Friday, September 29, 2017

Softly Does It

Game Of Thrones' Kit Harington and Rose Leslie have become engaged, it has been confirmed. After a huge amount of speculation, an official announcement has been published in The Times. The couple met on the popular adult fantasy drama in 2012, where they played on-screen lovers Jon Snow and Ygritte. They made their public debut as a couple at last year's Olivier Awards.
Harington told L'Uomo Vogue last year it was 'easy' to fall in love with Leslie. He said that his best memory on the show were the three weeks in Iceland when they filmed the second series in 2012. 'Because the country is beautiful, because the Northern Lights are magical and because it was there that I fell in love,' he said. Aw, bless. 'If you're already attracted to someone and then they play your love interest in the show, it becomes very easy to fall in love.' Leslie is currently starring in The Good Fight. Harington will next be seen in the BBC's drama Gunpowder, about the gunpowder plot, before he starts filming the next - and final - series of Game Of Thrones.
A new Doctor Who game, Doctor Who Infinity, is to be released for PC and mobile platforms worldwide, in Spring 2018. The game is produced by Tiny Rebel Games Ltd, the team behind the popular game Doctor Who Legacy, under official license from BBC Worldwide. The game is being funded as a joint effort between the Welsh Government's Media Investment Budget and British game publisher/developer Double Eleven Limited.
Ever wanted to binge-watch classic episodes of Parkinson, Louis Theroux or anything from David Attenborough? No, me neither. However if, by some chance, you have, the this could be your lucky day because the BBC has just launched a new category on iPlayer called From The Archive, which does exactly what it says on the tine. Offering over four hundred and fifty programmes available to stream, From The Archive 'includes many of the greats shown across the channels over the years,' according to the press release. There is everything from Louis Theroux's Weird Weekends and Horizon to shows from legendary BBC figures including Sir Michael Parkinson, Sir David Attenborough and Sir Terry Wogan. Also available are the likes of Storyville's Leaving The Cult and Killing For Love, as well as 'iconic' interviews with Muhammad Ali, Hurricane Higgins and Salvador Dali. Explaining iPlayer's venture into the Netflix era, Dan McGolpin of the channel's programming and daytime department promised a 'richer choice' available through the service. 'For millions of people, BBC iPlayer is a reliable place for finding something good to watch whenever they choose to look,' he said. 'It will now provide an even richer choice of quality BBC programmes with this new category, From The Archive, making available hundreds of gems from the past including some historic documentary series and interviews with cultural and sporting icons.'
Suranne Jones has revealed that a third series of Doctor Foster 'could' happen. The actress plays Gemma Foster in the BBC drama, which returned for a second series earlier this month and is proving to be just as – if not more – brutal than the first. And, while Suranne concedes that the current run has 'a really good, solid ending,' she did reveal that she 'may' be up for reprising her role if showrunner Mike Bartlett has a good idea. 'If Mike comes up with another story then we'll talk about it,' Suranne told the Mirra. 'But for now, like the first one, it's got a really good, solid ending.'
Meanwhile, Suranne's co-star Bertie Carvel is concerned he could be 'at risk' in playing one of the most loathed men on TV. The actor plays the cheating Simon Foster, but he star hopes that viewers can enjoy the 'fictional reality of Simon without thinking he's real. I'm aware that there are people on the Internet saying how much they hate Simon Foster,' he told Radio Times. 'With the millions who watch it, there are likely to be one or two who can't distinguish between me and the character. So, I suppose that puts me at risk. And at the level of the really famous actors – which I'm not – you might be sensible to think about your security.' The show's creator Mike Bartlett has hinted that the ending of Doctor Foster's second series could be 'so shocking' that a third might be impossible, despite what Suranne Jones might have told the Mirra. 'Depending on what happens at the end of series two, a third might not be possible. That's all I can say really,' the writer disclosed - enigmatically - to the publication. Bartlett also added that he 'dislikes' people describing Gemma Foster as mentally unbalanced. 'I get upset when people describe Gemma as mad,' he said. 'I don't think she is, she's just very angry. If it was a man behaving like that, you say he was fighting back.' Prasanna Puwanarajah – who plays Gemma's potential love-interest James – also disagreed with suggestions that Gemma is unhinged and claimed that she is trying to overcome a personal tragedy. 'I think Gemma's adrift and experiencing a major trauma,' Puwanarajah told the Digital Spy website. 'I would not call her unhinged – she's a person making decisions in the moment and they're not always good ones, but ones she's finding herself making. I think that's why the show is so captivating, because we can all see elements of her decisions while journeying and facing the greatest adversity.'
The X-Files' forthcoming eleventh series is to bring back the actress who starred in the show's notorious 'banned' episode. Karin Konoval played a mutant-breeding amputee kept under a bed in Home, a thoroughly sick 1996 episode which proved so controversial that FOX promised never to broadcast it again. EW reports that Konoval will appear in the new series, but that she will be playing a different character. 'While Karen Konoval won't be reprising her role as the mother-under-the-bed in the fan-favourite episode Home, she will be returning in a tour-de-force performance in an early episode. Or, more accurately – performances,' said showrunner Chris Carter. Home featured a plethora of good old fashioned family entertainment - incest, mutilation, dead babies and some of the most unpleasant murder scenes ever committed to film - so it was no surprise when FOX effectively banned it from TV. It was also, and it is important to note this, shit. The, by a distance, single worst episode in the - otherwise, very fine - series' history. And you can trust this blogger on that score, dear blog reader, he's the co-author of a highly respected X-Files factual guide. Apparently.
