Monday, May 03, 2021

"For We May Pity Thee, Not Pardon Thee"

In much the same way as the more entitled and mouthy Game Of Thrones fans appeared to believe that their own fan-fiction vision of how the series would end (written in crayon) was better than the one the professional producers and writers of the popular adult fantasy drama actually delivered (a view not shared by everyone, this blogger very much included), so series six of Line Of Duty, broadcast on Sunday evening, seems to have, shall we say 'divided opinion'? Jesus, Mary, Joseph and the Wee Donkey, but some people got their shit in a right old twist over it. As this handy summation proves. Expect an online petition demanding the BBC go back and make it all over again but, this time, make Kate Fleming the puppet-mistress to be up and running very soon, dear blog reader. 
'Series six still reliably delivered the thrills, but with plot holes, agitprop and moments that came close to self-parody, Line of Duty is not quite what it was,' whinged one of the series' most regular supporters, that ginger lass from the Gruniad Morning Star. 'The sixth season of Jed Mercurio’s hit BBC1 drama came to an unexpectedly restrained end tonight,' added another Middle Class hippy Communist at the Independent. But, some people seemingly liked it, including the Daily Scum Mail ('Criminal 'mastermind made Inspector Clouseau look like Sherlock') and, even more curiously, That Awful Scowling Faceache Woman at the Torygraph: 'Jed Mercurio has done the impossible and tied up six series of loose ends, but this truly should be the end of AC-12.' Perhaps it was the fact that, seemingly, some bent filth got away with their institutional naughty crimes that was what the right-wingers admired so much. For what it's worth, this blogger thought Line Of Duty was great, as he has done since episode one of series one. The resolution might not have been the 'wham, bam, thank you H' ending that some whinging whingers had dreamed up in the darker corners of their damaged collective brain but it made perfect sense and left just enough wiggle room for further adventures if the BBC can persuade Mercurio to write some (news is still out on that score). And, it even managed to tie up most of the unanswered questions which the BBC News website had demanded (demanded, please note) answers to in the run up to the finale. The identity of 'H'? Check (although in their list of potential suspects they did not, it would appear, see that particular shoe being, as it were, buckled). The mystery of the Corbett money? Check. And, that was an entirely plausible moment demonstrating Ted Hastings basic humanity. Marcus Thurwell - alive and hiding in plain sight? Nope. And, by the way, huge congratulations to the BBC for managing to hire Jimmy Nesbitt for a cameo of ... a couple of blurry photographs. Steve's forever-delayed drugs test? Check. And, the long-speculated over 'Definately' [sic] guilty? Yes. And it did, indeed, turn out to be a major plot point in the finale and a key piece of evidence in catching H out in his bad, corrupt ways.
The series of Line Of Duty was watched by an average overnight audience of 12.8 million punters, a record for the show. The BBC said it was the largest overnight audience for an episode of any non-soap drama since modern records began in 2002. The finale commanded 56.2 per cent of the UK's TV audience, according to overnight figures. The five-minute peak audience was 13.1 million, between 21:45 and 21:50. The last time a TV drama got higher overnight viewing figures was an episode of ITV's long-running police drama Heartbeat in February 2001, which had an overnight audience of 13.2 million. It is the highest overnight figure for a BBC drama since the 2007 Doctor Who Cristmas episode Voyage Of The Damned which was watched by an initial live audience of 12.2 million. The seven day consolidated viewing figure for Line Of Duty will be available from early next week.

And so, as BBC drama-lovers - of whom this blogger is very much one - recover from the trauma of the ending (possibly for good) of one major part of their lives, trailers for three of your potential future fixes, have been released in the last week. The much-anticipated HMS Vigil ('from the makers of Line Of Duty, Bodyguard and The Pembrokeshire Murders,' and starring From The North favourites Suranne Jones and Martin Compston), Danny Boy (featuring the great Toby Jones) and The Pursuit Of Love (with Lily James, Dominic West and Andrew Scott). HMS Vigil will start, the BBC promises, 'later in the year.' How much later in the year, we just don't know yet. But, we will eventually. Good things come to those who wait. 
The one-off Gulf War aftermath drama Danny Boy, written by Robert Jones, directed by Sam Miller and also featuring Anthony Boyle, will go out on BBC2 on 12 May. It looks terrific.
And The Pursuit Of Love, an adaptation of Nancy Mitford's 1945 novel of extremely naughty behaviour amongst The Bright Young Things, takes Line Of Duty's Sunday night BBC1 slot from 9 May.
From The North favourite David Bradley has praised the original Doctor Who lead William Hartnell as he returns to the role of the First Doctor in the 'much anticipated' (it says here) live event Time Fracture. The actor played Hartnell in 2013's An Adventure In Space & Time, which explored the creation of the BBC's popular long-running family SF drama. Yer man Bradley made such a strong impression on fans that he was invited back by then-showrunner The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat (OBE) to play the First Doctor in two episodes of Doctor Who, both of which were broadcast as part of Peter Capaldi's stint on the show - The Doctor Falls and Twice Upon A Time. And, a very good job he did, too - in fact, this blogger thought he was great. As he prepares to return to the role once more for Time Fracture, Bradley has lauded Hartnell's 'total dedication' to Doctor Who in an interview on the show's YouTube channel. 'He laid the template,' Bradley said of his predecessor. 'All of the other subsequent Doctors, they all owe a lot to William Hartnell. As it was, it started this phenomenon.' Bradley went on to reveal that he never expected to return to Doctor Who after his first appearance, which saw him play an entirely unrelated - villainous - character, Solomon in the 2012 episode Dinosaurs On A Spaceship with Matt Smith. He continued: 'When that finished, I thought "well that's my Doctor Who experience, you only do it once." Little did I know that Mark Gatiss had me in my mind for Adventure In Space & Time. It was a gift, I just said yes.' Bradley will co-star opposite yer actual John Barrowman in upcoming Time Fracture, billed as 'an immersive experience.' A curious pairing, on might observe. 'I could just see it taking off and being something special,' Bradley claimed. 'It may attract people who may not be Doctor Who fans, but if they are not Doctor Who fans when they go in, they certainly will be when they come out. I just think it's going to be quite an amazing experience.' 
Doctor Who could well have had a very different trajectory, following the news that the Eighth Doctor was almost played by a different actor. Almost, but not quite. Paul McGann played The Doctor in the 1996 TV movie - and, although the production itself wasn't really very good, yer man McGann was. Indeed, this blogger thought he was great. However, the role was reportedly first offered to Harry Van Gorkum. In an interview with Doctor Who Magazine, the actor recounted how his life very nearly changed overnight. Very nearly, but not quite. 'There are only two roles in the world where, if the phone goes and you've got it, overnight your life has changed,' he said. 'There's James Bond and Doctor Who.' His audition for the TV movie allegedly went well and as he recalled: 'An hour later the phone goes. My agent says, "Harry, I've got some news for you. You've got Doctor Who. Everyone loved you. Everyone said: "This is fantastic - we've found him." I couldn't believe it. I remember I fell to my knees in my trailer and kind of collapsed. I had a bit of an emotional moment. It was the turning point in my career. I thought, "My God, I'm going to play Doctor Who in America.' However, as Van Gorkum put it, 'then, the nightmare started.' Co-producers Universal and FOX had already signed off on his casting, but they had yet to convince the BBC about the unknown actor. 'Geoffrey Sax and Philip Segal said, "Now we've got to sell you to the BBC." I said, "What do you mean?" They said, "We called up the BBC and said, We've finally found Doctor Who." And Alan Yentob [the then controller of BBC1] said, "Who is it?" They said, "Harry Van Gorkum." And he said, "Harry who? Never heard of him!" So I had to put myself on tape for the BBC, so they could agree that I was the right person for it. I was ready to fly from England straight to Vancouver,' he claimed. 'Then around two days before Christmas I got a call from Philip Segal. He said, "This is the worst phone call I've had to make. This is going to happen a few times in your career, because you are very good but you haven't got the name behind you. You haven't had your big break yet."' The BBC instead opted for Paul McGann, who by then had already starred in The Monocled Mutineer, Catherine The Great, The Hanging Gale and the movie Withnail & I. 'So that was it. I was absolutely crushed. I flew back to America and not to Vancouver,' Van Gorkum told Doctor Who Magazine. 'I'm not bitter about it at all,' he claimed. 'I was mortified at the time, but that's the career I've picked. You get close to parts. Until you get that big break, until you get on that A-List, it doesn't matter how good you are, it's a case of "Do the people want to come and see you or not?"' Van Gorkum's subsequent career has included appearances in series like Friends, 24, NCIS and Will & Grace and the movies Gone In Sixty Seconds, Batman & Robin and The Last Legion.
Noel Clarke has said that he is 'deeply sorry' for some of his actions and will 'seek professional help,' but he has again 'vehemently' denied serious sexual misconduct allegations made against him. His statement came after twenty women had reportedly accused him of harassment, bullying and other assorted malarkey. ITV and Sky have both dropped shows which Clarke was involved in. He said: 'I vehemently deny any sexual misconduct or criminal wrongdoing. Recent reports however have made it clear to me that some of my actions have affected people in ways I did not intend or realise.' He added: 'To those individuals, I am deeply sorry. I will be seeking professional help to educate myself and change for the better.' The statement follows ITV's decision not to broadcast the final episode of the police drama Viewpoint, featuring Clarke, on Friday. Which, with horribly unfortunate timing, the Lad Bible website and 'some people on Twitter' had been busy slurping up as the finest thing since sliced bread just a day or two earlier. Clarke's Viewpoint co-stars Bronagh Waugh and Alexandra Roach tweeted their support for the women who made the allegations.
