Sunday, February 17, 2019

"Hard Power"

Doctor Who's Jodie Whittaker her very self has spoken about the overnight fame she had thrust upon her in the aftermath pf landing the role of The Doctor. And, about one extremely awkward fan encounter during those first few days of total madness. The actress, who was announced as the first female Doctor in July 2017 (you might've heard about it, it was in the papers and everything), revealed in the latest episode of David Tennant Does A Podcast With ... that she 'went into hiding in Wales' during the weekend of the big reveal and that a fan told her she wanted Ben Whishaw in the role instead. Nice. Jodie recalled that she was 'baseball-capped-up' for a week after the announcement, adding that she was 'thinking I'm some kind of celeb, sunglasses inside and all that shit. I went up to a cafe and I went to order - this girl looked at me, she was about seventeen, so I was like "I think this is my demographic,"' she explained. 'I could see her really psyching herself up. And she just [said]: "Are you ...?" I just went, "Yeah ..." I said, "Can I talk to you to one side because I'm trying to be a bit sneaky and a bit hide-y?" So, I went and ordered and I came back and [asked]: "Are you a Whovian?"' Oh, Jesus, no. Jodie no, no, no, no, no. No one - at least, no one with an ounce of dignity or self-respect - uses that hateful word, created in the late-1970s by a bunch of American students for the simple reason that Star Trek fans have a name for themselves so we'd better have one too. It's horrible, it's wretched and only the world's stupidest arsehole glakes use it - except, occasionally for the purposes of irony. Anyway, carry on with your amusing cafe story, please. 'She went: "Yeah ... I really wanted Ben Whishaw." So I [said]: "You still might get him, the possibilities are endless, you could get anyone you wanted!" I laughed my head off.' At this point, however, it's probably worth noting that Ben Whishaw is one of the most in-demand actors in the world, someone who makes approximately three movies a year and even, in the very unlikely event that the BBC could afford him, the chances of him, effectively, giving up the rest of his acting career (his Bond role included) for a three-or-four year gig in a ten-and-a-half month-a-year production like Doctor Who is, frankly, laughable. Just sayin'. If this blogger had been Jodie, I'd've asked to see the manager and got this lass sacked for her impertinence.
During the interview with David, Jodie also spoke about her worries about 'setting the show back' if she had flopped in the role. Fortunately, of course, she didn't do that or anything remotely like it. She was (and remains), in fact, bloody great. 'I didn't realise the responsibility until after the first episode came out,' the actress claimed, revealing that she was having dinner with the previous Doctor [Peter Capaldi] the night before The Woman Who Fell To Earth was broadcast. 'I was in a funny place because I knew the next day was [the end of life as she knew it]. Then, when it came out, people and the fans, potentially from the figures we got new fans, I realised I could have set us back. If I'd have been crap, which I have been in some jobs - there are jobs I've done where I've gone, "I smashed that" and there are jobs I'm like, "Oh my God I was awful, I was miscast, I was terrible, I pitched it completely wrong." Because that's the nature of the thing. But this job, had I pitched it wrong - I don't necessarily think I've got it right, but I know there's obviously not been such a huge backlash since it came out - but, I didn't really realise until then that that I could've absolutely set us all bloody back here! But it didn't feel like a responsibility, it felt like something to be celebrated, and I'm really glad to be able to do that. I just think what this can't be is a moment, that will be irksome.' Jodie also spoke about her audition, revealing that her first read was 'an amalgamation' of an early version of the first episode from her series, where some of her companions had different names. 'I'm discovering that I need to find a doctor and I don't know why and I put my finger up my nose,' she recalled.
In the same interview, Jodie also revealed that she was told to get a line in her forehead filled and her top-lip waxed when she began acting. She said that she was 'glad' she did not give in to early pressure to change her appearance. Tragically, she did not reveal who was behind these cosmetic requests. That chance to name-and-shame the individual concerned being, one could suggest, very much an opportunity missed. She said of her - perfectly lovely and unspoiled - forehead: 'I wouldn't change it for the world and there are a lot of episodes where you're squinting and I think if I didn't have that frown line you wouldn't know it was sunny. I got asked to get my 'tache waxed and I didn't know I had one.' She explained how she dealt with the request: 'I said I would probably be allergic to the wax. I said "Sorry you will just have to colour it in."' Jodie asked national heartthrob Dave - her co-star in Broadchurch as well as one of her predecessors in the TARDIS - why he had adopted an English accent when he played The Doctor. Jodie, of course, speaks in her native Huddersfield accent when playing her version of the Time Lord. Some of The Special People, apparently, find this not to be to their liking. Fortunately, nobody that matter gives a flaming crap what those planks think. About pretty much anything. 'Why in the world did you pick a different accent?' she asked her host, who played The Doctor from 2005 to 2010 (you knew that, right?) Tennant said that he used the same accent he had used for the 2005 TV series Casanova, which was also written by his Doctor Who showrunner, Russell Davies: 'I'd just done Casanova with Russell and that's how I'd spoken in Casanova. And that's how they wanted it to be.'
Meanwhile, David Tennant has responded to those waste-of-space, agenda-soaked lice who have suggested that the latest series of Doctor Who was 'too politically correct.' For those who don't know, a couple of dozen loud-mouthed planks on Twitter who, seemingly, object to the idea of Doctor Who employing a female lead and a couple of actors of colour as regulars - so, louse-scum bigots, basically - whinged, loudly, to anyone that would listen (and, indeed, anyone that wouldn't) that one of television's longest-running inclusive, humanist, pacifist, liberal formats was no longer to their liking. What a pity for them. This was, subsequently, picked up and reported - as 'news' - by a some of the more scummy, right-wing end of the British tabloid (and, broadsheet in the case of the Torygraph) press. And, sadly, more than a few BBC local radio stations decided to give this hideous, sick, agenda-ridden bollocks more oxygen of publicity. Which was - and remains - hugely annoying. With friends like that, dear blog reader, who needs enemies? Speaking to the Gruniad Morning Star about the BBC's popular long-running family SF drama's recent eleventh series, David was asked what he thought of the so-called 'backlash.' His reply was exactly what one would expect from someone as perceptive and thoughtful as yer man Tennant. 'Is it possible to be "too" politically correct? What does that even mean? Inclusivity has always been one of Doctor Who's strengths,' David said. In the interview, he also spoke about the advice he gave to yer actual Jodie Whittaker about playing The Doctor. 'To certain people, you'll always be The Doctor, which is a wonderful, humbling thing but it does mean accepting an adjustment to your life,' Tennant admitted. 'You have to be ready for that. It's a unique experience and there's a very small support group who know how that feels. One would never give advice about how to play a part. The acting bit is what you go to drama school for. All you can help with is the other stuff. Jodie was such an exciting choice. I'm hugely proud of how successful she's been.' Yer actual David Tennant, dear blog reader. Once a Doctor, always a Doctor!
Doctor Who fans will soon be able, should they so wish, to 'step inside a virtual reality version of the TARDIS,' in a short VR film The Runaway. Yer actual Jodie Whittaker will reprise her role as The Doctor - in animated form - in the interactive story, which will run for around twelve minutes and will be available on 'selected VR headsets' in the coming months. The film will feature music from the series composer Segun Akinola. Viewers will join The Doctor aboard the TARDIS in this animated interactive story from the BBC and Passion Animation Studios. Jo Pearce, the creative director for the BBC's digital drama team, said: 'Fans will experience the TARDIS like never before in this thrilling new interactive story. As ever, The Doctor is full of warmth, wit and charm – helped by a wonderful performance from Jodie – which puts fans at the heart of the story as they immerse themselves in this beautifully animated world.' Zillah Watson, the head of BBC VR Hub, added: 'Our team at the BBC VR Hub has been creating new experiences with the goal of helping to usher virtual reality into the mainstream and Doctor Who is exactly the sort of series that can help more people to try this new technology. The show has been pushing boundaries for over fifty five years and VR enables Doctor Who to explore a whole new dimension of storytelling.' The Runaway has been written by Victoria Asare-Archer and directed by Mathias Chelebourg.
Of course, as usually happens when the BBC reveal that there will be a Doctor Who announcement but it is embargoed until midnight (which they do quite regularly mainly, this blogger believes, due to newspaper deadlines) some fans assume - nine-times-out-often entirely wrongly - that the announcement will be, you know, something important. And, as a consequence, they get themselves all worked up into a frenzy of anticipation, in advance. So, when it doesn't turn out to be news of the recovery of some long-lost Patrick Troughton episodes, or the casting of Kenneth Branagh as The Master, then there is often quite a bit of stroppy throwing toys out of prams on Facebook and Twitter that the 'big' announcement has turned out to be, in this particular case, 'some bollocks about animated virtual reality.' There is probably a lesson in all of this for both the BBC and for fandom about the whole issue of expectations. Because, the next time the BBC say they have a Doctor Who announcement coming at midnight, it might be the news that they've recovered all six missing episodes of The Evil Of The Daleks in Uganda. But, it's far more likely to be that they are commissioning another series of Class.
How terrific it was to see From The North favourite Endeavour returning to ITV last Sunday - in the mid-evening slot recently vacated by another From The North favourite, Vera. And, to note that the cute small furry animal seen in various pre-series publicity photos occupying Shaun Evans's top-lip is, indeed, still there.
Shaun's extraordinary lip-hair was almost as intriguing as a scene early in the episode which featured The Velvet Underground's apocalyptic 'What Goes On?' as the soundtrack. Given that VU's - brilliant - third LP (the one featuring that song along with 'Pale Blue Eyes', 'Jesus', 'Beginning To See The Light' and various other Keith Telly Topping favourites) sold about three copies in the UK in 1969, it's good to know that one of those was, seemingly, to a punter in Oxford so that it could be featured in this particular episode.
Mind you, it should be noted that some of the episode's very much of-the-era dialogue - terrific as it was - sat somewhat awkwardly given that we know the Inspector that the 1969 Sergeant Morse will eventually turn into in his later years. It was rather difficult, for instance, to imagine the late, great John Thaw saying a line like: 'You've got a couple skinning-up on the sofa over there and the place reeks of Red Leb. Do you want me to call The Drug Squad or do you want to show me his room?' Hang on, this blogger will qualify that last statement; it's really difficult to imagine the late, great John Thaw as the titular Inspector Morse saying that line of dialogue. It's not at all difficult to imagine the late, great John Thaw as Jack Regan in The Sweeney saying a line like that!
'I thought it took God seven days to make the world?' 'He rested on the seventh. I thought he should've put the extra day in, instead of half-assin' it!' This week saw yet another outstanding episode of one of the drama hits of the year so far, True Detective. Reviews of the episode can be found here, here and here.
'And, anyone who doesn't know what The Fibonacci Sequence is, you're clearly watching Only Connect for the first time!' As yer actual Keith Telly Topping says on virtual weekly basis, dear blog reader, if he gets the answer to but one question on an average episode of Only Connect before either of the teams do then he's as pleased as a very pleased thing with pleased knobs on it. Imagine, therefore, his almost unimaginable pleasure on this week's episode when he got the answers to four questions before either of the teams. Including, obviously, the Doctor Who-related one.
Let it also be noted, the 'Fifty Ways To Leave Your Lover' question was an absolutely corker.
'To everyone who has tweeted asking about Series P Qi XL episodes, they are due to resume on Saturday evenings in March,' the official Qi Twitter page announced this week to the joy of millions and the whinging for several dozen people on Twitter. 'Qi will continue as usual on Fridays at 10pm.'
And speaking of Qi, From The North's TV Comedy Line Of The Week came from this week's episode of the popular, long-running comedy quiz and Sandi Toksvig's closing monologue: 'In 1980, American tennis player Vitas Gerulaitis finally beat Jimmy Connors after losing their previous sixteen encounters. In the post match interview, Vitas triumphantly said: "Nobody beats Vitas Gerulaitis seventeen times in a row!"'
The latest episode of Gotham - Thirteen Stitches - maintained the quality of the current, fifth and final, series of the From The North favourite. And, it ended on one effing 'uge mother of a lot twist in the revelation that Barbara Kean is - at least, she claims - pregnant. Presumably, with ex-fiancé Jim Gordon's baby. Speaking to TVLine about Babs' biggest twist yet, Erin Richards suggested that a Kean-Gordon baby may actually be a good thing for both characters. 'What happens is actually pretty unifying in a way, which is I guess a bit of a shock,' she explained. 'Because that incident could either completely break everything, or unify [it].' As expected, Barbara's surprise came at a the worst possible time for Ben McKenzie's Gordon, who found himself on the brink of a reunion with Lee Thompkins after a deadly mind-control chip was removed from her brain. Although acknowledging that 'a lot of people' want to see Barbara and Jim get back together - after all, in the Batman comics their child will grow up to be Batgirl - Erin Richards added that things will be 'a lot more complicated' than that. 'I think that for a while it was not in the cards, but for seasons four and five, we wanted Barbara to have a redemption,' she said. 'It sort of leads to a Barbara/Jim/Lee triangle - and a kind of coming-together of Barbara and Lee that wouldn’t have otherwise been possible,' she said.
'Mister Stamets, are you ready to execute this very bold and deeply insane plan of yours?' There was also another very fine episode of Star Trek: Discovery broadcast this week. And, it too, included a 'oh, didn't see that one coming a mile away,' plot development. Wilson Cruz has previously admitted to feeling 'really disappointed' when he learned that his character was going to die. Doctor Culber was controversially killed by Ash Tyler in series one of the CBS All Access show. Thankfully, he was back this week - although there is likely to be consequences, with Hugh in a new body and having been trapped in the mycelial network post-death. Still, Cruz claimed that he did not know at the time he would be returning for this series. 'I was shooting my first day on the second season of Thirteen Reasons Why,' he recalled to The Hollywood Reporter. 'I had just finished doing my make-up and had received the call from our producers. I was really disappointed, I'm not going to lie to you. I had to pull it together and get to work. The fan response has been unrelenting for a year. I love the passion people have for these characters and the show. It's been overwhelming to keep people excited and engaged and not worried too much about the fact that Culber was gone.' The resurrection of the character does mean that Hugh is reunited with Anthony Rapp's Stamets. And both Cruz and Rapp are reported to be 'excited' by what is to come. 'We find a really interesting way to explore the idea that if you come back to [life], what is that like?' Rapp said. 'What you're going to learn is that he's Hugh, but it's a new body. What is it like to be the same person inside of a new body? And what is it like to have your consciousness be in a different realm for a while?' Cruz added: 'Last season, it was fair to say that Culber was very much in service of Stamets' ambition. But this season, we really get to see who Hugh Culber is, why he does what he does. I want people to imagine what it's like to have gone through all of that [in the network] and to now be back where it all started. That experience has affected how he feels about his life, career, relationship, and who he is. We will learn there are consequences for him, as there should be. We don't pull any punches, and I think we deliver a love story that is worthy of this relationship.'
The trailer was shown in America during the Superbowl but the, much-anticipated, NCIS episode She was postponed for a week because of President Rump's State Of The Union address ('it's in a mess,' basically). It was finally broadcast this week and featured a final scene which, quite literally, changed everything that regular viewers of the popular US naval crime drama thought they knew about the fate of one particular character. More details can be found here and here but, be warned, both reviews contain massive spoilers.
'The lights are on but you're not home.' The first trailer for the much-anticipated second series of Killing Eve has been unveiled and features the expected psychosexual drama, black comedy and at least one ominous shot of a kitchen knife. Developed by Fleabag's Phoebe Waller-Bridge, the BBC co-produced spy drama, which was first broadcast last year, stars Jodie Comer as the ruthless globe-hopping assassin Villanelle and Sandra Oh as Eve Polastri, the MI5 officer tasked with hunting her down. You knew that, right? The series was a hit with viewers, becoming one of the most watched series on the BBC iPlayer. It also received widespread acclaim from critics and was named From The North's favourite TV show of 2018. The trailer for the new series addresses the cliffhanger at the end of the first, which saw Villanelle flee her Paris apartment after being viciously stabbed by Eve. A worried Eve admits to her superiors that she 'might have killed her.' Later, we see a wounded Villanelle collapsing while attempting to escape from a hospital bed, before returning to her ruthless activities.
Lena Headey is deadly serious about keeping any Game Of Thrones spoilers a secret, it would seem. Ahead of the popular fantasy drama's eighth and final series, some fans are busy trying to decipher even the smallest of clues but, fortunately, nothing major has been given away by any of the cast or crew. At least, not to fans anyway. After drunkenly letting a Thrones spoiler slip to a friend on a night out, Lena revealed that she channelled her inner-Cersei to keep the news quiet. Speaking to Entertainment Tonight, Lena claimed: 'The next day [I] hunted them down and made them sign in blood not to say anything.' Admitting that she finds the whole secret-keeping business a little tiring, the actress added: 'It's part of the success, you know, being consumed with it and what's happening. [But] I think it's just frustrating when you do interviews for Game Of Thrones and actually can't say anything.' Lena also recently confessed that shooting her last scene in the series was 'a weirdly tedious experience' for her. 'My last day on set was really weirdly tedious because I just had to shoot going up and down these stairs and that was it,' she said recently. When asked to elaborate, she refused. 'I can't tell you anything,' she said. 'They'd kill me!'
Ben Whishaw might not have got the gig as The Doctor as that lass in a cafe in Cardiff apparently wanted, but he is to return to voice Paddington Bear for a new animated TV series for Nickelodeon. The actor has already provided the voice for the bear for two films which were critical and box office hits. The series will be a 3D CG-animated series, which follows the adventures of a younger Paddington. It is being made by StudioCanal, the same company who made the movies and will be shown on Nickelodeon's networks worldwide in 2020. David Heyman who produced the Paddington movies, as well as all the Harry Potter films, will be the series' executive producer. 'It is a joy to bring this uniquely life-enhancing bear to a whole new audience of younger children. We are thrilled that the inimitably brilliant Ben Whishaw will continue to voice Paddington,' he said. Each episode will see Paddington writing to Aunt Lucy from Windsor Gardens telling her what he has learned about life from the day's adventures. The story of the Paddington 3 film is currently in development with StudioCanal and Heyday.
Ardal O'Hanlon may have felt like an unexpected (and, for some, unwelcome) replacement for Kris Marshall in the BBC's Death In Paradise, but now it's Marshall's own turn to surprise fans. Two years after leaving the sunny - albeit blood-soaked - isle of Saint Marie, Marshall will soon be starring in an upcoming adaptation of Jane Austen's final work. Sanditon, which will be shown on ITV, is an eight-part version of the author's final (and incomplete novel). Marshall will be joining Rose Williams, Theo James and Anne Reid in the serial, which is to be headed by BAFTA-winning screenwriter Andrew Davies. Sanditon, which will begin shooting in Bristol, will follow Williams' Charlotte Heywood, a spirited and typically Austen-esque heroine, as she embarks on an unlikely relationship with the charming Sidney Parker (James) in a sleepy seaside town. Marshall will appear as the Parker patriarch, Tom, who is billed as 'an enthusiastic and happily-married man whose driving vision' is to put Sanditon on the map. 'Full of energy and charm,' the character is set to be 'a risk-taker' whose penchant for taking chances might just get him into more trouble than first thought. Davies praised the series' 'brilliant' ensemble cast, adding he was 'very excited' to be working on the adaptation. 'It's been such fun to develop Jane Austen's fragment into a series – now I'm eager to see our exceptional cast bring Sanditon to life, he declared.
