake treatment in a foreign language. Luther has already been remade in Russia, under the guise of Klim - a Detective Chief Inspector working for the Serious Crime Unit in Saint Petersburg Police. In South Korea it's called Less Than Evil, where actor Shin Ha-kyun plays Woo Tae-suk, 'a tough and unscrupulous detective with the highest arrest rate.' But, while Luther has made a list of the top five BBC scripted dramas which have been remade for other TV markets (excluding The Office, the success of which has been well documented), it has been topped by two dramas which premiered in the UK more than ten years ago. The list, compiled by BBC Studios, is dominated by time-travelling police drama Life On Mars. The series, originally starring John Simm as Sam Tyler, has been remade in no less than six different markets (Russia, Spain, Czech Republic, China, America and South Korea). Number two is Mistresses, which premiered in 2008 and followed the lives of four female friends and their often complex relationships. Director SJ Clarkson has been involved in both dramas, directing most of the first series of Life On Mars and co-creating Mistresses. 'I think you make something and you hope it's going to find an audience,' she says. 'And when you hear it has travelled so far, it's a little overwhelming. And, of course lovely to hear. I think at the time when we made it, Lowri [Glain] and I felt that there was nothing on telly for us. You know, nothing was really doing it for us. I think we felt that we wanted to kind of explore female friendship and love in the 21st Century, and relationships and secrets in a really honest, truthful way.' The mobile phones may have changed shape in the ten years since its premiere and some of the fashion choices may even raise some eyebrows now, but those themes of love and friendship appear to have endured. According to Sumi Connock, BBC Studio's creative director of formats, the remaking of scripted dramas is a major growth area in the industry internationally. 'If you are a broadcaster and you pick up the scripted format, you've got proven success. Drama is so expensive to make and develop. With a scripted format, then you know that it was already successful. You've also got the BBC's reputation when it comes to drama and a huge heritage and pedigree when it comes to crafting those sort of complex and interesting characters. Plus you've also got the advantage of working with some of the best script writers in the world.' India's new version of Luther is yet to go into production but producer Myeeta Aga, BBC Studio's senior vice president for South East Asia, stresses the new version won't be 'sanitised' or its gritty dark themes watered down for a domestic audience. It is still in its early stages and Aga says it is 'key to find an actor who can bring similar qualities' to the role as Idris Elba. 'If we could get Idris to learn a bit of Hindi, he would be the first choice,' she says. 'We agreed on a format some time ago and agreed finding the right casting choice will be challenging. We haven't found him yet. We've had some names in conversations that could be very, very exciting but casting is absolutely key and I would not produce this series unless we find the right person to play the character.' Producer Sameer Nair is the CEO of Applause, which commissions scripted formats in India and then sells them on to platforms like the digital broadcaster Hotstar. He will be working with Aga on the new production as well as Indian versions of Criminal Justice and The Office, both of which premiered this year. 'The first step in selecting a show for adaptation is to test it with a very direct translation of the original material. If the core idea and plot travel well, then the next step is to adapt it to a local setting and colour it up with local nuances, tastes, cultural cues and language, without sacrificing the original idea.' 'Shows like Criminal Justice, The Office and Luther have stories that are universal,' he says. 'Characters, situations, predicaments - they travel very well. When cast with powerful local actors, set in domestic milieus and written in the spoken dialect of the region, these shows become our own for the audiences.' 'We want producers to stick to the original DNA of what the story is and the characters, but also we allow them to localise it, because they know much more about, you know, culturally, the differences and how that will manifest,' says Sumi Connock. 'So in Doctor Foster, [the issue of] infidelity, say you're in Latin America, you'll have screaming and throwing things around and being very dramatic, whereas in France, it might be much more subdued, because you don't want the world to know your business. So we allow basically, we allow everybody to adapt it to make it culturally relevant.' In South Korea, Less Than Evil is already proving to be something of a success. It was broadcast in December of last year and January 2019. Shin Ha Kyun plays Woo Tae Seok, 'a ruthless detective who will stop at nothing.' He is 'tough and reckless, but he also has a sensitive and fragile side,' Kyun said at a press conference to launch the series. 'The stories are different from the ones on Luther. The episodes are similar, but the way that the stories unfold or the emotions the characters feel are different.' He added: 'The original character of [John] Luther was more like a bear, but Woo Tae Seok is like a wolf who howls alone at night.' Geo Lee, senior VP for North East Asia said that the success of the drama - which won four awards out of eight nominations at South Korean's version of the BAFTAs - again came down to the casting of Shin Ha Kyun and the impact of his name getting the top billing. 'I think finding the lead actor was very important because of his quality, he is one of the top actors in this country,' Seok said. 'He needed to provide two things - number one was quality acting, to convey that strong story. 'And number two, to attract the talent he needed to make this possible, including all the supporting actors and support on the network. His name was a good credential for the show. [Audiences] knew this was going to be a good job, not just any drama or a remake but a good story.' Jungmi Kim of Basestory is remaking another BBC drama, Undercover, for a South Korean audience. She says the original format and local remakes have 'different charms. The reason why Koreans are more interested in a remake than the original is because Korean drama consumption is dominant,' she explains. 'A remake can convey the essence of the subject and drama that may not be directly conveyed from the original, through localised stories and characters that greatly reduce cultural or emotional differences. Korea and the UK have different social systems and individual values,' she added, citing gender awareness, racial discrimination, marriage, family and work life. Actress Lee Seol, who plays Less Than Evil's genius psychopath Eun Seon Jae - based on Ruth Wilson's character Alice Morgan said that she 'does not have a lot of points in common with the Alice character from the original. We took the idea of a genius psychopath but created a totally different character.' Sumi Connock says in those cases 'the BBC will try to offer a solution rather than just say, "No, you absolutely can't do that." It's definitely a two-way process. So there's got to be an element of trust, because it needs to be able to resonate with a local audience,' she continues. 'We allow the freedom to adapt the characters so they feel as alive walking through the streets of Calcutta or Seoul, as walking down the high street in Peckham.' Clarkson, who directed BBC drama Collateral, Marvel's The Defenders for Netflix and is involved in one of the forthcoming Game Of Thrones prequels says: 'Whenever you create something, there has to be an element of allowing it to grow and become something else. Unless you're going to be involved in it directly, they've got to have the freedom to take it where it needs to go because they're making it with their own culture and characters in mind. If you stay too rigid to it, I'm sure it wouldn't work.' The success of recent international co-production shows like Big Little Lies and Killing Eve, as well as the ongoing success of Mistresses is, says Sumi Connick, 'proof' of the growing impact of female-led drama. 'Orphan Black [co-produced by BBC America] was one of our first titles made in Japan. For a long time, there was a focus on these male tortured characters, but recently we've seen a big rise in female-led drama. We've had a lot going on with women in the world, you've got the Me Too campaigns which have brought women's stories to the fore and I think there's just some brilliant and complex characters out there. Plus female writers like Phoebe Waller Bridge and Marnie Dickins [Thirteen]. I think it's a good and positive change in attitude towards acceptance.' Myleeta Aga says that an Indian version of a series like Killing Eve would likely perform very well. 'Our TV channels are dominated by female-led drama. In prime time every day of the week, from 7am to 10pm, it's female-driven dramas,' she explains. 'But they're conservative dramas like soaps, like EastEnders, things like that. With a limited series like Doctor Foster, we're having ongoing discussions. I'm sure you're aware that in India, representation of women in society and on TV and in Bollywood is a few steps behind the UK. So we would very much like to be producers that bring strong female characters to the forefront.'
