Thursday, May 31, 2018

Sorry, Wrong Number

The BBC Worldwide Showcase, which unveils the corporation's biggest upcoming series to potential buyers, took place in Liverpool recently and, of course, Doctor Who was one of the jewels in the crown of the conference. Some interesting updates came out of the event, one of which appeared to concern when the popular long-running family SF drama will return. Apparently, it was stated during the event that series eleven would 'arrive' in October 2018. Which, needless to say, got fans everywhere all excited. Although, as the Radio Times' Huw Fullerton pointed out, that date isn't, necessarily, quite as nailed-on as the statement may at first have appeared! This is Doctor Who, dear blog reader, nothing is ever straight-forward.
Peter Capaldi has spoken about why death is such an important motif in Doctor Who. Peter appeared throughout director James Cameron's Story Of Science Fiction (which has just finished broadcasting on AMC) to reflect on the genre and, in particular, his time on the BBC's popular long-running family SF drama. In the sixth episode of the series, Peter discussed the fact that Doctor Who has been such a long-lasting series because of the ingenious idea of the Time Lord regenerating and the lead actor being replaced every few years. 'It has all these other levels of philosophical and reflective nature that make it very, very rich,' he said. 'People always ask me what is it about the show that appeals so broadly. The answer I would like to give – and which I'm discouraged from giving because it is not useful in the promotion of a brand – is that it's about death. And it has a very, very powerful death motif in it which is that the central character dies. I think that is one of its most potent mysteries because somewhere in that people see that that's what happens in life. You have loved ones and then they go, but you must carry on.'
Lucifer's Tom Ellis has admitted that the show's cast were as shocked and stunned as everyone else by its cancellation. The (now extremely former) FOX drama was axed earlier this month, leading to a massive - though, so far unsuccessful - social media campaign to bring it back. However, Ellis has admitted that they were 'left blindsided' by the network's announcement, especially as they hadn't finished series three with the expectation it would be the last. 'The thing that none of us expected was the cancellation, so when we were filming we were like, "Oh, they're gonna love this, I wonder what's going to happen next season," he said at MCM Comic Con. 'It's a weird thing where it's been a long time coming in that moment and it wasn't planned as the final moment of Lucifer and if it is - and I sincerely hope it isn't - then what a way to go. I remember reading that for the first time and the hairs on my arms just went crazy. We'd been waiting for that and I am very keen on telling the story of what's next.' Ellis also talked about the upcoming two 'bonus' episodes which are due to be broadcast next week – which were originally intended to be shown as part of a fourth series. 'We filmed two extra episodes that were going to be shown as part of season four, because they're like, standalone episodes,' he continued. 'There were a few standalone episodes this year, so we did two more of those. But now that season four is not happening on FOX, they are going to show those episodes on Monday. So it's like a Blu-ray, DVD, bonus extra episode of Lucifer.'
This blogger's favourite line of dialogue in the third episode of The Bridge's fourth series came when the two young ragamuffin street-sisters whom Henrik has acquired as temporary house guests asked if he and Saga are a couple. 'No,' replied Saga with her standard matter-of-fact Asperger's brilliance. 'I'm staying here until I find my own place. And we have sex sometime!' There was, quite literally, no answer to that.
The BBC's wonderful adaptation of King Lear, broadcast on Bank Holiday Monday obviously - as with most Shakespeare adaptations - required some considerable compression of the storyline to fit in with the medium, the modernist setting and the time-limits imposed upon it. Which was fine although, sadly, it did mean on this particular occasion among the bits that got removed was the epic Oswald/Edgar/Gloucester confrontation in Act Four Scene Six which includes some of the most famous lines in the play (all the ones which are heard during the final minute of 'I Am The Walrus', basically!) On the other hand, it also meant that Andrew Scott didn't end up killing Christopher Eccleston. So, that was a bonus. Swings and roundabouts, if you like.
God but the acting was brilliant, though - it was really hard to pick a best performance out of Tony Hopkins, Jim Broadbent, Jim Carter et al. But, personally, this blogger's award for the best performance on show went to Emma Watson's conflicted, ambitious and really dangerous Regan. Keith Telly Topping's long been a big fan of Em's work, but this was something very special indeed.
Yer actual Benedict Cumberbatch has been hailed as a hero after leaping to the defence of a Deliveroo cyclist to help fight off a gang of naughty muggers. The actor reportedly said that he 'had to' intervene after jumping out of an Uber taxi near his fictional character's home in Baker Street. His actions meant the attackers fled, it was claimed, as he bravely fended the perpetrators off who allegedly smashed the cyclist over the head with a bottle. According to witnesses, Benny dragged the four muggers off the victim, who was in his twenties, after shouting at them to leave him alone. Responding to reports of his heroics Cumberbatch, who is currently starring in the Sky drama Patrick Melrose, told the Sun: 'I did it out of, well, I had to, you know ...' The Metropolitan Police confirmed to the Torygraph that they were called to reports of an assault and that the group had headed off along Marylebone Road towards Baker Street. The victim did not need hospital treatment. Uber driver Manuel Dias said the cyclist was lucky, and described Cumberbatch as a 'superhero.' Dias, who also tried to help the victim, said: 'It all got a bit surreal. Here was Sherlock Holmes fighting off four attackers just round the corner from Baker Street. I had hold of one lad and Benedict another. He seemed to know exactly what he was doing. He was very brave. He did most of it, to be honest. They tried to hit him but he defended himself and pushed them away. He wasn't injured. Then I think they also recognised it was Benedict and ran away.' He said that the actor embraced the cyclist after the scuffle.
Game Of Thrones' Kit Harington and Rose Leslie are to marry in the North East of Scotland next month. The couple - seen below modelling the very latest in 'the nutter on the bus' chic - met on the hugely popular fantasy drama in 2012, where they played on-screen lovers Jon Snow and Ygritte. Their engagement was announced in September last year. A 23 June date has been posted at the Huntly registration office in Aberdeenshire. The actress's father, councillor Seb Leslie, owns a castle in his West Garioch constituency. Leslie left the cast two years after they met, while Harington became one of the show's biggest stars - appearing in every series. Harington earlier told L'Uomo Vogue it was 'easy' to fall in love with Leslie. He said that his 'best ever memory' of the show were the three weeks in Iceland when they filmed the second series in 2012. 'Because the country is beautiful, because the Northern Lights are magical and because it was there that I fell in love,' he said. 'If you're already attracted to someone, and then they play your love interest in the show, it becomes very easy to fall in love.'
Filming is reported to be underway in and around Newcastle on the next series of From The North favourite Vera. The Evening Chronicle reports that films crews were 'spotted in Jesmond' earlier this week. The paper also claims that The Seagull - the most recent of Ann Cleeves' award-winning Vera Stanhope novels - will be adapted for one episode of the upcoming series.
Channel Five has received something of 'a backlash' over its broadcast of Inside The Sex Business, which depicted violent sadomasochism and prostitutes actively using drugs. Albeit, the majority of the criticism came from people you've never heard of on Twitter. Broadcast at 10pm and documented over three episodes, the series covered subjects such as the 'lives of porn stars', 'home-based hookers' and 'street prostitutes'. According to the Sun, viewers were 'issued with a statement pre-broadcast' of one particular episode which read: 'Be prepared for full-frontal nudity, graphic extreme sexual activity including consensual violence, offensive language and drug use.' So, they can't really argue that they weren't warned in advance. Nevertheless, the world of social media - a world with about as much relevance to the real one as ... something with very little relevance - 'was awash with reactions,' according to the Digital Spy website. And, this shite constitutes 'news', apparently. A Channel Five spokesperson told Digital Spy: 'Inside The Sex Business is a documentary series from an award-winning filmmaker providing a raw and unvarnished insight into the UK sex industry estimated to employ up to one hundred thousand sex workers in the UK. Clear warnings around the nature of the content were given at the beginning of the programme and each break.' Ofcom apparently received 'over thirty' complaints in response to the series. From people with nothing better to do with their time, on assumes.
The creators of the children's TV show Sesame Street have launched a lawsuit against an upcoming 'sex, drugs and violence-laden puppet-based movie' called The Happytime Murders. The movie uses the tagline 'No Sesame. All Street' on promotional material. The lawsuit claims that this 'tarnishes' the Sesame Street brand and 'confuses people' into thinking the two are linked. But, only really stupid ones. Melissa McCarthy stars in the movie, slated for August release, where humans and puppets co-exist. She is given a new puppet partner in the R-rated film to try to solve a string of murders. Sesame Workshop, the educational organisation behind the TV show, filed the lawsuit against the film's producers, STX Productions, in New York. The lawsuit calls for 'punitive damages' and a jury trial. Sesame Workshop alleges that, although the trailer for the movie is 'indescribably crude,' it is not seeking to block the film's promotion. 'It is only [the] defendants' deliberate choice to invoke and commercially misappropriate 'Sesame's' name and goodwill in marketing the movie - and thereby cause consumers to conclude that 'Sesame' is somehow associated with the movie - that has infringed on and tarnished the 'Sesame Street' mark and goodwill.' It says the 'No Sesame. All Street' tagline has 'confused and appalled viewers.' Although quite how viewers can be both confused and appalled, at the same time, they don't elaborate.
The film is directed by Brian Henson, the son of the late Jim Henson, who helped develop Sesame Street characters for its launch in 1969 and later went on to create The Muppet Show. STX issued a response via a character from the film, a lawyer called Fred, saying that the movie was 'the untold story of the active lives of Henson puppets when they're not performing in front of children.' It continued: 'While we're disappointed that Sesame Street does not share in the fun, we are confident in our legal position.'
Andrew Davies, Britain's most successful literary adapter for television, has vowed to dispel claims John Updike was a misogynist when he tackles the author's Rabbit novel series. Davies is probably best known these days for his lavish productions of classic novels such as Doctor Zhivago, Pride & Prejudice, War & Peace and the forthcoming Les Misérables. Although, as far as this blogger is concerned, he's the creator of A Very Peculiar Practice, Game On and Educating Marmalade, the author of the version of House Of Cards which didn't feature an alleged serial sexual predator ... and the adaptor of some old books. But he revealed to The Hay Literary Festival in Wales recently that his next project would be the series of novels that follow the character of Harry Rabbit Angstrom, an everyman former high school basketball star who feels trapped by marriage and fatherhood. 'This lazy way that people talk about him being a misogynist,' Davies said. 'This is something we are just going to wipe out really when they see just how richly empathetic and imaginative the books are.' Updike, who died in 2009, was a chronicler of ordinary American life. His first Rabbit novel, the classic Rabbit Run, was published in 1960, and his last, Rabbit At Rest, in 1990. Rabbit is a sometimes monstrous, selfish character. He leaves his pregnant wife at the start of the novel and later moves in with a sex worker. The project 'raises the question of how, in the era of Me Too, TV and film-makers should depict behaviour that is no longer considered acceptable.,' according to some prick on no importance at the Gruniad Morning Star, as if 'normal people' have any interest in that sort of bollocks. The script editor Laura Lankester said that there was 'no getting around the fact' that people in the 1960s 'behaved the way they did' and there was 'a balancing act in not denying it' and in portraying it 'in an acceptable way for a contemporary audience.' Apparently. Davies said: 'I think they behave exactly the same now, but it is kind of wrong now.' The eighty one-year-old said he had the advantage of working with much younger people than himself, including a script editor in her mid-twenties. 'She has had problems with some bits of Rabbit Run and it has been very interesting to deal with all that,' he said. 'We do want people, if not to love Rabbit but at least to understand him. Some of the things have been a bit difficult for young intelligent females to cope with. But I think his insight into both men and women is just so extraordinary.' Davies was at Hay to talk about his adaptation of Les Misérables, Victor Hugo's epic story of social injustice in revolutionary Paris. It will be shown on the BBC1 later this year with a cast that includes David Oyelowo as Javert, Dominic West as Jean Valjean, Olivia Colman as Madame Thénardier, Josh O'Connor as Marius and Lily Collins as Fantine. Other forthcoming TV projects include an adaptation of Vikram Seth's A Suitable Boy and, potentially, a mash-up of the novels of Alison Lurie. Davies says that he plans to continue what he does at least until he was ninety. 'I've bought a new car, so I plan to at least get my money's worth out of that.'
ABC has extremely cancelled Roseanne Barr's sitcom, Roseanne, after she posted a quite despicably racist tweet likening an African-American former advisor of President Obama to an ape. Classy. ABC said: 'Roseanne's Twitter statement is abhorrent, repugnant and inconsistent with our values and we have decided to cancel her show.' Barr's tweet suggested that Valerie Jarrett was 'the child of the Muslim Brotherhood and the Planet Of The Apes film.' She quickly deleted the post and grovellingly apologised but could not contain the inevitable backlash. Barr's initial tweet about Jarrett came in response to another Twitter user, who accused Jarrett of 'helping to conceal purported spying' during the Obama administration.