Sky has also halted its work with Clarke, including on the fourth series of the crime drama Bulletproof which was, currently, in pre-production. And, Clarke has been extremely suspended by BAFTA, almost three weeks after the British film and television academy gave him an award for his 'outstanding contribution' to the industry. Clarke is best known for playing Wyman in Auf Wiedersehen, Pet, Mickey in Doctor Who from 2005 to 2010 and for his acclaimed film trilogy Kidulthood, Adulthood and Brotherhood. He is also a writer, director and producer. He played a surveillance detective in Viewpoint, which had been strip-scheduled across the week on ITV. The penultimate episode was watched by 3.5 million overnight viewers on Thursday. But on Friday, the broadcaster said it was 'no longer appropriate to broadcast the final episode as planned' in light of the emerging allegations. The finale was available on the streaming service ITV Hub from Friday night until Sunday 'for any viewers who wish to seek it out and watch its conclusion.' Few bothered in light of the emerging allegations. Clarke had previously starred in three series of Sky's Bulletproof, which had a fourth commissioned in January. The broadcaster said on Friday: 'Effective immediately, we have halted Noel Clarke's involvement in any future Sky productions.' If you're looking for a dictionary definition of '... and don't let the door hit your ass on the way out,' dear blog reader, that statement comes pretty close to the top of any potential Google list. BAFTA has been criticised by some - most notably the Gruniad Morning Star who really threw BAFTA under the bus - for honouring Clarke on 10 April. It had, it is claimed, received reports of - anonymous - allegations made against Clarke in the twelve days between announcing him as an award recipient and the ceremony itself. According to the Gruniad Morning Star BAFTA's chairman Krishnendu Majumdar said he had heard that as many as twelve women 'could' be making allegations. In a letter to members in which it defended its response, BAFTA said that the e-mails it received 'were either anonymous or second or third-hand accounts via intermediaries. No first-hand allegations were sent to us,' it added. 'No names, times, dates, productions or other details were ever provided. Had the victims gone on record as they have with the Guardian, the award would have been suspended immediately. Noel Clarke's counsel received a legal notice to this effect. It was always very clear what our intentions would be.' BAFTA added that it was 'an arts charity' which 'is not in a position to properly investigate such matters.' The Charity Commission said BAFTA had 'submitted a serious incident report,' which the regulator is now assessing. Paul Fleming, general secretary of arts union Equity, said it had been 'a difficult day for those who run the industry. It's a phenomenally embarrassing and traumatic twenty four hours if you're a gatekeeper and in charge of what goes on in our members' workplace,' he told Radio 4's PM. 'It really does take something to be here, [the] best part of four years on from Me Too and still be asking these questions. And, for big bosses, big producers to have not put in place the polices practises and cultures in workplaces that allow these things to be considered credible. This is a really, really damning indictment of how intimidating some workplaces and some producers are for our members to raise concerns.' Police have confirmed they have received a third party report relating to allegations of sexual offences by a man, following recent claims against Clarke. A third party report is anonymous so the allegation cannot be investigated by the police. However, it can be used as intelligence, for example to see if it matches with other reports against the same person.
Meanwhile, a video of Clarke on-stage at a Doctor Who convention, in which he accused John Barrowman of inappropriate behaviour, has 'surfaced online' according to the Independent. Clarke was, as previously noted, the subject of a Gruniad Morning Star investigation in which 'twenty women came forward with accusations of sexual harassment, unwanted touching, groping, sexually inappropriate behaviour, bullying and unprofessional misconduct' between 2004 and 2019. 'Following the report, people have been sharing old articles about Clarke as well as videos of the actor from interviews and press conferences,' the newspaper notes. 'One such clip gained traction on Twitter due to comments made by Clarke about the alleged behaviour of his co-star, John Barrowman, on the set of Doctor Who.' The video shows Clarke on the panel of Chicago TARDIS alongside former co-stars Camille Coduri and Annette Badland in 2015. During the panel, they appear to be discussing their time working on the episode Boom Town, which was filmed in February 2005 and broadcast in June that year. (Before anyone else points this out, Coduri did not, actually, appear in Boom Town although she was a semi-regular on that series of Doctor Who and featured in several episodes with Clarke and Barrowman, notably Bad Wolf and The Parting Of The Ways.) Clarke, who has been accused of - amongst other things - sending unsolicited nude photos to women, reflected upon his time filming the episode, saying: 'Barrowman is there, taking his dick out every five minutes.' Using his microphone, he then proceeded to imitate Barrowman allegedly tapping his penis on both Coduri and Badland, who were seated next to him. He talked about the alleged incidents for more than two minutes. At one stage, Clarke asked Coduri: 'Do you remember that time he put it on your shoulder in the make-up truck?' to which she responded: 'Yes, I do.' As the crowd laughed, Clarke stood and recreated this alleged, moment, using his microphone. Coduri then stated: 'I didn't want to say. I was being really polite.' Clarke added: 'For the record [to] any men out there, do not try that at work. You will be fired and possibly go to jail.' Well, indeed. When the moderator asked how Barrowman was able to 'get away' with such (alleged) behaviour, the trio are shown jumping to his defence by calling him 'adorable,' 'light-hearted' and 'non-threatening.' Clarke then said that he believed Barrowman's on-set actions evaded a backlash 'because he's a gay man.' This blogger did, briefly, consider editorialising this story at this point but, frankly, he's not touching John Barrowman's (alleged) penis with an (alleged) bargepole. Anyway, 'many viewers of the video are pointing out the possible hypocrisy in the wake of the recent allegations against Clarke, which were made by several women who have worked with him behind-the-scenes as well as in front of the camera,' the Indi states. Barrowman has previous been accused of indecently exposing himself, in a 2008 incident which led to him issuing a grovelling apology. During a interview with Nick Grimshaw and Annie Mac, Barrowman undid his trousers after being goaded into it by the Radio 1 presenters. The BBC also issued an official apology. Though only one complaint was received about the incident, a BBC spokeswoman said the show had 'overstepped the mark.'