Chelsea Pensioner Colin Thackery has become the oldest winner of Britain's Got Toilets. As well as winning a slot performing in front of the Queen at the Royal Variety Performance, he will also received a cheque for two hundred and fifty thousand knicker. The eighty nine-year-old singer said he would make a donation to the South London retirement and nursing home for former members of the British Army. He admitted he had taken part in the programme 'for a dare. One of the guys, as I was coming off the stage in our club dared me having sung after the curry lunch,' explained Thackery, who is from Norwich, on Britain's Got More Toilets. 'He said, "When are going to do it?" I said, "What?" and he said "Go on Britain's Got Talent." I said "Don't be silly."' After performing 'Love Changes Everything' for the finale on Sunday, Thackeray said that he would 'die happy' if he had the chance to sing for the Queen. 'I served my Queen for twenty five years and to think I could sing for her would be the end,' he told hosts Ant McPartlin and/or Declan Donnelly. According to overnight figures, an average 8.2 million punters with nothing better to do with their time and intellect tuned in live to Sunday night's final, a forty per cent share of the available audience. In 2018, an average of 8.7 million live viewers watched Lost Voice Guy win the competition, the highest figures since 2015 when dancing dog act Jules O'Dwyer and Matisse were crowned champions of Britain's Got Toilets. When the show launched in 2007, more than eleven million overnight viewers watched opera singer Paul Potts crowned its first winner while an audience of sixteen million saw Diversity dance their way to success in 2009, with 18.29 million tuning in for the results show. The viewing environment has altered dramatically over the past decade. So Britain's Got Toilets' overnight audience of 8.5 million is still a strong performance at a time when watching patterns are constantly changing. While the talent show is no longer enjoying the huge dominance that it had ten years ago, Sunday night's figures still represent the show's biggest overnight audience for a final since 2015. This weekend has also seen some notable viewing figures with Saturday night's Champions League Final giving BT Sport its biggest ever overnight rating, peaking at more than six million viewers. Along with Game Of Thrones on Sky Atlantic, it's an additional example of how a particularly popular piece of programming can draw large audiences away from the traditional big broadcasters. There is still lots of good news around for the likes of the BBC and ITV. The final twenty eight day viewing figures for the May finale of BBC1's Line Of Duty have now been published. It has been watched by 13.67 million, including video on demand catch-up platforms, making it 2019's most watched piece of television thus far. It joins a small select group of shows, major sporting events aside, that can still achieve figures in excess of thirteen million. Over the past year, these have included writer Jed Mercurio's other big BBC drama Bodyguard, Strictly Come Dancing and ITV's I'm A Z-List Former Celebrity Desperate To Get My Boat-Race Back On TV ... Please Vote For Me To Stay Here As Long As Possible (I'll Even Eat Worms If You Want). Masked Magician X was the runner-up and shocked the judges and audience by revealing he was actually former contestant Marc Spelmann, who appeared in the 2018 series but failed to make it to the final. Spelman's big reveal was preceded by a video montage of his previous performances during which Ant and/or Decv is seen saying: "Imagine'at the end he takes it off and it's someone we know?' Close to tears, Spelman told the audience: 'It was always about hope. I'm never giving up. It's been an honour sharing X with you. I'm X,' he said. The final also included performances from former contestants, dance troupe Diversity and Susan Boyle - who sang a duet with Michael Ball.
Channel Four's cult comedy Toast Of London has been on hiatus since the end of its third series in late 2015, but Channel Four has, reportedly, 'expressed an interest' in getting a fourth series of the sitcom out of creator and star Matt Berry. The only problem, obviously, is that Berry has been busy with other things. This year has seen Berry - well-known for The IT Crowd, Garth Marenghi's Darkplace, The Mighty Boosh, Snuff Box, The Wrong Door and House Of Fools - take a starring role in the What We Do In The Shadows spin-off from Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement, which has already been renewed for a second series in the US. Victorian detective show Year Of The Rabbit, written by and starring Berry, is also on the way soon and, earlier in the year, he even found time to do a one-off Brexit satire with Arthur Mathews. One thing he hasn't had time for is a fourth series of Toast, but Berry revealed to the the Gruniad Morning Star that he hasn't written off Steven Toast just yet and that he is keen to play the character again as soon as he can, describing the character as the anti-me: 'I wrote him because I met so many actors who are utterly vicious about other actors - always frustrated, bitter and cynical. I'm not. I'm doing all the things I ever wanted. More than I ever imagined. I never dreamed of being a comedian. I never imagined I'd be a clown. There aren't enough hours in the day. But otherwise I'm living the life I wanted.' Berry also told the Gruniad that his antics as Steven Toast haven't stopped voiceover offers from flooding in for his unique vocal skills. 'I’m amazed I still get the work. I thought I'd satirised the job into oblivion as Toast. But that only made them want me more.' If a fourth series of Toast is in the offing, of course, whether it will feature Shazad Latif as the terminally oblivious hipster recording engineer Clem Fandango is unknown. Latif is more well known these days, of course, as Star Trek: Discovery's Chief of Security Ash Tyler and may go on to have an even bigger role in CBS All-Access' Section Thirty One project.
Further Doctor Who location photos have appeared in the UK press this week following the continuation of the recent filming in Gloucester. Including one of Jodie Whittaker looking all concerned and discombobulated as she discovers that there are The Judoon in the area.
Rafe Spall has claimed that he 'nearly' landed the role of The Doctor in Doctor Who and revealed how he 'managed to blow it.' The actor 'opened up' - which is the Digital Spy website's really bloody annoying way of saying 'spoke about' - about his audition process for the role, admitting that his inability to keep a secret ruined his chances. 'I got quite close to being [The Doctor],' Rafe said on an episode of There's Something About Movies. 'But they said to me right, "This is top secret, there's one condition when you come in to be Doctor Who, you can't tell a soul."' The actor then admitted: 'I told everyone. I told literally everyone that I knew. It got back to them. People from Doctor Who were calling up my agent saying, "We've heard Rafe has been blabbing his mouth off, that's it, it's done."'
Meanwhile, former Doctor David Tennant recently admitted that playing the role had left him feeling vulnerable. 'The way you imagine it's going to be is not the way it is at all,' he told The Sunday Times. 'It's much more exposing and the imaginative leap you've had that it will give you status or make you invulnerable is all wrong. It makes you very vulnerable and very raw.' He added: 'I remember way back, when I'd be in a room and someone well known would walk in and there's that sort of whisper goes around the room and everyone looks. And you imagine being that person is somehow powerful. When you are that person, you walk into a room and everyone turns their head and whispers and you feel like you're being squashed. You feel intimidated and you feel scared, actually.'
BBC Studios has announced that The Faceless Ones will be the next animated Doctor Who release. The release follows the - somewhat unexpected - success of previous animations, The Power Of The Daleks, Shada and The Macra Terror. The Faceless Ones will be released on DVD, Blu-Ray and as an exclusive steelbook next year. The Faceless Ones is the mostly missing eighth serial of the fourth series in Doctor Who, which was first broadcast in six weekly episodes from April to May 1967. Starring Patrick Troughton as The Doctor, the story concerns a race of identity-stealing aliens known as The Chameleons. The story was the last to feature Michael Craze as Ben and Anneke Wills as Polly. Two of the six episodes are held in the BBC film archives with snippets of footage and still images existing from the other four. Off-air recordings of the soundtrack also exist, making the animation of a complete serial possible once again. The six new animated episodes are being made in full colour and high definition and will be released on DVD and Blu-ray in 2020. The DVD/Blu-ray release will also include surviving archive material from the original 1967 production. A fifty second trailer of the new animation has been released.
The writer Gareth Roberts has been dropped from an upcoming Doctor Who book anthology over 'offensive' transphobic tweets, BBC Books has confirmed. Roberts, announcing his dismissal via Medium, claimed the publisher had 'immediately folded' to 'pressure' from the show's fandom and co-authors. Parent company Ebury confirmed that Roberts' contribution to Doctor Who: The Target Storybook, will not feature. The author said the tweets, from 2017, were made in 'cheerful vulgarity.' The writer said that, as a gay man, he has 'rejected restrictive cultural gender stereotypes for as long as I can remember,' but does not believe in gender identity. 'It is impossible for a person to change their biological sex. I don't believe anybody is born in the wrong body,' he said. Ironic, really, given that in the show Gareth's made a career writing both for and about, that's exactly what happened. Gareth has previously written for the TV series, including episodes for David Tennant, Matt Smith and Peter Capaldi. Most of them really rather good, as it happens. And, it should be noted in the interests of fairness and balance that this blogger had known Gareth for over two decades and always found him to be a perfectly pleasant and affable chap toward Keith Telly Topping in our various interactions. So, therefore, the chances of this blogger editorialising in any meaningful way about this particular story are, as a consequence, nil. If not smaller. Keith Telly Topping, dear blog reader, cowardice when it comes to controversy a speciality since 1963. Gareth's tweets have, the BBC News claims, 'stunned the transgender community and their allies.' Cos, obviously, they've asked all of them. One of his 'more concerning' posts referred to Paris Lees, Munroe Bergdorf, and Chelsea Manning, three of the world's most widely known names in transgender rights, as 'trannies.' The word is now generally considered somewhat derogatory although it usually depends on who is using it and the context in which it's being used. The transvestite comedian and activist Eddie Izzard, for instance, uses it occasionally in his shows - usually in a self-deprecating manner. It is a word which this blogger admits he used to use every now and then himself - hopefully always in a positive way - in relation to a couple of transvestite (but, not transgender) friends. However, as with so much else in world, attitudes and acceptance changes over time and terminology is often required to change with them. Hence it's not a word this blogger would dream of using in 2019 any more than he'd think about using the 'N' word. The BBC News story includes a comment from Ben Hunte, the Beeb's LGBT correspondent: 'An LGBT activist told me that on initially reading about Gareth's dismissal they felt sorry for him, until they then dug through his previous tweets.' Ebury's decision to drop Gareth over his tweets, which it says 'conflicts with its values as a publisher,' has 'sparked debate' on social media. Toby Young, author, associate editor of The Spectator and ignorant Tory gobshite, criticised the 'shocking' decision, calling it an 'affront to free speech' by a 'publicly-owned company.' In actual fact, BBC Books is not publicly owned or anything even remotely like it. It is a subsidiary of Penguin Random House, which is a majority shareholder. Toby Young talking utter and complete bollocks, dear blog reader? What were the odds? Susie Day, one of the co-authors of the anthology, protested about Gareth's inclusion to the pbulisher, saying that 'being involved felt like a tacit endorsement of his views. I raised my concerns and said if he was in, I was out,' she wrote. 'BBC Books made their decision. I'm grateful they took the opportunity to demonstrate that transphobic views have no place in the Whoniverse, both in and outside the stories.' Bethany Black, the first trans actor in Doctor Who - in 2015's Sleep No More - also praised the decision on Twitter.