'With all the many conflicting opinions about the new Star Trek, I'm having great difficulty forming my own coherent view,' noted The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat (OBE) online this week. 'I am slowly coming to the conclusion that I may have to watch it first.' Good idea. As for this blogger, lots of his many Facebook fiends whose opinions Keith Telly Topping really respects thought the first two episodes of Star Trek: Discovery were, like, rilly 'tastic and all that. Whilst, others of this blogger's Facebook fiends whose opinions Keith Telly Topping really respects thought it was a right load of old fekking bollocks. Keith Telly Topping himself, having seen the two episodes in question, has an opinion which lies somewhere between those two diametrically opposing poles. They were all right, basically. Not brilliant but entertaining enough. Although discovering (s'cuse the dreadful pun) that two hours of this blogger's life had been spent watching what was, effectively, a five minute pre-title sequence from a Star Trek movie pumped-up on steroids into a two-hour mini-movie was, undeniably, somewhat disconcerting. The title music was very good, though and the two episodes looked great. Nevertheless, watching these at least confirmed that this blogger's beloved Deep Space Nine retains the title of 'the Star Trek series that got good the quickest.' By a distance.
Gotham is already laying the groundwork for Bruce Wayne's transformation into Batman, but will Selina Kyle also be suiting up this series? Camren Bicandova, who plays Selina on the FOX series, told the Digital Spy website that her character will finally embrace her destiny as she trains under Tabitha (Jessica Lucas). 'We won't actually see that transition of her into Catwoman until she forms a relationship with Tabitha, which we'll see in season four,' Bicandova revealed. Selina's apprenticeship, though, will inevitably cause more tension between her and the young Bruce (David Mazouz). '[Their relationship] gets mended and then it falls apart again,' Carmen said. 'So it's just that rollercoaster that they're always on. I feel like Bruce decides to just buckle up on the rollercoaster – he likes to go on it – and Selina likes to jump off and do her own thing. She doesn't like being on the rollercoaster, but she can't help getting back on!' As for her mentor, Tabitha will have problems of her own this season when she discovers that her nemesis Barbara Kean (Erin Richards) is, literally, back from the dead. 'Barbara's gonna be back and as soon as Tabitha finds out she's alive, she's gonna be pretty upset!' Jessica Lucas said. 'I don't want to give too much away, but Barbara's a whole new person this season. It's really not that long before [Tabitha] finds out Barbara's alive and so that really becomes her focus pretty quickly at the beginning of the season.' Elsewhere, Gotham will also explore Alfred's dark past. 'You'll see Alfred on the streets, who he was and how he was and it ain't pretty,' Sean Pertwee has warned. Which, if it means Sean being all kick-ass and channelling his dad as he has done a few times over the last three years, should be well-worth looking forward too.
The Blacklist returned for the opening episode of its fifth series this week. Bonkers-as-toast as usual - though, also entertaining; particular the opening 'Back In The New York Groove' sequence. However, now the big central reveal (that Red is, indeed, Liz's biological father after all) is out of the bag, where the series goes from here is anyone's guess. Although, this interview with creator Jon Bokenkamp may provide a few clues. And, if that one doesn't, this one might. Or, this one.
It took almost the entire series fifteen premiere, but NCIS's Gibbs and McGee are, finally, home safe and, relatively, in one piece. Check out TV Line's - spoiler-heavily - review here. Or, you know, don't if you haven't seen the episode yet and don't want to be spoilerised and that.
So, dear blog reader, you're probably wondering What Else Has Yer Actual Keith Telly Topping Been Watching This Week?
Tin Star continues to impress, particularly Abigail Lawrie's angry, star-making performance.
Up until now, little was known about what the format of series two of The Grand Tour would be like, but Amazon has announced this week that the whole 'tour' element of the show is having a tweak, with the studio tent staying put in the UK. The new series of The Grand Tour will still see Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May travel through more locations than ever, attempting to avoid any further mishaps and injury along the way. And shouting 'Power!' a lot. However, instead of the travelling tent of the previous series, the studio segments will now all be filmed from the show's new base in The Cotswolds. And, petrol-heads looking to apply for tickets to The Grand Tour can get them now. For one week only, Amazon is inviting customers around the world to apply to be on the studio guestlist and join Jezza, Hamster and Cap'n Slowly in their charming new location. Applications for tickets to the studio recordings of series two opened earlier this week at, closing at midnight on Tuesday 3 October. Away from the tent, the trio's travels this series will take in five continents, tearing up the track in the likes of Croatia, Mozambique, Dubai, Spain, Switzerland, Colorado and New York. It's not been an easy ride either, with Hammond suffering an horrific Swiss car crash while filming and Clarkson struck down with a nasty case of pneumonia over the summer. In a statement, the VP of Amazon Video Europe, Jay Marine said: 'The Grand Tour is our most popular show around the world having been watched in over two hundred and forty countries and territories. Customers continually tell us that their favourite segments of The Grand Tour are the travelling adventures of Jeremy, Richard and James, so despite the various calamities and injuries along the way, the guys have spent this year exploring more incredible and stunning locations than ever before. And getting into more trouble, of course. We can't wait for our Prime members to see series two later this year.'
If you've been missing Sir David Attenborough, then there's some good news. As part of the BBC's upcoming Natural History line-up, a new documentary fronted by Attenborough is to be broadcast. The one-off special will follow Sir David as he investigates the life and death of the world's most famous elephant, Jumbo. With exclusive access to Jumbo's skeleton at the American Museum of Natural History, David, along with a team of scientists, will unravel the history of 'the world's largest elephant.' If Jumbo doesn't sound up your straße, then there are a host of other special programmes heading our way, including Big Cats, Chris Packham's exploration of the T-Rex and Wild Cities, while First Year On Earth is a new three-part series that will follow six baby animals in their first year of life.
Nigella Lawson - she has her knockers - has had a dig at one of The Great British Bake Off's most common challenges. As if creating a perfect bake in the intense pressure of the tent wasn't enough, every hopeful baker over the series has had to ensure that their bakes are all identical, even in the Technical Challenge where they've never heard of what they're baking. Nigella reckons that she would never cut the mustard (or, indeed, the cake) on the programme as she thinks that is unrealistic in the baking world. 'We live in a world where there is so much, so glossily done. If I am given a cake, I like to see that it has been made by someone and that it's not even. That is what cooking is. Things can't look like they come from a factory,' she told Good Housekeeping. 'You know on Bake Off where they say you have to make eighteen biscuits and they have to be identical? I have never had two biscuits that look identical!'