Stephen Merchant - whom this blogger has always regarded as being about as funny as a big hairy growth right on the end of one's little chap - is to star as Stephen Port in a new BBC 'fact-based drama' about the serial killer who murdered four young men he met through dating websites between 2014 and 2015. The Barking Murders, which is due to begin filming this spring, will be told from the perspective of the families of Port's victims as they fight to uncover the truth about what happened to their sons and brothers amid a much-scrutinised police investigation. Sheridan Smith will play Sarah Sak, the mother of Port's first victim, Anthony Walgate, while Jaime Winstone will appear as Donna Taylor, sister of another victim, Jack Taylor. The screenplay will be written by Neil McKay, whose previous credits include the Fred and Rose West drama Appropriate Adult and The Moorside, which dramatised the kidnapping of schoolgirl Shannon Matthews. Both of which, interestingly, were very publicly whinged about by some of the relatives of the murder victims in the cases involve. So, it will be interesting to see if this one avoids any 'ban this sick filth' malarkey on page one of the Daily Scum Mail. Port was given a whole-life sentence in 2016 for the sick and wicked murders of Walgate, Taylor, Daniel Whitworth and Gabriel Kovari. Widely referred to as 'The Grindr killer' in the tabloid media, the former chef met his victims using dating apps and drugged them with lethal amounts of the date-rape drug GHB, before raping them and dumping their bodies near his home in Barking. Despite the similarities of the circumstances around the men's deaths, the Metropolitan police initially did not connect the four cases. A police watchdog investigation into the Met's handling of the case was completed in August ahead of a full inquest this year. The role of Port marks a significant departure for Merchant, who is best known for his work with another unfunny slavver, Ricky Gervais, on alleged BBC 'comedies' The Office and Extras. The writer and actor has also appeared in films including Gnomeo & Juliet, The Girl In The Spider's Web and the forthcoming wrestling comedy Fighting With My Family. And was not funny in any of them. Merchant said: 'This is a story that can't be ignored - how four young lives were lost and their families' brave attempt to uncover what happened. This factual drama will shed light on their story, so it's a privilege to be a part of telling it.'
Young - and, indeed, some not-so-young - viewers of the 1990s will remember being terrified by Terrence Hardiman's titular performance in The Demon Headmaster. Now, a whole new generation will be able to worry about whether they are being hypnotised by their teachers. The new ten-part series, announced this week, will follow a group of mismatched children at an academy school as they realise the Head is brainwashing the students. Hardiman previously said that he would like to see how a new generation would react to his character. 'I have very happy memories of working on The Demon Headmaster. And what fun to play such a megalomaniac,' he said. '[Fans'] most frequent question was, "How did you do that with your eyes?" I wonder how a new generation will react.' The drama is being adapted from Gillian Cross's new Demon Headmaster novel, Total Control by award-winning writer Emma Reeves and will be broadcast on CBBC.
Children's game show Crackerjack - CRACKERJACK!!!! - is also making a comeback next year, presented by the duo Sam and Mark. The interactive programme will still be broadcast on Fridays as it always used to be back in the 1950s, 60s, 70s and 80s and will feature hundreds of children in the audience taking part in games such as Double or Drop. Prizes include cabbages and the much-coveted Crackerjack - CRACKERJACK!!!! - pencil. Cheryl Taylor, the head of content for BBC Children's, says: 'Crackerjack - CRACKERJACK!!!! - is just one of several fabulous series that Children's In-House Productions have developed this year. It's the perfect vehicle for our much-loved stars Sam and Mark and promises to usher in a new era of frenetic family fun and whizzbang audience antics.' This series will be presented by Sam Nixon and Mark Rhodes, who will follow in the footsteps of Eamonn Andrews, Leslie Crowther, Michael Aspel, Ed Stewpot Stewart and Stu Francis.
Two episodes from the legendary 1960s BBC sitcom The Likely Lads long believed missing-presumed-wiped have been rediscovered. The Likely Lads (1964 to 1966) starred James Bolam and the late Rodney Bewes as Terry Collier and Bob Ferris, two friends with vastly different outlooks on life. You knew that, right? It was followed by the BAFTA-winning sequel Whatever Happened To The Likely Lads? (1973 to 1974) and a - really rather good - film spin-off, The Likely Lads (1976). Of the twenty one episodes from the original series, only eight were known to exist prior to 2018, with the rest having been wiped by the BBC (although audio recordings of a further five of the missing episodes also exist). However, two episodes previously lost - A Star Is Born and Far Away Places, both from the 1965 series - then resurfaced having, allegedly, 'been held in a private collection.' The Digital Spy website has 'an exclusive snippet' from A Star Is Born, in which peer pressure rears its ugly head when Bob and Terry fancy their chances in a pub talent contest. You can see it, here. It includes a very topical joke when Bob asks Terry why he wants to become a pop singer all of sudden: 'After your MBE?' The Be-Atles (a popular beat combo of the 1960s, you might've heard of them) had been awarded MBEs in early June 1965, mere days before this episode was broadcast. Both episodes, newly-restored, will be released on DVD and Blu-ray by Network Distributing as part of a new release of The Likely Lads movie. The film and the two episodes will also get a public screening at The Prince Charles Cinema in London on Tuesday 12 March, followed by a Q&A with Likely Lads creators Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais. Tickets for the event are available now if you happen to be in the London area.
The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat (OBE) and Mark Gatiss his very self are going to drive a stake right through the heart of one hundred years of Dracula mythology with their new series. The collaborators are partnering with the BBC and Netflix to bring The Count back to the small screen, in a new min-series played by Claes Bang. With rare exceptions, Dracula has usually been depicted as a menace who seduces his victims only to drain them of their blood in his own quest for eternal life. Speaking to the Radio Times, the writers described how they were only able to convince the BBC and Netflix to make Dracula by pitching him as 'the hero of his own story. There's lots of things that are challenging about Dracula,' The Moffinator acknowledged. 'Having an evil lead character is actually really difficult. That's been the main challenge I think. But how we've handled, that you'll have to wait and see.' Gatiss added: 'It's been very exciting though. Because we sort of made a promise to ourselves and the people who are making it, paying for it, that we'd make Dracula the hero of his own story and less of a shadowy presence.' Moffat and Gatiss confirmed earlier this month that production on the series is expected to begin 'very soon.'
Yer actual Freddie Flintoff (nice lad, bit thick) has barely begun his stint as host of Top Gear but it has not, exactly, started smoothly with the presenter managing to crash his car during filming. The sort of thing which never happened during Jezza, Hamster and Cap'n Slow's period. Oh, hang on ... The former England international cricketer is due to take over presenting the once massively-popular-but-now-rather-tired-and-dated show alongside odious professional Northern berk Paddy McGuinness following the departure of yer actual Matt LeBlanc. During filming of an electric car race in Mansfield town centre, Flintoff was seen crashing his car through the barriers and into a market stall. In much the same way as he crashed through Ricky Ponting's defences during that over in the 2005 Ashes series. Only, you know, not quite. 'During filming in Mansfield town centre, which had been closed off to members of the public for health and safety reasons, Freddie's electric car struck an unmanned, un-stocked market stall,' a rather embarrassed BBC spokesperson said. 'Neither he nor anyone else was hurt and filming completed as planned.' The mayor of Mansfield took the positives out of the situation, saying: 'To know this is the town where Freddie Flintoff drove into a market stall. We should actually name that stall after him – it's going to be such an icon.' It is believed that the scene - or, bits of it, anyway - will be broadcast as part of the new series of Top Gear next year. Flintoff was announced as part of the new line-up of the BBC motoring show late last year.
BBC1 is reportedly cutting back the News At Ten to showcase some of the 'best' BBC3 projects. No, dear blog reader, this isn't 1 April, this really is happening. Starting on Monday 4 March, the broadcaster will change its late night programming format to create 'a special slot' to broadcast BBC3 shows between Monday and Wednesday every week. The BBC Three Slot will begin at 10.35pm on these nights, launching with the second series of Fleabag, dating show Eating With My Ex and a Stacey Dooley-fronted make-up competition called Glow-Up. The change will see the News At Ten downsized from forty five minutes in length to just thirty five minutes, including cuts to both national and local News and weather. The shorter news show mimics the format the BBC already adopts on Friday nights, when The Graham Norton Show begins at 10.35pm and the post-news slot will be held by Question Time on Thursdays. Anyone who is likely to miss the longer news show will be able to watch Newsnight on BBC2. Despite moving online a few years ago, BBC3 continues to deliver online content. Most of it shite, admittedly, but still ... Since going digital, BBC3 shows have included Murdered For Being Different, Killed By My Debt and Clique, as well as Dooley's broad range of investigatory documentaries. In future years, BBC3 will show the TV adaptation of Sally Rooney's novel Normal People. It will also explore 'the lure of the far-right' in a one-off drama called The Left Behind, broadcast a documentary called Billy Whizz about double amputee racing driver Billy Monger and play host to a six-part series called The Rap Game, which follows aspiring MCs trying to make it as the next big rap star with the hippin' and the hoppin' and the baseball cap on backwards and all that. Of course, it didn't take long for some sneering Middle Class hippy Communist louse of no importance at the Gruniad Morning Star to find another angle to the story. 'Well-known on-screen names including the Middle East editor, Jeremy Bowen and other leading foreign correspondents have written to the BBC director general, Tony Hall and urged him to reconsider,' the Gruniad claim, adding that Hall allegedly 'held a discussion with staff' on Tuesday, in which he allegedly adopted 'a hardline stance' on the changes. 'Tony has received letters from some of the biggest names in news on screen,' snitched an alleged - though, suspiciously anonymous and, therefore, probably fictitious - BBC news 'source'. 'This unsettled him because he came down yesterday and talked to the team. It has caused a huge amount of disquiet and anger,' the alleged 'source' allegedly added, suggesting that the BBC's director of content, Charlotte Moore, had 'won an internal battle' with Fran Unsworth, the head of news. 'We feel that news hasn't put up a strong enough fight.' The move comes amid continued speculation over Unsworth's future, 'as the BBC grapples with various challenges such as the growth of Netflix and the decline in youth audiences.' And, once again, the Gruniad manage to shoehorn a reference to their beloved Netflix into a story that, actually, has bog-all to do with the US-based media giant.
The BBC's late-night political show This Week is to end, after odious right-wing arsebag presenter Andrew Neil decided to step down. This Week - which has been broadcast on BBC1 on Thursdays - will not be recommissioned after its current run finishes in July. The programme began in 2003 and has been mostly hosted by full-of-his-own-importance twonk Neil. Regular panellists have included Diane Abbott and Michael Portillo. 'We couldn't imagine This Week without the inimitable Andrew Neil,' said the BBC's Director of News, Fran Unsworth. She called Neil 'one of Britain's best political interviewers' and said he was 'bowing out of late-night presenting on the show, at the top of his game.' One or two people even believed her. Unsworth added: 'We want to keep Andrew at the heart of the BBC's political coverage. He continues to present Politics Live on Thursdays and we look forward to developing future projects with him.' The programme's format sees the panel welcome political and celebrity guests to discuss the biggest news stories of the week. Former Conservative MP and defence secretary Portaloo is a regular panellist on the show and appeared alongside Labour's shadow home secretary, Abbott, until 2010. The pair were known for getting on well on-screen and were described as 'a perfect combination' by Neil. The show also welcomes guests from outside the Westminster bubble - with past guests including The Cheeky Girls and Nile Rodgers - as well as occasional appearances from Neil's dog, Molly. After it was announced that This Week would be ending, fans of the programme - all three of them - criticised the decision. Journalist and columnist for the Torygraph, Liam Halligan, called it 'a blindingly obvious mistake,' while Sky's political correspondent Kate McCann said it was a 'real shame. BBC This Week is a brilliant show and somehow manages to get people with opposing views to talk normally to each other and tease issues out,' she tweeted. 'Plus it was such good fun to be on as a guest and has one of the loveliest teams behind the scenes!' The BBC has not yet announced what will fill the late-night slot, but said that it will be announced in due course.
The BBC has commissioned three major series on the natural world, as it fights to stop staff who make its popular natural history shows - including Sir David Attenborough - being poached by Netflix. Perfect Planet, Frozen Planet II and Planet Earth III will be shown on the BBC over the coming years, building on the success of 2017's enormously popular Blue Planet II, which helped push the issue of plastic recycling to the top of the political agenda. The announcement comes after senior staff left the BBC's Natural History Unit, lured to the commercial sector by the prospect of working for rapidly-growing streaming services, which can offer bigger budgets. Attenborough, who is synonymous with the BBC's natural history output, has already agreed to provide the voice-over for a forthcoming Netflix series named Our Planet which is due to be released in April and has involved six hundred crew members filming for four years around the world. Despite its name, the programme, produced by former Natural History Unit staff, is not part of the official BBC Planet series and the similarity is thought to have angered the corporation's executives. In an interview with the Financial Times published on Friday, Attenborough said that he would still work with the BBC but was 'enthused' by Netflix's global reach, with its programmes made available around the world at the same time: 'It's over two hundred million people, it's urgent, it's instantaneous. And, it stays there for months, so it can get an even bigger audience through word of mouth.' The Blue Planet II creator, James Honeyborne, left the Natural History Unit last month after almost thirty years to found an independent production company, which instantly signed a deal with Netflix to produce nature and science series. The BBC's finances could also be hit if Netflix dents the amount that other broadcasters around the world are willing to pay for the rights to show the BBC's natural history output. The BBC's global reputation for making high-quality series has helped boost returns at the corporation's commercial arm, with Blue Planet sold to more than two hundred and thirty three different territories. Of the new programmes, Perfect Planet shows how the forces of nature support life on Earth, Frozen Planet II is filmed in the Arctic and Antarctic and Planet Earth III is described as 'the most ambitious natural history landmark ever undertaken by the BBC.' The BBC has also announced a spin-off series called Blue Planet UK, a week-long documentary series broadcast at the end of March on BBC1 daytime, which will look at the stories behind Britain's marine wildlife. It is unclear whether Attenborough will be involved in the newly commissioned programmes. A BBC spokesperson said it was 'too early' to sign up a presenter for the shows, which take 'years' to produce and are due to be shown between 2020 and 2022, but if the ninety two-year-old wanted to take part then they would 'love to have him.'
Labour deputy leader Tom Watson (power to the people) is stepping up pressure on Theresa May to maintain free TV licences for the over-seventy fives. In a letter to the soon-to-be-former Prime Minister, he warned that scrapping the benefit would represent a 'huge financial blow' to millions of pensioners and breach a Conservative general erection manifesto pledge. His intervention comes as a BBC consultation on whether to carry on with the scheme after government funding ends in 2020 is due to close on Tuesday. The government has already confirmed that the cost of a licence is to rise from £150.50 a year to £154.50 from April. Last month, the charity Age UK warned that scrapping the free TV licence for over-seventy fives could push fifty thousand older people into 'relative poverty.' In his letter, Watson, who is also shadow lack of culture secretary, said 'outsourcing' responsibility to the corporation would deliver a seven hundred and forty five million quid 'windfall' to the government in 2021-22. He said that it would come on top of the two hundred and twenty million smackers the Treasury is already set to save from changes to pension credit. 'This money, nearly a billion pounds, is coming directly out of the pockets of pensioners. A billion pound blow to pensioners is a billion pound windfall for the Treasury's coffers,' he said. 'Rather than profiting from pensioners I ask that your government protects pensioners. Instead of using this money to bolster the government’s balance sheet you should use the money to honour your manifesto commitment and save free TV licences for over-seventy fives.'
Rachel Johnson - a Z-List Celebrity Big Brother type individual (no, me neither) - did not expose her breasts on Sky News on Thursday night. The former Z-List Celebrity Big Brother housemate and journalist (sister of Tory MP and hairdo Boris Johnson) was presenting the topical news show The Pledge when she decided to pay tribute to Doctor Victoria Bateman, the naked anti-Brexit campaigner who went on Good Morning Britain earlier this week. Unbuttoning her blouse, Johnson (she has her knockers) 'left her co-hosts stunned' - according to the Digital Spy website - and said: 'As I know it can be hard to get your voice heard about Brexit nowadays. It feels like we've hit saturation point. Enter pro-EU campaigner Victoria Batemen who's come up with a striking way this week to get herself noticed. Appearing across the media completely starkers to make various points about Brexit leaving Britain naked. So, in tribute to Doctor Baker, I've decided to follow suit - every time we decide to talk about Brexit just to make sure I get noticed.' For viewers at home - all six of them - Johnson's seemingly-naked bosom was, obviously, blurred. But in the studio, Carole Malone pointed out that Nick Ferrari had gone bright red. Which, to be fair, is usually a good colour for a Ferrari. While the panel were in fits of laughter, June Sarpong managed to compose herself enough to compliment her 'fearless' co-presenter, saying: 'Go Rachel! You look good.' Which, she really doesn't whether she's got her baps out on national telly or, indeed, otherwise. Everyone appeared jolly thankful when Johnson announced: 'I'll put them away.' However, Johnson did not actually go topless. 'I was wearing a boob tube,' she tweeted following the show.
So, dear blog reader, if you were one of the - six - viewers who found themselves disappointed by such teasy-weasy nonsense, From The North is happy to provide you with a picture of a lady with a pair of massive jugs. Don't say we never give you nothing.
Michael Rice, who won BBC talent show All Together Now last year, has been chosen to fly the flag for the UK - and fail - at this year's Eurovision Song Contest. The twenty one-year-old from Hartlepool, who was also on The X Factor in 2014, was picked in a TV viewers' vote last Friday. He will now travel to Israel in May in the hope of impressing Eurovision fans with his song 'Bigger Than Us'. The UK has in struggled in Eurovision in recent years - it has not won for twenty two years and has not finished in the top ten for a decade. Rice won the fifty grand prize on All Together Now in March 2018 and used the money to take his family to Disneyland and to set-up a shop selling ice cream and waffles. In an interview with the BBC News website, he revealed that he went to Europe for the first time two weeks ago (and broke his toe whilst away), says his Eurovision song is dedicated to his late father - and insists, in an almost sweetly naive comment, that he has 'a chance' of winning. Aw, bless. No you really don't, young man. But don't let that put you off dreaming.
Channel Four is to broadcast a controversial documentary about Michael Jackson, despite receiving a letter of whinging from the late singer's estate. Leaving Neverland - recently shown in the US - focuses on two men who claim that the pop superstar abused them when they were children. The family of the late singer had asked the broadcaster not to show it, saying that the film-makers did not ask them for a response to the allegations. In a statement, Channel Four said that it had followed the right response procedure. 'Channel Four viewers will make their own judgement about the testimony of the two victims interviewed in the film,' it said. In the letter, which was released to the Associated Press, the Jackson estate claimed that the documentary's makers 'broke programming guidelines' by failing to get a response from the singer's family and friends. 'I think we can all agree that the false allegations being made in your "documentary" are "significant allegations,"' the letter said. 'It is hard to imagine more significant accusations that can possibly be made against anyone.' A similar letter was also sent to US broadcaster HBO, which co-produced the documentary. Leaving Neverland will be broadcast on Channel Four on 6 and 7 March. It includes interviews with Wade Robson and James Safechuck, who were aged seven and ten when the singer 'befriended' them and their families. Robson acted as a main witness for Michael Jackson at his 2005 sexual molestation trial, but has now changed his story. Channel Four said that the film does include a response to the allegations in the form of footage of Jackson's own denials. 'The documentary deals with the criminal trials and civil court cases and any involvement our principal interviewees had in those,' the broadcaster's statement said. 'It is not unusual for victims of child sex abuse to only feel able to disclose what happened to them in later life.' The documentary, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival last month, has also been defended by its director, Dan Reed. 'Anyone who sees the film will know it is solely about hearing the stories of two specific individuals and their families in their own words and that is a focus we are very proud of,' he said.
Tess Daly and Claudia Whatsherface are set to take on Comic Relief's 'longest ever' danceathon next month. The Strictly Come Dancing presenters and self-confessed 'bad dancers' will be on their feet all day and all night to raise money for Red Nose Day. 'Can we stay awake for twenty four hours and keep moving?' asked Daly, as she announced the news on Zoe Ball's Radio 2 Breakfast Show. 'I don't know,' replied Whatsherface. 'I have two naps most days.' Every step, turn and twirl will be followed on BBC Radio 2 and streamed live on the Red Button on 11 and 12 March, ahead of the Comic Relief telethon on 15 March. The challenge was last undertaken by Sara Cox in 2017, when she danced to music from the 1880s live on Radio 2. Although, frankly, dancing on the radio is a little bit like songwriting about accountancy. Daly and Whatsherface are looking to break Cox's record, by extending the challenge beyond the twenty four-hour mark - with help from Mary Berry and the cast of the West End musical Mamma Mia. They will be prepared for the challenge by Olympic athlete Greg White, who previously helped Zoe Ball complete her Blackpool-to-Brighton cycling challenge. 'He mentioned this thing called "core strength" and I don't have it!' claimed Whatsherface.
