Friday, July 29, 2016

Long Lost Brothers

Could yer actual Tom Hiddleston appear in Sherlock's forthcoming series four as a third member of the Holmes family? Hiddleston - so good earlier this year in The Night Manager - sent them fandom tongues a-waggin' when he was seen posing for photos at the San Diego Comic Con last weekend with yer actual Mark Gatiss and Amanda Abbington her very self. Sherlock co-creator Mark tweeted a picture of the trio, captioned: 'blud.' Oooo, trickster, trickster, shot in the dark! Fans on Twitter, inevitably, went effing mental at the sight of this malarkey. As fans on Twitter have a tendency to do - you might have noticed, dear blog reader. All this comes after the Sherlock panel at Comic-Con gave interested parties their usual bi-annual three words as 'clues' to the events of series four. In this case, the three words were 'Thatcher, Smith and Sherrinford.' Sherrinford Holmes, of course, was a hypothetical elder brother of Sherlock and Mycroft. His name was one of those initially considered by Arthur Conan Doyle for his detective hero before he settled on Sherlock according to early notes made by Doyle during the creation of A Study In Scarlet. William S Baring-Gould, who wrote the 1962 faux-biography Sherlock Holmes Of Baker Street, proposed that Sherrinford Holmes was, in fact, 'the eldest brother of Sherlock Holmes' and this has been accepted by some of the detective's fandom. Others prefer an alternative theory that the third Holmes sibling is, in fact, a younger sister (as in Nancy Springer's The Enola Holmes Mysteries novel series). It's one of those things that, like Lestrade's first name and John Watson's middle name, keep some people awake at nights. Sherlock's third series finale hinted at the introduction of a third Holmes sibling, with Mycroft's memorable line: 'I'm not given to outbursts of brotherly compassion. You know what happened to the other one.'
And, for those who just can't wait for New Year's Day, there's this.
Ooo. Tasty.
Very, very tasty!
'The roads we walk have demons beneath. And yours have been waiting for a very long time.'
Is it nearly New Year yet?
Now hear this, now hear this, dear blog readers, now hear this. Be it known, widely about the land, that since you first read it, this bloggerisationisms has been extremely
Okay, calm down, breathe normal, and carry on reading. That is all.

Filming for series ten of Doctor Who has taken a Spanish twist, as the production has temporarily moved to València. Nice work if you can get it. Yer actual Peter Capaldi and Pearl Mackie her very self took a selfie as they waited to film a scene for the new series' second episode at the City Of Arts & Science Museum in the Valèncian capital. Pearl has recently joined the cast of the BBC long-running popular family SF drama as The Doctor's new companion, Bill, coming straight from the West End where she starred in the National Theatre's highly-acclaimed The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time. You knew that, right? This is the first time the Doctor Who production team have visited Spain since early 2012 when A Town Called Mercy was shot in Almeria.
Meanwhile, Ralf Little has released a video categorically denying the very suggestion that he will be taking part in the next series of Doctor Who. We believe you, Ralf, thousands wouldn't.
She's not even been gone eight months yet, already, there are - completely unfounded - rumours that yer actual Jenna Coleman could be returning to Doctor Who. But, in a new interview, Jenna has insisted that, while she may return to the BBC series 'in the future,' it won't be for a good while yet. 'We had the exit in the works for so long,' she explained to Collider. 'Who knows, in the future? But I think, at least for a good while, Clara is probably broken down somewhere in time and space, trying to understand how to work a TARDIS with Ashildr.' Clara was killed off in the episode Face The Raven - though, she got an encore when The Doctor later extended her life, allowing his companion to travel the universe in her own TARDIS. 'You don't want to unpick it, in any way,' Jenna said. 'Steven spoke about the exit for so long and, I think he did such a great job. From Face The Raven to the finale of twists and turns, I couldn't really ask for anything more.'
We still don't know much about what we can expect from the upcoming Doctor Who spin-off Class, but we are beginning to learn a bit about its origins thanks to showrunner Patrick Ness. The novelist, who is making his TV debut with the BBC3 SF drama, revealed at The Young Adult Literature Con in London this week that the project started when he was asked to get involved with Doctor Who itself – only to turn the tempting offer down. 'At first they asked me to write an episode of Doctor Who,' Radio Time quotes the author as saying. ' I said it's a brilliant show, but I've just spent so much time doing work for other people and I really want to do something of my own. And they said, well we have this idea for setting a spin-off in a school. And it was like, "ding!"' That was what he was like, dear blog reader. You hard it here ...second. Now, as the series production reaches the final laps, Ness clearly couldn't be happier that he took the bBC up on their offer. 'It's been fantastic,' he said. 'I've got six weeks of filming to go. The cast are great and it's been a fantastic experience. I can't wait for you to see it.
Joss Whedon - remember him? - writing an episode of Doctor Who sounds like a idea to make lots of fanboys and fangirls' heads and sphincters explode in a gushing spurt of red-hot 'squee' – something this blogger himself would be more than happy to take part therein. But, apparently, Joss would have a few pre-conditions. Speaking at San Diego Comic-Con, the Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Angel creator was asked if he would consider writing for the BBC series. 'Check back with me when The Doctor is a she,' he said. 'Or Idris Elba!' The former, of course, being far more likely to happen in the short-run than the latter. Unless Idris fancies taking a significant pay-cut, obviously. Further on the topic of writing for Doctor Who, Whedon said that it would be 'very daunting' to be 'following in the footsteps of Moffat and the guys. I'm not sure [if I'd do it]' he said. 'I'd have to do a lot of research - like, what, watch forty years of television? I mean, I've seen some of it, but let's get real.' Fifty three years, Joss. Still, you've probably got some time on your hands since you don't seem to be directing many films at the moment ...
It may have been the end of an era when Stephen Fry stepped down from Qi after thirteen years, but it ushered in the prospect of Sandi Toksvig as the popular quiz show's new host. And, now we have our first look at the former News Quiz presenter on the Qi set. Toksvig said: 'This season you'll find all the Nugacities you could hope for along with some straightforward Nescience, the odd Narquois comment and a lot of Narishkeit, all of which adds up to a Neogenesis on the letter N. Oh, and we had fun too.' Qi regulars such as Jimmy Carr, Jo Brand, Phill Jupitus, David Mitchell, Jezza Clarkson and Ross Noble will all return over the course of the sixteen-episode series - and Alan Davies will, of course, still be a there. Other famous faces lined up to appear this series include Mad Frankie Boyle, Sarah Millican, Jason Manford, Victoria Coren Mitchell, Jerry Springer, Johnny Vegas, Josh Widdicombe and Lee Mack. Good news, that.
The really good news in relation to the next series of Qi, however, is that for the second year running odious lanky streak of worthless rancid unfunny piss Jack Whitehall will not be appearing. Perhaps because the producers have finally worked out that a) he's horrible, b) he's not funny and c) no one likes him. As this blogger has been suggesting for some time.
Sadly, funny-as-a-bucket-of-cold-sick Holly Walsh will be making her - unwelcome - Qi debut in one episode of the forthcoming N series. So, if you're going going to miss one show this series, that might be the one to pick (particularly as it also features that bloody weirdo Noel Fielding). This was a public service announcement, dear blog reader. Making the hard choices for you so that you don't have to. Don't say you weren't warned.
Netflix has announced full details of its new Black Mirror episode. A new series premieres globally on 21 October. All six episodes have been written by creator Charlie Brooker. San Junipero will, as previously announced, feature Gugu Mbatha-Raw and The Martian's Mackenzie Davis and will be directed by Owen Harris. Shut Up & Dance will star Game Of Thrones actor Jerome Flynn opposite The Imitation Game's Alex Lawther, with James Watkins directing. Nosedive has cast James Norton, opposite the previously announced Bryce Dallas Howard and Alice Eve, in an episode directed by Atonement's Joe Wright. House Of Cards actor Michael Kelly will appear in Men Against Fire alongside Malachi Kirby and Madeline Brewer. The Fall's Jakob Verbruggen will direct. Hated In The Nation features From The North favourite Kelly MacDonald in an episode which will be directed by Doctor Who's James Hawes. Finally Wyatt Russell will appear in Playtest opposite Hannah John-Kamen.
A disgraced school teacher has been very banned from every classroom in England after 'launching into a four-letter tirade' concerning John Barrowman in front of 'shocked' students. Or, in front students, anyway. Kieran Sumanrai Patel, believed to be from Washington, also fraudulently claimed money according to the Evening Chronicle and, allegedly, told pupils 'I got my mansion by riding old man's cocks.' Well, you know, that's certainly one way to make money. This blogger prefers something more legal (and less painful), personally but, hey, that's probably just me. A professional conduct panel in Coventry heard that while working at Teesdale School in County Durham, Patel boasted to pupils about his 'links' to 'celebrities.' Or, to John Barrowman, at least. A theatre teacher referred in the report only as 'Witness B' told the hearing that two Year Thirteen pupils snitched to her that Patel had called Barrowman a very naughty c-word. Not 'a cult' either. Although, not that far off. Blimey, that's a bit strong. I mean, this blogger knows old Barrowman can be a bit of an acquired taste - he is John Barrowman, after all - but, still, there's no need for that sort of talk, surely? Pupils also grassed to Witness B like a bunch of Copper's Narks that Patel had said 'words along the lines' that he 'obtained a mansion by riding old men's cocks.' Patel was temporarily employed at Teesdale School from 31 January to 3 March 2011 but was very dismissed when the co-principal was told of the allegations. Patel also lied on his CV, claiming that he had been at the school for two years rather than three months. The panel said that this action was 'a deliberate attempt to mislead employers.' While working at the Pupil Referral Unit in Sunderland, English and performing arts teacher Patel submitted petty cash claims for musical equipment and theatre tickets. Patel was suspended after it was discovered that the claims were fraudulent and the police became involved. He pleaded very guilty to fraud by abuse of position at Newcastle Crown Court in November 2015 and was extremely sentenced to a twelve month community order and eighty hours unpaid work. Patel - who was present at the hearing - said that he regretted his actions. The report said Patel 'did have a previously good history in that there were no previous findings against him. The panel also noted that Patel has expressed regret for his actions and said that he has learned from his previous poor judgements.' But, the panel till decided the severity of his offences meant Patel should never teach again. The report concluded: 'Furthermore, in view of the seriousness of the allegations found proved against him, I have decided that ... Patel shall not be entitled to apply for restoration of his eligibility to teach.' It has to be said, dear blog reader, anyone who works as a teacher and uses that word publicly, in any context and doesn't expect to be sacked, on the spot, is a complete and total moron. I mean, we've all probably used it at one time or another. But not, normally, in front a class of fourteen year olds. And for that reason, alone, one wouldn't want him anywhere near teaching kids.