The comedian and producer Mel Brooks was a guest on Wednesday's The ONE Show, where he was plugging a new musical based on his film Young Frankenstein. But, Mel was left somewhat bewildered when hosts Alex Jones and Matt Baker segued into a section about a woman trying to trace her long-lost father. It was left to fellow guest Russell Crowe to explain the magazine show's eclectic format to Brooks. Although, whether even Russ could explain what the Hell Alex Jones was wittering on about during the interview is a question best left for another day.
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, the award-winning star of US TV comedy series Veep, has announced that she has breast cancer, in a message posted on social media. 'One in eight women get breast cancer,' she wrote. 'Today I'm the one. The good news,' she added, was she had a 'glorious group' of family and friends supporting her and 'fantastic insurance' through her union. Earlier this month, Louis-Dreyfus picked up a record-breaking sixth EMMY for Outstanding Lead Actress in a row for her role in HBO series Veep.
A - really very annoying indeed - skincare advert featuring former Hollyoaks 'actress' Jorgie Porter has been withdrawn from certain TV schedules after the Advertising Standards Agency decided it could 'encourage bullying.' The advert, which is for anti-acne skincare line Proactiv, show Porter describing the bullying she received at school because of her skin. Recalling the insults - 'Oi, spotty!' - Porter said that she felt 'gutted', adding: 'It's your face. When nothing works, you're so sad and you just think, "Well that's me now forever."' According to the ASA, the advert received four whinges after some viewers 'argued [that] it implied' if you did not use the product, you would be bullied. The ASA upheld the whinges and pulled the advert from channels broadcasting programmes either for, or appealing to, children. In a statement, it said: '[T]he ads created a direct link between an incidence of bullying in her childhood as a result of her bad skin and a product she said had made her skin clearer. As a result, the ads implied that children who had bad skin and did not use the product were likely to be bullied or ridiculed.' Proactiv has since snivellingly apologised for the advert, insisting it was 'never its intention' for the advert to be 'interpreted in this way. [The advert] simply sets out the personal story and experience of one woman,' a spokesperson added.
Adverts featuring a twerking businessman in high heels, a lesbian kissing scene and a mother telling her son about his dead father's favourite McDonald's meal have angered viewers the most so far this year. The Moneysupermarket 'dance-off' adverts featuring a man called Dave wearing denim cut-offs and heels received the most whinges – four hundred and fifty five – of any campaign in any medium, with viewers objecting that it was 'offensive' and 'overtly sexual', 'possibly homophobic' and 'having the potential to encourage hate crimes.''s advert showing a woman removing her partner's top and passionately kissing her drew the second-highest number of whinges - from homophobic bastards, mostly - between January and June, at two hundred and ninety three. However satisfyingly, the number of whinges did not lead to the Advertising Standards Authority banning either commercial, ruling that neither was likely to cause serious or widespread offence. Only to bigots and morons. McDonald's swiftly pulled its poorly received campaign featuring a mother (played by Esther Hall) helping her son grieve for his father while sitting in one of the chain's restaurants, but not before viewers lodged two hundred and fifty five whinges that it 'exploited child bereavement' to sell fast food. Which, it did. The ASA decided an investigation was not needed. The three adverts helped television campaigns draw a total of five thousand one hundred and seventy two whinges, the most of any medium in the first half of this year. Online adverts were a close second, with four thousand and sixty two whinges, although more individual online adverts drew complaints than in any other medium. The overall total number of whinges in the first half of this year is below that of last year, although the high number in 2016 was mainly due to three Moneysupermarket adverts attracting more than two thousand five hundred whinges between them. In total, the ASA received thirteen thousand one hundred and thirty one whinges – nineteen per cent fewer than last year – about nine thousand four hundred and eighty six adverts in the first six months of this year. It amended or banned just over three thousand of these over the six months, up eighty eight per cent compared with the first half of 2016 – itself a record year. The new figures show that men continue to whinge more about adverts than women. Guy Parker, the ASA's chief executive, said: 'We are spending more time online, but the mass audience of TV ads means they continue to generate the most complaints. Whatever the issue and whatever the medium, we should all be able to trust the ads we see and hear. If an ad is wrong, we're here to put it right.'
The BBC's political editor, Laura Kuenssberg, is being protected by security guards at the Labour party conference this week following abuse she has received over her role, according to reports. Kuenssberg, who has previously been jeered by some Labour supporters, will be accompanied by a security team inside and outside the conference zone in Brighton, the reports said. Kuenssberg has frequently been targeted with sick sexist abuse online and the BBC is understood to have given her access to a bodyguard during the general erection campaign. The corporation did not comment on the reports of her protection at the Labour conference, telling the Sun on Sunday that it 'does not comment on security issues.' However, The Times carried a photo of Kuenssberg, the first woman to be the BBC's political editor, with a man the paper identified as a former soldier who now worked as a security consultant for the BBC. The abuse aimed at Kuenssberg has followed complaints that she is not neutral and treats the Labour leader and his party unfairly. However, she has also been targeted by supporters of other parties. At a UKiP press conference before June's general erection she was booed and barracked by party members when she asked a question of the then leader, Paul Nuttall. The BBC's chairman, David Clementi, said politicians and social media companies should clamp down on the increasingly 'explicit and aggressive' abuse suffered by BBC journalists, saying women in particular were being targeted. Speaking at the Royal Television Society convention in Cambridge, Clementi – who did not name any of the journalists concerned – said female journalists in particular faced abuse 'on an almost daily basis.' And, there's a particularly good piece by the Gruniad's Gaby Hinsliff on the ignorant hypocrisy of some on the left: 'Evidently many Labour supporters will be as horrified as any other sane individual by the idea of journalists being physically intimidated at work, a thuggish phenomenon repeatedly observed at Donald Trump's rallies and associated with totalitarian regimes the world over. Many MPs and activists, including some close to Jeremy Corbyn, will doubtless go out of their way this week to show Laura Kuenssberg she is welcome in Brighton and that those who mean her harm are cranks with no place in a democratic movement. But there is a small, self-righteous and aggressively entitled minority within the left who clearly don't feel that way and whose behaviour now risks tarnishing that wider movement. They may grudgingly accept that Kuenssberg needs physical protection – and it's amazing how many people are confident in declaring from the comfort of their armchairs that she doesn't really, despite not having a clue about her situation – but they sneer that it's "funny" she doesn't need saving from Tories, without pausing to consider whether this says less about Kuenssberg than it does about them. (For the record, she has been targeted by both far right and far left; and the BBC doesn't employ security just for laughs.) The rage against her in some quarters is visceral, frenzied, beyond all reason. Some of it is doubtless rooted in a refusal to accept her professional judgment, an almost subconscious rejection of the idea that a woman – even a woman whose life's work is covering politics – might know what she's talking about. It's striking that neither previous male holders of her job, nor the largely male political editors of titles overtly hostile to Corbyn, have been so singled out. But it can't all be down to misogyny. People who were, rightly, horrified when the anti-Brexit campaigner Gina Miller had to hire bodyguards, or were outraged by the sickeningly racist and sexist abuse heaped on Diane Abbott, will bend over backwards to pretend that what's happening to Kuenssberg is somehow different. It's as if they can't bear the thought of having to feel solidarity with someone they don't like.'