As you may be aware, dear blog reader, the American clothing firm Her Universe has already produced a wide range of Doctor Who gear for ladies. I was never too sure whether these items were licensed from the BBC or not given that they don't seem - from, admittedly, a very brief glance at some photos of the items in question - to include either the Doctor Who logo or a BBC copyright symbol, although this Amazon page does, indeed, include the suggestion that the range is officially licensed. Nevertheless, the latest addition to range certainly had this blogger scratching his head as to how, exactly, this has any - even vague - connection to the BBC's popular, long-running family SF drama. I mean, sure, they're blue (albeit, not 'TARDIS-blue'), but that apart ... Maybe you get a free Jodie Whittaker with each purchase?
Also, 'swim bottoms' dear blog reader? They're 'trunks' where this blogger comes from and always will be.
Viewers may have noticed some striking similarities between BBC1's dystopian drama Years & Years and the Doctor Who spin-off Torchwood. And, that's hardly surprising; Russell Davies, the writer behind both dramas, actually incorporated the plot of Years & Years into the Torchwood mini-series Children Of Earth in 2009. Only, obviously, Years & Years has some really good actors in it. Whilst Torchwood had John Barrowman. A necessary difference, one feels. One eagle-eyed viewer noticed that, when discussing the ending of the Torchwood series in 2010 book The Writer's Tale, Davies said that he used aspects of another drama he was developing. He wrote: 'It was essentially, a family drama, in which the world goes to Hell, ending with our nice, safe, comfy western society descending into anarchy or a military state nightmare regimes that we see in Africa, or Bosnia, or in history - but right here, on our doorsteps, with ordinary people like you and me and our mums and dads and our brothers and sisters, not just watching it, but part of it. Brilliant idea.' Ten years after the events of Children Of Earth, it appears as if this idea was finally brought to screen again in Years & Years. The finale of the Torchwood series follows Gwen Cooper (Eve Myles) and her family travelling through a devastated Britain, attempting to avoid soldiers ordered to collect children to be sacrificed to alien forces. Years & Years also sees a family experiencing the pressures of an increasingly extremist government - thanks to politician Vivienne Rook (Emma Thompson) - and people right 'on our doorstep' being treated like the refugees. Meanwhile, a more lightweight reminder of how writers often store away ideas for long periods also popped up in the same episode of Years & Years. In The Writer's Tale, Davies offered a throwaway character description - 'the sort of man who's happy if he finds a big crisp' - that found its way into Years & Years.
Although DC still haven't yet confirmed whether From The North favourite Doom Patrol has been commissioned for a second series, showrunner Jeremy Carver has already been talking about his plans for a continuation, as in this interview with the Fan Sided website.
Starz's adaptation of Neil Gaiman's American Gods involves a world of deities and fantasy. But the From The North favourite - which recently concluded its second series and has been renewed for a third - has paralleled real-life politics in its battle between the Old Gods and the New Gods. During Deadline's recent The Contenders EMMYs awards-season event, Ricky Whittle, Emily Browning, Pablo Schreiber and Ian McShane talked about the recently concluded second series and how it is 'a vehicle for our current political landscape.'
Craig Parkinson has revealed that he was actually summoned back to the Line Of Duty set to re-shoot Dot Cotton's 'dying declaration' more than two years ago. When Steve Arnott (Martin Compston) zoomed in on the twitching left hand of Detective Inspector Cottan during the series five finale and explained that Dot had, actually, been trying to give AC-12 a clue in Morse Code, viewers were left with some major questions. The most obvious of which was whether the Morse Code message was there in Dot's dying declaration all along? And, how far ahead did showrunner Jed Mercurio plant the seeds of his twist? As fans will recall, Cotton died in the arms of Kate Fleming (Vicky McClure) after being fatally shot in the finale of series three (2016). In the following year's fourth series, it emerged that the incident had also been caught on film by an armed police officer's body-cam - and viewers got a look at that police footage for the first time. But, in the series five finale, Steve watched a section of that 'dying declaration' video that had never been broadcast before. As Cotton was receiving emergency medical attention, his left fingers were seen tapping against his palm. So, did Parkinson have to go back to Belfast and re-shoot the scene for series five? 'No, I didn't go back,' he told the Radio Times. 'Because what I did is, I went back to re-film it in series four, so then they had stuff that they could use for series five.' He added: 'Very early on in series four, they just said, "Oh, can you just pop over to Belfast and just do this adding-on of the dying declaration." And, luckily I could. But I'd do anything for Jed, he's absolutely incredible and he has changed my career, really, you know.' Parkinson claims to have forgotten whether he was asked to send that Morse Code message while filming the extra footage for series four and five, or whether the latest addition was digital trickery. Had Mercurio asked him to tap his fingers during the reshoot, he was asked? 'From what I remember, yeah,' said Parkinson, before adding: 'Or, that might have just been somebody else.' The continuing saga of the dying declaration has given the character - known as The Caddy - an impact long after his on-screen death. 'Even though Dot very sadly left us at the end of season three, the shadow of Dot has been around in every series so far and maybe he'll pop up again in six. Who knows!' When series five was in production, Mercurio stoked rumours of Cottan's return during filming, sharing a photograph of Stephen Graham on-set in Belfast along with a heavily-bearded Parkinson. 'The Caddy's back from the dead to plot more mayhem,' he tweeted. According to Parkinson, this is 'classic Mercurio' - and in fact, the Line Of Duty creator got the two men to pose for the photo with 'the sole purpose of winding up' his fans. 'I was just in Belfast for half-term, with my little boy and they were there and Jed said, "Oh, come and say hello with everybody,"' Parkinson recalled. 'I went down to set and I hadn't seen Stephen for ages and I saw Vicky and Aidy [Adrian Dunbar] and Maya [Sondhi] and Jed said, "Oh, can I just do something? Can I just take a photo of you and Stephen?" I said, "What are you up to?" He said, "You know what I’m like!" So, he's a big winder-upper, he seriously is. He loves a wind-up. He really stokes the Line Of Duty fire and he gets off on that.' Whether he will ever appear in the show again or not, a string of recent jobs have reunited Parkinson with his Line Of Duty co-stars. Upcoming Sky drama Temple sees him appear with one of his best friends, Daniel Mays (series three's Sergeant Danny Waldron), while new ITV crime drama Wild Bill was a chance to film with another friend, Tony Pitts (bent copper Lester Hargreaves). And, then there's Year Of The Rabbit, a Victorian police spoof in which Parkinson has a guest role. The six-part Channel Four comedy also features Matt Berry, Freddie Fox, Susan Wokoma, Alun Armstrong, Sally Phillips and Keeley Hawes. Although the Line Of Duty co-stars never meet on-screen, there is an unlikely connection between their characters. 'I'm sure people will pick up on that,' Parkinson noted. Parkinson makes his appearance in Year Of The Rabbit when Matt Berry's character, a hard-drinking policeman called Inspector Rabbit, comes across a hostage situation at an East End factory. 'It was really fun to film, because it was quite intense and the stakes were super high for my character and for Rabbit at the same time,' Parkinson says. 'So, we're both playing two different levels of anxiety, really. And then obviously when we cut we could just have a laugh.' The Channel Four comedy was also a chance to work with screenwriters Kevin Cecil and Andy Riley for the first time since 2004. Parkinson was then in the very early days of his acting career when he bagged the role of Martin The Tout in an episode of cult comedy Black Books. 'One of my first jobs was an episode of Black Books that Andy and Kevin wrote with Dylan Moran,' he says. 'Since then my career has gone down quite a dramatic route, but my first love is comedy - so I've been slowly over the last fifteen years trying to get back to doing comedy, which is really hard. And also, when I read what Matt was doing and what Andy and Kevin were doing with Rabbit, I was going, "Well, I haven't seen anything like that on telly before." It's something like The Sweeney, but set in Victorian London. I just think that it whips along at a cracking pace, and it's a joy. I don't think people will have seen anything like it.'
