Sunday, June 16, 2019

This Quintessence Of Dust

Villanelle, the world's most deadly assassin, and expert in knives, guns and poison, was nearly killed off in Killing Eve's second series by a plate of pasta. Jodie Comer has revealed that some food 'shot down' her throat during a scene in which Villanelle is deliberately gorging herself on pasta, leaving her choking until a medic was called to help. 'It's a scene where she's eating some pasta in a very grotesque way,' Comer explained to Entertainment Weekly. 'She's trying to prove a point about something. She's playing it up, being her usual childish self and the pasta was extremely dry. And it was extremely thick. I was shovelling it in and then it just shot down my throat and then I was full-on choking. They must have it on camera - a medic came in and managed to get it out, but my life definitely flashed before me. I just remember being opposite the other actor and looking at him and he thought I was making a weird acting choice. So yeah, it's ruined pasta for me completely. Honestly, I was full-on crying,' Jodie added. 'It was my most dangerous Villanelle moment.'
Game Of Thrones composer Ramin Djawadi whose music was a highlight of the final episodes has revealed just how much detail he was willing to go into during the series finale. In a new interview, he confirms that in the final scene shown for Gwendoline Christie's Brienne - where the new Commander of The Kingsguard records the noble deeds of her deceased lover, Jaime Lannister in The White Book of the order - he wove in a theme he wrote for the wedding of Robb Stark and Talisa back in series two. 'It's just a hint of what their relationship - if they had stayed together, if he was still alive - what it could have been,' Ramin told Insider. 'What they could have become. That's why I put that in there. I just threw that in because I thought it would be a subtle nod to their relationship. When she sits there and she thinks about him and writes down all the things he had done, the second half is the "Honour" theme, but yeah, a big chunk of that [song] is the wedding theme. I was amazed some people picked up on it,' Djawadi said. 'I was hoping people would go, "Wait a minute, that's from season two." And that was exactly my intent. I thought it would be very appropriate. It shows the power of music. There were no words spoken, but by putting that in there your imagination goes [into] where this could have gone. I wanted people to have that emotion, and have those thoughts. I'm glad it was picked up.'
Game Of Thrones' most infamous on-screen blunder, that ruddy coffee cup, was not the director's fault. At least, according to director himself, David Nutter. Perhaps the drama's most experienced director, Nutter was previously behind the camera on episodes such as The Rains Of Castamere and Cersei Lannister walk of atonement episode, Mother's Mercy. But, although he also directed The Last Of The Starks', Nutter has now removed himself from the whole - social-media created - 'coffee cup controversy.' Speaking on The Hollywood Reporter's TV Director Roundtable, the filmmaker noted: 'The first thing I said was they changed an angle of the take,' he noted, 'I wasn't there when they changed it, so I didn't blame myself, which was good. And then, I looked to see if it was, maybe, mine - it wasn't. But I think the show is so damn perfect in many respects that people love to find the blemishes. It's just a little non-sequitur that doesn't really amount to anything at all.' No shit?
Good Omens continues to attract much media attention, most notably a glowing review in Forbes which you can read here. Dear blog readers may also like to check out a hilariously overblown 'never-used-three-words-when-you-can-used ten-instead' sneer from the Catholic Herald's Doctor Carl C Curtis III. Who sounds like a right good laugh to have around at parties. Just to repeat, dear blog readers, this blogger thought Good Omens was great. Apart from that rancid, lanky streak of worthless piss Bloody Jack Bloody Whitehall, obviously.
Anjli Mohindra is returning to the Doctor Who universe for series twelve, albeit playing a different character to her role in Sarah Jane Interferes. Mohindra played Rani Chandra in the Doctor Who spin-off, first appearing in The Day Of The Clown (2008) and staying with the show until it ended in 2011. In Doctor Who, she will reportedly play Queen Skithra in either episode six or seven of the forthcoming series. The two episodes are currently filming, directed by Nida Manzoor and also starring Julia Foster as Marcia. One of these stories will also feature returning aliens, The Judoon. Rani Chandra's debut storyline, of course, also starred Bradley Walsh as its villain. Since Sarah Jane Interferes, Mohindra has had a number of high-profile roles in shows like Cucumber, The Missing, The Boy With The Top Knot and, most notably, Bodyguard.
Russell Davies is reported to be 'furious' about plans to build a zip-wire outside his home. And, you wouldn't like Big Rusty when he's 'furious' dear blog reader. The former Doctor Who showrunner and creator of Years & Years has written to Cardiff City Council strongly objecting to proposals to install a three hundred and sixty metre wire across Cardiff Bay, as it will be 'impossible' for him to work with 'screaming' people 'whizzing past my home.' Big Rusty said: 'My property will be facing a seven-day-a-week zip wire with forty eight people an hour whizzing past my home and screaming for six months of the year. Are you kidding? I write for a living.' The writer goes on to - not unreasonably - take part of the credit for the successful redevelopment of Cardiff Bay as a tourist destination. 'I'm a television scriptwriter; I brought Doctor Who to Cardiff in 2005; the BBC Studio, Roath Lock, across the Bay, was built under my aegis. That facility brings, from Doctor Who alone, twenty four million pounds of business per annum to Cardiff. But you're now suggesting that I sit, in my Cardiff home and write, with forty eight people an hour flying past, screaming, for six months of the year. One person screaming past my windows would be a one-off event. It could even be fun! But forty eight people per hour, eight hours a day for twenty four weeks equals a grand total of sixty four thousand five hundred and twelve events. Whizzing past my flat. Screaming. While I am working.' All of which goes to prove that, in addition to his many other admirable qualities, Russell Davies can also do multiplication. That's certainly good to know. The City Zip Company - who are already taking bookings for the Cardiff attraction on their website - propose to build the wire from the top of the five-star St David's Hotel to a landing spot next to the historic Norwegian Church across the Bay, with a view to open next month. Among the other Cardiff Bay residents objecting to the zip wire another acclaimed screenwriter Andrew Davies, famous for his BBC adaptation of Pride & Prejudice and, more recently, Les Miserables. Andrew, who lives in an eighth floor apartment next to the St Davids Hotel looking out over the bay, said: 'I am a writer and I need peace and quiet for my work. This scheme would mean that screaming idiots would whiz past my apartment forty eight times an hour. The other main reason for having this apartment is to sit on the balcony and enjoy the calm and tranquil view out over the bay. Some hopes! I paid three hundred and fifty thousand pounds for my apartment and this zip-wire, if it goes ahead, will render it worthless to me. Please abandon this reckless and unneighbourly venture.'
Lee Mack has revealed that the BBC has ordered three more series of his hit sitcom Not Going Out. This significant recommission will see the show become one of British television's longest-running sitcoms. Not Going Out launched in 2006. Series ten has just finished, with an already-filmed Christmas special scheduled for December. The BBC has yet to officially announce the order, but Mack reveals the news on The Graham Norton Show. Talking about thinking up ideas for the new episodes, he said: 'Now we've got to mine more from our real lives. The problem with mining things from your own life is that you then watch it with your wife. So, the guy I write with [Daniel Peak] and I have a rule now that we just blame the other person and say things like, "You won't to believe this, but they also do that thing in bed!"' Lee appeared on Norton's show to promote his film debut in Horrible Histories: The Movie - Rotten Romans. He said: 'It's massive and I didn't realise just how big it is until I was offered the part and my kids said I had to do it.' The comedian also revealed that he has committed the 'ultimate sin' at home, telling Norton: 'I haven't confessed this yet to my wife and I think she might kill me. I committed the ultimate sin and got ahead on the Fleabag box-set without her. I then pretended, while watching it with her, that I hadn't seen it!' Not Going Out has morphed from a flatshare sitcom into a family sitcom across its ten series. The comedy co-stars Sally Bretton as Lee's wife Lucy, with Bobby Ball as his father Frank and Geoffrey Whitehead and Deborah Grant as Lucy's parents. Hugh Dennis and Abigail Cruttenden play Toby and Anna, Lee and Lucy's friends. Not Going Out - which originally also featured Tim Vine, Katy Wix and Miranda Hart - was on the verge of cancellation by the BBC after series three, but executives eventually reversed what was widely interpreted as a politically-motivated decision.
