Wednesday, April 25, 2018

I Don't Feel Safe In This World No More, I Don't Wanna Die In A Nuclear War

Yer actual Peter Capaldi didn't take the decision to hang up his sonic sunglasses lightly. In fact, The Doctor shed a tear whilst announcing his departure from the role on Radio 2. But what led the actor to leave the BBC's popular long-running family SF drama? Peter has said previously that he feared his performance would suffer if he carried on, but now he spoken about the time pressures he felt in the role. 'Doctor Who is a great show and experience but to be at the centre of that brand is a lot of work. There's a lot more than just acting,' he told Australia's Courier-Mail. 'It was hard to maintain that level of commitment with that schedule any longer. I tried my best to make The Doctor come alive.' Now that he has handed over the TARDIS keys to Jodie Whittaker her very self, Peter said that it had been 'nice' to 'disappear' for a while. 'I stopped being anything. After four years it was a great opportunity to just say I'm going to rest. I'm going to stop working,' he explained. 'I'm playing guitar and going out for breakfast. I feel slightly guilty to say I'm enjoying it. But I am.' That doesn't mean Peter is not excited about the upcoming series and his successor. 'She's a wonderful actress and has a great personality. Ultimately with Doctor Who it becomes a lot about yourself rather than your acting skill,' he added.
Peter Capaldi's final Doctor Who episode, Twice Upon A Time, was loaded with many callbacks and reference to previous Doctor Who, but one potential hint to another Doctor was spotted by eagle-eyed fans who noticed that in the episode's recreation of the First Doctor's TARDIS console room, one of the walls had been changed from its traditional appearance. This in itself was notable - it had be hard to rebuild the set exactly - but some fans were intrigued by the fact that the new wall's pattern instead matched one used in fiftieth anniversary special The Day Of The Doctor. Specifically the set reflects the scene when Tom Baker returned to play a mysterious figure called The Curator, who may - or may not - have been a future incarnation of The Doctor. Now it has been revealed exactly why it appeared, with Doctor Who draftsman Matt Sanders laying out the process that brought the set back in a special TV production-themed edition of Doctor Who Magazine. As Sanders explains in the piece, the issue facing the design team was that in the original TARDIS design one of the walls was merely a photograph of the trademark circular roundels, which wouldn't stand up well on modern TV screens. 'Fortunately, our production designer, Michael Pickwoad, came up with an intriguing solution,' Sanders said. 'For the fiftieth anniversary story, The Day Of The Doctor, he'd designed a wall of hexagonal roundels for the National Gallery scene when Tom Baker appeared as The Curator. This TARDIS-style wall was intended as a nod to Baker's previous role as the Fourth Doctor and to The Curator's possible relationship with the current Doctor.' They needed a new wall and they had an intriguing new pattern so, why not solve the problem with an oblique visual reference. 'Our workshop still had the moulds, so we commissioned some new vacuum-formed plastic hexagons, as a modern reinterpretation of the 1960s photographic wall,' Sanders wrote. 'So now fans can engage in a whole new debate about that scene with The Curator. Did that room in The National Gallery actually have a more profound connection with the TARDIS? Or was the 2017 art department just trying to save some money?'
For some performers, fan conventions are the last refuge of a dying career, a place to wring a few dollars and moments of fading glory from a minor role in some half-forgotten SF series thirty or forty years ago. But for yer actual Peter Capaldi meeting the fans is a little like coming home. As a young boy in Glasgow, he freely admits, 'I was crazy about the show.' He contributed to fanzines and regularly wrote to the BBC hunting autographs. 'I had Jon Pertwee's autograph, Tom Baker's. I used to have all of The Doctors' autographs, except for William Hartnell, because he was rather infirm. But his wife wrote me a rather lovely letter and signed his photograph, which was very sweet.' His most treasured scalp was that of Peter Cushing, who played The Doctor in two movies in the 1960s. Cushing came to Glasgow - a rare treat for fans in those days - and chatted happily with the young Capaldi before writing a message and signing a large black and white photograph for him. 'I was such a fan that I modelled my own signature on his, because we have the same initials,' recalls Peter. 'He had a rather florid P, which I copied.' Before the connoisseurs of collectables start calculating the coin such a trove might fetch, Capaldi has some bad news. In his late teens, as he headed off to art school and turned his attentions to 'sex and drugs and rock'n'roll' (he was the lead singer of a post-punk band initially called The Bastards From Hell and then The Dreamboys along with his friend, Craig Ferguson), he felt it was time to put aside such childish things. 'I didn't want to be a geek any more so I threw out all my geeky stuff. I had a sort of bonfire of the vanities where I got rid of all this stuff that would be great fun for me to have now. Isn't that terrible?' Well yes it is, frankly, but it's possibly what makes Peter so open to meeting today's fans. 'I suppose I can put myself in their shoes,' he concedes. 'I guess I feel their pain.' Though he's taken the past year off to refuel - 'Doctor Who is great, but it's a very twenty four/seven kind of job and I'd been consumed by that for four years' - he is looking forward to getting back to work and adding to the insanely long list of credits he's racked up since his screen debut in 1982. Perhaps the most famous of those credits is the foul-mouthed political spin doctor in The Thick Of It and the movie In the Loop. For many, Malcolm Tucker is almost as much a cult figure as is The Doctor. 'I love Malcolm, and the further away I get from him in time, the more warmly I feel about him,' says Capaldi. 'He was an extraordinary creation, much more of a performance for me than Doctor Who is. I'm a humble human being and [The Doctor] is a Time Lord, so there's a great leap of imagination,' he explains. 'But he doesn't use as much bad language as Malcolm does and he's not as angry as Malcolm is. With Malcolm I had to reach out for these other aspects that are not natural to me - although some of my friends would disagree.' One thing he would like to do is to direct again. Though he doesn't trumpet the fact, Peter has an Oscar to his name, for his 1993 short Franz Kafka's It's a Wonderful Life. Starring Richard E Grant as the writer struggling to craft the perfect opening line for his novel Metamorphosis, the darkly surreal comedy was Peter's first stab at directing (he also wrote the piece). And you get the sense that Peter is still somewhat embarrassed by his beginner's luck. 'I didn't really want to be a director, I just wanted to have a go at seeing what it was like,' he says. 'I didn't know they gave Oscars for short films. It just kind of threw a rather lovely spanner in the works.'
Benedict Cumberbatch has responded to whinges allegedly made by Martin Freeman that the fan expectations of Sherlock is 'taking all the fun' from the BBC's massively popular crime drama. In an interview with the Daily Torygraph, Benny reacted to Marty's reported quotes - also from a Torygraph interview, from March - where he revealed that 'People's expectations, some of it is not fun any more. It's not a thing to be enjoyed, it's a thing of, "You better fucking do this, otherwise you're a cunt." That's not fun anymore.' Benny was asked about to this in his own interview and its implications for any potential future for Sherlock: 'It's pretty pathetic if that's all it takes to let you not want to take grip of your reality. What, because of expectations? I don't know. I don't necessarily agree with that.' All of which, of course, gave every national newspaper the opportunity to use the word 'slammed' in a headline. Because it's got less syllables than 'disagreed with', obviously. Whether there will be any further series of Sherlock remains an unknown quantity at this time, particularly as Freeman is so busy making all those bloody wretched Vodophone adverts.
The BBC marked Record Store Day 2018 last weekend by releasing the soundtrack of two Doctor Who stories on vinyl for the first time. The annual Record Store Day, which took place of 21 April, saw the full-cast television soundtracks for the The Tomb Of The Cybermen and City Of Death made available on vinyl. Both adventures came separately as two LP sets on coloured vinyl with newly commissioned gate-fold artwork.
Now, dear blog reader, would any of you care to hazard a guess as to the mathematics used by the caption-writer at the W Channel to calculate that the 2010 series of Doctor Who was 'Series Forty Two'? Series Five, yes. Series Thirty One, possibly. Series Thirty Three (if you count the 1996 TV Movie and the four 2008 specials are 'series' per se), possibly. But forty two? This blogger is aware that it's the answer to, you know, life, the universe and everything and all that, but really ...
This blogger is indebted to his old mate Danny who, this week, noted: 'Has the Queen not regenerated yet? I think it's time for a male Queen. We need to move with the times. The fans will just have to suck it up.' But what, Keith Telly Topping idly wondered, if the next Queen is 'Colin Baker I'? That would be awful.