BBC Radio 4's news output is not inherently anti-Brexit, the media regulator has concluded, dismissing a formal complaint from a group of louse-scum politically-motivated MPs and peers who believe the corporation is biased in favour of remainers. The politicians had whinged that 'positive, pro-Brexit opinion is being systematically under-represented in BBC output' and that 'more time, space and emphasis is being given to pro-EU or anti-Brexit voices,' based on a - not in the slightest bit agenda-soaked - 'analysis' of Radio 4's output. Oh no, very hot water. However, Ofcom - themselves a politically-appointed quango, elected by no one - concluded a sufficient range of views were being represented by the BBC and its content did not break broadcasting code rules requiring impartiality. The public broadcaster has been repeatedly whinged about during and after the EU referendum by both sides, with whinging Brexiters arguing that the BBC's output is 'overwhelmingly negative' about the consequences of leaving the EU. At the same time, a 'vocal contingent' of remain whingers have lambasted the broadcaster's content for not warning enough about the consequences of leaving the EU, with the likes of Andrew Adonis, the Labour peer, calling it 'the Brexit Broadcasting Corporation.' The latest whinge was submitted last year by a cross-party group of - particularly loathsome and ridiculous - pro-Brexit peers and MPs, including Labour's Kate Hoey (soon to get deselected and lose her job scum), the Conservative MP Philip Davies (odious, hateful, full-of-his-own-importance gobshite scum and, what we call round our way a thoroughly nasty piece of work), the DUP's Ian Paisley (pompous, second generation mouthy scum) and the former UKiP leader and peer Malcolm Pearson (worthless, unelected scum). They dismissed the BBC's initial defence of its output last summer - to quote the late Mandy Rice Davies, 'well, they would, wouldn't they?' - forcing Ofcom to take a second look at the issue. Ofcom said that it had found 'no grounds' for any further investigation; nevertheless, they took the unusual decision to publish their reasoning in order to 'shed light' on its decision-making process. And, hopefully, demonstrate the sick, politically-motivated nature of this fiasco. The whinge was based on three - once again, just to repeat, clearly not agenda-soaked or anything even remotely like it - surveys, carried out by the campaign group News-watch (another bunch of right-wing louse thugs with far too high an opinion of their own importance), which involved 'monitoring' seventy five hours of content broadcast on BBC Radio 4 between 9 October 2017 and 29 March 2018. Ofcom said that broadcasters were required to present the news with 'due impartiality,' meaning 'adequate or appropriate to the subject and nature' of the programme. 'It does not mean an equal division of time has to be given to every view, or that every argument and every facet of every argument has to be represented,' they added. The public debate has since moved 'into a much more complex and nuanced discussion comprising many different viewpoints on the form that the UK's exit from the EU should take and the potential implications on a range of different areas.' As a result, it was not 'meaningful' to 'simply measure the airtime given to individuals who voted remain or leave' during the referendum. In Ofcom's view, it was 'likely' that the audience of the programmes assessed would have 'expected the discussion of Brexit-related issues to reflect a range of different viewpoints on the UK's exit from the EU and its implications and how the public debate on these issues shifted and developed over time.' This blogger's own view on the BBC's handling of this most difficult of issues remains constant; if various scum like this bunch of clowns and their mates at the Daily Scum Mail, the Sun and the Torygraph believe the BBC is too left-wing and all of the awful Middle Class hippy Communists at the Gruniad Morning Star, the Independent and Comrade Corbyn's fan club claim it is too right-wing then, frankly, the BBC is doing a good job in being as balanced as any other media organisation in the UK and a damned sight more balanced than most of them. Like the man once said, 'if they're shooting at you, you're probably doing something right.'
Desert Island Discs has been named the greatest radio programme of all time by 'a panel of industry experts.' Whatever that means. The Radio 4 show, which since 1942 has been inviting famous guests to share their favourite musical choices, beat long-running drama The Archers to the top spot. Other choices in one of those meaningless Radio Times polls - all of which seem to get reported as 'news' - included Wake Up To Wogan, The John Peel Show and The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Many of the thirty programmes on the list are no longer broadcast, with almost a third being comedies or panel shows. Desert Island Discs is currently being presented by Wor Geet Canny Lovely Luscious Lauren Laverne, who is filling in while Kirsty Young is being treated for fibromyalgia. The programme invites high-profile guests to choose eight pieces of music, a book and a luxury item to take with them as they are castaway on a mythical desert island. Prime ministers, industry leaders, actors, sportsmen and women, musicians, writers and many others have been castaways, with notable recent guests having included Sir David Attenborough, Yoko Ono and David Beckham. Desert Island Discs producer, Cathy Drysdale, said that the accolade was 'wonderful,' attributing it to an 'absolute genius format.' Radio Times editor Mark Frith said the poll 'illustrates how memorable and timeless great radio can be.' The list was compiled by forty six 'industry experts,' of which forty two had 'a professional connection' to the BBC. Terry Wogan's Radio 2 breakfast show, which ran for more than twenty five years until 2009, was in twelfth position, just ahead of John Peel's influential late-night Radio 1 programme, broadcast - in various guises - between 1967 and 2004. Other programmes on the list included the cult comedy series' Round The Horne (1965 to 1968) and Hancock's Half Hour (1954 to 1959).
Cillian Murphy will be able to leave his Peaky Blinders' cap at home for his latest role – as a BBC DJ. Cillian, who pursued a career as a rock and/or roll musician before moving into acting, has signed up for a series of shows on 6Music. He will take over from Elbow's Guy Garvey, who will take an extended break from his Sunday slot to work on a new CD. Murphy said: 'As a music lover, mix tape obsessive and long-time 6Music fan I couldn't be more chuffed to be asked to sit in for Guy on his hiatus. His show has been a constant companion for me and my family on Sunday afternoons for many years now and it will be an honour to pick the tunes in that slot for a while.' The fan of the digital-only music station added: '6Music is the best radio station in the world and I look forward to becoming a temporary house guest!' Murphy won millions of fans for his role as Tommy Shelby in the BBC's period gangster drama Peaky Blinders, which is also widely praised for its eclectic soundtrack. Paul Rodgers, head of BBC Radio 6Music, said: 'We're delighted Cillian will be joining 6Music for the next few months. His music selections are always interesting and I think listeners will love hearing him on 6Music on Sunday afternoons.' Garvey said: 'I am taking a couple of months off to concentrate on the final stages of Elbow's next record. Murphy is a bit too good actually, I've heard him before and he knows his onions. I obviously have to watch my back, but he's nowhere near as good looking as me so I'll win on that front!' Murphy has previously presented one-off shows on 6Music, including The Sound Of Cinema and a programme last Christmas featuring his favourite artists and Irish musicians. He began his acting career after turning down a contract with the record label Acid Jazz.
A supporter of US President Donald Rump has attacked a BBC cameraman at a campaign rally in El Paso. Sporting a 'Make America Great Again' baseball cap, this no doubt perfect specimen of humanity is alleged to have shoved and swore at the BBC's Ron Skeans and other news crews before being pulled away. Skeans said the 'very hard shove' came from his blindside. 'I didn't know what was going on.' Rump reportedly saw the attack and confirmed that Skeans was uninjured with a thumbs up after it happened Skeans said that the man almost knocked him and his camera over twice before he was 'wrestled away' by a blogger. Not this blogger, you understand, Keith Telly Topping has never been to El Paso although he did once spend a very uneventful ninety minutes in Dallas Airport waiting for a connection. BBC Washington producer Eleanor Montague and Washington correspondent Gary O'Donoghue were sitting in front of the camera at the time of the unpleasant incident. Montague said that the protester had attacked other news crews but Skeans 'got the brunt of it.' A campaign official for President Rump afterwards suggested that the attacker was 'drunk.' Well, he'd have to be if he voted for Rump, let's face it. Montague said the president had spoken of 'fake news' and how the media misrepresented him in the run up to the assault. Speaking to Radio 4's Today programme, O'Donoghue said it was 'an incredibly violent attack. This is a constant feature of these rallies - a goading of the crowds against the media,' O'Donoghue said, adding that he had been 'spat at before.' Rump subsequently 'condemned' attacks on the media - the irony of the fact that this hypocritical scumbag has spent the majority of the last two years actively encouraging his numbskull louse followers to regard the media as 'the enemy' was, presumably, lost on no one. But, sadly, it will be lost on some. Rump's numbskull louse followers in the main.
Rules around gambling adverts, which include a ban on the use of 'young (z-list) celebrities and sports stars,' will become stricter, especially online. From 1 April, gambling operators will also have to 'ensure' that 'the majority' of the audience of any 'social media influencers' (whatever the frig that means) they work with are over eighteen. The Committees of Advertising Practice said that this was 'designed to protect children' from 'irresponsible' advertising. A recent UK study suggested four hundred and fifty thousand eleven to sixteen-year-olds regularly gamble. The new standards also ban the use of animated and licensed characters from film and television, as well as z-list celebrities who 'appear to be' under the age of twenty five. CAP says that care must be taken that gambling advertising does not appear in the children's section of websites - such as the young supporters' pages of a football club. The Advertising Standards Authority will enforce the rules, although it does not have the power to issue fines - so all of this is a bit of toothless waste of time and effort, really. The new standards follow a review conducted by CAP of the evidence of the impact of advertising on children, which was last carried out five years ago. The review included the results of previous complaints to the ASA on adverts deemed to be appealing to children. This included: Bookmaker Coral's 'Lucky Wizard' game, which featured an animated wizard; William Hill's promotion which appeared within a Mario Kart app and Gambling website featuring animated fairy story characters Hansel and Gretel and Red Riding Hood. In all cases, the ASA ruled that the adverts should not appear again as they were. Doctor Mark Griffiths, a professor of 'behavioural addiction' (yes, dear blog reader, it is 'a thing') at Nottingham Trent University, said that overall the gambling industry is 'not keen' to court young customers. One or two people even believed him. 'The younger people start [gambling], the more likely they are to develop a problem - you want to be in a position where they are starting in their adult lives,' he claimed. 'For most of the industry now, no one would say they want custom from people below the age of eighteen.' Andy Taylor, regulatory policy executive at CAP, told the BBC that there were 'not a huge number' of young stars featuring in gambling adverts. 'The industry is well-used to the fact that there is a cut-off point, they shouldn't be using individuals who maybe have that youth appeal, the professional footballer who's just burst onto the scene,' he said. 'I think we don't see a massive amount of it, however where we do, we take action.' Taylor added that the standards were, specifically, intended to enforce rules in the online space. 'What we want to see is the rules which have applied for a considerable period of time in traditional media, being applied in the online space effectively,' he said. 'That means not targeting advertising at children and young people and ensuring that the contents of those ads doesn't feature material that appeals particularly to them.'
The US space agency's InSight mission has positioned the second of its surface instruments on Mars. Known as HP3, the heat-flow probe was picked up off the deck of the lander with a robot arm and placed next to the SEIS seismometer package, which was deployed in December. Together with an onboard radio experiment, these sensor systems will be used to investigate the interior of the planet, to understand its present-day activity and how the sub-surface rocks are layered. The Heat Flow and Physical Properties Package is a German-led instrument. It incorporates a 'mole' to drill down up to five metres below the surface. A bit like the one that used to be carried by Thunderbird 2 only, smaller. The French-led SEIS system will be listening for 'Marsquakes' and meteorite impacts. This is information that can be used to build a picture of the planet's overall structure - from its core to its crust. But SEIS will also be monitoring HP3 when its burrowing activity gets going, because the local vibrations will say something as well about the underground materials in the immediate area. The NASA mission landed on Mars on 26 November. Touchdown occurred on flat terrain close to the equator in a region referred to as Elysium Planitia. The mission's experiments will run initially for one Martian year (roughly the length of two Earth years).
Meanwhile, just a few parsecs across the red planet, NASA has called time on its Opportunity Mars rover. The six-wheeled robot last contacted Earth in June 2018, just before it was enveloped in the darkness of a global dust storm. Engineers hoped that Oppy would power back up when the skies cleared and sunlight hit its solar panels again - but there has not been a sound heard from the rover since. The routine prompt commands that have been sent to Opportunity will now end. The mission has been declared over. 'We tried valiantly over these last eight months to recover the rover, to get some signal from it,' explained project manager John Callas. 'We've listened every single day with sensitive receivers, and we sent over one thousand recovery commands. We heard nothing and the time has come to say goodbye.' The decision brings the curtain down on one of NASA's most successful ventures. Oppy - and its twin robot, Spirit - landed on Mars in January 2004 with the goal of investigating whether the planet ever had the conditions necessary to support life. The mission team believed its 'mobile geologists' would work for at least NINETY Martian days and have the capability to travel up to one kilometre. In the end, the golf-buggy-sized rovers surpassed all expectations. Spirit worked for six years, logging a drive distance of almost eight kilometres and Opportunity trundled on for forty five kilometres over more than fourteen years - a record for any wheeled vehicle off-Earth. The science that the rovers returned was hugely significant. They proved the planet in ancient times was very different to the freezing, desiccated world we see today. It was warmer and wetter. Indeed, there was evidence in the rocks examined by the rovers' instruments that bodies of water would sit at, or just under, the surface for prolonged periods. Oppy made this discovery almost as soon as it had landed in a small depression known as Eagle Crater. Its cameras spied small spherules that were quickly dubbed Blueberries because of their shape and size. These concretions contained a lot of hematite, an iron-rich mineral that often forms in the presence of water. Scientists concluded this water would have been fairly acidic and therefore not that friendly to life, but then later in the mission, when it reached Endeavour Crater, it came across clay minerals and gypsum deposits - clear signs of water interactions under much more neutral, and hospitable, conditions. 'We were able at the rim of Endeavour Crater to find rocks that were probably the oldest observed by either one of the rovers; rocks that pre-dated even the formation of Endeavour Crater,' said Steve Squyres, Opportunity's chief scientist from Cornell University. 'And those told a story of water coursing through the rocks but with a neutral pH - it was water you could drink. That was one of the mission's most significant discoveries.' One legacy of the project is an inspirational effect, according to Abigail Fraeman, the deputy project scientist on the rover mission. She was a high-school pupil when the robot landed and attended mission control on the day of touchdown, having won a competition. 'There really are hundreds, if not thousands, of students, who were just like me, who witnessed these rovers, and followed their missions with the images they released to the public over the last fifteen years - and because of that went on to pursue careers in science, education and maths.' Another key legacy is the engineering, believes systems engineer Jennifer Trosper. Opportunity and Spirit showed how it was possible to build bigger and more capable machines to explore Mars. The previous landers, even ones with some mobility, were very restricted in what they could do. 'We weren't able to get to the things that we saw in the distance,' she said. 'We saw mountains, we saw rocks, we saw stuff that our geologists wanted to get their hands on and we couldn't get there. So, one of the great paradigm shifts of Spirit and Opportunity was that we took everything that we needed, we put it on wheels and we made a geologist that could go and investigate the things that the science team was interested in.' Opportunity's silence leaves just the one working rover on Mars. The Curiosity robot landed in 2012 in Gale Crater. It has a plutonium battery and so was able to ride out the darkness of the recent dust storm with ease. NASA is currently preparing a near-twin of Curiosity, which will be delivered to the planet in February 2021. It will be joined on the surface a month later by Europe's Rosalind Franklin rover, although at a very different location.
The price of a getting a death certificate will nearly triple from this weekend in England and Wales. Brexit Britain, dear blog reader, where it now costs three times as much to die. Families registering a death will be charged eleven quid from Saturday for each certificate, up from the previous four smackers. Costs for birth and marriage certificates are changing as well, but pricier death certificates will have the most serious impact. Relatives sometimes require up to twenty certificates to prove to different authorities their loved one has died. Certificates might be needed to prove a death to a life assurance company, or send to banks, building societies and investment firms. Where shares are held, families can be asked to send in a Certificate of Registration of Death to get ownership transferred. Even if the deceased person's affairs are fairly simple bereaved families may well require ten certificates. If the latter, the cost will rise from forty quid to one hundred and ten knicker for bereaved relatives at a testing time. Some local authorities have already posted the increases on their websites, including Wigan, Gloucestershire and Kingston whilst rubbing their hands together and making gleeful 'kerching' noises. Kingston Council in London told the BBC News website that the increase was set by the General Register Office, which answers to the Home Office. 'The increase to eleven pounds is mandatory,' weaselled a council spokesperson in one of the finest examples of the Nuremberg Defence heard in many a long day. '[It] is effective across England and Wales from 16 February 2019.' While the price of marriage and birth certificates are rising by a similar amount, people seldom need more than one copy. Ordering extra copies retrospectively can also cost more. More than half-a-million people die each year in England and Wales, so the price increase is likely to bring in millions of wonga. The Home Office said that the price rise was the first increase since 2010. 'The fees are set at cost recovery levels only and registration officers have power to waive or reduce fees on grounds of compassion or hardship,' a spokesman for the Home Office claimed. One or two people even believed him. Terry Tennens, chief executive of the National Society of Allied and Independent Funeral Directors, said that the trebling in price of a death certificate was 'highly inappropriate' in the current economic climate. Or, indeed, at any other time for that matter.
This blogger is indebted to his old mate Rob Francis who idly wondered: 'Is Chris Morris in charge of the Digital Spy homepage today?' A fair and valid question.
A former footballer who reported his FA Cup winner's medal as stolen has found it under his bed. Ipswich Town defender Mick Lambert thought he had lost his prized possession in a burglary on 18 January, when a car and jewellery were also taken. Lambert said that the 1978 winner's medal, engraved with his name, must have rolled under the bed as burglars ransacked his home in Ipswich. He said that he was 'chuffed and relieved' to have it back. Albeit it never, actually, left. Lambert earned the medal in The Tractor Boys' famous victory over The Arse - one of the better cup finals of the 1970s. He said that he found the medal underneath the bed, which had been strewn with empty jewellery boxes and the empty medal box after the burglary. 'I've no idea how it got there,' Lambert claimed. 'We needed to get to plugs at the back of the bed and the two of us were moving it when my wife found the medal. It's a great feeling to have it back.' He and his wife Margaret, arrived home to find that burglars had broken into their property on the night in question. The raiders took a white Ford Fiesta, a TV and jewellery 'of sentimental value,' though the car has since been recovered. The couple's passports also went missing, prompting them to postpone a planned holiday to the Caribbean. At the time, Lambert said that the medal was a reminder of 'the greatest day of his life. It's the one thing you have that other people don't,' he said.
West Bromwich Albinos forward Dwight Gayle has been charged with 'successful deception of a match official' in Tuesday's draw with Nottingham Forest. It is alleged that Gayle committed 'an act of simulation' which led to a penalty being awarded in the eighty ninth minute of the game. Jay Rodriguez scored from the spot to secure a point for The Baggies, who stayed fourth in the Championship. Gayle, who is on loan from this blogger's beloved (though tragically unsellable) Newcastle United, has until Thursday to respond to the charge. His late equaliser denied Forest a win that would have moved them to within three points of the play-off places. Laws introducing the power to retrospectively punish 'clear acts of simulation' were introduced in May 2017. The three-person Football Association review panel has to make a unanimous decision before a charge is made. The first suspension for deception, imposed by the Football Association was in October 2017, when Carlisle forward Shaun Miller received a two-match ban. Everton's Oumar Niasse became the first Premier League player to be similarly punished the following month.