The BBC's latest - increasingly desperate - attempt to make a silk purse out of the sows ear that Top Gear has become, post Jezza punching some bloke you've never heard of up the bracket, continues with the recruitment of Freddie Flintoff (nice lad, bit thick) and professional Northern berk Paddy McGuinness. The duo have been interviewed to explain what they believe they can bring to a format that only ever worked when it had Clarkson's hand on the rudder. They fail, miserably. 'When people saw the names, they probably went, "hang on, a cricketer and a comedian?"' acknowledges Chris Harris, the show's professional racing driver and self-proclaimed car geek. 'But why not?' Do you want a list, mate? Cos, it'll be quite long ...
The BBC has confirmed that Sarah Phelps is writing an adaptation of the Agatha Christie thriller The Pale Horse. Phelps, the screenwriter behind The ABC Murders, Ordeal By Innocence, ... And Then There Were None and The Witness For The Prosecution, previously told the Radio Times that she had always intended to bring five of Christie's books to TV. The Pale Horse was first published in 1961 and centres around the character of Mark Easterbrook, a man whose name appears on a mysterious list found inside the shoe of a dead woman. Easterbrook begins an investigation into how and why his name came to appear on the list and is drawn to The Pale Horse, the home of three rumoured witches in the tiny village of Much Deeping. People suggest the witches can get rid of wealthy relatives using dark arts, but as the body count rises, Easterbrook becomes more and more determined to find a logical explanation, and figure out who could possibly want him dead. It's not one of Christie's best known works, or even one of her better ones (it was sandwiched between two far more famous works, Cat Among The Pigeons and The Mirror Crack'd From Side To Side), but it was still quite good fun. It has previously been adapted for television twice, a reasonably straight period adaptation in 1996 by ITV (starring Colin Buchanan) and in 2010 as an episode of Agatha Christie's Marple which (not entirely successfully) retooled the story as a Marple mystery staring Julia MacKenzie. 'When I was working on ... And Then There Were None [in 2015], there was a little voice in my head saying that I could write a quintet and cover fifty years of the tumultuous blood-soaked Twentieth Century within the genre of the murder mystery,' Phelps said. 'Having now done the 1920s, the beginning and end of the 1930s, as well as the 1950s, the next one is going to be set in the 1960s.' Casting for the two-part BBC1 drama will be announced at a later date. The Pale Horse will be directed by Leonora Lonsdale and produced by Ado Yoshizaki Cassuto.
The BBC will be allowed to keep programmes on its iPlayer service for up to a year after they are first broadcast rather than the current thirty days, in an attempt to help the corporation compete with Netflix. The media regulator, Ofcom, approved the change provisionally, saying it would 'increase choice and availability of public-service broadcast content and help ensure the BBC remains relevant in the face of changing viewing habits.' The BBC had said that it feared for the corporation's future unless it were allowed to make the change. It said younger audiences, who were used to watching programmes on Netflix, struggled to understand why shows would disappear from iPlayer after just a few weeks, potentially undermining their willingness to pay the annual licence fee. BBC iPlayer pioneered video streaming in the UK, but is now a relatively minor player. It had a forty per cent share of the market five years ago, but this has slumped to fifteen per cent following the explosive growth of Netflix and other streaming services. Under the current system, the first episode of a popular series often vanishes from iPlayer before the final programme has been shown, meaning there is no option to watch an entire series as a box set. The availability of individual programmes on iPlayer may rely on negotiations with the independent production companies that make shows for the BBC. Many BBC programmes are likely to transfer to the forthcoming paid-for BritBox service after twelve months, which will require an additional subscription on top of the licence fee. The BBC also won approval for children's programmes to remain on iPlayer for up to five years, creating an archive of material designed to appeal to parents and younger viewers. Ofcom said that the change would hit some other catch-up services supported by advertising such as ITV Hub and All 4, but that it was 'justified' to 'promote British public service broadcasting' in the face of challenges from US-based companies. Competitors such as Sky, which owns the Now TV streaming service, had raised concern about the impact on commercial services and had suggested the change could, ultimately, make it harder for Sky customers to access catch-up BBC content. The BBC will have to provide regular assessments on the impact iPlayer is having on its rivals as part of the approval process. Final approval is expected in August, but it could take some time before viewers are able to enjoy the benefit.
England Ladygirls' win over Scotland Ladygirls in the Women's World Cup on Sunday was the UK's most watched women's football match of all time, drawing a peak overnight of 6.1 million viewers on BBC television. The figure - 37.8 per cent of the available audience - breaks the previous record of four million viewers for England's Euro 2017 semi-final against The Netherlands. Ellen White and Nikita Parris scored as England claimed a two-one victory in Nice, with Claire Emslie replying for The Scotch. Just before the women kicked off in Nice, England men were playing Switzerland in the Nations League third place play-off. That was shown on Sky Sports and had a peak audience of 1.236 million (a fifteen per cent share) as England won on penalties. Of course, as one might except, some sneering shits at the Gruniad Morning Star managed to get not one but two stories out of this and the fact that the terrestrial broadcast of an important women's football match also got more viewers than England cricket team's World Cup clash with Bangladesh which was also being shown a Sky Sports. 'Women’s football is now more popular than cricket - at least when it comes to TV ratings,' sneered one in a fine example of comparing apples and oranges. Oddly, neither of the people of no consequence writing these sneering stories in the Gruniad managed to do what this blogger thought all Gruniad journalists were required to do; shoe-horn in a reference to Netflix and whichever box-set it is that they and their brown-tongued Middle Class hippy Communist colleagues are currently obsessed with. One imagines, they failed to do so on this particular occasion because it would have brought up the awkward question of how many viewers, exactly, programmes on Netflix get.
Free TV licences for up to 3.7 million pensioners are being scrapped, the BBC has announced. Under the new rules, only low-income households where one person receives the pension credit benefit will still be eligible for a free licence. Free licence fees for the over-seventy fives were brought in by the then chancellor, Gordon Brown in 1999, with the cost paid to the BBC for out of taxation from central government. In 2015 that oily twat George Osborne struck a deal with the BBC - one in which no guns were held to anyone's head whatsoever, oh no, very hot water - in which the broadcaster was told it would have to shoulder the cost of the scheme (something which they had never wanted and was foisted on them in the first place) themselves. Later, the Tories wickedly transferred responsibility for the politically toxic decision on who should receive the benefit to the broadcaster. The BBC has said that it would face 'unprecedented closures' if it did not make the changes and pointed out that many elderly individuals were much wealthier than when the benefit was introduced. About three million households will have to start paying the licence fee on pain of prosecution. The cost of the scheme - seven hundred and forty five million knicker - incidentally, is a fifth of the BBC's budget. The new scheme will cost the BBC around two hundred and fifty million notes by 2022 depending on the take-up. Funding free TV licences for all over-seventy fives would have resulted in 'unprecedented closures,' the BBC said. The broadcaster said that BBC2, BBC4, the BBC News Channel, the BBC Scotland channel, Radio 5live and a number of local radio stations would all have been at risk. The BBC said that 'fairness' was at the heart of the ruling, which comes into force in June 2020. It follows a consultation with one hundred and ninety thousand people, of whom fifty two per cent were in favour of reforming or abolishing free licences. According to the BBC, around nine hundred thousand households are claiming pension credit, which is a government benefit paid weekly to pensioners on low incomes. The number of households which could be eligible to apply for pension credit could number one-and-a-half-million by 2020. BBC chairman Sir David Clementi said that it had been 'a very difficult decision' but this was the 'the fairest and best outcome.' It is, of course, neither but then, the fairest and best outcome would have been if the scheme had never been introduced in the first place as it was obvious to even the world's stupidest glake that it would, eventually, become a stick with which to beast the BBC into submission. Soon-to-be-former Prime Minister Theresa May (haven't you gone yet, madam?) said that she was 'very disappointed' with the BBC's decision. A decision which her government - the same government who, in their 2017 general erection manifesto promised to retain the scheme - foisted onto the BBC because they knew that when it was made (which it was always going to have to be) it was going to be massively unpopular. That's how politicians work, dear blog reader, they get others to do their own dirty work. Of course, this news gave the BBC's traditional enemies in the print media all of their birthday's at once (the Daily Scum Mail is, as we speak, organising petitions and boycotts), whilst many of the hopefuls to take May's place as The Big Boss have also been having their whinge on a matter which, basically, is their fault. Conservative MPs expressed their dissent in the Commons on Tuesday, after Labour's Tom Watson (power to the people!) put forward an urgent question on the matter. The shadow lack of culture secretary pointed out that more than four thousand elderly individuals would lose the benefit in Boris Johnson's Uxbridge constituency, suggesting he 'wants to give a tax cut to the very richest, but he will not lift a finger to defend pensioners.' The Conservative MP William Wragg said that the Tories had been 'quite categoric' about protecting free licences in their manifesto. Labour's Yvette Cooper accused Johnson of 'careering round the country' promising tax cuts for the wealthy while taking from vulnerable pensioners, adding: 'On what planet is that fair?' That's Britain in 2019, Yvette, m'love. Get used to it, this is the future. Horrible, isn't it? To be fair, the BBC did receive support from the Gruniad Morning Star in an impassioned editorial, The Guardian View On The BBC: A Broadcaster, Not A Welfare Agency. Even more remarkably, the Metro - a Daily Scum Mail and General Trust newspaper - allowed Peter Goddard, the Senior Lecturer in Media and Communication at the University of Liverpool, the space to write a similarly-themed think-piece, Why The BBC Is Not To Blame For The TV Licence Fee Cuts. And, the BBC themselves showed - for once - a smidgen of backbone when slapping down the ludicrous dribbling of the Daily Torygraph's resident hateful waste-of-oxygen scumbag, Allison Pearson.
