Sunday, November 25, 2018

The Witchfinders: Burning The Witches With Mother Religious ...

'These are hard times for women. If we're not being drowned, we're being patronised to death!'
'Mistress Savage demands your presence. The ceremony will begin!' 'Anybody else missing the party vibe all of sudden?' 'Whatever this is, I need you all to remember the most important thing about dips into the past: Do not interfere with the fundamental fabric of history.' 'Even if something's not right?'
'What apparition is this?' 'Just another inexplicable wonder of existence you're not going to be able to tell anyone about.' 'Doctor, I understand you are displeased with me. And I owe my life to you. Not one word of this shall ever be spoken. And, even the name Bilehurst shall be erased from all records.' ... 'I'll keep my eye on you. So you, behave yourself.' '"Or else, we will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger."' 'Ezekiel?' 'Tarantino!' 'What are you all doing?' 'A brilliant man once said "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." I'm just about to prove him right!'
''You keep saying Satan but how is Satan manifesting himself here?' 'Blighting the crops, bewitching animals, plaguing people with fits, sickness and visions.' 'If all that's Satan, where do the witches come in?' 'They are in league with him! Kill the witches to defeat Satan. As King James has written in his new Bible, "Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live."' 'In The Old Testament, there's a twist in the sequel: "Love Thy Neighbour", which is why we've come, to help you fix your problems without killing anyone.'
'That's me, sire. North West division, promoted from Essex.' 'And, these are your underlings?' 'It's a ... very flat team structure! We all have our area of expertise.' 'Even the wee lassie?' 'Even me! Very handy undercover. Set a woman to catch a woman!' 'A cunning ruse using your innate aptitude for nosiness and gossip!'
'Here's the plan, you and me need to check out that mud and talk to Willa. You two, stick with Becka and King James, keep them here and make sure they don't kill anyone else!' 'King James?' 'It's a long story!'
'I have a great many artefacts; torture implements, charms and wide selection of body-parts! Here, this belonged to my first Witchfinder General. Scotty. He saved my life in Berwick. Then, later betrayed me so I had him shot!' 'What's this?' 'Careful, that's my pricker! ... Madam, do you have one of these? You may use this, it's my spare!'
'I wish to know all the secrets of existence.' 'Don't we all? But true knowledge has to be earned.' 'I'm not a fool, Doctor, I'm King James, Satan's greatest foe.' 'Yeah, yeah. It must be comforting playing that role. Hiding behind a title.' 'Just as you hide behind "Doctor", perhaps?' 'Who are you, really, behind the mask? The drama? What does it say on your garter?' '"Honi soit qui mal y pense."' '"Evil be to him that evil thinks." You wear it like a hero, even though you're killing and scapegoating and stirring-up hate. And you wonder why The Darkness comes back at you.' 'There is no Darkness in me? I quest for goodness and knowledge, beauty and art, all of God's virtues.' 'Your own mother was scapegoated, how do you square that with your witch-hunts?' 'What do you know of my mother?' 'You could have seen her before she died but you didn't want to, why?' 'She left me when I was not even one year old. What kind of mother does that? Why would I wish to see her?' 'No one will ever know why she left you, James, but you can't go hurting people just because you're scared to face up to the Darkness inside you. You have to be better than that.' 'Who are you? How do you know these things?' 'I know because ... we're all the same. We want certainty, security. to believe that people are evil or heroic, but that's not how people are. You want to know the secrets of existence? Start with the mysteries of the heart. I could show you everything if you stop being afraid of what you don't understand. If you trust me.'
'My father died when I was a baby.' 'I feel ya. I lost me mum. And me nan.' 'My father was murdered by my mother who was then imprisoned and beheaded.' 'Okay, that's worse!' 'I was raised by regents. One was assassinated, one died in battle and another died ... in suspicious circumstances. There have been numerous attempts to kidnap me, kill me or blow me up. It's a miracle I'm still alive ... It's a miracle that I have survived whilst, all around me, others fall.' 'You should definitely get yourself back to London, sire. Keep yourself safe.' 'God will keep me safe. As long as I do His work.'
'Why today? Cos this is my problem; I can buy that this is the biggest ever witch-hunt in England. Or, I can buy this is an alien-mud invasion. But, both on the same day, I can't buy that?' 'Why does the lassie speak of commerce?'
'I'm no witch, I'm just good at holding my breath and getting out of chains thanks to a very good weekend with Houdini!'
'Why are they obeying you? What happened, Becka? I thought they'd come to kill you. Which is a fair assumption given that they're carrying an axe! But, they haven't. Of course, they've come to join you. It's in you, just as it's in them.'
'It's time to stop being scared. There are more powerful people here than Kings and Queens. There's us. Together.' Well dear blog reader, as inevitably as eggs is eggs, guess what? This blogger thought that was great. A faux Robert Holmesque episode designed to do nothing less than terrify eight year olds and yet, really funny in places, too. This series' third - reasonably straight - historical and another little gem. Stick Bradley Walsh in a silly hat and you're guaranteed good time! Plus, you know, Alan Cumming camping it up like he's in Carry On Burning - with just a few subtle little hints of the scared little boy hiding behind the mask of 'The Wisest Fool in Christendom' - is always going to be worth watching. 'Honestly, if I was still a bloke I could just get on with the job and not have to waste time defending myself!'
The Witchfinders was watched by 5.66 million overnight viewers, a share of twenty eight per cent of the total TV audience, according to initial figures. That gave Doctor Who the fourth highest rated overnight audience for Sunday and the nineteenth for the week ending 18 November. Largest for the day was ITV's wretched, sick Victorian freak show, I'm A Z-List Former Celebrity Desperate To Get My Boat-Race Back On TV ... Please Vote For Me To Stay Here As Long As Possible (I'll Even Eat Worms If You Want) which had 9.73 million sad, crushed victims of society watching. Strictly Come Dancing's results show achieved 8.86 million viewers, while Dynasties drew 6.79 million overnight punters. The Little Drummer Girl had 2.29 million. Opposite Doctor Who, Z-List Celebrity Chase drew 3.95 million viewers, whilst The X Factor had but 4.56 million. The week was dominated on overnights by I'm A Z-List Former Celebrity Desperate To Get My Boat-Race Back On TV ... Please Vote For Me To Stay Here As Long As Possible (I'll Even Eat Worms If You Want), which took seven out of the top ten places for the week - a truly depressing indictment of Britain in a Twenty First Century filled with sneering horrorshow (and drag). And, we've got sodding Brexit to look forward to as well. Just, give me the suicide pills now. Final Seven Day-Plus figures will be available next Monday.
Kerblam!'s Seven Day-Plus ratings have been announced by BARB. The episode had a consolidated audience of 7.46 million punters - an increase over the initially reported overnight figure of around 1.6 million timeshift viewers. This total was made up of 7.23 million watching on TV and an additional two hundred and thirty thousand accessing the episode on iPlayer via PCs, tablets and smartphones. Doctor Who was the ninth most-watched programme in Britain during the week-ending Sunday 18 November, the show's seventh successive consolidated weekly top-ten placing. It was headed by the opening episode of sick Victorian freak show I'm A Z-List Former Celebrity Desperate To Get My Boat-Race Back On TV ... Please Vote For Me To Stay Here As Long As Possible (I'll Even Eat Worms If You Want) (14.17 million sad, crush victims of society), the two weekly episodes of Strictly Come Dancing (9.59 million and 7.71 million), the penguin episode of Dynasties (7.68 million), three of the week's five episodes of Coronation Street (7.63 million, 7.64 million and 7.55 million) and an episode of The Apprentice (7.51 million). Doctor Who once again had a larger consolidated audience than the other two Coronation Street episodes and higher than all the week's episodes of both EastEnders and Emmerdale.
The Bleeding Cool website has reported that Amazon Prime viewers who attempted to access the Doctor Who episode, Kerblam!, on Thursday of this week were, instead, presented with The Witchfinders, three days before the latter episode was due to be broadcast by the BBC. The article's author, Erin Wilhelm, notes that whether this, probably unintentional, episode mix-up was 'Amazon's payback at Doctor Who for poking fun at Amazon in Kerblam!' is not, at this time, known. But, it would be really funny if it was. Radio Times, meanwhile, report that the BBC are 'investigating the source of the mistake.' And, when they find out, there's gonna be big trouble.
Yer actual Jodie Whittaker has 'hit back' (that's tabloidese for 'replied to' only with less syllables) at louse-scum, politically-motivated, agenda-soaked 'critics' (that's tabloidese for 'shit-scum', if you were wondering) of the new series of Doctor Who who 'have accused the show of being too politically correct.' The popular BBC series has included storylines concerning Rosa Parks and the American Civil Rights movement and partition in India, though 'some' worthless waste-of-space bigots apparently 'aren't happy' with this. And, by 'some people', we mean half-a-dozen of the usual gammon-faced suspects on Twitter whose worthless, ignorant spewings have been picked up by some louse-scum, politically-motivated, agenda-soaked 'journalists' at the Sun and the Daily Scum Mail and the Torygraph who, seemingly, haven't got any 'real' news to publish and, instead, chose to focus on this crap. Some 'critics' (for which, read 'louse-scum, politically-motivated, agenda-soaked lice') have claimed that 'dwindling ratings' (which aren't dwindling or anything even remotely like it, the popular long-running family SF drama is currently getting its best audience figures in five years) are a result of a 'more diverse cast' and 'viewer frustration with plotlines that have tended to focus on non-white history.' There is, of course, a name for people who voice such opinions. Racists. And scum. Or, indeed, racist scum. Although this blogger stops short of the Independent's Pat Stacey in equating such wilful bursts of bigoted disinformation with 'The Big Lie, invented by Hitler, perfected by Goebbels and practised with dismaying success by Trump on his obliging base.' There's fake news, dear blog reader and then there's yer actual Fake News. Jodie has defended the show in pushing the issues forward although, to be honest, quite why she felt she needed to do so and give this nonsense the oxygen of further publicity is a question this blogger would rather like to ask her. 'What's the point of making a show if it doesn't reflect society today?' the actress told the Evening Standard. 'We have the opportunity with this show like no other to dip to future, to past, to present, to new worlds and time zones. There is never going to be a drought in the stories you can tell. It's always topical. Chris [Chibnall] is a very present-minded person, who is very aware of the world he lives in and is passionate about storytelling. It would be wrong of him to not have used the past. He does it in a really beautiful way.'
Or, to put it another way, dear blog reader, please allow yer actual Keith Telly Topping to quote, at some length, his friend Mark Cunliffe from the always excellent So It Goes blog: 'There are of course those who claim that the show isn't going strong right now. Those who refuse to accept that the ratings are some of the best the show has ever seen and who believe the show has become an SJW feminist ethnically diverse PC disaster simply because the show has dared to cast gasp a woman in the role of The Doctor and a black man and an Asian woman in the role of companions. Based on some of the absolute tripe I have been reading online on YouTube and the like, these people on the whole appear to be gammon-style brexiteers and 'mericans. Basically, people with an agenda and little actual understanding of the show's fifty five year history. Doctor Who has always been about social justice, it has always been about politics, about being the best we can be, about fighting injustice and tyranny and demanding equality and fair play and it has always, always been educational.' What He said. And that, dear blog reader, is why this daft little show about space monsters and a madperson in a box is still - and will continue to be - worth fighting for when it is being attacked by bigots and used by politically-motivated pricks with an agenda. Here endeth the lesson.
Rumours spread within Doctor Who fandom at a spectacular rate, dear blog reader, you might have noticed. Barely a week goes by without a new one - or several - cropping up. And, they're usually of the 'apocalyptic bad-news, the sky is falling, cancellation cannot be far away' type. Mostly, they turn out to be complete and utter rubbish although, as with rumours in every walk of life, now and again one proves to be more or less accurate (working, inevitably, on that old maxim 'treat every day as your last ... then, one day, you'll be right'). Recently, two new Doctor Who-related rumours have been doing the rounds. Both, are the sort of thing that get fans without a sense of perspective all worked up although, in the great scheme of things, either would - if they turned out to be true (or, even partially true) - be the end of the world. One is that because production of the next series of Doctor Who, which began last week, started around a month later this year than production of the current - eleventh - series did last year, that the 2019 series of Doctor Who will, as a consequence, be scheduled later than 2018's October premier. This has lead some people to speculate that the series will not be shown in 2019 at all but, rather, in early 2020. Indeed, the rumour has been so widespread that even the BBC's own media correspondent, Liza Mzimba, seemed to give some credence to it when the BBC News website announced the switch of the popular long-running family SF drama's 'Christmas' episode to New Year's Day. ('One other possible factor could be that a New Year's Day episode guarantees 2019 won't be a totally Doctor Who-free year, as it now looks unlikely Jodie Whittaker's second series will air before 2020,' he wrote.) The thing is, though, it appears that no one speculating about this issue had actually bothered to ask the production office itself. That is, until Starburst magazine did just that earlier this week. 'Rumours about both the immediate and longer term future of Doctor Who have been flying around the Internet,' the article's author notes. 'The BBC was happy to go on the record about the programme's short-term future. There had been a lot of chatter about Jodie Whittaker's second run in series twelve being planned for a broadcast in the spring of 2020, rather than in the autumn of 2019 as everyone had originally assumed. This is not true. We were told that series twelve went into production this week and that it will definitely be broadcast next year, as part of the autumn 2019 TV schedule.' That, Starburst added helpfully, is 'one rumour that has now been scotched.' And, well done to them for performing a genuine public service and, actually, asking a direct question and getting a direct answer. The second rumour which is currently orbiting fandom is that showrunner Chris Chibnall has, allegedly, not been very happy behind the scenes and is set to leave Doctor Who after series twelve. Quite where this rumour came from, what information - if anything - it is based upon and whether there is anything to substantiate it, the magazine doesn't say although it does then rather spoil its earlier good work by going into a couple of paragraph of idle speculation about this - and some related issues like, if it was true, how this would effect Jodie Whittaker's long-term future in the role. None of which is particularly helpful given that it's all based on a rumour of, seemingly, dubious origin. 'Both Chibnall and Whittaker have certainly looked happy enough during the pre-publicity for series eleven and with the ratings success they've had it would be a loss for them both to go after one more series,' Starburst states. Of course, as with all Doctor Who-related fan rumours, it's probably wise to just hang on until someone who actually knows what they're talking about comments rather than second-guess every possibility. That way lies madness and sweaty palms. However, it is worth noting that during the first year of David Tennant, Matt Smith and Peter Capaldi's time as The Doctor, variants on this same rumour went around fandom like a fart in a spacesuit; they stated that the BBC were so appalled by how bad the actors were in the role that they were going to replace them at the end of the series - or, there was another variant, that the actor(s) had had a massive falling out with either Big Rusty or The Moff (OBE) and had decided to leave of their own accord. Curiously, in the three cases, this did not happened or anything even remotely like it. This blogger has no idea if there is any truth in, essentially, the same rumour this time around. But, Keith Telly Topping knows what he thinks. He could be wrong of course, but he'll be surprised if he is. But, again dear blog reader, this is Doctor Who fandom we're talking about. Most of us - and this blogger is probably every bit as guilty as the next fan in this regard - seem to have a default setting of acting like rescued dogs in so much as, because we think we've been badly treated (by everyone) in the past, we seem to expect it to happen again and again. Keith Telly Topping has said this before but it bears repeating, when Doctor Who came back to TV in 2005, this blogger expected it to last two years, possibly three at the most. He certainly didn't think we'd be sitting here thirteen years later still watching a continuation of the same show. Everything, therefore, since around David Tennant's second series, has been a bonus for yer actual Keith Telly Topping. As an addendum, this blogger is informed that, apparently, there is another slight variant of the above rumour which states that Chib and Jodie are not leaving but, rather, that series twelve (in 2019) and series thirteen (in 2020) will both be produced, by Chib and star Jodie, but will both only consist of six episodes each. Fans appear to love indulging in these kind of Chinese whispers and ill-informed speculation it would appear. This blogger's first three questions regarding any rumour is 'there's a new rumour.' 'Okay, started by whom? Based on what? Supported by what evidence?' The usual answer to which is, 'dunno, dunno, dunno.' To be fair, the same could be said of rumours which, ultimately, turn out to be true but, this blogger retains the right to be doubtful until such times as the answer changes to something a bit less 'dunno.'
Friday of this week was, of course, the fifty fifth anniversary of the first episode of Doctor Who being broadcast. You knew that, right?
Next Friday, the fifty fifth anniversary of the second episode of Doctor Who being broadcast is, also, the fifty fifth anniversary of the first person - in this particularly case the Gruniad Morning Star's Mary Crozier - to opine that 'it's not as good as it used to be, is it?'
It's comforting dear blog reader that, in an ever-changing world in which we live in, some things remain universal constants.
Or, to put it another way, 'to Lulu-Demon and her incomplete education.' Which, this blogger is sure you'll agree, dear blog reader, sums it all up pretty nicely.