The refugee footballer Hakeem al-Araibi has returned home to Australia after two months of detention in Thailand. The Bahraini citizen was detained in Bangkok in November whilst on honeymoon, at the request of Bahrain authorities. Following international outcry and diplomatic pressure, the Arab kingdom ended its extradition attempt on Monday. Hundreds of supporters cheered the arrival of the twenty five-year-old footballer at Melbourne Airport on Tuesday. Wearing his team's football jersey, al-Araibi told the crowd: 'I would like to say thanks to Australia. It's amazing to see all of the people here and all of the Australian people who supported me.' The footballer - a vocal critic of Bahrain authorities - had fled to Australia in 2014 where he was granted political asylum. Bahrain had sentenced him in absentia to ten years in The Joint for allegedly 'vandalising a police station,' charges which he has denied. The Arab kingdom had sought his extradition, but human rights groups warned that he risked torture if he was sent back. Hours before his return, his wife told the BBC that she was 'deeply thankful' for the lobbying efforts of the Australian government and public and the international football community. 'I have had a smile all the time on my face and I can't stop crying - I am just so happy,' said the twenty four-year-old, who did not wish to be named,so we'll just call Mrs al-Araibi. 'I prayed and prayed that he would come back to me, and finally our nightmare is ending.' Denied contact with her husband during his ten-week detention, Mrs al-Araibi said that she planned to 'buy flowers and cake' to celebrate their reunion. She also thanked Craig Foster, a TV host and former Australian national football captain who rallied the international football community and sports bodies including FIFA and the International Olympic Committee who, for once got off their fat corporate arses and did something worthwhile for a change to help secure a release. Foster, who escorted al-Araibi on his arrival, said that the human rights victory marked 'the beginning of a broader fight for the values of sport. We fought for one soul because Hakeem represented everyone who suffers under tyranny,' he said in a statement. The footballer plays for Melbourne team Pascoe Vale FC. Many of the team's members were at the airport on Tuesday. As he walked out of the airport arrival gates, Hakeem al-Araibi seemed astounded by the welcoming party that had gathered to greet him. Some supporters had banners and posters bearing his picture, others wore T-shirts with the campaign slogan Save Hakeem. His case has shown the solidarity which exists across the game, as players and fans lobbied for his return. But the apparent delay by FIFA in becoming involved has left the game's governing body open to accusations of neglect and failing to stand by its own policy on human rights. On Monday, Thai officials told the BBC they had released al-Araibi because Bahrain was no longer seeking his extradition. Bahrain's foreign ministry said that despite the end of court extradition proceedings, the footballer's conviction still stood. 'The Kingdom of Bahrain reaffirms its right to pursue all necessary legal actions against Mr al-Araibi,' it added.
Ex-Newcastle United goalkeeper Stevie Harper has addressed rumours that he is being lined-up as the Tory North of Tyne mayoral candidate. The Conservative Party is still said to be hunting for someone to stand in the 2 May erection and rumours have been circulating that the popular North East footballer could be the surprise choice. Although Harper says that he does have 'an interest in politics' and didn't rule out 'getting more involved in the future,' he laughed off the rumour. He told the Evening Chronicle: 'It came up in conversation but I don't think I was formally asked. It's not something I would be interested in doing. I take a keen interest in politics, especially with what's going on in the world right now. Who knows in the future, some time down the line, but it's not something I would consider now.' Asked if he was a supporter of any political party, he said: 'I'm not active in a party, I'm just generally interested. I come from a strong mining community, my father was a miner. I'm just fascinated by the whole landscape at present.' Harper has a number of interests outside of football. He is a patron of the Newcastle United Foundation and is involved with the charity Sport Newcastle.
The Netflix series Sunderland 'Til I Die had a bit of everything - a confrontation with a fan, a player who didn't want to play and a disastrous campaign which ended in relegation. Released in December, it was the product of ten months spent following The Mackem Filth during their disastrous 2017-18 season. Newly relegated from the Premier League and hoping to make a swift return, The Black Cats instead went through two managers and a change of ownership on their way through the trapdoor down to League One. David Soutar, the director and series producer and Ben Turner, the executive producer and long-term Blunderland supporter, shared their thoughts on the process of making a documentary about a dysfunctional football club to the BBC Sports website. Which is both a fascinating and a sobering read for any football fan who would love to know what goes on behind the scenes at their own club.
Big snarly glowry West Indies fast bowler Shannon Gabriel was reportedly warned by the umpires for the language he used following an incident with England captain Joe Root in the third test in St Lucia. TV footage shared on social media appeared to show Root responding to a comment from Gabriel by saying: 'Don't use that as an insult. There is nothing wrong with being gay.' The original comment by Gabriel which promptly Root's rebuke was not picked up and Root refused to explain to reporters after play exactly what was said although it subsequently emerged that Gabriel had asked Root if he 'likes boys.' Which is not big and not clever. The ICC, subsequently, charged big surly glowry Gabriel over his disgraceful comments. The charge is under article 2.13, which relates to the 'personal abuse of a player, player support personnel, umpire or match referee during an international match.' After his side wrapped up victory by two hundred and thirty two runs on Tuesday, Root said he 'just did what I thought was right. The ICC have got to handle things and I am not in a position to comment but throughout the series it has been played in the right manner between the two sides,' he said. 'They are a good bunch of guys and it would be a shame if this tarnishes it. As a player you feel you have responsibilities to uphold on the field and I stand by what I did.' The ICC said in a statement: 'The charge, which was laid by match umpires, will now be dealt with by match referee Jeff Crowe. Until the proceedings have concluded, the ICC will not comment further.' The incident in St Lucia ultimately resulted in a four-match ODI ban for Gabriel. 'I know now that it was offensive and for that I am deeply sorry,' Gabriel claimed in a statement which purported to be contrite but, actually, didn't sound like that or anything even remotely like it. 'To my team-mates and members of the England team, especially their captain Joe Root, I extend an unreserved apology for a comment which in the context of on-the-field rivalry, I assumed was inoffensive sporting banter.' Gabriel's exchange with Root on Monday occurred during the England captain hitting a fine century to put his side in a commanding position.
The attempt this week to find Sir Ernest Shackleton's missing ship, the Endurance, has ended - without success. A UK-led expedition to the Weddell Sea sent a submarine to the ocean floor to look for the sunken polar yacht, but this robot was, itself, lost in the process. The team has now withdrawn from the area because of deteriorating weather and sea-ice conditions. Shackleton and his crew were forced to give up the Endurance in 1915 when frozen floes crushed its hull. Their escape across the Antarctic sea-ice on foot and in lifeboats was - and remains - an astonishing story of fortitude and survival. The idea of finding the remains of the Endurance has captivated maritime historians and archaeologists for decades. 'As a team we are clearly disappointed not to have been successful in our mission to find Endurance,' said Mensun Bound, the director of exploration for the Weddell Sea Expedition 2019 group. 'Like Shackleton before us, who described the graveyard of Endurance as "the worst portion of the worst sea in the world," our well-laid plans were overcome by the rapidly moving ice, and what Shackleton called "the evil conditions of The Weddell Sea."' The team, on its South African ice-breaker, the SA Agulhas II, arrived at the last-reported position of Endurance on Sunday. The researchers immediately set about putting down an Autonomous Underwater Vehicle to go and map a wide grid in waters that are three thousand metres deep. But, just as this submersible was coming to the end of its more than thirty-hour dive, the communication link to the Agulhas failed. It is not clear if this was the result of just the difficult sea-ice conditions, or component failure on the sub, or even the robot colliding with an obstruction. Although the last possibility seems very unlikely given how flat the seafloor is known to be in this region of the Antarctic. It is conceivable of course that by the time of the break in communications, the sub had already captured images of Endurance in the Weddell sediments - but that will never be known. An AUV has to be recovered first for its scan data to be pulled off and examined. The US company Ocean Infinity ran the AUV dive. Its representative Oliver Plunkett said: 'Everyone at Ocean Infinity is deeply disappointed that at the eleventh hour, we were not able to produce the images of what is without doubt the most challenging shipwreck in the world to locate. We understood the risks of pushing the boundaries of what's been done before with technology operating in the harshest environment on the planet. Our team worked tirelessly throughout and are rightly entitled to celebrate what they achieved in advancing knowledge and understanding.' The search for Shackleton's ship was an 'extra' for the Weddell Sea Expedition 2019. Its main purpose for being in the region was to study the nearby Larsen C Ice Shelf, which in 2017 calved the monster iceberg known as A68. Understanding the climate interactions in this part of the world is imperative, and the Larsen investigation, completed at the end of January, is said to have been hugely productive, with an AUV acquiring remarkable imagery of the seafloor under the shelf. Expedition chief scientist Professor Julian Dowdeswell commented: 'Through the scientific data gathered during the expedition, we have deepened our knowledge and understanding of Antarctic oceanography and ecosystems, and our observations on the glaciology and geology will play a critical role in our understanding of Antarctic ice shelves and sea-ice and, importantly, the changes that are occurring here today.' The story of Shackleton's ill-fated 1914 Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition has become the stuff of legend and is even used at business schools in examples of different approaches to staff management. The Irish-born explorer had wanted to make the first land crossing of the Antarctic continent. He knew it would be tough, which prompted the now famous crew recruitment advert: 'Men wanted for hazardous journey. Low wages, bitter cold, long hours of complete darkness. Safe return doubtful. Honour and recognition in event of success.' The expedition never got to begin its traverse because the Endurance was captured by the Weddell's thick floes in early 1915. forty four metre-long steam yacht drifted for nine months before the pressure of the ice holed the hull and floodwater took it under. Shackleton and his twenty seven-man crew made their escape Northwards, dragging their lifeboats across the pack ice in those places where they couldn't sail on the sea surface. They managed first to get to Elephant Island, at the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula, from where Shackleton then set off with four others to try to reach South Georgia to get help. He succeeded, despite having to navigate across one thousand kilometres of the Southern Ocean in a tiny boat. Even when Shackleton arrived at the British Overseas Territory, he had to climb a set of mountains because the whaling stations that would come to his aid were on the far side of the island. He appealed to the Chilean government, which offered the use of Yelcho, a small seagoing tug from its navy. Yelcho, commanded by Captain Luis Pardo and the British whaler SS Southern Sky reached Elephant Island in August 1916, at which point the men had been isolated there for four and a half months and Shackleton quickly evacuated the remaining twenty two men. The Yelcho took the crew first to Punta Arenas and after some days to Valparaiso in Chile where crowds warmly welcomed them back to civilisation.
Tyneside Metro bosses were forced to terminate a service today after discovering some filthy glake had defecated in one of its trains. The Tyne & Wear transport network apologised to customers online for the disruption. And, you know, the smell. The incident was revealed after one passenger complained on Twitter about delays and termination of a service on the line linking South Hylton and Newcastle Airport stations. The faeces was reportedly discovered on the train on Saturday at South Hylton station, an operator spokesman said. The driver 'closed off the affected carriage' before taking the train straight to South Gosforth station where it was taken out of service and given a good hosing down. In a now deleted tweet the operator replied: 'Sorry, the train has been travelling up from Sunderland with only the rear car in operation as someone has defecated on the train and has covered three seats with faeces.' Three seats? Jeez, they must've been holding that one in since Monument. 'The train has to go into the depot to be cleaned up. Sorry for the inconvenience.' A spokesman for Nexus, the executive body which runs the Metro, said: 'I can confirm that a train was withdrawn from service due to a public hygiene issue in one of the carriages. The train was immediately taken back to our depot to be cleaned. Incidents like this are rare on the Tyne and Wear Metro but when they do occur the comfort and safety of our customers is our top priority.' The spokesman said that CCTV on the train would be looked at. Although, at the moment police say they have nothing to go on.
Russia is considering whether to 'disconnect' from the global Internet briefly, as part of a test of its cyber-defences. The test will mean data passing between Russian citizens and organisations stays inside the nation rather than being routed internationally. A draft law mandating technical changes needed to operate independently was introduced to its parliament last year. The test is expected to happen before 1 April but no exact date has been set. The draft law, called the Digital Economy National Program, requires Russia's ISPs to ensure that it can operate in the event of foreign powers acting to isolate the country online. NATO and its allies have threatened to sanction Russia over the cyber-attacks and other online interference which it is regularly accused of instigating. The measures outlined in the law include Russia building its own version of the Interweb's address system, known as DNS, so it can operate if links to these internationally-located servers are cut. Currently, twelve organisations oversee the root servers for DNS and none of them are in Russia. However many copies of the net's core address book do already exist inside Russia suggesting its net systems could keep working even if punitive action was taken to cut it off. The test is also expected to involve ISPs demonstrating that they can direct data to government-controlled routing points. These will filter traffic so that data sent between Russians reaches its destination, but any destined for foreign computers is discarded. Eventually the Russian government wants all domestic traffic to pass through these routing points. This is believed to be part of an effort to set up 'a mass censorship system' akin to that seen in China, which tries to 'scrub out' what authorities deem to be prohibited traffic. So, that's From The North definitely out since we're a bunch of subversive fekkers at the best of times. Russian news organisations reported that the nation's ISPs are 'broadly backing the aims' of the draft law - and, those that aren't broadly backing it are, currently, on their way to Siberia for a nice long spell in the salt mines - but are divided on how to do it. They believe the test will cause 'major disruption' to Russian Interweb traffic, reports tech news website ZDNet. The Russian government is providing plenty of wonga for ISPs to 'modify their infrastructure' so that the 'redirection effort' can be properly tested. China's firewall is probably the world's best known censorship tool and it has become a sophisticated operation. It also polices its router points, using filters and blocks on keywords and certain websites and redirecting web traffic so that computers cannot connect to sites the state does not wish Chinese citizens to see. Like, From The North, for instance; although this blog does get an occasional visit from someone in China. Probably just to check out whether we're still being subversive imperialist lap-dogs. Fair enough, really. It is possible to get around some firewalls using virtual private networks - which disguise the location of a computer so the filters do not kick in - but some regimes are more tolerant of them than others. China cracks down on them from time-to-time and the punishment for providing or using illegal VPNs can be a prison sentence. Occasionally entire countries disconnect themselves by accident - Mauritania was left offline for two days in 2018 after the undersea fibre cable that supplied its Internet was cut, possibly by a trawler. And, then there was the time that an unnamed developing nation lost its Internet connection for a day and sabotage was suspected after someone found traces of Horlicks in the donkey.
Britain will use 'hard power' and military force to 'support its interests after Brexit,' the defence minister Gavin Williamson said on Monday, in a speech setting out a global role for the armed forces but with little detail on how to fund such ambitions in the long term and showing what a complete and total cocksplash this odious fraction of a Little Englander is and why the voters of South Staffordshire should be sodding ashamed to be represented by such a waste-of-space. It took mere seconds for soon-to-be-former Prime Minister Theresa May to hurriedly distance herself from Williamson's ludicrous Eighteenth Century 'come and have a go if you think you're hard enough' bollocks. Williamson outlined plans to send Britain's new aircraft carrier to the Pacific, where London has been 'seeking to demonstrate its influence in relation to China' and invest his defence budget in new equipment and cyber capabilities. China was asked for a comment but it was too busy laughing its collectivise knob off. Citing Russia as a danger to the international order, Williamson called for a tougher military stance after Brexit. 'Brexit has brought us to a great moment in our history. A moment when we must strengthen our global presence, enhance our lethality, and increase our mass,' this clown said. He added 'boundaries between peace and war' were becoming 'blurred' by the increasing use of technological warfare, subversion and propaganda and that Britain and its allies had to be ready 'to use hard power to support our global interests.' As opposed to, what, 'soft' power? Jesus, once-in-a-generation mind, this one. The opposition Labour Party accused him of 'sabre rattling.' And, of being an effing plank.
Residents in glass-walled apartments have lost their bid to stop visitors to the Tate Modern gallery looking into their homes. The owners of four - extremely expensive-looking - flats in the Neo Bankside development on London's South Bank claimed that the neighbouring gallery's viewing platform caused 'a relentless invasion' of their privacy. But the Tate argued that residents could simply 'draw the blinds.' Or, alternatively, move to another location if they're that bothered by being looked at. Their claim was extremely dismissed at the High Court on Tuesday. In his judgment, Mister Justice Mann said that the claimants have 'submitted themselves to a sensitivity to privacy' due to the 'extensive use of glass walls' in their properties. He added: 'These properties are impressive and, no doubt, there are great advantages to be enjoyed in such extensive glassed views. But that, in effect, comes at a price in terms of privacy.' The five claimants had been battling the gallery since the viewing platform opened in 2016. Visitors are offered 'three hundred and sixty degree views of London' from an enclosed walkway around all four sides of the Tate Modern's South Bank building. The claimants had sought an injunction requiring the gallery to 'cordon off' parts of the platform or 'erect screening.' In a statement after the ruling, Natasha Rees, who acted for the five residents, said: 'We are extremely disappointed with today's result.' Yeah, well, them's the breaks, love. One imagines Natasha herself will be less disappointed, of course, given that she's still going to receive her - presumably eye-watering - fee from her clients. Unless she was doing it pro-bono. In which case, good on yerself, Natasha, wish there were a few more like you. 'The limited steps taken by the Tate to prevent visitors viewing into my clients' apartments are ineffective and both my clients and their families will have to continue to live with this daily intrusion into their privacy,' whinged Natasha. Acting on behalf of the Tate, Guy Fetherstonhaugh QC said that the claimants were seeking 'to force the defendant to close a valued resource and deny to the public the right to use the viewing platform for its intended purpose, merely to give the claimants an unencumbered right to enjoy their own view.'
High street window displays showing a lingerie-clad model in a 'suggestive pose' and see-through knickers have been branded as 'sexist and pornographic.' 'Branded', of course, being tabloidese for 'described as' only with less syllables. The large Agent Provocateur posters have appeared at branches of House of Fraser across the country. In Bath, the lingerie advert was described as 'semi-pornographic' while in Cheltenham a local MP described it as 'shocking imagery.' The retailer said that the windows were 'scheduled to be changed' on Friday. They had been installed to promote Valentine's pop-up concessions for the lingerie brand at twenty one of the department stores. Launched at the end of the January, the advert feature an underwear model pouting and posing in front of a full-length mirror. Posting on Twitter, Hannah Lees, who spotted the image at the House of Fraser-owned Jolly's in Bath, claimed that the 'provocative image' was a sign of 'everyday sexism and objectification. I feel we should have moved on from this several decades ago,' she said. 'She's sticking her bum towards the camera in her underwear, which is pretty much see-through and she is not making eye contact with the camera - so we are looking on as a voyeur.' In Cheltenham, three large posters promoting the lingerie firm filled the windows of the store at Cavendish House. Lib Dem councillor Victoria Atherstone said that the 'shocking pornographic imagery' was 'not suitable for the high street.' Others, however, have defended the image.
A High Court judge has been given 'formal advice' after 'momentarily' falling asleep during a hearing. And, one presumes the 'formal advice' was, for the love of God don't do that again. The Judicial Conduct Investigations Office said that the conduct of Mrs Justice Parker was found to 'have the potential to undermine public confidence in the judiciary.' You think? The judge who serves on the Family Division of the High Court in London, was investigated following a complaint. The JCIO said she had 'expressed remorse' for the incident. A statement published on the JCIO's website did not provide any details about when the court hearing took place but said that 'parties in a case' had complained the judge had fallen asleep. Lord Chancellor David Gauke and Lord Chief Justice Lord Burnett considered her conduct. The JCIO said: 'While concluding that this amounted to conduct which had the potential to undermine public confidence in the judiciary, the Lord Chancellor and the Lord Chief Justice took into consideration that the judge fell asleep only momentarily and has expressed remorse for doing so.' Oh, so that's all right then. Mrs Justice Parker is the second longest-serving judge serving in the Family Division of the High Court, after being appointed in 2008. She received a damehood shortly after being appointed, as is tradition for all female High Court judges. Most cases involving family matters in England and Wales will be heard by the Family Court. Some cases, such as those involving complex issues, may be referred up to the High Court. The court can also handle certain cases of child abduction, forced marriage and female genital mutilation. The Family Division is one of three divisions of the High Court of Justice, along with the Chancery Division and the Queen's Bench Division.