A man who bought a World War One machine gun twenty years ago for a thousand knicker has been told it is now, effectively, 'worthless' by BBC Antiques Roadshow experts. John Needham claimed that he and his wife 'lived on Ryvita for a month' after he bought the 1917 Vickers gun. He took it to the show on Cromer Pier in Norfolk, where gun expert Robert Tilney said it made him 'the happiest man.' But, he added that it was worth 'precisely nothing' because it was 'not up to the current deactivation standard.' Speaking afterwards, Needham 'disputed' the valuation - well, he would, wouldn't he? - and said he 'believed' alterations to the gun 'could' make it worth more than five grand. Quite where he got that figure from and what these alterations would cost, he didn't reveal. The Vickers was a water-cooled gun with a range of over four thousand yards which was adopted by the British Army as its standard machine gun in 1912. It could fire up to five hundred rounds per minute. This blogger's grandfather used on at Passchendaele. It was, he recalled many years later, 'bloody loud!' Needham said: 'I think the Ministry of Defence started releasing them from stores about twenty years ago and I was watching them rapidly rise in price, so I thought I'll get one while they're reasonable. So I was quite pleased to get her [but] my wife was not over the Moon.' She's probably even less happy now that it's worth bugger-all, one suspects. Tilney delivered his verdict on the episode which was filmed last summer. He told Needham: 'You've paid one thousand pounds for your Vickers heavy machine gun, money well spent in my opinion - it is now worth precisely nothing. It has no value because it is not up to the current deactivation standard - you can't even give it to somebody.' Needham said: 'I love her because there's history there - I'm not caring about the money at all.' But, one suspects that he does, actually. The Police and Crime Act 2017 forbids the sale, swap, gifting or inheritance of any firearms deactivated before April 2016 within the European Union. Needham said he 'hoped' the law would change before he had to think about further work on the gun.
A man who got to the final of the BBC's Mastermind has appeared on TV, just hours after his funeral. Hamish Cameron finished fourth in the 2019 final of the show, which was broadcast on Friday evening. The retired IT manager was already ill when the programme was recorded in November. He was diagnosed with cancer in December and he died last week. His family urged the BBC to proceed with the broadcast, saying it was what he would have wanted. Cameron, from Elgin in Moray, was a veteran quizzer who first appeared on Mastermind in 1990 while it was hosted by the late Magnus Magnusson. He went on to take part in eight series of the show, winning through to the semi-finals in all but one of them and making the final in 2014. No player in the show's history appeared on Mastermind more often than Cameron, who chalked up seventeen appearances. The BBC said that it had considered postponing the broadcast when it emerged the family would be holding Cameron's funeral on the same day. But as his health deteriorated, Cameron had reportedly instructed his family to make sure his final went out even if he was not here to see it. After the funeral at Rafford Church in Elgin, his wife Edna, children Mairi, Niall and Isla, grandchildren and other family members gathered at his home for the final chance to see him doing what he loved. Niall, a Commonwealth Games table tennis player, told the Press & Journal: 'It will be tough to watch. When he did the Mastermind final, he said "if I am not here, make sure the programme still goes out." Hamish wouldn't want us to be sad, but to find the positives. It's quite strange timing but, knowing Hamish, he would see the irony in it.' A BBC spokeswoman said: 'We are very sad to hear about the passing of Hamish Cameron. He was a fantastic Mastermind contestant and our thoughts are with his family and friends at this time.' Cameron's specialist subject for the final was the American artist Mary Cassatt.
Michael Palin has predicted he will be the only Monty Python's Flying Circus member to become a sir after being knighted by Prince William at Buckingham Palace. 'I'll probably be the only one,' he said, adding that John Cleese had already turned down the chance. It is not known if Cleese rejected a knighthood, but he did certainly refuse a CBE in 1996 and a peerage in 1999. Sir Michael also said that he had managed to 'suppress a joke' while speaking to the Duke of Cambridge on Wednesday. 'He talked about where I was going next, any parts of the world I really wanted to go that I hadn't already,' revealed the broadcaster. The seventy six-year-old said he normally answered 'Middlesbrough' when asked that - very unoriginal - question but, on this occasion, opted for Kazakhstan instead. Sir Michael did, in fact, visit Middlesbrough, for the first time, in 2015. It was closed. As usual. Speaking after the investiture ceremony, the Pole To Pole presenter also spoke about the BBC's decision to scrap free TV licences for all over-seventy fives. He said the BBC had done 'a pretty bad deal' in agreeing to take on the cost of free licences in 2015 'I hoped somehow that would somehow go away and it hasn't gone away,' he continued. 'I just wish it wasn't at the expense of the people who now have to fork out for their licence.' Sir Michael was knighted in the New Year Honours for services to travel, culture and geography. Whether, when Prince William told him to arise, he said 'Ni!', we don't know. Though it would've been a reet good laugh if he did.
And, speaking of the honours system, dear blog reader, one of yer actual Keith Telly Topping's songwriting heroes, Elvis Costello, has been named an OBE for his services to music. And, although he is 'happy to accept this very surprising honour,' the legendary singer-songwriter posted a note on his website admitting that he had 'mixed feelings' about receiving the distinction. Elvis's music has often been critical of British imperialism and politics, particularly on songs like 'Less Than Zero', 'Oliver's Army', 'Goon Squad', 'Clubland', 'A Man Out Of Time', 'Pills & Soap' or 'Tramp The Dirt Down'. He explained in statement note that he had decided to accept the honour after discussing it with his mother. 'I began my call by telling my Mam that the Prime Minister, Mrs May, had put my name forward for an OBE,' he wrote. '"But she's rubbish," Lillian cut in before I could complete the news.' Isn't it great to know that Elvis's Mam is every bit as 'tell it like it is' as her son, dear blog reader? 'Well, that aside, I said, "Of course, I won't be accepting the award." I didn't get much further with that statement either. I listened carefully to my mother's argument that if something is deserved then one must be gracious in acceptance. So, as a good lad, who likes to do what will make his Mam most proud, I knew that I must put old doubts and enmities aside and muster what little grace I possess. When I looked down the list of past honourees; those who have accepted and those who have declined for reasons of conviction or cantankerousness, I came to the conclusion that I am, perhaps, closer in spirit to Eric Morecambe than to Harold Pinter, as anyone who has heard me play the piano will attest,' he added. 'Even so, it is hard to receive anything named for the "British Empire" and all that term embodies, without a pause for reflection.' Elvis also admitted that 'It would be a lie to pretend that I was brought up to have a great sense of loyalty to the Crown, let alone notions of Empire. I used to think a change might come but when one considers the kind of mediocre entrepreneur who might be foisted upon us as a President, it's enough to make the most hard-hearted "Republican" long for an ermine stole, a sceptre and an orb. To be honest, I'm pretty tickled to receive this acknowledgement for my "Services To Music", as it confirms my long held suspicion nobody really listens to the words in songs or the outcome might have been somewhat different.' You can read Elvis's full - extremely amusing, gracious, humble and (as you'd expect from the man who wrote all those brilliant songs) superbly written - statement about receiving the OBE here. Personally, this blogger is delighted Elv has been so honoured and, in fact, Keith Telly Topping feels that he should be made an Earl as well as getting the OBE. Then, he'd be an earlobe. (Yes, that is, indeed, an old joke from The Goodies in the 1970s. What do you want, dear blog reader, original material?)