Barr's cast mate Sara Gilbert posted on Twitter on Tuesday that the cancellation was 'incredibly sad and difficult. We've created a show that we believe in,' Gilbert said in the tweet. 'One that is separate and apart from the opinions and words of one cast member.' Following Barr's tweet, one of Roseanne's consulting producers, Wanda Sykes, said that she would not be returning to the show. Robert Iger, chief executive of Disney, ABC's parent company, responded to the cancellation announcement, saying: 'There was only one thing to do here and that was the right thing.' Another cast member, Emma Kenney, said 'the racist and distasteful comments from Roseanne are inexcusable,' adding: 'Bullies do not win. Ever.' Sadly, she's quite wrong there - they do more often than you'd think. Danny Zuker, a writer for the original 1988 Roseanne show, suggested that it was 'nauseating' to see what Barr had become. 'I wrote on the original Roseanne where we used to denounce nativism, racism and homophobia,' he wrote. 'Looking forward to continue not watching this show.' Barr, of course, has long been thought of as the Donald Trump of sitcom: blunt, provocative and, at times, deeply offensive. For years her social media activity was laced with profanity, provocation and some downright peculiar conspiracy theories. ABC executives knew all that when they took the risk on the reboot and, at first, it seemed the gamble had paid off. Ratings were superb, while critics praised the sitcom for tackling America's political divisions in a manner sympathetic to the millions of people who voted for Trump - a group which often complained that TV wasn't made for them any more - while still entertaining millions of his opponents. The sitcom's cancellation comes just a month after the show was revived. Barr - who ran unsuccessfully for the Green Party's White House nomination in 2012 - also implied that she was considering a presidential run someday in the future. Subsequently, Barr used another Twitter post in a, rather desperate, attempt to deflect the blame for her outrageous outburst onto the sleeping pills she claims that she is taking. So, there you go dear blog reader, apparently, sleeping pills make you a sick racist. Who knew? Seemingly, not the makers of Ambein - the pills in question - who took the opportunity to publicly deny that racism is a recorded side-effect of their product.
Barr also suggested that those of her co-stars - all now out of job, of course - who had criticised her vile and ignorant comments had 'thrown me under the bus'. Which, for someone who has just committed career-suicide-by-Twitter is both an interesting metaphor and a textbook example of 'shooting the messenger.'
Jamie Dornan will reunite with The Fall's writer Allan Cubitt and the BBC for a new series based on one of Ireland's most popular novels of the last thirty years. He has been cast in a leading role alongside The Americans' Matthew Rhys in a three-part adaptation of Death & Nightingales, the 1992 novel by Eugene McCabe. The series takes place over just twenty four hours in the countryside of Fermanagh, set in 1885. It's the twenty fifth birthday of Beth Winters (Ann Skelly) and she is ready to run away with her lover Liam (played by Dornan). But there are spying eyes around every corner and by running away, she risks defying her domineering stepfather Billy (Rhys), a powerful Protestant landowner. 'I'm thrilled to be reunited with Allan and his brilliant scripts to play such an intriguing character like Liam Ward and to return to Northern Ireland and BBC2,' Dornan said. Death & Nightingales will be the actor's first major television role since wrapping playing Christian Grey on the big screen in Fifty Shades Freed earlier this year. For Rhys, Death & Nightingales is a move back to the UK after spending several years working abroad on FX's The Americans. 'I've been a huge fan of Allan Cubitt's work for many years so I'm thrilled to have been given the chance to work on Death & Nightingales alongside Jamie and Ann and return to the BBC,' Rhys said. No premiere date for Death & Nightingales has been set yet, but filming will begin over the summer across Ireland.
The Split will be returning for a second series. The BBC has confirmed that Abi Morgan's divorce drama will be back after the first series ended this week. In Tuesday's final episode Hannah (From The North favourite Nicola Walker) battled her emotions as she struggled to choose between her cheating husband Nathan (Stephen Mangan) and the dashing Christie (Barry Atsma).
Matt LeBlanc is to leave Top Gear after the next series. The Friends and Episodes actor began presenting the BBC show alongside Chris Evans in 2016. LeBlanc went on to front the show with Rory Reid and Chris Harris when Evans got the old tin-tack after his first series. LeBlanc said that despite Top Gear being 'great fun,' the 'time commitment and extensive travel takes me away from my family and friends more than I'm comfortable with.' He added: 'It's unfortunate, but for these reasons I will not be continuing my involvement with the show. I will forever be a Top Gear fan and I wish the team continued success. Thanks for a great drive.' BBC2 controller Patrick Holland said: 'I want to thank the fabulous Matt LeBlanc for being a brilliant co-host on Top Gear. Matt has thrown himself into the show with real passion, revealing his extraordinary car knowledge and a willingness to get down and dirty. We were always going to be borrowing him from his day job as one of the top comic actors in Hollywood so I wish him all the very best. The next series of Top Gear (Matt's last) promises to be something very special and we have great plans to welcome a new co-host to join the team for 2019 and beyond.' The last series of Top Gear was sold to more than one hundred and fifty territories, so producers may be looking for someone with similar global appeal and star quality. Of course, they did have three of those a few years ago. Wonder whatever happened to those guys?
Sky will be bringing fans back to Little Big Bear, as production gets under way on the second series of the - patchy but occasionally brilliant - Tim Roth drama Tin Star. The last we saw the former London Metropolitan Police detective Jack Devlin, he'd slipped into his alter-ego of Canadian police chief Jim Worth to live a quiet life with his family in the Canadian Rockies. A fateful decision to cross the powerful North Stream Oil corporation and its media officer Elizabeth Bradshaw (Christina Hendricks) would ultimately put Worth and his family in the crosshairs. As the second series of Tin Star picks up, Jim's daughter reaches out for help when she discovers that the seemingly idyllic family who've taken her in are harbouring a secret far more disturbing than she could ever imagine. Filming on new episodes has officially begun in Canada, with Roth, Hendricks, Genevieve O'Reilly and Abigail Lawrie all confirmed to reprise their roles from the first series. Among the new faces joining the drama will be John Lynch, Anamaria Marinca and Jenessa Grant as the Ammonite family who have taken in Anna Worth. 'We are thrilled to be given a further opportunity to delve deeper into the characters we had such fun with in series one,' creator Rowan Joffe and executive producer Alison Jackson said. 'A second series of Tin Star lets us build on the established world of Little Big Bear, but also gives the audience a glimpse of another intriguing community and provides us with a family who are strangely unsettling for our hero Jim Worth. We are delighted that John, Anamaria and Jenessa have joined our wonderful cast.'
Discovery is to shut its European broadcasting base in London as the US TV giant behind channels including Animal Planet and Eurosport mulls post-Brexit plans for a new continental hub. Discovery broadcasts more than one hundred TV channels across Europe from its headquarters in West London, making the pay-TV giant the biggest broadcaster to use the UK as a hub for the continent. The Gruniad Morning Star claims that Discovery is to shut the European playout hub for broadcasting its channels, affecting up to one hundred jobs, as it moves to a US-based transmission system. However, it will continue to employ thirteen hundred people in the UK, where it makes programmes and broadcasts sixteen channels to British viewers. The company said that while it will move the playout of non-live channels - it broadcasts shows from Gold Rush to Running Wild With Bear Grylls - it will look to develop the playout centre as a hub for sport and live broadcasting. However, Discovery, which owns Eurosport and has the exclusive European TV rights to the Olympics and jointly broadcasts Wimbledon in a deal with the BBC, already has a major sports TV facility in Paris. Discovery will continue to hold all of its TV licences with the UK broadcasting regulator, Ofcom, which under European Union rules means it can broadcast across the continent. However, broadcasters and Ofcom have warned the government that if it fails to strike a deal to keep EU-wide broadcast rights post-Brexit, companies will have to look to relocate significant parts of their businesses and TV licensing arrangements to the continent to continue to transmit across Europe. 'This is part of our vision to move to a more agile operational technology model,' a spokeswoman for Discovery said. 'This has nothing to do with Brexit and everything to do with technology innovation being core to our company and brand.' Nevertheless, the Gruniad allege, Discovery has been evaluating the location for its European broadcasting hub if a Brexit TV deal is not struck. Discovery's decision to close its European playout base will be a stark reminder for the government of how the world's biggest TV companies are not wedded to the UK. Discovery is understood to have lined-up options for Amsterdam, where businesses including Netflix have their European headquarters, and Warsaw. Poland is the home base of the Discovery executive, Kasia Kieli, who was promoted to become the broadcaster's head of Europe in November, and after Discovery's twelve billion dollar takeover of rival Scripps has become home to one of its largest workforces and bases in Europe. In November, the Ofcom chief executive, Sharon White, revealed to an audience in Brussels that a number of major UK-based broadcasters have told her they 'have contingency plans' to move editorial functions to other cities in Europe. While there is no suggestion of large-scale job cuts post-Brexit, internally Discovery has quietly stopped calling London its international headquarters.
A person has gone to the police with a complaint of being, allegedly, 'indecently assaulted' by Craig McLachlan, the actor's civil defamation lawsuit has been told. The fifty two-year-old is currently suing Fairfax Media, the ABC and the actress Christie Whelan Browne over articles and reports alleging that he bullied and indecently assaulted her and two other female cast members during a 2014 production of The Rocky Horror Show. Since the publications, McLachlan has become reclusive and his acting career has been effectively destroyed, according to his legal team. The media companies and Browne, represented by the lawyer Lyndelle Barnett, were required to file their defence with the NSW supreme court by Thursday. But on Friday, Barnett applied for suppression orders in relation to three people, who were not referred to in the publications and who all claim that they were indecently assaulted by McLachlan. Acknowledging the three were being 'dragged' into the case, Barnett said that if Justice Lucy McCallum refused the applications, parts of the defence would be withdrawn. One of the three would give evidence in the defamation case only if their name and evidence was kept confidential. That person had lodged a complaint with the police about being indecently assaulted by the actor, Barnett said. If the police chose to proceed with that, the person would have the benefit of legally not being able to be identified in the criminal matter. The person should not lose that protection now in a civil case, Browne submitted. The second person was 'not prepared to be a witness,' but if the name was suppressed, other witnesses could potentially be able to testify about that alleged indecent assault. The third person preferred not to be named, but would still give evidence either way. McLachlan's barrister, Stuart Littlemore QC, argued against the orders, saying that they were 'premature' and 'did not relate to a party' in the current proceedings. 'We have no interest in naming any person or even knowing the name except we must be able to conduct the ordinary investigative process,' he said. Referring to the first person, Littlemore said that there was 'no information' when and in what jurisdiction the complaint was made to the police. He also noted that making a complaint did not mean a person would be charged with anything.
Stormy weather has been causing all sorts of problems across the UK this week - not least for the first live semi-final of Britain's Got Toilets. Monday night's show went off-air for several minutes, as ITV showed an apology caption and footage of former winners auditioning. When BGT came back on-air, Wor Geet Canny Dec apologised for 'technical problems' due to the weather during the early part of the show, which is broadcast from the Hammersmith Apollo. He also repeated voting information for anyone who had missed it the first eight times. Wor Geet Canny Dec told the audience and viewers that 'nothing had changed' since the last series, with the same judges and format, then added: 'And the presenters ... well, probably best not to dwell on that.'
Thunderstorms and torrential rain swept across parts of Southern Britain, with lightning flashing across the sky over the Bank Holiday weekend. Around fifteen thousand lightning strikes were recorded in four hours on Saturday night, the BBC Weather website said. Stansted Airport reported delays to flights on Sunday morning after a lightning strike briefly left its aircraft fuelling system 'unavailable.' The Met Office issued a yellow warning for heavy rain and flooding across Wales and most of England. A house in Stanway, Essex, lost its roof to a fire after lightning struck it in the early hours of Sunday morning. Firefighters worked on the blaze for almost three hours, eventually extinguishing it. No injuries were reported in the incident. Later in the morning, storms brought more than an inch of rain to parts of Wales and the Midlands in just half an hour. A dramatic and purple sky was photographed over Hayling Island, near Portsmouth, as thunderstorms moved northwards across the mainland. Many people got out their cameras to photograph and video Saturday night's electrical storm, which was called 'utterly insane' and 'like being under a strobe light.' Others remarked that they had 'never seen a storm quite like this' and said the flashes were 'stunning.' Another person said that the thunder was so loud 'I, quite literally, shat in my own pants.' Probably. BBC Weather presenter Tomasz Schafernaker called it 'the mother of all thunderstorms' as he watched it over London. 'I've never seen a storm with such frequent lightning in my life I don't think. Mostly sheet lightning and not too loud but flashes are spectacular.' Lightning strikes were spotted above Wembley Stadium in London on Saturday night, where Fulham beat The Aston Villains in the Championship play-off final.
