Friday, July 27, 2018

Totally Screwed

Psst, dear blog reader - do you wanna see an image of yer actual Jodie Whittaker her very self in costume from Comic-Con? Of course y'do, you're only human after all.
For the first time since Amy and Rory got well-stuck in the past, Doctor Who will feature a bona-fide TARDIS 'team' when it returns this autumn, with three companions joining Jodie Whittaker's Doctor on her adventures in space and time. Jodie described the new series as 'an ensemble piece' at the show's Comic-Con panel, with showrunner Chris Chibnall telling the Digital Spy website that having a trio of 'new friends' for The Doctor was very definitely a deliberate decision. 'I love Doctor Who as a big, popular, mainstream, accessible show,' Chibnall said. 'So I wanted to make sure that every member of the audience felt they had a relatable character, an access point. Hopefully it means that the show can resonate with the broadest possible audience. And of course, three companions with The Doctor, we're really going back to 1963 - that's the format of the show! You're not changing the format, that's how it started - which I only realised afterwards.' The Doctor's new friends - Chibnall says not calling them 'companions' feels 'a bit more natural' but 'is in no way a rule or edict from now on' - include Yaz (Mandip Gill), who is 'in absolute awe of The Doctor' and Ryan (Tosin Cole), who 'challenges The Doctor from time-to-time, gets it right sometimes, but wrong a lot of the time. Ryan is nineteen, Yaz is nineteen and then you've got Graham who is the oldest of the bunch, so we've got different generations, different genders,' Cole said. 'People have an "in," in three different ways,' Gill added. 'We all bring something different to the group, with gender, race, everything. And just the personalities of the three characters are very different. They each have a very individual voice, where I think certain people will be able to instantly relate to Bradley Walsh's character, instantly relate to Tosin's and hopefully just love us all!' That There Bradley Walsh completes the trio as Graham, with Chibnall confirming that he thought of casting the well-known actor and comedian having worked together on ITV's Law & Order: UK in 2009. 'He's an amazing actor and that's what I learned working with him on Law & Order,' The Chib added. 'He has an incredible emotional range. He's able to be really funny and break your heart. And these guys [Gill and Cole] are exactly the same, as is Jodie. It means you have a range of emotional flavours in the show.'
Interviews with the new cast and crew of Doctor Who at Comic-Con from TV Line and MTV can be checked out here and here respectively. And, jolly charming they are two. This blogger continues to be very impressed with just about everything that Jodie, Mandip and Tosin have been saying about the forthcoming series and their views of the future of the BBC's popular long-running family SF drama. The BBC has also released a recording to the full Doctor Who Comic-Con panel.
The BBC have made public a number of new promotional images for the forthcoming series of Doctor Who and, a couple of them feature The Doctor sporting a new sonic screwdriver. Designer Arwel Wyn Jones said: 'It's a privilege to have been asked to redesign the iconic sonic screwdriver for the Thirteenth Doctor and a new generation of audiences. I can't wait for people to see how The Doctor acquires it!' The sonic was revealed at Comic-Con and will be available to purchase in August - not the actual sonic but copies of it. The US and UK toy versions of the Sonic Screwdriver have been created by Seven20 and Character Options, respectively. The new, electronic eight inch collectable is 'a perfect replica of The Doctor's device' - it says here - and 'features a light crystal and two buttons which control the light and sound elements of the Sonic.'
Speaking of the sonic screwdriver, according to some louse of no importance at that bastion of true and accurate reportage, the Sun Fans claim the new Doctor's redesigned sonic screwdriver resembles a 'sex toy'. And, to prove this, they scoured social media and found a grand total of four rank arseholes whinging about such abject nonsense. Four.
The latest issue of the Doctor Who Magazine was released this very week and features an exclusive interview with Chris Chibnall about the preparations which took place to reveal Jodie Whittaker as the new Doctor. It is available from all good newsagents (and, some bad ones too).
Fifteen years after Buffy The Vampire Slayer ended, the title character may be about to rise from the grave. No, dear blog reader, it's not 1 April. Yes, this blogger is every single bit as surprised as you, no doubt, are by this discombobulation. Whether this is a good idea or not, only time will tell.
It is not the revival starring Sarah Michelle Gellar that many fans have been wanting for a decade or more - that will likely never happen - but series creator Joss Whedon is reported to be 'involved' in a new TV version of Buffy. Whedon is set to 'executive produce' the reboot - meaning, whilst he retains a financial stake in the franchise, he is likely to have pretty much sod-all to do with the day-to-day nuts and bolts of the new show. The actual writing and showrunning duties will be handled Monica Owusu-Breen, whose previous CV includes work on Alias, Lost, Fringe and Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. The project is still in its early stages - and, it was not clear initially whether this would be a complete remake or a continuation of the original series with new characters (but, see below) - but the production is expected to cast a black lead actress in order for the series to 'feel richly diverse.' 'Like the original, some aspects of the series could be seen as metaphors for issues facing us all today,' their description of the new Buffy The Vampire Slayer claims. There were rumours that such a project could be in the works earlier this year when FOX TV group chair Gary Newman confirmed that a either Buffy revival or a reboot was something he had discussed with Whedon 'frequently.' Whedon has kept up the continuing story of the Buffy universe through a series of comics. He is also quite busy these days, producing Freeform's detective series Pippa Smith: Grown-Up Detective and recently signing a deal with HBO to write his own Victorian-era series The Nevers. FOX TV is expected to begin pitching its Buffy series to streaming services and cable channels this summer.
Buffy The Vampire Slayer, which Whedon adapted from the - really not very good - 1992 movie that he had written, of course helped establish him as a creator and Gellar as a household name. It was a game-changing hit which put the fledgling WB Network on the map and was a series which developed a devoted following across the world. It also gave this blogger a jolly nice career for several years writing extensively about the series (you knew that, right?) That helped to make the Buffy franchise into a lucrative property for FOX TV, which used the series' success to get a bigger license fee from UPN in the show's controversial move from its original home in 2001. Buffy also spawned a successful spin-off, Angel, which was broadcast on the WB for five seasons.
Subsequently, the writer of the new Buffy The Vampire Slayer series assured fans that their favourite Chosen One and all of her Scooby Gang buddies were entirely safe from being rebooted. Some fans were keen on the idea of revisiting the show, but there was a loud contingent angry about the idea of anyone but Sarah Michelle Gellar or the original cast playing those beloved characters. And, you don't want to see angry Buffy The Vampire Slayer fans, dear blog reader, it's not a pretty sight. Monica Owusu-Breen has since shared a statement on her Twitter account to 'clarify' that she has 'no intention' of rebooting any of the characters and appeared to suggest that her version would focus on an entirely new Slayer. 'For some genre writers it's Star Wars. Buffy The Vampire Slayer is my Star Wars,' she began. 'Before I became a writer, I was a fan. For seven seasons, I watched Buffy Summers grow up, find love, kill that love. I watched her fight, and struggle and slay. There is only one Buffy. One Xander, one Willow, Giles, Cordelia, Oz, Tara, Kendra, Faith, Spike, Angel. They can't be replaced. Joss Whedon's brilliant and beautiful series can't be replicated. I wouldn't try to. But here we are, twenty years later and the world seems a lot scarier. So maybe, it could be time to meet a new Slayer. And that's all I can say.' Her statement, seemingly, leaves the door open to the new series being a continuation of the original Buffy, which could allow for some original cast to return. All of which suddenly sounds a Hellmouth of lot more interesting than, for instance, the currently in-production 'let's pretend the originals never happened' remakes of Charmed and Roswell.
News of the proposed Buffy revival brought a schlew (s'cuse the pun) of retrospective articles in some of the broadsheets - the best of which, by a distance, was Jonathan Bernstein's piece in the Torygrah, How Buffy saved Doctor Who: Six ways the Vampire Slayer changed pop culture. Which is highly recommended if you've got a few moments to spare.
The third episode of From The North favourite Picnic At Hanging Rock broadly maintained the quality of the previous two, as the Torygraph's review confirms. As opposed to some abject prick of no importance at the Daily Scum Express doing a scour of social media, finding half-a-dozen whinging malcontents with diarrhoea-for-brains on Twitter having a reet moan and alleging that Picnic At Hanging Rock viewers RAGE over 'weird' plot: 'Three hours I'll never get back'. Yes. All six of them. Six. Next ...
Game Of Thrones' final series will, seemingly, not feature two-hour episodes. Last year, HBO executive Casey Bloys got some fans extremely excited about the prospect of longer episodes for series eight when he was quoted as saying: 'I imagine [the episodes will] be longer but I'm not sure [how long]. We haven't had that discussion yet because I don't know how long the episodes are going to be. Two hours per episode seems like it would be excessive, but it's a great show, so who knows?' A year on, with Game Of Thrones' last episodes in the process of being edited, Bloys appears to have a better idea of episode lengths and is no longer talking through his ringpiece. Although he did not say exactly how long the final six episodes were going to be, he did confirm that none of them will be two hours. 'Not two hours,' he told Entertainment Weekly. 'They are not going to be [two hours long]. Not that I've seen, anyway.' Bloys added that he is 'not certain' when fans can expect to see the trailer for the final series, adding: 'I would guess [this year], but I don't know. I think [the finale is] epic. I think fans are going to love it. I think it's a fitting way for one of the greatest shows in the history of television to go out and that people are going to be very happy. There's going to be a lot of conversation.'
Westworld's second series was always going to leave viewers with more questions than answers, but some perhaps weren't expecting as many questions as they got. While series two's finale certainly got fans talking - and, for what it's worth, this blogger thought it was great - the SF series has been faced with harsh criticism from some whinging malcontents who enjoy being spoon-fed all the answers for being 'too confusing.' The worst crime that one can commit in television these days, seemingly, being to ask viewers to actually do some of the work and use their brains. Addressing Westworld's divisive arc, HBO president Casey Bloys has dismissed the idea that any 'backlash' from viewers was 'widespread.' Which, of course, it wasn't, it was - as usual - a few dozen whinging whingers on social media. Speaking at the TCA summer press tour, Bloys argued that the 'beauty' of Westworld is its ability to encourage such strong opinions. 'What I love about Westworld is the people who love it really love it,' he told TVLine. 'Even the people who dislike it [want to discuss it]. For a show to arouse that kind of feeling, that's what we want.' Defending the 'unique' show, the HBO executive went on to say that Westworld, by its nature, demands something of its viewers. 'It requires your attention. It's a unique show and that's what we look for,' he said. Fortunately, it's all right to be a little lost when it comes to Westworld - after all, one of its leads recently admitted she had 'no idea what was happening. At all.' Evan Rachel Wood, who plays Dolores, explained: 'We shot out of order, so most of the time - I mean, it was insane to be an actor on season two. I don't know how I feel about it.'
The long-awaited Deadwood TV movie is finally happening. HBO gave the project a greenlight at the TCA press tour on Wednesday, three years after it was first reported that HBO was 'in talks' with series creator David Milch to revive the Western drama for a one-off film. 'All of these people worked hard to get this together,' Casey Bloys told the press. 'It's been a logistics nightmare getting all the cast members' schedules together, but we are there. It is greenlit.' The current plans are for production to begin in October - as Ian McShane recently predicted - with an eye for the movie to be broadcast next spring. Bloys cautioned those dates aren't 'set it stone.' Original series director Daniel Minahan will return for the reunion, as will much of the classic cast. Bloys didn't specify any names, but McShane, Paula Malcomson and Kim Dickens have all expressed interest to return. 'I think it would be great,' Kim Dickens recently told the Digital Spy website. 'A lot of the cast and I have remained friends and I think all of us would love to finish it. It always felt like such a disturbance to have ended it so abruptly. It really just needed one more season to finish.'
The short trailer for Star Trek: Discovery released last week establishes that Mister Spock will be a crucial part of series two. Or, more accurately, the absence of Spock will be a crucial part of series two. CBS All Access offered a sneak preview of the new episodes during its Comic-Con panel on Friday, along with confirmation that the new series will arrive on CBS All Access in the US and Netflix in the UK next January. In the meantime, there will be four fifteen-minute shorts premiering later this year to hold fans over until the series proper arrives. Of particular note in the trailer is producers' decision to use Lenny Kravitz's 'Fly Away' as a backing track. Aside from the musical accompaniment, the big news is that the distress call from the starship Enterprise at the end of series one was actually a way for that ship's captain, Christopher Pike (played by Anson Mount), to assume command of the Discovery. Pike takes control because little red bursts of energy have been popping up across thirty thousand light years of space and Starfleet isn't sure if they're 'a greeting or a declaration.' Whilst the crew investigate those strange energy bursts, Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) learns from Pike that her half-brother, Spock, had 'disappeared' from Starfleet, supposedly because he had 'run into a question he couldn't answer.'