The late David Bowie once, reportedly, turned down a knighthood. Now, American Gods, Good Omens, The Sandman and Neverwhere author Neil Gaiman (you know who he is, right?) and director Peter Ramsey have expressed interest in making a movie about Bowie after being prompted to by the late singer's son. In February, a David Bowie biopic entitled Stardust, starring Johnny Flynn, was confirmed to be in production. However, Duncan Jones – the son of the late musician – said that he would not be giving the movie his seal of approval. This week, during an online conversation with a fan, Duncan, who is of course an acclaimed movie director himself - Moon, Source Code and the upcoming Rogue Trooper - reiterated that he would only approve of a film about his late father if Gaiman and Ramsey were involved. After a fan tweeted: 'I would love a movie about my favourite rock star but only if ManMadeMoon [Duncan's online handle] approves,' Duncan responded: 'As I've said before, it's only happening if you all wish very hard and tell Neil Gaiman and Peter Ramsey to do it.' Ramsey replied first, writing: 'Hey, no pressure ... Neil?' Yer man Gaiman then confirmed that he was 'in' too. Although, when he said 'I'm in' he might've just meant, you know, in the house. Rather that out. Just a thought before anyone gets too carried away. Duncan has since clarified that he would not be involved in the proposed movie project himself, should it go ahead. He said: 'I will be making Rogue Trooper. If it happens, Neil and Peter don't need my interference on this grand endeavour.' At which point, obviously, the Interweb melted in anticipation.
The first contract that The Be-Atles' (a popular beat combo of the 1960s, you might've heard of them) signed with their manager Brian Epstein is expected to sell for about three hundred grand at auction. To someone with with more money than sense. Yer actual Paul McCartney, yer actual George Harrison, the alcoholic wife-beating Scouse junkie and their first drummer Pete Best signed the document on 24 January 1962, before achieving worldwide fame. '[Epstein] stopped them eating on stage,' Gabriel Heaton, a 'specialist' at the Sotheby's auction house, claimed. 'He made sure they played the songs properly and coherently and he got them bowing at the end of a set.' The document, said to have been signed by the band in the front room of Best's mother's home, was the first of two contracts drawn up between Epstein and The Be-Atles. It gave Epstein responsibility for finding the band work and managing their schedule and publicity. He was also to oversee 'all matters concerning clothes, make-up and the presentation and construction of the artists' acts and also on all music to be performed.' Heaton said: 'He was just blown away by the passion, the energy, the charisma, the raw sexuality on stage. They had the stage energy but he instilled a sense of professionalism in them.' The band's previous manager, Allan Williams, had warned Epstein 'they'll let you down.' But, they didn't. Epstein was in charge of the record section of his family's shop, North End Music Stores, when he first saw The Be-Atles at the city's nearby Cavern Club. After signing the band, he changed their image from leather jackets and jeans to suit and ties. Epstein managed other Merseyside acts, including Cilla Black and Gerry & The Pacemakers. He died in 1967, aged thirty two, following a (probably accidental) drug overdose. However, Epstein did not sign the contract himself, saying 'even though I knew I would keep the contract in every clause, I had not one hundred per cent faith in myself to help The Beatles adequately,' he noted in his 1964 autobiography, A Cellar Full Of Noise. 'I wanted to free The Beatles of their obligations if I felt they would be better off.' The contract outlines that Epstein's fee would be ten per cent, rising to fifteen per cent if their earnings 'should exceed one hundred and twenty pounds a week.' McCartney had, allegedly, negotiated the maximum limit down from twenty per cent. Following Best's departure from the band, in August, another contract was signed on 1 October 1962 with Ringo Starr - and Epstein got his a higher percentage. The original contract, from the collection of Epstein's publisher Ernest Hecht, is being auctioned for the first time next month.
Music fans have, reportedly, been leaving a festival before a note has even been played after torrential rain 'reduced the site to a mud-bath.' Or, in other words, conditions just like every other festival in the history of festivals. Thousands descended on Download festival's campsite at Donington Park on Wednesday. One man, who left after injuring himself, described scenes of 'impassable muddy sludge everywhere.' Fans braving the mud have rechristened the event 'Drownload', posting pictures of drenched ground online. John Hawkins, from Grimsby, left the Donington Park site Thursday morning in a geet huff after suffering a slipped disc. 'I spent the next twenty four hours crying in my tent,' he whinged to the BBC. Although that was probably more to do with the thought of having to sit through a set by Whitesnake on Friday. Don't fish for sympathy, mate, you're supposed to be a heavy metal fan and, therefore, hard. 'It's not [been] communicated there would be such a distance between the car park and the campsite,' he added. So, John is, seemingly, also allergic to walking. The thirty four-year-old whinged that he made the choice to leave after 'searching for a toilet that wasn't flooded or looking like something out of a horror movie' for an hour. And, again, this is different from every single music festival ever, how, exactly? T|hey didn't eve have toilets at Woodstock, they just shat in the field and then got on with having a bad trip because of the brown acid. 'I was looking forward to my first festival experience, but all I got was mud, cold and pain,' John snivelled. Yeah, but look at it this way, it could been far worse, mate, you could have hung around till Saturday for Slipknot. Then, you'd know pain. Samantha Gibben, from Stockon-on-Tees, dislocated her hip and left after six hours. 'I was just sliding everywhere,' she said. 'The village was more or less inaccessible for anyone who couldn't walk and the campsites were very slippery already.' Gibben claimed wheelchairs were getting stuck and friends who stayed overnight had hypothermia. 'The stick-it-out attitude is no excuse for not looking after yourself and putting your health first,' she said. Roads on Wednesday were gridlocked as campers arrived at the site in heavy rain. Organisers tweeted: 'A big thank you to all of you for keeping up the amazing Download spirit. No-one is tougher than you guys.' Well, except for the ones who couldn't take it and buggered off home, obviously. The three-day music event was headlined by Slipknot, Tool and Def Leppard. So, those who left pre-kick off, you really didn't miss much.
England remain ahead of Nations League champions Portugal in the new FIFA world rankings despite losing in the recent semi-finals. Gareth Southgate's side stay fourth, with Portugal moving up one place to fifth and Belgium retaining top spot ahead of world champions France. Northern Ireland climb five places to twenty eighth after Euro 2020 qualifying wins over Estonia and Belarus. Wales drop four places to twenty third and The Scotch slip one spot to forty fifth. World Cup semi-finalists England beat Switzerland on penalties in the inaugural Nations League to finish third and are currently top of European Championship qualifying Group A. The fall of Wales in the rankings is the result of two recent Euro 2020 qualifier defeats by Croatia and Hungary and Scotland suffered a three-nil defeat by Belgium, leaving them fourth in Group I. Nations League finalists the Netherlands, who beat England in the semis, climb two places to fourteenth, alongside Italy. Germany, who were knocked out in the group stage of the 2018 World Cup but are enjoying a one hundred per cent record in Euro 2020 qualifying so far, sit just outside the top ten in joint-eleventh with Argentina. Hungary (forty second), Armenia (ninety seventh) and Malaysia (one hundred and fifty ninth) are the biggest climbers - all up nine places - whilst Greece have suffered the sharpest drop, from forty third to fifty second.