Now, dear blog reader, here's a John Barrowman story which does not involve any part of his groinal area. Well, not directly, anyway. Barrowman has said that returning to the role of Captain Jack Harkness is always a 'no-brainer,' just days after a leaked book synopsis hinted he could appear in the next Doctor Who series. The actor recently joined the cast of Time Fracture, the 'immersive theatrical experience' taking place this summer, which follows UNIT as they attempt to close a rift in space and time in the 1940s. In the run-up to the event, Barrowman was interviewed and was asked what keeps him coming back to Cap'n Jack. 'I never thought as a young boy, when I watched Doctor Who in Glasgow on the sofa on a Saturday evening, that I would ever be part of the TARDIS team,' he said. 'And, then when I got the opportunity by Russell Davies, he rang me up, I went to the audition and lo and behold they called me twenty minutes after and said: "You're Captain Jack Harkness."' Barrowman continued: 'Captain Jack changed my life. It was also a character who changed the face of television because we'd never seen anybody like him before, who was unapologetic about who he was and who he loved. It literally was groundbreaking. So, for me, Jack has not only been life-changing but Jack has opened up other doors for me. So that's why, at the drop of a hat, if someone says to me: "We want you to come back and play Jack." Absolutely. It's a no-brainer.' After an extended absence from the show, Barrowman returned in Doctor Who in 2019 and, most recently appeared in this January's episode Revolution Of The Daleks. This blogger thought he was great. Rumours are, apparently, now circulating that he could be due for another reprisal of the role in series thirteen, which is currently filming, following a leaked synopsis for an upcoming Doctor Who graphic novel featuring the character of Captain Jack. The blurb claimed that this story 'ties in directly' with the second episode of series thirteen, but the BBC has declined to comment on the matter when contacted by the Radio Times.
This blogger - and he means this most sincerely - wishes to apologise to all blog readers for including the words 'John Barrowman's penis' and 'leaks' in the previous paragraph. Moving on - swiftly - to another former Doctor Who companion, Blankety Blank is set to return to BBC1 with a new Saturday night series, hosted by That There Bradley Walsh. Because, seemingly, no one working in television these days has any original ideas. The return of the popular TV game show follows the success of a festive special with Walsh last Christmas. The programme sees celebrities help contestants to fill in the missing words of a sentence, often 'with humorous consequences.' Though, sometimes, not. It ran from 1979 to 1990 and was presented firstly by the late Sir Terry Wogan and then the late Les Dawson. A - very poorly received - revival was fronted by Paul O'Grady's Lily Savage in the late 1990s. It was shit. David Walliams also appeared as the host of a one-off Christmas Special for ITV in 2016. That was also shit. 'I struggle to remember the last time I laughed as much as when I was filming Blankety Blank,' said Walsh in a statement. 'So when they asked if I'd be up for doing a series, I jumped at the chance, I'm just so pleased I get to be a part of it. I stand on the shoulders of giants like Les Dawson and Sir Terry Wogan but I'm hoping to put my own stamp on the fantastically nostalgic show.' Blankety Blank was based on US show Match Game - which has also more recently inspired Snatch Game, a challenge on RuPaul's Drag Race. Kate Phillips, director of entertainment at the BBC, added: 'Blankety Blank has it all - ridiculous questions, unpredictable celebrities, bizarre prizes and, in Bradley a very funny and much loved host. I can't wait for everyone to watch and start filling in those blanks!' By which, of course, she meant 'no one in television these days has any original ideas.' After injury put paid to the former Brentford player's budding football career in the early 1980s, Bradley moved into stand-up comedy. He was later acquired by ITV to present the game show Midas Touch and then replaced Nicky Campbell on Wheel Of Fortune from 1997. An appearance on Lily Savage's Blankety Blank followed, before he focused his attentions on acting - enjoying serious drama roles in Coronation Street, Law & Order: UK and Doctor Who amongst others in the decades that followed. As well as donning his football boots again, regularly, at Soccer Aid - including going up against the late Argentina legend Diego Maradona - he also appeared as the England assistant coach in the 2001 (alleged) comedy movie Mike Bassett. The all-round entertainer has appeared on-stage in theatre productions and pantomimes too and enjoyed two top twenty hit CDs as a singer of swing classics. And Walsh and his son, Barney, have appeared in several TV travelogue shows together, including the recent Bradley & Barney: Breaking Dad - which saw the pair travelling around Europe. But the sixty-year-old remains best known to many as the presenter of another game show, ITV's popular The Chase. Earlier this week he was was nominated by the BAFTA TV Awards for best entertainment performance, for the first time in twelve years as that show's host.