Strictly Come Dancing has signed up its youngest professional dancer for when the show returns this autumn. Chloe Hewitt, twenty, was aged eight when Strictly Come Dancing began on BBC1 in 2004. She will be joined in the professional line-up by her dance partner, AJ Pritchard, with whom she appeared on Britain's Got Toilets in 2013. Neil Jones, whose wife Katya was added to the line-up last month, completes the trio of new arrivals. Hewitt, who was born in Chester, took up dancing lessons after watching Strictly as a child. Last year she and Pritchard were crowned British Open Youth Latin Champions and also European Youth Latin Champions. Over their nine-year competitive career they have been the National Youth Latin Champions for three years in a row. The other male professionals on the new series are Kevin Clifton, Brendan Cole, Anton Du Beke, Pasha Kovalev, Gorka Marquez, Giovanni Pernice and Aljaz Skorjanec. Joanne Clifton, Karen Clifton, Natalie Lowe, Janette Manrara and Oti Mabuse round out the female professional contingent.
This week's episode of University Challenge reportedly resulted in one contestant suffering some quite appalling verbal abuse on social media because of her looks. Jesus, the world really is full of the most unimaginable shit-crawling louse-scum, is it not, dear blog reader? However, thankfully, many supportive Twitterers leaped to the defence of the hugely impressive Sophie Rudd, a Warwick University computer science student, criticising these 'thick' naysayers and praising Sophie's impressive, broad-spectrum knowledge. For what it's worth, this blogger thought Sophie was utterly magnificent in Monday night's episode and hopes that she and her Warwick colleagues go jolly far in this year's competition. Which on the strength of their demolition of the University of Liverpool team, they look well-capable of. This blogger also hopes that anyone so challenged by another person's sexuality, or intelligence (or both) catches some truly dreadful - and very painful - disease of the arsehole. That way, everybody wins.
A new picture of the cast of Cold Feet has been released ahead of the revival of the popular ITV drama series. The image shows John Thomson, Jimmy Nesbitt, Fay Ripley, Hermione Norris and Robert Bathurst in character. Filming for the eight-part series has been taking place in Manchester for the past few months. Creator Mike Bullen said that it was 'the right time' to 'revisit' the group of friends 'as they tip-toe through the minefield of middle age.' Plus, the money was good. The original series, following the lives of Adam, Pete, Jenny, Karen and David, lasted for thirty three episodes and was last seen on television more than ten years ago. It will be returning later this year. Thankfully, silly little Helen Baxendale will not be part of the revival since her character died in the original series. To the joy of millions.
The missing actress Honeysuckle Weeks has been found safe, police have confirmed. Officers had been searching for the thirty six-year-old, from Petworth in West Sussex, since late on Thursday evening. Honeysuckle, best known for playing Samantha Stewart in the ITV drama Foyle's War, had last been seen fourteen miles away in Chichester. Sussex Police said she was found 'safe and well' at a relative's address in London at about 8pm on Friday. Her sister, Perdita Weeks, earlier tweeted: 'Safe and sound, thank you all.' Police added that the relative had 'contacted police to notify them of her appearance.' A spokesman said: 'She remained with police as of 10.45pm on Friday, prior to being returned to West Sussex. We're very grateful to everyone who expressed their concern for Honeysuckle and assisted in our appeal to help find her.' Officers had earlier said that they were 'concerned' for Honeysuckle's welfare and it was 'unlike' her not to get in touch. She had recently told family and friends she was 'feeling anxious.' Honeysuckle, who was born in Cardiff, recently finished work on an episode of Lewis for ITV and the Sky 1 mystery The Five. She has also previous appeared in The Bill, The Inspector Lynley Mysteries and Death In Paradise. And, in court in February, when she was fined two hundred and fifty knicker and fitted with an electronic tag after being caught speeding whilst already banned from driving.
Chris Evans claimed that Top Gear was 'repositioning' the way in which people watch TV in the era of on-demand viewing and there may, indeed, be some truth in that but the BBC show still lost about a third of its audience on the BBC's iPlayer during its first series without yer man Jezza Clarkson. The first episode of Top Gear drew more than 1.4 million requests on the BBC's catch-up service after it returned at the end of May, but by the time of the fourth episode three weeks later, the number had fallen by half-a-million to nine hundred and one thousand. The figures, published by the BBC on Tuesday of this week, echo the decline in the traditional overnight ratings for the show, which began with an overnight audience of more than four million viewers but ended up with fewer than two million for its final episode. Defending the performance of the show, Evans had earlier pointed to the programme's various forms of catch-up viewing as evidence of its 'continued popularity' and said that Top Gear was 'repositioning the way' in which people watch TV. The new series of Top Gear began with a Sunday overnight audience of 4.3 million viewers on 29 May, growing to more than six million in the consolidated figures, which included viewers who recorded it and watched it during the subsequent seven days. However, it fell during the course of the run to an overnight audience of just 1.9 million for its final episode on 3 July, which grew to 2.6 million in the consolidated figures. The iPlayer figures reveal that Top Gear's total audience, including its entire TV audience and iPlayer requests, effectively halved in three weeks, from around 7.8 million for its opening episode to roughly 4.1 million for episode four. Evans, very unwisely in this blogger's opinion, said before the series started that he would be 'disappointed' with anything less than five million viewers. Which really was giving his detractors a stick to beat him with. Harshly. Which they did. And, not entirely undeservedly either, albeit this blogger felt that at least a portion of the criticism was rather agenda-soaked and that, Evans aside, the series wasn't, quite, the disaster that some parts of the media portrayed it as, at least artistically. Commercially, yeah, it's hard to defend a consolidated rating figure over below three million for a series that hasn't had those sort of figures in ten years at least. The day after the final episode of the six-part series, Evans - to the surprise of few - quit the show, saying that he had given the programme his 'best shot' but that it 'wasn't good enough.' Both of which, appear to be true. Evans' co-presenter, yer actual Matt LeBlanc, is expected to take the lead anchor role in the next series. Since, unlike Evans, most viewers seem to quite like him.
Meanwhile, there had been some good news for Chris Evans this week; he will face no further action concerning historic allegations of sexual assault, the Metropolitan Police has said. Evans was interviewed by officers concerning an allegation of sexual assault made against him, in London's Tower Hamlets in the 1990s. Police say that the allegation was made by 'a woman' in May this year, but there is 'insufficient evidence to proceed.' A press spokesman for Evans confirmed that the case had been dropped. Evans himself has always strenuously denied the claims and previously described the reports as 'a witch hunt.'

Gotham's rise of the villains is well under way, and one of Batman's most notorious adversaries could be about to join the drama. Just weeks after Maggie Geha was cast as Poison Ivy, it has been revealed that the Dark Knight's frequent nemesis Ra's Al Ghul could be making an appearance in Gotham too. Executive producer John Stephens revealed at a Comic-Con panel that there have been 'talks' about introducing the character. '[It's a] conversation that we've had a lot, but it's a big step we would take if we ever took it,' he told The Hollywood Reporter. Ra's Al Ghul, who was played by Liam Neeson in Batman Begins and by Matt Nable on Arrow, is one of Batman's oldest enemies and leader of the League Of The Assassins. Elsewhere, as previously reported, Gotham recently cast The Walking Dead's Benedict Samuel as The Mad Hatter for the forthcoming third series.
DC fans should start getting excited, as Arrow and Legends Of Tomorrow producer Marc Guggenheim has confirmed that Supergirl will be appearing in both DC TV shows. Talking to Slashfilm, Guggenheim explained the planned crossovers and revealed that Supergirl, played by Melissa Benoist, will be guest starring on Arrow, The Flash and Legends Of Tomorrow.
Neil Gaiman and the late Terry Pratchett's long-awaited Good Omens TV adaptation is coming - and, likely, sooner than may have expected. Gaiman is producing a live action version of his and Pratchett's horror comedy novel for the BBC - in addition to his upcoming American Gods TV spin-off. Chatting to Deadline, Neil revealed that Good Omens will be 'six one-hour episodes and I just finished the script for number six. It's being done through the BBC. Beyond that, we're going to have to wait and see.' Gaiman added: 'That will probably [be broadcast] a year after American Gods [which debuts in 2017]. We'll start shooting very, very early next year.' The prolific writer also isn't ruling out a literary sequel to Good Omens, even though his partner Pratchett died in 2015. 'We'll see. The first thing that has to happen is that we have to make the TV show,' Gaiman said. Last week, it was announced that Gaiman is also teaming up with Hamilton producer Jeffrey Seller and NBC Universal to bring his InterWorld books series to television.
Get excited, Twin Peaks fans, because it looks like we may have a rough idea of the broadcast date for the revival of the cult US series. The Showtime drama looks to be returning to TV screens during summer 2017, at least according to the actor Ray Wise, who plays attorney - and psychotic Bob-shaped murderer - Leland Palmer. Ray said at a Comic-Con panel for Batman: The Killing Joke that not only is the Twin Peaks revival one year away, but also that there will be eighteen episodes in total. All of which will, apparently, be directed by David Lynch. Only last month, Showtime executive David Nevins told fans to expect a premiere 'in the second quarter of 2017' and revealed that co-creator Lynch was 'currently hard at work' editing the episodes which have been short so far. The new Twin Peaks has assembled a phenomenal cast – including Amanda Seyfried, Naomi Watts, Michael Cera, Monica Bellucci, Tim Roth and Jennifer Jason Leigh. What can we expect from the revival? Co-creator Mark Frost's book The Secret History Of Twin Peaks has dropped one or two hints about the likely plot. 'Twenty-five years [after Dale Cooper's investigation of the murder of Laura Palmer], the FBI gets hold of a box it won't divulge the provenance of. In the box [is] a huge dossier. A female FBI agent is tasked to analyse all the documents inside and everything related to the strange town of Twin Peaks. She also has to determine the identity of the person who compiled the dossier. Along the way, she discovers secrets about the lives of the town's residents, but also investigative reports from Dale Cooper who has since vanished, newspaper clippings, an autopsy report, and other classified information. What happened since the death of the young woman? And why did an anonymous "archivist" compile such a thorough dossier on Twin Peaks and its origins?'