England's ladygirls booked their place in the Women's World Cup knockout stages after beating a resolute Argentina thanks to Jodie Taylor's first goal in fourteen months. Phil Neville's ladies looked as though they would pay for Nikita Parris' missed first-half penalty, which was saved by Vanina Correa after Alex Greenwood was tripped. The Argentine goalkeeper also denied Beth Mead, Parris and Taylor, but had no chance in stopping Euro 2017's golden boot winner, as she tapped in Mead's quality cross after sixty one minutes. The victory for England, who are ranked third in the world means they qualify for the second round and can seal top spot in Group D with a point against Japan in their final game on Wednesday.
England hammered the West Indies to take a significant step towards cricket's World Cup semi-finals, but sustained injuries to Eoin Morgan and Jason Roy along the way. Roy hurt his left hamstring and Morgan suffered a back spasm, both whilst fielding. Despite those setbacks, England dismissed the West Indies for only two hundred and twelve thanks to the hostility of pace pair Jofra Archer and Mark Wood, who took three wickets each. Still, that target could have been a tricky one because of the questions surrounding the participation of Roy and Morgan and the previous potency of the Windies attack. However, stand-in opener Joe Root, who had already taken two wickets with his occasional off-breaks, stroked his way to a classy unbeaten century. He added ninety five for the first wicket with Jonny Bairstow, then one hundred and four with Chris Woakes, who was promoted to number three, as England won by eight wickets with one ball short of seventeen overs to spare. England move up to second in the ten-team table, one point behind current leaders New Zealand. Wins against Afghanistan on Tuesday and Sri Lanka next Friday would put them on the verge of the last four. This meeting between arguably the two most entertaining teams in the tournament promised much - a potential slugfest between speedy attacks and batting line-ups packed with power. When Barbados-born Archer was hurling rockets at the belligerent Chris Gayle, the promise looked set to be fulfilled. From there, though, England efficiently dismantled the sloppy West Indians, firstly exploiting the early damp conditions, then coasting the chase when the sun appeared for the first time in a few days late in the afternoon. The win may yet come at a price, though. Roy left the field in the eighth over of the day after pulling up whilst chasing the ball. He missed almost seven weeks of action with a hamstring injury earlier this year. Morgan's back spasm came in even more innocuous circumstances, when he was moving to the non-striker's stumps to back-up a throw. Judging by the way he left the field - seemingly, barely able to walk - the diagnosis of a back spasm actually seemed like good news, but the full extent of his and Roy's injuries are yet to be revealed. Archer, who has a British father, opted to play for England after joining county side Sussex. His decision was fuelled by previously missing out on the West Indies squad for an Under-Nineteen World Cup. After qualifying to play for England in March, he was already their leading wicket-taker in this World Cup and seemed to turn things up a notch against a team he knows well. The crucial blow, though, was struck by Liam Plunkett. Gayle was dropped by a diving Wood at third man when on fifteen and was threatening some trademark destruction when he pulled Plunkett to Bairstow at deep square leg to depart for thirty six. From fifty five for three, the Windies were stabilised by a stand of eighty nine between Nicolas Pooran, who made a composed sixty three and Shimron Hetmyer. With Adil Rashid starting poorly, Root made the breakthrough - having both Hetmyer and Jason Holder caught and bowled. From there, Archer and Wood, the latter passed fit on the morning of the game after ankle soreness, took over. Their venom, at lengths of either very short or very full, saw the last five West Indies wickets fall for twenty four runs. In all, given the setbacks of the injuries and the dangerous nature of the West Indies, this was England's most impressive display of the tournament so far. By the end, when Gayle was rolling out ineffective off-breaks whilst still wearing his cap, the gulf between two sides that drew a series two-two in the Caribbean earlier this year was massive. Any suggestion that the meagre target would be a challenge was dispelled at the beginning of the England chase, when Bairstow and Root ruthlessly dealt with some - in truth pretty awful - West Indies bowling. The elevation up the order did little to change Root's method - he played glorious cover drives and hared between the wickets. Even after Bairstow uppercut Shannon Gabriel to third man for forty five, the Windies could not take advantage of the promotion of Woakes, who helped himself to a really rather impressive forty. Soon after, Root, the tournament's leading run-scorer, became the first England batsman to register a third hundred in World Cup cricket before Ben Stokes hit the winning runs.
Two more hospital patient deaths have been linked to an outbreak of listeria in pre-packed sandwiches and salads. Friday's announcement from Public Health England takes the number of confirmed cases from six to nine and the deaths from three to five. Last week PHE confirmed that two patients from Manchester Royal Infirmary and another patient at Aintree Hospital had died. All but one of the deaths happened more than a month ago, PHE added. Sandwiches and salads from the Good Food Chain linked to the outbreak have been withdrawn and production stopped. The chain - which supplied forty three NHS trusts across the UK - had been supplied with meat produced by North Country Cooked Meats, which subsequently produced a positive test result for the outbreak strain of listeria. PHE said that it had been analysing previously known cases of listeria from the past two months to see if they were linked. 'To date, there have been no patients linked to this incident outside healthcare organisations, but we continue to investigate,' Doctor Nick Phin, of Public Health England, said. 'Swift action was taken to protect patients and any risk to the public is low.' Doctor Nick added: 'PHE is continuing to analyse all recent and ongoing samples of listeria from hospital patients to understand whether their illness is linked to this outbreak.' A listeria infection can cause a small amount of discomfort but is more likely to seriously affect pregnant women, the elderly and those with a weakened immune system. In a statement, the Good Food Chain claimed that it was 'co-operating fully and transparently with the Food Standards Agency and other authorities' - the single most pointless statement in the history of pointless statements since if they were not co-operating it would look bloody suspicious - and said that it 'hoped' the inquiry would be pursued with 'urgency so the wider industry can learn any lessons as soon as possible. Our thoughts and deepest sympathies are with the families of those who have died and anyone else who has been affected by this outbreak. The underlying cause of it remains unclear,' the statement added. It is not yet known where the latest two victims were receiving treatment. Manchester University NHS Foundation said the new cases did not relate to them. Evidence suggests that all individuals ate the affected foods before the product withdrawal took place in hospitals on 25 May, PHE said. Listeria is a bacterium which can cause a type of food poisoning called listeriosis. Normally, the symptoms are relatively mild - a high temperature, chills, diarrhoea, feeling sick - and clear up after a few days. But in this outbreak, the cases occurred in people who were already seriously ill in hospital and they are most at risk of severe infection. Listeria can then cause damage to organs, spread to the brain or bloodstream and - in extreme cases - be fatal. In 2017, figures show there were thirty three deaths linked to listeriosis in England and Wales. Many types of food can become contaminated with listeria such as soft cheeses, chilled ready-to-eat foods like pre-packed salads, sandwiches and sliced meats, and unpasteurised milk products. Pregnant women are advised to steer clear of soft cheese for this specific reason. To reduce the risk, the NHS advises people keep chilled food in the fridge, heat food until it is piping hot and not eat food after its use-by date. The Good Food Chain, based in Staffordshire, had been supplied with meat produced by North Country Cooked Meats, which subsequently produced a positive test result for the outbreak strain of listeria. This business - along with North Country Quality Foods which it distributes through - has also 'voluntarily ceased production.'