Mackenzie Crook will star as Worzel Gummidge in a new BBC adaptation based on the books of Barbara Euphan Todd. The Pirates Of The Caribbean actor will bring the titular scarecrow back to life as he makes trouble on the fictional Scatterbrook Farm. Todd's stories have been adapted for both radio and TV previously - in the case of the latter, firstly as early as 1953 with Frank Atkinson in the title role. More famously was the late 1970s Southern Television series starring Mister Pertwee and Una Stubbs as Aunt Sally. The stories will be retold in two hour-long films for BBC1 and will reportedly air around Christmas time, with further casting announcements yet to be made. The first episode, The Scarecrow Of Scatterbrook, sees two young strangers arrive in the village, whose world is sent spinning when they realise that the scarecrow Gummidge comes to life. The second episode, The Green Man, welcomes another arrival, the creator of scarecrows and keeper of scarecrow lore. Mackenzie Crook, who also wrote and directed the adaptation, said: 'I'm thrilled to be back working with the BBC and many members of The Detectorists team to bring Worzel Gummidge to a new generation of viewers and reintroduce him to old friends. Adapting Barbara Euphan Todd's books into these two films has been a joy and I've completely fallen for her charming, irreverent scarecrow. Fingers crossed for a glorious English summer as we head out to Scatterbrook Farm and Worzel's Ten Acre Field.' Shane Allen, a BBC commissioning editor called the reinterpretation 'visionary and fundamental.' The series began filming at Highfield Park allotment in St Albans on Tuesday, according to the Herts Adverstiser. The two specials are produced by Leopard Pictures, Treasure Trove Productions and Lola Entertainment.
As the countdown begins to the fifth - and final - series of the hit BBC1 period drama Poldark, fans will be pleased to learn the door has been left open for the Sunday-night staple to return. Writer Debbie Horsfield, who adapted the bestselling Winston Graham novels for the BBC, said there is 'a possibility' the Cornish show 'could come back' in future as there are still five books of the twelve-part series left to cover. Asked after a screening of the first episode of the final run if she would write more Poldark episodes in the future, Horsfield said: 'Never say never. We've had an amazing run but there are five books left and who knows what could happen in a few years' time?' She said 'sometimes it's good to leave people wanting more' but agreed that the 'door had been left open' for more of the adventures of the Poldark family. However, any decision about the drama's return would be down to the BBC and makers Mammoth Screen. 'The BBC would need to say that they wanted more and we'd take it from there. The relationship with the Winston Graham estate and with the BBC has been wonderful – I like to think they wouldn't want anyone else to do it.' Poldark has been a phenomenon for the BBC, made household names of its stars Aidan Turner and Eleanor Tomlinson and prompted an unprecedented interest in scything following Turner's bare-chested wielding of one of the farming tools. The books were adapted previously, in the 1970s and this latest incarnation has shown the enduring popularity of the Graham books. One of the difficulties of a Poldark comeback, Horsfield acknowledged, would be getting the cast and crew back together. She is writing a new adaptation of a contemporary novel and some of the actors, such as Tomlinson, have gone on to star in Hollywood films. Ellise Chappell, who got her big break playing one of the younger characters, Morwenna and recently appeared in acclaimed Danny Boyle and Richard Curtis film Yesterday, said it 'would be great' if Poldark returned in future. The final series, which will be broadcast in July, will see Ross Poldark and his foe, George Warleggan, dealing with the aftermath of the death of George's wife, Elizabeth. In series five Horsfield has bridged the gap between novels seven and eight by, in consultation with the Graham estate, piecing together what happened in the intervening decade.
Twitter has snivellingly apologised for reportedly suspending a number of accounts which were critical of Chinese government policy days ahead of the thirtieth anniversary of a bloody crackdown on protesters at Beijing's Tiananmen Square, after an outcry among users. In a statement posted to the company's Public Policy Twitter feed on Saturday, a Twitter spokesbot said 'a number of accounts' had been suspended 'as part of efforts' to 'target' accounts engaging in 'platform manipulation.' The statement continued: 'Some of these were involved in commentary about China. These accounts were not mass reported by the Chinese authorities - this was a routine action on our part,' the company claimed. One or two people even believed them. Such actions sometimes 'catch false positives or we make errors,' it added. Twitter claimed that it was 'working' to 'ensure we overturn any errors.' Twitter's impressively mealy-mouthed and appalling non-apology apology follows a sharp reaction from its users over the suspensions, including US Senator Marco Rubio, who accused Twitter of becoming 'a Chinese [government] censor.' The approach of the thirtieth anniversary of the bloody 4 June crackdown on pro-democracy protests at Tiananmen Square had been accompanied in China by a tightening of state controlled censorship on anything that even looked like it might allude to the sick event of 1989. Tools to detect and block content related to the crackdown have reached unprecedented levels. Which, almost certainly means that From The North's four or five regular dear blog readers in China won'y be able to access this particular bloggerisationisms. Sorry about that guys. And, if the Chinese authorities happen to be checking out this blogger as a dangerous subversive listen guys, this blogger is a really big fan of your food, your history and your literature. The suppression of human rights, making political prisoners sew footballs with their teeth and driving tanks into the centre of Beijing to shut up a few protesting students, yeah, not so much of a fan of those. No matter how tempting the latter might seem.
Worthless Communist George Galloway has been extremely sacked by talkRADIO after sending a sickeningly anti-Semitic tweet. The former MP posted on the social media site after the Champions League final between Liverpool Alabama Yee-Haws and Stottingtot Hotshots on Saturday night. He praised Liverpool's win, before adding: 'No Israël flags on the Cup!' - appearing to reference Spurs's strong links with the North London Jewish community. Deary me, what a thoroughly unpleasant man he is. On Monday, the radio station said that it had terminated the odious Galloway's weekly talk show. Galloway - unsurprisingly, since he's a bloke seldom short of an opinion, usually about himself - hit back at his former employer, tweeting: 'See you in Court guys.' So, get out the popcorn and settle down to a 'big fight, little people' style scenario, then. The original tweet from Galloway on Saturday saw the former Labour and Respect MP 'face a backlash' on Twitter. And, for once, that horribly numbskull and meaningless phrase - which usually means four professional offence-takers you've never heard of have taken offence about some shit which doesn't matter - actually has some relevance to this situation in hand. The odious Galloway defended the comment, claiming that 'a number' of Stottingtot Hotshots fans were flying the flag of Israel in the crowd and it showed an affiliation to 'a racist state.' But, he was accused of being 'racist' himself, including by the club itself. In a statement, Spurs said: 'It's astounding in this day and age to read such blatant anti-Semitism published on a social platform by someone who is still afforded air-time on a radio station on which he has previously broken broadcast impartiality rules.' On Monday morning, talkRADIO said that it had extremely cancelled Galloway's show, adding: 'As a fair and balanced news provider, talkRADIO does not tolerate anti-Semitic views.' Board of Deputies of British Jews President Marie van der Zyl thanked Tottenham for 'calling out Galloway and talkRADIO for 'taking this poisonous and divisive figure off-air.' She added: 'His attempt to bring hatred into a wonderful occasion for English football has attracted the derision it deserves.' Taking to Twitter again, because he's got the same sort of verbal diarrhoea as President Rump in that regard, the odious Galloway said that he had been given 'a red card' by the station for 'over-celebrating' Liverpool's success. yeah. Possibly. But, the Israel comment probably had a bit more to do with it than the Liverpool praise, mate. Just a wild stab in the dark. Galloway has hosted The Mother Of All Talk Shows show since 2016 and has breached Ofcom rules twice - once after discussing anti-Semitism accusations in the Labour Party and once after a show on the Salisbury poisonings. The sixty four-year-old came to prominence in the 1980s as a member of the Labour Party, representing Glasgow as an MP. But, in 2003 he was expelled from the party after he was found guilty of four of the five charges of bringing the party into disrepute - including 'inciting Arabs to fight British troops, inciting British troops to defy orders and backing an anti-war candidate in an election.' In 2004, he became a member of the Respect Party and continued to protest against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. In 2005 took the Bethnal Green and Bow seat from Labour. However, many members of the public remember him for his appearance in Z-List Celebrity Big Brother in 2006 and his impression of a cat while on the show. Which was, in equal measures, hilarious and really disturbing. In 2012, he returned to Parliament as an MP for Bradford West and has run several campaigns since, including an unsuccessful campaign to become London Mayor. But his controversial comments about the Israel/Palestinian conflict, Syria and the poisonings of the Skripals in Salisbury have been the main reason for attracting headlines in recent years.
Hovis has brought its much-loved 'boy on the bike' television advert back, nearly fifty years after it was last regularly seen. The advert was shown on ITV on Monday evening. Sir Ridley Scott, who launched his directing career with the original advert, has remastered it in conjunction with the British Film Institute national archive. The advert was first broadcast in 1973 and shows a young boy pushing a bike loaded with bread up a cobbled hill. Hovis said that it hoped to introduce the advert 'to a new generation who still appreciate its core message of hard work, family and the strength of community.' The advert has undergone a 4K digital restoration and its score of Dvorak's New World Symphony has been re-recorded by a new generation of the original Ashington Colliery brass band. In April, a survey of twelve hundred consumers voted the advert the UK's most 'heartwarming and iconic advert.' Filmed at Gold Hill, Shaftesbury in Dorset, the advert was a stepping stone for Scott - who had previously cut his teeth as a production designer and director at the BBC (working on series like Z-Cars, The Troubleshooters and Adam Adamant Lives!) to Hollywood. It feature thirteen year old Carl Barlow as the boy, the actor Bill Maynard as the baker as was voiced by Joe Gladwin, who regularly worked on Hovis adverts. Jeremy Gibson, the marketing director at Hovis, said: 'The values of our brand have never been more relevant, so we decided to remaster and relaunch our "boy on the bike" advert. Despite being over forty six years old, recent research has found that the advert is as good today as it's always been and differs from adverts focusing on broader entertainment.' Impressive shoe-horning of the brand's logo into your statement there, Jezza. That'll have probably got you a six figure bonus for this year. Scott said: 'I'm thrilled that the "boy on the bike" is still regarded as such an iconic and heartwarming story which remains close to the heart of the nation. I remember the filming process like it was yesterday and its success represents the power of the advert.'
Russian state TV is reported to be working on its own version of Chernobyl. The NTV drama will deviate from the acclaimed HBO series - and from historical reality - by claiming that the CIA was involved in the disaster. Director Alexey Muradov claims it will show 'what really happened back then.' HBO's mini_series, which concluded on Monday, received the highest ever score for a TV show on IMdB, as well as a 9.1 rating on Russian equivalent Kinopoisk. But, in an interview with Komsomolskaya Pravda, Russia's most widely-read tabloid, Muradov said that his version of the drama 'proposes an alternative view on the tragedy in Pripyat. There is a theory that Americans infiltrated the Chernobyl nuclear power plant,' he told the paper. 'Many historians do not rule out the possibility that on the day of the explosion, an agent of the enemy's intelligence services was working at the station.' The Hollywood Reporter states that the Russian lack of culture ministry has contributed thirty million rubles to the show. The number four reactor at the Chernobyl nuclear plant exploded on 26 April 1986 in the Ukrainian city of Pripyat. At least thirty one people were killed in the immediate aftermath and the effects continue to be felt to this day. There has been plenty of praise in Russia for the authenticity of Chernobyl. Izvestia newspaper declared it a more 'realistic' portrayal of the era than most Russian films manage. There is also admiration of how the series conveys the heroism of ordinary people. But there has been a crescendo of criticism, too. One columnist declared the drama 'a plot to undermine Russia's current atomic agency.' Others called it American 'propaganda', blackening the image of the USSR and exaggerating the callousness of the Soviet response. Ultimately, as one commentator concluded, the main reason for the backlash is likely to be 'a feeling of shame' that it was the US that told the tale of Chernobyl, not Russia itself. Komsomolskaya Pravda published several negative articles about the show - including one floating a conspiracy theory that it was produced by competitors of Rosatom, Russia's state nuclear company, to ruin the country's reputation as a nuclear power. But reviewers in independent media outlets praised its writer Craig Mazin for his minute attention to detail. Slava Malamud, a US-based journalist who grew up during the Soviet era in what is now Moldova, wrote on the Russian news site Meduza that 'the respect and meticulousness the show's creators brought to their work is breathtaking. Like I see the license plate for a car in one scene has the real numbers for the [Kiev] region,' he said. 'Who's going to notice that in America or England?'
Meanwhile, dear blog reader, prepare yourselves for the single greatest moment ever in the history of journalism, from the Sun. You don't get this sort of thing from Komsomolskaya Pravda.
The Sun can, additionally, confirm that the movies Titanic and Dunkirk are also based on true stories. But, that Avengers: End Game and Game Of Thrones aren't. Probably.
The publisher of the Sun and the Sun on Sunday is reported to be 'launching a large-scale programme of job cuts' as it seeks to slash costs at the loss-making tabloids. Hopefully, one to those who avoids getting the tin tack will be the person responsible for that previously mentioned Chernobyl tweet. 'It is understood that staff at the titles, of whom about five to six hundred work in editorial, were told of the plans earlier this week,' sneers the Gruniad Morning Star trying unsuccessfully to stifle a giggle. News Group Newspapers, a subsidiary of billionaire tyrant Rupert Murdoch's News UK, which publishes the titles, has initially called for voluntary redundancies in an effort to hit savings targets as part of a wide-ranging review of all parts of the editorial and commercial sides of the business. Staff have been told, however, that compulsory redundancies will follow if the targets cannot be met. So, that's obviously very sad. A News UK spokesperson said: 'News UK is in the process of reviewing all areas of its businesses to ensure we are maximising resources and to enable future revenue growth. As part of this process, we need to reduce complexity and review all of our costs so that we can focus our investment on delivering high-quality editorial content to existing and new audiences. Staff at the Sun have been invited to apply for voluntary redundancy. We cannot comment any further at the current time.'
Odious full-of-his-own-importance - and, now extremely unemployed - horrorshow (and drag) Jeremy Kyle has been called to appear in front of MPs to 'discuss how guests were treated on his eponymous chat show,' which was very cancelled last month after the death of a guest, Steve Dymond. So, it's obviously to be hoped that the whilst he's there, Kyle is not subjected to a hectoring, bullying interrogation. Because that would be terrible. The presenter, who had hosted The Jeremy Kyle Show since 2005 until ITV threw it into the gutter along with all the other turds, has stayed out of the public eye since the ITV daytime programme was taken off-air, only issuing a brief public statement saying he and his team were 'utterly devastated by the recent events.' The Commons digital, culture, media and sport select committee wants him to answer questions about the reality TV industry and how it treats participants. 'We're hoping that Jeremy Kyle will take this opportunity to come and answer questions about measures taken to prepare and support contestants,' the committee chair, Damian Collins, said. 'As someone who was at the centre of this long-running show, we believe that his perspective on reality TV will be of particular value to our inquiry.' Kyle has been given until next week to fix a date for his appearance. He could be found in contempt of parliament if he refuses to appear in front of MPs, although recent cases have highlighted that there is a limited amount that politicians can do to make people give evidence. Kyle 'could find himself publicly shamed in the national media if he fails to attend the hearing, which will focus on how the show exercised its duty of care towards participants and on the wider issues facing reality TV shows,' the Gruniad Morning Star suggests. The inquiry will look at other programmes, such as Love Island, ITV's highly profitable - if, morally corrupt - reality TV ratings hit which returned this week with record viewing figures for a launch programme. The programme, which is attracting young audiences who often eschew live television, has come under increasing scrutiny after the incident on The Jeremy Kyle Show and the suicides of two former participants. In response, Love Island staff have announced extra safeguarding measures, especially with regards to coping with the pressures of social media fame. ITV's chief executive, Dame Carolyn McCall, chairman, Sir Peter Bazalgette and director of content compliance, Chris Wissun, are all to appear in front of MPs on Tuesday 25 June. Further public hearings involving former reality TV participants and programme-makers will be held over the following months.