Here's a Countdown story, dear blog reader, so therefore you can guarantee that a rude word of some description has cropped up during a recent episode's random letters pick. This time, Rachel Riley appeared completely oblivious to the bad, naughty word she had created until, reportedly, she got home after filming and saw that her Twitter notifications 'had exploded.'
Ah. That sort of thing just never gets old, does it?

An episode of Fireman Sam in which one character appears to tread on a page from the Qu'ran has been withdrawn. A scene in the children's programme shows a fireman slipping on a pile of papers - and as they fly into the air, a page from the Qu'ran is 'briefly depicted,' the production firm Mattel has confirmed. The episode, Troubled Waters, was first broadcast in October 2014 and features the character of Elvis slipping on a piece of paper while carrying a tray of tea. The 'error' has only recently been spotted although no one seems entirely sure exactly who first spotted it. And, you know, how. Mattel grovellingly apologised and claimed that it 'did not believe' the insertion of the page from the Muslim holy book had been 'done maliciously.' Although, the fact that it was done at all is, surely, a cause for at least some concern. They also, asked, nicely, if it would be possible not to have a Jihad put out on their sorry collective ass as really, honestly, they had no idea about this malarkey whatsoever. Channel Five, which broadcasts Fireman Sam, similarly shat in its own pants when alerted to what had occurred and has swiftly removed the offending episode from its streaming website. Miqdaad Versi, the assistant secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain, tweeted: 'I have no idea what went through the producers's minds when they thought this was a good idea.' Well, quite. He also said that he had identified the page from the Qu'ran as 'Surah Mulk (sixty seven), verses thirteen to twenty six.' A Mattel spokeswoman told the BBC: 'It's just an unfortunate incident where someone from the production company thought they were just putting in random text. We have no reason to believe it was done maliciously. The page was intended to show illegible text and we deeply regret this error. We sincerely apologise for any distress or offence it may have caused.' It said that it would 'no longer be working with the animation studio responsible,' and would 'take immediate action to remove this episode from circulation. We are reviewing our content production procedures to ensure this never happens again,' it added.
Meanwhile, spare a thought, if you would, for the people at the BBC complaints department. The corporation has reportedly received more than one thousand complaints about the episode of Fireman Sam, mentioned above. Only to be expected, you might think. Except, of course, that Fireman Sam is not a BBC show (or, at least, the current version of it isn't). Fireman Sam, as any preschooler will tell you, is broadcast on Channel Five, a fact seemingly lost on at least one complaints website, which urged offended viewers to get in touch with the corporation - wrongly, claiming that the programme had been broadcast on CBBC and could also be viewed on iPlayer - and also some people on Twitter. Like this chap for instance. The BBC, rather wearily one imagines - given that every single one of those thousand plus complaints will have to, by law, be replied to pointing out that this is, for once, someone else's problem - said that it will be 'more than happy' to forward any complaints it receives concerning this matter to Channel Five's owner, Viacom, and the programme's producer, HIT Entertainment. Would that they could do that every time some daft glake with an agenda whinges about some aspect of Top Gear.
Billie The Piper says that her latest stage role, about a woman desperate to have a child, feels 'very relevant' because it's an issue being faced by many women she knows. 'It chimed quite vividly with me because so many of my friends are finding it quite hard to go through that,' Billie The Piper says. 'It seems to be a very common topic at the moment.' Piper plays the title role of Yerma in a modern retelling of Federico Garcia Lorca's 1934 tragedy about a woman whose desperation to become a mother is met with indifference by her husband. Simon Stone's version, which begins previews at the Young Vic this week, relocates the action from rural Spain to contemporary London. Speaking during a break in rehearsals, Billie The Piper admits that she hadn't heard of the play until she was approached about the role at the end of last year. 'I read the original and I thought that it was one of the most beautiful pieces of poetry,' she says. 'It's that story of a modern woman who is suddenly suffocated and strangled by her ticking clock. I witness that all around me, and I read about it frequently. I thought that it seemed like a very relevant piece of work.'
The revival of another popular US TV series, Gilmore Girls, will premiere globally on 25 November, Netflix has announced. The series, which originally ran from 2000 to 2007, sees cast members Lauren Graham and Alexis Bledel reunited in the mother-daughter drama. It also features the return of original cast members Melissa McCarthy and Scott Patterson. Gilmore Girls: A Year In The Life will feature four ninety-minute episodes, each covering a season of the year.
Richard Wilson has told how he originally turned down the role of Victor Meldrew in BBC1's One Foot In The Grave – with the part almost going to Les Dawson instead. Wilson said that he thought he was 'too young' to play the role of the cantankerous Meldrew, before going on to star in five series of the hit sitcom in the early 1990s, returning for a final run in 2000. Dawson, who died in 1993, was the second choice of writer David Renwick after Wilson turned down the initial scripts. 'I was in my early fifties and Victor was sixty. I turned it down,' Wilson explained in the new issue of Radio Times. 'I think Les Dawson was being considered. A very funny man – but I don't know if he could have played Victor.' Renwick said in a documentary two years ago that there was 'resistance' in some parts of the BBC to casting Wilson because 'at the time he was regarded primarily as a supporting actor. [Les] would have been my second choice,' added Renwick. 'It would have been a different character; he would have taken it in a different direction. But he had the lugubriousness and the attitude which would have worked.' Eventually Wilson was persuaded to take the part by the show's producer, Susan Belbin, and he will resurrect the role at the Edinburgh fringe festival later this year, despite the fact the character was killed off in the BBC finale. Wilson, now eighty, will recreate the script for a 1993 episode called The Trial, which sees Victor waiting in the house on a rainy day, on-call for jury duty. Half-an-hour with Victor will be followed by half-an-hour with Wilson himself, answering questions from the audience. The actor promised fans that the catchphrase 'I don't believe it!' has not mellowed with age. 'I think Victor is around eighty now,' he said. 'But, I am playing him at roughly seventy four. 'He has not changed one bit. In fact, it's quite hard to get back to my normal, affable, lovable self after being him, even for half-an-hour.'
Are you entranced by a new TV show? Maybe you're finally becoming a member of the Game Of Thrones bandwagon or enjoy nothing more than settling down for a good old West Wing binge or Sherlock marathon? Either way, it's killing you, apparently.
Oh, yes. This is according to a Japanese research team, who've indicated that hours in front of the TV screen 'sharply' raises the risk of dying from a blood clot in the lungs. Mind you, it's probably worth noting that research scientists are the sort of people who seldom get invited to all the cool kids parties so, you know, pinch of salt, maybe. Studying the viewing habits of more than eighty six people aged forty to seventy nine between 1988 and 1990 - then following their health for almost two decades - the scientists found that every additional two hours of viewing per day increased the risk of fatal clots by forty per cent. Shockingly, participants who watched five or more hours of programmes daily were more than twice as likely to die over the following nineteen years than those who watched less than two and a half hours. Bloody hell, dear blog reader, that's yer actual Keith Telly Topping's future well and truly buggered, then. To help stave off the impending and inevitable doom - and still enjoy your favourite shows - the team advises drinking more water and getting up to stretch for five minutes every hour. Or, you know, go for a swim every once in a while. Like this blogger ... used to.
Two of the chaps who ensured World Cup glory for England's football team fifty years ago are set to take centre stage at Wembley Stadium for a special commemoration of the historic win. Sir Bobby Charlton and Sir Geoff Hurst will recount their memories of the 1966 win to an audience of ten thousand people on Saturday. Actor Martin Freeman will read memories from the late Sir Bobby Moore. The event, which will also feature live music, will be simulcast on BBC Radio 2, 5Live and in some English cinemas. The day will also see pop songs from 1966 rearranged and performed by the likes of james, Sophie Ellis-Bextor, Squeeze, Reef, Lemar (no, me neither) and The Troggs. Chris Farlowe will give a one-off performance of his 1966 number one hit 'Out Of Time' - which was number one in the charts on the day England won the cup. There will also be an opportunity for fans to reflect and speak about their memories of the day Sir Alf Ramsey's England side defeated West Germany four-two after extra time. And, yes, the third goal was over the line. Look it up in the record books, baby. Bobby Moore and Alan Ball have since died, in 1993 and 2007 respectively. A bronze statue of Moore stands outside Wembley Stadium and is likely to be visited by many of fans attending the commemoration at the nearby arena. Another bronze statue of Moore being carried by team-mates Hurst, Martin Peters and Ray Wilson, is located near the Boleyn Ground, in West Ham. Commentator Barry Davies told BBC 5Live that 'it was in extra time that England played like true world champions' and he described the game as 'a classic.' However, Bazza said that he believed the best England team to ever vie for the World Cup was actually the team in 1970, which sought to defend England's win but only got as far as the quarter finals.
Brayan Jimenez, a former head of Guatemala's football federation, has pleaded very guilty in a US court to racketeering and wire fraud. The sixty two-year-old now faces up to twenty years in pris for each count. Prosecutors say that he received hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes to award lucrative marketing rights to his country's World Cup qualifying matches to a Florida based company. He was arrested in Guatemala in January and later extradited to the US. He is among more than forty individuals and entities from around the globe charged as part of a major corruption investigation at FIFA - the world governing body of world football. US prosecutors say that Jimenez and former FEDEFUT Secretary-General Hector Trujillo took a 'six-digit bribe' to sell the television rights to qualifying matches for the 2018 World Cup. Trujillo was extremely arrested in the US in 2015. The US Department of Justice has said it asked for the arrests because the alleged offences were 'agreed and prepared in the United States' and payments were also processed via American banks.