The head of Scotland's largest fishing industry organisation has said Ireland would be 'unwise' to 'pick a fight' over fishing rights in Scottish waters. Which sounds very much like fightin' talk. Big fight. Little people. Bertie Armstrong from the Scottish Fishermen's Federation, said 'increased Irish activity around' the islet of Rockall was clearly illegal. So, to sum up then, Bertie Armstrong is prepared to go to war over Rockall. He backed Scottish government threats of 'enforcement action.' With guns and shit. And, he said it was time for Scotland to 'put its money where its mouth is' and enforce control of its waters. Presumably, by throwing haggises at any invaders? That'll teach them. However, Seán O'Donoghoe from the Killybegs Fishermen's Organisation, defended the Irish fishermen. 'They're extremely worried and we expect that of there is any detentions here we will have the full backing of the Irish government to defend ourselves against what we consider is an illegal act by the Scottish authorities,' he said. Yep, sounds like we've got a war on our hands. The row involves the uninhabited islet of sweet Rockall in the North Atlantic. It is an eroded volcano that lies two hundred and sixty miles West of the Western Isles and is only one hundred feet wide and seventy feet high above the sea. The UK claimed Rockall in 1955, but Ireland, Iceland and Denmark have previously challenged that claim. And, The Young Punx once recorded a proper bangin' tune about it. Tasty. The - ludicrous - row between Scotland and Ireland broke out after increased activity from Irish vessels around Rockall and the Scottish government has said it will 'take enforcement action' against Irish vessels found fishing within twelve miles of Rockall from Saturday. So, to - again - quote The Young Punx, 'possibly violence later!' Armstrong told the BBC that the SFF was 'behind the move.' He said: 'We are absolutely alongside the Scottish government in this matter.' Although unless they've got weapons of their own, one imagines the fishermen will, actually be behind the Scottish government. Quite a long way behind. 'They are doing exactly the right thing,' he continued. 'There is illegal activity going on and the Scottish government is absolutely right in taking whatever action is appropriate to stop it. It is perfectly visible to both governments because all the ships are fitted with a monitoring system by law. So everybody will know exactly who is there and if it is likely that they are fishing or not.' He believes the Scottish government has to 'take a hard line' on the dispute ahead of Brexit, when the UK will be responsible for its own waters. He said: 'This territory is established in international law. What they are doing is illegal. In the whole context of approaching a time when we will be an independent sovereign coastal state, with complete control over all our own waters, then it's time to demonstrate that we are prepared to put our money where our mouth is. Under Brexit we will have sovereignty over UK territorial waters which will include this area. Any access to those waters will be at the behest of the governments of the land.' That would be the same Brexit the Scottish people voted against and which the Scottish government is doing everything it can to avoid, would it? 'In my view it would be very unwise of Ireland to pick a fight when just over the horizon there is a much broader swathe of arrangements to be made.' A spokeswoman from the Scottish government said: 'Irish vessels or any non-UK vessels for that matter have never been allowed to fish in this way in the UK's territorial sea around Rockall and, despite undertaking extensive discussions with the Irish authorities on the matter, it is disappointing that this activity continues. There has actually been an increase in that illegal activity and, with the Rockall fishery season nearly upon us, it is our duty and obligation to defend the interests of Scottish fisheries and ensure compliance with well-established international law. We have provided an opportunity for the Irish government to warn their fishers not to fish illegally and hope that this opportunity is taken up as this will of course obviate the need to take enforcement action - which would otherwise be implemented to protect our fisheries interests.' Enforcement action might involve patrol boats from the Scottish government going alongside any vessel believed to be breaking the law and, if necessary, making arrests. So, throwing haggises, one or the other. Irish ministers have described Scottish government comments as 'unwarranted.' The Irish government's minister for agriculture, food and the marine, Michael Creed said that he was trying to, 'avoid a situation whereby Irish fishing vessels who continue to fish for haddock, squid and other species in the twelve-mile area around Rockall are under the unwarranted threat of "enforcement action" by the Scottish government.' He added: 'However, following this sustained unilateral action by them, I have no option but to put our fishing industry on notice of the stated intention of the Scottish government.' The Rockall fishery is a multi-million pound annual fishery, with several species of fish including haddock, monkfish and squid.
The rightful owners of a haul of stolen garden ornaments are being sought by Northumbria Police. More than eighty items were seized when officers searched the property of a very naughty man suspected to 'be involved in a number of burglaries and thefts across the Birtley and Low Fell areas.' A few, including some grave ornaments, have been returned, but the majority remain unclaimed. Police say that they want to hear from any victims of ornament theft. A Northumbria Police spokesman said: 'One of the victims we identified was over the Moon as ornaments had been stolen from the grave of a family member. I suspect that some of the ornaments we have at the station could hold similar sentimental value and so we are keen to identify the owners. We need to speak to anyone who has had items stolen from gardens in the Birtley and Low Fell areas to get in touch as we may have your belongings. Not only would it be great to return them to you but you may hold information that could greatly assist our investigation.'
A public lavatory in York has been branded (that's local newspaper-speak for 'described as' only with less syllables) 'like something out of Trainspotting.' A Labour councillor claimed that the toilet - attached to Star Inn The City, which is run by the restaurant as part of its planning obligations - is 'one of the worst in Britain.' And, one imagines, he's tried all of them so he's able to make this bold claim in some confidence. But, a spokesman for Star Inn The City said that police had advised the pub to close the toilet because it was 'being targeted by vandals and drug users.' Plus, people who wanted a shit, obviously. And, they don't want the likes of them messing up their nice clean netties. He added that the lavatory in question is, currently, 'being refurbished' and is due to reopen on 20 June. So, if you're in York and you're busting for a crap, dear blog reader, sorry but you'll have to hang on for another few days before letting it all out. The spokesman also said that the business is working with the council to increase enforcement patrols in the area. Labour group leader Danny Myers said that he will be 'calling on the council' to work with the restaurant to reopen the toilets urgently, adding that planning conditions were not being met. He said: 'I will be calling on the council to work with the Star Inn The City to get these toilets back open again as a matter of urgency, as I don't believe it is acceptable for the public to have to search elsewhere for toilet facilities when they should be available here.'
The crumbly cheese beloved of TV duo Wallace and Gromit will soon help heat thousands of Yorkshire homes with renewable 'green gas' made from cheese waste. The Wensleydale Creamery has struck a deal to supply the waste whey from its cheese factory to a local bioenergy plant that produces enough renewable biogas to heat 4,000 homes. The Leeming biogas plant, which currently runs on ice-cream residue, will use a process called anaerobic digestion to turn the dairy-based waste into renewable biogas. This process has been used since the Nineteenth Century to capture gases that are created naturally when food waste breaks down. Modern anaerobic digestion plants can inject the gas directly into the local gas grid, and can produce bio-fertiliser too. The project helps tackle a triple sustainability challenge for the UK by shrinking the carbon footprint of energy and reducing waste while helping to develop sustainable farming practices. The latest bioenergy deal comes as the government prepares to carry out a major overhaul of the UK's heating system to help cut carbon emissions to meet a 2050 target for a net-zero carbon economy. The Committee on Climate Change, the government's official advisory body, has warned that food waste should not be allowed to sit in landfill, where it rots to produce carbon-rich methane. Instead, unavoidable food waste should undergo anaerobic digestion to create a natural gas that can displace the fossil fuels used for heating or electricity generation. The net-zero carbon ambition will also require heavy carbon-cutting from manufacturers and farmers. David Hartley, the managing director of the Wensleydale Creamery, said that the project would 'bring sustainable environmental and economic benefits' to the region. He said: 'The whole process of converting local milk to premium cheese and then deriving environmental and economic benefit from the natural by-products is an essential part of our business plan as a proud rural business.' The firm produces four thousand tonnes per annum of the cheese - which was awarded protected status by the EU in 2013 - at its dairy in Hawes in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales. The Leeming bioenergy plant is one of nine across Yorkshire owned by sustainability investor Iona Capital, which claims that it saves 'the equivalent' of thirty seven thousand tonnes of carbon emissions every year. Mike Dunn, Iona's co-founder, said: 'Once we have converted the cheese by-product supplied by Wensleydale into sustainable green gas, we can feed what's left at the end of the process on to neighbouring farmland to improve local topsoil quality. This shows the real impact of the circular economy and the part intelligent investment can play in reducing our carbon emissions.' The nearby R&R Ice-cream factory, maker of the Cadbury's Flake and Nobbly Bobbly treats, also supplies the bioenergy plant with residual ice-cream leftover after cleaning its tanks. Iona Capital has another two anaerobic digestion projects in the pipeline, Dunn said.