A rail enthusiast and his wife tackled a butter knife-wielding burglar who tried to steal a prized collection of model trains, a court heard. John Headington, aged eighty five and his fifty seven-year-old wife Susan sat on Robert Barnes to restrain him after the break-in. Lincoln Crown Court heard that Barnes used a brick to smash his way into the house while the couple slept on 20 November. Barnes admitted burglary and possession of a bladed article - albeit, not a very sharp one - and was very jailed for two years and four months. The court heard Mrs Headington was awoken by the sound of Barnes, of no fixed address, breaking in through the kitchen door of the Lincolnshire home. Andrew Scott, prosecuting, said that she saw a light on in an upstairs room where her husband kept his model railway collection and decided to ring the police. Former railway worker Mister Headington, who has had two hip replacements, managed to 'get Barnes in a bear hug' as he emerged from the room carrying some of his most valuable model trains. Scott said: 'Barnes barged past Mister Headington who fell backwards against the landing wall. As Barnes continued down the stairs he ripped the phone from Mrs Headington but then fell down and rolled on to the floor. Mrs Headington sat on Barnes and was joined by her husband.' Whether or not either of the Headington's gave the naughty tea-leaf a sly dig in the kidneys whilst they had him down is not known but, let's face it, that's would've been so tempting. Judge Simon Hirst described the couple's bravery as 'remarkable,' while the court heard that Barnes had 'no memory of events' after 'drinking heavily.' No shit? The judge said Barnes 'took highly sentimental items and damaged them beyond repair,' and condemned him for 'barging past an eighty five-year-old man,' before sending his sorry ass to The Slammer.
Five watercolours alleged to have been painted by despicable old Nazi shithead Adolf Hitler (who only had one) have failed to sell at auction in Germany. Weidler auction house hoped to raise forty five thousand Euros from the most expensive work. The auction was held in Nuremberg, the German city once notorious for Hitler's mass rallies and where leading Nazis were later tried for war crimes and made to answer for their naughty Nazi ways. Accusations of forgery marred the auction and city mayor Ulrich Maly described the auction as being 'in bad taste.' The sale also included items said to have been owned by the hideous dictator, including a vase and a wicker chair with a swastika on its arm. Under Hitler's rule (1933 to 1945), Nazi Germany began World War Two, pursuing a genocidal policy that resulted in the deaths of some six million Jews and tens of millions of other civilians and combatants. You knew that, right? If you didn't, read a history book. Public displays of Nazi symbols are - understandably - against the law in Germany, except in some contexts, such as for educational or historical reasons. The auction house got around the law by pixelating the symbols within their catalogue. Dozens of artworks, including some set for sale, were seized from the auction house last week by German police. Prosecutors said that a total of sixty three items bearing the signatures 'AH' or 'A Hitler' were confiscated over forgery concerns. Working on the assumption that they had, in fact, been painted by Hitler's little-known cousin, Alan Hitler. Possibly. An investigation was opened into unidentified individuals 'on suspicion of falsifying documents and attempted fraud,' Nuremberg-Fuerth chief prosecutor Antje Gabriels-Gorsolke told AFP. She confirmed the auction house had 'co-operated' and handed the works over voluntarily. Although, obviously, if they hadn't then that would, in and of itself, have been highly suspicious. Sales of paintings purporting to be from the sick and evil dictator regularly generate controversy and accusations of forgery. Last month German police seized a collection due to go on sale in Berlin over similar concerns over their authenticity. Hitler, who was twice rejected by the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts, is known to have sold his artwork in his youth. Dozens of works attributed to him, which were regarded by art experts as being of average if not especially outstanding quality, have been sold over the years. In 2015, Weidler auction house sold more than a dozen paintings attributed to Hitler for almost four hundred thousand Euros. Bidders - with more money than sense - then reportedly came from Germany, China, France, Brazil and the United Arab Emirates. In 2014 the auction house sold a Hitler watercolour of Munich's city hall for one hundred and thirty thousand Euros. The sale of Nazi memorabilia remains a divisive topic around the world. Some buyers say that it is 'for historical reasons,' but campaign groups warn items are also purchased by far-right group members who idealise the regime. Last year, some UK-based groups lobbied online retailers to better regulate Nazi memorabilia sales.
A 'body modification artist' has admitted three counts of grievous bodily harm, by carrying out tongue splitting and ear and nipple removal procedures. Brendan McCarthy, also known as Doctor Evil, carried out these consensual procedures without using anaesthetic. In his defence, the fifty-year-old argued that consent was given but the judge ruled the procedures could not be compared to tattoos and piercings. He will be sentenced on 21 March at Wolverhampton Crown Court. McCarthy ran a 'modification emporium' before he was charged with six counts of wounding in 2017. He was arrested in December 2015 following a complaint to City of Wolverhampton Council's environmental health team. A petition in support of McCarthy amassed more than thirteen thousand signatures and his lawyer challenged the charges on the basis that his customers consented. His supporters argued 'for the right to express ourselves in whatever modified manner we wish in a safe environment.' The council said that its issue was with McCarthy's lack of licence to carry out the modification procedures and the need for more regulation in the industry which delivers results 'akin to cosmetic surgery.' Doctor Samantha Pegg, a law lecturer at Nottingham Trent University and expert on the legality of body modification procedures, said: 'Practitioners have assumed that extreme body modifications, as forms of body adornment, were lawful when consent was given. Although the law has long accepted that tattooing and piercing are lawful activities there has not - until this case - been any consideration of other forms of body modification such as tongue splitting.' Passing verdict, Judge Amjad Nawaz ruled that written consent from his customers was 'not sufficient defence.' The tattooist has spent two years arguing his case, contending at the Court of Appeal that the procedures should be regarded as lawful to protect the 'personal autonomy' of his customers. Nawaz drew the distinction between body modification and tattoos and piercings, saying there is 'no proper analogy. What the defendant undertook for reward in this case was a series of medical procedures for no medical reason,' he said. Doctor Pegg said the case has 'partially clarified what was previously a grey area of the law.' Although consensual, the Crown Prosecution Service (said these were 'significant surgical procedures' but McCarthy has no medical qualifications, nor is he registered with the General Medical Council. 'Surgical procedures must be carried out by properly trained, qualified and regulated surgeons or healthcare professionals,' senior prosecutor Rhiannon Jones said. GMC guidance says that doctors must be 'appropriately trained and experienced' before practising cosmetic procedures. It adds that doctors must consider their patients' psychological needs and follow protocols for safe interventions. Speaking before Tuesday's hearing, McCarthy told the BBC the situation was crushing. 'It's crushed me completely, I'm a shadow of my former self' he said. 'I don't feel I've done anything wrong.' Nick Pinch went to McCarthy to have his nipple removed after previous piercings caused a build-up of scar tissue. The procedures carried out on Pinch formed part of the prosecution's case. Pinch said: '[McCarthy] wanted to know why I wanted this procedure, he wanted to make sure I knew what I was doing, he took complete duty of care. I'm really happy with what I've had done.' West Midlands Police said that McCarthy conducted the procedures without knowing his clients' medical histories or psychiatric backgrounds. He also did not have any life-saving equipment in the event that the surgeries went wrong. Officers discovered out-of-date pre-injection swabs, anaesthetic gel, stitching thread and needles, the force added. Britain's most tattooed man, Body Art - whose full name is King Of Ink Land King Body Art The Extreme Ink-Ite but who was actually born Matthew Whelan - has devoted his life to body modification. He said: 'Under current laws, we are classed as effectively consenting abuse victims. These are private procedures and agreements between me as the client and the business person. But I do think there needs to be regulation. There are people in the industry that aren't protected.' McCarthy was refused permission to appeal to the Supreme Court and has been bailed ahead of sentencing.
Uber officials are investigating two alleged incidents involving male drivers and female passengers in London, Ontario. The separate incidents were captured on video and posted to 6ixbuzz, an Instagram page which has more than seven hundred and fifty thousand followers. The page is reported to be popular with users in the Toronto area. One video, posted last week, showed an alleged Uber driver and a female passenger twerking and singing. The driver reached behind him to the back seat and spanked the bottom of the passenger who had turned around to shake her hips at him. That video was removed by the user this week after Uber launched its investigation. In another video, posted in October, a female in the passenger seat leaned over to an alleged Uber driver, who was visibly smiling, to kiss him on the lips. Both alleged incidents are believed to have happened in London. The circumstances around the actions seen in the videos remain unclear. However, Uber officials said 'we take any report of this nature very seriously. Any time something like this is reported to us or if we become aware of videos such as this, we have a support team that will investigate and look further,' said spokesperson Kayla Whaling for the popular ride-hailing service. She said that she was 'made aware' of the contents after being contacted by CBC News. She added that 'unacceptable' behaviour is 'not tolerated' on the app. CBC stated that is had been able to contact some of the women involved and learned, in one instance, the women in the vehicle were 'intoxicated' and 'didn't think much' of the interaction. 'Regardless of the intent of the video, if we believe that there was a violation of our code of conduct, we will look into that specific situation and take action,' said Whaling. According to the company's community guidelines, 'Uber has a "no-sex rule." That is no sexual conduct between drivers and riders, no matter what.' The guidelines suggest both riders and drivers should not comment on someone's appearance; ask whether the other party is single and not touch or flirt with other people in the car. Riders and drivers could be subject to an investigation if they make 'inappropriate gestures' which are 'aggressive, sexual, discriminatory, or disrespectful.' Whaling said that the company has an internal law enforcement team that consists of individuals who have prior experience with policing. She said the team could also work with local authorities, depending on the case. London police officials told CBC that they investigate incidents involving acts 'that are possibly criminal in nature.' No shit? Isn't that a dictionary definition of what police do?
US prosecutors have accused a former US Air Force officer of spying for Iran in an 'elaborate operation' which targeted her fellow intelligence officers. Monica Witt, who allegedly defected to Iran in 2013, had previously worked as a US counterintelligence officer. Four Iranian citizens have also been charged with attempting to install spy software on computers belonging to Witt's colleagues. According to the FBI, Witt was last seen in Southwest Asia in July 2013. Prosecutors say Witt had been granted the highest level of US security clearance and worked in the Air Force from 1997 to 2008. The US Department of Treasury has also sanctioned two Iranian companies - New Horizon Organisation and Net Peygard Samavat Company - for their role in the plot. 'It is a sad day for America when one of its citizens betrays our country,' said Assistant Attorney General John Demers, the head of the justice department's national security division. Witt is accused of sharing US government secrets, including the name of agents and specifics of operations, with Iran as early as January 2012. In a charging document, investigators say the naughty thirty nine-year-old was deployed by the US to locations in the Middle East to conduct classified counterintelligence operations. Prosecutors allege that shortly after defecting to Iran, she handed over information on her colleagues in order to cause 'serious damage' to the United States. According to officials, she sent a message to her Iranian contact in 2012 saying: 'I loved the work and I am endeavouring to put the training I received to good use instead of evil. Thanks for giving me the opportunity.' Investigators allege Witt was recruited after attending two conferences hosted by New Horizon Organisation, which was working on behalf of the Iranian National Guard's Quds Force to collect intelligence on attendees. Several conferences sponsored by the New Horizon Organisation have taken place in Iran and Iraq in recent years, according to US officials. The conferences often included 'an anti-Western sentiment' and 'propagate anti-Semitism and conspiracy theories including Holocaust denial.' At least one of those New Horizon conferences was organised by Iranian-American journalist Marzieh Hashemi, who was detained by US officials in January allegedly as 'a material witness' in a federal criminal case, according to the Tehran Times. The Department of Treasury accuses Net Peygard Samavat Company of 'being involved in a malicious cyber-campaign to gain access to and implant malware on the computer systems of current and former counterintelligence agents.' Witt, a former Texas resident, left the US military in 2008 after more than a decade of service. A previously-issued FBI missing persons poster said that she was working as an English teacher in either Afghanistan or Tajikistan and had 'lived overseas' for more than a year before vanishing. While in Iran, she also allegedly converted to Islam during a television segment after identifying herself as a US veteran and delivered several broadcasts in which she criticised the US. In the weeks after defecting, she also conducted several Facebook searches of her former colleagues, and is alleged to have 'exposed one agent's true identity, thereby risking the life of this individual.' A warrant has been extremely issued for Witt, who remains at large. Last November, US President Donald Rump re-imposed all sanctions on Iran that had been suspended due to the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action nuclear agreement. Rump has withdrawn the US from the agreement, leading to a foreign policy rift between the US and the European nations who are party to the deal. Diplomats are expected to discuss Iran during a US-led two day summit on 'lack of peace and lack of security' that began on Wednesday in Warsaw. On the conference's opening day, Rump's personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, gave a speech in which he called for regime change in Iran.
A theme park is objecting to plans to build new retirement homes nearby because it fears residents may whinge about the loud screams from people on the rides. Thorpe Park bosses say that they are 'considering legal action' over a planning application for a retirement home complex next to the park. They say the development could be 'detrimental' to the park's business. A planning application for the development of a neighbouring Grade II listed building has been deferred. The application for the development next to the Surrey theme park had been due to be approved by Runnymede Borough Council on Wednesday, but was delayed while discussions between the park's owners and the developer Eden Retirement Living continue, according to the Local Democracy Reporting Service. Merlin Entertainment said the development of seventy nine apartments could 'impact future investment' at the attraction because residents 'might object' to noise coming from the rides and visitors. In a bid to 'protect its position' the firm said that the impact of the complex would be 'significant and detrimental to its ongoing operations.' Linda Gillham, councillor for the Thorpe ward, said: 'The main problem is that future residents may complain about noise, but in recent years the village residents have not complained about noise.' A noise survey carried out in July 2018 found that 'noise emitted from the theme park consists of screams from patrons and the noise created by the passing of a roller-coaster car.'
The allegedly democratic Republic of Tajikistan is probably the only country in the world where celebrating a birthday outside the family home can earn offenders a hefty fine. The recent case of Tajik pop star Firusa Khafizova, who got fined five thousand somoni for celebrating her birthday 'in the company of friends' outside her home has, once again, drawn attention to one of Tajikistan's more bizarre laws. According to the 'Regulation of Traditions and Customs in the Republic of Tajikistan' the celebration of birthdays anywhere except 'in the privacy of the family circle' is strictly forbidden, with offenders risking hefty fines. Albeit, five thousand somoni is, in fact, only about four hundred quid so it's not that hefty. As strange as that may sound, the fact that the law is actually enforced is possibly even stranger, with authorities going as far as using social media pictures and videos as 'proof' against suspected 'offenders.' In Khafizova's case, prosecutors used a video that she had uploaded to Instagram to build their case against her. It showed her partying with friends at a restaurant and even performing with them on stage, a clear violation of Article Eight of Tajikistan's regulations on 'traditions, celebrations and customs.' Tajiks have taken to social media to 'express their displeasure' with the law, calling it an interference of the state in people's private lives, but prosecutors defended the restrictions, saying that they are 'in the best interest of the general public.' Banning public celebrations, they claim, encourages citizens to 'spend their money on the needs of their families' rather than on unnecessarily and frivolously lavish birthday parties. It is also considered a way to ease the debt some people accumulate to organise such extravagant celebrations. The Regulation of Traditions and Customs was introduced in 2007 and expanded upon in 2017. It now allows the state to impose strict limits on the number of guests and dishes allowed at weddings, funerals, christenings and birthdays, as well as set the duration of such celebrations. Just in case you were thinking of visiting Tajikistan on holiday since it sounds like such a fun place. While the law has become a source of amusement in the West, human rights advocates in Tajikistan - and, one imagines there are one or two of them who haven't been locked up for 'whistling on Tuesday' - claim that it is, in fact, 'a tool' for authorities to 'intervene in people's private lives' and restrict their rights and freedoms. Cases similar to that of Firusa Khafizova have been reported in the past. For example, in 2015, a Tajik man was fined four thousand somoni after posting a photo of himself at a cafe, with a birthday cake, on Facebook. According to documents from Tajikistan's supreme court, six hundred and forty eight people were fined for violating this law in 2018. The quantum of issued fines in these cases amounted to three million somoni.
A member of the Slovenian parliament has stepped down after stealing a sandwich from a shop in Ljubljana where, he claims, he was ignored by staff. Darij Krajcic told local media that he was 'annoyed' at being 'treated like air' and decided to 'test' the supermarket's security by walking out. The theft went unnoticed but the ruling Marjan Sarec List party member insisted that he later returned to pay. Krajcic has apologised, saying he regretted his 'social experiment.' His initial admission became public when he shared the anecdote with parliamentary colleagues in a committee meeting on Wednesday. 'I must have stood some three minutes by the counter,' the fifty four-year-old later explained to private TV channel POP. Three supermarket employees reportedly failed to notice him as they talked among themselves, resulting in the former professor deciding to 'test' their attention. 'Nobody came after me, nobody yelled,' he said, suggesting an over-reliance on video surveillance meant staff sometimes 'overlook something.' Fellow MPs initially laughed at the story, but on Thursday, the head of LMS' parliamentary faction, Brane Golubovic, condemned Krajcic's actions as 'unacceptable. He took responsibility for it and resigned of his own accord,' Golubovic told the press, 'in line with LMS' high ethical standards.' Krajcic was elected to parliament last September, when the centre-left LMS party of Prime Minister Marjan Sarec became the senior partner in the ruling coalition.
A health resort worker has claimed that Sir Philip Green smacked her bottom and made sexual remarks to her during his stay at a ranch in the US. The woman claimed that the retail tycoon 'made comments about S&M' and 'touched her bottom for ten seconds' on different occasions between 2016 and 2019. Managers at the Canyon Ranch in ­Arizona - where Greene owns a 2.3 million quid holiday home - are said to have 'investigated' the employee's complaint, but 'nothing came of it,' according to the Sun. The Topshop owner had, according to the Daily Scum Mail, 'been hiding out at the resort' after he dropped an attempt to silence newspaper reports about him, allegedly, sexually harassing his staff. The ranch worker, who wishes to remain anonymous, claimed that she 'first complained to bosses' in January 2016. An alleged - though anonymous and, therefore, possibly fictitious - 'source' allegedly told the paper: 'She said Green came up to her and smacked her on the butt several times. Vigorously.' The alleged 'source' allegedly went on to allege that 'two years later' Green allegedly 'put his hand on her bottom' for ten seconds 'during a hug' before 'making a sexual comment' about her wanting to tie men up. The alleged 'source' allegedly said that Sir Philip then 'grabbed her hips from behind' and patted her bare stomach. The alleged 'source' allegedly said the worker was 'shaken up and wanted to hit him.' They allegedly added: 'Staff at the ranch live in fear of him. When people see his name on the guest list they're like, "Brace yourselves."' Green told the Sun: 'I don't know anything about 2016. There was a complaint in 2017 or 2018. It was investigated by the ranch and nothing was found against me. In terms of the allegation - it did not happen. This is somebody I've known ten or twelve years - not two minutes. She was always very friendly with me. I've been there and mixed well with everybody - there's never been one issue.' Well, except this one, it would appear. That's if the alleged 'source' exists, obviously. Which they may not. Canyon Ranch said: 'We do not discuss personnel matters and we do not tolerate harassment towards our employees.' The claims come after a Government minister suggested that Sir Philip Green was not 'worthy' of his Knighthood. Margot James said that 'revelations' about Sir Philip meant the 'forfeiture of his Knighthood must be a real possibility.' The lack of culture minister said the Non-Disclosure Agreements used to suppress allegations by former employees 'sounds like a cover for gross misconduct.' Sir Philip has been accused of groping a female executive and making a racial slur at another employee. Five former employees signed NDAs and Sir Philip sought a court injunction against the Daily Torygraph to keep them confidential. Sir Philip strenuously denies the allegations and all unlawful conduct.
A Home Depot customer's 'polite warning' that the end of days was imminent - announcing to others that he was about to go for a serious dump in the lavatory - was 'mistaken for a bomb threat.' Wichita Police Department were reportedly called to a Home Depot on Monday afternoon over a claim that a bomb threat had been made. 'We just had a customer here make what may have been a bomb threat,' a man told the nine-one-one dispatcher in released audio of the call. 'He said, uh, somebody told me there's a bomb in here and you need to leave the building. He said it three times.' Police responded to the store and learned the threat came from someone in the store's restroom. An employee told the responding officers that he was 'standing at the urinal' when another gentleman came out of a stall and said 'Somebody told me there's a bomb in the building, you need to leave the building,' the Wichita Eagle reported. According to the newspaper, a store clerk recognised the man because he is 'a regular customer' and gave the man's name to police. Officers contacted the man and he explained to the fuzz that he had 'no intention of causing such alarm and that the comment was meant to be funny.' The man claimed that he was in the lavatory when another gentleman gave the warning, 'You all need to get out of here because I'm fixin' to blow it up.' The 'regular customer' told police that he gave the warning to the employee in the washroom, meaning it to be a joke but said that he didn't know the 'men's bathroom humour was taken so seriously,' the Eagle reported.
A woman was extremely arrested after she was filmed throwing chairs off the forty fifth floor of a tower block onto a busy street below. Marcella Zoia, aged nineteen - mental age, four - turned herself in to Canadian police Wednesday morning after she posted the video of the 'stunt,' which took place on a balcony in Toronto. Police said Zoia threw two chairs and other items off the balcony and was charged with endangering life, mischief endangering property and being a common nuisance in court Wednesday and now, potentially, faces a lengthy spell in The Slammer. 'I just hope that people take from the example the consequences that will befall this woman. This is irresponsible behaviour that is unacceptable,' Toronto mayor John Tory said. 'It was not just a "lark gone bad." It was grossly irresponsible behaviour that could have caused serious injury and death.' Authorities believe that the incident took place on Saturday at a condo building. The chairs appeared to hurtle towards the Gardiner Expressway, one of the busiest highways in the country, but there were no reported injuries.
What began as an alleged 'joke' ended with a spell in The Pokey for two altar boys from Spain. They were detained overnight, after having put weed in the incense-burner of the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. The burner is used to celebrate the Epiphany. Several assistants stated that the holy precinct suddenly became covered in an odd smell. 'It did not smell as always, it was a familiar smell but I could not relate it to anything, but in my son's bedroom sometimes smell like that,' said one of the congregation. Following the Mass, the altar boys were extremely arrested by The Fuzz after admitting that the strange smell was, in fact, marijuana. 'It was a joke, the idea came during the Christmas Eve mass, we bought no more than half-a-kilo of weed and we drop[ped] it inside the censer-burner, we are sure that people has left of the Cathedral happier more than ever,' one of the boys claimed. They were, eventually, freed without charge but according to media reports, 'they will not be able to discharge their functions as altar boys.'
It took a little convincing before police believed the person who reported a strange discovery. The 'concerned citizen' claimed to have entered an abandoned Houston residence to smoke some pot and found a tiger in the gaff. Naturally, authorities were a bit dubious. 'We questioned them as to whether they were under the effects of the drugs or they actually saw a tiger,' Sergeant Jason Alderete of the Houston Police Department's Major Offenders, Livestock Animal Cruelty Unit told CNN affiliate KTRK. But, once they arrived, police found that a caged tiger was, indeed, in the home's garage. And, that wiped the smile off their faces. The home had been abandoned for some time, Alderete said. But several packages of meat were found with the animal. Officers tranquilised the animal, pulled it out of the cage and transferred it to a - presumably quite large - animal shelter. On Tuesday morning, the tiger was taken two hundred miles North to an animal sanctuary operated by animal rescue organisation Fund for Animals. The tiger will, for the time being, be one of three tigers and roughly eight hundred other rescued animals at the Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch in the Texas community of Murchison, the Humane Society said. 'The ranch has a five-acre, naturally wooded habitat complex that emulates a native environment and that will be the tiger's new home pending a decision about permanent custody,' they added. The case is still under investigation and it is unclear if the tiger's owner will face any charges. Although, if the tiger itself gets hold of them one imagines it'll be looking for an explanation.
A rare Amur tiger has died in a fight with two other tigers at Longleat Safari and Adventure Park. Which goes to prove that you really should never get into a tiff with a tiger - even if you are one. Thirteen-year-old female Shouri, who died on Monday, had lived at the park since 2006. Longleat said that she 'gained access' to a paddock where two other tigers, Red and Yana, were being held and a fight ensued between the three animals. How Shouri 'gained access' and whether it involved picking the padlock, they didn't say. Although, given a tiger's lack of opposable thumbs, it is thought to be unlikely. The Warminster site was not open to the public at the time and both Red and Yana were uninjured. Unlike Shouri. Who, you know, was. A lot. The park said that a full investigation was 'ongoing' to determine 'the exact circumstances' surrounding this 'terribly sad event.' Last week, as reported on this blog, an endangered Sumatran tiger was killed by another tiger at London Zoo. Longleat said: 'During the process of moving the tigers between the various outdoor paddocks, a door connecting two areas was opened which meant Shouri was able to gain access to the same outdoor area as Red and Yana. The dedicated team of keepers who care for our big cats are, understandably, extremely distraught by the events and we are doing everything we can to help and support them.' Red and Yana arrived at Longleat last year as a breeding pair. According to the WWF (that's the World Wildlife Fund not the World Wrestling Federation just in case you were wondering), Amur tigers, also known as the Siberian tiger, were once found throughout the Russian Far East, Northern China, and the Korean peninsula. By the 1940s, hunting had driven them to the brink of extinction. The population is now endangered, with around five hundred and forty believed to be remaining. Or, five hundred and thirty nine, now.
A Florida man has admitted recording himself performing The Sex on his Siberian husky while wearing a dog costume - the man, this is, not the dog - and posting the resulting footage online. Christian Stewart Oscar Nichols, of Oldsmar, is facing charges of aggravated animal cruelty and ten counts of 'prohibition of certain acts in connection with obscene materials' after his arrest on Monday, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office. An investigation was launched on 25 January after an out-of-state resident contacted officials to report the existence of video and photographs online depicting a man having The Sex with a dog. Detectives from the sheriff's office later obtained copies of the video and photographs in question, which depicted a man dressed in a black and white Siberian husky costume using his penis and sex toys during sex acts with the poor animal. The dog - later identified as Nichols' pet, Ember - was 'clearly distressed' during the video and, at one point, tried - unsuccessfully -to run away. But the man responded by hitting the dog 'with a penis-shaped sex toy,' according to the sheriff's department. Investigators were able to trace the video back to Nichols, who admitted to detectives at his residence that he made the footage with his dog before posting it to the Interweb. A second dog was also removed from Nichols’ home. Pinellas County Sergeant Spencer Gross said Nichols had admitted to sharing the video via a messaging app called Telegram. Nichols 'was in a few different chat rooms with others who had interest in zoosadism and zoophilia,' Gross told the Tampa Bay Times, citing psychological disorders involving pleasure derived from cruelty to animals and sexual attraction to animals, respectively. 'That's how he transferred the video to someone he'd been chatting with.' A Chihuahua was also removed from Nichols' home. Investigators do not believe the second animal was victimised, but both dogs are now in the care of animal welfare officials, seemingly in 'good health and spirits,' a field services manager told the Tampa Bay Times. 'There's a lot more evidence they're combing through and it could take at least another month to get through everything he's got,' Gross said.
Like many Instagram 'influencers' before her, Michelle Lewin recently found herself in the Bahamas alongside the famed 'swimming pigs' of the Exumas. This time, however, the pigs, seemingly, were not in the mood for visitors. The fitness model shared a video of herself getting bit in the buttocks by one of the pigs. At the end of the footage, Lewin, who comes from Venezuela but is now based in Florida, shows off the bite marks on her left buttock to the camera. The post has already amassed more than four-and-a-half million views on the social media platform.
Andy Jordan didn't even have an Instagram account before he started on Made In Chelsea in 2012. 'Overnight, there were hundreds of thousands of people watching what I was doing,' he says about appearing on the reality TV show. He's now got two hundred and ninety thousand followers. 'You're like, "Everyone wants to follow me and talk to me" - that's almost like a drug,' he told the Victoria Derbyshire programme and Panorama. Andy was struggling. His TV persona and pushing out a constantly filtered life on Instagram were already taking their toll. Selling things he didn't believe in was the last straw. He claims that he got to the point where he 'just turned into a ghost. I didn't even care if I got hit by a bus.' Andy was promoting items you see on many Instagram 'influencers' accounts, such as teeth-whitening products and protein supplements. 'It's the easiest money I've ever made,' he says. 'There were a couple that were five hundred pounds for a picture - the most would have been about two thousand pound.' He adds: 'I just did what I was told. Obviously the management want you to do these things because they make money off it.' Andy doesn't go to the gym, but he was still asked to advertise a protein supplement. 'I was like, "This is insane," because I didn't work out. My agent was like, "Well pretend you work out."' So, instead of telling his agent to go fuck himself and sacking him, Andy did pretend. It got to the point where Andy went into a gym just to take a photo of the product on the gym equipment. But that's not the weirdest request he had. 'I've been asked to have cosmetic surgery before,' he told us. 'I've been asked if I'll have liposuction at a particular clinic and then document about the process.' Andy said no to that request. He was making shitloads of wonga, but - he claims - the constant selling took its toll. 'You just become a puppet, you're literally like the packaging,' he whinged. 'I'd lost who I was because everything was directed by someone else.' Much like Made In Chelsea, in fact. Andy also became 'concerned' at the effect his filtered life was having on his Interweb followers. More than half of eighteen to thirty four-year-olds feel that reality TV and social media have 'a negative effect' on how they see their own bodies, a BBC survey found last year. 'I genuinely think that people could die as a result of the phenomenon that is social media,' he says. 'If you're constantly surrounded by a world that's better than you, or looks nicer than you, or has a faster car than you - that's when you suddenly go, "Wow, I'm useless."' Or, if you've got half-a-brain in your skull or a modicum of self-worth, you don't think that. Andy is, he claims, 'annoyed' at himself 'for not fully understanding what I was doing from day one.' He still posts on Instagram and still does paid posts - just not for teeth whiteners and protein shakes any more. 'At least now if I'm promoting something, it's something that I'm passionate about,' he says. But a story he tells shows the effect people like him may have had on other people - even children. 'I had a chat with some family friends and I was talking to a child who's seven or eight years old. I said, "What do you want to do when you're older?" and he [said]: "Well, I just want to be an Instagrammer." I was like: "That's not a real job." That's when I was like, "Whoa, this culture is really scary."'
Police in Indonesia have apologised for using a snake to 'terrorise' a man suspected of stealing cellphones. A video that has gone viral shows officers in the Eastern Papua region laughing while an interrogator drapes the large reptile on the handcuffed suspect, who is shown screaming in fear. At one point in the video, an officer asks the man how many times he has stolen mobile phones. The suspect responds, 'Only two times,' according to Reuters. The local police chief, Tonny Ananda Swadaya, admitted that the interrogation technique was 'unprofessional' but still defended it. 'We have taken stern action against the personnel,' he said in an official statement, adding that the man was 'not physically beaten' and that the snake was 'not venomous.' So, that's all right, then.
An Oldham woman who quit her job because it was 'too tough' to go on a stealing spree has been extremely jailed. Maria Spirache reportedly played her part in the distraction thefts targeting the vulnerable in the centre of Manchester. Working with another woman Spirache would use 'well-rehearsed tactics' to distract victims before taking cash and property. One of the many disguises the two deployed was pretending they were from a charity before using clipboards to distract shoppers to take their mobile or cash. Their victims included an eighty eight-year-old woman, a man on a scooter and a student depositing nearly nine thousand smackers in a bank. Spirache, who is originally from Romania and speaks no English has been sentenced to thirty two months in a young offenders institution.
A man has described how his penis swelled to 'the size of a bottle of wine' after he 'snapped it' during The Sex with his girlfriend. Sean Marsden was enjoying getting jiggy with his girlfriend, Louise, when he 'made a drastically wrong move' and heard a sound that he won't be in a rush to hear again. Louise managed to call for an ambulance while Sean rolled around in excruciating pain as his penis swelled up with blood. Surgeons at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital were forced to administer morphine and perform surgery on Sean. It turned out that he had fractured his penis and torn his urethra. Sean explained: 'I heard it snap and I said to Louise straight away that something was wrong. I grabbed hold of it and it just grew and grew. I didn't think it was going to stop. It went up to the size of a bottle of wine. It was beyond my control and scared me to death. The pain was off the scale. It was really excruciating. It came in waves. I could actually see where it had broken and snapped. I knew that I had to go to hospital.' Luckily, Sean won't suffer any lasting damage although there may be a bit of psychological trauma. Doctors told him to wait a month before having The Sex again but, Sean claims, he only lasted three weeks. He was kept in overnight at the hospital and had a temporary catheter put in so that he could wee. His now not-so-little chap was also wrapped in bandages and had a plastic splint put down the side during recovery. Lousie, however, says that she has been 'traumatised' by the whole ordeal.
A woman has been jailed after fraudulently buying goods in her husband's name for a man in Nigeria whom she met online. Jane Pope of Whitehaven admitted six counts of fraud by false representation after using her husband Michael's bank details to buy items to the value of over three hundred quid. The court heard Pope had ordered eighteen pairs of underwear, a bluetooth speaker, DVDs, children's books and sweets on her husband's bank card. Mister Pope contacted the police in May when he saw the transactions which he had not authorised and knew nothing about. A victim impact statement read out in court on behalf of her husband said: 'I pay for everything and I do not trust her. It's affected my health. I do not want compensation paid as she has very little money of her own.' Prosecutor Diane Jackson said: 'It is a breach of trust. She has taken his card with the intention of providing items to this male in Nigeria.' Pope had been given a one hundred and eighty day prison sentence, suspended for two years, in March last year, after sending eleven thousand five hundred knicker from her husband's bank account to the same Nigerian. The latest offences began just over two weeks after Pope had been handed the suspended sentence. A probation report read out in court said Pope was 'very isolated' and had been 'working to build her confidence,' which she 'significantly suffers with.' It also said that there was 'significant concern' with her ability to cope in a prison environment. The court heard that Pope suffers with 'mental health problems' and has indicated suicidal thoughts. The report said that contact with the individual is 'still continuing' and a custodial sentence may be the only way to break this contact. Claire Kirkpatrick, defending, said that the order was 'in its infancy' when the offence took place. She said there had been no criminal offending since May last year. The court heard that Pope 'accepts she has often been played' but that it 'replaces what she doesn't get at home.' 'It's a destructive process. She lives a life online that isn't reality,' the solicitor said. The court heard that Pope finds it 'very difficult to make friends' and she had 'fallen foul of what was clearly a scam. She isn't in a position to stop that relationship,' Kirkpatrick claimed. Magistrates said only a custodial sentence could be considered. Pope was given two sentences of one hundred and twenty days in The Joint to be served consecutively. She wept as she was led out of court.
French authorities are investigating allegations that the Vatican's ambassador to France 'molested' a junior official in Paris' City Hall, an official said on Friday. The official told Reuters that Archbishop Luigi Ventura who has held the post in Paris for the past decade, was 'suspected of having touched the buttocks of the male junior staffer' during Mayor Anne Hidalgo's New Year address. Ventura 'caressed in an insistent and repeated manner the young man's buttocks during the ceremony. He put his hands on his buttocks several times,' the City Hall official claimed. An alleged judicial 'source' allegedly confirmed a preliminary investigation against Ventura was under way. The Vatican learned about the investigation from the media, spokesman Alessandro Gisotti said. 'The Holy See is waiting for investigation's conclusion,' he added. Pope Frankie has come under fire over the Roman Catholic Church's handling of a long-running sexual abuse crisis. While much of the recent focus has been on the United States, Australia and Chile, the trial last month of the Archbishop of Lyon put the spotlight on Europe's senior clergy again. Cardinal Philippe Barbarin is charged with failing to act on historic allegations of sexual abuse of boy scouts by a priest in his diocese. A verdict is due on 7 March. The Paris City Hall official said that the allegations against Ventura involved a male employee from the mayor's international relations team. He had been tasked with looking after Ventura during the ceremony. Until, seemingly, Ventura decided to look after him. City Hall filed a complaint against Ventura to Paris Prosecutor Remy Heitz's office on 23 January, six days after the alleged molestation.
A Florida woman reportedly faces charges after she can be heard on body camera footage threatening a Volusia County deputy with racist remarks and 'a visit from the Ku Klux Klan.' Deputy King was sent to Montgomery Street in Deland over reports of a disturbance on 7 February. Dispatchers said that someone was leaving the residence in a Lexus. The deputy noticed the car with headlights on reversing out of the property. He found Julie Edwards in the vehicle and smelled alcohol on her breath as she spoke to him with slurred speech. He asked if she would consent to field sobriety exercises, which she declined. The deputy then placed Edwards under arrest for driving under the influence of alcohol. According to the police report, Edwards refused to cooperate with two deputies. Authorities eventually sat her down in Deputy King's patrol vehicle. As the deputy was completing paperwork, reports claim that Edwards told the deputy she hoped to find him 'alone in a corner' and that the Ku Klux Klan would be paying the deputy a visit and burning crosses on his property. 'Deputy King is of African-American descent and knows the history and violence behind the KKK towards minorities, especially the African-American community,' the police report reads. 'Deputy King does not know Edwards, who she associates with, or who she interacts with. Deputy King took Edwards threat towards him to be true.' Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood released body camera footage of the ordeal, saying 'Watch this video if you need any more proof that there's no expiration date on ignorance.' In the video, a woman can be heard saying: 'I won't find you, somebody else will.' The deputy then asks if she is making a threat toward a law enforcement officer. Edwards responds: 'I didn't say I'd find you. I said somebody else will. I won't find you. My KKK people will.' Whilst working on his laptop, the deputy says: 'All right. Thank you for that threat. I'll add that charge in here.' 'I didn't say it about you,' Edwards replies clearly not knowing when to just shut to hell up. 'I said they know people like you. I didn't say you,' Edwards added. 'Hey, ain't a damn thing wrong with a burning cross in your yard is there?' Well, yes there is, actually sweetheart. It's extremely illegal for one thing. 'You fuck with the wrong white people. You fuck up. I hope you don't have no kids.' And, time for another tip - when in a hole, it's usually a good idea to stop digging. The video then shows the deputy listening to country music and driving away with Edwards in the back seat blurting out further racist threats. 'KKK's got your shit, boy' Edwards can be heard saying. 'My KKK friends will burn your family. Have you ever been whipped on a whipping post?' Sheriff Chitwood defended his deputy on Facebook. 'Kudos to Deputy King for his calm response to all the racist garbage this KKK Enthusiast could throw at him,' Chitwood said. 'All law enforcement officers learn to deal with people at their worst, but this level of ignorance is something else.' Edwards was charged with driving under the influence of alcohol, prior refusal to submit to testing, resisting an officer without violence and with threats against a law enforcement officer and had her ass thrown in The Joint for her trouble.