The ELO have topped the UK albums chart for the first time in a whopping thirty five years. The group have taken the top spot with All Over The World - The Very Best Of ELO. And, it's only taken them eleven years. The hits collection CD was first released in 2005 when it charted at number five. It recently reached the million sales mark following the band's really rather good performance at Glastonbury. 'Thirty five years between number one albums! I'm totally amazed. Thanks to everyone that made it possible,' yer actual Jeff Lynne said.
Plastic bag use has plummeted in England since the introduction of a five pence charge last year, the government says. In the six months after the levy was brought in last October, six hundred and forty million plastic bags were used in seven major supermarkets in England, it says. In 2014, the waste reduction charity Wrap estimated the same supermarkets had used 7.64 billion bags. The government says if the trend continues over the year, six billion fewer bags will be used. It follows the pattern seen in the rest of the UK since the introduction of charges for bags. Wales introduced a levy in 2011, followed by Northern Ireland in 2013 and Scotland in 2014. They saw reductions in bag use of seventy six per cent, seventy one per cent and eighty per cent, respectively, in the first year after the fee was established. The charge was introduced in England on 5 October 2015, with all retailers with more than two hundred ad fifty full-time employees required to charge a minimum of five pence to customers for single-use, plastic carrier bags. his reduction in plastic could benefit the environment, especially the oceans. A report published in the journal Science in 2015 estimated that about eight million tonnes of plastic ends up in global waters each year.
A new study from researchers at Western University in London, Ontario suggests there is nothing that terrifies British badgers more than the sounds of new programming. And, Sir Derek Jacobi. Over a five-night period, Western University ecologist Liana Zanette went out to a badger community in Oxford, just after dusk, as the animals usually came out to eat. Her team buried the badgers' favourite food - peanuts - and played them a collection of five different sounds while the badgers foraged. The sounds included sheep, bears, wolves, dogs and people engaged in conversation. The level of perceived fear was measured by how far the badgers would shit their pants and run a mile at the sounds and how often they'd scan for predators. 'You'd think that hearing The Wind In The Willows read by Derek Jacobi would be as relaxing for the badgers as it is for us,' Zanette said. 'But it terrifies them.' Well, yeah. Derek Jacobi does have that effect on some people too. Especially when he played The Master. Programming from the BBC's World Service and the audiobook of The Wind In The Willows were most likely to keep the animals cowering in terror in their burrows, even though bears and wolves were historically the badgers' natural predators. Plus Brian May from The Queen Group, obviously.
Australia is to shift its longitude and latitude to address a gap between local co-ordinates and those from global navigation satellite systems. Local co-ordinates, used to produce maps and measurements, and global ones differ by more than one metre. The body responsible for the change said it would help the development of self-driving cars, which need accurate location data to navigate. Australia moves about seven centimetres North annually because of tectonic movements. So on 1 January 2017, the country's local co-ordinates will also be shifted further North - by 1.8 metres. The over-correction means Australia's local co-ordinates and the Earth's global co-ordinates will align in 2020.
A new class of antibiotics has been discovered by analysing the bacterial warfare taking place up people's noses in their snot, scientists report. Tests reported in the journal Nature found the resulting drug, lugdunin, could treat superbug infections. The researchers, at the University of Tubingen in Germany, say the human body is an untapped source of new drugs. The last new class of the drugs to reach patients was discovered in the 1980s. Nearly all antibiotics were discovered in soil bacteria, but the University of Tubingen research team turned to the human body. Our bodies might not look like a battlefield, but on a microscopic level a struggle for space and food is taking place between rival species of bacteria. One of the weapons they have long been suspected of using is antibiotics. Among the bugs that like to invade the nose is Staphylococcus aureus, including the dreaded superbug strain MRSA. It is found in the snot of thirty per cent of people. But why not everyone? The scientists discovered that people with the rival bug Staphylococcus lugdunensis in their nostrils were less likely to have Staphylococcus aureus. The German Snot Wars team used various strains of genetically-modified Staphylococcus lugdunensis to work out the crucial piece of genetic code that allowed it to win the fight to live among your nose hairs. They eventually pinpointed a single crucial gene that contained the instructions for building a new antibiotic, which they named lugdunin. Tests on mice showed lugdunin could treat superbug infections on the skin including MRSA, as well as Enterococcus infections. One of the researchers, Doctor Bernhard Krismer, said: 'Some of the animals were completely clear, no single cell of the bacterium was detectable. Others were reduced, but still contained some bacteria and we also saw that the compound penetrated the tissue and acted on the deeper layer of the skin.' It will take years of testing before lugdunin could reach patients and it may not prove to be successful. But, new antibiotics are desperately needed as doctors face the growing challenge of infections that resist current drugs and could become untreatable. Fellow researcher Professor Andreas Peschel said that the body could be 'mined' for new antibiotics. 'Lugdunin may be the first example of such an antibiotic, we have started a screening programme,' he said. He even believes that people could one day be infected with genetically-modified bacteria to fight their infections. He argued: 'By introducing the lugdunin genes into a completely innocuous bacterial species we hope to develop a new preventive concept of antibiotics that can eradicate pathogens.' Professor Kim Lewis and Doctor Philip Strandwitz, from the antimicrobial discovery centre at Northeastern University in the US, commented: 'It may seem surprising that a member of the human microbiota - the community of bacteria that inhabits the body - produces an antibiotic. However, the microbiota is composed of more than a thousand species, many of which compete for space and nutrients, and the selective pressure to eliminate bacterial neighbours is high.' Professor Colin Garner, the head of Antibiotic Research UK, told the BBC: 'Altering the balance of bacteria in our bodies through the production of natural antibiotics could eventually be exploited to fight off bacterial infections. It is possible that this report will be the first of many demonstrating that bacteria in our bodies can produce novel antibiotics with new chemical structures. Alongside a report that men with beards have fewer pathogens including MRSA on their faces than clean-shaven men, it seems the paper identifying lugdunin should be viewed alongside facial hair as a preventer of infection.'

One of the production companies behind Star Wars has pleaded extremely guilty to two criminal charges after Harrison Ford broke his leg on set. The seventy four-year-old was hit by a hydraulic metal door on the Pinewood set of The Millennium Falcon in June 2014. Foodles Production (UK) Ltd, a subsidiary of Disney, admitted two of four criminal charges at Milton Keynes Magistrates' Court. The company will be very sentenced at Aylesbury Crown Court on 22 August. The other two charges were withdrawn. Prosecuting, Andrew Marshall told the court Ford had gone through the door on the set of Star Wars Episode Seven: The Force Awakens and hit a button before starting to walk back through it, believing the set was not live and that it would not close. But it was remotely operated by another person and, as Ford passed underneath it, he was hit in the pelvic area and pinned to the ground. Marshall said that there was 'a risk of death. It could have killed somebody. The fact that it didn't was because an emergency stop was activated,' he said. The Health & Safety Executive, which brought the prosecution, said Harrison Ford was 'badly injured after he became trapped under a rapidly closing metal-framed door.' A spokesman compared the power of the door's drive system 'to the weight of a small car. This was a foreseeable incident,' he added.
A Georgia man who won three million dollars on a scratchcard lottery has pleaded very guilty to using the money he won to fund a crystal meth trafficking ring. Way-smart use of new-found resources there, mate. Ronnie Music Junior - I'm not making this up, honest - of Waycross, faces a possible sentence of life in The Big House after admitting to federal drug trafficking and firearm charges. Music was found to have extremely conspired 'with others' to possess and distribute kilogrammes of methamphetamine in Ware County, Georgia 'and elsewhere.' His co-conspirators were caught attempting to sell approximately eleven pounds of crystal meth, worth more than five hundred thousand dollars in September 2015. Following their arrest, Music was identified as 'a source of supply' for the meth and was able to purchase the drug for resale using his large lottery winnings. Music won the three million bucks jackpot after purchasing a 100X The Money lottery scratch card in Georgia in February 2015. During the investigation into Music's trafficking ring, agents seized over a million dollars worth of methamphetamine, a large cache of firearms, thousands of rounds of ammunition and more than six hundred thousand dollars in cash. United States Attorney Ed Tarver said: 'Defendant Music decided to test his luck by sinking millions of dollars of lottery winnings into the purchase and sale of crystal meth.' As a result of his 'unsound investment strategy,' Music now 'faces decades' in The Pokey. A necessary lesson, perhaps, to all millionaires not to be a prick and know when enough is enough.
Space can be a pretty volatile place – that's why so many planets we discover are covered in craters. But craters don't usually just disappear. Ceres is a four-and-a-half-billion-year-old dwarf planet which inhabits the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. It's the second-largest dwarf planet in the solar system after Pluto, although rather less famous. Naturally, astronomers assumed the small planetoid would be covered in large impact craters. But when NASA's Dawn spacecraft finally arrived at Ceres, it found a surprisingly smooth surface. New computer models, published Tuesday in the journal Nature Communications, confirm previous assumptions: Ceres should look like Swiss cheese by now (or, The Moon at the very least). So, what happened to all the craters? Researchers ran computer simulations to better understand Ceres's planetary landscape. Given the planet's size, age and location, it should have at least forty craters which are more than sixty two miles across. Of those, ten to fifteen should be more than two hundred and fifty miles wide. But according to Dawn images, Ceres only has sixteen craters that are more than sixty two miles across. And, not a single one is more than two hundred miles wide. Most nearby asteroids, such as Vesta, are noticeably more porous than the dwarf planet. 'Even Vesta, only about half of Ceres' size, has two big basins at its south pole. But at Ceres, all we saw was the Kerwan Basin, just one hundred and seventy seven miles in diameter,' co-author David Williams, director of Arizona State University's planetary studies programme, said in a statement. 'That was a big red flag that something had happened to Ceres.' Could Ceres have avoided major collisions for four-and-a-half-billion years? Probably not, scientist's believe. It's much more likely that some kind of geological activity has cleared them away. Dawn didn't find many true craters on Ceres; it did, however, find three five hundred-mile wide depressions. These depressions, also known as planitiae, could be very old impact basins that have been covered by more recent craters. Astronomers have also found evidence of ice on the dwarf planet. The upward flow of frozen brine from below the planet's surface could very slowly smooth out craters. And cryovolcanoes, which erupt in molten ice, 'could' cover up impact sites. 'It is as though Ceres cures its own large impact scars and regenerates new surfaces, over and over,' lead author Simone Marchi, a scientist at Southwest Research Institute's Space Science and Engineering Division, said in a statement. Luckily, researchers will have more time to solve the mystery of the vanishing craters of Ceres: NASA announced that it would extend Dawn's mission on the planet through 2019.