Props from Only Fools & Horses ranging from jewellery worn by Del Boy Trotter to a mocked-up cheque that made the wheeler-dealer and his hapless brother, Rodney, unlikely millionaires have been snapped up at auction by collectors and fans. Some of the artefacts, which also included a script from the famous Batman and Robin Christmas episode, went for prices that would have amazed the characters. A lot that included Del Boy's flat cap went for three thousand knicker, while a gold-plated signet ring was bought for a Bag of Sand and a bracelet for a Big One, two Monkeys and couple of Tons. 'andsome. There was huge interest around a script for the 1996 Christmas special Heroes & Villains. The script was David Jason's personal version and his lines are highlighted throughout, including the section where Del Boy and Rodney foil a mugging while dressed as Batman and Robin. It sold for four thousand one hundred notes. Another firm favourite was a medal for 'road-sweeping services' that Del Boy's friend Trigger showed off in the series. It was featured during one of the sitcom's great moments, when Trigger, played by Roger Lloyd Pack, declares: 'This old broom has had seventeen new heads and fourteen new handles.' It went for four thousand nine hundred smackers. Bidders were also interested in a prop cheque for 6.2 million quid that the Trotters picked up after selling a watch that they had initially tossed away as rubbish in the episode Time On Our Hands. The cheque features typed text from the fictitious Allied Medway Bank and is dated 29 December 1996, the original broadcast date of the episode. The cheque bears a printed signature that reads C Sullivan - a reference to the show's creator, the late John Sullivan. It was given an estimate of between two and three grand but sold for nine thousand one hundred wonga. There was one disappointment: an ice bucket in the shape of a pineapple from Del Boy's bar at his Peckham flat had been expected to raise up to two-and-a-half thousand knicker. It was described in the catalogue as a 'genuine vintage plastic Britvic-style ice bucket' and came with a letter of authenticity from MGM Cars, which supplied props and vehicles to the series from 1992 onwards. It was not bought during the sale. Bidders from all over the world took part in the auction at East Bristol Auctions, not far from the location where the Batman and Robin scene was filmed. The auctioneer Andrew Stowe said that he had been 'inspired by the Trotters' entrepreneurial spirit' to follow them into the business of buying and selling. 'It's a genuine honour to handle this auction,' he said. 'I grew up with Only Fools & Horses. I have it to blame for my choice of career. It made me who I am today.'
England piled on their highest World Cup total in a one hundred and six-run defeat of Bangladesh which got their bid to lift the trophy for the first time back on track. The hosts amassed three hundred and eighty six for six in Cardiff, thanks mainly to Jason Roy's brutal one hundred and fifty three, the second-largest score by an England batsman in the competition. Jonny Bairstow made fifty one and Jos Buttler an action-packed sixty four, although a hip injury sustained when batting prevented Buttler from keeping wicket during the Bangladesh innings. If that was a small negative in what was, overall, a strong response to Tuesday's fourteen run defeat by Pakistan, so too was some of England's bowling, with Chris Woakes and Adil Rashid both somewhat below their best and taking some fearful tap from the Bangladeshi batsemen. Shakib Al Hasan took advantage with a great one hundred and twenty one, an innings which made him the tournament's leading run scorer to date. However, the required rate was never really within reach and Bangladesh were bowled out for two hundred and eighty, with Jofra Archer and Ben Stokes taking three wickets apiece. With two wins from their opening three matches, England joined Australia and New Zealand at the top of the table on four points. Eoin Morgan's men now have almost a week to wait for their next game, against the West Indies in Southampton on Friday. Bangladesh, with one win and two defeats, are eighth in the ten-team table and play Sri Lanka in Bristol on Tuesday. England entered the World Cup as favourites, but the loss to Pakistan saw them visibly agitated as well as being sloppy in the field. If expectations were beginning to weigh heavy, there were few signs on a sunny and blustery day in Cardiff. For the most part, this was much more like the England team that has climbed to the top of the world rankings over the last four years. Bangladesh had beaten England in their two previous World Cup meetings, most infamously in Adelaide four years ago to condemn England to a first-round exit. They are no longer minnows of the game, either. They were impressive in defeating South Africa and pushed New Zealand jolly close when the two sides met in midweek. Bar Shakib, however, they were disappointing. Giving away the opportunity to bat first on a true pitch, their bowling was toothless, fielding untidy and tactics muddled. England reaped the benefit. Their batsmen exploited the unusual dimensions of the ground and, after Archer removed Bangladesh opener Soumya Sarkar in a spell where he touched ninety five miles per hour, chase was never on. England's prolific opening partnership of Roy and Bairstow had been neutralised in the first two games as both South Africa and Pakistan opened with spin. Bangladesh tried the same tactic and even though they restricted England to only fifteen runs from the first five overs, they could not find a breakthrough and the next five overs brought fifty two runs. Roy cashed in, firstly in a stand of one hundred and twenty eight with Bairstow. The Surrey right-hander played booming drives and powerful pulls for fourteen fours and five sixes, becoming the third England batsman to score a century in this World Cup, following Joe Root and Buttler in a losing cause against Pakistan. Roy led the England approach of peppering the short straight boundaries and running hard when it went to the long square fences. His celebrations for reaching a ninth one-day international hundred were delayed when he accidentally collided with umpire Joel Wilson, after which there was still plenty of time for him to become the first England batsman to make an ODI two hundred. In the event, he fell after hitting three consecutive sixes, leaving Buttler to pick up the assault. Though the Lancashire keeper sustained the injury which clearly affected his running; it did not prevent him from hitting four sixes, though, including one mighty blow which ended in the River Taff. Morgan (an effortless thirty five), Woakes (eighteen not out) and Liam Plunkett (twenty seven in just fifteen balls) added delightful late cameos, by which time England had already become the first team in ODI history to pass three hundred in seven consecutive innings. In an electrifying opening spell, Archer hinted at making short work of the Bangladesh batting. When he clipped the top of Sarkar's off stump with one that nipped back, the ball flew over the boundary behind stand-in wicketkeeper Bairstow without bouncing. After Tamim Iqbal miscued the similarly lively Mark Wood, The Tigers were sixty three for two, but a stand of one hundred and six between Shakib and Mushfiqur Rahim gave Bangladesh's noisy fans, of whom there were plenty in evidence in Sophia Gardens, some long-awaited cheer. Leg-spinner Rashid has been the leading wicket-taker in ODIs since the last World Cup, only to struggle so far in this tournament - his two wickets have come at an average of seventy one. With England only playing one spinner, he was preferred to Moeen Ali and endured another difficult day. He was punished by Shakib, who favoured the leg side, but at least he had Mohammad Mithun caught behind after Plunkett had Mushfiqur caught at point, a double strike which sucked the life from the Bangladesh chase. Shakib was also harsh on Woakes as he went past three figures, though as the left-hander tried to make an impression on the spiralling rate he was bowled by Stokes. In the end, Archer returned to terrorise the tail and England's margin of victory was more than comfortable.
Police in Boise, Idaho have extremely arrested Jonathan Parker on a felony first-degree stalking charge, alleging that on or between 16 and 30 May, Parker 'did knowingly and maliciously engage' in conduct which 'seriously alarmed, annoyed or harassed Kelly Parker,' the Idaho Statesman reports. Kelly Parker is the suspect's former wife, who he is currently in divorce proceedings with. Jonathan Parker himself is a lobbyist and the former Chairman of the Idaho Republican Party. His former wife currently has a restraining order filed against him. According to the complaint filed against Parker, he was 'repeatedly hiding in bushes, masturbating, disguising himself with a wig' at or near Kelly Parker's apartment. The Idaho Statesman reported Parker, 'was arraigned [on] Friday afternoon in Ada County district court. During his video arraignment, the prosecutor told the judge that police responded to a report of a man "looking into windows and fondling himself." When police arrived, they learned that Parker's estranged wife lived in the complex. Parker told police that he was there to "scare" a different female, but police said they were not able to contact this person. The prosecutor also noted that Parker's estranged wife has previously reported him staring into her windows. Former GOP Idaho attorney general David Leroy represented Parker during the arraignment. Leroy told the judge that the incident was a "grand misunderstanding" and that Parker had been "invited to a costume party" at the apartment complex.' One or two people even believed him. According to Boise State Public Radio, Parker left his position with the Idaho GOP in February after serving there since 2017. His bail has been set at eighty thousand bucks and, if convicted, he faces up to five years in The Joint.