An outline of a penis which appeared in a Maya The Bee episode was the result of 'a very bad joke,' the makers of the children's animated series have said. Belgian company Studio One Hundred said the image was 'absolutely inappropriate' and offered apologies 'to everybody who has been offended by it.' The image came to light after a viewer posted a clip of the episode online. This led to streaming service Netflix removing the episode, entitled King Willi, first broadcast in 2012. Studio One Hundred told the BBC that the penis, etched on a log in the background of a scene, 'obviously results from a very bad joke from one of the one hundred and fifty artists working on the production. This is, indeed, unacceptable to Studio One Hundred as owner of the brand and all its affiliates and doesn't reflect the quality of our work and our values,' it continued. The Paris-based company said it was 'very sorry' and that it was 'taking all suitable technical measures to remedy the situation.' Netflix has made no comment on the offending image, apart from clarifying that Maya The Bee is not available to its UK subscribers. The series - based on a character created by German author Waldemar Bonsels - tells of a friendly bee and other anthropomorphised insects.
Typical, is it not, dear blog reader? Winter is just around the corner and the zip on Keith Telly Topping's best, thickest winter coat (bought from Big Dog Clothing in San Bernadino in 2001) chose Tuesday of this week to only go and bust itself. Sixteen long and vicious Tyneside winters it has kept this blogger warmly warm but, on that day, in ASDA, just as Keith Telly Topping was about to try and get his wallet out to pay for his purchases, it went kaput. There followed a quasi-comic (if you weren't, you know, Keith Telly Topping) three minutes of this blogger trying to reach into his inside pocket from both above and underneath whilst the lass on the till drummed her fingers and looked really unimpressed. Finally, this blogger had to wrestle the damn coast off, inside out, to reach his money. Ooh, he was dead vexed. Had his mad right up, so he did. Geet stroppy and aal hot and bothered, he was. Whether the zip can be fixed, dear blog reader, Keith Telly Topping knows not. More of this saga at a later date.
So yes, dear blog reader, Autumn has arrived and it has been bloody cold this week. A big cup of tea is what's needed to start off the day in such circumstances - after a glass of fresh orange juice, obviously - and warm a chap up good and proper. Therefore it was clearly time to put away summer's medium-sized Kit-Kat mug and bring The Guv'nor out of the cupboard.
From the Gruniad Morning Star online this week. Does anyone else think including the word 'by' might have made things just a wee bit clearer?
The outrageously lenient sentence handed down to Oxford student Lavinia Woodward for stabbing her boyfriend has reignited the row over whether her race, class and gender kept her out of jail. The twenty four-year-old medical student who hoped to become a surgeon, was given a ten-month suspended sentence, despite admitting stabbing Cambridge PhD student Thomas Fairclough in the leg during 'a cocaine and alcohol-fuelled row.' The debate was first sparked by presiding Judge Ian Pringle who said in May that Woodward was 'too clever' to serve a prison term. He took the usual step of delaying sentencing at Oxford Crown Court for four months and ordered Woodward to remain drug-free while staying at her mother's villa in the Northern Italian village of Sirtori. That she could 'dry out' at her mother's Italian retreat says much about the family's wealth. Woodward attended sixteen thousand knicker-a-year Sir James Henderson British School of Milan, according to her Facebook profile. She left in 2011 and began studying at Oxford in the same year. 'After she went to Oxford she turned weird. She became all dark and Gothic and it was obvious she was into drugs,' an - anonymous, and therefore probably fictitious - 'old school friend' snitched to the Sun like a filthy, stinking Copper's Nark. The alleged friend allegedly added: 'She posted naked pictures of herself on Facebook which was completely out of character for the girl I went to school with.' Naked picture which, incidentally, the Daily Scum Mail took some delight in republishing. And, so did the Sun.
She also, allegedly, 'bragged to friends' about 'spending the whole night' in 'an orgy tent' at a 'notorious' Piers Gaveston society party. She would often dress around the university in expensive La Perla, Gucci and Dior bras that she would wear with only a fur coat on top. On Facebook she posted pictures of herself in designer outfits and travelling on private jets. She wrote: 'The best things in life are free. The second best things are very, very expensive.' But, Woodward was undoubtedly a talented student who came top of her year in the pre-clinical tests that all Oxford medical students take at the end of their third year. Her ambition was to become a heart surgeon and specialise in heart disease research. However, Woodward's suspended sentence has sparked fresh life into the argument that she was treated lightly because of her background. John Azah, chief executive of the Kingston Race and Equalities Council, told the Torygraph: 'I always struggle with how the services legislate justice when it comes to Black Minority & Ethnic and white people. If she wasn't Oxford-educated, if she came from a deprived area, I don't think she would have got the same sentence and been allowed to walk free.' Mark Brooks, chair of the domestic abuse charity Mankind Initiative, added: 'In terms of whether the genders were reversed, we would expect any man committing this type of crime to go to prison and rightly so.' Woodward's barrister said in an earlier hearing that her 'dreams' of becoming a surgeon were 'almost impossible' as her conviction would have to be disclosed. If she qualified as a doctor and applied for registration, the General Medical Council could consider her application. However the body would have to pass Woodward as 'fit to practice', which it is unlikely to do, according to many health experts, regardless of her avoiding a custodial sentence. Woodward was photographed leaving court with a smirk plastered all over her face. So, at least someone appears to be happy about the outcome of this case.
