Saturday, December 22, 2018

Abstract Impressionism

The Battle Of Ranskoor Av Kolos had a consolidated, Seven Day-Plus, rating of 6.65 million viewers, according to figures released by the Broadcasting Research Audience Board earlier this week. A total of 6.48 million punters watched the final episode of Doctor Who's eleventh series on their telly-boxes, with an additional seventy three thousand watching on PCs, fifty one thousand on tablet devices and forty four thousand on smartphones. These figures made Doctor Who the eighteenth most watched programme of week-ending 2 December. Doctor Who in 2018 had an average consolidated audience of 7.96 million viewers per episode. This is the highest yearly average for the BBC's popular long-running family SF drama since 2013.
Have you ever wondered how many Doctors it takes to change a lightbulb, dear bog reader? This photo, taken by Georgia Tennant of her dad and her husband and posted on Twitter appears to provide a properly definitive answer.
James Marsters, the star of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Angel and the more recent Runaways (no, me neither), is reprising the role of Captain John Hart for his own adventures in the Torchwood audio universe. The character will be back at the helm in a new four-story box-set, The Sins Of Captain John, created by Big Finish Productions in association with BBC Studios. Captain John Hart made his audio debut in The Death Of Captain Jack, released in March 2018. In that story he killed the entire Torchwood team - well, we've all wanted to do that ever since Cyberwoman, let's be fair. He also married Queen Victoria.
It was somewhat a case of back-to-normal for yer actual Keith Telly Topping in relation to the questions on Monday's episode of Only Connect which this blogger got the answer to before either of the teams. Just the one this time around. Shamefully, this blogger didn't even get the Scooby Doo question despite one of his most favourite bits of top telly trivia being that Shaggy's full name is Norville Rogers. That's more like it; clearly last week's episode was something of a massive abnormality!
Things we learned from another of this week's 'champion of champions' Only Connect episodes; the divine Victoria Coren Mitchell claims that she can hold a pint of beer whilst swimming! Which is, one assumes, an image that no regular Only Connect viewer will now be able to get out of their head, well, ever, basically.
Tuesday of this week saw BBC2's broadcast what was obviously designed to be the 'Christmas' episode of Qi, despite the fact it was filmed in May. And, of course, it was shown on 18 December which made it feel about as Christmassy as a bloody hot day in July. The extended XL edition will be broadcast on Saturday 29 December, four days after Christmas and, therefore, about as Christmassy as a bloody hot day in August. Listen, broadcasters, it's really very simple, if you're going to do a 'Christmas' episode of anything, you show it on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. Boxing Day is just about acceptable if you can't squeeze it in sooner but, anything before or after that and you might as well wait until January for all the relevance it'll have to Christmas. In the event, though, let it be noted that it was a jolly good episode - Pubs - particularly Sandi Toksvig's story about a bar that she used to drink in when she worked as a journalist. Half of the clientele were Fleet Street's finest, the other half were all criminals. 'Not easy to tell the difference,' she noted to a general nodding of agreement from pretty much everyone. One of the regulars was a rather dodgy geezer named Charlie who was 'definitely a crook.' One day he turned up after not having been seen around the gaff for a couple of weeks; Sandi asked him what he'd been up to. 'I've been up the nick,' he told her, ruefully. 'What was the charge?' she asked, to which Charlie replied: 'Murder One!' Casually, Sandi then asked if he had actually done the dreadful deed. 'No, but I owed them one!' he said. He continued that while he was waiting for the charges to come through, 'me arsehole was going like that.' At which point Sandi mimicked the 'talking with your hand' gesture. 'I haven't seen him for ages, I don't know why we didn't stay friends!' 'I really hope he turns up on the next series of Bake Off,' Josh Widdecombe suggested. 'I'm going to make you an entremet...' said Sandi to which her Bake Off co-host That Bloody Weirdo Noel Fielding added: 'As Paul and Prue came over, me arsehole's going like that!' 'Every time I feel slightly anxious I always think of that [the arsehole hand gesture],' Sandi continued. 'Imagine knowing that there's a man out there and every time you feel anxious you think of his arsehole,' Josh said providing the sequence's punchline. And, obviously, there was Alan Davies's fight with a man in a chicken suit at the end of the episode. That's always good for a laugh. Now, we know it's nearly Christmas.
From The North's Comedy Moment Of The Week came from another gloriously surreal episode of Vic & Bob's Night Out. 'Bob,' said Vic, 'did you know that a large section of The London Philharmonic are on the fiddle?'
Stacey Dooley's Strictly Come Dancing journey climaxed on Saturday with her winning the coveted glitterball trophy and the show getting its best overnight ratings of 2018. The final drew an average overnight of 11.7 million viewers - up on last year's average audience of 11.6 million. Documentary maker Dooley's win marked the first time her professional dance partner, Kevin Clifton, had triumphed. Clifton, who appeared in four previous finals only to miss out on the trophy, was clearly emotional as he was lifted aloft by his fellow professional dancers. Dooley's win - decided by a public vote - came despite her getting fewer marks from the judges than fellow finalists Joe Sugg, Faye Tozer and Ashley Roberts. Speaking on Monday, head judge Shirley Ballas said that Dooley was 'a worthy winner' as she - unlike Steps singer Tozer and former Pussycat Doll Roberts - had no prior dancing experience. 'She had to learn from scratch where the other girls already had a good ear for music,' she told BBC Breakfast. Dooley, Ballas continued, 'made a journey that was just absolutely brilliant for a beginner.'
Tour De France winner Geraint Thomas was voted voted BBC Sports Personality of the Year 2018 on Sunday. The Team Sky rider became only the third Briton to win the race, after Sir Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome. 'I take great pride in representing Britain and Wales,' he said. 'It has been a great year for British sport and long may it continue.' In a public vote, Formula 1 champion Lewis Hamilton finished second while Stottingtot Hotshots' Harry Kane was third. Thomas - who was presented with his award by 2017 winner Sir Mo Farah - is the first Welshman to win Sports Personality since Ryan Giggs in 2009. 'I really should have thought about what I was going to say,' Thomas said. 'I feel very lucky to have come into cycling when I did. I just went down to the local leisure centre for a swim and instead I rode my bike. As a bike rider, I always focus on myself. Obviously people want me to win, but hearing stories like Tyson [Fury]'s and Billy [Monger]'s, you realise that what we do does inspire people back home. To see people on their bikes and enjoying it, you take just as much pride from that as winning something like this.' The award comes after Thomas was named BBC Cymru Wales Sports Personality of the Year earlier this month. His victories in the public votes are recognition for his success on two wheels. Between 2007 and 2012, he won two Olympic and three world team pursuit titles on the track. His Tour De France victory came in his ninth appearance - one fewer than the record for most appearances before winning. He won two stages of the Tour, including stage twelve, which included the famous Alpe d'Huez climb and wore the Yellow Jersey for the final eleven stages. Thomas was the first Welshman to win the Tour and it was the sixth time in seven years a British rider had won. In 2018, Hamilton won his fifth F1 World Championship title, while World Cup Golden Boot winner Kane captained England to the semi-finals in Russia. 'I'm really proud to be in the top three and hopefully in the years to come I can try and win it,' Kane told BBC Sport. 'When you're in a team sport, you have to bring the nation together and as an England team we did that, which was amazing.' Sprinter Dina Asher-Smith, England cricketer Jimmy Anderson and skeleton's Lizzy Yarnold were also shortlisted for the main award.
Swimwear designer Sian Gabbidon has been chosen as the winner of The Apprentice 2018 by Lord Sugar-Sweetie. The twenty six-year-old, from Leeds, beat Camilla Ainsworth to win a two hundred and fifty grand investment from Lord Sugar-Sweetie in her swimwear firm. She said that she was 'absolutely over the Moon' and that the possibilities of their partnership were 'endless.' Lord Sugar-Sweetie said although it was 'a crowded market' Gabbidon was 'an expert' in her field. It is Lord Sugar-Sweetie's first investment in a fashion business in the show's history. Gabbidon said on Instagram that it had been 'a rollercoaster' and she was 'overwhelmed' but 'very excited.' She had predicted her victory in her audition, saying: 'When Lord Sugar picks me as his business partner, we're gonna be in there like swimwear and we're gonna make a massive splash in the business. I love what I do, I love fashion and he's all about business - so to put us together is just going to be ridiculous, the possibilities are endless,' she said. In the final, Ainsworth and Gabbidon were joined by their former Apprentice colleagues in an intensive three-day challenge where they had to create a new brand for their company, produce an advert for the London Underground and edit a television advert. After bringing their business plans to life, the finalists had to pitch it to a room full of industry experts and Lord Sugar-Sweetie at London's City Hall. Afterwards, Gabbidon was crowned the winner. 'I think we do have the best two, there's no question of it,' said Lord Sugar-Sweetie before making his decision. 'I find you a very, very big risk,' he told Ainsworth, while acknowledging she had chosen a 'growing market.' Announcing Gabbidon as the winner, he said she had 'a great aptitude and a talent for design.'
Twenty-five-year-old Laurence Henry was crowned winner of MasterChef: The Professionals on Thursday night after wowing judges Marcus Wareing, Gregg Wallace and sour-faced Monica Galetti with his three-course meal. The Nottingham-based chef's main - loin and belly of suckling pig with a kimchi glaze and braised fermented hispi cabbage hearts, Nashi pear puree and sliced pears - was the difference in the end, prompting major praise from Wareing. 'Every now and again in a competition we all eat a dish that we will never forget,' he said. 'That is absolutely outstanding.' Laurence's meal also included a starter of hand-dived scallop with marinated cherry tomatoes, roast tomato dashi, strawberries and coriander oil seasoned with sansho pepper. For dessert, he prepared an aerated mint white chocolate, lemongrass and coconut ice cream, with passion fruit ripple and caramelised white chocolate crumb. Laurence was delighted with his win. 'It has been a really long journey, I have certainly learnt a lot about myself and found my feet,' he said. The chef, who trained at the Ashburton Academy in Devon, beat fellow finalists Oli Martin and Dean Banks to the trophy.
Having seen off the recent threat of being sued by Satan and with a second series of The Chilling Adventures Of Sabrina already confirmed for April 2019, two further series have also been ordered. Variety reports that Netflix has ordered sixteen more episodes of the drama to be distributed among the two series, which will begin production in 2019 and, presumably, reach the viewing public in 2020 and 2021.
Former EastEnders favourites Lofty Holloway and Mary Smith are to return to Albert Square in the New Year. The characters - played by Tom Watt and Linda Davidson - will return to Walford to attend a funeral, three decades after their last appearances. Davidson said that she was 'so thrilled and very proud' to be back, while Watt said it would be 'lovely to set foot back in Albert Square all these years later.' Their return follows that of Doctor Legg (Leonard Fenton). John Yorke, EastEnders' executive consultant, said that Watt and Davidson's characters were 'iconic' and that he was 'thrilled' to have them back. Lofty and Mary will return to Albert Square to attend Doctor Legg's funeral and pay their final respects to the much-loved physician. It will follow Legg's recent admission to his friend Dot Branning that he had terminal pancreatic cancer and had turned down life-prolonging treatment. 'Doctor Legg is an iconic character so it feels fitting that Lofty should return to say goodbye,' said Watt, who was last seen in the role in 1988. Davidson, who appeared in EastEnders from 1985 to 1988, said its cast had been her 'first proper family' and that she was 'very proud to be returning to that family thirty five years later.'
The upcoming TV adaptation of His Dark Materials has officially finished filming. Series one of the highly-anticipated BBC drama series completed production on 14 December 2018. A video of Dafne Keen on the official His Dark Materials Twitter account confirmed the news. The tweet showed Keen, who plays Lyra Belacqua in the TV drama, with a clapperboard proclaiming 'That's a wrap!' The message also quoted the last line of Northern Lights, the first book in the trilogy: 'So Lyra and her daemon turned away from the world they were born in and looked towards the sun, and walked into the sky.' Series one of His Dark Materials is set to cover the events of Northern Lights over the course of eight episodes. Future series adapting The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass are expected to go into production in 2019. The script is being written by playwright Jack Thorne, with an all-star cast including James McAvoy, Ruth Wilson and Lin-Manuel Miranda set to feature. The first series is likely to b broadcast late in 2019, although no specific date has yet been confirmed by BBC1. In the USA, His Dark Materials will be shown on HBO. Author Philip Pullman said that he was 'delighted' after filming began in July, adding, 'I'm looking forward immensely to seeing how it looks.' He also thanked production company Bad Wolf for their work in adapting the trilogy and assembling 'a wonderful cast.' BBC Director-General Tony Hall confirmed that series one is 'only the beginning' for the production, with at least one more series set to be made. 'The cost per episode is high - it's really ambitious,' he said in September. The King's Speech director Tom Hooper will direct the first two episodes. Thorne said that he felt 'in awe' when adapting the trilogy for television: 'His Dark Materials are the most beautiful set of books, taking us into a world of constant imagination. Reading them I was a massive fan, in adapting them I’ve increasingly felt in awe of them. It's the constant invention, the way the story never sits still and that the characters constantly surprise you.'