The Game Of Thrones prequel series House Of The Dragon is reported to have started filming in Cornwall. Producer HBO confirmed last week that production was under way with tweets of members of the cast reading scripts. Photos then emerged of film crews and costumed actors, thought to be yer actual Matt Smith and Emma D'Arcy, at Holywell Bay near Newquay. The new series is set three hundred years before the events of Game Of Thrones and will tell the story of the Targaryen family. It is scheduled for release in 2022 on the HBO Max streaming service in the US. The network marked the start of production by sharing photos from the socially-distanced table read. They featured the cast, including Paddy Considine, going over the script while seated at separate tables to ensure coronavirus social distancing. Smudger is to play Prince Daemon Targaryen. Last week, film crews and medieval-style sets believed to be part of the production were spotted at St Michael's Mount, near Penzance. From The North favourite Game Of Thrones was a pop culture phenomenon during its eight-series run from 2011 to 2019, which was filmed mainly in Northern Ireland. House Of The Dragon is one of several Game Of Thrones-related TV projects HBO reportedly has in the works, while a stage show for London's West End is also in production.
Jon Snow (no, the other one), one of the UK's longest-serving TV news presenters, has announced he is to leave Channel Four News after thirty two years. Which will, of course, be terrible news for Middle Class hippy Communists everywhere (but, particularly, at the Gruniad Morning Star). The seventy three-year-old, who has been the programme's main anchor since 1989, said it was 'time to move on' after 'three incredible decades.' He said that he was 'looking forward to new adventures and new challenges.' Snow will now 'front longer-form projects and represent the channel in other matters,' Channel Four said. In a statement, Snow added: 'I am excited by the many things I want to accomplish but I have to say I have enjoyed every minute of my time with the programme. It has brought me adventure, as well as sorrow in some of the stories that I have had to report and also joy in reporting others, but above all, it has brought me community in working with the most fantastic group of people who are bound in intellect, humour and understanding. Together, we have forged a wonderful service. I feel proud to have contributed to Channel Four News let alone to have anchored the programme for the last thirty two years.' Snow joined Channel Four News after serving as ITN's Washington correspondent and diplomatic editor in the 1980s. As well as being a fixture in the nightly programme's London studio, the job has taken him around the world to report on stories including the fall of the Berlin Wall, the release of Nelson Mandela and Barack Obama's inauguration. Channel Four News editor Ben de Pear described Snow as 'a wonderful man' who has been 'the driving force behind Channel Four News for the last thirty years. His fearless journalism, inherent compassion, a nose for a good story as well as sympathy for the underdog have been powered by relentless energy, charm and a mischievous sense of fun,' he said. Snow will now 'focus on his charities and some of his many passions in life, people's stories, inequality, Africa, Iran and the arts,' according to Channel Four.
Ronan Keating and Jermaine Jenas have been given permanent spots on The ONE Show sofa, officially being named Alex Jones's co-hosts on the BBC magazine programme. Boyzone singer Keating and ex-footballer Jenas have been among the stand-in hosts since Matt Baker left a year ago. From 10 May, they will be at her side for part of the week each - Jenas from Mondays to Wednesdays and Keating on Thursdays and Fridays. Others like Alex Scott and Amol Rajan will also still fill in when required. The BBC said they and other members of the programme's 'extended family of presenters' would 'continue to co-host episodes across the year.' Last month, Jones revealed that she is expecting her third child. The BBC said 'no decision has been made on the cover for her maternity leave.' Jenas, a former midfielder with Nottingham forest, this blogger's beloved (though unsellable) Newcastle United, Tottenham Hotspur and England who, following his retirement turned into an - actually rather decent - Match Of The Day and 5Live pundit, said that he was 'really looking forward to joining as a full time host alongside Ronan.' Jenas is one of a growing number of sports stars who have made the move into hosting TV entertainment shows in recent years. Some with far more success than others. 