An eagle owl which flew off after being 'spooked by a hosepipe' has reportedly been found a year later and five miles from its home in Wiltshire. Bella flew away from Mere Down Falconry on 14 May 2018. Her owner, Allan Gates, said: 'I was really concerned she would end up starving to death, but she's obviously been catching stuff and looking after herself.' Yeah, owls can do that. She was found soaking wet, but 'sitting quite happily' on a post in the garden of a house. Gates received hundreds of calls of possible sightings, but most of them turned out to be buzzards or tawny owls. Early on Friday, a dog walker called him to say his pets chased an owl with 'big orange eyes' out of the grass. Bella escaped the dogs by flying up to sit on a fence post. 'Looking at her, she's got a few feathers missing on the front of her wings and around her eyes. I think she's got into a fight with something last night and then she's got on the ground and got water-logged and that was it - she couldn't go anywhere,' said Gates. He said the owl only 'hissed a little bit' when he arrived to collect her. Bella has since been fed with quails and day-old chicks and is drying out.
A former Sunday school teacher says she was 'traumatised' by being forced to 'open her butt cheeks and squat' during a strip-search, it has been claimed. So traumatised, it would seem, that she felt the need to share her trauma and humiliation with others. Jill Knapp claimed that she was returning from a trip to Mexico City when officials at Vancouver International Airport accused her of smuggling drugs. She was made to undergo 'a secondary baggage check' before sniffer dogs were called in and a strip search was carried out, when the border agent asked her to 'open her butt cheeks and squat.' She told CBC News: 'It was traumatising. Within two minutes he called me a drug smuggler, mentioned a strip search and even said that he was going to send me to the hospital for an X-ray [to look for drugs]. And that was before he even asked me any questions.' Like, 'have you got any drugs on you,' perhaps? She then, allegedly, told the border agent that she had been visiting her husband and was trying to secure him residence in Canada. However, the border agent allegedly demanded her phone and password and she was placed in detention before she volunteered for a strip search. Two female officers then carried out the search, reportedly ordering Knapp to strip from the waist up. She said: 'They actually made me turn around, open up my butt cheeks and squat. I was just in shock. I didn't quite understand what it involved.' But, she soon found out. After finding nothing - at least, nothing in the way of drug-related malarkey - the guards released her and she limped home. She is now speaking out about the incident, which occurred in January 2016, allegedly 'as part of a campaign for greater scrutiny of the Canada Border Services Agency.' The CBSA told CBC that it 'could not discuss' Jill's case 'due to privacy issues' (although, 'privacy issues' appeared to be the last thing on their mind when they made here 'open her butt cheeks and squat', obviously). When she filed an official complaint an agency spokesman claimed that border guards had 'followed standard procedures and guidelines.' So, dear blog reader, if you're planning on a trip to Canada any time soon, you know what to expect. Of course, there are part of the world where you have to pay good money for that sort of thing.
Peter Whitehead, who died this week aged eighty two, could justifiably claim to be one of Britain's most distinctive and provocative film-makers. His on-the-road documentary about The Rolling Stones, Charlie Is My Darling (1965), was a pioneering portrait of the group amid the whirlwind of fan-mania, its intimacy was a precursor of Donn Pennebaker's Bob Dylan film Don't Look Back (made the same year) and a blueprint for countless future music documentaries. In Tonite Let's All Make Love In London (1967), Whitehead created what for many critics was a definitive document of swingin' London, a white-hot crucible of music, fashion and film. The many short music promo films Whitehead made in the 1960s foreshadowed the era of the video which blossomed in the MTV era of the 1980s. But, by the time he made The Fall (1969), arguably his most effective movie, the intellectually restless Whitehead had moved beyond being merely an onlooker recording events with his camera and was pursuing his own inner journey through a period of violent social and political change. His most intensely creative period began in 1965, when he filmed the International Poetry Incarnation - a gathering of beat poets, including Allen Ginsberg, Adrian Mitchell and Lawrence Ferlinghetti - at the Royal Albert Hall in London, to make the thirty five-minute documentary Wholly Communion. Word of this reached The Rolling Stones manager, Andrew Loog Oldham, who invited Whitehead to film The Stones' trip to Belfast and Dublin in September that year. The resulting Charlie Is My Darling had its first public screening at the 1966 Mannheim film festival, where it was considered for the gold medal (which was won instead by Wholly Communion). However, a personality clash with Oldham about the film's portrayal of The Stones meant that it never went on general release and it remains little-seen. Whitehead did further work with T|he Stones, including notorious promo clips for 'Have You Seen Your Mother, Baby, Standing in the Shadow?' (1966) and 'We Love You' (1967). The former mixed live and studio footage, the latter was shot the day before Mick Jagger and Keith Richards appealed against their drug convictions and starred the two Stones and Marianne Faithfull in a remake of the trial of Oscar Wilde. 'My ambitions are very high - none higher - to be a genius in and with the cinema,' Whitehead wrote in a letter to Oldham. Though he was a classical music enthusiast with little prior interest in pop, Whitehead understood its potency. He shot promo films with The Small Faces, The Beach Boys, Eric Burdon & The Animals, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Nico and The Pink Floyd and, in 1970, he made a memorable concert film of Led Zeppelin at the Albert Hall. Whilst Tonite Let's All Make Love In London made Whitehead the toast of the 1960s in-crowd, the film also included critical remarks about the vapidity of the London milieu from Jagger, Michael Caine and David Hockney. Whitehead himself, a vehement opponent of US imperialism and the Viet'nam war, had a theory that the invention of swingin' London was 'a CIA manoeuvre designed to make British counterculture appear inconsequential and impotent,' as he wrote in 2002. Thus, he was enthusiastic about Peter Brook's invitation to film his experimental Royal Shakespeare Company play US, designed to challenge British apathy about the escalating Viet'nam conflict. When the resulting film, Benefit Of The Doubt, was screened alongside Tonite at the New York film festival in September 1967, Whitehead was invited to make a film about the New York 'scene'. He was eager to oblige, but the project, eventually released as The Fall (1969), ballooned into a panorama of politics, violent protest and an anguished examination of the role of the documentary film-maker, as Whitehead became a participant in the 1968 student occupation of New York's Columbia University. His filming schedule was bookended by the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy. He wrote that when he got back to London, 'I had a nervous breakdown. Didn't speak for three months.' Born in Liverpool, Peter was the only child of William, a plumber who worked at the city's docks and his wife, Zenia. In 1940 Peter's father was sent to Iran for wartime service, after which his mother had to give up the family home. Whitehead later wrote: 'I spent the war years drifting, wandering from town to town, living alone with my mother in numerous cheap single-bed sitting rooms in rented accommodations around Lancashire.' In 1941 they moved to Leyland, where his mother worked in a factory making Spitfires. Peter attended Leyland Methodist school. When his father returned from the war the family moved to London and lived in council accommodation while his father tried to start a plumbing business. Peter took his eleven-plus exam at St Leonard's primary school in Streatham and, in 1949, won a local authority scholarship to Ashville college in Harrogate. Though he thrived at Ashville, captaining the rugby team, becoming the school organist and winning a scholarship to Peterhouse, Cambridge, to study maths, physics and chemistry, P|eter's experiences crystallised a seething class consciousness that never left him. Before Cambridge, Whitehead did two years' national service. Once he was at the university, he wanted to switch to English literature, but succeeded only in moving to physiology, mineralogy and crystallography. He was able to assuage his writing urges with contributions to the Cambridge Evening News and the university newspaper and won a scholarship to the Slade School of Art in London. This was - in theory - to train as a painter, but Whitehead, who at Cambridge had been an avid consumer of the movies of Ingmar Bergman, Jean-Luc Godard and Federico Fellini, was suddenly gripped by a passion for film-making. He became one of the first students at the Slade's new film department, run by Thorold Dickinson. A pair of short films Whitehead made in 1962 gained him a contract with T|he Nuffield Foundation, for which he made The Perception O|f Life (1964), about how advances in microscopy had expanded scientific knowledge. Also in 1964, Whitehead worked as a freelance documentary cameraman for Italian television. The traumas of making The Fall prompted Whitehead to move away from film-making. Though he made Daddy (1973), a sexual psychodrama about the sculptor Niki de Saint Phalle and Fire In The Water (1977), a vehicle for his then partner Nathalie Delon, his attention now centred on breeding falcons. A student of ancient Egyptian mythology, he was obsessed with the story of Isis and Osiris giving birth to Horus the falcon-headed God. In 1981 he was invited by Prince Khalid al-Faisal of Saudi Arabia to assist in building the Al Faisal Centre, the world's largest falcon-breeding establishment sited on top of the country's highest mountain, Al Souda. Whitehead moved there with his then wife Dido Goldsmith, the daughter of the environmentalist Teddy Goldsmith, whom he had married in 1980. However, the project was cut short in 1991 by the first Gulf war. Returning to London, Whitehead poured his energies into writing novels, frequently self-published in the absence of much commercial interest. One of them was Terrorism Considered As One Of The Fine Arts (2007), which Whitehead turned into a film in 2009, shot in Vienna. Its themes included 'the CIA's influence on English culture' and 'the fear that the state spreads in order to control.' In 1998 Whitehead appeared in The Falconer on Channel Four, a 'fictionalised biography' of him by Chris Petit and Iain Sinclair. After initially hailing it as a masterpiece, Whitehead later changed his mind and declared it 'a deliberate, calculated betrayal.' Paul Cronin's two-part documentary In the Beginning Was The Image: Conversations With Peter Whitehead (2006), comprised new and archive interviews with Whitehead and extracts from his work. His marriage to Goldsmith ended in 2002. The couple's daughter, Robin, died of a heroin overdose in 2010, while she was making the documentary The Road T|o Albion about The Libertines frontman Pete Doherty. A subsequent marriage, to Liza Kareninam, ended in divorce. Whitehead is survived by seven children: three daughters, Leila, Charlene and Rosetta, from his marriage to Goldsmith; Tamsin and Sian, the daughters of his first marriage, to Diane Leigh, which also ended in divorce; a daughter, Joanna, from a relationship with Deanna Woodrow and a son, Harry, from a relationship with the actress Coral Atkins.