Two five-year-old girls were swept out to sea on an inflatable swan, prompting an inquiry about why no red warning flags were flying at the time. The pair were sitting on the float in the shallows at Minehead, when a strong gust of wind pulled them out to sea. They were almost half-a-mile out in the Bristol Channel before lifeboats and the coastguard helicopter rescued them. Minehead RNLI chairman Bryan Stoner, said that flags should fly on the seafront whenever there is an offshore wind. Station officials are now trying to find out why the system failed. 'The system was put in place some years ago after a lot of pressure from us because we were dealing with a real spate of incidents like this, one of which involved a fatality,' said Stoner. 'On this occasion, however, it appears the system has failed, though through good fortune no-one has come to any harm.' Sarah Gurr, mother to one of the two girls posted on Facebook: 'Thank you so much for saving my beautiful little girl and her friend. We will forever be grateful to the RNLI and the rescue helicopter for saving our girls today xxx They were absolutely terrified.'
Wherever musicians gather, Doctor John, who died this week aged seventy seven, will be revered as songwriter, singer, arranger, producer and pianist. He became closely identified with the rich musical roots of his native New Orleans and as well as his mastery of the Crescent City's various musical forms (which included blues, jazz, funk, boogie-woogie and rock'n'roll) he was steeped in its mysterious Cajun voodoo culture and folklore. He began to develop a cult following with the release of his first major-label LP, Gris-Gris (1968), a startling brew of voodoo swamp funk and strange incantations, epitomised by the eerie eight-minute mantra 'I Walk On Guilded Splinters' his most famous song. Nobody had heard anything like it before, including his label boss, Ahmet Ertegun. 'Ahmet asked me: "What is this record you gave me? Why didn't you give me a record that we could sell?"' Doctor John recalled. He took the LP on tour with a stage-show resembling a bayou magic act, decking himself out in outlandish feathers, witch-doctor robes and headdresses. For a time the act also featured a man calling himself Prince Kiyama, who would (allegedly) bite the heads off (allegedly) live chickens onstage.
Two follow-up LPs - Babylon (1969) and Remedies (1970) - began to make him influential friends, including Eric Clapton and Mick Jagger, both of whom appeared on 1971's The Sun, Moon & Herbs and, in 1973, he released the biggest selling LP of his career, In The Right Place. Produced by Allen Toussaint and with The Meters as backing band, it reached number twenty four on the Billboard album chart and gave John a US top ten hit single with 'Right Place, Wrong Time'. It also included 'Such A Night', which Doctor John would perform at The Band's 1976 farewell concert, filmed by Martin Scorsese as The Last Waltz. He failed to reach such sales heights again, but was widely acclaimed across the rest of his career and won six Grammys for various LPs and singles. Doctor John's real name was Malcolm John Rebennack, the same as his father. Rebennack Senior ran an appliance shop in the East End of New Orleans, fixing radios and televisions and selling records. Mac grew up listening to his father's hoard of seventy eights by blues artists such as Big Bill Broonzy and Memphis Minnie, jazz by Louis Armstrong, Miles Davis and King Oliver and country music from Hank Williams and Roy Rogers. His mother, Dorothy Cronin, who had been a fashion model and made her own clothes and hats, arranged for her baby son to feature in advertisements for Ivory soap in the 1940s. Mac's family was intensely musical, with numerous aunts, uncles and cousins who were amateur musicians. From a young age Mac attended local gigs and, with his father's assistance, visited recording sessions at the fabled J&M Studio. It was a meeting with the piano player Professor Longhair when he was fourteen that persuaded him to pursue a musical career and he began performing at local clubs. When Jesuit high school told him he must choose between schooling and music, he - wisely - picked the latter. Proficient on piano and guitar, at fifteen he began playing on recording sessions and accompanied artists such as Art Neville, Toussaint and Joe Tex. By sixteen he had started producing material and was hired as an artists and repertoire man by Johnny Vincent at Ace Records. In 1960 he was involved in a fight when playing a show in Jackson, Mississippi and had the ring finger of his left hand almost shot off. He eventually recovered the use of the finger, but it affected his guitar playing and caused him to concentrate thereafter on the piano. Working in the New Orleans clubs, he became embroiled in the criminal underworld of drugs and prostitution and acquired a heroin addiction while dealing drugs himself.
After completing a two-year jail sentence in Fort Worth for possession in 1965, he moved to Los Angeles and was soon in great demand as a session musician. He played on countless recordings for the producer Phil Spector for artists including The Ronettes and The Righteous Brothers. As part of the famed Wrecking Crew, he worked with Aretha Franklin and Roberta Flack, recorded with Bob Dylan and Doug Sahm and played with Frank Zappa & The Mothers Of Invention, until Zappa sacked him for using drugs. Gris-Gris was recorded on studio time borrowed from Sonny & Cher, with whom he had been working in Los Angeles and who had helped him secure a deal with Atco records. Produced by Harold Battiste, another New Orleans native transplanted to the West Coast, it marked the first appearance of Rebennack's pseudonym Doctor John Creaux, alias Doctor John, The Night Tripper (the latter name a tribute to his favourite Be-Atles song). After The Sun, Moon & Herbs he brought out Doctor John's Gumbo (1972), conceived as a tribute to New Orleans music, particularly the compositions of his mentor, Professor Longhair. Following the positive reaction to In The Right Place in 1973, his next LP, Desitively Bonnaroo (1974), was much less successful and it proved to be his last with Atco. He moved to United Artists for the live LP Hollywood Be Thy Name (1975). From the mid-1970s onwards Doctor John began a long partnership with the songwriter Doc Pomus that led to songs for his LPs City Lights and Tango Palace (both 1979). He then made the solo piano LP Doctor John Plays Mac Rebennack (1981), a virtuosic showcase of his keyboard skills and repeated the feat with The Brightest Smile In Town (1983). In 1989, the year he signed to Warner Brothers and finally put his heroin addiction behind him, he released In A Sentimental Mood, a sleekly-produced collection of standards including 'Makin' Whoopee', a duet with Rickie Lee Jones that earned the pair a Grammy for best jazz vocal performance. He won another Grammy for his second Warners LP Goin' Back To New Orleans (1992), this time for best traditional blues LP. In 1994 he published his autobiography, Under A Hoodoo Moon: The Life Of The Night Tripper (co-written with Jack Rummel), a lurid and scarily honest memoir of his musical life in New Orleans which did not shy away from details about drugs, violence, prostitution and the dark side of the music industry. Nonetheless he was beginning to assume the aura of a respected senior citizen, winning a third Grammy in 1996 for 'SRV Shuffle' from the CD A Tribute To Stevie Ray Vaughan and a fourth in 2000 for his duet with BB King on 'Is You Is Or Is You Ain't My Baby?'
He always had a cult following in the UK and in 1990s worked with artists as diverse as Spiritualised (on Ladies & Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space) and Paul Weller. Both of these appeared, along with members of Primal Scream, Supergrass and Portishead on his 1998 CD, Anutha Zone with which he successfully toured in Europe. Weller was a massive fan, having covered 'I Walk On Guilded Splinters' on his Stanley Road CD. The pair actually went back a long way. During 1977, Doctor John had been in London preparing for a solo tour and was using an upstairs studio in Soho at the same time as The Jam were rehearsing for their first major UK tour in a room on the ground floor of the same building. When Weller reminded Mac of this, the latter asked, incredulously, 'you were that skinny kid makin' all that noise downstairs?!' Later, in 2010, Mac played a memorable set at that year's Glastonbury Festival.