Crazy Tom Baker is turning his unmade Doctor Who movie script into a novel. Scratchman, co-written by Baker, the late Ian Marter and James Hill around 1976 was originally intended for the big screen but, like just about every other proposed movie adaptation of the popular long-running family SF drama, never got within a million miles of being produced. A script for Scratchman was found in 2006 after it had been donated to the British Film Institute by former Doctor Who producer John Nathan-Turner before his death in 2002. 'I love the improbability of Doctor Who,' said Crazy Tom. 'Reason plays no part at all. As in religion, the overriding thing is faith. It may be improbable, but just believe in it and it'll all come right. When I was approached about the book, I thought, "Why not?" I'm always on the lookout for a novelty. I'm very enthusiastic as I get close to darkness.' Scratchman follows The Doctor and his then companions - Harry Sullivan and Sarah Jane Smith - whose holiday on a remote Scottish island is cut short by the appearance of hideous scarecrows that are preying on the local population. The Doctor vows to save the islanders, who are living in fear, but it doesn't go to plan, as The Doctor and his friends have fallen into a trap and Scratchman is coming for them. With the fate of the universe hanging in the balance, The Doctor must battle an ancient force from another dimension, one who claims to be The Devil. In the unlikely event that it had ever been made, Vincent Price was the writers' choice to play the titular villain. The novel will be published in January 2019.
On an average week, dear blog reader, if Keith Telly Topping manages to get the correct answer to but one question on From The North favourite Only Connect before either of the teams then he's really proud of himself. On Monday's episode, however, he managed to get three (including the picture round which he never gets). Either the questions on this one were easier than usual, or this blogger has suddenly acquired a tinge of genius; hopefully it's the latter, particularly as there appeared to be two pretty strong teams competing on this episode (the Birdwatchers and the Dicers).
Things we learned from this week's Only Connect: According to the divine Victoria her mother, Anne Kasriel, 'tries to stay away from the media, unlike the rest of her screaming family!' However, she once had a letter published in The Times about the meaning behind the traditional sea-shanty 'What Shall We Do With A Drunken Sailor?' Which is, Victoria claimed with no supporting evidence, actually about erectile dysfunction. 'If you Google Doctor Anne Coren,' Victoria advised viewers, 'you'll find [it]. I don't think she's published any medical papers, just one letter in The Times!'
From The North's first two TV Comedy Moment(s) Of The Week came in Tuesday's episode of MasterChef: The Professionals. And, inevitably, it was the standard MasterChef trick of the producers choosing to include in the episode a couple of boastful, self-aggrandising comments from a pair of chefs who, subsequently, proved not to be quite a shit-hot as they, seemingly, thought they were. Firstly, there was Simon who, before the Skills Test, stated that he wanted 'to blow [the judges] socks off and show them what I can do.' And, as it turned out, he certainly did blow their socks off - albeit probably not in quite the way he would have wished. In particular, there was the moment when Marcus Wareing spat his pasta out and opined that 'there's not one part of what you've done today that's impressed me at all.' And, if you freeze-frame the episode on iPlayer you can see the exact moment when Simon's heart falls to the floor and shatters into a million tiny fragments.
Then there was John who appeared to be - and, again, he can only blame himself and the editing choices made by the production team for the following assessment - extremely full of himself at the start of the episode: 'I'm very competitive,' he boasted. 'I'm not here to make friends.' Again, that proved to be a very perceptive comment of what was to come and he certainly didn't make any friends with his Skills Test - making a chicken and bacon sandwich. It went less-than-well despite John saying that this was an 'easier' task than he was expecting. 'Little bit disappointed,' he whined after Marcus, sour-faced Monica Galetti and, even Gregg Wallace, had ripped him a new one over how 'rustic' the sarnie he served to them was. Later, he repeated his 'face-like-a-smacked-arse' demeanour when he was eliminated for a Signature Dish that was, Marcus considered, 'all over the place. It doesn't work.' John was going home, he said, 'a bit sooner than I expected.' We'd never have guessed that from your earlier comments, mate. When, dear blog reader, will contestants on the various MasterChef shows get through their head what all regular viewers of the show(s) could've told them in advance - that when the producers encourage chefs in the pre-game interviews to big themselves and their own abilities up like they're God's gift to food, those comments will always be used against them in the event that they, subsequently, have a right 'mare in the kitchen? And, that they will be made to look like a plank in front of millions of punters in the event that things do go wrong. Hopefully, from a viewers' perspective, they will never learn this basic lesson. Because, let's face it, like the man - almost - said, comedy doesn't get any better than this!
From The North's second TV Comedy Moment Of The Week came in Friday's episode of Would I Lie To You? and Lee Mack - fresh from his great turn on Doctor Who last week - claiming that he had been invited to the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. The episode in question had, in fact, been filmed on the day of the wedding - 19 May - and, Lee claimed he'd had to knock back the invite 'because I had to come here and do this!' He added that the Duke of Sussex is a big fan of the BBC comedy panel show prompting David Mitchell to reply: 'If this is true, it's a big blow to me and Rob' who were not invited! 'George Clooney, David Beckham, Oprah Winfrey, Lee ...' added Richard Osman. 'Oh, so they didn't even know my surname?' What followed was about five minutes of gloriously daft comedy which culminated in Lee informing his stunned colleagues that it was, in fact, true. Then, revealing - in the best traditions of the show - that it wasn't!
Sir David Attenborough would have rescued the penguins at the centre of last Sunday's episode of Dynasties, the show's executive producer says. The latest BBC nature series, fronted by the broadcaster, saw the crew step in to help a number of trapped birds. Mike Gunton, the series executive producer, told the BBC: 'I was speaking to David about it yesterday and he said he would have done the same too.' Many who commented on social media and numerous other natural history filmmakers also praised the action of the film crew. Gunton said although he was not involved in the decision to dig steps out of a ravine the penguins and their chicks had become stuck in, he would have intervened, too, had he been there. 'It's such an unusual circumstance to do this,' he told BBC Radio 5Live. 'And there are lots of situations where you couldn't and shouldn't and wouldn't. But, I think in this situation there were so many factors. There were no animals going to suffer by intervening. It wasn't dangerous. You weren't touching the animals and it was just felt by doing this. They had the opportunity to not have to keep slipping down the slope.' A number of females were seen getting blown into a gully in a storm, unable to to get out because of the steep walls of snow and ice they were surrounded by. Gunton said that ninety nine per cent of the time it was 'not appropriate' for filmmakers to intervene - including in the case of David the chimpanzee who featured in the previous week's episode. 'That would be very dangerous - but also what could you do? People don't carry around a full veterinary medical kit. Also, you would have upset a dynamic that was going on between the creatures in that group. That would be changing the path of nature and that wouldn't really be acceptable.' In 2013, Sir David defended the decision to film the death of a baby elephant in the BBC's Africa series, saying it was 'very important' to simply observe. The harrowing scene drew complaints at the time from upset viewers, some of whom hoped filmmakers would provide the dying calf with help. Asked why it wasn't appropriate in that scenario, Gunton responded: 'That particular creature was dying of starvation [and it was] far too dangerous to intervene. If you tried to go there, the mother would probably have attacked you. What could you then do? You could feed it. Well, if you fed it, it would survive for maybe another hour. But because there was no food anywhere, ultimately - and this is David's point - ultimately, you are just prolonging the misery and you let nature take its course.' The programme - and series so far - has also been praised by reviewers, with the Daily Torygraph's Michael Hogan calling Sunday's episode 'a stately hour of TV.' The Independent's Clarisse Loughrey was impressed that the series 'finds the dignity in one of nature's punchlines, [the penguin].' She added: 'Attenborough's work proves that there's no animal out there that we can't forge a sense of connection with.' Writing in the Metro, Keith Watson said: 'This was a mini-drama, one of many in the Emperors' exhausting lifecycle, that struck a deep chord with our intrinsic instinct for survival. If you weren't gripping hard to the edge of your settee then you've surely got a heart of ice.' Even the Daily Scum Mail couldn't find anything to whinge about, for once.
And, speaking of Penguins .... From The North favourite Gotham looks to be going out in style, as set pictures of the series finale suggest longtime Batman fans will be rewarded with glimpses of a couple of classic costumes. The images sees Cory Michael Smith, who plays The Riddler and Robin Lord Taylor, who plays The Penguin, up to no good and getting themselves into trouble. Gotham's fifth and final series, sub-titled Legend Of The Dark Knight, is reported to be an adaptation of the No Man's Land storyline from the Batman comics, with Gotham City cut off from the rest of the world. Elements from the Batman: Zero Year storyline are also going to make their way into the series. Gotham will return to FOX in the US on Thursday 3 January for the first of its final twelve episode. No UK premiere date has yet been announced.
The Game Of Thrones TV series may be wrapping up soon - you might have heard about it - and the A Song Of Fire & Ice novels may be ending eventually, but that doesn't mean we are going to leave George RR Martin's fantasy realm behind. The author has been working with HBO on a prequel show, taking place ten thousand years before Ned Stark had his head chopped off. Whilst fans are eagerly awaiting more from Martin, he has stressed that this isn't your typical entry in the series, as it visits 'a different world.' Martin told Entertainment Weekly that Westeros will be 'a very different place' in the new series. 'There's no King's Landing. There's no Iron Throne. There are no Targaryens, Valyria has hardly begun to rise yet with its dragons and the great empire that it built,' he said. 'We're dealing with a different and older world and hopefully that will be part of the fun of the series. [Showrunner Jane Goldman] is a tremendous talent. She flew into Santa Fe and we spent a week talking about her ideas. She's going into territory that I haven't explored very much in the books. I've hinted about them. But she's a major writer, I love her work.'
Despite her success on From The North favourite The Brokenwood Mysteries - which returned to UK screens on Drama this week - and The Almighty Johnsons, Fern Sutherland recently told Woman's Weekly that she had considered giving up acting altogether. The thirty one-year-old was 'completely exhausted' from keeping up with a demanding work schedule, exercise regime and her own incredibly high expectations of herself. 'My body was literally tired, in every sense of the word,' she said. 'So I had to find out what was going on.' Fern was subsequently diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome. 'I had an absent period for quite a long time. I have cysts on my ovaries and, associated with that, crashing blood sugar levels and energy spikes, crazy mood swings and weight gain, and all of that kind of thing,' she added. 'Your ovaries are a part of your body that you don't want to have to think about and you just kind of assume that they're going to tick along nicely.' Fern worked with an endocrinologist who, basically, told her she was over-training. 'It was really interesting because a lot of women she was treating were yoga teachers, fitness bloggers, personal trainers, dancers or marathon runners. They're people you look at and you're like, "You are super healthy!" But they all had lost their periods.' Fern told the magazine that she 'learned to be kinder to herself' and to exercise less while eating more to help get her hormones in balance. 'It's been a big learning curve for me. I thought I was going to have to give up acting because I can only be a certain size or else I'm not going to get any work!' However, she was also quick to point out that she is not obsessed with being skinny. 'That's not me, but I am really hard on myself generally and one way that was coming out was just me flogging myself at the gym and it was interesting that my body was rebelling against that.' Another concern was her bone density, which was very low. 'When you lose oestrogen, your bone density decreases. My endocrinologist said I was on track to get osteoporosis, so it was like, "Okay, if I don't sort this out I'll end up in a wheelchair and I won't be doing much acting anyway!"' Fern says that her recent move to Canada has given her 'the space to recalibrate. A lot of the stuff I'm doing, I could have done in Auckland,' she noted. 'But here, nobody has any expectations of you, no-one knows you. You're a bit freer to rethink what you're doing and get rid of the things that aren't serving you any more. I was doing quite a lot of heavy weights and cardio. For whatever reason, that was not great for me. Now I do heaps of kickboxing, and I'm way fitter and I actually have more muscle. I'm a bit thicker, but I feel healthier and more energised.' The actress and her landscape architect partner, Jarrod Kilner, moved to Vancouver after filming for Brokenwood's fifth series finished this year. Fern says she is trying to 'crowbar my way into doing some acting' in Canada, while Jarrod has picked up work on 'fancy houses in Whistler. Lots of our buddies in New Zealand were having families and buying houses, which is super cool and we're really excited for them, but I think we felt we wanted to get some stuff out of our systems and we'd been thinking about Canada for a while.' Although she hasn't had any auditions yet, Fern has an agent and picked up a retail job to make ends meet. She also absorbed a few tips on how to break into the industry from iZombie actress Rose McIver. 'She is so delightful. She's invited me to things and been a good source of insight into how things work here. It's quite uncharted territory for Kiwis, but KJ Apa also works here and I've been trying to work out a way to visit Frankie Adams in Toronto because I think that would be really fun!' She might not call New Zealand home right now, but given Brokenwood's success internationally Fern is still finding herself meeting fans. 'I've been recognised a lot, which I was not expecting! When I started my retail job, I didn't tell anyone that I'm an actor. Customers would come in and be like, "Oh my God! It's Kristin." My co-workers were like, "Are you famous? What's going on?"'
A new series of images of Suranne Jones' landowner Anne Lister in BBC's forthcoming drama Gentleman Jack have been released. Written and directed by Happy Valley's Sally Wainwright, the production has also bolstered its cast list with the addition of Sofie Gråbøl and Katherine Kelly. Jones's character, Anne, was a noted landowner and industrialist of the Nineteenth Century and Gentleman Jack will centre on her return to her ancestral home, Shibden Hall, after many years travelling the globe. Reflecting on the recent cast additions, Wainwright said: 'It's so exciting that Anne Lister's story has attracted such an extraordinary cast and now we can add to the unique talents of Katherine Kelly and Sofie Gråbøl! Anne Lister is taking us up to Scotland and across Europe!' Katherine – known for her work on Coronation Street, Mr Selfridge and Happy Valley ... and also Class, although one imagines she doesn't tend to mention that too often in interviews – will appear as Elizabeth Sutherland, the sister of Anne's intended wife, Ann Walker. Sofie - best known for The Killing and Fortitude - has joined the production as Queen Marie of Denmark, with all of her scenes having been shot on location in Copenhagen. Excited to be a part of this huge production, Katherine revealed: 'I'm thrilled to be reuniting with Sally once again. I know how passionate she is about the life and times of Anne Lister, and I'm delighted to be portraying such a key historical character in Anne Lister's story.' Plus, obviously, it means that the likelihood of a second series of Murdertown has been reduced. How will we cope?
Sky Atlantic has revealed the second series premiere date of the Tim Roth drama Tin Star. Jim Worth and his alcohol-induced alter-ego Jack Devlin will be back on 24 January 2019 on both Sky Atlantic and NOW TV. The first series ended with Jim and his family destroyed by the chaos surrounding events from several years previously and series two will pick up with Jim and his grieving and shell-shocked family in the wilderness of The Rockies as they 'struggle to come to terms with their ordeal.' Series two will also see Anna (Abigail Lawrie) taken into the care of the religious Nickel family, but she will soon learn that they are 'harbouring some dark secrets' and it's not long before Anna is forced to seek her father's help. In order to earn forgiveness, atone for his sins and save his family and himself, Jim will also have to form an 'uneasy alliance.' Ahead of the second series' showing on Sky, the first has begun a repeat run on Channel Four this week, thanks to 'a unique deal' between the two broadcasters. Speaking about the terrestrial showing, writer/creator Rowan Joffé told the Digital Spy website: 'I'm thrilled we get get to reach a bigger audience. But I also have a special respect for Channel Four and the quality of their content. I, basically, cut my career teeth as a writer-director on a project called Secret Life and that was for Channel Four. So, the fact that they're putting this show on, there's a pleasing feeling of having come home.' Three new faces will be joining the Tin Star cast for series two, playing that family that take in Anna. They are John Lynch, Anamaria Marinca and Jenessa Grant.
The creator of True Blood has revealed that yer actual Benedict Cumberbatch 'almost' played a major role in the series. Based on Charlaine Harris's novel series The Southern Vampire Mysteries, the show told the story of telepathic waitress Sookie Stackhouse (Anna Paquin) falling for enigmatic vampire Bill Compton (Stephen Moyer) and ran for seven series before ending - to general viewer apathy - in 2014. Speaking at The Vulture Festival in Los Angeles, True Blood showrunner Alan Ball made 'the shocking revelation' that he struggled so much to find the right actor for Bill, that his search ultimately took him to London, where he met with Benny. During the same event, Ball also listed the other actors who auditioned for the role. Ball said: 'I read Benedict Cumberbatch. He came and read for Bill. Jessica Chastain read for Sookie. Jennifer Lawrence read for, in season three there's this werepanther girl and she was great.' Bell also shared details about the True Blood musical, which is supposedly still coming to Broadway. He added: 'It tells the story of vampires coming out of the closet. Ultimately it really departs from the book, because people aren't ready, and they're too bigoted and they end up going back into the closet.'
The Crown has given us a first proper look at Josh O'Connor's Prince Charles. Filming is currently under way for the third series of the Netflix drama, with a new cast on board to portray the main characters. In new on-set pictures, we see Charles with his mother - yer actual Olivia Colman - at his investiture as The Prince Of Wales. The took place in 1969 in Caernarfon. Alongside Colman and O'Connor, the third series has cast Tobias Menzies as Prince Philip and Helena Bonham Carter as Princess Margaret. Last month, it was also revealed that Camilla Parker Bowles will be played by Call The Midwife's Emerald Fennell, with the series exploring the first meeting between her and Chas. Meanwhile, previous Queen Elizabeth actress Claire Foy recently spoke to the Digital Spy website about whether she gave any advice to her successor, Colman. 'I managed to speak to her about it, but not in a character way,' Foy said. 'It's more about how she's doing, is she enjoying it, is she enjoying her days at work. It's not about the character, we don't need to talk about that. We're both playing two very different women in a sense and she's an absolutely extraordinary actress, so she doesn't need me to give my two-pence about what I thought about Elizabeth, she doesn't need it.'
It's been thirty years since the classic anthology series Tales Of The Unexpected ended. Fans of the series - currently in virtual permanent repeat rotation on Sky Arts - will be pleased by the, somewhat totally unexpected, news that The Little Drummer Girl and The Night Manager producers The Ink Factory are bringing the show back. Tales Of The Unexpected was a long-running ITV series adapting the short stories of Roald Dahl into standalone episodes. A hallmark of the show was its blend of dark humour and twist endings - sometimes mocked as Tales Of The Totally Expected. With its memorable opening title sequence and Ron Grainer theme tune, the episodes were introduced by Dahl himself, sitting by his fireside setting the scene for the story that viewers were about to see (a conceit once brilliantly parodied by Peter Cook). After a few series, Dahl's introductions were phased out and, in later series, the works of other authors were also adapted after the production ran out of Dahl stories. Memorable episodes included Lambs To The Slaughter (in which the police eat the murder weapon!), Royal Jelly (which saw Timothy West turning into a bee!), the sinister The Flypaper, Shatterproof, The Landlady, The Memory Man, Skin and Vicious Circle. Over the nine years that the series was broadcast, stage and screen royalty such as Sir John Gielgud, Sir Derek Jacobi, Sir John Mills, Ian Holm, Joan Collins, Elaine Stritch, Jim Broadbent, Michael Gambon, Susan George, José Ferrer, Joseph Cotten, Janet Leigh, Wendy Hiller, Denholm Elliott, Katy Jurado, Rod Taylor, Brian Blessed, Cyril Cusack, Julie Harris, Michael Hordern, Anna Neagle, Andrew Ray, Ron Moody, Alfred Burke, Roy Marsden, Julian Fellowes, Amanda Redman, Robert Morley, Nigel Havers, Michael Kitchen, Eli Wallach, Warren Clarke, Anthony Quayle, Telly Savales, Frank Finlay, Fulton Mackay, Keith Barron, Cherie Lunghi, Peter Barkworth, Anthony Valentine, Bernard Cribbins, Haley Mills, David Cassidy, Geoffrey Bayldon, Peter Cushing, Brenda Blethyn, George Peppard, Brad Dourif, Tommy Smothers, John Castle, Charles Dance, Richard Briers, Topol, Harry H Corbett and Siân Phillips all appeared. Deadline reports that The Roald Dahl Story Company is working with a number of writers hired by the producers on a slate of new adaptations of the author's short stories. ITV is not attached to broadcast the new episodes - in fact, there is no network on board yet. However, it is likely that there will be interest given the high-profile nature of the series. Remakes and spin-offs of Dahl's work are in huge demand these days. Producer David Heyman is currently working on a prequel for Charlie & The Chocolate Factory. Back To The Future director Robert Zemeckis is also working on a remake of The Witches, although that project has already been criticised by the original film adaptation's star, Anjelica Huston.
The BBC has said that it will have to close channels and make enormous cuts to its services unless over-seventies are made to pay for the licence fee, as it prepares to cover the loss of government funding which currently allows older people to consume its content for free. The corporation put a number of proposals on reforming the subsidy out for consultation on Tuesday, saying that the seven hundred and forty five million knicker cost of maintaining the status quo would take up a fifth of its budget and equates to the total amount it spends on all of BBC2, BBC3, BBC4, the BBC News channel, CBBC and CBeebies. Its proposals include making all over-seventy fives pay the fee, introducing discounts, or applying means-testing. Although the BBC insists that all options are on the table, it has been preparing the ground through careful political and media interventions in recent months. A final decision on any changes will be made by the BBC board next summer. The consultation acknowledges that some of the poorest older people would lose out under any changes and, because 'television can be a form of companionship,' some may be put at higher risk of 'social isolation' if they cannot afford the fee. Reintroducing the licence fee for over-seventy fives would also bring back the prospect of older people being prosecuted for non-payment. One option put forward for consultation is charging a fifty per cent rate for over-seventy fives, although this would still require the BBC to find over found hundred million smackers a year - equivalent to the entire budget of BBC2. Other proposals include raising the age of a free licence to eighty or applying a means test under which only people who receive pension credit will not have to pay the fee, although the BBC noted that not all of those eligible for the credit actually claim it. The Director General, Tony Hall, said that each option had 'merits and consequences, with implications for the future of the BBC and for everyone, including older people. We need to hear views to help the BBC make the best and fairest decision.' Free TV licences for over-seventy fives were introduced by the then Labour chancellor, Gordon Brown, in his 1999 budget to try to reduce 'pension poverty.' He agreed that the cost of providing the universal benefit should be paid by the Department of Work and Pensions to the BBC to ensure that the broadcaster's budget was not hit. The BBC were not consulted about the introduction of this. However, in 2015 the Conservative government struck a deal under which the subsidy would be 'phased out' and the broadcaster having to shoulder the cost from 2020 onwards. The government later gave the BBC responsibility for deciding what to do about the freebie, an atypically cowardly and craven piece of scum backsliding, effectively meaning that any unpopular decisions on charging over-seventy fives would have to be made by the BBC board rather than slimy government ministers. Politicians getting someone else to do their dirty work for them? What were the odds? The shadow lack of culture secretary, Tommy Watson ('power to the people!'), said: 'The government should never have privatised welfare policy in this way. The Tories promised in their 2017 manifesto that free TV licences for the over-seventy fives would last until 2022. Any change to the current system means they will be breaching their manifesto commitment. The government should step in and save TV licences for the elderly.' Older people are living longer, meaning the cost of providing the free licence is rising at the same time as the BBC is trying to attract younger audiences in the face of challenges from the likes of Netflix. The average age of a BBC1 viewer is now in their sixties meaning a large proportion of people who consume many of the corporation's flagship services are not paying for them. Frontier Economics research commissioned by the BBC for its consultation concluded that the number of households receiving a free TV licence will rise from 4.6 million in 2022 to around 5.7 million by 2030. It also found that the average over-seventy five was 'substantially wealthier' nowadays than they were two decades ago when the subsidy was first introduced.
Fiona Bruce - and her award-winning bottom - has been offered the job of hosting the BBC's Question Time, according to alleged - though anonymous and, therefore, probably fictitious - 'sources' at the corporation, in a move that would make her the first female host in the programme's history. The Antiques Roadshow presenter was an outside bet to host the flagship current affairs debate programme when it was announced that David Dimbleby would be leaving the show at the end of the year. However, Bruce reportedly 'impressed bosses' in 'a series of auditions held behind closed doors' earlier this year and was now expected to take over the programme from the start of 2019. If a deal is signed she would become the first woman to host Question Time since it began in 1979. Bruce's agent declined to comment when the Gruniad Morning Star asked them about this malarkey and a BBC spokesperson said they would not comment on 'speculation.' Alleged 'sources' allegedly suggest that an alleged formal announcement on the job was allegedly 'expected in the coming days,' with the final sign-off allegedly made at the highest levels of the organisation, including by the director-general, Tony Hall, and the director of news, Fran Unsworth. They're not alleged, both of them definitely exist. Other names on the final shortlist included the Newsnight presenters Emily Maitlis and Kirsty Wark. Others who took part in auditions for the job included Victoria Derbyshire, Samira Ahmed and Nick Robinson. The latter of whom is not a woman. If Bruce, who has occasionally hosted the BBC News At Six and News At Ten bulletins, takes the job she could be forced to give up some of her other presenting roles, such as the art programme Fake Or Fortune? The fifty four-year-old has spent her entire journalistic career at the BBC and previously hosted shows such as Crimewatch. Dimbleby has hosted Question Time since 1994. The programme, filmed in a different UK city every week, has become a focal point for debates over the BBC's coverage of politics and the key issues of national debate. The BBC has been regularly forced to defend even minor aspects of the programme - from twatty, agenda-driven louse scum - and it was an early pioneer of political debate on Twitter, with clips of audience questions and politicians' answers regularly going viral. This was not always for complimentary reasons - the complexion of some of those asking questions gave birth to the insult 'gammon' to describe angry ruddy-faced, white middle-aged men, usually of a right-wing persuasion. Question Time is pre-recorded in the early evening to enable audiences to make their way home. Dimbleby, who has only missed one programme in twenty four years - after being kicked by a bullock on his East Sussex farm was due to present his final show on 13 December.
A BBC drama about gay relationships is one of two UK productions to win awards at this year's International EMMYs. Man In An Orange Shirt, written by the novelist Patrick Gale, won the TV movie/mini-series prize at Monday's awards ceremony in New York. Goodbye Aleppo, a BBC film documenting the work of citizen journalists in Syria, took the documentary prize. Sherlock star Lars Mikkelsen won the best actor award for playing a priest in the Danish drama Ride Upon The Storm. Germany's Anna Schudt won the female equivalent for playing Gaby Koster, a comedian afflicted by a stroke, in The Sniffles Would Have Been Fine. Broadcast on BBC2 last year, Man In An Orange Shirt told of two gay romances - one in the years following World War II and the other in present-day London. Vanessa Redgrave was a member of the cast of the two-part drama, which saw Gale make his screenwriting debut. Spanish crime yarn La Casa De Papel won the drama series award at the ceremony, hosted by the comedian Hari Kondabolu. Presented annually by the International Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, the International EMMYs honour TV made outside the US. This year's event saw eleven awards presented to shows from ten countries. Two special prizes were also given to the producer Greg Berlanti and Sophie Turner Laing, CEO of media company Endemol Shine. Formerly an executive at Sky, Turner Laing spent five years at the BBC and has been tipped by some as a future director general of the corporation.
In recent years, Otto Bathurst has been the man responsible for kick-starting some of television's greatest shows, directing the pilot episodes of now-iconic TV series like Black Mirror and Peaky Blinders. For his next adventure on the small screen, he turns his hand to Philip Pullman's epic trilogy, His Dark Materials, but for now, he's busy with sadistic sheriffs, marauding maids and hooded heroes in the latest cinematic telling of Robin Hood. In an interview with Joe, Otto talks about why the world needs Robin Hood and he reveals the secret behind the success of Peaky Blinders.
After critical acclaim - if, hardly any viewers - in the UK, Phoebe Waller-Bridge's Fleabag is heading across the channel for a French remake. Leading French production company, Banijay Studios, acquired the rights to remake Fleabag, which is expected to start shooting in January. They are working alongside Studiocanal Original. The six-part series is being adapted by French actor and movie director Jeanne Herry, who has made a name for herself due to her work on the Netflix series Call My Agent! The French version of Fleabag will focus on Call My Agent! star Camille Cottin, who plays 'a thirtysomething woman struggling with a complicated love life and family ties.' The project is led by Studiocanal's former creative Vice President Dominique Jubin, who said, 'The series will start as a transgressive comedy and will evolve into a subtle, bittersweet portrayal of a modern young woman.' Whatever that means. She told Variety: 'Herry knows how to direct actors and portray the complexity and vulnerability of female characters, and she’s also a very good writer who can weave comedy, drama and emotions.' The French adaptation is set to alter some of the more traditional British elements of Fleabag, but 'keep the modernity, feminine perspective, offbeat humour and spirit.' Fleabag won a number of awards for Waller-Bridge's touching portrayal of a young woman navigating life in London after the death of her best friend. As well as scooping the Royal Television Society Award for Best Comedy Writing, Waller-Bridge (who subsequently wrote From The North favourite Killing Eve) also won a BAFTA for Best Female Performance in a comedy programme in 2017. A second series is due to be broadcast next year with Andrew Scott confirmed to join the cast.
Stephen Fry has admitted that he is 'very sensitive' to criticism. The actor has admitted to having 'a love-hate relationship' with social media and Twitter in particular, but Stephen also conceded that his sensitivity is 'pathetic.' Asked about his use of Twitter, Stephen - who has previously deleted his account before returning to the micro-blogging platform - told The Graham Norton Show: 'I am on it but the difference now is that I don't engage with it very much because of the comments and the unkindness. I am very sensitive. It's pathetic after all these years, but I am.' Stephen previously insisted he wished he could escape his own fame. But he also conceded that his inability to turn down interviews has affected his acting career. He explained: 'People say I play myself. I think the trouble is I have no gift of being mysterious - I wish I could be like my friend Hugh, who just says no to interview requests. Hugh can do it, Clint Eastwood can do it, so when they are on screen you don't know whether they are being themselves, because you don't know who they are. Why can't I do that? I can't do it. I don't have it in me. I do this wanky stuff day after day after day, being interviewed by you or, God help us, Pamela Stephenson or some other person, so when I play a character they go: "oh, it's just Stephen Fry in a beard. I've done that to myself, I think you could say."'
Yer actual Huge Laurie has been made a CBE by the Prince of Wales - the man whose royal ancestor he played as a foolish fop in Blackadder The Third. Huge was recognised in the New Year Honours for services to drama, having previously been made an OBE in 2007. Known for his comedy partnership with Stephen Fry, the fifty nine-year-old has also starred in House and The Night Manager. And, On Hundred & One Dalmations, though he doesn't talk about that one very much. For many, his most memorable character is George, the Prince Regent, in the third series of Blackadder. Two years later, Laurie went on to play another upper-class twit named George in Blackadder Goes Forth. Born in Oxford in 1959, Laurie studied at Cambridge, where he became president of the university's Footlights drama club and performed with the likes of Fry and Dame Emma Thompson. A talented rower - and, the son of Olympic gold medallist Ran Laurie - Huge also took part in the 1980 Boat Race, which saw Cambridge narrowly beaten by Oxford. Laurie has appeared in such films as Maybe Baby and Stuart Little and will soon be seen as Mycroft Holmes in the comedy Holmes & Watson.
ITV has finally confirmed that Noel Edmonds - who is definitely not mental - is heading into the jungle to join I'm A Z-List Former Celebrity Desperate To Get My Boat-Race Back On TV ... Please Vote For Me To Stay Here As Long As Possible (I'll Even Eat Worms If You Want). The veteran broadcaster - and annoying and disgraceful full-of-his-own-importance plank - said that he expected viewers to 'put him through absolute hell' and had been eating worms from his garden to prepare for his, self-imposed, ordeal. He also vowed to 'retire from' TV if he is crowned King of the Jungle. So, there you go, everybody, vote for Noel. It's the only way to get rid of him, it would seem.
Les Dennis has denied being responsible for a spate of graffiti in Norwich city centre. The entertainer took to Twitter to refute claims that he is behind a series of tags featuring his name. The sixty four-year-old, who is best known for presenting Family Fortunes, simply tweeted: 'It wasn't me.' Tragically, he didn't add that he didn't know who had done it and, even if he did, he wouldn't grass because he's not a filthy stinking Copper's Nark. An opportunity missed, one might suggest. Norwich City Council said that it aimed to clear all graffiti within two weeks of it being reported. Dennis' name has been spray-painted at several locations in the city. No one knows why. Some of the 'artwork' has already been removed but fans of the former Coronation Street actor have been quick to post their own sightings on social media. Dennis has, previously, spoken pf his love for Norfolk and has had a holiday home in the county for many years. A spokeswoman for Norwich City Council said: 'We ask residents to report incidents of graffiti on council property and public areas via our website in order to make sure our service runs efficiently. Where possible, we remove offensive or racist graffiti within twenty four hours and all other graffiti within fourteen days.' Whether the words 'Les Dennis' constitute 'offensive' graffiti, the spokeswoman did not say.
BBC executives have, according to an atypically painful agenda-soaked piece by some Middle Class hippy Communist in the Gruniad Morning Star, become embroiled in 'a bizarre internal row' over the censoring of women's bodies after blurring an interviewee's cleavage to avoid causing offence to viewers. The corporation's world news team travelled to Nairobi to interview Glamour Pam - who describes herself as 'an interior designer, makeup artist and Kenyan social media star - for a documentary entitled Fake Me: Living For Likes as part of the corporation's week of coverage of fake news around the world. But, the BBC Africa documentary, which looked at how people portray themselves differently on social media, was allegedly edited because of alleged 'concerns' about 'adverse reaction' in some of the more conservative African countries where it was shown, prompting a debate at the BBC itself about whether the corporation should be censoring women's bodies. 'The decision to deal with Pam's cleavage was made at senior editorial level at BBC Africa,' said one internal e-mail discussing the incident and justifying the decision. The Gruniad, however, quotes one - suspiciously anonymous and, therefore, almost certainly fictitious - member of staff 'with knowledge of the internal debate' likening the discussion to 'the panicked activities of BBC staff in the mockumentary W1A.' The anonymous alleged snitch also, allegedly, said that the issue 'had been dealt with by senior executives in the world news division.' The producer of the BBC Africa documentary told colleagues that a decision had been made during filming to 'zoom in so we didn't see her cleavage' but 'in some shots, particularly the wide shots, we were unable to do this and so had to blur.' This prompted the decision to digitally alter the segment in the documentary about fake news. The edited version was later uploaded to the BBC's YouTube channel. 'The decision was made because of sensitivity thresholds with one of the partners for our She Word programme,' the producer said, referencing the local channels that show the BBC programme in several African countries. In the interview, Pam discusses her attitude to social media, explaining that you have to 'look elegant and sophisticated' to get the best Instagram picture. In response to queries from concerned colleagues, the producer confirmed that 'there is no unblurred version' available but said it 'would be possible' for staff at BBC World News to re-edit the programme if they were 'concerned' and wanted to broadcast it again 'without being accused of censorship.' A - rather weary sounding - BBC spokesperson told the Gruniad: 'The She Word is broadcast via a number of BBC partner stations in Africa which are subject to watershed rules similar to the UK's. As the majority of our partner stations show the programme pre-watershed, we ensured the film was suitable for broadcast in those markets.' Though one suspects what they actually wanted to say was 'what the blithering fek has this got to do with you? You're supposed to be a journalist, write about some real news, not trivial snitchy bollocks like this!' Of course, the BBC as a collective is far too polite to say any such thing. But, this blogger most certainly isn't.
The body responsible for rejecting Iceland's Christmas advert had to remove staff pictures from its website, shut the company Facebook page and close its switchboard due to the level of abuse following the controversial decision according to the Gruniad Morning Star. As part of its festive campaign Iceland struck a deal with Greenpeace to rebadge an animated short film featuring an orangutan and the destruction of its rainforest habitat at the hands of palm oil growers. Clearcast, the industry body responsible for vetting TV advertisements before they are broadcast to the public, decided that it was in breach of rules banning political advertising laid down by the Communications Act 2003. Chris Mundy, the managing director of Clearcast, has revealed that the body has been 'drawn into a storm of abuse' as the issue made national headlines. He said that Clearcast received 'hundreds' of calls, more than three thousand five hundred e-mails and three thousand tweets. 'We were certainly unprepared for the deluge of contact,' he said. 'Unfortunately, this included a substantial amount of abuse and resulted in the team feeling threatened.' Mundy said that Clearcast had to shut its switchboard and take pictures of staff off the company website because they were 'being circulated on Twitter.' Clearcast also took its Facebook page down and has decided that even though the furore has mostly abated, it will not be returning to the social media platform because of the level of abuse. 'We took our company Facebook page down entirely,' said Mundy, in a blogpost. 'It was intended to be a social bridge between staff and agencies, but it was overtaken by abusive comment. We've decided that Facebook isn't a business-to-business platform and the page won't return.' Mundy also said the advisory body was not prepared to handle the level of media interest in the story - ;our initial responses to media inquiries on the first day weren't as clear as they could have been' - and that the Clearcast team had been 'collateral damage.' Clearcast says that much of the issue stems from Iceland's first tweet that the advert was not approved by 'advertising regulators as it was seen to be in support of a political cause.' Mundy says this is 'inaccurate' as Clearcast is 'not a regulator. It works on behalf of broadcasters to get ads on air.' The content of the advert itself was not the issue which breached the political advertising prohibition in the Communications Act 2003, it was the film's prior association with Greenpeace which is - rightly - deemed as a body 'whose object is wholly or mainly of a political nature.' Even though the Greenpeace badge was removed from the advert, the group had been using it extensively and that was what caused the advert to break the rules. 'As the broadcasters had decided they could not run the ad under the law, Clearcast had in practice no power to reverse the decision at all,' Mundy said. 'The winner has been the environmental message that has been widely shared. From Clearcast's perspective, it's a shame that the team has, to an extent, been collateral damage in getting the message out.' Earlier this year, Iceland became the first major UK supermarket to pledge to remove palm oil from all its own-brand foods.
Good news everyone! Sabrina is no longer being sued by Satan. So, that's a relief. The producers of The Chilling Adventures Of Sabrina have, reportedly, reached a settlement with The Satanic Temple. The Temple had very publicly threatened to sue Netflix and Warner Brothers earlier this month, alleging that Sabrina features a Baphomet statue which bears a resemblance to the one it created. Satan's lawyer, Stuart De Haan, said in a statement: 'The Satanic Temple is pleased to announce that the lawsuit it recently filed against Warner Bros and Netflix has been amicably settled. The unique elements of The Satanic Temple's Baphomet statue will be acknowledged in the credits of episodes which have already been filmed. The remaining terms of the settlement are subject to a confidentiality agreement.' One imagines, however, than any financial settlement will have been considerably less than the one hundred and fifty million dollars The Temple Of Satan was originally reported to be trying to claim.
A comedy sketch featuring two British music hall stars that enjoys cult status in Germany and other parts of Europe is to receive its UK premiere more than fifty years after it was made. Dinner For One - staring Freddie Frinton - was filmed by a German TV company in 1963. It has been shown every New Year's Eve on German TV since 1972, winning it a place in The Guinness Book Of Records. It will finally get its UK premiere this weekend at a comedy film festival in Campbeltown. Frinton and May Warden originally performed the sketch on stage for decades, but it was turned into an eighteen-minute film for German television. In 1962, the German entertainer Peter Frankenfeld and director Heinz Dunkhase saw a performance of Dinner For One in Blackpool. The sketch was recorded on 8 July 1963 at the Theater am Besenbinderhof in Hamburg, in front of a live audience. Frinton plays a loyal butler - James - who is helping his employer, Miss Sophie (played by Warden) celebrate her ninetieth birthday. Her four male admirers are long dead, so James takes on all their roles at a dinner party, becoming increasingly drunk as the evening progresses. Watching it has become a New Year's tradition in Germany. The Guinness Book of Records accords it the status of the most repeated programme ever. Versions of the sketch are also shown by Swedish channels at New Year's since 1980. Danish television has been broadcasting the sketch on New Year's Eve since 1976. It is a 23 December staple on Norwegian national television and a firm favourite in Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, the Faroe Islands and Austria. It is known in other countries as well, including Switzerland, Luxembourg and South Africa. But, despite such widespread attention, the sketch remains virtually unknown in the UK. Frinton himself is a household name in Germany, at leastin part because of the popularity of Dinner For One. A stamp has just been issued, fifty years after his death and next year a museum dedicated to him will open in the town of Bremerhaven. Yet his most famous sketch has never been shown in a British cinema or broadcast in full on British television (although clips of it have previously been broadcast, mostly notably on an episode of Qi). Frinton's family have now given permission for it to be screened as part of the Scottish Comedy Film Festival's Slapstick Weekend, which takes place at Campbeltown Picture House. His son Mike said: 'We, as family, are delighted that Campbeltown Picture House will be the first UK cinema to screen the legendary Dinner For One and that Freddie Frinton's comedy genius will be celebrated as part of the nationwide BFI season. Germany and a large part of Europe, have been enjoying Dinner For One as an annual New Year treat for nearly half-a-century and it makes us so proud that, finally, this perfect example of comedy timing can be appreciated over here. Dad would have been humbled to find himself in such illustrious comedy company.' Freddie Frinton was born in Grimsby and made his name as a music hall performer. He came to broader fame as Thora Hird's co-star in the popular 1960s BBC sitcom Meet The Wife but died in 1968 aged fifty nine. May Warden died in 1978. The screening is a coup for Campbeltown Picture House which reopened a year ago after a three million knicker restoration. The art nouveau cinema on the banks of Campbeltown Loch is one of the oldest cinema buildings in Europe. Several other slapstick films are being shown as part of the festival. A public custard pie fight is also planned. So, vegans are advised to avoid the gaff.
Z-List Love Island type person Zara McDermott (no, me neither) has told BBC Radio 5Live that 'revenge porn' victims need to be 'given the option' of choosing to remain anonymous. The twenty one-year-old claims that she has been a victim twice, most recently during her time on the crass and worthless ITV2 reality show. McDermott says 'advances in technology' have meant sending images 'is a new way of having sex. Victims need to be given the choice to remain anonymous, because they never got the choice on whether to release the photos,' she says. New research given to 5Live by the North Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner shows that a mere three per cent of revenge porn victims surveyed had successfully prosecuted an offender. The findings also show seventy six per cent of victims say they did not report their crime to the police, but nine in ten say they would have reported it if - and, only if - they had been assured anonymity. Revenge porn, which was made a criminal offence in 2015, is currently categorised as a 'communications crime,' meaning victims are not granted anonymity. Julia Mulligan, North Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner, launched a petition to change the law, as is the case for complainants in sexual offence cases. Mulligan says that the lack of anonymity means victims can be wary of reporting the crime, particularly with 'high profile victims.' McDermott says she first experienced revenge porn when she was at school, after a boy circulated an explicit photo she had sent him. 'I didn't know he had sent it round to other students until I was sat in class and a boy from school held the photo up to the window on his phone,' she recalls. 'I remember having a total meltdown and the rest being a blur - it was a really dark time in my life.' She says that she was excluded by her school for sending the explicit image, but the boy who subsequently shared it was not. 'The term revenge porn wasn't around then and girls were always seen as the ones in the wrong for sending the pictures in the first place,' she remembers. The second time she found herself a victim was this year during her time on Z-List Love Island, when intimate photos were leaked, supposedly by an ex-partner. The images were shared with his friends and they then surfaced online. 'There are still people who say if you don't want this to happen, don't send a picture - but sending pictures isn't a terrible thing to do. You just need to teach people to do it safely,' she adds. McDermott says anonymity for victims would 'help people continue to live a normal life.'
Matthew Wright has claimed that his time spent presenting The Wright Stuff has left him with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Wright quit the Channel Five show (now known as Jeremy Vine) in June. Speaking to the Sun, the presenter has admitted that he is still suffering from stress and a lack of sleep. 'It's difficult to deal with,' he claimed. 'I thought maybe it's just because I'm used to waking up early in the morning, but the doctor said, "No, it is a sign of post-traumatic stress." I think if I hadn't got out, or left when I did, I don't know what kind of state I'd be in today. The decision to leave was made slightly reluctantly at first, but when I look back now, after eighteen years of early mornings doing the same kind of thing, that's probably enough. If I had carried on I do think it would have impacted me and my family.'
Glasgow City Council has snivellingly apologised after a bus lane camera kept churning out hundreds of fines for motorists diverted for a Hollywood movie. The bus gate at Nelson Mandela Place in the city centre generates more than one million quid in fines every year. Last month, roads officials suspended the restriction so that other streets could be shut off while Hobbs & Shaw was being filmed. But it has now emerged that the camera remained operational. As a result eight hundred and seventeen individual demands for cash have started appearing on door mats. The sixty knicker fine can rise to ninety quid if it goes unpaid after a month. The restriction should have been suspended for the filming of the movie, starring Idris Elba and Jason Statham. The Universal Pictures film, which is a spin-off from the lucrative Fast & The Furious franchise, also features Dwayne The Rock Johnson. One motorist has just had his fine ripped up by the council after he submitted an appeal. He said: 'I just wonder how many people just paid up and didn't appeal? I was puzzled when it came in because I clearly remembered the signage saying the bus lane was suspended. This is not the way to run a road system, when you're firing out fines that weren't meant to be issued. At the end of the day, we pay enough in terms of parking fees in Glasgow without having rogue fines issued just because someone didn't do their job properly. It's a shambles.' In 2017 the Nelson Mandela bus gate caught out over twenty two thousand drivers generating more than a million smackers in revenue. The council shut off a series of streets around George Square between 23 and 29 October to allow two hundred film crew and actors to shoot scenes for the movie, which is due out next year. Glasgow City Council has been keen to develop its status as one of the most popular urban film sets in the country, advertising a free liaison service to movie producers. Roads laid out on a 'grid' system have helped it double as Philadelphia, New York, San Francisco and London for a host of major productions, The October shoot is expected to provide a seven-figure boost to the city's hotels, restaurant and hospitality industries. In the summer of 2012, night-time road closures were put in place in Cadogan Street, Wellington Street and the Broomielaw for spectacular stunts in Fast & The Furious Six. Last year, US-style street signs and post boxes were erected in the city's Bothwell Street to turn Glasgow into 1980's New York for the Sky Atlantic drama Patrick Melrose starring Benedict Cumberbatch. The council believe the mix-up happened when one of the production crew wrongly changed a street notice, on just one day of filming, diverting motorists into Nelson Mandela Place. A spokesman said: 'A total of eight hundred and seventeen notices were issued in that bus lane in W George St/Nelson Mandela Square on 28 October. All have been cancelled and we have contacted those affected to apologise.'
A man who installed a fourteen feet tall replica of a Star Wars attack vehicle by the roadside has been warned by the council he has twenty one days to remove it ... or, face the wrath of The Empire. Rather than The Rebel Alliance, it is Teignbridge Council that wants Paul Parker to remove the AT-ST in Devon. Parker said that he had hoped it would become a tourist attraction by the A38 and added: 'We wanted to try and raise awareness for Ashburton.' The council said after twenty one days it would 'send an official enforcement letter.' And The Dark Lord of The Sith. Probably. Creator Dean Harvey - who said that he was not a Star Wars fan - originally built the replica four years ago as a climbing frame for his daughters. He said it took him more than four hundred hours to make, but now that his daughters were older, he had decided to give it to Parker - who owns the field the AT-ST is now installed in. He said it was 'harmless' and explained local businesses had published a naked calendar in the past and were now 'trying to find something else' to do to raise Ashburton's profile. He said that he was expecting to be 'contacted' by the council and continued: 'I can understand it, I haven't got planning permission, so I have got to put a retrospective planning application in for it. Ninety-nine per cent of the comments have been positive, but obviously you have people that don't like it - you can't please everybody all the time.' Parker said he hoped the council would allow it to remain and denied claims the structure might be a distraction for drivers. 'Stonehenge is at the side of the road, is that a distraction? The Wickerman in Somerset - is that a distraction?' Well, it probably is if a policeman is getting burned in it, but that's not point entirely. Teignbridge Council said that it had written to Parker to explain the options available to him and that unless action was taken to remove it, he would be issued with an official enforcement letter ordering its removal. Like The Rebel Alliance, Parker said he had not given up hope.
A fan of Jeremy Kyle for, indeed, there are some sad, crushed victims of society who describe themselves thus, has posted a photo on Instagram of a tattoo of Kyle which he has had ... on his arse. Metro quotes Ryan, the chap who now bears Kyle's sour-faced mug on his bum, as saying: 'If you could take the skin off - especially in a few years - I think it would be worth a fortune. I could be sitting on potential gold dust!'
A French court has ruled that posters showing a woman tied to train tracks did not 'promote violence against women.' The posters were put up around the town of Béziers last December to celebrate the arrival of high-speed TGV trains. They carried the caption: 'With the TGV, she would have suffered less.' The adverts faced a legal challenge from a number of feminist groups and were criticism by France's equality minister. But, the court said they were legal, despite the 'questionable humour.' The posters were launched four months after thirty four-year-old Emilie Hallouin died when she was tied to TGV tracks by her husband and hit by a train in a murder-suicide in Northern France. Many Twitter users, including French Senator Laurence Rossignol, drew parallels between the posters and the tragic story. A local Socialist politician called the adverts 'odious.' But, the far-right mayor of Béziers, Robert Ménard, defended his campaign, accusing critics of 'political correctness gone mad' and pointing to a history of 'such images in old films and cartoons.' The court in the Southern city of Montpellier said the posters had been 'designed to provoke a reaction' and 'did not encourage violence' against any specific group, including women. After the French court threw out the complaint, Ménard tweeted that the case had been 'an inquisition in petticoats.'
The KLF's Bill Drummond, who once set fire to a million quid in the name of art, has started a new project - building a pyramid out of bricks filled with people's ashes. The structure, which has yet to find a permanent home, will eventually measure twenty three feet high. However, Drummond's team said that because 'for every brick to be laid, there needs to be someone who has died,' it could take up to three hundred years for it to be completed.
The cast has been announced for BBC Radio 4's annual adaptation of works by Neil Gaiman, with the latest project – an hour-and-a-half production of Gaiman's 2017 novel Norse Mythology – set to feature Natalie Dormer, Colin Morgan and Sir Derek Jacobi. The new adaptation is said to invite listeners 'into a world of Gods and monsters, fiery endings and new beginnings, tricks and trust,' and also stars Dame Diana Rigg, Nonso Anozie and Luke Newberry in a large ensemble cast. 'What is so marvellous about the Gods is how human they are, there is no infallibility,' said Gaiman, who also cameos in the drama as The Radio. 'They are the Gods of a cold place and they are always on guard against characters who are even colder – the frost giants. They're very "us," they're incredibly human and it is that humanity that makes them fascinating.' 'It's great fun when you step into realms of fantasy and radio is the perfect place for fantasy because you don’t need the million dollar CGI effects,' said Dormer, who plays the Goddess Freya in the drama. 'The listeners' imaginations do everything, so I really do think that radio is incredibly well suited to it – especially this time of year. Christmas time is the storytelling time of year, families together, gathered around the fire as our teller has us in this. The Gaiman productions always get an incredible cast, it's a pleasure to be a part of it.' 'I love playing fantasy roles,' added Derek Jacobi. 'I played The Master in Doctor Who at one time - that was a revelation, that was extraordinary. I had dear friends, whom I didn't know were Doctor Who nuts who, when I announced that was going to play The Master got quite hysterical.' Dormer previously played Door in the star-studded 2013 audio version of Gaiman's Neverwhere, while Morgan had the role of Newt Pulsifer in 2014's verison of Good Omens, an adaptation of the novel written by Gaiman with Terry Pratchett which is currently being made into a much-anticipated TV series starring David Tennant and Michael Sheen. Norse Mythology drama is adapted by Lucy Catherine for Radio 4 and will be broadcast on Boxing Day. Previous adaptations of Gaiman's work for the BBC have included the aforementioned Neverwhere and Good Omens, as well as How The Marquis Got His Coat Back, Stardust and Anansi Boys.
From The North's Radio Comedy Moment Of The Week. Shortly before tea on the afternoon of the second day of the third test in Columbo, Sri Lanka were sailing along at one hundred and seventy three for one in reply to England's slightly disappointing first innings total of three hundred and thirty six with Dimuth Karunaratne and Dhananjaya De Silva both having made half-centuries. It was at that moment, and despite England already having won the series courtesy of victories in the first two tests, that the BBC's cricket correspondent, yer actual Jonathan Agnew, decided to have a right good whinge about how terrible England had played.
Not atypically for old Aggers, it was a full-on Freddie Trueman-style 'it were never like this in t'maaaaaday' piece of apparent self-promotion from a man whose own international career amounted to but three test appearances and four wickets at an average of ninety three runs each. Two hours later, following impressive bowling spells by Ben Stokes (three for thirty) at one end and Adil Rashid (five for forty nine) at the other and some great fielding by England (notably Keaton Jennings and Ben Foakes), England had dismissed Sri Lanka for two hundred and forty on what appeared to be a benign, easy-paced wicket and, by close of play, were batting again with a first innings lead of ninety six runs. And, curiously, Agnew who is a man seldom short of an opinion, was keeping somewhat quieter than usual and muttering vague platitudes about England's 'improvement' through gritted teeth. Hell hath no fury, dear blog reader, than a cricket commentator with less ability to tip sugar than to tip which way a test match is heading. Ah'll si thee!
Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd has agreed to listen 'very carefully' to concerns over universal credit, conceding the system 'can be better.' One or two people even believed her. Making her first Commons appearance since getting the job last Friday, Rudd faced calls from Labour and the SNP to halt the roll-out of the single benefit which her predecessor in the job, that vile and odious McVey woman, had constantly refused to even entertain. McVey, of course, resigned from the government last week and, in what The New Statesmen filed in their Irony Alert column, immediately whinged that, since her resignation, her own salary had been halved. Rudd claimed that she would 'learn from errors' and 'adjust the system,' which she admitted 'had problems.' However, she then rejected a UN report on UK poverty as 'extraordinarily political.' And, she made clear that universal credit had an important role to play in reducing the number of workless families and tackling in-work poverty. The BBC's political editor Laura Kuenssberg said that she 'expected a change in tone' from Rudd, although 'not necessarily a major shift in policy.' The government's plan is for almost seven million people to be on universal credit - which replaces six working age benefits - by the end of 2023. But, the new system has been hit by delays and claims it is forcing some claimants into destitution and even prostitution. Labour has called for the next stage of the roll out - which will see 2.87 million people moved onto universal credit next summer - to be abandoned while the whole system is reconsidered. Answering questions from MPs about her department's work, Rudd was pressed by Tory Sir Desmond Swayne to 'ensure' the changes were 'measured and continually improved.' She replied: 'I share his view that it is vital as it is rolled out that we do learn from any errors, we do adjust it to make sure it properly serves the people it is intended to.' Rudd claimed she would 'take heed' of what campaigners have said about universal credit, following a call by eighty charities and other organisations for it to be halted. 'I am certainly going to be listening very carefully. Part of the benefit of the universal credit roll out is going to be making sure we get the expert guidance from the people who have been working in this field for many years and we will certainly be doing that.' But, Rudd took issue with the findings of a report by the UN's special rapporteur on extreme poverty who claimed last week that ministers were in a 'state of denial' about poverty levels. Despite the UK being one of the world's richest countries, Philip Alston said he had encountered 'misery' during his twelve-day tour. Asked about the report in the Commons, Rudd said: 'We are not so proud that we don't think we can learn as we try to adjust to universal credit for the benefit of everybody, but that sort of language was wholly inappropriate and actually discredited a lot of what he was saying.' The government has agreed on several occasions to slow the pace at which universal credit is extended across the UK. The vile and odious McVey woman announced earlier this month that claimants would be given more time to switch to the new benefit. Among a number of other changes, she said that they would not have to wait as long for their money and debt repayments would be reduced. In the Budget last month, Chancellor Philip Hammond announced an extra one billion quid over five years to help those moving to the new payments and a one thousand smackers increase in the amount people can earn before losing benefits, at a cost of up to £1.7bn a year.
Meanwhile, Police Scotland has claimed government benefit changes 'may' be linked to a rise in robberies. And, in other news, the Pope 'may' be Catholic. A force report suggested that welfare reform, including the introduction of universal credit, 'may' have helped push robberies up by thirty per cent over the five-year average. There were eight hundred and eighty robberies throughout Scotland between April and June, an increase of twelve per cent on the previous summer. The Department for Work and Pensions claimed that there was 'no firm evidence' to link any trends to changes in welfare. And, to paraphrase Mandy Rice Davies, 'well they would, wouldn't they?'
NASA says its InSight Mars lander is 'on a near-perfect' Thanksgiving trajectory. The probe is due to touch down on Monday, to begin its quest to map the Red Planet's interior. Engineers can take the opportunity for one last course correction on Sunday to tighten the line to the bulls-eye - but they may not bother with it. 'Right now we're looking really good and we might be able to skip it,' said NASA's Tom Hoffman. 'We'll be working on the final parameters we need over the next few days, so while everybody's off having turkey, there'll be a bunch of people at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory making sure we land successfully,' the InSight project manager told reporters. InSight, which launched on 5 May, has to hit a keyhole at the top of Mars' atmosphere that measures just twenty four kilometres by ten kilometres. If it can do that - and everything at present suggests it can - then it ought to come down right on top of a very flat landscape known as Elysium Planitia. The task of atmospheric entry, descent and landing is far from straightforward, however. Mission statistics show Mars to be unforgiving to the ill-prepared. Two-thirds of all landing attempts have failed. The reason is simple: A probe will enter the atmosphere at six times the speed of a high-velocity bullet and then somehow have to slow to a controlled stop at the surface - all inside seven minutes. An EDL strategy has to be perfect. The most recent effort in 2016 - from Europe - got it hopelessly wrong and slammed into the ground at terminal velocity. It was very messy. The Americans, though, have a pretty good record at this sort of thing and InSight will use the proven combination of a heat-resistant capsule, a parachute and rockets to make its drop to Mars. The probe is also equipped with really big fuck-off guns in case they come across any Ice Warriors, obviously.
For the second week running, From The Norths Headline of The Week award goes to the same story. This time, let's have a big round of applause for some bored sub-editor at the Metro for this little beauty.
Rafa Benitez, manager of yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved (though, tragically, still unsellable) Newcastle United will reportedly 'contact the Football Association to seek an explanation as to why he has been treated differently to Pep Guardiola.' Benitez was - quite disgracefully - fined sixty grand by the FA for breaking their rules which prevent a manager talking about a referee before a game in October. Responding to comments made by Wilfried Zaha the previous weekend, before Newcastle travelled to Selhurst Park to play Crystal Palace, Benitez merely said that he 'had confidence' in the referee Andre Marriner. And, that inconsequential comment cost him mucho wonga. The FA ruled the comment 'amounted to improper conduct and/or bringing the game into disrepute.' Which they didn't or anything even remotely like it. However, when Guardiola said that referee Anthony Taylor 'did not want to make mistakes' ahead of Sheikh Yer Man City's derby with The Scum last month, he was merely warned by the FA. Because, obviously, Sheikh Yer Man City can do and say whatever the Hell they like and no one in English, European or World football is going to do a damn thing to stop them. Because they're very rich. 'He is going to try to do the best job like we try as managers and football players,' Guardiola added. Privately, the Torygraph claims, Benitez 'is seething about the apparent double standards,' but 'suspects his complaint will be ignored, even though he believes it is a case of one rule for managers at some clubs, and another for those at the top.' The Torygraph claims that the FA felt Guardiola's comments about Taylor were 'neutral' - whatever the Hell that means - and, as it was his first indiscretion, felt a warning 'was appropriate.' Benitez had been fined before for the same breach of the rules and his comments about Marriner also included the sentence: 'He has a lot of experience, even if his record with our players is not that great in terms of red cards. 'That was deemed to be trying to influence the referee's decision-making, even though Benitez argued - with some justification - that Zaha had done exactly the same thing when he said it would take him getting his 'leg broken' for an opponent to be shown a red card after a game against Huddersfield Town. Meanwhile, the Sun has claimed an 'exclusive' in a story that Benitez 'is a shock target for mega rich Chinese club Guangzhou Evergrande.' They go on to claim that 'pals' of Benitez (tabloidese for 'alleged acquaintances' only with less syllables so that the brain-dribbling morons who read the Sun can understand the word) 'have revealed he has been contacted by middle men from China as they plan for their next campaign.' Evergrande have recently lost their title under Italian Fabio Cannavaro and are ready to change coach, with Benitez claimed to be their first choice. 'The deal could be worth up to ten million pound-a-year, with compensation to Newcastle not thought to be a problem. Benitez is discussing the issue with his family and friends.' Interestingly, this story appeared on the same day as the Sunday Mirra published what they claimed as an 'exclusive', stating 'Rafa Benitez insists he is not thinking of managing any other club next season.' So, dear blog reader, either the Sun are talking risible crap, or the Mirra are. Place your money here and, remember, when the fun stops, stop.
Several Championship clubs are reported to be 'gravely concerned' by the EFL board's announcement it has approved a new domestic broadcasting rights deal. Club officials met on Tuesday to discuss the five hundred and ninety five million quid five-year agreement that has been signed with Sky Sports. They claim that the deal has been done without them being fully consulted. 'Nineteen clubs from the league wrote to the EFL asking them not to sign the deal and to engage in meaningful discussions,' said a statement from 'several unnamed clubs,' which added that they felt they had been ignored. 'Championship clubs are gravely concerned that the EFL board has announced it has approved a new long-term domestic broadcasting rights deal,' it said. 'Our issues are not with Sky, who we respect and value, but with the way in which the proposed agreement has been negotiated and explained to clubs. We remain convinced that any solution to the broadcasting of EFL competitions can only be on the basis of protecting attendances and securing the financial position of all our seventy two clubs. There is a calm determination within Championship clubs to ensure the matter is not left here.' The deal, which runs from the start of next season until May 2024, represents a thirty five per cent increase on the previous contract. Before the clubs' statement, EFL interim chair Debbie Jevans had said she would ;review' how the league discusses future deals. 'Concluding these negotiations has indeed been challenging, as is the case when managing a diverse group of stakeholders, and the board took on board the comments and frustrations voiced by a number of clubs and has committed to reviewing the way the league engages with its clubs to ensure that we move forward in a collaborative way in the future,' she said. BBC Sport claims to understand that Derby County, Dirty Leeds and Aston Villains are among the clubs opposed to the new contract. 'The deal we have entered into with Sky, after fully testing the current market through our external advisers, allows our clubs the benefit of financial security which was an absolute priority for us throughout this process,' said EFL chief executive Shaun Harvey. 'It is a partnership that, as well as having the necessary financial benefits, provides the EFL with the platform to maximise reach and exposure for its competitions, alongside providing further opportunities for clubs to monetise some of those games not broadcast on television.'
Romanian referee Ovidiu Hategan was consoled by Liverpool Alabama Yee-Haws defender Virgil Van Dijk after the Netherlands' two-two draw with Germany on Monday. It is understood that the thirty eight-year-old official had discovered his mother had died during the build-up to the match. Van Dijk embraced the emotional Hategan at the final whistle. 'That man broke down, stood with tears in his eyes because he had just lost his mother,' Van Dijk said. 'I wished him strength and said he had refereed well. It's a small thing, but I hope it helped him.' Hategan recently took charge of Barcelona's Champions League victory over Inter Milan. He also refereed the second leg of The Scum's Europa League semi-final win over Celta Vigo in 2017. Van Dijk's intervention came just minutes after his injury-time equaliser ensured the Dutch reached the semi-finals of the Nations League. Goals from Timo Werner and Leroy Sane had put already relegated Germany ahead. But the Dutch implemented a tactical switch - which manager Ronald Koeman was originally unaware of - with Quincy Promes' eighty fifth-minute goal initiating their revival. The Dutch boss passed on handwritten directions, penned by his back-up team, to full-back Kenny Tete, which prompted Van Dijk to press forward. 'I got a note from [assistants] Dwight Lodeweges and Kees van Wonderen,' Koeman said. 'When we were two-nil down they asked me if we should change things around and I said "yes." Next thing I knew I had the note. So I gave it to Kenny. And, in the end it's fantastic that the equaliser came from the guy who was told on the note to push up front.'
Financial fair play needs to be more 'robust' and the rules are 'weak' in certain areas, UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin has told BBC Sport. FFP 'break-even' rules require clubs to balance spending with their revenue. German news magazine Der Spiegel has claimed Sheikh Yer Man City and Paris St-Germain overvalued sponsorship deals to help meet the rules. UEFA claimed that it would reopen FFP inquiries 'on a case-by-case basis' if there was evidence of 'abuse.' One or two people even believed them. City have claimed they would not comment on Der Spiegel's claims, apart from to describe them as an 'organised and clear' attempt to damage their reputation. PSG said it 'has always acted in full compliance with the laws and regulations enacted by sports institutions' and it 'denies the allegations.' Ceferin said: 'I don't want to speak about Man City or PSG but for any club the rules have to be strong and clear. We will act by the book, by the regulations. We know that we have to modernise. We know we have to check the rules and regulations all the time. We know that the situation in the football market is changing all the time. So that's also part of our thinking for the future - do we have to do something about the regulations to be more robust? Yes.' Asked if UEFA could use sporting sanctions against clubs that break FFP rules, such as barring them from the Champions League, Ceferin added: 'There are many things we are talking about - also sporting sanctions and everything else. It's the start of the debate. It's a bit premature to speak about it but we acknowledge the rules might be weak in certain points. Also laws in certain countries are changing all the time [and] adopting to modern times.' In its reporting based on leaked documents, Der Spiegel also said the clubs negotiated with FIFA president Gianni Infantino, who was then general secretary of UEFA, to agree reduced punishments on FFP breaches. UEFA found City had breached FFP rules in 2014 and the two parties 'reached a settlement,' with City paying a forty nine million knicker fine - thirty two million of which was suspended - while their Champions League squad was reduced for 2014-15. 'Our independent bodies will check it,' said Ceferin. 'I know they will. But we also know we have to keep our credibility. Nobody cares if it happened four years ago when the leadership was different - it is about the organisation.'
Ten-man Blunderland came from two goals down to extend their unbeaten run to thirteen games in League One with a two-two draw at Walsall - despite Max Power's third red card of the season. Power was extremely sent off for a reckless challenge on Liam Kinsella after twenty two minutes but Aiden McGeady and Lynden Gooch rescued a point after Josh Gordon and Josh Ginnelly had put Walsall in control. Guy Incognito and Joey Jo-Jo Junior Shabadoo managed to stay on the pitch despite Power's dismissal.
An attack on the Boca Juniors team bus by River Plate supporters has led to kick-off in the final of the Copa Libertadores being postponed. According to reports in Argentina, Boca players suffered cuts from the glass from broken windows and were also affected by the tear gas used by police. The incident occurred as the team made its way to River Plate's Monumental stadium in Buenos Aires. Three years ago, a Copa Libertadores game between River and Boca Juniors was abandoned at half-time after Boca fans attacked the River players with pepper spray in the tunnel. Boca were kicked out of the competition, while River were given a bye into the quarter-finals.
Mick McCarthy will be unveiled as Republic of Ireland boss on Sunday but he will be replaced by Stephen Kenny after the Euro 2020 finals. McCarthy has signed a two-year deal while Dundalk manager Kenny will take charge of the Republic's under twenty one side before moving up to the senior post. It was expected that McCarthy would succeed Martin O'Neill and start a second spell as Republic boss. Thus proving how desperate Ireland are at the moment, given McCarthy's woeful record in club management. The sour-faced fifty nine-year-old, who stood down as boss of Ipswich Town in April, led the Republic to the last sixteen of the 2002 World Cup. He famously had a pre-tournament row with Roy Keane at a training camp in Saipan, which resulted in the Irish skipper leaving the squad in a geet stroppy and discombobulated huff. It was quite a sight. McCarthy quit later that year after the Republic made a poor start to the qualifying campaign for Euro 2004. Since then he has been in charge of Blunderland, Wolverhampton Wanderers and Ipswich. And is regarded by fans of all three as a talentless clown.
A group of MPs have been reprimanded for playing football in the chamber of the House of Commons. Hannah Bardell posted a video on social media of herself playing 'keepy-uppy' in the parliament after the sitting was adjourned on Tuesday evening. The SNP MP also posed for photographs in the Commons with other MPs including the former sports minister Tracey Crouch. Speaker John Bercow said that the 'historic chamber should not be used for this type of activity.' However, he said that several members involved had apologised and that there were 'no hard feelings.' Bardell and Crouch, a Conservative MP, had been due to play for the UK Women's Parliamentary Football Club on Tuesday, but the match was cancelled amid concerns that it would clash with votes in the Commons. The MPs later took photographs in the chamber wearing their football tops, with Bardell filmed playing keepy-uppy between the green benches. In a statement to the Commons on Wednesday, Bercow said: 'It has been brought to my attention that some football skills were displayed in the chamber yesterday evening after the House rose. I am informed that the doorkeepers on duty told the members concerned that the chamber was not the place for this activity, however, those doorkeepers were advised that permission had been given. Let me assure the House that that permission certainly did not come from me.' Bercow said that he had received 'gracious, indeed fulsome' letters of apology from Crouch and Labour MPs Stephanie Peacock and Louise Haigh. Another Labour MP, Alison McGovern, was also pictured wearing her football top in the chamber. He added: 'I think I can speak for us all when I say that our historic chamber should not be used for this type of activity and I gently remind colleagues if they are seeking to use the chamber outside of sitting hours beyond for the purpose of simply showing it to guests, frankly they should write to me asking for their request to be considered. I have said what I have said, there are no hard feelings and I consider the matter to be closed.'
The US Olympian Michael Johnson has spoken about making a full recovery from a stroke. The former two and four hundred metre world record holder spoke exclusively to BBC Breakfast about the stroke he suffered in August. The former athlete ad popular broadcaster said that his recovery was 'about taking very small steps' and revealed his difficulties in walking two hundred metres.
A curling team led by an Olympic gold medallist has been kicked out of a Canadian tournament for 'poor behaviour and drunkenness.' Ryan Fry, who won gold for Canada at the 2014 Winter Olympics and his teammates forfeited their final game at the Red Deer Curling Classic in Alberta after fans and opponents complained. The group reportedly broke brooms and damaged locker rooms. In a statement, Fry apologised for his behaviour. He was part of the Canadian curling team that beat Great Britain's curlers in the Sochi 2014 final. 'They went out to curl and they were extremely drunk and breaking brooms and swearing,' Red Deer Curling Centre facility manager Wade Thurber told Canadian broadcaster CBC. Thurber also said there was 'some damage in the locker room.' Fry and teammates Jamie Koe, Chris Schille and DJ Kidby were disqualified as a result. 'I wish nothing more than to apologise to everyone individually,' Fry said. 'I will strive to become a better version of myself while contributing positively to the sport and curling community that I love so much.' The Red Deer Classic bonspiel, or curling event, is a part of the World Curling Tour.
The parents of a girl sexually assaulted at the age of six by boys in her school playground have won compensation from the local authority. The council has not accepted liability but the undisclosed five-figure settlement could set a precedent. The BBC reports this is the first time the High Court has approved a settlement in a case of sexual assaults involving primary school pupils. The girl, called Bella to protect her true identity, disclosed the repeated sexual assaults to her mother only when she could no longer sit down because of the discomfort. In the following days and months, her parents found there was no help available for their daughter, although steps had been taken to support the boys involved. Speaking exclusively to BBC News, her mother said: 'We had a broken little girl who had been seriously sexually assaulted repeatedly over a number of weeks in school, feeling unsafe in school and she had nothing.' Bella's parents had to pay for her to have the counselling she needed. Since the assaults, she has had nightmares, become extremely anxious and is afraid of leaving her home. In their court action, Bella's parents argued that the school had failed to prevent the assaults, or to adequately train staff to recognise the warning signs. A member of staff had seen their daughter with her underwear partly removed and one of the boys standing behind her. The local authority has not admitted any liability but has paid a five-figure sum, which will be used to help Bella now and in the future. Her parents have been told she may need further counselling as she goes through puberty and has her first boyfriend. Bella's mother said that pursuing the legal action was partly about creating a precedent but most of all so that Bella had some tangible redress. 'It matters for her I think when she's older. She can make some sense of how she could be so seriously sexually assaulted so many times in a place where she should have been safe.' She hopes it will give her daughter a sense that some action was taken. 'When she finds out that not only were the boys not prosecuted, not punished, but also the people who were responsible for keeping her safe didn't even write an apology to say yes, we know we got it wrong and we're sorry.' The family hopes by talking about the court action they will draw attention to the lack of support for children sexually assaulted by other pupils at school. Where an assault is carried out by a child younger than ten years old, they cannot be held criminally responsible and, in the past, the police have often been reluctant to record incidents. Figures for peer-on-peer assaults involving children on school premises are not recorded consistently by the forty three police forces in England and Wales. Fifteen forces told BBC News they had recorded a total of five hundred and ninety three allegations of sex offences on school premises last year involving under-eighteen-year-olds as both perpetrator and victim. This included seventy one allegations of rape. Among the allegations, were two hundred and three offences where the victim was under the age of thirteen. Just thirteen forces could provide specific information about alleged sex assaults by children aged ten or under. They recorded fifty four last year. Solicitor Andrew Lord, from Leigh Day, says several other families are actively considering legal action. 'In my experience, I've had a dozen families coming forward, a number of those involving primary school age children. It's not a problem going away any time soon and it does need more recognition.' Since BBC News first highlighted the scale of sexual assaults, including rape, in England's schools, some things have changed. The government has updated the guidelines for schools in England on keeping children safe. For the first time, these include specific reference to peer-on-peer sex abuse. Ministers also point to eight million quid of funding for the counselling service Childline over four years, although that covers all issues troubling children. Rachel Krys, from the End Violence Against Women Coalition, said that Bella's case showed more still needed to be done not just to prevent sexual violence but to respond adequately when it happened. 'Girls have a right to be safe in school and parents rightly expect that policies are in place and staff are trained to recognise when a girl is being sexually assaulted and move quickly to stop it. Safeguarding girls from anyone who hurts them, including other children, has to be a priority. Schools can't continue to turn a blind eye or minimise the harm done like they did in Bella's case.'
A Quebec father has launched a class-action lawsuit against McDonald's, alleging the company's Happy Meals break strict provincial laws against advertising to children. Since its debut in 1979, the Happy Meal has been a staple of McDonald's menu and a go-to meal option on family road trips. But, some Canadian parents are decidedly unhappy about the hold the fast-food empire has over their children's stomachs. Antonio Bramante is the lead plaintiff in a newly certified lawsuit which alleges McDonald's is unlawfully aiming advertising at children under thirteen years of age. That would violate the province's strict youth consumer protection laws. Bramante, a father of three young children, says that he eats at McDonald's 'about once every two weeks' on the 'urging' of his children, according to the court documents. He estimates that he has spent 'hundreds of dollars' on Happy Meals, which are children's meals that come with toys. The Quebec father says the toys are 'often linked to popular film releases' and his children often want to return to the restaurant so they can complete their set of toys. He also claims the restaurant is 'directly targeting children' by displaying the Happy Meals toys at their eye level. 'In today's world, parents have to choose their battles. And what's the easiest thing to give into? It's to feed your children,' says Joey Zukran, the Montreal-based lawyer who filed the class action on Bramante's behalf. Quebec prohibits marketing to children under the age of thirteen, making it one of a handful of jurisdictions in the world to essentially ban all advertising geared towards children. The province has also had a law since 1980 that restricts marketing unhealthy food to children.
Police have apologised for providing 'too much detail' in a description of a man who performed a sex act in front of a woman in York. The North Yorkshire force had said it was looking for 'a fat, naked man' and described his sexual organs explicitly after the incident on Sunday afternoon. It said the appeal had 'caused upset to a number of people.' Not least, the chap who done the flashing in the first place. The details on its website have now been replaced with 'a more appropriately worded version.' The revised wording, which was also posted to its Facebook page, removed the detailed description of the man's 'small penis' and 'testicles that hang noticeably low.' It said officers in York were 'investigating a disturbing incident in which an overweight, naked man performed a sex act on himself in front of a woman student.' It happened at on 18 November as the twenty-year-old student was walking alone on Windmill Lane and on to a woodland cycle path in the direction of Hull Road. A force spokesman said that 'patrols had been stepped up' in the area to provide public reassurance. The suspect was also described as white, with a very pale complexion, aged between thirty five and forty five, about five foot ten inches tall 'with a fat build.' Which is still a prejudicial, frankly. A lot of people struggle with their weight, you know. Most of the people commenting on the revised Facebook appeal - which has drawn hundreds of comments - claimed that they 'preferred the original.'
A prisoner who was caught with a phone up his rectum claimed that the phone didn't belong to him. The four-inch mobile was discovered up Dylan Martin's ringpiece after suspicious prison officers 'picked up a signal' and searched his cell at HMP Bullingdon, near Bicester. Despite 'looking shocked' and adamantly telling the guards that the device had nothing to do with him, Martin had an extra half-a-year added to the end of his sentence for his bad and naughty ways. 'His excuse crumbled after guards discovered the SIM card inside the phone had his family and friends as contacts,' the Sun reports. Martin was given extra jail time at Oxford Crown Court after admitting he had a mobile phone in prison - up his arse - 'without permission,' according to the Oxford Mail. The court heard the jail's mobile phone detection equipment 'picked up a signal' coming from his cell on 4 August this year. When guards searched his cell and, eventually, his person, Martin owned up to having the Samsung phone rammed up his Gary Glitter 'but insisted it was not his.' Defence barrister Vida Simpeh said, in mitigation, that Martin had 'made good progress' whilst in prison, going on several rehabilitation courses and was gearing up for his release in April 2019. But Judge Ian Pringle said: 'You knew full well that was not permitted. It is a scourge on our prisons up and down the country the possession of mobile phones and you deserve punishment for that.'
Early morning customers and staff at a McDonald's takeaway in Edinburgh got some unexpected entertainment when a young man began dancing, half-naked, on counters in the restaurant. Twenty nine-year old Ryan Dolan pleaded extremely guilty to 'committing acts of public indecency' on 22 July. Fiscal Depute, Nicole Lavelle, told Sheriff Peter McCormack that after first whipping off his underwear, Dolan began 'showing his penis and testicles and, thereafter, dancing with his trousers down.' He then jumped across the front counter into the staff area and took his clothes off again. 'He grabbed his penis and started to play with it, pretending to serve customers,' Lavelle said. He then started dancing again, 'carrying out helicopter-like moves with his penis,' she added. This went on for a few minutes before he jumped back onto the front counter, still half-naked, before pulling up his trousers and pants and leaving. Lavelle described Dolan's actions as 'boisterous acts, heavily fuelled by alcohol.' No shit? The police were called by staff and an officer recognised Dolan from the CCTV footage of the incident. Dolan was, subsequently, pinched by the bobbies. Sheriff McCormack was told Dolan had 'very little recollection' of the incident, however he did have two previous convictions for 'similar offences.' McCormack said he would have fined Dolan seven hundred and fifty knicker, but reduced the fine to five hundred notes because of the guilty plea.
And now, another story that sounds made up but is, in fact, completely true. Feminists have described a Marks & Spencer window display which suggests women 'must have fancy little knickers' as 'sexist and vomit-inducing.' The display, at the M&S Nottingham store, is juxtaposed with one which suggests men 'must have outfits to impress.' Which, frankly, speaking as a man (and a feminist), is also sexist and vomit-inducing. Albeit, probably not quite as sexist and vomit-inducing as the knickers one. A campaigner later altered the window so that it read 'full human rights' instead of 'knickers.' Word, sister. M&S claimed that the displays were 'part of a wider campaign' that featured a variety of 'must-haves.' Such as, you know, common sense and an understanding of the phrase 'likely to cause offence.' Another window display at the same Nottingham store is aimed at women and suggests they, too, 'must have outfits to impress.' Concern was raised when a photo was posted in a Facebook group called Feminist Friends Nottingham. M&S said its stores had 'various combinations' of Christmas window displays, but the same two displays would appear next to one another at some other branches. The retailer said in a statement: 'M&S sells more underwear, in more shapes, sizes and styles, than any other retailer, especially at Christmas. We've highlighted one combination in our windows, which are part of a wider campaign that features a large variety of Must-Have Christmas moments, from David Gandy washing up in an M&S suit through to families snuggling up in our matching PJs.' Guys, listen, when you're in a hole, it's usually a good idea to stop digging.
A teenager managed to lose his driver's licence just forty nine minutes after getting it, German police said. The eighteen-year-old was returning from his successful driving test when officers in the town of Hemer checked his car with a laser speed gun. He was clocked travelling almost twice the speed limit. 'Some things last for ever - others not for an hour,' German police wrote in their statement. The young man had four friends in the car with him, regional police in Märkischer Kreis said - and speculated that perhaps he was trying to impress them with his driving skills. Instead, he now faces a hefty punishment. He has been formally banned for four weeks, but police said he would only get his licence back after 'expensive retraining.' He is also facing a two hundred Euro fine, two points on his licence once it is restored, and his probationary period as a new driver has been lengthened from two years to four.
A Pennsylvania woman faces criminal charges after state police claim that she exposed her breasts to a trooper during a Thursday afternoon arrest. State police in York said they were called to South Charles Street in Red Lion Borough Thursday, where they found twenty five-year-old Brianna L Wilson. According to police, a warrant had previously been issued for Wilson's arrest. A trooper attempted to take her into custody, when Wilson flashed him. 'The accused became irate and exposed her bare breasts to the trooper in a taunting/inappropriate manner,' police said. The trooper's reaction to this inappropriate taunting was, tragically, unrecorded.
A man died four-and-a-half months after he was crushed trying to stop his dog, Rolo, mating with another, an inquest has heard. Tony Drew lost his balance and fell off a trailer trying to restrain his excitable cocker spaniel on a shoot in Clayhidon, Devon, in 2016. He died in hospital of complications due to his injuries the day before his birthday in April 2017. His wife, Bridget, described the death as 'a tragic accident.' Mrs Drew described two-year-old Rolo as 'a typical hyper cocker' who had been 'trying to mate' with another dog at the time of the accident. The court heard Mister Drew had been on a trailer towed by a tractor travelling at between ten and fifteen miles-per-hour when he lost his footing. Ray Smith, who was also on the trailer, said Drew was standing on a straw bale when he fell backwards and was run over by the trailer which was carrying twenty beaters and their dogs. The inquest heard Drew, a part time gamekeeper, suffered 'multiple serious chest injuries.' He died from respiratory failure caused by sepsis and viral pneumonia due to chest and abdominal injuries. Philip Spinney, senior coroner for Exeter and Greater Devon, concluded the death was accidental.
A Moroccan woman has been accused of killing her lover and serving up his remains to Pakistani workers in the United Arab Emirates, prosecutors say. The woman killed her boyfriend three months ago, they say, but the crime was only recently discovered when a human tooth was found inside her blender. She confessed to police, calling it 'a moment of insanity,' state-owned newspaper The National reports. The woman, who is in her thirties, will go on trial pending an investigation. She had been in a relationship with the victim for seven years. According to The National, she killed him after he told her he was planning to marry someone else from Morocco. While police did not reveal how he was killed, they said his girlfriend had served up his remains as part of a traditional rice and meat dish to some Pakistani nationals working nearby. The discovery was only made when the victim's brother went looking for him at their home in the city of Al Ain, which sits on the border with Oman. There, he found a human tooth inside a blender, the newspaper reports. The man went on to report his brother missing to police, who carried out DNA tests on the tooth and confirmed it belonged to the victim. According to police, the woman first told the brother she had kicked the victim out of the home. But Dubai-based Gulf News said that she later 'collapsed and admitted the killing under police questioning.' She reportedly said that she had enlisted the help of friend to help clear up her apartment after the killing. The accused has reportedly been sent to hospital for mental health checks.
A multimillionaire farmer died after his dog hit a lever inside the cab of his tractor, putting the vehicle in motion and crushing him as he was building a rookery, an inquest has heard. Entrepreneur Derek Mead left the JCB farm loader with the engine running and with the animal inside, as he worked on the structure in his garden. The father-of-three was crushed against a gate and suffered a fractured vertebrae and traumatic asphyxia in the accident on 4 June 2017. He was found by his son who called the emergency services. Paramedics tried to save him but, sadly, he died at the scene. It is thought the dog may have jumped up to see where the seventy-year-old was, and hit the lever, which was apparently as easy to turn on as a car indicator, putting the vehicle into motion, the inquest at Flax Bourton, Bristol, heard. Simon Chilcott, a health and safety inspector who investigated the incident, described the timeline of events leading to Mead's death. He said Mead 'has pulled off the road, come to a halt with footbrake, made it stationary and put the shuttle into neutral. It was still in gear. He is now out of the vehicle and had it been knocked at any point when he got out it would have started moving. You couldn't knock it as you are climbing out without realising you've done it. In the cab of the vehicle was a small dog and whether the dog has put its paws on the door to wait - or been jumping up to see where its master has gone - he has most likely collided with the lever. As he jumped up to put his paws up to look, he has put machine into a forward motion. Operating the lever is no more difficult than changing an indicator stick on your car.' Chilcott also gave a technical explanation of the vehicle's machinery during the inquest. To start the engine, a key is required and it has two pedals, an accelerator and brake, similar to an automatic car. There is a gear stick and a handbrake to the left of the seat which is firmly fixed and difficult to move without force. The mechanism knocked by the dog is called a 'direction shuttle,' which resembles an indicator and is located to the left of the steering column. Once moved out of neutral, the machine will move forward without the need to accelerate. Alistair found his father trapped against the gate and unresponsive. In a statement read at the inquest, he said: 'Dad was crouched down facing the machine with his back to the gate as if he had seen the machine coming towards him and ducked to avoid it.'
An American man has been killed by an endangered tribe in India's Andaman and Nicobar islands. Fishermen who took the man to North Sentinel island say tribespeople shot him with arrows and left his body on the beach. And, that was the end of his shit. He has been identified as John Allen Chau, a twenty seven year old from Alabama. Contact with the endangered Andaman tribes living in isolation from the world is illegal because of the risks to them from outside disease. Estimates say the Sentinelese, who are totally cut off from civilisation, number only between fifty and one hundred and fifty. Seven fishermen have been arrested for illegally ferrying the American to the island. Local media have reported that Chau may have wanted to meet the tribe to preach Christianity to them. But on social media the young man presented himself as 'a keen traveller and adventurer.' 'Police said Chau had previously visited North Sentinel island about four or five times with the help of local fishermen,' journalist Subir Bhaumik, who has been covering the islands for years, told BBC Hindi. 'The number of people belonging to the Sentinelese tribe is so low, they don't even understand how to use money. It's, in fact, illegal to have any sort of contact with them.' In 2017, the Indian government also said taking photographs or making videos of the aboriginal Andaman tribes would be punishable with imprisonment of up to three years. The AFP news agency quoted an alleged 'source' as allegedly saying that Chau had tried and failed to reach the island on 14 November. But then, he tried again two days later. 'He was attacked by arrows but he continued walking. The fishermen saw the tribals tying a rope around his neck and dragging his body. They were scared and fled,' the report added. Chau's body was spotted on 20 November. According to the Hindustan Times, his remains have yet to be recovered. 'It's a difficult case for the police,' says Bhaumik. 'You can't even arrest the Sentinelese.' Two Indian fisherman fishing illegally off North Sentinel Island were also killed by the tribe in 2006.
A former Danish gang leader who produced a memoir detailing how he left a life of crime has been fatally shot just a day before his book's release. Nedim Yasar was targeted as he left a book launch on Monday in Copenhagen. The gunman fled the scene on foot, police said. Yasar was taken to hospital but died of his injuries. His memoir, entitled Roots, was published on Tuesday. He had reported that he was the victim of an attempted assault last year. In the incident on Monday, a suspect dressed in dark clothing fired 'at least two shots' at Yasar, the Copenhagen Police Department said in a statement. An investigation is under way and police are 'seeking witnesses' to 'shed light on the matter,' the statement added. Yasar, who was born in Turkey and arrived in Denmark at the age of four, had led the Copenhagen-based criminal gang Los Guerreros - a notorious gang with links to the drugs trade, according to police. He left the gang in 2012 to join an exit programme after he discovered that he was going to be a father, Danish news agency Ritzau reported. He then became a mentor for young people and made a name for himself with a show on local radio station Radio24syv. Following news of Yasar's death on Tuesday, the station tweeted an image of its office building with the Danish flag at half-mast in tribute. Yasar's memoir, Roots: A Gangster's Way Out, is written by Marie-Louise Toksvig and describes Yasar's journey as he pulled himself out of the criminal underworld. Denmark's Justice Minister, Søren Pape Poulsen, described Yasar's death on Tuesday as 'sad and infinitely meaningless. I met Nedim once. I met a man who with all his heart wanted to create a new life and make a difference for others. My thoughts and compassion go to his friends and family,' Poulsen tweeted. Denmark has experienced an increase in gang-related shootings in recent years. A record number of shootings were reported last year, police said.
A Michigan woman has been sentenced to three-to-twenty years in prison for a July home invasion involving the attempted theft of some frozen sausages. Crystal Meranda plead extremely guilty to first degree home invasion in October before a Clare County judge. Sheriff's deputies say Meranda was arrested after entering a home in the early morning hours of 8 July. Meranda was found by the homeowners removing sausages from their freezer. On Monday, a Clare County judge handed her the well-harsh jail sentence along with an order to pay sixteen hundred and ninety eight dollars in fines and court costs.
A 'vicious, manipulative' stalker who turned her ex-partner's life into 'a living nightmare' after he broke a so-called 'love contract' has been sentenced to four years in The Slammer. 'Devious' Lina Tantash reportedly waged 'a ten-year harassment campaign' against Jarlath Rice, Lewes Crown Court heard. She bombarded him with twenty thousand abusive texts, hacked his voicemails and sent two hundred smackers worth of pizza to his place of work. Tantash was convicted of stalking at an earlier hearing. Sentencing her, Recorder Stephen Lennard told Tantash: 'You are a vicious, manipulative and devious woman.' Prosecutor Ryan Richter told the court Rice and Tantash 'had a fling' in Dublin in 2007. Despite being together only a few weeks, Tantash insisted he sign a 'love contract' she had drawn up in exchange for her paying off his debts, Richter said. The agreement included him marrying her within a year, not changing his telephone number and speaking to her by phone every night, the court heard. When he tried to end the relationship, moving to Brighton for a new job in 2015, she followed him. Tantash set up eleven e-mail accounts - with addresses including loveyouandmissyousomuch and seemefridaynightibegyou - and would send messages and selfies to Rice, the court heard. In 2017 he was working at DV8 - a college for vulnerable young people - which Tantash called up to forty times a day asking for him. Sometimes she put on an American accent to disguise her voice, Richter told the court. During an open evening at DV8 in October 2017, Tantash opened a Just Eat account in the college's name and had two hundred quid's worth of food sent there. She also targeted Rice's colleague, Sarah Borland, wrongly assuming that the pair were romantically involved. Borland received a string of abusive phone calls and e-mails containing threats to kill her if she didn't leave Rice alone, the court heard. Tantash also bombarded Rice's family with calls in a bid to contact him telling them Rice owed her fifty thousand Euros. On another occasion, she told a work associate of Rice to hand over his contact details 'for the sake of your children,' Richter said. In a victim impact statement read out in court, Rice said Tantash's behaviour had 'amounted to an aggressive and abusive dismantling' of his life which had 'become a living nightmare,' leading him to fear for his family and suffer from depression and suicidal thoughts, he said. Rice also said that he was physically assaulted and repeatedly moved house in order to 'escape' Tantash. Teresa Mulrooney, defending, spoke of the 'shame' Tantash faced and how the news had reached her elderly father in Jordan. Addressing the judge directly, Tantash said: 'I'm happy to leave the UK if you want me to.' The judge replied that she can do that once she has served her sentence. After the hearing, Felicity Lineham, from the CPS, said: 'Her behaviour was carefully planned to cause maximum distress but all the time she saw nothing wrong with what she was doing or the impact it was having on her victims.'
A woman has been jailed for sharing 'sexualised' breastfeeding videos online. Leigh Felton had been posting footage of herself allegedly 'performing sex acts' with her eighteen month old son. The Florida mother was found extremely guilty of one count of 'lewd lascivious performance' this week.Yes, if you were wondering, it is a real thing. She had been accused of 'lewd and lascivious molestation' and 'promoting a sexual performance by a child.' If she had have been found guilty of either of those counts, she could have faced up to life in The Big House. Felton was first arrested in October, after a woman discovered that her husband had travelled to meet Felton after seeing one of her videos online. The Tallahassee Democrat reports that the woman admitted she 'knew her behaviour was wrong,' but claimed that she is 'not a monster.' The court heard that Felton shared videos with titles such as Mommy's A Whore in which she used oil to 'engage in graphic rub-downs' and genital exposure. The footage also showed Felton rubbing her breasts on the toddler. The mother claimed that she 'wasn't proud of the videos' but she felt that she had been 'over-charged.' She has 'experienced depression' since her last relationship ended. Her defence team argued that her videos 'constituted freedom of speech.'
A Barrow woman (that is, a woman from Barrow-in-Furness rather than a woman who owns a wheelbarrow, or a female relation of John Barrowman) has been very jailed for twenty weeks after pleading guilty to shoplifting. Kerry Mallett reportedly stole six bottles of Jack Daniels worth one hundred and fifty six knicker from ASDA. On the same day - 3 September - she also stole seven t-shirts and five pairs of jogging bottoms from JD Sports.
A man who ran in front of traffic and 'punched cars' in Sunderland after reportedly 'drinking ten lagers' has been given a conditional discharge. Thomas Hunter pleaded very guilty to being drunk and disorderly in a public place and possessing a controlled drug. Magistrates were told that Hunter was arrested in Penshaw on 26 October after police were called. Prosecuting, Glenda Beck said that he was seen 'running in front of traffic and punching cars and swearing at people in the street.' When police officers approached him and asked him what the Hell he thought he way playing at, Hunter 'continued to shout and was verbally abusive towards them.' The thirty seven-year-old was then extremely arrested and taken to Southwick Police Station in Sunderland where he was searched and cannabis was found in his wallet and in his socks, South Tyneside Magistrates' Court heard. He admitted to drinking around ten lagers before the incident and claimed he could not remember what had happened.
A drunken aeroplane passenger who was jailed after screaming 'we're all going to die' during a flight has now been banned for life from flying with the airline involved. Kiran Jagdev was jailed this week after a court heard of 'a catalogue of bad behaviour' that a judge said required 'a deterrent sentence.' Jagdev had previously blamed the Jet2 flight crew for selling her alcohol as she flew back to East Midlands Airport from Tenerife, where she had gone on holiday alone. Earlier this year, prosecutor Zoe Lee told Leicester Magistrates' Court that Jagdev had drunk 'between six and eight beers' before she boarded the plane and then had four to six glasses of wine on the flight itself. 'The cabin crew could see she was intoxicated and refused to serve her any more alcohol,' Lee said. 'She was then seen to be drinking alcohol she had brought onto the plane herself.' Lee said that Jagdev 'started shouting' when the plane was circling over East Midlands Airport. 'The defendant screamed: "We are all going to die!"' she said. It came after Jagdev continually kicked the seat in front of her, in which a fifteen-year-old autistic girl was sitting, during the four-hour flight. Jagdev's unruly behaviour alleged caused the girl's mother so much stress that she had a seizure on the flight, the court heard. The defendant also 'touched inappropriately' an off-duty policeman who offered to sit next to her and assist cabin crew. Jagdev later pleaded very guilty to 'being drunk on an aircraft' and was sentenced at Leicester Crown Court on Thursday. A spokesperson for the airline said: 'Another court ruling against disruptive passenger behaviour has been handed down, after a passenger who confronted and abused other customers and even kicked the seat of a child, was jailed at Leicester Crown Court. Despite the intervention of an off-duty police officer, our highly-trained crew were left with no choice other than to call for police assistance upon arrival.' Jet2 managing director Phil Ward said: 'It is very clear that drinking to excess, including the illicit consumption of duty free alcohol on the aircraft, contributed significantly to this behaviour.' He said that was why the airline was calling for measures to better control the sale and consumption of alcohol purchased at airports. Ward added: 'I would like to pay tribute to both our crew and the police for the way they handled this incident. I can assure customers that as a family-friendly airline we will not under any circumstances tolerate this behaviour and Ms Jagdev has been banned from flying with Jet2 for life.' Prosecutor Joey Kwong told the crown court how Jagdev 'continued to ask cabin crew for a drink and they continued to refuse her and she was issued with an Air Navigation Order.' After being refused more alcohol by cabin crew, Jagdev then brought her own alcohol out of her bag and began to drink that. 'An off-duty police officer then offered to sit next to her and assist cabin crew,' Kwong said. 'He said the conversation was "initially pleasant," but then she began to touch him inappropriately and made vulgar remarks. The police officer refused her advances and she became abusive towards him.' As the flight began its approach to East Midlands Airport, high winds prevented the aeroplane from landing. When the plane began to circle, Jagdev repeatedly shouted, 'We're all going to die!' and kept standing up and trying to leave. When the plane landed, she was immediately arrested by police and then 'became abusive' towards immigration staff. In her police interview, when she was sober, she had described herself as 'seven-out-of-ten drunk' while on the flight. Extremely jailing her for six months, Judge Philip Head told Jagdev: 'When you boarded the plane in Tenerife to fly back to East Midlands Airport, you were drunk, so much so that you had to be helped into your seat. The effect you had on other passengers must have been dreadful, but the worst was yet to come. As the pilot was unable to put the craft down on the approach, that triggered a further foul-mouthed tirade where you shouted "we're all going to die" for about ten minutes. It is not easy to contemplate the effect of what you were doing doing to other passengers in a stressful situation. When you were sober in your police interview, you blamed the crew for selling you more alcohol, but I reject this. You are the author of your own and other people's misfortune. This was a dreadful experience for all those who were exposed to your behaviour and it culminated when the landing was aborted. This demands a deterrent sentence so people who travel by air and get drunk will know there are consequences.' It was revealed in court that Jagdev had nine previous convictions, and five days before her flight home, whilst in Tenerife, she was charged with assault and given a suspended sentence. Defending, Harbinder Lally, said: 'There is no excuse or justification whatsoever and it is not at all understandable. She was intoxicated before she got on the plane itself and the only person the finger of blame can be pointed at is Ms Jagdev herself. She accepts that now and knows there is no excuse of justification for it.'
In a wanton act of savage and disgraceful domestic - tempura - battery, a Florida Woman 'pelted her partner with Chinese food' as he was laying in bed early on Monday evening, according to officers who arrested the alleged attacker on a pair of misdemeanour counts. Investigators charge that Donna Lee Gramley, 'became irate' after the man she lives with 'purchased food for neighbours.' The couple share a residence at a mobile home park in Tarpon Springs, a city in the Tampa Bay area. The 'incensed' Gramley, it is alleged, 'threw Chinese food' at the sixty four-year-old victim 'as he was laying in bed.' When officers arrived at the home, 'the Chinese food remnants could still be seen,' according to a criminal complaint. After being read her rights, Gramley reportedly admitted throwing food at the victim. And, wasting a perfectly good king prawn chow mein. Probably. Gramley was arrested for domestic battery. She was also charged with resisting arrest for, allegedly, 'bracing and pulling away' when a sheriff's deputy sought to handcuff her. The victim does not appear to have been injured by the flung Chinese food according to media reports. Though, to be fair, none of the reports indicate what Gramley did with the chopsticks.
Rock and/or roll band Machine Head have posted a recap of their recently San Diego show, claiming that a couple were ejected from the gig for having The Sex in the front row. Which, having head Machine Head, this blogger imagines might've been a bit more entertaining for punters than what was going down on stage. 'HOLY FREAKIN SH*T!!!??' the band wrote. In crayon, one presumes given the overdose of exclamation marks. 'When a guy and gal get ejected for having sex during "Davidian" (in the front row no less!?) you know it's gonna complete insanity! No joke! What a welcome back you gave us, we are blown away!' As, presumably, was the chap in the couple involved. 'Epic circle pits, the jumping was crazy, boobies, sing-a-longs, crowd-surfing-mania, couples having sex!!?' Sounds like every rock and/or roll gig this blogger has ever been too, frankly.
A United Airlines pilot admits that he stood naked in front of the window of his tenth-floor hotel room at Denver International Airport, but claims he 'had no idea' he was visible to anyone inside the main terminal. Now, he is facing a criminal charge of indecent exposure. 'We're not disputing the fact that I was standing nude in front of the hotel window,' Captain Andrew Collins said of the incident. Collins, a twenty two-year veteran of the airline, acknowledged that witnesses - including some fellow United Airlines employees - 'offered different accounts' of what happened during his stay at the hotel which is located across from the glass wall of DIA's canopied main terminal. One federal Transportation Security Administration officer told police that he could see Collins 'touching himself' and waving at him. Collins denies this. 'Some witnesses said I was dancing, gyrating and waving,' he said. 'I am completely innocent. It's really unfortunate that it happened at all.' A Denver police 'probable cause statement' says that Collins 'knowingly and willfully [sic] exposed his genitals.' Two United Airlines employees and a passenger claim they saw Collins and 'gave credible explanations of the incident,' the police report adds. 'The suspect did open the window to his hotel room, which overlooks the hotel plaza and, in full view of the public, did stand in his window fully nude, exposing himself and his genitalia to the general public,' the police report said.
Chickenpox has taken hold of a school in North Carolina where many families claim 'religious exemption from vaccines.' Cases of chickenpox have been multiplying at the Asheville Waldorf School, which serves children from nursery school to sixth grade in Asheville. About a dozen infections grew to twenty eight at the beginning of the month. By Friday, there were thirty six, the Asheville Citizen-Times reported. The outbreak ranks as the state's worst since the chickenpox vaccine became available more than twenty years ago. Since then, the two-dose course has succeeded in limiting the highly contagious disease which once affected ninety percent of Americans. The school, however, is a symbol of the small but strong movement against the most effective means of preventing the spread of infectious diseases. The percentage of children under two years old who haven't received any vaccinations has quadrupled since 2001, according to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. Like the Disneyland measles outbreak in 2015, the flare-up demonstrates the real-life consequences of a shadowy debate fuelled by junk science and fomented by the same sort of Twitter nonsense that spread misinformation during the 2016 presidential election. And, it shows how a seemingly fringe view can gain currency.
A mother in Bethlehem Township is facing charges after being accused with driving her twelve-year-old son on the hood of her vehicle because he didn't want to go to the dentist. Police say Shaurice Jones has been charged with child endangerment and reckless endangerment. The incident reported began when Jones and her son arrived for a dental appointment. After refusing to go into the office, the boy climbed onto the bonnet of her mother's car. Police say Jones then drove her son, who was still on the car, from the dentist's office to the police station, which was located two miles away.
Nicolas Roeg, who died on Saturday aged ninety, was one of the most original filmmakers this country has ever produced. His early experience as a cinematographer brought a stunning visual quality to his work. He often exasperated some of the more narrow-minded critics and gained a reputation as being hard on his actors (and, sometimes, on his audience). And, he took a gleeful delight in jumbling scenes and time to both bewitch and bewilder cinema-goers. But, he made some quite remarkable movies as both a cinematographer and director including at least half-a-dozen or more which would be in any hypothetical desert island collection belonging to this blogger.
Nic was born in St John's Wood in August 1928. His father, Jack, who was of Dutch ancestry, worked in the diamond trade but lost much of the family's money when his investments failed in South Africa. Nic's older sister, Nicolette, was a noted actress. The first film that Nic remembered seeing as a child was Babes In Toyland, starring Laurel and Hardy. Nic did his National Service after World War Two before getting a job making tea and operating the clapperboard at Marylebone Studios, where he worked on a number of minor films over the next few years. By the dawn of the 1960s he had progressed to camera operator, notably on Ken Hughes's The Trials Of Oscar Wilde and Fred Zinnemann's The Sundowners. Nic was part of the second unit on David Lean's Lawrence Of Arabia. Lean later sacked him as director of photography on Doctor Zhivago reportedly after the two constantly quarrelled. Many of the memorable scenes which subsequently won the latter film an Oscar were shot by Roeg but he was never credited, the Oscar going to his replacement, Freddie Young. Nic's breakthrough came in late 1963 when he worked as cinematographer on Roger Corman's The Masque Of The Red Death, an adaptation of the Edgar Allan Poe story, starring Vincent Price and Jane Asher. It was, this blogger once wrote, 'one of the most colourful and least boring films ever made' and remains a particular favourite of Keith Telly Topping.  Corman was gaining a reputation for spotting and developing new talent and boosted the careers of other future directors including James Cameron, Ron Howard, Francis Ford Coppola and Martin Scorsese. Interestingly, the red-clad figure which dominates the Corman film foreshadowed a similarly dressed character in Roeg's Don't Look Now a decade later.
Nic also worked on Francois Truffaut's handsome Farenheit 451 (1966), another big favourite of this blogger, which was notable for the bright hues in which it was shot and on John Schlesinger's 1967 adaptation of the Thomas Hardy novel, Far From The Madding Crowd. The latter film - a huge commercial and critical hit - won Nic a BAFTA nomination for his lush photography of rural Dorset, forming the background to the tale of love and betrayal in a Nineteenth Century farming community.
Nic's first foray into directing came in what would become atypical controversial style, when he co-directed Performance alongside Donald Cammell, who had also written the story. A hugely influential, stylistic and just a bit dangerous movie, it was an account of a confrontation and/or merging of personalities of James Fox as a London gangster on the run and Mick Jagger as a reclusive rock star; it contained graphic scenes of sex between Jagger and his co-star Anita Pallenberg (the partner of Jagger's fellow Stone Keith Richards), manic ultraviolence and drug use which so terrified the studio that it delayed the release of the film for two years. Of course nowadays it is, rightly, regarded as one of the greatest British movies ever made. A vivid time capsule of the experimental bohemianism of the late 1960s, a gangster movie, a film made by-and-for freaks which plugged into the zeitgeist just as the zeitgeist was getting less focused and more cynical. Its influence is huge and stretches to pop videos, episodes of TV series like Waking The Dead and [spooks] and to just about every crime movie made in Britain ever since.
By the time Performance finally hit British cinema screens, in 1970, Roeg had decamped to Australia for his solo directorial debut, Walkabout. Based on the James Vance Marshall novel, it starred Jenny Agutter and Nic's young son, Luc Roeg, as two children escaping from their murderous father into the outback, who are befriended by an aboriginal teenager (David Gulpill). Roeg's shots of the desert and its wildlife produced images that one critic described as being 'of almost hallucinogenic intensity" and, he coupled this with his talent for improvising and mixing scenes and events in a non-linear way to build the finished picture. It also became infamous for the full-frontal nude shots of seventeen-year-old Agutter, which caused much discussion among film censors, although they were, thankfully, allowed into the final cut. Again, this film is now regarded as a work of genius.
There was a brief excursion to Somerset in 1972 to film a documentary about the Glastonbury Fayre, then a mere embryo of what would later become the festival. In 1973 Roeg embarked on what many consider to be his most notable film, Don't Look Now, a psychological thriller based on a short story by Daphne du Maurier. Julie Christie and Donald Sutherland played a young couple who move to Venice following the drowning of their young daughter. They meet two elderly psychics who claim to have seen their daughter. Meanwhile, images of a small figure hooded in red, the colour their daughter was wearing when she died, flit across the background of just about every scene. The film, again, was notable for an extremely graphic sex scene between the two main characters which Roeg deliberately intercut with scenes of the couple getting ready to go out to get it past the censors, although the movie received an X certificate in the UK. This fragmented style of editing was used throughout the film, adding to the build-up of tension towards the truly horrific climax. In many ways it was the epitome of Roeg's style: the disdain for storyboards; the love of improvisation and a jigsaw of images. It won him a BAFTA nomination and, like Performance and Walkabout it was, then and remains now, a twenty four carat masterpiece. Released in British cinemas on a double bill with The Wicker Man, it provided a treat for lovers of mystery and the macabre and, in the UK at least,it was a major box office hit.
Don't Look Now was considered by many critics as the high point in Roeg's career although he went on to make many more fine movies. He followed it with what this blogger reckons to be his finest two hours, The Man Who Fell To Earth (1975), starring David Bowie as an extraterrestrial. It was full of the stunning, extraordinary, unsettling imagery for which Roeg had become famous although the story was uneven and final quarter of the film surrendered much early tightly-plotted scripting for a rather meandering - if, conceptually fascinating - climax. Nic was not helped by the fact that Bowie was at the height of his addiction to cocaine during filming and by subsequent studio interference which allegedly saw his director's cut of the movie edited by up to quarter of an hour for the released version. Many contemporary critics were unimpressed or sniffy about Roeg making a science-fiction movie although, again, the film is now regarded as a classic of its genre.
Roeg's next film, Bad Timing, starring Art Garfunkel and Theresa Russell whom Roeg subsequently married, was again notable for its imagery but the scenes of sexual perversion persuaded the distributors, Rank, not to show it in their own cinemas, despite a considerable investment. Roeg's driven nature came to the fore when he reportedly shot for twenty four hours without giving anyone a break, prompting Garfunkel and many of the crew to threaten a walkout. Eureka, based on the case of Sir Harry Oakes, the fabulously wealthy Canadian goldmine owner murdered in his luxurious home in the 1940s Bahamas, was one of Nic's more underrated films. Starring Gene Hackman, it suffered a similar fate to Bad Timing however, when its main backers, MGM, complained that Roeg had not delivered the film they were expecting, claiming that 'a taut thriller had become a boring murder mystery.' Castaway (1984) was based on a book by Lucy Irvine, who had famously accepted an invitation to spend a year on a desert island with a man she had never met. While the lush tropical landscape allowed Roeg to show his mastery of colour, the minimal plot and zero-dimensional performances from Oliver Reed and Amanda Donohoe saw the movie sink at the box office.
However, two of Nic's eighties movies proved the be amongst his most fascinating, experimental and brilliant films; Insignificance (1985), the Terry Johnson-scripted fantasy of Marilyn Monroe meeting Albert Einstein and Track 29 (1988), the sensually charged Dennis Potter drama (based on his TV play Schmoedipus) with Gary Oldman, Christopher Lloyd, Sandra Bernhard and, as usual, Theresa Russell. The latter, produced by George Harrison's HandMade Films, received some good reviews but was a commercial failure.
Nic's take on the Roald Dahl story, The Witches, released in 1990, was also entertaining, particularly the over-the-top performance by Angelica Houston. There were a number of unremarkable films including a brave but ultimately flawed TV adaptation of Joseph Conrad's Heart Of Darkness and an erotic movie for cable TV, Full Body Massage. In 2007 his adaptation of the Fay Weldon novel Puffball, a tale of black magic in rural Ireland with Rita Tushingham and Miranda Richardson, became his last major film. Nicolas Roeg was both a fine cinematographer and inventive director, who stamped his own unique look on the films that he made. One critic described him as both 'a magician and a juggler.' 'I've never storyboarded anything,' he once claimed. 'I like the idea of chance. What makes God laugh is people who make plans.' Roeg was awarded with a BFI Fellowship in 1994 and was made a CBE in 2011. Married three times, Nic is survived by his third wife, Harriet Harper and by six children from his earlier marriages - Waldo, Nico, Sholto, Luc, Max and Shatten.
The actor John Bluthal, who died this week aged eighty nine, forged a long and successful acting career in Britain which began during the 1960s, when he provided a foil to comedy legends Michael Bentine, Eric Sykes, Peter Cook and, over several decades, Spike Milligan. Bluthal starred alongside Joe Lynch in the - very much 'of its era' - culture-clash sitcom Never Mind The Quality, Feel The Width (1967 to 1971), the pair playing, respectively, the Jewish jacket-maker Manny Cohen and the Irish trouser-maker Patrick Kelly running a business in the East End. In the series - created by Vince Powell and Harry Driver, which at one point had an audience of nearly twenty million - Manny saw Patrick as a bigoted Catholic while Patrick regarded Manny as an ignorant heathen. Tailoring was the only thing that bound the two together. There was also a 1973 movie spin-off. Two decades later, Bluthal provided support to Dawn French in another bafflingly popular sitcom, The Vicar Of Dibley, created by Richard Curtis. In both series (1994 and 1998) and in various specials until 2013, he played Frank Pickle, the parochial church council secretary at St Barnabas fastidiously taking the minutes. When Pickle came out as gay after forty years in the closet, no one heard his revelation because he made it on a local radio station and listeners turned off in advance because of his reputation for being boring. For another sitcom, Home Sweet Home (1980), Bluthal returned to Australia - his home for more than twenty years before settling in Britain - to star as Enzo Pacelli, an Italian immigrant taxi driver. It was another culture-clash comedy, with the ham-fisted Enzo keen to champion his Italian values while his three Australian-educated children embrace the culture of their adopted country.
John was born Isaac Bluthal in the Polish town of Jezierzany (now Ozeryany, in Ukraine), to his parents Israel, who worked in the family wheat mill and Rachel. In 1938, a year before Hitler's invasion, the nine-year-old Isaac, his sister Nita and their parents left behind antisemitism in Poland and left for a new life in Australia, where Isaac became known as John. He was educated at University high school, Melbourne and soon showed a talent for accents and impersonations. In 1947, he began training in speech and drama at the Melbourne Conservatorium. Two years later, he appeared at the Budapest youth festival, then moved to London to perform in variety venues and in plays at the Unity Theatre. For several years, he moved annually between Britain and Australia, before spending the rest of the 1950s building a solid CV in theatres in Melbourne and Sydney. He appeared alongside Bentine in the revue Coloured Rhapsody in 1955 and with Leo McKern in The Rainmaker the following year. Bluthal also performed with Bentine's fellow Goon Show star Spike Milligan in the 1958 Australian TV special The Gladys Half-Hour and in the first two series of The Idiot Weekly (1958 to 1959) on radio. In 1960, a year after settling in Britain, he played Charlie in the Ray Galton and Alan Simpson sitcom Citizen James, starring Sid James. John followed this with episodes in Sykes & A ... (1961) and provided one of the radio voices in the classic Hancock episode The Radio Ham. He reunited with Bentine in two series of the acclaimed It's a Square World (1961 and 1963) and joined Peter Cook and Dudley Moore in a 1965 episode of Not Only ... But Also. However, Bluthal's most prolific work with this new generation of groundbreaking writers and performers was alongside Milligan; he was a supporting player in a string of radio programmes, such as The Omar Khayyam Show (1964) and The Milligan Papers (1987) and in TV series including the long-running, surreal sketch show Q (1969 to 1980), its 1982 sequel, There's A Lot Of It About and in the series Milligan In ... (1972). Bluthal and Milligan also appeared on stage together in the satire The Bedsitting Room (1963), written by Milligan and John Antrobus and in the film The Great McGonagall (1975). 'Working with Spike is agony because he is impetuous and chaotic,' Bluthal explained of his friend Milligan, who was prone to manic depression. Milligan was reputed to have said of his fellow actor: 'I love John, but he's so temperamental.' On British TV, Bluthal voiced Commander Wilbur Zero and other characters in Gerry Anderson's popular puppet series Fireball XL5 (1962). His CV also appeared in Benny Hill, The Larkins, Night Train To Surbiton, The Saint, The Avengers, Man In A Suitcase, Oh In Colour, The Pathfinders, The Goodies, Whodunnit?, Spaghetti Two-Step, The Kenny Everett Television Show, Reilly: Ace Of Spies, Squaring The Circle, 'Allo 'Allo, Minder, Supergran, In Sickness & In Health, Bergerac, One Foot In The Grave, Rumpole of The Bailey, Virtual Murder, Inspector Morse, Lovejoy, Casualty and Jonathan Creek. In Australia, he starred as JJ Forbes in the 1981 comedy drama And Here Comes Bucknuckle. He appeared in many British comedy films of the 1960s and 1970s, with parts in Carry On productions, the Doctor pictures, The Mouse On The Moon, Casino Royale, A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum and two Pink Panther films as well as the two Beatles movies A Hard Day's Night (1964) and Help! (1965) along with Dick Lester's subsequent The Knack ... & How To Get It (1966). He went to Hollywood for the first time in his mid-eighties to play a Marxist professor alongside George Clooney in the film Hail, Caesar! (2016). However, Bluthal declared theatre to be his first love. He succeeded Ronald Moody in 1961 as Fagin in the original West End production of Lionel Bart's hit musical Oliver! and had many roles with the National Theatre company. Bluthal returned to Australia to live in Sydney, near his family, in the late 1990s. In 1956, he married the actress and singer Judyth Barron. Although they eventually separated, the couple remained close friends; she died in 2016. He is survived by their daughters, Nava, a singer and Lisa, an actress and director whose recent short film, By Any Other Name focused on her father's failing health.
Another great British character, George A Cooper, has died at the age of ninety three at a nursing home in Hampshire. Born in Leeds in 1925 George, who made a career playing blustering, angry, officious types is probably best known for his role as the blustering, angry, officious school caretaker, Mister Griffiths, in Grange Hill in over one hundred episodes of the long-running children's drama between 1985 and 1992. Initially trained as an electrical engineer and architect, George became interested in the performing arts while doing his national service with the Royal Artillery in India. He subsequently joined Joan Littlewood's Theatre Workshop in Manchester, at that time adding the initial 'A' - for Alphonsus - to his stage name to avoid being confused with the American actor George Cooper (1920-2015). He later became a very familiar face on British TV with numerous appearances in popular drama and comedies in a career that stretched from the 1940s to the late 1990s. The actor first rose to fame as the stern Geoffrey Fisher, the title character's father in the West End run of Keith Waterhouse's Billy Liar, a role he subsequently reprised in the 1973 TV adaptation. He also had a recurring role in Coronation Street as Willie Piggott between 1964 and 1971. Among George's, numerous, television credits were roles in Danger Man, Z-Cars, Dixon Of Dock Green, No Hiding Place, Doctor Who (in the 1966 four-parter The Smugglers), Softly, Softly, The Avengers, The Saint, Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased), The Troubleshooters, Steptoe & Son, Doomwatch, Public Eye, Budgie, Sykes, Rising Damp, The New Avengers, Nice Work, C.A.T.S Eyes, Poor Little Rich Girls, Metal Mickey, Graham's Gang, Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em, All Creatures Great & Small, Juliet Bravo, When the Boat Comes In, Shadows, Mind Your Language, Crown Court, Crimes Of Passion, Albert!, For The Love Of Ada. The Morecambe & Wise Show, The First Lady, Thirty Minute Theatre, The Ronnie Barker Playhouse, Terry & June, Taggart, Casualty, Heartbeat, Theatre 625, Angel Pavement, The Revenue Men, The Wednesday Play, Doctor Finlay's Casebook, The Bed-Sit Girl, Mary Barton, Sergeant Cork, The Plane Makers, The Badger Game, An Age Of Kings, Ivanhoe, The Adventures Of Robin Hood and The Vise among others. Cooper also appeared in movies including Violent Playground, Follow That Horse!, Hell Is A City, The Cracksman, Tom Jones, Nightmare, Ferry Cross The Mersey, Hammer's Dracula Has Risen From The Grave, Smashing Time, The Rise & Rise Of Michael Rimmer, Start The Revolution Without Me, The Black Windmill and the film version of Bless This House. George, whose wife Shirley died in 2000, is survived by their son, Adam.

And finally, dear blog reader, remember tomorrow is Cyber Monday. So, lock the doors of your gaff and, if any Cybermen come a-knocking, pretend your not in.