Broadcaster Mariella Frostrup - who, according to Half Man, Half Biscuit 'does lots of voice-overs and nothing much else but she seems to get by' - has complained of a new 'double standard' which allows women to lust over men - but sees accusations of sexism arise when the role is reversed. The presenter of BBC Radio 4's Open Book revealed her concern when writing about the new series of Poldark in the Radio Times. She said that she can comment on 'a shot of a shirtless, sea-soaked Aidan Turner.' But, men would not be able to remark similarly on his female co-stars. 'As a woman, I can own a comment like that without too much fear of censure,' said Frostrup. 'Indeed, there's an undeniable sense of celebration among my girlfriends at the return of this sultry, tormented character, embodied by a delectable young thespian pleasing all viewing generations. But we live in confusing times and I'm the first to admit to double standards - if a male colleague had penned those preceding lines about any of Turner's equally appealing female co-stars, his cries of contrition would be drowned out by Twitter's Troll Chorus.' The Twitter Troll Chorus, meanwhile, immediately - and, not unexpectedly, given the nature of the Twitter Troll Chrous - set their collective Trolling sights on Mariella Frostrup from a damned good spanking with righteous anger and furious fury. It was quite a sight, dear blog reader. And, of course, some smear you've never heard of at the Gruniad also wanted her say on the matter. The presenter said that she feared that 'we are losing not only our sense of humour but our sense of proportion as we throw every act of perceived sexism into the Me Too basket.' Frostrup added: 'There's an enormous difference between judging a person's worth only on the basis of their physical assets and expressing admiration for a fellow human with God's gift (allegedly) of good looks. Admiring Aidan Turner should be an acceptable national pastime, as a thumbs-up for the glories of humanity and another for his engaging performance.'
Meanwhile, Aidan Turner may have won legions of fans for his propensity to get his shirt off at this slightest provocation, but not everyone is happy about it. The actor revealed on The Graham Norton Show, that he rubbed the chairman of The Scything Association up the wrong way when he 'ignored' his tips. This is surprisingly for two reasons, firstly the fact that The Scything Association is a real thing and, secondly, because, well, who cares? 'The chairman of The Scything Association came to give me lessons but I didn't think the proper way to do it looked very impressive so I just went for it,' Aidan explained. Referring to one of the many shirtless scenes he's undertaken as Ross Poldark, Aidan added: 'He tried to give me notes but I didn't take any notice and he left in a bit of a huff.'
Springwatch returned to the BBC2 on Bank Holiday Monday, but this year the show is missing a famous face. Martin Hughes-Games, who has co-presented on the programme - alongside its sister shows Autumnwatch and Winterwatch - for twelve years, announced in February that he was leaving and that he would not be part of the forthcoming series. In September 2016 he had announced rather stroppily on Twitter that he was 'being axed' by the BBC in order, he felt, that diversity targets could be met - a claim strenuously denied by the Corporation. As it turned out Hughes-Games did appear in the subsequent 2017 series'. 'Whatever I may think, it's crucially important that high profile shows like the Watches reflect diversity,' he told Radio Times soon after the announcement of his departure had been made. 'Chris [Packham], Michaela [Strachan] and I are all white and Middle Class so a more diverse team must present some of the films that go out. It's hard for me because it's my living but the more I thought about it the more I thought "no, that's the right decision." It has to be like that.' In an interview published in this week's Radio Times, Hughes-Games said: 'I had reasons for deciding to leave Springwatch, but these are private and I have no wish to upset anyone by going on about them. I'm going to miss Chris and Michaela terribly. Springwatch, as a totally non-scripted, live show is exceptionally difficult to present but Chris and Michaela make it look almost effortless and great fun – it's an amazing skill.' His co-presenters paid tribute to him in the same edition of the magazine. 'We'll miss him, he's been an important part of the show for a long time,' said Strachan. Chris Packham added: 'Martin and I had some good times gadding around in the name of popularising science! We're great mates and we had a lot of other interests outside of natural history, which was a healthy distraction at times. I'll miss him a lot, because Michaela knows absolutely nothing about Second World War aircraft. I'm just going to be talking to myself in the caravan!'
Cult comedy masterpiece  Father Ted is set to return as a stage musical, its co-creator has confirmed. Graham Linehan said that the stage show, to be called Pope Ted: The Father Ted Musical, was 'almost written.' Fellow writer Arthur Matthews and The Divine Comedy's Neil Hannon, who wrote the sitcom's theme tune and original music, are also said to be involved in the project. Linehan suggested that it would be 'the real final episode of Father Ted.' He told the BBC: 'It's like putting on an old pair of slippers.' The sitcom ran for three series between 1995 and 1998 on Channel Four, chronicling the escapades of Irish parish priest Father Ted Crilly and his bizarre escapades. The musical will see Ted move from the fictional Craggy Island to his new role as Pope in The Vatican. Linehan, who also created or co-created the acclaimed Channel Four sitcoms The IT Crowd and Black Books, said that the musical would be about 'the least qualified man in the world becoming Pope. I didn't want to do anything like this until the right idea came along and when Trump won [the American Presidency] and Corbyn won [the Labour leadership] I kind of thought, "Maybe Ted has a chance." I thought it wouldn't be too much of a stretch. Obviously we're pulling some shenanigans to get him into that position but I think the shenanigans are entertaining enough that people won't really mind.' Father Ted became a critical and commercial hit in the 1990s, chronicling the life of the eponymous character, his ecclesiastical colleagues the gormless-but-loveable Father Dougal McGuire and the foul-mouthed and lecherous Father Jack Hackett and their housekeeper, the tea-obsessed Mrs Doyle. Ardal O'Hanlon and Pauline McLynn went on to enjoy mainstream success after the series ended but, tragically, Dermot Morgan, who played the title character, died from a heart attack the day after filming the final episode. The Father Ted theme tune was adapted from The Divine Comedy's 'Songs of Love'. Hannon, the band's singer and writer collaborated with Linehan and Matthews on songs for the original sitcom, the most famous being 'My Lovely Horse' - Ted and Dougal's (initially successful) effort to be Ireland's Eurovision Song Contest entry. Lineham said that the team did not know where the musical would debut as yet but he hoped that it would be on stage within the next year. Linehan said: 'You can pull the most ridiculous stunts to get around a plot problem and it's lovely to be working with Arthur again.'
WH Smith has been voted the worst retailer on the UK High Street in a survey of more than tne thousand consumers. Customers complained the shops were 'out-of-date,' products were expensive and staff were rude in the survey by consumer group Which? Cosmetics chain Lush, discounter Savers and toy chain Smyths Toys came top in the survey, which asked shoppers for their thoughts on about one hundred retailers. WH Smith said just one hundred and eighty four shoppers had commented on its stores in the survey. 'We serve twelve million customers each week and, despite a challenging retail environment, we continue to open new shops and to maintain our presence on the UK High Street,' a spokesperson said. Which? said its ranking was based on customers' experiences of buying items other than groceries, their level of satisfaction and the likelihood of recommending each shop. It is the eighth year in a row that WH Smith has been ranked in the bottom two of the survey. The shopping experience at the chain has been humorously documented online by a Twitter account called WHS Carpet. Shoppers send in photos of wonky shelves, tired flooring and out-of-date stock to the account, which has more than twelve thousand followers. One shopper recently noted that the chain's Blackpool store was selling both Easter and Christmas chocolate at the same time. Despite the criticism, WH Smith is successfully managing to drive sales at its travel stores higher. Revenues at its outlets at railway stations and airports overtook those of its High Street stores for the first time last year. Last month, WH Smith said sales in its travel arm rose seven per cent in the six months to the end of February. In contrast, sales at its High Street stores dropped five per cent. Which? said its survey found that customers valued 'being able to touch, feel and try on items' before purchasing them as well as being able to ask staff questions. The survey also found that things such as having to queue and crowding put shoppers off. 'If retailers can strike the right balance between good value, quality products and first-class customer service, shoppers will keep coming back to their stores,' Ben Clissitt, Which? magazine editor, said.
The latest classic TV property to get the Big Finish audio treatment is Star Cops, the short-lived BBC2 series which, across its nine-week run in late 1987, told gritty crime stories in a near-future, SF setting. The show's creator and lead writer, Chris Boucher, was a veteran of both Blake's 7 and Bergerac. This blogger was a big fan of the show and considers it hugely under-rated. For the original cast members returning, Big Finish's Star Cops: Mother Earth revival series is an opportunity not only to revisit an old favourite, but also to lay certain ghosts to rest: the TV series, though beloved by fans, struggled in the ratings and was widely written off as a missed opportunity. Speaking to the Digital Spy website, David Calder - who returns as Nathan Spring, reluctant Commander of the International Space Police Force - suggests that the potential of the show's 'space noir' premise remains 'quite clear' more than thirty years later. 'My sense of the world which these cops had to enter - precarious, dirty, unsettled, dangerous, an accident could kill you outright. That was a dramatic world to be in,' he says. 'But the way that the first series was constructed just threw away all its fantastic potential. The way we produced it was clunky and clumsy, when it could've been more serious-minded. I think we all made a really good fist of it, but I was left with a great sense of disappointment. It was just a great big car crash, really, when it could've been a great success.' The drama's original run was blighted by production issues - including a strike which meant a planned tenth episode had to be cancelled - and what actor Trevor Cooper, back as Colin Devis, calls 'an unhidden enmity' between the writer, Boucher and producer Evgeny Gridneff. 'There's no doubt that when we did it in '86, having stopped, there was a feeling of unfinished business,' Cooper says. Despite its difficulties, Star Cops developed a substantial following, with fans responding to its unusual premise, bleak tone and compelling performances. One such fan was Big Finish's senior producer David Richardson, who was working at the BBC in the costume department at the time the series was being made. 'I'd spend a lot of time watching it being made down in the studio, lurking six feet away from David and Trevor,' Richardson reveals. 'So to actually be producing new episodes myself now is just the most glorious full-circle of events. There was nothing like Star Cops at the time – science fiction and crime drama together, without any of the fantasy elements; aliens, and spaceship battles, so that was really intriguing - and I loved the diversity of its casting. It showed a future of international cooperation - particularly in today's world, it's nice to revisit that more hopeful vision of the future, building bridges instead of building walls.' Though Big Finish had been after Star Cops 'for some time,' rights issues meant that work didn't properly get under way on the audio revival until mid-2017, with Richardson hiring writer Andrew Smith – a one-time Doctor Who writer and former-police officer - as script editor on a four-story box-set. Smith's oversight - some of the new stories are based in part on his real experiences as an officer of the law, with a SF twist - helped the revival, to retain the mood and authenticity of the TV original, says Trevor Cooper. 'It's like The Sweeney or The Bill. Except it happens to be on the Moon!' That said, Mother Earth - set 'after the first series of Star Cops, with a bit of a gap' - is 'something of a revamp,' making subtle tweaks and additions to the original. 'We've gone into this with the feeling of if Star Cops had come back, but it'd had more money thrown at it and was a bit more lavish,' Richardson explains. 'There's still all the reality and starkness, but we wanted to give it a bit more gloss.' With a number of Star Cops cast members having died since the TV show was broadcast - including Erick Ray Evans (David Theroux) and Jonathan Adams (Alexander Krivenko) - Big Finish's take will also introduce two new lead characters. Rakhee Thakrar joins the crew as Inspector Priya Basu, with Philip Olivier completing the new line-up as undercover officer Paul Bailey. 'Priya is very much a rule follower,' Thakrar says. 'She respects a good code of conduct and so when she's thrown into the mix with Devis, it really tests her patience!' 'There's an underlying tension between Priya and Devis and Paul is kind of like the mediator!' adds Olivier. 'He's still brand new, but he's instantly mediating between the two. It's a perfect balance for him. He's everyone's friend. I don't know how long that's going to last!' Both of the new recruits say that they were attracted to Star Cops: Mother Earth by the truthfulness of the scripts, despite the SF trappings. 'I just loved the title, first off - I love saying that I'm in Star Cops' Thakrar notes. 'But also it's rooted in real people. I think that's what's lovely about it. The characters are so well fleshed-out, it could be set anywhere.' 'I love crime stories - and even though it is sci-fi, it's not time-travel or things which are beyond our realm,' echoes Olivier. 'This is what the future could bring. It's great because you've got this mix of cultures - different sexualities, different races [ and underlying it all is a great crime story, every time.' Though neither had heard of Star Cops before signing for up for the revival, Thakrar and Olivier both think the original series had the potential to be something special. 'If it were made for television now, there'd be such an appetite for it,' she says. 'It's just a shame that the BBC never commissioned it to go further but that's the beauty of Big Finish.' The entire team working on Mother Earth suspects that the Big Finish revival might indeed spark interest in a new version for television. 'Who knows? Maybe Star Cops might be discovered as a TV format, because we brought awareness back, ' says David Richardson. 'I've got the feeling that some TV channel may be knocking on the door to start it again, and if they do, once again, it's down to Big Finish - same as Doctor Who,' added Olivier.