Game Of Thrones actress Esmé Bianco has sued the singer Marilyn Manson, alleging sexual assault and battery. The lawsuit claims Manson coerced the actress with 'drugs, force and threats of force.' The plaintiff also alleges the singer and his manager broke trafficking laws by luring her from London to the US with 'empty promises of work.' The artist has rejected multiple allegations of abuse against him as 'horrible distortions of reality.' He has been dropped by his record label and booking agent since the claims surfaced. In February, Westworld actress Evan Rachel Wood publicly accused Manson of domestic abuse. More than a dozen other women have since come forward with similar allegations. In an Instagram post on 1 February, Manson wrote: 'Obviously, my art and my life have long been magnets for controversy but these recent claims about me are horrible distortions of reality. My intimate relationships have always been entirely consensual with like-minded partners.' Bianco, who played Ros on the HBO drama, was among a handful of women who spoke out against Manson earlier this year. Her court filing on Friday marks the first legal action over such allegations against Manson, who is referred to in the lawsuit by his real name, Brian Warner. Bianco says that she met the singer in 2005. The lawsuit says that in February 2009, he invited her to Los Angeles to 'film a music video.' But when Bianco arrived she says that she found she was expected to stay at his home and there was no film crew. The plaintiff alleges she was deprived of food and sleep and given drugs and alcohol during her four-day stay. 'Perhaps most horrifyingly,' the lawsuit continues, Warner 'locked Ms Bianco in the bedroom, tied her to a prayer kneeler and beat her with a whip that Mister Warner said was utilised by the Nazis. He also electrocuted her.' The legal action says they began a consensual sexual relationship in May 2009 and maintained a long-distance relationship until 2011. In her complaint, Bianco claims Manson coerced her into sexual intercourse that was often violent and degrading, sometimes even when she was unconscious or otherwise unable to consent. The plaintiff alleges Manson committed multiple acts of sexual battery against her in 2011 and raped her in May of that year. The suit also accuses Tony Ciulla, who managed Manson for more than twenty five years before dropping him this February, of 'supporting [Manson's] violent tendencies' and allegedly violating US human trafficking laws. It alleges the duo coaxed Bianco to the US with 'job opportunities that never materialised,' made her perform 'unpaid labour' on several occasions and 'interfered with her visa process. Warner implied that because he had brought Ms Bianco to the United States and provided housing, she owed him labour and sexual intimacy,' notes the lawsuit. It adds: 'My hope is that by raising [my voice], I will help to stop Brian Warner from shattering any more lives and empower other victims to seek their own small measure of justice.'
A man has been ordered to pay twelve million dollars for his role in setting a Minneapolis police station on fire during rioting last May. The fine for Dylan Shakespeare Robinson who pleaded extremely guilty to an arson charge in December, will follow a four year prison sentence. According to the US Attorney's office, which prosecuted the case, the restitution will be collected 'in a variety of ways,' including wages, bank accounts, retirement garnishments and a monthly pay plan typically set by a judge. If, for example, he pays it off at fifty dollars a week, it should only take Robinson around four thousand six hundred years to fully settle his debts. Three other men who also pleaded guilty will be sentenced at a later date. According to prosecutors, Robinson lit a Molotov cocktail which another person then threw at the Minneapolis Third Precinct headquarters - setting the building ablaze. Surveillance video at the precinct shows Robinson lighting an 'incendiary device' held by another person and later setting a fire inside the station near a first floor stairwell, officials said. Robinson 'chose to depart from lawful protest and instead engaged in violence and destruction,' said acting US Attorney Anders Folk in a statement. The arson 'put lives at risk and contributed to widespread lawlessness in Minneapolis.' Robinson pleaded very guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit arson. Three other men - Bryce Michael Williams, Davon De-Andre Turner and Branden Michael Wolfe - pleaded guilty to the same charge as part of a plea agreement. They have yet to be sentenced. Robinson's lawyer, who is representing all four men, said that Robinson had been 'unfairly singled out' among thousands of others involved in the riots last year.
Five people have been extremely arrested over the violent theft of two French bulldogs belonging to Lady Gaga. In February attackers shot dog walker Ryan Fischer in the chest and took Lady Gaga's dogs, Koji and Gustav. Though whether Lady Gaga was more bothered about the dogs or the bloke who got shot is unknown. Fischer had to have part of his lung removed but survived the attack and has since left the hospital. On Thursday Los Angeles police announced they had charged three suspects for the incident itself as well as two others as accomplices. James Jackson, Jaylin White and Lafayette Whaley have been busted and charged with attempted murder and robbery. Officers also charged Harold White - Jaylin White's father - and Jennifer McBride, with accessory to attempted murder. McBride returned the dogs to the police two days after the theft, after Lady Gaga had offered a five hundred thousand dollar reward for their return. Which presumably means that the half-a-million bucks will not be leaving Lady Gaga's bank account. 'Detectives were able to establish McBride had a relationship [with] Harold White,' a Los Angeles police press release said. All four men charged were 'documented gang members,' the release added, without giving details. Police said that they did not think the attackers were aware Fischer worked for Lady Gaga when they attacked him. But, evidence suggested they knew 'the great value of the breed of dogs,' which was 'the motivation for the robbery.' Fischer was walking the three dogs in a residential area of Hollywood at night when the attackers pulled up in a car. He was shot in the chest with a semi-automatic handgun and two of the dogs were taken. Another of Lady Gaga's bulldogs, Asia, was unharmed in the incident. Fischer was not so lucky. He later described Asia as his 'guardian angel' who gave him the determination to survive. 'My panicked screams calmed as I looked at her, even though it registered that the blood pooling around her tiny body was my own,' he wrote on Instagram in March.
A US judge has extremely refused to dismiss Amazon's allegations that political interference cost the company a ten billion dollars Pentagon contract. The ten-year JEDI contract is aimed at making the US defence department more technologically agile. Amazon had been considered the favourite to win. However, the contract was eventually awarded to Microsoft. The tech giant alleges now extremely former President Mister Rump's dislike of its founder, Jeff Bezos, influenced the final decision. The ruling on Wednesday means that Rump could be among those Amazon asks to appear in court as part of any future proceedings. 'The record of improper influence by former President Trump is disturbing and we are pleased the Court will review the remarkable impact it had on the JEDI contract award,' an Amazon spokesman said in a statement. 'AWS continues to be the superior technical choice, the less expensive choice and would provide the best value to the DOD and the American taxpayer.' However, a spokesman for Microsoft insisted that the new ruling 'changes little. Not once, but twice, professional procurement staff at the DoD chose Microsoft after a thorough review. Many other large and sophisticated customers make the same choice every week. We've continued for more than a year to do the internal work necessary to move forward on JEDI quickly and we continue to work with DoD, as we have for more than 40 years, on mission-critical initiatives.' Four companies had initially been in the running for the deal when the process was launched in 2017. IBM was eliminated, as was Oracle, which lodged an unsuccessful legal challenge alleging conflict of interest stemming from Amazon's hiring of two former defence department employees. Both were said to have been involved in the JEDI selection process.
Over one hundred days since the 6 January insurrection that saw a pro-Rump mob storm the US Capitol, prosecutors have their first guilty plea. Jon Schaffer, a member of the Oath Keepers militia group, pleaded very guilty to two charges - obstruction of an official proceeding and entering a restricted building with a dangerous weapon. Schaffer, who is also a heavy metal guitarist in the band Iced Earth (who are really earache inducing if this is anything to go by - get yer hair cut, hippies), had originally faced six charges including using a chemical irritant designed for grizzly bears on police officers during clashes. He turned himself to FBI agents in Indiana two weeks following the riot after a photo of him inside the Capitol wearing a hat reading 'Oath Keepers Lifetime Member' appeared on the front pages of US newspapers. He is facing up to thirty years in The Joint and is expected to co-operate with investigators. In the hope of getting a nice cell with a view. Probably. The suspects in the Capitol insurrection are a varied group - with only one thing in common, they're all scum: they include an ousted West Virginia lawmaker, several police officers and a left-wing activist from Utah. Most of the rioters were allowed to leave the crime scene, forcing investigators to conduct a national manhunt for the pro-Trump crowd that stormed the halls of Congress. Investigators for the District of Columbia says they have identified over five hundred and forty suspects and have charged some four hundred people in connection with the Capitol siege thus far. The Department of Justice said more than four hundred and ten defendants have been arrested since the attack and the government wrote in a court filing that in addition to those who have already been charged, it expects to charge 'at least' one hundred more. More than twenty five defendants have been charged under a destruction of government property statute. During proceedings for three of those defendants, the government said their crimes amounted to 'terrorism' - an allegation that is not, itself, a charge but could influence prison sentences if they are found extremely guilty. Just weeks after the insurrection in January, FBI officials said they had already been inundated with one hundred and forty thousand videos and photos from members of the public snitching up those whom they believed to have been involved in the naughty insurrectionist malarkey. Officials say they are considering filing 'serious charges' of seditious activity against some individuals who were involved in the insurrection. According to federal criminal code, seditious conspiracy means 'an effort to conspire to overthrow the US government.' The punishment is severe: up to twenty years in The Slammer. The rioters facing federal charges hail from forty two out of the fifty US states and the District of Columbia, according to the George Washington University extremism tracker. Only a few came from pro-Rump strongholds. Most came from districts which voted for Joe Biden in the November presidential erection. In March, the FBI made its first arrest of a Rump appointee, former State Department aide Federico Guillermo Klein. He is accused of multiple naughty felonies related to the riot, including beating police with a stolen riot shield. He was still employed by the State Department as a staff assistant when he joined the mob. He is also a former Rump campaign employee accoring to US media reports. Five of those arrested were police officers. Nearly thirty were active-duty or retired members of the military. About ninety per cent of those arrested have been white, according to an analysis by the Chicago Project on Security and Threats. Most have been over the age of forty, surprising given that the average age for those involved in political violence around the world is late twenties to early thirties. The youngest-known alleged rioter is eighteen-year-old Bruno Joseph Cua, who prosecutors accused of assaulting an officer after he posted online, 'President Trump is calling us to FIGHT!' The oldest alleged insurrectionists were two seventy-year-olds: Bennie Parker, an alleged Oath Keeper and Lonnie Coffman, an Alabama man who authorities say brought a car full of weapons and explosives to Washington. Many of those arrested were employed, or even wealthy, including Doctor Simone Gold from Beverly Hills. She was among a group of doctors that last year spread misleading claims about the coronavirus, including that hydroxychloroquine - a drug touted relentlessly by now extremely former President Miser Rump - was an effective treatment. Jenna Ryan - a real estate broker from Dallas, Texas - garnered much attention on social media after she flew to DC by private jet to join the insurrection the Capitol. Federal cases are on-going across the country and could lead to significant and eye-wateringly long prison sentences for those involved. Acting US Attorney Michael Sherwin said in February: 'The scope and scale of this investigation in these cases are really unprecedented, not only in FBI history but probably [Department of Justice] history.' Dozens of suspects have requested public defenders leaving taxpayers to foot the bill for millions of dollars in defendants' legal bills. The cases have also flooded the Washington DC legal system, where semi-returned judges have been called upon to hear the influx of cases. At least one defendant has argued that their case should be heard out of Washington because they would be unable to get a fair trial there. At least seven of the key suspects have told investigators that they travelled to the Capitol after now extremely former President Mister Rump 'told them' to go in a speech that preceded the insurrection. The so-called Q Shaman (who lived with his mom) requested a pardon from now extremely former President Mister Rump before he left office, citing 'the peaceful and compliant fashion in which Mister Chansley comported himself' during the insurrection. He didn't get one, however. Riley June Williams, the woman accused of stealing a congressional laptop, was ordered to stay off the Internet after she allegedly attempted to delete her information and encouraged others to do the same. Laura Steele, a member of the Oath Keepers militia indicted for conspiracy, worked for the High Point Police Department in North Carolina for twelve years before she was terminated for conduct toward superior personnel, absence from duty and violating a communications policy, a spokesperson for High Point Police said. Authorities have connected at least fifty seven alleged conspiring insurgent rioters to extremist groups, including the Proud Boys, Oath Keepers, Three Per Centers, Texas Freedom Force and the conspiracy ideology QAnon.
