Wednesday, June 27, 2018


Earlier this week, dear blog reader, a brief - fifty three second - clip from yer actual Jodie Whittaker's first Doctor Who episode, featuring Jodie her very self, Tosin Gill and Mandip Gill, got well and truly leaked online. And, it was subsequently viewed by many, many, many punters. If you haven't seen it, don't worry it was not that unmissable (he totally lied). And, whilst this blogger has absolutely no intention of telling dear blog readers how they can access it should they wish to so so, one is sure that a simple Google search will probably point you in - roughly - the right direction if you would like to search it out for a quick gander. On the other hand, if you have already seen it ... how bloody exciting was that, eh?! Didn't Jodie absolutely nail it?! Isn't 'half-a-hour ago, I was a white-haired Scotsman?' a brilliant line? (All this is, obviously, utterly meaningless to any dear blog readers who haven't seen the clip in question. Sorry about that.) Of course, leaks of information and materials do occur more frequently that ever these days - they happened, to various degrees, under both Big Rusty and The Lord Thy God Steven (OBE)'s tenures as well and, it looks like Chris Chibnall is now discovering just how hard decent plumbers are to come by. This is the Interweb age, dear blog reader and people will, perhaps inevitably, crave what they cannot get. Until they do get access to it, at which point they will feel the need to share it. With everyone. That's a genie which, for better or worse, isn't going back into the bottle any time soon. So, there's a fifty three second clip of a Doctor Who episode that you haven't seen yet doing the rounds; seek it out and watch it if you want to or avoid it like the plague if you don't. This blogger makes no judgement upon anyone for doing either.
Meanwhile, this blogger has been thinking a lot this week about the subject of 'spoilers' - due, mainly, to all this previously mentioned malarkey. Personally Keith Telly Topping has never been too bothered one way or another about the whole spoilers thing although one year - this blogger thinks it was Smudger's last series in 2012 - just as an experiment Keith Telly Topping decided to see to how long before the first episode he could go 'unspoiled' as it were. In the end, this blogger more-or-less made it through to the week of Asylum Of The Daleks before he knew very much about it (and the subsequent episodes), a few stray bits of casting and a handful of episode titles apart. In the end, Keith Telly Topping doesn't believe his enjoyment of those episodes was any greater - or any lesser - than it would have been if he'd read the scripts beforehand or, indeed, been on-set during filming. However, during that period a close fiend of this blogger did say something which has stuck in Keith Telly Topping's mind ever since on the subject of spoilerisationisms. 'Back in the 1980s,' my mate Ian noted, 'we - that is fandom - would break our sodding necks to find out any trivial sliver of information we could about the upcoming series. Nobody back then in the pre-Internet fanzine-only days was running around with their hands covering their eyes and ears shouting 'no spoilers!"' This blogger has noticed that some people really do take their wish to avoid 'spoilers' to ludicrous extremes - to the point where the definition of what does and does not constitute a spoiler is something of a fluid debatable issue. For instance, this blogger has heard some people whinge about the content of official BBC-released trailers pre-series classifying those as 'spoilers'. Which, they are not. Keith Telly Topping has even seen some complaints about the revelation of episode titles being 'spoilers' (which, unless they include the word 'Dalek' in them, they're almost certainly not, either). So, this year, as usual, Keith Telly Topping shall be spending the time between now and the third week of October (or, whenever) minding his own business but, inevitably, coming across a few scraps of Doctor Who-related information along the way which he will be sharing with you, dear blog readers. Like, for instance, the already public fact that Alan Cumming is appearing in one episode. Which, to be fair, we only know because Alan Cumming himself was all excited and couldn't keep his trap shut about it! This blogger will try, wherever possible, to highlight any bloggerisationisms containing specific spoilers but, if you really are of the 'I don't want to know anything' brigade, then it might be an idea to avoid From The North between now and whenever the first episode of series eleven is broadcast. Here endeth the spoilerisationisms. For now.
Except to say that, also leaked this week - not, necessarily, by the same leaking-leakers that had leaked the fifty three second clip - are a couple of somewhat blurry photos of Jodie with her sonic screwdriver. This being one of them. Always wear your goggles when trying out a new sonic screwdriver for the first time, dear blog reader. It's The Law.
A new composer will provide 'an exciting and emotional' score for the upcoming series of Doctor Who, including 'a fresh take' on the famous theme tune, the BBC has announced. Segun Akinola, an alumni of the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire and the National Film and Television School, will provide the soundtracks for the new episodes, which will star Jodie Whittaker as The Doctor and the first female Time Lord. You knew that, right? The musician was part of the BAFTA Breakthrough Brit programme in 2017 and has previously worked on programmes such as Black & British: A Forgotten History, which attracted the attention of new Doctor Who showrunner, That There Chris Chibnall. Segun has also scored films including A Moving Image and Dear Mister Shakespeare, as well as TV series for the BBC and PBS. Akinola, who started composing after learning piano and drums as a child, said: 'Doctor Who is woven into the fabric of British culture and recognised globally. I am absolutely thrilled to be given the privilege of working on such a beloved series and to bring my musical voice to it.' Chibnall added: 'Welcome to the Doctor Who family, Segun Akinola! We're over the Moon Segun's agreed to join us, to provide the score for the next phase of the Doctor Who adventure. From our very first conversations, it was obvious Segun was a passionate, collaborative and delightful human being as well as a fantastic and bold composer. We're looking forward to introducing the world to his exciting and emotional soundtracks for the thirteenth Doctor.' Or, fourteenth if you count John Hurt. Or, fifteenth if you count David Bradley. Or sixteenth if you count Richard Hurndall. Or ... to be continued.
Meanwhile, dear blog reader, please allow this blogger to direct you to a superb opinion-piece by the author Juno Dawson in the Metro, Doctor Who Doesn't Belong To The White Man, It Belongs To Everyone. Word, sister.
From all that malarkey, dear blog reader, to the Westworld series two finale, The Passenger. Which this blogger thought was ... Mad! As! Fekking! Toast! And, seemingly, so did lots of other people. And, you can read all about it here and here and here and here. Although, this chap was, seemingly, less than happy. Ooo, pure-dead vexed, so he was. Aal stroppy in his discombobulation and that. Hell hath no fury like a fanboy forced to use his brain more than he's used to. This blogger is a member of Doctor Who fandom, dear blog reader, trust me, we've got loads of them.
It helped, somewhat, that co-showrunner Lisa Joy used an interview with The Hollywood Reporter almost immediately after the final episode was broadcast to explain some of the more complex parts of the storyline(s). And, to where the future for Westworld may lead. Which, was jolly useful to this blogger in particular as he wasn't certain whether that remarkable final scene had, effectively, retconned two entire series worth of plot out of existence. Seemingly, it hadn't, so that was good news!
The Passenger also ended with a variety of favourite characters - Hosts and Humans - seemingly killed, or their consciousness transferred into other Host bodies. Or, in some cases, spheres. Certainly, Delores - now inhabiting the Charlotte Hale Host - was seen with at least five data cores in her bag as she left the park. Which, of course, immediately raised the question of who they were? Bernard was one, obviously - we know that from a subsequent scene - but who, exactly, were the other four? That, presumably, is going to be series three of Westworld in a sentence! Speaking after the finale, co-showrunner Jonathan Nolan confirmed that Elsie (played by Shannon Woodward) will definitely not be returning for a third series and suggested that the Hosts who passed to The Sublime - including the consciousness of the previously deceased host, Teddy (James Marsden) - may also not return, which would appear to signal a huge cast change next year. 'It's a large ensemble cast and sadly we're saying goodbye to some people at the end of this season,' Nolan told Entertainment Weekly. 'But as always with this show, who remains and who doesn't is something we're having a lot of fun with. There's going to be a bit of a wait for a third season but we want to surprise and hopefully delight people with the way things progress.'
Game publisher Bethesda is reported to be very suing Warner Brothers over a game based around Westworld. Bethesda alleges the Westworld game, released last week, is 'a blatant rip-off' of its Fallout Shelter title. Included in the legal challenge is Canadian developer Behaviour Interactive, which helped Bethesda develop Fallout Shelter in 2014. The Westworld game gives players the job of managing the titular theme park and its robotic inhabitants. The facility managed by the player can be expanded underground and includes many of the locations seen in the TV series. Many reviews of the game mentioned its 'similarity' to Fallout Shelter, which gives players the job of managing and expanding an underground facility. In legal papers - widely shared online - Bethesda alleges this similarity is 'more than skin deep' and the game uses code Behaviour wrote when creating Fallout Shelter. In some cases, it claims, 'bugs' seen in early drafts of Fallout Shelter code also crop up in the Westworld game. Bethesda claims the Westworld game infringes its copyright and Behaviour has misappropriated trade secrets, broken contractual agreements limiting what it can do with the Fallout code and 'indulged in unfair competition.' In a statement given to Variety, Bethesda said it would 'vigorously protect its legal rights in the valuable intellectual properties it owns, and take legal action whenever those rights are being infringed.' It is seeking 'substantial damage' - ie. loads of wonga - and a jury trial.
Channel Four has unveiled the first look at a balding Benedict Cumberbatch in its upcoming Brexit drama. Cumberbatch will play Dominic Cummings, the leading strategist and Campaign Director of Vote Leave, in the one-off drama written by award-winning writer James Graham and directed by Black Mirror's Toby Haynes. Filming has begun on the drama that will follow the Brexit campaign from the viewpoints of the largely unknown strategists in both the leave and remain campaigns, exploring how modern data-driven techniques contributed to one of the most unexpected results in political history. Brexit (working title) also stars Rory Kinnear as Craig Oliver, David Cameron's Director of Communications and John Heffernan as Matthew Elliott, political lobbyist and Chief Executive of Vote Leave. The cast also features Richard Goulding as Boris Johnson, Oliver Maltman as Michael Gove, Paul Ryan as Nigel Farage and Liz White as Cummings' wife, Mary Wakefield, among others. 'I'm so excited - not to mention a little nervous - to have this chance to try and get under the skin of what happened during that historic vote,' explained Graham. 'I hope by going behind-the-scenes of the campaign, we're able to interrogate the consequences of what happened during these eight weeks that have changed the country forever. To work with this incredible team and Channel Four to bring this story to life on screen is a real honour.'
Peaky Blinders creator, Steven Knight, has revealed that series five will start shooting this autumn. The writer was talking about the upcoming fifth season with Birmingham Live and as well as revealing when shooting would begin, also gave us a few other little hints about what to expect. 'We are going into The Thirties now,' he said. 'There is so much stuff happening, so why not finish the job?' Knight went on to refer to the depression, which will play an essential part in season five's storyline. 'It is setting those things up. In The Thirties across Europe and Britain, there was the rise of fascism.' Knight has already said that he would like the show to run for seven series in total, which will give him enough time to tell the story he has in mind. Asked how Peaky Blinders will end, Steven replied: 'In my mind, it ends with the first air-raid siren in the Second World War. My mum told a story about the air-raid siren going off and her mum coming in, pulling the blankets off, and saying, "Come on, the buggers are here."'
And, so to That There World Cup, dear blog reader. If you heard the rumours then, yes, almost unbelievably they were true, England were winning five-nil at half-time in their second World Cup match against Panama on Sunday. However they were, it should be noted, playing against a team that would probably struggle in League Two. So, it might be an idea not to get too carried away by this performance. Not that this stopped lots of people with tattoos - in the media and elsewhere - from doing exactly that and getting very carried away!
Nope, definitely no - massive - over-reaction going on in this country, dear blog readers. Nothing to see here ...
England achieved their most emphatic World Cup result in history as Harry Kane's hat-trick helped them thrash a, frankly, piss-poor Panama side and reach the last sixteen of the competition with one group game still to play. A rather confusing Sunday afternoon followed for football supporters all across England who'd never really experienced this sort of easy passage before. It was very disconcerting, frankly. Is this the way Brazilians feel most of the time? There were, as noted above, five (that's FIVE!) first-half goals, with John Stones heading in the opener. Kane made it two-nil from the spot before Jesse Lingard, who was fouled in the box for the penalty, then made it three-nil with a great bending strike. Stones headed his second after Raheem Sterling had hit the bar, Kane smashed in another penalty and then, early in the second-half, Kane scored a lucky third the ball deflecting in off his heel from a Ruben Loftus-Cheek shot. Felipe Baloy fired in a consolation goal for the Central Americans late in the game and, bless 'em, their supporters went ape-shit! So, everyone was happy. Except the Scots, obviously. They're never happy. This was the first time England had scored four goals in a World Cup match since the 1966 final against Germany and the first time they'd ever scored six. Kane, who now has five goals in the tournament, became the third England player to score a hat-trick in a World Cup, after Geoff Hurst in 1966 and Gary Lineker in 1986. England's opening win over Tunisia contained one serious flaw which needed correcting - namely a lack of ruthlessness and a clinical edge in front of goal. As Panama were totally dismantled, that failing was addressed. Panama, however, are - by a distance - the worst side at this World Cup (and, given that one of the others is Saudi Arabia's Under Elevens, that really is saying something). But, as the old maxim has it, you can only beat (or draw, or get beat by) what's in front of you. In many ways, England's performance in this match was not that dissimilar to the way they played in the first game. The main difference was, by the time they hit the wall and ran out of steam here, they were already five-nil up so it didn't matter really matter. England had actually made a somewhat subdued and sloppy start before The Rolling Stones powered in Kieran Trippier's corner to put them ahead on eight minutes. It was plain sailing from then on. Gareth Southgate's side sparkled in the first-half heat of Nizhny Novgorod, pace and movement mixed with flashes of individual brilliance - such as Lingard's goal - to reduce Panama to an ill-disciplined shambles. When they get it right, England do have the firepower to trouble many teams. They also showed commendable first-half discipline to avoid getting involved in Panama's ham-fisted physical approach, simply letting the inevitable take its course in the hands of the Egyptian referee, Ghead Grisha, who had a very good game and appeared determined to punish penalty-area transgressions. In exactly the way that many of his colleagues in previous games at this tournament - England's last very much included - have seemed reluctant to do. England inevitably eased off with the game - and their place in the last sixteen - already assured and, of course, greater tests will lie ahead. But this was the sort of performance which will do wonders for confidence as the World Cup reaches the knockout stages. And, inevitably, it will also have a few numbskull tabloids gormlessly bellowing that we're now going to win the thing. Time will tell. It usually does.
Quote of the World Cup so far, from Danny Murphy on BBC1 during the England versus Panama game. 'It's always great to score at the World Cup. Especially for your country.' Well, who the bloody Hell else are you going to be scoring for at the World Cup, Dan, Hartlepool? Jeez, once-in-a-generation-mind, that bloke.
Alan Shearer is already a total legend as far as this blogger is concerned for his exploits with Keith Telly Topping's beloved (though unsellable) Magpies, but he went even higher in this blogger's estimation with just two words. In reply to Gary Lineker queuing up a Wimbeldon trailer during half-time at the football with the question 'anyone for tennis?' Shearer gave a simple reply: 'Not really!' You're speakin' for us all, Big Man!
This blogger was recently introduced to Bob Mortimer and Andy Dawson's brain-meltingly brilliant football podcast Athletico Mince. Which, if you're not listening to dear blog reader, you definitely should be. There is a down side, however, as some of the catchphrases from Bob and Andy's sketches tend to get stuck in ones head at the most inappropriate moments. Like during the England game, for example when, after Harry Kane was substituted in the second-half, this blogger found it utterly impossible not to hear the England players whispering among themselves 'don't pass to Vardy!'
It seemed that virtually everyone and their dog was watching the football. Oi, Lewis mate, weren't you supposed to be driving your jam-jar on Sunday afternoon or something?
Meanwhile, if you want to see something really tragic - and yet, utterly hilarious at the same time, here's a video allegedly showing the former England manager - and full-of-his-own-importance fool - Sam Allardyce. Sitting (seemingly, on his own) in a pub, munching on a burger with a geet big gurn on his mush whilst watching the team that he could have been managing at the World Cup beating Panama. And, muttering 'satnfatnbatnratngarethsouthgatedailytelegraphscumbastardssatnfatnbatn ...' Probably. Although, as it turns out, all was not, quite, as it seemed. At least, according to the Sun.
The big winners of the day would appear to have been the BBC - not only did they get one of the largest TV audiences of the year for their coverage of England's game but, drunk on the patriotic euphoria of that, many punters may well have chosen to stick around and watch Japan versus Senegal immediately afterwards on the grounds that we're likely to be playing one of these two in the next round!
England's record-breaking victory over Panama, as it happens, drew an eighty three per cent peak share of the available television audience to BBC1. The match attracted a peak overnight audience of just over fourteen million punters as England secured a place in the last sixteen with their biggest ever win at a World Cup. There were also 2.8m requests (3.05m with on-demand) to stream the match on BBC iPlayer and the BBC Sport website. In terms of comparing the peak share, it was eighty nine per cent for the 2012 Olympic opening ceremony. The other eleven per cent were all round at Morrissey's house watching Emmerdale. Probably.
So, England won the football, at the same time, at Old Trafford, England were also winning the cricket (from what seemed earlier an unwinnable position) and, in France, Lewis won the Grand Prix. This blogger feels strangely conflicted. As great Bill Bailey once noted we're English, we're supposed to crave disappointment and, definitely, not have days like that. Although, inevitably, not everyone was happy. There's always one, isn't there?
The old cliché suggests that one should never - not never - write it. But now, seemingly, we can.
Yes, dear blog reader, almost as unbelievable as it is to write these words, defending world champions Germany have been eliminated from the World Cup and have finished rock bottom of Group F after losing two-nil to South Korea in Kazan. God, it was funny. Express any worry in Germany about how the national team is going to perform at a major tournament and a single-word response usually follows. 'Turniermannschaft,' you will be told. It means, literally, 'tournament team' and the implication is that when the major tournaments come around, Germany always turn up. And, to be fair, they almost always do. After the defeat by South Korea the 'deadly silence in the dressing room' that their coach spoke of later said it all; in Russia, they didn't. Kim Young-Gwon's ninety second-minute goal, awarded after a video assistant referee decision, left four-time winners Germany on the brink of elimination. Then, six minutes into stoppage time, with Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer in possession in the opponents' half, Ju Se-Jong robbed him and launched the ball forward. Son Heung-Min ran from his own half and tapped into an empty net to seal the German's sorry fate. It was the first time since 1938 that a Germany or West Germany side has not advanced beyond the first section of the tournament (although, that excluded the 1950 competition, in which they didn't take part), as Joachim Löw's side crashed and burned in Russia. The last time that had happened to the Germans was at The Battle of Kursk. Oh, hang on, it's probably best not to mention the VAR. Eighty years ago, Germany lost four-two in a replay against Switzerland to go out in the first round of the 1938 World Cup when it was a straight knockout tournament but their 2018 exit was the first time that Germany had ever failed to make it through the group stage at a World Cup in which they have competed. With Sweden winning three-nil against Mexico in the other group game, Germany knew that they had to score in a frantic finish to have any hope of progressing. A win for Germany would have edged Mexico out on goal difference but the drama came at the other end as Kim put the ball into the net. It was initially ruled out for offside, however, the VAR review showed that the ball had deflected into Kim's path off a German player - Toni Kroos - and, therefore, the goal was correctly given. With Germany desperately looking for an equaliser, Neuer joined the attack. But he was caught out as a long ball left Stottingtot Hotshots striker Son with the simple task of walking the ball into the net to spark jubilant celebrations among the Asian side, even though their own elimination had already been confirmed. The Germans will bitterly regret their wastefulness in front of goal when the game was still goalless. South Korea's goalkeeper Cho Hyeon-Woo made a series of fine saves, particularly a one-handed effort from Leon Goretzka's header whilst Timo Werner volleyed wide from near the penalty shot. Mats Hummels headed over the top when unmarked six yards out in the closing stages, before those two late Korean goals. South Korea, despite winning a lot of friends with their open, attractive play, nevertheless went into the match with no points from their opening two games after losing to both Sweden and Mexico. However, they still had a mathematical chance of qualifying for the last sixteen, although they needed Mexico to beat Sweden. South Korea had the first chance when Jung Woo-Young's free-kick was fumbled by Neuer, who punched clear bravely as Son tried to get to the rebound. Son also lashed a volley wide, before being booked in the second-half as referee Mark Geiger adjudged that he had dived in an attempt to win a penalty (subsequent TV replays suggested he had, in fact, be the victim of a foul). Even though the score in Ekaterinburg ended South Korea's hopes of going through, they still sensed the possibility of memorable win over the Germans. The team, fifty seventh in FIFA's world rankings, achieved that victory thanks to the two late goals, both of which were celebrated as if they had qualified themselves. Ahead of the game, Löw had talked repeatedly about the need to protect against counter-attacks. Three measures, he suggested, were necessary: better ball circulation, better counter-pressing and more protection of the space in front of the back four. To achieve the first two objectives, Löw brought back into the side the out of form Mesut Özil in place of Julian Draxler. The Arse playmaker took up some good positions between the lines but had more impact defensively, combining well with Marco Reus and Timo Werner to win the ball in dangerous positions for Germany. Leon Goretzka, a surprise addition on the right, where Thomas Müller usually roams, had the task of supporting right-back Joshua Kimmich against the threat of Son Heung-Min while box-to-box specialist Sami Khedira was reinstalled behind Toni Kroos as a somewhat reluctant holding midfielder. The partial success of these changes - Niklas Sule replaced the suspended Jérôme Boateng - in Germany's play against the ball was, unfortunately, offset by a severe lack of fluidity when they actually had hold of it. Khedira's limited range of passing and lack of pace hurt the holders' approach play. They often seemed caught in two minds: should they try to hit runners early or keep the ball in the oppressive heat with a view to exhaust the South Koreans? The ensuing uninspiring mishmash was summed up a few minutes before half-time when Goretzka took the ball from a deep position and started running down the channel all by himself, until his path was blocked by a red shirt. Shin Tae-Yong's team felt it more difficult to keep up the tempo in the second-half and, inevitably, dropped deeper. Germany's game in possession became a little more composed as a result, but a header from Goretzka and a skewed volley from Werner aside, chances were still at a premium. The Leipzig man did not lead the line effectively and was much happier when moved out to the right when Mario Gómez arrived on the hour mark. The introduction of the Stuttgart striker could be seen as an admission that Löw's system wasn't working. A further substitution saw Müller - so horribly disappointing in the previous two games - on for Goretzka. In a tournament that saw Germany create little from set pieces - Kroos' wonder-strike against Sweden apart - the inability to produce pretty much anything from open play either was, ultimately, their downfall. Germany are the fourth defending champions to be eliminated from the Group Stage at the World Cup in the last five tournaments (after France in 2002, Italy in 2010 and Spain in 2014). Since the 2010 tournament, Germany have lost both of their World Cup matches in which Müller has not started (they also lost to Spain in the 2010 semi-final).
Of course, the reaction in the German media to this was far more measured and dignified than the sort of nonsense which usually goes on in England whenever we get knocked out of a major tournament. Wasn't it?
More unexpectedly, perhaps, there was some sympathy and understanding from the British tabloid press. No, actually, that's a complete lie, there wasn't. There was, however, the first recorded instance of the Sun using a word with four syllables on its front page, so credit where it's due.
And, it was nice to see that the Brazilians have seemingly managed to get over the Germans beating them seven-one in 2014 in an impressively adult way.
The former - really not very good - Moscow Chelski FC and Stottingtot Hotshots defender Jason Cundy has snivellingly apologised after his ludicrous claim, broadcast on national television, that female football commentators voices are 'too high-pitched.' The, hopefully soon-to-be-former, TalkSport presenter offered up his - utterly and completely worthless - opinions on ITV's Good Morning Britain, before being labelled 'a sexist pig' by the show's co-host, that oily odious twat Piers Morgan. Jesus, dear blog reader, it has come to a pretty sorry state of affairs when one is actually forced to agree with something Piers Morgan has said. Shame on you for that, Jason Cundy, shame and double shame. And, you were a crap footballer as well so what the Hell right you have to be passing comment on The World Cup is another question entirely. This blogger's former BBC Newcastle colleague Vicki Sparks became the first female commentator for a BBC TV World Cup match when she presented Portugal's Group B clash against Morocco from Moscow last Wednesday. However, Cundy was, seemingly, not a fan and told the programme: 'I found it a tough listen. I prefer to hear a male voice. For ninety minutes listening to a high-pitched tone isn't what I want to hear. When there's a moment of drama, which there often is in football, I think that moment needs to be done with a slightly lower voice.' The ITV reporter and presenter Jacqui Oatley responded on Twitter: 'Frustrating that this "female commentator" debate is still such an issue, eleven years after my first Match Of The Day game and eight years after I did seven live World Cup commentaries on 5Live. Voice/style preference is always subjective - to say it "shouldn't be allowed' says more about the critic.' As does the fact that Cundy never even got close to winning an England cap or playing at the level he's now supposed to be an expert on. Cundy subsequently insisted that he was not 'questioning the expertise or otherwise' of female presenters - oh no, very hot water - adding: 'It's nothing to do with her insight, the way she delivers it or her knowledge or her ability to do the job - it's the voice.' On Monday night he went further and offered an apology via Twitter. He wrote: 'I want to sincerely apologise for the comments I made on Good Morning Britain. I came away realising just how foolish and out of order they were and how I deserved the backlash I have received. There are times when you have to hold your hands up and admit you are wrong and have been an idiot - and this is definitely one of those times. I regret the comments and also the hurt and anger they caused. I realise there is absolutely no place for these demeaning attitudes towards female commentators and I'm truly sorry.' One or two people even believed him.
Jos Buttler hit the fastest Twenty20 international half-century by an England batsman to propel the home side to a thrilling twenty eight-run win over Australia. Buttler, promoted to open, reached fifty from twenty two balls at Edgbaston on Wednesday evening. He ended with sixty one and, along with a rapid-fire forty nine from Alex Hales and Jason Roy's forty four, helped England to two hundred and twenty one for five, their second-highest international T20 total. Though Aaron Finch hammered eighty four from forty one balls, Australia were bowled out for one hundred and ninety three, with Adil Rashid claiming three for twenty seven. It completed an utterly miserable tour for Australia, their first trip to England since the South African ball-tampering scandal, in which they suffering a pants-down five-nil hiding in the one-day series. England play the first of three T20 internationals against India at Old Trafford next Tuesday. Buttler's stellar performances across three formats of the game, which began with five successive half-centuries opening the batting in the Indian Premier League, resulted in a push to the top of the order for England's T20 side. If his match-winning century in the fifth ODI on Sunday was a mature and measured performance, this innings on a run-filled Edgbaston pitch was Buttler back to his customary brutal hitting and cute invention. He opened his shoulders by smashing debutant leg-spinner Mitchell Swepson for a straight six and, in the next over, took eighteen runs from four Kane Richardson deliveries. No bowler was safe - left-arm spinner Ashton Agar was heaved over mid-wicket and paceman Billy Stanlake slapped over the extra cover rope. When Stanlake was scooped for four, Buttler had beaten the twenty three-ball half-century made by Ravi Bopara against Australia in 2014 and the assault only stopped when he dragged Swepson to D'Arcy Short at deep mid-wicket. On a sun-kissed evening at a rocking Edgbaston, Australia captain Finch gave away the chance to bat first and saw his team suffer bigly from then on. Previously on this tour, they had been given few reminders of the ball-tampering controversy, but Edgbaston is perhaps the most partisan of England's home venues. Throughout, Australia endured songs that claimed they are 'always cheating' - even when something as innocuous as an unsuccessful appeal for a run-out occurred. Nothing, except an impressive spell from the slippery Swepson and Finch's hitting, went right for the visitors. Richardson's plight typified their evening. He dropped a really simple chance at long-off when Roy was on twenty seven, his nought for fifty nine in his four overs is the second-most expensive return by an Australia bowler in T20 history and, later, he was dismissed by the first ball he faced. The reprieved Roy freed his arms at every possible opportunity, Hales mixed power with deft touches and Joe Root recovered from a slow start to make a classy thirty five. Australia dragged it back late on, but by the time Jonny Bairstow spanked Andrew Tye's final ball of the innings for six over long on, Edgbaston resembled a rock concert. Destructive opener Finch's one hundred and fifty six at Southampton in 2013 is still the highest score in T20 internationals. Here, he saw his team-mates once again struggle against spin - Rashid and Moeen Ali combined to take three wickets for eight runs in the space of nine balls to reduce Australia to seventy two for five. By the end of the ninth over, Finch had faced only nineteen balls and Australia needed one hundred and forty nine runs. Finch, now with Agar for company, exploded into life. Targeting the leg side, he dished out some devastating treatment to Moeen in particular. The off-spinner's final two overs cost forty one runs, only six of which were hit by Agar. Still, the required rate did not get below thirteen runs per over and Finch perished trying to continue the charge, miscuing the dependable leg-spin of Rashid to Chris Jordan at long-on. Australia's slim hopes departed with their skipper. The Edgbaston crowd, briefly concerned, returned to revelling in raucous versions of 'Sweet Caroline', Tom Hark' and 'Three Lions' as the tourists lost their last five wickets for thirty five runs.
EastEnders is to broadcast an episode featuring 'accounts from relatives of real-life victims of knife crime.' It is part of the soap's ongoing knife-crime storyline, which saw character Shakil Kazemi stabbed and killed by a gang in an episode in May. The 'true stories' will be incorporated into an episode next month centring around the funeral of Shakil.The accounts will be told by the relatives themselves in what is a first for the soap. The knife-crime storyline was written to mark the tenth anniversary of the death of former cast member Brooke Kinsella's brother. EastEnders executive consultant John Yorke said that the need to include the real-life stories became 'apparent' when the show's researchers spoke to the families about the challenging storyline. Yorke said: 'From the very beginning we were determined to treat the difficult subject of knife crime in a responsible, non-sensationalist way. We started out with detailed research, and the more stories we heard, the more we felt other people should hear them too. The episode gradually evolved into something unique for EastEnders - real families telling their own devastating stories alongside our own characters. We've tried to find a way to do justice to an incredibly difficult, tragic and emotive subject,' he added. In the episode, to be shown in July, viewers will see Shakil's funeral interspersed with cutaways of the relatives talking about their real-life experiences. At least forty six people have been fatally stabbed in London this year, with almost thirteen hundred stabbings in the capital in total up to the end of April, according to statistics from the Metropolitan Police. In addition to the EastEnders special, BBC Three will be producing a series of short films that will reveal more about the lives of the families involved in the episode.
ABC has ordered a spin-off to Roseanne, although obviously without the involvement of its creator Roseanne Barr whose career is now, effectively, cattle-trucked. The original writers, producers and cast members will be involved in the new show, given the working title The Conners. Barr will not receive any payment for the series, ABC said. The network extremely cancelled Roseanne in May, immediately after Barr posted a sick racist tweet. Later attempting to blame the sedative pill Ambien for her hateful words, Barr likened a former aide of President Barack Obama to an ape. A vocal supporter of President - and hairdo - Donald Trump, Barr received support from The White House during the ensuing scandal, not that it did her much good as her ass remaining well-and-truly sacked. The Conners will start in the autumn and is expected to have Roseanne's daughter, Darlene, played by Sara Gilbert, as the main protagonist. Aside from Gilbert, core cast members John Goodman, Laurie Metcalf, Lecy Goranson and Michael Fishman will also appear in the ten-episode series. In a joint statement the five said that their characters 'not only have a place in our hearts, but in the hearts and homes of our audience. We are so happy to have the opportunity to return with the cast and crew to continue to share those stories through love and laughter.' For her part, Barr expressed 'regret' for her removal, saying in a statement that she 'agreed' to a settlement with ABC 'in order that two hundred jobs of beloved cast and crew could be saved' and 'wished the best' for all involved. It is not yet known how the writers of The Conners will address the disappearance of the former lead character - although an embarrassing off-screen death cannot be ruled out. Falling into a slurry-pit and drowning in her own filth, that sort of thing. Meanwhile, Barr claims that she 'regrets' making herself 'a hate magnet' after tweeting the racist comment. In a tearful podcast interview with her friend, Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, she claimed that she 'never would have wittingly called any black person a monkey.' Barr sparked an online backlash after she compared the former White House advisor Valerie Jarrett to the child of the Islamist group the Muslim Brotherhood and the Planet of the Apes film. 'I said to God: "I am willing to accept whatever consequences this brings because I know I've done wrong. I'm going to accept what the consequences are." And I do, and I have,' she claimed in the interview. One or two people even believed her. 'But they don't ever stop. They don't accept my apology, or explanation. And I've made myself a hate magnet. And as a Jew, it's just horrible,' she whinged. She said of her tweet that she 'didn't mean what they think I meant. But I have to face that it hurt people. When you hurt people, even unwillingly, there's no excuse. I don't want to run off and blather on with excuses. But I apologise to anyone who thought, or felt offended and who thought that I meant something that I, in fact, did not mean. It was my own ignorance, and there's no excuse for that ignorance.' And, if you go on Google and look up 'non-apology apology' you'll find that one pretty close to the top of the list. 'I've lost everything,' she said on the podcast. 'And I regretted it before I lost everything.' But, she regretted it more after she lost everything, one imagines.
HBO's website has been blocked in China after censors on Chinese social media platform Weibo banned mentions of the very excellent John Oliver following the British comedian's parody of Chinese president Xi Jinping. According to the anti-censorship and monitoring group, HBO's website was 'completely blocked' within China as of Saturday, days after media reports emerged that Weibo had censored new posts mentioning Oliver or his HBO show Last Week Tonight. After a wide-ranging twenty-minute segment 17 June in which Oliver called Xi 'the creepy uncle who imprisons eight hundred thousand people in his basement,' the Twitter-like service blocked new posts related to Oliver as well as searches for the show's Chinese name, Shangzhou jinye xiu. Attempts to access HBO's website from within China were unsuccessful on Monday. The website for HBO Asia, a Singapore-based broadcast network that airs HBO content in China through Dingjijuchang, a Tencent TV subscription service, also appeared to be blocked. The subscription does not include all HBO shows. His segment on Xi could not be found on Chinese streaming sites where other episodes of Last Week Tonight have been uploaded by individual users. Youtube, which hosts clips of the show, has long been blocked in China. Any blocking of HBO's website in China is not likely to have a huge impact. Access to HBO's often salacious content has always been spotty in China, with Chinese broadcasters heavily censoring shows like Game Of Thrones. Most Chinese users watch HBO through virtual private networks. In the show, Oliver made fun of the Chinese president's apparent sensitivity over comparisons of his figure with that of Winnie The Pooh. Images of the AA Milne character, used to mock Xi, have also been censored in China. 'If your face even remotely resembles that of a beloved cartoon character, the smart move here is to lean in,' Oliver said, showing an image of his own face next to that of The Lion King's Zazu, a red-billed hornbill. Oliver also took a serious tone in the show, criticising Xi for the removal of term limits from the Chinese constitution, the use of political re-education camps in the Muslim province of Xinjiang and a crackdown on civil society. Oliver noted the continued house arrest of Liu Xia, wife of Chinese dissident and nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo who died last year while serving an eleven-year prison sentence. 'While China has never been known as a haven for free expression, [Xi] has clamped down noticeably on any form of dissent whatsoever,' Oliver said. And, one imagines that reporting all of this malarkey is likely to lead to From The North's three regular Chinese dear blog readers being unable to access this blog. So, it's nice for this blogger to find himself in good company. For once.
The 'safety operator' of a self-driving Uber car was 'watching TV' just before the vehicle was involved in a fatal collision, a police report has revealed. The Uber struck and killed pedestrian Elaine Herzberg of Tempe, Arizona in March. The police report suggests that the car's 'driver' was streaming an episode of The Voice rather than monitoring the car's progress. It suggests she could face charges of vehicle manslaughter. And, further charges of watching a crap TV show instead of something more worthwhile. The Tempe police report said that the crash was 'entirely avoidable' if the Uber operator, Rafaela Vasquez, had been watching the road whilst the car was operating autonomously. County prosecutors have received a copy of the police report, which was released on 21 June following a freedom of information request. In its experiments with driverless cars, Uber has mandated that a human operator 'pays attention at all times' so they can take over 'in difficult situations' or 'when the vehicle encounters a situation it does not know how to handle.' Like when it's about to crash into someone. Vasquez looked up from her phone screen about half-a-second before the crash, the report suggested, but had been concentrating on her phone for about five seconds previously. At the time, the driverless Volvo car was travelling at forty four miles per hour. In a statement, Uber said that it was 'co-operating fully' with the 'continuing investigations' whilst it did its own internal safety review. It added: 'We have a strict policy prohibiting mobile device usage for anyone operating our self-driving vehicles. We plan to share more on the changes we'll make to our program soon.' The Tempe police report comes less than a month after a preliminary investigation into the crash was released by the US National Transportation Safety Board. This revealed that the Uber car had 'about six seconds' to react after spotting Herzberg crossing the road in the dark ahead of it. The car 'failed' to identify Herzberg as a pedestrian, it found and took 'no action to avoid hitting her' nor 'did it perform an emergency stop.'
Heather Locklear has been arrested for battery against a police officer and ambulance worker, the Ventura County Sheriff's Office says. According to the TMZ website, Locklear launched her attack 'while intoxicated on Sunday night' after her family called nine-one-one. The fifty six-year-old former actress, who rose to fame in the 1980s TV show Dynasty, is currently being held in The Big House on twenty thousand bucks bail. It comes just days after she was released from hospital following a three-day psychiatric evaluation. The actress' behaviour has sparked concern over recent months amid numerous run-ins with authorities. In April, she pleaded not guilty to similar counts of battery against a sheriff's officer, after being very arrested in February. At that time, she was also apprehended on charges of domestic violence - but those were later dropped. The actress had a previous brush with the authorities in 2008, when she was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of prescription medication. She was fined nine hundred dollars and sentenced to three years' informal probation after pleading guilty to reckless driving. Additionally, Locklear and her ex-fiance Jack Wagner were ordered to appear in court in 2012 after a violent fight with kids gettin' sparked and aal sorts. Locklear, who was previously married to Bon Jovi guitarist Richie Sambora, followed her breakthrough role as Sammy Jo Carrington in Dynasty by starring in Melrose Place. She later appeared on TJ Hooker and the sitcom Spin City, for which she was twice nominated for a Golden Globe.
Netflix has extremely fired the ass of its head of communications over his use of 'the N-word.' And, the N-word in question was not nincompoop. Although it probably should have been. In an internal memo, Chief Executive Reed Hastings grovellingly apologised to staff for 'not acting sooner.' He said the comments showed 'a deep lack of understanding.' No shit? Jonathan Friedland wrote in a tweet: 'I feel awful about the distress this lapse caused to people at a company I love.' He had been at the video streaming firm since 2011. 'Leaders have to be beyond reproach in the example we set and unfortunately I fell short of that standard when I was insensitive in speaking to my team about words that offend in comedy,' he said. 'His descriptive use of the N-word on at least two occasions at work showed unacceptably low racial awareness and sensitivity,' Hastings' memo to staff read. Hastings detailed two instances when Friedland was said to have used the grossly offensive term. The first was at a meeting with the public relations team to discuss sensitive words. 'Several people afterwards told him how inappropriate and hurtful his use of the N-word was and Jonathan apologised to those that had been in the meeting,' Hastings wrote. 'We hoped this was an awful anomaly never to be repeated.' However, a few days later the term was used again - this time at a meeting of black employees at the company. Hastings claimed that he had 'only recently' heard about the second incident. He went on to praise Friedland’s contribution to the company. 'Jonathan has been a great contributor and he built a diverse global team creating awareness for Netflix, strengthening our reputation around the world and helping make us into the successful company we are today. Many of us have worked closely with Jonathan for a long time and have mixed emotions. Unfortunately, his lack of judgement in this area was too big for him to remain.'
Sir Ray Davies has told those risible Middle Class hippy Communists at Channel Four News that The Kinks are 'getting back together' to make a new record. But only, after they've had a pint. Ray said that he was 'inspired by The Rolling Stones. I've got all these songs that I wrote for the band when we, not broke up, parted company and I think it's kind of an appropriate time to do it,' he said. Sir Ray and his brother, Dave, had a famously fractious relationship and the band split more than twenty years ago although they have, recently, performed together on stage on occasions. Ray, who took a call from the band's drummer Mick Ivory during the interview, said that he could confirm 'The Kinks are getting back together. In the pub at least.'
Sir Barry Gibb paid tribute to his late brothers as he collected his knighthood on Tuesday. Barry is the last surviving member of The Bee Gees after the death of Maurice - following a bowel operation in 2003 - and his twin Robin - in 2012 from cancer. 'If it was not for my brothers, I would not be here. If I had spent my whole life writing songs on my own, it would have meant something else altogether. I hope and pray they are aware of what's happened,' said Sir Barry. The seventy one-year-old said there is 'no question' he would have loved to have shared this special day with his brothers. The singer, songwriter and producer was honoured for his services to music and charity.
A Florida woman accused of shooting her husband in the testicles is back in jail after failing to show up to court, WJAX reports. Police said that Kimberly Dunn 'lost her cool' when her husband and his brother came to her Lake City home last year to pick up an air conditioning unit she was trying to sell on Facebook. The couple was going through a - seemingly, rather bitter - divorce at the time. According to the report, Dunn sat on the unit to prevent the two men from taking it. When her husband tried to get her off the A/C, she tried to fend him off with a stun gun, then fired a round at her now ex-husband's plums using a handgun. Her husband's brother 'was able to restrain Dunn and take his brother to the hospital.' Police said that her husband picked up the gun and brought it with him to the hospital. Dunn was duly arrested and 'booked into the Columbia County Jail without incident.' She later told investigators that she did not intend to shoot her husband in the knackers, she only 'wanted to scare him.' On Thursday, Dunn was jailed for failing to show up to court and now faces an additional charge of contempt of court.
The government has abandoned plans for five community prisons for women in England and Wales. Instead, the Ministry of Justice will trial five residential centres to 'help' offenders with 'issues' such as finding work and drug rehabilitation. Justice Secretary David Gauke said that short custodial sentences for bad lasses had failed to halt 'the cycle of offending.' Peter Dawson, director of the Prison Reform Trust, said 'thousands' of women would 'benefit' from the change. He described the strategy as a 'welcome recognition of the futility of short prison sentences' for women whose offending is often 'driven by unmet mental health needs.' In the foreword to the strategy published on Wednesday, Gauke said seventy per cent of women and sixty three per cent of men released from custody between April and June 2016 after a sentence of less than a year went on to re-offend within twelve months. Gauke added there was 'persuasive evidence' that the new approach would 'help reduce' re-offending rates. He said that mothers at the trial residential centres 'might' be able to have their children with them. The government has pledged to spend five million smackers over two years on 'community provision' for women. The Association of Police and Crime Commissioners has welcomed the change in strategy. But Dame Vera Baird QC, representing the APCC, warned the scheme would only work if properly funded and questioned the MoJ's decision to hand fifty million notes - originally earmarked for the prisons - back to the Treasury. Frances Crook, chief executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, said ministers deserved 'real praise' for the change in approach but - like the APCC - warned it was 'essential that programme is properly funded.
More than thirty homes have been evacuated as a huge moorland fire continues to spread in Greater Manchester. The blaze on Saddleworth Moor has been declared 'a major incident' and the Army is on standby to step in. Incase anyone needs shooting, obviously. The fire began on Sunday night, reignited on Monday during the unseasonally hot weather and then spread throughout Tuesday, fanned by evening winds. Thirty-four homes in Carrbrook, near Stalybridge, were evacuated but there are no reported injuries. Anthony Leach, who lives there, said the smell of smoke is 'in every room. It's like you could almost smoke mackerel in there,' he added. Great Manchester Fire and Recue Service confirmed the blaze was spreading, with smoke and flames 'seen for miles.' The blaze, on tinder-dry hills, has been raging for days despite efforts to halt it. Firefighter Ricky Case, who has been out on the hills, said: 'It's just the sheer vastness of it. It's one of the biggest ones I've been on in a long time. The logistics of it all, trying to get water to the locations where we need it.'GMFRS group manager for Tameside, Phil Nelson, added: 'Crews are still tackling this difficult fire and are working hard to contain the blaze and prevent further fire spread. Firefighters are faced with very difficult circumstances, intense heat and are working on challenging terrain. Our main considerations are for crew welfare. It is physically draining working at this incident and it is vital that our firefighters have regular breaks and that relief crews are available to take over.' On Tuesday night, GMP said more than thirty homes in Carr Rise, Carr Lane and Calico Crescent were being evacuated due to the proximity of the flames. Reverend Chris Finney has opened his church, St James' in Millbrook, to anyone who needs it. 'I'm about a mile away from Calico Crescent. I've lived in this area all my life and I think I can say that within my memory - and I'm in my sixties - I've not seen fires on the moors to the extent that we're looking at them at the moment,' he said. Tameside councillor Clive Patrick added: 'It's terrifying. I've never seen it as bad as this. I've been here now thirty years and this is the worst I've seen.' The Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, thanked fire crews after firefighters from across Greater Manchester, Lancashire and Derbyshire spent much of Tuesday tackling the fire.
Food wholesaler Booker is reported to be rationing beer and cider - during a heatwave and the World Cup - because of a shortage of CO2 used in carbonated drinks. The Tesco-owned retailer, which is used by bars, restaurants and traders, is capping customers to ten cases of beer and five of cider or soft drinks. It is more evidence that a scarcity of CO2 is hurting the food and drink sectors and comes after Heineken and Coca-Cola faced similar disruption. Scotland's biggest abattoir has halted operations because of the gas shortage. Quality Pork Limited, based at Brechin, which puts six thousand pigs a week through its production line, stopped operations on Tuesday afternoon because it ran out of CO2 used to 'stun' the animals before slaughter. QPL plans to send about one thousand pigs to another plant near Manchester this week, but operators say other abattoirs also face a carbon dioxide shortage. Booker said in a statement: 'Due to the international shortage of CO2, we are experiencing some supply issues on soft drinks and beer. We are currently working hard with our suppliers to minimise the impact for our customers and cannot comment further at this stage.' CO2 producers in the UK and mainland Europe have scaled back operations for maintenance, causing a shortage of the gas, whose many uses include improving the shelf life of packaged food and creating dry ice to keep products cool during transport. Heineken said its John Smith's Extra Smooth and Amstel brands had been hit, while Coca-Cola Great Britain said production had been interrupted until fresh CO2 supplies arrived. 'We are currently responding to an industry-wide issue that is impacting the supply of CO2 in the UK. Our focus is on limiting the effect this may have on the availability of our products,' Coca-Cola said. Small UK bottling firms have also been hit. In the West Midlands, Holden's, which has eighty customers, shut down last Friday until further notice. 'I'm left with people sitting around doing nothing,' said operations director Mark Hammond. Morrisons said that 'some' frozen products had been affected by the shortage and it aimed to resume selling its full online range 'as soon as possible.' The food and drink industry hopes that supplies will begin returning to normal in early July, although trade bodies have complained about a lack of communication from CO2 suppliers. Andy McGowan, chief executive of Scottish Pig Producers, a co-operative that runs the Brechin abattoir in collaboration with QPL, said he 'did not know' when they would get a fresh CO2 delivery from their supplier. 'That's the frustrating thing - they're not telling us anything. We're pretty dismayed. The top priority is animal welfare - we will not have ourselves in a situation where the welfare is suffering,' he said. Poultry slaughterhouses have already called for priority supplies of dwindling CO2 stocks, saying the current shortage could have a "potentially huge effect" on British food production. But, that call for the food industry to be 'given priority' has 'raised fears among drinks firms' and smaller businesses that they will be at the back of the queue when gas supplies start to return to normal.
The UK has been enjoying - or enduring - another hottest day of the year, with a health warning for heatwave conditions in place for some. Tuesday saw a top temperature of 30.6C in Porthmadog - beating Monday's peak of 30.1C in West London. The warning, issued by the Met Office, says there is an eighty per cent chance of temperatures being a risk to health. The hot weather is expected to last until the weekend, when temperatures are forecast to slowly drop off. The health warning, for the South-West, North-West and North-East of England and the West Midlands, lasts until Thursday evening. It is intended to 'help social and healthcare teams prepare for the potential dangers a heatwave can present,' especially to the very young, the elderly or those with chronic disease. There is also bad news for hay-fever sufferers as 'very high levels' of pollen are forecast across England, Wales and Northern Ireland throughout the week. Some schools have said that they are cancelling sports days because of 'the extreme heat.' In England, the hottest spot on Tuesday was Rostherne in Cheshire, with a temperature of 30.3C. Aviemore recorded Scotland's peak, with 26C, while Castlederg in County Tyrone was Northern Ireland's high point, with 27C. The Met Office says the UK could reach 33C on Thursday. But the temperature is expected to fall short of the British record for June of 35.6C, reached in London in 1957 and again in Southampton in 1976 (whilst this blogger was on holiday nearby ... in a darkened room suffering from bronchitis). The heat will continue until the weekend, with cooler weather in Eastern areas and the chance of a shower on Sunday. The heatwave has been attributed to the jet stream looping to the North of the UK and then back down to Eastern Europe, creating an area of high pressure over the country which is not shifting. However, for Greece, the direction of the jet stream has produced very stormy conditions. Fears that railway tracks could buckle in the heat prompted Network Rail to introduce speed restrictions. The railway infrastructure operator said track temperatures could reach as much as 20C above the air temperature, meaning the steel rails can 'expand markedly.' The reduced speeds are intended to lower the force exerted on the track, reducing the risk of buckling. Meanwhile, police have urged people to 'be careful' of the temptation to swim in open water in the hot weather. The warning came after the body of a man was recovered from a lake in Nutfield on Monday. The RNLI has urged those heading to the seaside to 'seek out beaches with a lifeguard.' And St John Ambulance is urging people to 'avoid heatstroke by remembering to wear suncream,' keep covered up and 'stay hydrated.' And, also, not to rub their face in a pile of dogshit as that's not very healthy either. In York, police officers smashed the windows of two cars to rescue dogs 'struggling to breathe' inside. Police said tht they had referred the car owners to the RSPCA for prosecution. Homeless people can also be vulnerable if exposed to strong sunshine and heat while sleeping rough, the housing and support charity Evolve said. It called on the public to donate 'things' like suncream, water and sun hats to homeless people either directly, or through a shelter or charity.
A rare phenomenon called a 'sun pillar' was captured by Weather Watchers on Sunday evening.
Harlan Ellison, the prolific, pugnacious, award-winning author of countless stories which cast a caustic eye on society with their nightmarish, sometimes darkly humorous futurist scenarios, has died at the age of eighty four. In his career, Ellison wrote over eighteen hundred short stories, screenplays, novellas, essays, critiques and teleplays, winning eight Hugo awards. His wife, Susan, confirmed the news via her friend Christina Valada on Twitter. 'Susan Ellison has asked me to announce the passing of writer Harlan Ellison, in his sleep, earlier today,' she wrote. Ellison's most notable work includes the 1969 short story A Boy & His Dog, which was later made into a film starring Don Johnson and the memorable Star Trek episode The City On The Edge Of Forever. He was also the editor of the cult SF anthologies Dangerous Visions and its sequel, Again Dangerous Visions.
Born into a Jewish family in Ohio in 1934, Ellison frequently ran away from home as a child taking, he later claimed, a bewildering array of jobs - including, by the age of eighteen, 'tuna fisherman off the coast of Galveston, itinerant crop-picker down in New Orleans, hired gun for a wealthy neurotic, nitroglycerine truck driver in North Carolina, short-order cook, cab driver, lithographer, book salesman, floorwalker in a department store, door-to-door brush salesman and as an actor in several productions at the Cleveland Play House.' Harlan attended Ohio State University for eighteen months before being expelled. He later claimed that the expulsion was for hitting a professor who had denigrated his writing ability. Over the next twenty or so years he, allegedly, sent that professor a copy of every single story he had published. Ellison was first published as a teenager - two stories of his appeared in the Cleveland News in 1949 and he also sold scripts to EC Comics in the early 1950s. He moved to New York City in 1955 to pursue his writing career, primarily in science fiction. Over the next two years, he published more than one hundred short stories and articles. He married Charlotte Stein in 1956, but they divorced four years later. He said of the marriage, it was 'four years of Hell as sustained as the whine of a generator.' Ellison served in the army from 1957 to 1959, an experience which he found extremely distasteful. 'Being in the army is like being in prison,' he told the Gruniad in 2013. 'You are not your own person. You are constrained twenty four-seven. You are told what to do. They keep you in your place. You are not allowed to have an awful lot of self-respect, or pride of place, or pride of self.'
He continued to sell writings to magazines and, after moving to California in 1962, gained a job with Disney but was, hilariously, fired after one day when he was allegedly overheard - by Roy Disney himself - joking about making a porn movie with Disney characters. Ellison's 1965 story "Repent, Harlequin!" Said The Ticktockman” earned him his first Hugo and Nebula Awards, depicting a dystopian future in which time is strictly planned out: being late is a crime, the punishment for which is having time taken off one's life. Ellison would later threaten to sue New Regency and director Andrew Niccol over their 2011 film In Time, which he felt featured a similar premise, only to dismiss the action after he watched the film. 1968's I Have No Mouth & I Must Scream also earned him a Hugo, depicting an apocalyptic world in which machines wage war, kill off nearly all of humanity and torture the survivors with sadistic games. He adapted the story into a computer game in 1995. Ellison was also known for his work as an editor, publishing Dangerous Visions in 1967. Aided with a generous loan from Ringworld author Larry Niven, he assembled the landmark anthology, which included stories by some of the genre's best authors - Brian Aldiss, Philip K Dick, Theodore Sturgeon, Roger Zelazny, Samuel Delany and others. Dangerous Visions has been hailed as a defining touchstone of science-fiction's New Wave movement. He wrote the 1966 big screen drama The Oscar and sold scripts for episodes of TV shows including The Loretta Young Show (using the pseudonym Harlan Ellis), The Flying Nun, Route 66, Cimarron Strip, The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, The Man From U.N.C.L.E. and The Outer Limits (two of the most remarkable episodes of the anthology series - Soldier and Demon With A Glass Hand). His Star Trek episode was a bone of contention, despite its reputation among fandom as one of - if not the - finest episode of the popular series when the show's creator Gene Roddenberry insisted on rewrites.
In 2009, Ellison sued CBS seeking revenue from merchandising related to the episode. The case was eventually settled out of court. Notoriously litigious in protecting his own work, Harlan was also involved in a lawsuit against Orion Pictures after claiming that The Terminator drew upon ideas from The Outer Limits episodes he wrote (most notably, the central concept of Soldier). This was also settled out of court and a credit to the movie was added acknowledging the influence of his work. The director James Cameron was, reportedly, outraged by this feeling that Ellison's claims had been nothing more than a 'nuisance suit.' Some years later, Ellison was asked what he thought of the movie by a reporter no doubt expecting a trademark tirade of abuse. Instead, Harlan said he thought it was 'very good.' He also filed a lawsuit against ABC and Paramount claiming that the TV series Future Cop was based on a story of his, winning over three hundred thousand smackers in the resulting judgement. 'I think any writer who gives away his work demeans himself, demeans the craft, demeans the art and demeans the buyer,' he said. 'It is not only caveat emptor, it is caveat lector. I don't mean to be crude when I say this, but I won't take a piss unless I'm paid properly.' His other works included the novels The Man With Nine Lives, Spider Kiss, The Starlost: Phoenix Without Ashes and All The Lies That Are My Life and the short story collections A Touch Of Infinity, Sex Gang, Gentleman Junkie & Other Stories Of The Hung-Up Generation, Love Ain't Nothing But Sex Misspelled, No Doors No Windows, Strange Wine, Shatterday, Stalking The Nightmare, Slippage, Rough Beasts and The Top Of The Volcano among many others.
      An erudite, voluble and often contrary man - for whom the term 'he didn't suffer fools gladly' could have been specifically designed - Ellison was a regular on talk-shows, the SF convention circuit, in DVD commentary and even pounding away on a typewriter as part of live events at bookstores, where he wrote new stories on the spot. He was known for a sometimes fierce temper and was perhaps as widely disliked as liked, even among some of his best friends. 'I go to bed angry and I get up angrier every morning,' he once famously said. Ellison had a reputation for being abrasive and argumentative though, self-deprecatingly, he broadly agreed with this assessment and played up to it - a dust jacket from one of his books described him as 'possibly the most contentious person on Earth.' Shortly after the release of Star Wars, Ben Roberts contacted Ellison to develop a movie script based on Isaac Asimov's I, Robot for Warner Bros. In a meeting with the Head of Production at Warners, Robert Shapiro, Ellison concluded - rightly - that Shapiro was commenting on the script without having actually read it and accused him of having 'the intellectual and cranial capacity of an artichoke.' There is a similar story about a meeting with Gene Roddenbury and a Paramount executive during the planning stages of Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Ellison had outlined a story idea for the film, a brilliantly high-concept plot involving a snake-like alien race tampering with Earth's history which included the moral dilemma of the Enterprise crew agonising over whether to kill off the reptilians in Earth's prehistory simply to maintain humanity's dominance. The executive made a suggested addition involving the Mayans which Ellison found ludicrous. 'I'm a writer,' he reportedly said, 'I don't know what the fuck you are!' and he promptly flounced out of the room in high-dudgeon, ending his association with the project there and then. In 1985 Ellison allegedly assaulted the author and critic Charles Platt at a Nebula Awards banquet. Platt did not pursue legal action and the two men later signed 'a non-aggression pact,' promising never to discuss the incident again nor to have any contact with one another. Platt, however, claims that Ellison 'often publicly boasted' about the incident in later years. One of Ellison's best-known rants appeared as part of his biographical film Dreams With Sharp Teeth, in which he alleged that media companies will pay every professional in the chain of production for their work, but seem to expect free services from writers.
       Ellison once reportedly mailed over two hundred bricks to a publisher who was refusing to pay him for his work and also there is the much-told story of the time he sent a gopher which he had shot in his garden to another truculent publisher. The veracity of the story was confirmed to this blogger by the author Neil Gaiman, a close friend of Ellison, who said that he had actually met the unfortunate mailman who was fired by the publisher for delivering the dead gopher! 'As Spider-Man says: "With great power comes great responsibility,"' Ellison told Writer's Digest in 2004. 'In my case, with fearlessness comes great stupidity. I'm just not afraid of things. There's nothing anybody could do to me that would make me afraid.'
He was, however, someone who really cared about the things he felt mattered in life. In the 1960s and 1970s, Ellison championed opposition to the Viet'nam War and various other liberal causes. In 1965, he participated in the Selma-to-Montgomery marches led by Martin Luther King, of whom Ellison was a loyal supporter. The following year, in an article which Esquire magazine would later name as the best piece they had ever published, the journalist Gay Talese wrote Frank Sinatra Has A Cold which briefly described a clash between the young Ellison and Sinatra, when the singer reportedly 'took exception' to Ellison's boots during a pool game. Among Harlan's other notorious exploits were researching his first novel, Web Of The City (1958), by hanging out with a street gang in Brooklyn's Red Hook, covering race riots in Chicago in the 1950s with James Baldwin, ghosting the then-relatively unknown Lenny Bruce's column in the Playboy knock-off, Rogue, cultivating friendships with the likes of Steve McQueen and Peter Falk, taking martial arts lessons from Bruce Lee and attending a science-fiction convention in Phoenix in an RV and refusing, throughout his stay, to spend any money in the state of Arizona because its legislature hadn't voted to approve the Equal Rights Amendment. He also wrote frequently scabrous television criticism for the underground newspaper the Los Angeles Free Press in a column called The Glass Teat. In 2014 Ellison made a guest appearance on the CD Finding Love In Hell by the band Leaving Babylon, reading his piece The Silence (originally published in Mind Fields) as an introduction to the song 'Dead To Me'. Ellison on occasions used the pseudonym Cordwainer Bird to alert members of the public to situations in which he felt his creative contribution to a project had been mangled beyond repair by others, typically producers. The first such work to which he signed the name was The Price Of Doom, an episode of Voyage To The Bottom Of The Sea. An episode of Burke's Law (Who Killed Alex Debbs?) credited to Ellison contains a character given the name, played by Sammy Davis, Jr. Harlan later acted as a conceptual consultant on Babylon Five and as creative consultant on the 1980s revival of The Twilight Zone. He was awarded four Writers Guild of America awards and the Silver Pen for Journalism. Ellison's life inspired the book A Lit Fuse: The Provocative Life Of Harlan Ellison and the documentary Dreams With Sharp Teeth, which featured interviews with the likes of Robin Williams and Neil Gaiman. In 1966, Ellison married his third wife, Lory Patrick. The marriage lasted only seven weeks. A decade later, he married Lori Horowitz. He was forty one and she was nineteen. He said of the marriage: 'I was desperately in love with her, but it was a stupid marriage on my part.' They were divorced after eight months. Ellison lived in later life in the San Fernando Valley with Susan, his fifth wife, whom he married in 1986. In 1994, he suffered a heart attack and was hospitalised for quadruple coronary artery bypass surgery. From 2010 ('the worst, the lowest point in my life'), he received treatment for clinical depression. Four years later Ellison suffered a stroke. Although his speech and cognition were unimpaired, he suffered paralysis on his right side, for which he spent several weeks in physical therapy before being released from the hospital. Despite his success - the Los Angeles Times said he should be considered 'the Twentieth-Century Lewis Carroll' - Ellison sometimes seemed open-minded about his own legacy. His afterword to The Essential Ellison, a 1987 collection of his writings, read simply: 'For a brief time I was here; and for a brief time I mattered.' He is survived by his fifth wife, Susan.