Big Finish has also announced this week that it is to make six audio plays featuring characters fro, Class, the flop Doctor Who spin-off. Though, God only knows why. Presumably, they think there is an audience out there for such a conceit, despite all evidence to the contrary. Class was created - supposedly to appeal to 'the young adult market' - and was initially released in the UK on the BBC3 online platform. However the series struggled to make any sort of an impact and, when it was later screened on BBC, it failed to find an audience, getting viewing figures around a third of the timeslot average. After one season the series was very cancelled by the BBC. Because it was shit and no one was watching it.
A double-decker serving the North York Moors has been crowned 'the most scenic bus route in Britain.' The 840 Coastliner runs from Leeds to Whitby. But it's the leg that crosses the moorland, from Pickering via Goathland and Sleights, that has earned the service the prize. At the wheel, driver Adam Davis knows why: 'You can get some misty days when you come out on top but on a clear day the colours up here are forever changing. People do come from all over the world to ride this route. Every day is a joy.' The award was devised by campaigner and bus enthusiast Paul Kirby and has been run by Bus Users UK. 'I've been travelling up and down the country by bus for many years and on fantastic routes like this one the scenery is just spectacular,' he says. 'Rural communities do need bus services and they are a lifeline for many people. So I felt they deserved a little publicity to attract new passengers.' Kirby did not just want to encourage people out of their cars but also to cherish services when funding has been squeezed. The 840 runs four times a day, is completely commercial and run by Transdev. But it relies on subsidies in winter time and reimbursement by the local authority for the many users with a bus pass. But as loved as it is, services like this one are under threat. Last year more than five hundred routes in England and Wales were reduced or completely withdrawn and now fewer than half of people living in villages have access to a bus service, according to the Campaign For Better Transport. About thirty million knicker was cut from local authority subsidies in 2016 to 2017 - with shire councils in rural England the hardest hit. The campaign group says those cuts have continued this year too. 'Tragically once these routes are lost they are usually lost forever, leaving whole communities looking like "transport deserts,"' says Steve Chambers, the group's public transport campaigner. 'We hear frequently from older people who are struggling to access shops and doctors' surgeries and young people cut off from colleges and jobs. Buses are a lifeline and must be preserved.' The Department for Transport claims that it provides two hundred and fifty million smackers a year for bus services, which supports free off-peak bus travel for ten million older people and the disabled. 'Long-term social and economic factors are affecting levels of bus usage but it is for local authorities to decide which bus operations to support in their areas,' it says.
Two people have died and another person is in a critical condition after falling ill at a dance music festival in Hampshire. An eighteen-year-old woman, named locally as Georgia Jones, and a twenty-year-old man died in separate incidents at The Mutiny Festival. Police said the deaths were not being treated as suspicious. Two others remain in hospital after fifteen people were admitted overnight. Organisers cancelled Sunday's event in Portsmouth 'as a safety precaution.' A Queen Alexandra Hospital spokesman said some of the people treated presented with 'drug-related symptoms.' It could not confirm if all fifteen illnesses were related to drugs. A statement on Facebook read: 'The safety of our amazing customers has always been paramount to us and so to keep everyone safe and in respect to those who have passed, we have taken the decision not to open today.' The decision 'was not taken lightly' and had been supported by 'the local statutory authorities,' it added. One Sophie Wilkinson, aged seventeen, was widely quoted by many outlets - notably the BBC - as stroppily whinging that 'many' festival goers had been 'left annoyed and upset' by the decision to close the festival early. Albeit, probably not quite as upset as the family and friends of the two people who, you know, died. 'The mood has just dropped,' Selfish Sophie added. What a marvellous example you are of your generation, Sophie - self, self, self, self, self. One imagines that many festival goers were, indeed, like yourself a bit narked that their fun had been stopped. But, they at least will be able to get up tomorrow and have some fun elsewhere. If you go to a party and someone dies, you don't carry on with the party. Jesus, just when you think you've seem the very worst that humanity has to throw up, along comes A Young Person to throw up something worse.
A 'champion cheese-roller' (for such a thing does exist, apparently) has broken the all-time record for the most cheeses won in Gloucestershire's death-defying races. Chris Anderson has now taken home a total of twenty two double Gloucester cheeses in fourteen years, after chasing the hefty eight pound cheeses down Cooper's Hill. The thirty-year-old broke the record held by Stephen Gyde after winning the first of this year's men's downhill races. Anderson said: 'I've got nothing to prove now, I'm happy.' Thousands of spectators turned out to watch thrill-seekers hurl themselves down the one-in-two gradient, chasing wheels of double Gloucester cheese. In the first men's downhill race, Anderson left other daredevils trailing in his wake as he sprinted, tripped and tumbled down the rough, uneven hillside chasing the seventh miles per hour cheese. 'There was a bit more pressure this year as there was a few more locals running,' he said, after the race. 'And, the kid next to me was pulling my shirt all the way down. But I'm happy.' A soldier, Anderson skipped the second men's race but won again in the third race tearing his left calf as he charged downhill. And his reward - as with all winners - is to take the cheeses home with him despite claiming to 'only like cheddar.' Among the competitors this year was Australian Nathan Anstey, from Melbourne, who took part wearing just a pair of 'budgie smuggler' swimming trunks. Anstey, who is known as Mangoes, said it was 'just unbelievable. Last year was the first time I did it and I knew I had to come back. It's a no-brainer,' he said. 'It's the most exhilarating thing you can do.'
A woman broke her arm during an arm-wrestling competition at a Young Farmer's event. The twenty-year-old was taking part in the activity, one of a number at the festival in Cumbria. Her opponent was said to be 'very upset' and fainted when she realised that the other woman's arm was broken, according to paramedic Andrew Dickinson. Both were attending the Young Farmers' Clubs Northern District Field Day in Irthington, on Saturday. The event involved eight hundred young farmers competing in challenges from sheep shearing to flower arranging. And, arm wrestling. Dickinson, a partner in Kentdale First Aid who was providing medical cover on-site, said that the woman was 'given pain relief' until an ambulance arrived. He said: 'She broke her arm while wrestling with another girl. It was a bad break and she was in a lot of pain. The other girl realised she had broken her arm and fainted. The team were straight on to her - she was fine.' Dickinson added: 'Other than that, the day was fantastic. It ended with a dance which six hundred people attended and we were on site until 1.30am.'
England's first national park was created in 1951. Since then the list has grown to ten areas which are protected because of their countryside, wildlife, outstanding beauty and cultural heritage. Nearly seventy years on, the Environment Secretary the rat-faced loathsome wretched odious nasty slavver-merchant, George Formby lookalike Gove has announced that he is 'launching a review' to consider whether to expand England's network of parks as well as areas of outstanding natural beauty. The current areas are the Peak District, the Lake District, Dartmoor, the North York Moors, the Yorkshire Dales, Exmoor, Northumberland National Park, the Norfolk Broads, the New Forest and the most recent addition, the South Downs.
Archaeologists in Pompeii have uncovered the remains of an unfortunate man who was, seemingly, decapitated by an enormous rock while he was fleeing the volcano. Nearby Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79AD, killing many Pompeii residents and famously freezing them in place. This skeleton appears to be from a man who survived the initial explosion and was fleeing from the doomed city. A leg injury, however, may have slowed him down before he was crushed by the huge stone hurtling through the air. Pompeii archaeologists say that the skeleton 'shows signs of a bone infection' in his leg, which could have made walking - much less running - very difficult. But, contrary to common belief, it was not relatively slow-moving molten lava that killed most of the people of Pompeii. Instead, a vast cloud of hot gas and fragments - called a pyroclastic flow - surged over the city, suffocating its inhabitants wherever they were and burying them in ash, preserving their final moment. Archaeologists believe it was this lethal cloud which struck their newest discovery, throwing him backwards as he turned to look at it. The man, believed to be in his thirties, was found on the first floor of a building, above the layer of small stones carried by the cloud. But the force of the erupting gas also picked up an enormous rock - which experts think might have been a door jamb - and hurled it at the victim, crushing his upper body near the throat and possibly removing his head, which is missing. Archaeologist Massimo Osanna said the skeleton was 'an exceptional find.' Apart from the 'emotional impact' of these discoveries, they allow archaeologists to study the people of the city and even how they tried to escape the eruption of Vesuvius. This latest discovery is part of fresh excavations in Pompeii undertaken using modern technology.
A new exhibition of unseen Pitmen Painters' art has opened. Many of the works have been sourced from the local community in the coal-mining town where the Pitmen Painters first formed in the 1930s. It was a group of miners turned artists whose work chronicled life in Ashington. Artist Narbi Price has curated the exhibition at Woodhorn Museum, as well as creating a new body of work to accompany the paintings. William Scott's 1936 painting The Bedlington Terrier is being publicly exhibited for the first time in fifty years. It was originally bought for two quid at The Laing Gallery in Newcastle, before being gifted to the renowned writer Janet Adam Smith in 1938. It has been professionally restored for the new exhibition. Founded in Northumberland in the early 1930s as a Workers' Educational Association class giving mining families access to the arts. The Pitmen paintings were inspired by the artists' own lives. The group held its first exhibition in 1936 at the Hatton Gallery in Newcastle and many of the paintings are on permanent display at Woodhorn Museum in Ashington. Written by Billy Elliot creator Lee Hall, their story was turned into a play that was performed at the Royal National Theatre in London and on Broadway. Price has created a new body of work called The Ashington Paintings, to run alongside the exhibition. He said that he 'explored their techniques' to 'dispel the myth that they were in any way naïve or amateur painters. The Ashington Paintings is about celebrating the Pitmen Painters' artistic journey and documenting the sites of post-industrial history they so fondly captured,' he added.
Apollo and Skylab astronaut Al Bean, the fourth man to walk on the Moon and an accomplished artist, has died. Bean died on Saturday at Houston Methodist Hospital in Texas. His death followed his suddenly falling ill while on travel in Fort Wayne, Indiana two weeks before. 'Alan was the strongest and kindest man I ever knew. He was the love of my life and I miss him dearly,' said Leslie Bean, Alan's wife of forty years. 'A native Texan, Alan died peacefully in Houston surrounded by those who loved him.' A test pilot in the US Navy, Al was one of fourteen trainees selected by NASA for its third group of astronauts in October 1963 - his contemporaries included Buzz Aldrin, Gene Cernan, Dick Gordon and Dave Scott. He flew twice into space, first as the lunar module pilot on Apollo 12, the second moon landing mission, in November 1969 and then as commander of the second crewed flight to the United States' first space station, Skylab, in July 1973. 'Alan and I have been best friends for fifty five years - ever since the day we became astronauts,' said Walt Cunningham, who flew on Apollo 7. 'When I became head of the Skylab Branch of the Astronaut Office, we worked together and Alan eventually commanded the second Skylab mission. We have never lived more than a couple of miles apart, even after we left NASA. And for years, Alan and I never missed a month where we did not have a cheeseburger together at Miller's Café in Houston. We are accustomed to losing friends in our business but this is a tough one,' said Cunningham. On 19 November 1969, Al, together with Apollo 12 commander Pete Conrad, landed on the Ocean of Storms and he became the fourth human to walk on the Moon. During two moonwalks Bean helped deploy several surface experiments and installed the first nuclear-powered generator station on the Moon to provide the power source. He and Conrad inspected a robotic Surveyor spacecraft and collected seventy five pounds of rocks and lunar soil for study back on Earth. 'Alan and Pete were extremely engaged in the planning for their exploration of the Surveyor III landing site in the Ocean of Storms and, particularly, in the enhanced field training activity that came with the success of Apollo 11. This commitment paid off with Alan's and Pete's collection of a fantastic suite of lunar samples, a scientific gift that keeps on giving today and in the future,' said Harrison Schmitt, Apollo 17 lunar module pilot and the only geologist to walk on the Moon. 'Their description of bright green concentrations of olivine (peridot) as 'ginger ale bottle glass,' however, gave geologists in Mission Control all a big laugh, as we knew exactly what they had discovered. When Alan's third career as the artist of Apollo moved forward, he would call me to ask about some detail about lunar soil, colour or equipment he wanted to have represented exactly in a painting. Other times, he wanted to discuss items in the description he was writing to go with a painting. His enthusiasm about space and art never waned. Alan Bean is one of the great renaissance men of his generation - engineer, fighter pilot, astronaut and artist,' said Schmitt. Four years after Apollo 12, Bean commanded the second crew to live and work on board the Skylab orbital workshop. During the then-record-setting fifty nine-day, 24.4 million-mile flight, Bean and his two crewmates - Owen Garriot and Jack Lousma - generated eighteen miles of computer tape during surveys of Earth's resources and seventy six thousand photographs of the Sun to help scientists better understand its effects on the solar system. In total, Bean logged sixty nine days, fifteen hours and forty five minutes in space, including thirty one hours and thirty one minutes on the Moon's surface. Bean retired from the Navy in 1975 and from NASA in 1981. In the four decades since, he devoted his time to creating an artistic record of humanity's first exploration of another world. His Apollo-themed paintings featured canvases textured with lunar boot prints and were made using acrylics embedded with small pieces of his moon dust-stained mission patches. 'Alan Bean was the most extraordinary person I ever met,' said astronaut Mike Massimino, who flew on two space shuttle missions to service the Hubble Space Telescope. 'He was a one of a kind combination of technical achievement as an astronaut and artistic achievement as a painter. But what was truly extraordinary was his deep caring for others and his willingness to inspire and teach by sharing his personal journey so openly. Anyone who had the opportunity to know Alan was a better person for it and we were better astronauts by following his example. I am so grateful he was my mentor and friend and I will miss him terribly. He was a great man and this is a great loss,' Massimino said. Born in March 1932, in Wheeler, Texas, Bean received a Bachelor of Science degree in aeronautical engineering from the University of Texas in 1955. He attended the Navy Test Pilot School and accumulated more than five thousand hours of flying time in twenty seven different types of aircraft. His death means that now, only four of the twelve men who walked on the Moon, survive. He is survived by his wife Leslie, his sister, Paula Stott and two children from a prior marriage, Amy Sue and Clay.
Rocks near ancient lake sites on Mars suggest that life could have, briefly, appeared on the red planet about four billion years ago. Rocks in lake beds are also the best place to look for fossil evidence of past life, according to researchers. A new study conducted on finding where the right place to look for - past - life on Mars, if there was any to begin with, points at sites near where water liquid water once existed, notes a report by The search for life on Mars begins with looking for primitive forms of life like microbes that scientists believed existed on the red planet four billion years ago, soon after the solar system came into being. Sedimentary rocks, rocks that are formed over time when layers of minerals get packed up and compacted, are like files, trapping, preserving and fossilising whatever may fall between them. Rocks that are made of mud and clay are the most likely candidates, notes the report. Such rocks are rich in iron and silica which preserve fossils, and Martian lakes are seemingly best place to start. Such rocks reportedly formed during the Martian Noachian and Hesperian Periods - between three and four billion years ago. During this time, the planet had an abundant supply of liquid water, so life on Mars was 'a real possibility.' Mars' sedimentary rocks are in a better position to preserve fossils because the planet does not experience plate tectonics, notes the report. Tectonics are known as the movement of huge slabs of rock just below the surface and part of the crust that sits atop the soft mantle of planets. This can, over time destroy rocks and by extension, fossils that might be preserved inside them. Researchers went through existing fossil studies on Earth and results of experiments simulating Mars conditions and they were able to identify sites on the red planet to search for any remaining traces of ancient life that might have existed in the far past. According to the report, these new findings could help NASA's next rover mission, in terms of where to land and what to look for on Mars, the mission will focus on searching for evidence life from the past. The space agency's Mars 2020 rover is set to collect rock samples which will then be brought back to Earth for analysis by a future mission. The study was first published in the Journal Of Geophysical Research.
Scientists say they have found evidence of dunes of frozen methane on Pluto. The research, which is published in the journal Science, suggests that the distant world is more dynamic than previously thought. Pluto's atmosphere was believed to be too thin to create the features familiar in deserts on Earth. The findings come from analysis of the startling images sent back by NASA's New Horizons mission, which flew close to Pluto in July 2015. After an epic trek through the Solar System which took nearly a decade, New Horizons sped by at a speed of five eight thousand five hundred and thirty six kilometres per hour, gathering data as it passed. In their study, the researchers explain how they studied pictures of a plain known as Sputnik Planitia, parts of which are covered with what look like fields of dunes. They are lying close to a range of mountains of water ice five kilometres high. The scientists conclude that the dunes are in trhe region of a kilometre apart and that they are made up of particles of methane ice between two and three hundred micrometers in diameter - roughly the size of grains of sand. The paper's lead author is Doctor Matt Telfer, a physical geographer at the University of Plymouth. He told BBC News: 'We can't see individual grains but what we are able to identify dunes and characterise their basic physical parameters and the density of the atmosphere that they've been formed under. And we can measure some basic things like how far apart they are spaced and have an estimate at least of the wind speeds that are forming them. We can feed all that back into a physical model and from that deduce what the size of the grains must be.' To be able to form, dunes need an atmosphere dense enough to make wind transport possible, a supply of dry particles and a mechanism that lifts particles off the ground. At first sight, none of those conditions seem to be met on Pluto. But Doctor Telfer and his colleagues calculate that the dunes may be in one of the windiest areas of the Pluto with wind speeds reaching up to ten metres per second - enough to keep particles moving. The wind is generated as air flows downhill from the neighbouring mountains and also as frozen material sublimates - or turns directly into gas. They believe that the dunes are composed of grains of methane and maybe of nitrogen as well and that a 'reservoir' of methane may exist in the snowpack of the mountains. As for the process of 'lofting' the grains off the ground, the paper suggests that the driver could be a slight warming from the distant Sun, raising the temperature above the frost point of nitrogen: minus two hundred and thirty degrees. With that warming of the ice below the surface, methane crystals should enable nitrogen ice to sublimate - and that would allow the methane crystals to be wafted into the atmosphere. Telfer says that the analysis provides a new insight to Pluto and also changes our view of it. 'It's really exciting just to be able to look at this world and recognise that it's not just a frozen icy blob in the outer reaches of the Solar System but really we're seeing a dynamic world still changing, still forming today,' he said. That sentiment is echoed in an article accompanying the Science paper by Professor Alexander Hayes, an astronomer at Cornell University in Ithaca. He quotes the late Sir Patrick Moore, The Sky At Night presenter, describing Pluto in 1955 as 'plunged in everlasting dusk, silent, barren and touched with the chill of death' and says that this perspective 'has to shift.' Hayes says we now know Pluto to be 'a geologically diverse and dynamic world driven by internal heat, extreme seasons and sublimating ices.' He adds that it's not the frontier of the Solar System as Patrick Moore suggested, but the 'gateway' to the unexplored realm of The Kuiper Belt. And it may be that dunes themselves are emerging as a fascinating new feature of space exploration. Pluto now joins Earth, Mars, Venus, Saturn's moon Titan and even the comet 67P - which a European Space Agency mission landed on - as homes to dunes or one sort of another. Professor Monica Grady of the Open University told the BBC that the discovery 'raises fascinating questions' about whether there are dunes on worlds in other star systems too. 'It makes you realise that you have to open your mind to the idea that familiar objects on different planetary bodies must have formed in their own ways,' she said. 'What it does is lead you to thinking about what's there beyond the Solar System, because we can't see their surfaces at the moment but we will do and then we'll probably see familiar things - we'll see dunes and they'll remind us of the dunes of Pluto or the dunes on Earth but they'll have formed in a different way.' New Horizons is now approaching another object in The Kuiper Belt, known as 2014 MU69. The spacecraft will be brought out of hibernation next week and a fly-past is scheduled for 1 Jan 2019.
Football fans heading to the World Cup this summer are 'going to get an education in Chinese TVs, mobile phones, electric scooters and Mongolian dairy products,' according to the Gruniad Morning Star. As western companies, including Sony, Johnson & Johnson and BP's Castrol, have pulled out of sponsoring the tournament after the FIFA bribery and corruption scandal, Chinese firms have 'secured an unprecedented presence at Russia 2018.' When Russia kicks off against Saudi Arabia in the Luzhniki stadium on 14 June, 'fans will be treated to a seven-minute advert for Mengniu Group's inner Mongolian milk and drinkable yoghurt.' Drinkable yoghurt? Isn't that just ... milk that's gone off? Anyway, The commercial will be broadcast during each of the sixty four games in the tournament. Spectators fancying an ice-cream will have to pick from unfamiliar names such as Mood For Green, Ice+ or Suibian SuiXinGuo, after Mengniu secured exclusive rights to sell sweet treats in the stadiums. Other unfamiliar names to get to grips with during the month-long tournament include: Vivo, a mobile phone firm producing China's version of the iPhone at a fraction of the price; the TV and fridge maker Hisense; the electric scooter company Yadea and Dalian Wanda, a conglomerate controlled by the multibillionaire Wang Jianlin. The dominating presence of Chinese brands comes despite the country's national team failing to qualify for Russia 2014 or the previous World Cup in Brazil.Simon Chadwick, a professor of sports enterprise at Salford University, said: 'As FIFA is now seen as a toxic brand that many western companies do not want to be associated with, China is seizing the opportunity. The Chinese view of ethics and governance is different to western standards and it is very easy for Chinese companies to say "FIFA has moved on." And, that they were not backing the Sepp Blatter-era regime and are supporting a clean FIFA under Gianni Infantino.' Chadwick added that the lack of demand from western companies to sponsor the World Cup in Russia - and Qatar in 2022 - has left FIFA 'desperate for cash and Chinese companies spotted the opportunity for a relatively cost-effective way to get their brands in front of billions of global eyeballs.' Wang, the fifth-richest person in China with a seventeen billion quid fortune according to Bloomberg's Billionaires Index - and a hugely funny name into the bargain - said: 'Two or three years ago, Chinese and Asian companies probably wouldn’t even have had a chance to sponsor FIFA even if we wanted to. But because some western companies dropped out, we got the opportunity.'Wanda, which owns the British luxury yacht builder Sunseeker, the Hollywood studio that made Godzilla and The Hangover as well as having a stake in Atlético Madrid, has signed up as a FIFA partner – the highest level of sponsorship – alongside Coca-Cola, Visa, Adidas and Russia’'s Gazprom for the next four World Cups. 'If more Chinese brother companies become FIFA sponsors like Wanda, we will join forces to advance the interests of China soccer,' Wang said. Chadwick said the Chinese companies' FIFA sponsorship deals were 'encouraged' by President Xi Jinping to help fuel his dream of turning China into a 'world football superpower' by 2050. 'China wants to host the the World Cup, China wants to win the World Cup and, I speculate, they also want a Chinese president of FIFA,' Chadwick said. 'Rescuing FIFA financially with these sponsorship deals will help the chances of achieving those dreams immeasurably.' After TV rights sales, sponsorship is FIFA's biggest income stream and was worth $1.6bn for the 2014 World Cup. The loss of sponsors and the struggle to sign deals after the bribery scandal dragged FIFA to a record three hundred and sixty nine million dollar loss in 2016. Jon Tibbs, founder and chair of JTA, a sports reputation management company, said that it was 'sensible' of Chinese firms to use football for promotion. 'As the traditional western brands get cold feet and face consumers' pressure, it is inevitable that FIFA turns to new markets,' he said. 'For Chinese brands seeking new markets it is relatively very easy and prestigious to partner with FIFA. It is widely believed that China will bid for the 2030 World Cup, obviously if there are a large number of Chinese sponsors helping to prop up FIFA that is a very good starting point.' Sam Burne James, news editor of PR Week, said FIFA was 'certainly seen as toxic' by many British brands and Boris Johnson's comparison of the World Cup under Vladimir Putin to the 1936 Olympic Games under Hitler had 'not helped. If you look at few tournaments back, most of the brands would be recognisable to western audiences, now several of them are unheard of and that shift will continue,' he said. 'Chinese companies get two things from sponsoring the World Cup. The first is access to western audiences that they will sooner or later be trying to win over, as their companies expand. The other is a cosmopolitan veneer to their brands, which they hope will resonate with their sizeable domestic markets.' Vivo, founded nine years ago, paid three hundred and fifty million smackers for a six-year deal that included Russia 2018, Qatar 2022 and the Confederations Cup. It has signed up the Brazilian footballer Bebeto and yer actual Ruudi Gullit to front its World Cup campaign – and its advertising campaign video, launched this week, sums up the opportunity the Chinese corporate sponsors are trying to grab: 'The world is watching,' Vivo said. 'This is our moment.'
Yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved (though unsellable) Magpies have completed the permanent signing of Slovakia goalkeeper Martin Dubravka on a four-year deal from Sparta Prague. The twenty nine-year-old greatly impressed during his six-month loan spell last season, helping The Magpies to retain their Premier League status and finish - a far better than expected - tenth. 'Ever since he arrived with us on loan he has shown a fantastic attitude and great work ethic,' said Newcastle manager Rafa The Gaffa. 'This was one of the key positions we needed to strengthen.' The Spaniard added: 'The loan deal with an option to buy was the perfect deal for the club. It is credit to [managing director] Lee Charnley and also Steve Nickson [head of recruitment] for putting that in place because it gave me and my staff the opportunity to look at him and work with him, and see how he would perform for us before committing to signing him permanently.' Dubravka has won ten caps for Slovakia and played against England at Wembley last September in a World Cup qualifier.