Lady Lucan, the eighty-year-old wife of the missing Lord Lucan, has been found dead at her home in London, police have confirmed. Officers found her body after forcing entry to the property in Belgravia on Tuesday, but her death is not believed to be suspicious, The Met said. Lady Lucan was one of the last people to see her husband, John Bingham, the Seventh Earl of Lucan, alive before he disappeared in November 1974. He vanished after the family's nanny, Sandra Rivett, was found murdered at their home. A Met spokesperson said: 'Police attended an address on Eaton Row in Westminster following concerns for the welfare of an elderly occupant. Officers forced entry and found an eighty-year-old woman unresponsive. Although we await formal identification we are confident that the deceased is Lady Lucan.' Born Veronica Duncan in 1937 to Major Charles Moorhouse Duncan and his wife, Thelma, in the late-1950s and early-1960s she worked as a secretary and model in London and met her future husband at a golf event in early 1963. They were married in November 1963.
Lord Lucan vanished after the body of Sandra Rivett, nanny to his three children, was found at the family home at Forty Six Lower Belgrave Street on 7 November 1974. Lady Lucan was also attacked but managed to escape. Lord Lucan's car was later found abandoned and soaked in blood in Newhaven and an inquest jury declared that the wealthy peer was the killer of Sandra Rivett a year later. Lord Lucan was officially declared dead by the High Court in 1999, but has reportedly been sighted in Australia, Ireland, South Africa and New Zealand. Estranged from her three children, Frances, Camilla and George, a merchant banker and now the eighth Lord Lucan after his father's death certificate was issued last year, Veronica lived alone in the house where her husband had been staying a short distance from the former family home and scene of the murder. A High Court judge granted a death certificate in February last year allowing his son, Lord Bingham, to inherit the title. Earlier this year, Lady Lucan gave a television interview in which she said she believed Lord Lucan had made the 'brave' decision to take his own life. During the ITV programme, Lord Lucan: My Husband, The Truth, she spoke of her depression and her husband's violent nature after their marriage. Describing how he would beat her with a cane to 'get the mad ideas out of your head,' she said: 'He could have hit me harder. They were measured blows. He must have got pleasure out of it because he had intercourse [with me] afterwards.' Of her estrangement from her children, she told the interviewer Michael Waldman: 'It's not my fault that I lost my family, it will always be a mystery to me.' Waldman told the Radio Times: 'She is, I think, genuinely perplexed as to how it all went wrong, but equally she is not bitter and twisted about it and is getting on with her life. You can take the view that she is selfish, or self-preserving.'
Hugh Hefner - who died this week aged ninety one - created a fantasy world for millions of men but unlike most of his readers, actually got to live the dream. He successfully tapped into a new generation of Americans who were enjoying rising standards of living in the boom years of the 1950s and 1960s. A political activist and philanthropist, he produced not just a magazine, but an entire lifestyle. And in Playboy's famous bow-tie-wearing rabbit he launched one of the most recognised brands of the Twentieth Century. Hugh Marston Hefner was born in Chicago in April 1926, the son of two teachers with strong religious views. After serving in the US Army as a writer, he graduated with a degree in psychology before going to work as a copywriter for the men's magazine, Esquire. In 1953 he borrowed eight thousand dollars to produce the first issue of Playboy. Hefner was so worried that the magazine would not sell that he left the date off the cover. His mother contributed a thousand bucks. 'Not because she believed in the venture,' Hefner later said, 'but, because she believed in her son.' He had originally planned to name the new publication Stag Party, but changed his mind at the last minute. 'Can you imagine a chain of clubs staffed by girls wearing antlers?' The first edition featured a set of nude photographs of Marilyn Monroe which Hefner had bought for two hundred dollars. They had originally been shot for a 1949 calendar. Whether by luck or judgement, Hefner's timing was just right. The launch of Alfred Kinsey's reports on human sexual behaviour challenged conventional beliefs about sexuality and raised subjects that, until then, had been pretty much taboo. 'Kinsey was the researcher,' Hefner later remarked, 'I was the pamphleteer.' Middle-class American society in the 1950s was notoriously strait-laced and the combination of tastefully photographed women and intellectually stimulating articles appealed to the post-war urban male. 'I never thought of it as a sex magazine,' Hefner later recalled. 