We all know that national heartthrob David Tennant his very self can play a convincing villain - you only have to watch a few episodes of Marvel's Jessica Jones to discover that. But, David has revealed his foray into the world of evil bastards could have started years earlier when he was in the running to be cast ins the titular role in NBC's Hannibal. 'I met Bryan Fuller a couple of times and we talked about it,' Ten told Entertainment Weekly. 'But, I think they quite wisely chose Mads, I think he was a perfect choice for it and I think he did things with that character that I wouldn't have managed, so I think the right man got the job.' Hannibal was, of course, very cancelled by NBC in 2015 after three extraordinary series, but it seems that fan enthusiasm for the show hasn't waned, prompting talks of a possible revival. Fuller talked about his 'great idea' for the central character in any potential fourth series and that he has been driving the conversations. 'I have conversations with [Hannibal executive producer] Martha De Laurentiis,' he said. 'I have conversations with Mads and Hugh [Dancy]. We're all excited about the prospect of returning to the story. There's some hurdles to get through ... [But] I just had a great idea for season four. There's an interesting next chapter in the relationship between Will Graham and Hannibal Lecter that would be fascinating to unpack. I've shared it with the gentlemen and they're both keen on it.'
Matt Smith has broken his silence about the pay disparity between himself and his co-star in The Crown, Claire Foy, saying that they should have been paid equally for their roles in the Netflix drama from the beginning. The actor, who played The Duke Of Edinburgh opposite Foy's Queen, said that efforts 'need to be made' to 'create a level playing field.' Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, Smudger noted: 'Claire is one of my best friends and I believe that we should be paid equally and fairly and there should be equality for all. I support her completely and I'm pleased that it was resolved and they made amends for it because that's what needed to happen. Going forward, I think we should all bear in mind that we need to strive to make this better and a more even playing field for everyone involved - but not just in our industry, in all industries.' Last month at a television conference in Israel, The Crown's producers, Left Bank Pictures, revealed that Smudger earned more than Foy for his work on the drama. Left Bank issued an apology to both actors. The statement said: 'We want to apologise to both Claire Foy and to Matt Smith, brilliant actors and friends, who have found themselves at the centre of a media storm this week through no fault of their own. As the producers of The Crown, we at Left Bank Pictures are responsible for budgets and salaries; the actors are not aware of who gets what, and cannot be held personally responsible for the pay of their colleagues.' Foy told Entertainment Weekly: 'I'm surprised because I'm at the centre of it and anything that I'm at the centre of like that is very very odd and feels very very out of [the] ordinary. But I'm not [surprised about the interest in the story] in the sense that it was a female-led drama. I'm not surprised that people saw [the story] and went: "Oh, that's a bit odd." But I know that Matt feels the same [way] that I do, that it's odd to find yourself at the centre [of a story] that you didn't particularly ask for.' Foy and Smith will be replaced by Olivia Colman and Tobias Menzies for the third series which is currently in development.
Star Trek: Discovery has got its Canadian broadcaster into massive trouble for dropping the naughty bomb. The most recent series in the franchise broke new ground when it included the first ever Star Trek A-list profanity last year. During the episode Choose Your Pain, Sylvia Tilly (Mary Wiseman) said: 'You guys, this is so fucking cool,' which was later repeated by Paul Stamets (Anthony Rapp). Canadian channel Space's decision to broadcast the episode before 9pm has resulted in the network being rapped on the knuckles by the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council. After showing the episode before the watershed, Space was found to be in violation of the Ethics and Violence Code of the CBSC. The broadcast standards council also noted that the episode featured 'significant violence' and has now demanded - demanded, they say - that Space broadcast the following message - twice - during primetime hours in the next week: 'The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council has found that Space breached the Canadian Association of Broadcasters' Code of Ethics and Violence Code in its broadcast of Star Trek: Discovery [episode Choose Your Pain]. The program [sic] contained coarse language and violence intended for adult audiences which should only have been broadcast after 9pm as required by Clause ten of the Code of Ethics and Article three of the Violence Code. A classification icon should have appeared at the beginning of the program [sic] as required by Article four of the Violence Code.' Space have also been told to go and stand in the corner and to 'think about what you've done.' Probably. Responding to the ruling, Space said: 'After having viewed the episode prior to airing, Space acknowledged that the use of the word "fuck" was surprising given the series and franchise's previous fifty one-year track record of being fairly clean with regards to its content. The Star Trek franchise has an extremely loyal and engaged fan base so we took into consideration how the coarse language was used and we decided to air the episode uncut and uncensored in order to deliver the content our Space viewers expect.'
Last year, most of the cast of Buffy The Vampire Slayer reunited to celebrate the popular Telefantasy drama's twentieth anniversary, but if you think that the fuss being made over the groundbreaking series would end there, you'd be wrong. In fact, according to Anthony Head - the one member of the cast who couldn't make the anniversary publicity-shoot - Buffy is still attracting new viewers all the time. 'What I'm amazed about, of all the things that I've done, I still get young people coming up to me, whether it's Merlin or something else, with Buffy it's like "Wow!"' the actor told Tim Lovejoy and Simon Rimmer on Sunday Brunch. 'There's a new generation that came on board and it's, basically, because it's still relevant,' he continued. 'It's about growing up and it's about finding your place in society - it's just brilliantly written. The first season is a little dated now, but once it gets into its groove, it stands out. They're always talking about rebooting it,' Tony added, before voicing his support for Joss Whedon's original animated series reboot plan. 'I think if [Joss] could do the animated series that he originally wanted to do, that would be quite a good reboot. Because the comic book, they're in series eleven, he's kept it going in comic books, but he backed off the TV.' And, if weren't around when Buffy was going first time around and fancy finding out what all the fuss was about, there's a pretty decent unofficial programme guide available at a very reasonable price. Apparently.
Westworld's Thandie Newton said that it was 'very painful' to be excluded from Hollywood's Time's Up movement after years of speaking out against a casting director whom, she claims, sexually abused her. 'When Time's Up was put together, to not be invited to be a part of it, was very, very painful,' Newton told Australia's Herald Sun newspaper. 'It's hard for me, as someone who has been talking about it for a long time. It's lonely.' Newton, who plays the renegade Maeve in HBO's Westworld, said in an interview with the Daily Torygraph that she 'wasn't hot enough' or 'mainstream enough' to be asked to join Time's Up, the Hollywood campaign against workplace harassment and inequality. She speculated that she was 'shunned' because she wasn't at this year's Oscars, 'even though I am having a renaissance in my career.' Newton talked about her experience with sexual abuse in an interview with W magazine in July 2016. She told the story to help others, she said in her interview with the Torygraph. 'I felt if there was one girl whose family was thinking about putting their child into show business, that would help them decide. That was all I cared about,' she said. Newton told W that 'a director, on a callback, had a camera shooting up my skirt and asked me to touch my tits and think about the guy making love to me in the scene.' She continued: 'I thought, "Okay, this is a little weird," but there was a female casting director in the room and I'd done weird stuff before so I did it.' Some years later, Newton said that she learned 'the director was showing that audition tape to his friends after poker games at his house. And they would all get off on it. I was so naïve when I started out and I realise now that we have to prepare our kids - I've got two beautiful daughters, one is sixteen, one is eleven. So many people in our business, they don't want to be the ones to say something that's a bum out because then they become associated with a bum out and nobody wants to read about so-and-so because they're always blabbering on about a bum out, but one person will read this and it will stop them getting sexually abused by a director. That's the person I'm interested in.'
Westworld producers have discussed why the second series has considerably less nudity than the first. The extent to which the HBO SF thriller's characters are featured naked - especially the female 'hosts' - has been a frequent criticism of Westworld, dating back to some controversial sex scenes that were leaked ahead of transmission. However, the second series premiere Journey Into Night featured considerably less nudity than in the past - and that was very much by producers Lisa Joy and Jonathan Nolan's design. 'Part of what's been just lovely to watch as a producer on this too is how the nudity isn't only female on the show, there is also male nudity and it's funny because we talk about these things in a gendered way, because often it is only women who get naked and only women who are vulnerable, but it's a very vulnerable position for men to be in as well,' Joy told the audience at the the Tribeca Film Festival. 'Filming a nude scene is hard and difficult. We've had nudity across the board with our hosts,' Joy told Vulture. 'We were very up-front about the nudity from the start, trying to talk with all our actors about not only why it was in the script, but also about safeguards that we would have on set. In terms of trying to protect them as much as possible, looking at other people who would be in the scene with them, even [background actors]. It's part of the story and its guided by what the characters are going through. So yeah, when the hosts get power, they aren't gonna spend time naked on a stool.' That creative shift was a surprise to cast member Thandie Newton. I assumed I come back for season two and have to get naked because I was naked most of the time in first season,' she recalled. 'I remember reading episode one and being like, "But I'm wearing' clothes?" And I went to Lisa and said "Lisa, I'm not naked" and she was like "Why the Hell would Maeve want to get naked again?"' Newton stressed that, unlike other projects she'd worked on, Westworld producer Jonathan Nolan tried to make her nude scenes as comfortable as possible to film, by asking crew to turn away in between shots. 'For all of us who had to be naked, [there was] grace and the consideration and the sensitivity,' Newton said. 'On the one hand I was like so appreciative, and on the other hand I was horrified at what I'd been through up until then. I had delayed horror.'