Merseyside Police says that 'it is aware' of death threats apparently made to Liverpool goalkeeper Loris Karius - by 'fans' - after the Champions League final. What a bunch of stupid glakes - they ought to think themselves lucky. They could've had Joe Hart. The German and his family were reportedly the subject of threats after his two mistakes helped Real Madrid to a three-one win over The Reds in Kiev on Saturday. Karius was in tears at the final whistle and later apologised to fans. 'We take social media posts of this nature extremely seriously. Offences will be investigated,' police said. 'Officers are aware of a number of comments and threats made via social media. Merseyside Police would like to remind social media users than any offences including malicious communications and threatening behaviour will be investigated.' During the game, the German gifted Real striker Karim Benzema an easy goal for the opener in Kiev. Karius later allowed a Gareth Bale shot to squirm in for Real's third as the Spanish club won their third consecutive Champions League trophy. On Sunday, he posted on social media: 'I'm infinitely sorry to my team-mates, for you fans, and for all the staff.'
Eight-time Olympic champion Usain Bolt is training with Norwegian top-flight football team Stromsgodset. The Jamaican sprinter is scheduled to play a training match against Norway Under-Nineteens in his week at the club. Bolt, the one and two hundred metres world record holder, has already trained with Borussia Dortmund and South African club Sundowns this year. 'Maybe a club will see something and decide to give me a chance,' said Bolt, who is preparing for a charity game. He will captain a team of celebrities and footballers at the Soccer Aid match for Unicef on 10 June at Old Trafford. 'He is a good football player, otherwise he would not have been training with us,' said Stromsgodset director of football Jostein Flo. Flo said Bolt had been given shirt number 9.58 - his world record time for the hundred metres. The Manchester United fan has spoken previously about wanting to get into professional football, having retired from athletics last year. His arrival at Stromsgodset was a surprise for the players. Flo, a former Sheffield United striker, said: 'We told them a player was coming to try out and that he was damn fast - the door opened and Bolt came in. It was a shock for them, they couldn't believe it. He is one of the greatest athletes throughout all ages, and of course we can learn a lot from him. His presence will undoubtedly be a great inspiration for players, coaches, and the whole club.'
Fans will be able to watch this summer's World Cup in Russia in Ultra HD and virtual reality as BBC Sport trials cutting-edge technology. Users will be 'transported to a fully immersive stadium experience,' through headsets, 'as if they are sitting in their own hospitality box.' All thirty three matches broadcast by the BBC will be available for free on BBC Sport's VR 2018 World Cup app. And the twenty nine matches on BBC1 will also be available in Ultra HD. Ultra HD TV can be accessed through a high-speed Interweb connection and will be available on a first-come, first-served basis. The HD stream will be available from the BBC iPlayer home screen as soon as programme coverage begins but the number of users granted access will be limited to 'tens of thousands of people.' Matthew Postgate, BBC chief technology and product officer, said: 'From the very first tournament on TV in 1954 and England's finest hour in 1966, to the first colour World Cup in 1970 and then full HD in 2006, the BBC has brought major live broadcasting breakthroughs to UK audiences throughout the history of the World Cup. Now, with these trials we're giving audiences yet another taste of the future.'
An ex-footballer who crashed a stolen van into a fence and threw a loaded revolver into a family's garden whilst on the run from plod has been jailed. Luke Thomas, who represented Nottingham Forest before a knee injury curtailed his career, admitted acting as a 'courier' on 10 June last year. Nottingham Crown Court heard he had become depressed after the injury. The twenty-year-old admitted possessing a firearm and ammunition, as well as dangerous driving. He was very jailed for five years and eight months and disqualified from driving for forty four months. The court heard police began trailing the van in the St Ann's area of Nottingham as it was being driven with cloned number plates. After initially pulling over, Thomas drove off and, after driving down a dead end, he fled on foot with the van crashing into a garden fence and trapping a passenger inside. As Thomas ran away from officers, he threw the gun into a nearby garden. The weapon was handed to police by the householder, which they found was a blank-firing pistol converted to fire live ammunition and fully loaded with eight hollow-point lead bullets. DNA was found linking Thomas to the van and weapon, the court heard and he was arrested on 4 July. Jonathan Cox, prosecuting, said that Thomas's attempt to escape police saw him drive 'at high speed, taking no account for other road users' and that he threw away the loaded gun 'without any thought over who may find it, in particular children.' Defending, Barry Grennan told the court that Thomas had been depressed following the injury that ended his career and did not know the gun he was delivering was loaded. 'He was asked under some pressure to take the firearm [and] was afraid to do so,' Grennan claimed. 'On seeing the police he panicked and drove off in a dangerous manner.' Judge Paul Mann QC, sentencing, accepted Thomas had no intention to use the weapon himself, but described the hollow-point bullets in the gun as 'particularly grave' and 'truly dangerous pieces of ammunition. From what I've been told you had a promising career ahead of you as a professional footballer - somehow that all went wrong,' he said. 'You were acting as a courier for persons unknown, but clearly persons who were, if necessary, willing to use that gun and ammunition. It's because of people like you willing to act as couriers that it makes detection of these weapons and ammunition so difficult, and makes it easier for serious criminals to get hold of and share weapons of this kind. That puts the rest of us that live in this city at serious risk.'
The Russian billionaire owner of Moscow Chelski FC, Roman Abramovich, has flown to Tel Aviv after being found to be eligible for Israeli citizenship. Immigration officials told the BBC that Abramovitch was interviewed last week at the Israeli embassy in Moscow. He has - as previously reported - faced delays in renewing his UK visa. His spokesman would not comment on reports citizenship had been granted. Abramovich - who is ethnically Jewish - would be the richest person in Israel should he relocate to the country. His UK investor visa reportedly expired some weeks ago but the British government has refused to comment on his individual case. The delay in issuing him a new one comes amid increased diplomatic tensions between London and Moscow after the poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal. Abramovich did not attend the FA Cup Final at Wembley earlier this month when Moscow Chelski beat The Scum. Israeli media reports say that he has been 'given an identity card' in Israel under the Law of Return, which allows Jews to become citizens of Israel. The Times of Israel claimed that the Israeli interior ministry had 'confirmed' Abramovich arrived in Israel on Monday and that he had 'immigrated' to the country. He has been a frequent visitor to Israel and bought a hotel in Tel Aviv in 2015 that reports say he has 'turned into a residence.' Israel passport holders are allowed to enter Britain without a visa for short stays. Abramovich is reportedly worth over eight billion knicker, according to Forbes magazine. The move could pay off financially as new Israeli citizens are exempt from paying tax on foreign income for ten years. Which is nice. One of Russia's richest people, Abramovtich bought Moscow Chelski FC in 2003. He reportedly sold dolls in Moscow before making his fortune in oil during the Perestroika years in the 1990s. Abramovich was a one-time business partner of the late tycoon Boris Berezovky, an associate of former Russian President Boris Yeltsin. Critics claims that the two businessmen used their Kremlin ties to acquire key state companies for below market value, something which Abramovitch has always denied. He served as governor of Russia's Chukotka region and is believed to be 'close' to the current Russian President, The Butcher of Grozny.
In a plot entirely worthy of a Tom Clancy novel Ukraine staged the 'murder' of a Russian dissident journalist in Kiev on Tuesday in what it said was 'a sting operation' to foil a Russian assassination plot. Arkady Babchenko sent shockwaves around the world when he arrived at a press conference on Wednesday, less than twenty four hours after he had been reported dead. The head of Ukraine's security services, Vasyl Hrytsak, said that the elaborate sting was set up to catch hitmen paid by Russian forces. Police said they had made one arrest. Babchenko's wife said that she had found him at the entrance to their apartment block with bullet wounds in his back and he was reported to have died in an ambulance on the way to hospital. There were gasps and applause as the journalist entered the room for the press conference on Wednesday. He thanked the Ukrainian security services for saving his life and said that he had 'no choice' but to take part. 'I did my job. I'm still alive,' Babchenko said. 'I have buried many friends and colleagues many times and I know the sickening feeling,"' he added. 'I am sorry you had to experience it. But there was no other way.' Babchenko said that he was informed a month ago about an alleged Russian plot to kill him. He said that he was 'in constant contact' with Ukrainian security services over the course of the past month, adding that he thought they had been planning the operation for up to two months. Hrytsak said the operation began after Ukrainian security services were 'informed about a plot' to kill Babchenko. He said Russian security forces had recruited a Ukrainian citizen to find hitmen within Ukraine. He added that the citizen approached 'several acquaintances,' including war veterans, offering thirty thousand dollars for the contract killing, one of whom snitched up the plot to the security services. They then informed Babchenko, apparently determining that the only way to reveal the plotters was to stage a fake hit. It was not clear if Babchenko's wife, Olechka, was aware that his death had been faked. He apologised to her at the press conference. 'Olechka, I am terribly sorry,' he said, 'but there were no other options.' Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said in a statement that the staged murder was 'a masquerade' done for 'propagandistic effect.' Is propagandistic a proper word? Anyway ... she added that Russia was 'happy' that Babchenko was not dead. 'I wish it were always like that,' she said. One or two epople even believed her. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said that the country would offer protection to Babchenko. 'It is unlikely that Moscow will calm down. I've given an order to provide Arkady and his family with protection,' he said on Twitter. While studying law in Moscow aged eighteen, Babchenko was conscripted into the Russian army and served during the Chechen wars from 1994 to 2000. His memoir, One Soldier's War, chronicled his harrowing experiences of the conflict, which claimed the lives of tens of thousands on both sides. Babchenko went on to became a journalist and a high-profile critic of the Kremlin. He stood in unofficial elections organised by the opposition in 2012 and denounced Russia's actions in Syria and Eastern Ukraine. In December 2016, Babchenko wrote a Facebook post about a crashed Tu-154 transport plane, which went into the Black Sea while carrying a Red Army choir to Syria. He claimed this post, in which he described Russia as 'an aggressor,' led to death threats and abuse from the Russian state. He wrote in a piece for the Gruniad Morning Star that it forced him to leave 'a country I no longer feel safe in.' Babchenko also wrote for the BBC, reporting from the scene about a Ukrainian army helicopter that was shot down in the East of the country in 2014. Kiev has in recent years seen a number of deadly attacks on high-profile figures, including journalists and politicians. Most of them were vocal critics of the Kremlin. The leading Belarusian journalist, Pavel Sheremet, was killed by a car bomb in Kiev in July 2016. Another car bomb killed Ukrainian military intelligence officer Colonel Maxim Shapoval in June 2017 in what the Ukrainian authorities called 'a terrorist act.' In March of the same year, former Russian MP Denis Voronenkov was shot dead outside a hotel in Kiev.
The man who shot dead two police officers and a civilian in the Belgian city of Liège had reportedly killed someone the night before the attacks. Interior Minister Jan Jambon said that the gunman, Benjamin Herman, had murdered a former prisoner he met while in jail. Reports say the victim was Michael Wilmet, a convicted drug dealer who was hit, repeatedly, with a hammer. The two policewomen killed the next day have been identified as Lucile Garcia and Soraya Belkacemi. The third victim, Cyril Vangrieken, had almost finished studying to become a teacher, Belgian broadcaster RTBF said. Prosecutors say they are treating the attacks as 'terrorist murder.' The gunman also took a cleaner hostage at a school before being killed by police. She was released unharmed. Named only as Darifa by Belgian media, the cleaner has said that Herman burst in and asked her two questions: was she a Muslim and was she observing Ramadan? She answered yes to both, she said and he replied that he would not harm her. She then attempted to persuade him he should not be in the school with children. Officials said Herman had shouted 'Allahu Akbar' several times during the attack. He was freed from prison on temporary release on Monday after serving time for theft and drug offences. Local media report that he may have been 'radicalised' while in jail. 'There are signs he was radicalised in prison, but is it that radicalisation which drove him to commit these acts? Jambon said on RTL radio. 'It could have been because he had nothing to look forward to, because he also killed someone the night before, the guy's psychology and the fact he may have been on drugs.' The gunman had been in and out of prison since he was a teenager and had a criminal record which included assault and drug offences, police say. He was released on Monday morning and, under the terms of the temporary release, was expected to return to jail on Tuesday. It was during this period that he launched the attacks. Justice Minister Koen Geens defended the decision to release him, saying it was intended to help him prepare for his full release scheduled for 2020. He added that the attacker had been granted temporary leave numerous times before and he never shot anyone or killed anyone with a hammer on those occasions. But, he admitted that he had to 'examine' his conscience following the attacks. 'The question of whether this man should have been given leave is striking because he killed three completely innocent people with a wish to kill himself,' he told RTBF radio. 'I feel responsible because I have responsibility for prisons.' The shooting unfolded late on Tuesday morning near a cafe in the city centre. Prosecutors said that the man followed and 'savagely attacked' two female police officers. He stabbed them repeatedly from behind with a knife before taking a gun from them and opening fire. He also shot dead a twenty two-year-old man who was sitting in the passenger seat of a parked car. He then walked to a nearby school, where he briefly took a member of staff hostage. When armed police officers arrived at the scene, the attacker fired at them in an attempt to escape. Two officers were shot in the leg, leaving one officer in a serious condition. Two other officers received injuries to their arms before the attacker was shot dead, prosecutors said. Belgium remains on alert after a series of jihadist attacks in the country and in neighbouring France.
Drum 'n bass-type person, Goldie, has been ordered to pay almost two-and-a-half grand for assaulting a security guard at last year's Glastonbury Festival. The DJ and actor - real name Clifford Joseph Price - attacked bouncer Dennis Poole on 23 June. The court heard that Poole was assaulted after he refused to let Price's daughter go backstage. Price, of Tring, Hertfordshire, was fined one thousand and eighty quid at Bristol Magistrates' Court. He was also told to pay compensation of five hundred smackers and costs of eight hundred and thirty three notes. Price was described as acting 'like a "raging bull' when Poole refused him and his daughter access to a restricted area. The court heard that Chance Price, and her friend had attempted to gain entry to the restricted area. They had been 'whisked' into the BBC area, where Price was due to be interviewed by BBC Radio 1's Annie Mac, without passes but were stopped when they tried to re-enter after leaving to buy food. Price phoned her father for assistance but when he arrived it was noted that he also did not have the required wristband for the area. Witnesses described how Price 'puffed his chest out' before pushing Poole back and placing him in a headlock. Both men ended up on the floor, with the security guard suffering 'scratches to his face and neck, a sore ear and a grazed elbow.' Price initially claimed he had 'acted in self defence' but subsequently admitted the offence in March via Facetime from Thailand. He appeared in person alongside his daughter for sentencing on Wednesday. Prosecutors offered no evidence against Chance Price, of Leavesden, Hertfordshire and the case against her was dismissed. District Judge David Taylor told Price: 'Your entirely unjustified actions demonstrate an arrogant sense of entitlement based on your own self importance. The physical injuries sustained by Mister Poole at your hands were relatively minor but the assault has had an emotional and psychological impact on him. This was an assault on a man simply doing his job.' In a victim personal statement read to the court, Poole said he had been forced to give up his career of six years. He said: '[Price] came right up in my face, he was telling me he could do what he wanted.' Speaking outside the court, Price said he was 'apologising as a man would do.' He added: 'I took a bullet for my daughter, I'm happy. Hopefully he can move on and understand if you're doing your job, do it right.' Which, if you look up 'non-apology apologies' on Goggle, you'll find that one quite close to the top of the list.
Price, who was born in Walsall, made his name as a music producer in the 1990s when the rave scene was at its peak. Known for his distinctive gold row of front teeth he has also appeared on-screen, acting in the James Bond film The World Is Not Enough, Guy Ritchie's gangster caper Snatch and EastEnders. More recently, now that his music career appears to have gone down the pluhole, he has cropped up in a number of reality TV shows, including Z-List Celebrity Big Brother, Strictly Come Dancing and Come Dine With Me.
Anchorage police rapidly solved a bank robbery on Tuesday after the suspect handed the teller a hold-up note with his name and birth date on the back, according to a charging document filed on Wednesday in the District Court in Anchorage. But police didn't even need that handy tip to arrest Michael Gale Nash after he left First National Bank Alaska with four hundred dollars in a bag, the FBI says. 'It's my understanding he was sitting outside the bank counting his money when police arrived,' said Staci Feger-Pellessier, a spokeswoman with the FBI in Alaska. Police arrived on scene 'a few minutes' after getting the call. The robber quickly confessed to the crime, according to the criminal complaint, filed with Magistrate Judge Leslie Longenbaugh. Bank robbers aren't always easy to catch. A couple of weeks ago, the FBI had five open bank-robbery investigations, said Feger-Pellessier. That is now down to three, she added. 'This is probably the quickest [apprehension] in recent history, at least locally for Anchorage,' Feger-Pellessier said. Nash entered the bank and handed the teller a note: 'This is a hold up. Please put the money they want in the bag. God help us!!!' The hold-up note was written on the back of a form from an organisation which provides affordable housing. Nash's personal information was on the form. Feger-Pellessier said that no weapon was involved. The teller, new to the job, was 'momentarily dazed' and did not immediately follow steps to alert police and co-workers. But, a manager noticed the look on her face after the teller interacted with Nash, learned the details and reported the crime. The teller 'was visibly shaken, displaying shortness of breath and on the verge of crying,' according to the affidavit by an FBI investigator. Nash's criminal record includes convictions for stealing personal property in 1993 and forgery in 2000 and a court-martial in 1996 for distributing drugs, the affidavit said. Chloe Martin, a spokeswoman with the US attorney's office in Alaska, said that the case is 'still being investigated.' She said the attorney's office could neither confirm nor deny if Nash was under the influence of drugs or alcohol during the robbery.
Former English Defence League leader Tommy Robinson has been very jailed for potentially prejudicing a court case, the BBC has reported. Robinson, who appeared in the dock under his real name - Stephen Christopher Yaxley-Lennon - was arrested in Leeds on Friday. The thirty five-year-old was broadcasting on social media outside the city's crown court where a trial was currently ongoing. An initial ban on reporting his thirteen-month sentence at the same court was lifted after being challenged by certain organs of the media.
Robinson, from Bedfordshire, pleaded extremely guilty to a charge of contempt of court. A judge told him that his actions could cause the ongoing trial to be re-run, costing 'hundreds and hundreds of thousands of pounds.' In footage which was played to the court on Friday, Robinson was seen filming himself and people involved in the trial. The court heard how the footage, which supposedly lasted around an hour, had been watched two hundred and fifty thousand times within hours of being posted online via Facebook. During Friday's hearing, Matthew Harding, defending, claimed that his client had 'deep regret' for what he had done. One or two people even believed him. 'He was mindful, having spoken to others and taken advice, not to say things that he thought would actually prejudice these proceedings,' Harding said. 'He did not try to cause difficulties for the court process.' Judge Geoffrey Marson QC said: 'Not only was it a very long video, but I regard it as a serious aggravating feature that he was encouraging others to share it and it had been shared widely. That is the nature of the contempt.'
Russian-American kickboxing specialist Justine Kish squared up with UFC veteran Felice Herrig in Oklahoma City during this week's UFC Fight Night event. Herrig won in a unanimous decision, although the previously undefeated Kish did an admirable job of wriggling out of 'a rear naked choke' late in the third round and avoiding a submission defeat as Herrig repeatedly twisted her into compromising positions. However, she appeared to have shat herself in the process if photographic evidence is anything to go by.
A woman has been very jailed after forcing her teenage daughter to strip naked so she 'couldn't run away from a torrent of controlling abusive behaviour' which reportedly saw her beaten and even banned from using the toilet. The row which led to the chain of events began over the coffee the girl had bought for the woman, a North Wales court heard. At one point, the woman punched the girl - really hard - in the face as she slept, kept her in a flat against her will and refused to give the girl food or drink. The fifty-year-old mother, from North West Wales, also held a knife to her own throat and threatened to burn down their flat with the girl still inside in what was described as 'a protracted episode of drunken, bullying behaviour.' Judge Rhys Rowlands, jailing the woman - who was not named in media reports - at Mold Crown Court, said what she had done was 'beyond the comprehension of any normal parent.' It all began over something trivial - an argument over the coffee the daughter had bought. It escalated, the defendant blamed the daughter for problems in her relationship with her partner. Judge Rowlands said that if it had stopped there then it would have been serious enough. But, over the next twenty four hours of so she attacked her and ill-treated her. Fortunately the girl was now 'out of harm's way' and being cared for by a relative and social services were involved. Defending barrister Myles Wilson said that the mother was 'genuinely sorry' for her behaviour and 'felt dreadful' over what had happened. Although, none imagines her feeling dreadful is slightly more focused on the fact that she'll now be banged up in pokey with all the murderers and the muggers and the people that nick stuff from LIDL. She 'felt that she had let her daughter down' and 'wished that the day had never happened,' Wilson added. It was clear that she 'could not recall everything' but she 'accepted' that her daughter 'was not a liar' and that she had done the things alleged. The woman had 'an unstable personality' and she had 'not been the same since she had been attacked herself at the age of eight,' Wilson claimed. It was 'accepted' that her behaviour was 'more than simply not coping with the stresses of life. This behaviour is more extreme than that,' he said. The defendant was 'in touch' with her daughter daily by Facebook and had seen her once since the incident, at Christmas time. Wilson suggested that a suspended sentence 'would be appropriate' but the judge was having none of it and said that it was too serious for that, before throwing the book at her. The woman was jailed for nine months after she had earlier admitted children cruelty and assault.
Uganda's parliament has passed a law to impose a tax on people using social media platforms. It imposes a two hundred shilling daily levy on people using internet messaging platforms like Facebook, WhatsApp, Viber and Twitter. President Yoweri Museveni had pushed for the changes, arguing that social media 'encouraged gossip.' The law should come into effect on 1 July but there remain doubts about how it will be implemented. The new Excise Duty Amendment Bill will also impose various other taxes, including a one per cent levy on the total value of mobile money transactions - which civil society groups complain will affect poorer Ugandans who rarely use banking services. State Minister for Finance David Bahati told parliament that the tax increases were needed to 'help Uganda pay off its growing national debt.' Experts - and at least one major Internet service provider - have raised doubts about how a daily tax on social media will be policed. The government is struggling to ensure all mobile phone SIM cards are properly registered. And of the twenty three million plus mobile phone subscribers in the country, only seventeen million use the Internet, Reuters reports. It is therefore not clear how authorities will be able to identify Ugandans accessing social media sites. Museveni pushed for the social media law back in March. He wrote a letter to Finance Minister Matia Kasaija insisting that the revenue collected by the social media tax would help the country 'cope with consequences of olugambo [gossiping].' But, he argued there should be no tax on Internet data as it was useful for 'educational, research or reference purposes.' Critics at the time said that the law would 'curtail freedom of expression' and that it was, in fact, frigging idiotic. Kasaija dismissed concerns that the new law could limit people's use of the Interweb. 'We're looking for money to maintain the security of the country and extend electricity so that you people can enjoy more social media, more often, more frequently,' he told Reuters in March. Social media have become an important political tool in Uganda for both the ruling party and the opposition. Access to platforms was shut during presidential elections in 2016. President Museveni insisted at the time that it was done to 'stop spreading lies.' Other East African countries are passing laws criticised by activists as affecting freedom of expression. Tanzania's government won a court case on 29 May against opponents of new regulations requiring bloggers to pay a licence fee and disclose their financial backers. In Kenya, a new cybercrime law came into force on 30 May. Journalists and bloggers managed to win a court order to suspend some parts of the law including clauses on spreading 'false' information which, they argue, is an attempt to muzzle independent media.
A nudity complaint in Texas turned into an arrest last week at Blue Hole Regional Park. Emily Claire Jenkins, of Austin, was arrested for resisting arrest and 'interfering with a peace officer's public duty.' According to Hays County Constable Ray Helm, his office received a complaint that a woman was 'swimming topless' and refusing to leave the premises. 'She went into a private party at Blue Hole with about one hundred and fifty kids, elementary aged kids and decided to swim topless and walk around topless,' Helm said. 'They asked her to leave multiple times. Park officials asked her to leave. So they called us.' Helm said that when deputies arrived at the park, the woman was near the front entrance, leaving. Deputies asked her name and 'she started screaming vulgarities,' Helm said. Gosh, what a naughty lady. 'Her mother pushed one of the deputies with a boogie board,' he continued. 'We got her under control and the daughter said something to the effect of "she killed pigs." A deputy asked if she was threatening him and she said "no."' At that point, the woman attempted to take her top off again, for no adequately explained reason, 'a deputy tried to pull her arm down and she jumped on him.' Helm added. The woman was then very arrested for interfering with a peace officer. Later, she refused to get into the police car, which added the charge of resisting arrest. Helm said that it is 'not cut and dry' that nudity isn't allowed at Blue Hole. He also said that due to the other charges, the nude incident wasn't investigated by his officers. 'The rules say "no lewd conduct and no disorderly conduct,"' Helm said. 'It doesn't specifically say no nudity and the interpretations of lewd conduct is very open. I would lean towards no you can't, but the city will probably have to come up with something to state specifically nudity is not allowed.'
An Indian man allegedly suffered 'an horrific mishap in the bathroom' when he got a shower head inserted up his rectum. Doctors were reportedly 'suspicious' of the twenty six-year-old's entirely innocent explanation and suspected that the object was, in fact, placed there 'for auto-erotic purposes.' No shit? Well, particularly not with a shower head stuck up yer ringpiece.
The man claimed that he had 'managed to detach the rest of the shower' and make his way - painfully, one imagines - to the Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital in New Delhi. The man's case was subject to a report in the British Medical Journal which explained the bizarre incident in detail. And, gave readers a reet good laugh into the process. Although the man 'appeared to be in good health and was not bleeding,' X-rays clearly showed the shower head was six inches inside his body. According to BMJ Report, after the man was under general anaesthetic, the surgeons used a technique of 'mental anal stretching' before reaching in and pulling out the item. This blogger doesn't know about you, dear blog reader, but Keith Telly Topping's eyes are watering even thinking about such malarkey. Happily, the man 'recovered well' and was discharged forty eight hours later. To return to whatever he was doing before he got the shower head stuck up there. Because, let's face it, what a chap gets up to in the privacy of his own lavatory is between him and his God. And, sometimes, as in this case, his doctor. According to the Daily Scum Mail, the report read: 'History is often ambiguous and incomplete due to a high level of embarrassment and social stigma attached to the condition. The same was seen in our case. Though the patient reported "accidental insertion" of the shower head and denied voluntary insertion, there is a high suspicion of voluntary insertion for auto-erotic purpose.' It was also noted that two thirds of patients who are admitted for these procedures are men in their thirties and forties. These men 'are typically using the objects – which can include vegetables, rods and gas bulbs - for erotic purposes.'