A very naughty Swedish pickpocket made the unwise decision to try to steal from a group of off-duty police officers and the result was - embarrassingly for him - captured in a viral Instagram picture shared by one of the officers, Mikaela Kellner, who tackled the rascally scoundrel dressed only in her bikini. Err, that is, she was dress only in her bikini, he has his own clothes on. Anyway, Mikaela was sunbathing with friends at a Rålambshov park in Stokholm when a man came up to the group pretending to sell magazines. She suspected that something was amiss when he lingered around them even after they'd told him to go away. 'I told my friends to keep an eye on their things. But as soon as he left, one of my friends said "where did my mobile phone go?"' Mikaela told The Local. She and a friend, who is also a police officer, instantly sprang into action, chasing the recidivist for across the park before rugby tackling him and pinning him to the ground whilst informing him of his rights. 'I just acted on instinct and didn't think about it so much until after we had pinned him down' Mikaela told The Local. 'When I sat there I looked over at our other two friends, who are not police officers, and realised that it probably looked pretty funny. But I would have stepped in no matter my outfit.' The chap in question was very arrested and carted off to The Big House. Where, hopefully, he has now become the object of total ridicule to all the other tea-leaves for being such a daft cheb in picking the wrong shill.
This blogger thinks that, actually, it's the little girl passing in the background and laughing at the thief's misfortune that makes it art!

The life and music of David Bowie have been 'celebrated' (well, sort of) and 'mourned' at an eclectic edition of the BBC Proms. The late-night concert featured orchestral reworkings of his music, performed by the likes of Marc Almond, John Cale and Laura Mvula. 'This is not a wake,' singer Amanda Palmer, of The Dresden Dolls, told a sold-out Royal Albert Hall. 'This is an amazing secular celebration of some of the most incredible music in the world.' Nonetheless, it was a largely downbeat affair, 'filleting The Grand Dame's back catalogue for maximum pathos' according to the BBC. Cale turned 'Space Oddity' into a solemn incantation, while The Villagers' Conor O'Brien - no, me neither - gave a beautifully melancholy reading of 'The Man Who Sold The World'. 'Like most multi-artist tributes, though, it was an uneven affair,' wrote Mark Savage. 'Fame' and 'Ashes To Ashes' came untethered without a solid backbeat, while a droning version of 'Always Crashing In The Same Car', by French counter-tenor Philippe Jaroussky, 'simply didn't work.' But things took a turn for the better when Anna Calvi took to the stage. Her duet with Palmer on 'Blackstar', one of yer man Bowie's final songs, was 'darkly devastating', while a visceral 'Lady Grinning Soul' 'sent chills through the auditorium.' Palmer, wearing a crown of thorns, also gave a gutsy reading of 'Heroes', while Marc Almond delivered the two biggest crowd-pleasers of the night: 'Life On Mars' and 'Starman'. Speaking before the latter, yer man Marc recalled watching Bowie perform the song on Top Of The Pops in 1972, his arm draped around guitarist Mick Ronson's shoulders. '[It] was a life-changing moment for so many teenagers - such as me,' Marc said. 'David Bowie made us look at the world through different eyes.' Cale, for whom Bowie was a friend and musical collaborator, said that the Prom showed 'a different side to David Bowie' - but the experimental performances split opinion on Twitter. Which, as we all know, is The Sole Arbiter Of The Worth Of All Things ... at least, according to some Middle Class hippy Communists of no importance at the Gruniad Morning Star. 'This is the worst thing that's ever happened in the entire history of everything,' whinged musician Luke Haines, formerly of The Auteurs and Black Box Recorder. Ah, good old Luke Haines - a man who once described The Be-Atles career as 'nothing but arselick.' He's definitely one of them blokes, is Luke, who appears to see a glass half-full and who goes through life with a look on his face like he's just smelled some shit nearby. 'I'm sure John Cale doing 'Space Oddity' must've looked like a great idea on paper," wrote David Bladdibub - formerly 'a comedian', allegedly - while Simon Pegg simply tweeted an animation of Bowie holding his head in his hands. Which, to be fair, was quite funny, actually! Broadcaster and professional Northerner Stuart Maconie disagreed, writing: 'The Bowie Prom was exactly what a Bowie Prom should have been: Quixotic, challenging, playful, maddening and mainly brilliant.' Yeah, pretty much. And, considering that we're talking about a tribute to a man whose collaborations over the years ranged from Brian Eno and Robert Smith to The Polyphonic Spree via Rick Wakeman, Lou Reed, Morrissey, The Queen Group and The Legendary Stardust Cowboy (not to mention the guys in Tin Machine) that's probably a more-than-fair assessment. 'Beautiful and odd and disjointed and quite majestic all in one,' added Ethan Jones, whoever he is. 'It was never going to be a TOTP compilation was it now?'
Meanwhile, the name that Duncan Jones has picked for his newborn son is a rather heartwarming tribute to his late dad. The Moon and Warcraft director brought smiles to many a sentimental old Bowie fan's mush - this blogger very much included - on Friday by announcing that he and photographer wife, Rodene Ronquillo, had picked the name Stenton David Jones for their baby boy. The name honours the memory of Bowie, obviously, and, also, David's own father, Haywood Stenton Jones. 'Circle of life. Love you, granddad,' Duncan tweeted. Good on ya, mate. Now, Duncan, your mission - should you chose to accept it - is to write something for your son that's as impressive as yer dad wrote for you in 1971! Good luck.
Alexis Conran has won Celebrity MasterChef 2016. After six weeks of cooking, the Real Hustle type person (no, me neither) saw off nineteen other z-list 'celebrities' to be named champion by judges Gregg Wallace and John Torode. In Friday's final, Louise Minchin, Jimmy Osmond (formerly 'little') and Alexis faced two challenges. Cooking under the guidance of Michelin star chef Atul Kochhar, the trio were first tasked with creating Indian dishes for a number of celebrated chefs. All of the amateurs performed admirably, with Alexis and Jimmy even earning rounds of applause from the judges. Next, the trio returned to the MasterChef kitchen to prepare three dishes asa final challenge. The contestants all justified their position in the final with some worthy efforts, particularly Alexis's Greek octopus and chicken dishes. 'It is one of the best dishes I have tasted in a long, long time. I was blown away by the skill he showed,' Gregg said of his chicken main. 'Alexis hit heights that I didn't think were possible in Celebrity MasterChef. I think the guy is incredible.'
A judge in Minnesota has extremely dismissed claims by twenty nine people - none of whom, obviously, were motivated by greed - who said that they were owed a share of Prince's massive inheritance. The singer, musician and, you know, genius, died in April from an accidental overdose of the painkiller fentanyl, but he did not leave a will and did not have any children. Reports in Minneapolis say that his estate may be worth at least two hundred million smackers. A judge has now ordered genetic tests to be carried out on six people with claims to be relatives of Prince. Four siblings or half-siblings, as well as two women believed to be a niece and a grand-niece, will all be tested. Genetic tests had already ruled out the claim of a man in jail in Colorado who said he was Prince's son and who is, obviously, not mental nor nothing. And, as part of the latest ruling, Judge Kevin Eide also decided that a claim by a Georgia woman, who alleged that she and Prince were 'once married', was not valid. The woman had claimed that the CIA was 'keeping their marriage record secret.' So,she's clearly not mental either. Oh no, very hot water. Minneapolis' Star Tribune newspaper said that the case was thrown out against five men who claimed Prince was their father. Mainly because he, you know, wasn't.
And now, dear blog reader ...
A woman has claimed that she was 'sexually assaulted' when a toy squirted water on her face. Whilst dining with her family at the Wasabi Japanese Steakhouse in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, the woman said that the unusual toy sprayed her in the face. The toy in question looks like a boy and, when its toy pants are lowered, it appears as though the figure is urinating. Yes, just like that statute in Brussels. To the best of this blogger's knowledge, no one who's ever been squirted by that has claimed sexual assault (not even this blogger when he got a blast full in the chest in 1997). 'It peed on me, basically,' Isabelle Lassiter, who sounds like a right good laugh is reported to have said. Lassiter and her husband were visiting Tennessee from Texas. Oh, that explains so much. Has everyone taken The Stupid Pill again this week, or what? They said that they were 'horrified' when the hibachi chef sprayed water from the toy on her. 'In front of our minor children and grandchildren,' her husband, James Lassiter, added. They were so upset, they claimed, that they called police and 'cited assault.' As you do in such circumstances. Well, as they did, anyway. 'It was sexual assault on my wife,' James Lassiter claimed. No it wasn't mate and not even in a mentally litigious country like America would anyone with half-a-frigging brain in their skull believe for a single second that it was, or anything even remotely like it. But still, you should probably go ahead with some form of legal action, if only because it will give 'bizarre news story' websites something amusing to write about. Local police reportedly noted that the toy 'wasn't anatomically correct,' but the Lassiters said that didn't matter. Except to the poor toy, obviously, cos that sort of thing can really have an effect on someone's self-esteem. 'Just because somebody cut off a piece of plastic - okay, it's not there anymore - doesn't change the fact that you're getting peed on,' James Lassiter added. Johnny Huang, Wasabi's general manager, said that he had apologised to the family and has never had complaints about the toy before. No, because most people, generally speaking, aren't planks. Still, Huang said, his staff will now ask customers before showing more of the toy to them again.