Steve Pemberton is to star in a one-hour Channel Four drama about the Tony Martin burglary case. In 1999, Martin - a fifty five-year-old farmer from Norfolk - was sentenced to life in prison after shooting dead a sixteen-year-old burglar called Fred Barras with a pump-action shotgun. The court case became a national scandal, as it turned out that Martin owned his shotgun illegally. Also, the prosecution claimed that he opened fire without warning, shooting Barras in the back at close range in revenge for several other burglaries which Martin claimed had taken place in the past. In contrast, Martin said he was simply defending himself with reasonable force and gained widespread public support. Following an appeal, Martin's sentence was reduced to three years. The drama, currently titled The Interrogation, will focus on the three days of police questioning that Martin faced immediately after the incident took place. Pemberton said of the drama: 'This is a fascinating story which divided public opinion at the time – and is currently even more poignant. Now we finally get to hear the account directly from Tony Martin, I'm looking forward to being part of such a groundbreaking drama.' 'This is the missing part of an extraordinary story that captivated and divided the country,' adds the show's executive producer Peter Beard. 'Finally, we will hear exactly what Tony Martin told detectives in the confines of a police interview room just hours after he was arrested. For the first time it's his own account in his words.'
Aaron Sorkin has confirmed that there have been 'serious' West Wing revival talks. The West Wing ran on NBC from 1999 to 2006 and followed the lives of staffers in The White House. It was, in this blogger's opinion, the greatest TV series in the history of the medium ... that doesn't have the words 'Doctor' and 'Who in the title. In a recent episode of The West Wing Weekly podcast, Sorkin was asked by Bradley Whitford whether he would 'consider bringing some characters back' for a reboot. In response, Sorkin revealed that a conversation with NBC chairman Robert Greenblatt had left him with 'the impression' that the network 'was interested' in another series. '"I want you to do The West Wing again in some form,"' Sorkin quoted Greenblatt saying. '"You can do it for nine episodes, thirteen episodes. You do it with a different cast [or] the same cast."' The writer added: 'Incredibly, the show has a legacy. The last thing I would want to do is harm that, so if I can come up with an idea that doesn't feel like A Very Brady Christmas, if I can come up with an idea that works, then yeah.' And, if you weren't around when The West Wing was going and want to find out what all the fuss was about, there's a pretty decent unofficial programme guide available for a very reasonble price. Slight return.
The Coronation Street production office has responded to unsubstantiated rumours that several of the younger actors on the continuing drama could be sacked following the announcement that Iain MacLeod will be taking over as producer the ITV soap. Earlier this week, current executive producer Kate Oates revealed that she will be departing Corrie, as MacLeod was confirmed as her replacement starting in June. Reports have already surfaced that the incoming showrunner has changes in mind, as the Sun claims - with no supporting evidence - that he is prepared to cut actors such as Katie McGlynn, Colson Smith, Julia Golding and Harry Visinoni. But an ITV spokesperson told the Digital Spy website that these reports are mere 'speculation' and that MacLeod hasn't even had any discussions with the soap regarding the cast. 'This is speculation as Iain MacLeod hasn't had any meetings relating to the programme and the cast,' they stated. 'He won't be doing so until he joins Coronation Street in June.' Speaking about her departure - which some media outlets had mysteriously linked to a series of allegedly 'controversial' storylines that have been a feature of her tenure - Oates said that she is moving on to produce the upcoming second series of Bancroft, starring Sarah Parish. MacLeod is currently in charge of fellow ITV soap Emmerdale.
From The North favourite Nicola Walker has said that although she has worked with powerful female producers, directors and writers throughout her acclaimed career - including The Split's Abi Morgan – the industry still has a long way to go to reach gender equality. The actress also praised Hollywood stars including Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman for using their influence to try to close the gender gap and generate dynamic female-led stories by serving as producers on TV projects - including hit HBO series Big Little Lies. 'It has a long way to go, but I've noticed working with Jane [Featherstone - producer and founder of Sister Pictures] since the time of [spooks], she was making sure that behind the camera it looked like real life,' Nicola told Good Housekeeping. 'I noticed that on [spooks] there were a lot of women behind the camera and in different departments. I've worked with Abi and [Happy Valley writer] Sally Wainwright and they're interested in great men and women and good female roles. It's getting women in the positions of power that can shape the shows they want to make. I'm definitely noticing a change but we have a long way to go.' On female actors turning producer so that they can be in charge behind the scenes and give the projects they want to make the green light, Nicola continued: 'It's great, because that is what it's about. It's about getting female stories out there, and I wouldn't be surprised if their main drive is seeing that gap, noticing the gap, and they have the ability to do something about it.' As well as playing formidable divorce lawyer Hannah Defoe in BBC1's The Split, Nicola will be back on our TV screens as Cassie Stuart in series three of ITV's Unforgotten. Nicola could not reveal whether this series would be creator Chris Lang's last, but she did say it definitely 'feels different' to the previous series. 'I don't know if this will be the last series. We were filming the other day and I was thinking, part of me wants to say, "Yes, we're going to do more of it,"' she continued. 'Part of me always wants to reveal the killer! It's definitely completely a new story and feels very different actually to the last one.'
We still have to wait until 2019 for Peaky Blinders series five, but at least we now know a bit more about it. Deadline reports that Anthony Byrne will direct series five and given the period drama's history, it's likely that he will be responsible for all six episodes, like David Caffrey, Tim Mielants and Colm McCarthy have for the previous three series. Byrne previously directed three-part ITV drama Butterfly starring Anna Friel, which is expected to be shown later this year and he also directed and co-wrote upcoming thriller In Darkness with Game Of Thrones star Natalie Dormer. Peaky Blinders creator Steven Knight has previously hinted that series five may mark the end of the Shelby saga, though it's not clear if that's still the case. 'Each time, we do six episodes and can you sum up the story in six episodes? Or do you need another six? That's the question. If it doesn't need a season six, I don't think there'll be one. But it may need one, because [six episodes is] such a short period of time,' Paul Anderson told the Digital Spy website last year.
This blogger rather enjoyed Sunday's opening episode of the BBC's new adaptation of Wilkie Collins' The Woman In White. But, apparently, a few malcontents that you've never heard of on Twitter found fault in it. And, this shit constitutes 'news'. At least, as far as Digital Spy is concerned. Other reviews were more positive. Like this one. And this one.
Wor Geet Canny Ant McPartlin needs to 'man up, grow up and be told straight,' the former World Superbike champion Carl Fogarty has said, in an interview criticising the troubled ITV presenter. Fogarty, who met McPartlin while competing 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) in 2014, told the Daily Lies that he thought McPartlin was 'wrong' to return to rehab after his recent car collision. 'He got in a car pissed - don't do that, it's not right,' the fifty two-year-old biker said, concerning the former Byker Grover. 'You don't need to go to rehab to be told to sort that out, you know that's wrong and you shouldn't be doing that. And people around him need to be firm with him.' McPartlin was fined eighty six grand after pleading very guilty to drink-driving – the UK's highest ever fine for driving under the influence – and said that he is 'seeking help' for his 'alcohol and emotional issues.' He has also stepped back from his TV commitments, leaving his regular co-host Wor Geet Canny Dec Donnelly to present ITV's Saturday Night Takeaway solo. And, to be fair, making quite a good job of it. In a statement given to the police, McPartlin said that he was 'ashamed and mortified' and hoped that he 'might be forgiven by all the people he feels he has let down so terribly.' Fogarty added: 'He's got everybody running around after him going: "Oh it's a shame for him." Hang on a minute – grow up, sort yourself out and take responsibility. Don't go running off to rehab every five minutes when something goes wrong.'