Duke Elegant (2000) comprised John's takes on favourite Duke Ellington pieces, while Mercernary (2006) was his tribute to another classic songwriter, Johnny Mercer. The obliteration of New Orleans by Hurricane Katrina in 2005 spurred Doctor John to release the fundraising EP Sippiana Hericane and then, City That Care Forgot (2008), a CD-length tribute to his grievously wounded home town. It won him Grammy number five, in the best contemporary blues LP category and, in 2013, Locked Down, a collaboration with Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys, brought him a sixth for best blues LP. New Orleans was on his mind once again when he made Ske-Dat-De-Dat: Spirit Of Satch (2014), an homage to Armstrong, the city's founding father of jazz. Doctor John performed or recorded with innumerable other artists, including The Rolling Stones (that's Mac's piano lick on 'Let It Loose'), Canned Heat, Van Morrison (producing 1977's A Period Of Transition), Carly Simon and James Taylor, Levon Helm, Ringo Starr & His All-Starr Band, Harry Connick Junior, R.E.M's Mike Mills and Gregg Allman. He also appeared on the all-star charity version of Lou Reed's 'Perfect Day' in 1997 - sandwiched between Shane MacGowan and David Bowie! John also provided vocals for Popeyes Chicken & Biscuits' 'Luv Dat Chicken' advertising jingle, as well as the theme song ('My Opinionation') for the early-1990s US sitcom, Blossom. In November 2017, Doctor John celebrated 'Mac Month' as proclaimed by the New Orleans City Council in a reception at Napoleon House and his birthday was proclaimed 'Doctor John Day' in the City of New Orleans, the citation noting that he 'rose to international recognition for his musical funkitude in performing, writing and producing.' Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards also issued a Statement of Recognition for 'embodying the culture of the state from New Orleans to the Bayou.' Among memorable covers of Mac's songs were versions of 'I Walk On Guilded Splinters' by Cher and Marsha Hunt as well as Paul Weller and 'Right Place Wrong Time' by Tom Jones. He was inducted into the Rock and/or Roll Hall of Fame in 2011. He is survived by his wife, Lorraine Sherman and their daughters, Tara and Jennifer, by another daughter, Karla, from his marriage to Lydia Crow, which ended in divorce in 1995 and by his sister, Barbara.
The actor Paul Darrow, best known for his role as the anti-hero Kerr Avon in the popular BBC SF drama series Blake's 7, has died at the age of seventy eight following a short illness. Most recently, Paul voiced soundbites for the independent radio stations Jack FM and Union Jack, where he was known as 'The Voice Of Jack'. The character of Avon was second-in-command to the titular Roj Blake (the late Gareth Thomas) on Blake's 7, which ran for four very successful series between 1978 and 1981. This blogger must admit he was never as big a fan of Blake's 7 as some of Keith Telly Topping's Doctor Who fandom chums (this blogger liked it well enough to have watched most, if not all, of the fifty two episode, just not to extent of ever having wanted to write fanzine articles about it). However, Keith Telly Topping always very much enjoyed Paul Darrow's deliciously so-far-over-the-top-he-was-down-the-other side performance in the show (particularly his lovely comedy double act in many episode with Michael Keating's Vila).
When Thomas left after two years, Avon became the main character. He was a terse, cold pragmatist with a fine line in cynicism and, beneath his inscrutable visage and pithy one-liners Darrow gave the character a quick, calculating intelligence. He reportedly considered Avon to be 'a cross between Steve McQueen and Elvis Presley, with a touch of Richard Nixon thrown in.' It was a captivating performance, never dull and Darrow's good looks made Avon hugely popular with viewers. The series ended with the deaths of all the lead characters, with Avon the last man standing. The show’s final shot was a close-up of Darrow, gun raised, grinning down the barrel of the camera.
This blogger only met Paul once, in Los Angeles in 2004. And, like many people he suspects, Keith Telly Topping was impressed by what a warm and charming man Paul was, effortlessly entertaining a hall full of fans during a Question & Answer session moderated by this blogger's old mate Rob Francis. The one really good Paul Darrow story that Keith Telly Topping has from meeting him in the bar shortly after this is that this blogger asked Paul if he remembered when he did a two episode stint on Coronation Street in 1969 (he played the hospital doctor that treated Ray Langton's broken leg after a bus crash in the Lake District, fact fans!) Paul said that he did and that he had enjoyed it greatly ('it made a nice change from the sort of roles I was getting at the time which were all sort of earnest young men in plays' he recalled. 'And, the pay was good!') This blogger mentioned that when Keith Telly Topping had been researching The Guinness Book Of Classic British TV in the 1990s, one day this blogger been in the library with several bound volumes of vintage TV Times and had come across the cast list for one of those Corrie episodes which featured the credit 'Paul Darrow - The Doctor'. 'It's a pity somebody at the BBC didn't see it, I could've used the work' he replied. A very funny man, dear blog reader, the sort of chap that one could have happily spent a couple of hours in pub talking about football with (finding out that Paul was big Manchester City fan - at a time long before it was fashionable to be - was an added bonus).
Paul did appear, twice, in Doctor Who as it happens. Firstly, in a small role as a UNIT Captain in the 1971 story Doctor Who & The Silurians with Jon Pertwee. And then as the villainous Meylin Tekker in the notorious 1985 two-parter Timelash opposite Colin Baker, a story that lots of the more vocal end of Doctor Who fandom consider to be one of the worst in the series history. For what it's worth, this blogger's always rather enjoyed it (although, admittedly, for many of the wrong reasons!) Paul had shared a flat with John Hurt and Ian McShane while he was studying at RADA in the 1960s. Whilst best-known for Blake's 7, Paul appeared in more than two hundred television roles across a fifty year career, including appearances in The Saint, Z Cars, Emmerdale, Hollyoaks, Little Britain, Emergency - Ward Ten, Dixon Of Dock Green, Within These Walls, Dombey & Son, Maelstrom, Making News, Fiddlers Three, Hammer House Of Horror, Rooms, Cluedo, Pie In the Sky, When The Boat Comes In, Killers, The Flaxton Boys, Manhunt, Special Branch, Virgin Of The Secret Service, The Odd Man, The Poisoning Of Charles Bravo and Toast Of London. Other memorable TV roles included playing the Sheriff of Nottingham in the 1975 BBC serial The Legend Of Robin Hood, as Tallboy in a 1973 adaptation of Dorothy L Sayers' Murder Must Advertise, a recurring role as a Judge in Law & Order: UK and as Thomas Doughty in Drake's Venture. He provided the voice for various Biblical quotations in Richard Dawkins's The Root Of All Evil? Paul was also the presenter of the 2004 BBC3 reality series Hercules. His film credits were few, but included roles as doctors in The Raging Moon (1971) and in a blink-and-you'll-miss-him appearance in the 2002 Bond movie Die Another Day.
Ian Walker, the CEO of the Jack brand, said: 'Paul Darrow has been Jack's shining star. Over the past twelve years I have had the pleasure of spending countless hours with Paul listening to his life stories and have shared many bottles of his favourite Bordeaux, whilst enjoying his quirky jokes and sense of humour. When we first launched Jack in the UK, we cast over eighty five voices for the role and we could not have asked for anyone more unique. Paul's rich tones and flippant delivery style always brought a smile to everyone who knew him and of course heard him. I could not have asked for a better friend.' Tim Parker, the programme director at Jack FM, added: 'What an amazing, colourful character Paul was. He has mixed with the greats over the last fifty years and had a story to tell you for every occasion. His voice acting skills were like no other. We will remember and celebrate his character, personality and amazing skills for years to come.' Maureen Marrs, Darrow's friend and PA, said: 'Over three decades I have been Paul's confidante and have had the immense privilege of being part of his life. A star has gone out today; the world will be a darker place without him.'
The Chessington-born actor - he changed his stage-name from Paul Valentine Birkby on the advice of his agent. Darrow was suggested by Paul's father after the American lawyer Clarence Darrow - also enjoyed a significant stage career, including four seasons at the Bristol Old Vic and roles in the West End. In the mid-1960s, Paul married the actress Janet Lees-Price, whom he met when they co-starred on Emergency - Ward Ten. They were together for forty eight years until Janet's death in 2012. In 2003, Paul along with Andrew Sewell, and Simon Moorhead formed a consortium 'B7 Enterprises' and acquired the rights to Blake's 7 from creator Terry Nation's widow. The plan then was to revive the format as a mini-series but due to disagreements about the direction of the project, Paul later left the consortium. In late 2014, Paul sadly suffered an aortic aneurysm. Due to complications, surgeons were forced to amputate both of his legs, one above the knee and the other below it. In October 2018, Paul made his final TV appearance on a celebrity edition of Pointless, along with his Blake's 7 cast-mate Michael Keating. Paul's autobiography, You're Him, Aren't You? was published in 2016 in which he revealed that his interests included 'criminology, good food and wine, classical music, the cinema and military history.'