A Harry Potter novel sprayed with drugs was smuggled into one of the UK's most 'challenging' prisons, where inmates are suspected to have smoked the pages. Which, to be fair, probably did their brains less harm than reading the damn thing would've. A copy of Harry Potter & The Goblet Of Fire found in an HMP Nottingham cell tested positive for a psychoactive substance 'similar to Spice.' The Slammer is one of ten on which the Prisons Minister has staked his career. Rory Stewart vowed to resign if improvements failed, but he admitted that Nottingham was 'causing concern.' Especially to him. Stewart pledged in August to step down if the number of assaults at the ten listed prisons did not come down by this summer. Stewart said 'early indications' from talking to staff were that violence was coming down with 'real progress in 'six or seven' of the jails and he was now 'pretty confident' he would keep his job. However, the minister admitted 'two or three' of the ten jails were 'proving difficult,' with Nottingham and Wormwood Scrubs in West London the ones he was 'most worried about.' Nottingham's governor said that conditions were improving but the jail remained 'fundamentally unsafe,' the term used in last year's inspection report. The 'Spice-like substance' found on samples from the book was detected by a new drug-testing machine, installed as part of a £1.4 million investment to refurbish HMP Nottingham and bolster security. It is thought the drugs had been sprayed on to the paper before it entered the prison. Four hundred pages were missing, which staff suspected had been torn into strips and smoked. Although, arguably, without them, the plot made a bit more sense. Prison officer Adam Donegani said that each strip was worth about fifty knicker. 'The prices are inflated within the prison service [compared with] street value, so that can be whatever they want to charge for it,' he said. In January 2018, Peter Clarke, the chief inspector of prisons, triggered the 'urgent notification' procedure at Nottingham after concluding it was 'dangerous, disrespectful and drug-ridden.' 'This prison will not become fit for purpose until it is made safe,' he wrote. The procedure compelled the justice secretary to draw up 'an action plan' to bring about improvements, including reducing the population by two hundred to seven hundred and eighty. In last year's inspection report, Clarke said HMP Nottingham needed to do 'much more' to tackle the problem of drugs which was 'inextricably linked to violence.' Phil Novis, who took over as governor in July, acknowledged that it was taking longer than he would have liked. In his first week a prisoner died - allegedly murdered by another inmate - and since then there have been three self-inflicted deaths. 'The prison is fundamentally still unsafe and that remains a challenge for us,' Novis said. 'Every day there's an assault on my colleagues and on other prisoners, that's regretful. It is getting safer, but it's coming from such a low threshold that it's going to take time to get to a place where I and everybody can feel safe wherever we go,' he added. A group of experienced prison staff have been brought in to coach and advise officers at Nottingham, where fifty nine per cent of the workforce have less than two years' service. Prison officer Grace Hanselman, who used to work in a call centre, said that the mentoring scheme had given her more confidence to deal with prisoners harming themselves. 'When you come into contact with somebody that is threatening to take their own life or attempting to take their own life that's probably the scariest, most daunting situation I've found myself in,' she said. 'To have that experience there, to reassure me and the prisoner that we can help was really beneficial.' The ten million quid scheme announced by Stewart last year to improve security and conditions in jails is likely to be extended to other failing prisons, he has announced. Stewart said: 'There is still much to do, and I do not underestimate the scale of the challenge, but the first six months have given us a solid platform from which we can set a more positive direction for all our prisons.'
A Connecticut woman is reportedly recovering in hospital, after mistaking a stick of dynamite for a candle during a power outage. Katrina Gutierrez did not realise her mistake until the dynamite, you know, exploded in her hand, injuring her face, chest and arms. She is said to be planning to sue the former owner of her home for leaving the explosive in the basement.
A County Tyrone man who tricked a woman into undressing in an online video chat by claiming to run a modelling agency has been jailed for six months. Ryan Eastwood pleaded very guilty to one count of voyeurism and was sentenced at Antrim Crown Court. The twenty five-year-old reportedly contacted his victim by e-mail in March 2017 and using the name Ryan Edwards. He told her that he wanted to 'conduct an interview via Skype' in which he would 'assess her suitability' for a lingerie modelling contract. The court was told that Eastwood used an e-mail address similar to that of a legitimate agency but the victim 'became suspicious' after the video call. A prosecutor said that Eastwood initially denied duping the woman and claimed that 'someone else' had used his computer. He was due to face trial in December on twenty three charges including five counts of voyeurism, nine counts of harassment, and five of causing a person to engage in a sexual act. All counts were left on the books apart from the single voyeurism charge for which Eastwood pleaded guilty. The court heard that Eastwood had a previous conviction for an 'identical' offence and had 'looked for satisfaction in causing stress and humiliation' to his victim. The woman has 'experienced thoughts of self-harm' since falling prey to his deception. Following his release, Eastwood will spend six months on licence and must reside at an approved address while refraining from accessing a device, computer or camera. He was also ordered not to develop online relationships with women.
A woman, who deliberately drove at a person and beat up two more, becoming a 'raging beast' after downing a 'toxic mix' of alcohol and medicine, was starting a two-and-a-half year jail sentence. Michelle Nicholls was 'completely out of control' when violence flared after a night out with a friend, Wolverhampton Crown Court heard. The forty seven-year-old 'snapped' as 'banter' from Layton Shaduwa 'became nasty' when the defendant walked past the parked vehicle in which he and his brother were sitting in Stourbridge High Street, said Caroline Harris, prosecuting. Nicholls was with her friend and two other women - Chloe Lines and Sherrie Langford - whom she had befriended after meeting them for the first time that night, the judge was told. 'Infuriated' by the comments allegedly made by Shaduwa, Nicholls went to get her car as 'angry words were exchanged.' She drove the Honda onto the pavement where Shaduwa was standing with the three women and his brother. The car stopped short of the group, reversed and drove at Shaduwa when he 'moved to stand provocatively in the road.' He jumped out of the way and 'delivered a Kung Fu-style kick' to the driver's door window which shattered and sent slivers of glass into one of Nicholls eyes, continued Harris. Nicholls aimed the Honda at Shaduwa once more when he ran across the road and disappeared into an alleyway without being hit. The defendant left the vehicle and attacked innocent Chloe Lines and Sherrie Langford, tugging clumps of hair from one of the women while dragging her to the ground and flooring the other with a single punch before kicking and stamping on them. Police arrived soon afterwards to arrest her. She confessed to the officers: 'I lost the plot.' No shit? Both injured women were taken to hospital for treatment for concussion and heavy bruising while each later 'suffered disturbed sleep and flashbacks.' James Tucker, defending, claimed Nicholls had 'never hit anyone in anger before' so,seemingly, she got very good at it very quickly - and had been 'sickened' by her own behaviour. She admitted: 'I deserve to go to prison.' The judge, seemingly, agreed. The lawyer added: 'This was an abhorrent and inexplicable aberration. The two victims of the assaults were helping her and she was still friendly towards them immediately before the incident.' Nicholls pleaded extremely guilty to two assaults, dangerous driving, drink driving and attempting to cause injury. She was sent to The Slammer and banned from driving for four years on release. Judge Barry Berlin who told her: 'You went back on the drink for the first time in some time and the alcohol mixed with your medication made a toxic combination. You were completely out of control and acted like a raging beast.'
A swarm of police have been searching Eltham after a woman was pushed to the floor and punched. Police said that the lady's injuries did not require treatment after the attack. They also confirmed that a female was detained on the high street in connection with the incident. One man who was on Eltham High Street snitched to the local media that he had seen a teenage girl being handcuffed by The Fuzz. He told News Shopper: 'I came out of Specsavers and the police had a young girl in cuffs. She was between fourteen and sixteen. Then unmarked police cars came screaming down the high street.' The Met Police said: 'A number of searches are being carried out in the area to identify further suspects.' A police helicopter was also seen hovering over Eltham, after social media reports suggested they were 'hunting for a gang of youths' who were seen with knives and bricks and shit.
Devon and Cornwall's 'crime tsar' celebrated Valentine's Day with a parking ticket. Alison Hernandez, the region's police and crime commissioner, had reportedly been attending a community meeting in Paignton. However, when the meeting overran, she got a nasty surprise when she came out and found that she'd been pinched by Plod.
Police in Canada have issued a rare rebuke to the public after a late-night emergency mobile phone alert about an abducted child prompted widespread complaints. At 11.36pm on Thursday night, police in Ontario issued an amber alert for Riya Rajkumar, aged eleven, after police feared that the girl's father had kidnapped her. Shortly after the alert was issued, police found her body, but they said that calls from the public helped them to locate and arrest her fugative father, Roopesh Rajkumar. A second alert was sent at 12.21am, saying Riya had been located. But police say that they received 'a barrage of angry calls,' as Ontario residents complained that the alert was issued 'too late at night.' 'I can't even begin to describe how disappointing and upsetting it is to read the comments, e-mails and calls to our communications bureau complaining about receiving an amber alert late at night,' tweeted Constable Akhil Mooken, a spokesperson for Peel regional police. 'I appreciate that a lot of people were sleeping but the immediate need to locate the child outweighed the momentary inconvenience that some people encountered.' Police also 'acknowledged' the late night alert at a press conference the following morning, saying that whinges continued even after the search was called off. 'I feel for everyone, but given the circumstances, it did lead to the arrest of the individual, so I think that's what we need to focus on,' said Constable Danny Marttini. The amber alert system is named after Amber Hagerman, a nine-year-old child abducted and murdered in Texas in 1996. The text messaging system, which is automatically sent to phones in an area where the child could be, is intended to alert the public of the ongoing search. During an amber alert, electronic highway signs often display the details of the search and suspect descriptions. Canada first adopted the alert system in 2002 and requires the abducted person be under the age of eighteen before the alert is sent out. Police must also believe the child is 'in imminent danger.' A number of countries, including Mexico, Australia and twenty European nations have similar alert systems in place. Despite the numerous complaints, police say that the alert helped to locate the murder suspect and his vehicle. The Peel regional police tweeted: 'The system works. Thank you to all those that called with tips.'
Police vans and cars descended on a nightclub when a massive brawl broke out at a wedding reception being held there. Passers-by 'were amazed to see the huge police response,' understood to have included dozens of vans and cars, descending on Fusion nightclub in Liverpool city centre according to the Manchester Evening News. The incident took place in the club's function room at around 11.20pm on Valentine's Day. Teams of officers - tooled up with truncheons - rushed to the scene 'to deal with the reported disorder' and extremely arrested a man on suspicion of affray. A video shows a long line of patrol vehicles parked up along Hanover Street, with violence said to have started on Fleet Street before moving further into town.= with kids gettin' sparked an' aal sorts. Enquiries into the incident remain ongoing and witness and CCTV enquiries are ongoing, a Merseyside Police spokeswoman said. At approximately the same time, police were also called to Revolution Bar on Wood Street following reports an eighteen year-old woman had suffered a head injury. North West Ambulance Service were already in attendance. It is understood the teenager had been glassed. A man was arrested on suspicion of wounding.
A woman 'accidentally' glassed a 'complete stranger' in the face on the middle of the dance floor after an awards ceremony at a Manchester Hotel, a court heard claimed. Natasha Krstic left the woman with a 'nasty wound' to her chin, which needed stitches, following the 'painful' and 'embarrassing attack.' The women were at a media awards party, hosted by Prolific North, at the four-star hotel. At Manchester Crown Court, prosecutors said that Krstic approached the woman at some point during the event, but was 'shooed away' as she didn't know her. The Crown previously said hat the victim had been 'speaking with some men.' As the lights came on, shortly before 2am, the victim was again approached by Krstic who said, according to the prosecution: 'I need you to know they felt my arse.' The victim replied saying that this was 'nothing to do with her,' the court was told. It was then that Krstic lifted her glass in an 'upward motion', before 'inadvertently striking' the woman - geet hard - in the face. During a previous hearing, it was 'accepted' that Krstic did not mean to hit the woman with the glass, but did so as she attempted to throw her drink. The victim ended her night in A&E, where medics stitched up the half-inch wound. She also needed further dental surgery after two teeth were left badly damaged. Krstic ended the night in the cells. Krstic, from Withington, admitted a count of unlawful wounding following the attack on 24 May last year. The victim, reading a statement in court, detailed the physical and psychological effect the incident has had on her. In mitigation, Kevin Donnelly said that Krstic 'was a woman of previous good character,' with no prior convictions. 'This woman had been the victim of an earlier incident, but my client's behaviour thereafter was wholly unacceptable and unlawful,' he said. 'She is an entirely respectable woman who has behaved badly.' Sentencing Krstic to ten-month jail term, suspended for two years, Judge Alan Conrad said: 'This was an unpleasant, painful and embarrassing attack which has left a permanent scar, in addition to the psychological effects. Cases involving the use of a glass to wound are common in pubs and bars and often have devastating consequences. Normally, prison would immediately follow in these cases.' Krstic was also made subject of an electronic curfew and ordered to pay two grand compensation to the victim.
Police have likened CCTV footage of shop thieves driving through a shopping centre to a scene out of the 1960s caper movie The Italian Job. The raiders smashed their way into the Forum Shopping Centre in Waalsend in the early hours of 29 January. Rather than using red, white and blue Minis like Charlie Croker's gang in the movie, the real-life tea leaves used a black hatchback to drive through the mall and up to the O2 shop, where they broke in and stole phones and other expensive technology. They then fled the scene in their vehicle and have yet to be caught. Although, if the parallel to the movie holds true, The Fuzz should probably be looking for a large bus hanging over the edge of a cliff somewhere near Monkseaton. Northumbria Police said the scene 'wouldn't look out of place in the film The Italian Job.' Though, again, it's difficult to imagine that the footage would've been as welldirected as Peter Collinson managed in 1969 ... on a considerably larger budget, admittedly. In a statement, PC David Hudson said: 'The significant damage to the shopping centre and the burglary has caused substantial financial loss for the businesses involved. An investigation has been launched and I urge anyone with information, or who may have been in the area at the time and witnessed something, to get in touch.'
A Gloucester man who assaulted a woman at a care home by sticking his hands between her legs and 'making a high-pitched noise,' has 'learned a lesson,' a judge heard. Hayon Sinclair admitted common assault on the woman on 6 March last year. He had originally faced an allegation of sexual assault but prosecutor Sam Jones told Judge Ian Lawrie QC that, after consulting the victim, he was 'prepared to accept a plea' to common assault instead. 'It is unpleasant behaviour in the workplace. Indecorous to put it mildly,' the judge said. 'He is an idiot.' Jones said the offence happened after the defendant 'made reference to sexual orientation of the victim in conversation with another. He was cautioned about that. Later on that same day, on the same shift in a day room at 4pm he put his hand between her legs and made a high pitched "oohing" noise. There was contact. He says back of knee, she said top of leg,' Jones said. 'Whichever, it was unlawful. It was in front of others, it had an effect on her,' Jones said. 'She turned around and told him he was not to touch her. He laughed and said he was "only joking." It brought back raw memories of her past. It emphasised her vulnerability. He was suspended for a period. He denied any sexual contact but accepted that there was contact.' The prosecutor said that Sinclair had not been in trouble with the law since the 1980s. Steven Young, representing Sinclair said: 'At the time of the offence he was working as a support worker for an agency. He had worked for that agency for four years and at this home for the elderly for a year. There were no other problems with his conduct. He has also been involved in teaching salsa dancing for fifteen years,' Young added. 'I mention that because of physical contact.' 'Yes,' the judge observed, dryly. 'There is nothing about putting your hand between people's legs, but I get your drift.' 'Indeed,' Young continued, 'but it is physical contact, as is in care. I was contacted by numerous people, who had worked with him, alongside him, and relatives of those who he had worked with. I have never been contacted by so many people who were anxious to say what sort of person he really was. He is regarded as "a bit of a joker,"' the lawyer claimed. 'People would want him to work on their floor, because he brought a level of joviality to work with a level of mundane tasks.' The judge said: 'I take the view of a clear error of judgement. Behaviour that is clearly regrettable. As far as he was concerned it was a bit of fun, but it was not for her,' Young said. 'It is not the first time he has done it, and others have taken it in a different way. He has learned his lesson.' The court heard Sinclair had now stopped working in the care sector and is employed in a factory. 'It was a job he really enjoyed. He had been doing it for ten years,' Young said of his old job. 'The care home have been in touch and want him back.' He said that his client was considering emigrating to the United States and asked the judge to impose a sentence that would not make that impossible. Imposing an eight month conditional discharge, the judge said that he would also order Sinclair to pay the woman compensation. 'I am sensitive to the victim,' the judge said. 'I do not wish to insult her with compensation.' He told Sinclair: 'This was a foolish and stupid thing to do and grossly insulting to the victim. It is offensive, you will have seen her statement. It tapped into past memories and bad memories at that. I hope you feel badly about that.' The judge said he felt the prosecution stance was a 'sensible resolution to the offence. You are in your fifties and people think highly of you. You were a responsible worker and good at your job. It is a great shame you have had to trade that job in. It is clear you do not behave in an loutish fashion. This was a temporary lack of judgement and you pay a price. Drawing a balance, I will impose a conditional discharge. There is extensive mitigation set out in helpful references. The figure I choose [in compensation], is not supposed to represent in any way the harm you have caused. It is simply a gesture.'
Police have taken action to try to prevent 'drunken revelry' by visitors to York. Officers tweeted that they had been 'intercepting revellers' as they arrived at York railway station 'making sure people aren't drinking open containers of alcohol.' And, telling them that they don't want anyone enjoying themselves in the city limits, no doubt. They said measures were 'in place' to combat drunken fuelled anti-social behaviour, crime and violence within the city centre.
Haydock Park officials are investigating after 'a mass brawl' broke out among spectators at the racecourse. About fifty people were involved in the geet rive-on with kids gettin' sparked an' aal sorts before and during the eighth and final race of the day. A woman and toddler were caught up in the disturbance. A spokesman said Haydock took 'a zero tolerance position' on fighting and punching and kicking and head-butting (and stabbin' and robbin' and shootin' too) and that those involved were 'ejected.' One man was extremely arrested over a public order offence. Racing has been on high alert over on-track fighting after incidents at Goodwood, Ascot and Hexham in 2018. The spokesman said Haydock was 'continuing to work with the police on this matter.' Merseyside Police said: 'A twenty six-year old male was arrested on suspicion of affray and possession of a controlled drug. No complaints were made and there have been no reports of any injuries at this time.'
A woman in Texas has been jailed after she 'romped with her boyfriend's teen son while he slept next to them in the same bed,' according to the Daily Star. Sheila Huffman, fifty two, claimed that she 'took care of [the teenager] because he needed the release' and that he was 'literally going to burst.' She 'relieved' the sixteen-year-old with oral sex and intercourse, the teenager told officers. He said that he initiated the first session after 'having sexual fantasies about her.' He woke her up whilst she was sleeping with his dad in Wichita Falls. 'The teen said Huffman also performed oral sex before they bonked when he got "frisky" with her the following month,' the Star delightfully claim. Huffman reportedly confirmed the first 'romp' to detectives but claimed that she only performed oral sex on him the second time. She told officers she 'relieved [the victim] once or twice, [but] that's it.' Which is a bit like saying 'well, yes officer, but I only robbed the one bank ...' Huffman 'took care of his needs,' because he was 'acting like he was literally going to burst,' she claimed. She also said that she made him use a condom during the second session to 'help explain to him' he needed to protect himself when having The Sex. Huffman was previously put on eight years community supervision in June 2017 after a plea deal on four sex assault charges. But now she has been banged up in The Big House after not meeting the terms of her probation by giving a false address after moving. Huffman was, reportedly, also behind on her community supervision and did not go to three scheduled sessions of a sexual abuse treatment programme. She has been sentenced to ten years in The Slammer for the assaults and four years for not registering as a sex offender, reports Times Record News.
Two US citizens are suing US Customs and Border Protection after they were reportedly detained in Montana for speaking Spanish. Ana Suda and Martha Hernandez were held by a CBP officer last May after he heard them speaking Spanish in a grocery store. Agent Paul O'Neal questioned the US citizens for about forty minutes and asked to see identification. Both believed they were being detained, according to court documents. The American Civil Liberties Union filed the suit on behalf of Suda and Hernandez. 'Speaking Spanish is not against the law,' ACLU staff attorney Cody Wofsy wrote in a press release, arguing that this CBP action 'reflects an out-of-control agency emboldened by a vehemently anti-immigrant administration.' The lawsuit seeks to stop the CBP from detaining anyone without cause for speaking Spanish or for their accent, as well as compensatory, punitive and, one imagines, positively eye-watering damages. Suda, who was born in Texas, recorded the original incident on her phone. Hernandez was born in California. Agent O'Neal claims in the footage that he was asking for their identification because they were 'speaking Spanish, which is very unheard of up here.' Which, if you Google the phrase 'nonsense reasons for suspecting someone of being an illegal immigrant,' you'll find that one right up there alongside 'looking at me in a funny way.' Once the incident went public the agency claimed that it was 'committed to treating everyone with professionalism, dignity and respect.' One or two people even believed them. The CBP's non-discrimination policy prohibits 'using racial and ethnic stereotypes' to conduct stops or searches, but the language over how agents decide to question people is vague. Census data suggests about forty one million people speak Spanish at home in the US. The country is the second largest Spanish-speaking nation in the world, with more Spanish speakers than Spain itself when bilingual people are included.