From The North favourite Endeavour's sixth series has started filming and Detective Sergeant Morse has a new look. Each story in series six of the popular crime drama will, once again, be written by series creator Russell Lewis, who has scripted all twenty three episodes to date. As well as a first-look image of Morse, Shaun Evans has been confirmed as the director of one of the new episodes. Morse's character will be seen starting a new role as a uniformed officer at the Woodstock police department and embracing the times with a Jason King-style moustache. Set in 1969, the tragic murder of George Fancy hangs heavy over the team, with the case still unsolved. Returning alongside Evans are Roger Allam as Fred Thursday, Anton Lesser as Reginald Bright, Sean Rigby as Jim Strange, James Bradshaw as Max DeBryn, Sara Vickers as Joan Thursday, Abigail Thaw as Dorothea Frazil and Caroline O'Neill as Win Thursday. New cast include boss Ronnie Box played by Simon Harrison and Alan Jago played by Richard Riddell. Lewis said of series six: 'As our story reaches the last year of the 1960s and mankind makes its giant leap, all at Team Endeavour look forward to exploring further early chapters in the casebook of Colin Dexter's beloved creation.'
The BBC has responded to 'utter nonsense' tabloid-inspired rumours that Miranda Hart has been 'banned' from rejoining the cast of Call The Midwife. The Sun reports shit-stirred that Miranda pulled out of a return last year 'at the last minute' due to illness - prompting writers to redraft scripts that had reintroduced her character. Replying to allegations that the show felt 'messed about' by the actress, the BBC Press Office tweeted: 'This story is utter nonsense! We'd welcome Miranda back with open arms.' Utter nonsense? In the Sun? Surely not? The statement attached to the tweet read: 'The creative team at Call The Midwife remain extremely close to Miranda and hugely value the contribution Chummy made to the first four series of the show. Sadly, the timing wasn't right for her to return in 2016, but the door is always open. We would welcome her with open arms should she ever be free and want to come back to Nonnatus House.' Earlier this year, it was confirmed that Hart is currently attached to an untitled project which will tackle her battle with anxiety. Set to run for one hour, the documentary sees Miranda undergo a twenty one-day 'brain detox' which is designed to help anxious individuals 'rewire their brains and overcome toxic thoughts.' This blogger could certainly do with one of those. Frequently. Reflecting on her mental health previously, Hart said: 'There's a lot of talk about comedians being depressed and I think, in many cases, it's absolutely true. I definitely have that side to my personality – naturally my glass is half-empty – so I make a conscious effort to keep the positive attitude going.'
After three series, USA Network's Colony has officially been cancelled. According to Deadline, the drama's recent viewing figures have 'dipped dramatically,' making it the lowest averaging series of all the broadcaster's products. The drama starred Josh Holloway and Sarah Wayne Callies as a married couple 'fighting to protect their family during an alien invasion.' Its initial and second series' were broadcast to what were described at the time as 'strong viewer ratings' and 'became the number one scripted cable series on Thursday nights in total viewers through its first two seasons.' However, Colony suffered from behind-the-scenes disturbances. After not securing a California tax credit, the production was forced to relocate from Los Angeles to Vancouver - remoulding the storyline in the process.
Arthur Darvill will not return to DC's Legends Of Tomorrow next series. Arty's character, Rip Hunter, sacrificed his life to save the Legends and stop the monstrous Mallus last series but, this is a show about time-travel after all, so a comeback wasn't totally off the table. Until now. 'I believe he's done, for this season,' Legends showrunner Phil Klemmer told the Digital Spy website at Comic-Con. 'But, I mean, Arthur Darvill is the greatest. We've got a terrible habit of killing the greatest people. It's totally stupid.' Klemmer had previously hinted that Rip could still return to the show 'in future,' saying: 'Because it's a time travel show and because we never saw a body, anything is possible. I think Arthur is totally willing to come back and play with us if we have a cool idea.' Darvill started out as a series regular on Legends, before appearing in a recurring capacity in the second and third series.
Millions of TV viewers are unable to watch UKTV channels including Dave and Gold after Virgin Media's removal of the network from set-top boxes on Sunday morning following what is described - by the Gruniad Morning Star if not anyone more reliable - as 'a business dispute.' After months of talks between the firms failed to solve an impasse over fees, ten channels, including five which are free-to-air, disappeared from subscribers' televisions overnight. The dispute, which came after Virgin sought what UKTV called 'a multi-million pound cut' in fees, leaves fans of shows including Judge Romesh, Harrow and Red Dwarf unable to watch some of their favourite programmes. Unless they watch them on Freeview, obviously. Virgin's four million TV viewers were also left unable to access UKTV on-demand services on programmes such as the wretchedly unfunny comedy game show Taskmaster via their Virgin Media sets. So, every cloud has a silver lining. Free-to-air channels Dave, Drama, Home, Really and Yesterday, along with paid-for channels Gold, Alibi, Eden, Good Food and W were replaced on Virgin's platforms on Sunday morning. Virgin Media has accused the broadcaster of seeking 'inflated sums' to provide its paid channels and linking those to provision of free channels such as Dave and Home. David Bouchier, Virgin TV's chief digital entertainment officer, said that the free channels would be restored 'immediately' when it gained UKTV's permission. 'We have been in extensive discussions with UKTV but we have not been able to reach an agreement which reflects the reality of how people are watching television in the Twenty First Century. UKTV is insisting on holding back its channels, like Dave, which are freely available over the air and online, unless we pay inflated sums of money for its paid channels like Gold,' he whinged. The dispute also covers UKTV's availability on Virgin's on-demand service. The BBC holds back the video-on-demand rights to its programming, instead selling them to players such as Netflix - which, since they made the programmes in the first place and commercial exploitation of of them is their absolute right. Virgin Media claimed - idiotically - that this strategy was 'no longer acceptable' as viewers 'expect' to be able to watch shows on demand. UKTV's chief executive, Darren Childs, said that it 'could not accept' the 'drastic' cut in price that Virgin was seeking to show the channels. 'We are hugely disappointed for the many customers who are losing out because our channels are no longer available through Virgin Media,' he said. 'We completely understand their frustration and would love to continue to bring them the shows and channels that they're so passionate about, but we need a fair price to support our growing investment in programmes. The reality is that we just can't accept the drastic price cut that Virgin wants.' Steve North, the head of comedy and entertainment for UKTV, said that the company provided 'thousands of hours of on-demand content' to Virgin, with viewings of its programmes via the service up by a third over the year. He said any dispute with the BBC over the way it chose to distribute its programmes 'should be taken up with the corporation.' He said that 'conversations' between UKTV and Virgin were continuing, adding: 'Our door is absolutely open.' According to UKTV, 'around four million households' were no longer able to access the channels after the midnight deadline passed. The ten channels are still available on other TV platforms including Sky, BT, Talk Talk, as well as Freeview and Freesat. Viewers can also watch them online via UKTV Play.
Duane Henry, who played Clayton Reeves in NCIS, has told BBC 5Live that it is 'quite humbling' to hear the Prime Minister watches the popular drama. Theresa May recently revealed that she watches the popular US crime drama 'to relax.' Personally, if this blogger was involved in a TV show that the Prime Minister claimed to be a fan of, he would tell her to sod off and get on with doing her job of ruining the country. But, perhaps that's just this blogger. Henry told 5Live's Phil Williams that he was 'quite blown away' but he is hoping no-one tells the PM what happens to his character. If the Prime Minister happens to be reading From The North and is curious, Reeves gets very shot and extremely killed whilst protecting Abby from what appears to be a street robbery but is, actually, an attempted assassination organised by a minor character from half-a-dozen series' ago who is out for revenge. Don't worry, though, Gibbs and co thorough;y get the bastard and end his naughty murdering ways. But, Abby is so upset by her friend's death that she leaves the series ... for some reason that was explained but didn't seem to make an awful lot of sense. Anyway, hope that hasn't spoiled the episode too much, Prime Minister. Now, get back sorting out the mess you and your mates have created over Brexit and leave watching telly to those of us who do it for a living.
Media watchdog Ofcom - a politically appointed quango, elected by no-one - has called on ITV, Channel Four and Channel Five to improve their children's programming. A review by Ofcom has found 'a lack of original shows for older children,' a 'limited range of factual programmes' and 'not enough on-screen diversity.' In a letter to the commercial public service broadcasters, Ofcom asked each channel to get their shit together and 'develop a robust plan' for improvement by March 2019. All three channels have cut back their original children's programming over the last decade. Ofcom said that it wants the channels 'to revitalise their approach to how and what they offer to young audiences.' In particular, the regulator said that the broadcasters should 'find innovative ways to use the Internet' to appeal to younger viewers. Ofcom pointed out three main issues with the channels' children's programmes. They said there is A lack of original, high-quality programmes specifically made for older children across all programme genres, a limited range of programmes that help children to understand the world around them and a limited range of original, high quality children's programmes that allow UK children of all ages and backgrounds to see themselves and their lives reflected on screen. Between 2010 and 2017, Ofcom noted that TV viewing dropped by forty per cent for children aged four to nine and by forty seven per cent for children aged ten to fifteen. More young people are watching YouTube and almost half of households with children have Netflix. Ofcom said that there had been 'a continuing decline' in PSBs' investment in original children's programming. ITV reduced the amount of new UK-made children's shows on its main channel from one hundred and fifty eight hours in 2006 to forty seven hours in 2017. Channel Five reduced the amount of new UK-made programmes aimed at pre-school children from one hundred and fifty hours in 2006 to thirty two in 2017. Channel Four does not show any new UK-made programmes made for children. The company has a duty to provide shows that appeal to older children, which it defines as aged ten to fourteen - and showed twenty one hours of this in 2017. 'Channel Four has a strong relationship with young audiences and as part of our strategy to provide content which appeals to the tastes and interests of older children we continue to invest in a wide range of popular programming across both drama and factual,' claimed a Channel Four spokesperson. One or two people even believed them. 'We will look at Ofcom's findings closely and continue to explore new ways of engaging with this audience.' An ITV spokeswomen declined to comment on the Ofcom review. The BBC's children's offering was not part of the report because Ofcom looks at the corporation's plans for children's broadcasting as part of its responsibilities under the BBC charter and agreement.
Supergirl is to become the first live-action TV series to feature a transgender superhero. Activist and actor Nicole Maines, who is transgender, will play the role of Nia Nal, who becomes known as Dreamer. 'It seems only fitting that we have a trans superhero for trans kids to look up to,' she said after the announcement at Comic-Con in San Diego, last weekend. Nia Nal will be introduced in Supergirl's upcoming fourth series. The character has been described as 'a soulful young transgender woman with a fierce drive to protect others.' Speaking to Variety, Maines said: 'I want fans to take away an understanding of trans people. We can be anybody, we can be who we want, we can be superheroes - because in many ways we are.' Shown in the UK on Sky, Supergirl is based on the DC Comics character of the same name and is set in the same universe as other comic book adaptations such as The Flash and Arrow. Melissa Benoist stars as the title character, who is Superman's cousin and one of the last surviving residents of Krypton. You knew all that, right? Nia Nal, will be introduced as an employee of CatCo Worldwide Media, the organisation where much of the series is set. Maines says that she wants viewers to realise that a trans character's plotline doesn't have to revolve around them being trans. 'Nia is so much more than just a trans superhero. She is a reporter, she is hopeful, she's powerful, wise and such a good friend.' In 2014, Maines and her family went to court after her school prevented her from using the girls' toilet. Which was disgraceful as she was bustin' for a wee at the time. As a result, Maine's Supreme Judicial Court ruled the school had violated the state's human rights act. Nicole has gone on to an acting career, winning a 2016 GLAAD award for her performance in Royal Pains.
Adam Hills says the real impact of The Last Leg won't be seen until 2020, adding it that the show 'accidentally' broke barriers about disability. The Australian comedian, a particular favourite of this blogger who fronts the Channel Four show, says that it put the 'awesome' Paralympic athletes centre stage, while getting laughs from moments like 'the blind guy who misses the long jump and lands on someone.' 'If all you're doing is pointing out the funny in the Paralympics then you're mocking disabled people,' he says. 'But if you're celebrating them as well, then you're covering both bases, you're being balanced.' The show - which also features Alex Brooker and Josh Widdecombe - started out as a comedic wrap-up of the day's events at the Paralympics. They 'accidentally broke down a few barriers,' Hills explains, adding: 'We didn't set out to, that wasn't our plan, but we knew that would be a side effect of doing what we did.' Rio was next to host the games in 2016, but Hills explains this wasn't enough time for 2012 to have an impact. 'You think it'll happen four years later, but no, those guys in Rio started planning well before 2012 so it's not until 2020 in Tokyo that we'll see the impact. I know for a fact that the Japanese broadcasters have said "let's use the Paralympics to change perceptions - we're not going to just cover it, we're going to affect social change because that's what happened in 2012."' The Last Leg introduced the groundbreaking 'is it ok' feature in 2012. Viewers were invited to tweet questions that could be considered inappropriate, like: 'Is it okay to fancy the Para-athletes?' These questions were then answered on-air, reflecting the show's mix of laughs and serious content. Hills sees the show as part of 'the perfect storm' of 'everyone in London' thinking the Olympics would 'go badly' and then saying: '"That was great, now let's do it again, what can we do?" And then, the Paralympics came around with billboards that said "thanks for the warm-up," so people were going into it with a positive attitude. We went into it with positivity and a little bit of edge. It was about disability, so we were rooting for the underdog - they did well, so we were rooting for the winners.' The show's continuing popularity meant people took notice of the Paralympics, not least because of the success of the British Para-athletes, who came third overall with thirty four golds and a whopping one hundred and twenty medals. Hills is ruminating about the success of the show as part of his self-penned book of memoirs, Best Foot Forward. It paints a colourful picture of his happy childhood and early failures and successes as a stand-up, before romping through his TV career. He writes about years of early slog and travel, with late-night gigs, local radio and plenty of knock-backs. But it never crossed his mind to give up on comedy. It is at this point that he makes a surprising confession - about an addiction. He can't get enough of the buzz from performing live comedy, saying it feels like 'a cleansing vomit. I don't think I'll ever not do stand-up,' he says. 'It boils down to the addictive nature of how good it feels when a gig goes well. If I haven't done it for a while, I start getting really edgy and I can't work out why I'm unhappy and unfulfilled. Then I go and do a gig, and it's like "that's better, I needed to get that out of my system'."' Hills, who was born without a right foot, also writes briefly about this as well. His parents 'received the invaluable advice to "treat him like any other normal kid,"' which they did, by enrolling him in a gymnastics class. He also heeded early advice from a veteran at Sydney Comedy Store, who said that he should stop including his foot in his act until he was 'good enough.' Hills also says that he is 'surprisingly introverted and shy,' despite being known for his his TV rants on topics from child poverty to Donald Rump. But this hasn't stopped him from inviting a variety of politicians on the show, which is now on its fourteenth series and takes a satirical spin around the week's news. He managed to persuade Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn to step out of a glamorous car onto a red carpet, wearing a white fur coat. Former Labour leader Ed Miliband went so far as to lip-sync to A-Ha's 'Take On Me'. 'They all come out of the show looking good,' Hills says, adding that his favourite Tory was Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, who won lots of fans 'just by being funny. She was amazing, she had a lot of people saying more Tories should be like her afterwards. Anna Soubry did quite well, but Sayeeda Warsi was the best of the Tories,' he adds. 'When Nick Clegg appeared, he said to me: "You get slated in the press, you get your own party turning against you and then your press secretary says do you want to appear on The Last Leg and you think how much worse can it get?!"' Hills is happy to get serious though and when asked about Paralympic sports such as boccia - which don't appear to merit live Paralympic TV coverage yet - he pauses for thought. 'I think sometimes the lack of coverage is to do with the host broadcaster, sometimes it's to do with just bad planning.' Citing other Paralympic sports that have also been overlooked by live TV, including the wheelchair marathon and equestrian events, he adds: 'I would have thought that the lack of coverage for boccia might be that the sport isn't considered exciting enough, the physics of the ball rolling - it's like lawn bowls. Having said that, I bloody love lawn bowls on TV! I'd love to see more boccia coverage, especially when you've got the GB team winning medals - that's what people want to see.' As for the future, he'll continue working on The Last Leg, plus a documentary about playing in the disability rugby league. Not surprisingly, he also has plans up his sleeve for more stand-up. Hills is pleased that disability in comedy appears to be much more visible. Lee Ridley won Britain's Got Talent, while Robert White, a comic with Asperger's, came second. 'There are a few disabled comics coming through, which is bad news for the rest of us,' he says. 'I think what's really interesting and what's a good sign is when people watch The Last Leg now, they complain there's not enough diversity on it. When you consider that two out of three of us are disabled, you've got hand deformities, leg deformities and people are asking "why aren't there more women and people of colour?" You go "oh wow," we have ticked that one diversity box so hard in indelible ink, that people just ignore us. So that's a good sign. It means we have to move on to the next thing.'
A television advert for Heinz baked beans has been thoroughly banned - for a second time - for breaching regulation on nutrition and health claims made on foods. The commercial, seen in February 2018, depicts a man drinking a protein shake as he arrives home after a run. His wife then takes some baked beans from the microwave and says: 'We're just having some beans.' A caption on the screen follows, stating: 'High in protein. High in Fibre. Low in Fat,' before a can of baked beans is shown with the accompanying text: 'Good for you, without going on about it.' They can also make you fart like a machine gun but they're 'not going on about that' either it would seem. The original advert was banned by the Advertising Standards Authority last year for claiming that baked beans had as much protein, fibre and fat as the protein shake. Although the advert was amended to not make a direct comparison, the ASA said that the same message had been implied. 'We noted that the ad did not state that Heinz Beanz had greater or fewer nutritional benefits than the protein shake, however, we considered that the overall impression created by the ad was that Heinz Beanz contained as much protein, fibre and fat as a typical protein shake,' the ASA ruling stated. 'We considered consumers would therefore interpret the ad as presenting Heinz Beanz as a tastier and more appetising, but nutritionally equivalent, alternative to consuming a protein shake.' The ASA concluded that 'the ad must not appear again in its current form.' A spokesperson for Heinz told the Digital Spy website that the company is 'disappointed' with the decision. 'Heinz Beanz are naturally high in protein and fibre as well as being low in fat. That is not in question,' the spokesperson commented. 'Our popular TV ad, "Good without going on about it," simply aimed to be a memory jogger about the goodness of beans in a humorous way which we believed fully met advertising requirements.'
A landmark Spanish-themed building in the North East of England has been restored to its former glory. The Spanish City in Whitley Bay, with its distinctive white dome, was built in 1910 and was a popular visitor attraction before falling into disrepair in the 1980s.This blogger was a regular visitor as a child. Following a ten million quid restoration, the grade II-listed building reopened on Monday. The new 'leisure hub' features cafes, restaurants and a wedding venue and will host public events such as fairs and cinema screenings. When it was built, the dome was the largest freestanding dome in the UK after St Paul's Cathedral. It housed a concert hall, restaurant, roof garden and tearoom - and later a ballroom and fairground were added to the site. The attraction was immortalised in the 1981 Dire Straits song 'Tunnel Of Love'. North Tyneside Council invested four million knicker in the work, secured three million smackers from the Heritage Lottery Fund and gained a two-and-a-half million quid grant from the Coastal Communities Fund. Norma Redfearn, North Tyneside's mayor, said: 'The new Spanish City looks absolutely wonderful. This is the start of an exciting new chapter in the rich history of this iconic building and is the culmination of years of hard work by the council and our partners.'
The civil service made an extraordinary error after publishing a satirical poster encouraging parents to shoot their children if they suspect they have contracted rabies. The current issue of Civil Service Quarterly features the poster - produced by the fictional council of Scarfolk - on page twenty. The fictional town of Scarfolk was created by writer and designer Richard Littler as 'a dystopian satire of the 1970s that somehow leaks into and reflects on current affairs.' It has developed a cult following for its Ballardian exploration of the 1970s and a suburbanised idea of totalitarianism, pagan ritual and Scarfolk Council's comical obsession with keeping rabies at bay. This blogger is a huge fan. Despite being, ostensibly, in North West England (circa 1979), Scarfolk is primarily an online creation - although as its following grows it is increasingly featuring in other media. Littler told Sky News that he had 'no idea' how the fake poster ended up in the magazine, although added: 'I'd like to think a Scarfolk fan and/or cult member infiltrated the civil service - as my book predicts!' Scarfolk has been explored in two books, Discovering Scarfolk and the forthcoming Scarfolk Annual. A television development co-written by Will Smith, who also wrote for The Thick Of It and Veep, is currently in development. Littler said that he created Scarfolk 'partly because, as a Brit abroad who is not allowed to vote in UK affairs, I feel the need to have some kind of say. That's the serious bit, but it's also just for the sake of being silly,' he told Sky News. 'I also do it because I'm trying to reassess/investigate the 1970s, which for kids of the period, was a very weird time. Everything was strange and absurd.' A hastily updated version of the magazine has replaced the Scarfolk poster with the Lord Kitchener Wants You poster from 1914, encouraging men to enlist in the British Army during the First World War. The Cabinet Office has declined to comment.
Skywatchers will be treated to the longest 'blood Moon' eclipse of the Twenty First Century on Friday. As it rises, during this total eclipse, Earth's satellite will turn a striking shade of red or ruddy brown. The 'totality' period, when light from the Moon is totally obscured, will last for one hour, forty three minutes. At least part of the eclipse is visible from Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Australia, most of Asia and South America. In the UK, rain clouds permitting, the Moon will appear entirely red - fully eclipsed by Earth - from when it rises at 9pm to 10.15pm. On the same night and over the coming days, Mars will be at its closest point to Earth since 2003 - visible as a 'bright red star' where skies are clear. 'This is actually almost as long as a lunar eclipse could be,' Professor Tim O'Brien, an astrophysicist at University of Manchester, explained. It coincides not only with Mars's close approach, but with what he described as 'a procession of planets' - a line-up of our celestial neighbours that will give skywatchers a particularly good view of Venus, Jupiter and Saturn. Because the Moon is far away from Earth - relatively speaking - its orbit is an ellipse, so it moves closer and further and looks larger and smaller from Earth. 'Mars will look like this beautiful bright red star just below the Moon,' said Professor O'Brien. 'Every couple of years or so, the Earth overtakes Mars on the inside as it orbits the Sun, so Mars is closest to us. And because of the elliptical shape of the orbit, it's even closer than normal; it really is a great time to spot Mars.' O'Brien explained that people in the UK would 'need to have a clear South-Eastern horizon as the Moon comes up' in order to see it. So, from the UK and Europe, the South-East will be the place to look for the rising, eclipsing Moon with bright red Mars below. But for views of elsewhere in the Solar System, Jupiter will be in the Southern sky and Venus in the West. Doctor Emily Brunsden, director of the University of York's Astrocampus, added that this eclipse was a 'micro blood Moon.' 'This is a total eclipse at a time in its orbit when it is close to being the farthest from Earth, or at apogee,' she said. 'Hence the Moon is fractionally smaller than usual.'
Researchers have found evidence of an existing body of liquid water on Mars. What they believe to be a lake sits under the planet's south polar ice cap and is about twelve miles across. Previous research found possible signs of intermittent liquid water flowing on the martian surface, but this is the first sign of a persistent body of water on the planet in the present day. Apart from the 2009 Doctor Who episode The Waters Of Mars, obviously. Although in that, the water was evil so that doesn't really count. Lake beds like those explored by NASA's Curiosity Rover show water was present on the surface of Mars in the past. However, the planet's climate has since cooled due to its thin atmosphere, leaving most of its water locked up in ice. The result is exciting because scientists have long searched for signs of present-day liquid water on Mars, but these have come up empty or yielded ambiguous findings. It will also interest those studying the possibilities for life beyond Earth - though it does not yet raise the stakes in the search for biology. The discovery was made using Marsis, a radar instrument on board the European Space Agency's Mars Express orbiter. 'It's probably not a very large lake,' said Professor Roberto Orosei from the Italian National Institute for Astrophysics, who led the study. Marsis wasn't able to determine how thick the layer of water might be, but the research team estimate that it is a minimum of one metre. 'This really qualifies this as a body of water. A lake, not some kind of meltwater filling some space between rock and ice, as happens in certain glaciers on Earth,' Orosei added. Radar instruments like Marsis examine the surface and immediate subsurface of the planet by sending out a signal and examining what is bounced back. The continuous white line at the top of the radar results above marks the beginning of the South Polar Layered Deposit; a filo pastry-like accumulation of water ice and dust. Beneath this, researchers spotted something unusual one and a half kilometres under the ice. 'In light blue you can see where the reflections from the bottom are stronger than surface reflection. This is something that is to us the tell tale sign of the presence of water,' says Orosei. Doctor Manish Patel from the Open University explained: 'We have long since known that the surface of Mars is inhospitable to life as we know it, so the search for life on Mars is now in the subsurface. This is where we get sufficient protection from harmful radiation, and the pressure and temperature rise to more favourable levels. Most importantly, this allows liquid water, essential for life.' This principle of following the water is key to astrobiology - the study of potential life beyond Earth. So while the findings suggest water is present, they don't confirm anything further. 'We are not closer to actually detecting life,' Patel told BBC News, 'but what this finding does is give us the location of where to look on Mars. It is like a treasure map - except in this case, there will be lots of "X's marking the spots."' The water's temperature and chemistry could also pose a problem for any potential Martian organisms. In order to remain liquid in such cold conditions (the research team estimate between minus ten and minus thirty Celsius where it meets the ice above), the water likely has a great many salts dissolved in it. 'It is plausible that the water may be an extremely cold, concentrated brine, which would be pretty challenging for life,' explained Doctor Claire Cousins, an astrobiologist from the University of St Andrews. While its existence provides a tantalising prospect for those interested in the possibility of past or present life on Mars, the lake's characteristics must first be verified by further research. 'What needs to be done now,' explained Doctor Matt Balme from the Open University, 'is for the measurements to be repeated elsewhere to look for similar signals and, if possible, for all other explanation to be examined and - hopefully - ruled out. Maybe this could even be the trigger for an ambitious new Mars mission to drill into this buried water-pocket - like has been done for sub-glacial lakes in Antarctica on Earth,' he added. Scientists have previously claimed to find bacterial life in the buried depths of Antarctica's Lake Vostok, but drilling on Mars would make for an ambitious project indeed. 'Getting there and acquiring the final evidence that this is indeed a lake will not be an easy task,' said Professor Orosei. 'It will require flying a robot there which is capable of drilling through one and a half kilometres of ice. This will certainly require some technological developments that at the moment are not available.' The findings were reported in the journal Science.
New computer simulations indicate that 'a massive body twice the size of Earth or even larger' crashed into Uranus during the formation of the solar system, knocking the gas giant onto its side and possibly explaining to its colder-than-expected upper atmosphere and the formation of its rings and moons. The research confirms a previous study that blamed such a collision with a proto-planet made up of rock and ice for Uranus' oddball axial tilt – 97.77 degrees – roughly parallel to the plane of the solar system. As a result, the planet's poles take turns facing the sun as Uranus swing around in its orbit, each experiencing forty two years of sunlight followed by forty two years of darkness. A bit like Sunderland. 'Uranus spins on its side, with its axis pointing almost at right angles to those of all the other planets in the solar system,' said Jacob Kegerreis, a PhD researcher at Durham University's Institute for Computational Cosmology and lead author of a paper published in The Astrophysical Journal. 'This was almost certainly caused by a giant impact, but we know very little about how this actually happened and how else such a violent event affected the planet.' Kegerreis and a team of experts ran more than fifty impact scenarios using 'a high-powered super computer' to recreate a variety of initial conditions, including the impacting body’s mass and the angle of the collision, to identify the most likely explanation. 'Our findings confirm that the most likely outcome was that the young Uranus was involved in a cataclysmic collision with an object twice the mass of Earth, if not larger, knocking it on to its side and setting in process the events that helped create the planet we see today.' One major question mark is how Uranus managed to keep its atmosphere after such a cataclysmic collision. The simulations show it depends on the angle of the impact. A grazing collision would be enough to knock the planet on its side without blasting all of its atmosphere out into space. The cold temperature of Uranus' upper atmosphere, about minus two hundred and sixteen Celsius, could be explained if debris from the impacting body formed a thin shell that trapped heat from the planet's interior. The research also could help astronomers develop details about how Uranus' moons and ring system formed and how the planet's magnetic field ended up in its current off-centre orientation. 'All the evidence points to giant impacts being frequent during planet formation,' said co-author Luis Teodoro, a scientist with NASA's Ames Research Centere. 'With this kind of research we are now gaining more insight into their effect on potentially habitable exoplanets.'
NASA is preparing to send a probe closer to the Sun than any other spacecraft has ventured, enduring melting heat while zooming through the solar corona to study this outermost part of the stellar atmosphere that gives rise to the solar wind. Although, they're going at night so it should be a bit cooler than if they'd gone during the day. The Parker Solar Probe, a robotic spacecraft the size of a small car, is slated to launch from Cape Canaveral, with 6 August targeted as the potential launch date for the planned seven-year mission. It is set to fly into the Sun's corona within six million kilometres from the solar surface, seven times closer than any previous spacecraft. 'To send a probe where you have not been before is ambitious. To send it into such brutal conditions is highly ambitious,' Nicola Fox, a project scientist from the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, told a news conference on Friday. 'The previous closest pass to the Sun was by a probe called Helios Two, which in 1976 came within forty three million kilometres. By way of comparison, the average distance from the Sun for Earth is one hundred and fifty million kilometres. The corona gives rise to the solar wind, a continuous flow of charged particles that permeates the solar system. Unpredictable solar winds cause disturbances in our planet's magnetic field and can play havoc with communications technology on Earth. NASA hopes the findings will enable scientists to forecast changes in Earth's space environment. 'It is of fundamental importance for us to be able to predict this space weather, much like we predict weather here on Earth,' said Alex Young, a solar scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Centre in Maryland. 'In the most extreme cases of these space weather events, it can actually affect our power grids here on Earth.' The project, with a one and a half million dollar billion price tag, is the first major mission under NASA's 'Living with a Star' programme. The probe is set to use seven Venus flybys over nearly seven years to steadily reduce its orbit around the Sun, using instruments designed to image the solar wind and study electric and magnetic fields, coronal plasma and energetic particles. NASA aims to collect data about the inner workings of the highly magnetised corona. The probe, named after American solar astrophysicist Eugene Newman Parker, will have to survive difficult heat and radiation conditions. It has been outfitted with a heat shield designed to keep its instruments at a tolerable eighty five degrees Fahrenheit even as the spacecraft faces temperatures reaching nearly two thousand five hundred degrees Fahrenheit at its closest pass.
Almost fifty years ago, the late astronaut Neil Armstrong ('he had balls bigger than King Kong' according to Shaun Ryder's Black Grape) made history by becoming the first man to walk on the Moon during the Apollo 11 mission. The astronaut didn't make the journey to the Moon alone, of course. When the Eagle lunar module landed on the Moon's surface on 20 July 1969, with Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on board, some precious keepsakes from home that the astronaut brought along for the ride also made it to the Sea of Tranquillity. Those cherished mementos are now part of Armstrong's private collection of space memorabilia, which will be going up for auction in the fall, the Associated Press reported. 'The collection includes a variety of artefacts from Armstrong's 1969 lunar landing and private mementos that include pieces of a wing and propeller from the 1903 Wright Brothers Flyer that the astronaut took with him to the Moon,' noted the media outlet. All of these items will soon be up for sale in a series of auctions that starts this November and will carry on next year as well when the sales are scheduled for May and November. The sales are being handled by Heritage Auctions, an auction house based in Dallas, which is confident the event will get 'an amazing turnout.' According to Heritage Auctions president Greg Rohan, the public always finds any objects related to the space programme completely fascinating. 'Space is one of the very, very few categories that every single person seems to be interested in,' Rohan said in a statement. Armstrong's private collection and memorabilia came to be set up for auction after the items were taken over by the astronaut's sons, Mark and Rick, upon their father's death in 2012. The brothers set out to preserve these irreplaceable items and started researching each object in order to identify, restore and record its history. 'We felt like the number of people that could help us identify them and give us the historical context was diminishing and that the problem of understanding that context would only get worse over time,' said Mark Armstrong, who noted that his father never gave them any indication on what he wanted to be done with the large number of collectables in his possession. 'He did save all the items, so he obviously felt they were worth saving,' he said. The brothers eventually turned to Collectables Authentication Guaranty, a Florida-based company, which authenticated the artefacts. According to the Business Insider, the Armstrong Family Collection was the first one to be certified by CAG, recently opened in Sarasota. Among the collection's most remarkable items are some sterling silver Robbins Medallions from the Apollo 11 and a rare gold one. These medals were commissioned by the Apollo crew themselves and were flown to space during all the Apollo missions. A US flag, the largest size to make the space trip on the Apollo, is also on the auction list, together with a United Nations flag and various state flags. Armstrong's collection also boasts a gold and diamond pin that the astronaut gifted his wife after he flew it on Gemini VIII - his first spaceflight - and a Purdue University centennial flag (Armstrong's alma mater) that travelled on Apollo 11.
The black hole at the centre of our galaxy has helped astronomers confirm a key prediction of Albert Einstein's theories. By observing a cluster of stars near the hole, they were able to confirm a phenomenon known as 'gravitational redshift.' It occurs when the wavelength of light gets stretched out in response to a gravitational field. The result will help scientists better understand the physics of black holes. The Very Large Telescope in Chile found evidence for Einstein's prediction by observing a star, called S2, that passed through the intense gravitational field of Sagittarius A - the huge black hole at the heart of the Milky Way. The effect they observed, gravitational redshift, occurs as particles of light - photons - climb out of a gravitational well like a black hole. As they do, the light's wavelength gets drawn out. This shifts the wavelength to the red part of the light spectrum - hence the name. It is predicted by Einstein's theory of general relativity, but has never been observed in an intense gravitational field such as that of a black hole before. Until now. Frank Eisenhauer, from the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics in Garching, said that the measurement 'opened the door to more studies' of the physics of black holes. In future, he said, 'we will see many more effects of general relativity in the galactic centre black hole. We will see the orbits of the stars change, we will see light go in circles, we will even see space-time rotate together with the black hole.' Reinhard Genzel, also from MPE, said: 'There is still more work to do to really come as close as you can to the event horizon [the 'point of not return' of the black hole] where you might expect strong deviations from Einstein's theory.' Françoise Delplancke, from the European Southern Observatory, which operates the VLT, said that the laws of physics could only be tested here in the Solar System under particular circumstances. 'So it's very important in astronomy to also check that those laws are still valid where the gravitational fields are very much stronger,' she explained. S2 is one member of a star cluster that surrounds Sagittarius A. These stars reach mind-boggling speeds when they approach the black hole - S2 comes very close to Sagittarius A every sixteen years. Astronomers followed S2 before and after it passed close to the black hole on 19 May 2018, tracking its progress hour-by-hour. When S2 passed by the black hole at a distance just one hundred and twenty times that of the Earth from the Sun, it reached an astonishing orbital velocity of eight thousand kilometres per second. That corresponds to about 2.7 per cent of the speed of light. The astronomers found that light from the star was indeed stretched to longer wavelengths by the very strong gravitational field of Sagittarius A. The results were 'perfectly in line with the theory of general relativity' - and not explained by Sir Isaac Newton's ideas - which exclude such a shift. 'In sport, you would say it was one-nil for Einstein,' said Frank Eisenhauer. Odele Straub, from the Paris Observatory, said: 'What we hope is at some point we will see something in the galactic centre that we can't explain with Einstein's theory - that would be really, really exciting. Because then we could go back to the drawing board and come up with something better.' The astronomers are continuing to observe S2; observations of its trajectory should yield new findings about the extreme conditions around the Milky Way's central black hole. Gravitational redshift occurs because, in order to escape a gravitational well such as a black hole, photons must expend energy. However, at the same time, these photons must travel at a constant speed - the speed of light. Therefore, the photons cannot lose energy by slowing down, but must expend it in another way. This lost energy manifests itself as a shift towards the red end of the light spectrum. The results are published in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics.
The Crown Prosecution Service has grovellingly apologised to Girls Aloud singer Nicola Roberts for failing to prosecute an ex-boyfriend accused of stalking her. Carl Davies was given a lifetime restraining order in May 2017 for stalking the singer. Davies was later charged with breaching it by looking at her social media, but the case was later dropped by the CPS. Roberts told The Sunday Times that she had been left 'too scared to take the dogs for a walk.' Davies, from Flint, had sent three thousand messages from thirty five fake Twitter accounts to Roberts, after they split in 2008. They included threats to stab and burn her. In May last year, the Afghanistan veteran was given a fifteen-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, after admitting stalking Roberts. He was later charged with breaching the restraining order against her after being accused of viewing Miss Roberts's Instagram posts between July and August 2017. But the CPS subsequently dropped the case because it believed there was 'no realistic prospect of a conviction.' Instead the judge extended the ban to prevent Davies viewing Roberts' social media posts and websites. Now the CPS has apologised to Roberts for failing to prosecute Davies for breaching the restraining order. 'We accept our decision not to prosecute the breach of the order was incorrect,' said a CPS statement. 'We have written to Ms Roberts to apologise and have taken steps to ensure lessons are learned from the case. We fully appreciate the impact stalking and harassment has on victims and we take prosecuting these cases extremely seriously. We regularly update our legal guidance to keep up with changes in technology, including social media platforms.' Roberts told The Sunday Times that her experience had left her 'too scared to keep her window open at night.' The thirty two-year-old said that Davies, whom she dated for eighteen months before their break up in 2008, had started following her again on Instagram after last year's restraining order to let her know that 'he was still watching me.'
Brazilian Doctor Denis Furtado - nicknames Doctor Bumbum in the media - was taken into custody after one of his patients died following a buttocks enhancement procedure, according to press reports. Lilian Calixto, a forty six-year-old mother of two, was pronounced dead last Saturday at a hospital, where she was taken after becoming ill at Furtado's home during the surgery procedure. Local media reports indicated that Furtado took Calixto to the hospital and she was admitted with an abnormally fast heartbeat. Hours later, she died. Furtado promptly did a runner and vanished. He was on the run for several days before police in Rio de Janeiro received an anonymous tip-off about his whereabouts. His mother was also arrested. The doctor has been charged with murder. His mother, meanwhile, stands accused of aiding a fugitive. They have not yet entered pleas. Furtado's lawyer, Naiara Baldanza, told reporters on Wednesday that his client is entirely innocent and had not turned himself in because he was 'in a panicked state.' Whilst on the run, Furtado posted a series of videos to his Instagram page in which he protested his innocence and called Calixto's death 'an accident.' Also arrested was Furtado's nineteen-year-old girlfriend and secretary, identified as Renata Fernandes. She was arrested for suspicion of taking part in the procedure. Furtado was revered as a celebrity surgeon in Brazil, with an Instagram following of more than six hundred thousand users.
An aspiring prophet has been very arrested in Ethiopia after he failed to bring a dead man back to life. Getayawkal Ayele had tried to revive the corpse of Belay Biftu by lying on top of him and repeatedly yelling 'Belay, wake up.' It was - unsurprisingly - not successful and his failure reportedly 'enraged' Biftu family members who began attacking Getayawkal and kicking the shit out of him. He was saved when police arrived shortly afterwards. 'Abusing dead bodies' is a crime under Ethiopian law and a local police commander has told the BBC that the man, whose real job is as a health worker, is now extremely in custody. The incident was filmed and has since 'gone viral on social media' among the sort of planks that enjoy watching nonsense like this. Residents in the small Western town of Galilee, in the Oromia region, said Getayawkal first went to the bereaved family and told them the story of Lazarus - who according to the New Testament was brought back to life by Jesus. They then appear to have agreed to dig up Belay. After the failed resurrection, several members of the family fainted on the spot while others became angry and started beating Getayawkal - at which point police arrived and arrested him.
A newspaper has printed a front-page correction after - wrongly - suggesting that a woman's fortieth birthday meal had become 'a booze-fuelled orgy with sex toys and candlesticks' in 'a dispute over chicken liver parfait.' The Northern Echo claimed that a group of women had indulged in 'lewd sexual behaviour, including passing around sex toys and taking part in sex acts with hotel candlesticks while climbing on restaurant tables and chairs.' The press regulator Ipso decided that the article was 'significantly misleading,' following a complaint from one of the women at the party. She successfully argued that although two members of the group had, indeed, imitated a sex scene with a candelabra - and another had used a unicorn horn to 'imitate a sexual pose' - everyone involved had been fully clothed throughout, so the evening could not be described as 'an orgy.' The woman also suggested that the Northern Echo's reporter, whose story was based on viewing CCTV footage, may have mistaken the 'unicorn horn' for a sex toy. The newspaper originally ran the story last September under the headline: What really happened at Saltburn hotel at the centre of food poisoning claim. This was in response to a complaint by the women that they had become ill after eating paté at Brockley Hall hotel on the North Yorkshire coast. The report drew a link between the actions of the alleged 'sex party' and the alleged food poisoning, which only affected that particular group of diners. The Northern Echo argued that its use of the word 'orgy' was accurate, given that the group had been 'dancing on tables, drinking alcohol and using hotel property and other objects to imitate sexual activity.' Which, to be honest, just sounds like a bloody good night out to this blogger. The newspaper also insisted that it is 'possible to engage in sexual activity without removing one's clothes.' It cited the fact that 'members of the party took it in turn to lie on their backs on a table in the room where they had been eating, while others rubbed a plastic item and candlestick between the person's legs.' The newspaper said that the women then 'took turns' to lick the item, 'while other members of the party pushed plastic objects up their skirts.' The Northern Echo also suggested that this behaviour - and the women's drinking - 'may have been relevant to the way they handled, consumed and reacted to the food, as well as how they recollected the events of the night.' Ipso was having none of it, however and disagreed, concluding that the newspaper had published 'a significantly misleading, prominent front-page headline' and ordered the correction.
A topiarist claims that he is having to make regular repairs to his hedge due to 'drunk people pretending to have sex with it.' Keith Tyssen has maintained his 'privet lady' at his Sheffield home since 2000, but is often woken up in the early hours of the morning by distracted passers-by. 'They're climbing on top of her and pulling her legs apart - you know, it's disgusting,' he said. Tyssen has considered putting up a sign or an alarm in an effort to curb the behaviour. The hedge, which he has sculpted over the past forty years, started off as a Greek God but he changed it into a reclining woman at the turn of the millennium. 'I just peered out at about 4:30 in the morning and there was a guy on top of her and going through the motions of having sex with her,' Tyssen said. 'It makes me feel a bit sick, really. That's just not the way to behave - in lots of ways.' He added: 'It's not always a guy actually, sometimes it's women who climb on her.' The artist and silversmith said that the idea for the woman was inspired by a renowned Sixteenth Century gold sculpture by Benvenuto Cellini called The Saliera. Tyssen added: 'I don't want them to behave like that with my privet lady. She's too privet, or private you know?'
A zoo in Egypt has denied painting black stripes on a donkey to make it look like a zebra after a photo of the animal appeared online. Student Mahmoud Sarhan put the images on Facebook after visiting Cairo's International Garden municipal park. Aside from its small size and pointy ears, there also appeared to be black smudges on the beast's face. The pictures quickly went viral, with alleged 'experts' weighing in on the species of the animal. A vet contacted by local news group said that a zebra's snout is black, while its stripes are 'more consistent and parallel.' Sarhan told Extranews that the enclosure contained two animals and that both appeared to have been painted. When contacted by local radio station Nogoum FM, the zoo director Mohamed Sultan insisted that the animal was not a fake. This is not the first time that a zoo has been accused of trying to fool its audience. Unable to find a way around the Israeli blockade, a zoo in Gaza painted two donkeys to look like zebras in 2009. Another Gaza zoo put stuffed animals on display in 2012 because of 'the shortages of animals.' In 2013, a Chinese zoo in Henan province tried to pass off a Tibetan mastiff dog as an African lion and in 2017 a zoo in Guangxi province disappointed visitors by exhibiting blow-up plastic penguins.
Makers of the Swiss chocolate bar Toblerone are to scrap its latest controversial incarnation which saw wide gaps between its distinctive triangular chunks. That version was introduced in 2016 to reduce its weight but drew howls of outrage, with some punters likening it to a bike rack. US-based Mondelez International said that the new shape 'had not been a perfect long-term answer' for its customers. No shit? Now, it plans to increase the current size from one hundred and fifty grams to two hundred grams and revert to making it in its traditional shape. When the downsized version was first released, the makers blamed a rise in the cost of ingredients and said that they had to make a decision between changing the look or raising the price. But the new widely-spaced triangles in the lighter bar left fans feeling cheated. On Toblerone's Facebook page, Louise Bennett wrote: 'After a busy day at work I decided to treat myself. I was super excited, until I opened it and discovered half of the pieces missing!' And, Scott Blackadder wrote: 'I was eating mine today and lost my shoe. I found it in one of the gaps in my Toblerone.' Though, he was probably lying. And, that's almost certainly not his real name either. Asked whether falling sales were behind the return to the original shape, Mondelez said that sales of the one hundred and fifty gram bar increased after the shape was changed and 2017 was 'a fantastic year' for Toblerone. It is unclear what the retail price will be of the new two hundred gram bar, due to be on the shelves later this year. On Friday, Mondelez, which owns Cadbury, said that Dairy Milk bars containing thirty per cent less sugar would go on sale from next year after the government challenged the food industry to cut sugar levels.
The first known studio recording of yer actual David Bowie is set for auction - again - after 'being found in an old bread basket.' At least, this is according to a rather excited (and sadly very inaccurate) report on the BBC News website. In actual fact, the tape's existence has been known about since 2001 when it was reported in an issue of Record Collector and there has been at least one previous attempt to auction it - through Christie's - the following year. But, on that occasion, it 'failed to find a buyer' according to Nick Pegg's always reliable The Complete David Bowie. The 1963 demo tape, rejected by Decca, features the sixteen-year-old Bowie - then still known as David Jones - singing 'I Never Dreamed' with his first band Bromley's The Kon-Rads. The tape, 'expected to fetch ten thousand pounds' according to BBC News although where exactly they get that figure from is a matter of conjecture, is being sold by the band's drummer David Hadfield, who 'uncovered it in his loft.' Allegedly. Auctioneer Paul Fairweather described the tape as 'a significant recording, completely unique.' He claimed it offered 'new insight' into Bowie as 'a fledgling musician who would go on to super stardom.' Jones was The Kon-Rads' saxophonist but it was decided that he should sing lead vocals for the tape (or, at least, on that particular song - according to a contemporary report in August 1963 in the Bromley & Kentish Times up to four songs may have been recorded at the session which took place at Decca's studios in West Hampstead). Hadfield said: 'David had no inclination to become a singer at this point, his heart and mind were focused on becoming a world class saxophone player. Our agent, Eric Easton, who also managed The Rolling Stones, asked us to do a demo so he could try and get us an audition at Decca. We had decided that we would do a couple of guitar instrumentals and one original song. Decca initially turned us down, but when they eventually gave us an audition later that year, vocalist Roger Ferris was the lead voice and David sang backing harmonies.' Jones left the band shortly after the audition, in late 1963. After David's departure, The Kon-Rads continued in the music business, releasing a couple of singles - none of which featured any involvement from the future Mister Bowie despite occasional inaccurate claims to the contrary - and supporting The Rolling Stones on tour. Jones subsequently joined another band, The King Bees, along with his friend George Underwood and released his debut single, 'Liza Jane' - on the Decca subsidiary label, Vocalion - the following year. He spent most of the rest of the Sixties releasing flop record after flop record, had one novelty hit in 1969 but it wasn't until he became Ziggy Stardust almost a decade later that The Kids finally got where he was coming from, baby. 'His ever-changing artistic persona would ultimately reshape attitudes to fashion, gender, music and culture,' the BBC states. Which is, just about, accurate. Bowie died of cancer in January 2016, two days after the release on his sixty ninth birthday of his twenty fifth studio CD, Blackstar. Hatfield's 'newly released' recording is part of a trove of memorabilia, including letters, bills, booking forms, photographs and promotional sketches from Bowie's early career. The collection is set to go under the hammer at Omega Auctions, in Newton-le-Willows, in September. Whether someone will stump up the asking price this time around is unknown.
Sir Paul McCartney is to, if you will, get back to where he once belonged with a gig at The Cavern Club in Liverpool. The Cavern was the birthplace of Be-Atlemania and the band played there almost three hundred times in the early 1960s. You knew that, right? The original club closed in 1973 and was turned into a car park, but a new Cavern reopened a short distance away some years later. Sir Paul has only played the new venue once, performing there in 1999. The current Cavern has a capacity of up to three hundred and fifty and the show is part of the promotional campaign for Sir Paul's new solo CD, Egypt Station. The concert comes weeks after Macca played a surprise show for about fifty fans at the city's Philharmonic pub for James Corden's TV show. On Monday, McCaartney also performed at Abbey Road Studios - where the famous Be-Atles famously recorded much of their famous output - watched by the likes of Kylie Minogue, Johnny Depp and Stormzy. And, some 'ordinary' people too. When he last performed at The Cavern, in December 1999, Sir Paul played a set of rock 'n' roll covers from his Run Devil Run CD with a band including Pink Floyd's David Gilmour. The show was broadcast on BBC radio and TV, was relayed to a big screen and, in a pioneering feat, was broadcast live on the Internet. Sir Paul first played The Cavern on 24 January 1958 with The Quarrymen. The Be-Atles went on to perform there two hundred and ninety two times between 1961 and 1963.
Monkees fans - of whom this blogger is very much one - received some terrifying news on 21 June when the group announced that the final four dates of their The Monkees Present: The Mike & Micky Show tour would be 'indefinitely postponed' because Michael Nesmith had suffered an unspecified health scare. Hours later, the TMZ website made it seem even scarier. 'We're told seventy five-year-old Nesmith collapsed to the ground during the band's soundcheck Thursday afternoon at the Keswick Theatre in Glenside,' they wrote. 'Michael was not unconscious, but he was rushed to a hospital.' Nesmith remained silent over the next month, but has now broken his silence, explaining to Rolling Stone that, contrary to TMZ's report, he never collapsed. He was, however, experiencing severe shortness of breath which caused him to rush to his cardiologist at Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula where he was diagnosed with congestive heart failure that required quadruple bypass heart surgery. 'I was using the words "heart attack" for a while,' says Mike. 'But, I'm told now that I didn't have one. It was congestive heart failure. It has taken me four weeks to climb out of it. If anybody ever comes up to you on the street and offers you [bypass surgery] for free, turn them down. It hurts.' Nesmith was just a handful of dates into The Mike & Micky Show tour in June when he noticed that something was amiss with his body. 'I was getting weaker and weaker and I couldn't get my breath,' he says. 'When we got to Lake Tahoe and then the high altitude of Denver, I couldn't get out of bed and I couldn't breathe. It wasn't agonising. It was just the business of wanting to take a big, deep breath and not being able to do it.' Determined to get through the dates, he set up a chair just offstage with an oxygen tank and mask. At the Denver show, he ran back and forth to the tank whenever Micky Dolenz was singing lead on a song. 'People seemed to like the show,' he says. 'But I was pretty well crippled up by then.' It got so bad that Mike went to the emergency room in Chicago and then again in Philadelphia the following week. 'In both cases they said, "Look, you got a problem here,"' he says. '"We don't have what we need here in order to work on it."' By the time the tour came to Philadelphia on 21 June, things went from bad to worse. 'I didn't collapse to the ground or anything like that,' he said. 'But I couldn't breathe, so I sat down until I got my breath and then I realised the breath wasn't gettable. That marked the end. People knew I couldn't keep on like this. It was a road to Hell.' Which is a Chris Rea song. Although, the thought of The Monkess covering it doesn't bear thinking about, frankly. They called off the final four dates and flew Mike back to Carmel, so he could meet with his cardiologist. Before he knew it, he was wheeled into an operating room for quadruple bypass heart surgery. He wouldn't leave the hospital for about ten days. 'It's this complete other community of the dead and nearly dead,' he says. 'It's frightening. There's also a lot of pain involved and I didn't like that. You can't cough and you can't walk and you can't get up. And you’r' hooked to these gadgets that are annoying. I didn't even know where I was for a couple of weeks.' His doctors weren't sure about sending him home after ten days, but he convinced them he would heal faster in his own environment. 'I think, candidly, I'm back to eighty percent,' he says. 'I feel like I'm increasing exponentially daily, or at least by orders of five or six percent at a time. I'm seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. My thinking is clear and I know who I am and where I am. It all feels like a natural healing process.' Things are going so well, in fact, that he is going ahead with a previously planned First National Band tour which kicks off on 7 September in Houston and wraps up later that month in Ridgefield, Connecticut. Mike played a short California club tour with a new incarnation of his pioneering country rock band earlier this year, but this is his first nationwide tour with them since their 1972 split. 'Most of it is sold out, so that was really encouraging,' he says. 'I thought the First National Band was just marginal and had been tossed away by The Monkees powers and nobody liked them. It is going to be a lot of travelling,' he adds. 'But it's pretty easy travel once you're in the jet class. That gets me to the city from the airport and into a bed very quickly. Then I can sleep until soundcheck. Between that and decent meals, I should be fine.' Mikeis currently considering offers to take the band to Europe, Australia and Asia, but is unsure about overseas dates. And, Nesmith says that he will 'definitely' make up the four postponed Mike and Micky shows early next year, including a Red Bank, New Jersey show at the Count Basie Theatre on 5 March. The other three rescheduled dates should be announced in the near future.
With tour dates already booked, the ever-prolific Elvis Costello - another From The North favourite - will release a new CD, Look Now, in October. The record features his longtime backing band The Imposters – which includes members of Costello's original backing band, The Attractions – and will be his first full-length since Wise Up Ghost, his extraordinary 2013 collaboration with The Roots. Look Now, which Costello co-produced with Latin Grammys winner Sebastian Krys, is due out 12 October. Ahead of the release, Costello has issued two songs from the CD, 'Under Lime' and 'Unwanted Number'. The former is a spry, heavily textured pop rocker with Be-Atles-esque harmonies and horn arrangements on which Costello sings, 'It's a long way down from that high horse you're on.' The latter is more low-key and boasts a soul groove and lush backing vocals, which allows Costello to belt lyrics about enduring a sour relationship - a regular leitmotif for Elvis, let it be noted! 'I knew if we could make an album with the scope of Imperial Bedroom and some of the beauty and emotion of Painted From Memory, we would really have something,' Costello said in a statement, referring to the 1982 LP he recently revisited on the road and his 1998 collaboration with songwriter Burt Bacharach. Bacharach co-wrote a few songs on Look Now and sat in on piano with The Imposters on two of them, 'Don't Look Now' and 'Photographs Can Lie'. Costello wrote another Look Now song, 'Burnt Sugar Is So Bitter', with Carole King. The record, currently available for pre-order, will be available both as a twelve-song standard edition and a 'deluxe' edition that adds four more songs. In other Costello news, the singer-songwriter was recently forced to cancel the last six dates of his European tour after a doctor discovered that he had a 'small but very aggressive cancerous malignancy.' When he made his announcement, Elvis alluded that he was able to beat the cancer with a surgery. His North American tour is set to kick off in November.
Yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved (though unsellable) Newcastle United have agreed a deal with Mainz for the German side's Japanese striker Yoshinori Muto. Muto scored eight goals for the Bundesliga club last season as they avoided relegation by five points. He was in Japan's World Cup squad for Russia and made one appearance - the Group H defeat by Poland. The fee is reported to be nine-and-a-half million notes and Muto would boost the options for a Magpies team that scored thirty nine league goals last season, the second fewest of the top fourteen. If Muto signs it would bring the number of 2018 summer transfer deals completed by Newcastle to five. Switzerland defender Fabian Schar arrived from Deportivo La Coruna on Thursday, while The Magpies have also signed goalkeeper Martin Dubravka on a permanent contract following a six-month loan spell and added former Swansea midfielder Ki Sung-Yueng on a free transfer. They also signed Moscow Chelski FC midfielder Kenedy on a season-long loan deal after the Brazilian had a successful six-month spell during the last campaign.
It was the scoreline that the late Eric Morecambe used to joke about but had never come true - until now. East Fife four, Forfar five was the much-loved comedian's idea of the ultimate tongue-twister for anyone trying to read out the classified football results. On Sunday, that result finally happened for the first time in the fixture's history. Albeit, only in a roundabout way. The Scottish League Cup Group B tie between the sides went to penalties after a one-all draw. And the score in the shootout was, indeed, East Fife four, Forfar five. Had he lived to see that, it would surely have raised a chuckle from Eric, who came up with the score as a jokey greeting whenever he met his friend James Alexander Gordon, the popular announcer who read the classified results on the BBC for forty years. 'Eric never called me James,' Gordon, who died in 2014, once recalled. 'Whenever I saw him over a twenty-year period, he would say "East Fife four, Forfar five." I've got a tape of that.' Before Sunday, there had been two occasions when the scoreline had almost occurred. In January 1964, it happened with the wrong team at home - finishing Forfar five, East Fife four. And in October 2011, a meeting between the sides ended East Fife four, Forfar three. Anton Dowds claimed the opener on Sunday for East Fife, who had Chris Kane sent off before John Baird equalised. Drawn group games go to penalties under the League Cup format. With the shootout score at four-four, Forfar keeper Marc McCallum saved Daryl Meggatt's kick before Thomas Reilly converted to seal a bonus point for the visitors - and make a little piece of sporting history.
Germany's football association has 'emphatically rejected' allegations of racism from The Arse's Mesut Özil, but says that it 'could have done more' to protect him from abuse. Özil said this week that he no longer wants to play for Germany, citing 'racism and disrespect' within German football. The midfielder says that he received hate mail and threats and was blamed for Germany's disappointing World Cup. The DFB said that it 'regrets the departure of Mesut Özil from the national team.' It added in a statement: 'We emphatically reject the DFB being linked to racism. The DFB has been very involved in integration work in Germany for many years.' Özil was criticised by the DFB and in the German media after being photographed with controversial Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan at an event in London in May. He received more criticism after Germany were knocked out of the World Cup in the group stage. The DFB conceded that it had not handled the matter well, adding: 'It is regrettable that Mesut Özil felt that he had not been sufficiently protected as a target of racist slogans.' It stressed its commitment to equality, saying: 'The DFB stands for diversity, from the representatives at the top to the boundless, day-to-day dedication of people at the base.' Özil, a third-generation Turkish-German, was born in Gelsenkirchen and was a key member of his country's 2014 World Cup-winning side. A month before Germany defended their title, Özil met Erdogan, along with fellow Germany international Ilkay Gündoğan, a Sheikh Yer Man City player who is also of Turkish descent. Özil says he and Gündoğan 'talked about football' with the president. Afterwards, photographs were released by Turkey's governing AK Party in the build-up to elections in the country, which Erdogan won. Many German politicians questioned Özil and Gündoğan's loyalty to 'German democratic values.' Germany has previously criticised the Turkish leader's crackdown on political dissent following a failed coup. The players met the German FA president to explain the image, though Özil had not issued a public statement on the matter until Sunday. He said Erdogan had also met the Queen and Prime Minister Theresa May whilst in England and said he would have been 'disrespecting his ancestors' roots' had he not posed for photographs with the Turkish president. 'It wasn't about politics or elections, it was about me respecting the highest office of my family's country,' he added. Özil has ninety two caps and has been voted the national team's player of the year by fans five times since 2011. He said his recent treatment made him 'no longer want to wear the German national team shirt. I am German when we win, but I am an immigrant when we lose,' he said. German Chancellor Angela Merkel 'respects' Özil's decision as he 'has done much for the national side,' her spokesperson said on Monday. Anti-discrimination charity Kick It Out said that the 'racist treatment' Özil has faced in Germany since his country's World Cup exit was 'disgraceful.' Germany is home to about three million people of Turkish descent - a point regularly raised in political debate in the country, where immigration and the rise of far-right parties are key issues for many. In his statement, Özil questions why other dual-heritage team-mates have not been subjected to the same treatment. 'Is it because it is Turkey? Is it because I'm a Muslim? I think here lays an important issue,' he said. German newspapers have criticised Ozil's decision to quit the national team. The popular tabloid Bild said despite Özil's appeals for respect for the highest office of his family's country, he 'ignores that Erdogan stands against the values of his German and Turkish homelands.'It noted that the footballer failed to mention in his 'yammer Facebook post' that Erdogan is 'transforming the freedom-loving, religiously moderate Turkey into an Islamist dictatorship' and 'has almost extinguished free media and freedom of expression.' Frankfurter Allgemeine argued Özil's resignation has left behind 'a pile of shards,' adding his 'sweeping blow' will immerse the German FA in crisis. 'In many ways, Özil has overshot the target,' the daily said, describing Özil's attacks on the media as 'absurd and outrageous.' Die Welt commented that the commitment in wearing a German football shirt means 'more than a good game. National players are role models, especially for young people with migration background,' it said. 'Germany has to formulate its expectations clearly, and every athlete wandering between cultures has to decide whether he can or wants to do that. Those who accept the German passport and put on the national jersey must know what that means for them. The Özil case made that clear,' the paper added.
Leyton Orient are hoping fans with male dogs can help their bid to remove some unwanted 'foxes in the box.' Foxes have been regularly spotted on National League Orient's Brisbane Road pitch in recent weeks. Such is the problem, the club has issued an appeal to any fans who can walk their dog around the ground during mornings and late afternoons. 'It is thought a dog's presence will help prevent further pitch invasions,' Orient said in a short statement. Interested candidates should apply to the club's marketing department - and very advanced dogs can put their names forward themselves.
The Sun 'acted in the public interest' publishing a secret prison video of disgraced and disgraceful former footballer Adam Johnson, the press regulator has ruled. The ex-Blunderland winger's father complained to Ipso about an online article headlined I wish I'd raped her. Johnson was filmed discussing his conviction for sexual activity with a minor and saying that he would have 'only got a caution had he not been famous.' Ipso ruled that the piece did not breach the Editors' Code. Published on 20 April 2017, the footage of the ex-England player was believed to have been recorded in the laundry room at HMP Moorland near Doncaster. Johnson was seen talking to a fellow inmate about a six-year sentence imposed in March 2016 after he pleaded very guilty to grooming and sexual activity with a child. He was heard to say: 'I wish I did [commit rape] for six years.' In his complaint to Ipso, David Johnson claimed the publication of the footage was 'intrusive' and the use of a hidden recording device 'unjustified.' He said that his family were the subject 'of a witch-hunt' by the press and claimed 'numerous inflammatory newspaper articles' had been published about his son, many of which were 'completely untrue.' Although, the fact that his son is a convicted sex offender is true. David Johnson also described his 'concern' at the use of the terms 'paedophile' and 'paedo' in the Sun's article. In its defence, the Sun argued there was 'an overriding public interest in exposing the true face of remorseless Johnson' as the comments had been made shortly before he lodged an appeal against his initial sentence. An appeal which was, subsequently, rejected. Ipso said that there was 'a strong public interest in publishing the footage in order to highlight the conflict between the statements he made in private with those he had made in mitigation to the court.' It also said that the 'level of subterfuge' employed by the newspaper's source had been 'limited' because Johnson had been 'speaking openly' to inmates. Using the word 'paedophile' was also 'neither inaccurate nor misleading' as the article clearly stated the age of the victim, the regulator added.
England's leg-spinner Adil Rashid says that his former captain Michael Vaughan's comments about his recall to the test squad are 'stupid' and 'do not matter.' Rashid was named in a thirteen-man squad for the first test against India next week despite signing a white-ball-only contract at his county, Yorkshire. Vaughan described the decision to select Rashid for the test squad as 'ridiculous.' Rashid told BBC Sport: 'He can say a lot and he thinks people might listen, but I don't think they do.' He added: 'There has been a lot of hoo-ha. I don't see what the big deal is, with people talking about me being retired. I didn't say anything about retirement, which some pundits have said. It was not an easy decision, but when your country wants you and asks if you are available, you cannot just say no.' Vaughan responded to Rashid's remarks on social media on Friday. He posted: 'Being called stupid for wanting a player to be professional and play a red-ball game to prepare for the number one test team in the world is an official career highlight. The cricket world has officially gone nuts.' The first match of the five-test series begins on 1 August at Edgbaston. Rashid has taken thirty eight wickets at an average of 42.78 in ten tests for England, the most recent of which came in India in December 2016. In February, he signed a contract with Yorkshire to play only limited-overs cricket in 2018. He has not played a first-class match since September 2017. Writing in the Torygraph, Vaughan called his test selection 'a stab in the back for the county game.' He accused Rashid of being 'a bit dozy' and 'unprofessional' for not 'being bothered' to play for Yorkshire in the recent Roses match against Lancashire in the County Championship. Rashid said that Vaughan's 'opinions do not matter to anybody. When I mentioned at the start of the year I will not be playing red-ball cricket, he tweeted something then. He was being controversial and saying his stupid things then too. A lot of people have got no interest in what he says. It is about getting people to like what he says. I don't think he has an agenda against me. I played under and with him but sometimes ex-players come out and start talking nonsense about current players. If he wants to carry on talking just because he is bored with nothing better to say, then that is his choice. There will be people out there who are not happy. There will be haters, like the pundits who are saying it is a disgrace. That is not my fault.' Vaughan said Rashid's selection sent out a message that 'our county game, the finishing school for our cricketers, does not matter any more and that it is irrelevant.' He added: 'I've nothing against Adil. He is a good kid. He is a bit dozy but he is low maintenance and does not cause trouble. As a bowler he has done well in white-ball cricket but he has not been successful in test cricket because he bowls too many bad balls.' Rashid has been a key figure in England's rise to the top of the International Cricket Council one-day rankings. He took eighteen wickets at an average of 22.61 to help them beat Australia five-nil and India two-one in ODI series' this summer. Rashid said after victory over India that he would 'consider' playing test cricket, despite not being available for Yorkshire for first-class matches. England national selector Ed Smith said that the selection was 'a one-off' and that players must play first-class cricket next year to be considered for the test side. Yorkshire chief executive Mark Arthur said they were 'very surprised' by Rashid's recall and director of cricket Martyn Moxon said they were 'disappointed.' Asked if there was a lack of support from Yorkshire, Rashid said: 'At times, there can be. They might be disappointed for various reasons, but it would have been nice if the chief executive or head coach could have said, "well done, congratulations on being selected, good on you" - as opposed to being angry and upset for not playing red-ball cricket for them, even though I told them I would not be doing so. I did not do anything wrong in that sense. There is no reason for Yorkshire to react like this. It was not something I expected or wanted. It would have been nice to have got the support from your county or the people close to you, but if they do not want to give their support, that is their problem. I don't need anybody's support in that situation. I know what I want to do and achieve. If I give one hundred per cent and it goes well, it goes well. If it doesn't then I will still be happy. If they treat me like they have done, don't see any value in me and are disrespectful to me, I have to think about the future in terms of which county I play for.'
Geraint Thomas edged closer to winning the Tour De France by finishing second to Primoz Roglic on stage nineteen, the final day in the mountains. The Welshman outsprinted his closest rival, Tom Dumoulin, on the run-in to Laruns to pick up six bonus seconds and extend his overall lead with two stages left. Thomas leads Dutchman Dumoulin by two minutes, five seconds with Saturday's thirty one kilometre individual time trial to come. Sunday's processional finale into Paris will see no change in the standings. Tradition dictates that the yellow jersey is not attacked on the final stage, so if Team Sky's Thomas leads after the time trial, he will become the third Briton to win the race, after Sir Bradley Wiggins in 2012 and four-time champion Chris Froome - so long as he crosses the finish line in Paris. Defending champion Froome finished in the group with Thomas but dropped out of third place overall on stage nineteen, with Slovenian Roglic, who raced clear on the descent to the finish to win by nineteen seconds, jumping above him in the standings. A hilly thirty on kilometre time trial separates Thomas from the Tour title and while he is the British time trial champion - a crown he won last month - he will remain wary of the challenge of reigning world champion Dumoulin, while Roglic is also a renowned time trialler. Roglic will start the race against the clock two minutes, twenty four seconds adrift of Thomas. Froome, who has won four individual time trials in Grand Tour races and two Olympic bronze medals, is a further thirteen seconds back. The riders will go out in reverse order with Thomas last to start as race leader. 'I'm certainly in a good position but I'm still trying not to get carried away and think about winning the yellow jersey,' Thomas told BBC Sport. 'As soon as you take your eye off the ball, you can slip up. I've got a two-minute advantage but still need to ride well on Friday. I hope it's enough.' In his stage-by-stage guide for the BBC Sport website, Mark Cavendish picked Thomas as his 'one to watch.' Cavendish said: 'It's a mixture of ups and down on technical roads. It's not going to be someone who can only mash a big gear who is going to win this. It's going to be someone that can make a plan and stick to that. A lot of guys will go off hard and with a little kick in the last three kilometres are likely to lose a lot of time even though it's less than a kilometre long.' Throughout the race Thomas has looked to pick up bonus seconds, awarded mainly on the finish line, and he made sure he profited again in the latest stage. He sprinted clear of the six other riders he came into Laruns alongside to earn six bonus seconds for finishing second - he has accrued thirty three bonus seconds overall, to Dumoulin's twelve. Team Sunweb rider Dumoulin was also penalised twenty seconds earlier in the race for drafting behind a team car. With more than five thousand metres of climbing on the final day in the Pyrenees - taking in the Aspin, Tourmalet and Aubisque mountains - there was still lots to race for. Several riders looking to unsettle Team Sky attacked on the Tourmalet with Ilnur Zakarin the first to show his hand and Mikel Landa, Romain Bardet and Rafal Majka following. The quartet opened up a lead of more than two minutes on the seventeen kilometre ascent of the Tourmalet and they caught the day's breakaway, which featured Britain's Adam Yates, on the descent. Thomas was riding a more even tempo behind Team Sky team-mates Jonathan Castroviejo and Michal Kwiatkowski, with Froome and Egan Bernal tucked in. At one point, Landa moved up to virtual second overall, just eighty seconds adrift of Thomas, but when the break stopped working together and started attacking each other, their advantage tumbled. Dumoulin twice tried attacking out of the yellow jersey group but Thomas stuck to his wheel, although he later said: 'I don't think I was as comfortable as I looked - I need to start playing poker. I was able to just follow Dumoulin and the main thing for me was to put pressure on him to close to Roglic and that worked really well. It was the first time I sensed he was under the cosh a bit so it was good to heap a bit more pressure on him.' While Thomas responded, Froome dropped thirty seconds back and he needed the help of twenty one-year-old Colombian Bernal to pace him back. By the top of the Aubisque - the final mountain ascent of the race - all the main rivals were back together and former junior world ski-jump champion Roglic proved the bravest on the twenty kilometre run-in to the finish as they raced down the mountain.
Lewis Hamilton says that the pressure of this year's Formula 1 title fight with Sebastian Vettel is greater than he has ever experienced before. The Mercedes driver is currently seventeen points clear of Vettel after last Sunday's win in Germany but expects Ferrari to have the upper hand at this weekend's race in Hungary. Hamilton said: 'The pressures are huge. The demands and the desires of myself and Sebastian are higher than ever. The pressure is higher than ever. I am not fazed by it. I am excited by it.' Vettel crashed out of the lead in Germany in the difficult late stages of the race when it was raining and the drivers were using slick tyres. Hamilton, who said that his drive to victory from fourteenth on the grid was one of the greatest of his career, said: 'I do take a lot of pride in being a perfectionist and not making mistakes. With the pressure we are under, I really work hard to position myself mentally and physically that I am the last to crack. It is not easy but I am happy with where it is right now.' He added: 'Last year, I'm sure we reached just as high heights in terms of pressure at some point. It is just that this year it is even closer than last year so the smallest mistakes are even more costly. So there is more pressure on that. We are racing a team that are faster than us this year. Last year, we were quite balanced. There were some weekends, they were faster than us, some weekends we were faster than them. This year it is swinging more in their direction, so we are having to over-deliver on weekends and try to pull out more on weekends when we are not quick enough so the pressure to extract every last millimetre is greater than ever if I want to be number one at the end.' Hamilton said that the psychological aspects of performing at his best throughout a twenty one-race season that lasts nine months were extreme. 'You don't see us away from the track and that is the most demanding thing,' he said. 'Keeping your mind in the game from March to November, arriving every weekend one hundred per cent. I can honestly say not every single weekend I have hit the nail on the head and been able to do that. There are parts of my performance this year that are not perfect. Last year I was great in qualifying, this year it has been an area I am constantly trying to work on - starts were more consistent last year, there are always areas, there is always something.' Vettel did not talk to the media on Thursday following the death of Sergio Marchionne on Wednesday, four days after he was replaced as president and chief executive officer of Ferrari after becoming ill from complications following shoulder surgery. Hamilton said that he expected Ferrari and, potentially, Red Bull to be stronger than Mercedes this weekend. 'This weekend is going to be the same challenges as every year,' he said. 'We've got the Red Bulls - it is not a power circuit and they are quite often close. Ferrari were quickest here last year. It is probably going to be the same this weekend, we are going to try our hardest to improve on that. Maybe tomorrow we will get in the car and we will have great pace; the car will work really well here. This is a really tough track, very hot, the way the corners are laid out has not in the past been good for our car package. Our car likes to be on a more open circuit, more high-speed, downforce-dependency corners. This is mostly medium- and low-speed, so it will be interesting.' Red Bull, who have won three grands prix this year but have struggled for competitiveness in recent races, have identified this weekend as one of their best chances of another win as the circuit layout does not penalise the power deficit of their Renault engine as much as other tracks.
UFC fighter Conor McGregor has pleaded very guilty to disorderly conduct in a deal with prosecutors to avoid jail time. McGregor had faced multiple criminal charges stemming from an altercation in April with other fighters. As part of his deal he is required to undergo anger management treatment. The plea will not affect his US work visa. In a statement outside the New York City courthouse, the thirty-year-old thanked the judge and prosecutors 'for allowing me to move forward.' He will also be required to fulfil five days of community service and, in exchange, will be cleared of criminal charges. McGregor had been facing twelve charges related to the incident at Brooklyn's Barclays Centre on 5 April. The charges against McGregor had included menacing, assault resulting in injury, reckless endangerment and criminal mischief. The most serious charges carried a maximum sentence of seven years in The Big House. In a two-sentence statement outside the courthouse, he said: 'I just want to say I'm thankful to the DA and the judge for allowing me to move forward. I want to say to my friends, my family, my fans: thank you for the support.' In April McGregor was filmed throwing a metal dolly into a window of a bus parked at a Barclay's Centre loading bay. As a condition of the deal with the Brooklyn District Attorney's Office, he was required to pay full restitution to the bus company, which he has already fulfilled. The coach bus had been carrying a group of UFC athletes and employees at the time. Two UFC fighters were injured and forced to withdraw from their scheduled matches. One of McGregor's teammates from SBG Ireland - MMA fighter Cian Cowley - was also arrested for his involvement in the incident. On Thursday, he too pleaded extremely guilty to disorderly conduct. McGregor's manager, Audie Attar, gave a statement outside the court, saying the Irish fighter would be 'getting back to business.' 'Now that this is passed us, we can focus on things that have been on hold for some time,' said Attar. 'Conor's been training. He's in shape. He's ready to go. Now it's just about getting back to business and we hope to have some news to announce very soon.' Last month, the father-of-one had expressed his 'regret' for the attack. In August 2017, McGregor - pictured below with another violent criminal - launched a boxing career with a fight against ex-welterweight Floyd Mayweather. The fight, which earned him one hundred million dollars was considered the richest boxing bout of all time. According to sports journalists, the legal settlement could clear the way for his return to the Octagon later this year. His manager said in an interview after the plea deal that the current champion, Khabib Nurmagomedov, will be McGregor's 'likely opponent' in a coming fight. Nurmagomedov was on the bus that McGregor attacked and was the target of his hostility.
Samoan Rugby Sevens player Gordon Langkilde has been charged with assault after an altercation that left Wales' Tom Williams with broken facial bones and two other players injured. The incident occurred in the tunnel after Wales' Rugby World Cup Sevens win over Samoa on 22 July in the United States. San Francisco Police confirmed Langkilde had been arrested 'on the charges of Aggravated Assault and Battery Causing Serious Bodily Injury.' Langkilde was booked into San Francisco County Jail, a police statement confirmed, while an 'active and ongoing investigation' took place. San Francisco's district attorney office confirmed that Langkilde has been charged with four counts, which included one of assault and three of battery. The initial police statement issued confirmed reports three Wales players were hurt during the tournament but says Langkilde is accused of 'assaulting' two players. The incident took place in a tunnel leading from the playing field to the locker room area. The statement read: 'Langkilde, a visiting rugby player (Samoa) is accused of assaulting two players of another visiting rugby team. A twenty six year-old, male (Wales) sustained facial injuries and a twenty one year-old, male (Wales) suffered broken facial bones. A third victim, a twenty four year-old, male (Wales) sustained facial injuries during the incident. Langkilde was taken into custody without incident at his San Francisco hotel.' The WRU says that no Welsh player is facing any sanctions for the incident with Williams believed to have broken his nose and cheekbone and will require surgery on his nose. A WRU statement said: 'Following the match between Wales and Samoa in San Francisco, an incident took place in the stadium tunnel which has led to the Samoa Rugby Union provisionally suspending one of their players. After a medical assessment relating to the incident, Wales' Tom Williams was ruled out of action.' World Rugby confirmed they were investigating the incident. 'The alleged behaviour is not aligned with the sport's values and the excellent spirit in which this competition has been played by the forty participating teams,' a statement read. 'World Rugby has instigated an investigation and the Samoa player will remain provisionally suspended until the final conclusion of that process.'
Everyone should have an ambition and one woman is dreaming big, according to the Metro (if not a real newspaper). She wants to have the world's largest bottom. Natasha Crown, a model from Gothenburg in Sweden, is so committed to her goal of a huge ass that she eats fifteen jars of Nutella every month. She likes big butts and she cannot lie, it would seem. Plenty of people are very happy about her ambition, it would seem, as she makes a living selling photos and videos of her rear and has racked up over eighty thousand followers on Instagram. At the moment, her bum has a circumference of six feet according to Crown herself. This is not big enough for her, however, so she is on a self-appointed mission to gain a further four stone. When she reaches this milestone, doctors say they will be able to 'redistribute the fat' and add it to her backside. 'The more I gain the better the bum will be,' Natasha told the Sun. 'I'll do whatever it takes to have the world's biggest bum. I just love the feel of having a big bum. When I walk, I feel all the jiggling, jiggling, jiggling and I start to feel horny with myself. My bum makes me feel sexy and makes me feel powerful.' It may not come as a surprise to dear blog readers that Natasha has already had a lot of surgery, starting at the age of twenty. Because, bums like that don’t grow on trees.
Police arrested a man at a New Hampshire Planet Fitness after he allegedly stripped down in front of other patrons then began exercising in the nude. Eric Stagno, thirty four, was very charged with indecent exposure, lewdness and disorderly conduct after police responded to the Plaistow, gym on Sunday afternoon, according to the New Hampshire Union Leader. 'The story we got from witnesses was that the guy walked in, stripped down right there in front, left the clothes and belongings at the front desk, walked back and forth across the gym a couple of times and then settled in over at the yoga mats,' Police Captain Brett Morgan said. When officers arrived, they say they found Stagno nude 'in a yoga-type position.' Exercising himself, no doubt. 'That's not right at all. Why would you do that? People are uncomfortable, make you uncomfortable. That's weird,' gym member Tony Nachef told WMUR. Witnesses told police that Stagno's behaviour made them 'feel uncomfortable, disgusted, sick and unsafe,' according to the Boston Globe. Morgan told the Globe that Stagno 'kept to himself' and didn't seem aware that he had upset the patrons of the crowded gym. 'The only comment he made was that he thought it was a judgement-free zone, apparently referencing their slogan,' Morgan told the Union Leader. According to the Planet Fitness website, their promise of a 'Judgement Free Zone' refers to a place where people can 'feel comfortable regardless of their fitness level.' 'To me, it's like, "What did you smoke before you came to the gym?" No, I don't think you should be at the gym naked,' said gym member Kat Lancaster. Morgan told the Globe that Stagno had 'drug paraphernalia' in his possession - although, probably not about his person - when he was arrested, but it wasn’t clear if he was under the influence at the time of his decision to, as it were, let it all hang out.
A sixty-something couple in Palo Alto reportedly got 'an unpleasant surprise' on Sunday when they awoke in the middle of the night to find a masked intruder in their bedroom. He said that he wanted to use the couple's WiFi. The burglar didn't get the password he was looking for, however. The homeowner leaped out of bed and confronted the intruder, shoving him down the hallway and out the front door. He then called the police. The Wi-Fi-seeking troublemaker was prmptly arrested by police minutes later. No one was injured in the confrontation. Palo Alto police declined to name the seventeen-year-old suspect because he is a minor. He was arrested for burglary - a felony - as well as misdemeanour charges of 'prowling.' He was also arrested for providing false information to a police officer - according to police, he initially lied about his identity when he was apprehended. The intruder had gotten into the house by 'cutting a screen covering an open window in the side yard,' according to a police statement. Remarkably, this wasn't the suspect's only legally dubious attempt to get Wi-Fi access that weekend. Just before midnight the previous night, police claim, the same young man was found prowling around outside another Palo Alto home. When the house's residents came out and confronted him, he 'asked to use their Wi-Fi network because he was out of data.' They told him to go forth and multiply (only, not in so many words) and he rode away on a bike that turned out to be stolen from their own back yard. Police were able to recover the bike from the suspect following the second burglary and he may face an additional charge for stealing the bike. And, being an idiot.
An Iowa woman who was ticketed for speeding in Nebraska seemingly did not take the citation seriously - deputies clocked her driving at one hundred and forty two miles per hour as she accelerated away from the traffic stop. The Lincoln County sheriff's office says that the thirty one-year-old unnamed woman from Council Bluffs was eventually arrested on suspicion of 'wilful reckless driving' after deputies caught up with her for a second time early on Saturday. Deputies first stopped the 2018 Ford Mustang on Interstate Eighty after it was recorded driving ninety two mph in a seventy five mph zone. The driver was cited and told she could leave. But, she took off at high speed and the deputies gave chase and nabbed her for a second time.
In February, a woman was working her shift in the cosmetics section of a department store in Tokyo's Chuo Ward. A man in his early thirties approached her, squinting and walking with hesitant steps. 'I can't see,' he informed her and asked for assistance in locating the restroom. This being Japan, where excellent customer service is always something to strive for, the woman agreed to lead the man to the men's room. Before arriving, though, he tumbled to the ground. When the woman crouched down to help him up, he grabbed and fondled her chest, then made a nippy escape. Police were contacted and, whilst looking through the store's security videos, they found footage of the man navigating the shop's walkways with ease, leading them to believe that he was merely pretending to be visually impaired and his 'stumbling' had been a wilful and naughty ruse. Based on the video evidence, on 9 July, police officers in Kanagawa extremely arrested Yosuke Mizokami, a resident of the city of Hadano. Mizokami, who has no significant visual impairment, admitted to being the man behind the groping and investigators are also looking into whether or not he was involved in multiple other cases of saleswomen being groped by a man who claimed to be blind which have occurred in Tokyo and Kanagawa.
A Louisiana man was very arrested Monday after he dialled nine-one-one to ask if there were any active warrants out for his arrest, police said. Christian Palacios, made the call to Thibodaux police, according to WGNO-TV. Responding officers reportedly asked Palacios if he knew the difference between an emergency and a non-emergency phone call and when he told them he did, he was arrested on a charge of misusing the nine-one-one system. Palacios was given a misdemeanour summons, which carries a penalty of up to thirty days in the county jail and a fine up to five hundred bucks, according to the station.
A bungling thief took a tumble through a fence when he struggled to pick up a two foot garden gnome. CCTV pictures - since widely distributed online - show a man taking the garden ornament before clattering into the fence. It happened at about 4:45am on Sunday 1 July, in Weekley Glebe Road, Kettering. Northamptonshire Police said that the gnome was later 'found destroyed' outside a nearby block of flats. Presumably, it wasn't laughing at that point.