After a one-week trial that featured testimony from a Capitol police officer and a staffer for Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a New York Rump supporter was found very guilty of threatening to assault and murder members of US Congress in online statements he made before and after the 6 January Capitol insurrection. Brendan Hunt is scheduled to be sentenced on 22 June and faces a maximum of ten years in The Joint, the Justice Department said. Hunt's was believed to be the first criminal trial in a case connected to the Capitol insurrection, though he did not ctually participate in the siege in DC. He was charged, instead, for statements he made online. A video that prosecutors said he posted two days after events on the video-sharing site Bitchute was titled KILL YOUR SENATORS and urged viewers to return to the Capitol with guns to 'slaughter' members of Congress. Hunt was convicted for that eighty eight-second video, according to the jury verdict. The jury did not find that his other comments - a series of posts on social media websites between 6 December 2020 and 21 January 2021 - were illegal threats. In those posts, which prosecutors highlighted during the trial, Hunt said that he would not vote in 'another rigged' erection and advocated violence, including calls to murder Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senator Chuck Schumer and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
Four astronauts have returned to Earth from the International Space Station, in what was NASA's first night-time landing in fifty three years. The crew - three NASA astronauts and one from Japan's space agency JAXA - spent almost six months in space. They flew back in SpaceX's Crew Dragon Resilience and splash-landed off Panama City, Florida. They were supposed to leave the ISS earlier, but their departure was delayed due to bad weather in Florida. NASA said that the crew were 'in good spirits' after successfully landing in the Gulf of Mexico. Speaking at a press conference after the landing, a SpaceX crew operations and resources engineer told the astronauts: 'Dragon, on behalf of NASA and SpaceX teams, we welcome you back to planet Earth and thanks for flying SpaceX. For those of you enrolled in our frequent flier programme, you've earned sixty eight million miles on this voyage.' NASA astronaut Michael Hopkins, commander of the Crew-1 mission, replied: 'It is good to be back on planet Earth. We'll take those miles. Are they transferable?' Confirming the safe landing on Sunday morning, NASA said that the crew were given medical checks before being flown from Pensacola to Houston. The last NASA crew to land back on Earth at night-time was Apollo-8 - the first manned mission to the moon, which returned on 27 December 1968. This latest mission was a collaboration between NASA and SpaceX, as part of the former's Commercial Crew programme. SpaceX, owned by Elon Musk, has become NASA's favoured commercial space flight partner. There are still seven astronauts on the ISS, including a new crew of four people who arrived on a different SpaceX craft last week on a mission called Crew-2. As the capsule moved off, Hopkins said: 'Thanks for your hospitality. We'll see you back on Earth.' The astronauts - Hopkins, Victor Glover, Shannon Walker and Soichi Noguchi - travelled into space last November on the first fully operational mission to the ISS by a vehicle made by SpaceX. Glover also made history with this mission, by becoming the first person of colour to hold a long-duration crew assignment on the ISS. Speaking at a remote press conference before the crew's return to Earth, he said: 'One thing that did really profoundly impact me was the very first time I got out of the seat after [the spacecraft] was safely in orbit, and I looked out the window and saw the earth from two hundred and fifty miles up. I will never forget that moment. It wasn't about the view. It was how the view made me feel.' In May 2020, two US astronauts made a test mission to the ISS and stayed until July. This mission, Demo-2, was SpaceX's first astronaut mission. That was also the first launch to the ISS from US soil since the end of the Space Shuttle programme in 2011. Since then, the US had relied the Russian Soyuz spacecraft to send astronauts to the space station. It was also the first crewed mission run by a private company and not NASA.
Respect is considerably due to From The North favourites 5Live's Simon Mayo and Mark Kermode for the best 'so bad, it's brilliant' movie-related joke this blogger has heard in positives ages as part of the latest episode of their Film Review podcast.
'I've just been to a Bill & Ted convention in Oslo.'
'Yes way, dude ...'
And finally, dear blog reader, please do give a nice warm From The North welcome to the latest inhabitant of yer actual Stately Telly Topping Manor Plague House. Shaun.