'I always thought of it as a lifestyle magazine in which sex was one important ingredient.' It was an unqualified success, selling more than fifty thousand copies within weeks. Hefner had found a niche in the market for men's publications, which was then dominated by hunting, shooting and fishing periodicals. The second issue saw the appearance of the bow-tie-wearing rabbit, which was designed by the magazine's art director Art Paul. It would appear on a host of products over the following decades. In 1955 Hefner published a short story by the writer Charles Beaumont, about straight men facing persecution in a world where homosexuals were the majority. In response to a flood of angry letters, Hefner replied: 'If it was wrong to persecute heterosexuals in a homosexual society then the reverse is wrong too.' In later years he would become an advocate for same-sex marriage describing it as 'a fight for all our rights.' Hefner's editorial stance was in-tune with the changes in society as the magazine campaigned for liberal drugs laws and the right to abortion. For the next twenty years, Playboy dominated its market, with circulation peaking at over seven million in the early 1970s, when a survey suggested that a quarter of all male college students in America were buying the magazine. At the time it contained some of the finest contemporary writing in the magazine market, with Saul Bellow, Arthur C Clarke, Norman Mailer and Gore Vidal among the regular contributors. The articles and interviews with often heavyweight subjects appeared sandwiched between the obligatory photographs of beautiful women, although far more tastefully shot than many of Playboy's more downmarket competitors. The centre-fold entitled Playmate of the Month featured some famous names including Jayne Mansfield and Pamela Anderson, while other celebrities, including Bo Derek, Kim Basinger, Farrah Fawcett and Madonna, have been happy to pose for the magazine. The photographs of Jayne Mansfield provoked Hefner's arrest and a prosecution for obscenity in 1963 but the jury was unable to reach a verdict. Hefner set out to exploit the success of his magazine with the opening of the first Playboy club in Chicago in 1960, which introduced the bunny-girl waitresses. The relaxation of gaming laws in the UK opened up another opportunity and Hefner opened three casinos in the UK. By 1981 they were contributing all of Playboy's worldwide profits. At this time Hefner was living a life of luxury and indulgence in his two Playboy mansions, accompanied by an ever-changing cast of celebrities and pneumatic girlfriends and shuttling between them in his personalised DC9, The Big Bunny. Hefner's fortunes went into a major decline during the 1980s. The British authorities shut down the UK casinos following a series of irregularities, effectively cutting Playboy's income. A year later a casino in Atlantic City was closed after Hefner was judged by the state gaming board to be 'an unsuitable person' to hold a licence. Playboy magazine, too, was failing as more sexually explicit competitors competed for space on the newsstands and traditional Playboy readers got older and moved on. In a further personal blow Hefner suffered a stroke in 1985 and four years later passed the daily control of Playboy Enterprises to his daughter, Christie. In 1989, at the age of sixty three, Hefner married one of his playmates, twenty seven-year-old Kimberley Conrad. The marriage lasted for ten years and produced two children. The 1990s saw a revival in Playboy's fortunes as Christie Hefner took the company into new and more profitable areas including cable TV. Hefner, meanwhile, had - in his own words - 'discovered Viagra' and spent his days in his mansion, dressed in silk pyjamas and surrounded by a half-dozen or so 'live-in female companions.' In 2012, he married his third wife, Crystal Harris, when he was eighty six - sixty years older than his bride. A libertarian by nature, Hefner's Playboy Foundation continued to support freedom of expression and First Amendment rights. He also donated large sums of money to the Democratic Party, including Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign. He was a keen supporter of conservation organisations and, perhaps appropriately, had a species of rabbit, Sylvilagus palustris hefneri, named in his honour. In his later years Hugh Hefner was, perhaps, much ridiculed as the elderly man who still surrounded himself with beautiful young women. But in Playboy he created a lifestyle which was in tune with the aspirations of a large section of post-war American society. The feminist Camille Paglia called him 'one of the principal architects of the social revolution.' 'I am a kid in a candy store,' Hefner famously said. 'I dreamed impossible dreams and the dreams turned out beyond anything I could possibly imagine. I'm the luckiest cat on the planet.'
The comedian and actor Bobby Knutt has died on holiday in the South of France, his agent has confirmed. The seventy one-year-old from Sheffield starred in ITV comedy series Benidorm, played Albert Dingle in Emmerdale and was the voice of a Tetley Tea advert. Knutt's agent, Tim Scott, said that the actor died in France on Monday morning. Knutt - real name Robert Wass - had a long career on stage. After passing the eleven-plus in 1957, he attended Abbeydale Grammar School in Sheffield. Still at school, he began to perform as a singer in a group called Bob Andrews & The Questors in 1961, switching to another group, The Whirlwinds, two years later and, in 1964, formed a comedy double act called Pee & Knutt. However, his partner Geoff Morton refused to turn professional. He later appeared in The Comedians and The Wheeltappers & Shunters Social Club. He was cast in the lead role in the BBC's The Price Of Coal (1977) directed by Ken Loach, allowing him to move beyond stand-up comedy. He acted in many British television comedies and dramas including Last Of The Summer Wine, Heartbeat, Hetty Wainthropp Investigates, All Creatures Great & Small, Our Friends In The North and Coronation Street (as garage boss Ron Sykes) and voiced numerous TV adverts. Knutt also hosted a request show on BBC Radio Sheffield in the 1990s. His wife, Donna Hartley-Wass, a former Olympic bronze medallist, died suddenly in 2013 at the age of fifty eight in the couple's back garden in Barnsley while she was sunbathing. In 2008, he published his autobiography Eyup Knutty followed by the sequel Eyup Again in 2010.