Police say that a man caught masturbating in public at a Clearwater bus stop in Florida told them he was Captain Kirk. Clearwater police were called to the bus stop on Monday for a report of 'a lewd and lascivious act.' Responding officers say that they found a man sitting on a bench 'touching himself under his shorts.' In an arrest report, police noted it was 'obvious' the man was masturbating. When officers asked what the Hell he thought he was doing, the man reportedly told them, 'I'm scratching myself.' After the man was arrested for disorderly conduct, police asked him to identify himself. The arrest report states the man told police his name was James Tiberius Kirk. Police say that they later discovered the man's real name is, in fact, James Bundrick. The fifty six-year-old tosser is now also facing a charge for providing a false name or identity to law enforcement. And, stroking himself off in a built up area during the hours of daylight ... whilst terribly overacting. Probably.
Two lions, two tigers and a jaguar that escaped from their enclosures at a zoo in Western Germany have been recaptured according to media reports. The animals were found inside the zoo compound in Lünebach after a search involving a drone, officials told German media. Local residents had earlier been told to stay indoors. A bear also escaped from the privately owned Eifel zoo, but was shot - very dead - a local official told AFP. The animals broke out after flooding from a storm damaged their enclosures. A 'massive search' was then launched involving police, firefighters and veterinarians. With hammers. Local authorities did not give further details of the recapture but a spokesperson told AFP that the animals were 'back in their cages.' Owned by the Wallpott family, the thirty-hectare zoo is home to nearly four hundred animals of sixty species, including Siberian tigers and lions. It was first established in 1965 with only dogs, donkeys and a wild boar, according to the zoo's website and is visited by up to seventy thousand people a year. Friday's escape comes two years after two lions broke out of their cages at a zoo in Leipzig. One was shot dead and the other recaptured.
Christan Heaven Mask, of Rome, Georgia was arrested this week after she allegedly charged at a man with a shovel while stating that she was going to kill him. Reports added that she also drove in a reckless manner, striking two vehicles, with an eleven month-old child in her vehicle. Mask is charged with aggravated assault, reckless conduct, disorderly conduct, hit and run, aggressive driving, reckless driving and 'terroristic threats and acts.' Which is a thing, apparently.
A probe into a scandal involving former Liberal leader Jeremy Thorpe will be reopened after police 'may have wrongly assumed' that one of the suspects was dead. A 2015 investigation into the alleged attempted murder of Thorpe's former lover - Norman Scott - was closed in 2017. Gwent Police assumed Andrew Newton - who shot Scott's dog, Rinka, and claimed he was paid to kill Scott himself - had died. But, they now say he 'may still be alive.' Scott said he thought police were 'continuing the cover-up.' The revelations have been unearthed in the BBC4 documentary The Jeremy Thorpe Scandal. BBC Panorama journalist Tom Mangold, who has investigated the case since the 1970s, said that the investigation had ended because police claimed Newton was dead. Mangold said it 'must start again' and he 'wouldn't be surprised at all' if Newton was alive, adding: 'When I knew Newton he was a fit, young man.' Thorpe was the MP for North Devon for twenty years and leader of the Liberal Party between 1967-76. He died in 2014. In late 1960 or early 1961 he met Norman Scott, who worked for one of Thorpe's friends in Oxfordshire. Scott said that the two were lovers at a time when homosexuality was illegal. Scott spent years attempting to reveal the pair's relationship to the public, then claimed Thorpe conspired with colleagues to have him assassinated. In 1975, Andrew Newton shot Scott's Great Dane, Rinka, on a rural road in Exmoor, but failed to kill Scott, reportedly, after his gun jammed. Newspapers began reporting Scott's claims after he spoke about the relationship in court, meaning they were protected from libel laws. Thorpe resigned as leader of the Liberal Party in 1976 over the reports, but denied Scott's allegations. He lost his seat in North Devon in the 1979 general erection. Thorpe, along with three co-defendants, subsequently stood trial accused to conspiracy and attempted murder. Ex-Liberal MP Peter Bessell and the failed assassin Newton, gave details of the alleged plot. A jury nevertheless acquitted all four, in no small part, thanks to a blatantly biased summing up by the trial judge, Sir Joseph Cantley. Claims that police altered the evidence of another person being hired to kill Scott before Newton, a small-time air pilot, were unearthed by Mangold in 2014. Dennis Meighan claimed that he was 'approached by associates of Thorpe' and by Newton, to carry out the murder. This led to Gwent Police reopening the investigation, but after they concluded that Newton was dead, the Crown Prosecution Service told Scott no further action would be taken. Scott said: 'I just don't think anyone's tried hard enough to look for him. I thought [Gwent Police] were doing something at last and soon found out that absolutely they weren't, they were continuing the cover-up as far as I can see.' Gwent Police claimed that after 'revisiting some enquiries,' investigators 'identified information, which indicates that Newton may still be alive. As a result, further enquiries will be conducted to trace Newton to assess if he is able to assist the investigation.' The documentary includes unearthed footage from a Panorama programme from 1979 which was never broadcast for legal reasons. The director general at the time kept a master copy of the programme but ordered that all other copies should be destroyed. But, Mangold ho worked on the programme, also kept his copy. The programme will be broadcast after the end of the dramatisation A Very British Scandal.
The World Cancer Research Fund shared some bad news for anyone who loves bacon, alcohol and sausages, but good news for anyone who hopes to lower their risk of developing cancer. According to the group's new report from its Continuous Research Project, avoiding processed meats and alcohol can help lower your risk of developing cancer. Processed meats like bacon, hot dogs, some sausages and salami have been linked to an increased risk of colorectal cancer, reports TIME. 'No amount of bacon, alcohol and sausages is safe,' the report states, though it's worth noting that other cancer experts disagree with this. Even unprocessed red meats like beef, lamb and pork can be related to a higher risk of cancer, but the WCRF said that the evidence is 'not as strong' in that regard. Still, the WCRF said you should not completely cut unprocessed meat from your diet because it can still be a good source of Vitamin B12, protein, iron and zinc. Or, you could just carry on eating and drinking whatever the Hell you like and not worry about it. After all, we've all got to go sometime.
A rail firm which compared its poor service to chocolate from Poundland has been threatened with legal action by the discount chain. Thameslink has grovellingly apologised after making the comment in reply to a passenger who was angry over train cancellations. In response, Poundland retail director Austin Cooke said that it had 'no right to use our name to describe poor service.' It comes after more than four hundred and fifty Govia Thameslink Railway trains were either cancelled or ran late on Wednesday. Thameslink had responded to a tweet from a passenger, called Kevin, who posted a picture of a departure board showing train cancellations. In response, Thameslink replied: 'Very sorry Kevin. Appreciate at the moment the service is less Ferrero Rocher and more Poundland cooking chocolate.' It prompted Cooke to tweet Charles Horton, the chief executive of Thameslink's parent firm Govia Thameslink Railway, for a right good whinge. He stated that Poundland served eight million shoppers last week - including this one, as it happens - and has 'a pretty good idea about what great customer service is.' Which, yeah, to be fair, this blogger's never had a problem with Poundland choccies. Cooke added: 'But if we ever fall short, perhaps we'll describe ourselves as a bit ThamesLink. If you don't want to hear from our extremely twitchy legal team, we suggest you remove your tweet.'
And now, dear blog reader ...
A planning battle between Robbie Williams and Jimmy Page is to drag on after a council failed to reach a decision on the singer's swimming pool plans for his West London home. Former Led Zeppelin guitarist Page had opposed Williams' proposals for a basement with pool at his home. Neighbour Page argued that excavations would be 'catastrophic' for his own Grade I listed Gothic-style Tower House. But Kensington and Chelsea Council's planning committee deferred a decision. Disagreements between Page and Williams began four years ago when the former Take That singer bought the house next to Page - which used to belong to Michael Winner. Page, who has lived in the Victorian Tower House since 1972, objected to Williams' plans to renovate, voicing concern that vibrations could cause irreversible damage. Williams, taking his cue from the house's former occupant, replied 'calm down, dear.' Probably.
Builders working for Williams were fined three grand for disturbing Page's peace by taking apart a shed on a Sunday. Which, for a bloke who spent the entire 1970s disturbing everyone's peace is osmewhat ironic. Williams submitted proposals to the council in January to excavate a basement and build a swimming pool and gym facilities under his home. In response, Page wrote a two-page letter to the council objecting to the project and outlining his 'concerns' about the potential impact of digging on his home, which he described as 'one of the most historic buildings in the borough. Having protected the Tower House for over forty years, I am now continuing the fight against a new threat to this precious and unique building,' Page wrote. Page attended the council meeting where Williams' planning application - which had been recommended for approval by council officers - was discussed. He told councillors: 'I feel it is my duty to protect that house, I really do.' But the committee decided to defer a decision to consider what conditions and regulations might be appropriate. After the meeting Page said he was 'very pleased' with the decision, adding: 'I think the deferment was a very good conclusion.'
US magician David Copperfield was 'negligent but not financially responsible' for a British man's injuries during a trick, a jury says. The jury in Nevada say that Gavin Cox 'caused his own injuries' during a vanishing act at a show in Las Vegas in 2013. Cox filed a negligence lawsuit after falling during the show. He said that he suffered 'brain and other injuries.' The ruling means that he cannot seek financial damages from the illusionist. Copperfield, the world's highest paid magician, has performed the Lucky Thirteen trick thousands of times without any problems. The illusion involves making thirteen audience members - chosen at random - disappear on stage. The grand surprise comes when the illusionist reveals the thirteen at the back of the auditorium. Last month, Copperfield was forced to reveal in court that after curtains come down on the participants on stage, they are hurried through passageways that lead them around the Las Vegas MGM resort. As opposed to being 'magically transported'. They leave the building and enter again at the back of the theatre. Cox, a fifty eight-year-old from Kent, fell while being led through these passages by stagehands. He was taken to hospital with a dislocated shoulder. He claimed that doctors later diagnosed a brain lesion. Cox's lawsuit claimed he had spent more than three hundred grand on medical bills. It alleged there was construction debris in the passageways he used, but Copperfield said that he had walked the same path earlier and it was clear. The Las Vegas resort MGM and Copperfield's company were also defendants in the lawsuit. They were also found to be negligent - but not financially liable for Cox's injuries.
And finally, dear blog reader, a good fiend of this blogger, the very excellent Christian Wheeldon, recently noted on Facebook his surprise - but delight - that a book he had written about the German musician Manuel Göttsching, Deep Distance, has recently been referenced in another book about German music. This blogger recalled his own delight when one of the early editions of his book on Buffy, Slayer, was referenced in an academic work from the Oxford University Press, Slayer Slang by Michael Adams. This blogger wrote in a subsequent edition: 'Never one averse to a bit of free publicity (and, at the risk of implying that the Buffy publishing industry is the sub-genre that celebrates itself) this author was delighted to discover that he, and an earlier edition of Slayer, are referenced in Slayer Slang on more than a dozen occasions. Seemingly, at least in Buffy circles, I am the originator of the word "vampiry" (adj: "exhibiting features of a vampire," Slayer 2000 edition, page twenty six). I'm not sure that I was, actually, but I'll certainly accept the compliment. As someone who has spent years trying to get The Simpsons' word "cromulent" into the OED, "invented a word" is a fabulous line to stick on your own CV!' Something similar has also happened a few times to this blog. There was, for instance, the infamous occasion when a page which featured a publicity shot of a stark bollock-naked Huge Laurie from Fortysomething was linked to on the official House website and, for a day, the blog went sodding mental (funnily enough, this blogger was actually in Edinburgh that particular day, performing Monopolise! and, thus, missed all the excitement). There was also the occasion that one of this blogger's reviews of an episode of Borgen was linked to by one of the cast on Twitter and, for a day, the blog again went bonkers. There was the time this blogger's obituary of the late Andy Hallett was linked to by Maureen O'Hara in the Chicago Tribune or, the time that the Gruniad's Anna Pickard highlighted From The North's The Doctor Who Fan's Phrasebook page. But, Keith Telly Topping thinks his favourite external link was when From The North got mentioned on the Mumsnet website - this blogger believes it was related to a thread about the then-current series of Doctor Who although the link itself seems to have disappeared now. That, dear blog reader, was a real brush with fame as far as this blogger was (and still is) concerned.