An Australian man has won the raffle of a lifetime, taking home an entire Pacific island resort for the price of a forty nine dollars ticket. The man, identified only as 'Joshua from New South Wales,' won The Kosrae Nautilus Resort in a contest organised by Australian owners, Doug and Sally Beitz. The pair set the business up over two decades ago, after opting to leave the nine-to-five lifestyle and relocate their young family to the tropical island of Kosrae in the Federated States of Micronesia. With their children now grown up and having kids of their own, the pair have decided it's time to return to Australian so they can spend more time with their expanding family. 'We feel like a new chapter in our lives is beginning and we're ready to pass the baton to someone else,' said Doug Beitz. 'We've had our time in the sun and enjoyed a career most people would never even dare dream about, but our current goal now is to become professional grandparents.'
A four-year-old Southern California boy is in need of a new prosthetic leg after it was stolen from him during his first ever visit to the beach over the weekend. Jesus, even for America, that's truly scummish behaviour. Liam Brenes of Rancho Santa Margarita and his parents went to Crystal Cove State Park in Orange County on Sunday. The family left the custom-made leg, which had a Star Wars decoration on it and other items on the beach while Liam, wearing an older leg, was down by the tide pools. 'We were in the water for two hours and came back and everything was gone,' Liam told KABC-TV. 'They stole my leg.' The boy’s clothes and shoes, a camera and other items, including a pair of eyeglasses belonging to one of his brothers, Aiden, was also stolen. God, some people ...
An ostrich on the loose in Ayrshire may have young with it and an animal charity is warning people not to approach it. The Scottish SPCA is asking members of the public to 'be on the look out' for the bird which has been spotted in the village of Patna. Although, to be fair, an ostrich is bloody hard to miss. Animal rescue officer Alistair Hill said: 'It is unclear where the ostrich has come from but we think it may also have young with it. Anyone in the area who spots the ostrich or its young should call us as soon as possible so we can keep an eye on where these birds are. We are warning members of the public not to approach the adult ostrich and to especially avoid approaching its young as ostriches can be very protective and can become extremely aggressive.' Although they cannot fly, ostriches are one of the fastest birds on land and can reach speeds of forty five miles per hour to outrun its predators. So, frankly, approaching it, even if one hadn't been advised not to, might be a touch difficult. Unless you're Usain Bolt, obviously. The Scottish SPCA has contacted local ostrich farms to see if any are,you know, missing an ostrich but so far they have not discovered from where it escaped.
Police in Buxton, Maine are searching for a suspect who they say was caught on camera burglarising two business whilst wearing a Donald Trump mask according to the Maine Sun Journal. The burglaries occurred on Wednesday morning at Low's Variety in Bar Mills and Main Street Variety. In both instances, the suspect broke the front glass door with a baseball bat. The male-suspect is described as average build with brown hair. Of course, there is always the possibility that it was Donald Trump doing the robbing and this whole 'running for President' thing is just a cunning diversionary tactic. One wonders if anyone's investigated that? Probably not.
Colorado wildlife officials on Wednesday helped rescue a bear that had been wandering around for days with a plastic container stuck on its head. Residents had seen the black bear cub walking around with what appeared to be a clear plastic Cheese Balls jug on its head for at least five days, but the animal kept darting off before they could help, the Aspen Times reports. Jim Hawkins, who owns a local bed and breakfast in Glenwood Springs, spotted the cub again on Wednesday and quickly wrangled it with a rope before calling authorities. 'He was just a little bear with a big problem,' Hawkins told the newspaper, adding that it looked like the cub was wearing 'a space helmet.' Carbondale District Wildlife Officer John Groves arrived to tranquilise the bear before using shears to cut the plastic off the animal's head, according to the Aspen Times. The bear woke up a few minutes later, after Groves gave it a drug to reverse the effects of the tranquiliser. It then drank some water and ran off, the newspaper said. The bear was, seemingly, unharmed by its experience although it did have a look on its face like it was, you know, owed an explanation.
A court in the Netherlands has sentenced a man to thirty days in jail for insulting the country's king on Facebook. Wow, harsh. The forty four-year-old Dutchman 'intentionally insulted' King Willem-Alexander, accusing him of being a murderer, a thief and a rapist, the Dutch judiciary said. None of which the king is, apparently. So, that's good to know. The man was very convicted of breaking a seldom-used royal defamation laws. A Dutch political party has proposed scrapping the laws and the king himself has pledged to accept the outcome of any public debate on the issue. The court in Overijssel suspended sixteen days of the sentence and the man will not spend any more time in jail, having already spent fourteen days in preventative custody last year. He was found to have doctored images of executions online to include the king's face in place of those of the actual victims, the judiciary said. 'This behaviour is unacceptable in our society and demands that a penalty be imposed on the suspect,' it said in a statement. And, you thought the Dutch were fun-lovin', pot-smokin', gay-acceptin' guys, didn't you?
A one hundred and ten-year-old lobster will not be served as dinner at a Florida restaurant any time soon. Jolly bad news for diners but, you know, good news for the lobster. Instead, the fifteen-pound crustacean - named Larry, incidentally - will be shipped off to Maine State Aquarium thanks to the efforts of an animal rescue group and several South Florida businesses. The male lobster was originally caught and brought to Tin Fish, where the restaurant's owner, Joe Melluso, planned on cooking it and serving it up as someone's dinner if no one came forward to purchase it by Thursday. Would that politics worked in that way, dear blog reader. Anyway, that was when John Merritt from iRescue stepped forward. 'When there was a group that wanted to save him, I was disappointed in myself for not having that feeling myself,' Melluso said. Merritt told Local 10 News that 'several' Florida businesses had chipped in to cover all the expenses of shipping the lobster to Maine, including Estren & Associates, La Playa Real Estate, Nu World Title and Royal Auto Brokers. A woman from Maryland, Vicki Brewer, also contributed to the lobster's expenses. Amir Rossi, who owns Royal Auto Brokers, said that it cost three hundred dollars to buy the lobster from Melluso. 'I asked him if he would like to contribute to saving a lobster. He was on the other end of the phone, and he didn't know whether to laugh or think that I'm crazy or what,' Rossi said. 'We decided to go ahead and rescue it. We put together a team of people.' The team also helped to Larry prepare for his journey, gathering all of the necessary supplies for the trip. You know, butter, cooking oil, lemons, chips, the usual travelling necessities.
What a truly horrible day Friday was, dear blog reader. This blogger suffered from dreadful Internet connectivity issues from shortly after putting up the first draft of this here bloggerisationism update first thing on Friday morning and was, thereafter, entirely unable to get online in any meaningful way throughout the day, except for a couple of hours in the afternoon. As a consequence, it turned into what was, effectively, an entirely wasted day. Jeez, when did Facebook, Wiki, BBC News and other online things take over all of our lives to such an extent that we, literally, can't exist without them when we have an inability to access them. And, why didn't we notice this happening? It was so frustrating, so it was. And, to be fair, this blogger did have a few 'other things' to do on that particular day which took him out of the house for a couple of hours. God only knows how empty his time would've seemed if it has been a normal day at Stately Telly Topping Manor. According to Sky Broadband's Twitter feed, which this blogger was finally able to access about fifteen hours after this whole malarkey started, there was 'an outage' which affected the entirety of East Newcastle. Several replies to this claim indicated that this was, in fact, 'a lie' as, apparently, people knew people on other networks who were not affected by such problems or anything even remotely like them. So, it's jolly nice to know that Sky's Broadband team share the same curiously detached relationship to the truth that their colleagues at, for instance, Sky News and at various News Corp owned newspapers do. It's good, is it not dear blog reader, that, in an every increasingly uncertain world, some things remain reliably permanent?
Think you're having a bad day, dear blog reader? Possibly you are. But, hey, what about this chap?
And now, dear blog reader, part two of the new From The North series Just! Call! The! Wedding! Off!
Followed, swiftly, by part three.
The information commissioner has launched an urgent investigation after the personal details of nearly five hundred people who had complained about an article in the Sun were 'exposed' by the press watchdog. The complainants were all copied into an e-mail from the Independent Press Standards Organisation informing them that their complaints would not be taken forward. Each was able to see the others' addresses because they were placed in the 'cc' field, rather than the 'bcc' field. In many cases, the e-mail addresses also revealed the complainants names. 'This is shocking, given we complained in confidence. Some of us are now receiving unpleasant messages as the e-mail distribution list seems to have been leaked,' one of the complainants, who wished to remain extremely anonymous, told the Gruniad Morning Star. All of the people affected had complained about a - thoroughly disgraceful - Sun article in which the columnist and odious fat waste-of-space scumbag Kelvin Mackenzie said that Fatima Manji, a Muslim journalist who wears the hijab, should not have been allowed to report on the massacre in Nice for Channel Four News because it was suspected to have been an Islamist terror attack. The complainers was told that 'only someone directly affected' by the article could make a complaint about anything other than its factual accuracy. They were told that, since they were neither Fatima Manji, nor acting on her behalf, their complaints could not be investigated. Embarrassingly for the watchdog, however, Manji herself also received the e-mail. IPSO later clarified that it would be investigating her complaint and has 'internally addressed the issue of how we communicate with complainants by e-mail.' And that the person responsible has been spanked with a wet plimsoll until they said they were very sorry and they'd never do it again. Probably.