For more than thirty years, Liz Dawn - who died this week aged seventy seven - played the loud and flighty Vera Duckworth in ITV soap Coronation Street. Her turbulent relationship with her husband, Jack, proved to be one of the Street's most enduring storylines and Big Vera became one of Weatherfield's most popular characters. The episode featuring Vera's peaceful death in 2008 attracted more than twelve million viewers. Liz Dawn was born Sylvia Butterfield in November 1939 in Leeds, where her father worked as an engineer. At the age of eight, she fell in the street, gashing her mouth so badly that doctors feared she could be left with a hare lip. But, by chance, a skilled plastic surgeon was in Leeds at the time and a series of skin grafts repaired the majority of the damage. She said: 'The other kids used to run after me and say, "Can I see your plastic face?" But I just felt so lucky to have been treated and put back to normal.' After leaving school, Liz took a series of jobs including working in a garment factory and as a cinema usherette. She was also a shoe salesgirl and a lightbulb seller in Woolworths. She married Walter Bradley in Leeds in 1957 and had a son, Graham, but the marriage collapsed after less than two years. Her second marriage, to electrician Donald Ibbertson in 1965, resulted in the births of three daughters. She began singing in nightclubs and then started auditioning for small acting parts in TV programmes and commercials. Already a heavy cigarette user, the smoke-filled clubs in which she performed would have a serious effect on her health later in life. Liz's breakthrough came when she was cast in Colin Welland's 1974 drama Leeds United, which appeared in the BBC's Play For Today strand. Based on real events, the play documented the struggle by a group of female textile workers to get equal pay with men, only to be thwarted by their own trade union. Although her role was a relatively small one, it did lead to her being offered a bit part as factory machinist, Vera Duckworth, in an episode of Coronation Street. She continued to take parts in other TV programmes - Crown Court, Sunset Across The Bay, Open All Hours, Z Cars and Oh No, It's Selwyn Froggitt!, for example - until the arrival of the character Jack Duckworth in 1979 saw her role as Vera greatly enhanced. The marital strife between the pair became a major feature of the soap. They argued frequently, seemingly the epitome of a couple who cannot live with each other but can't live without the domestic disharmony. Both engaged in extramarital affairs. This led to one of the high spots of the drama when Vera confided in her friend Bet Lynch about Jack's infidelities, unaware at the time that he was having a fling with Bet herself. Liz and Bill Tarmey, who played Jack, had a close friendship. She said that he was her best friend and that they had never argued in all their years of acting together. Liz's appearances on Coronation Street began to be hampered by her increasing bouts of illness and she was forced to quit the soap in 2008 after her health worsened. She had been diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease four years previously. The illness meant she only had a third of her lungs working and she spent a lot of time in a wheelchair after she left the soap. Liz said she wished she had never smoked but also blamed performing in smoke-filled clubs for the illness. Dawn, who had finally stopped smoking in 2002, had previously said that her emphysema had taken such a toll on her she had nearly collapsed while at Buckingham Palace collecting her MBE in 2000. Her on-screen demise saw her character found lifeless in her armchair having died in her sleep. She famously returned to the cobbles in 2010 when she played her own ghost in the episode in which Jack Duckworth also died. After leaving Coronation Street, she campaigned on behalf of the British Lung Foundation and became the public face of a campaign to raise awareness of chronic lung disease and the importance of early diagnosis. Liz served as Lady Mayoress of her home city of Leeds in 2000 and in the same year was awarded an MBE for her charity work at hospitals in Manchester and Leeds. The actress said she was 'thrilled and honoured' to be asked to become Mayoress. 'It's my home city and this means so much to me.' Liz suffered a heart attack in 2013 while on holiday with her husband in Spain. She subsequently had a pacemaker fitted. In 2015, she came out of retirement to make a cameo appearance in Coronation Street's rival soap Emmerdale. She appeared in the Christmas Day episode as a demanding guest named Mrs Winterbottom, who stayed at Eric Pollard's B&B. 'There's only one show I'd come out of retirement for and it's Emmerdale, particularly as I've celebrated my seventy sixth birthday this week so I wanted to mark the occasion,' she said. Dawn is survived by her husband, Don, her four children, six grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
Tony Booth, who has died aged eighty, made his mark as an actor through personifying a particular British stereotype. This came through his part in the BBC sitcom Till Death Us Do Part (1966 to 1975), written by Johnny Speight, in which he played the leftie Randy Scouse Git son-in-law of racist bigot Alf Garnett, played by the late Warren Mitchell. Booth's character, Mike Rawlins, was a crafty ne'er do well, not ill-natured but full of glib permissive cliches and doomed to little or make nothing of his life and that of his wife, Rita (Una Stubbs). While Mitchell survived Alf to play other significant roles, Tony seemed to become trapped in the mould of irresponsibility.
The public became more used to reading about his real-life misfortunes than watching him perform. And there were plenty of them. They included bankruptcy after his racehorse had failed to win, prosecutions for drunkenness and an incident when he set fire to himself at home. At the time of his death, had been suffering from Alzheimer's for more than ten years and had also suffered heart problems. Tony had a fifty-year acting career and appeared in numerous TV shows including Coronation Street, EastEnders, Emmerdale, The Professionals and The Bill. He was also a political activist and the father of Cherie Booth and father-in-law to ex-prime minister Tony Blair. Tony Booth often spoke out against his son-in-law's government and wrote about their life in Downing Street in his autobiography What's Left? He campaigned to raise the state pension and criticised the government over The Iraq War. But he was close to his daughter and was at her side for events including when she was sworn in as a QC. A statement released on behalf of his wife Steph Booth said he had 'passed away late last night with close family members in attendance.' The statement added: 'The family ask for their privacy to be respected at this time.'
Tony was born in a two-up, two-down in Jubilee Road, Liverpool in 1931. It was part of a long terrace occupied mainly by Catholics of Irish descent and this was the background of his mother, Vera; his father, George, was a merchant seaman. Tony was taught Latin from the age of six, as preparation for becoming a priest, in a nursing home run by nuns. He spent a year in Fazakerley Hospital after being admitted for diphtheria, which he did not have, but which he had contracted, along with scarlet fever and mumps, by the time he was discharged. He read enthusiastically from the library. His father was often out of work and forced into window-cleaning, until the second world war came and the demand for merchant ships improved. Tony's maternal grandfather – who had been involved in the 1926 General Strike and was blacklisted – inspired him towards socialism. His other grandfather was a pacifist, who eventually went into the army as a stretcher-bearer. When he was eleven, Tony went to St Mary's college, Crosby, run by Christian Brothers, where he had to deliver newspapers to pay for his books. He emerged from poverty on the back of a profligate temperament and his acting talent. He spent ten years in provincial rep, where he met the woman he maintained was the love of his life, the actress Pat Phoenix, then on the verge of stardom playing Elsie Tanner in Coronation Street. She appeared in the play A Girl Called Sadie, based on the Somerset Maugham story Rain, as a prostitute; Tony was the young parson out to reform her. They parted after three years, under the pressures of uneven employment. Many years later, he and Phoenix were reunited and remained together as a couple, she becoming his second wife shortly before her death from cancer in 1986.
In the 1960s, he made cinema appearances in Mix Me A Person, The Partner, Suspect and The L-Shaped Room and in popular TV series such as The Infamous John Friend, The Plane Makers, Catch Hand, Probation Officer, Z Cars, Dixon Of Dock Green, The Saint, Strangers and The Avengers, along with three episodes of Coronation Street. Through the 1960s, he canvassed for the Labour Party. It was after a Labour rally at Wembley that he met Speight, who told him of his plans for Till Death Us Do Part and asked him to play the cockney son-in-law of Alf. Booth suggested he change the character to a Liverpudlian, which he did. Though he did not find a role to compare with it, he continued to work as an actor. He appeared as Sidney Noggett in Confessions Of A Window Cleaner (1974) alongside Robin Askwith, followed by three more films in the series of sort-core comedies and, in latter years, showed up in such TV series as Heartbeat, Dalziel & Pascoe, Mersey Beat, Doctors, Moving On, Family Affairs and Holby City. Booth first met Tony Blair in 1979 and arranged a lunch for him with the MP Tom Pendry, at the Gay Hussar in London. Blair was persuaded to contest a by-election at Beaconsfield in Buckinghamshire in 1982, which he had no hope of winning. Booth canvassed for him a year later when he won Sedgefield in Durham. When Pat Phoenix died in 1986, Blair was with Cherie at the funeral. Booth's Old Labour views and willingness to throw them at Blair sometimes attracted a sharper tongue than the future PM displayed in parliament. Once, Booth persuaded one of his daughters to ask Blair: 'What will you do for pensioners like my daddy?' Blair allegedly replied: 'For your father, euthanasia. For the rest, we'll do the best we can!' He gave free rein to his political views in his two autobiographies, Stroll On (1989, updated in 1997 as Labour Of Love on the back of his son-in-law's general election victory), and What's Left? (2002). In 2004 he was diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease and six years latter he suffered a stroke. In 1954, he married the actress Gale Howard. They had two daughters, Cherie and Lyndsey and later divorced. He had five daughters with various partners whom he did not marry: with Julie Allan, Jenia and Bronwen; with Pamela Smith (the model Susie Riley), Lauren and Emma and with Ann Gannon, Lucy. In 1988 he married Nancy Jaeger and they had another daughter, Joanna. After their divorce, in 1998 he married his fourth wife, Stephanie Buckley, a Labour Party worker. He is survived by Stephanie and his eight daughters.
Jack Good, the pioneering British TV producer behind the pioneering music shows The Six-Five Special, Oh Boy! and Shindig! has died. Jack was born in Greenford and joined the BBC on what was originally intended to be an early Saturday evening magazine-format style show The Six-Five Special, presented by Josephine Douglas and Peter Murray and featuring the music of Dong Lang & His Frantic Five. Television then was live, so once the programme started, Good kept it as impromptu as possible. The running order was sketched out on Friday morning, then the only complete run-through occurred immediately before transmission. The show launched the hand-jive in Britain and Good even wrote an instruction book, Hand Jive At Fix-Five. Although Jack had given the BBC a show that was attracting twelve million viewers, he was being paid only the standard BBC staff fee of eighteen quid a week. So, he left for independent television and launched Oh Boy! in June 1958 for the ITV franchise holder Associated British Corporation. After trial broadcasts in the Midlands, it went national, in direct competition with The Six-Five Special on Saturday evenings. The Six-Five Special had included rock 'n' roll performances but mixed with jazz, skiffle and crooners but, with Oh Boy! the gloves were off. The programmes were broadcast live from the Hackney Empire and made stars of regulars like a teenage Cliff Richard, Marty Wilde and Billy Fury. It caused a sensation - Richard's legendary sensual, pouting performance of 'Turn Me Loose' in the style of Elvis outraged half the nation and enthralled the other half. Newspapers described the programme as morally corrupt and questions were asked in parliament. The viewing figures, needless to say, were massive. Each show was twenty six minutes long and no song lasted more than around one minute so that teenage viewers wouldn't get bored and switch over. Good also played and recorded with the programme's resident band, Lord Rockingham's XI. Their hit singles included 'Fried Onions' and the UK number one, 'Hoots Mon'. But, all Good-produced things come to an end and when ITV replaced the show in September 1959 with the much more family-friendly Boy Meets Girls, people wondered whether Good had lost his touch. He later claimed that his wife, Margit, had persuaded him that rock 'n' roll was 'on the way out' and e should adopt a more middle-of-the-road approach. In the early 1960s, Jack wrote a column for Disc, the weekly UK pop magazine. In 1964, he made the one-off Around The Beatles (featuring a popular beat combo of the era, you might've heard of them), but regular rock 'n' roll television in the UK was now being championed by Ready Steady Go!, which made heavy use of many of the techniques that Jack had first pioneered in Oh Boy! Good went to the United States in 1962, where he spent fifteen thousand dollars of his own money to produce a pilot show for the American market. After trying for a year to persuade television executives to take on the show, he gave up and returned to the UK. A year later, a disc jockey gave a videotape of the pilot show to an American television executive, who promptly sent for Good. This led to the broadcasting of the first episode of Shindig!, broadcast by ABC in September 1964. Shindig! had a half-hour spot until January 1965, when it was extended to an hour, before switching to twice-weekly half-hour episodes in the autumn. Later shows were taped in Britain with The Be-Atles and other British Invasion bands and performers including The Who, The Rolling Stones and Cilla Black. However, Jack subsequently fell out with ABC executives and walked. The show could not survive without Good's dynamic influence and it was cancelled in January 1966 and replaced by Batman series. He moved permanently to America and produced the rarely seen television special Thirty Three & A Third Revolutions Per Monkee. He was a subject of This Is Your Life in March 1970 when he was surprised by Eamonn Andrews. He later became a musical theatrical producer creating Good Rockin' Tonite, Oh Boy!, Elvis: The Musical and Catch My Soul, which was also made into a film. He made cameo acting appearances as an uptight naval officer in the comedy film Father Goose (1966) and in the Elvis Presley vehicle Clambake (1967). Good subsequently converted to Roman Catholicism and devoted much of his time to Christianity and icon painting, including a wall painting portraying the television as the Devil. His paintings have been exhibited at the Rancho de Chimayó gallery alongside those of painter Antonio Roybal. He lived in New Mexico for many years, but returned to England to live in Oxfordshire.