A shoplifter has been jailed after reportedly stealing clothes from Sports Direct. Cynthia Munro appeared at Aberdeen Sheriff Court over the incident, which happened on 6 September last year at the Sports Direct store on the city's Union Street. She pleaded very guilty to stealing clothes and a quantity of fragrance worth seven six quid. Fiscal depute Lynzi Souter said the items were fully recovered and returned to Mike Ashley who, obviously, needed them far more than she did. Defence agent Graham Morrison claimed Munro, who is currently serving another prison sentence for an analogous offence, 'had a drink problem.' Which may well excuse wearing stuff from Sports Direct but, sadly for her, not nicking stuff from there. He said: 'She is either drunk or she is doing it for money for drink.' Sheriff Sukhwinder Gill jailed Munro for one hundred and forty five days.
A Canadian vodka distiller has lost thirty thousand litres of valuable iceberg water in what appears to be a heist. Iceberg Vodka CEO David Meyers says that he is 'mystified' as to who - or why - someone would have done such a thing. This blogger is guessing that it's probably 'for a laugh.' The Royal Canadian Mounted Police say that someone 'made away' with the liquid - enough to fill a tractor-trailer tanker - from a warehouse in the historic community of Port Union in Newfoundland. The water is valued at between nine and twelve thousand Canadian dollars. Meyers told the BBC that the water was discovered as missing on Monday after their facility manager found one of the tanks had been 'completely drained' over the weekend. One presumes that the possibility it just, you know, evaporated has been investigated and discounted? Meyers said it would have taken 'a bit of work' to have been able to access the tank and remove the water, which was 'secured behind a locked gate and door.' The water is, obviously, insured but the company is only able to harvest it in the spring from the ice giants that appear annually on Newfoundland and Labrador's coast along the famed 'iceberg alley.' 'We only have one crack at doing an iceberg harvest a year,' he bemoaned. 'It's just like a grape harvest for the wine industry.' More puzzling to the CEO is that he believes it would 'be no easy task' to sell thousands of litres of stolen iceberg water. 'It's not like there's a black market for [it],' he said. 'So if someone is trying to offload thirty thousand litres in a tanker or something, I would like to hear about that.' Some other local firms use the resource - a Newfoundland beauty brand that makes skincare and cosmetics products with glacial water, a local brewery and some companies that sell bottled 'Berg' water. But Meyers said Newfoundland's iceberg water industry is 'relatively small' and that 'everyone knows each other.'
The founders of an allegedly vegan cheese shop have hit back at the dairy industry following its threats of legal action. La Fauxmagerie was opened in Brixton last week by sisters Charlotte and Rachel Stevens. Over the weekend, the Torygraph published an article citing Dairy UK, which said that it would be taking action against the store for 'misleading' customers by branding its wares 'plant-based cheese.' Under EU law, dairy-related names including 'milk,' 'cheese' and 'butter' can only be used to refer to products derived from dairy - with a few exceptions. 'Dairy UK has a duty to ensure the nutritional and health benefits of real dairy are recognised by and communicated to consumers,' a spokesperson for Dairy UK said. 'It concerns us that consumers are being misled with the use of dairy terms like cheese by the plant-based sector. It is fundamental to protect the consumer from product descriptions which are misleading. In the first instance, we will be contacting La Fauxmagerie to make them aware of the current EU ruling on the protection of dairy terms. Like milk, cheese has a host of nutritional benefits and is a source of a number of important nutrients including calcium, protein, vitamin A, phosphorus and vitamin B12.' Now the sisters have whinged about the Dairy UK comments. 'We were a little taken back by the article originally released in the Telegraph on Sunday night as we'd not been contacted by Dairy UK or the Telegraph for comment, nor have we been contacted since,' Charlotte and Rachel Stevens said in a statement sent to Plant Based News. Well, presumably, one or them said it unless they both chanted it, simultaneously. 'We've been totally blown away by the support from the community both online and offline and agree with our consumers that our use of the term "plant-based cheese" is not confusing or misleading in any way. Interestingly, the word "cheese" originates from the Proto-Indo-European word "kwat" which means to ferment or sour; a process which our nut- and soy-based products undergo. We will continue to be open to the public as usual during our regular opening hours and will continue to serve our fantastic customer base by sourcing the best plant-based cheese the UK has to offer. We feel that there’s enough room for everyone in the market and we welcome our extended cheese family at Dairy UK to join us at our Brixton store during our opening hours which can be found on our website. We again thank our community for the ongoing support.' Charlotte and Rachel, in case you were wondering, a Gruniad Morning Star readers. What were the chances?
Several women have accused the rock and/or roll type individual Ryan Adams of emotional and verbal abuse and offering career opportunities as a pretext for The Sex. A report in the New York Times outlines what it claims to be 'a pattern of manipulative behaviour,' including accusations of 'psychological abuse' from Adams' ex-wife, Mandy Moore. Another woman claimed that Adams sent explicit texts and exposed himself during a Skype call when she was a teenager. Adams played in the band Whiskeytown in the 1990s before going solo to some limited acclaim and released one halfway decent CD - Gold (2001) - and a lot of very average stuff since. He has denied the allegations and any suggestion of wrongdoing. 'I am not a perfect man and I have made many mistakes,' he said in a statement posted on social media. 'To anyone I have ever hurt, however unintentionally, I apologise deeply and unreservedly. But the picture that this article paints is upsettingly inaccurate. Some of its details are misrepresented; some are exaggerated; some are outright false. I would never have inappropriate interactions with someone I thought was underage. Period.' The artist Phoebe Bridgers was among the seven women and dozens of associates who were interviewed for the New York Times article. She claimed that Adams 'reached out' to her when she was twenty, offering to release her songs on his record label. Their relationship 'turned romantic,' but Adams 'became obsessive and manipulative,' she claimed, demanding to know her whereabouts and 'threatening suicide' if she did not reply to his texts immediately. When she broke off their relationship, Adams 'became evasive about releasing the music they had recorded together and rescinded the offer to open his upcoming concerts,' the New York Times reported. Through his lawyer, Adams rejected Bridgers' account, describing their relationship as 'a brief, consensual fling' and denying that he had threatened to withhold her songs. This Is Us actress Mandy Moore also described a pattern of abuse, describing instances of 'destructive, manic sort of back-and-forth behaviour' during her six-year marriage to Ryan. 'Music was a point of control for him,' she added, claiming Adams had 'belittled' her own musical career. 'He would always tell me, "You're not a real musician, because you don't play an instrument."' Another woman, identified only by her middle name, Ava, told the newspaper that her relationship with Adams started in 2013, when she was a teenage bass player. Although they never met, she shared three thousand two hundred and seventeen text messages which she had exchanged with Adams over a nine-month period when she was fifteen and sixteen, describing how their correspondence 'became sexually explicit.' In one text he wrote to her: 'I would get in trouble if someone knew we talked like this.' The newspaper reported that Adams, then aged forty, 'fretted about Ava's age' and repeatedly asked for reassurances that she was over eighteen. 'If people knew they would say I was like R Kelley LOL,' he wrote in one message, referring to the R&B singer, who has faced allegations of inappropriate relationships with teenagers, which he denies. Adams' lawyer said that the rock and/or roller 'did not recall' having online communications 'with anyone related to anything outside of music,' adding that 'if, in fact, this woman was underage, Mister Adams was unaware.' After the report was published on Wednesday, dozens of female artists came forward to claim that they, too, had been through similar experiences in the music industry. 'None of this is surprising to female artists,' wrote country musician Caroline Rose on Twitter. 'This is an important article,' added singer-songwriter Vanessa Carlton. 'This also cracks the door on more like him in our industry. There are more. We're all fed up.' 'Literally find me a woman in the music industry who hasn't had a some dude pull that Ryan Adams "I wanna help you" with strings attached shit?' wrote music journalist Jessica Hopper. 'And, like in this story, these are some of the reasons women abandon careers, keep their dreams private, record in their bedrooms alone.' The FBI is now, reported to be looking into the allegations.
From The North favourite, the divine Goddess that is Louise Wener featured in a recent edition of the regular NME question and answer piece Does Rock 'N' Roll Kill Braincells?! And, as you'd expect from the Sleeper frontwoman and acclaimed writer and novelist, she is witty, articulate and produces what may well be the finest ever assessment of Britpop: 'As a musician, you're constantly asked later on to analyse it as a cultural phenomenon and think about "what it meant, what it represented, was it important? Was it over-rated? Was it underrated?." I feel that whole period is so over-analysed and just doesn't bear that level of scrutiny. "Did you like the bands? Did you like some of the songs?" is the beginning and end of it for me.' Word, sister.
Do you ever get the feeling, dear blog reader, that employees in some jobs are more expendable in the workplace that others?
A senior British police officer who led a controversial investigation into an alleged shoot-to-kill policy by the Royal Ulster Constabulary has died. John Stalker, the former deputy chief constable of Greater Manchester Police, died aged seventy nine, a family statement said. He was replaced as officer in charge of the RUC investigation after suspiciously agenda-soaked allegations that he was associating with criminals in Manchester in 1986. He was later entirely exonerated and became a - very fine - journalist in his retirement for the Daily Torygraph and The Sunday Times. For six years he was the host of the Central Television TV programme, Crimestalker and later hosted Inside Crime on Carlton TV. He presented another Carlton TV programme, The Verdict. He was a member of a BBC Governors advisory panel. Stalker joined Manchester City Police in 1956 and first made his mark as a young detective during the investigation into The Moors Murders in the 1960s. He developed the photographs and listened to the tapes made by Ian Brady and Myra Hindley as ten-year-old Lesley Ann Downey was sexually tortured and murdered. In 1978 his appointment aged thirty eight as detective chief superintendent with Warwickshire Police made him the youngest to hold that rank in the country. Paying tribute, his eldest daughter Colette Cartwright said: 'He is fondly remembered by many as going above and beyond the call of duty and was committed to making a difference for those most in need.' Stalker rose to national prominence when he was taken off the investigation into alleged extra-judicial killings of suspected paramilitaries that had taken place in North Armagh in Northern Ireland in 1982, after a critical interim report into the circumstances surrounding the shootings. Among the complaints were claims that he attended social events attended by members of the so-called Quality Street Gang - a group of Manchester villains. There were also behind-the-scenes fears that a Masonic plot within the police against Mr Stalker could be revealed during one of the most controversial episodes of the Troubles, according to newly declassified files that were released in 2016. He was taken off the case at the moment he believed he was about to obtain an MI5 tape of one of the shootings. The case became something of a cause celebre providing the basis for GF Newman's acclaimed 1987 novel The Testing Ground (subsequently dramatised by the BBC as Nineteen96). In 1990, ITV produced the four-part drama Shoot To Kill based even more directly on Stalker's enquiry and the suspicious circumstances of his being taken off the case. The former Manchester Central MP Tony Lloyd, who raised Stalker's case in Parliament in the 1980s, said that he was 'a man of great integrity who was treated unjustly. He was an excellent police officer.' Stalker - whose autobiography was published in 1988 - is survived by his two daughters, six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

Designer Richard Gregory, who helped to bring Doctor Who's Cybermen into the 1980s, died suddenly last week. Jamie Anderson confirmed the news on his Facebook page. 'From Terrahawks to Space Precinct, from Doctor Who to Event Horizon, from Walking With Dinosaurs to The Dark Knight and, more recently, on Gerry Anderson's Firestorm (and many more TV shows and films beyond), his contributions to the entertainment industry are quite astonishing,' Anderson wrote. Gregory's company, Imagineering, created the new look for The Cybermen for their surprise return in 1982's Earthshock, after working on other stories for that season and impressing with their work on The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy. His work also included the creation of the Malus prop for the 1984 story The Awakening. Richard also provided the animatronics designs for the James Bond movies Casino Royle and Skyfall. Anderson's full tribute to Richard can be read here.
Bruno Ganz, who played Adolf Hitler (who only had one) in the 2004 film Downfall, has died aged seventy seven. The Swiss actor died at home in Zurich on Friday, his management said. Ganz was well-known in German-language cinema and theatre and also had roles in English-language films including The Reader and The Manchurian Candidate. His most famous role, however, was as Hitler in Downfall. One particularly memorable scene depicting Hitler in apoplectic fury as he is told that the war is lost subsequently became a meme and spawned thousands of online parodies. One or two of them were even quite funny. The film, called Der Untergang in German, told the story of Hitler's final days in his Berlin bunker. It grossed over seventy million quid at box offices around the world when it was released. It was named winner of the BBC4 World Cinema Award and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, but since then it has become almost as famous for a wave of Internet parodies of its final scene, poking fun at numerous news and sporting events. A New York Times reviewer called Ganz's performance 'intriguing and creepily charismatic.' In 2005 Ganz told the Gruniad Morning Star that he spent four months preparing for the role, studying historical records including a secretly-recorded tape of Hitler and observing people with Parkinson's disease, which he came to believe the dictator had during his final months. But, he said: 'I cannot claim to understand Hitler. Even the witnesses who had been in the bunker with him were not really able to describe the essence of the man. He had no pity, no compassion, no understanding of what the victims of war suffered.' Ganz, possibly the most famous Swiss actor, had a rich and varied career. He played a vampire in Werner Herzog's Nosferatu The Vampyre (1979) and an angel in Wim Wenders' Wings Of Desire (1987) and its sequel Faraway, So Close! (1993). He appeared in genres including noir - The American Friend (1977) - and science fiction - The Boys From Brazil (1978), which starred Sir Laurence Olivier. In 2008 he had a role in The Baader Meinhof Complex and his last role was in Lars von Trier's 2018 film The House That Jack Built. At the time of his death, Ganz was the holder of the Iffland-Ring, an accolade to the German-speaking actor judged 'most significant and worthy.' The ring is passed from person-to-person and it is not yet clear whom Ganz had intended it to transfer to on the occasion of his death. It has been reported that Ganz had been diagnosed with colon cancer.
Gordon Banks, who has died aged eighty one, will take his place in history as a key component of the only England team - so far - to win the World Cup in 1966. The defining moment of the legendary goalkeeper's career, however, came four years later when Sir Alf Ramsey's squad went to Mexico to defend their crown - and it is that piece of brilliance for which he will always be remembered. Such was Banksy's reliability, the phrase 'Safe As The Banks Of England' was coined about him - but he could also produce rare acts of genius and it was in Guadalajara on 7 June 1970 that he produced the save many still regard as the greatest in the game's history. England were facing Brazil in a group game touted as a meeting of the tournament's two finest teams. Brazil, the eventual winners, edged a classic through Jairzinho's second-half goal, but the game's iconic moment came earlier. Brazil captain Carlos Alberto's pass set Jairzinho free past Terry Cooper on the right and his cross was met by the soaring figure of Pele as he rose above Tommy Wright. Pele later admitted he shouted 'gol' as he powered in a downward header, only to see the blue-shirted Banks somehow not only get across from his near post to far post, but then show incredible agility, technique and awareness to perfectly judge the bounce of the ball and scoop it over the bar with his right hand. The Brazilian superstar was in disbelief. England's captain Bobby Moore threw his hands in the air in astonishment before applauding Banks. The BBC commentator David Coleman simply said: 'What a save. Gordon Banks, he picked that out of the net.' Banks, with typical modesty, later described the save as 'lucky' but that, along with his place in England's World Cup win, secured his place in football history. He said: 'They won't remember me for winning the World Cup. It will be for that save.'
The Sheffield-born goalkeeper started his career at Chesterfield and showed such promise in his twenty three games that he signed for First Division club Leicester City for seven thousand pounds in July 1959. It was at Filbert Street where he forged his reputation, producing what he regarded as one of the finest performances of his career in the 1963 FA Cup semi-final when Leicester beat Liverpool one-nil at Hillsborough, although the Wembley final was a personal disappointment for Banks as they lost three-one to The Scum. At the same time, he was on the way to becoming a central figure in England's plans under Ramsey, winning the first of his seventy three caps in a two-one defeat by Scotland at Wembley in April 1963. Banks was undisputed first choice by the time of the 1966 World Cup was played on home soil and performed faultlessly throughout the tournament, being widely acknowledged as the best goalkeeper in the game as England lifted the Jules Rimet Trophy. He was named FIFA's 'Goalkeeper Of The Year' for six consecutive years between 1966 and 1971. He was not enjoying such good fortunes at club level, though and, by the end of the 1966-67 season, Banks was under pressure for his place from the brilliant emerging talent of teenager Peter Shilton. The Foxes decided to go with the younger man and Banks, still with so much to offer, was out. Bill Shankly, always a huge admirer, wanted him at Liverpool. Banks' World Cup colleague Roger Hunt told him: 'Don't sign for anybody. Shankly is coming for you.' He wanted the move to Anfield, but the call never came. Others were interested but in an era when clubs were reluctant to pay large fees for goalkeepers, the seemingly bargain fifty thousand knicker asking price was prohibitive and he ended up joining relatively unfashionable Stoke City. Ramsey had no such doubts. Banks was, in his view, still the best in the land. And so to Mexico in 1970 where, after his moment of brilliance, Banks was also the central figure in the game where England lost their crown and the balance of power in world football shifted. The day before the quarter-final against West Germany in Leon, Banks was taken ill with what the locals called 'Montezuma's Revenge,' a stomach bug accompanied by cramps and a fever. Banks passed an initial fitness test but soon relapsed, leaving the devastated Ramsey to draft in Chelsea keeper Peter Bonetti at the eleventh hour. England's number one was confined to his hotel room as Bonetti, an outstanding goalkeeper, suffered an uncertain, nervous performance and Ramsey's side conceded a two-goal lead to lose three-two in extra time. Banks' sudden illness led to conspiracy theories that the keeper - so vital to an England team that was not popular among locals after uncomplimentary comments by Ramsey about Argentina in the 1966 World Cup - had been deliberately poisoned. There was never any evidence this was the case and Banks himself refused to subscribe to the suggestion of any sinister interference in England's preparations. Despite that disappointment, Banks enjoyed more personal glory as he helped Stoke City win their first major trophy when they beat Chelsea two-one in the 1972 League Cup final, the keeper making a decisive contribution in the campaign when saving an extra-time penalty from his fellow World Cup winner Geoff Hurst as West Hamsters United were overcome in a classic semi-final that went to two replays. He never achieved his ambition of reaching another FA Cup final, however, losing at the semi-final stage to The Arse in both 1971 and 1972. Banks played his final game for England versus the country he started his international career against, with a one-nil win over Scotland at Hampden Park in May 1972. The great goalkeeper's career was cut tragically short in October of that year when he lost the sight in his right eye in a car crash as he drove home after treatment for a minor injury. Banks, who had played for Stoke at Liverpool the day before, was still two months short of his thirty fourth birthday and was the current Football Writers' Footballer Of The Year. In April 1977, he returned to play for Fort Lauderdale Strikers in the North American Soccer League. They won their division and Banks was named 'Keeper Of The Year'. He also played one game for the League Of Ireland side St Patrick's Athletic as his great career came to a close. Banks had a spell coaching at Port Vale then as a manager at Telford United but was disillusioned by his sacking in December 1980. This was the man, however, whose name will always be regarded among the greats of the game - and the goalkeeper who made the save by which all others are still measured.
And finally, dear blog reader, something which yer actual Keith Telly Topping his very self wrote many, many years ago in another lifetime is soon to be getting another public airing. The Complete Slayer, out of print for over a decade (although, you can still get second-hand copies on Amazon, apparently) is being republished by those very lovely people at Telos. It's pretty much a straight reprint on the 2004 edition (a couple of fixed annoying spelling mistakes notwithstanding) although Keith Telly Topping has done a new two-and-a-half thousand word preface for the new edition. There's no word yet as to when the exact publishing date will be, sometime in the next few months, one imagines. However, a copy of Clayton Hickman's properly outstanding cover art has reached Stately Telly Topping Manor this week. Well-sexy, is it not?
News on when the book will be available for purchase and where it will be available from (all good book shops and some bad ones, I'm guessing) will be forthcoming just as soon as this blogger has it.