England thrashed yer actual Pakistan by three hundred and thirty runs in the second test at Old Trafford on Monday to level the four-match series at one-all. Pakistan were very bowled out for two hundred and thirty four after Alastair Cook (seventy six not out) and Joe Root (seventy one not out) helped England to declare their second innings closed on one hundred and seventy three for one to set the tourists an unlikely target of five hundred and sixty five. James Anderson and Chris Woakes both took three for forty one and Moeen Ali three for eighty eight as Pakistan lost their last six wickets for eighty nine runs to lose in the afternoon of the fourth day, thus making utter fools of all those know-all clowns who had whinged about England's decision not to inforce the follow-on the previous day because it could cost them victory. But, it didn't. The victory was England's second-biggest against Pakistan in terms of runs. However, all-rounder Ben Stokes injured a calf while bowling in the afternoon session and will miss next week's third test at Edgbaston. Pakistan's highest stand was the fifty eight Mohammad Hafeez and Younus Khan put on for the third wicket, but, both fell to Moeen in the space of six overs. Mohammad Amir was last man out, removed by Woakes for twenty nine. England, who had opted against enforcing the follow-on on Sunday, added a quick seventy five runs in nine overs in the morning after resuming on ninety eight for one. Root hit ten fours in his forty eight-ball seventy one to go with his first-innings two hundred and fifty four, while Cook - forty nine overnight - brought up his fastest test half-century, off fifty five deliveries. Anderson, on his home ground, made early inroads as he had Shan Masood caught in the slips for the second time in the match before trapping Azhar Ali LBW, but Hafeez and Younus resisted for fifteen overs. With Stokes, who was injured during his follow-through, off the field, Moeen then struck twice. He had Hafeez caught at short leg for forty two and Younus at long-on for twenty eight. Woakes then bowled Misbah-ul-Haq for thirty five, the skipper having put on forty three with Asad Shafiq. After Sarfraz Ahmed became Woakes' second victim, Anderson and Moeen completed their three-wicket hauls by trapping Shafiq and Yasir Shah LBW respectively. Part-time spinner Root then took a wicket with just his second ball, having Wahab Riaz caught at short fine leg. Amir struck five fours in his forty three-ball resistance, but Woakes finished things off by having him caught at mid-off by Stuart Broad when trying to drive. This was England's second-biggest victory against Pakistan in terms of runs; the biggest was at Trent Bridge in 2010, when England won by three hundred and fifty four runs. Root became the third England player to make a two hundred and fifty and a fifty in the same Test - Andy Sandham scored three hundred and twenty five and fifty against the West Indies in Jamaica in 1930 and Graham Gooch, famously, made three hundred and thirty three and one hundred and twenty three against India at Lord's in 1990. Cook and Root are the eighth England pair to share two hundred partnerships in the same Test.

Chris Froome became Britain's first three-time winner of the Tour De France when he crossed the finish line of the twenty one-stage race in Paris on Sunday. The Team Sky rider, who won the 2013 and 2015 races, is the first man to defend his title in more than twenty years. He finished arm-in-arm with his Sky team-mates behind the peloton after Andre Greipel won the final sprint finish. 'It's like the first time, it's amazing. Every time it's special,' said thirty one-year-old Froome. His three victories in four years followed Sir Bradley Wiggins becoming the first Briton to win the race in 2012. Froome ended up beating Romain Bardet of France by four minutes and five seconds with Colombia's Nairo Quintana in third and Britain's Adam Yates fourth. Sunday's stage to Paris began with a processional ride from Chantilly, in Northern France, with the winners of the four main jerseys leading the peloton. Froome, in the yellow jersey, was joined by Yates in the white jersey as the best young rider, Slovak Peter Sagan in the green points jersey and Poland's Rafal Majka in the polka dot king of the mountains jersey. When the riders reached Paris the race became competitive for nine seven kilometre laps of the city centre which culminated in a bunch sprint on the Champs-Elysees, which Greipel won for the second time in his career. Froome became just the eighth rider to win at least three Tours De France, joining Belgium's Phillipe Thys, Louison Bobet of France and American Greg LeMond on three. With disgraced Lance Armstrong's seven 'wins' between 1999 and 2005 now - rightly - expunged from the record books after he admitted to doping, the record of five tour wins, held jointly by Frenchmen Jacques Anquetil and Bernard Hinault, Belgium's Eddy Merckz and Miguel Indurain of Spain, is very much in Froome's sight. Indurain was the last man to successfully defend the title, winning five successive tours from 1991. 'It would be my dream to keep coming back for the next five or six years and give myself the best opportunity of winning again,' said Froome. 'I can't say the novelty is wearing off. It's such an incredible event and to be in the yellow jersey is every cyclist's dream and the biggest honour in our sport. I hope I can be back next year to fight for it again.' Froome used his podium speech to reflect on the Bastille Day attack in Nice which killed more than eighty people. 'This tour has, obviously, taken place against the backdrop of terrible events in Nice and we pay tribute to those who have lost their lives,' he said. 'These events put sport into perspective but it also shows the value of sport to free society.' He also took the opportunity to thanks his wife, Michelle, and dedicated the victory to his seven-month-old son Kellan. Team Sky trio Geraint Thomas, Luke Rowe and Ian Stannard all rode selflessly to help Froome win the race. Thomas, who was one of the key riders in the mountains, gave up his bike when Froome crashed on stage nineteen, while Rowe and Stannard helped their team leader on the flatter stages. Mark Cavendish did not make it to Paris this year, abandoning the race to focus on his attempts to win an Olympic medal on the track in Rio next month. Before he left though, the Dimension Data rider won an incredible four stages to move second overall on thirty - only Merckx has won more with thirty four. Cav's victory on stage one saw him wear the yellow jersey as race leader for the first time.
First it was The Be-Atles (a popular beat combo of the 1960s, dear blog reader, you might've heard of them) now Motown classics are to be re-recorded by various tone-deaf z-list 'celebrities' for a new Netflix children's show aimed at 'reaching out to parents' tired of listening to saccharine children's songs. Hot on the heels of the forthcoming animation series Beat Bugs, which features modern renditions of The Be-Aatles classics sung by artists including Rod Stewart, Robbie Williams and worthless James Corden, comes another show from the same creator, which will, reportedly, be based on the songs of Tamla-Motown artists such as Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye and The Jackson Five. The new series will be executive produced by yer actual Smokey Robinson his very self and revolves around a young boy called Ben who brings to life street art in the imaginary city of Motown. Inspired by such songs as 'You Can't Hurry Love' and 'Reach Out I'll Be There', Ben and his friends learn about creativity and art. Beat Bugs creator Josh Wakely broke new ground when, after almost three years of negotiation, he was granted permission by The Be-Atles' rights holders, Sony/ATV, to bring The Fab Four's songs to a new generation. His latest, as-yet-untitled Motown project will use fifty two songs from the catalogue of Berry Gordy's group of labels which changed American music in the Twentieth Century and have more of 'an urban feel' than Beat Bugs, which is based around five animated insects Jay, Kumi, Crick, Buzz, and Walter who have 'adventures in their garden.' Beat Bugs is being released by Netflix around the world on 3 August, along with a range of toys and merchandise – plus a CD which is available to download on Apple Music. Each of the Beat Bugs episodes is based around two Be-Atles songs, with some of music's biggest names - plus, you know, James Corden - 'giving modern twists of the famous melodies.' Or, completely destroying them, depending on your point of view. Rod The Mod is heard crooning 'Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band', whilst Williams - who can, at least, hold a tune - sings 'Good Day Sunshine' and worthless, talent-free lardbucket Corden takes on 'I'm A Loser'. Irony? You'd think, wouldn't you? The Motown series is still in the early stages of development but is likely to follow broadly the same format as Beat Bugs. Wakely told the Gruniad Morning Star that he wanted to, not only introduce a new generation to some of the classics he grew up with but, also, make the experience of watching children's shows more enjoyable for parents: 'When you come home you want to spend time with your child but you also want to watch something you can engage with them too. You can enjoy the music and not feel like it's a chore to listen to and they can enjoy it too.' The surviving Be-Atles 'know about' the series, Wakely claimed: 'There's a whole dialogue that occurs between Sony/ATV and them. They're aware of it. I want to make [it] as extraordinary as their legacy deserves to be. I have a singular goal I think that in four hundred years' time we'll be talking about The Beatles in the same way we talk about Shakespeare now.' About all the plays wot they wrote? It's possible, but unlikely, mate. From a couple of series two years ago, Netflix will have forty original children's shows on-air by the end of the year. It is also working with the BBC and making more UK-produced programmes and other locally-sourced shows, said Netflix global director of children's content Andy Yeatman: 'As we expand around the world and as internal markets become bigger and bigger sources of our member base it's something we're going to do more and more.'
Ken Barrie, the voice of children's TV favourite Postman Pat, has died at the age of eighty three. Barrie, who was born Leslie Hulme in Stoke-on-Trent, provided the voice for Pat and many of the other characters in the animated series. He also famously sang the show's theme tune, which was released as a single and spent fifteen weeks in the UK charts. But, we won't blame him for that. Instead, blame - harshly - the morons that bought it. Ken's daughter, Lorraine Hulme Peterson, said that her father died at his Uxbridge home after a short battle with cancer. She told BBC News Ken, who had a singing career with Embassy Records under the name of Les Carle in the 1960s, was 'a master of different character voices' who also found success providing voiceovers for films and television adverts. His talents saw him appear on an LP with Fred Astaire and Bing Crosby, provide backing vocals on Top Of The Pops for the likes of David Essex and overdub the voices of Larry Hagman, George C Scott and Horst Bucholz. Lorraine said that her father also gave his voice to adverts, including one for Martini, which starred his idol, Frank Sinatra, and another promoting instant mashed potato product, S.M.A.S.H. Barrie stopped using the name Les Carle when a friend told him that it was French for The Charlie and, instead, took a moniker from combining the first names of his wife's brothers. He got his most famous role as the voice of Pat in 1981 after recording his voice on tape for Bryan Daly, the songwriter who was working on the show's music. The stop-motion animated show, created by John Cunliffe and directed by Ivor Wood, was about the adventures of a postman - and his black and white cat - in and around the fictional valley of Greendale, a location inspired by Longsleddale in Cumbria. Ken was the narrator of the original thirteen-episode series and also supplied voices for famous characters such as handyman Ted Glen, the Reverend Peter Timms and farmer Alf Thompson. He reprised his role in the 1990s when a second series was made and in a rebooted version of the show which began in 2004 before handing over the voice of Pat to the actor Lewis MacLeod. Ken's daughter said that while her father was not someone who liked the idea of 'being bombarded for autographs, it was lovely to see when children realised who he was. He'd do the voice and they'd be gobsmacked,' she added. He also provided the soundtrack for the 1987 animation Charlie Chalk, sang the theme tune for the sitcom Hi-De-Hi and later topped the charts as part of Peter Kay's Animated All Star Band on the 'Official BBC Children in Need Medley' in 2009. His daughter said that he was 'most proud of the fact he looked after his family well. He was always a very reserved character who just saw it as a job. He was approached to be managed and go a lot bigger in the early days but he chose to decline because he wanted to be there at home. His legacy is not so much Postman Pat, he did a lot more and he loved singing after starting in the late 1950s.' BBC Children's director Alice Webb said that Ken 'brought a magical warmth to the role of Postman Pat.' She said thousands of children had 'grown up listening to his wonderful voice. Our thoughts are with his friends and family at this time.'
