Saturday, March 31, 2018

Tamper Not With Thy Balls

Sharon Clarke has shared some details about her Doctor Who character and has promised that yer actual Jodie Whittaker's Doctor isn't 'dour.' Which is good news. In October, Clarke was confirmed as appearing in Jodie's forthcoming first series, but not as one of The Doctor's companions. All we knew was that she would be a returning character. Appearing on Radio 4's Loose Ends, Clarke was tight-lipped about her character, although she did drop one nugget. 'I am a human and Bradley Walsh is my husband, he's human and I think that's about as much as I can tell you,' she said. Clarke was more than happy, though, to praise Whittaker's performance in the iconic role, describing her as 'phenomenal' and an 'absolute joy. She's going to slay it. What's lovely about Jodie, because she always plays these kind of dour characters who are downtrodden, to have someone who's up and hopeful and fighting crime, she's just bouncing around the set,' Clarke enthused. 'She's definitely earning those two hearts that The Doctor has. She's wonderful, I absolutely adore her.' The same show also saw the comedian and actor Lee Mack - a big favourite of us here at From The North - reveal that he is in the new Doctor Who series too. 'I am blink-and-you'll-miss-it. It's just a little thing. I've just been a fan all my life, so I just harassed them until they gave me a little part in it,' he said. Here, meanwhile, is a lovely picture of Jodie queuing with everyone else who wants to purchase a ninety five quid autograph from Christopher Eccleston. (This blogger thanks his old mucka Rob Francis for providing that one.)
There's a very good interview with Jodie promoting her appearance in Paddy Considine's forthcoming film Journeyman with the Torygraph which covers a range of topics (including Doctor Who, obviously) and which you can have a right good gander at here.
Yer actual Peter Capaldi appeared at the Regeneration Who convention over the weekend in Baltimore and detailed his idea for a hypothetical Doctor Who episode. 'I always wanted a story where [The Doctor] met Jimi Hendrix and said, "Jimi, your sound's good, but what you really need is a sort of wah-wah sound." I'll find a little thing here and some valves and an old bit of shoe, in some shoe box thing, and say to Jimi, "Here's a wah-wah pedal." And, of course, there would have been aliens channelling themselves through Jimi's music, to try to capture the brains of the adult population of the UK at the time.' Although this story never made it to screen, Capaldi's keenness to play guitar as The Doctor did. 'I thought it would be funny if he could play the guitar, sort of like a teenager,' Peter continued. 'You know, a guitar that he'd made himself, an amp that it looked like he'd made himself. I thought [The Doctor] should play really badly. And I thought it'd be great if he plugged it into the TARDIS control panel. I never thought they'd take it seriously, but [The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat (OBE)] did! And somehow I was amazed to read this thing of me arriving on a tank playing the TARDIS. I said to Steven, "We can't do that. That is so wrong, that will not work, it makes me look like Cher!'
This week's 'Question on Only Connect that this blogger got the answer to before either of the teams' was the first one on the episode. That hasn't happened before!
Gotham continues to rattle along at a terrific pace. The latest episode - One Of My Three Soups - is reviewed here, here and here.
Tackling fake news, bringing Britain together and playing 'a vital role' for the country abroad are among the BBC's priorities for the year ahead. Investing in content that 'no other broadcaster would make' is among other aspirations detailed in the BBC's second Annual Plan. Further improvements to the BBC iPlayer have also been promised. Challenges facing the BBC include the changing nature of media consumption, particularly among the young. The Annual Plan's ambitions were outlined to BBC staff by Tony Hall, the Director General, on Wednesday morning. The far-reaching plan outlines the importance of the BBC's role in society and in tackling false information. Up to one thousand schools around the country will be offered mentoring from expert BBC journalists to help young people identify real news. The BBC also pledges to invest in 'a uniquely distinctive mix of content; new talent and new voices around the UK.' Hall included the likes of James Corden, The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat (OBE) and Armando Iannucci as examples of writers who cut their teeth at the BBC. He outlined his commitment to ensuring new talent is recognised and nurtured at the BBC to create a new generation of original content providers. This will counter the likelihood that the total amount invested in UK content will fall over the next decade. Hall said that 2018 was 'about delivering for young people' and outlined the competition the BBC faced from streaming services. He assured his audience that, despite the popularity of Netflix and Amazon Prime, the BBC had an audience share of fifty seven per cent amongst young people. Hall said customisation was key to engaging viewers with BBC content on the iPlayer. More than fifteen million people are currently logging into the on demand service each month. Improvements to the iPlayer this year will include increased availability of content, enhancements to the user experience and more personalisation. Series like Blue Planet II, Taboo and Peaky Blinders saw the service record its best ever year in 2017. The BBC's global reach will be further boosted by the BBC World Service, said to be undergoing 'its biggest expansion since the 1940s.' This year's plan follows the BBC's first Annual Plan, which pledged to spend extra money on children's content. The Annual Plan is separate from the BBC's annual report, which looks back over the previous year's performance and publishes details about the corporation's finances and spending.
Aiden Gillen does not look anything like Littlefinger in a series of first-look photos from his new drama. Gillen physically transforms into Ireland's most famous stand-up in BBC2's Dave Allen At Peace, which will be shown on Easter Monday. And, may his inability to find one accent and stick to it go with him. The sixty-minute film traces the rise of Dave Allen from childhood as the son of a prominent Irish journalist to becoming the country's most subversive comedy voices, especially when he was taking aim at the Catholic church.
We are used to seeing him tackle London's worst criminals but Sky One's In The Long Run reveals a different side to Idris Elba. He is the creator and star of the new comedy, which is loosely based on his own childhood, with Sammy Kamara playing Kobna (based on a young Idris) and the Luther star himself playing Walter (a version of Idris's own father). Bill Bailey - who appears as Walter's friend and neighbour, Bagpipes, told the Digital Spy website that Elba had 'a real instinctive talent' for comedy, despite being better known as a dramatic powerhouse. 'It was great fun doing scenes with Idris,' Bill said. 'He's often cast as a brooding action man, but he actually has got a great deftness of touch with comedy and the lighter scenes. I think people will be surprised, actually. He's quite a big and imposing character on screen, but actually, there's a softness to this character as well. Walter, the character he plays, likes to be the authoritarian, but actually he's quite soft.' Bill explained that the 1980s-set comedy was 'deeply personal' for Elba, since its events are 'all drawn very much from his own personal recollection of his life. So there's a great warmth to it,' he added. 'There's a very natural, very authentic feel to it, which I think comes across. He was basically playing his own father and talking about characters who are still around, and events that happened. So I think occasionally the personal nature of it sometimes really struck him.' Notwithstanding guest turns in the likes of Hustle, Doctor Who and Skins, In the Long Run is Bill's first acting role as a series regular since Black Books in 2004, with the actor and comic being forced to turn down 'a lot of stuff' due to a busy TV and touring schedule. 'I've either been touring or I've been away. Certainly, there would be times when I was working on Never Mind The Buzzcocks which, again, would take up a big chunk of the year. So that was obviously a factor. Often, it's the kinds of things I've been offered as well. They've just not been quite right, or I didn't quite fancy it. They tend to be a comic character, which is fine. I can understand that, that's what I do. That makes sense. But for me, I'm attracted to something with a bit more depth to it, a bit more to get your teeth into. In The Long Run certainly had that. There's a bit of drama. It's not all gags and knockabout comedy. Bagpipes is a real character. You're trying to portray a person with depth and a bit of complexity and problems and issues and a fractured relationship with his wife. They're trying to rebuild that relationship.' Having been a part of Elba's story, Bill is now interested in potentially following suit and bringing his own early life to the screen. 'It did make me think about that, to be honest. I mean, it's quite a big thing to take on, but the advantages of it are, you know these people. One of the challenges in writing drama is trying to write convincing characters - three-dimensional, realistic characters. If you look at your own life and your own upbringing and your friends, you're surrounded by these people. Finding a way through that is the challenge – making it into a drama that connects with other people. I think that's the real challenge and In The Long Run actually does that very well.' The BBC's tame specky slapheed Will Gompertz's review of the opening episode of In The Long Run can be vada'd here.
ITV has denied that this year's series of I'm A Z-List Former Celebrity Desperate To Get My Boat-Race Back On TV ... Please Vote For Me To Stay Here As Long As Possible (I'll Even Eat Worms If You Want) will not be hosted by Dec and/or Ant. The Cheeky Chappie Doon Th' Bigg Market duo have presented the show every year since it began in 2002, but the Daily Lies has reported that 'bosses' (that's 'executives' only with less syllables) are 'considering' hiring 'somebody new' to host when the next series begins in November. They claimed that producers would rather change presenters entirely than have yer actual Dec host the show alone in the event that Ant can't take part due to his ongoing addiction issues and forthcoming court case. However, ITV subsequently denied the claims to the Mirra: 'It is utter nonsense to suggest that Ant and Dec are set to be replaced on I'm A Z-List Former Celebrity Desperate To Get My Boat-Race Back On TV ... Please Vote For Me To Stay Here As Long As Possible (I'll Even Eat Worms If You Want),' they said. Which appears to be a suggestion - from ITV - that a right load of old made-up crap has been published in the Daily Lies. And that is scarcely credible. Oh no, sorry, it is credible.
Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads's entertainment company is teaming up with the BBC for the first time for a new dance contest. Saturday night talent show The Greatest Dancer is being produced by Syco - which is behind The X Factor and Britain's Got Toilets - and by Thames. It will see dancers 'from all different genres' compete for the title of 'the best dancer in the UK.' The show could see former X Factor judge Wor Geet Canny Cheryl return to prime-time TV after taking part in the pilot. Alesha Dixon, who is a judge on Britain's Got Toilets and Jordan Banjo, from dance group Diversity, could also be involved in the BBC series after hosting the run-through last month. Kate Phillips, the BBC's entertainment commissioner, said: 'The BBC is undoubtedly the home of dance. By launching The Greatest Dancer we want to give the vast array of dance talent across the UK the chance to shine. I can't wait to work with Syco and Thames to uncover the talent out there and let our audience critique and celebrate the nation's unsung dance heroes.' The BBC has commissioned eight episodes of the show, which is open to dancers from every discipline, including ballet, jazz, hip hop and Bollywood. As well as Wor Geet Canny Cheryl, the coaching panel could also include Glee's Matthew Morrison and Strictly Come Dancing professional Oti Mabuse, as they took part in the pilot. The presenting and coaching line-up is yet to be confirmed by the BBC. Nigel Hall, global head of television for Syco Entertainment, told the BBC News website: 'The auditions for the pilot episode saw some of the most jaw-dropping, heartfelt and moving auditions I've ever seen on a dance show. There are some spectacular moments and we are beyond thrilled to have secured this commission over fierce competition. We look forward to working with the BBC team on something just a little bit special.'
And, speaking of Saturday night shite, All Together Now is coming back for a second series on BBC1 with Rob Beckett and Geri Horner both returning to their presenting roles. The BBC and Remarkable Television's Saturday night lack-of-entertainment show features 'a unique panel of one hundred music experts and performers from across the UK, with each act aiming to get as many of the one hundred on their feet and singing along.' The first series - which was, broadly speaking, abject crap in this blogger's opinion as a licence fee-payer - was won by Hartlepool-based Michael Rice, who impressed his fellow finalists with a version of Leonard Cohen's 'Hallelujah'.
Countdown's Rachel Riley was left 'amused' after another naughty phrase appeared on her letters board this week. Monday's episode of the long-running daytime show saw a contestant make the word 'panties'. While Rachel grinned awkwardly after rearranging the two leftover letters, Nick Hewer, alongside Dictionary Corner's Susie Dent and guest Len Goodman, did their best to cover their embarrassment. 'We had panties as well,' said Len and Susie, as Nick replied: 'That's two panties, then.'
Despite previously stated enthusiasm about a possible Life On Mars movie, Philip Glenister has now poured cold water on the idea. The actor, who played Gene Hunt on the cult BBC drama, appeared on This Morning on Tuesday to give an update on any possible big screen revival. 'I can't see it happening if I'm honest,' he admitted. 'Because we are all dead as characters! I don't know. We are all a bit older now. It's quite a long time ago. I know what will happen, they will re-make it in five years time with younger people!' Holly Willoughby suggested that such a revival would be 'rubbish' - something she certainly knows all about - and vowed to not watch it if that was the case, the first recorded instance of Holly Willoughby actually talking sense in living memory. The drama ran for two series in 2006 and 2007 and followed Sam Tyler (John Simm), who was involved in a car accident and, apparently, woke up in 1973. Or, did he? It was, frankly, bloody fantastic. It later spawned a - not-quite-as-terrific-but-still-pretty-excellent sequel, Ashes To Ashes, an American remake (which was quite good up to the final episode when it all went tits-up) as well as endless speculation about a possible revival. Co-creator Ashley Pharaoh told the Digital Spy website a few years ago that he would 'never say never' to bringing Life On Mars back. Even if just about everyone else involved in it has. 'It would be hard, I think, just because the end of Ashes To Ashes sort of does wrap up the whole mythology of Gene Hunt,' he said. 'But we always thought we were going to do three series of Life On Mars – and then it became two. I always wanted to do a Christmas special, with Morecambe & Wise and Mud. So never say never, I suppose.'
Stephen Fry has spoken about the struggles that he has faced throughout his life dealing with mental health issues, stating: 'I'm not going to kid myself that it's cured.' At the age of thirty seven, the comedian, actor and writer was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Fry has become a major proponent for mental health awareness, exploring bipolar disorder in the 2006 two-part documentary Stephen Fry: The Secret Life Of The Manic Depressive and being named president of mental health charity Mind in 2011. Stephen talked about the way in which bipolar disorder affects his life while appearing on an episode of Fearne Cotton's podcast Happy Place. 'There was and still is - and I still feel it occasionally - a danger of becoming sort of professionally mentally unstable and that's what I am, that's who I am,' he said. 'I've always viewed it's not who I am. It's a condition I live with. I'm always prepared to talk about it, but there's also a danger, because I do live with this condition. I'm not going to kid myself that it's cured because it isn't, that if I keep picking at the scab, it's not going to be good for me. It's not going to be good for my mental health.' Fry explained that his 'entourage' are 'particularly attentive' when it comes to his mental health, as they make sure that he takes a break whenever they can sense he's in need of one. 'I'll say, "Yes, I'll do it," because I think it's my duty. They'll say, "No, don't. Or, if you do, do it in a month's time,"' he said. In February, Stephen shared a video on social media revealing that he was recovering from prostate cancer. He explained that he had undergone an operation in the first week of January in which eleven lymph nodes were removed. He stated that the procedure 'seemed to go pretty well,' adding: 'So far as we know it's all been got.'
The magician Dynamo has said that medication for Crohn's disease has caused his recent change in appearance. Dynamo, whose real name is Steven Frayne, posted a video on his social media accounts explaining he had became 'really sick' in 2017. Frayne said his medication regime since then has caused him to 'put on quite a lot of body weight' and develop a rash. He said that he is also unable to shuffle cards because his hands are in 'so much pain' due to developing arthritis. Frayne thanked fans for their 'kind support,' following a selfie he posted online on Monday evening showing the change in his appearance, including the extent of the rash on his head. 'I've been keeping a bit more of a low profile as I got really sick and ended up in hospital last summer due to a really bad type of food poisoning. Having Crohn's disease and food poisoning, very bad combination,' he said in the video. 'Thankfully, the NHS worked amazingly well to get me out of hospital and back on my feet. I'm doing everything in my power to get myself better.' Hundreds of people suffering with Crohn's sent messages of support to Dynamo, who spoke to the Sun in December 2017 about living with the illness, after recognising the star's weight gain as a common side effect of medication.
The final two episodes of Peter Kay's Car Share are to be broadcast on the BBC in May, it has been confirmed. Fans of the sitcom - and, this blogger is not one of them - will finally see what happens between his character, John and Kayleigh, played by Sian Gibson. The episodes - which have already been filmed - will come a year after Kay said that the show was coming to an end following its second series. There will be an unscripted episode before the finale, which will reveal if John and Kayleigh have a happy ending. A charity screening of the two episodes is taking place in Blackpool next month before the rest of the UK gets to watch them, a tweet from Peter Kay's account announced on Thursday. It was the first tweet from the account since Kay said in December that he was cancelling his comeback tour - his first in eight years - due to 'unforeseen family circumstances.' The event, on 7 April, will raise money for The Lily Foundation, which treats children with mitochondrial disease. In a statement, Kay said of the screening: 'I've had first-hand experience of the foundation's work and I'm proud to raise both awareness and much needed funds to help with the inspiring work they provide to children and their families.' The second series of Car Share ended with Kayleigh declaring her love for John. When he refused to say how he felt, she walked out of his car - and, apparently, his life. The ending both surprised and disappointed some viewers, who were convinced the show, about two employees thrown together in a company car share scheme, was building up to a romantic finish. Kay admitted in November that people had been 'angry' about how the series had ended. At the time, he described Car Share Unscripted as 'half-an-hour of us basically making the script up and improvising,' adding: 'It's nothing to do with the story - just us having a laugh.' Car Share won two BAFTA TV Awards in 2016, for best scripted comedy and best male performance in a comedy programme.
Oscar-winning actress Dame Olivia de Havilland has extremely lost a pointless legal battle with the makers of US TV drama Feud. De Havilland had objected to how she was depicted in the series, which explored the bad blood between screen legends Joan Crawford and Bette Davis. But a state appeals court in California said that allowing the case to proceed would interfere with authors' rights to dramatise historical events. Creator Ryan Murphy called the ruling 'a victory for the creative community.' And, for common sense. Murphy said that the decision 'gives all creators the breathing room necessary to continue to tell important historical stories inspired by true events.' De Havilland, who starred in Gone With The Wind, among other classic films, filed a lawsuit against Murphy and FX Networks last year, claiming Feud portrayed her as 'a petty gossip.' Fellow Oscar winner Catherine Zeta Jones played de Havilland in the drama which won two EMMY Awards. Dame Olivia claimed that her portrayal was 'inaccurate' because it showed her calling her sister, Joan Fontaine, 'a bitch' and commenting on Frank Sinatra's drinking habits. But three judges unanimously ordered the dismissal of the case on Monday and ruled that the retired actress must pay FX's legal fees and costs. 'Whether a person portrayed in one of these expressive works is a world-renowned film star - "a living legend" - or a person no-one knows, she or he does not own history,' wrote judge Anne Egerton. 'Nor does she or he have the legal right to control, dictate, approve, disapprove or veto the creator's portrayal of actual people.' Suzelle Smith, a lawyer for de Havilland, said that the California appeal court's decision had denied the actress 'her constitutional rights' and that she would appeal. A second season of Feud was given the go-ahead last year and will focus on the divorce of Prince Charles and Diana.
Online gambling firm Sky Bet has been very fined a million knicker for allowing hundreds of 'potentially vulnerable people' to keep betting after they asked to be barred from doing so, while sending promotional material to fifty thousand more. Industry regulator The Gambling Commission said that Sky Bet was extremely naughty and was guilty of 'failings' in its self-exclusion tools, which are meant to help people who fear they have a gambling problem lock themselves out of online casinos and sports betting. The fine comes amid delays to the launch of an industry-wide system called GamStop designed to allow addicts to block themselves from multiple companies, following high-profile problems with individual firms' self-exclusion schemes. The Gambling Commission said that seven hundred and thirty six Sky Bet customers who had self-excluded were able to open new accounts, in some cases using the same details previously registered with the company. About fifty thousand self-excluded customers continued to receive marketing material from Sky Bet by e-mail, text or a mobile app notification after self-excluding. A further thirty six thousand did not have the balance of their funds with SkyBet returned to them upon closing their accounts. The fine would have been higher but Sky Bet reported the issue to the Gambling Commission of its own accord. 'This was a serious failure affecting thousands of potentially vulnerable customers and the one million pound penalty package should serve as a warning to all gambling businesses,' said the Gambling Commission programme director, Richard Watson. 'Protecting consumers from gambling-related harm is a priority for us and where we see operators failing in their responsibility to keep their customers safe we will take tough action.' The vast majority of the million smackers fine will be paid to charities for socially responsible purposes, the Gambling Commission said. Sky Bet's rival, 888, paid over seven million quid last year for failures relating to self-exclusion, the largest penalty ever handed out by the industry regulator. Matt Zarb-Cousin, who founded an app called Gamban that allows problem gamblers to block betting sites from their own computer or phone, said that the industry had a poor record. 'Sky Bet is only the latest in a long line of failures by operators to uphold self-exclusion, while the multi-operator scheme GamStop has been delayed until later this year,' he said. 'Operators should give customers who self exclude the opportunity to block all gambling sites and apps on their devices by offering software that can't be user-uninstalled.' The Sky Betting & Gaming chief executive, Richard Flint, said: 'We have always taken responsible gambling and player protection very seriously but this incident showed that we needed to do more. When we spotted the issue we pro-actively notified the Gambling Commission and have worked to improve our processes to avoid this happening again. We could and should have made it harder for self-excluded customers to open duplicate accounts with us and for that we are sorry. We fully agree with the Gambling Commission's findings and will donate the agreed sum to charities for socially responsible purposes.' He claimed that the company had not made any profit out of the episode. One or two people even believed him.
A statue of the late David Bowie has been unveiled in the town where he debuted Ziggy Stardust. The bronze sculpture, entitled Earthly Messenger, can be found in Aylesbury's Market Square. It features a likeness of Bowie in 2002 regarding a selection of his alter-egos down the years, with Ziggy at the front. Speakers mounted above the life-size piece will play a Bowie song every hour. Singer-songwriter Howard Jones unveiled the piece and called it 'a result for Aylesbury.' Money to create the work was raised through grants and a one hundred grand crowdfunding appeal by music promoter David Stopps. 'The reaction to the statue has been so positive,' Stopps said. 'When you get something like this people either love it or hate it. If people say "I hate it" or "I absolutely love it" then you know it's real art. That's the definition of art.' The unveiling came after Stopps launched a petition to rename Aylesbury 'Aylesbowie' in honour of the artist's 'strong connection' to the Buckinghamshire town. Bowie debuted two LPs - Hunky Dory and Ziggy Stardust - at gigs at the Friars music venue in 1971 and 1972. The statue was designed by sculptor Andrew Sinclair, who used the mask taken from Bowie's face during the filming of The Man Who Fell To Earth to create the likeness. Rob Stringer, CEO of Sony Music, described it as 'beautiful. I thought it would be one figurine and it's actually a complete compendium of his life,' he said. 'To work with him on the last two records was very emotional but I got to work with somebody who, when I was growing up in Aylesbury in the 1970s, was the pop culture legend.' The statue was then vandalised less than forty eight hours after being unveiled. 'Feed the homeless first' had been written in front of it, 'RIP DB' on a wall beside it and a section of the statue was also painted on it. The damage was described as 'awful' and 'pointless' and is thought to have happened overnight on Monday. Helen Light, from Aylesbury, said: 'Vandalising it is awful. Tax payers will now be paying for the clean-up so it is the vandal who will ironically be taking money away from the homeless.' The individual who did the vandalising has not, yet, been identified. Though, it shouldn't be long before someone snitches him up to the fuzz since, let's face, it, everyone loves David Bowie far more than they love Middle Class hippy Communists.
Two members of a family suffered broken bones when a car ploughed into their home as they sat watching television. Robert Beattie, his wife Mel and fifteen-year-old daughter, Tash, were sitting in their living room when the car smashed into the house. The woman and girl are currently recovering in hospital following Friday's crash. A twenty six-year-old man from Worcester has been very arrested on suspicion of causing serious injury by dangerous driving and released under investigation. Beattie said that it was 'nothing short of a miracle' he and his family were still alive. 'I got my wife out into the kitchen area as best I could, she was very dazed and confused,' he said. 'I, then had to go back outside, through the opening, to rescue my daughter from the other side of the car who was, again, shocked and confused and I carried her back round to the kitchen.'
Filling this year's Panini World Cup sticker book will cost seven hundred and thirty three smackers, twice the cost for Euro 2016, according to 'maths expert' Professor Paul Harper. Who, presumably, didn't have anything more important to turn his maths expertise towards this week. The pages contain thirty two squads of players, plus managers, stadiums and World Cup legends, totalling six hundred and eighty two stickers. The cost of a packet of five stickers has risen from fifty pence to eighty pence - a sixty per cent increase. If one was to buy one hundred and thirty seven packets and never get the same sticker twice, it would cost £109.60, but this is 'extremely unlikely,' according to the professor. No shit? Harper, from Cardiff University's School of Mathematics, worked out 'a formula' to include 'the least probable number of duplicate stickers.' In the end, he demonstrated that, on average, one would need to buy four thousand eight hundred and thirty two stickers - nine hundred and sixty seven packets - to complete the book. One cost-saving measure is swapping stickers with friends, but even using that tactic, filling the album would still be jolly expensive. With ten friends swapping, it could still cost them an average of two hundred and forty seven knicker each to complete the album, according to the professor's calculations. And, that is always supposing that those completing the albums have ten friends. In 2016, Harper made the same calculations for the six hundred and eighty-space Euro sticker book. It was three hundred and seventy four quid, meaning the cost has more than doubled. While the Euro competition only had twenty four squads there were only two fewer stickers in the book printed two years ago. 'I can still recall the joy of finally completing my first Panini album as a young boy for the 1982 World Cup in Spain,' said Harper. 'Filling an album has become progressively more expensive over the years since then, not just because there are typically more teams competing now, but because Panini have become more creative about allocating spaces.' For what it's worth, this blogger's own Panini collection goes all the way back to the 1970 World Cup, when he was six. And, stopped after 1978. Because, by 1982, he was eighteen. And, a bloody grown up. Just sayin'.
Ayoze Perez's late goal gave yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved (though unsellable) Newcastle United a victory which moved them a big step closer towards Premier League safety and left Huddersfield Town in danger of dropping back into the Championship. The hosts had looked like being frustrated as they missed a number of decent chances to take the lead early on against the cautious Terriers. Matt Ritchie was denied one-on-one by Huddersfield keeper Jonas Lossl before Dwight Gayle saw his lob drop just wide of the post. Only Malaga have failed to score in more games than Huddersfield this season in any of Europe's top five leagues and they rarely threatened in this encounter. Huddersfield, that is, not Malaga. They weren't playing. It appeared as if Huddersfield would hold on for an important point until Perez turned in Kenedy's smart cross ten minutes from time to secure a vital win which lifts The Bonny Magpies to twelfth in the Premier League table with thirty five points, seven points above the relegation zone. Huddersfield, meanwhile, remain three points above eighteenth-placed Southampton, who lost at three-nil at West Hamsters United and are now without a win in their last four Premier League games. Elsewhere, Mohamed Salah's late goal snatched a victory for Liverpool Alabama Yee-Haws at Crystal Palace and left Palace two points above the relegation zone, Leicester scored twice and had Wilfred Ndidi sent off in the last few minutes to claim a dramatic win at Brighton & Hove Albinos, Romelu Lukaku scored his one hundredth Premier League goal as The Scum strengthened their grip on second place and dented Swansea City's survival hopes, Jermain Defoe scored a ninety second-minute equaliser as Bournemouth denied Watford victory at Vicarage Road and Ashley Barnes' spectacular volley kept Burnley's European hopes alive and condemned basement club West Bromwich Albinos to a Premier League record eighth successive defeat.
Former Australian captain Steve Smith and vice-captain David Warner have been very banned for a year from all domestic and international cricket for their naughty illegal ball-tampering ways. Cameron Bancroft, who carried out the filthy cheating in question in South Africa, was given a nine-month ban by Cricket Australia. The three had already been sent home from Australia's tour amid widespread condemnation stretching beyond sport. Australia's Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull said that the affair 'bitterly disappointed the whole nation.' Smith and Bancroft have also been suspended from captaining Australia for 'at least' the next two years. Warner will not be considered for 'any team leadership positions in the future,' Cricket Australia said. Following Cricket Australia's investigation into the incident, the body also said that Bancroft had used sandpaper to damage the ball during the third test against South Africa. It found that Smith and Bancroft had made 'misleading public comments' when on Saturday they instead claimed to a press conference that it had been yellow tape. Cricket Australia had already concluded that coach Darren Lehmann was not involved in the controversy and that he would remain in his post. Though it was subsequently announced that Lehman will be quitting his role at the end of the current series. The body's chief executive James Sutherland said that the three players were 'sad, disappointed and remorseful.' He added: 'This has caused damage to the game as a whole and certainly to Cricket Australia. It has compromised the fans' faith in cricket and it's our responsibility to reinstate that confidence. It appears to be an isolated incident but if there are other allegations we will take them further. There was some courage in owning up but there was an element of untruth and that's something we took into consideration.' Smith, Warner and Bancroft are banned from international and Australian domestic cricket. They will also serve one hundred hours of 'voluntary service in community cricket.' Cricket Australia said that the players would be 'permitted to play [Australian] club cricket and will be encouraged to do so.' They also remain eligible for competitions outside of Australia, but earlier on Wednesday, Smith and Warner were also banned from this season's Indian Premier League. In January the pair were signed to the most lucrative Twenty20 contracts ever offered to an Australian player - reportedly worth over a million knicker each. Before Wednesday's IPL ban, Warner stepped down as captain of Indian Premier League side Sunrisers Hyderabad. Smith stood down as captain of Rajasthan Royals on Monday. IPL chairman Rajeev Shukla said: 'The players that [Cricket Australia] have banned, we are also barring those two players from this season. The franchises will get replacements for the players.' Bancroft had been due to play for Somerset this season. On Monday Somerset said they would wait and 'collate all the relevant information before considering our next steps.' After Bancroft's actions were exposed on Saturday, Smith admitted that the Australian 'leadership group' had 'devised a plan' to tamper with the ball. Images showed Bancroft take an item out of his trouser pocket before rubbing the ball with it. After the game, Smith described the events as 'a big mistake' but added that he would not stand down as captain. Following the conclusion of the third test - South Africa won by three hundred and twenty two runs after an Australian batting collapse - the International Cricket Council banned Smith for one match and fined him his entire match fee. Bancroft was fined seventy five per cent of his match fee and given three demerit points. Having begun its own investigation after the match, Cricket Australia told reporters on Tuesday that it would look to sanction the players - in addition to the punishments by the ICC. Australian cricket commentator Jim Maxwell told Radio 5Live his 'understanding' was that after lunch, Smith saw Bancroft and Warner 'in collusion.' Maxwell said that Smith had said to the pair: 'What are you blokes doing? I don't want to know what you're doing,' before then going out onto the field. Several former players had raised concerns over the position of coach Lehmann. He was spotted in communication via walkie-talkie with the twelfth man during the match, leading to some to speculate that he had been involved in the plan to cheat. Former coach John Buchanan said that it would have been 'highly unusual' for Lehmann not to be aware of his players' plans. However, Sutherland claimed that Lehmann had been using the walkie-talkie to ask 'what was going on?' and Cricket Australia was 'satisfied he wasn't involved. I want to make that point very clear. Darren is the coach. He continues as coach under his current contract,' Sutherland added. 'It appears to be an isolated incident but if there are other allegations we will take them further.' Meanwhile, former England captain Michael Vaughan has said that he is 'pretty sure' Australia were tampering with the ball during England's Ashes series defeat. The ICC has said it will not be investigating those claims, as the deadline for reporting any such offence has passed. However, it is expected to discuss Australia's ball-tampering against South Africa at its next board meeting at the end of April. Sutherland said that while the South Africa incident 'does appear to be isolated,' Cricket Australia had the powers to investigate should further credible allegations arise. The players involved could also suffer financial losses as sponsors seek to distance themselves from the matter - South Korean electronics company LG has already decided not to renew a sponsorship deal with Warner. Sutherland had on Tuesday been reluctant to use the word 'cheating' when Cricket Australia announced that Warner, Smith and Bancroft would be sent home. Despite being asked twice directly whether they had cheated or not, he said: 'In the laws of the game, this is not in the spirit of the game. It is not a good day for Australian cricket.' On Wednesday he was asked the same question and replied: 'I think people want to use their own words but certainly cheating is one of those that would be appropriate. It's compromised the fans' faith in cricket.' Subsequently, both Smith and Warner made tearful appearances in front of the press, weaselling about their failed honesty and snivelling like girls whilst begging for forgiveness for their badness. Warner, in particular, has been a highly controversial figure in world cricket over the last few years. He was suspended for the majority of the 2013 Champions Trophy after punching England batsman Joe Root in a bar in Birmingham. The left-hander was nicknamed 'The Bull' when he began his career but his team-mates began calling him 'The Reverend' after he gave up alcohol. Despite his reputation for being something of bullying scumbag, he was named vice-captain when Smith took over from Michael Clarke and he led Australia in Smith's absence in the recent Twenty20 tri-series against England and New Zealand. He was fined after the first test against South Africa for an altercation with Proteas wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock. The Sydney Morning Herald described Warner's press conference as an example of someone who was 'sorry, but self-interested.' Others highlighted his apparent unwillingness to give straight answers to questions about who else may have been involved in the ball-tampering malarkey. Warner has also been branded as a hypocrite after criticising having publicly South African ball-tampering two years before he, seemingly, asked a teammate to do exactly the same thing. Faf Du Plessis was fined for using saliva from a mint in his mouth to boost shine on the ball in a test against Australia in Hobart in 2016. After the game, Warner lectured: 'I just know from an Australian cricket perspective, we hold our heads high and I'd be very disappointed if one of our team members did that. If you're going to overstep that mark and you get fined, be prepared to miss Test matches as well. The rules are in place for a reason, if you're not gonna use them, then why bother having them?' Why, indeed.
The UK's top police officer has blamed social media for 'normalising violence' and 'leading more children to commit stabbings' and murders. Met Police commissioner Cressida Dick - who is definitely not mental, just in case you were wondering - told The Times that social media sites 'rev people up' and make street violence 'more likely.' Fatal stabbings in England and Wales are at their highest levels since 2011. Dick announced a new task force of about one hundred officers to tackle violent crime in London. Dick says she 'believes' social media 'makes it harder for people to cool down,' adding: 'I'm sure it does rev people up. There's definitely something about the impact of social media in terms of people being able to go from slightly angry with each other to "fight" very quickly,' she said. A trivial disagreement could escalate into violence 'within minutes,' Dick added, with disputes on sites such as YouTube identified by detectives as 'partly to blame.' Linking the 'incredibly abusive' language online to street violence, she said: 'I think it certainly makes it more likely, it makes it faster it allows a conversation of a "show off" sort that involves violence.' Dick also told the paper that gangs who post on social media or share videos provoking rivals can 'glamorise violence.' She said that stop and search is 'likely to go on going up,' adding: 'We will be out on the streets more.' In September last year, the MP for Croydon Central, Sarah Jones, claimed that social media was 'fuelling an escalation in the cycle of violence among young people.' She called for ministers to 'crack down' on online material promoting knife crime, naming YouTube, Snapchat and Instagram as 'problem sites.
A man in the UK has caught the world's 'worst-ever' case of 'super-gonorrhoea.' He reportedly had a regular partner in the UK, but picked up the superbug after a sexual encounter with a woman in South-East Asia. Public Health England says it is the first time the infection cannot be cured with first choice antibiotics. Health officials are now tracing any other sexual partners of the man, who has not been identified, in an attempt to contain the infection's spread. The main antibiotic treatment - a combination of azithromycin and ceftriaxone - has failed to treat his disease-ridden dong. Doctor Gwenda Hughes, from Public Health England, said: 'This is the first time a case has displayed such high-level resistance to both of these drugs and to most other commonly used antibiotics.' Discussions with the World Health Organization and the European Centres for Disease Control agree that this is a world first. The disease is caused by the bacterium called Neisseria gonorrhoeae. The infection is spread by unprotected vaginal, oral and anal sex. Of those infected, about one in ten heterosexual men and more than three-quarters of women and gay men, have no easily recognisable symptoms. But symptoms can include a thick green or yellow discharge from sexual organs, pain when urinating and bleeding between periods. Apparently. Untreated infection can lead to infertility, pelvic inflammatory disease and difficulty pissing and can be passed on to a child during pregnancy. Analysis of the man's infection suggests that one last antibiotic could work. He is currently being treated and doctors will see if it has been successful next month.
A police officer allegedly tried to prevent his daughter from being prosecuted for driving while talking to him on a mobile phone. The Avon and Somerset Police officer, known as 'PC B', is said to have 'urged' volunteer officers to drop the case after the incident last October. He is alleged to have repeatedly told the special constables to leave the matter to him. The officer faces a three-day gross misconduct hearing next week. The woman handed her mobile phone to two special constables who had pulled her over on 28 October and 'PC B' allegedly told them that she had only been driving for a couple of months and could lose her licence. He repeatedly told them they should leave the matter to him and he would 'talk to her' at home, it is alleged. Documents released ahead of the hearing say that he told the special constables it was 'just a silly mistake' and that he continually questioned the account of one of them. The papers claim that PC B 'deliberately sought to place pressure on the special constables to take no action against his daughter. In the alternative, it is alleged that regardless of PC B's intentions, he caused or permitted the special constables to feel pressured.' Driving whilst using a mobile phone can lead to a six point penalty and a two hundred knicker fine and newly qualified drivers can lose their licence. The misconduct hearing will take place on 4 April.
Last week on one of the obscure digital channels, this blogger happened upon the 2015 version of The Fantastic Four, which he had studiously avoided up till that point given the contemporary reviews of it which described it as, quite possibly, the single worst film ever made. By anyone. Ever. Watching it (or, at least, about three quarters of it), this blogger found that he entirely agreed with those highly negative contemporary reviews. Jeez, it really was fuckawful! So wretched, in fact, that - in Keith Telly Topping's mind, at least - it conspired to make the previous decade's Jessica Alba-Michael Chiklis-Ioan Gruffudd version (which this blogger paid good money to see when it came out and thought was, frankly, a right old shower of shit) look like Casablanca in comparison. This week, E4 showed the 2005 version and, watching it again, whilst it still wasn't very good (Julian McMahon's going so far over the top he was down the other side which did, admittedly, have a certain camp charm about it notwithstanding), compared to what this blogger had watched the previous week, Keith Telly Topping thought to himself 'this is Citizen Kane!'
And now, dear blog reader, for us Good Friday dinner at Stately Telly Topping Manor, we had chicken and sliced mushroom tikka masala with wild basmati rice, coconut, red peppers, shallots, sweetcorn, cumin, fresh parsley, coriander, ground black pepper, garlic, paprika, crushed chillis, lemon, honey and prawn crackers. Skill. It was, also us dinner on Easter Saturday since this blogger made so much.
Bill Maynard, who has died at the age of eighty nine, was probably best known to younger dead blog readers as the loveable rogue Claude Jeremiah Greengrass, in the police drama Heartbeat and to those of a slightly older age as the hapless handyman and all-round public nuisance in Roy Clarke's 1970s ITV sitcom Oh No, It's Selwyn Froggitt! ('Magic!') But Bill had a long and sometimes difficult career that took him from variety shows to cinema and television. In real life Maynard shared many similarities with his best known characters, a predilection for racehorses, greyhounds and booze. At one stage he was the best paid TV comic in Britain but he squandered his earnings. He was born Walter Frederick George Williams in October 1928 in the village of Heath End in Surrey. At the age of eight he was performing in Working Men's Clubs, doing George Formby impressions. He lost part of the middle finger of his right hand in a childhood accident with a mangle. He later dabbled with becoming a professional footballer, apprenticed aged fifteen to Leicester City and then Notts County, but he was eventually forced back to the stage by a knee injury. He returned to showbusiness as a band singer making his TV debut in 1953's Face The Music and, later, coming second in the British heat of the 1957 Eurovision Song Contest. But, he struggled to get a break as a comedian at the Windmill Theatre. His luck changed after encountering another young stand-up, Terry Scott whilst both were working as redcoats at Butlin's in Skegness. By this time he had changed his stage name to Maynard - a name, as he later revealed in a BBC interview, that he saw a on poster for Maynard's wine gums. He and Scott became TV stars in the 1950s with their own BBC comedy show, Great Scott, It's Maynard (1955-56).
The partnership ended when Maynard decided to embark on a career as a serious actor, although his first solo venture was another comedy, Mainly Maynard (1957). But he was not paying enough attention to his finances and the Inland Revenue took his money, his home and his cars for unpaid taxes. Maynard spent several years in obscurity, forced to take bit-parts in repertory companies and making small appearances in programmes like Coronation Street, Till Death Us Do Part, No Hiding Place and Up Pompeii! Rebuilding his career, he was part of the team that presented The One O'Clock Show for Tyne Tees Television in Newcastle (1959 to 1964). He appeared, to critical acclaim, in Dennis Potter's television play Paper Roses (1971), about the last day in the life of a reporter and another notable straight role followed when he appeared in Colin Welland's Kisses at Fifty (1973). Around the same time, Maynard worked with Ronnie Barker on Football Blues which was eventually made as Spanners Eleven, part of a series of vehicles for Barker, Seven Of One, which also included the pilots of both Porridge and Open All Hours. After a pilot episode in 1974, he starred in the Yorkshire Television sitcom Oh No, It's Selwyn Froggitt! (1976 to 78) in which he played the eponymous lead. The programme ran for four series, the last, in 1978, as Selwyn.
Later, for the same ITV contractor, he played Fred Moffatt in The Gaffer (1981 to 1983). At the height of Selwyn's popularity, he recorded a song in tribute to the sport of stock car racing released, to very little acclaim, on the appropriately named Crash Records. Bill also had small roles in five of the Carry On films, including Carry On Matron (1972) and Carry On Dick (1974) - although he professed to be 'baffled' by their popularity - and appeared as a Yorkshire farmer in It Shouldn't Happen To A Vet (1975). His CV also included appearances in The Alma Cogan Show, The Six-Five Special, Juke Box Jury, Celebrity Squares, Whodunnit?, The Ugliest Girl In Town, Thirty Minute Theatre, Sykes, Love Thy Neighbour, The Boy With Two Heads, Zodiac, Hunter's Walk, The Inheritors, The Life of Riley, The Sweeney, Alan Plater's Trinity Tales (as Stan The Fryer), Paradise Island, Tales Of The Unexpected, Andy Robson, In Sickness & In Health and Dalziel & Pascoe. He was the subject of This Is Your Life in 1974. Bill published his first autobiography The Yo-Yo Man in November 1975 and a sequel, Stand Up ... And Be Counted, in 1997. During 1984, he stood as an Independent Labour candidate against Tony Benn in a by-election in Chesterfield and extremely lost his deposit. He said that he had only done it to try and keep Benn out of parliament. It was his only venture into politics. In April 1992, he returned to Yorkshire Television and began playing the lovable old rogue Greengrass in the popular and long running television series Heartbeat. It was a part that seemed to have been specifically created for him. Greengrass had initially been written as a minor background character, but given a fair amount of latitude for interpreting his part Maynard was able to work with the scriptwriters to develop the character's idiosyncrasies and infuse the old rascal with outsized personality which resulted into his becoming one of the most popular characters on the drama. 'The producers said that Heartbeat wasn't likely to last,' he noted. 'But [they] asked that I give Greengrass, who only had a few lines, an injection of humour. It was the easiest role I've ever played because they allowed me so much freedom. I got the idea for him to wear that old grey army coat from when I did The Caretaker on stage so it appeared that he had a heroic past in the military.'
At its peak in 1997, Heartbeat attracted more than sixty per cent of the Sunday night audience, earning Maynard a reputed six hundred grand a year. His character was written out of the show in 2000 after Bill had suffered several strokes, but he returned in 2003 in a spin-off series set in a hospital entitled, The Royal. From 2003 to 2008 he had a BBC Radio Leicester show - Bill Of Fare - and he celebrated sixty years since his first TV appearance in 2013 by releasing a version of 'What A Wonderful World'. Subsequently confined to wheelchairs and mobility scooters he latterly found a new lease of life giving lectures on humour and acting and having discovered the joys of high stakes poker. Speaking at the time, he said that 'making people laugh and smile brings me a lot of personal satisfaction. I am delighted to be still in the entertainment industry doing what I love most - seventy six years since I began my career,' he added. 'I have had an amazing career and I consider myself to be very lucky to still have the energy and enthusiasm to take on new work.' His first wife, Muriel, died from cancer just as he was tasting his second round of success, leaving Maynard to care for their two young children. He went on to marry Donald Campbell's widow, Tonia. He leaves a daughter, Jane and a son - the musician Maynard Williams, five grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

History Is A Cyclic Poem Written By Time Upon The Memories Of Man

We are fast approaching the time when Doctor Who fans get to meet the new Doctor, played by yer actual Jodie Whittaker her very self. You knew that, right? Anyway, the eleventh series of the BBC's popular long-running family SF drama, which will introduce viewers to Jodie, is currently expected to begin on the BBC in October. But, how long can we expect the actress to be with the show? As Jodie revealed in an interview with the journalist Chrissy Iley, she isn't prepared to shed any light on that matter. When - rather impertinently - asked whether she had signed for more than one series, Jodie said: 'I am not allowed to answer that.' One could note - and, indeed, probably should - that this is seemingly the first time that any actor playing The Doctor has been asked the question and that had, for instance, David Tennant, Matt Smith or Peter Capaldi been asked it at this stage in their time as The Doctor, they would almost certainly have given the same - diplomatic, if entirely non-committal - reply. Except, of course, that they weren't asked the question; presumably because they were (and, in all three cases, still are) men and Jodie is not? The fact that the journalist in question is female makes such an intrusive line of questioning doubly shameful. In the extended version of the interview published in The Sunday Times, Jodie also revealed that she is not playing the character as a woman. 'I don't ever play being a woman, I wouldn't know how to play being a woman,' she said. 'Just like a man wouldn't know how to play being a man. It's me, but I am not bringing gender to my choices. I am bringing character to my choices.' God, the more this blogger hears of what this talented and intelligent lady is bringing to the table, the more he likes what he's hearing. She's gonna be great, dear blog reader. Jodie also spoke about her excitement at taking over the role and becoming the first female regeneration of the character. 'It feels completely overwhelming; as an actor, as a woman, as a feminist, as a human, as someone who wants to continually challenge themselves and not be boxed in by what you're told you can and can't be,' she said.
Grumpy Christopher Eccleston has been in even more spectacularly grumpy form than usual this week. Oh, pure dead grumpy, so he was. He has been speaking more openly than ever before about the behind-the-scenes malarkey which, he claims, led to his departure from Doctor Who in 2005. The actor has always been somewhat vague about the specific reasons which led to him leaving the popular long-running BBC family SF drama after a single series, fuelling countless rumours about disharmony on and off-set and disagreements between Eccleston and the series' then showrunner, Russell Davies. When a link to the Radio Times article in which these comments first appeared on Facebook, this blogger made the casual observation 'so, to sum up: Christopher Eccleston has been whinging about something again. There must be a "y" in the day, in that case.' Immediately Keith Telly Topping had some prick of no importance jumping down his throat for, allegedly, 'being a sycophant towards self-serving producers.' Actually, this blogger wasn't doing that or anything even remotely like it, he was merely noting that Big Ecc has considerable form when it comes to whinging about his lot in life. For what it's worth, this blogger think that Christopher Eccleston is a great actor, someone who - in just about everything yer actual Keith Telly Topping has seen him in - brings genuine star quality to the production. But, calling him 'a bit high maintenance' is a bit like describing Keith Richards as someone quite partial to hedonism. The bloke could start a fight on his own in a telephone box. And, to be fair, that's one of the reasons why we love 'im. Eccleston finally acknowledged that he did fall out with Big Rusty and other members of the Doctor Who production staff in the a'fore-mentioned Radio Times interview, admitting that 'both sides' had 'lost faith' in the others ability to continue working together. 'My relationship with my three immediate superiors - the showrunner, the producer and co-producer - broke down irreparably during the first block of filming and it never recovered,' he claimed. So, that would be Russell Davies, Phil Collinson and, depending on what he meant by 'co-producer' (no such job title existed on the show at that time) either one of the Executive Producers, Julie Gardner and Mal Young, or the Associate Producer, Helen Vallis. 'They lost trust in me and I lost faith and trust and belief in them.,' Big Ecc alleged. He later acknowledged: 'Some of my anger about the situation came from my own insecurity. They employed somebody [as The Doctor] who was not a natural light comedian. Billie [Piper] - who we know was and is brilliant - was very, very nervous and very, very inexperienced. So, you had that and, then you had me. Very experienced, possibly the most experienced on it, but out of my comfort zone.' The experience was apparently so 'stressful' that Eccleston believes he 'will never have' a working relationship again with Davies, with whom he had previously collaborated on the acclaimed and award-winning drama The Second Coming before making Doctor Who. Eccleston also told the Radio Times about why he refused to speak about his specific reasons for leaving Doctor Who in interviews until recently, disclosing that he had 'made a promise' to Davies that he 'wouldn't do anything to damage the show' when he left. 'But they did things to damage me. I didn't criticise anybody,' he argued. In actual fact, Eccleston has previously spoken about his departure from the series on several occasions - most notably in July 2010 when he was promoting his role in Lennon Naked; on that occasion he claimed that he 'didn't enjoy the environment and the culture' of the show. The only difference between his comments then and now are that this is the first time he has, specifically, named names. So, technically speaking, he is correct when he says he hasn't criticised anyone previously. He also spoke about the parting of the ways - the actual parting of the ways, not the final episode of Doctor Who in which he appeared - in 2013 in an interview with Radio 4's Loose Ends. And, also, in 2012 when interviewed by the Torygraph ('I know what went on and the people who were involved know what went on - that's good enough for me. My conscience is completely clear. I've lived my life, particularly my working life, on the basis that I have to be able to look at myself in the mirror about the way I behave'). Last week, Eccleston also grumpily suggested that his acrimonious departure from Doctor Who 'nearly' derailed his entire acting career. 'I gave them a hit show and I left with dignity and then they put me on a blacklist,' he alleged. 'I was carrying my own insecurities as it was something I had never done before and then I was abandoned, vilified in the tabloid press and blacklisted. I was told by my agent at the time, "The BBC regime is against you. You're going to have to get out of the country and wait for regime change."' Since his Doctor Who exit, of course, Eccleston has appeared in several BBC dramas including The Shadow Line, Lennon Naked, Accused, Blackout, The A Word and the forthcoming Come Home. So, obviously, this 'blacklist' which Big Ecc claims to have been on would appear to have considerably ... whitened in the interim.
This week's 'one question that yer actual Keith Telly Topping got right on Only Connect before the contestants did' was as follows ...
Monday's episode of From The North guilty pleasure MasterChef was unusual in so much as it didn't featured anyone bigging themselves up in the pre-game interview only to, subsequently, fall flat on their mush during the first round. Which was certainly novel. Thus, the discerning viewer had to look elsewhere for comedy value. 'Graphic designer Tasha enjoys combining her visual flair with her love for food,' said India Fisher, huskily, in voice-over. 'When I take inspiration for my dishes, I look at art - the way things are spatially on a plate, the negative and positive space so, I hope my creativity is going to be my strongest point,' Tasha added. But, sadly for her, it wasn't. And, neither was her cooking abilities for that matter (probably a touch more important to doing well in MasterChef than being able to make a plate of chips look like a Caravaggio, dare one suggest). Her mushroom ravioli, she told Gregg Wallace, was meant to show off her 'skill and creativity.' Instead, though by no means a disaster, it got her eliminated in the first round. A lesson, perhaps, for all future contestants - if your grub looks better than it tastes, unless you get really lucky you're probably going home. Whereas the reverse isn't, necessarily, true.
Also on MasterChef this week, Mental Veggie Jackie from the 2011 series was invited back as a guest judge on Wednesday's episode. Which caused something of a kerfuffle among people you've never heard of on social media - not entirely without justification given that some of the meals she was supposed to be 'judging' were meat or fish based. This then gave the Mirra a trivial story to fill some space. And, The London Economic did likewise. Because, obviously, there was no real news to report this week.
So, after twenty five years of searching for the truth, agents Scully and Mulder found it in this week's series eleven finale of The X-Files, My Struggle IV. Those fans who expressed a preference on social media - Twitter being, of course, The Sole Arbiter Of The Worth Of All Things - were somewhat split over the events in Gillian Anderson's last episode as it was revealed that Dana Scully and Fox Mulder's son, William, was not, actually, Mulder's son at all. As well as confirming a long-held suspicion that The Cigarette Smoking Man was the real 'father' of William, Scully revealed that she was, indeed, pregnant with Mulder's illegitimate love child at the episode's climax. Considering that From The North favourite Gillian Anderson has now announced her departure from the cult SF drama, some fans were left rather confused, if more than a tad unsatisfied, with that ending. But, The X-Files creator Chris Carter wants them to know that he has his reasons. Speaking to TVLine about the finale, Carter defended the cliffhanger, arguing that there will be more X-Files to come in the future, 'in some shape or form. I think there are lots more stories to tell and ways to tell them. I'm leaving this as a giant cliffhanger and Gillian has announced that she's not coming back,' he conceded. '[But] hardcore X-Files fans know there have been no real endings on the show.' Except, of course, that even the hardest of hardcore X-Files fans - and this blogger considers himself to be up there with the hardest - know that a show with David Duchovny but without Gillian Anderson is like The Morecambe & Wise Show without Eric Morecambe. Or Ant & Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway without Ant for that matter. Oh, hang on, that's happening, isn't it? Reflecting on the finale's controversial twist, Carter conceded: 'People will either love me or hate me. I think they'll have reasons for both. It certainly is one of the most interesting cliffhangers that the show has ever had.'
For what it's worth, this blogger thought The X-Files finale was absolutely rotten (and, he wasn't alone in that belief either it would seem; not alone in the slightest), particularly after the recent run of really rather good - written by someone other than Chris Carter - episodes. The deal is this, dear blog reader, Carter simply can't write even remotely believable dialogue, or at least he can't write remotely believable dialogue very well; we've known this since the 1990s, admittedly, but it's getting worse rather than better as time goes on. When he stays away from a word processor, The X-Files still has the ability to be a genuinely great show - as it has proved on several occasions this year - but Carter seems to be like someone with an obsessive disorder, he just can't help himself.
Still, at least the latest episode of Gotham - a preview copy of which turned up at Stately Telly Topping Manor from the US at the same time as The X-Files finale - was a bit more worthwhile.
After Britain was made to wait for a jolly long time for Gotham's third series to arrive, it seems that the current series four may be coming sooner than any UK fans had dared to hope. Channel Five broadcast the popular American fantasy drama for the first two series, but then mysteriously dropped it from the schedules and it was eventually acquired by Netflix a few days after its DVD and Blu-ray release, as well as only weeks before series four started in the US. Now, E4 has confirmed to the Digital Spy website that they will be broadcasting series four of Gotham. There is no confirmed transmission date as yet, but an advert shown on Thursday announced the news of Gotham's arrival to E4, so it would seem to be a case of sooner rather than later.
Britannia series two has been officially confirmed. Although getting what is fair to describe as mixed reviews, the nine-part Sky Atlantic series proved to be a decent-sized on-demand hit for Sky. In February, the channel reported that Britannia had drawn almost two million viewers in its first two weeks across linear and on-demand platforms, trumping both of Sky Atlantic's other original ventures Tin Star and Riviera. Filming will begin on the second series in the spring of 2018.
Sky also announced this week that another From The North guilty pleasure, Jamestown, has been recommissioned for a third series.
Matt LeBlanc has admitted that he wasn't prepared for the 'media shitstorm' which accompanied his arrival to the Top Gear presenting team. The actor, who had previously appeared on the show twice as the Star in a Reasonably Priced Car, joined as a host in 2016 when the programme was revamped following the exits of Jezza Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May. But, although LeBlanc himself went down quite well with the audience from Day One, the new show was not well-received overall, with much of the criticism directed at LeBlanc's co-host Chris Evans, who left after one series. 'I didn't realise I'd be stepping into the middle of a media shitstorm,' LeBlanc told The Times. 'I didn't know [Evans] was leaving. I get along fine with the guy. I read it in the paper.' LeBlanc co-hosts the series with Chris Harris and Rory Reid and has admitted that it now feels like 'more of a collaboration. I was just there to deliver some jokes and drive some cars [in his first series],' he said. 'I think the second season, after Chris Evans left, it became more of a collaboration. In Chris's hands, he was the guy in charge and when he left it became more of a collaboration. Certainly we're now more productive and more creative.' LeBlanc praised the Top Gear production team who 'work their asses off' and admitted that 'some changes were needed' after his first series. 'Of course you care what critics say. You don't want people talking bad about you,' he said. Reviews of the show are generally far more positive now and LeBlanc is reported to be 'in talks' to renew his contract on the BBC after his current deal ends this year.
And now, dear blog reader, the only news story which, seemingly, anyone in this country has been interested in this week; Wor Geet Canny Ant McPartlin has stepped down from all of his many TV presenting roles following his recent arrest on suspicion of drunkenly driving. His publicist said that McPartlin, who spent time in rehab last year, was 'taking time off for the foreseeable future' and would be 'having further treatment.' ITV's Saturday Night Takeaway will not be broadcast this weekend and the final two episodes of the series - scheduled for 31 March and 7 April - will not feature McPartlin. The presenter was involved in a collision in South-West London on Sunday with two other vehicles. And, the driver on one of the cars that he allegedly collided with lost no time in telling his story to the tabloids. 'I don't care whether he's a millionaire and I don't care whether he's a famous TV star, he could have put my daughter in a wheelchair,' Faheem Vanoo snitched to the Sun. Which one could suggest is an unwise thing for someone who may be called as a witness in a forthcoming court case to be talking about publicly at this stage. McPartlin's decision to step down comes following talks with his presenting partner - Wor Geet Canny Dec Donnelly - and with ITV. The final episode of Saturday Night Takeaway is due to be broadcast live from Universal Orlando Resort in Florida, with two hundred fans of the show flying out in a specially-chartered plane. This follows last year's series final, filmed at Disneyworld. Wor Geet Canny Dec will present Saturday Night Takeaway on his own for the rest of this series, ITV subsequently confirmed. Four words at this point. 'Ernie', 'Wise', 'solo' and 'career'. Just, something for ITV to be thinking about as they ponder a potentially Ant-less future. McPartlin's publicist said in a statement: 'Ant has decided to go back into treatment and step down from his current TV commitments. He has spoken with Dec and ITV today and asked for time off for the foreseeable future. As such, Saturday Night Takeaway will not be going ahead this Saturday.' McPartlin was reportedly driving his Mini in Mortlake on Sunday afternoon when he was involved in a collision involving two other cars. The forty two-year-old was arrested after failing a roadside breathalyser test. A child passenger in one of the cars was taken to hospital for a check-up as a precaution, the Metropolitan Police confirmed. A 'number of people' were treated for minor injuries. McPartlin was taken to a South London police station for questioning before being released on Monday. An ITV spokesman said: 'ITV has taken a joint decision with Ant and/or Dec's team not to broadcast Saturday Night Takeaway this weekend. We will be reviewing options for the last two episodes of the series (31 March and 7 April) which would not feature Ant who is taking time off to seek treatment. We very much hope that he gets the help that he needs.' McPartlin, who co-hosts several ITV shows with Donnelly, including I'm A Z-List Former Celebrity Desperate To Get My Boat-Race Back On TV ... Please Vote For Me To Stay Here As Long As Possible (I'll Even Eat Worms If You Want) and Britain's Got Toilets, confirmed in January he was divorcing Lisa Armstrong, his wife of eleven years. The BAFTA-winner spent two months in rehab last year after admitting to painkiller and alcohol addictions. He said that the addiction stemmed from a painful knee operation in 2015. McPartlin also claimed that he was 'clean' from drugs and alcohol in August and he returned to presenting duties in November on I'm A Z-List Former Celebrity Desperate To Get My Boat-Race Back On TV ... Please Vote For Me To Stay Here As Long As Possible (I'll Even Eat Worms If You Want). He and Donnelly have established themselves as one of Britain's most popular TV double acts over the course of their careers and, for the seventeenth consecutive year, were voted by viewers as TV's best entertainment presenters at the National Television Awards in January. McPartlin attended Kingston police station on Wednesday where he was interviewed under caution and was charged with drink driving just as a bunch of fellow ITV presenters were lining up to give live, on-air, brown-tongued character testimonials as to what a 'rilly great bloke' he is. The presenter will appear at Wimbledon Magistrates' Court on 4 April. Meanwhile, as part of ITV's rejigged line-up for 24 March, the movie Fast & Furious 5 will be shown. Which got the knickers of some people on social media all in a twist.
Suzuki has axed a series of TV adverts featuring Ant and/or Dec after Ant McPartlin's drink driving charge. The car firm will still sponsor the remaining two episodes of the current series of Saturday Night Takeaway, but the duo will not appear in any of its commercials. 'No further material featuring the duo will be aired and Suzuki's endorsement deal with the pair has come to an end,' the company said in a rather terse statement. It added: 'We agree with ITV and Ant and Dec that it was the correct decision not to broadcast Saturday Night Takeaway this weekend. As a car brand, we recognise the seriousness of Ant's charge. We completely support Ant's decision to seek treatment. Suzuki will however continue to sponsor the last two episodes of this series of Saturday Night Takeaway with our current idents. Suzuki very much supports Dec and ITV's decision to broadcast the shows and as headline sponsors we also want to support the competition winners who have won places on the plane to Florida for the series finale.' Suzuki's deal with Ant and/or Dec saw it sponsor Saturday Night Takeaway and the series production teams and writers also produced the - usually really annoying - adverts featuring the duo for Suzuki. The two-year deal was signed in December 2015 and was worth an estimated twenty million knicker, according to the trade publication Campaign.
The only other story of any interest to the vast majority of punters this week was, seemingly, a load of nonsense about some people on Twitter urging others to leave Facebook because of security concerns. To which, for once, this blogger is happy to turn to another Twitterer for an adequate - and very perceptive - reply.
You should also probably consider removing yourself from the electoral roll, having your phone disconnected, stop paying all of your utility bills, cancel your season ticket at your local football club and, basically, go and live in a cave. That way, no one will have access to your personal details. Because you won't have any.

This week Coronation Street showed its first male rape storyline, proving to be one of its most controversial topics to date. The scenes, which saw the character of Josh Tucker drug and sexually assault David Platt, have generated over one hundred whinges to Ofcom. It has also caused a debate on social media about the place of difficult real-life issues on 'entertainment' programmes. David's storyline has gone some way to highlight how seriously soaps take issue-based storylines and how much work goes into them. Ryan Clayton - who plays Josh - told the BBC News website he 'can't stress the importance enough' of why stories like this need to be brought to a wider audience. 'The great thing, with whatever soap is covering it, is you've got millions of people tuning into a programme,' he said. The story of male rape is not new to soaps; Hollyoaks was the first to cover it - initially in 2000 with Luke Morgan and then again in 2015 with John Paul McQueen. Clayton syggested that the reason the current Coronation Street story has caused such a stir is because 'Corrie targets an older generation' who he believes can be 'naive' about such issues, in comparison to a younger audience. He also hopes that the 'difficult' scenes could encourage viewers who have been victims of sexual assault to speak out for the first time. Clayton worked with Duncan Craig, who used his own experience of rape and sexual assault to advise on every part of the story - from the moment the idea was discussed to the day it was filmed and edited. His charity, Survivors Manchester, has also been involved in offering advice to victims off the back of the show. 'I wanted it to be like real life,' Craig told the BBC. 'Not the rape on Friday, telling the police on Monday and punishing the perpetrator on Tuesday.' He says that the team at Coronation Street, headed by executive producer Kate Oakes, listened to his ideas throughout the entire process. Craig - who has waived his right to anonymity - was involved in script-writing, filming scenes and working with actors on the show to make sure that everything 'felt like an accurate portrayal.' He first got involved in advising soaps on rape storylines by working on the John Paul scripts with a team of Hollyoaks writers. 'When I found out the character [who was to be raped] was David Platt, I knew this was so vitally important as he is someone viewers have grown up with - it feels like he's part of their family,' says Craig. 'Corrie is an institution and a national treasure and I thought we had a real opportunity to show that rape can happen to anyone.' He highlights certain aspects of the story as being particularly 'significant', including the fact that David is straight and was raped by a man whose sexuality is unknown - adding that, in many instances, it is automatically assumed the rapist is gay. 'It was important that David was not raped by a stranger because that story's been told in drama a few times - victims are more likely to know the perpetrator,' Craig adds. Something both Craig and Clayton also mention is the importance in the story of accurately portraying male mental health. 'David has never had a positive relationship with men. Recently his half-brother has disappeared and he's never really known his dad,' Craig adds. Clayton says he made sure to correctly portray the most sensitive aspects of the story - including grooming David and slipping the date-rape drug GHB into his drink - when playing Josh. 'Every bit of information from David's past, Josh laps up and takes to his advantage,' says Clayton. 'He's very manipulative and takes an opportunity - David needs a new male role model. In Josh's mind he won't accept that he's raped David; he sees it as a night of fun, [that] David is the one with a troubled past.' The storyline also brought a new element to the soap - looking at the idea of male vulnerability. 'Maybe there's a crisis in masculinity,' Craig adds, when asked why some people have reacted so negatively to the plot. 'Men don't know what it means to be a man or how they should be and this is a huge story to talk about. It's about shame, guilt, anxiety and depression, sense of self and worthlessness, not being able to be a "man" and is connected to psychological well being. Rape and sexual assault is about power and control and when someone's had this asserted over them, you're left with a sense of nothingness.' Clayton adds: 'If you look at the figures for male rape, on average it takes men twenty years to open up. When you think about the way men deal with it, some will take it to the grave.'
Kelly Macdonald and John Hannah will appear in new BBC drama The Victim. The cast for the four-part series - written and created by The Man In The High Castle writer Rob Williams - was announced on Thursday and also includes James Harkness. The Victim is set in Edinburgh and follows Anna Dean (played by Macdonald), an Edinburgh mother whose son was murdered fifteen years ago. Having campaigned to be told of the killer's new identity and whereabouts, Anna is accused of revealing his new name online. Meanwhile, Craig Myers' (Harkness) life is turned upside down when he is branded as the notorious child murderer living under a new identity. But, is he simply the tragic victim of mistaken identity? 'The character of Craig gives me a fantastic opportunity to play someone faced with incredible circumstance,' said Harkness. 'Rob's writing takes Craig to lots of different places in his life. I feel very lucky to be telling this story. I can't wait to start.' Hannah added: 'It is great to be back filming in Scotland especially as Rob has delivered in Detective Inspector Grover an exquisitely drawn character. On first appearance he seems pretty straight forward but I'm pleased to report that audiences will soon find out that this is far from the case.'
The BBC's latest Agatha Christie adaptation, Ordeal By Innocence, hit the headlines last year after a decision was made to edit out the actor Ed Westwick from the production. Director Sandra Goldbacher and producer Damien Timmer have explained why they chose to delay the original broadcast date of December and replace the Gossip Girl actor in the role of Mickey Argyll. It came after Westwick was accused of rape by two women in November, allegations which he continues to strenuously deny. Speaking to Radio Times, Goldbacher - who directed the two-part adaptation - explained that, had they not recast Westwick, the murder mystery would have 'been indefinitely delayed.' Thus, the decision was made to recast and reshoot - despite the challenge of reassembling the cast and shooting in an entirely different season - and the drama will now finally be shown on Easter Sunday. 'Hundreds and hundreds of people's work would have just gone or been indefinitely delayed,' she said. 'Which would have been devastating for everyone.' She also explained that watching Sir Ridley Scott replace Kevin Spacey with Christopher Plummer in the John Paul Getty biopic All The Money In The World 'encouraged' her to follow suit. 'I felt encouraged by Ridley Scott having done it,' she said. 'It was like a sort of talisman for us all - he's done it, so we can do it.' Christian Cooke will now play Mickey in the series. 'Every era throws up new challenges that impact on filming,' added Timmer. 'You might always have shot a series in a location that suddenly becomes a terrorist zone. The industry adapts and finds ways of working around whatever the issue is at the time.' Westwick is denying all allegations against him and has vowed to publicly clear his name. 'It is disheartening and sad to me that as a result of two unverified and provably untrue social media claims, there are some in this environment who could ever conclude I have had anything to do with such vile and horrific conduct,' Westwick wrote. 'I have absolutely not and I am cooperating with the authorities so that they can clear my name as soon as possible.'
Sky and HBO's upcoming drama based on the catastrophic Chernobyl disaster in the 1980s has added two more names to its cast. Good Will Hunting and Mamma Mia's Stellan Skarsgård will be joining the five-part mini-series alongside his Breaking The Waves co-star Emily Watson. The drama, which will be shown on Sky Atlantic, will chronicle the events of the 1986 nuclear tragedy and the people caught up in it. Skarsgård will play Boris Shcherbina, a government official who was appointed leader of the Kremin's commission on Chernobyl in the immediate aftermath of the accident. Meanwhile, Watson will take on the role of Ulana Khomyuk, a nuclear physicist committed to solving the mystery of what led to the disaster - something which quickly leads her down a troubling and dangerous path. Skarsgård and Watson join The Crown's Jared Harris, whose role as a Kremlin-backed Soviet scientist was announced last year. 'Nobody would see it as a privilege to spend five months in a dilapidated nuclear plant, unless it was to play in a script like this' Skarsgård said of the ambitious project, while Watson said that she was 'honoured' to take part in the Craig Mazin-penned series. 'This is a significant piece of work and I'm honoured to be part of it. I can't wait to get started with this amazing group of people and am especially excited to be working with Stellan again,' she added. Chernobyl, which will begin production in Lithuania this Spring, will be directed by Johan Renck and will mark Sky and HBO's first major project together.
The Crown and Taboo lead the 2018 BAFTA Craft nominations. The nominees for outstanding achievement in television craft were unveiled on Thursday, with The Crown picking up the most nominations. The Netflix drama scored seven nominations in areas including costume design, editing, visual effects, sound editing and writing. The BBC's Tom Hardy drama Taboo picked up six nominations, whilst From The North favourite Peaky Blinders received five. Charlie Brooker's Black Mirror also scored five nominations – including one for Brooker for his script Hang The DJ – as did Blue Planet II. Elsewhere, Game Of Thrones picked up two nominations - for costume and production design.
Keeley Hawes and Michael Stuhlbarg will star in forthcoming Channel Four drama Jerusalem. Filming has already begun on the six-part period thriller, which will also star Emma Appleton, Luke Treadaway, Matt Lauria, Brandon P Bell and Stephen Campbell Moore. Set in the aftermath of World War II, Jerusalem follows Feef Symonds (Appleton), who joins the civil service in 1945 and agrees to spy on the British government for the Americans. Hawes will play Priscilla, Feef's exacting boss at the civil service, who is teased as "an unlikely role model of what a woman can achieve in a man's world". Stuhlbarg will play an American zealot named Rowe. Jerusalem was written and created by award-winning playwright Bash Doran, whose other writing credits include Boardwalk Empire and Masters Of Sex, in his first original commission for British TV.
On Friday Lennie James posted a video on the official Sky Atlantic Twitter page announcing that there will be a second series of Save Me. The drama, which James wrote and starred in, has proved to be a hit with viewers on Sky Atlantic. Save Me follows the story of Nelson Rowe, who must defend himself when accused of a terrible crime which he did not commit. Directed by BAFTA winner Nick Murphy, the series also stars Suranne Jones and Stephen Graham.
The BBC has dismissed ludicrous and - entirely unsuspiciously agenda-soaked - whinges that Newsnight altered a photo of Jeremy Corbyn to make him 'look more Russian.' Last Thursday's show used a graphic of the Labour leader next to images of Moscow as the backdrop to an item about his response to the Salisbury poisoning. Critics - albeit, no anyone that actually matters - whinged on social media that his hat was 'digitally altered' and it was designed to make him look like 'a Soviet stooge.' But Corbyn's attire was 'not in any way altered or "Photoshopped" to appear "more Russian"', the BBC said. In response to the whinges, a statement from the corporation said the programme had 'a long-running tradition of arresting graphics,' which were 'applied to all types of stories.' The backdrop - showing Moscow's Red Square - had previously been used in a similar mock-up showing the Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson, it said. It added: 'Mister Corbyn has been photographed wearing this particular hat and coat many times and they were not, in any way, altered or "Photoshopped" to appear "more Russian."' On Friday, the left-wing columnist and serial whinger Owen Jones appeared on the programme and whinged to presenter Evan Davis: 'The media framing has been a disgrace and I have to say that includes your own programme. Yesterday the background of your programme you had Jeremy Corbyn dressed up against the Kremlin skyline, dressed up as a Soviet stooge. You even Photoshopped his hat to look more Russian. People should complain to the BBC about that kind of thing.' Newsnight's acting editor, Jess Brammar, defended the show on Saturday on Twitter. 'By all means criticise Newsnight. That's healthy and we will always welcome people like Owen Jones coming on the show to criticise us from our own studio. But no one photoshopped a hat.' The BBC has not revealed how many whinges were made on the issue. Or, indeed, whether they had used the opportunity to tell those who had whinged about it to, you know, grow the fuck up.
The BBC has said that it wants to keep FM radio 'for the foreseeable future' rather than switch over entirely to digital. BBC director of radio and music Bob Shennan said that 'audiences want choice. We need to do more in the UK before we consider a switchover and for that to be genuinely led by the audience,' he told a conference in Vienna. 'We are fully committed to digital and we believe we should review the landscape again in a few years' time.' The government is due to undertake a review of FM and DAB later this spring, once digital listeners make up fifty per cent of consumers - a figure which has almost been reached. Shennan told the Radiodays Europe audience that it would be 'premature' to shutdown analogue entirely. 'Great progress has been made but switchover now would be premature,' he said. 'For now we believe audiences are best served by a mixed economy. Radio is better served by a mixed economy.' One big advantage of DAB radio is that there is space for more stations as the FM spectrum is overcrowded. But DAB coverage and reception can still be patchy in some areas and while the majority of new cars are fitted with DAB radios, millions without them are still on the roads.
Pam Dawber has claimed that she was 'flashed and groped' by the late Robin Williams when they worked together on the sitcom Mork & Mindy. The two played the title characters in the ABC sitcom from 1978 to 1982, with Williams becoming an emerging comedy superstar throughout the show's run. Williams's on-set behaviour has been called into question in a new book about his life, written by the New York Times journalist Dave Itzkoff. In excerpts of Robin published by the Daily Scum Mail, director Howard Storm and Mork & Mindy's late creator Garry Marshall describe conduct from Williams which 'would be seen as inappropriate in Hollywood today.' Garry Marshall describes rehearsals where Williams 'would take all his clothes off' and 'be standing there totally naked' while Dawber was trying to act. Storm details an incident where, he claims, Williams 'touched an elderly actress's buttocks' with a cane in front of the cast and crew, recalling: 'There was nothing lascivious about it, in his mind. It was just Robin being Robin and he thought it would be funny. He could get away with murder.' Dawber acknowledges in the memoir that she was 'physically grabbed' by Williams and that he exposed himself to her, but insists she never took offence to this behaviour. 'I had the grossest things done to me by him. And I never took offence,' she is quoted as saying in Robin. 'I was flashed, humped, bumped, grabbed. I think he probably did it to a lot of people, but it was so much fun. Somehow he had that magic. If you put it on paper you would be appalled. But somehow he had this guileless little thing that he would do - those sparkly eyes. He'd look at you, really playful, like a puppy, all of a sudden. And then he'd grab your tits and then run away. And somehow he could get away with it. It was the Seventies, after all.' Williams committed suicide at the age of sixty three in 2014. Following his death, his third wife Susan Schneider publicly disclosed that Williams had been diagnosed with dementia in the final months of his life.
Fred Savage claims that allegations of workplace harassment levelled against him are 'without merit and absolutely untrue.' The former Wonder Years actor is being accused of 'physically attacking and harassing' Youngjoo Hwang, a crew member on his now-cancelled sitcom The Grinder, in a lawsuit filed in Los Angeles. Hwang claims that Savage 'violently struck' her arm three times while they worked together and also 'engaged in intimidation and verbal harassment' because she was (and, still is) a woman. The Grinder's network, FOX, responded to the lawsuit on Wednesday by saying that an internal investigation into Hwang's complaints found 'no evidence' that Savage harassed her on set. 'FOX takes all allegations of improper conduct very seriously,' a network spokesperson told Deadline. 'We conducted a thorough investigation into these allegations and found no evidence of any wrongdoing on the part of Mister Savage. We will vigorously defend against these unfounded claims.' Savage's own response to the legal suit affirms his support for the Me Too and Times Up movements, while warning against the potential of people being wrongly accused. 'I was made aware that a woman working in the costume department of a show I was on almost three years ago has claimed that I treated her harshly on-set simply because she was a woman,' he said. 'These accusations are completely without merit and absolutely untrue. FOX conducted an extensive internal investigation into her claims, a process in which I fully participated. After concluding a thorough investigation, FOX determined that there was absolutely no evidence to support these accusations. None of her claims could be substantiated because they did not happen. I have been working in the entertainment industry my whole life and have always endeavoured to treat everyone on any set I work on respectfully and professionally. While none of the accusations being levelled at me are true, I wholeheartedly support all people who feel they are being mistreated come forward and speak to human resources and those in charge. We have witnessed so much bravery from those speaking out recently, but I will just as boldly protect myself and my family from those seeking to tarnish my good name. I cannot let these people in particular denigrate me while harming the message of thousands of women and others who have suffered and continue to suffer.'
Kelly Brook has suggested that her past male co-hosts have used her as a 'scapegoat' when their shows failed. The presenter, who was speaking on Loose Women, insisted that she has never had any issues working with women, but she said that she has experienced 'a lot of problems' with men. 'Most of my co-stars have been men and I find that they have been threatened by women,' she said. 'Over the years, especially in television, I've found that the only problems I've had is with co-hosts.' Brook added that she thinks men have tended to see her as a 'bimbo'. 'I've found that the women I work with are supportive and loving and understand what it's like to be a woman in a male-dominated environment, how strong you have to be, that you've got to have a thick skin,' she explained. 'Over the years, I've found that some of the guys I've worked with, actually, if shows have been failing or not working and they need a scapegoat, it's always me. Because I'm the bimbo.' Brook added that she believes she is often a target for blame when a show fails - even if the show itself is not very good. 'I've been sacked on numerous jobs because of "not being capable,"' she said. 'But, the fact is that it's a rubbish show and the producers aren't capable but I'm the one that gets the blame!' Brook has previous hosting experience, having presented the likes of The Big Breakfast and Z-List Celebrity Love Island with Patrick Kielty. She was also extremely fired after working on the Britain's Got Toilets judging panel for only six days in 2009.
Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins's Generation Game reboot has a broadcast date. The first of two episodes, which will be presented by the former Great British Bake Off double act alongside Basil Brush, will premiere at 8pm on Easter Sunday, 1 April on BBC1.
A truly ghastly-sounding z-list celebrity panel show is heading to ITV. It is different because none of the z-list celebrities will actually appear on the show themselves. The Imitation Game will be fronted by Alexander Armstrong. According to Radio Times, The Imitation Game will feature two panels of 'illustrious impressionist's as they face-off against each other 'to make the best impression.' Rory Bremner and Debra Stephenson will act as team captains, with guests set to include Alistair McGowan, Jon Culshaw, Ronni Ancona, Anil Desai and Britain's Got Toilets' Jess Robinson. So, that should be well-worth avoiding like the plague, then. Rory Bremner said: 'How do you get over fifty characters for the price of four? You do a panel show with impressionists. There are some brilliant mimics out there and bringing them together to perform challenges will be great fun.' The Imitation Game is not to be confused with Alistair McGowan's other new impressions show, Re-Dub!, which will be broadcast on Sky1. And, which should also be approached with caution.
And, speaking of ghastly-sounding, Alan Carr is reported to be set to jump from Channel Four to ITV to 'test out a new potential karaoke series' called Singalong: The Show. The Chatty Man host's exclusivity deal with C4 recently ran out, meaning that Carr has the option to explore other broadcasting opportunities. As part of that, he will film a pilot for the new ITV show next week, according to the Sun, with contestants taking on a series of musical-based challenges. Singalong also comes from the makers of Ant and/or Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway. However, ITV has insisted that it is very much 'early days' and that 'nothing is guaranteed' at this moment in time, while a representative for Carr confirmed to the Digital Spy website that it was 'a non TX ITV pilot' - one which is not intended for transmitted. Channel Four also insisted that Carr will still work with the broadcaster on 'a number' of continuing projects. 'We're aware of Alan's other projects as he continues to work for Channel Four on shows as diverse as Crufts, The Great Celebrity Bake Off For Stand Up To Cancer, the new game show I Don't Like Mondays and the Stand Up To Cancer campaign airing later this year,' they said.
The parents of Anton Yelchin have settled their legal case against the makers of the car, which rolled downhill and killed him in 2016. Gary Dordick, the lawyer for Yelchin's parents, said that the money would go to The Anton Yelchin Foundation. The amount has not been disclosed. The money will also help to fund a documentary about Yelchin's life. The actor was born in Russia and played Pavel Chekov - excellently - in the three rebooted Star Trek movies released in 2009, 2013 and 2016. He died when his Jeep Grand Cherokee pinned him against a concrete mailbox at his LA home. His parents filed a wrongful death case against Fiat Chrysler two months after Anton's death, saying that the gear changer was defective. In April 2016, the company had recalled over a million vehicles across the world because of concerns that they could roll away after drivers exit. The US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said that the fault was 'related to the design of the cars' automatic transmission gear shifts.' Fiat Chrysler said the company was 'pleased' to reach 'an amicable resolution' and that the details were confidential. 'We continue to extend our deepest sympathies to the Yelchin family for their tragic loss,' it said. Yelchin appeared in nearly fifty films including Alpha Dog, Terminator Salvation and Green Room. The foundation that was set up in his name helps young people facing career challenges in the arts due to illness or disability.
A film-maker who sued Stars Wars producers Lucasfilm for blocking plans to make a film about Darth Vader has won almost thirty nine thousand five hundred knicker in damages. Marc John of Buckinghamshire, claimed that he was stopped from beaming a live interview with the actor David Prowse to twelve hundred cinemas. He claimed that the film would have made about three million smackers, with his share worth £1.35m. A High Court judge ruled that John could have made the film but for Lucasfilm's interference. John claimed that the interview and other scenes from the For The Love Of The Force Star Wars convention in Manchester would have made him 'a seven-figure sum.' It would have been broadcast in December 2015, just prior to the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, when anticipation and hype for the franchise was 'sky high', his legal team said. Shane Sibbel, for John, told the High Court that Lucasfilm's lawyers contacted the organisers of the convention and threatened to sue them unless they backed out of an agreement to let John film there. John accused California-based Lucasfilm Ltd LLC and Lucasfilm Entertainment Company LLC of 'unlawfully inducing a breach a contract' when they shut down his project. Lucasfilm denied any wrongdoing and criticised John's claim as 'extraordinarily speculative.' Far from making millions, he would have been 'lucky to turn a profit,' the company insisted. Judge Veronique Buerhlen QC ruled: 'I have come to the conclusion, on the balance of probabilities, that Mister John would have made a film of the convention but for Lucasfilm's interference.' There was 'a real prospect' that John's film would have been shown on at least one hundred and fifty screens and, but for Lucasfilm's interference, he would have 'made a small profit.' The judge ordered Lucasfilm to pay John a total of thirty nine thousand five hundred and four quid in damages.
A driver has been labelled 'a plonker' after carrying a driving licence that supposedly belonged to Del Boy Trotter from Only Fools & Horses. Norfolk and Suffolk Police reported on Twitter that officers had pulled a car over in Terrington, near King's Lynn, to discover the driver did not have a valid licence. What they did have was a licence belonging to Derek Trotter, with a tweeted picture showing it indeed bore the face of the actor David Jason. The licence stated that the owner of the Renault Megane was 'only qualified to drive a three-wheeler.' The fake licence was not appreciated by attending officers, who arrested the driver and seized the car. 'Not even this plonker's fake driving licence could stop their car being seized,' sneered the poliss in the tweet.
President Putin is using the forthcoming World Cup in Russia as 'a PR exercise' akin to how naughty old rapscallion Adolf Hitler (who only had one) used the 1936 Olympics, the foreign secretary has claimed. Boris Johnson said that Labour MP Ian Austin was 'completely right' to suggest that the Russian president wanted to 'gloss over [his] brutal, corrupt regime.' Johnson said that he would have 'an urgent conversation' with Russia about the safety of fans at the tournament. A Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said Johnson was 'poisoned with hatred.' A Downing Street spokesman subsequently confirmed that Johnson was speaking on behalf of the government and that they were 'working closely with police' on plans for the World Cup. The foreign secretary said it was 'of crucial importance' in light of twenty three British diplomats being expelled from Russia - including the individual responsible for football fans at the World Cup. The Foreign Office will produce detailed travel advice closer to the tournament. The exchange came as the Foreign Affairs Select Committee discussed the Salisbury spy attack. Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, remain in an extremely critical condition in hospital after being poisoned with the Russian nerve agent Novichok. The former military intelligence officer and his daughter were found slumped on a bench and unconscious on 4 March. Earlier, Boris Johnson described it as 'a sign' from President Putin that 'no-one could escape the long arm of Russian revenge.' He said: '[The attack] was a sign that President Putin or the Russian state wanted to give to potential defectors in their own agencies: "This is what happens to you if you decide to support a country with a different set of values. You can expect to be assassinated."' He also said Russia chose the UK for the attack as it had 'called out' Russian abuses 'time and again.' BBC diplomatic correspondent James Landale said that there had been expectations relations might 'die down' after no additional diplomatic punishments were implemented by the UK on Monday of this week. However, he said the foreign secretary had 'reignited the rhetoric' and comments from Russia ensured the situation was 'inflamed.' Speaking at the Commons committee hearing, Austin said: 'The idea of Putin handing over the World Cup to the captain of the winning team; the idea of Putin using this as a PR exercise to gloss over the brutal, corrupt regime for which he is responsible; it fills me with horror,' he said. Johnson could be heard saying, 'I'm afraid that's completely right,' during Austin's comments. The foreign secretary then added: 'Your characterisation of what is going to happen in Moscow in the World Cup, in all the venues, I think the comparison with 1936 is certainly right. I think it is an emetic prospect frankly to think of Putin glorying in this sporting event.' However, when Austin said that he believed the England football team should pull out of the competition, Johnson disagreed. 'On balance it would be wrong to punish them [the fans] or the team who have worked on this for an incredibly long time, given up their lives to it,' he said. On the issue of fan safety, Johnson said he needed to have 'an urgent conversation' with the Russians around how they 'propose to fulfil their obligations under their FIFA contract to look after all fans.' However, he admitted this conversation had yet to take place. Despite the attack, Johnson said the overall aim of improving relations with Russia - as discussed during his trip to Moscow in December 2017 - remained 'effectively unchanged.' He added: 'Things are going to be very difficult politically for a whole time to come, but that doesn't mean all contact must be stopped or engagement stopped.' He claimed the UK had 'many admirers among the Russian people' and the UK wanted to 'hold out the hand of friendship' to them, as the quarrel was with the Kremlin, not the citizens. Meanwhile, the British ambassador to Russia, Laurie Bristow, has snubbed a meeting called by the foreign ministry in Moscow to discuss the attack. The ministry had invited all ambassadors in the country to attend the meeting, but reports suggested a number of Western diplomats refused to attend. Dmitry Peskov, a spokesman for The Butcher Of Grozny, said: 'Perhaps this is another eloquent demonstration of the absurdity of the situation when questions are being asked but the unwillingness to hear some answers is being shown.' Speaking at the meeting, Russian foreign ministry official Vladimir Yermakov suggested the UK might have been behind the attack. "Either the British authorities are not able to provide protection from such a, let's say, terrorist attack on their soil, or they, whether directly or indirectly, I am not accusing anyone, have orchestrated an attack on a Russian citizen,' he said. Yermakov also disputed the UK's finding that Novichok was used in the attack. 'Any use of a military-grade poison would inevitably lead to numerous casualties immediately on the site of the poisoning,' he said. 'The picture in Salisbury is completely different.'
A man who filmed a pet dog giving Nazi salutes before putting the footage on YouTube has been convicted of committing a hate crime. Mark Meechan recorded his girlfriend's pug, Buddha, responding to statements such as 'gas the Jews' and 'Sieg Heil' by raising its paw. But, the poliss were alerted and he was very arrested for his naughty ways. The clip had been viewed more than three million times on YouTube. Meechan, of Coatbridge in Lanarkshire, went on trial at Airdrie Sheriff Court where he denied any wrong doing. He insisted that he made the video, which was posted in April 2016, to annoy his girlfriend, Suzanne Kelly. But Sheriff Derek O'Carroll was having none of it and found him extremely guilty of a charge under the Communications Act that he posted a video on social media and YouTube which was 'grossly offensive' because it was 'anti-semitic and racist in nature' and was 'aggravated by religious prejudice.' Sheriff O'Carroll told the court he did not believe Meechan had made the video only to annoy his girlfriend and ruled it was anti-Semitic. He also said that he believed Meechan, who was supported at court by far-right activist Tommy Robinson, left the video on YouTube to drive traffic to other material he had on there. He added: 'In my view it is a reasonable conclusion that the video is grossly offensive. The description of the video as humorous is no magic wand. This court has taken the freedom of expression into consideration. But the right to freedom of expression also comes with responsibility.' Sheriff O'Carroll said Meehan was 'quite obviously an intelligent and articulate man.' But, he added: 'The accused knew that the material was offensive and knew why it was offensive. Despite that the accused made a video containing anti-Semitic content and he would have known it was grossly offensive to many Jewish people.' Ross Brown, defending, claimed that Meechan had only intended the video to be seen 'by a small group of friends' and 'to annoy his girlfriend.' He claimed that the material had been 'leaked' and had 'gone viral' but Police Scotland then pursued Meechan despite his later videos attempting to 'set the record straight.' Brown said: 'His girlfriend testified that Meechan had never made known to her any any anti-Semitic views whatsoever. The accused possesses both tolerant and liberal views. His girlfriend is in no doubt it was an example of his sense of humour.' Brown told the court it was 'wrong' to focus on the phrase 'gas the Jews' when it had been 'taken out of context.' He claimed that the Jewish comedian David Baddiel had voiced his support for Meechan and had asked for him to walk free. He added: 'I can see that the video may not be to everyone's taste. Others may be able to see the comedic or satirical element to it. The court should seek to acquit Meechan for no other reason but to show it is 2018 and not 1984.' Prosecutors had earlier asked for Meechan to be convicted and branded the video 'an odious criminal act that was dressed up to look like a joke.'
Yer actual Ringo Starr has been extremely knighted for his services to music. The Duke of Cambridge bestowed the honour on the drummer at a ceremony at Buckingham Palace. 'It means a lot,' the musician told the BBC. 'It means recognition for the things we've done. I was really pleased to accept this.' The honour comes fifty three years after The Be-Atles (a popular beat combo of the 1960s, you might've heard of them) were all awarded the MBE - and Starr said that he had missed his former band mates' companionship this time round. 'I was a bit shaky today on my own,' he said. When The Be-Atles received their MBEs in October 1965, the occasion was not without controversy. Rock and/or roll was still viewed with suspicion by much of the establishment and several previous honourees pompously returned their own medals in disgust. Alcoholic wife-beating Scouse junkie John Lennon later claimed that The Be-Atles were so nervous at the idea of meeting the Queen they sneaked into a bathroom at Buckingham Palace for a joint (a claim subsequently denied by all of the other three). 'Who said that?' Ringo asked after Tuesday's ceremony. 'I'm not keeping that rumour going.' He arrived at the investiture with his wife, Barbara Bach, offering his trademark peace sign for fans and photographers. Asked whether he wanted to be known as Sir Ringo, the musician replied: 'I don't know yet. It's new and I don't know how you use it properly.' Turning to BBC reporter Colin Paterson, he added: 'But I expect you to use it.' The seventy seven-year-old added that he knew exactly what he would do with his medal. 'I'll be wearing it at breakfast,' he joked. His honour comes twenty one years after fellow former Be-Atle, Sir Paul McCartney, was very knighted. Starr said that the pair had met for dinner last week in Los Angeles and that Sir Paul had offered Ringo 'some advice' for the ceremony: 'Keep smiling.'
More than three hundred an fifty previously unseen photos of The Be-Atles (a popular beat combo of the 1960s, you might've heard of them) at two early US gigs have fetched over two hundred and fifty grand at auction. Mike Mitchell captured The Fabulous Foursome arriving at the venues, at pre-show press conferences and on stage in Washington DC and Baltimore in 1964. A total lot of four hundred and thirteen negatives were sold with copyright for two hundred and fifty three thousand two hundred knicker by Omega Auctions. Forty-six of those have been seen before when auctioned in 2011. A black Mercedes AMG which yer actual George Harrison bought in 1984 sold for forty three thousand smackers. Mitchell photographed the band at their first ever US concert, at Washington Coliseum on 11 February 1964 - two days after their first US TV appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show. Mitchell was just eighteen at the time and took the photos in natural light because he couldn't afford a flash. He was on hand again when they played Baltimore Civic Centre on their next US tour, on 13 September 1964. He even got on stage to get a better vantage point. 'I was very motivated to come up with stuff that was as unique as could possibly be,' he said. 'I looked and noticed that nobody was up on the stage. I thought, I wonder what it would be like to be up on the stage and see what I could get up there.' Auctioneer Paul Fairweather said that it was 'a fantastic sale' which 'shows that The Be-Atles market is still as strong as ever.' Mostly to Japanese fans who have more money sense, admittedly. The black Mercedes 500 SEL AMG was bought by Harrison in 1984 for eighty five thousand knicker and he owned it for sixteen years. It featured in the video for Real Love. Other items sold in Newton-le-Willows included a signed hotel register from a night at The Bull Hotel in Peterborough, which all four musicians signed along with their manager, Brian Epstein, which sold for just under ten thousand smackers.
A man has died after his head became wedged under the electronic footrest of a cinema's 'Gold Class' seat. Operator Vue International said an investigation at its Birmingham StarCity venue was under way. The man reportedly died on Friday - one week after the initial incident. West Midlands Ambulance Service said that it was called to reports of a patient in cardiac arrest and crews managed to restart the man's heart before taking him to hospital. The Birmingham Mail reported it happened after the man bent down to retrieve a mobile phone dropped between Gold Class seats at the end of a film. He was only freed, it said, when the footrest was broken by those trying to help. The website for StarCity - the entertainment complex at which the cinema is based - describes Gold Class as offering 'luxury seating.' In a statement, Vue International confirmed that a customer had been taken to hospital a week last Friday and was 'saddened' to learn of his subsequent death. It said: 'A full investigation into the nature of the incident is ongoing. Our thoughts and condolences are with the family who have our full support and assistance.' A spokesperson said: 'Crews arrived on scene to find a man in cardiac arrest with bystanders having already commenced CPR. Ambulance staff took over and administered advanced life support, successfully managing to restart the man's heart.' Mark Croxford, head of environmental health at Birmingham City Council, said that the authority had 'been notified' and a health and safety investigation 'had begun.'
Australia cricket captain Steve Smith and vice-captain David Warner have stepped down from their positions for the rest of the third test against South Africa a day after admitting to illegal ball tampering. Smith claimed on Saturday that the team's 'leadership group' - whatever the Hell that means - had 'spoken about a plan' to tamper with the ball, a plan which was subsequently carried out by the team's most junior player, Cameron Bancroft. Smith also claimed - somewhat unconvincingly - that the team's management and coaching staff was not involved in the attempted deception. Tim Paine will be captain for the rest of the match, although Smith and Warner will continue to play. 'This test match needs to proceed and in the interim we will continue to investigate this matter with the urgency that it demands,' said Cricket Australia chief James Sutherland. 'Cricket Australia and Australian cricket fans expect certain standards of conduct from cricketers representing our country, and on this occasion these standards have not been met. All Australians, like us, want answers and we will keep you updated on our findings, as a matter of priority.' The ball-tampering incident took place on the third day in Cape Town - escalating the tension around what has been a thoroughly ill-tempered series. Television footage appeared to show Bancroft take what he later admittedly was a piece of yellow sticky tape out of his trouser pocket and rub the ball with it. Bancroft then seemed to realise that he had been caught banged-to-rights doing this malarkey on camera and attempted to hide the piece of tape down his keks (which, gives a whole new meaning to the term 'ball tampering'). The twenty five-year-old has been extremely charged by the International Cricket Council with attempting to change the condition of the ball - prohibited under Law 41.3. Smith claimed after play that it was 'a big mistake' but that he would most definitely not stand down. He alleged that the team's 'leadership group' had spoken about the plan and 'thought it was a way to get an advantage.' By cheating. The Australian Sports Commission called for Smith 'to be stood down immediately, along with any other members of the team leadership group or coaching staff who had prior awareness of, or involvement in, the plan.' Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has also spoken about the issue. 'I am shocked and bitterly disappointed by the news from South Africa,' said Turnbull. 'It seems beyond belief the Australian cricket team have been involved in cheating. Our cricketers are role models and cricket is synonymous with fair play,' he claimed. 'How can our team be engaged in cheating like this? It beggars belief.' Turnbull later added: 'I have spoken with David Peever, the chairman of Cricket Australia and I have expressed to him very clearly and unequivocally my disappointment and concern. He has said to me that Cricket Australia will be responding decisively, as they should. It's their responsibility to deal with it, but I have to say that the whole nation, who hold those who wear the baggy green up on a pedestal - about as high as you can get in Australia, certainly higher than any politician, that's for sure - this is a shocking disappointment.' Roughing up one side of the ball can help the fielding side achieve reverse swing - in which the ball moves in the opposite direction to conventional swing, which is achieved by polishing one side of the ball. There are several methods by which the ball can be deliberately roughed up - ranging from the outright illegal (scuffing it with a bottle top, or scratching with fingernails), to those which are frowned upon but which frequently take place anyway, such as throwing the ball into the stumps on the bounce, or applying saliva after sucking sugary sweets. Polishing the ball on your clothing is allowed if no artificial substance is used, as is drying a wet ball with a towel that has been approved by the umpires, or removing mud from the ball under an umpire's supervision. The umpire's ultimate sanction, if they feel the ball has been altered illegally, is to change the ball and award five penalty runs to the batting side - although this did not take place in Cape Town. Such an instance did take place at The Oval in 2006 when umpires Darrell Hair and Billy Doctrove ruled that Pakistan had tampered with the ball during a test against England. The Pakistanis then got all uppity and disgusted that their honour had been disrespected and refused to take the field after tea in protest, ultimately forfeiting the test for the only time in cricket history. Current South Africa captain Faf du Plessis has also had two major run-ins with the authorities over ball-tampering. In 2013, he was caught banged-to-rights on camera rubbing the ball against the zip of his trouser pocket in t Test in Dubai, which earned Pakistan five penalty runs and a change of ball. Du Plessis was fined. Three years later in Hobart, Australia were incensed when TV footage appeared to show Du Plessis licking his finger and shining the ball while eating a sweet - an incident which subsequently cost him his match fee. Michael Clarke, Smith's immediate predecessor as Australian test captain, called this week's incident 'a terrible day for Australian cricket,' described the plan as 'premeditated cheating' and condemned its instigators for choosing the rookie batsman Bancroft to carry it out. 'I can't believe the leadership group have got a young kid playing in his eighth test match to do this,' Clarke told Australia's Channel Nine. 'We have got the best bowling attack in the world. We don't need to cheat to beat anyone.' Clarke retired from international cricket in 2015 after suffering with a chronic back problem for many years, but when asked whether he would consider a shock return if Smith were to depart, he replied: 'If I was asked by the right people, then I would think about my answer.' Former test vice-captain Adam Gilchrist told BBC Radio 5Live that he was 'stunned and shocked, embarrassed and sad.' The legendary wicketkeeper said: 'Australian cricket is the laughing stock of the sporting world. I remember being a current player and the last thing you wanted was ex-players putting the boot in, but I have the feeling we have been all really badly let down here. The only positive is that they admitted it. We'll get stories now where it will be "oh, all teams do it, in different levels and different ways." But it's not bending the spirit of the game, it's going outside the laws. It's not acceptable.' The South Africa-Australia series had already contained several flashpoints before the sides arrived in Cape Town. Vice-captain Warner - a thoroughly nasty piece of work at the best of times - had to be restrained by team-mates during an off-field altercation with Proteas wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock during the first test in Durban, for which both players were fined by the ICC and given demerit points. South Africa pace bowler Kagiso Rabada was then handed a two-match suspension after deliberately brushing shoulders with Smith after celebrating his dismissal in the second test at Port Elizabeth, but won an appeal to reduce his punishment to one demerit point rather than two, meaning he avoided a ban but remains one point away from it being triggered. Australia coach Darren Lehmann then hit out at what he described as 'disgraceful' verbal abuse towards his side in the early stages of the Cape Town test. Which led to howls of derision from every test cricketer - and, indeed, every test supporter - across a dozen countries who had been on the end of constant sledging from Australian test sides and Australian punters over the years. The series has been played in an unpleasantly hostile atmosphere and no one can condone some of the reported comments from some fans towards Warner or any Australian player about their wives, partners or families. However, it seemed more than a little rich for Lehmann to be complaining when, before the 2013-14 Ashes series, the same Darren Lehmann demanded that the Australian supporters 'give it' to England's Stuart Broad in the hope that he 'cries and goes home.' 'The Australian team have been playing under a siege mentality,' ABC commentator Adam Collins told the BBC's Test Match Special. 'Lehmann had complained about the treatment the players have been getting - they are furious about what has happened in the last couple of weeks. Steve Smith is not a bad bloke. There is something else going on here. But the response on social media is very strong. It is trending against Steve Smith - it's not as if people are defending him. Smith knows he is in a lot of trouble. Australian fans would rather see their team lose than win like this.' The BBC's cricket correspondent Jonathan Agnew added that 'Ball-tampering has always happened in cricket but it's exceptionally difficult to prove. This time they have someone who has admitted his guilt - he's a captain, the act was premeditated and, worst of all, he has clearly coerced the most inexperienced player in his team to go out and do the dirty work for them and that's awful. Australia have very few friends in cricket at the moment. The boorish way in which they have behaved over the years hasn't helped. The current series has been ill-tempered. There's been bad blood about the way the Australians play the game. Many in the cricket world will feel a sense of satisfaction today about what they'll see as chickens coming home to roost. I really think this is an opportunity for the Australian authorities to look very carefully at their game.'

Here, dear blog reader, is this week's small sample of some of The Playlist at Stately Telly Topping Manor.
And, for those dear blog readers interested in such malarkey, From The North has continued, of late, to maintain its recent high profile in the daily traffic department.
Katie Boyle, who died this week aged ninety one, once said that she was 'famous for being famous.' 'I know you! You're a famous person!' Billy Connolly memorably told her when she wanted to ask him a question on An Audience With ... (1984). But her glamour and ebullience carried her through more than half-a-century in the public eye, especially as a regular hostess of The Eurovision Song Contest. Her multilingual outings on these occasions reflected her glamorous but turbulent upbringing. She was also a familiar face on TV panel shows and had a stint as an agony aunt. Boyle was canny as well as beautiful and managed to put the way she looked to good use in a television and modelling career that lasted more than three decades. She admitted at the height of her popularity that she had 'never been very good at anything, but I've always been enthusiastic and wanted to learn - like a sponge, absorbing everything.' She declared that 'if I were on a desert island I would find something to work at.' She prided herself in being professional, whether presenting fashion shows or opening shops and she brought a bubbling vivacity and colour to a Britain made grey and austere by the second world war. She was born Caterina Irene Elena Maria Imperiali de Principi di Francavilla in May 1926 in a Florentine palace which had once belonged to the Italian royal family. Despite the luxurious surroundings, her childhood was marred by her parents' divorce. She was, she claimed, thrown out of four of the six schools that she attended in Italy and Switzerland. Relations with her father, who had custody, were complex. The war was on, with Italy then one of the Axis powers. Her father was a fascist on what he saw as patriotic grounds, while simultaneously hiding allied escaped prisoners of war and partisans' equipment a few yards away from where he was entertaining Nazi officers. It was small wonder that he had an increasingly unpredictable temper, flying into bouts of violent rage which he sometimes took out on his daughter. When, at eighteen, she had an affair with a married member of the Italian secret police, her father locked her in her room for several weeks, later admitting her to a psychiatric hospital. Then, with the allies advancing into Italy and the country about to change sides, the policeman was executed by partisans. At twenty, Katie was sent to Britain and her mother. Her fascination for showbusiness had started at school when, in a class containing the daughters of many aristocrats, she had been more interested in getting to know Marlene Dietrich's daughter. On a day out in London, the author Beverley Nichols saw Katie trying on a hat in Bond Street and asked her to model for the illustrations of his Woman's Own column, which was that week devoted to how a woman chooses a hat. It set her on her modelling career and when she was offered a schoolgirl part in the 1950 film Old Mother Riley, Headmistress, she immediately agreed.
Her suave European style soon brought her further modelling work and there was a marriage to Richard Bentinck Boyle, the ninth Earl of Shannon. The couple divorced in 1955 but Katie retained the family name. In the same year, she married the racehorse owner Greville Baylis. She also appeared as an actress in a number of TV series in the 1950s - as a regular in The Royalty and Golden Girl - as well as movies like The Truth About Women and Intent To Kill - and had a spell as an on-screen continuity announcer for the BBC. After a brief appearance on the show Quite Contrary, she presented the programme for two years. Throughout the 1960s she was a regular on popular panel shows such as The Name's The Smae, Open House, Call My Bluff and Juke Box Jury. She was in the TV version of The Goon Show and at the 1954 Royal Variety Performance performing with The Crazy Gang. She also became the face of Camay soap in television adverts, despite being allergic to the product herself. But her highest profile role was as the presenter for that enduring kitsch extravaganza A Song For Europe, before it evolved into The Eurovision Song Contest. She hosted the show on four occasions when it was held in the UK, three times in London and once in Brighton. Her poise and sophistication, coupled with her ability to speak several languages, made her a favourite with international audiences. She hosted a Radio 2 programme, Katie & Friends and wrote an agony column for the TV Times for nearly two decades. Following the death of her second husband, she married the theatre impresario Sir Peter Saunders, who had been responsible for the world's longest-running play, Agatha Christie's The Mousetrap. Later in life she brought her great love for dogs to both television and radio, where she often gave other z-list celebrities advice on looking after their pets. She also became a tireless supporter of many animal charities. In 2004, she made an appearance on The Weakest Link, fittingly for an edition dedicated to Eurovision, the show which had endeared her to millions many years before.
And finally, dear blog reader, this blogger is indebted to Nick Cooper for sending him a copy of this poster for Sbirri Bastardi (the Italian release of Sweeney 2!) Keith Telly Topping noted that whilst none of the featured chaps on the poster looks much like John Thaw, he is fairly certain that's Dennis Waterman's arse.