A MasterChef semi-finalist has died after collapsing during the London Marathon, it has been confirmed. Matt Campbell collapsed just after the twenty two mile mark of the race on Sunday and died later in hospital. He appeared on the BBC's MasterChef: The Professionals in December 2017 and had been running the race - the hottest on record - for his father who died eighteen months ago. Campbell's social media posts said that it was his second marathon in a fortnight. The Kendal chef was running the race for The Brathay Trust in honour of his father, Martin. On 8 April Campbell completed the ASICS Greater Manchester Marathon. Helen Hokin, who was Campbell's PR consultant, said: 'He was a lovely, kind-hearted and down-to-earth man. I believe he was poised to become the next great innovator in British food. He was in the middle of a roadshow tour and he had such a way with inspiring young chefs. This is so sad.' Campbell began his career working in Michelin-starred restaurants after finishing second in the BBC's Young Chef Of The Year aged twenty in 2009. He then worked in the French Alps in private villas and award-winning luxury ski chalets. He returned to the UK, last year and entered MasterChef: The Professionals where he reached the semi-finals. A spokeswoman for MasterChef said: 'We are shocked and saddened to hear the news about Matt Campbell, one of our talented contestants from last year. It was a privilege to have him on the show. He will always be remembered for producing some of the most innovative and groundbreaking food that we saw on the series. From the whole MasterChef team, our sincere condolences and thoughts are with his family and friends.'
Joanna Lumley her very self says that she is 'terrified that all men are seen as bad' in the wake of the Hollywood sex scandal. The actress told Good Housekeeping magazine: 'This year I do feel the spirit of the suffragettes is with us and we're speaking out about women being treated badly around the world. That said, I am terrified that all men are seen as bad.' The added: 'We mustn't deride all men, as only the few are bad and we need to remember that, too.' And, speaking as a man, this blogger thanks Joanna most kindly for her vote of confidence in our gender. Let's hope we can live up to your expectations. She said: 'I love and respect men. I am married to one, I work with some wonderful men and I have a son.' But, she added: 'Even though they [the stars at this years BAFTAs] were dressed in black, they looked wonderful. It felt right to wear black at the time in support of Me Too. Anything that empowers women is to be supported.' Lumley, is also a well-known activist and charity campaigner. She helped to secure the rights of Gurkhas who retired prior to 1997, to settle in the UK. She is also a patron of charities such as Trust In Children and Tree Aid, which fights poverty in Africa. Lumley told the magazine that her mother was 'a very good role model' for her campaigning work. 'She couldn't bear bullying and had an enormous sense of social justice. "Do as you would be done by" was always her mantra. "Be reliable, don't be a thief or a snitch or a husband stealer," all those lessons were instilled into me as a child and to stand up to any form of wrongdoing and bullying.' The actress is embarking on her It's All About Me tour later this year, where she will be joined on stage by her friend and producer Clive Tulloh, who will put questions from the audience to her. 'Let's face it, I'm not getting any younger, so I want to do this before I lose my marbles and while I can still remember all the different parts of my life!'
It was dubbed 'the trial of the century' - a dashing, charismatic political leader accused of conspiring to murder his former gay lover in a bizarre and ill-fated plot. But why did Jeremy Thorpe - the leader of the Liberal Party and a pillar of the Establishment - not go into the witness box to defend himself from the charges which he vehemently denied? The BBC has this week obtained a document that sheds new light on the decision by Thorpe's lawyers not to let him give evidence in his own defence at the Old Bailey in 1979, seen at the time as 'a high risk manoeuvre' which might have led to a lengthy prison sentence for their client. It comes in the form of a passionate four-page letter from Thorpe to an American man called Bruno sent after they had met in San Francisco in 1961, which Thorpe wrote is 'the one city where a gay person can let down his defences and feel free and unhunted.' The prosecution at the trial had a copy of the letter and if Thorpe had given evidence he would have faced questioning about his sexuality which he wanted to avoid. The BBC's Martin Rosenbaum received the so-called 'Bruno letter' and connected records from the US Federal Bureau of Investigation after making a request under American Freedom of Information law. In it, Thorpe also said of San Francisco: 'If I'm driven out of public life in Britain for a gay scandal I shall settle in SF!' He asked Bruno to write to him at the House of Commons 'marked Personal!' and discussed how they could meet again, adding: 'I must get on to SF on some mission, which the British or American taxpayers will pay for!' Thorpe and three other men were acquitted of conspiring to murder Thorpe's former lover, Norman Scott, in one of the most famous court cases in British political history. The trial arose from a bizarre incident on Exmoor in which Scott's dog, Rinka, had been shot dead. The prosecution asserted that the real plan had been to kill Scott himself, whom Thorpe wanted to silence because he was telling others about their past relationship, a tryst which the former Liberal leader persistently denied. During the court case, many observers were surprised when Thorpe's legal team announced that the would not give any evidence in his own defence. This meant that he avoided being cross-examined by the prosecution and, personally, having to respond to a range of uncomfortable topics. They included evidence of mysterious financial transactions and remarks that he had made to others about wanting Scott dead, which were part of the alleged conspiracy; but also evidence of his affairs at a time when, until 1967, male homosexuality had been illegal in Britain. Prosecution lawyers had notified Thorpe's barrister George Carman and solicitor Sir David Napley that they had 'significant information' on his other gay relationships, including the letter to Bruno. According to the biography of Carman, written by his son Dominic, the barrister was 'already inclined' to think that Thorpe should not give evidence and the Bruno document 'removed any doubt' he had that it was the right decision. The significance of the letter is confirmed in an earlier book on the Thorpe affair, the excellent Rinkagate, in which the journalists Simon Freeman and Barrie Penrose state: 'Any lingering doubts that Carman and Napley might have had were removed when the prosecution showed them a sexually explicit letter from Thorpe to a friend called Bruno ... Carman and Napley agreed it would be a catastrophe for Thorpe if the letter became public, which would definitely happen if he gave evidence.' The decision not to go into the witness box was Thorpe's legal right. The reason he later gave in his own memoirs was that giving evidence 'would have prolonged the trial unnecessarily for at least another ten to fourteen days.' The satirist Peter Cook, famously, had other ideas. After the not-guilty verdict, it was widely considered to have been a clever strategy from Thorpe's legal team. The three key prosecution witnesses - Scott himself, the former Liberal MP Peter Bessell and the alleged hitman, Andrew Newton - all faced significant doubts over their credibility and they failed to convince the jury. However, in public relations terms it was much less successful. Thorpe's acquittal did not seem to clear him in the court of public opinion. His reputation never recovered from the allegations in the case and the widespread feeling they had not been satisfactorily answered remained until he died in 2014. Interest in the trial has recently been reawakened by Russell Davies' forthcoming BBC series, A Very English Scandal, which dramatises the events of the affair. The FBI found the letter in Bruno's possession when they arrested him in 1963 for breaking a probation order he had earlier received for theft. As it indicated the author was a British member of parliament, the document was passed to the authorities in London, although the FBI's files show that they mistakenly thought Thorpe was a Labour rather than a Liberal MP. The then US Attorney General, Robert Kennedy, wanted personally to inform someone whose name is redacted from the FBI's release but given the context, was probably in the UK government. According to the FBI records, Kennedy said: 'The British can't afford another disclosure of this kind.' This was, presumably, a reference to the Profumo and Vassall sex scandals which had shaken the British Establishment a few months earlier. War Secretary John Profumo resigned after the disclosure of his affair with Christine Keeler, a model also involved with a Russian spy. British diplomat John Vassall was caught after years of passing secrets to the Russians, having been blackmailed by the KGB because of his, then illegal, homosexuality. It took another decade, but the Thorpe scandal was to become equally sensational.
World Of Sport Wrestling is to return to British television screens thirty years after the Saturday staple ended. The new ten-part series will be shown on ITV and recording will begin next month at Epic Studios in Norwich. An ITV spokesman said the series would feature 'the UK's biggest and best pro-wrestlers.' WOS Wrestling was scheduled to return to Saturday afternoons in 2017 but was halted 'over contractual issues.' Jeff Jarrett, co-founder of Impact Wrestling and a former star of WWE, told Radio 4's World at One at the time that wrestling was 'Shakespeare to the masses.' He said that the UK enjoys 'an enormous independent wrestling scene.' In the new series, performers will take part in 'various, intense bouts,' with one wrestler taking home the WOS Wrestling Championship belt every week, ITV said. Tom McLennan, creative director at ITV Studios Entertainment, said: 'There is a massive indie wrestling scene in the UK and a strong nostalgia for the wrestling shows of our youth. WOS Wrestling will combine the best of the past with incredible talent available today to make a fun, exciting and thrilling show that the whole family can enjoy.' The first matches will be recorded before a live studio audience in Norwich on 10, 11 and 12 May, it was confirmed. Dates for broadcast have yet to be scheduled.
The Independent Press Standards Organisation has upheld a complaint against The Times over its coverage of the fostering placement of a young girl in East London. Notice of the ruling by IPSO was published on the front page of Wednesday's print edition. In August last year, The Times reported that a 'white Christian child' had been 'left distressed' after being placed with two Muslim households in Tower Hamlets over a period of six months. However, the initial claims soon proved to be a highly one-sided and very prejudicial account, as further details emerged, including that the girl's grandmother – with whom she was ultimately to be placed – was, in fact, a Muslim and did not speak English. Tower Hamlets council complained about an article on the front page of the newspaper's 30 August edition – the third front page dedicated to the story that particular week – in which the newspaper implied that a judge had ruled against the council by ordering that the then five-year-old girl be removed from the Muslim household and placed with her grandmother. In fact, the council had requested that the girl be placed with her grandmother. Under the headline IPSO upholds complaint against Times, the paper said that the press regulator had ruled the article breached rule one of the editors' code of practice, which concerns accuracy. The Muslim Council for Britain said The Times should be 'forced' to apologise for its coverage, which it said had 'pushed an inaccurate, misleading and bigoted narrative about Muslims.' It added that the ruling was 'too little, too late.' The IPSO ruling, which was published in full on page two of the newspaper, called the article 'a distortion' of the issue. 'IPSO's complaints committee found that the article gave the impression the judge had found that the placement was a "failure" by the council and that this was why she was "removing" the child from her current foster carers and placing the child with the grandmother. The committee ruled that this was a distortion,' the ruling said. 'The impression given by the article was that the judge's decision represented a finding against the complainant's assessment of the child's needs in organising the foster placements. This was not what the court had decided, or an implication of what the court had decided.' However, the press watchdog did not find that The Times's omission in the article that the child's grandmother also had a Muslim background amounted to a failure to take care over accuracy. IPSO required The Times to publish its ruling on page six of the newspaper or further forward and on the newspaper's website, appearing in the top fifty per cent of online stories for at least twenty four hours. The furore surrounding child AB, as she was known in court documents, was prompted by a front-page article in The Times headlined Christian child forced into Muslim foster care on 28 August. According to confidential local authority reports, a social services supervisor had described the child crying, asking not to be returned to one foster carer because 'they don't speak English.' The report included a pixellated photograph of the girl in the company of a woman, said to be her foster carer, wearing Islamic dress. The Daily Scum Mail - of course - picked up the story on its front page the following day under the headline: MPs' anger as Christian girl forced into Muslim foster care. The former Scum Mail Online columnist and resident gobshite, Katie Hopkins, tweeted an image of the front page, asking: 'Which individual at Tower Hamlets was responsible for the abuse of this little girl?' The Daily Scum Mail and Scum Mail Online did not have a photograph of the girl at the heart of the case. Instead, they used a stock picture of a Muslim family to illustrate the story in print and online. But, they altered the image to cover the woman's face with a veil. Khatun Sapnara, a family court judge, took the rare step of publishing a court order that contained details contradicting the original reporting of the case in The Times and the Daily Scum Mail. The child's maternal grandmother was revealed to be 'a non-practising Muslim.' It also later emerged that the grandmother did not speak English, with the order saying that she required a translation of the document. The grandmother also expressed a desire to 'return to her country of origin and care for the child there.' A Times executive acknowledged that the story had caused 'enormous offence.' On Tuesday, Ian Brunskill, the paper's assistant editor, addressed the Commons Home Affairs Committee investigation of the reporting of minorities. He said that the paper's reporting had caused 'an enormous amount of trouble for us, for other people.' He added: 'It's caused enormous offence, it's caused enormous upset.' But he denied that the paper had 'set out to cause offence.' One or two people even believed him.
The Daily Scum Express editor has said some of his newspaper's past front pages have been 'downright offensive,' made him feel 'very uncomfortable' and contributed to 'an Islamophobic sentiment' in the media. Gary Jones, who took over at the newspaper last month, said that he was 'unhappy' with some of its Scum Express's previous coverage and would be 'looking to change the tone' of the Scum Express. 'Each and every editor has a responsibility for every single word that is published in a newspaper,' he told the Home Affairs select committee, which is investigating the treatment of minority groups in print media. 'Cumulatively, some of the headlines that have appeared in the past have created an Islamophobic sentiment which I find uncomfortable,' said Jones, who is also the editor of the Sunday Scum Express. 'It is my responsibility to ensure content is accurate and newspapers don't look at stereotypical views that may or may not be around in the general public. I should be held to account and be answerable.' Jones, who was previously the editor of the Sunday Mirra and the Sunday People, replaced Hugh Whittow this year after Richard Desmond sold his Northern and Shell newspapers to Trinity Mirra in a two hundred million knicker deal. The Daily and Sunday Express have been relentless in their support for Brexit and campaigning for reduced immigration. 'I've gone through a lot of former Express front pages and I felt very uncomfortable looking at them,' Jones told MPs. 'There have been accuracy issues on some of them and some of them are just downright offensive. I wouldn't want to be party to any newspaper that would publish such material. I have to accept as a newspaper editor that people have different views to my own and a newspaper is there to represent the broader section of views. But I think there are limits as to how far you should go in an honest and fair-minded society.' The Sun's managing editor, Paul Clarkson, also appeared in front of MPs and - arrogantly - dismissed suggestions that newspapers have a 'problem' with Islamophobia. 'In the mainstream media, I don't believe it is an issue,' he claimed. The Labour MP Naz Shah held up a Sun front page with the headline One In Five Brit Muslims' Sympathy For Jihadis, which was ruled to be 'misleading' by the press regulator IPSO and criticised the paper's record on covering British Muslims. 'You chose to present an outright lie as a fact because it supports your editorial narrative, which undeniably stirs up hatred against Muslims,' she said. Clarkson grovellingly apologised for 'mistakes' in that report, but insisted it was not part of a wider pattern and said the paper's coverage had changed. He claimed that a 'large number of complaints' in the media about the Sun's coverage were made by 'politically motivated or other kinds of interest groups' and claimed that the newspaper never received praise when it ran stories that showed Muslims in a positive light. Peter Wright, representing the publisher of the Daily Scum Mail and Scum Mail On Sunday, also denied his newspapers were Islamophobic. 'There is no anti-Muslim agenda. It doesn't exist,' he claimed. 'If we were trying to incite racial hatred, it would be appearing on our front page. Stories inciting hatred against Muslims do not appear on our front page.' He said newspapers had 'toned down' some of their language in recent years, but claimed Hindu and Sikh communities had complained to the Scum Mail about the newspaper using 'Asian' instead of 'Muslim' in copy. Wright also downplayed the influence of newspapers on Islamophobia in society. 'I don't know where people have got their views from. We're told these days, they get them all from social media,' he said. 'I'm afraid I think social media is a dreadful cesspit.' Which, whilst possibly true, nevertheless coming from someone representing Daily Scum Mail really is a case of the pot calling the kettle ... and all that.
Due to a rather curious provision of the Succession to the Crown Act 2013, only the first six people in line to the British throne have to ask the Queen's permission if they wish to get married again. As a result of the new arrival of an - as yet unnamed - baby prince this week (you might have heard about it, it's been in the papers and everything), Prince Andrew has now slipped to seventh in line – and, thus, can officially elope without telling his mum if he wants.
And, speaking of the royal sprog, how genuinely nice it was to see odious Kay Burley getting her arse metaphorically spanked from all sides from describing the newborn infant as 'a porker'. Nice contribution to the debate on childhood obesity there, Kay, you wretched fraction of a woman. Sadly, for pretty much everyone except Burley herself, this isn't the Sixteenth Century so Burley avoided getting hauled off to The Bloody Tower and having her head cut off. Proof, if any were needed dear blog reader, that in some areas, the old days really were the best.
You think your football team is, to use that most cliched of phrases, 'a club in crisis' dear blog reader? Are they reported to be over one hundred and fifty million pounds in debt, saddled with an expensively-assembled squad of overpaid cowardly mercenaries, with an owner who can't, seemingly, give the club away and looking forward to visits to Fleetwood and Accrington next year? Yes, dear blog reader, Blunderland were very relegated for the second season in succession on Saturday after Liam Boyce's late, late header gave Burton Albino's own survival hopes a huge lift. Burton were a goal down with five minutes to play after Paddy McNair's low first-half strike. Darren Bent scored against his old club to level from close range and Boyce's goal silenced the home support. The Mackem Filth did have the ball in the net in injury time but it was ruled out and ended their Championship status. Blunderland's tumble into the third tier caps a disastrous last two seasons on Wearside, having gone from ten years of Premier League stability to slide into the third tier for the first time in thirty years. Chris Coleman was brought to the club in November tasked with keeping the club in the Championship, inheriting a side bottom of the table with just one win. Despite making improvements in terms of performances, the former Wales boss was unable to turn form around with just five league wins since his arrival. And, in his post-match press conference, a bewildered-looking Coleman confessed that he had 'no idea' as to where the club go next. Apart from League One, obviously. And, to those Mackem supporters who, loudly, celebrated this blogger's beloved (though still unsellable) Magpies relegation misfortunes two years ago, a necessary reminder of the laws of Karma and the age-old truism that what goes around comes around.
Championship winners Wolverhampton Wanderings have had their relationship with super agent Jorge Mendes approved by the EFL, who deem him as 'not a relevant person.' Wolves were 'invited' to meet with the EFL over the close bond between club owners Fosun and Mendes, following criticism from Championship rivals. But the EFL have made 'a comprehensive review' of details provided by Wolves. And, they have concluded that 'there is no requirement' for Mendes to submit to the owners' and directors' test. As well as The Scum manager Jose Mourinho and Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo, Mendes acts for Wolves head coach Nuno and two of the club's fellow Portuguese players, Ruben Neves and Diogo Jota.
Dirty Leeds owner Andrea Radrizzani has said that the decision to go on a post-season tour of Myanmar was 'carefully considered.' The Championship side are scheduled to play fixtures on 9 and 11 May in the country, where families have fled their homes because of military operations. Shadow sports minister Doctor Rosena Allin-Khan called the trip 'morally corrupt.' However, Radrizzani said he believes that the trip can 'have a positive impact on the local community.' And, on his bank balance, obviously. Dirty Leeds are due to face a Myanmar National League All-Star team in Yangon and the country's national team in Mandalay. In those areas, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office guidance is to 'check travel advice before travelling.' The FCO advises against 'all but essential travel' in some other areas of Myanmar. Nearly seven hundred thousand of Myanmar's Rohingya Muslim minority have fled the country since August because of ongoing military operations in Rakhine. The United Nations described the issues in the Northern Rakhine province as 'a textbook example of ethnic cleansing.' Radrizzani said that he was 'aware' of the 'serious issues' in the country but that it was 'a beautiful place filled with incredibly warm and welcoming people.' He added: 'This was a carefully considered decision and we knew it would be controversial, but this is about people not governments. It has never been my intention, nor that of the club, to get involved in a political debate in Myanmar. However, if because of the tour we further highlight the ongoing serious issues in certain areas of the country, then maybe that is a positive thing.' U Ko Ko Thein, general secretary of the Myanmar Football Federation, told Myanmar Frontier that the tour would 'help us to showcase our passion for the game abroad.'
Yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved (though unsellable) Newcastle United winger Rolando Aarons has admitted affray over a brawl in a bar's VIP area. Bottles were thrown and weapons used when Aarons and his family and friends clashed with at least five men in Livello on Newcastle's Quayside. The twenty two-year-old, his mother Joan Jacob and four others were charged with violent disorder. However, prosecutors accepted guilty pleas to the lesser charge of affray. Newcastle Crown Court heard that the October 2016 fight happened at about 2am and lasted ninety seconds. Aarons and his group had been celebrating a birthday. CCTV showed the melee 'blew up out of nowhere,' Judge Edward Bindloss said. A member of the other group was the first to throw an item, he added and one man in that party suffered a 'nasty' head injury when door staff intervened. Aarons and his mother, both of Montagu Avenue, Gosforth, were charged along with his cousin Garfield White a serving prisoner formerly of Wordsworth Road, Bristol. Aarons' friends Kallum Phillips and Jamar Collins,also from Bristol, faced the same charge. Action against White's sister Sabrina, was dropped after it was accepted she had 'acted as a peacemaker.' The judge granted all defendants bail, except White, ahead of sentencing on 22 May. Aarons, who was born in Jamaica and raised in Bristol, joined The Magpies in 2012. He suffered several injury set-backs and has been loaned out to Hellas Verona in Italy during the current season.
One of FIFA's most senior executives, Fatma Samoura, has been reported to the organisation's powerful ethics committee. Samoura, who was appointed secretary general of football's world governing body by its president Gianni Infantino in 2016, is accused of alleged breaches of its ethics code relating to 'duty of disclosure, co-operation and reporting' and 'conflicts of interest.' The claims stem from allegations relating to Morocco's bid to host the 2026 World Cup. The North African country wants to host the tournament but is up against a North American joint effort comprising Canada, the USA and Mexico. Members of a FIFA World Cup evaluation taskforce - which recently visited the bidding countries - are said to have 'discovered' an 'undeclared family link' between Samoura and the former Liverpool forward El Hadji Diouf, who is working in 'an ambassadorial role' for the Moroccan bid. Both Samoura and Diouf are from Senegal. They are both now the subject of an ethics complaint. A senior - though anonymous - FIFA 'source' has allegedly told BBC Sport that the allegation is 'tenuous', while Samoura said she is 'fully aware of this upcoming complaint' and has 'a good idea who is conveying this message.' She added: 'The whole country of Senegal will laugh at FIFA Ethics because everyone in my country knows the origin of El Hadji Diouf.' The same alleged senior 'source', also alleges that Infantino 'encouraged' the evaluation taskforce to find evidence which could block Morocco's candidacy. It is claimed Infantino was 'motivated' to do this as he favours the rival North American bid given the enormous financial advantage it has over its African rival. In response to the allegation a FIFA spokesperson told BBC Sport: 'The bidding process for the 2026 FIFA World Cup has been designed to evaluate the bids against objective criteria and so avoid a return to the secret and subjective decisions of the past. The process is as fair, objective and transparent as it can get as demonstrated with the publication of the bid books, all bidding documents and the scoring system. The taskforce's assessment is guided by clear and objective criteria and its report will be made public to guarantee full transparency of the process. The FIFA president is not involved in this process and he will not take part in the vote of the congress. These are facts and not "maybe" or gossip. FIFA has been heavily criticised for how it conducted the selection of hosts in the past. It was our obligation to learn from this and leave no room for any doubt or subjectivity. Anyone criticising this approach should be able to say if they would prefer a return to the old ways. Allegations of a defamatory nature are unacceptable, especially when they come in a middle of a bidding process when calm, sense of responsibility and respect should prevail.' The evaluation taskforce - which recently visited North American and Moroccan cities - includes Samoura's two deputies, Marco Villiger and former AC Milan player Zvonimir Boban. Some Morocco bid supporters have suggested they are Infantino allies and that that raises questions over the taskforce's impartiality and independence from the FIFA administration. There are further concerns over claims the Morocco bid team were only told of some eligibility criteria hours before their bid document had to be submitted, potentially weakening their submission. The bidding process comes with FIFA facing a financial shortfall following years of dealing with expensive legal bills resulting from a US Department of Justice investigation into corrupt executives. It has also struggled to attract major sponsors to this summer's World Cup in Russia. In light of this, it is believed Infantino wants the North American bid to win given organisers' claims it will generate around five billion dollars in economic activity and ticket revenue alone. The Swiss-Italian could yet face the prospect of being placed under an ethics investigation himself concerning the allegation he attempted to interfere in the 2026 bidding process although there is no evidence that a complaint has been made. The revelations come as the governing body is attempting to reform following a series of damaging political and financial scandals. It culminated in police dawn raids at a luxury Zurich hotel in May 2015, the extradition of FIFA executives to face trials in the US and the eventual deposing of Sepp Blatter as the organisation's long-serving president. The decision over whom to award the 2026 World Cup could also be plunged into doubt following the claims. The 2026 tournament is set to be the first World Cup to be allocated since the controversial decision to grant the 2018 edition to Russia and 2022 to Qatar. Those choices have been mired in controversy ever since and are the subject of several ongoing criminal investigations - for example, Blatter has suggested there was 'an agreement in place' for Russia to host the 2018 tournament before the vote took place. FIFA radically overhauled its voting procedures as a result of the Russia/Qatar process, taking power away from a small number of leading executives and placing it in the hands of its two hundred and eleven member associations. It also promised enhanced clarity, transparency and fairness when awarding its marquee event. Morocco's 2026 bid is gathering pace and is thought to stand a serious chance of winning the necessary one hundred and four majority votes needed for victory. A vote is scheduled to take place in Moscow on 13 June at FIFA's annual congress, with the North American countries and Morocco the only contenders.
Moscow Chelski FC goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois says that he and his father have initiated 'proceedings for libel and defamation' against ex-Belgium coach Marc Wilmots. In an interview with Qatar-based beIn Sports, Wilmots said that he was told Courtois' father had leaked team selections during the 2016 European Championship. Courtois said on Instagram: 'Mister Wilmots - not for the first time - reiterates publicly and intentionally [makes] accusations against my honour and my reputation.' He added: 'As well as my father, we decided together to file a complaint accompanied by criminal indemnification proceedings for libel and defamation.' Belgium number one Courtois has won fifty four caps for his country, who have been drawn in Group G alongside England, Tunisia and Panama at this summer's World Cup in Russia. Wilmots was dismissed as Belgium boss after their Euro 2016 exit to Wales.
Panathinaikos have been very banned from European competition for three years by the continent's football governing body after failing to pay their debts. Players at Greece's oldest club went on strike earlier this month in protest over unpaid wages from last year. The twenty-time Greek champions were given a suspended sentence by UEFA in December and told they had until 1 March to settle their unpaid bills. Having failed to comply, they have also been fined one hundred thousand Euros. Panathinaikos, who are currently seventh in Greece's top flight, had already incurred a three-point domestic penalty this season for failing to pay money owed to their former defender Jens Wemmer. The Athens-based club are the country's most successful side in European competition. They were European Cup runners-up in 1971 and reached the semi-finals of the same competition in 1985 and 1996, losing to Liverpool and Ajax respectively. This season, though, they were knocked out of the Europa League in the play-off round. The punishment handed down by UEFA's club financial control body represents another inauspicious moment for Greek Super League clubs this season. Last month, PAOK Salonika president Ivan Savvidis was banned for three years for coming onto the pitch with a gun during a top-flight game against AEK Athens.
Roma have condemned the 'abhorrent behaviour' of some OF THEIR fans after a Liverpool supporter was attacked before the Champions League semi-final. Two men from Rome were EXTREMELY arrested on suspicion of attempted murder after Wednesday's assault on Sean Cox who is in a critical condition. Roma said those involved at Anfield had 'brought shame on the club. There is no place for this type of vile behaviour in football,' a statement read. The victim, from Dunboyne in Ireland, has a head injury and is being treated in hospital. Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson said that the 'thoughts and prayers' of those at the club were with the injured fan. Roma said they were 'co-operating' with Liverpool, UEFA and the authorities. The attack happened outside a pub before kick-off, when about eighty Roma fans are thought to have used a side road to reach an area where Liverpool supporters had gathered. A Liverpool statement released on Wednesday asked those who had any relevant information to contact Merseyside Police. UEFA said in a statement that it was 'deeply shocked' by the 'vile attack. The perpetrators of this ignominious attack have no place in and around football and we trust they will be dealt with utmost severity by the authorities,' the statement read. Liverpool won the first leg of the tie five-two.
So-called Super-Earth planets are giant-size versions of Earth and some research has suggested that they're more likely to be habitable than Earth-size worlds. But a new study reveals how difficult it would be for any aliens on these exoplanets to explore space. To launch the equivalent of an Apollo moon mission, a rocket on a super-Earth would need to have a mass of about four hundred and forty thousand tons, due to fuel requirements, the study said. That's on the order of the mass of the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt. 'On more-massive planets, spaceflight would be exponentially more expensive,' said study's author, Michael Hippke, an independent researcher affiliated with the Sonneberg Observatory in Germany. 'Such civilisations would not have satellite TV, a moon mission or a Hubble Space Telescope.' As researchers have discovered alien worlds around other stars, one class of exoplanets that popped up was the Super-Earths, planets that can reach up to ten times the mass of our own. A number of super-Earths apparently lie in the habitable zones of their stars, where temperatures can theoretically support liquid water on the planetary surface and thus, potentially, life as it is known on Earth. Prior work suggested not only that worlds other than Earth-like ones could offer circumstances suitable for life, but also that some could be even more suitable than Earth-like planets. Super-Earths, researchers have suggested, might be 'super-habitable' - their greater mass giving them stronger gravitational pulls, so they could hold thicker atmospheres to better shield life from harmful cosmic rays. If life did evolve on a distant Super-Earth, such aliens could have developed an advanced civilisation capable of spaceflight. However, the strong gravitational pull of such planets could also make it more difficult for extraterrestrials to blast off their planets, Hippke said. To see how difficult it might be for Super-Earthlings to launch a conventional rocket, Hippke calculated the rocket sizes needed to escape a super-Earth seventy percent wider than our planet and ten times more massive. Those are roughly the specs of the alien planet Kepler-20b, which lies about nine hundred ad fifty light-years from Earth. On such a world, the escape velocity is about two-and-a-half times greater than on Earth. A big challenge for aliens on such a world would be the weight of the fuel that conventional rockets carry. Launching a rocket off a planet requires a lot of fuel, which makes the rockets heavy, which requires more fuel, making the craft heavier and so on. 'I am surprised to see how close we as humans are to end up on a planet which is still reasonably lightweight to conduct spaceflight,' Hippke told 'Other civilisations, if they exist, might not be as lucky.' Assuming a rocket on the simulated super-Earth worked about as well as SpaceX's Falcon Heavy, to launch a payload like NASA's upcoming James Webb Space Telescope would require sixty thousand tons of fuel, about the mass of the largest ocean battleships, Hippke said. 'Civilisations from Super-Earths are much less likely to explore the stars,' Hippke added. 'Instead, they would be to some extent arrested on their home planet and, for example, make more use of lasers or radio telescopes for interstellar communication instead of sending probes or spaceships.' Rockets work better in the vacuum of space than in an atmosphere, though. So, Hippke suggested that Super-Earthlings might want to launch from a mountaintop. However, the strong gravitational pull of Super-Earths would squash down their surfaces, leading to smaller mountains. And on Earth, the benefit of launching at high altitudes is not very large compared to launching at sea level, Hippke said. There could be ways of reaching orbit other than via conventional rockets, such as by using space elevators travelling on giant cables rising out of the atmosphere. However, a key limiting factor of space elevators is the strength of the cable material. The most suitable material known today, carbon nanotubes, is just barely strong enough for Earth's gravity, and it is unclear if stronger materials are physically possible, making it difficult to predict if space elevators on Super-Earths could work. Another possibility is nuclear pulse propulsion, which would involve detonating a series of atom bombs behind a vehicle to hurl it through space. This explosive strategy offers more lifting power than conventional rockets and might be the only way for a civilisation to leave a planet more than ten times Earth's mass, Hippke said. However, such a nuclear-powered spacecraft would pose not only technical challenges but political ones as well, he said. 'A launch failure, which typically happens with a one per cent risk, could cause dramatic effects on the environment' for a nuclear-powered spacecraft, Hippke said. 'I could only imagine that a society takes these risks in a flagship project where no other options are available, but the desire is strong - for example, one single mission to leave their planet and visit a moon.' Hippke detailed his findings online in a study submitted to the International Journal of Astrobiology.
A team of US doctors has successfully carried out the world's first total transplant of a penis and scrotum. Surgeons at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, performed the delicate operation on a soldier who had been wounded by a bomb in Afghanistan. They used a penis, scrotum and partial abdominal wall transplanted from a deceased donor. They say that the soldier should be able to 'regain sexual function,' which is impossible with penis reconstructions. The team of eleven surgeons performed the transplant over fourteen hours on 26 March. It is the first surgery on a combat veteran injured on duty and the first to transplant a complete section of tissue including the scrotum and surrounding abdominal area. Doctors said that the donor testicles were not transplanted, due to ethical considerations. 'While extremity amputations are visible and resultant disability obvious,' said Doctor WP Andrew Lee, head of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at Johns Hopkins, during a briefing on Monday, 'some war injuries are hidden and their impact not widely appreciated by others.' Lee called genitalia wounds 'an unspoken injury of war.' The soldier, who wishes to remain extremely anonymous, said in a statement released by the university: 'When I first woke up, I felt finally more normal like finally I'm okay now.' The first penis transplant in the US was in 2016 at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. In 2014, South African surgeons performed the world's first successful penis transplant. Apart from the one carried out on Hwyel Bennett in the movie Percy, obviously.
Campaign for Real Ale members have extremely rejected plans to widen the organisation's remit to be the voice of all beer, cider and perry drinkers. The changes, which could have seen CAMRA engaging with all beer drinkers, 'irrespective of what they choose to drink,' will not now go ahead. For nearly fifty years, CAMRA has promoted 'real' ale - usually, with twigs floating in it - over other drinks like lager. CAMRA's chairman said that the membership had 'made its views clear.' Almost eighteen thousand members voted online and at CAMRA's AGM in Coventry on Saturday. The changes would have needed the support of seventy five per cent of voting members. Chairman Colin Valentine, said 'far-reaching changes' to the organisation had not been supported. But he said that both sides in the argument 'can be confident that their contribution to the Campaign remains as valued as ever.' Whatever that means. He added: 'We need to do all we can to reassure all members that our core campaigning objectives remain focused on real ale, cider and perry as ever.' Real ale usually comes from a hand pump and is conditioned in a cask, giving it a fuller flavour than other beers, say supporters. It also often tastes like stewed pants.
The Oxford Dodo - the world's most famous example of the extinct bird - was shot in the head, research has found. Historians believed the flightless creature had been kept alive in a Seventeenth Century London townhouse. But recent forensic analysis of its skull found lead shot pellets, which were typically used to hunt wildfowl. Scientists hope to test the fragments to establish where the bird met its end. Oxford University has held the mummified skull and foot at its Natural History Museum for more than three hundred years. The specimen represents the most complete remains of a single dodo and contains the only soft tissue samples known to exist. It has proved invaluable in learning more about the species, which became extinct seventy years after it was discovered on the island of Mauritius in 1598. But the Oxford Dodo's own fate had remained a mystery. However, a team at the University of Warwick used forensic CT scanning to create a three-dimensional digital replica of its skull. The technology, which has also been used in criminal trials, showed evidence that the bird had been shot in the back of the head and neck. Professor Mark Williams, of the university's Warwick Manufacturing Group, said: 'When we were first asked to scan the Dodo, we were hoping to study its anatomy and shed some new light on how it existed. In our wildest dreams, we never expected to find what we did.' The Oxford Dodo originally came to the city as part of a collection of specimens and artefacts compiled by John Tradescant in the Seventeenth Century. He bought it because it was going cheap. Or, rather, going squwark. Sorry. Anyway, its remains ended up in the university museum, where the author Lewis Carroll is said to have 'found inspiration' for the dodo character in Alice In Wonderland. Museum director Professor Paul Smith said that it was 'a really great surprise' to learn lead pellets had been found embedded in the skin and the bone of the dodo, which he described as an 'icon of extinction.'
A cinema in New Zealand has banned people from wearing pyjamas, onesies and dirty boots to screenings, in a move designed to 'raise dress standards.' Hawera Cinemas said that in recent months it had seen 'an increasing number of patrons' attending 'in nightwear.' It announced the ban in a Facebook post, adding that the clothes 'did not encourage the right vibe.' The dress code at the cinema, located on the country's North Island, has sparked a heated debate on social media. Twitter of course now being The Sole Arbiter Of The Worth Of All Things. Apparently. Kirsty Bourke, manager at Hawera Cinemas said that over the last two months the cinema has seen 'an increase in customers wearing pyjamas and customers wearing dirty gumboots and work boots, so like many restaurants and clubs we decided to adopt a dress code. The support we have received is fantastic. We have had customers all day congratulating us,' she told the BBC.
A former juvenile detention centre employee has been jailed for fifty years after stealing $1.2m worth of fajitas over a period of nine years. Gilberto Escamilla arranged for deliveries of the Mexican meal to the Darrell B Hester Juvenile Detention Centre where he worked, but would sell them himself on the same day. He was caught last August when he took a day off to go to a medical appointment. The centre's meat supplier called to confirm an order of eight hundred and eighty pounds of fajitas and the employee who answered informed them that the centre did not serve fajitas. The supplier had been delivering similar orders for nine years and officers found stacks of fajitas in Escamilla's fridge. He was fired and arrested by the fuzz the next day. He admitted theft by a public servant on Friday and was very jailed for fifty years. According to the Brownsville Herald, he said: 'It was selfish. It started small and got bigger and out of control. It got to the point where I couldn't control it anymore.' After the arrest last year, District Attorney Luis V Saenz said: 'If it wasn't so serious, you'd think it was a Saturday Night Live skit. But this is the real thing.' Cameron County Assistant District Attorney Peter Gilman said the five-decade sentence would 'send a strong message' to employees of the county.
Verne Troyer, best known for playing Mini-Me in the Austin Powers movies, has died at the age of forty nine. Troyer, who was two foot eight inches tall, also played Griphook in the first Harry Potter film. 'It is with great sadness and incredibly heavy hearts to write that Verne passed away today,' a post on his official Facebook page read. 'Over the years he's struggled and won ... but unfortunately this time was too much,' the message added. Troyer appeared on a number of reality TV shows, including Z-List Celebrity Big Brother in the UK in 2009. He has also made regular appearances on Z-List Celebrity Juice and starred in the wretched and worthless Keith Lemon: The Film. One of Troyer's first roles was as a stunt double for a nine-month-old baby in the 1994 film Baby's Day Out. He appeared in two Austin Powers films as Mini-Me, the clone and sidekick of Doctor Evil, played by Mike Myers. 'Verne was the consummate professional and a beacon of positivity for those of us who had the honour of working with him,' Myers said in a statement given to The Hollywood Reporter. 'It is a sad day, but I hope he is in a better place. He will be greatly missed.' Earlier this month, Troyer was admitted to hospital in Los Angeles but his team did not say what he was suffering from. He was treated for alcohol addiction last year and released a statement addressing his problems. 'While it's not always been an easy fight, I'm willing to continue my fight day by day,' he said.
A clear sign that, as it were, summer is-a comin' in, dear blog reader was that the lush lawns of Stately Telly Topping Manor required their first good, hard strim on the year on Wednesday of this week. And, as a bonus, Keith Telly Topping's back was verily knackin' like there would be no tomorrow afterwards. A nice hot soapy bath was clearly called for. It wasn't too difficult since this was the first strimming of the year and the grass was still, reasonably, short (albeit, because of a bit of morning dew, a touch wetter than this blogger would have liked). The problem is, Keith Telly Topping has got, as long-term dear blog readers may be aware, this rather nasty 'multilevel degenerative disc disease' thing going on with his tie-rack which means that he's usually limited to about fifteen or twenty minutes maximum of any of this sort of 'manual labour' malarkey before his sciatic nerve starts screaming in total bloody agony. And on this occasion, yer actual Keith Telly Topping probably overdid it by about ten minutes or so. Don't worry, this blogger will live. Hopefully. Although let this be a lesson to all of you of the inherent dangers of any form of manual labour. What can I say, dear blog reader, these are artists hands.
Finally, dear blog reader, as some of you may be aware from previous bloggerisationisms, 27 April marks the fifth anniversary of the death of this blogger's dear old mum, Lily. The following day marks the twenty seventh anniversary of the death of this blogger's dad, Tommy. As a consequence around this time of the year Keith Telly Topping can - and usually does - get rather melancholy and introspective as he has a period of quiet reflection on times past, family and friends that've gone and, not to get too dark and maudlin about it, aware of the inevitable march of time and his very own mortality. Life, eh? It's a reet laugh, innit?
The cat - also now long dead - was (as previously mentioned on this blog) called Kaboobie. Named - by Keith Telly Topping's brother, who was a grown adult at the time - after a 'magical flying camel' in a now long-forgotten Hanna-Babera cartoon called Shazzan which was very popular in the UK ... for about five minutes in 1970 around the time the cat was born. Oh, how we used to dread any visitor to the Stately Telly Topping gaff saying 'you've a got a very pretty cat, what's it called?' 'That's a long story,' we used to reply.
One amusing little tale related to Mama Telly Topping was brought to mind this week when this blogger was looking for a nice photo to illustrate her and Daddy Telly Topping for this blog and this blogger will leave you with this one. Some years back, this blogger undertook the truly mammoth task of digitally scanning into his computer all of the Telly Topping family photos (and, we had a lot, dear blog reader, trust me). One set that this blogger always really liked was a series of eight taken around 1961 or 1962 - certainly before this blogger was born. Mum and Dad, along with Our Colin and Grandma and Granda Lamb had gone for a week to stay in a caravan somewhere.
During the course of the scanning, Keith Telly Topping was showing Mama Telly Topping some of the results and we came to this particular set. This blogger asked if Mama Telly Topping could remember where, exactly, they had been taken? 'We were up at Alston,' Mama Telly Topping said referring to the small (and very pretty) market town in Cumbria. 'No, I think you'll find it was Hawsker,' Keith Telly Topping replied. 'How could you possibly know that, you weren't even there?' said Mama Telly Topping, incredulously. 'Well,' this blogger noted triumphantly, 'this is a bit of a giveaway!' Sometimes, dear blog reader, Keith Telly Topping really misses his mum. She always produced some absolute twenty four carat comedy gold!