Saturday, December 15, 2018


We already know that yer actual Jodie Whittaker will be back as The Doctor in early 2020, alongside additional returns from That There Bradley Walsh, Tosin Cole and Mandip Gill, dear blog readers. And, it has now emerged that one of series eleven's writers will also be back. Ed Hime, who wrote the penultimate episode, It Takes You Away, is listed for an episode of series twelve on his United Agents page.
Now, dear blog reader - there appears to be a surprise new front-runner in the next Tory leadership challenge. Definitely strong and stable, this blogger reckons. Mind you, she'll have to deal with that big Krynoid behind her before she can sort out the rest of the bloody mess we're in. (This blogger's thanks to his old mucker Rob Francis for that observation.)
Actually, Jodie was merely attending Downing Street as one of the special guests at the Annual Children's Christmas Party held by the charity The Starlight Children's Foundation. Soon-to-be-former Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond hosted the event at 11 Downing Street, with guests including Jodie, Martin Kemp and Beverley Knight.
If this blogger has a favourite blog besides From The North, his good friend Mark Cunliffe's superb So It Goes - covering pretty much the same attractive mixture of pop culture and 'other stuff' as we do here - would be close to the top of any hypothetical list. Mark's done a rather splendid review of all of the current Doctor Who series' episodes, in order of 'uge magnificence, which you can read here. And you should definitely do so. Till 'im this blogger sent you! Although quite how Kerblam! came last in Mark's list is well-beyond Keith Telly Topping's fathoming! It would have been in the top three if From The North were to attempt a similar conceit. Which, we're not doing. Just in case you were wondering.
The Thirteenth Doctor is proving to be popular with American Doctor Who viewers as well a British ones according to an article in Vulture. Per Nielsen, the latest series of the BBC's long-running family SF drama is averaging 1.6 million viewers on BBC America over the course of its first eight episodes, including timeshifted viewers and on-demand replays. That's up an eye-popping twenty percent over last year's series eleven. Jodie's debut series is also drawing more viewers in America than the first outings for previous Doctors Peter Capaldi, Matt Smith, David Tennant and Christopher Eccleston. BBC America's decision to switch the show to Sunday nights from its former Saturday slot has also paid off just as it has for the BBC with 'huge' gains in same-day ratings: Doctor Who has seen its overnight numbers jump by just under fifty percent in both viewers and 'key demographics.' And, among millennial women, the drama's same-day ratings have doubled compared to last year's figures. While curiosity about Jodie's historic debut inflated numbers for the first few episodes, overall audience tune-in has been steady over the past two months, and have even grown marginally during recent weeks. So, that's all great news.
The BBC have released some new images to promote the forthcoming New Year's Day special, Resolution, which as well as featuring the regular cast also includes Charlotte Ritchie as Lin, Nikesh Patel as Mitch, and Daniel Adeboyega as Aaron.
Doctor Who picked up two awards in the 2018 I Talk Telly awards, an annual Twitter poll which this year saw some over two hundred and sixty thousand votes registered. The series won the Best Returning Drama category, whilst Mandip Gill was voted Best Newcomer. The actress said of her award: 'I want to say a massive thank you to everyone that has voted for me as best newcomer at I Talk Telly awards. I've never won anything before - apart from some peapods in French, which is really random - so I just to say a massive thank you to everyone who actually took the time out to vote for me, I really really appreciate it.'
Silva Screen Records have announced they will be releasing the Doctor Who Series Eleven Soundtrack in January 2019. The music from the series, composed by Segun Akinola, will be available on CD and on streaming services from 11 January. Segun Akinola is a multi-talented composer whose work includes scoring BBC2's landmark four-part series Black & British: A Forgotten History. He also scored Shola Amoo's debut feature film A Moving Image. He said: 'Where do I even begin? Working on series eleven has been nothing short of the experience of a lifetime. I have loved every single minute of it. From working closely with the production team, to writing the character themes to recording the New Year Special, it's truly been so much fun.'
Issue five hundred and thirty three of the Doctor Who Magazine, available this week from all good newsagents (and, some bad ones too), includes a preview of the New Year's Day episode, Resolution. Guest stars Charlotte Ritchie and Nikesh Patel, director Wayne Yip and writer Chris Chibnall feature in DWM's exclusive preview.
Question Time, The Andrew Marr Show and Doctor Who were the most tweeted about BBC TV shows of 2018, figures show. Audiences with an inability to put down their phones and concentrate on one thing at one time, took to Twitter to discuss news and current affairs programmes, with Newsnight, BBC Breakfast and Victoria Derbyshire all in the top ten. TV Licensing said The Apprentice, Eurovision, EastEnders and Strictly Come Dancing were 'also popular topics.' Other shows on the list included Top Of The Pops 2, Countryfile, Killing Eve, Casualty, Panorama and The ONE Show. And all this shite constitutes 'news', apparently. TV Licensing's Michael Collins said: 'Throughout 2018, unmissable TV moments have united fans, sparked debate and compelled viewers to join the conversation on social media, with watching and tweeting going hand-in-hand as part of the viewing routine.'
What the Hell is currently going on with the questions on Only Connect, dear blog reader? Keith Telly Topping managed to answer five of them on this week's episode before either of the teams. Normally, it's one if this blogger is lucky. And, he spotted the Morrissey quote at the beginning before The Divine Victoria even got to the punchline! Just sayin'.
Gwendoline Christie says that audiences will 'need therapy' after the Game Of Thrones finale next year. The actress said viewers are in for a huge shock. She said: 'You're going to need therapy. I think just the show ending is going to send all of the world into professional help.' She told E! News: 'I think it's going to make me incredibly emotional. We're all emotional about the fact that this is the end, and this is the end of something incredibly significant for all of us, and it's been a truly incredible thing to be a part of.' The actress' comments come after it was confirmed last month that 'Game of Thrones' would be returning to screens in April 2019, when a thirty second teaser clip was posted to the show's official Twitter account.
Jodie Comer has revealed that filming has concluded on series two of From The North favourite Killing Eve. The actress posted a photo of her folded up face on Instagram, writing: 'A perfect representation of how I feel now series two of Killing Eve is completed. Thank you to the entire crew for making this experience what it was! We've been living in each others pockets for the last six months and it's been a nothing but good times! Love you all so much. Now I'm going to eat my feelings.'
Critics have welcomed a 'toned-down' new version of Watership Down. The BBC's new adaptation of Richard Adams's acclaimed novel, to be broadcast in two parts this Christmas, follows the famously traumatising - if utterly brilliant - film version from 1978. James McAvoy and John Boyega are among the actors lending their voices to this tale of rabbits looking for a new home. The Torygraph praised the series for its 'exceptionally strong' cast and for being 'much less gory' than the film. 'The filmmakers have been clear that they want audiences to focus on the story rather than hide behind the sofa,' wrote Anita Singh. Metro's reviewer whinged that the new version is 'still as traumatising as the first animation' while 'lacking the same warmth. Thankfully the A-list voice talent add personality to this famously downbeat drama,' they continues, going on to praise Sir Ben Kingsley's 'genuinely terrifying' General Woundwort. In contrast, the Independent's Ed Power says the new version 'isn't scary enough.' The new version of Adams's 1972 novel, a co-production between the BBC and Netflix, comes to screens two years on from the British author's death. Ever since its publication, readers have speculated whether the story's intrepid rabbits are meant to represent political or religious figures. Speaking to the Radio Times, however, the late author's daughters have insisted their father only meant his book to be 'a story about rabbits.' 'Over the years the family has seen off theory after theory about the "true" message of Watership Down,' his daughter Rosamond told the magazine. 'It shows that people really connect with the story, they really think hard about it, but it cut no ice with Dad.' Watership Down will be shown on BBC1 on 22 and 23 December.
Love was in the air in this week's episode of Holby City. A wedding was planned, the happy couple needed someone officiate the ceremony and they managed to get Britain's most famous vicar to do the necessary. Reverend Richard Coles says: 'Thrilled to be invited finally to exercise my ministry of healing at Holby City, which has been my healthcare provider of choice for twenty years - and to officiate at an occasion so joyous even the late Professor Gaskell would have cracked a smile.' Other guest names to appear in the episode, included Gemma Oaten, Amanda Henderson and Jenny Howe.
New Zealand On Air has confirmed this week the commissioning of a sixth series of the locally and internationally successful series and From The North Favourite, The Brokenwood Mysteries. Which is jolly good news. The drama, which has been sold to sixteen territories worldwide, will begin filming in mid-2019.
Wor Geet Canny Ant McPartlin is expected to return to his TV work next month after taking time off to go into rehab. The host is preparing to film Britain's Got Toilets auditions in January ten months after he crashed a car while more than twice the drink drive limit. He has not worked since, and was replaced by Holly Willoughby for the latest series of I'm A Z-List Former Celebrity Desperate To Get My Boat-Race Back On TV ... Please Vote For Me To Stay Here As Long As Possible (I'll Even Eat Worms If You Want) which ended on Sunday. Wor Geet Canny Declan Donnelly hosted this year's Britain's Got Toilets live shows alone. Next year's Saturday Night Takeaway was also very cancelled. Announcing that decision in August, Wor Geet Canny Ant said that his recovery was 'going very well' and claimed he would 'take the rest of the year off.' On Monday, the Mirra reported that he would be 'reunited with Dec' when filming begins for Britain's Got Toilets in early 2019. Wor Geet Canny Ant first entered rehab in June 2017 after becoming addicted to alcohol and prescription painkillers. He went back into treatment after the crash in March. He was later fined eighty six grand and given a twenty-month driving ban after pleading very guilty to drink driving. A Britain's Got Toilets spokesman declined to comment on his potential return.
If you watched GOLD's gloriously silly comedy drama Murder On The Blackpool Express last Christmas, you will be happy to hear that a sequel is coming this festive season. Death On The Tyne sees Johnny Vegas and Sian Gibson reprise their roles as Terry and Gemma, who take a tour group on a cruise after their disastrous coach outing. With hilarious consequences. The follow-up order after 2017's Murder On The Blackpool Express became GOLD's most watched original programme ever - 1.8 million viewers in its first week - with Vegas and Gibson crediting the special's success to its top-tier cast, which included Sheila Reid (who returns in Death On The Tyne), Kevin Eldon, Mark Heap, Una Stubbs and Nigel Havers. 'I didn’t speak to Nigel Havers for three weeks,' Gibson confessed to the Digital Spy website. 'I eventually asked him how his dinner was. That's as far as I could get!' She added: 'I think the cast drew people to [the first one]. They are comedy legends. I was blown away when I saw the cast list. But I also just think it appealed to all ages.' 'I suspect there were people who might have come to it wanting it not to work,' Johnny Vegas suggested. 'And it did! They might've come to it with morbid curiosity, thinking, "No, they've overdone this." And, actually, it worked!' Death On The Tyne has attracted another cast of notable names, including Sue Johnston, Don Gilet and James Fleet. 'This year, we had James Fleet to fawn over,' Gibson said. 'He was this year's Nigel Havers!' The spoof murder mystery sees a killer on the prowl aboard the cruise ship The Empress Of The Tyne. And, just because someone's a familiar face, don't assume they will make it to the end of the cruise! Even the two leads were nervous about being bumped off. 'I flicked straight to the end, to see if we were in the last scene,' Gibson admitted. 'I said, "Don't send me the script unless I survive!,"' added Vegas. The air both say they would love to return for a third episode in the series. They have even made plans to reunite on a different project, possibly once writer Jason Cook's trilogy is complete. 'We'll wait until this has definitely run its course, whenever that is,' said Gibson. 'So we will work on something else eventually, but it’s out of our control [as to when].' 'We do like the idea that we're a couple, at a certain point in our lives, who've both been let go from their chosen careers, who have decided to set up a detective agency,' Vegas said, while his co-star added: 'That's what we want, isn't it? A Hart To Hart remake!'
Buffy The Vampire Slayer's Eliza Dushku has been awarded nine-and-a-half million dollars by US network CBS, following claims she was written out of drama series Bull after confronting a co-star for alleged inappropriate behaviour. The settlement was reached in January of this year, according to a report in the New York Times, after the network agreed to pay Dushku the amount she would have made over four sries of the show if she had not been dismissed. Dushku, who played Faith in both Buffy and its spin-off, Angel, was believed to be in the running for a full-time role in the drama before she confronted the series lead Michael Weatherly over 'a number of inappropriate comments.' Dushku alleged that Weatherly had made comments about her appearance in front of crew members and had also made 'jokes' about rape and a threesome. Weatherly, who is best known for his work in NCIS, responded to Dushku's claims, saying that he was 'mortified to have offended her. During the course of taping our show, I made some jokes mocking some lines in the script,' he said in a statement. 'When Eliza told me that she wasn't comfortable with my language and attempt at humour, I was mortified to have offended her and immediately apologised. After reflecting on this further, I better understand that what I said was both not funny and not appropriate and I am sorry and regret the pain this caused Eliza.' In a separate statement to The Wrap, a spokesperson for CBS confirmed that Dushku had been paid for the work she would have received as a series regular. 'The allegations in Ms Dushku's claims are an example that, while we remain committed to a culture defined by a safe, inclusive and respectful workplace, our work is far from done. The settlement of these claims reflects the projected amount that Ms Dushku would have received for the balance of her contract as a series regular, and was determined in a mutually agreed upon mediation process at the time,' they said.
Screen Rant's latest piece of pure click-bait, Twenty Five Wild Details Behind The Making Of Peaky Blinders does not, in fact, included twenty five 'wild' details behind the making of From The North favourite Peaky Blinders or anything remotely like it. A maximum of six of them are 'wild'! The rest are things which most viewers of the programme will already knew and are distinctly lacking in any inherent wildness.
Susanne Bier will not be returning to direct the second series of the BBC's hit espionage drama The Night Manager, which is currently in the early stages of production. The director confirmed that series two of the John Le Carré adaptation is moving ahead without her at the helm. 'I'm not doing Night Manager 2,' she told Radio Times. 'I wasn't sure that I would do my very best work the second time round – so I decided that I should probably not do it and have somebody [else direct it].'
He has played much-loved sleuthing vicar Sidney Chambers for three years on ITV's Grantchester, but for James Norton, it's time to move on from the drama series. Having also starred in the hugely popular War & Peace and McMafia since he started on Grantchester, the actor is now ready to leave the Cambridge village, particularly after Sidney's storyline with Amanda (Morven Christie) reached a natural conclusion in the last series. 'It was a combination of things,' Norton explained. 'The Amanda storyline tying up the way it did with her and Sidney breaking up and him choosing the church in the third series felt like a natural conclusion to Sidney’s story. Then when the possibility of a fourth series came along, the decision was whether or not to start a whole new journey for Sidney.' Instead of hashing out a new storyline for the vicar, Norton decided now was the time to hand the dog collar over to new blood, with Tom Brittney set to arrive Reverend Will Davenport. 'It felt like it would be better to hand over the baton to someone else and give Grantchester a fresh injection of energy,' he continued. 'It's been a privilege to play such a wonderful character, but I feel like there are other vicars, other conflicted souls to explore.' Viewers will bid farewell to Sidney partway through series four, which is set to be shown in early January for what Wor Geet Canny Robson Green promises will be 'a highly emotional exit.'
The two previously lost 1968 episodes of The Morecambe & Wise Show recently announced as having been recovered in Africa will be broadcast for the first time in fifty years on BBC2 on Boxing Day at 7.50pm and 8.30pm under the title The Lost Tapes.
The BBC has made all of the 1940s issues of the Radio Times magazine publicly available online for the first time. They are available via theexcellent BBC Genome Project and cover the period of World War II, the immediate post-war years and key landmark events in British history. 1920s and 1930s issues have already been available for some time. It is hoped that, eventual, the BBC's entire Radio Times archive will be available online rather than just the programme listings as presently.
A lightsaber alleged to have been Luke Skywalker's weapon from the original Star Wars movie has been pulled from auction over doubts about its origin. Los Angeles auctioneer Profiles In History said that it had cancelled the sale due to 'conflicting information.' The item was described as 'one of five weapons' designed by Oscar-winning set designer Roger Christian for Mark Hamill to use in the 1977 film. But, fans and bloggers quickly raised questions about the prop's authenticity online. The lightsaber had been expected to sell for up to one hundred and fifty thousand knicker. In a statement reported by Reuters, Profiles In History's chief executive, Joe Maddalena, said that they had cancelled the sale of the weapon 'in light of conflicting information' about its origin. Maddalena said they would not put it back up for auction 'until Mister Christian can clear up the inconsistencies that have been brought to our attention.' It had been listed as a lot in the Blockbuster Hollywood Treasures auction, due to take place between 11 and 14 December. Christian had provided a letter of authenticity with the item. However, the Original Prop Blog posted a series of videos raising doubts about the weapon, including alleged discrepancies between the lightsaber shown in the letter and the lightsaber in the auction catalogue. There were also claims it might be a replica or 'prototype prop.' Christian told the BBC that it was 'one of five original lightsabers' made for the film, saying: 'It is real - I've got the Oscar to prove it.' The Academy Award-winner said the film's low budget meant he was putting together lots of different elements to make the props, meaning all of them were unique. 'I was supergluing things together - they all look different.' The dispute comes a week after Mark Hamill tweeted about the auction, warning fans that the lightsaber may not be a one-off. 'Be Advised,' the actor wrote, 'There was no one lightsaber I used in the films, but many both for myself and my stunt-double.'
The first movie screenplay written by comic book author Alan Moore is being filmed in his hometown of Northampton. The Show will star Watchmen and V For Vendetta author Moore, as well as The Musketeers and War & Peace actor Tom Burke. It is being directed by Mitch Jenkins and tells the story of a man hired to track down a stolen artefact. The British Film Institute's lottery fund is helping finance the movie. Moore said: 'With The Show, I wanted to apply the storytelling ability accumulated during the rest of my varied career to the medium of film. I wanted to see if it was possible to create an immersive and addictive world with no throwaway dialogue and no throwaway characters.' Jenkins added: 'Being able to take our world and Alan's words to the big screen, is nothing less than magical. Breathing life into these amazing characters that Alan has created, in collaboration with the actors has been one of the highlights of the project to date.' The film also stars Siobhan Hewlett, Ellie Bamber, Sheila Atim and Richard Dillane. Moore began his career in comics in the late 1970s with 2000AD. Moore rose to prominence with tales of flawed superheroes which helped redefine the genre. V For Vendetta was first published in 1982 and was followed by, firstly, a run on Swamp Thing, then Watchmen and Batman: The Killing Joke. He went on to write the ... From Hell series about the Jack the Ripper murders and The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen in the 1990s and 2000s.
And now ...
It what might be - charitably - described as a very up-and-down week for the soon-to-be-former Prime Minister, Theresa May managed to get herself stuck in her car when she arrived to meet German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Tuesday. The BMW's door remained defiantly locked whilst staff worked frantically to open it. Eventually - if, somewhat disappointingly - they managed to let her out. Well, when you're having a bad week, it seems even machines gang up on you. May was meeting several European leaders and officials in a desperate, but utterly fruitless, bid to rescue her Brexit backstop. The rat-faced loathsome wretched odious nasty slavver-merchant, George Formby lookalike (and tit) Gove, the current environment secretary who was then a leader of the Vote Leave campaign, warned that if the UK stayed in the EU, we would be like 'hostages locked in the back of the car.' Oh, the irony.
Meanwhile, dear blog reader, in the aftermath of the soon-to-be-former Prime Minister surviving a vote of no confidence, albeit with a hardly ringing endorsement from her party. If you fancy a right good laugh allow this blogger to point you in the direction of Matt Kelly of GQ's magazine forthright character assassination When It Comes To Political Scheming Jacob Rees-Mogg Is Mince-Thick which you can read here. It's hilarious. 'If only Jacob Rees-Mogg and his ERG extremists (Philip Hammond's word, not mine) had a tenth of the honour of the mafia,' writes Kelly. 'They don't. There's little space for honour in the hearts of men and women consumed with a bilious cocktail of fury, loathing and thwarted ambition. Where was the fake-aristo and appallingly tailored Rees-Mogg as the vote was being announced? Was he in the 1922 Committee room, surrounded by his colleagues as the result of the vote he had done more than anyone else to orchestrate was delivered? No. That would have required courage. That would have been where a man of honour would be. Instead, Rees-Mogg, in his ill-fitting, too-long-sleeved double-breasted, was with Andrew Neil, the BBC political presenter, outside on Parliament Green, calling on Theresa May to resign. As a journalist, I like to think I know something about cynicism. But Rees-Mogg is in a league of his own. If, he argued, you subtract from the equation all those ministers and parliamentary secretaries "in the pay of the Prime Minister one way or another," then she had lost the vote and should go. "In the pay of the Prime Minister" - what a disgusting, nasty sentiment towards fellow MPs from a man who masquerades as a man of high principle and political virtue. What happened to respecting the democratic process, Jake? Do the words "you lost, get over it" have any resonance this morning? No, I thought not. That only applies when you've won, doesn’t it?' What He said.
The NHS will be banned from buying fax machines from next month - and has been told by the government to phase out the machines entirely by 31 March 2020. In July, the Royal College of Surgeons revealed nearly nine thousand fax machines were in use across the NHS in England. The Department of Health said that a change to 'more modern communication methods' was needed to 'improve patient safety and cyber security.' An RCS spokesman said that they supported the government's decision. In place of fax machines, the Department of Health said secure e-mail should be used. Richard Kerr, who is the chair of the RCS's commission on the future of surgery, said the continued use of the 'outdated technology' by the NHS was 'absurd.' He added that it was 'crucial' the health service invested in 'better ways of communicating the vast amount of patient information that is going to be generated' in the future. The group's report from earlier this year found the use of fax machines was 'most common' at the Newcastle NHS Trust, which still relied on six hundred and three machines. Three-quarters of the trusts in England replied to the survey - ninety five in total. Ten trusts said that they did not own any fax machines, but four in ten reported more than one hundred in use. Rebecca McIntyre from Manchester, who works as a cognitive behavioural therapist, said fax machines are 'a continued risk to the confidentiality and safeguarding of patients. You would not believe the palaver we have in the work place trying to communicate important documents to services (referrals et cetera),' she said. 'We constantly receive faxes meant for other places in error but this is never reported.' Meanwhile, Taz, from Doncaster, who works in a pharmacy said discharge notes, emergency documents and out-of-hours services 'all are stuck in the dark ages. I hope this is just the start of many changes,' he said. 'The amount of time wasted and potential errors that exist from not using technology is shocking and often it's the patients that suffer. My next hope is that hand-written prescriptions are scrapped completely and we use tablets to send them electronically for patients like most GPs have been doing for years.' However, Tim Owen. from Bolton, who works in blood services, asked: 'So what happens when a computer virus attacks a hospital's IT infrastructure, as happened recently? During the WannaCry attack of 2017 our "out-dated, redundant" piece of equipment ensured that blood products, not routinely held in our on-site blood bank, could be ordered without delay and therefore not compromising patient safety.' One GP in the Midlands said they 'currently rely on a fax machine' for requesting x-rays at local hospitals because of 'an ongoing IT problem' which has not been fixed. Meanwhile, outside of the NHS, Nina Mowbray, from Northampton, works for one of the top ten accountancy firms where she said they still fax documents to HM Revenue and Customs. 'We could e-mail but we need to have this set up first which means we have to get formal approval from a director/partner which we don't do,' she said. 'It does seem very outdated.' And Joseph Vincent, from Macclesfield, said he still uses his fax machine to 'communicate with his brother,' who lives in a remote part of Scotland. 'The Internet is slow there and sometimes we send funny messages to each other using a fax machine. The sound it makes is really satisfying although it is a bit of a running gag between us.'
A Stasi ID pass used by Vladimir Putin when he was a Soviet spy in former East Germany has been found in the Stasi secret police archive in Dresden. The Russian president has 'expressed pride' in his record as a Communist KGB officer in Dresden in the 1980s. His Stasi pass was found during research into the close co-operation between the KGB and the Stasi. Putin, then a KGB major, got it in 1985. It got him into Stasi facilities, but he may not have spied for them. In a statement on Tuesday, the Stasi Records Agency said that Putin 'received the pass so that he could carry out his KGB work in co-operation with the Stasi.' Stasi was the popular nickname for the East German Ministry of State Security agents. It was notorious for its meticulous surveillance of ordinary citizens, many of whom were pressed into spying on each other. 'Current research gives no indication that Vladimir Putin worked for the MfS,' the BStU statement said. Putin, born in Leningrad, was posted to East Germany in 1985, aged thirty three. His two daughters were born during that posting. Putin was a KGB officer in Dresden up to and including December 1989, when the Communist East German regime collapsed amid mass pro-democracy protests. His Stasi pass was renewed every three months, as shown by the stamps on it. It is not clear why he left the pass in the Stasi files in Dresden. He witnessed protesters occupying the Dresden Stasi headquarters, while Communist security forces came close to opening fire on them, on 5 December 1989. Jubilant East Berliners had already breached the Berlin Wall in November. Putin was fluent in German at the time and has said he personally calmed the Dresden crowd when they surrounded the KGB building there, warning them that it was Soviet territory. During his KGB service in Dresden, Putin was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. In 1989 he was awarded a bronze medal by Communist East Germany - officially the German Democratic Republic - 'for faithful service to the National People's Army,' the Kremlin website says. After returning to Russia, Putin rose to become head of the Federal Security Service - the successor to the KGB. He became Russian president in 2000. In June 2017 Putin revealed that his work in the KGB had involved 'illegal intelligence-gathering.' Speaking on Russian state TV, he said KGB spies were people with 'special qualities, special convictions and a special type of character.' A once top secret agreement shows that the KGB had thirty liaison officers in East Germany who worked directly alongside the Stasi. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov shrugged off the emergence of Putin's old Stasi card. 'The KGB and the Stasi were partner intelligence agencies so you probably can't rule out an exchange of such identity cards,' he said.
Part of a cliff collapsing in Cornwall has been caught on camera by a woman out walking. Deborah Smith was at Lynstone Road in Bude, when she said she noticed 'some little bits going, then saw the rocks moving and quickly videoed it.' The video was recorded on Monday afternoon. Smith can be heard gasping in shock as a large section of cliff falls away. Falmouth Coastguard, which covers the area of the collapse, said the cliff fall had been reported to them and warned walkers to take care.
The publisher of National Enquirer has said it 'coordinated with Donald Rump's presidential campaign' to pay a Playboy model one hundred and fifty thousand dollars in 'hush money,' seemingly placing President Rump and his inner circle in further legal peril. American Media Inc told prosecutors that it 'worked in concert' with Trump's campaign when it bought Karen McDougal's story of a sexual affair with Rump, which it then suppressed 'to prevent it from influencing the election.' The publisher revealed details of the so-called 'catch and kill' deal for McDougal's story in an agreement with federal authorities which means the company will not face charges, prosecutors in Manhattan announced on Wednesday. The agreement raises the possibility that Rump's presidential campaign, which is currently making early preparations for his re-election bid, could be indicted for violating campaign finance laws through its involvement in the payout. An unidentified member of the campaign who was involved in the arrangement with AMI could also be vulnerable to prosecution. Michael Cohen, Rump's former lawyer and legal fixer, previously pleaded very guilty to involvement in the scheme. Cohen previously testified that he 'arranged the payment' to McDougal, along with a one hundred and thirty thousand dollar payout to 'buy the silence' of the porn star Stormy Daniels, 'at the direction' of Rump. The President has denied involvement in the payments. To paraphrase Mandy Rice Davies, 'well, he would, wouldn't he?' US law bars corporations from spending money 'to influence elections in coordination with a candidate or campaign.' Prosecutors said that AMI's payment to McDougal 'amounted to a secret in-kind contribution' to Rump's campaign. Prosecutors elsewhere have in the past struggled to prove that suspect payments related to politicians amounted to campaign contributions, such as in the case of the former senator and Democratic vice-presidential candidate John Edwards, who was acquitted of such a charge in 2012. But Wednesday's agreement - struck in September but kept secret until now - means that federal prosecutors in New York now have testimony from two witnesses, Cohen and AMI, that the Rump payments were made to women 'in a deliberate attempt to influence the 2016 election.' The agreement said that in August 2015, Cohen and 'at least one other member of the campaign' met AMI's chief executive, David Pecker, who 'offered to help deal with negative stories' about Rump during the presidential campaign. Pecker suggested that he could 'buy the rights' to 'problematic stories' and prevent them from being published, according to the agreement and 'put this plan into action' when an attorney for McDougal offered her story to National Enquirer. In August 2016, AMI paid McDougal one hundred and fifty thousand bucks for the rights to the story of 'her relationship with "any then-married man,"' according to prosecutors, which was 'substantially more money than AMI otherwise would have paid.' The deal said that AMI would 'feature McDougal on magazine covers,' but AMI actually had no intention to publish her story or anything even remotely like it. Prosecutors said: 'Despite the cover and article features to the agreement, AMI's principal purpose in entering into the agreement was to suppress the model's story so as to prevent it from influencing the election.' Instead, National Enquirer published a series of 'wild attacks' against Hillary Clinton, Rump's Democratic opponent. As the erection approached in October 2016, the magazine falsely alleged that Clinton had covered up 'sleazy affairs' and bribed reporters 'to bury truth.' The magazine's cover promised an 'explosive story that will change the election.' Prosecutors said that following Rump's erection victory, AMI published articles by McDougal in 'some of its other magazines,' including OK! and Star, in 'an attempt to keep her from talking publicly' about the deal. The Wall Street Journal reported in August that Pecker had, himself, been granted immunity by US authorities in return for testifying about what he knew about Rump, Cohen and the payments. Cohen on Wednesday was very sentenced to three years in The Slammer after pleading extremely guilty to the campaign finance violations, lying to Congress about a plan to build a Rump Tower in Russia, and personal financial crimes of a well-naughty nature.
Yer actual Neil Young says that he will 'go ahead' with a show in London's Hyde Park next year but that it will no longer be part of the Barclaycard-sponsored BST festival. Neil had previously criticised BST organisers for choosing 'a fossil fuel funding entity' as a sponsor. 'That doesn't work for me,' he said in a website post. 'I believe in science. I worry about the climate crisis and am deeply concerned about its massive global ramifications.' Although he stopped short of cancelling the shows, he said 'one option' would be to replace the sponsor. On Tuesday, he appeared to claim victory in a separate post, saying that he was 'happy to announce that the Hyde park show will proceed without Barclays as a sponsor. We are overjoyed, so happy to be playing the show!' Later in the day, BST organisers said in a statement: 'Neil Young has made the decision to move away from the Barclaycard presents British Summer Time concert series. Neil Young and Bob Dylan will play a stand-alone concert in Hyde Park on the same date, 12 July. All tickets will remain valid.' Barclaycard told the BBC that it would not comment on the situation. Other BST gigs, including dates by Robbie Williams and Florence & The Machine, will not be affected. Barclays was listed as a major funder of fossil fuel extraction in a 2018 report by the non-profit group Banking on Climate Change, receiving a D minus rating. Earlier this year, the bank's AGM was disrupted by protesters critical of its funding for oil pipelines from Canadian tar sands. Barclaycard, a division of Barclays which provides credit card and payment services, has sponsored the BST Hyde Park concerts since their inception in 2013, with headline acts including The Rolling Stones, Taylor Swift and Tom Petty. Young also played the festival in 2014 with his band Crazy Horse, apparently without objection to the bank's involvement at that time. On Sunday, Neil aired a number of grievances about his upcoming concert, claiming it was announced 'prematurely' and objecting to the fact that tickets were put on sale to the public ahead of his fans. 'I had no idea the announcement was coming that day,' he wrote. 'I was still finessing the art for the poster and trying to make sure that all of the details of the show were agreeable to me. Then, suddenly, someone jumped the gun. The tickets were put on sale and the announcement was made, all without my knowledge.' The post also included lyrics from Young's 1988 anti-corporate sponsorship song 'This Note's For You'. Fittingly, the post announcing Barclaycard's withdrawal from the event was headlined Sponsored By Nobody. The seventy three-year-old is an active environmentalist, criticising the automotive industry, supporting anti-fracking activists and recording songs about climate change, including 2014's 'Who's Gonna Stand Up (& Save The Earth)?'
Yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved though (still) unsellable Newcastle United's boss, Rafael Benitez, has been named as the Premier League manager of the month for November. Newcastle were nineteenth in the table at the start of November, with no wins from their first ten games - albeit, six of those were against the current top six - before three straight victories moved them out of the relegation zone. The Magpies beat Watford and Bournemouth at St James' Park before an away win at Burnley, though they've lost the two games since then (albeit, one of them rather unluckily). It is the fifth time the Spaniard has won the award in the top flight, though his first since he joined United in 2016. 'It's always good to win trophies,' said Rafa The Gaffer. This blogger wouldn't know, mate, he's a Newcastle fan and he's only fifty five. 'Obviously I would like to win more manager of the months, then we would be in a better position in the table. But it's always positive and it is good also for the staff. Everybody is helping you and it is an extra motivation.'
Meanwhile, Salomon Rondon struck the only goal as yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved (though unsellable) Magpies beat Huddersfield Town to move six points clear of the Premier League relegation places and inflict a fourth successive defeat on The Terriers. Somewhat against the run of play, Ayoze Perez and Javier Manquillo combined to set up Rondon on fifty five minutes and the Venezuelan made no mistake from close range. For Huddersfield, both Philip Billing and Chris Lowe spurned notable opportunities on a frustrating afternoon for the hosts. Despite lots of late pressure, Newcastle's defence stood firm to record a fourth win of the season. Huddersfield, who remain eighteenth, sit three points adrift of safety and have now lost nine of their last thirteen league games.
In Netflix's latest documentary, a film crew followed the worst season in Sunderland AFC's history. Misery and footballing torture is relived through the series, documenting their Championship relegation season of 2017-18. Made by fans from production company Fulwell Seventy Three, Sunderland 'Til I Die is available worldwide from Friday 14 December. One imagines the take up on Tyneside might be almost as a large as that on Wearside.
Some fans are using the 'political atmosphere as a cover for their own racism and prejudice,' according to the anti-discrimination group Fare. It comes after Moscow Chelski FC condemned 'a vocal minority' of their fans for anti-Semitic chants during Thursday's two-two draw with MOL Vidi in Hungary. Earlier this week, four Moscow Chelski fans were suspended following the alleged sick racial abuse of Raheem Sterling. Fare executive director Piara Powar says such attitudes must be defeated. 'The sad fact is that in recent years Chelsea have done an incredible amount of work to tackle anti-Semitism, much of it highly innovative and impactful,' said Powar. 'But there remains throughout football a rump of people who in 2019 will see the political atmosphere as a cover for their own racism and prejudice.' A Moscow Chelski FC spokesman said the offensive songs about Stottingtot Hotshots fans have 'shamed the club.' Ben Holman, from educational anti-racism charity Show Racism the Red Card, says anti-Semitic abuse must be 'treated seriously in mainstream society' for it to be tackled accordingly in football. 'In some incidences the message has got to the fans it's not acceptable,' Holman told BBC Sport. 'The problem is some of the chants are more historic and in that way fans don't realise the problem with it. Until it's treated seriously in mainstream society as racism you will always see it shunted off in football as not so serious. Racism isn't a problem intrinsic to football. These fans are at a football match for two hours a week, but for the other one hundred and sixty six are members of society, taking the bus, going to work.' According to incidents recorded by charity the Community Security Trust, anti-Semitism has been on the rise in the UK. Meanwhile, a report by watchdog Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary earlier this year said that hate crime rose after the 2016 Brexit referendum and the same could happen when (or, now, if) the UK leaves the European Union in 2019. 'Our organisation has always believed sport and football are a microcosm of society,' added Holman. 'We think if society is racist, football is part of society and will always have racism, so we try to educate young people in society and hope football will follow.' Powar described the episode as 'a sad indictment' of 'where some people are in their understanding of racism and the impact it can have. They stare history in the face and think they are somehow exempt from the judgements it will make on their actions,' Powar added. 'We should give a lot of credit to those Chelsea fans who highlighted what was going on at the match on social media or directly to the authorities.' Last year, Moscow Chelski FC condemned an anti-Semitic chant by their fans during a win at Leicester, with Blues supporters using a song about their striker Alvaro Morata to abuse London rivals Spurs, who have a large Jewish fanbase. Spain international Morata also posted on social media asking fans to 'respect everyone.' Holman says that the Stamford Bridge club have been 'progressive and forward thinking' in their efforts to eradicate anti-Semitisim from their fanbase. In October, chairman Bruce Buck told the Sun the club 'may' require fans found guilty of anti-Semitic abuse to visit the site of Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz rather than banning them. The Premier League club's Say No To Anti-Semitism scheme, which began in January, also provides one-to-one education courses. A group of one hundred an fifty people, consisting of club staff, stewards and supporters, visited Auschwitz in June to learn about the deaths of more than a million people killed there between 1940 and 1945. 'Chelsea have really stepped up their efforts to eradicate anti-Semitism from Stamford Bridge and among their fans,' Holman told BBC Sport. 'Roman Abramovich has ploughed a lot of his personal money into tackling anti-Semitism. The club realise they could ban a fan and wash their hands with them, but that person will still hold those anti-Semitic views. If they can educate them then that person may benefit society.' Powar added: 'I have no doubt that in the end these types of attitudes will be defeated. That necessity for cultural change applies across the football industry, not just the terraces, from the governing institutions, to clubs and the media. We should look at what's been happening in the last two weeks to get more creative and bring about that culture change more urgently.' Brighton & Hove Albinos manager Chris Hughton, one of two black Premier League managers, said that clubs are 'on top of what they see,' but that eradicating anti-Semitic and racial abuse from football or society is 'about a culture and making sure people are respectful of all colours and creeds. Racial events in our game, which we are trying as hard as we can to eradicate, are always going to happen,' he added. 'You hope it's something that doesn't escalate. Sometimes when times are harder they become more relevant - but racism holds no place in our game. It holds no place in society but unfortunately there are always going to be incidences.' UEFA, European football's governing body, said it will await the referee's report of Thursday's Europa League match before deciding on whether any action will be taken. Incidents of anti-Semitic and racial abuse are a criminal offence punishable, rightly, with a lengthy spell in The Slammer. For those that take place in the English game, governing body the Football Association works with clubs and the police to identify individuals and make sure they face appropriate action through the courts, which can impose banning orders. Moscow Chelski FC fan and writer Ivor Baddiel told the Victoria Derbyshire programme that some fans think they are 'just being anti-Tottenham.' He added: 'They aren't, they are being hugely and horrendously anti-Semitic. When you sing "Spurs are on their way to Auschwitz", that is what you are really chanting about. Clearly there are people who think it's okay and maybe they don't understand why Jewish people are so offended by it. You would think that all but the most hardened fascists would think that was wrong.' Simon Johnson, chief executive of the Jewish Leadership Council, said the incident was 'thoroughly depressing, especially in light of the dedicated work Chelsea have done to address the problem.' He added: 'We completely endorse the club's strong statement and would support them in any robust action which they now take against the perpetrators.' Board of Deputies vice-president Amanda Bowman said the 'disgraceful behaviour must be challenged and the perpetrators identified and punished.' She said the organisation is 'fully behind Chelsea's 'Say No to Anti-Semitism' campaign' but added that 'football still has much work to do before racism on the terraces is eradicated.'
Having less than a third of this season's FA Cup third-round matches in the traditional 3pm kick-off slot 'diminishes the magic of the day,' a supporters' group has claimed. Only ten of the thirty two fixtures will start at that time on Saturday 5 January. The Football Association's new six-year, eight hundred and twenty million knicker overseas TV contract has 'contributed' to a number of changes. 'There's a grave danger that they might threaten the magic of the FA Cup,' the Football Supporters' Federation said. The overseas TV deal, which has come into force this season, was announced by the FA in October 2016. However, FSF chairman Malcolm Clarke said that his organisation had been 'taken by surprise' when the third-round fixture list was revealed. There will be one match on the evening of Friday 4 January, seven will kick-off at 12:30 and five at 17:30 on the Saturday. Eight matches will be played on the Sunday, whilst Wolverhampton Wanderings face Liverpool Alabama Yee-Haws on the Monday evening. Clarke said that he is now 'seeking a meeting' with the FA to 'discuss' his concerns. 'The third round of the FA Cup on the first Saturday in January was always one of the great highlights of the season and, to have less than one third of the games kicking off at three o'clock on Saturday definitely, to some extent, diminishes the magic of the day,' he said. The FA defended its television deal, pointing to the 'benefits for grassroots football' and 'reinvestment at all levels.' Plus, makes tonnes of wonga for them so that they can get their filthy greed right on. As usual. An FA spokesperson weaselled: 'A selection of the Emirates FA Cup third-round fixtures have been picked for domestic and overseas television coverage as part of the new international broadcast deal for the competition. The new deal, which began this season, will see more money than ever before reinvested back into English football and prize money doubled to over £30.2 million - with a guaranteed four million distributed to non-league clubs. In addition, the new deal will provide an increased level of investment into grassroots football pitches, facilities and participation programmes across England.' One or two people even believed them.
Stoke City will help pay for repairs at Port Vale's stadium, after trouble broke out at a local derby. The Championship club has agreed to donate money towards the repairs at Vale Park, which was damaged at a match between the club's Under-Twenty One team and Vale in the Checkatrade Trophy on 4 December, Port Vale said. Police said 'a large section of Stoke fans had been disruptive.' Seats, toilets and windows were broken in the away stand. In a statement, the League Two outfit said: 'Stoke City have agreed to donate their share of the net proceeds from the gate towards the cost of repairs. Port Vale chairman Norman Smurthwaite, would like to thank Stoke City for this kind gesture.' The club did not reveal the amount to be paid. Staffordshire Police described the disorder as 'despicable.' Fourteen arrests were made last week and the force said that two more were made on Wednesday. Port Vale said it would focus on repairing the damage before the game with Cheltenham Town on Saturday.
Notlob Wanderers chairman and majority stakeholder Ken Anderson is to personally fund outstanding wages owed by the Championship club. Wanderers said that 'an agreement' reached with the Professional Footballers' Association to pay November's wages was 'not the preferred route.' The Bolton News reports that the PFA has 'already pulled out of the agreement' because of 'other financial concerns.' Payments will be made on Friday - fourteen days late. Wanderers said that the latest delay was 'caused' by 'exploring the option of assistance' from the PFA, with an agreement first reached with the players' union on Friday 7 December before it was 'revised' and an initial statement was issued by the club on Monday. The wage dispute at Notlob is not the first this season, with players going on strike and pre-season fixtures being cancelled because of 'similar issues' during the summer. Financial problems have plagued the club in recent years, with The Trotters only avoiding administration in September after former owner Eddie Davies gave the club a five million smackers loan four days before he died. In a statement, the club said that it would not make any further comments about the late wages payments and would like 'all attention turned towards' Saturday's home game against second-placed Dirty Leeds.
AC Milan will be very banned from European competition for a season if they do not break even by June 2021 after falling foul of financial fair play rules. The decision from UEFA comes after Milan successfully appealed against a two-year ban being imposed last summer. The Court of Arbitration for Sport partially upheld that appeal and asked for 'a proportionate disciplinary measure' to be imposed on Milan. The Italian club can appeal again to CAS against the new ruling, says UEFA. European football's governing body rules say clubs cannot spend more than they generate by their own means and UEFA handed out the original punishment after deciding Milan had breached the requirement to break even after spending two hundred million knicker on transfers. Milan has two-and-a-half years to balance their books or face missing European competition in either 2022-23 or 2023-24, should they qualify. However, the seven-times European champions did not escape immediate punishment with UEFA withholding twelve million Euros owed to the Italian side from this season's Europa League, a competition they were knocked out of on Thursday. The club will also be limited to a maximum of twenty one players, rather than the usual twenty five, in their squad for European competition should they qualify in the next two seasons. AC Milan were taken over by a US-based hedge fund in July after former owner Li Yonghong missed a deadline to repay part of the loan he used to buy the club in April 2017. In its ruling in July, CAS noted the club's financial position had 'significantly improved following the recent change in ownership.' The club have an agreement to sign Brazilian attacker Lucas Paqueta from Flamengo for a reported thirty one million smackers in January and have been linked with several centre forwards, including The Scum's Marcus Rashford, after failing to convince Zlatan Ibrahimovic to return to the San Siro. They also took striker Gonzalo Higuain and defender Mattia Caldera from Juventus in the summer.
Five Ligue Une matches have been postponed - with another three rearranged - because of the security issues in France as games are called off for the second weekend in a row. The country has seen four weekends of violent anti-government protests - with more demonstrations expected. Paris St-Germain's game in Dijon on Saturday is one of those postponed. A minute's silence will be held before the games which will be played to honour the victims of the unrelated shooting in Strasbourg. Strasbourg's players - whose game at Reims on Saturday goes ahead - will wear a shirt without sponsors' logos to pay respect. Three people were killed, with a fourth left brain dead and twelve others wounded in a Christmas market gun attack.
Eleven Sports is reportedly trying to renegotiate its TV sports rights in the UK to online-only streaming deals. Having won the rights to show La Liga and Serie A games earlier this year, the company was hoping to sub-licence the rights to broadcasting companies such as Sky, BT Sport and Virgin Media. But a failure to strike a deal has led to the streaming platform to look again at its rights deals. 'We are in discussion with our rights partners,' a spokesperson confirmed. 'Without carriage agreements with the existing platforms, alongside the challenges posed by rampant piracy, the market dynamics in the UK and Ireland are very hostile for new entrants,' they added. Meanwhile, mixed martial arts series UFC has pulled out of a deal with Eleven Sports, which was supposed to start in January, after the latter did not agree a contract to redistribute its events. Eleven Sports claim they are not in financial difficulties and the problems in the UK are 'in isolation' rather than impacting on other markets in which it operates. The company is owned by Dirty Leeds chairman Andrea Radrizzani and the issues are 'not expected' to affect the Championship club. Sky held the La Liga rights and BT Sport those for Serie A, before Eleven Sports signed three-year deals in May to show top-flight matches from Spain and Italy.
England have named an unchanged sixteen-man squad for the three-test series in the West Indies starting next month. Joe Root's team beat Sri Lanka three-nil last month, with wicketkeeper Ben Foakes and opener Rory Burns making their test debuts. David Willey returns for the five-match one-day series starting in February, with Sam Curran, Liam Dawson and Olly Stone left out of the ODI group. The squad for the three-match T20 series that completes the tour of the Caribbean in March will be named later. Warwickshire seamer Stone, who made his ODI debut in Sri Lanka and took one wicket in three innings, remains in the test squad along with the younger of the Curran brothers, Sam, who has scored four hundred and four runs and taken fourteen wickets in his first seven matches. Surrey left-hander Burns made a steady start to his test career with one hundred and fifty five runs in six innings and a top score of fifty nine. Foakes impressed after being called into the squad to cover for Jonny Bairstow, with a century and a fifty, plus eight catches and two stumpings. Surrey batsman Ollie Pope was part of the original squad in Sri Lanka but left the tour ahead of the second Test to play for the Lions and is not included. England have won only one Test series in the West Indies since 1968, when Michael Vaughan's team sealed a three-nil win in 2004. The most recent tour in 2015 saw the Windies win the final test by five wickets to draw the series one-all. Meanwhile, England are waiting to learn when Sussex's Barbados-born all-rounder Jofra Archer qualifies to play for them. Sussex said the twenty three-year-old, who was signed for eight hundred thousand knicker in the Indian Premier League auction last January, is 'likely' to qualify 'at some point in March 2019.' After the West Indies tour there are only six England one-day internationals - one in Ireland and five against Pakistan - before the World Cup begins in May. 'At the moment Jofra Archer is not available for selection for the England squad so he wasn't considered, so he's not selected, so that's it,' national selector Ed Smith said. 'If he becomes available, as it looks like he will do, in the reasonably near future, we think potentially in the early spring, then at that point we will start to consider the best squad with Jofra Archer available. Until that moment I wouldn't speculate about that at all.'
Ashley Giles, The King of Spain, has replaced Andrew Strauss as managing director of England men's cricket. Gilo starts in January and will be responsible for the strategy, coaching and management of England teams. The forty five-year-old replaces his former England colleaue Strauss, who is stepping down because his wife Ruth has cancer. 'The legacy left by Andrew Strauss has put the programme in a stable place. It is fundamental that I help our sport achieve great things,' Giles said. 'The next twelve months could transform the game like no other time in recent memory.' Giles, who played in fifty four Tests and sixty one ODIs for England between 1997 and 2006, joins the England camp following a month-long formal recruitment process led by ECB chief executive officer Tom Harrison. The left-arm spinner was sacked as England's ODI coach in 2014 despite leading them to a Champions Trophy final. But, his appointment comes at a critical time with a home World Cup and Ashes campaign against Australia next summer. Joe Root's test side have recently risen dramatically to number two in the world, while the top-ranked one-day team, led by Eoin Morgan, will head into World Cup as one of the favourites. Harrison said: 'Ashley was the standout candidate among a very strong field. He will bring a fresh perspective to the role and build on the excellent work carried out by Andrew Strauss over the past three and a half year. He has a tremendous passion for England cricket, extensive knowledge of our county game, and a wealth of experience from playing at the highest level to becoming a respected leader in the sport.' Giles is currently director of sport at Warwickshire and was head coach and cricket director at Lancashire from 2014 to 2016. He was also a national team selector from 2008 to 2014.
Police are investigating a break-in at Sir Paul McCartney's London home. Disgraceful tea-leaves targeted the former Be-Atle's house in St John's Wood on the evening of 7 December, thus ensuring that Sir Macca will not be having a wonderful Christmastime. It is unknown if the musician or his wife, Nancy Shevell, were home at the time of the break-in, which came days before he played a concert in his hometown of Liverpool. No arrests have been made and the investigation continues, a Metropolitan Police spokesman said. Sir Paul is due to play at London's O2 Arena on Sunday.
A van belonging to former Wizzard singer Rockin' Roy Wood's band has been returned, along with an estimated one hundred thousand smackers-worth of equipment inside. The Roy Wood Rock 'n' Roll Band had their instruments taken when the vehicle was stolen in a ram-raid on a warehouse in Leeds on Thursday. Wood - who wrote 'I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday' - had to cancel that evening's Rockmas gig in Hull. So, you know, every cloud has a silver lining and all that. West Yorkshire Police said that the van and equipment were found in East Ardsley. Wood said the van had contained 'about one hundred thousand pound's of gear, with PA equipment, three or four guitars and Marshall amps.'He said the band had cancelled a show at Hull City Hall and hoped to reschedule. Birmingham-born musician Wood, who now lives in Derbyshire, is currently on tour with his Rock and/or Roll Band. He has previously played with The Move, The Electric Light Orchestra and Wizzard. The band is due to play another show in Yorkshire on 20 December, at Sheffield's City Hall. It will be the final date in the Rockmas 2018 tour, which featured special guests Alfie Boe and Level 42's Mark King. Anyone who saw the van - an Iveco Eurocargo - or witnessed the theft is urged to contact police and snitch up the robbin' robbers like a Cooper's Nark.
An angry mother reportedly spat in the face of an elf at a Stockton-on-Tees shopping centre Christmas grotto. The woman lost her temper when told she that could not take her child into the grotto because she did not have a booking, police said. She also verbally abused other elves, according to Karen Eve, the manager of the Castlegate Shopping Centre, who added that the incident 'doesn't scream Christmas spirit at all.' Security has now been stepped up at the centre and police are said to be investigating. A Cleveland Police spokeswoman said that the assault happened during the grotto's autism friendly hour, when the lights and noises are dimmed and places to see Santa and his elves must be booked in advance. Eve, who described the woman as 'really hostile,' said: 'It was a really awful situation. The elves have dusted themselves down and they're absolutely fine. Most people have been appalled by what has happened.' She said the grotto would have to have 'parameters put in place' to protect staff in future.
Police in Dallas say that a thirty one-year-old protester who told children Santa Claus is 'not real' has been arrested for trespassing at a North Texas church. Aaron Urbanski was very arrested on Saturday after authorities were called to a church which was hosting a 'breakfast with' Santa event. Police say they found three people demonstrating outside the church after responding to the trespassing complaint. Authorities say Urbanski refused to leave and continued to 'cause a disturbance.' Urbanski, who was charged with criminal trespass and 'being a miserable pain in the arse at Christmas', has been booked into the Johnson County Law Enforcement Centre and will be held there until he cheers the fek up. Cleburne Mayor Scott Cain weighed in on Facebook, saying 'Don't Mess With Santa!' The mayor continued: 'Guess they wanted coal in their stockings to go with a court appearance.'
Last week, a Scottish mother was reportedly embarrassed when she realised that she had sent her five-year-old son to a nativity with a sex doll. Helen Cox claims she purchased the 'blow-up sheep' on Amazon in November without realising what it actually was until her son, Alfie, was sent home from school because of it. 'I just can’t believe it. I don’t know whether to laugh or cry! How am I going to explain this to his teachers?' the mother of two was quoted as saying. 'I have no idea if they've seen it was a sex toy and that's why they sent it home – I'm mortified!' Cox says that she was 'confused' when Alfie got in trouble for having the item at school. When he got home, she realised the doll, which had been listed online as 'Labreeze kids boys brown shepherd costume inflatable sheep nativity fancy dress outfit,' had a large hole in its bottom along with painted-on eyelashes and red lips. 'I told him, "you can't have this sheep, Alfie" but he kept asking why, so I had to make up a reason,' Cox said, explaining that Alfie refuses to give up his new toy. 'I told him it didn't look like a proper sheep because it had a moustache, red lipstick and a bow on its head, but he still wanted to play with it.' She added that she plans to take the sex doll from him 'soon.' Since learning of the incident, Amazon has removed the item from its website, saying that the seller 'did not meet the retailer's guidelines.'
A police investigation has been launched after a man reportedly died after falling from a town's Christmas tree. The alarm was raised in the early hours of Friday when the injured man was found in Kirkcaldy by people leaving a nearby nightclub. The man, who has not yet been identified by police, was taken to hospital but later died. A police cordon has been put up around the twelve foot fir tree, which is located outside Kirkcaldy Town House. Councillor Neil Crooks, convener of the Kirkcaldy area committee, said: 'This is a tragic thing to happen at this time of year. Our thoughts are with his family.' A Police Scotland spokesman said: 'Police in Fife were called to a report of an unresponsive man in the Hunter Street area of Kirkcaldy around 02:55 on Friday 14 December. The man was treated at the scene then conveyed to Victoria Hospital in Kirkcaldy by the Scottish Ambulance Service where he later sadly passed away. The death is being treated as non-suspicious and enquiries are ongoing to establish the full circumstances. A report will be sent to the procurator fiscal.'
Well, dear blog reader, that's the Stately Telly Topping Manor tree sorted for another year ...
Ministers are being urged to reverse plans to issue prison officers with a synthetic pepper spray, known as Pava, following a trial. From next year, canisters will be issued to staff in publicly run prisons for men, in a bid to reduce violence. The Prison Reform Trust says that its own analysis of the six-month trial in four prisons showed the spray was often used 'unsafely and inappropriately.' Ministers have claimed trials of the pepper spray were 'successful.' One or two people even believed them. The official report gives details of fifty cases where the chemical incapacitant was deployed. The tr als took place in four prisons: Hull, Preston, Risley and Wealstun in 2017 and 2018. Officers were trained and issued with Pava, which was intended to be used 'as a last resort' as a personal protection tool 'to prevent harm to self or others' in cases of geet rive-on with kids gettin' sparked and aal sorts. In guidance, they were told to deploy it 'only when other techniques were not possible,' had 'already failed' or 'were considered unsafe or insufficient.' Or, in other words, if someone was getting a bit lippy and they felt like teaching the chap a damned good lesson. In a letter to the PRT in November, prisons minister Rory Stewart claimed the spray was intended for use 'in exceptional circumstances where a member of staff is faced with serious violence or the perceived threat of serious violence.' However, the campaign group says its analysis, carried out by an experienced former prison governor, shows that in 'almost two-thirds of of these incidents,' officers 'might' have contravened the guidance. 'In fact, the use of Pava very rapidly became a routine part of how routine incidents were dealt with,' says the PRT. Incidents of inappropriate use in the official report include: Use against a prisoner who was harming himself; an inmate with mental health problems sprayed three times in ten minutes, including at point blank range through a flap in his cell door; an officer spraying the wrong prisoner and a colleague attempting to intervene in a fight and use of the spray on a prisoner who had jumped onto the safety netting between the floors. Overall, the analysis suggests that of the fifty incidents almost a quarter involved allegedly 'unsafe' use, for example in confined spaces, at height, at point blank range or hitting the wrong prisoner or a prison officer. Almost a quarter could have been resolved 'by other means' - so Pava was not deployed as a last resort. A third involved use 'without appropriate justification,' for example to 'enforce orders' rather than to prevent serious harm. The PRT warns that the use of Pava 'risks undermining trust' between prisoners and prison officers and 'could lead to an escalation in violence' as prisoners arm themselves against a perceived threat. 'At the very least, the minister should call a moratorium on the national roll-out until an adequate process of consultation has taken place,' the group urges. Rebecca Hilsenrath, chief executive of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, agreed there was 'no sound evidence' to support the roll-out. 'We agree that it is of the highest importance that prison officers are able to protect themselves and others, but such protections must not be at the expense of the basic rights of prisoners,' she said. 'Everyone has the right to live without fear of inhumane treatment.' A spokesman for the Prison Service said there was 'no evidence' to suggest Pava was 'used unlawfully' during the pilot and it would be 'wrong' to imply that cases of misuse were 'ignored.' The spokesman claimed that only officers who had 'completed specialist training' were allowed to carry the spray, adding that the aim was not to reduce violence but 'to reduce the harm that can occur during violence. We have taken on board lessons learned during the Pava pilot and are putting in place clear rules for its deployment, so it is only used when serious violence occurs or is threatened.'
A senior citizen in New York was reportedly injured in an explosion while inflating an air mattress with a can of 'fix-a-flat,' police say. Juan Roberto was transported to St Vincent's Medical Centre where he was treated for a collapsed lung. The victim's condition was subsequently upgraded from critical to serious. Police say an explosion ripped a giant hole in the side of the house sending a picture window sailing across the driveway and shards of glass flying through the air. They say Roberto was using the aerosol product to inflate an air mattress when fumes came in contact with a burning candle in the room, triggering the explosion.
A cannibal who walked into a police station and confessed that he was 'fed up' with eating human flesh has been extremely jailed for life. And, put on a vegetarian diet, one assumes. Nino Mbatha horrified officers by pulling a woman's severed hand and leg from a school bag, triggering the grisly discovery of more body parts from a young mother. Mbatha and his partner, Lungisani Magubane, were found hugely guilty of murdering twenty four-year-old Zanele Hlatshwayo in Estcourt, South Africa. Both were said to have eaten parts of Hlatshwayo's body. A third man, Khayelihle Lamula, was acquitted due to lack of evidence. Judge Peter Olson jailed Mbatha and Magubane for life after declaring that an impact statement by Hlatshwayo's mother was one of the 'most meaningful' he had 'ever come across.' He dismissed an appeal application by Mbatha at Pietermaritzburg High Court, saying there was 'little chance' of it succeeding, reports news site IOL. Magubane said that he was going talk with his family before making a similar application. Constable Ryan Ntshalintshali told the trial that he was shocked and stunned when Mbatha walked into his police station. 'I thought he was mentally unstable because he kept speaking out of turn. He was shouting, "I need the police's help because I am tired of being forced to eat human flesh."; Ntshalintshali said that he warned Mbatha to 'stay silent' after his outburst but Mbatha insisted on talking. 'He pointed to the bag and said there are human parts in here,' the constable told the hearing. 'He opened the bag and took out what looked like a hand and put it on the counter.' He and a colleague initially thought it was a doll's hand. Ntshalintshali testified: 'He then took out a red takkie [shoe] from the bag and a horrible smell came with it. It was at this point that I told him I was placing him under arrest on suspicion of murder.' Ntshalintshali said Mbatha later led police to a one-room house where he claimed he was being 'held captive' and 'forced' to eat human flesh. 'I followed the accused into the room where he retrieved a small dish,' he told the court. 'Inside the dish, I saw something shaped like an ear and what appeared to be jaws. He then picked up another bucket that appeared to have intestines in it.' Mbatha, Magubane and Lamula all denied murdering Zanele. A fourth man arrested and charged with them, Sithembiso Sithole, died in prison after apparently killing himself while awaiting trial. Prosecutors said Magubane and Lamula went to 'traditional healer' Mbatha to bring them good luck. Mbatha was said to have told them ancestors 'insisted that blood needed to be spilled.' Lamula reportedly later found Zanele drunk and she got into his car. He then picked up his co-defendants and drove to a secluded spot where Mbatha killed Zanele, prosecutors said. Cannibal allegations rocked the area in August 2017, after one of the suspects was said to have led community members and police to the woman's body. 'It was buried under big rocks and we had to call a machine to remove the rocks,' local councillor Mthembeni Majola said at the time: 'They showed us the body parts in one of the houses. They admitted that they were waiting for the body parts to attract maggots. Apparently maggots collect money for them.'
Florida police are asking residents of Polk County to help them locate a man who stole a foot-long sandwich. Polk County Sheriff's Office took a lighthearted approach to the incident when sharing it on Facebook. 'A sandwich thief walks among us and Detective Leblanc is asking our Facebook Fans to help identify him,' they said. The statement went on to explain that the 'sub crime' took place on Sunday 25 November at Marathon Gas Station in Lakelandia. Police said the suspect attempted to hide the sandwich in his pants. In security footage, obtained by the police department, the suspect can be seen with, what authorities claim is the sub, bulging out of his khaki pants. After concealing the sandwich about his person, police say the suspect then purchased a Polar Pop before leaving the gas station. 'The suspect fled on a bicycle in an unknown direction, perhaps in search for chips to steal,' police said. 'We hope to identify this suspect so he can be caught and pay for his crime. This should also serve as notice to all as to why you do not take food from a stranger. You don't know where it's been.' At this time, the sub thief remains at large. Although, one imagines he has eaten the evidence.
An incident that occurred over the weekend has prompted Ontario Provincial Police to issue a reminder to parents and caregivers to talk to children about making nine-one-one calls. The OPP's Norfolk detachment says that on Saturday officers responding to an emergency call rushed to a residence in Simcoe. But, when they got there they found that a nine-year-old girl had dialled nine-one-one because she was 'upset' that a parent had asked her to clean up her room.
The actress Sondra Locke, who was best known for making six movies with Clint Eastwood, has died at the age of seventy four. She earned an Oscar nomination for her first film, The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter, in 1968. Locke became romantically involved with Eastwood whilst making The Outlaw Josey Wales in 1975 but later went on to sue him for fraud when they broke up. She died on 3 November after having a heart attack, which was related to her breast and bone cancer diagnosis. When she was in a relationship with Eastwood she exclusively made films with him at Warner Brothers, including The Gauntlet (1977), Every Which Way But Loose (1978), Bronco Billy (1980) and Any Which Way You Can (1980). The Tennessee-born actress also starred in the 1983 film Sudden Impact, the fourth film in the Dirty Harry series. The pair were together for fourteen years, but in April 1989 Locke filed a lawsuit against Eastwood. In her settlement she received a one-and-a-half million dollar three-year contract to create films for Warner Brothers, but the studio did not accept any of the thirty projects she pitched. Believing this was Eastwood's doing, she again sued him in 1995 for fraud, eventually reaching a two-and-a-half million dollar settlement a year later. 'I don't have to worry about working,' she said after the settlement was made. She said the lawsuit 'was never about money, it was about my fighting for my professional rights.' Sandra Smith was born in May 1944 in New York. In her autobiography, Locke noted that 'although Momma would not admit it, I knew Mister Smith never married my mother.'When her mother married Alfred Locke in 1948, Sandra and her younger brother, Donald, adopted his surname. She grew up in Shelbyville, Tennessee, where her stepfather owned a construction company. Locke was a cheerleader and class valedictorian at Shelbyville Central Senior High School. Later, she worked in the promotions department for WSM-TV in Nashville when she lived there for approximately three years and modelled for The Tennessean fashion page. She changed the spelling of her first name in her early twenties to avoid being called Sandy. She won a nationwide talent search in 1967 for the part of Mick Kelly in a big-screen adaptation of Carson McCullers's novel The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter opposite Alan Arkin. Released in the summer of 1968 to critical acclaim, Heart garnered Locke the Academy Award nomination, as well as a pair of Golden Globe nominations for Best Supporting Actress and Most Promising Newcomer. Her next role was as Melisse in Cover Me Babe (1970). In 1971, she co-starred with Bruce Davison and Ernest Borgnine in the psychological thriller Willard, which became a box office hit. She was also featured in William Fraker's A Reflection Of Fear (1972) and had the title role in The Second Coming Of Suzanne (1974). Throughout the first half of the 1970s, Locke guested on television drama series, including The FBI, Cannon, Barnaby Jones, Kung Fu and the 1972 Night Gallery episode A Feast Of Blood. In Gondola (1973), a three-character teleplay with Bo Hopkins, Locke gave what one critic described as 'a beautiful performance – perhaps her best ever.' After thirteen years away from acting, Locke returned to the screen in 1999 with small roles in the straight-to-video films The Prophet's Game with Dennis Hopper and Clean & Narrow. Locke married the sculptor Gordon Leigh Anderson in 1967. She once stated in court papers that the marriage was 'never consummated' and described her relationship with Anderson (reportedly a homosexual) as 'tantamount to sister and brother.'
Like so many African-Caribbean actors of his generation, Thomas Baptiste, who has died aged eighty nine, straddled two career, of token casting and radical breakthrough. He invested both streams of work, however, with pride and dignity. He appeared on TV in The Dick Emery Show and as a doctor in a particularly memorable episode of Till Death Us Do Part when Warren Mitchell's Alf Garnett turned up for treatment after initiating a racist punch-up at a football match. But, he also played for two years in Noël Coward's Nude With Violin (1956) - in Dublin and then the West End - with John Gielgud, Patience Collier and Kathleen Harrison. In the 1960s Thomas subversively and prophetically occupied roles such as the dustman Doolittle in Shaw's Pygmalion and, at The Connaught in Worthing, Edward Albee's benighted academic George opposite Isabelle Lucas's black Martha in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf. More obviously, he could play Shakespearean roles such as Orsino in Twelfth Night, Caliban in The Tempest, the Prince of Morocco in The Merchant Of Venice and the title role in Othello. He had great success in Eugene O'Neill's The Emperor Jones as a deranged African despot at the shortlived Dark & Light Theatre in Brixton in 1973 and on film he imposingly embraced the outer lineaments of a pipe-smoking secret agent in The Ipcress File (1965), a corrupt African military dictator in The Wild Geese (1978) and the operating surgeon engulfed in a coup against Milton Obote in The Rise & Fall Of Idi Amin (1981). Thomas was born in Georgetown in British Guiana, one of the many children of a wealthy landowner who rented parts of his estate to tenant farmers. He was not close to his father, but at the age of twenty one persuaded him to allow Thomas to leave for Britain to study agriculture. On arrival in 1950 in London, where his mother, Pearl, joined him later, he promptly took a factory job, enrolled at Morley College to study the rudiments of music and began mixing with artistic types. Thanks to Baptiste's social graces and good looks, allied to a chance encounter with Tom Driberg, the gadfly journalist and Labour MP, he was swept into the salon cultural life of London, consorting with Driberg's friends about town, who included Nye Bevan, Jennie Lee and Joan Littlewood. He also maintained a close friendship with the designer Oliver Messel and a place at the centre of Princess Margaret's Mustique set back in the Caribbean. Like his hero, Paul Robeson, Baptiste started his professional life as a baritone singer. Eventually he joined Littlewood's Theatre Workshop and lived communally with the company in Edinburgh before it found its creative home at the Theatre Royal in Stratford. During that time he entered the Richard Tauber international singers' competition, came third, got noticed and studied with Joan Cross. He won a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music, London, but sensing little opportunity for black baritones in the contemporary opera world, plumped for a dramatic role in Eric Maschwitz's Summer Song (1956), based on Dvořák's composition of The New World Symphony, starring Sally Ann Howes and Edric Connor. After Nude With Violin it was mainly drama, but he maintained his singing career while moving more certainly into theatre and television. In the early 1960s he co-founded an African-Asian committee of the actors' union Equity; in 1992, however, he said that black actors in Britain found more difficulty beginning their careers than he had forty years previously. Baptiste was in O'Neill's The Iceman Cometh at the Bristol Old Vic, then Harold Pinter invited him to join the first professional production of his first play, The Room, in 1960, at Hampstead Theatre Club. He played Riley, the blind black man who lurks in the basement, a messianic figure who gets beaten up for his pains. When the play transferred to the Royal Court on a double-bill with another short Pinter, The Dumb Waiter, Michael Caine joined the cast – five years before he worked with Baptiste again on The Ipcress File. In 1963 Baptiste became the first regular black character in Coronation Street, appearing in several episodes as a bus conductor, Johnny Alexander, who was sacked as a result of a racist altercation with Len Fairclough (Peter Adamson). Several important BBC plays also marked his television career: John Hopkins' Apartheid allegory Fable (1965) prompted Baptiste to play a Nelson Mandela-type figure in a fantasy totalitarian state with the white population as social underdogs; Alun Owen's Pal (1971) paired him with Robin Phillips to play across the racial prejudice divide and in Barrie Keeffe's King (1984), the celebrations of his Lear-like potentate on returning home did not quite go to plan. Other screen highlights included a notable cameo in John Schlesinger's Sunday Bloody Sunday (1971) and appearances in many of the fifteen episodes of Empire Road (1978), the first all-black TV soap. In 1978, on stage, at the Birmingham Rep and the Mayfair in London, he played his hero Robeson, in Are You Now Or Have You Ever Been ... ?, Eric Bentley's dramatised transcript of the McCarthy HUAC hearings of 1950. His CV also included appearances in Rockliffe's Babies, First Sight, Starting Out, Tom, Dick & Harriet, Legacy Of Murder, Angels, The Professionals, Paul Temple, The Troubleshooters, The Saint, The Master, Danger Man, Maigret, The Fosters and the movies Shaft In Africa, Help! and Dr Terror's House Of Horrors. Baptiste led a life rich in friends and colleagues (and he had fourteen godchildren), enjoying his longest and closest relationship with Francis Rutland, a solicitor, who died in the 1990s. From that decade onwards he had a home in St Lucia though he spent the last ten years of his life in Hove.
Three spells playing the builder Bill Webster in Coronation Street brought fame to the actor Peter Armitage, who died recently of a heart attack aged seventy nine. He was spotted for the role after the soap's then producers saw him in a Yellow Pages commercial as a father scouring the business directory with his wife to find a bicycle for their son's birthday. But, the sudden elevation to soap-stardom almost never came. In 1980, frustrated with acting, Armitage left his wife, took a two-year break and headed for Australia with a guitar and a bedroll, earning enough to live on by busking in and around Sydney. The money also bought him a secondhand motorbike on which he toured the country, clocking up thirteen thousand miles. 'I'd had a bellyful,' he said. 'I needed some new experiences, something to enable me to charge up my batteries.' Coronation Street kick-started his career back in Britain. In 1984 he arrived as the widower Bill, who rented the late Len Fairclough's builder's yard and moved his children, Kevin and Debbie, into number eleven, Elsie Tanner's old house. Armitage provided a no-nonsense, tough-guy persona in a soap usually dominated by women. 'He was the nearest we ever reached to replacing Len Fairclough,' wrote the serial's executive producer, Bill Podmore, in his memoirs. But Podmore, who wanted to bring a long-term family to the cobbles, said Armitage 'left a particularly bitter taste in my mouth' when he announced, months later, that he wanted to leave. 'He has a built-in wanderlust,' observed the producer. To cope with Armitage's departure, his character was married off in 1985 and left for Germany with his new wife and Debbie, while Kevin stayed in the street to become one of the serial's mainstays. However, Armitage was back ten years later, in 1995, and stayed for two years with Bill returned as a divorcee, working as The Rovers' cellarman before setting up a building firm with Jim McDonald. When the character was axed by a new producer, Brian Park, Bill was sent back to Germany with his old flame Maureen Elliott, whom he later married. His final stint on the cobbles, from 2006 to 2011, saw Bill having an affair with Audrey Roberts, leading to a divorce from Maureen. He eventually retired and returned for a final time to Germany. Armitage was born in Skipton and had a difficult childhood. 'My mother wasn't around much during the first ten years of my life,' he recalled. 'She was always off with different guys and would dump me on my aunt.' After his mother married, Armitage's life became more settled. He was twenty eight when he eventually met his father, a German called Karl, but they saw each other on only a handful of occasions. 'It fell off because we didn't really have a relationship,' he explained. On leaving Glusburn Secondary Modern Armitage was apprenticed for five years to a firm building diesel engines. Then, in 1960, he joined the merchant navy and sailed the world for four years before settling in London and working as a banksman - shouting instructions down the tunnel – for labourers digging the Victoria underground line. He discovered an amateur dramatics company at a folk club, joined it, then trained at the East Fifteen acting school in Essex. Work followed in rep at Sheffield Playhouse. He made his television debut as Chuck in the 1970 pilot of The Befrienders, a drama based around the work of the Samaritans, continued in the role in the 1972 series and established himself as a prolific character actor, often cast as soldiers or police officers. In Days Of Hope (1975), Jim Allen's drama about the labour movement from wartime 1916 to the General Strike ten years later, he was a conscientious objector. Ken Loach, the director, observed of him in auditions: 'Squarely built, good Yorks lad.' Armitage's lifelong love of motorcycles led to a starring role as Len, trying to restore a rusting 1955 Matchless Twin 500 to its former glory, in Robin Chapman's 1976 play Grease Monkey. Playing David Jason's brother, Randy Mepstead, running a family plumbing business in the 1976 sitcom Lucky Feller was another highlight – but it failed to bring bigger roles. He was first seen in Coronation Street the following year, playing Maurice Allen, who redecorated the Rovers Return and was an integral part of the director Bill Bryden's National Theatre company from 1977 to 1979. Following his Australian adventure and 1980s run in Coronation Street, he continued to pop up in popular series. He had a rare leading role as the hard-working Detective Sergeant Jim Butler, sidekick to Ivan Kaye's Detective Inspector Sterne, in the police drama Sam Saturday (1992). His CV also included roles in The Sweeney, The Hanged Man, Churchill's People, They Disappear When You Lie Down, Couples, The Professionals, Strangers, Jack The Ripper, Lovejoy, The Advocate, Chimera, GBH, Mister Wroe's Virgins, Hearts & Minds, Magic Grandad and The Royal. In 2003 he returned to soap briefly to play Wilf Butler, who sold his farm tenancy to Andy Sugden, in Emmerdale and, in Russell Davies's drama The Second Coming, about a video shop assistant (played by Christopher Eccleston) who believes he is the new Messiah, Peter was the Son of God's father, a bitter single parent. On stage Armitage starred as the colliery brass band conductor in Paul Allen's 1998 adaptation of the hit film Brassed Off, at The Crucible, Sheffield and at the National's Olivier Theatre. He is survived by his children, Daniel and Sally, from his 1970 marriage to the actress Annabel Scase, which ended in divorce.