Channel Four has confirmed that the political drama Brexit: The Uncivil War starring yer actual Benedict Cumberbatch will be broadcast on 7 January. The release date means the drama about the 2016 Vote Leave campaign will be shown in the UK before its US broadcast on 19 January. HBO released a first full trailer for the film on 14 December, showing Benny as Vote Leave campaign director Dominic Cummings. The trailer shows Cumberbatch's character seeming to encourage voters to explain their motivations for leaving the European Union, with Cummings asking, 'Is it immigration? You can be honest. Is it race? Which countries don't you like?' The first look has already proved divisive, with some questioning the decision to dramatise the story of campaign that has been referred to police over potential electoral law breaches. Investigate journalist Carole Cadwalladr wrote after HBO released the trailer that 'fiction [is] difficult in absence of basic facts.' However, screenwriter James Graham responded to the initial reaction to the trailer, writing 'A lot have seen the trailer for our Brexit film and I can't wait to engage reasonably to curious questions once it's actually been seen. Until then, abusive language and misinformation should never intimidate writers/artists working on politically sensitive themes.' The two-hour film is said to 'explore the data-driven campaigns behind the Brexit political campaigns' and 'the behind-the-scenes decisions that led to Britain's historic decision to leave the EU.' So, that should be fun. 'At a time when explosive revelations about the mining of personal data and the corrosive effect of fake news and micro-targeted advertising through social media feeds are at the forefront of the news agenda, Brexit explores how modern data-driven campaigning techniques contributed to one of the most unexpected, highly-charged and controversial decisions in modern political history,' Channel Four said in a statement. Brexit: The Uncivil War is directed by Black Mirror and Sherlock's Toby Haynes. It is a co-production with BBC Studios, Channel Four and independent UK producer House Productions.
Netflix is set to continue its slate of true crime documentaries and fascination with the mad, bad and dangerous to know with a new four-part series about the notorious serial killer Ted Bundy. The streaming giant has announced Conversations With A Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes, which will take viewers 'inside the mind of the infamous serial killer.' Why anyone would want to go inside Ted Bundy's mind, they don't say. The series, directed by Joe Berlinger, will feature previously unheard interviews with Bundy whilst he was on death row in Florida and will premiere on 24 January 2019 - thirty years to the day that he went to The Chair. Bundy extremely confessed to and was convicted of murdering some thirty women in the 1970s. The documentary will also explore the media frenzy around his trial and his in-court marriage to Carole Ann Boone. The serial killer's life will also be explored in the upcoming movie Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil & Vile, starring Zac Efron. That feature film will also be directed by Berlinger and is said to be told through the eyes of Bundy's partner, Elizabeth Kloepfer (played by Lily Collins) as she 'realises the true nature of her other half.' A number of set photos have emerged over the past year and a first official image was released last month ahead of the ovie's premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in January. The cast also includes John Malkovich, The Big Bang Theory's Jim Parsons, Kaya Scodelario, Metallica frontman James Hetfield and Haley Joel Osment.
Amid all of the controversy surrounding its creation, it appears that the Roseanne spin-off The Conners will not only be back for a second series, but that it will be an extended one. Deadline is reporting that negotiations are under way for a thirteen-episode run of the sitcom, which is two episodes more than the first series and four more than the Roseanne revival. Despite its relatively rosy future at ABC, The Conners has not exactly set the ratings world alight, declining significantly on the initial Roseanne figures. Even with its pretty bleak twist in writing out Roseanne Barr's leading character, The Conners' first episode drew in 10.5 million viewers against Roseanne's 18.2 million debut. That said, The Connors is still the US's number one new comedy of the year in terms of viewers and ABC's most-watched comedy. Roseanne Barr, who was very dismissed from the series after a number of sick racist tweets, was not impressed with her character's exit from the franchise. Not that anyone else connected with it gave a stuff what she thought, after her thoughtless and disgraceful comments had put the jobs of hundreds of people involved in the show in jeopardy. Series regulars Sarah Gilbert, John Goodman, Laurie Metcalf and Lecy Goranson are all expected to return for The Conners second series.
Channel Four is reported to be facing a costly TV advertising blackout from some major corporate names in a dispute over the cost of buying commercial space on its portfolio of channels. The row will result in the withdrawal of big-name advertisers including Ariel and Pampers-maker Procter & Gamble, GlaxoSmithKline, Samsung, Reckitt Benckiser and ASDA from 1 January if a deal is not reached in time according to some Middle Class hippy Communist at the Gruniad Morning Star. The advertisers are clients of the UK media-buying arm of Publicis Groupe, the world's third-largest marketing services company, which spends about over two hundred million knicker a year on Channel Four in deals struck on behalf of its clients. Talks between Channel Four and Publicis Media over a new advertising deal for next year have broken down over the issue of TV advertising price rises despite a decline in the broadcaster's audiences. Any delay in striking a deal will cost Channel Four millions of smackers every week in lost revenue. Channel Four also sells advertising space for BT Sport and UKTV's portfolio of ten channels, which means the broadcaster will effectively have to compensate its partners for their loss of revenue too. Jonathan Allan, chief commercial officer at Channel Four, has taken the highly unusual step of writing directly to Publicis Media clients as it faces a significant hole in the advertising revenues the commercially funded broadcaster relies upon. Publicis Groupe accounts for about seventeen per cent of Channel Four's total sales revenue. 'As I write, it looks very much like we may not reach an agency agreement with Publicis Media,' said Allan in the letter. 'This means we will not be able to offer you the opportunity to advertise across our portfolio of twenty six linear channels and three video-on-demand platforms from the start of next year.' While an eleventh hour deal could still be reached, both sides 'are understood to be dug into their negotiating positions and unwilling to give ground,' according to the Gruniad. The dispute is the worst commercial crisis for Channel Four since Group M, the media buying arm of WPP, pulled clients' budgets worth two hundred and fifty million quid annually from the broadcaster for two weeks at the start of 2013.
A Colgate toothpaste TV advert which promised to 'instantly' repair teeth has been banned for being 'misleading.' Six complaints about the advert for Colgate Sensitive Repair and Prevent toothpaste were upheld by the Advertising Standards Authority. Parent company Colgate-Palmolive claimed that the product provided 'a reparative layer on the enamel surface' when used. It is the ninth Colgate-Palmolive advert to be banned in seven years, five of which were for dental products. The advert, which appeared on UK screens in August this year, claimed to 'instantly heal' sensitive teeth if applied twice a day 'directly with [a] finger for one minute.' Colgate-Palmolive claimed 'clinical studies' showed the product repaired microscopic gaps in tooth enamel and it 'believed' that the advert was 'clear' that the claim referred to the product providing 'a protective barrier' on the teeth in order to relieve pain caused by sensitivity. However, the ASA wasn't having any of that nonsense and said that this was 'not the same' as 'repairing' the tooth and concluded the claim that it 'repairs teeth instantly' was 'not substantiated.' And was, in fact, a right load of old mendacious bollocks. The watchdog ruled that the advert must not appear again 'in its current form' and that the company must not make similar claims 'unless they held evidence' to back them up. In 2014 the company had a commercial banned for suggesting that one of its toothbrushes used 'sonic waves' to clean teeth, which the ASA also said was entirely misleading. Other Colgate-Palmolive adverts to be banned include one that the ASA ruled 'exaggerated' how much whiter a toothpaste would make the user's teeth and another which featured an endorsement from a woman who claimed she was a nurse but was, actually, an actress. And, not a very good one either.
A retired detective has reportedly sued Netflix and the filmmakers of Making A Murderer for defamation. Andrew Colborn alleges the documentary series suggested he planted evidence to frame murder suspect, Steven Avery. His lawyer, Michael Griesbach, says that his client has been subjected to 'worldwide ridicule, contempt and disdain' since the show's 2015 debut. Netflix declined to comment. The case was filed in Manitowoc County in Wisconsin. 'He is filing this lawsuit to set the record straight and to restore his good name,' Griesbach. The ten-part documentary, written and directed by Laura Ricciardi and Moira Demos, followed the case of Steven Avery and his sixteen-year-old nephew Brendan Dassey, who were both xtremely convicted of murdering freelance photographer Teresa Halbach. Variety reports that Colborn's case alleges the filmmakers 'left out key facts' and 'distorted events' in order to argue that Colborn - and other officers - 'framed' the suspects and manipulated trial testimonies, leading viewers to false conclusions. Making A Murderer was one of Netflix's biggest hits in 2015, with the series collecting four EMMY Awards in 2016 for its writing and directing. It has gone on to spawn another series, Making A Murderer 2, which took up the story after Avery and Dassey were convicted.
A warrant has been issued for the arrest of a 'lookalike' of former Friends actor David Schwimmer who failed to attend court on charges of theft and fraud. Abdulah Husseni, of Slough, was due to appear at Blackpool Magistrates' Court. He is said to have stolen a coat, a phone and a wallet from a restaurant in Blackpool on 20 September. An appeal for a suspect by Lancashire Police went viral earlier this year. Social media users pointed out the likeness to Schwimmer's character in the popular US sitcom when police posted an image of a man leaving a restaurant. Husseni was later caught on CCTV carrying a case of beer at a shop in the town. Responding to comments posted online, Schwimmer responded with a humorous video showing him glancing at a camera nervously as he walked through a convenience store in New York clutching cans of beer. District Judge Jane Goodwin issued a warrant after Husseni failed to answer a summons to attend court and told The Fuzz to find his sorry ass and sling it in The Slammer forthwith, if not sooner.
Motorbike racer and TV presenter Guy Martin has denied having a fake Irish driving licence. Martin appeared at Lincoln Crown Court earlier and pleaded not guilty to two charges. He is charged with possession of a driving licence with intent to deceive and making a false statement by claiming he had an Irish licence. Martin, of Barnetby in Lincolnshire, was granted unconditional bail ahead of a trial on 1 July 2019. He denied possession of a document between 4 December 2017 and 15 May 2018 relating to 'a document so closely resembling an Irish driving licence as to be calculated to deceive.' Martin also denied making a false statement between 1 March and 15 May 2018 claiming that he was the holder of an Irish driving licence for the purpose of obtaining a UK licence.
An accountant has admitted taking almost six hundred grand from The X Factor winner James Arthur. Mark Livermore who worked for Arthur's company, Raff Music Ltd, moved funds to other accounts without the musician's knowledge or permission. At Westminster Magistrates' Court, Livermore, of Billericay, admitted one count of fraud. Chairwoman of the bench Diane Lennan said that it was 'an abuse of position over a substantial period of time.' Livermore took five hundred and ninety nine thousand quid from the company before he was extremely caught out in April. Prosecutor Misba Majid said that the offence involved 'a significant degree of planning' and was 'carried out over a long period of time.' Livermore was granted unconditional bail until his sentencing at Southwark Crown Court. Arthur, from Middlesbrough, won The X Factor in 2012.
Danny Dyer will follow the likes of Marge Simpson, Sharon Osbourne and Ali G in giving this year's Channel Four Alternative Christmas Message. The EastEnders actor memorably slated Brexit and former Prime Minister David Cameron on TV earlier this year. It is thought he will say that Westminster has seen 'more backstabbing than in Albert Square.' Channel Four's described Dyer as 'the the unofficial man of the people.' In the preview clip, Dyer is sitting at a festively decorated table, sipping tea out of a royal wedding mug with the faces of Prince Harry and Meghan on the front. The forty one-year-old actor will once again give his views on the state of the country's leadership. 'That shambles down in Westminster, what a palaver that is,' he says. 'I mean, where are our leaders? Where are they? There's been more backstabbing than we have in Albert Square.' He will also have a dig at the US President Rump, who was criticised in November for cancelling a visit to a Remembrance Day service in France 'due to the weather.' Dyer says: 'It ain't any better for The Yanks though, is it? What an absolute melt they've got there. He don't want to turn up to memorials because it's raining. He don't fancy a little trip to Britain because there's people here that just don't like him. Leave off.' In the New Year, the actor will star in a new BBC show, called Danny Dyer's Right Royal Family - which will see him eat, dress and live like his ancestors. The idea came after he found out he was related to royalty on Who Do You Think You Are?
A Winnipeg man is fighting Manitoba Public Insurance to get his Star Trek-themed personalised licence plate back and the case is now moving through the court system. In 2015, Nicholas Troller got a plate with the word 'ASIMIL8', a short form of 'assimilate,' the slogan of the villainous Borg. According to a recent court filing reported on by CTV News, the application for the plate was reviewed by a five-person committee. The word 'asimil8' was also cross-referenced against an urban dictionary and no concerns were noted. However, following a single complaint in 2017 by an Ontario woman - who, obviously, had nothing better to do with her time or energy - the plate was recalled. Quite what this particular individual found to complain about in this matter is not made clear in the the court papers. John Carpay from the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms is representing Troller. He says that the case has 'implications for freedom of expression' in Canada. And, indeed, elsewhere. 'Some people believe they have a right not to feel offended by somebody else's expression,' said Carpay. 'If you give in to that and start to say we all have a right not to be offended, well then you have no free speech left. Because you never really know for sure what is going to be offensive to somebody else. So it gives everybody a veto power over their expression just by saying I'm offended.'
Game Of Thrones' Iain Glen has described how security measures put in place to prevent story details leaking to the public caused problems for some actors. 'They're absolutely paranoid now about anyone finding out anything about the series and spoiling it,' he said. 'We weren't allowed a written word on a page.' Glen said: 'Everything was accessed through iPads with different security you had to get through to access it. Which caused a problem for the actors, I have to say.' The Scottish actor, who has played Ser Jorah Mormont in HBO's global phenomenon since it began in 2011, also said that the show's final series is 'absolutely phenomenal.' Speaking to Radio 5Live's Nihal Arthanayake, Glen described the table read for Game Of Thrones' final series, which saw more than one hundred cast and crew gather together to read through the scripts for all six episodes. 'This season was the first ever that we sat and read the entire arc of the story from beginning to end right through over the course of a day,' he said. 'Kit [Harington], if he wasn't lying, had not read it, so he was reading it on that day for the first time.' Glen said that there were 'moments of shock' from the actors, as they realised how the show's intricate plot was set to be resolved, but that the consensus was that the actors were 'thrilled' by what had been written. 'Honestly, these six episodes are absolutely phenomenal. The writers really, really came up trumps. The way they pulled it all together was a real writing task. There were a lot of tears that day and it's been a season of that because it's been a season of farewells and finishes.'
The Game Of Thrones touring exhibition will arrive in the UK next year. Bring your own dragon. The tour - consisting of 'authentic' props, costumes and built sets, as opposed to 'inauthentic' ones, presumably - is coming to Northern Ireland's TEC Belfast on 11 April 2019 and will be there until 1 September. The Thrones' exhibition - which is 'specially designed by GES Events in collaboration with HBO Licensing and Retail' apparently - will 'pull fans straight into the medieval and fantastical setting of the series, where you can experience some truly awesome encounters.' Whether you chop anyone's head off during the experience is no, at this time, known. One can, however, explore the home of The Night's Watch, Castle Black and The House Of Black & White, or view a garrison of Unsullied warriors whilst the iconic costumes of House Targaryen. If that floats yer boat. One can also experience 'the frosty grandeur of The North' (though, to be fair, you can get that in Sunderland) and 'the tree-lined pathway of The Kingsroad,' plus, 'the Iron Throne lies in wait in anticipation of its next occupant.' And, you can get your picture taken sitting on it. For a ludicrously expensive fee, no doubt. Throughout April and May, the exhibition will be open from 10am until 7pm with ticket prices varying between fifteen and seventeen knicker depending on the day that you choose to go. After that, it will be open from 9am until 8pm at the price of £17.50 per ticket. Or you could just, you know, watch the series.
The British box office is heading for its best year in almost five decades as cinemas continue to defy the stay-at-home lure of Netflix and Amazon Prime. When the final ticket stubs are counted it is expected that British cinemagoers will have attended one hundred and seventy six million times this year, a number not seen since 1971 when the hits included Diamonds Are Forever, The French Connection, Dirty Harry and Fiddler On The Roof. There is no Christmas Star Wars blockbuster to turbo-charge the box office in 2018 but film experts believe that the 1971 mark will be bettered thanks to a slate of December releases featuring Mary Poppins Returns, Aquaman, the Transformers spin-off Bumblebee and an animated Spiderman. 'It will take something really unexpected, something pretty incredible, not to get to there now,' said Phil Clapp, the chief executive of the UK Cinema Association. 'It looks like being record admissions, and box office, for modern times.' According to Clapp, in four of the last five years December admissions have been sixteen million or more. Given cinema admission numbers broke the one hundred and sixty million mark at the end of November, that should be enough to hit the one hundred and seventy six million barrier. Across the Atlantic, the US box office is also on for a record year and could even hit the twelve billion dollars mark for the first time. UK attendance is expected to be up by about six million on 2017. The rise is being attributed to factors including a much more diverse film slate ranging from musicals and superhero films to animated family fare. Last year four films broke forty million knicker at the British box office – Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Beauty & The Beast, Dunkirk and Despicable Me 3. This year eight films have done so to date - Avengers: Infinity War, Mamma Mia 2, Incredibles 2, Black Panther, Bohemian Rhapsody, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, Peter Rabbit and The Greatest Showman. And there is a good chance that by the end of the year Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes Of Grindelwald, Mary Poppins Returns and Aquaman will all have joined them. 'A broad range of films and genres are doing extremely well,' said Clapp. 'The notion [that] it is only superhero films driving the box office is disproved by the numbers.' Another factor is significant investment by the big cinema chain owners in their venues, such as installing higher-quality screens, as well as the rise of more boutique operators such as Everyman. Crispin Lilly, the chief executive of Everyman, said that the combination of films and socialising was proving popular with audiences across the UK. The chain, which offers plush seating as well as food, drink and a bar area, has 'almost tripled' its number of venues across the UK in the last four years to twenty six. It expects attendance to hit two-and-a-half million this year, a tripling of the number four years ago. 'There has been huge investment back into the cinema experience and the UK has led the way,' said Lilly, adding that independent chains now represented seven per cent of UK box office, compared with just over two per cent four years ago. As Netflix ploughs more and more money into buying and making content - six billion bucks this year alone - the temptation to stay in and binge would appear to be ever more irresistible, particularly to Middle Class hippy Communists who read the Gruniad Morning Star. If not, you know, normal people. But the cinema attendance figures paint a more complicated picture. 'Of course there is competition out there - from pubs and bars to home entertainment,' Lilly said. 'People want value for money but they also want value for time. Offering value for money is a given but offering value for people's time is something you really have to work to deliver. There are films people choose to see on the big screen rather than at home. However, with investment in the experience it is also removing the risk of relying on just the film being good. Cinema is alive and well.' In many ways, this should not be that surprising. The cinema-going experience continues to be an attractive prospect. The days of mangy old fleapits are long gone and cinemas are places of comfy sofas offering (mostly) tasty - if somewhat over-priced - food and drink. Compared to the theatre, opera, rock and/or roll gigs or a Premier League football match, it's still a, reasonably, cheap night out. And, the tentpoles are still holding up, with some massive superhero movies - the idea of which causes some people (mostly Middle Class hippy Communist Gruniad Morning Star readers) to groan and a lot of others (normal people) to cheer. Marvel's Avengers: Infinity War brought out the crowds and so did Black Panther. Crowds defied the lukewarm reviews for feelgood singalong extravaganzas and turned out in droves for Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again and also for Rami Malik’s extravagant impersonation of Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody. The movies are finding their own equivalent of the theatre world's jukebox musical. Get it right and it's a licence to print money. There is also, on a more highbrow note, a plethora of superb independent arthouse movies, which did well in a flourishing atmosphere. The winner of the Cannes Palme d'Or was a complex, challenging drama about an extended family with an awful secret: Shoplifters, by Hirokazu Kore-eda. It did very respectable box-office business and people were talking about it. Perhaps the cinema world is simply seeing what the music scene is seeing. Despite the web and streaming platforms, the cinema, like the live gig, is a real event. It can't be downloaded. You have to be there, or you're missing out.
The upcoming Star Wars: Episode IX will feature 'a major time jump,' according to rumours. The events of the last film in the Star Wars saga, The Last Jedi, ended with the few remaining members of The Resistance on the run from The First Order. Now led by Kylo Ren after the death of Supreme Leader Snoke, The First Order was prevented from catching The Resistance seemingly by the final actions of Luke Skywalker. But The First Order did manage to bring down The Resistance to a handful of fighters, all of whom could fit into The Millennium Falcon. Sorry, if you haven't seen The Last Jedi then all of that is, obviously, a series of massive spoilers. But, yer actual Keith Telly Topping's not really bothered about such nonsense since he sat through two-and-a-half-hours of the damn thing last Christmas and suffered 'numb-bum' for three days afterwards as a result.
Meanwhile, dear blog reader, the search for those responsible for this Gatwick drone malarkey continues ...
The Scum have extremely sacked manager Jose Mourinho after 'identifying a catalogue of his failings at the club.' The Portuguese took over in May 2016 and led The Scum to League Cup and Europa League titles, but they are currently nineteen points behind league leaders Liverpool Alabama Yee-Haws. The club made a change after 'no progress with results or style' despite spending nearly four hundred million knicker on eleven players. They also say that their new manager, announced the following day to be former Scummer Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, will 'understand the philosophy of the club,' including their 'attacking traditions.' Solskjaer, the current manager of Norwegian club Molde, has been appointed as caretaker manager until the end of the season whilst the search for a permanent replacement for The Special One is undertaken. It is reported that The Scum's players and staff were 'not happy' after a disappointing and unsettling period during which young players were not developed. The Scum are sixth in the Premier League, but closer to the relegation zone than to the leaders, who beat them three-one on Sunday. The decision to sack Mourinho, which will cost more than eighteen million knicker, has been taken 'in the long-term interests of United' with a regard that the club is 'bigger than any one individual,' the club said. Mourinho is reported to have wanted his own structure, but The Scum's next permanent manager will be appointed with a head of football above him reporting to executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward. A statement from The Scum said: 'A caretaker-manager will be appointed until the end of the season while the club conducts a thorough recruitment process for a new, full-time manager. The club would like to thank Jose for his work during his time at Manchester United and to wish him success in the future.' One or two people even believed them. The Scum's haul of twenty six points after their first seventeen Premier League games is their worst tally at this stage of a season since 1990-91. They are eleven points away from the top four, which would earn a Champions League qualification place. Mourinho's sacking comes after a fall-out with eighty nine million quid record signing Paul Pogba, who was an unused substitute for the defeat at Anfield on Sunday. Following a draw with Wolves, Pogba said that he wanted The Scum to be able to 'attack, attack, attack' at home, which led Mourinho to say that the France midfielder would no longer be the club's 'second captain.' After Mourinho, who replaced Louis van Gaal in May 2016 and signed a contract extension in January, was sacked, Pogba tweeted 'caption this' with a knowing expression on his face, before immediately deleting the post. Mourinho's third season did not begin well after missing out on key transfer targets in the summer and two defeats in the first three league games - to Stottingtot Hotshot at home and Brighton & Hove Albinos away - meant that his side were playing catch-up with the leading teams. By October, there were reports Mourinho might get the tin-tack prior to the home game against yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved (though unsellable) Magpies, but after The Scum trailed two-nil with twenty five minutes to go, they turned it around to win three-two and, seemingly, buy the former Moscow ChelskiFC, Inter Milan and Real Madrid boss more time. Mourinho's agent Jorge Mendes attempted to calm matters earlier this month by issuing a statement to say his client was 'very happy' and 'fully committed' to the club. The Scum, seemingly, did not agree. Despite reaching the Champions League last sixteen, where The Scum will play Paris St-Germain, they have won just one of their past six games in the Premier League. Mourinho's dismissal continues his run of never completing four consecutive seasons in charge of a club. Only once has he made it into a fourth campaign, but he left Moscow Chelski FC in September 2007 during his first spell at Torpedo Stamford Bridge.
Police are investigating an incident that saw Stottingtot Hoshots' Debbie Alli struck on the head by a plastic bottle during their two-nil win at The Arse on Wednesday. The bottle was thrown from the crowd at Emirates Stadium during the Carabao Cup quarter-final. The police have narrowed the list of suspects down to 'everyone that's ever met him.' England midfielder Alli was hit near the touchline as The Arse prepared to take a throw-in in the seventy third minute. The Metropolitan Police says that it is 'working' with The Arse to try to identify the individual responsible. The Arse told BBC Sport that they are examining CCTV to find the person who threw the bottle, but police say no arrests have been made at this time. The Football Association is 'aware of the incident' - so, presumably, someone at the FA was watching the game on telly and saw it happen - and will 'support' the police and clubs as they look into the matter, which might well be the most utterly pointless statement in the history of utterly pointless statements. Although, what would have happened if they said that they weren't 'supporting' the police and clubs is unknown. 'In a different country, maybe they close the stadium for a few games,' said Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino. 'It's lucky it wasn't a big problem but I think people need to be careful and we need to try and avoid this type of action. Some people behave very bad.' Alli had earlier scored the second goal and Spurs went on to reach the semi-finals. Wednesday's incident follows a banana skin being thrown towards The Arse striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in the Premier League match between the sides at the same venue on 2 December. The Spurs fan responsible was fined and banned from football for four years on Tuesday. When asked about the incident after the game, Alli told Sky Sports: 'It is what it is. It made the goal a bit sweeter and the win.'
The Arse's manager Unai Emery has claimed that the BBC's period gangster drama Peaky Blinders is helping him perfect his English. The Spaniard says he watches the drama series, set in Birmingham between, 'to relax.' But, the West Midlands accents have 'proven tricky' for the former Paris St-Germain boss. '[Peaky Blinders] is good but it is difficult [to understand] from Birmingham. And it's very aggressive. But it's good,' the leader of the Peaky Gooners said. Emery who replaced Arsene Wenger at The Emirates in the summer, has also taken language courses to improve his English. And, when he is not watching TV dramas as a learning aid, he is watching his other passion, football. The forty seven-year-old, who speaks in - actually, pretty reasonable - English at his news conferences, said: 'In each profession, you need to feel passion for that in order to give it your best performance. Football is my passion. It's my work, but I don't think every day that it is my work, it's my best hobby. I feel very big the passion. I am doing my work with my desire.'
Blunderland's Stadium of Plight will host the biggest third-tier crowd for thirty nine years for their Boxing Day game against Bradford City. Ticket sales have surpassed the League One record of thirty eight thousand two hundred and fifty six for Dirty Leeds's game against Gillingham in May 2008. The crowd will be the highest at this level since the 1979 Sheffield derby, which attracted forty nine thousand three hundred and nine punters. It will also be Blunderland's biggest since the club were extremely relegated from the Premier League in 2017. 'What a phenomenal achievement by our supporters and what a statement to the football world that Sunderland is on its way back,' executive director Charlie Methven claimed. The Wearsiders will also officially rename the South stand 'The Roker End' at the game. They are currently third in the table and bidding to return to the Championship at the first attempt. English football's third tier was rebranded as League One in 2004, having been Division Two from 1992 and Division Three before that.
League Two side Cambridge United have shown their Christmas spirit by mowing a Christmas tree into their pitch. The special design at Abbey Stadium for The U's game against Yeovil Town on Saturday was created by groundsman Ian Darler and features stars and baubles. 'Our Groundsman does Christmas better than yours,' the club tweeted, along with a picture of the pitch. The club tweeted: 'Gary Deegan is very much aiming for the tree points today.' Leicester City were famous for their inventive mowing patterns but they were banned by the Premier League at the start of the 2017-18 season. Top-flight rules state the playing surface must contain no markings other than the traditional horizontal and white lines.
Dulwich Hamlet somehow made six goal-line clearances to deny Wingate & Finchley in an epic goalmouth scramble during their FA Trophy first-round fixture on Saturday. Despite Dulwich Hamlet's heroics, Wingate & Finchley won the match two-nil.
A Crawley Town fan who threw an empty plastic bottle at an assistant referee has been banned for three home games. The bottle hit the official following the League Two defeat by Northampton on 8 December. The spectator responsible, who said they were 'frustrated and upset' on the day, came forward after an appeal was put out by the club. Crawley said they had been 'in discussions' with Sussex Police, but decided a three-game ban was 'sufficient.' The supporter has also agreed to make a donation to the English Football League's charity partner Mind. 'I would firstly like to apologise to the official the bottle struck and I hope it has not had any damaging effect on him and hope it doesn't in the future,' said the supporter, who has not been identified. 'I would also like to apologise to the club and to all individuals as this has caused extra work. I understand how proud the club are of their good reputation and the reputation it has of welcoming families to the stadium. I hope my actions haven't tarnished its good reputation.' Bit late for that, mate. The bad-tempered match saw Crawley striker Ollie Palmer shown a red card by referee Craig Hicks for a clash with The Cobblers' Aaron Pierre. One of Hicks' assistants was then struck by the bottle as they left the pitch at full-time. The Football Association has warned the Sussex club 'faces sanctions' if there is any further 'spectator misconduct.' 'It goes without saying that the club condone any actions which brings our good name into disrepute,' said operations director Kelly Derham. 'Football ignited passions but, regardless of how we view what happens on the field, I would appeal to all our supporters to uphold the good name of the club on match days by behaving responsibly.'
Three men have been very charged with bribery offences as part of a National Crime Agency investigation into spot fixing in cricket tournaments. Yousaf Vaqar Anwar, from Hayes, Mohammed Uaz, from Sheffield and Nasir Jamshaid, from Oldbury, are due before magistrates next month. They were arrested in February 2017 as part of the probe into tournaments organised by the national cricket boards of Pakistan and Bangladesh. The Pakistan Cricket Board started its own investigation into the bribery allegations and has separately suspended three players following tribunal hearings.
Earth's North Pole is famous for its snowy climes but, as this picture reveals, ours is not the only planet with snow scenes this holiday season. This is the Korolev crater, near the North pole of Mars, as captured by the European Space Agency's Mars Express mission. The crater is fifty miles across and filled with ice two kilometres thick. It was named after the rocket engineer and spacecraft designer Sergei Korolev, the architect of the Soviet Union's space programme. Korolev worked on the first interplanetary missions to the Moon, Mars and Venus and the Sputnik programme, which launched the world's first artificial satellite. The pictures of the crater are composites made up of shots taken by the Mars Express High Resolution Stereo Camera.
New NASA research confirms that Saturn is losing its iconic rings at the maximum rate estimated from Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 observations made decades ago. The rings are being pulled into Saturn by gravity as a dusty rain of ice particles under the influence of Saturn's magnetic field. 'We estimate that this "ring rain" drains an amount of water products that could fill an Olympic-sized swimming pool from Saturn's rings in half an hour,' said James O'Donoghue of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Centre in Greenbelt, Maryland. 'From this alone, the entire ring system will be gone in three hundred million years, but add to this the Cassini-spacecraft measured ring-material detected falling into Saturn's equator and the rings have less than one hundred million years to live. This is relatively short, compared to Saturn's age of over four billion years.' O'Donoghue is lead author of a study on Saturn's ring rain appearing in Icarus this month. Scientists have long wondered if Saturn was formed with the rings or if the planet acquired them later in life. The new research favours the latter scenario, indicating that they are unlikely to be older than one hundred million years, as it would take that long for the C-ring to become what it is today assuming it was once as dense as the B-ring. 'We are lucky to be around to see Saturn's ring system, which appears to be in the middle of its lifetime. However, if rings are temporary, perhaps we just missed out on seeing giant ring systems of Jupiter, Uranus and Neptune, which have only thin ringlets today,' O'Donoghue added. Various theories have been proposed for the ring system's origin. If the planet got them later in life, the rings could have formed when small, icy moons in orbit around Saturn collided, perhaps because their orbits were perturbed by a gravitational tug from a passing asteroid or comet. The first hints that ring rain existed came from Voyager observations of seemingly unrelated phenomena: peculiar variations in Saturn's electrically charged upper atmosphere, density variations in Saturn's rings and a trio of narrow dark bands encircling the planet at Northern mid-latitudes. These dark bands appeared in images of Saturn's hazy upper atmosphere made by NASA's Voyager 2 mission in 1981. In 1986, Jack Connerney of NASA Goddard published a paper in Geophysical Research Letters which linked those narrow dark bands to the shape of Saturn's enormous magnetic field, proposing that electrically charged ice particles from Saturn's rings were flowing down invisible magnetic field lines, dumping water in Saturn's upper atmosphere where these lines emerged from the planet. The influx of water from the rings, appearing at specific latitudes, washed away the stratospheric haze, making it appear dark in reflected light, producing the narrow dark bands captured in the Voyager images. Saturn's rings are mostly chunks of water ice ranging in size from microscopic dust grains to boulders several metres across. Ring particles are caught in a balancing act between the pull of Saturn's gravity, which wants to draw them back into the planet and their orbital velocity, which wants to fling them outward into space. Tiny particles can get electrically charged by ultraviolet light from the Sun or by plasma clouds emanating from micrometeoroid bombardment of the rings. When this happens, the particles can feel the pull of Saturn’s magnetic field, which curves inward toward the planet at Saturn's rings. In some parts of the rings, once charged, the balance of forces on these tiny particles changes dramatically and Saturn's gravity pulls them in along the magnetic field lines into the upper atmosphere. Once there, the icy ring particles vaporise and the water can react chemically with Saturn's ionosphere. One outcome from these reactions is an increase in the lifespan of electrically charged particles called H3+ ions, which are made up of three protons and two electrons. When energised by sunlight, the H3+ ions glow in infrared light, which was observed by O'Donoghue's team using special instruments attached to the Keck telescope in Mauna Kea, Hawaii. Their observations revealed glowing bands in Saturn's Northern and Southern hemispheres where the magnetic field lines that intersect the ring plane enter the planet. They analysed the light to determine the amount of rain from the ring and its effects on Saturn's ionosphere. They found that the amount of rain matches remarkably well with the astonishingly high values derived more than three decades earlier by Connerney and colleagues, with one region in the south receiving most of it. The team also discovered a glowing band at a higher latitude in the Southern hemisphere. This is where Saturn's magnetic field intersects the orbit of Enceladus, a geologically active moon that is shooting geysers of water ice into space, indicating that some of those particles are raining onto Saturn as well. 'That wasn't a complete surprise,' said Connerney. 'We identified Enceladus and the E-ring as a copious source of water as well, based on another narrow dark band in that old Voyager image.' The geysers, first observed by Cassini instruments in 2005, are thought to be coming from an ocean of liquid water beneath the frozen surface of the tiny moon. Its geologic activity and water ocean make Enceladus one of the most promising places to search for extraterrestrial life. The team would like to see how the ring rain changes with the seasons on Saturn. As the planet progresses in its twenty nine-year orbit, the rings are exposed to the Sun to varying degrees. Since ultraviolet light from the Sun charges the ice grains and makes them respond to Saturn's magnetic field, varying exposure to sunlight should change the quantity of ring rain.
The NASA New Horizons probe remains on course for its daring flyby of Ultima Thule. When the mission sweeps past the thirty kilometre wide object on New Year's Day, it will be making the most distant ever visit to a Solar System body - at some six-and-a-half billion kilometres from Earth. Mission planners decided at the weekend to forego a possible trajectory change. It means that the probe will get to fly three thousand five hundred kilometres from icy Ultima's surface to take a series of photos and other data. There had been some concern that the object might be surrounded by large debris particles which could potentially destroy the probe if it were to run into them. But nothing of the sort has been detected and so a wider, safer pass will not be needed. It is now more than three years since New Horizons made its remarkable flyby of dwarf planet Pluto and its moons. That was a technical tour de force and acquiring observations at Ultima will be just as tricky. Controllers will have to tell the spacecraft precisely where and when to point its instruments or risk sensing empty space as it hurtles by at fifty thousand kilometres per hour. 'Can we fly three thousand five hundred kilometres from the object and get all those images centred right on to the target, and not miss anything? That's the excitement for me; that's the challenge,' said Mission Operations Manager Alice Bowman at last week's American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting in Washington DC. New Horizons will be sending back repeat images of Ultima in the coming days that will help refine the final navigation and timing models used during the flyby. The object was only discovered four years ago by the Hubble telescope in a search for potential targets that New Horizons could reach after its Pluto encounter. Initially catalogued as (486958) 2014 MU69, it was given the more catchy nickname of Ultima Thule after a public consultation exercise. Thank God they didn't ask the British public or NASA would now be looking forward to an encounter with Spacey McSpaceface. Like many Kuiper belt objects of its type, Ultima is likely to be largely composed of dust and ices that came together at the dawn of the Solar System more than four-and-a-half billion years ago. Theories suggests that such bodies will take on an elongated or lobular form. Its surface should be very dark, having being 'burned' through the eons by high-energy radiation - cosmic rays and X-rays. New Horizons will study Ultima's shape, composition and environment. Scientists hope Ultima can provide insights on how these distant objects formed. One idea is that they grew from the mass accretion of a great many pebble-sized grains. Unlike the encounter with Pluto in July 2015, there won't be increasingly resolved images on approach to admire. Ultima will remain a blob in the viewfinder pretty much until the day of flyby. However, the much reduced separation between the probe and Ultima means that finer detail in the surface will eventually be observed. The 'mouthwatering' phase of the pass occurs in a roughly forty eight-hour period, centred mostly on the day-side of the object. Because New Horizons has to swivel to point its instruments, it cannot keep its antenna locked on Earth whilst also simultaneously gathering data. Controllers must therefore wait until later on New Year's Day for the probe to 'phone home' a status update and to start to downlink some pictures. It will be 2 January before we see the first of these images and 3 January before we get what are likely to be the best. At a distance of six-and-a-half billion kilometres, radio signals take over six hours to reach Earth. 'Our data rates are low - typical data rates max out around one thousand bits-a-second and it's going to take twenty months to get it all back,' explained New Horizons Principal Investigator Alan Stern. 'Which is kinda cool because we'll be getting new presents from the Kuiper belt every week and every month though 2019 and most of 2020,' he told BBC News. The team working on the probe is going ask NASA to fund an extended mission. The hope is that the course of the spacecraft can be altered to visit at least one more Kuiper belt object sometime in the next decade. It has just enough fuel reserves to be able to do this. Critically, it has sufficient electrical reserves to keep operating its instruments through this period, too. New Horizon's plutonium battery may even allow it to keep talking to Earth as it leaves the Solar System. The two 1970s Voyager missions have both now exited the heliosphere - the bubble of gas blown off THE Sun. Voyager 2 has only recently done it, in November. This occurred at a distance of one hundred and nineteen Astronomical Units (or one hundred and nineteen times the Earth-to-Sun distance, around one hundred and forty nine million kilometres). New Horizons is currently at forty four AU and adding around three additional AU every year. Its power system could 'probably' run to about one hundred AU, said Professor Stern. 'That's less than the Voyagers' distance but the interesting game is that the heliosphere breathes in and out by tens of astronomical units because of the solar cycle,' he explained. 'No-one is good enough at predicting the solar cycle to tell you where the edge of the heliosphere will be in the mid-to-late 2030s when we go power-critical.'
As noted, earlier this year, Voyager 2 became only the second human-made object to reach interstellar space. Yet it still has a long way to go before it actually leaves our solar system entirely. Five years ago, when the first Voyager probe earned the designation as first Earth-built object to go interstellar, it got the nod because it had travelled beyond the heliosphere, the bubble surrounding the Sun encompassing an area that is primarily influenced by the Sun's energy fields. The heliosphere is important in keeping dangerous cosmic rays from the interstellar medium out of the main areas of the solar system. When Voyager 1 left the boundary of the heliosphere, it entered an area of space primarily influenced by the interstellar medium, or 'the space between the stars' if you want to get all poetic about it. But, even though that spacecraft - and, now it's twin - have left the heliosphere behind, they are nowhere near leaving the solar system. Distance in the solar system is measured in astronomical units, the distance between Earth and the Sun. Neptune, the most distant known planet, is thirty AU away. The two Voyager crafts are one hundred and forty five and one hundred and twenty AU, respectively. The most distant solar system object currently known V774104, a dwarf planet which sits at one hundred and three AU. But plenty of other objects have strange orbits that take them much, much further away. Sedna, currently eighty five AU, can swing out as far as nine hundred and thirty six AU. Or, 'a bugger of long way away!' There is also an area beyond the Kuiper Belt about which only circumstantial evidence exists called The Oort Cloud. It starts at about two thousand AU - and it doesn't end for nearly fifty thousand AU, even at minimum estimates. That means the solar system, which is defined by objects still in a gravitational orbit around the Sun, could technically stretch out a light-year or more. 'The Voyagers won't get to the Oort Cloud for another three hundred years and won't get out of The Oort Cloud for at least three thousand years,' says Suzanne Dodd, programme manager for the Voyagers. The Oort Cloud is a mysterious place. Even The Daleks would think twice about living there. The material that lies out there is left over from the formation of the solar system and was cast out by the influence of the four gas giant plants, but didn't have enough speed to completely leave the influence of the Sun. Kat Volk, a planetary scientist at the University of Arizona who studies the outer solar system, says that seeing the actual Oort Cloud is not possible with most modern instruments because it is mostly comets and other icy objects too small and dim and distant to spot. But sometimes, comets from The Oort Cloud get a gravitational nudge from another object (including passing stars) and come into the closer parts of the solar system. Based on their speed, one can calculate their orbits and figure out how far they stretch out to at their farthest point from the Sun. While the planets live close to the ecliptic plane The Oort Cloud is more of a spherical bubble around the Sun. 'It really is a cloud structure instead of a disk structure where you have these objects that are really evenly distributed,' Volk says. And, The Oort Cloud may not be just comets and debris. There are likely to be dwarf planets and Volk says there could even be bigger objects somewhere in the region - even potentially undiscovered and extremely-hard-to-discover small terrestrial planets. 'It’s perfectly reasonable that there should be a lot of quite sizeable objects in that population,' Volk says. So, while Voyager 2 may be in interstellar space, Dodd adds there is always a chance it could be bumped back into the heliosphere. 'If the solar wind or something else were to blow a little bit harder, you could go back into the heliosphere and see more particles from the Sun,' Dodd says. There is a long road ahead for the intrepid little Voyager crafts, both of which have about seven years left of battery life before they are no longer able to transmit back to Earth.
Launching a small orbiter with an accompanying atmospheric probe to the solar system's ice giants - Uranus and Neptune - should be 'a top priority' for NASA in the coming decade, according to planetary scientists who conducted a review of potential missions to do so. Beyond being 'scientifically valuable,' such a mission to each planet is 'technologically feasible,' the team said. 'Every component of an ice giant system challenges our understanding of planetary physics in a unique way. It is important that the next mission to an ice giant study the entire system: the planet itself, the atmosphere, the rings, the satellites, and the magnetosphere,' Mark Hofstadter, a planetary scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, told the Eos website. Hofstadter is a co-author of the June 2017 report which reviewed the mission potential for Uranus and Neptune. 'Every component of an ice giant system challenges our understanding of planetary physics in a unique way,' he said. Uranus and Neptune, being about the same size, should release heat leftover from planet formation at similar rates. But that's not what Voyager 2 found. 'Jupiter, Saturn, and Neptune all emit more energy than they get from the Sun,' Hofstadter explained. 'Uranus stands out: It's the only one that's not releasing much internal heat.' This may be a result from the impact which tipped the planet onto its side, a result of differences in internal convection, or something else entirely, he speculated. 'If they're both the same type of planet then they should be similar to each other and why they're not makes no sense,' Amy Simon, a senior scientist for planetary atmospheres research at NASA Goddard Space Flight Centre, and a co-author on the report, said. 'Understanding the interior structure is going to be pretty critical.' Unlike Jupiter or Saturn, the ice giants 'appear to be enriched in heavy materials, that is, elements heavier than hydrogen and helium,' said Leigh Fletcher, a senior research fellow in planetary science at the University of Leicester. Past research has shown that the planets also contain significant amounts of ion-rich water. 'How much is rocky and how much is icy is an open topic of debate. Why did they end up this way?' he asked. Pinning down the planets' compositions would reveal where in the solar system they formed, Simon explained. It may also improve our understanding of planets of a similar size in other solar systems. 'These are the main sizes of planet that we're seeing in extrasolar planet systems,' Simon said. 'So, the fact that we understand them so little in our own solar system is problematic for interpreting them in other solar systems.' Uranus's thirteen rings are narrow and densely packed, a formation that needs 'shepherding moons' to keep it gravitationally stable. Uranus seems to be missing the moons to do that. Moreover, the particles in Uranus's μ ring look like those of Saturn's E ring, which is generated by the plumes from the moon Enceladus. The moon associated with the μ ring, called Mab, lacks plumes, so this ring’s origin is as yet unknown. Neptune's rings raise different questions. 'Before the Voyager encounter,' Hofstadter said, 'we didn't know Neptune had complete rings. Once we got closer and got a better look, we could see that it had complete rings, but that they were very clumpy. Certain portions of Neptune's rings much denser than others and the details of how and why that happens are not clear,' he said. 'Neptune's biggest moon, Triton, is basically a captured Pluto,' Hofstadter added. Scientists think that Triton may have formed in The Kuiper Belt beyond Neptune's orbit. Geysers and dark streaks on the moon's surface suggest that it may have a subsurface ocean similar to Jupiter's Europa or Saturn's Enceladus. 'We'd love to get a more careful look at Triton and see why it's active, learn about what happens when you gravitationally capture a relatively large body and compare it to Pluto,' Hofstadter said. Regarding a possible Triton lander, Simon said that 'landing on the surface of a body that we don't know much about is tough, particularly in knowing where it's safe to land.' Nonetheless, 'there's a lot you could learn if you could get down there.' Uranus's smallest and closest moon, Miranda, 'looks like you took pieces of different puzzles and put them together,' Hofstadter said. 'There are blobs of very different looking regions on the surface. There's been some wild geology on this moon.' Another of Uranus's moons Ariel, on the other hand, may have cryovolcanism. 'On these moons, water ice behaves almost like rock on the Earth, where it can be melted in the interior and flow or extrude on the surface,' he said. 'There's some evidence for that kind of water volcanism on Ariel.' Uranus's and Neptune's magnetic fields are 'relatively complex' when seen from above when compared with those of the gas giants. This complexity may suggest that the deep-interior process generating the fields actually happens closer to the surface than it does on Jupiter or Saturn. Sending a probe to the planets could help paint a clearer picture. 'The brief Voyager flybys suggested these two planets had very irregular magnetic field,' said Fran Bagenal, a professor of astrophysical and planetary science at the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics at the University of Colorado. Bagenal said that a mission to these planets is 'critical' to understanding how the planets generate magnetic dynamos in the water layers of their deep interiors and produce such irregular magnetic fields. Moreover, 'how the solar wind couples to the ice giants' magnetic fields is very different' from any other planet in the solar system, primarily because the fields themselves are so misshapen. For example, each planet's field is severely tilted from its axis of rotation and is offset from the centre of the planet. Also, 'the planets' magnetic fields change their orientations relative to the solar wind in a way that no other planet does,' Hofstadter said. Studying these fields up close could prove to be good tests for our models of planetary magnetic fields and the solar wind which would benefit heliophysics.
Astronomers using NASA's Hubble telescope found an exoplanet that is 'evaporating,' possibly holding clues into the discovery of rocky 'super-Earths.' Researchers at the University of Geneva in Switzerland found the exoplanet GJ 3470b, which showed signs of losing hydrogen in its atmosphere, causing it to shrink. The study is part of exploration into 'hot Neptunes,' planets which are the size as Neptune, sit very close to their star and have atmospheres as hot at seventeen hundred degrees Fahrenheit, says NASA. Finding a 'hot Neptune' is rare - albeit, not as rare as finding a 'hot Uranus' - because they sit so close to their star and tend to evaporate more quickly. In the case of GJ 3470b, scientists classify it as a 'warmer' Neptune because it sits farther away from its star. The exoplanet discovered by astronauts is losing its atmosphere at a rate one hundred times faster than a previous 'warmer' Neptune planet discovered a few years before, according to a study published Thursday in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics. The planet sits 3.7 million miles from its star. For comparison, Earth is 92.9 million miles from the Sun. 'This is the first time that a planet has been observed to lose its atmosphere so quickly that it can impact its evolution,' said lead author Vincent Bourrier, a researcher in the Astronomy Department of the Faculty of Science at the University of Geneva, in a statement. Researchers say these 'hot Neptune' planets shrink in size and morph into 'Super Earths,' versions of our planet which are 'massive and more rocky.' Last month, a Super Earth was found orbiting a nearby star.
Russian President, The Butcher of Grozny Vladimir Putin has asked the government to 'take charge' of rap music after a number of concerts were cancelled across the country. Efforts to ban rap were 'impossible' and so the state should 'play a greater role in controlling it,' he said. The Ministry of Culture would find 'the best way' to 'navigate youth concerts,' he added. His comments come after Russian rapper Husky was very arrested after several of his concerts were cancelled. In December, authorities in the Southern city of Krasnodar called off his planned performance for 'extremism.' The musician - real name Dmitry Kuznetsov - was then extremely jailed for twelve days after performing for fans on the roof of a car. Speaking at a meeting of the presidential Council for Culture and Art in St Petersburg, Putin said that the 'problem' should be approached 'with great caution. However, what I really agree with is that if it is impossible to stop it, it should be taken over and navigated in a particular way,' he said. The President expressed 'particular concern' about drug abuse among young people. 'Rap and other modern [forms of art] are rested upon three pillars - sex, drugs and protest,' he said. 'I am most worried about drugs. This is the way towards the degradation of a nation.' Putin also said he was 'worried about bad language' in rap, saying that he had 'spoken to a linguist' about it. While she had explained to him that swearing is 'a part of our language,' Putin compared it to the human body, adding that 'we have all sorts of body parts and it's not like we put them on display all the time.' Speak for yerself, pal. The Russian government has long had a complicated relationship with music. Feminist protest band Pussy Riot claims that Russia's intelligence service poisoned member Pyotr Verzilov earlier this year. Under the Soviet Union, most Western rock and/or roll music was frowned on and some Russian rock musicians faced persecution for their naughty rockin' ways. Classical musicians also clashed with the state. Composer Dmitri Shostakovich was denounced twice under the leadership of Joseph Stalin.
Top African pop star Diamond Platnumz has been barred from performing in Tanzania after he played a song which the authorities had banned for being 'sexually suggestive.' The song, 'Mwanza' contains the Swahili word for 'horny', and dancers are seen in a video simulating The Sex. Diamond Platnumz had treated the ban with 'disdain' by singing the lyrics at a concert, the arts regulator said. The popular Tanzanian singer has been dogged by controversy in recent years. In April he was questioned by police after posting on Instagram a video clip of himself kissing a woman. The authorities accused him of 'behaving indecently.' Tanzania's arts regulator, Basata, said that Diamond Platnumz would also be banned from performing abroad, but it is unclear how, exactly, it would enforce this ban. The ban also applied to Rayvanny, another local musician who features on 'Mwanza'. 'We have reached the decision because the two musicians have treated our directive with disdain,' Basata said in a statement. On Sunday, Diamond Platnumz, who popularised 'bongo flava,' Tanzanian hip hop, performed 'Mwanza' to big crowds during a festival in the port city of the same name. The song has been popular on YouTube where it has had more than five million views. In a recent video shared online, Diamond Platnumz raised the possibility of settling abroad if Tanzanian officials continued banning his music. 'If they don't want me to perform my songs I can live in another country and play there. If Tanzanian law says I can't perform here, I can go to Kenya where I am not banned,' he said. The musician, whose real name is Nasib Abdul, is billed to headline an end of the year concert in neighbouring Kenya. Where they are, seemingly, less bothered about The Sex.
Shakira - she is a popular beat combo, yer honour - has been extremely charged with tax evasion in Spain, where prosecutors allege the international pop singing sensation failed to pay more than twelve million smackers between 2012 and 2014. The charges claim Shakira - whose full name is Shakira Isabel Mebarak Ripoll - listed the Bahamas as her official residence 'for tax purposes' during those years but was, in fact, living in Spain with her partner, the Spanish football player Gerard Pique. Tax rates are much lower in the Bahamas - where Shakira co-purchased an island in 2011, the year before she claimed on taxes to have lived in the Caribbean. The singer has denied the charges against her. Shakira was named in the 'Paradise Papers' leaks that detailed the offshore tax arrangements of numerous high-profile individuals, including musical celebrities like Madonna and The U2 Group's Mister Bonio. In a statement released through her representatives on Friday, Shakira said that she was not a legal resident in Spain during the years in question and that she never done it, honest guv. She claimed to 'owe nothing' to the Spanish tax authorities who, she claimed, were 'using' her 'as a scapegoat' to 'frighten other taxpayers' into 'coming clean.' Prosecutors in Barcelona have said Shakira's travel abroad was 'for short periods' because of 'professional commitments,' while most of the year she stayed in Spain. They want her to pay tax in Spain on her worldwide income. Shakira officially moved to Spain for tax purposes in 2015, after having two children with Pique. A magistrate must now assess whether there is enough evidence to put Shakira in the dock. Prosecutors want Shakira to pay a bond which equals the amount they say she owes in tax, plus thirty three per cent, in accordance with Spanish law. Otherwise, they recommend a court freeze of her assets to that amount. Spain's tax authorities referred their probe to the Barcelona prosecutor's office a year ago. Sports celebrities have also been in trouble with Spanish tax authorities, including footballers Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.
Yer actual Kylie Minogue will play Glastonbury's legend slot next summer - fourteen years after breast cancer forced her to pull out of headlining the festival. Kylie, Kylie, sweet and smiley will play the coveted tea-time slot on 30 June, following the likes of Lionel Ritchie, Tom Jones, Dolly Parton and Barry Gibb in previous years. 'It will be fourteen years since I was originally meant to appear there and so much has happened up to now,' said the singer on Instagram. 'I can't wait to see you all there to share this special show.' 'We are delighted to announce that Kylie is finally bringing her show to Glastonbury,' said organiser Emily Eavis. 'We cannot wait.' Kylie was originally supposed to headline the Pyramid Stage in 2004, but had to cancel to undergo cancer treatment. Basement Jaxx stepped in to replace her, and covered her hit 'Can't Get You Out Of My Head' in tribute. Coldplay's Chris Martin, headlining on the Saturday night, also played Minogue's signature song, telling the audience: 'Everyone's paid to see Kylie as well. Shouldn't we remember absent friends?' Kylie returned to Worthy Farm in 2010 to cameo with Scissor Sisters, but has never played a full set at the festival. Speaking to the Associated Press earlier this year, the fifty-year-old said that she would 'love' to lay the ghosts of 2004 to rest. 'When I was supposed to do it, I think I would have been the first solo female to headline in however many years it was, so I was really proud of that at that time. Obviously it didn't happen. So yes, it would be amazing and very emotional to be standing there and doing what I didn't get to do all those years ago, for sure.' Her return comes a year after she headlined Radio 2's Hyde Park festival and brought Jason Donovan on stage to recreate their duet 'Especially For You'. While a repeat at Glastonbury is unlikely, Kylie knows how to put together a crowd-pleasing set and with fifty one hit singles she is bound to draw a huge audience. Kylie will be joined on the line-up by grime type person Stormzy, who was announced as the Friday night headliner. None of the other acts have been revealed at the moment, but rumoured headliners include yer actual Paul McCartney, The Arctic Monkeys, Madonna and Fleetwood Mac.
Robbie Williams has extremely won a five-year battle over plans for an underground pool at his West London home, despite objections from neighbour Jimmy Page. The Led Zeppelin guitarist said that he feared construction work on the pool could be 'catastrophic' for his own mansion, Tower House. But Williams' scheme has now been granted conditional approval. Planning committee chairman councillor Quentin Marshall suggested the pair 'find a way to talk' about the issues. Disagreements between Page and Williams began when the former Take That singer bought the house next door to Page - which used to belong to Michael Winner. No, look, this isn't the plot of an ITV sitcom 'with hilarious consequences', that's what happened. In May, Page argued at a Kensington and Chelsea Council planning meeting that the excavation work could damage his Grade I-listed Gothic-style home. However, the council wasn't having any of it. Representatives for yer man Robbie previously said that any construction work would 'fall within stringent regulations' and any effects on surrounding properties would be 'negligible.' At another meeting on Tuesday night, planning permission was granted to Williams. However, work will not begin until councillors receive 'reassurance' about 'monitoring vibration levels' and ground movement. Which, when you consider we're talking about a chap who played in the loudest rock in the history of loud rock bands definitely qualifies in the 'how ironic is that?' category. They will also discuss whether to ask Williams for a bond, which could be forfeited if the conditions were breached or if any damage occurs. The planning permission is subject to a legal agreement, which must be approved by the planning applications committee, to be discussed at another meeting next year. Marshall suggested the rock and/or roll celebrities meet to try to put their differences aside. He said: 'It seems they are not that far apart. It's slightly frustrating. I know the two principals are very busy, but surely they can find a way to talk, which might lock many of the problems.' After the meeting, a spokesman for Page, who bought the property in 1972, said 'Oooo, yeah baby, squeeze ma lemon till the jooce runs dahn maaaaaa leg.' No, he didn't. But, it would've been dead funny if he had. He actually said the rock and/or roll legend was 'happy' to meet up with Williams. 'From Jimmy's point of view he will be reassured that the committee of councillors are taking the protection of the house seriously. He wants Robbie to come back with proposals that eliminate all risk to the Tower House.'
On 12 December, the former Bauhaus singer Peter Murphy played what appears to have been a broadly well-received show at a mid-sized venue, Nalen, in Stockholm, as part of his Forty Years of Bauhaus Ruby Celebration Tour. However, the concert ended slightly earlier than scheduled, with several songs cut from the final encore of the setlist due to the vocals being disabled on the PA. The next morning a number of news stories broke that Murphy had actually been forcibly removed from the venue for destroying equipment and assaulting guests with glass water bottles thrown from stage. One person on ever-reliable social media claimed to have been hit by one of these water bottles, cutting his cheek and requiring stitches. A photo, followed by video footage, emerged along with this claim, showing the sixty one year old singer confronting what some claimed to be Swedish Police and security outside the venue. In the footage Murphy, can be seen being told to 'calm it down, mate,' with Murphy responding with , 'You think you got a big cock? Fuck you, you fucking Swedish cunt.' Murphy, after demanding not to be touched, had someone put their hand on his shoulder and the singer responded with a punch. Security then tackled the singer, bringing him down with a chokehold followed by some choice pacifying. Since then, much of the news reporting of this event appears to have been somewhat inaccurate, in part due to mistranslation of Swedish news articles into English and in part due to some seemingly mendacity amongst those who claimed to be present. The excellent PostPunk website decided to do a full 'fact check' on what really went on there. It's well worth a read a certainly puts much of the other - rather over-the-top - reporting of the incident to shame.
You might have seen their strategically self-regarding e-mails or watched their self-inflating egos in work meetings. But, business school researchers have identified a 'type' of employee who manages to look busy and successful, without actually doing anything useful. And, in other news, apparently bears do shit in the woods. The productivity study examined twenty eight UK workplaces and found staff who 'appeared to be highly engaged.' But, on closer inspection, they were found to be 'self-promoters' whose singular lack of effort 'pushed down overall output.' The research, from the Ashridge at Hult International Business School, examined the 'engagement levels' of teams of workers, across seven different employment sectors, such as health, government, transport and not-for-profits. It found some 'very motivated workers' and some who were 'plainly disgruntled and disaffected.' But, about one-in-five teams was a conundrum - where staff appeared to be very engaged, but where teamwork and productivity were poor. The study found when 'lifting the lid' on these groups of workers, that they were 'undermined' by staff who were successfully 'gaming the system' but, 'not really getting anything done.' Which, to be fair, was Keith Telly Topping's entire nineteen year career in the civil service described in a sentence. They might constantly appear in a circuit of meetings, or get involved in conversations that were to their own advantage but, apart from playing the corporate culture, it was 'difficult to see what they actually achieved.' Uh-huh, still an accurate description. In shift work, it could mean stretching out work to fit across the hours with the least effort. These have been labelled the 'pseudo-engaged' by employment researchers, as opposed to the 'engaged' and 'disengaged.' An alternative label might be 'lazy fekkers,' obviously. Senior researcher Amy Armstrong said that such 'selfish' staff 'undermined teamwork' and 'damaged productivity' - and, in a business sense, had 'a negative impact.' But, she said that the 'pseudo-engaged' could often be 'encouraged' by the managerial system. With the threat of the sack, most obviously. 'They're rewarded for that dysfunctional behaviour,' said Doctor Armstrong, seemingly oblivious to that fact that this entire study was a pretty-much perfect example of such make-work, not-a-real-job type activity in telling people what they already knew. Talk about getting paid for nothing. Such 'pseudo-engaged' lazy fekkers were 'more likely to get promotions, better pay and bonuses' and to 'devote even more of their efforts to their own careers' to the detriment of collective productivity, the report stated. 'It's quite a depressing picture,' Armstrong said. This was often because such staff were 'managing upwards' by making themselves 'look good' in front of senior managers. Staff who spent their time promoting themselves in meetings were 'likely' to 'benefit more' than colleagues who were actually doing all the work. Such workplaces could outwardly appear to have lots of commitment and support for company goals. But, below the surface the researchers found 'low levels of trust and cohesion' with 'little evidence of collegiality or support for one another.' It can leave other staff 'feeling stretched' and 'without any sense of togetherness.' And, again, in other news, yes, the Pope seemingly is Catholic. Armstrong said that in such workplaces there can 'appear' to be 'no point to teamwork' because of the individuals who seem to benefit from their self-promotion. And, still, the most staggering aspect of this story is that a group of researchers actually got paid for coming up with this blindingly obvious crap.
President Rump's choice of new acting White House chief of staff once described him as 'a terrible human being,' it has emerged. A video shows Mick Mulvaney making the disparaging remark in a debate shortly before the 2016 presidential election. 'Yes, I am supporting Donald Trump, but I'm doing so despite the fact that I think he's a terrible human being,' Mulvaney says. He describes Rump's then opponent, Hillary Clinton, as 'just as bad.' Mulvaney is a former Republican Congressman and the video, which was obtained by The Daily Beast, was taken during a debate with Democratic challenger Fran Person in York, South Carolina. He is currently director of the Office of Management and Budget and takes up his new role in January. An OMB spokeswoman said that the remarks had been made before Mulvaney had met Rump and were 'old news,' the New York Times reported. Meghan Burris said Mulvaney 'both likes and respects the president and he likes working for him.' One or two people even believed her. A Facebook post has also emerged from 2016 in which Mulvaney described Rump as 'not a very good person,' NBC reported. Mulvaney was responding to the release of a videotape from 2005 in which Rump made obscene comments about women. 'I think one thing we've learned about Donald Trump during this campaign is that he is not a very good person,' Mulvaney wrote in the post. 'What he said in the audiotape is disgusting and indefensible. My guess is that he has probably said even worse.' But he added: 'I've decided that I don't particularly like Donald Trump as a person. But I am still voting for him. And I am still asking other people to do the same. And there is one simple reason for that: Hillary Clinton.' Mulvaney will replace General John Kelly, who is stepping down as White House chief of staff at the end of the year.
Santa Claus collapsed and died in front of children at a school Christmas party according to the Daily Mirra. The Russian Santa was 'energetically performing and running around with the youngsters' before footage captured him coming to a stop and falling backwards. And, that was the end of Santa's shit, it would seem. As the confused youngsters ran towards him, they could be heard giggling as they seemingly believed his tragic collapse was part of the festive game. But Santa, named as Valery Titenko, had suffered a sudden and fatal heart attack. Another cast member, a woman dressed as a clown, is seen rushing behind the tree to help the stricken sixty seven-year-old. As kindergarten staff comforted the traumatised children, Santa was rushed to hospital in Kemerovo but died on the way, said a medical source. It was revealed later that Santa had not been feeling well and had complained of chest pains, but did not want to let the children down so came to perform for them. A spokesman at the Musical Theatre of Kuzbass said: 'In recent years his health was not ideal. He had been through complicated heart surgery, but still performed on the stage and had been working at full capacity, not sparing himself.'
Police in Florida say a twenty three-year-old man went through a McDonald's drive-thru and tried to pay for his order with a bag of marijuana. News outlets report Port St Lucie police say the fast food worker denied the trade and Anthony Andrew Gallagher drove off, only to return again a short time later and try again. Police arrested him on Sunday on charges of marijuana possession, driving under the influence and being a plank. Police were alerted to Gallagher's naughty offer early on Sunday morning and got a description of him from the worker. They say a suspect matching his description went through the drive-thru a little while later and police arrested him.
A US man wrongly suspected of hiding drugs up his colon was reportedly given a rectal probe - and billed for the unwanted anal examination. Torrence Jackson said that he refused consent for the invasive procedure and suffered 'internal injuries' as a result. According to the Post-Standard, doctors in Syracuse refused to carry out the examination until police obtained a warrant. The hospital sent Jackson a bill for over four thousand five hundred dollars. He was stopped in his car by police after failing to signal, police claim. One or two people even believed them. Officers found a bag of marijuana and cocaine residue in Jackson's vehicle, reports the Post-Standard. The incident happened on 16 October 2017, but has only been pieced together after a review by the newspaper of police, court and medical documents. Police officer Anthony Fiorini claimed Jackson's 'posture' in the car was 'consistent' with someone hiding drugs up his Gary Glitter. One officer was, allegedly, injured in 'the ensuing struggle' to arrest Jackson, who has a lengthy criminal record, according to the newspaper. Police also claimed Jackson had 'taunted' them about having drugs concealed on his person, which he denies. He was taken to St Joseph's Hospital in Syracuse where an X-ray found no 'foreign objects' up his rectum. Police subsequently obtained a court warrant to perform a sigmoidoscopy, using a flexible eight inch tube. And, to be fair, there are places where you have to pay good money for that sort of thing. Doctors initially refused to perform the procedure, until advised by a hospital lawyer that Jackson did not have a legal right to refuse. He was forcibly sedated for the examination. After the procedure found no drugs, Jackson was released and said that he only learned what doctors had done when he found blood in his underwear. 'I felt tampered with,' he told the newspaper. Upon release, the hospital had a debt collectors' agency pursue Jackson for the medical bill. He refused to pay and the matter was ultimately dropped. In a statement to the Post-Standard, the hospital said its officials 'comply with court orders whenever they are issued for detainees who come to our hospital in police custody.'
In an Internet hoax gone terribly wrong, a woman was reportedly left brain dead after subjecting herself through a 'soy sauce colon cleanse.' The thirty nine-year-old woman, identified only as CG, reportedly drank a litre of soy sauce within two hours after she reportedly found the dangerous 'health trend' online. Her unusual case was featured on the popular medical YouTube channel Chubbyemu, which is ran by a University of Illinois adjunct medical professor known as Doctor Bernard. According to the YouTuber, the incident caused the woman to go into cardiac arrest, leaving her with 'irreversible nerve damage.' Immediately after drinking a litre of soy sauce in two hours, the woman reportedly felt her heart beating faster. 'She resisted all urges to drink any water. Over the next thrity minutes, while driving home, CG stopped on the side of the road and began to cry,' the doctor said. And, one imagines given the amount of soy sauce she'd consumed they were pretty salty tears. CG's husband, Julio, would later find her collapsed in their home and immediately dialled nine-one-one for help. As she was being rushed to the hospital, CG went into cardiac arrest. Doctors later discovered that she was suffering from acute hypernatremia, which indicated a high amount of sodium in her blood. Bernard explained that the soy sauce challenge, which claimed that it would 'cleanse' a person's colon by 'evacuating the entire body of toxins,' was based on utter and complete nonsense. 'The correct part is that wherever sodium is, water will flow towards it,' he said. 'CG was told the soy sauce would stay in her colon. Toxin-filled water would then flow in and she'd be cleansed, but that's not how it happens.' He noted how the soy sauce brought 'huge amounts of salt' into her stomach, which began 'sucking water from her muscles and organs.' When the salt reached her brain, it caused it to shrink, resulting in permanent brain damage. Despite attempts to bring the sodium levels in her blood back to normal, the rise became so rapid that it resulted in her being left brain dead. Doctors diluted CG's blood with glucose-laden water. After the sugar was absorbed by her cells, CG began to show signs of stabilisation, although she continued to drift in and out of consciousness. She was able to open her eyes four days later but remains unable to move, swallow or speak.
In a shocking and stunning incident, a former middle school teacher is about to serve thirty days in The Slammer and four years on probation after he got drunk, swam underwater and ended up biting a fourteen-year-old girl on her buttocks. Jonathan William Helbert reached a plea agreement with Georgia prosecutors on Friday as a first offender plea to charges of battery, public drunkenness, and bribery, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Herbert - from Dacula, Georgia - was initially charged with sexual battery. But The DA's office dropped the sexual battery charge because 'the sexual intent behind the sexual battery and the evidence is very different than other sexual assault cases,' giving prosecutors 'worry' that a jury may not have convicted on that charge, according to the nolle prosequi, a notice filed by prosecutors detailing why they won't pursue a charge. According to the Hall County Sheriff's Office, Herbert was swimming at the Lake Lanier Island beach in Buford on the evening of 4 July and managed to swim underwater before biting the teen's bum while she was playing volleyball. Investigators have revealed that Herbert had no connections to the girl or her family and several different beachgoers and passersby who had witnessed the incident had reported it to the police. Herbert was later taken into custody and he was allegedly extremely drunk at the time of his arrest. Following that, Herbert had also tried to bribe a deputy with two hundred bucks to let him off, but clearly, that didn't work as he was then indicted for that as well. Herbert was a teacher at Snellville Middle School, and after his arrest, Gwinnett County Public Schools, which oversees Snellville, began an internal investigation. Herbert ended up resigning from his position on 1 August. The girl's family reportedly had no objection to the plea deal because they did not desire to see her testify in court, reports WSB-TV. As per the conditions of his sentence, court documents forbid Herbert from working as a teacher or to be seen in areas 'where children congregate.' But, since Herbert is also a first time offender, his battery, public drunkenness, and bribery charges will be wiped from his record if he completes his sentence without any problems.
A Missouri judge reportedly ordered a man convicted 'in a massive deer poaching ring' to watch Bambi 'at least once a month' as a part of his year-long prison sentence. David Berry Junior was ordered to watch the Disney classic regularly in what conservation agents have called one of the largest deer poaching cases in state history, the Springfield News-Leader reports. 'The deer were trophy bucks taken illegally, mostly at night, for their heads, leaving the bodies of the deer to waste,' said Don Trotter, the prosecuting attorney in Lawrence County. Berry, his father, two brothers and another man who helped them had their hunting, fishing and trapping privileges revoked temporarily or permanently. The men have paid a combined over fifty thousand bucks in fines and court costs, but the judge ordered a special addition to Berry's sentence for illegally taking wildlife. Court records show he was ordered by Lawrence County Judge Robert George to 'view the Walt Disney movie Bambi, with the first viewing being on or before 23 December 2018 and at least one such viewing each month thereafter' while at The County Jail. Berry was also sentenced to one hundred and twenty days in The Big House in nearby Barton County for a firearms probation violation. His father, David Berry Senior and his brother, Kyle Berry, were very arrested in August after a nearly nine-month investigation that also involved cases in Kansas, Nebraska and Canada. The Missouri Department of Conservation said that information from the investigation led to fourteen Missouri residents facing more than two hundred and thirty charges in eleven counties. Investigators say Berry Senior's other son, Eric Berry, was later caught 'with another person' spotlighting deer, where poachers use light at night to make deer pause and easier to hunt. The investigation into the Berry family began in late 2015, when the conservation agency received an anonymous tip about deer poaching in Lawrence County.
A neo-Nazi couple who named their baby after Adolf Hitler and were extremely convicted of being members of a banned terrorist group have been very jailed. Adam Thomas and Claudia Patatas from Banbury, were part of National Action and had 'a long history of violent racist beliefs,' a judge said. Birmingham Crown Court heard the couple gave their child the middle name Adolf in 'admiration' of Hitler. Who only had one. Thomas was jailed for six years and six months and Patatas for five years. In total six people were sentenced for being part of what Judge Melbourne Inman QC described as a group with 'horrific aims.' Daniel Bogunovic from Leicester, was convicted of being a member of the banned group after standing trial alongside the couple. Described by prosecutors as 'a committed National Action leader, propagandist and strategist,' he was jailed for six years and four months. Darren Fletcher, from Wolverhampton, Nathan Pryke, from March in Cambridgeshire and Joel Wilmore from Stockport, had previously pleaded extremely guilty to being in the group. Fletcher, described by the judge as 'an extreme member,' was sentenced to five years. Pryke, the group's 'security enforcer' was given five years and five months in The Slammer and Wilmore, the 'banker and cyber security specialist,' was imprisoned for five years and ten months. The judge said of National Action: 'It's aims and objectives are the overthrow of democracy in this country by serious violence and murder and the imposition of a Nazi-style state that would eradicate whole sections of society.' In sentencing Patatas, he added: 'You were equally as extreme as Thomas both in your views and actions. You acted together in all you thought, said and did, in the naming of your son and the disturbing photographs of your child, surrounded by symbols of Nazism and the Ku Klux Klan.' Last week the court heard Fletcher had trained his toddler daughter to perform a Nazi salute and sent a message to Patatas saying 'finally got her to do it.' Jurors saw images of Thomas wearing Ku Klux Klan robes while cradling his baby, which he claimed were 'just play' but he admitted being a racist. Thomas was also found guilty of having a copy of terrorist manual The Anarchist Cookbook. A police search of the home he shared with Patatas uncovered machetes and crossbows, one kept just a few feet from the baby's crib. Extremist-themed paraphernalia including pendants, flags and clothing emblazoned with symbols of the Nazi-era SS and National Action was also recovered. Among the items were a swastika-shaped pastry cutter and swastika scatter cushions. The neo-Nazi terrorist group National Action, founded in 2013, was outlawed under anti-terror legislation in 2016 after it celebrated the murder of Labour MP Jo Cox.
A driver has been very arrested on suspicion of drink driving after crashing into a telegraph pole and getting his car stuck in a tree. West Mercia Police said that the crash was on the B4386 at Cruckton, Shrewsbury, in the early hours of Sunday. The car ended up vertical with its bonnet pointing down, surrounded by branches from a tree. Chief Superintendent Kevin Purcell said that the occupants of the car were 'lucky to be alive.'
A huge explosion and fire has hit a restaurant in the Northern Japanese city of Sapporo. Japanese police say forty two people were injured in the explosion, with one of them in a serious condition. The cause of the explosion in the Toyohira district is not yet known. Some reports suggested a gas blast. Images on social media initially showed flames rising from the area with debris all around and, later, firefighters tackling collapsed buildings. Police sealed off the area amid fears of more explosions. More than twenty fire engines were reportedly deployed. Japanese broadcaster NHK said that the area affected had both residential and dining establishments and was about three kilometres South-East of the city centre. The Japan Times quoted one eyewitness as saying the explosion 'sounded like thunder.' Another eyewitness told NHK that the blast had broken the windows of the restaurant he was working in and that there were 'many injured people.'
The Russian-backed news channel RT has been found very guilty of seven breaches of the British broadcasting code in relation to programmes broadcast in the aftermath of the Salisbury novichok poisoning last March. The media regulator, Ofcom, said the channel broke impartiality rules on seven occasions in a six-week period this year. It added that this was very naughty and it was considering sanctions on the Russian-government backed channel, formerly known as Russia Today. The regulator investigated ten programmes broadcast between March and May this year, concluding that seven of them breached rules that broadcasters are required to follow on 'due impartiality' regarding 'matters of political controversy.' Two of the breaches related to programmes hosted by the former MP and rank gobshite George Galloway, a regular presenter on the channel, who cast doubt on the link between the Salisbury poisonings and Russia. Other breaches include incidents where presenters 'failed to challenge interviewees' over 'contentious topics' and instead 'appeared to agree with their guest' and programmes and reports about the conflict in Syria that 'took a resolutely pro-Russian viewpoint' without representing alternative views. 'Taken together, the seven breaches represent a serious failure of compliance with our broadcasting rules,' said Ofcom. 'We have told RT that we are minded to consider imposing a statutory sanction. The broadcaster now has an opportunity to make representations to us, which we will consider before proceeding further.' Potential punishments include forcing RT to broadcast corrections, imposing financial fines or, applicable in extreme cases, the removal of a broadcasting licence, which would essentially force the channel off air in the UK. Although, given what happened to the last person in Britain who dared to criticise the Russian regime, Ofcom - a politically appointed quango, elected by no one - might be plopping in their own pants if they go down the more severe route. The latter course of action,for example, is 'considered unlikely' given that any punishment has to be 'proportionate' and previous impartiality breaches, even on this scale, have not resulted in channels being forced off-air. In its submissions to Ofcom, RT argued it did not breach the rules of due impartiality, in part because its viewers 'already expected' to hear 'a pro-Russian viewpoint' that challenged the 'predominant narrative' of the UK government on issues such as the war in Syria and the Salisbury attacks. 'RT has a relatively small UK audience and is avowedly Russian and broadcasting an alternative viewpoint,' it claimed. 'Audiences will not be ambushed by views aired on RT, and will not lack the context in which to evaluate them. RT is not a British broadcaster. Viewers turn to RT with the expectation that they will receive a Russian viewpoint.' One or two people even believed it. It said that any attempt to censor RT, which is one of three news channels available to Freeview viewers, was 'an affront' to freedom of speech. 'On matters that relate to disagreement between the United Kingdom and Russian governments (for instance on Salisbury or Syria), there will be viewers who want to hear the Russian point of view from a Russian channel, unfiltered by a British broadcaster,' it said. The channel said it 'disagreed' with Ofcom's conclusions: 'RT is extremely disappointed by Ofcom's conclusions in what were almost all self-initiated investigations into RT by the regulator. We operate under rules outlined by the regulator and always strive to abide by them. It appears Ofcom has failed to fully take onboard what we said in response to its investigations and, in particular, has not paid due regard to the rights of a broadcaster and the audience. We are reviewing the findings Ofcom has put forward and will decide shortly the nature of our next steps.' RT has increasingly found itself at the centre of public criticism in British public life, with both Conservative and Labour MPs warned against appearing on the network and questions regularly raised in the House of Commons about its output. In July Scotland's former first minister Alex Salmond was found to have breached Ofcom's code with his broadcasts on the channel. Despite the media attention, RT's viewing figures remain relatively small, reaching just one hundred and twenty thousand British viewers in a typical day and it has a total audience share of 0.02 per cent. By comparison, Sky News reaches 1.6 million viewers in a typical day and the BBC News channel is seen by 2.6 million, according to figures from BABR.
'It was once a simple choice of stilton or cheddar with a few grapes on the side and the pleasure of assembling a course that requires no cooking,' according to a piece of Middle Class hippy Communist nonsense in the Gruniad Morning Star. But for 'many households' - for which read, 'many Middle class households' - 'the Christmas cheeseboard has become an elaborate affair - often resulting in a vast amount of waste.' And, this shite constitutes 'news'apparently.
Meanwhile, here's another load of Middle Class hippy Communist drivel from the same organ, Why eating less meat is the best thing you can do for the planet in 2019. Arguably, stopping buying the Gruniad Morning Star is the best thing you can do for the planet in 2019 since it'll save some trees. Although, burning a few Middle Class hippy Communist journalists instead of carbon-based fuel would also be of some benefit to help with climate change. Hippies being biodegradable, obviously.
During the infamous and highly-charged 1932-33 Bodyline Ashes series, the England cricket team's captain Douglas reportedly took furious offence when he overheard one of the Australian fielders apparently referring to him as 'a bastard' during the second test whilst he was batting. Charging up to the Australian team's dressing room at the next interval he demanded an apology. Jardine is said to have hammered on the door which was eventually opened by the Aussie batsman Vic Richardson. Jardine explained his anger and his demand to know which one of the Australians had said the offending word. To which Richardson is alleged to have replied by asking his teammates over his shoulder 'All right, which one of you bastards called this bastard "a bastard?"' In the same spirit, therefore, this blogger is very much of the opinion that Comrade Corbyn should definitely apologise for calling that stupid woman 'a stupid woman.'
The German news magazine Der Spiegel has been 'plunged into chaos' after revealing that one of its top reporters had 'falsified' stories over several years. The media world was shocked (and stunned) by the revelations that the award-winning journalist Claas Relotius had, according to the weekly, 'made up stories and invented protagonists' in at least fourteen out of sixty articles that appeared in its print and online editions, warning that other outlets 'could also be affected.' Relotius resigned after extremely admitting to the scam. He had written for the magazine for seven years and won numerous awards for his investigative journalism, including CNN Journalist of the Year in 2014. Earlier this month, he won Germany's Reporterpreis (Reporter of the Year) for his story about a young Syrian boy, which the jurors praised for its 'lightness, poetry and relevance.' It has since emerged that all the sources for his reportage were 'at best hazy' and that much of what he wrote 'was made up.' The falsification came to light after a colleague who worked with him on a story along the US-Mexican border 'raised suspicions' about some of the details in Relotius's reporting, having 'harboured doubts about him for some time.' The colleague, Juan Moreno, eventually tracked down two alleged 'sources' allegedly quoted extensively by Relotius in the article, which was published in November. Both said that they had never even met Relotius. Relotius had also lied about seeing a hand-painted sign that read 'Mexicans keep out,' a subsequent investigation found. Other fraudulent stories included one about a Yemeni prisoner in Guantanamo Bay and one about the American football star Colin Kaepernick. In a lengthy article, Spiegel, which sells about seven hundred and twenty five thousand print copies a month and has an online readership of more than six million, said it was 'shocked' by the discovery and apologised to its readers and to anyone who may have been the subject of 'fraudulent quotes, made-up personal details or invented scenes at fictitious places.' The Hamburg-based magazine, which was founded in 1947 and is renowned for its in-depth investigative pieces, said that Relotius had committed journalistic fraud 'on a grand scale.' It described the episode as 'a low point in Spiegel's seventy-year history.' An in-house commission has been set up to examine all of Relotius' work for the weekly. The reporter also wrote for a string of other well-known outlets, including the German newspapers taz, Welt and the Frankfurter Allgemeine's Sunday edition. Die Welt tweeted on Wednesday: 'He abused his talent.' Relotius told Spiegel that he 'regretted' his actions - although, one imagines that he more regrets getting found out - and was 'deeply ashamed,' the magazine said. 'I am sick and I need to get help,' he was quoted as saying. Moreno, who has worked for the magazine since 2007, risked his own job when he confronted other colleagues with his suspicions, many of whom did not want to believe him. 'For three to four weeks Moreno went through Hell because colleagues and those senior to him did not want to believe his accusations at first,' Der Spiegel wrote in an apology to its readers. For several weeks, the magazine said, Relotius was even considered to be the victim of 'a cunning plot' by Moreno. 'Relotius cleverly rebuffed all the attacks, all of Moreno's well-researched pieces of evidence until there came a point when that didn't work any more, until he finally couldn't sleep any more, hunted by the fear of being discovered,' the magazine claimed. Relotius, it added, finally gave himself up last week after being 'confronted' by a senior editor. In his confession to his employer, he said: 'It wasn't because of the next big thing. It was fear of failing. My pressure to not be able to fail got ever bigger the more successful I became.' The magazine, which is one of Germany's most prominent news organisations, is now trying to rescue its reputation amid fears a magazine already challenged by the problems in the German newspaper industry will struggle to recover. 'All [his] colleagues are deeply shattered,' the magazine wrote. In particular, it said, in the Society department, where he worked, '[his] colleagues are astounded and sad, the affair feels like a death in the family.'
A Daily Scum Mail journalist was ejected from an Irish embassy reception in London after reportedly heckling the ambassador with shouts of 'boring' and 'Brexit.' Joanna Bell, who also writes for the Evening Standard, was escorted from the premises after interrupting a speech by the Irish ambassador to the UK, Adrian O'Neill, on Monday, it has emerged. A Brexiter, Bell is reported to have taken offence at the diplomat's reference to a possible second referendum and shouted her interjections across a room filled with British politicians and officials including the chancellor, Philip Hammond and convicted perjurer Jeffrey Archer. After several outbursts she was asked to leave the embassy's 'politics and press' party, part of Westminster's Christmas social calendar. Guests at the reception 'made clear' that the ambassador had never said that the British 'should' hold a second referendum, but rather had made a 'humorous remark' linking it to a Rolling Stone song. 'You Can't Always Get What You Want' presumably? O'Neill started his speech with 'a few jokes' which picked up on the Attorney General Geoffrey Cox’s Rolling Stones references when he did the warm up to Theresa May’s appearance at this year's Tory party conference. When he got to the serious business to make a point about a 'hard border,' a voice from the back of the room shouted 'bor-ing.' Bell's heckling is said to have 'stunned' guests which included the Northern Ireland secretary Karen Bradley, the chancellor Philip Hammond, former cabinet minister Michael Fallon and the head of the Northern Ireland Office Jonathan Stevens. When contacted by the Gruniad Morning Star on Wednesday to explain herself and her rudeness, Bell 'declined to comment' on the grounds that she was writing about the incident in an article for The Spectator magazine. In the article, she claimed her taunting of the ambassador 'was all meant to be in good jest.' However, witnesses said her heckling during the serious points being made about the fragility of the institutions of peace created by the Good Friday Agreement was 'far from humorous' and had interrupted a 'hushed respectful atmosphere' in the ballroom of the embassy. Bell is from a village in County Louth near the Republic's border with Northern Ireland and has described herself as 'a former remainer who embraced Brexit' because of the European commission's 'contemptible' treatment of Britain since the vote to leave the EU. In an interview with the Irish Times on Tuesday, Bell said the ambassador's mention of a possible second referendum 'prompted' her heckling. 'A second referendum would have highly unfortunate consequences for this polarised and still combustible island. It's not that mandates should never be withdrawn or a referendum reconsidered. If, however, a democratic outcome is to be reconsidered, it must first be respected. What could be more damaging than a second referendum if remain wins as narrowly as it lost the first? We would find ourselves in a precarious state.' She added: 'Obviously, I profoundly regret the excessive robustness and perhaps lack of finesse with which I expressed my disagreement with the ambassador. I had, I confess, enjoyed a good lunch with an eccentric aristocrat who is a staunch Brexiteer.' Bell said that she worked as a customs guard on the Northern Ireland border in 2006 before emigrating and becoming a journalist. She writes mainly about lifestyle, fashion and travel. For the moment, at least. In an Evening Standard comment piece on dating last year the journalist expressed admiration for the Tory Brexiter and failed duplicitous backstabber Jacob Rees-Mogg. 'I wonder if Jacob Rees-Mogg is popular these days because he reminds people of the good old days when men acted like gentlemen and women were treated with respect.' Oh, the irony.
And, From The North's next 'Ironic you say, please explain further' Headline Of The Week Award also goes to that bastion of fair and balanced reportage, the Daily Scum Mail. Who, seemingly, after two years of consistent demanding - demanding, not asking - that Britain tell Europe we don't want to be part of their club any more have now found one aspect of Brexit which will, unquestionably, make British people worse off. And, they're outraged by this. 'Out means out', remember.
To which one can only add ...
The Conservative Party is heading towards 'a prolonged period in opposition' unless it 'adapts to modern Britain,' George Osborne has said. Sorry, 'Conservatives' and 'adapt' in the same sentence? Some mistake, surely? The former Chancellor, who was his very self extremely sacked by Theresa May in 2016, said that the party 'needed to become more socially-liberal and pro-business' to survive in power. The ex-frontbencher, who now edits the Evening Standard newspaper, that he believes a general erection 'could be likely' in 2019. Sorry, 'could' and 'likely' in the same sentence? That's hedging your bets George me auld cocker. Osborne was being interviewed by David Dimbleby, who is guest-editing BBC Radio 4's Today programme on Saturday.
A Royal Navy warship which has been sent to Ukraine will 'send a strong message' to Russian President Vladimir Putin, the UK's defence secretary claims. And, the strong message would appear to be: 'We're a government in chaos on the verge of collapse, torn apart by internal infighting and ideological differences, clinging to power by our fingertips only with the aid of some Irish MPs and currently about as popular with the general electorate as The Black Death. But, one jolly good way of making people forget all of that is if we place the UK in danger of getting into a fight with a criminally deranged madman, would-be rap-guru type individual and "checker of facts" on the BBC.' Yeah, that should do the trick ... So, it's been nice knowing all of you.
Penny Marshall, star of the US TV series Laverne & Shirley and director of hit films Big and A League Of Their Own, has died at the age of seventy fie. Marshall died of complications from diabetes on Monday at her home in Hollywood Hills her publicist told Reuters news agency in a phone interview. Big's success made Marshall the first woman to direct a film that grossed more than one hundred million dollars at the US box office. In 2004, she was honoured with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, along with her Laverne & Shirley co-star Cindy Williams. Penny has been described as a pioneer in the film-making industry. Marshall and Williams starred in the 1970s Happy Days spin-off about two single, working women in late 1950s Milwaukee, which was a huge success. After Laverne & Shirley, Marshall went on to become a producer and director whose films included box-office successes such as Big, starring Tom Hanks, and women's baseball comedy A League Of Their Own. Her first film was the 1986 Whoopi Goldberg comedy Jumpin' Jack Flash. She also directed Robert De Niro and Robin Williams in Awakenings, which was nominated for three Academy Awards including best picture as well as Renaissance Man (1994), The Preacher's Wife (1996) and Riding In Cars With Boys (2001). She also produced Cinderella Man (2005) and Bewitched (2005) and directed episodes of the TV series According To Jim and United States Of Tara. 'She did commercial movies at a time when women weren't doing studio films. And so, she was a pioneer in the studio-movie world,' Melissa Silverstein, founder of the advocacy group Women and Hollywood, told the BBC. 'She laid the groundwork for women to make commercial movies with her success. Her legacy is going to be Laverne & Shirley; it was a groundbreaking sitcom and was just revolutionary. And she transitioned from acting into directing and became a director - a full-time director; the sad thing is she didn't have a longer career because of her success. I think that's a testament to how hard it was for women to get opportunities ... you can count them on one hand.' Carole Penny Marshall was born in the Bronx, in October 1943 to Marjorie, a tap dance teacher who ran and Anthony Masciarelli, a director of industrial films and later a producer. She was the sister of the actor/director/producer Garry Marshall and Ronny Hallin, a television producer. She began her career as a tap dancer at age three and graduated from Walton High School, a public girls' high school in New York and then went to University of New Mexico. While at UNM, Marshall became pregnant with daughter, Tracy and married the father, Michael Henry, in 1963. The couple divorced three years later. During this period, Marshall worked in various jobs to support herself, including as a choreographer for the Albuquerque Civic Light Opera Association. In 1967 she moved to Los Angeles to join her older brother Garry, a writer whose credits at the time included TV's The Dick Van Dyke Show. She married the actor and director Rob Reiner in 1971.
Marshall first appeared on a television commercial for Head & Shoulders shampoo. She was hired to play a girl with stringy, unattractive hair, and Farrah Fawcett was a girl with thick, bouncy hair. Penny also reportedly auditioned for the role of Witchiepoo for HR Pufnstuf narrowly losing out to Billie Hays, After her divorce from Michael Henry she accepted an offer from her brother to appear in a movie he had written and was producing, How Sweet It Is (1968). She landed another small role in The Savage Seven (1968), as well as a guest appearance on the series That Girl, starring Marlo Thomas. In 1970, Garry Marshall became the executive producer of the TV adaptation of The Odd Couple and Penny was added to the permanent cast to play Oscar's secretary, Myrna. While she was on The Odd Couple, Marshall had roles in TV movies such as Evil Roy Slade, The Crooked Hearts, The Couple Takes A Wife and Wacky Zoo Of Morgan City. From 1972 to 1973, she appeared as a regular on The Bob Newhart Show and, subsequently, on The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Then her brother, the creator of Happy Days, cast Marshall and Cindy Williams to guest in what was intended to be a one-off episode of the popular comedy. The episode, A Date With Fonzie (1975), introduced the characters of LaVerne DeFazio and Shirley Feeney, a pair of wise-cracking brewery workers, who were on a double-date with Fonzie and Richie Cunningham. The pair were such a hit that Garry Marshall decided to star them in a spin-off, Laverne & Shirley (1976–1983). It was during this period that her interest in directing began and she eventually directed four episodes of the series. Her marriage to Reiner ended in 1981. Penny had a brief relationship with singer Art Garfunkel in the mid-80s and he credits her with helping him through his depression. Garfunkel would later say of Marshall, 'Everything changed. Penny is a sweet human being who can bring anybody down to earth. We had a lot of laughs, great sex and a ton of party nights.' In 2010, it was reported that Marshall had been diagnosed with lung cancer that had metastasised to her brain, but she revealed in 2012 that she was in remission. She is survived by her daughter, the actress Tracy Reiner.
That great character actor Donald Moffat, best known for such films as Clear & Present Danger, The Thing and The Right Stuff, has died in Sleepy Hollow, New York aged eighty seven. Donald was, in fact, English - born in Plymouth - but made his name on the stage and screen after moving to the US in 1956. Two of his most famous roles were as US presidents - the real-life Lyndon Johnson in 1983's The Right Stuff and the fictional President Bennett in 1994's Clear & Present Danger. He also received two TONY nominations on Broadway, both in 1967. His daughter Lynn Moffat told the New York Times that he died on Thursday as a result of complications after a recent stroke. His parents ran a boarding house in Totnes and he, after an education at King Edward VI School in Plymouth he did national service in the army from 1949 to 1951. Donald, who studied at RADA, started his acting career in the early 1950s with The Old Vic theatre company before moving across the Atlantic. Moffat worked as a bartender and a lumberjack in Oregon, his first wife's home state. 'After six months,' he said, 'I realised that I was an actor and I would always be an actor. And an actor must act. So I started acting again.' He went on to appear in dozens of films, TV shows and plays. He gave a memorable performance as the father of press secretary CJ Cregg suffering form the early stages of Alzheimer's in a 2003 episode of political drama The West Wing. One of his last stage roles was as Nineteen Century president Ulysses S Grant in a 2002 off-Broadway production of John Guare's play A Few Stout Individuals. His CV also included appearances in Tales Of The City, Columbo, Kojak, LA Law, The Unbearable Lightness Of Being, Dallas, The Chisholms, Logan's Run, The Sis Million Dollar Man, Earthquake, Ironside, Mannix, Mission: Impossible, Hawaii Five-O, The High Chaparral and Rachel Rachel. Twice married, Donald is survived by his second wife, Gwen and four children, Kathleen, Gabriel, Lynn and Catherine.
The television Producer and Director Bill Sellars has died at the age of ninety three. Bill directed the four-part 1966 Doctor Who story The Celestial Toymaker. Sellars joined the BBC in the 1960's working on A For Andromeda as a Production Assistant. Director roles followed on the BBC's continuing dramas 199 Park Lane, Compact, United and The Newcomers. The majority of his work for the Corporation was as a Producer, responsible for some of the best loved drama series of the era. He produced twenty nine episodes of the massively popular Sunday night drama The Brothers. His best loved series was the adaptation of James Herriot novels about the life of a Yorkshire vet, All Creatures Large & Small, which won him two awards nominations, a BAFTA nomination for Best Drama Series in 1979 and a Primetime EMMY nomination for Best Children's Series in 1990. He was also responsible for the notorious Triangle, the soap set and shot on a cross channel ferry on its journey across the North sea. Other series included The Doctors and its spin-off Owen MD, One By One, Flesh & Blood, The Chinese Puzzle, Circus and The Terracotta Horse. He is survived by his daughter, Lindy Carr.
And finally dearest blog reader, this bloggerisationism update is likely to be - unless someone, you know, dies; which, obviously, this blogger sincerely hopes will not happen ... and he's now slightly worried that he has tempted fate by even suggesting it - the last From The North update before New Year's Day. Therefore, please do allow all of us here at Stately Telly Topping Manor to wish all of you out in Interweb-land both a broadly tolerable Christmas (free from too many blazing rows with those members of your family that you, secretly, can barely stand to be in the same room as) and a New Year which begins with the hope that 2019 will be slightly better than 2018 was. Unlikely, Keith Telly Topping knows, but we can dream, can we not? Dreaming, as Blondie once said, is free. (Especially, as in this particular case, with Clem Burke not only inhabiting the spirit but, also, the t-shirt of the late Keith Moon!)