Franco Zeffirelli's bold ideas and enduring energy made him one the Twentieth Century's most creative and prolific directors. Whether he was directing Elizabeth Taylor as Shakespeare's Shrew, staging more than one hundred and twenty operas or serving in the Italian Senate, Zeffirelli - who died this week aged ninety six - remained a cultural icon well into his eighties. The maestro worked on a famously epic scale in film, theatre and opera, where his productions formed the core repertory of such houses as the Met and La Scala. He once said of himself: 'I'm not the greatest director of opera in the world. I'm the only one.' Gianfranco Zeffirelli was born in February 1923 on the outskirts of Florence. The illegitimate son of a philandering merchant, young Franco's surname was given to him by his mother. She wanted 'Zeffiretti', a word meaning 'little breezes' taken from a Mozart opera, but the wrong spelling appeared on his birth certificate. It was to his mother, who died when he was just six, that he attributed what he referred to as his understanding of the female psyche. 'Women represent the warmth of life - they're frail and vulnerable. They only become unpleasant when they feel the need to create a defence, and they exaggerate. That's why they become divas.' He grew up among English expatriates in Florence, an experience he returned to in his film Tea With Mussolini. His early training as an architect was interrupted by war; Zeffirelli fought with the Italian partisans and became an interpreter for the British army after the Allied invasion of Italy in 1943. In peacetime he returned to his architectural studies until a viewing of Laurence Olivier's film of Henry V inspired him to move to the theatre. His sometime lover Luchino Visconti gave him a role as assistant director in the 1948 film La Terra Trema. Over the next decade, he worked with a number of directors before moving on to design and direct stage performances in his own right. His first film as a director was The Taming Of The Shrew in 1967, originally intended as a vehicle for the Italian actors Sophia Loren and Marcello Mastroianni. In the event, Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor took the leading roles after the couple had invested more than a million dollars in the production, in return for a share of the profits instead of a salary. The film was well received by both critics and audience although Shakespearean purists were reportedly incensed by Zeffirelli's cavalier approach to the original text. It was his follow-up film, Romeo & Juliet, that cemented his reputation. He cast two then unknown teenagers, Leonard Whiting and Olivia Hussey, in the title roles. Because of the age of the stars, the film became popular among teenagers and was used by some schools as the definitive film version of the play. However, the movie was controversial because, in one scene, fifteen-year-old Hussey is clearly nude. There was a story at the time that she was banned from the film's premier because she was too young to witness her own nudity, though this is almost certainly an urban myth. Imaginative casting became something of a Zeffirelli trademark; he would later cast Mel Gibson in Hamlet. Brother Sun, Sister Moon, about St Francis of Assisi, saw Zeffirelli move into religious themes, which he continued with his acclaimed TV mini-series Jesus Of Nazareth. Robert Powell as Christ led a cast of stars that included no fewer than seven Oscar winners. When it was shown by ITV in the UK at Easter 1977, it attracted an audience of more than twenty million. The series was shown throughout the Western world and still makes frequent Easter appearances on TV. Throughout this period, Zeffirelli continued to direct opera, his first love. He staged performances with many of the greatest singers of the era including Dame Joan Sutherland, Tito Gobbi and Maria Callas. His enduring successes included Tosca, which ran for forty years in repertory at London's Royal Opera House. 'I have always believed that opera is a planet where the muses work together, join hands and celebrate all the arts.' Callas, whom he idolised, provided the subject for his 2002 film, Callas Forever, about the last days of her life. He admired her most because, he said, 'she couldn't accept to compromise.' He continued directing films with mixed success. The Champ, released in 1979, was not well received and Endless Love, which appeared two years later, fared even worse. However, a 1996 adaptation of Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre was a success. Zeffirelli held some forthright political opinions while serving for two terms in the Italian senate as a member of Silvio Berlusconi's right-wing and extremely corrupt Forza Italia party. He derided Communists as 'frauds about to take over my country' and called for the death penalty for women who had abortions. He later served as an adviser to the Ministry of Culture. In 1996, he revealed his own homosexuality but found himself under attack from the gay community for his support of the Roman Catholic Church's stance on gay issues. A committed Anglophile, he become the first Italian citizen to receive an honorary knighthood from the UK, which was awarded in 2004. Zeffirelli was once asked what had kept him going long after many of his peers had retired. 'It's the anticipation, the expectation, that's what keeps you going,' he said. 'So many things, it's a miracle. A superior hand has helped in so many moments of my life.'
The most staggering aspect of the first round of the Tory leadership vote on Thursday, dear blog reader, wasn't so much that Boris Johnson got, near enough, more votes than all of the other waste-of-space hairdos put together (although, admittedly, that was a pretty shocking indictment of the depths to which British politics have sunk of late). Rather, it was that nine Tory MPs, seemingly, believed That Awful McVey Woman was worthy of support to be Prime Minister. Or, indeed, worthy of anything other than withering sarcasm. Or, at least eight Tory MPs did working on the - possibly unwise - assumption that, whilst she is, clearly, a bloody moron, That Awful McVey Woman did, at least, have enough gumption about her to vote for herself. The funniest aspect of the first round of the Tory leadership vote, on the other hand, was That Awful McVey Woman getting but nine votes! Less, even, than Mark Harper and, let's face it, nobody - including Mrs Harper - knows who he is!
Frankly it's been a right rotten week for That Awful McVey Woman even before she made an utter fool of herself getting even less votes than the official Monster Raving Loony candidate, Andrea Leadsom. There was That Awful McVey Woman's former GMTV colleague Lorraine Kelly pointedly declining to give her a ringing endorsement when That Awful McVey Wopman was being interviewed on ITV. There was the revelation that she, allegedly, claimed almost nine thousand pounds of public money 'in expenses for a personal photographer'. There was the spectacularly embarrassing - but hugely funny - moment when she talked abject bollocks during a radio interview which subsequently led to her getting a very public pants-down spanking from the Foreign Officer minister Alan Duncan who described her claims as 'total rubbish'. And, there was her former agent - Jon Rossman - describing That Awful McVey Woman as 'a showbiz pariah' who 'lacks warmth and empathy'. And, those are some of her more endearing qualities. She really is a quite horrible individual, dear blog reader. So, weeks like this where pretty much everything which can go wrong for That Awful McVey Woman do go wrong are to be cherished and celebrated.