The author and producer William Smethurst, who edited Radio 4's The Archers from 1978 to 1986, has died aged seventy one. Smethurst was credited with revolutionising the show, changing its direction and bringing in the now-longest-serving writer Mary Cutler. Cutler said 'it would not be an exaggeration to say he saved The Archers.' Smethurst left the BBC in 1986 to work on the ITV soap Crossroads and the drama series Boon before concentrating on writing. Angela Piper, who has played Jennifer Aldridge in The Archers for over fifty years, said that Smethurst 'wove the social layers of Ambridge with a great deal of colour and imagination. He was an incredibly talented writer, creating a number of characters within the village with great skill, vivid imagination and a wicked sense of fun.' He was also described by the Torygraph's radio critic, Gillian Reynolds, as 'the man who turned The Archers into a cult.' Smethurst joined The Archers in 1972 as a writer, after working as a journalist and writer of radio plays and took the helm six years later during what a BBC spokeswoman said was 'a dark period' for the drama. 'With listener numbers plummeting and the show's future questioned, Smethurst took over,' she said. 'He felt strongly that The Archers should be rooted in village life but, his keenest instinct was to modernise the ageing programme by introducing new writers.' These included Woman In Black novelist Susan Hill, the songwriter Debbie Cook and scriptwriter Helen Leadbeater, alongside Cutler. Ridding Ambridge of interlopers from Yorkshire and Wales so as to emphasise the rural Worcestershire nature of the place, he also oversaw the deaths of many of the show's original characters - including the heads of the eponymous clan, Dan and Doris Archer - and the bringing in of new favourites, such as Nigel Pargetter, Caroline Sterling, Susan Carter and, most notably, the Grundy family. Cutler said that Smethurst told her The Archers 'was essentially a social comedy - like Jane Austen. This meant that though terrible things could, and do, happen - the good would end happily and the bad unhappily. He told me I could write anything I liked at all - shock the audience to the core in one scene as long as the next scene was Tom Forrest listening to birdsong on Lakey Hill. William knew that audience and it would not be an exaggeration to say he saved The Archers for them.' Smethurst's script-editing skills and flair for publicity (he hired Lord Lichfield to photograph Shula Archer's wedding to Mark Hebden for the cover of Radio Times and had Princess Margaret doing a walk-on part), soon made The Archers a topic of crass Middle Class cocktail party conversation among people who talk loudly in restaurants. A status which he enhanced with spin-offs such as Eddie Grundy's country and western single ('Clarrie's Song' though, inevitably, special guest John Peel played the wrong side, 'Poor Pig'!), together with a series of books – Ambridge histories, biographies, memoirs and the Ambridge Book Of Country Cooking 'by' Caroline Bone, but ghosted by Smethurst. Smethurst never stood a chance of restoring the show's listening figures to the fifteen million it had enjoyed in the golden days of the 1950s before ITV came along, but he rebuilt a very healthy radio audience of around four million. William was born in March 1945 in Bolton, where his father was working as an engineer with de Havilland. The family moved to Dorset when he was eight and he was educated at Foster's Grammar School in Sherborne, then at Lancaster University, where he read English and History and met his wife Carolynne. They married in 1970. After graduation, he worked for a time for the Reading Evening Post, then, during a year spent travelling the world, worked for short periods at the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and for an English-language newspaper in Tahiti. Returning to England, he was given a job at Pebble Mill on the BBC's regional television news magazine Midlands Today. During his spare time, he began to write scripts, some of which were selected for Play For Today, and was soon appointed script editor for English regions drama. He recalled that when he was first asked to write an episode of The Archers, in 1972, 'the programme was already quite elderly and I never listened to it. I remember saying to my wife Carolynne, "who is this Christine, anyway?"' Soon, such characters became part of his life. He joined the show full-time in 1974 and took over as editor when the roles of editor and producer were merged in 1978. After moving to Central Television to become Crossroads' executive producer. Smethurst sought to inject the same sense of fun into Crossroads as he'd created at The Archers by, as one reviewer put it, 'eliminating anyone looking old or downbeat and sexing the soap up with randy, beauteous twenty-somethings who spent a lot of time sitting in swimwear by the pool Smethurst introduced.' He became known as 'Butcher Bill' to the cast. In 1988, he took on a similar role on Boon and was, later, the producer and creator of the short-lived BSB SF drama Jupiter Moon. The series helped to launch the careers of actors such as Anna Chancellor and Richard Lintern. In the nineties, he wrote a book, The Archers: The True Story, about the history of the programme, timed to appear just six days before The Archers: The Official Inside Story, by his successor, Vanessa Whitburn. Many members of Smethurst's team at The Archers became lifelong friends, but it seems there was little love lost between the two editors. In his book, Smethurst revealed that he had first crossed paths with Whitburn, (allegedly nicknamed 'She Wolf' by some members of the cast), when she became an assistant producer at Pebble Mill on which he also worked. He said that he once hung a string of garlic over the communicating doors of their offices to 'keep her away' and claimed that the Archers character of Hazel Woolley, 'a ghastly media type', was based on Whitburn. In interviews in 1996 the pair kept media commentators thoroughly entertained with a verbal spat during which Smethurst called Whitburn 'a left-wing feminist with no understanding of the countryside' who, as editor, had filled Ambridge with 'badly-written feminist tripe', while she dismissed him as living 'in a time warp' and accused him of turning The Archers into 'fluffy and frothy Tory propaganda!' William Smethurst, who also wrote several - really very good - books on writing for television is survived by his wife Carolynne and their daughter, Henrietta, who, at the age of five, played Kate Aldridge in The Archers.

Marni Nixon, known as Hollywood's 'invisible voice', has died aged eighty six. The singer appeared, usually uncredited, on many of the biggest movie musicals of all time - dubbing the voices for Deborah Kerr in The King & I and, mostly famously, Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady. She also sang the high notes for Marilyn Monroe in 'Diamonds Are A Girl's Best Friend' and dubbed Natalie Wood's vocals on West Side Story. Nixon died of breast cancer on Sunday, her agent confirmed to the BBC. For most of her career, the classically-trained musician remained relatively unknown. Twentieth Century Fox made her sign a contract saying that she would never reveal the ghost-singing on The King & I. The story only came out many years later, when Kerr herself credited Nixon's work during a press interview. The clandestine nature of her work led Time magazine to dub Nixon 'the ghostess with the mostest.' The singer likened her work to that of a stuntman and collaborated closely with the stars she dubbed to perfect the screen illusion. Kerr 'wanted to look like she was really singing', Nixon told the Washington Post, 'and wanted to be using the same muscles and the same stretches you do in expressions.' Hepburn even gave Nixon a lift to the set of My Fair Lady every morning and they worked closely together to ensure their performances matched. 'I sat in on her singing lessons, so I could hear not only the Cockney and the upper-class British, which are two different voices. But I also had to get her very unique speech patterns, so I had to listen very carefully so I could catch it. It's fascinating, getting inside the actresses you're singing for,' she told the New York Journal-American in 1964. 'It's like cutting off the top of their heads and seeing what's underneath. You have to know how they feel, as well as how they talk, in order to sing as they would sing - if they could sing.' Not every actress appreciated her help, however. Wood, playing Maria in West Side Story, believed that Nixon would only be helping out on the high notes. But, director Robert Wise had other ideas. 'She didn't know how much of her work would be done by somebody else,' Nixon later recalled. 'She didn't know that it would all be thrown out and that it would be all my voice. I don't think that Natalie Wood's ego could take that.' Nonetheless, it was Wood's name that appeared on the soundtrack - which went on to sell more than three million copies in the US alone. As a result, Nixon was not given a share of the royalties, until composer Leonard Bernstein gave up a quarter of one per cent of his own royalty and passed it on to the singer. Born in Southern California, Margaret Nixon McEathron was an acclaimed musician both before and after her work in Hollywood. She started playing violin at the age of four and starting touring with Karl Moldrem's Hollywood Baby Orchestra six months later. At eleven, she won a singing contest at the LA County Fair and decided there and then to abandon the violin. In 1947, the same year she dubbed her first film, she made her Hollywood Bowl solo debut in Carmina Burana under the baton of Leopold Stokowski. By this stage, she had also dropped her 'hard to pronounce' surname. 'Kids at school called me Mac-Earthworm,' she said. Her first job dubbing the voice of a film actress arrived when she was working in the post room at MGM film studios, as a way of covering the cost of her singing lessons. Composer Bronislaw Kaper, who was working on the score for the film The Secret Garden, stopped her in the corridor and challenged her to sing a song in Hindi. The youngster obliged and her career was born. But, despite appearing on more than fifty soundtracks, she only sang on-screen once - as Sister Sophia, one of the nuns performing 'How Do You Solve A Problem like Maria?' in The Sound Of Music. In later years, Nixon appeared as a soloist with the New York Philharmonic, performed on Broadway and in opera houses and hosted the EMMY Award-winning children's television show Boomerang. She also taught at the California Institute of the Arts, and toured for many years with Liberace. Nixon first had breast cancer in 1985 and wrote in her autobiography of the trauma of appearing on Broadway as chemotherapy caused her hair to fall out when the disease returned in 2000. She was married three times - first to Ernest Gold, the film composer behind Exodus and On The Beach, with whom she had a son, the late singer Andrew Gold, who went on to compose the Golden Girls theme 'Thank You For Being A Friend'. Her second marriage, to Lajos Frederick Fenster, ended in divorce, while her third husband, Albert Block, died last year. She is survived by three sisters, two daughters from her first marriage, six grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren.